Kelvin Corcoran's pamphlet explores in poetry and prose his harrowing experience of a stroke and his recovery, divided between the sections "Going Down" and "Coming Back." His reading of the entire piece at the Hay Poetry Jamboree was a delight, taking us through pain, bewilderment, fear, love, laughter and literature. Here are some favourite passages:
Massing for blood honey sweet
the nations of the dead and you
sifting through my hands--a shadow.
end of "Book II"
These trees look designed,
them birds is on fire
in loops and swirls the sky ablaze.
from "He stared at death. Death stared straight back."
The chapter of the raising of the body,
of making the eyes to see, the ears to hear,
setting forth the head, of giving it its powers
coming forth from yesterday, coming forth by day.
end of "1.2"
...the mind making its own patterns
along a low horizon of muted light.
...to walk away from the buried life,
the trees designed and the light contrived.
And if I was looking for that cold cold answer,
in the last brilliant compartment of the sun,
the church bell would ring out its contours on the air
compressing the water to picture a polar sky.
Rolling out the sound condenses over ice,
sea smoke trails the boat, twists of light letter the air,
a language holding low around the edges of the world,
empty and endless for the mind to lodge at zero.
end of "2.2"
Today Nansen you will study the sea running flush under the transparent shelves of vision.
You--pathfinder genius, limbs and head full of souls, lead us out on the thin skin of the unthought world, step by step to the oracles of snow; beat it out, beat it out and we'll follow.
Ptarmigan, snipe, seal--picture me dark night food; reindeer trot faster faster, sing it magical
from "2.3 Another Eight Things About the Arctic"
on the other side, deep in dark wood rising.
...the horizontal wind rolls up the European plain,
smacks the spire from the past into the future
to release a little aria dancing over Saxony.
...the one word [love] to bring to that moment,
the only thing to hold onto at the dark door.
The air's a chamber of bird song and rain....
Yesterday a girl atop a white bull
went swimming past, Europa, the fool.
What sort of prospect is that?
Oh his sweet breath, his low moan.
the end of "3.4"
Telemetry, telekinesis, Telemachus, holy shit.
Tell me another one, I thought him dead but he's back;
I thought him white bones cast on black sand,
his grin from the photo I inherit--and a world of trouble.
He smells of smoke, drops into deep sea silence,
controls his face at sudden sounds, eyes wide.
What does it take to hollow out a man?
Black bones on white sand, his voyage, my voyage.
the first and last stanzas of "4.1"
...when he sailed off,
I poured my heart into a hole in the air.
Every night I talked and talked to an absence....
...the sea won't stop moving, the land now and then;
but here I am, I hold my nerve, I make it happen.
You can pick up the pamphlet from publisher Longbarrow Press for a mere five pounds; add the CD of the poet's reading of the work and it's just £6.50.