During a moment of quiet in a Northampton chain pub I found this poem by Martin Glaz Serup on the Zeno Press site. Here’s a little snippet:
The poem is a kind of jaded Lazarus poem — a wish-thinking of not only coming back from the dead, but being dead in the first place, and how that would change and free a person.
It presents the return from the afterlife (or just some nothingness state) as a place. He wants to come back as accessories — gloves, a phone case — frivolous items that add a small layer of pleasure on top of the normal engagement with the world. Coming back as such things would mean being beautiful but weightless — unencumbered with the mundane responsibilities of life and society which we all submit to in some fashion.
“But most of all I would come back because it was possible.”
The poem is about freeing yourself from these things by visiting death. It’s a holiday to nothingness.
In the third stanza he forgets himself — he forgets he is wishing to be back from the dead and instead, describes searching for a “death-like sleep” and the associated locations and places. This was possibly a chance to visit a person, but it is the sleep that stands out — the place has a sense of a holiday about it, a boat, bunks, strong beer. There’s the prayer for sleep and the self-destruction through drink that is that wishing to be elsewhere.
Naturally this flips back — the realisation that we’re not always able to be on holiday. That battle with wish-thinking.
This is something we all do occasionally. We’ve all had our moments of wanting to do nothing, be nothing. And then we have those conversations with ourselves — those conversations seen in The Waste Land about nothing. After all, what is the point of us dreaming ourselves into nothingness?
What is the point of being alive if all you want is to be without anything? The practicality of life — the reality that you do generally have to go on and do something — comes to a meeting point. There is a negotiation that is gone through — you come to the point and ask — what is there to live for then?
BEAUTY! is made of leather, the smell of leather is the smell of beauty
and if I were to come back from the dead, I would come back for beauty
BEAUTY! gets along fine without its opposite
BEAUTY! gets along fine alone
BEAUTY! likes to receive guests on holiday, abroad, by appointment
though Sunday is a bad day
Beauty then! And, later, the act of putting in an effort. Beauty does get on fine without it’s opposite — although a holiday to the land of the dead is where the conversation starts, the freedom isn’t in having been dead and therefore free of your mundane chains of life. It’s in the choice to put in and effort now. Which of course, you can do without a boat trip.
As is so often the case, I wasn’t aware of this poets work in any meaningful way until they passed away. Susan Elbe:
We also have this over in Glass, by Stephanie Cui & Jasmine Cui:
Today’s song is… this whole playlist — to my surprise:
Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own. It was written by @CJEggett who isn’t tired, you’re tired, the whole system is tired! Your homework this week is to tell a friend about this newsletter, but only while looking them straight in the eye. If you thought this week’s ETTO was a bit depressing — then remember there are people out there really into recycling. You look lovely today.