Thursday, December 01, 2005

Iain Sinclair: Patrick Hamilton



‘The sea! The sea! What of the sea?
The sea!
The solution - salvation! The sea! Why not?’
-Patrick Hamilton

a bone, a Norman bone
scavenged from pitted shelf, rain
early, against delight of snow, failed roads
meat as it’s fired, citadel stagnant with peace
hung in harness, brother spirits, late whisky
from pharmacist, a gentleman commoner
tyre track distinguishing narrow skull
Pat, Paddy, powers to your elbow
marine parenthesis, bed above butcher’s slab
harnessed in bracers, shirtless, blindlight
smell and texture of chartered streets
you step fastidious into the young girl’s body
her shame, geyser bath, soapflakes
sticky in tight hair, like flying
old values, old men: cigarette breakfast


Karl Marx & Hopalong Cassidy: this time apparently
you can trust the black shirt rider, saddlebum
smarter than singing cowboy, white-hat Roy
as beard, secular Jewish patriarch
granite paperweight holding down Highgate
it’s confusing, headline backwards
canted road hidden from promenade,
wake up last night’s radio, shadow of invasion
sea hiccups, every wave a dog’s head,
cork waistcoat, cork room, memory used up
‘that’s you done to a nice turn, sir’
hands tremble, three air shots on a 9-holer
game’s over, no more commuter trains
files thicken, print faints
the thin book it’ll cost you fifty notes


if you agree to oppose, you agree
Hamilton never got his head around Marxism
confused coarse golf with horizonless steppes
tanks ‘roll’ into Bluewater, confirm television
threat, when the car crunched Earl’s Court
his brother, fellow Norman, was in Victoria
watching the Marx Brothers in ‘The Cocoanuts’
Freddie Mills borrowed a fairground rifle
to shoot himself, suspect vehicle, exploitation
of complimentary parking space up west
pass me the knout & the knot tightens
roped cabin trunk transports body parts
uneconomic migrants
try ‘Hamilton’s Drop’ watered whisky
pissed into the hold of container ships


gun-product collage, poetic ‘objects’ of mass observers
armpits eyebrows private life of midwives
sheer bollocks said H turning from rattle
slatted blinds concrete & pleasure
warden cadging light from cab driver
no hot water to scour dental plate
Naafi-style cafeteria breakfast Gielgud
holding free hand like a slack prick
I want war, H, to end it:
Yale lock, the difficulty in dying
To Save A Life! Do not interfere with this equipment


Mexican Fast Food from 5 to 11, Urban
Conflict Simulation Internet Access
if I had a gun I could kill myself cleanly
leave others to write up the mess
easier to swallow than a No.9 iron he said
everything tastes like marmalade
a ghost play without ghosts
plains of marzipan moving sand
the Egyptians I understand watch the same
sunrise it only takes about three years


caught Hamilton’s tail squeezed juice
peardrops dissolving in milk
when he touched fingers to temple he bled
hair fell in marmalade, wife’s
a toff, sickbed, autographed bat
imprint of her buttocks, moving south
& stopping is a curse, karma of
unbricked villa. The earlier applicant
suggested movies in an upstairs room, Lang
Hitchcock, dancing girls, projector beam
cone of blue smoke: that trick
they went for the usual crusty hotpot
too close, too loud,
20,000 streets under the sea, nothing
in the can to touch Max Von Sydow
splaying cold fingers, raising stiff arm
disbelief, a blister in her palm


refusing to read or even read about Billy Budd
climbed Melville not yet born
seaboots & long-coat in glycerine soft
ascent driven starwards mizzen-mast
‘a great writer but unreadable’
bit above himself lost in computer pool
spoke Scotch & travelled once to America
20,000 spectators looking from blue yonder
dissolute faces red-paint fire
man he knew should possess grain & water
so give himself up to his judges & swing
avoiding gibbet gibbeted at dock gates
bone pendulum, pulp writer’s winter fever


why does Stacey from Holiday Rewards have to be late
Americana, beamed from sub-continent
to swing & mimic, allowed to go so far before
I say no with mock serious conviction
or, better, ‘Go away’. He dig it, the German
cleared by truth commission repentance
private resolution, disturbed by glow under pier
Hamilton couldn’t tell left from right,
Hitler Youth costume in wardrobe,
no aberration against disorganisation
of hot places where older Bavarian gentlemen
hide out: to be here, to be fixed
in the matter-toffee of narrative
mouse on sticky pad
death by screwdriver, how they scuttle
legless, behind fridge
according to whim: in darkness or light


Three years slumber on the banks of the Ocean.
William Blake

It explained his dreams. The Chinese caused his dreams. Every terror and queerness of sleep, even unspeakability – it is painted in China white.
Don DeLillo

Pistol Pete hadn’t played professionally for a while, and he was thought of as forgotten. I hadn’t forgotten about him, though. Some people seem to fade away but when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all.
Bob Dylan

This poem is shortest section from Buried at Sea, a volume of Iain Sinclair's poetry to be published by the Worple Press in 2006. It is the most substantial volume Sinclair has published since Suicide Bridge.

See Iain Sinclair's take on another famous writer-drinker, Malcolm Lowry, here. And a piece by me on Sinclair's 'social poetics', 'Everything Connects', here.

My monograph Iain Sinclair is still available here: Iain Sinclair | Liverpool University Press

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