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The Familar Reaches

The Familar Reaches

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Selected Poems 1985-1996 and Photographs 1998-2004 by Geoffrey Mark Matthews.
Selected Poems 1985-1996 and Photographs 1998-2004 by Geoffrey Mark Matthews.

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Published by: Sunk Island Publishing on Jul 16, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The Familiar Reaches

Selected Poems 1985-1996 & Photographs 1998-2004

Geoffrey Mark Matthews

The Familiar Reaches
Selected Poems 1985-1996 & Photographs 1998-2004

Geoffrey Mark Matthews

Sunk Island Publishing


Touch stone ... 2 Greenwich Reach 3 Subterranean Submariners 4 Imagines a photograph 5 He wears scabs and scars ... 6 This is the low-which day ... 7 In the Bar Mirror 8 Fishing by Kite from a Lighthouse 9 The indecisive wind ... 10 Cragside 11 Place and Recollection 13 Archaeology 14 Persistence 15 Alchemy 16 Design 17 Rain 18 Paintings for Rats 20 Seduction 21 A dry leaf... 22 Blindness and Knowing 23 To Lose the Sign for that Which is Lost 24 After Bacon 25 Police Helicopter 26 Reprise 27 War Grave 28 Darkness, War, Synchrony 29 Vet 29 Oates 30 The Moon Ship 31 Crossed Lines 32 There are places ... 33 Flatlander 34 An Audience of Smiths 35 Keeping House for Major Dick, My Queen and the Little Ones 36 Derrida, Derrida, Derridum 38

All poems and photographs copyright © G M Matthews 2004



Touch stone in this time and spellbound place which familiar is it that reaches from water salts et cetera to the blind side ?



Gold blade splintered on the river's skin at sunset the foreshore a glinting reptilian moult pierced by metallic junk and unweathered stone appearing like gravel in a wound across this three swans glide sideways backs to the sun in the mid-distance a police launch cuts the tide against the light a meaningless patch of bloated grey hangs from the bulwark a recent suicide



When I walked this path behind the winter a balding lady split her head on the ice I remember when I walked this path behind the spring high water brought the barrier down and a burnt corpse to the steps I remember when I walked this path behind the summer officers' cars decorated the queen's vista I saw skin caught in the vintage bumpers I remember when I walked this path behind the autumn the college reactor waste was railroaded through "nuclear-free" Lewisham in all that dream-memory the bald lady was burnt from inside bulldozed and buried



short breath down a park bank glancing halts stares crust of a smile medievally cast at/beyond the wisp of distant grey suggests Billingham binned cod supper scavenged clenched in yesterday's news SPUD FAMINE - FISHERMEN BEACHED gull swoops flails an arm snaps at a gawker ya focken Inglesh barshtet ice shadow cries falls to his arse shoulder and dream-eyes promenade a seawall in Devil's Island



He wears scabs and scars like a butcher wears ribbons and brass he bares his presence bare arms articulated muscle the duck-footed strut undisguised cock arrogance



this is the low-which day from terror I watch them cork-heads melt away our livelihood and plank it bold on their backs the worst would be pick between upright fences seek out the tender shadows as if flash illuminated by prejudice or crippled by all mine s closed eyes blink open to friends frozen in gaol and wishing notice slagging shuts up in the air I can’t be here they blame me this is the low which day numb cheek



The glazed intent of a lizard feeding no fear of retreats neither wet nor dry the skilful sticky-tongued plucking off of anything straying too near in the humid night cotton-print moths taunt and test until exhausted I trip and lunge back to my cool hole



Posed with the problem of living here my love is a wrong word the pocket lining is patched with bright wallpaper pristine linen whiskey and so much soft porn every day the canvassing pirate drums at the door like a ghost giving up the word glossy junk breeds on the doormat entrancing the wood-lice and shouting abuse at my peace of mind no rest in sleep the slipshod dreams trace packhorse promises from dump to daylight and then the clutter wears me out with all the ease of a ring-pull



The indecisive wind orchestrates the night's noises the cars shush I lie listening to them gain and fade the guns crackle the vixen cries as rains sprays the window I think of the silent things the swooping owl the scarecrow the practice bomb drops ten beats of a funeral drum follow ten bursts of light my dreams distract their exercises their photographs miss the point



A child hid among the rocks and playing with dreaming eyes happened upon corpses ripped and bloody scattered through the conifers Northumbrian outcrop rifled retreat he set foot upon the purchase blasted crag to distant dying fires and made this place his before his ordnance twelve rooms became one hundred fantastic the tanks rumble and roll disturbed both dream and flesh in their night manoeuvres not blind to beauty he acquired the art of Danby, Morgan, Carmichael and Train nor immune to nostalgia returned and returned to the rock and the water's forces kitchen hydraulics lift and spit drew head from Tumbleton the library has Swan electrics the juice turbined below Debdon fossil industries from dams, pumps and reservoirs through cranes, trains and bridges to murder second-hand and a guiltless memorial seven million trees for as many men 11


This history smells ermine the blue blood of bible illuminations in a library where the stair spirals the wrong way enter the first left-handed swordsman complete with Doc Marten's RIBA part III and "GREEN" stamped on his forehead He says today I think I will reinvent the museum this quill will be placed next to a fragment of General H. Shrapnel with the legend In 1381 the people went to the palace, ripped up the floor, took all the broken pieces outside and distributed them I scowl put the kettle on and let it sing in the coals grandad's stories of grandad I make him for a moment fertile and immobile while deciphering our common inheritance



The pile driver's pretty rings shiver through the earth tunnel air to ear the past's simple plea is to be heard I have secrets to tell



In an architectural magazine I found a photograph of the most familiar place I had never been to. I cut out its immaculate dehumanised likeness and carried it everywhere with me in my wallet for a year. Every so often I took it in the palm of my hand and held it up to the scene before me, trying to locate its familiarity. In time, its edges became greasy and dogeared, the image lost some of its gloss, and gradually it began to seem just too familiar in itself. Eventually, I had to wonder if the quest was doomed and had been from the moment I slipped that untitled cutting into my pocket. Yesterday, just days later, I thought I had finally solved the mystery. Returning, for the first time in fifteen years, to the school room where it all began, I held up the picture at arm's length, turned and paced about the panelled room, looked up at the portrait of Dodgeson then back at the folding room divider, but ... nothing. Another frustrated hope. I screwed up the curled paper, straight armed, dropped it, swinging my boot and kicked it into the window wall. I can remember standing in the corridor outside that room, against the wall, in the din of 42 other new boys, wondering which class I would be in. Later the master, Diz, asked each of us what it was our ambition to be. I said something like, "I want to be an architect or an artist". It will be as true as the picture.



Like obsessions paper aeroplanes land in some funny places as a child I made darts and gliders and decided for myself which flew best I had a purpose – to achieve the minute-long flight every fold perfected through the crafting of hundreds in my mind only one has never landed



Deed and belief converge in the drawing to bring about desirable change this is communication benefits accrue state the obvious we can learn



Wet square surrounded by miserable dogs silent budgies and hot TV sets in the monestial blue evening one open window admits the air cold spit and cold cold atmosphere it crawls up the arms across the shoulders and into the dilated eyes barely audible

humming a lost tune which belongs across the sheet of walls street lamps and shrubs inside behind glass in the front 17

in front of more glass radiant glass whisper found conversation "as suicide is to murder, so this is to abuse-of-corpse" it makes me laugh cold rolls its teeth across a mouthful of triceps another blade of grass bends water drips/dries on the hand palm to back back to palm and so on the neighbour has repaid a favour become quiet in the wall shadow a rat is darting silver from wrapper to rag feather to turd much like me in search of sustenance



I Up there the stench is worse believe me brothers the back biting isn't real its worse they eat babies roasted thirty minutes per pound each autumn they stick cars in trees and each spring drop them on your head the concrete tastes of lizard shit and every other colour of it but blue is smeared in your eyes stuffed up your nose and in your ears they make your brain pulsate and spit seed II Down dark tunnels rocking to and fro these slick kids fall momentarily into torpor glass eyes mumbling if sounding off at all hidden in the pink city noise arse over pot fag in throat dreaming of desk time and mainlining on visual display and fax efficiency and under the drain cover in the executive bathroom two black beads wait for the lights to go out



The carpet submits to the pressing foot as a fresh fruit to the enquiring thumb and secure in a kind of knowledge we succumb



A dry leaf rain-fixed on the glass glows amber in the breakfast sun on the path beneath my tree an unseen twig is still governed by gravity a stray reflection of your shadow slipping silently away I reflect on the leaf and the twig with a tear



I say that I see a rose both flower and thorn you say that you feel the sky chill one cheek and warm the other the rose is to your nose what the sky is to my eye a sense of the surrounding when we touch are we that close ?



Hulls leading florist who might worry to death the posture of each leaf and petal in a wreath I felt I should tell him he'd lost an apostrophe



The vidicon scans the guts and gums of an abundant frontier its blue and pink mists cling alike his cherished daughter canters through dew-fall on the harebell and willowherb grey sky and a window scintillate a precious harness hangs above the stillborn foal and the straw and the wall fade out upon the bloody slab a chesterfield the narrator smiles and cries fade in the grave stone and turn



Hearing the punch-ball skirt the river sky goes howling at the moon on horseback an airliner crosses above it pencilling north this dog learns the smell of jet trails quarry ?



a dry leaf an unseen twig your shadow a tear



Flesh slowly sweats away in the sunken ruin sinew still strings together the skeleton and at this depth bone is buoyant this man who made safe the abandonment therefore rises Lazarus and hangs awaiting due embrace a prospector pushes a shaft of light past sharp rust following through gliding darkly a swill haze of silt and plankton parts around every move these eddies inform the space carrying its custodian in behind until like a curious supervisor he touches the diver's shoulder on turning a frothy skull grins its greeting from within the mask a reflection of the unexpected



Across the retinal landscape the energy matrix of the spider shot through with fear of darkness only three years old and already aware of war the state of war an awareness which is a synchrony no specific battle has been fought still a cold front of energies cuts at my eyes and impresses upon me darkness, war, synchrony



I wanted sleep I slept mother woke me the way she used to took a hold of my big toe and shook it I rolled on instinct into a mantis-like stance with arms crossed grasped the lapels grip turned inwards and pulled the fists through blocking off the carotids seven seconds a blind machine then l broke oh mother who did this to me ? I said nothing packed my stuff and left the wood is cool the gun my food the bears the wolves the snake the fowl crisp snow wild water I survive alone amidst all these



Suddenly I recall clapping footsteps on black rubber stairs an intermittent throbbing hum a muffled whine and that smell a subtle blend of warm electrics worn machines anaesthetic gas and airborne antiseptic the braking train is filled with this green odour I'm still terrified of dentists



The moon ship at platform 3A is the 17.23 to Worksop Cairo and Derrida South



The station is always busy all around caps and cases cross trolley trains bend and stutter porters' arms flail loud forecourt echos collide with re repeated announcements and travellers stand agape before flickering VDUs non the wiser platform nine is grey silent and dirty a pocket of stillness ignored I ask the guard why the train must wait for platform four to clear he says I'd love to use platform nine but there's no point



There are places I have glimpsed from train windows pivoting upon one distant point desert quarry a cutting twice a work-place small town nightly squaddies invade the market-place corrugate field the swirl and squeal of seagulls following the plough frost beck the testing foot black creaks white grass stag-heap the red dog runs disturbing fine dust just enough to matter places where I am not but would be passing through so fast or so slow the names blur the birds solidify my England bypassed



Dark scars of land drains flash through that narrow angle of eye and horizon a moment an endless turning I embraced her ghost in the aisle intercity coincidence I dreamt such a fine and delicate event and we disengaged in a pico-second in eclipse against the blue climate I watch pendulum factories time travel again



An aerial perspective gathers through windmill blades touching as it does invisible fox and pheasant they who see no further than their clean noses who speak few words softly coldly who turn to earth at the threat of being put upon live here invisibly so do I



These wheels will not turn as they should the wheat is flat and swirls no bread for peasants here the grain will go instead to fatten some rich man's calf



I I begin by bringing in fire by hand insinuating it into cinders through old paper news and staves I warm somnambulants each a first person first and foremost and demandants deluded by their dysphasic fathers I worry when my trekking back and forth leaves trails of dust that black a mother's knees make her wish that boys were girls When millstones collar every kneck call me I might want to dispatch something other than epitaphs carry more than useless coals II Too late in the day each is receiving dishes and eating irons gathering around a table of discontent wearing glares and grimaces I wear my pinny in defense lay out the feast and wait these close relations as close as the pinnapeds as alien as the pinnapeds 37

hunger first for the entrails of some unknown enemies or the flesh of their families thirst second for thick blood or saltiness next drown in sick for these cannot be stomached even by the sleeping and the confused and last shit shamelessly on all our heads They make a meal out of another man's meat and throw away enough to feed the world III I don't despair but I sometimes envy those that do



Will the word `obsolete' ever become obsolete ? Will the word `datum' ever lose its point ? Will the word `forget' ever be forgotten ? Will the word `undecidable' ever become undecidable ? Will the word `cliche' ever be overused ? Will the word `different' ever be different ? Will the word `erasure' ever be under erasure ? Will the word `meaningless' ever become meaningless ? Will the words `invisible' and `inaudible' ever become invisible and inaudible ? Is the word `contingent' contingent ? Is the word `ironic' ironic ? Will the word 'question' ever be questioned ? Will the word `ellipsis' be left out ? Will the spoken* word ever ... ?

* to be printed as the word `written'.


The Familiar Reaches
available to buy in two formats: eBook delivered on CD price £3.99 inclusive of UK shipping ISBN – 1 874778 06 X Collector’s Edition hardback printed book individually made, assigned to the purchaser by name, numbered and signed by the author printed on 95gsm Huntsman Super White Cartridge (neutral pH) paper linen stitched with linen covered boards and unique art dust jacket edition limited to 50 copies price £49.99 inclusive of UK shipping ISBN – 1 874778 11 6 allow 28 days for delivery Acknowledgements Some of these poems have appeared in Harry's Hand, The Echo Room, The Wide Skirt, and Sunk Island Review

Please confirm order BEFORE sending cash Payments to: M. A. Blackburn

Sunk Island Publishing
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email: sunkisland@hotmail.com


Certain images live in me. Spoken of they take on another life. No longer memories or the seeds of dreams they become touchstones. In the same moment they mark the places of the uncanny and of the familiar.
Geoff Matthews – July 2004

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