Stride Magazine -


Irrigations (of the Human Heart) –
Fictional Essays on the Poetics of Living, Art & Love

Consider This, Misreading Zagajewski

Consider this, Adam Zagajewski: the eye knows if something was never three-dimensional – we read your poems from the flat page and ‘a castle heaves itself into existence’, wind cherries fall but leave no stain on our mouths, through the tunnels of day light races, crushes the soft vowels of the moon’s elocution, everything approaches, stares at the clock as if looking for some kind of description in time, morning curls sleep in its hand, curls like a playful kitten asleep, yesterday still moans in the memory like a cloud being gently untied from thought, like a merciful parting, a bond whispered to a scribe of sentences of the heart which must be written in the blood of anger and loss – and so we read your poems and suspensions once finite trace the outline of infinity, liquid fragments where once it flowed and again our bodies coat with the vernix that sheathes the first moment, that moment before the scream, of speech so silent that someone matters.


The Profile of the Dead

Most members of the public don’t have the ability to correctly place on the ground what’s meant to be on paper.

I couldn’t even reassemble my own skeleton, not being able to follow the special marks in order to get my life back inside the fence. ‘Everybody is capable of dying’ said the sign at the gate and of the alleged dream of the sum of activities of plants and animals in small print below, as if in place of warning a fine, ‘Be careful – it’s not compulsory’. And the latch sticks because in not allowing you to wake nature has its own purposes which have little to do with the matters to be shown. Then why this painful diffidence, this unjustified shame? Don’t you know you can only expect praise for what is known? There is to be no lamenting here, just more good work. And so, inhuman, but keeping the format, I impose my delicate presence on the field through an unexpected semantic high-jump which immediately gave the impression that I was a believer in the liar’s paradox. Such a rare allocation of the body took even the official record by surprise and I became (ironically) known as a double of living (kind of like an unrecognized member of staff in a German university). And though I now know there is nothing after death thus this journey has no end, I am still fiddling with another logic where nothing can constitute and equal that end. Infinitely I am being redrawn – really, you wouldn’t believe the popularity of the only possible alternative. Everything in the world asks me a question. I am the answer.

Anti-Heart (Names of Torture)

         for Elaine Scarry

The body in pain occupies a separate universe to the idea. It has lines that have become lines. Waves that have become waves. It truly has dimensions, dimensions like those of a baby, like a child’s world.

The body in pain has beetles and oceans of the wind. It has fifteen skeletons and a knuckle truck and bodies that do not belong to it.

Ash of shelves, ash of silence – the noisy ash of this body has bone understanding, desires time, has gone down into mystery.

Unwhispered, the body in pain sees the inside of the scream, sees the circle and how it violates logic. It knows the stars which do not glow in the dark. The body in pain disappears from the throat.

Windings, turnings, bendings, curving of a line or surface – new bodies are anticipated as the names of torture are spoken. “[D]oubt… seems… only… a tiny fold in an almost invisible thread of tissue in the heart…”

‘Reasons to be inconsolable abound...’

Alain de Botton

Jumping around with arms swinging, face-to-face in the light carriage of Dr Proust’s advice (‘If only I could value myself more! Alas! It is impossible’), I wondered what could be got, with such health, from the end of the world. Always, of course! It always is and may be. Knowing this, and I mean truly knowing it – Hello Death and afterwards I’m sure we’ve met because it tipped a bucket of cold water over my head (baptising the poet!) – there’s no wariness about time and how to use it, but practically everything still remains impossible. You would think I didn’t have to worry, being a very quaint small drawing of a human figure, knees up, in someone else’s book – why do I need exercise?!, but we all have our troubles, our little bête noires. For example, I may not have to write by inadequate lamplight but even electricity hasn’t found me poring over the mistresspiece to his master. O, in all the world! a life crumbling towards inadequacy, via inadequacy. Reasons to be inconsolable abound – fifty thousand dollars, the producer being my leg this afternoon because they didn’t want to pay me, the face glimpsed in the street indistinguishable through resemblance from the face of a dead love. Last year: eighty-seven thousand dollars buried somewhere in a beach of words, more people than ever with tattoos, complication exponential for the living... For the future, I may leave these pages, born into a true poverty where thinking follows its own true course for that (can’t write about it because I don’t know) but now I stretch in the present like a lazy cat belly-full on sun-dreams where the ghosting shadows pass through my eyelids to a deeper brain than action, paws epileptic in the crushed basil as I enter the cave of nighttime TV. Shuffles past, a young man just starting to be a vagrant, matted hair, still clear skin. He looks surprised – not at us – and a little oblivious. Young girls – if they could think: they want us – because we walk arm in arm, have gotten here without losing love. And what is it I’m remembering from all time, writer, fourteen years under your thin coverlet? Remember what? That living is in it – the sad little bits that feel like nothing,                                    not even grief.

The Tide in Him

Pull him straight, pull him straight. The needle so slight in him. The tide in him has no thought for the ocean’s name.


As a definition, it approaches God. Flesh-coloured after flesh has been growing through four seasons in very rich soil. Living and dying in the same place. Being patted to sleep. Bubbles that stay alive is a concept that mind drift through your mind. Put on your name-tag if you don’t want to be a stranger! Earth’s on the up – turning like dreams. You can do no better than put smiles in the mouths of gods, complain to a fir tree that all you have is trees.

                   © MTC Cronin 2002