Review of Michael Mc Aloran's 'of dead silences' by David McLean.
Of dead silences
This is a new chapbook from Mick Mc Aloran and it is an investigation of the points in our progression through apparently evident memories that strive to ignore those very points, the points where the flies gather and there are rats in all the sewers, the same sewers we never noticed we lived in, the same rats we never noticed that we are.
Annulled memory you are the thunder
Of the endless origin
Dragging light from out of the skeleton
Of a corpse’s nothing
The light is lies and gibberish, maybe, or maybe it is the simple self-evident truth that whatever Mc Aloran writes that sounds nasty is, as a matter of fact, pretty much hitting the nail right on its arrogant head.Ruins of the foreign sky
From which point all are dead
Smears of dying animals upon clear glass
The flies will gather, nothing more
The glass is still clear, you can see though it. The light earlier is still a light you can see with, even if it the foul light that originates from corpses. An insight is still an insight unless it does not say of what is that it is, or of that which is not that it is not. And that's pretty impressive. It is arguable that the origins of poetry were religious, the use of the intoxicating effect of repetition and melody to create a more powerful transfer of feeling through linguistic meanings.
Much modern poetry still staggers under the weight of this taint, it is the ramblings of drooling psychopaths who want their grannies not to be what these poems say they are, the rotten decayed relics of nothingness. The old dears, as Mick or I might say, are absent and missing forever; they might as well never have existed, so to hell with them. And there isn't even a hell, except the one we are living through as you, gentle reader, read this. Much poetry, for some reason, wants these grannies not to be dead and gone forever.
Here, in this book, is the place poetry comes to when we are obliged to stop pretending to be climbing. Where our efforts take us is not the stars and heaven, it is more of the absurd and a more or less protracted ending. The ending is absolute and after us an unending nothing, the inexpressible that is not being. Words threaten understanding since they cling stubbornly to their origins as an index of what is, the via negativa does not work as a lonesome road for most “thinking”, unless poetry exists for no other reason than making me personally profoundly irritated. Mick's poetry stays in the safe place which most people might find unsafe and danger and madness, the acceptance of the absolute weight of lack, the loss, and absence.
Even believers grieve. This, as Hopkins points out, is really stupid (or words to that effect). A believer should not grieve the death of a loved one, if they really love them. So I am prepared to accept that people grieve, I am not prepared to accept that they really, in the strong sense, “believe”.
As I always like to say, citing Homer, “People do things because they are stupid and die because they deserve to.” The dead, and the living dead are legion, lack “the light by which the night ignites the living”, as Mc Aloran states here in one of his aphorisms. (To cravenly return to that of which we were actually speaking, the review of the particular poems.)
Living, basically, is wallowing in shit and it is best to stand before the emptiness and the senseless with the brave resolution of the ancient (and modern) Celts who live in dour lands inflicted with history and a climate that doesn't very much like them or anything else that wants anything in particular. As I'm sure the Celts really said to Caesar, “we are only afraid of one thing, and that's that alcohol might suddenly stop working so our race would basically have to disband.”
Brute flesh shocks the nothing back
And is then pissed upon
The bones that “scurry for the shadows” are just the truth, hiding from the “cracked sun” of belief, or even from the deficient light of conventional wisdom. These are the poems that tell us that everything isn't OK in the usual sense of the words. But that's OK, we always have
One final breath to champion the infinite
It might be a silence spitting but what it is spitting is still laughter, even if the laughing is spiteful. This is the first section of the book, the silhouettes.
Then we have the section of dead silences themselves.
The silence is always the observation of the deathscape that is what is and then the gap between memory and expectation and the need for contact that is buried forever in the skull that is assuming the cerements of the tomb already. And nothing coming, nothing cumming as we wait for it; silence the wait weighting the shoulders of skeletons clothed in slightly fresh flesh.
Reek unto assuaged….
Skinned breath sharp as shock/absent
Reek of dead silences/earthen splendour
Back again till naught and the obscene scatter of…
Dead again…a burning forest of silences
This book is heartily recommended by me; you should purchase it.