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Digital Poetics #8 These Punks of Zenith: Karen Sandhu


I thought about submerging beneath the spectral lights of the sea. I flashed back to my rising debt to civilisation. That gallant affable urbane laic and refined kind of stuff. Pierced with holes my aqua shoes glugged, hopelessly. A shadowy outline waved from the seashore and I couldn’t tell if it was waving me back or waving me on. I thought about all the waves-on I’d received in my life like that time I bought that box of chewed CDs from that stranger who was surprised anyone would want them. Or like that time when Strawberry Suze told me enough was enough, prancing through the ticket barrier on to that beast of a wagon, and waving me on.


Monday is the new Thursday and I’m relieved the days skip on like that. I took my first skip aged 6. It’s captured in a crackled photograph iridescent and misshapen. Leap hop leap hop leap Ms C said. Skipping towards the smell of crispy leaves and dangly daisies. Now I skip away from smells. That miserable scent of vase water slop. The carcass of carnations decomposing on my dank shelf. You’re sat to my right and I strain my neck sideways to look. Your scent wafts over. A scent of composting time. I wretch. I think this is it. I’m skipping off but I don’t. Because my iron leg is stuck firmly in the grill of your smile.


I abhor these clothes of colour you’ve left at the foot of my door. Mangled crushed injured. Of another time. Who wants them I scream from the farthest corner of my rooftop. The city shudders. I write you a note and post it underneath your door. See! I write. Not even a ravenous city cares for your colourful muck. I pick the seeds from my last pomegranate as I wait for your next delivery. I abhor your silence. Far more than your clothes of colour. Your clothes. Not mine.


Carrying anything for 9 successive days is no easy feat. I get bored by day 3 and want to take it back. This thing lounges on me like the tail of a platypus, heavy and hot. A golden scan of the future is impossible with this truncated ball of mass. Arduous labour will be justly rewarded. So I return to the forest on the outskirts of Savage Green and circle that trunk which bore this fruit. The reckoning is now. Green skeletal translucent paper chatters in the wind. I politely ask for a refund but no-can-do is the reply. Instead this sticky clump digs itself deeper into my already bruised flesh. Red purple green. A return to the source is not a profitable idea. I slump down in despair and pull out that magazine from my back pocket. The one I save for days-gone-wrong, and I read about the demise of pink blusher.


You’re right. We had no right being there, there in that small-town which we drove through on a whim. The whims of summer are the only whims worth pursuing you said. Your words launched from your mouth like liquid air and fluorescent sparks. We were older, and louder, and you could say happier. The darkness that awaited us in the distance, beyond those corn fields there, was met graciously by us all. The wooden slats of this rotten shack had succumbed to its sprawling creepers. A blue neon sign flickered dimly above a rusty door. It was hot. And everything creaked. And I asked you why you picked this shack out of the many we had passed along the way. And you gave no answer. So onwards we went. All of us. Our noses pressed against the vacancy signs plastered on its windows. Peering through the mesh gauze at those silhouettes of a vanilla kind of life.


Standing in the crowd he capsized. And buried his head into his lap. The ring of urban life – those bells, and telephones, and cash tills, and speakers, and tannoys, and megaphones, and vehicle beeps pierced his drums. People moved left to right, over and under. Time ticked clockwise. Day turned to dusk turning to night turning to dawn. He pressed his palms hard against his ears. And in that 4am eerie quiet, he uncoiled his body, released his hands and prepared to unveil himself to momentary emptiness. Ah emptiness. He stood up tall and outstretched his arms drawing his head back towards the rising sun, and bellowed: ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING ING


Late. I open the door to Ms V’s class. She’s speaking about Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adamwhich is projected across her face and onto the wall behind. As she moves the painting moves. As she breathes the painting breathes. The painting. Two hands, reaching. The grip of all hands. Hands. Durer’s Praying Hands and the crossed hands of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa alongside Warhol’s happy Handprints, and Van Gogh’s Study Sheet with Seven Hands, Escher’s fleshy Drawing Hands accompany Lane’s The Hands of Love XIV and even Bernini’s many hands, sculpted. All hands beyond their wrist. Kaleidoscopic palms. Textured. Variegated fingers. Lean. Hands. Clenched. Fist. And yet hands, yours. Your hands the day we visited the ruins.


We listen to these hard-edged melodies as the fires outside soar. You keep clusters of fireflies inside glass jars. Greyish charred marks create moving shadows on your walls. The heat is difficult, and I don’t know what to say about it. The clangour and commotion of these inside beats form the backdrop to the outside fiery din. I mouth something although I don’t know what. Who can lip read in this hazy light – the fire whips up and licks the side of everything. The heat is difficult. We wait for the rains. I motion to a tin can in amongst the mist and dance with it. Babbling bodies hullabaloo in this foggy kerfuffle of yellow and orange. But your charred marks remain grey and I don’t know what they’re for. And as I think the heat is difficult. You prod me hard, inside my ribs. Outside it’s raining.


Karen Sandhu is a poet and artist. She is currently a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, where she was awarded a College Studentship. She has collaborated with the Institute of Contemporary Arts and performed her poetry at Flat Time House (London), Arnolfini (Bristol) and Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris). Her artworks have been exhibited at The Showroom (London) and Galerie éof (Paris).


This publication is in Copyright. Karen Sandhu, 2020.

The moral right of the author has been asserted. However, the Hythe is an open-access journal and we welcome the use of all materials on it for educational and creative workshop purposes.

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