L I t T e R

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Back to Litter home

Rupert Loydell


'The only possible representation of panic is velocity'
- Mario Merz

Instructions: to think.


To read that which is not written.


Concentration visible:
an igloo the ideal form.


How twisted and strange our toddler's sentences
as she struggles to say what she means. I'm bored
by continual reference to language and meaning.


Words always lead to others,
notes refer to other books:

endless signposts pointing
everywhere and nowhere,

open maps for the intrigued.


Buildings, streets, cars and parking lot;
bundles of twigs, roots and flower.
Miracle of order and articulation
dropped in as a kind of shorthand.

The igloo developed from secret knowledge
that came suddenly on a long winter Sunday.
I desired to make art that shone like the outback,
to come up with a metaphor never used before.


How can I attend to so little for so long?
I fetch tradition and carry it with me.
Meanwhile, sentences glimmer over igloos
built in the counter-tradition of landscape.

At the same time all the world I know
hails my initiative, toasts my success.
The stones and the lead are necessary;
space is important, this space is fluid.

It is necessary to look to the complexity of life;
a steep metal staircase winds round the outside.
Grace is that mix of fullness and lightness,
those privileged moments of existence -

moments of writing, circumstance or love.


If there were red concrete I would build a red igloo.
As it is, I have slate, stone and mud, withies, and steel,
have canvas and wax, lead and sheet glass,
light to caulk joints between outside and in.

Dark associations and mythical allusions
are embedded in detailed manipulations
of impulse and import. I have the impression
that I have invented an art form which breathes,

that is restless, knowledgeable, savage
and spiritual. It has severe health problems
and a library of books I'm never tired of,
although I wish we had more shelves.

Where has the weather gone? May as well ask
about higher meaning or bringing the reader
closer to the lyric voice of the poet. It is only
hours away from the North Pole by plane.

Instructions: Make an enormous effort.
Say no to the theatricality of a situation.
Don't shut the door, you'll let the air in.
Try to be led astray. You may think I am

teaching my grandma to suck eggs. I'm not.


What one reads on one's own notebook page
is the slime trail left by time, a snail spiral
through culture, highlighting narrative and
attempting to reduce it to manageable size.
There is a compulsion to sacrifice everything
or frame it on the wall. The movement of
animals is defined by rules of growth, their
simple desire to feed and inhabit the earth.
We can clip stone to the spine and neon
to the frame, but the ensuing tension
between moved and unmoved, spectator
and maker will not bring about a solution.
Please note the after image, the faint
stain of the my-oh-my-is-that-what-we-did-
in-those-days? upon memory's headline.
Order is always waiting in the future to
meet us: out come all the imaginary tigers.

In verse one I tried to point to a problem
that cannot be resolved. All of us have had
the experience of trying to do nothing -
stop busyness and vacuity pours through,
red sap rising as far as the branches.
This is not enemy propaganda, it is the
culmination of glacier's lifelong drift.
The melting ice threatens to be every
moment, a wound that will not heal.
We have not done any work at all,
have simply thought about how
our lives could be. But here come
the grey weeks of work to weigh us down
before we find translucence and inertia.
Now in our village with the falling light,
neatly-carved blocks of ice surround us
where we have built our igloo homes.


The desire to enter an igloo is entirely instinctive.
There's no end to the delightful possibilities inside.
Music's in the aether, pouring down onto disc -
so much for the grasping, so much for the asking.

In our igloo, life has melted into a unique shape:
ambiguity in the first place (written on pencil or leaves),
numbered stairs in ascending order (difficult to climb),
and unnumbered stars outside (impossible to count).

It's such an undertaking, experiencing the complex
whilst trying to ride this wall of death. Sandbags and ice,
piles of newspapers, gathered brushwood, steel cage -
building what is not possible is quite a task.

There's no need to keep going on about ice houses,
it's all been done and dusted, tried and tested.
Reading what is not written asks the reader to join in,
shows the mathematical progression of human need.

for Natasha

My eighth year in the igloo of parenthood.
Outside, autumn has arrived with the rain;
we won't be able to visit the beach today.

Is it isolation in a room of books, or wholeness
in the bosom of the family? She seems to love
her presents but is overwhelmed by possibilities

and choice. Do we want her to grow up quickly
or play with her dolls? Why is she so contrite?
And why won't her baby sister stop screaming?

So many questions stay unanswered; time
simply passes as the ice melts. It gets dark
and the neighbours are back a week early;

they got robbed on the motorway in Spain,
couldn't stick the thought of staying away.
New toys are in boxes in the dining room,

pushed to the centre while we paint the walls.
Is the off-white too lemon or the yellow too
sunny? Do the dents in the plaster still show?

We don't care any more. We need to unpack
and put some family history on the shelves,
move books and records out of the garage.

The future turns up early, we do not miss the past;
the igloo shrinks as we and the children get older.
How quickly these words melt on to the page.

The Me and the Here and the Now

'Yes, but every now and then I have my own melancholy.'
- Mario Merz

So the music and books don't matter
but clothes and television do? Build
igloos of self and consumption and
forget everybody else. They can fish
for themselves and see the winter out.
Different memories may have not
even survived, moments flow in such
peculiar ways. I am interested in work
that comes from the studio I carry with me,
am drawn toward a spiritual atheism
which means I don't have to pray or
argue for the love of higher meaning
in my work. Here are some random
openings: the door, the gate, the crack
in the wall, the gap between ceiling
and floor. Simply articulated noise
rings in my ears again and again.

In verse one I tried to substantiate
the link between inner and outer,
discuss the syntax of boundaries,
the patterns of spaces and marks.
I am obsessed with ice and snow,
the way colour fades as you move
between uncertain boundaries,
places where whites and blues
are a two-dimensional remnant
of polar exploration. Were those
early explorers brave and fearless,
single-minded and brave, or just
privileged and foolish men we've
recreated behind layers of the past,
shared dreams open to interpretation?
It is the gaze rather than the breath;
experience is not always life-affirming.


I am teaching my grandmother
to suck eggs, leading her astray.
We are family fugitives, hiding out
of harm's way. Huge drifts of snow

are piling up outside, creating
surface effects which distract us
from our tasks. In the same way
that we don't choose our dreams,

I keep finding colour sensations
in the bathroom's mirrored wall:
traces of former occupants, images
that reflect the changing horizon

as sun finally dips out of view
after several long months of day.
Light seeps, retreats and bleeds,
fingers and refingers the world.

It is like entering a dark room
from the bright outside; the way
a leaf, a drop of water or square
of colour attracts the roving eye.

If there was time I would see red.


In the tradition of refiguration
and surprise, I climb the staircase
that spirals around my life. One of
the aims of art is to build bridges

between opposites, give us a new
interpretation of place. But pieces
do not always fit together, and we
must mind the gap between history

and place. When the snow comes,
obscuring the morning's glinting glass,
we hope it will settle, grab scarves
and gloves and rush into the garden.

An igloo is just that: an igloo.


The restless mind desires trembling,
does not understand the objects
which it sees or makes. The igloo
is a space that is absolute in itself,

a motionless subject. Selected evidence
is available to view, several analogies
drive the poem along. Stopped moments
of interlocking gazes freeze the day.


The rules of growth demand change;
the igloo dissolves the architecture,
encourages us to wonder and question.
Description can be a constant adventure,
resurrection never seemed so unpromising.


I am full of the drift of cold air,
have wet socks and shoes from
walking to the shed and back.


Lines break where syntax ends: corridors
that connect one thing with another.


Memories of emotion and thought.


We could live without any sense of ending.

Copyright Rupert M Loydell, 2006