Issue 14 • 2011



Exhibits Against Manifestos


by Alan Halsey



for Rupert Loydell:


Sure features of sore futures

in the mainstream mausoleum

loyal skeletons of local selection.





1.  It’s not as if

not so long ago

language was not so.



2.  ‘This baboon teaches letters.’

Tell me, Thoth,

what this says about baboons.

And what does it say about letters?



3.  A morning hymn to

a sixfold paronomasic

as the sun of a new day.

The top line toppling

like audacious acid,

that’s emphadence for you:

a map of anything

the total description

&c.  If this resembles

a spick & span ancient accident

you’ll soon see its chips & spikes.

‘From this distance thinking towards you’

wrote Oppen

‘Time is recession.’



4.  It happened in the middle of

the 19th century.  Malflorists

everywhere.  Suddenly.  So?  If

it’s pointless trust it.  Categ’rists

burn faster than cigarettes

and are much less missed.



5.  A seraph shot the sheriff.

The unrivalled comes unravelled

in ultra bold sans serif.

‘It is a little to write about itself.’



6.  These feign foreign, authors from aether,

done but with errors on the page.

Look how the silver-furred lions jump ship.

How I keep saying to myself

I’ll be drowned

It’s a dream

I’ll be drowned.



7.  As sarcasm is to scarcity:

air on the side of safety.

Ensure erasure but margin chagrin.

What is human and/or banded,

omniscient yet inconsistent,

is clearly resolved in this

you could call it an illusion.



8.  Anonymous led from the start.

The odds-on favourite Analysis came last.

[‘Anonymous said that?’

‘Nah, Enormous.’


‘Nah, Levitation.’]



9.  The desire of towing?

The formidable delight of

headlights in formaldehyde.

How can there be a language

no one understands?



10.  Dear Jack

even if rabbits

don’t know what they are

there’s a question what

kind of not knowing

which affects more than rabbits

this is.



11.  He’s listed all the things

he only thinks of finally

but there is no natural word order.

Before transmutation

no document’s a poem.



12.  Never salutary slip from solitary lips

‘For the Greeks and the Romans

never talked to themselves, or to God,

which really comes to the same thing’

or at least betrays a certain preconception.



13.  All we know is this particular

planet’s being hung out to dry.

Any day I will wake up

speaking a language not dead but

subject to recent legislation.



14.  ‘They utter their commodities’:

how brittle what brutal business.

‘In a recession they’ll sacrifice

black sheep’ wrote Lucretius.



15.  An emblem once put it like this:

omen, ornament or name.

Another said:

presence, person or response.

Beware the palpable vertigo

represented here.  It’s made

of resuscitated things

resituated if & when spoken.

Years which start

as a literal translation

sometimes descend into paraphrase.



16.  Dear Ralph

when Heidegger went to the mountains

the mountains hid in the woods

I reckon that’s why he went to the woods

and therefore

not all not-mountains are Buddhists

and only some not-Buddhists

are the very few woods

who know the difference between

not-not-being and not-mountains.



17.  A trap part art.  Vague

i.e. undefined

but I know which verge it’s under.

Find me its apples.

Wait for the applause.



18.  Somewhere behind Exhibit 18

according to the guidebook

there’s an Übermensch

or as we say ‘Committee’.



19.  A lost slab stole abuse

To be as absolute

A stab to so salute.

‘And some of them of understanding,

shall fall, to try them,

and to purge,

and to make them white.’



20.  Good morning

you’re listening to Cogito Live.

Again.  And last night

a thief stole what wasn’t worth stealing

for quite the wrong reason

again.  As for insurance

she says Hello I’m Chloe.

Ah Chloe.  I just wanted to tell you

Therefore I am.





Alan Halsey’s latest collections are Term as in Aftermath (Ahadada Books) and Lives of the Poets (Five Seasons Press).  Optic Nerve recently released his reading of The Text of Shelley’s Death on CD, and an expanded edition of his collaboration with Steve McCaffery, Paradigm of the Tinctures, has been issued as an Argotist ebook.  Also published in 2010 were his editions of Bill Griffiths Collected Earlier Poems (Reality Street) and Thomas Lovell Beddoes The Ivory Gate: Later Poems and Fragments (ReScript Books).  An interview with Alan Halsey appears in E·ratio Issue 13.  “Exhibits Against Manifestos” is an expanded version of “Nine Ways of Looking at a Manifesto” which was published in Rupert Loydell’s anthology Troubles Swapped For Something Fresh: Manifestos and Unmanifestos (Salt, 2009).