The Fish have Risen

for George


Just like that, the fish have risen; they have reached the surface of their element and now own it the way humans once owned land.

One fish has planted a tree on his part of the surface – although what fish call a tree is to us no more than an empty floating can – and he has made it his purpose to convince other fish to do the same. Agriculture is, it seems, an important aspect of progressive developments, even across species. Get in there quick! – the fish are not fools, they know there is only a limited amount of human garbage available, no matter how out-of-hand it may have seemed to the humans who made it.

Because they are only at the beginning of their exploitation of this new material, i.e. human waste, it may not seem so limited yet; but fish, unlike humans, have the ability to see the end of things superimposed upon their beginnings. Water dwellers see the entirety of things curled up into a timeless model where land dwellers see only straight lines vanishing toward the horizon.

Underneath their floating bellies, the seaweed waves like gently remembered hands.

The fish, not being fools, begin to team up; collectivity is natural to them. They don’t call their groupings ‘family’ the way humans used to, but like families they bond their instincts and senses in order to protect what they have dragged to the surface with them.

It no longer matters what humans used to call things, or who they were. They have left behind material to be used. This is what makes humans, in a sense, useful. But the fish have their own plans for the future.

They create string by holding just about any soppy material between two mouths and spinning their bodies around and around until the material has given in and twisted and lengthened into rope; then, they drag the string along the surface of the water where it stays afloat, exhausted.

What lies below the surface is so familiar, so well-known, that it has no appeal. What is new to the first is what lies above this frontier where water becomes air.

Air sits on top of water the way fresh water sits on top of salt water. Water water water. The fish are sick of it.

Now that all things but fish are gone, there is nothing left in the sky for them to fear. The surface is no longer a portal towards a world of danger: no more nets, no more ravenous birds, no more slicing, knocking, howling ships. All there is, is wide open potential.

The fish wrap their lips around the string and measure out their plots. One for you, one for you, one for you. At the beginning of all things, there are mathematics, and there is fairness in the way we share. Then, afterwards, things become muddled, and all of a sudden the string is full of knots.



I start digging, using my hands like the front paws of a dog until they become the front paws of a dog. Brown earth rolls in clumps around me, soft wet brown, darkening the deeper I go to bring it up.

I heave the earth out of itself again and again; sometimes in the dark my paws hit something other than earth, something hard like bone, sometimes round and indeterminate, sometimes soft, pulsating and shot through with veins, like the flesh of a worm, but without the wriggle.

When I hit such things, I pull at them until the earth lets go, and I throw them blindly behind me, away from me.

They are things I do not need, do not want to need, and there are handfuls of them.

My claws rip them from the earth, I cannot help it. They come up, but I cannot deal with them now.

I need to see them disappear, and I keep digging as they fly over my shoulders, trailing a heavy veil of earth into the dark behind me.

Rip them out. Rip out the parts that want my attention, that glisten with seductive gloss, splaying the flesh that needs more from the world than the tired earth can give.

I dig and my paws are numb with earth; with what the earth does to them.

You, past person person past, lie expectant in my wet black earth, your traits mummified and meaningful in a way they never really were. I dig into you, through you, send you flying: I know that if I look too closely at you I will slow myself down, slow my digging, and I will think that everything I dig out is something I need.

What I need is to keep digging, to dig for the part of me worth saving, worth uprooting and moving into different soil. The part of me that will agree to live and grow in different soil.

Two Collages []

Two of my old[ish] visual poems [/collages] were snatched up by a glimpse of [an online journal focusing on hybrid and experimental narratives] for their meandering Uncontrollable Issue [go read the whole thing]

What is it? [Art made/occurring/appearing within the disorderly, the uncontrollable environment/body/self. An incident.]

See my pieces here.


The cat dances on the largest leaf of a potted plant. It is a small cat, tiny, hardly bigger than a bumble bee. The cat seems to levitate above the dusty surface of the leaf. The leaf is dusty because the house has not been cleaned in a while, and skin cells keep sloughing off its inhabitants. The inhabitants are watching TV with the sound off in a brightly lit living room. The sound is off so the inhabitants can have a conversations, but they’re all just silent, looking at the people flickering on screen. A man shoots another man through the back of the head. In the room, one of the inhabitants flinches and remembers where he is. He looks around, meets no-one’s eye, and extends a hand towards the table where a glass bowl is filled with nuts. His hand puckers into a kind of beak, like delicate water fowl, and collects a few nuts. The man sinks back into his chair and places the nuts in the palm of his other hand, above his lap in case he spills any. It is a mix: some walnuts, some hazelnuts, which he discards, and some cashews. The hazelnuts return to the bowl in pairs, and the rest are slowly placed into his mouth and chewed into a paste to which more nuts are later added. His teeth are grinding cement. Eventually, he swallows the paste and on screen a man surprises his wife, perhaps, in the shower. Their relationship isn’t clear because the subtitles aren’t reliable and never addressed their marital status. The inhabitants all assume that it doesn’t matter what the naked woman’s official title is, because all we know about her from the way the scene is shot is that she is young, pretty, and that she is played by an actress with an unfortunate contract. The houseplant glimmers in the TV light. The cat is so small the inhabitants cannot see it slide off the dusty leaf of the houseplant and into a watering can at the foot of the pot. Yes: the cat has fallen into the watering can and is seen no more. Presumably, it can swim; but only for so long. It cannot fly, yet there is only one way out of the watering can, and that is through flight. A few hours later, the cat is presumably dead but no-one checks on it because the inhabitants don’t know it’s there. One by one they stretch and yawn and leave the room until the last one, the man who ate the nuts, gets up, stretches for the benefit of no-one in particular, and turns off the last light in the room, the TV.

[In other news, NaNoWriMo nears its end. Today is the second-to-last day, and I’ve amassed about 43000 words so far, which means I’ve got some serious work ahead of me if I want to reach the required 50ooo by Wednesday night.]