:: Article

(Pain) and other poems

By Calum Gardner.


either we know
(gathering intelligence from all sources)
or we don’t know
(whispering in the flowerbeds or the alleys)

or either we know
(rooting around in the landfill)
or we don’t know
(mooning over a piece of info)
or we neither know nor don’t know
(that was later found in the recycling)

or either we know
(how many formal logic symbols
can i tattoo on my lower back)
or we don’t know
(this now is a full alphabet)
or we neither know nor don’t know
(room for one more)
nor neither know nor don’t know
(syntax error a beautiful animal)


call me email – shipmates
have ye shipped in that ship? (melville)
composed new and saved and been bounced to spam

history is the engagement with all forms of life
the tree-octopus or drop-bear
they come in forested agglomerations
all our doings were biomass
but we were going to moth our way out

instead it is meatcanned
this containerised version of us gives up its bones
weakens its millennial grip on the next age

we were larval once
but without exchanging a cell
somewhere in this circumnavigation we became
in the creaking ancient timbers of shipped steel
just worms


giving a book or writing a lecture about your failing health
your knees or stomach trouble or skin complaint

you are coming to compline in a rough garment
and holding forth later in a nightgown

even though feelings of pain
have the demands of abstraction applied to them
they are internally consistent as a set of corporate byelaws
and nothing like a rothko in the manner
in which they will relate to the market

pain is only popular because of early support and funding
from the cia, which opposed it to the notion
popular under full communism
of no pain

Calum Gardner is a poet and editor of Zarf magazine, and has published poems in places such as Datableed, Poetry Wales, and Jungftak.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, October 6th, 2017.