Michael Blackburn's ART ZERO


The Constitution of Things (Northern House, 1984); pamphlet, ISBN 0 900570318, 1.25

The Constitution of Things

Conspiracy of spaces
tautened with energies.
It could just happen
that I walk straight through a wall
or put my hand through a table.

Then we may all be ghosts.

One day the apple will not fall
but hang in the air below my hand.

Why Should Anyone Be Here And Singing? (Echo Room Press, 1987); pamphlet, 1.00

The Days In Between

I know the days in between: awake
to a morning like this, the city's breath
dusting my sill with monoxides. On the stair,
nothing but mail for the previous tenants.
A day when I talk with no one but myself
and the man who sells me cigarettes.
I'm walking through white-walled streets
down to the banks where houseboats lodge
on the black naked back of the river's mud.
Dusty June, the water is low.
The heart endures the unbearable
one more day, its automatic thud
of hope and collapse. Suddenly I taste
the flush of panic. Like metal. Like blood.

The Lean Man Shaving (Jackson's Arm, 1988); pamphlet, ISBN 0 948282088, 1.50

From The Black Cuillin Peaks

The brittle rock holds up
its own dark nature, so full of friction
you feel you could climb
with naked fingers and feet
to the highest zone of attrition.

In this clean Hebridean light
extending through nameless blues
of sea and air, the burn has dwindled
to a thin white stillness, and from the soft
surrounding brown of its heather
cuckoos call.

Somewhere on the steep grey slope scree
tinkles and rolls from a walker's boot.
You tilt your head, abruptly aware,
gravity's hunger, under it all.

Backwards Into Bedlam (Joe Soap's Canoe, 1988); pamphlet, ISBN 1870430026, 1.50


If only it were
as easy
as crossing
a field

to live
at the same pace
as a river

what puts us
in our place
is money

isn't that
clear enough?

The Prophecy of Christos (Jackson's Arm, 1992); book, ISBN 0949282096,
6.95. This brings together most of the poems in the previous publications, except
for Backwards Into Bedlam, which remains uncollected.


It changes things.
Just look at what the sea does
to pebbles and brick and fragments of glass.

Even the rock of this mountain before us
gets worn and worried by generations of rain.
Bit by bit the streams below
are carting it away to the sea.

The sea, as we know, has mountains of its own -
its briny work is never done.
Every day it sends more clouds
to remind us how things must change.

The Ascending Boy (Flambard Press, 1999); book, ISBN 1873226314, 6.95

The Bather

She breaks from the river's cage as if
all life were immersion; water shatters
in runnels between breast and thigh
and she hears the world like a sudden
gasp, it too breaking to separate pieces:
the cries of other bathers, the song
of a blackbird, the music of small radios
and always the noise of the river,
the one sound that has been here since
before there were humans to listen.
From the shade of limes I witness
her glistening fleshiness. Struck
in all her watchers, desire trembles
like a board after the diver has leapt.

Feedback please: fabulous@artzero.org.uk Pages by Michael Blackburn 2 July 2000