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Western Culture

by Kiran Leonard

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It never came! My eyes spent hours focused on the open page, but nothing arranged in me; there was no imagery to save our shrinking sun from death. “It’s not enough!”, my patron yelled, “It does not show or inspire, renege or reach higher!” I’d given up; sick of allegories, I conceded my uselessness in the verse I recite. How he cursed and he trembled, said: “It teaches us nothing!” 
(and he was right), “How does it bring us closer:
the dismissal of meaning before the freezing pyre? It is a vast sea of blackness —no stories are told, the stars don’t wink or fall beyond your beside— and my personal canvas, no vain presumption to speak for someone, resolve or deny. Is it not enough to bury conclusions and embrace unknowing? For those with fixed sights, to whom all else is lies, the conflict of visions is a means to an end. Mistaken, we are tempted to draw running water from an unknown. ** The system is greying; Master rallies and wails —clutching, weeping— I sigh.
I regret everything; immunise (or attempt to evade) a doubt born of vicious thoughts with untenable respite. Forgoing insight to fill a void that enraptures shame; to repress or push aside a weight terrible and precise. And though it's not the same as keeping true to an endgame, the wild relief of a voice smiling softly comes to eclipse everything else and gifts a version of myself that it feels good to be. Strength and happiness are not ideals that dilate and glow with ease; it is not a casual act to sustain them on the inside. To look for an exit, a quiet gaze that can help you float, serene and bright, is still detached, incapable and confined. And yet I close my eyes, extending to a vague light, and I'll wallow and rave in that sound another day, when reason has not worn so thin and the joy that I'm measuring is a noise I alone can emanate. To wait for another to lead the way and to take control of a soul against itself and bring clarity for a while is woeful and reckless, for there are faults you only fix alone– (the extolled and missing phrase an embrace will not define)– and though it can't be alright to neglect and disguise (seams misplaced), to whisper a name conducts reverence through shame and a spirit unseen grabs my hand and absurd intolerance sees me follow, and disseminate blame.
He was too proud to ask for food, could not speak up. On allowance; to nurse his mother, he'd left his job. Working people, we hear you: the lazy and the feckless will pay for their wrongdoing. They cut his power; the insulin in the fridge was spoiled. His sister found him near a pile of CVs, with an empty stomach. Working people, we hear you while those who are voiceless make no sound. Working people: Are we not our brothers' and sisters' keepers?
An Easel 02:10
Ambition is strange: In ditches and silver cups, a barrier comes unstuck; the noise excites in surprise like a bumbling child that'll make you smile in spite of all unexplained and dismembered and muddled up, where strength of will is not enough to let respire the good corrective or parable. And who will express from a mount underwater with serpents in their eyes that it's hard to believe in anything, to assess or analyse? Too much attention feeding out to a visible pulp who spoke of marrying the non-essential with uncritical ascension, and as the venom sinks into your back, the gene expires; the canine looks into your eyes and says: “Well, it's quite alright!” They built an easel for you; the one role you never played was that of draughtsman unassuaged, the pencil not an incentive to hold a crown and it's not enough to misattribute and lie, small like a laughing dog, when the moon's oh so full: Are moons outright hard for you to believe in? With victories over, with cemeteries swollen, the woods like an ocean: Feel this elation with me! Cherish this absurdity! The crucial irrelevance! The infinite knife's edge!
Two flat eyes frame a thin smile borne in a statue; the pale marble lines trace figments of an unchanging agent; the majesty of its form evokes the soaring infinite. Cased in rock, the ancient God by which all is measured is falling apart, is vapour; ceaseless, shifting events cloud from view the face of a ‘was’ that was not. The work that brought you life, how did it end up like this? But charitably, those in civil prairie homes bawl down, enlightening the dumb recipients of systems that must lie over their heads! ** [!!!] There is no choice of answer when you're desperate, when you're kept from setting the agenda. “I've had it to here!” sounds the terrified cry of the white cis male, but it is not up to him(?): “Ideas of sheer bile that fester over genuine pillory”; the subject is left boxed in with the wrong question, you then condemn. Feel in this moment the roofs over our heads glitch; the hours evaporate ** There are holes in our villages that knell a curse, that cast shadows; there are voids in the crust of the earth where sons and husbands were sent and they found their work. We are saddled with a mission all our days: Find purpose through emptiness. When the pits of our hearts go unfilled, (it) breeds terror and ire, and their aims (are) fulfilled. ** It is a human desire Fill nothing with fire It is human desire Build something with fire It is the God/man tier Set the other on fire Be the taker of power Set the rest on fire It is the human desire Fill the nothing with fire The God rises higher Kill something with fire He is a crook and a liar It is the God/man tier Fill the nothing with fire Set the rest on fire
Now Then 02:59
(the) switch steams, the circuit’s dead; his head is a silhouette idling, a study robbed of speech. He slowly unfolds; vapour moon approaching wide, quiet release, banishing dark plumes
(the damaging that he can’t describe) The deluge of wrong events gave way to a reticence; the fugal chaos of voices saying ‘no’ ravaging souls thought to have found hope in vocal light, words of ease… Wholly immersed, escaping like a cloud to our eyes, his waking embers derealised, he suddenly let go. It is too much for him; reflective life makes him feel pathetic, like a veil (ad)dressing a storm, or a teething dramatic, without recourse (to run away… accept malaise…) Is it not enough to sigh and separate yourself from each wire ringing with blame? Assume it’s you; don’t exhume (you’ll be happier) And gentlemen of rage and terror, I know there’s fear in change; in fading image, I know, but stem duress, your greedy enemy ghosts; let gentleness surround and soften (I know); let spires of light impress your vanishing sight, as fellows, through smoke, approach your weathering eyes. We are tethered and spent, spinning into the arms, of a quiet inside, or a screaming antidote. To all terrible creatures armed with your steak knives: do you think that you know what we are? To all famines dressed as teachers, conjuring respite: do you think we don’t know what you are? But then again, the crooks’ deafening blow; the cracks within the mirror joining our lives; the broken pane reflects innumerable lines, we become overwhelmed.
End scene; the course I crave: an absence bathed in ocean white! The orbits in suspense; no years to shape – I’d feel alright! (No objectives feigned...) Take the trip if you need it, your one last choice to make And I see a crack in the distance!
I am falling out of the place I am tethered, from the line I must crawl, to land that is not space. And in this shuddering instance, I will vault about the sea and never seek the ground, and make my pure escape from here
Last night I went to a lecture by two human rights lawyers venerated at distance. Everybody was cloaked, knowingly, in bearing what they knew: nothing, and reflecting on that map of great distinction that overtook the countries it described, rendering homes as ink unto a page in fiction and in leverage. They killed civilian policeman as they stood outside at a ceremonial occasion, as covert figures in the air struck hospitals and elementary schools and made tombs in bedrooms. We were sat still but lost our moorings in images we could not understand, wincing through fog and all stumbling blind, “Nothing to be done” And in the dearth of the west, before a mother shot to death, the throat of a piano unknowingly stifles and empties. Are we so impossibly unable, limited and limbless? Like a vassal to my eye, a hastening silt envelops earth and sky and redacts even the maps, as history in idle orbit strengthens it with centuries of tide: No head to cut off, or negotiate with, or bribe, is response all theory? Are we so impossibly unable? I see it now; are words as ink not without equal? I feel it now: What need has poetry in capturing a lengthening shroud, when deeds and oratory must struggle with apertures shrinking and proud? As minor victories, must we measure all droll condemnations of power; with hopeless pedantry and brief comforts our illustrations endow us, when superior fantasists cast fictions as infallible science; when ulterior lyricists paint honesty as violence.
Suspension 02:36
The way Adris Hoyos plays the drums in a video of a Harry Pussy show in Georgia inspires and moves me; the way she calls that loud meathead a motherfucker, then ascends in a spaceship of noise to just defend to feel on fire any which way The way we must live our own fictions and put to bed all the doubt that you can’t describe terrifies and soothes me; the way a suspension lifts your heart, the reverie of a screaming voice to just pretend to glimpse a map to grasp at life any which way To ask yourself what you are a breath at a time.


released October 19, 2018

Kiran Leonard - acoustic guitar, chord organ, cymbals, electric guitars, frying pan, goat bells, harmonium, melodica, pianos (electric, upright), reed organ, sandpaper, synthesisers, tambourine, ukelele, violin, voice
Dan Bridgwood Hill - electric guitar, piano, synthesiser
Andrew Cheetham - drums, percussion
Dave Rowe - bass guitar

Prabjote Osahn - violin (2, 4, 5, 9)
Kath Ord - viola (2, 4, 5, 9)
Greg Morton - cello (2, 4, 5, 9)

Jon Collin - electric guitar (3)
Jenny Hollingworth - voice (5)
Laurie Hulme - voice (1, 2, 5)
Leo Robinson - voice (1, 5, 6, 9)
Elin Rossiter - voice (1, 5, 6, 9)
Rosa Walton - voice (5)

Produced, recorded and mixed by Jamie Birkett and Brendan Williams at Low Four Studios, Manchester. Mastered by Max Leonard, Jamie and Brendan. Front and back covers by Kelly Adams; illustrations by Matilda Agace.


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Kiran Leonard England, UK

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