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Ink-Soaked Boy

Mark Morris & Neil Spiller

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Concept Proposal



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Preface, with Apologies to Coleridge

The following poetic fairytale is here printed at the request of an architect of some renown, and, as far as the poet’s own thoughts on the matter are considered, rather as a curiosity, than on the basis of the craft of his words.

In the Fall of 2015, the poet, then in fragile health, had escaped the chaos of Upstate New York in favor of the calm of Harlem, retiring to a friend’s apartment on West 151st Street. Owing to a lingering cold or flu, a bottle of green medicine had been downed, the drowsy effects of which caused him to fall asleep, just as he was reading the following lines: “Taking more than the recommended dose can cause serious health problems. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away…” the poet experienced a profound sleep for the next few hours, during which he had a dream wherein he composed some two or three hundred lines; if that can be referred to as composition, where images emerged parallel to their expression in words, without any effort on the poet’s part. Upon waking he felt he had a firm recollection of the whole experience, and taking his laptop, quickly, almost feverishly, typed out the lines that are here recorded. A few minutes into his work, he was unfortunately interrupted by a colleague telephoning from Ithaca with a crisis that required a half hour’s conversation, and on return to his computer found, to no small surprise and horror, that though he retained some vague sense of the general outlines of his vision, but with the exception of a few dozen lines and images, all the rest had passed out of his memory like fading Polaroids.

Then the safety seal
Is broken – all that dream world so bizarre
Arises, and a million pictures dance,
And each inflects the other. Stay awhile,
Dear dream! Let my eyes stay shut to see –
The landscape assembles, blurs and reorders
New images take shape! And, lo, we watch,
And soon the picture trembles, fades, and once again
The eyes open to blindness.

From the lingering recollections of his vision, the poet has repeatedly thought to finish for himself what had been, originally, as it were, handed to him, but that day has yet to come.

As a contrast to that unanswered proposal, he has roughed in a fragment that conveys with fidelity what might have been.

Ink-Soaked Boy - Or, a fragmentary vision:

In Fordwich town did Ink-Soaked Boy
A wondrous island there design
Where Stour, the silty river, bends
Through reeds and marsh, fields and fens,
Into the sunny brine.
And all around the island’s rim
The cattails bend and the tongue laps in;
There were gardens built with silken laced threads,
Sending messages from spiders to spies;
Who draw near us with thickly bearded heads
Sipping wine as they mutter bald-faced lies.
And so the island received its objects and foils
Arranged over time and space, line by line:
A temple of repose reclines and recoils
With suckling objects beside it now groaning;
Breathing the way forward, a sigh for a sign!
To the green gateway hedgerow abuzz with its bees,
Its vines sprouting thorns amidst wide waxy leaves,
Beside a dimpled couch dripping with fried fish
Aligned to a vista across the shore
Where a boy sits drawing with pen in hand,
Black smudges spilling all over the land.
His mind wanders widely but comes home for tea;
Back out it goes to the river that was sea.
Back to the island, a world of his own making,
Where the baroness sits in her bower,
Keeping the time, but never the hour,
Her filaments all arranged for the taking;
Twitching for more grease to smooth out her mind;
Taking it now from before and behind.
From her bower she governs with care,
Commanding the vistas converge
To the pulsing part in her hair
Where the dark diamonds emerge.
Jewels for her landscape: its grottoes and caves,
All sparkling bright now and never to fade!
Questions remain on the table,
Tacked down tight with a staple,
To be solved by chicken computer
Hatching plans swiftly to suit her.
Eggs drop through multi-tiered trays
To be counted by pigeons,
Claimed as charitable gifts
To no well-established religion;
A faith in drawing has risks.
Masking tape could never repair
A rip in the thin paper’s slice
Where worlds within worlds would despair,
Rushing to hide, lair within lair!
All that was hidden now laid bare!
To an architect’s wary eyes
Not yet asleep, nor wide awake,
Daydreaming for others to take,
A piece of well-drawn paradise.

- Courtesy Blank Space
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