Prefaces are always written after, but pretend to be from before – the philosopher Hegel thought they were a hindrance to knowledge – but Hegel’s work, says a preface, was just a play of prefaces – I’ll tell you something about a book I once read from cover to cover called O: Violet Horses Today – as I reclined on a velvet chaise longue – savouring its luscious bunches of thought proffered by its erudite author – i.e. me, as this is a preface – sorry no, it was actually quite difficult to read – it was an essay that did not make a shortlist – a slim volume, The End of Prefaces – ‘scraps of text rearranged in some as-of-yet unforeseen web of connections’ – I had abandoned myself to it, come snow or storm – my children asleep while I sweated under lamplight – the moon as overcast as a sable grape – unopened bills piling up like stacks of crumpled handkerchiefs – some reviewers called it ‘dirge-like’ – I must say now, I am ashamed of it – should have spent the time instead making thick, nourishing soups like the truth – I can tell you now exactly a summary of what it contained – a story – a sad and long story – about a girl who was at another child’s birthday party – she saw a magician pour flour and currants into a velvet hat – he tapped it with a magician’s wand, and out came a real cake – well, who wouldn’t be amazed by that – the girl wasn’t interested, in the party – she just wanted to eat the cake – but the cake had disappeared – she went home and wrote a story in felt-tip, Ghost Buffet – and at the end, of course – The End in optimistic, curly letters – ‘a string of desultory assertions’ – then she thought better of it – put this page under running water – in the bathroom sink – that itself reached out like a tail – some call it a vine – tell me – what it is reaching towards –

Lucy Mercer

Jamie Shovlin
Untitled (Study for Grapes), 2021

Bored with no thought the boy draws with his finger a dick on layers of ancient dicks he does not yet connect drawing with desire. Curses new in the mouth condense the atmosphere of the school bus randy with adolescence. He doesn’t make a link between the medium of drawing breath and the spit the window’s syrupy residue leaves. Early actions as stone inscriptions when mark-making and thinking are the same. Inside the bus a lobbed pepsi bottle the fester of the end of the end of the day kept to swill around inside some loose tooth blood and drained pimple. The chemical action the process develops is undevelopable. The weak last breath in the lynx can is talking underwater. The subject matter of which constitutes thinking mutual relations come later. Half asleep this morning the pissing boy sees germs squirm op-art crushing cloudy in the toilet bowl. The day before’s cortisol the body not yet learnt to keep hold. The impression Freud drew dicks before interpretation. Germy drops of condensation on the reinforced glass when he used verdichten for the dream work inheres compressed inside the word itself. At some point a form catches in the writer’s mind when the dew point is raised to an ambient temperature. One can convince oneself in all such cases to wake up but never grasp its suspended apparent unendingness. A consciousness spoiled like food full of its own and others’ desires added too quickly to the fridge while never having proof the condensation draws attention to itself. Each drop encloses a rune. The loneliness of the earnest boy a man who can’t not help himself to the leftovers saved for lunch tomorrow. The steamy bus absorbs the coughing fabric full of vapour. The process of reduction is coming into logical relations from without. A watched pot incomplete towards evening. Somewhere becoming rain written in dew is the window of the dream.

Sam Buchan-Watts

Tom Rees
, 2021

– Another great conjunction is coming. Anything could happen. The whole world might burn up.

In the quiescence of space a figure swells radially from its centre, limbs loved into their joints, fiddlehead ingenue, curlicued out to sediment ring and moon. This effort of love produces a sweat, aromal motes that etherise like longing. It is the ravelling that precipitates attachment. A body secretes in the shape of the universe.

– Ask what the great conjunction is.

– What's the great conjunction?

– You tell me.
– The great conjunction is the end of the world... or the beginning.

A planet has many creations but the first is a depression that clamps in at the head, lily-like. We walk sidelong in the corridor of blunt atmosphere, waiting for the roundness of morphogenetic lot. Until our bodies undergo planetary collusion, or stake it all on love’s crossing, like stars.

– End, begin ... all the same. Big change. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. There it is!

Hope shoots flares from the middle, pelvic afflatus. We attract dust into one form, and then another. They are as numerous as spicules of thought. Slowly, the depression veers off and after our first full orbit we glimpse it on the horizon, coronal. Our accessories become signals, carapaced waves; gods with bleeding stomachs light up the sky. The amorous world renews. 

Daisy Lafarge

Brigid Elva