D A V I D S P I T T L E
from DECOMPOSING ROBERT
WITH LOVE, AMONG THE RUINS
Were he quiet red
miles and i
the solitary past our
in h e a r t i light
he does not lay quiet and I ask you find the blood in where it lacks or hear the sound in gaps
and this he is only who I make or want to see in where recording speaks over the recorded
voice to vocalize the miles between his saying and my hearing in the text as what was said
Was he it once
(so they say)
and that brings with it the baggage of having moved through those miles of solitary past
gathered up in interference as a kind of temporal moss that breathes another half to share
and cries out or alongside and celebrates the soil and how it looks to fill the empty sockets
Now – he undoes
distinguish slopes of verdure
from the i
sect a name to
genealogies without root or speculatively charred in estimations of an absent branch spurred
to graft entire families or maze the grain like weevils and eat the print of former pages turned
outward to delude myself in kindling’s forest disappearing between the trees
Where the daring lace
Othered a circuit
of marble, men arch
and now a correspondence in gaps between the trees to free me from that other delusion that
overhead begins to pour in a naming that makes me and makes me associate its act and being
now with me so that I am soaked through with its suggestion and equally turn to it for cover
and such and see
a carpet is summer
Every vestige of the i, guessed
mine’s a metaphysical make-it-up- as-you-go-along and so cannot be mine but belongs only
in its effort to belong which toes the line between a glib nothing and a miraculous everything
fallen like a dog-eared greeting card on the mat and waiting intent on greeting in the opening to be
it would be the same with anyone. the doubt. like grains of white rice. what environment
allows ‘moving on’. what time. in folds of warm matter. up to 500 eggs in one batch.
as in, one will reach this stage with anyone. eggs within a nutritional landscape. enough
time and proximity to induce the feelings to plateau. about 2.1 mm. nothing changed
but my depression. that we were as we always had been and. the mulch and slow collapse of.
we should stay together. we could. settled in alchemical manure. as long as. ideally damp or
that exiled word, ‘moist’ in dreamy rot of newly dead. build a life together. in fine clusters. to
second-guess what is felt sincerely and what is made to feel in depressive compulsion.
nestling in the compost of. not a plateau but a deepening and changing. i saw and wanted to
see how beautiful disintegration was and is in everything we betray with fixity. each cell
and ageing definition of the names we give to it, long after it has changed. a short lifetime.
and though it couldn’t work. fermenting kitchen waste. it was still a life together left. each
tiny shine. choosing kinds of lonely. a perfect tic tac lodged. with and without. in the carcass. produced as if by magic. to see at first the fertility in decay. in order to hatch they must
remain moist. blooming into and gently cavorting with connections as they fall. to see
a dance. the incubation. shuddering apart as only new disarrangements that might better lift
love through struggle. just a day. how celluloid film will flower captured light when left
mouldering in the dark. and they will hatch. and of course you lose not one but two.
translucent burst from casing. i left you and. ghost rubber in hungering release. the myth we
make together, shared and now. pulsing the hot shine. turning again to you and this writing
a searching for. Robert and Elizabeth. nutrition in the slidings of form. to love like that,
through letters. returning to a shared third receding. rice boiling opens. myth. teeming
appetite for change. a film through time and pressure interrupted. each frame in séance with
another film fluttering between us. our myth is not ours but. steam from body. collecting
tributes to remember how and what we shared. the doubt had its convictions. the larvae
leave the eggs. i began in celebration of this rot. moving. they devour shape. as if knowing
it. unwittingly recording the way it ends, praising an aesthetic in the thinking absence of its
flesh and wishing it out from how it was. reading into Robert and Elizabeth. to read a union
that dreamt itself together. i was looking for. as if
i could hold us at a distance.
Where a body breathes out from limits, run
The waters disembodied from the dam
Of skin’s shut-in mass a chorus swelling
Kept, so cordially in life, a man.
Yet now a swamp in liquid’s when to mix
The ‘he’ and ‘she’ a play of his and her
That, as in Robert’s ‘Essay on Shelley’
Finds the running-in of ‘one’ and ‘other’
To be the ‘ordinary circumstance’.
Do you ordinarily sup corpse juice?
Chug flagons mutable of graveside lash
And steep in churning earth the binaries?
A friend of mine once said to me, “It’s fucked –
Depictions of love and death are both fucked.”
The mythic cinema of ‘what love is’;
Venerated goo coaxing the fable
From a wild accident of happening
Or declining to show the uneventful
Favouring some operatic jigsaw
To fit it all together – with such heart!
He repeated, “It’s all so very fucked.”
Yon western croak of capitalism
In its own drawn-out decay (but without
Any understanding of value slipped
From valuation’s claw) denies us sight
Of how it is to really live with, share,
Grow and change alongside the one you love
– as it cannot be in singular, you –
Who in euphoric glance is everything...
But the milling crowd in one, maybe one
Body: the Effluence and Work; Lyric
And Dramatic, housed in its own falling
To rise in ruin and hold fast the slip
That lets us be together, faltering
In this active and shared incompletion;
Each permeable embrace the exchange
Of noise laid bare, and tenderly, hands held
Prepared to fall with company, adrift.
And how they stop us and draw the curtain
As if death really was the final act –
Quarantined from living’s passage, kept dark
And so loudly unspoken, its trauma
A separation from its place in life.
Gut yawn, the ribs teeth, fluid a flat tongue
To speak out in the escape from naming
Or not naming but the insipid need
To name, with terminal stasis, movement
That falls between two people, each one
Only in and as the movement from within
And moved again from without by movement
Moving into new muddled approximations
Of where next to move, asking each other:
Are we together now? Are we apart?
Can we admit yet – there is no knowing?
And it is a yet – a feeling of time
Folding the details for later to name.
So, in tribute, let now the body leak.
Spread out the stomach to pool its contents,
Joining out into and slurring our time.
Vomit from ruptured form, be restless be
As far from caved body’s definition
to better sign
the wordless earth
and ask of me, of this
why tunnel on my knees
t ex t
David Spittle is a poet, filmmaker and essayist. Following his pamphlet, BOX (HVTN, 2018), Spittle has published four poetry collections: How Eyes Rest (HVTN, forthcoming), Decomposing Robert (Black Herald Press, 2023), Rubbles (Broken Sleep Books, 2022), and All Particles and Waves (Black Herald Press, 2020). He runs an ongoing series of interviews with filmmakers talking-about-poetry and poets talking-about-film and the first volume, Light Glyphs (Broken Sleep Books, 2021), includes interviews with John Ashbery, Guy Maddin, Andrew Kötting, Iain Sinclair, So Mayer, Lisa Samuels and many others. Spittle's films have screened in festivals and been broadcast on the BBC and, alongside filmmaking, his film criticism has appeared in Sight & Sound and as part of select Blu-ray releases. He continues independent research across film and philosophy.