Somewhere at the end of history, a woman who rules over a floating island of plastic waste from a ruined oil rig casts her barbed hook of stories in to a sea grown strange. The chimeras she hauls to the surface are the mutant, half formed runoff of all the excess language we have irresponsibly dumped in to the ocean, narratives that have mingled with all the other non-biodegradable waste and born a new form of unwillingly conscious life. As a new story begins, they come with a welcome, and a warning.
Siphonophore: A colonial organism formed of multicellular units that multiply and combine to create a functional colony able to move, reproduce, and digest sustenance.
Sentence: A set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command.
A post apocalyptic sci-fi katabasis, Aphos is an attempt to mix classical tragedy, eco poetry, dance and music in order to build a folk tale that has shifted from a fantastical past in to a fantastical future, and in doing so critique our instinct to anthropomorphise and narrativise the natural world. The poem and accompanying film is the newest outing from this collagic mythos, written in the rhythm of the hyrdocarbon; alternating iambic hexameter and pentameter as dictated by the chemical equation for Styrene, the origin of most commercial plastics: C6H5CH=CH2.
“What gloom, what tragic creatures surface here?” You ask.
“What tales may come were we to comb their guts?”
No need for that: We are compelled to spill them here
For that is all we do and all we are;
Behold the abiogenesis of language
We chorus dredged from brine and silt, dragged up
Within this gouging net all festulent with verse
Our gulping hydro-carbon breaths amassed
And rhymth’d in the light, hooks bedded in our throats
So you might ogle suffering and say:
“This is exactly how we saw it turning out!”
As on some mountainside reduced to beach
The liver of Prometheus renews alone
Pecked at by gulls amidst his long stripped bones.
Back when those dark and unremembered places held
That bastioned against effluvic words
Where hid some serpents safe from your imaginings
Moving unseen despite titanic size
Entwined sublime in abyssopelagic goop
They sunk below the dark and so escaped
But we chimeric slops were not so fortunate
As oil-bright sea grew loud with your excess
Your tales fell soft as marine snow upon our heads
And we partook of them unwittingly
For we by then had lived so long amongst your waste
We could not tell fictions from sustenance.
So we were spawned: ephemera made flesh
And if you would make new Ourorberos of us
Know that, like yours, our noise will not degrade,
But swirl and coalesce towards eternity
Siphonophoric in it’s symphony.
But come you rubbery spirits! Descend again
To stick us with the bright intangible,
Leave your alluvia encrusted on our skulls!
Roar loud you once coagulated waves
Future and past, unstick yourselves to clash once more
Together like those predatory rocks
Churn this synthetic soup of stories they call Sea
So they might hear the tale of Drowned Hadal,
Who cast herself as Hero, Tyrant, Oracle
Who would not spur her iron Argo on
Who sought Katabasis in leaky submarine
Who bid the rowers pause with arms outstretched.
But every Hades needs its hunting ground, and so
We’ll tell first of the oil-rig, for this
Aberrant tale has its castle constructed first,
With kingdom following as afterbirth:
This unrepentant fist against the sky ensconced
In jaundiced clouds, with oil-bright sea for moat,
Dark halls of steel and concrete unassailable
With towers spitting gouts of fire and smoke
Into the then-blue sky, mighty steel proboscis
Sunk deep within Gaia’s collapsing vein
Tamed the currents with gibbet crane, with hook and chain
‘Till it became a knag in Ocean’s stump,
Assembling all the world’s elastic effluence.
So island formed: it came in many parts
This simulacra land, unreal and more than real
For this platonic mass could not erode
A pickled Albion, adrift and zombified
Well crafted from the bric-a-brac of man
Collaged, haphazard styrene poem of a place
Borne onwards upon these unwilling tides.
And so, at last they came, escaping from the world
As Ulysses from burning wooden horse
Across horizon’s brink lain open like a wound
With oracle in front and fears behind
Thinking that they alone bestrode the stories end
They found their Ur-Island, made landfall on
This amalgamated refuse, rising skywards
On those same waves that slowly drowned the land.
For here was Gaia processed and refined, her flesh
Liquefied, solidified, unending
Constructing vain Anthropocene Atlantis there
With Babelic oil-rig rising above.
It’s here Hadal hoards text, jealous and draconic
Amalgamating all that came before
To selfish dénouement. So tyranny: A dark
Dictatorship of script, well oiled and false
Built upon the lie of tragedy, expectant
Of catharsis that cannot ever come.
So on eternal plastic throne she sits, Hadal!
Fruitless in her wait for Armageddon
The one who sees in us the things she wants to see.
She teaches us to hate but we cannot
We will not be the furies you would make of us.
No! For all of these regurgitations
The pains and hungerings befitting half formed things
We begrudging anthropogenic Gods
Are yet animal enough to feed without ire.
This submarine she builds inside their heads
Will sink and never rise, and fire will cleanse the rest.
The energy conversion will complete
Light and heat to text turning text to heat and light,
Her pecked promethean spark consume itself,
Oil-bright sea burn, castle left black and island-less.
But comes Hadal, her followers in tow
We wait and watch and listen to her netted words
And are unwillingly sustained. Alas!
For all will soon be lost and so begin again
Again a ship again a hero sinks
And she will rue the day your bright vulgarities
Spilled forth in to the sea and gave us birth:
We shells, we not-spirits, we logos without light.
We welcome you with open arms and mouths.