[I’m lost, I am surrounded,
Scary words and scary people.
Send something my way
Like a number one
Or a numero uno.]


How could desire exist in a place like this?
I still can’t believe that this is real.
There’s a kind of sadness that we feel
In Barcelona
In Rekjavic
In Porto
In Oslo
In Nantes.
Grateful for the weather,
Looking like a pair of thieves,
There is a kind of sadness
And it follows me
On a short haul flight to Dublin.
It’s old bones
Memory of bones
Bones that survive:

There’s a child alone in a room with her very own name for you
Thinks that grief does something scary to a person’s face.
I was wrecked tired,
Bent up, shapeless,
And the plane establishes itself as the day-to-day
Like a kind of haunting
With all voices along the aisle:
I heard mention of the devil’s mouth
Heard about a cloud on its way from Germany
Heard I ought not to make a commotion
Sitting in this seat
Where it’s so hard to settle.


This is where ships once came
To chase the thing that chased them.
Waves which represent a world that just won’t stop;
A sky that represents proximity to heaven.
The plane goes up and I go down
To something distant
In a heart-measured second,
Certainty and harmony,
And a return to the lonesome drum.
I’ve been speaking to whoever would let me,
I’ve been tempering my confidence,
You’re thinking only on your fear,
I’m thinking only on the air.
Now is the time for conviction,
Time unbearable,
That’s what commitment means.
In this way
(As if the plane has this in mind)
Hangs ever closer to the air,
Easily remains there.
The heart rests.
Still the shadows.
Destiny is a sceptical animal.
In my bag:


This is my grandfather’s spare pair of glasses
Which means that I can’t see very well
But if he were wearing them
And standing here
He would be able to see you perfectly.


The razor sets in motion with the restless meaning of a smile,
Restless because a smile can’t belong to just one person
And a search for kindness in the razor image
Is a transmission from PS at 10,000 feet to PS
That you’ll have to earn the thing you’re searching for.


I really can’t think straight.
I told them under no circumstances would I move to London, and yet
The people all are walking,
Nobody here smiles at me.
Choice itself becomes obscured
In the moment and the mind.

As if it were a hopeless thing
That shouts to me from nowhere
Snap out of your mystery fever!
Listen while I tell you
What I know about redemption!


The landscape has changed,
Even the sky’s gotten heavy.
Is it a drop in temperature?
A slight change in the humidity?
I know the feeling,
Spent a year or two like waiting for instruction
In no-motion, and I’ve strayed,
And I can see why you might never come back here.

Like an act of kindness in the cold,
We communicate in secret code.
What I thought I found here I didn’t.
The cloud is green as a dream of home
(From inside the plane);
Behind, desire
Mythological and old
With a certain tongue
And a pair of teeth.

[The girl sits down at the microscope
To her we are unrecognisable
We are eyes on sticks
We’re slower than before
Look more suspicious
We carry all we have
And we are only what she chooses to call us]


The camera, stretching into the mechanism,
Finds a gloomy kind of heaven
Looks there for a name
Or the memory of a name
But why bother?
You are the elusive memory
I am sending myself in the vicinity of the camera.
The very mechanisms of our world collapsing
Put the fear of death in me like I never felt;
Each day enters the mystery of sleep
And to think that we would choose to call that safe.
Jack, I have tried to explain that we are not safe here.
It’s the dead air that’s turning our bones to fragile monsters
But it could well have been the unbearable sadness that we both know
And not even that belongs to us.


Cross-legged, ragged as animals,
In (past) fields (like a promised land)
We can hear the planes overhead.
Took a room in the grief house,
This town is now a strange town.

Too tired to continue
Grew a few tomatoes,
Kept a couple of house rabbits;
Felt the stress in the timber,
Put ourselves up for auction.

In the city said something,
Spoke just like a scientist,
But camped over a beach somewhere
Watched the boats in anchor
Brought the rain like an angel;

I’m talking about expression of self.
We are optimists
The sky is always blue
But we have never seen the birds
That are also blue.

In the way that a moment is perfect
Or now exists perfectly in the mind:
All night crying, I mean,
All night crying
And stumbling around like a skeleton

Now exists perfectly in my mind.
What do these words mean:
What’s in store for the cities of Europe

Where I went looking for kindness?
Instead I heard them say
That you kill daddy
Then you let your children eat you
So I didn’t find it there.

So don’t you try and explain my airplane to me.
You’re just one more enlightened,
You would kill me if you could,
And in the garden I’m
Distracted by these

Images that appear
Outside of the language of dreams.
When I sleep I see
A vision of myself, alone,
And Jericho running away from me,

The cloud is just a cloud.
It comes before the thing it threatens
That hasn’t yet arrived.
Like the breath, it continues
As the stars rearrange around the aeroplane.


The plane seems to tilt against the axis of the universe
And I can feel my face sagging on the left side
(A course of travel
Real and inevitable).
I’m there, despair etc
In the heavy air.
Where have all the angels gone?
How do I work their machinery?



From my perspective I can pick and choose
Still, I’m looking for what I can call
What happened to you out there?
You used to swing round here like an intimate messenger.
For now you are the furthest star.

There are flowers in my garden and in spring they were budding it is good to remember them.
This morning the petals
Dumb to the morning
Fall to the sound of bells
Plant a garden on my grave
And I myself am feeling pretty restless.
It is good to remember that December they were not there at all.
We take something and we give it a name and ask how can I describe this?
I look into my microscope and I see the words:
My name is Marianna
And I am a human
This is my ethical framework.
I keep my eye steady on you
Trying to navigate this new world always with the ghost of someone
Be clear they are ghosts.
Then for you to touch
Now total darkness
Now a round of applause.




What kind of mouth is this?
It’s hard to settle when
The book’s authentic language is anatomy,
Final pages torn out.
We know the ending:

Now you’re inching over here
Like the shadow of a shadow, whispering
‘No, not evil, not really, don’t you talk to me?’
Is that the coat you wear now?
Do you have any redeeming features?
Telling me what month it is
In a slow pattern,
That I no longer belong here, speaking slowly.
Now the plane appears to me as a tunnel of bones.
I don’t know if I’ll ever escape them
Or why I should respect them,
Outcasts hellish for legacy know
Only the wicked get forgiven, and
If you have just one morsel of goodness
I refuse to put a name to it.
It’s the one thing I don’t dare measure here
From such a height to fall.
Bones keep bringing me down,
The floor is calling
Out to both of us it calls.


If you are what you might always be
Then you are what you have always been.
How long can we stay like this?
A constellation of skulls
Prevents me to communicate
In the way that you will recognise
My strength and my weakness,
My aeroplane now
Gets hanging low
With the shyness of the gentle rain,
It doesn’t show
What I’ll later call Dublin.
Of what’s lost I hope only to allow
My heart to be described
In one look
Toward the moon
The moon, the moon,
That music is a sanctuary
And I will find there
What impossible apparatus?
What iconography of flight?
As the gaze reveals
Like a creeping summer
My own personal internet on the moon.

[The girl at the microscope sneezes
But does not lift her eyes.
She identifies the lights in the night sky, says
‘Maybe I’ll look here for a friend’
And the sky is one colour
And the stars look like they’ve been painted by children.]


Now read this

THE BOY calling the kettle WOLF

First created and performed in Glasgow in May 2014 by Jack Stancliffe, Daisy Douglas, Asta Tomasdottir, and Peter E. Smart. This version developed and first performed at Summerhall, Edinburgh in February 2016 by Jack Stancliffe, Asta... Continue →