21 thoughts on “Singing With All My Skin & Bone


    “…but tell me about a time when we were still children, and ignorant, and we ran and played and didn’t think about dying.”

    An incantatory prose with recurring refrains that fill me with utter poignancy in poignancy’s purest form possible, with the narrator triangulating her life’s coordinates as retrocausal hopes – and as musical ‘dying falls’.
    It also reminded me of the time when I listened live in the sixties to the legendary Adrian Mitchell reciting his own mesmeric poem: “Tell me lies about Viet Nam”.

    “Tell me a story about all the pretty lies.”


    “You’re made of things you can take to pieces, and those pieces can be eaten.”

    Another work with a sense of the incantatory, the refrains of not refraining. A poetic fleshing out of a self-styled witch with her own spells against those who beset her, but here as the Dreamcatcher, I am trying to put the pieces back into the shape of their gestalt. To take the self from self-harm. To repair the connecting skin, having first fitted back together what is underneath that skin. But, instead, counterintuitively, I find myself trying, like this narrator is also counterintuitively trying, to battle through the words, trying to see through the skin of text at what is underneath it or, in her case, bringing it back out again from under that text. Filters indeed can work both ways. And I hope I allow her good points to grow from young skin, as she likewise hopefully heals my jagged disease of increasing old age. (I have one of those ‘red, glowing spots’ currently on the back of my neck, one that won’t go away.)
    We were once both those children in this story and the previous story, children seeking something we knew not, fearing something we had not yet found to fear.


    “All that wetness, because bodies are mostly wetness; we die soaked in ourselves.”

    This is the perfect threnody-by-incantatory-prose, of one person’s relations to both of you, both of us, dodging raindrops, but acting as two-way filters to transcend death, a palliative care of love itself between them, whatever life’s – using what I shall call, as inspired by this story, a word with a new meaning – drawbacks.
    This story is also synchronously an amazing complementary but separate two-way filter with two other such ‘wetness’ works (‘Deep Draw‘ and ‘Bodies of Water‘) that I also read and reviewed very recently.


    “Mama gave the whole damn world a cancer.”

    Not just cancer, but A cancer. There is a big difference.
    In the recent ‘Autumn Cthulhu’ anthology (reviewed here), there were at least three stories with a bear in it, and they connected, and here I feel an engulfment of snowy bearness continuing, unless it all started in this story by chronology of publication, giving the world a bear. A big grizzly, cuddly Father (as if child-bearing actually within himself) – a version of God? A ‘fabulous’ extrapolation from this girl’s father towards his relationship with her mother, and her baby sister, a baby that the girl saw as a barrier against lies or ugliness. Hope represented by a beautiful dawn blots out the fact that there was never any barrier against ugliness or lies, and one should simply embrace or be embraced by creation, along with all its incipient cancers. A still-accreting-in-the-mind portrait of a young girl learning to be who she truly is, to be the logic and reason inside and then outside of those she once loved and lost.
    All filtered through the bodily spirit of this whole book’s context so far.

    “Bears are bears. And I’m me.”


    “So simple, so connected. So in tune.”

    I’ll tell you what, this is about a sort of hovering would-be cyborg humming or buzzing sweet nothings in a two-way filter of empathy with a bodily-human welcome for its steady thrust. And it is also about oratory by being that very oratory to a you that is either a narrative self or really YOU – about its approaches, writing on a blog, as I am doing here about it, assuming that more people know about this practice than otherwise might be assumed from this story’s blatant implication that it’s something that is fantastical under the guise of deadpan acceptance. Talking about something as hinted or implied while the story itself talks about it up front. An interface of spreading a plot spoiler and penetrative fusion with it.
    A study in collusion prior to collision. As all stories are? This one special for its own such self-awareness as the worker bee of literature.


    “More and more, Baba Yaga is coming to him in his waking hours.”
    …after first hovering in his dreams like the earlier tutelary drone from the future, as represented by this book’s writer. I echo what this book teaches me. Here a cathartic tale of the 1897 massacre of East European migrants working the coal seams of Pennsylvania.
    A powerful and memorable vision centred upon one of those migrants – upon a fabulous trans-migration: in more ways than one.


    “I used to wonder if, when my brain started trying to kill me, I would know what was happening.”

    Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire ring in my mind, but this is more a story that relates to the Internet as we know it today, a connecting skin presaged by an earlier story. Full of means to preserve and means to delete. Here videos of a viral plague of suicides, documented by the narrator (one of the survivors) with a grant to do so. Trying to reconcile what could have caused this plague and whether one could generalise about those who did it or caught it and those who didn’t or failed to catch it. In the closet or out of it.
    A teasing conundrum of permanency and transience evoked by our ability to store things and to destroy them, even with paper and pencil records or print like this book has print, should you be reading it in print as I am. Or in expendable digitality. All transcended or ended, by those of us who share existence with each other as well as sharing the remaining days left to us, given the ability or desire to procreate – or simply curate.


    “It calls us.”


    Those who read this story will probably guess why I repeat that image here.
    This is another bear-engulfing story, too, in its way, where the gender-oblique relationship, almost predatory judging by the narrator’s imputed age, acts as that engulfment in tune with animals walking into an Ark (or Arc) not for preservation and later release but to be eaten, the world’s bullies, too, all as fodder to “a living conglomeration of rhythm.” A recycling generated from the ‘bad’ of entropy?

    “We’re a matched pair,…”


    “Adam named the animals before he slaughtered them.”

    My tentative reading of this graphically striking symphony of word-images has beheld the violent history of the drugs trade and earth-sea movements in connection with the historical Colombian Buenaventura township, in trading interface with North America and its tongue of Florida hanging above it, about that town’s passions and loves, its thrusts of survival embodied in the story of two men, a story that perhaps synchronously and inchoately creates a fabled surge against the inimical forces of hatred that caused the atrocity of the last few days.
    I am also reminded of “Oh ! brave white horses ! you gather and gallop,” from Elgar’s Sea Pictures.
    And Virginia Woolf’s own ORLANDO.
    A latitude for glimpsing stars…


    “You can’t put a drone on a couch.”


    A short short that is in fact a coda to the previous context of this book and an unpredictable prelude to the rest of the book.
    Soul-searching about a cognitive therapist of self. That word ‘therapist’ may need a space. Or a latitude.
    It is amazingly as if in direct comment upon my tentative take on the previous story – and the killing machine and its motives, and our attitude to victims and culprits alike.
    “a kind of consensual hallucination” as dreamcatcher?
    Or “a sado-masochistic power exchange” as bunker?


    “Your software is meant to grow and develop with me, as opposed to coming pre-programmed, so we’ll be a perfect fit. It’s also meant to help me learn about you by using you, but of course I’m being resistant, as the therapist says””

    Another engulfment, one that somehow seems to engulf the reader, too, like a hand and glove, a love-hate synergy of human and drone, here geared to a prosthesis or discrete phantom body that is both you and something outside of you that slowly becomes you – as a healing from some crash by that drone? Or just a SF extrapolation of cure by cyborg?
    I found it unique and somewhat disturbing in all manner of diffuse directions. It seems to fit hand and glove with the developing, if unyet defined, gestalt of this book.


    This is a very significant story for me and one that has just moved me deeply. It would have done anyway, but this morning I received a contributor’s copy of a book, a rare event these days as I rarely submit my new works, and my story included here tells of my big head, and how my mum used to complain stoically about giving birth to it all those 68 years ago! My mum happened to pass away very recently, and heads and skulls were already on my shocked mind. This Moraine story came at just the right time with a tale of two skulls, like Hamlet with Yorick where Yorick is Hamlet himself. image
    A remarkable story that I don’t think would have by-passed my admiration, even without such synchronicities. Two skulls effectively in this story, while my own story mentioned above talks of the joke of two brains in my huge skull. And to the right is a picture of my ‘skull’ within my face, a photo copyright ‘The Revelator’ website and shown there a year or so ago.
    Sorry to make my review of this Moraine story so personal. It is a great story in itself. A man being given his own skull, exploring its niches, its map of phrenology, and an encounter in a bar with a woman as a catalyst and a walk to a pier for catharsis. A short story with much in it. Much still for it to give to me. Another engulfment.

  13. One can learn a lot from the synchronous appositeness of names as words.
    “Moraines are accumulations of dirt and rocks that have fallen onto the glacier surface or have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves. The dirt and rocks composing moraines can range in size from powdery silt to large rocks and boulders.”
    A sunny moraine is a concept with which to conjure…


    Her voice for a moment, in the way that all voices are her voice, in the way that all gazes are her gaze. The world is haunted by her.”

    But who or what engulfs whom or what? This is a haunting journey via short wave radio (I sense drones and hisses and other scryable patterns of static in the signal of this music-box within her – or even herself actually within the music box), this being another story in this book with a widowering by cancer, as he plumbs the signals she set behind her by mathematical coordinates of triangulation towards those moraines further north, Budapest to St Petersburg. And beyond, towards another land that has the aftermath of nuclear cancerousness? An ironic, poignant rite of passage. A pilgrim’s progress for some slough of despond that might heal retrocausally and lead towards earlier sunny skies instead of the cold stars over Budapest, each itself a distant sun?

  14. I reviewed this story in 2015 here and this is what I wrote about it then:


    “Death always has to go somewhere.”

    A story that fulfils the promise of this book’s witching, various mermaids and ‘girls below’, but also here the promise of Machado’s stories running together like raindrops in a pond. There the pond became a lake. Here, like Larson, the sea itself, but also, at first, the yearning to be sea foam. And insulating those stories one from the other, where death or blood-drops running together or different story-endings reside.
    This has a fairy tale ambiance with the sporadic staccato of enticingly naive verse as prose, where a Prince and Princess on a romantic sea voyage suffer the sharp touch of tail-slapping as a leap of jealousy or Brothers Grimm.

    It now also reflects the Perdition of Salt, body engulfment and other themes of the new collection.


    “I could read poetry to you now. I didn’t bring any books, but I remember your favorites, I can read them from the book of us that lives under my skin.”

    A poetry book read aloud from within, like that music-box, earlier? Like that walking, hungry house or engulfing drone, here a rhapsodic ‘you’ monologue cast as ‘us’, from bathroom to island, another ‘wetwork’ as a write or rite of passage to reach a circle of standing stones on this island of self, a perhaps sapphic circle of you and you and you and you … but which stone of us falls first, and which ‘dead monument of once ancient hope’ lasts longest?


    “…but it’s hard to focus when he lifts my liver out of my body cavity and gently inserts the blade into it. It’s like watching him cut into a fruit, soft and overripe, exotic and dark and rich.”

    I no longer connect. A disturbingly, yet cathartically, vivid disengulfment of a sensory self as ‘he’ cuts and cuts into ‘me’, a female ‘me’…
    I relive the recent rite of passage of guilt when helplessly watching someone die…but from the direction of one who dies.
    Also I compare with here the significant liver-extractor character and other disengulfments in a book I happened simultaneously to review alongside this one. Although the narrator of this Moraine text no longer connects (“I do not connect”), things outside her, by the act of dreamcatching, perhaps thankfully still do.


    “…who weighed the hearts of all the dead against a feather.”

    A highly poetic prose vision of a murder of crows, no, a murder of planes or, rather, drones, I guess, controlled by a woman, a fact that makes them seem even more frightening than if they were controlled by a man? Depends for which side the drones are fighting, And is it an accident that drone rhymes with bone and chimes with this book’s flensing towards such bone? Skin and bone singing witn an alchemy of contraptive metal?
    A way of clearing away the original Ark’s entropic remains from our deserts’ ‘Event Horizon’?
    For me, Drones are Dreamcatchers, but Dreamcatchers are not Drones.


    “I should never have lifted the soul out of the net.
    But I could never have done anything else.”

    I feel like that with this amazing book.
    Meanwhile, this is an extremely poignant vision of souls of suicides that one catches and nurses as sort of living creatures, and it also deals with the why and wherefores of their lives and the need to have killed themselves. Their transport together upon a linked ground-train seems to have a deeper, if oblique, meaning when compared to this book’s earlier separate airborne drones.
    And the context of this whole book gives an even greater power to this. As does the mutually complementary ‘The Death House’ (reviewed here.)

    “Throw your heads back. Cherish these breaths. Feel so incredibly alive. Listen to the singing birds, the rough cries of the crows.”


    “…a hole opened up in the universe roughly between Earth and the Moon,…”

    The narrator as a sort of cybernetic counsellor for those customers in that emptiness, floating with only mouths to speak – someone as an invisible head listening to what they lost (themselves or others) in that universe hole, as if that hole was more of an emptiness than the one they now float in? Each a drone alone.
    No repeat business except when again hearing from a customer who lost the one to whom they now reach as counsellor. You and me.
    An enfolding within emptiness. The ultimate bare hug.

    “Touching my cheeks and brow and nose and chin, weirdly fascinated by the structure of my own bones, which I’ve had forever but which I suspect may be like a word repeated until it becomes strange,…”

    Two skulls bound together, the souls inside passionately seeking each other through the contiguous bone on bone, the only way to be close enough. A book that will never forget it was once caught in my net, at least for a moment.

    “We all have that moment…”


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