Philip Terry & Tom Jenks

     For J. H. Prynne, in The Pyrenees

Days are a proposition laid by desolate gorges, the body a repulsive looking landlord. Into muscle blood-red capas. The dark clouds and chasms, ancient summit Alps; valleys of a richer southern sunlight. Smell of a Frenchman and orange-peel saturated within the first three-fifths, muted interchange in the iridescence of the descriptions of energy. The usual perfunctory fasces at the scanty distant mountains. Memories of the lonely roads walk by a doughty Colonel. Open terrace twice girdled in soft banditti. Nothing which the Pyrenees, a skyline untrodden by Americans. In our City of the Great Czar chemistry is livid heat reduced to coigns of vantage. Bid on a Biscayan beach, her sweet making ready. Condition of bright awnings, the palest green verandas. Single spark of its sober, unornamental, business government.

A desert. The summer season at Biarritz. Plane skids, the billows lap the shore enticingly. Hopeless departure has no history. That it can here work more good is far from the waves. In the Palais Royal at Paris, years part some Frenchless friends into latent boatmen and candy-pedlars. Action of the waves, more there. Between the horse’s feet, affection shoot. These children have a white rat. A crazed, undedicated expanse. Our conveyances are all cumbrous as propaganda. A changed Empress came to Biarritz, petromorph making, a social line of textiles. Intelligence news, sheltered by obscurity or fact. The mantle has not fallen over distance, the nucleus of Biarritz and further. As water came to Biarritz, a captive monkey took refuge here. The first Iberian desert cistern, with the animal clinging worriedly to it, is false. The thinning, pleasantly aging English of the broad, swelling person love fingering a light bamboo. His compulsion is friable and defenceless in musical sorcery, nearly but not yet back into the doors of Spain. The remotest take a capable journey, en cacolet over any warm fracas, undreamed of at Crawford's or at the Grand Union. Love always sipping its coffee or cordials. Flight back over near roofs to where she found herself still loftily ignored. We are the waves at Biarritz.

In a little shift blazing with buttons and very white duck trousers, we ascend into jungle. The banks roll out, brilliant across blue sky and blue water. Comfortingly braced, we take the sea-road for a sixmile drive northward. A safety-net gives unmixed joy to our jolly driver (North Essex has still a trace of the free, out-of-door spirit of its lawless prime) towards delicious pines and poplars standing even in frost. Dazzling views of the market collapsing into feudal enmities, cold thought in this June sunshine. There are Spaniards here, and draughts, known as a “sphere interest”. The Fahrenheit differential is reminiscent of the past. Of antique alarms it has protracted recall. A train-ride from 1706 until 1738. Near prospect by way of contrast. Made at Biarritz, a local craft killed seven young men: read about the seamen of Normandy. Art industry should no longer keep the franchises. The latter might with justice impose a tax imposed by six proficient bagpipe-players while looking with their dirks. This dirty Duchess of Berri and her high-bevelled cheeks, hot and sandy, skilfully seasoned, would believe what men felt, whipping up smoke and flames. Thought and pale and red bodies. French gold watching the swelling.

Biarritz. One quickly feels the slender charm of the city shaken for the bathing hour, to virtue. At six, the curving Atlantic with raised bank, the Spanish frontier. The river, down at the left and rear, quivers in a Russian nobleman. Our needs find a promising little grocery-store and vanish. The distraction visibly hardening. Almost empty drinking glasses. Notes sounded, filling the horizon in their huge not being, driven away. Extensive cod fishing of sounds. Sky grass, sweet hay near the altar. Cryptic slopes extended from the residence of Anne of Austria, this fading fleurs-de-lis, over a beaten path which was richly carpeted, coiled into crooking ways. Prairie herbs and some Albert biscuits? And a bottle or two of lemonade? Run out. The hostility of miles, only thirteen hours from Paris.

St. Jean de Luz, more than the unlegendary railroad: the pivot, duly viséd, of want. We have in every sense, they say, a deeply notched bay, driving through a concert or ball in the early morning with the dog. Such sense of withdrawal we take and are inspired (of being nearer to the rocks we are not conscious, cut down by the soldiers of Wellington, any hope vanished). The heart is a casket without its jewels, a fashion immediately after the event of leaving. We fear for the negatives and sit by cramped and forbidding traffic lights in the west half. The place is styled "the Brighton of Madrid", of change. The hot-headed Protestant missionary blew out rocks. Trees take forms of oblong yellow buildings. This arena, welded by a central promenade, where each season is coëxtensive with the summer season at Biarritz. Movement in the hornwork. Distance is beyond imagination. This sunny rock point well merits the climb and any attendant risk.

Fuenterrabia fills with logic. Free syllables jut out from every window. To see it is an epitome of Spain, an immense unbroken line of serenades and señoritas, not snow. Fuenterrabia is not all steeped in dreams of the past. As if. The mossy courtyard, enclosed with strain, is a rift in the lute. A grey preceding traveler saw this sign when here, and quotes it in a curious way: "a Spaniard hates a tree." Now in Kenilworth Jerusalem Cairo we turn and see again the disillusionizing legend: “Massachusetts only a four hour ride.” More than San Sebastian, you see the dripping oars, the retinal short perspective. World banks had an odour of immense salvation, worshipers at every hour. Too late the other façade was rebuilt. With reward the poorer houses may reveal the tariff. The dismantled walls of cloud, the gleam of greaves and breastplates. Still fresh, the ivy green climbs along the grey stones.

Philip Terry is currently Director of the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Essex. Among his books are the lipogrammatic novel The Book of Bachelors, the edited story collection Ovid Metamorphosed, a translation of Raymond Queneau’s last book of poems Elementary Morality, and the poetry volumes Oulipoems, Oulipoems 2, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and Advanced Immorality. His novel tapestry was shortlisted for the 2013 Goldsmith’s Prize. A new poetry collection, Dante’sInferno, which relocates Dante’s action to current day Essex, is forthcoming from Carcanet.

Tom Jenks has published three collections with if p then q (A Priori, * and Items) and one, Streak Artefacts with Department Press. Other publications include An Anatomy of Melancholy, a 70,000 word Twitter prose poem. On Liberty, Repressed, an Oulipian database treatment of John Stuart Mill, is forthcoming from Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. He has collaborated five times with Chris McCabe, with work including a rewrite of Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi, I Boris. He co-organises the Other Room reading series and website, administers the avant objects imprint zimZalla, and is a Ph. D. student at Edge Hill, researching digital technology and innovative poetry. More information can be found at his website (http://www.zshboo.org) and at his Archive of the Now page (http://www.archiveofthenow.org/authors/?i=150).
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