In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • 365 Holes
  • Graham Allen (bio)

What would a poem look like if it took ‘Structure, Sign and Play’ as a manifesto for poetry? It would certainly be written for voices. Female and male voices. Female and male voices in the voice. It would tell no story, or rather too many. It would have no quotable core, no touchstones; or, perhaps it would be merely what is quotable. A series of touchstones, soon to be tombstones. It would somehow escape the literary logic of part and whole, whole and part. It would not cohere. And in that non-coherence there would of course be the most transparent of structures. Such a poem would be structured to a hyper-sensitive degree. At a level in which the pains and wounds and joys of the day might, just might, begin to show themselves. Instead of a centre it would have a series of holes. To be filled, to be added to. Little windows onto the unrepresentable, the inexpressible. Little peepholes, like the stars are peepholes, onto a reality that is beyond structure, and is beyond our comprehension of what structure could be, on to a world of pure relations. P. B. Shelley, a sensational philosopher, said, just before he died: ‘If I die tomorrow, I will have lived to be older than my father.’ He died before he was 30. His father, spitefully clinging to life, died in his early nineties. But the son was not wrong. He meant that in life hours can be filled with years of experience, minutes with aeons of happiness or anxiety. Poetry is what makes us remember that we live like this; even if life is what necessarily makes us forget. If ‘Structure, Sign and Play’ were a manifesto for poetry it might encourage the poet to create a technique for registering, however inadequately, the fact that days, weeks and months are not particularly accurate modes of marking the lifetimes that we live within our lives. It would perhaps encourage the idea of the most simplistic of structures, say one line per day, each line equally weighted, in the recognition of the inadequacy of all structures to represent that thing we call a life. And once it promoted that idea, poetry would never after need to end, until the end.

December 23. My birthday again, I’m still on the ride.
24. If I had the courage I would shoplift.
25. Christmas is like falling into a pit.
26. Body, mind, for me that’s insufficient.
27. I am as fat as a pig in its shit.
28. I will say only one and the same thing.
29. Sometime in the new year the fags will go.
30. Today’s achievement, a sparkling toilet.
31. New Year, a conservative invention.
January 1. Dedicatory or else sepulchral.
2. If I could only get up earlier!
3. I have written a poem, it will do.
4. She’s fallen in love; clearly she hasn’t.
5. I cannot stop thinking about her face.
6. Pyramid boy will come and rub you out.
7. I would rather have my two legs cut off!
8. Have I drunk all my memory away?
9. Meetings all day with spectres and phantoms.
10. Ingénue students, a ‘drop-in’ session.
11. The spark of something collective, heart-stop.
12. Hospitals, a foretaste of what’s to come.
13. My parents are growing old, somewhere else.
14. Sundays were once hell, now they don’t happen.
15. People seem to think I’m an oddity.
16. Must stop hating America so much.
17. Maybe if I stuck to quality wines.
18. I will encrypt my history in this.
19. I’m obsessed with natural disasters.
20. Poetry deserts every sinking ship.
21. Stack up the sentences like dead bodies.
22. Engineered voice of writing, say who speaks.
23. I cling to the sanity of others.
24. I could not remember the date today.
25. It may well be that I’m completely wrong.
26. Saturday is a brilliant idea!
27. She smiled and I was in Paradise.
28. You are not as random as this suggests.
29. He met my eyes, his executioner.