Issue 33 – 2022 – John Kinsella – Liquid Flow of Echidna from Gravel to Grass Bank

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John Kinsella

Liquid Flow of Echidna from Gravel to Grass Bank — Reflecting Stan Brakhage’s The Dante Quartet (1987) While Painting Eye-Images


            for Russ


To roll and sway and merge

            is to paint the path and deny

                        the tracks of pursuit, to crack

                                    paint of script and rise and part,

                                                push aside marbling and viscosity

                                    of dry and wet, to roll uphill

                        to sway an orthography a writing

            of blur and merge: qualities

of sky and mouse-excavated

            tailings to nose into sense for

                        termites deeper than old tunnels

                                    the awakening season for flame

                                                to a-priori its ways into traces

                                    of aquifer-augmentation — yes, beneath

                        hillside eroded; what reptiles

            crossed in ascent or insects

with pre-fossil wings, pause

            and sample, test and surge

                        a quartet out of crescent

                                    of declining sun dazzle

                                                in shadow of spines or spikes

                                    or inverted feathers — inside to fly

                        bodily further in from the body

            of valley while remaining so grounded, levitating

despite ‘poor eyesight’ — such misnomers of biology,

            such occlusions of echidna-speak

                        as close to ground they absorb and muffle

                                    our vibrations of passing or breathing hard:

                        shock-absorber psyches framed by

            frames of universalised structures of art-speak,

skincells, hair follicles, applique and palette frescoes

            of crossing over, of circumventing a branch,

                        of refreshing trails laid over a range

                                    of terrains so specific you read

                        ‘only’ into the allegories

            the metaphors of consequence

for life overlaying their space — add quick light,

            add flicker or flash, texture

                        to hair root and shadow enfilade

                                    cosmos singing interior

                        breaking of forms and refolding

            to draw into a surface a logography

of constituents for all-time,

            shared prognosis, differing

                        signatures and tellings,

ends of lines.



John Kinsella’s recent books of poetry include Insomnia (Picador, 2019/Norton, 2020), Brimstone: a book of villanelles (Arc, 2020) and Aftering Delmore Schwartz’s A Season in Hell [Rimbaud] Translation (Equipage, 2021). Recent critical titles include Beyond Ambiguity: tracing literary sites of activism (Manchester University Press, 2021) and Legibility: an anti-fascist poetics (Palgrave, 2022).


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