Scottish-American poet George R. Hackett and myself once had a competition. Or rather a bet.
The task: to write a piece using a phrase stumbled upon haphazardly.
He actually did one better and performed his piece in a New York Bar known for its readings.
My own work I put to a musical cello loop. The music is long lost. But here is my text.
we must rub the earth into our cheeks find the ground and weed the disaster tangled in foul mineral oil and shadeless crops of carcass stone
we must rub the earth into our cheeks like chickens scatching for feed in the ugliness of yards to nurse the plague of boulder sores and poisoned fields
we must rub the earth into our cheeks sift through clots of fallen sky plough up the healing windless nights and dust the soil of its ashen growl
we must rub the earth into our cheeks blacksmith a ferrous pebble song solder together words from the swollen mantelpieces of the brain and fill the plains and prairie like wombs
we must rub the earth into our cheeks polish the sand mirrors to hard wood scour coal gorges knee deep in the bend quarry the muddied bone shafts for laughter
to find the ground, to rub the earth, the nerve of a planet must slice through me.
new york 2011