after Colin Herd
Dear unbreakable day
I have been trying to get through
with my small hammer, sixteen hours of loss.
It has been two weeks. The universe is made
and if we knew that, we would know
this happening is only so much as
what survived the last burst, ocean’s surface
sprawled in space. I could
hit out a pattern of time and not get done,
raising my brows to the visible.
Did you mean to make this happen
or was it the ache?
In the dream I had a contract to kiss
the first person who gifts me a bubble glass
refusing to break. My sister lacked shoes;
we walked earthquakes to find a love
that would clasp us happy.
Where are your bubbles.
No tool survives the foam
but a decorative attitude to life itself
keeps circling, circling.
Each bubble will process the world’s info
thrice in shimmer.
Consider the scale of it.
You spread the bubbles across my belly,
watch them pop; I have seen you
doing this in adverts, movies.
Do you ever belong to the day?
Approaching your softness
at the very phase,
would you come back,
kiss me quantim?
The bubble is full
It is full of the kissing.
I could blow you a dream.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2021. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor for 2021 was Hugh McMillan.
A poem crossing some frontiers in form and content here, tripping between dream and reality. This poem shines and changes in your hand, shifts surfaces, like a many faceted piece of glass. But actually that is too solid: foam is spread and nothingness, the indefinable space between what seems to be and what might? Between all constructs. I don’t know but I suspect Foam Theory is a new kind of poetry that’s chipping away at what we understand as language and meaning. A stunning piece.
Written before the pandemic ushered in a new vocabulary of ‘bubbles’, this poem is an experiment in transmuting messages through the most agile of substances: foam. Inspired by the material effervescence of Colin Herd’s You Name It (2019), I was reading Peter Sloterdijk’s epic Spheres trilogy, specifically the third volume on Foams, where he writes of foam as ‘an intimate space of meaning whose tension is maintained by dyadic and pluripolar resonances, or a “household” that vibrates with its own individual animation’. If ecopoetics comes from oikos or household, foam offers a more contingent way of thinking the ‘pluralities of space and processes’ (Sloterdijk) and their attendant acts of hospitality. Foam is a dream grammatology: restless, floaty and permeable. This poem might be a frothy swatch of a longer piece, ‘On Foam’, I recently published with Futch Press. It’s a cheeky theorising of radical softness, decorative attitudes and quantum kisses.