Sadly, your browser doesn't support the features required by impress.js. Please go here for a simplified version of this giant shape poem.

For the best experience please use the latest Chrome, Safari or Firefox browser.

                    Here’s                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Here’s a shadow                                                                                                                        

                      the mercury vapour                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      falling as shadows do, cool

                          lamp where spells have                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       and even. Now it’s on the sea’s broken,

                            been colliding all night. And here                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           broken,  broken lip,   the sea’s split lip,   now

                               are the moths its battle-glow’s drawn:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the exposed bone of the beach.    Faster than you

                                  rabbit-ear-shreds, bark-scars, leaf-sons,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          can read this wordy glut, faster than your eyes can pick

                                    shed-submunitionlets,  brick-flakes,  living                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         through these snagged ink-clots, the shadow eats up then

                                        ashlets, apple-skin-shavings, yam-peel, scute-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            expels the shacks on stilts,  the cluttered cars,  spatters of

                                            lets and wet tobacco,  map  corners,  snagged                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                park and garden, pools, roofs, road junctions, slipways, docks,

                                               hem-rags, bitten cuticles of stormclouds, slipped                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 metro stations,  stadiums,  coliseums,  hospitals,  river-mouths,

                                                  hooks, split pods, pink samaras. Now dawn comes                                                                                                                                                                                                                    museums,  universities,  plazas,  cemeteries,  sex shops,  cinemas,

                                                     spilling through car windows, and the man who moths                                                                                                                                                                                                     landfills, ossuaries, schools, squats,  crime scenes,  flash mobs,  film

                                                        unpacks himself from the back seat. In his ear’s rumour                                                                                                                                                                                         shoots, shrines and squares. If it could be cut, the shadow would make

                                                           mill, the ossicles chatter like cups and saucers, and dew                                                                                                                                                                                   cowls for seven hundred children. If it could be gathered, it would slosh

                                                             splinters under his feet  as he comes to the trap,  bending                                                                                                                                                                       from a million-gallon water tank. It’s a piece of the night itself, come un-

                                                                to survey his haul. They’ll go into the fridge, a cool electric                                                                                                                                                            fastened, gone tearing.  And what’s it doing here, then here, then here, and

                                                                  slumberland – beginner cryogenics! The egg-rack makes room                                                                                                                                                where will it settle?  Ask me again when I’m old and have lived through the

                                                                     for cylinder-prisons, and every inmate the fetch of its shelf-mate                                                                                                                                    aftermath, better yet a run of aftermaths, one chaining into the next - because

                                                                        (but imperfect, as if a smut or a fingerprint had edged its way into                                                                                                                          right now, everyone is guessing.  Even those bound to a jungle of instruments

                                                                          the cloning machine). The murmuring blood   low as a heat-pulse                             }                                                                                 can’t really say what the numbers mean, and besides, mostly we’re hearing from

                                                                             through filament, the whir of a pebble chewed in the surf. When all                                }}                                        {{                         middle men, enthusiasts. Seated waxily under studio lights or looming bust-like

                                                                               are suspended in their miniature seines of sleep,  the man who moths                                 }}                            {{                           over their columns,   they muffle their fervour in a kind of drone,   a drone that

                                                                                   will remove them one by one, and place them, via the tip of his finger,                                 }                     {                           sounds like bored intelligence,  and they put their case:  how the shadow was all

                                                                                       onto pinnately veined props, dishes of lichen,  between the lichen-frills                            Here’s a dream:                       but inevitable, how it can be overcome by policy, how the shadow points toward

                                                                                           and lichen-froth of a tree’s sleeve, upon a pebble-scrum or a new shoot,                  00 the moth whose 00            a future of infinite shadows, how it is, after all, only a shadow.  But whatever, or

                                                                                               then aim with care his delicate box of glass and light and lightning,  and         0000  compound   eyes  000    whoever, is throwing the shadow likely has no opinion at all. He, or she, or it, is

                                                                                                    in the pictures later published, not a one of these sleeping beauties will     000  are satellite dishes or 000  only feeling the sunblast on his, or her, or its back, perhaps on the way to

                                                                                                           look anything less than brightly alert, nectaring on the scenery and   satellites, whose antennae are firs  a showdown or spectacle, perhaps benevolent, perhaps woken

                                                                                                                   pro-modelling their kicking-out coats of paint-speckled khaki,  twitching in a sweet breeze while  from the mother of all sleeps and shaking off a

                                                                                                                                   juice-stained raffle-buff, gnawed-edge gumshoe-dun, the windows of a town fill with  seismic hangover as the world

                                                                                                                                                             dog-fox-rust, frost-bottle, mustard    a marmaladey glow. The moth           skips like a

                                                                                                                                                                                     and more./ Here        \ blinked out by the moon.               tune./

                                                                                                                                                                                            is our   _    /             \  The moth which             /\        Here’s

                                                                                                                                                                                song, a song         \    _ /\                 crawls                 / __ |          a howl for

                                                                                                                                                                      for summoning.       It        \__\                   into \             /       /              your wound, to

                                                                                                                                                            takes days and years to    sing it./ \       \           /   your  \ ____/      /        take    you off your feet, to

                                                                                                                                                    We sing it through slickings of rain,/    __       \___/    mouth,                   /\      dress you in dust. Oh, wild is the  

                                                                                                                                          through the sun beating us half way              /     \                   dark \__            /     \         whipped-up saxophone,  pushed

                                                                                                                                    to death, and we sing it with our throats              \       \____/        as a       \___/                      to its highest pitch. Ah, but you might

                                                                                                                             torn, with our drums dulled, with our dance    raided       /\______/  stinging  \ ___          as  well     try to catch the comet that’s been blown

                                                                                                                    nightly by the agents of a hundred and one regimes. We sing   |  nettle.  The  moth  crushed  ___        \    off course by the bluster of space age weaponry.

                                                                                                           it in spite of pamphlet drops, countersong, bad reviews, plagiarism ___  in the window frame.   The      \ \ Every candle in the house goes out at once, and summer

                                                                                                     and constant nightmares. And no, the sea doesn’t sing with us, nor   /        \moth in her danger shades,       | |is just another idiot, gone with the rush. Here’s a wail to rip

                                                                                               do the giant hills or the earth itself. We sing happily, and ragingly, out    |            who touches down on an          / up tree and root, to sweep your mind of change, boy.  Electricity

                                                                                         of love and misery, and desire and hope and hopelessness all at once, and  \ |            island whose inhabitants                 lines undulating like sound waves,  houses turning as mill wheels do.

                                                                                 we sing it in our sleep and we sing it in the bath, and we sing it naked and we                      worship the moth. The                     Now open your hand. Two miniature girls are hid there, clasping each

                                                                              sing it to our children and our parents.  Sometimes we stop singing.  But very                           moth with her wings                         other like tangled keys. And when you put your ear to them, you can hear

                                                                            soon, we start up the song again,  the very same song,  and we sing it as if we                                  in flames. The                                   their bracelets chittering, their breath gathering. How do you even begin

                                                                              never stopped singing, and sometimes we want to stop but find the song                                          moth who                                             to keep them, with the sky bearing down on you, and now a blizzard

                                                                                  goes on without us, goes on in our hearts and mouths, and we come                                            ravishes  a                                                       of golden scales wurlitzing through the city, turning monsters

                                                                                        to welcome it again, and take it up again, and one day – not                                                     universe                                                                    dim, as something dies and is born again, maybe

                                                                                             today but inevitably, some day – one day the song                                                               for love.                                                                             in your heart, maybe not. The city, she’s

                                                                                                       will wake you, will summon you.                                                                                                                                                                                               just too beautiful.

Written by Jon Stone, originally as part of ‘Giant Strange’, a mini-exhibition of gaikaiju calligrams commissioned for Roulade #2, Wayne Holloway-Smith and Llew Watkins’ one-night-only walk-through magazine.

This version made using impress.js.

space or arrow keys to move forward
or here for simple version