By the casting of dust, flour and salt,
by the echo of gunpowder,
by wind currents and cloud formation,
by the glow of charcoal and smoke,
by the webs of spiders,
by chance encounters with animals,
by the flight paths of birds and arrows,
by slipstreams of water,
by the flow of melting wax,
by birds flying into rooms,
by cutups and automatic writing,
by the ravings of bedlamites and seers,
by dominoes and dice,
by the crawl of a baby,
by the motion of wheels,
by demons in the trees,
by dragons and chess,
by the colour of placenta,
by infestations of insects,
by steam from spilled entrails,
by footprints and bones,
by lines on the skin,
by the words of the sleeping,
by turtle shells,
by the grey in mens’ beards,
by molten lead,
by the shape of a criminal’s cranium
by the convulsions of epileptics,
by objects abandoned on highways,
and musical notation,
and the genome,
and registration numbers,
and white blood cells,
and sound waves,
and the glow of Cherenkov radiation,
and the outer reaches of Pi.
In each and every one
the future hides, in fragments
waiting to be found, deciphered,
like a human form within a solid block of marble.
The clues are everywhere,
doors to the future, to the afterlife.
The photographer Arthur Fellig
arrived flashbulb bursting onto crime scenes
so quickly, sometimes before the police,
they said it was through diabolical means,
glimpsing the future,
communicating with the stunned
recently departed –
a mobster open-mouthed
at a blood-spattered barbers mirror,
a failed starlet crawling along a pavement.
They baptised him Weegee (Ouiji).
At home he developed his photographs
in a darkroom in the boot of his car
and at night sat smoking cigars over his radio,
tuning into the police frequency,
listening to the song of the streets,
waiting for those sacred digits… 1 8 7.
Thomas Edison claimed he was working on an electric valve
that would enable the bridging of communications
between this life and the next.
He instructed a dying associate with blueprints
to build a similar apparatus
on the other side
so that the dead could talk to the living.
Edison died before the link could be established.
There are thousands of miles of tape
of bird song, phone calls, lift music
in which voices have been heard,
subsonic, barely audible, backwards
“Va dormir, Margarete.”
“Mary, find me.”
“Leave me alone.”
Transmissions from the Inferno.
On the 8th of May 1794, Antoine Lavoisier,
father of modern chemistry, was guillotined
for the crime of flogging counterfeit tobacco.
For fifteen seconds after his head
was severed from his body, he continued to blink.
His last experiment.
His eyes seeing the next world
and communicating back,
a simple code
lost on the executioner,
‘There’s nothing else,
there’s nothing there.’