The unstoppable rise of the citizen cameraman

by verbswish



[verb]swish and Sh'maya were teamed for Nabokov's Present Tense, April '09. They wrote this in a week in response to the Guardian newspaper stor ( and performed it at the Southwark Playhouse.



In the beginning was the Word

Merging in and out

The rolling of the spheres

Like revolving lenses

Dissolving focus focus resolving

Through spears of light

Flung to strike the darkness

Release the imprisoned prisms

Held dumb now risen to separate night from day

Elevating the black in rays of white

Refracted out in shapes of fonts and letters

Fetters of hyphens loosing license to speech marks

Sparking sections of sentences commenced in paragraphical pacts

With columns stacked in CAPS LOCK and format

Encapsulating flocks of lines

Like dawn light weeping through the slats of blinds

In the darkrooms of our night time there was only ignorance

With the morning comes the deliverance of words

I awake to them

They plummet released

From the anaesthetised leash of my dreams

They tumble into my mouth my thoughts

My eyes blinking like shutters speeding

In the bleeding storms of their forms

In the morning light I rise

Gather them like equine herds

Bound them in stacks

Tether them together

Placate their cornucopia

Into literature soft and tender

Like a horse whisperer

I trail my hands through their manes

Stroke and nurture tame

They leave the wake of their whispers

Formless and empty on my fingers

The spirit of their shapes

Hovering over the fingerprints I emit

On the canvases that trip beneath my touch

When they are settled

I stand in front of my mirror and rehearse the headlines

I limber up my tongue

Warm my throat

Fire up my voice

I project them into my reflection

They make me feel alive

Pumped, driven

They become the pronouncements of my desires

The man that I can be

The man the world requires

I am the parable speaker

The shaman of the street-corners

I feed on the fat of the storyline

Suck the rind of the scoop

The contours of my features swoop enflamed

Tighten in the muscle of the syllables

The tendons of the rhythms

The constant clutch of the consonants

Clasping the vowels into clarity

Meaning, sensation

Embracing my demeanour

Like skin-grafts

They’ve been there from the start

Steadfast and enduring

Blooming the landscapes of my mind

They conjoin me to the images murmuring in their wombs

They groom my imaginings pristine in verse

Disperse love affairs with the unseen

The pictures they glean

If I could even describe

I would fill eternal galleries with their mastery

There is one picture that has been prominent recently

Swirling through the words like a recurring dream

It is a memory

One before my earliest

So ancient it holds a place somehow outside of time

In a climate I am not familiar with

Yet I remember

I remember

Let me paint it for you

See what I see

Allow my words to show you:

I am a child

I am lying on my back

I am in a dissolving place

A cold place

Where the stillness hangs like drapes on the air

There is an otherness present

I cannot explain

My feeding bottle stands next to me

Translucent in the ghosts of milk dregs

Trickling down its ridges

Like the heat

There is a heat in my rib cage

I have a dummy in my mouth

I cannot speak

There is a faceless figure leaning over me

It is my mother

She has her hand over my eyes

To draw me into the darkness of sleep

She is singing to me

As I slip away

Her words drift unfocused

Draining from me like print tinged bath water

Releasing the shores of melody and slumber lands

I am slipping further and further back into wordless places

To realms before language

Where expression rests in sighs and gasps

Like tides spilling seamlessly from lips

Reflecting skies and geneses

To focal planes

Spectral energies staining strains

Through iris flesh dressed in the flames of inception

Crackling like camera clicks

I am slipping further and further back into a soundless state

Where my unformed image waits

For words that will unearth it into birth


In that beginning was the image

Then telescopic songs of whirring press lenses throng,

The zips of their zoom-in or bloom of their zoom-out,

Extending gasped greetings from beyond many a breakfast table long before the morrow,

chorusing around that star-seeing subject at the foreground

of looming storm clouds,

the blush of nightstick.

Each ‘Click and switch’ causes the sudden speed up then gradual ease up

of retractable scope,

begging the question, how far back to actually go?

To capture the whole constellation and the story’s black hole.

Strata of pixel dust settle as the songs cease:

Here is the stuff that sells papers

Lying beneath what tries to stop riots

Rumours of the latter quelling the former

cause a bottle to be lobbed higher

Buzzing through powers of air, becoming dropped spiders

In shrieking glass.

Pro-paparazzo and regular chap roll

up on the scene outside the bank of agro

regulatory authorities? perhaps so

so in the moment that their handhelds are handholds

as both citizens kane memory and roll, as if time lapsing rosebuds from multiple angles

the scene grows ugly. they move in fast

the pro adjusts her lens with left supined palm

it sings that zoom-in, zoom-out kum-ba-yah.

The other closes left eye in time with the slow retreat of shutter

He whispers a word in its shell like “go discover”

drawing in rays like archer with bow,

catching the light, arrow-like with a slow-sync flash of his own

hungrily absorbing its main course around source material:

the stuff that sells papers

Lying beneath what tries to stop riots

The impressions of light are holstered

And biked over to HQ

Canons are docked or cradled like resting

Titan of Eos, yawning out dawns that the day knew

As unformed fables and cold, hard truths

Slalom through warm cables;

USB plugs and ports marry;

Older scoops hang back like plus 1 guests on spillover pews

Whilst fresh, digital confetti blitzes through bit streams

And knits back to fabric of unbroken news;

‘new device detected’

File – Open – View… Zoom

Some of the unsaid is stated, some of the stated suppressed

posed between columns, the photo stands Samsonesque

as the debate rages within QuarkExpress pages

Headlines and text are more or less plaintiffs

Defending their right to present a full story untainted

By a picture with nice blurs,

whose tip-of-the-iceberg, frozen moment

does not fit the story’s scripture of right words,

cannot thaw, with the same assurance

as things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.

I had not been expecting this kind of birth

It is another kind of word that stirs me now,

One constrained by time, deadline and whatever editors opine

is heard pronounced.

I am it’s unknown exponent, pushed to the top and somehow always right;

Raised to a power

Brooding over the deep of search engines and the summits of nations

That conscript pictures that someone has taken.

I have seen snapshots leave grief statuesque or joy contained

Entombed in frames

I have watched the rolling stone of video, mossless –

embedded at no extra cost, yet

Rolling inexorably from depressed sideways triangle to terminal square

And yet in the shape of things to come, I sense there’s more that is certainly there.

Hard drives to limbs once left me clattered

Now I am gathered above archives

I sit upon web servers,

I kick back on memories, on hard drives;

A digital immortal upon binary chariots,

zeroes for wheels, and 1’s for reins

With Lipizzaner stallions as my companions,

they are words birthed black and reversed back to white

in the newsflash I’ve been having:

Where Chalk dust on newsdesk blackboards has been made

And vignettes formed by the smudge of my name in previous briefings

On the blackboard’s corners and ceilings

Are revealing that I was also yesterdays news

And a feeling of unworthiness surfaces

My life in pictures is a flick-book against a thumb with no firm ridges,

As frictionless as the cloudless firmament

Ever skipping whole pages, where the storms of shame are most turbulent

Constrained by time and linear loop

I have lived such a life in my image of truth

what else but the Word could take “extra” and double it

And testify with “read all about it” to finish the couplet

For now I am that news projected from news stands

Flexed in the hands, whilst the charge of commute spans

from tube and train exits, rolled like a die

from the back of a news van

will this turn of pitch and toss be where the Truth lands?


released June 6, 2010
sh'maya (opening words, music), [verb]swish (closing words)



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