GLOGY by Josh Stanley (Grasp Press, 2008)

Reviewed by Peter Larkin

The British poet J.H. Prynne also addresses the cosmic in specialized vocabularies such as the neurobiological. Although it may seem as if most poets, especially the lyric ones, are intensely inward-looking, the best are always stretching for the vastness outside themselves.
--- Candice Ward

This second pamphlet from Josh Stanley titles itself Glogy (as in a grungy logos or earth-crunched glory, or perhaps the G-forces of stickily unassailable lyric) and enjoins on us three poems, ‘Swap Formula’, ‘Unready’ and ‘On Loan / On Water’. Here come primordial timings of the elements of the physical universe posted to a further surface by desire. The poetry mingles its failures of symbolic translation with deft displacements which stretch out the recoverable limits of each text, locking onto its own thematics of expressive defeat but calling across each constituent as sufficiently chancily alike. As such, we are presented with a granulation of imagery which takes an entire cosmos for its range, an astro-atomism which twists the sinews of desire across the traces of mis-address (or the occasional trance of direct address), hunting through smashed weaves but hinting at a winnowing yet to come. This debris of cross-association or recombination glints with an attachable dissonance, a sonar which plunges between surfaces from the outset, leaving lyric demand brusquely uncompromised, however exemplary its universal clutter of self-obstruction.


From ‘Swap Formula’ a ‘trade history step’ subjunctively pitches into the gap that opens an arena ‘perpetually in you’ to perform the implicit ritual ‘greeting I live neuroscience.’ How is neuroscience to be lived as greeting, if this is not to be a reductive throwaway? This moment of indurated excess is teased back into the text’s fabric through a series of slack reservations, a deliberate lameness where there cannot be overt lamentation, given that the dazzle of lyric remains unengageable at this point: ‘that one star is / brighter than the rest but then it is / probably not a star.’ The poem remembers:

how stones have been
falling since antiquity but not
before because that

doesn’t happen
The gap which the denial traverses hints at a further lyric reprise:

you in your tartan coat, you are
80% of those that are
                      similar to solar corona,
                      that of, you fit
Much of the poem is busy with fitting a you-fit (as an access of erotic address) to the ‘that of’ which has to be simultaneously negotiated with for any relation to enter time and materiality:

You ran through the prism quicker than
I could, bathed in,
              well, yourself. The
intensity of the
                           radiation is a
function of
                           the abundance of
the element
Again, the line gaps insist all these equivalents are in fact translations, veerings, and so not to be summated as lyric predicates:

All in the
arm end, flunked – but come on there are
times there are times and there will be
time, when I can look up and not at you and
The poetry speaks its ‘not at you’, its emptying of address along a necessary detour of non-disattachment, into the infinity of the time-series from which it deftly extracts the singular prophecy of ‘there will be time’ in which the prevailing mis-address is less important than the relentless sifting of the grains of rencounter by desire’s own accident of itself: at such a pitch of atomization love not only cannot solely be itself but as soon swerves through the logic of ‘that of’ as a way of no longer being alone with itself:

      because it 
      was not mine
regularly that
      I have been there and
      that I will be there and
      then I fell over with
my love in my arms unfortunately cut by the
grass, that has grown sharp and
may be too much I can’t call it
The burdened fall can’t resolve as balance because it is dislocated by the ‘been there’ and ‘I will be there’, but such toppling is also the cutting (rather than cut) edge of grass, a particulate blade that renders desire no less sharp in response, absorbed into an acute background of all that is excessively present as a treadable, kneaded fragment on the compressed grounds of itself. Here, the unmeeting is equally free from accidental drift from within the element crash of succinct obsession:

    primordial material of the
    solar system transmitted intact
through time
Specificity here is being ‘not one’ for ‘many is what I mean’, but this is no soft plurality, because ‘the offer is two for / one after all plus some surplus value / if luck is with us.’ Desire for the other can’t be safely inscribed within a stable pluralism, and the political resentment of surplus value assigns its chafing origin to the lyricised poverty of ‘if luck is with us’, powerless against in own absorption into other agencies. But this is the path of desire for a correlation within a world of disjunct elements whose heterogeneity doesn’t admit of any ‘us’ on its own terms but mediates the difference of a lack suing for luck. Luck might reduce the myriad neuters in play and so launch an erotic fulcrum into its own engagement where desire’s obstinations can come to participate in the same brittleness of excess, the phantom structure of what is:

I am a thing and a real thing at that. All to, pause
all told. When I say you I mean roughly
everything…Just give me some time.


‘Unready’ sketches out a location ‘above Chamonix’ in a micro-swirl of glacier imagery which haunts a latter Mont Blanc world of Coleridge or Shelley. Here, glacier movement is more acutely seasonal, and slope friction involves a richer skip-back of surface:

patterns lie us down to increase the
frictional heating, the radiant line
of equilibrium
So ‘we’ are laid down (as desire) within a radiance which is inclination given added gravity-value by friction. This drops through an abyss of impulse not so much hollow as a further stratum stretchable or compressible. It is this which is ‘hit together’ to ‘maintain a warm outer ring’ not identical in its heat to the outer world, but a reactive lining of an interior which is open to the resistance of a world it cannot merge with but can be abraded by:

                                                     But there
is also cooling by advection but as
far as it goes, with causes these days, the
theres do not move together or me
The ‘as far as it goes’ admits interaction without identification but causally this does grant transmittance, a disposition of the fragments of location (the ‘theres’) amid a distribution of desire neither ingathered nor gesturally scattered but still somehow speaking from itself as a pure borrower of contiguous material:

                                    Don’t ramify instead
detach your self contingency
This leads to a recapitulation of a ‘Swap Formula’ theme:

                         The struggle of the timescale is
worth it exactly, the gap is necessary and the
only way in the image / is the image
Here ‘gap’ doesn’t betoken a textual break but occurs to slash the image across itself, a back to back but not a mirror (since ‘in’ mutates to ‘is’) and as such sustains a difference intimately untraversable:

But that, frictional medium of jump-cuts can be
worn (You will be what you wear) and the
  chanted      that do you
                     hear me
This gets to read out a ‘that you do hear me’ as only speakable in/via the frictional enclave, a contrary hugging that doesn’t actually resolve to contradiction. A delay pauses at obstruction, the prevention is a symbolic anticipatory closing over of the gap by being enflamed within it (what cannot be crossed is thereby non-empty):

      Closer pause close
the gap.  All things considered 
eventually are.  I am always colder but
if I were warmer I give up. Significant turn
other by the accident: we stop and you stare at
time to get going
The moving accident collides in time as an internalized substance mutually consuming, heated at time rather than simply being burnt out by it:

To miss it might be to miss for it.

It is how would I say it.
I am afraid of white.
The poem’s termination rejoins a sublimatory cooling, but so as to turn dedicational (‘I miss for it’) in excess of any other neutral exaction. The muted question (‘how would I say it’) is relational enough to be a question whose howness is said, but still in fear of any unsustainable emergence from a blank auto-congealing of the articulating imagery.


The relative proportions over time are ‘subject in / their parts’ at the opening of ‘On Loan / On Water’ which is just as quick to swerve through an erotic exception by parts: ‘She is the fairest to / dissociation by sunlight’ which tends to a radiant disymmetry of ‘so they / reacted together and you and I / were found leaning over meniscus / with purposeful blinks that is / what does it’. The erotic charge is instantly reinvested in the hold particles claim over each other, a coherence of association which in fact leans over in excess (as well as threatening a leanness of blind congruence):

look outward and like these things circle
  around the round centre in a
  round movement
The ‘you’ produced is a consummation but also an envious ‘full stop’:

                               The breathing
                                                      space of load
                                                      bag apparatus
     was all fully utilized in
     some such conversion
of surface materials
Once more there is a push towards transformation which might not be a surface change (or even a field contiguity): ‘since that / coded end, to group as contiguous, / would ghostly’. Desire identifies the ghost of itself as a substance without constituency, narrowly origined from shadow or flash, something that is no ‘man to man’ conversation (a talk of conversion) but a fixation caught at the stave which separates human/inhuman. The confession that ‘I need things’ modulates to a sensitised reaching out which can be strangely consoled by the inevitably receptive blunting (as what there is to pass on, encapsulate even as the focus is dented):

                          It always comes down to
                          that the shiver of power
                          across an unlit field
    when I touch out you
    touch to the asphalt
This proceeds to a dissipation, a charged but scattered objectism which is a passionate swerving from the discrete densities which cannot quite discard the singularity of overload, though everything about their more travelled contiguities suggests they can:

                                      helium, like hydrogen
has a sufficiently low molecular

weight to escape to space.  Both of these were the
shining result of glistening breakdown love to
control I shall not
                                    list the
The ‘escape to space’ collects itself across another linear gap which enacts the counter-distribution of the asymmetry of desire. Such natural elements can’t realize displacement as such in any terms beyond their own cosmic force-field, but they are what there is to intervene: as things that are more primordial than exact measure or any objective correlative; rather, they are the paradoxical captures of a self-scattering vortex of desire, its set of attachables marking each particle of swerve through a long helix of counter-nominalization (how have these names summoned up in section an elemental body which has yet to name itself as the resemblance that can absorb what must be desired of it?):

                              Precisely so and
when such a current reaches an abyssal plain it
spreads out and slows down exactly
This temporalisation as absorption (in consuming the current) becomes an identity in everything that is apart from/part of a singular, and so goes on copying itself as vacant remission throughout a self-similar universe:

thereby blanketing any irregularities
warm on the ocean floor you
This is a kernel which reveals the transactional split at its core as what it has to travel with, so that the displacement remains singular rather than transitional (and so echoes Wordsworth’s ‘oh / The difference to me!’):

I still need to convince you and
you remain only you and the

difference to me
The poem offers itself the loan of a bleak termination in the waters of unpunctual desire: how desire moves along is just what desire does not retain of itself apart from the consistencies of (accompanying) a duration embodying whatever it can’t translate onward from itself – it is this last element which gives a ‘there’:

To prove all this there is that nothing.
There are things that suggest no more
A nothing as something (desired) is the nothing that impinges on the brittle particles of a cosmos, until they can be charged up as ‘that’ nothing, the ‘all this there’ that might copy an abyss of itself, one not negotiable by any farther horizon, and as such unable to account for its own initial purchase. This asymmetry is what is belied in exactly externalized terms, but their ‘no more’ is a dubious surmise, credible only to the excess which badgers into limitation, which as such lapses into a post-silence, no longer only on this side of the abyss but lapsing into the unrisked echo of ‘no more is needed’.

The three poems of Glogy deploy a bolstered, contused syntax, at once condensed or baggily supplemented, with frequent line-breaks and miniature stanzaic gaps suggesting a pause for elided material, or for a voice that can’t offer to infill what has been opened out. A lyric music not quite brought home deliberates its unsayables, not just as a matter of prevention but through fly-overs of frequently prosy extension which insist on completing themselves where lyric pulse has already been broken. This can be off-putting at a first read, but reveals itself after a while as a matter of careful imbrication of different or disparate registers. Where the syntax does seem to have come off the rails, it presently slides along an unveering short cut of direct passion which promises itself nothing in advance. Glogy is a fascinating achievement from a new poet who readily declines to accelerate past or outlive the blind ends or tentative steps of growing a material, whatever is owed its sound.

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