Literary Collage // Town Crier
The ides bode ill in the year of our Lord 1322, or hereabouts. With the collapse of Ely cathedral’s fine tower, not long after rising from the marshy waters, many a wanton woman is being found guilty of bewitching the good stonemasons who constructed that city’s monument. It is this disaster which has led us to the current disgrace of Hugh le Despenser The Younger. He is to be hung, drawn, and quartered here at Hereford, where buildings stand firm against the Devil’s work. Words from The Good Book are written upon The Younger’s body, as preface to the heretic’s punishment. These fine lines describe divine rights of kings, the attributes of usurpers and their followers, and instructions for their execution - Bibles being beneficious in such interpretations. Connections to Ely are NOT tenuous; evidence exceeds our gracious nation’s barometer in proving his heresy. Be warned of idle women who easily confuse droughts, plagues, faulty masonry and challenges to royal lines.
Covid-19-20-20 extracting devils thrashing through veins. I sign my name upon my arm to shield myself from the evils coursing within. I swim through watery beds and hear it be said that I’m neither out nor in
The validity of a last will & testament is dependent on a testator;
Being over 18 years of age, or married, or previously married, or thrice divorced and still not learnt that legal contracts are written into the seams of white dresses
Being of sound mind and not struck by hallucinatory fevers of beavers building multi-storied Covid-19 wards, as announced by town-criers, in medieval cathedrals
Writing a will. Not while on the death bed, not composed in the head, nor in the heads of others, however convincing conversations may have been. Foresight is an essential thing
Having the ability to sign the will in front of two witnesses, dragged from plague piles NB they must be living
Having the ability to sign the will. Ability must be proven, signing names to walls in huge long scrawls of copperplate scrolls - calligraphy having the calibre of legal entities. They reach around the bedroom dais and slip into the abyss of en-suite darkness
Before Hugh le Despenser The Younger can be dispensed with, he shall be strapped to ladders to ensure good views for your good viewing, dear public. We are all in need of heightened entertainment in these straightened times.
[The specimen is raised for all to see, after a clumsy pivot by two plague doctors]
As he dangles by the neck up there on his ignominious scaffold,
[A momentary asphyxiation]
he must surely recall a certain Woman of the Royal Household
[Leers, cheers, and general rabblesome noises].
She who duly found pleasure in deference to an unholy alliance based on fraudulent thrones
[Boos and stones thrown].
This Woman he thinks of was well-suited to her station. She deferred so much she was prone to lying prostate in front of her superiors and was amenable to much of The Younger’s advances, including the odd strangulation
[Pause for bawdy guffaws. The Younger’s face purples].
It was indicative of that troublesome reign, if further justification were needed, that both King and Queen should be replaced, and their chain of allegiances broken. We suffer such heretics no longer. Hence comes this order for the execution of their follower, The Younger,
for misplacing loyalties and for hands well placed. And as for The Woman? The Younger has indeed already disposed of her, depriving this audience of yet another good execution
Pause more to breathe
‘Are ye banjaxed yet?’
The Perpendicular International Gothic style is very on trend. Hence the speed (less than sixty years) in building Ely’s crossing towers. With hindsight, its collapse is a blessing as octagonal spires are surely de facto signifiers of architectural proximity to God? Echoes of curvilinear complexity in Lady Chapels raise Decorated arguments between polychromatic roof bosses about restoring gaudy splendour. They vie across arcades, shouting from richly carved mouths. The nave always has an answer.
I lose the will to live
I lose the will
I give instructions on where to find the will
I give instructions on where to find the solicitor who will execute the will
I give instructions on where to find my mind when body bags are un-zipped and construction begins on building internal towers, with wooden ladders, and executions follow, mounted on platforms, in the folds of my brain sulci.
Alveoli squashed into broccoli boil-water.
I am the Winter
Lungs to bellow, bones to hold, thermostat working internal mechanisms as scaffolders prop hidden passages for viruses to escape down while being hunted by Cavaliers. Or are they Roundheads? Clerestory windows unfinished.
glue made from ground bone
sizing priming bonding
glew mucilage and stayed awhile
Gather by the gallows
Let it fill ye
Three weeks and five long days it lasts, the nights being crueller. The Younger’s body is not yet be-headed. Severed legs follow spectacular disembowelment. He watches with red-lined eyes and pleads for speed. Slow is ordered, for he ordered the curse be upon us.
Let it be read, lest you think it all in the head
Lynn was born in the UK and after much travel has spent the last thirty years in Ireland. She is a successful Kildare based artist, tutor and writer. She spent years stealing feelings and painting them onto canvas, but her stories needed words and she changed to writing verse. Lynn’s debut novel, The Groundsmen, was published by époque press in September 2018.
Lynn has provided the following preface for her work:
‘The following short fiction, Town Crier, takes its name from those medieval newsreaders who, since before the plague, would have stalked the streets announcing and pronouncing on current affairs. As such, it is a literary extension to the medical news pieces I was asked to write for Ireland’s national newspaper in the days preceding lockdown. In early March we watched the inevitable spread of Coronavirus as it sped towards us from Italy, China, everywhere, and fear was mounting. Knowledge was scant, protocols scrambled, our way of life changed daily, hourly even. I already had Covid-19. The confusion of my fevered delirium reflected that of the nation; the peaks and troughs as we swung between predictable chaos and measured controls. There are many short story structures which I could have used to fictionalise this, but I wanted one which would in itself reiterate the confusion I was trying to depict. Literary Collage is one such device. It involves collating a series of seemingly unconnected pieces to create an overall whole. The extracts may be attributed to others or could be contrived artifices, sequential or otherwise, and the reader constructs meaning from these assemblages. Within the disconnect, a pattern emerges. This method has a long tradition, seeded by Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy in the 1700s and popularised more recently by Annie Dillard, David Markson, George Saunders, and C.D.Wright, to name but a few. Christodoulos Makris’ poetry is known for its experimental copy & paste internet remixes (this is no longer entertainment 2019) while Anglo-Greek poet Aea Varfis-van Warmelo utilizes another aspect of the form by segueing her two languages in the video Revelation Apocalypse (first published in written form in A Glimpse Of 2020 – a link to a video of her work is available here: https://youtu.be/62cQhNBRGHo
The mystery and traditions of her classical tongue lend weight and universality to the layered myths within her urgent narrative. Whether an author selects the poetic approach of Wright’s Casting Deep Shade 2019 or the ominous epistolary effect of a reportage/fiction in my own Idle Woman of The Grand Canal (Infinite Possibilities 2020), the reader is left in no doubt as to the overarching feeling of these pieces. And it is these unnamed feelings which artists try to articulate during the isolation of lockdowns, to create new words, images, and sounds for our new crisis heterotopia in a resurgence of literary expressionism. Town Crier, with its coronavirus/plague themes of personal/public fear, lends itself to the Literary Collage technique. It will unbalance readers who are new to the form in much the same way as we all struggle to make sense of long periods of isolation and reconnect the pieces to create new meanings for ourselves.’
Lynn Buckle, author of The Groundsmen published by époque press in 2018, is a visual artist, creative writing tutor, and contributor to several anthologies and literary reviews.
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