We are very pleased this week to be publishing an extract from the sequence Forced Fingers by Dan Eltringham. Drawing on the language of folk wisdom, global agribusiness, literary pastoral and eighteenth-century debates around enclosure, Forced Fingers is a long work that attempts to think about the meanings of ‘field work’, and other kinds of work, in contemporary and past historical moments. Dan is a poet and PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London, working on William Wordsworth, J. H. Prynne and the commons.

 

 

I.

 

Cut the sheaf

& bend the

leaf bough

now towards

now against

 

bare, in place

of plough

grazed now

& lean, a

big empty

 

field in

Brazil.

 

 

 

Stall in Chong-

-qing’s green

universe,

soy I am

I am a

 

bean to feed

steak, stake

claimants clam-

-ouring to

extinguish;

 

two by two

they go.

 

 

 

Catch a

wind fall-

-en one &

leave the

door open

 

to let the

year in;

inform

your friend-

-ly regime

 

of offshore

secrecy.

 

 

 

Work in-

corporate-

-s a tune,

number

up one to

 

force, an

alembic

pupilar

glint congeal’d

deposit:

 

lean in

to it.

 

 

 

Bind weed

round this

pen now cut

loose from

pan-seared

 

ivy you

rude-finger-

-ed rustic

you don’t

know what

 

know what

work is.

 

 

 

 

 

II.

 

Cross a stile

& gate hard

by a law

& order-

-ed field

 

where he robb-

-eth by night

& prowl-

-eth & filch-

-eth by day:

 

& they

make hay.

 

 

 

Close in to

this close, a

deep dale by

the way, this

is a green

 

painted

by numbers

to brim fill

limit over-

-stocked to

 

surplus

requirements.

 

 

 

Kiss the

maids a-

-milking

metaphorph-

-osed fats to

churn ex-

 

-tracted gut

burned by

seed; the

brook sweet-

-ly sings its

 

vertical

erasure.

 

 

 

Find a fair

field full of

folk there

where thou

hadst made

 

an Alter-

-ation, stain-

-ed & pen-

-ned in this

is a green

 

happy

gate.

 

 

 

Raise ten

thousand

roofs round it,

there is plant

life here there

 

is but a

few of us

happy &

green this is

a village

 

there is

street life.

 

 

 

 

 

V.

 

Walk now in

the city

where I

walk to-

-day, hand

 

me your

hand, note

each day

a new flow-

-er sprung;

 

seasons

still frame us.

 

 

Hurry yet

with strait-

-end gait well-

-adjusted

to pass from

 

reach bey-

-ond con-

-tour or stone

ring to this

green square,

 

light rain

& bitter tea.

 

 

 

Buy fruit

from the fruit-

-seller to-

-day, sounds

simple but

 

politics like

this is hard-

-er & more

so than it

seems; I

 

know the

hours they work.

 

 

 

Look the

city is

a garden

ringed by

ghosts of

trees a pal-

 

-isade fence

haunting

bankers,

exclusion,

inclusion:

 

a web

over the well.

 

 

 

Find a well,

draw up

water: this

country though

surface-small

 

goes down

deeply; so

bury me here,

where the stones

for the cairn

 

are drawn

from the weir.

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Eltringham is a poet and PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London, working on William Wordsworth, J. H. Prynne and the commons. He has published on Sean Bonney and R. F. Langley, with a book chapter forthcoming on Peter Riley. His first pamphlet is Mystics, and a second, Ithaca, is forthcoming. He co-edits Girasol Press and The Literateur.