M.T.C. Cronin
Their Reins
for A.F.C.

I try the hearts of men, and their reins, and give to every one according
to his conduct, and according to his device.
- AElfric, Died circa AD 1025

a publisher told me, is five dots – the first white and the next four black. I like this, the philosopher on the bare back of the palomino heading for dark mountains. If I had a horse perhaps I wouldn’t dislike horses so much. I don’t find them sexy or particularly interesting and tend to associate them with kicking people to death. Certainly, I think they’re at their best when off somewhere with other horses and am sure they don’t reciprocate the young girl thing. Do philosophers just have too much time to think? How do you go from horse-brain to human-brain and who cares where the dots lead anyhow? Philosophers are, of course, up on the horse and lost for the lot of us. If I could bear being up-close to those monstrous eyes I’d sidle up, grab their reins and simply lead them to water. But then, what is it they say, you can’t make them drink. Not like publishers. They think horses are an angle and the booze only runs out if you think it does. One told me once, in his cups, that poetry is sneaking up on dickheads...

Someone else has mentioned him to me and I know him now, inhabiting the fragments of that story as if with a tenacious belief in the tenure of words. Who is he to me? One of the passions and messiness of everyday life? Excess fantasy, duplicity, coyness? He is someone I saw, someone I could see. Visible to me in a way that no motivations became implicated in voyeurism, so that all witness-bearing escaped performing the unseemly soul-flips of the failed audience. Evidentiary. It was as if before him the night’s wick was lit by a burning book so that I could read his dark face. As if the thirst of books drank him, slow and long, so that he fleshed out what in others were only ideas. Gauzed mountains, blue, how distant? And too many writers working away at the unmystery as if a description of the rumours of truth could be drawn from the wrong kind of attention. I would see him sitting working carefully with his pen to reduce the distinction between high and low. But only for a moment and the idiosyncratic pleasure in that. Likewise he would mingle like and dislike simply to beat out a tissue thin as the foreign concept and then lean his head to put his nose straight through it. There was one thing he said to me that I immediately knew found a place shaped like itself in my heart: You shouldn’t practise suffering. And I saw that he had a passion for it.