Karen Dalton's Smoking & Other Exhales
(July 2017; December 2018)
Karen Dalton’s smoking and I am too. Sat here in this tan top that buttons up and zipped black jeans and it’s not my favourite outfit but I worked this morning. It’s better to save the best for rest.
O it is.
O built on air and gliding over the A, the thicker exhale of a shop bought fog and a hand spun exercise, forward, forth. The belly of a pump house breathing in Oh gasping Om thing out grasping at Oak.
The curved sound of O in old in choke in fruit. The O in rhythm in speaking in sensing a rolling tide.
The O in the deep part of the heart, in the chamber behind the fleshy muscle cage, in the singer in the song in the echo. The O in the echo. O the physiological hollow of the ing out of reach too. An O or baby it’s U in clutch in the sounds in the thick air and the light places.
If I Listened Long Enough To You. The A in shan’t in a habit. And O with no end or On Smoking.
Karen Dalton’s wearing blue jeans and a white sweatshirt on the picture on the record. I don’t know much about Karen save that picture and some others - and her words and her words are usually some other’s.
Karen Dalton’s haunting and smoking someone else’s clothes by which I mean their words. A. Karen traditional; arranged.
The O in folk, the O in cover. Cover singing and under cover longing. O the O in voice that carves out a part of your thick air.
I started smoking when I was fourteen so sorry to mother, sorry to father. We were in Charlie’s Garden, my two best friends and I under the patio heater in the dark the night before New Years Eve and we all kept up the habit as long as we knew each other.
They played guitars and sung and I couldn’t do either. And now Charlie’s Garden sits somewhere else, wherever she goes, O.
Maybe it’s the same place in the same town. Her name rhymed with the town and the last I saw her hair was brown.
The Other Side Of This Life. We dyed our hair and cut it short and let it grow long and curled it and straightened it and tied it and tugged it and I was always jealous of who did it best.
Some ten years later and listening to Karen I started to gather songs by women who smoked and I didn’t get very far because I don’t stick to much but smoking but I saw Shirley, Anne, Nina, Sibylle, Sandy, Billie and Karen of course and surely there are troves more with voices and stories of the O in longing.
Shirley Collins lost her voice for thirty years. The O in no choice in shore in I Wish To The Lord I’d Never Been Born.
O for all for or for go in where does the time go in water in one morning fair. The A in take the air in ’twas in today.
There’s an A in tale and I is a one letter word.
I’m neither for nor against smoking as a way to pass the time but it helps when you’re ill at ease. The
long exhale, , , it’s meditative. Watch it. A, A, Exhale.
The A in chain. The chain of one and another and going off and on track and looking into the plume and the grey-blue , , ,
And the A times two in arranged. Once more now, but E in please. The A in mark and the sss of scar tissue teased apart. Just so, now a little to the side o’.
A revised suture re-voices the tear. I Wish To The Lord I’d Never Seen… If a phrase does not reach an ear or an eye was it ever a phrase at all; if a refrain does not break like the waves or run another lap is it holding A or E or I or anything in. Or Died When I Was A Baby My…
And A for and, in and. I’m sat here smoking in this yellow jumper and sheen polyester mock track pants; elasticated, and eighteen months have passed. I wear slippers on my Es in feet. That’s a new thing. The U in new. You say, have you heard this? Friend of Mine.
On weekdays I drive my car and stage a vibrato on the banks of the Ohio on the slip road at the traffic lights. O hold me down hand brake and stay in one place just now, just so. The U in lungs at the top of the range and what quivers in the distance a wrench of the throat and in practice. I learn to set the A in plaster and leave scales unmastered.
The terse O in knot and what waxes hotter is a haircut achieved. Traditional, arranged. Or, maybe, arrived. How Sweet It Is. Method: one body rooted and the other turning. Each step and slight shuffle permits a new precision, , , a cut and a pull down. The stretch of O or A in taught. The O in hold the I in it the E in there. Soft light bounces way back. The U in subject poised with elegance and grace, clasping dressmakers shears once another’s o’, pretty and gathering ash.