The Shearsman Review

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Rhys Trimble - Hexerisk

Rhys Trimble – Hexerisk 

(Newton-le-Willows: Knives Forks and Spoons, 2014. Paperback, 91pp. £8.00)
Reviewed by Camilla Nelson
Rhys Trimble is a word terrorist.
And there is so much that I don’t understand in this word hospital where everything is injured and being operated on with no obvious intent to heal for the health of the thing is its constant innovation. Dollsheads rest on crabmetal legs. Tolstory. To read here is to walk into a death-like severance of language, a permanent hospitalisation: ‘my vocab did this to me”.’
Life falls apart in language.  Framed as the Welsh Modernist project that never was —
      modernism didn’t
      happen in welsh
— Hexerisk slips any sense of wishing to cohere or form a whole that Modernism might otherwise have wanted. The cracking and breaking here has been so thorough and so permanent that there’s nothing left to break. Destruction’s normalised white noise. The atomic bomb has come and gone and here we are, on the other side, with what it’s left us: an ash cloud of burned and broken language. Letters fall around us, piles of dead leaves thrown into the air for fun, demonically daring us to begin the impossible task of piecing together a puzzle that never promised to cohere: ‘ortho bis hetero dox strabismus / drag lusg is no code or nonsense’. Here is the detritus of language that we live in: halfsale, wholepiece, throwntogether allofalot and hellfortopay. Life is a collection of medical instructions – ‘3milligram2’ — half read, discarded, eroding in the garbage pail amidst banana peel and burning plastic. 
We are broken. And living with it. But Hexerisk suggests that outside of this text we are living so smoothly we don’t seem to notice the mess we’re in. Trimble breaks our attention with no intention of mending it. This is collage in extremis. Collage with no colle, no gum, no glue. There is no joining. The sex doesn’t happen. The sperm floats past the vulva. But still the vulva clicks and semaphores of javelin tusks and other such eruptions ghost a longing (if only) to connect flesh with flesh.  Our fingers strain to touch across the ‘Distal distance’ but promises of ‘proximo’ nearness remain unfullfilled. We never quite arrive within the Trimbling sentence that is strategically and mercilessly severed again and again and again. Mutilation is a continuum. The pain of reading broken glass shards wounding unapologetic. Lick my. OCSET. Words read backwards, sideways, merged, splurged, shattered across the page, across continents of languages untravelled and endlessly arriving in a wholly unparticled mess. You can’t find a language to stand up in steadily: ‘blew LIVERYDDIAETH clest & flapjacket.’ Syllables are thrown in confusion at your feet.  Make with them what you will.  
There are moments though, when the occasional larger than average fragment reminds you that once words may have meant something simple, something more akin to theapparently smooth surface of the page, a table top or something that had some clear sense of direction, like a flight of stairs.
      UNMOORED ZONES [nautical met] to sem up that il piece of 
      myself and hunt her.
But here is mostly shrapnel. The painful shadow of a past-life still lingering, patchily, threatening: you too will explode.
This permanent state of misconnection provides tension and occasionally despair. I want to connect, despite Trimble’s efforts to frustrate coherence. Hexerisk is in most part an assemblage so far flung that the items have given up hope of ever straining to reach each other, always not quite met, not quite even passing, greeting without the knowledge of names. But the longing remains. The longing and the learned enjoyment of confusion. This nonsensical glitter of half-meaning rains down as the world’s attempt to semiose disintegrates and we dance, though the pattern and connection is all gone.  This is the sound language makes before it begins to cohere. 
This falling free of sense insinuates that sounds and marks matter on their own, form an un-language, a site-less citation. But amid the convincing charade of devastation Trimble is making something. In amongst the glass shards softer islands fleetingly appear —
      teardrops hanging
      from     a bus
— and —
      OF BURNT
— and I can’t help feeling that this ash cloud is a chrysalis within which Trimble is fomenting a reform that will be closer to a sense we once made and yet entirely his own. Narrative, on the rare occasion it arises, is clear and fresh:
      i wrote a novel o un-abbreviate myself – to fold-out and 
      unpack all that poetry had constipated in me.
There are sharks in the air. The shadow of what has passed and that which is to come lurks, burbling ‘inorganic words.’ Hexerisk's a spell. A curse. A rhysk. And we are left trimbling in its wake.
4 February 2015