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Restricted Zone (slight return)

Tony Lopez


How could the mind take hold of such a country
In which white heaps build up and ivy covers
The early industrial era? Chimneys seem
To contain many things long and short. No smoke
From these abandoned engines: wires converge
On a ring attached to a wooden pole
With ceramic fittings. "Someone's with me in RL,"
It said, "Ask Janine about her new ID."
Plastic moulded into bone-shaped buttons.
A small noun, head down in a damp field,
Cropping verbs uncovered in the present
Continuous. Beyond the bullet-proof glass
He smiles and waves - our man in developing states --
Coming down on liberation theology.
Luminous rape under grey cloud shows red
In the satellite heat picture. We're proud of our people.
A yellow shirt on platform five explodes the subject,
Testing visual and orthographic processing.
Policies based on instruments such as green-belt
Have little effect on the shape of metropolis.
Every neighbourhood in parameter space
Finds the nearest periodic attractor. Innovation,
Technical know-how, attention to detail --
Casting the French-polisher from Yellow Pages
For his trusty face. A sleep-out on Mt Igman
With a minimum four hundred knots to the inch.
Snow holes, barbecue, good definition
In fractal clusters grown using local rules.
AM (SMALL CAPS) on the tree-lined campus
As scholars arrive in the back seats of taxis
Met from the sleeper train, still a bit sleepy,
Radiators, shelves, glass - things just falling.
We ran to the toilets for cover, hoping
For a little shut-eye ahead of registration
If the porter would open up a study-bedroom.
Just an accident of where you live and how
You hold a pencil, listening for metal wheels
Hitting joints in the rails, car horns each to each.
Streets are familiar but not quite right,
A fine blue morning with high cloud.
The rabbits up early, out on the lawns
Ready to feed and have their photos taken.
This is the beginning of a poetry conference.
Linen trousers are supposed to look as if
You slept in them. Windows sucked out of buildings
A quarter of a mile away. We took it
Back to focus group 21, weighed down
With items for the delegates' book table;
Whether relaxing, doing odd jobs round the house,
Or out and about in the car. Still sleepy
On Glenfiddich and Temazepan.
Getting rid of a pocket full of pound coins
Is a good idea, in the centre of Manchester
Or any city. Your open container
Drips onto plastic mulch. Red flow from a car boot:
All you do is listen and the stories come to life.
In multitudinous chatterings, she sees through
Simulation to the bone - pity and fear
Is what we feel, working through outmoded systems:
What else can a mother give her daughter?
A beautiful riff in time, say March in 44 BC.
Lost incomprehensible affect, lost feelings,
Truth lies hidden in a deep unfashionable well.
Years when Italy was torn. Therefore I resign
All claim to this experience, reading,
Writing, sailing a boat, getting hit on the head
In not-quite unison. Uffington white horse
Cut in the iron age. Photo by Aerofilms.
But since ferns have no seed, where would you cast them,
Knowing that each single angel is terrible?
The coiled wires are red, yellow and green
Running from the cab. Let's set up a phone-in.
Biting through leaves, tarpaulin, and good rope
To arrive at Brodmann's areas 44/45.
An infectious protein that attacks the brain
Known as a prion. Surviving heat treatment,
We are still hoping to make our connection
Following a white line and red lights ahead.
A complex pattern of frequency-locking
Is better than no pattern at all. Air Ride Suspension.
Systems with many degrees of freedom
Such as turbulent fluids, fibrillating hearts,
Movements of populations in real cities:
This medium makes gender surfing possible.
This is how we stabilise a chaotic array
In neurologically normal right-handed males:
From permutation to negativity
A simple but non-trivial pattern emerges
Which cannot be called unconscious.
Breathing in small particles of you, which
Already have their receptors, so that
When you raise an arm to push back your hair
And shift slightly in your seat, aware or not,
The faintest trace upon the air invents
This utterance. She would pronounce "semiotic"
Licking the moisture off and causing more
To arrive. The number of pixels showing
Activation in the inferior frontal gyrus.
I recollect the council was going green
And we announced it right after the phone-in
On the Auschwitz bus-trip. Give them more rope
And play-back time. Being born before '45
Was a basic qualification. No brain-
Dead Surrealists, no special treatment:
Neo-modernists break their own connections
Or drop off the classics list. We will stay ahead
Only by vocabulary-locking.
The future is bright, with temporal suspension,
Wir machen den weg frei: customer freedom
Is the feeling we hope for in all our hearts.
Country weekends, trouble free return to city
Apartments: let us make your dream possible.
Thus troubled clergy in the northern diocese
Learnt the boundaries of clerical morality.
"Dual containment" looks increasingly futile
To a palsied youth locked into a war game
Scenario. His car crashed, clothes ablaze,
Who did not close his eyes for seven days
But continued to steer and use the foot-pedals,
Cutting out some heavy-handed melodrama,
Which floats in a pool of light on Dundee's stage.
Bombing speaks to no-one but pushes up prices
And frightens the children. We brought them back
With careful friendly speech, then hypnotherapy,
In a corner flat in building 132.
You can lock up kids but it doesn't change
Behaviour patterns. Here comes the Euro:
Plenty of soft edges, moving to Dagenham.
The ward was filled with amputee children
Meeting the deficit target. Worries about
The peaceful integration of disparate states
Are irrational. Genetic engineering
Helps to make sure the output gap is clawed back:
The safety of your corn plant is unfounded.
Now that self-assessment is approaching
You need to put some instruments in place: invest.
We don't shoot the messenger. Now find the umbrella:
A target for Serbian shells. This guarantee
Does not affect your statutory rights.
Tony LopezTony Lopez has published many books and pamphlets of poetry, including Snapshots (1976), Change (1978), The English Disease (1979), A Handbook of British Birds (1982), Abstract & Delicious (1983), A Theory of Surplus Labour (1990), Stress Management (1994), Negative Equity (1995) and most recently False Memory (The Figures, USA, 1996). A selection of his poetry is included in the Picador anthology Conductors of Chaos (1996) edited by lain Sinclair. Tony Lopez is Reader in Poetry at the University of Plymouth in England. The URL address of this page is
This material is copyright © Tony Lopez and Jacket magazine 1998

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