THE OUTLANDS - we watch them going in a bubble of breath held -

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BERNIE

The poet’s voice splits.

It happens in a way that allows him to mark the moment precisely. He is reciting a line. Sister’s gonna kiss, my ruby red lips.

Bernie N. Galls’ voice split.

It diverged. An alien sensation. There were two voices: one emanating from his larynx – a voice familiar to him – the other from somewhere around his sternum, which caused his clavicle to move, but slightly. The event came with a vague sense of dislocation, but Galls noted it was not unpleasant and so read some more, altering the pace and rhythm of his speech, modifying pitch and tone, toying with prosodies and
pronunciations. He transposed his lines into other languages – into foreign tongues he knew, and into those he could barely speak. He noticed again certain turns of phrase seemed to reproduce the voice splitting. Those permutations filled him with pleasure and awkwardness, a non‐distinct joy with no reference but the sensation of the sound itself. The pleasure and exhilaration increased with the repetitions. He paced them
with his breathing. Mutations appeared. At first, microscopic, slight differences in the pronunciation of a word, changes in the combination or order of phonemes. The mutations became more distinct. New words appeared from the sounds repeated, fractured pieces of syntax.

Bernie N. Galls found the exercise had become part of his routine.vi He extended his sessions, finding that as he persisted with the longer, more painful sittings, the mutations would take the form of new words. Making a note of these, he found an uncanny similarity between their phonetic content: a certain ‘mo‐’ like sound recurred, as did a long ‘ee,’ and a sound resembling a ‘sht’ or ‘st.’ Treating these common roots of the mutations as seeds, Galls made a list of words he could think of in which these sounds played a central role: ‘mohair,’ ‘Moscow,’ ‘stick,’ ‘star,’ ‘meek,’ ‘molten’. He focused hard, repeated the words to himself at different paces, tried to visualize them to see if they would allude directly to other texts, images,
situations.

Over months, Galls noticed the common roots of the words becoming more substantial. He found himself capable of distinguishing the word ‘stone,’ for instance, in addition to a word resembling ‘mould,’ ‘mold,’ or ‘mole,’ and a word similar to ‘beech,’ ‘bleach,’ or ‘beach.’ And though he tried to map them out, he could make little sense of the imagery, or of the paths and trajectories engendered. His was a fractured map, a
collage drawn together from broken images the relationships between which were uncertain, ambiguous and shifting. Mould and bleach, mould and stone, stone and beach, mole and stone.

Extensive research followed: long sessions in the archives; incessant, silent repetition of word combinations. Galls confined himself, avoided his colleagues, spurned the conversation of friends in preference for an emerging, sub‐vocal world of incantation. And gradually, one sequence began to take on weight: ‘Molestone Beach’. Shocked by its clarity, Galls surfaced. He wrote his formula on a scrap of paper
and took it to the indexes. Two results were returned: punk band, Madrid/Montevideo (circa. 1981): Los Moles Tones; a map reference – a location on the coast 145 miles North‐West: Molestone Beach. Population: 1430.

Galls watches from a distance. There are figures on the shore. Something is being done. An operation is being carried out. Or is there only one person? Is the other shape – what he had taken for a body – is that his bucket?

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