Platform Poems by James Fleming

These poems were written during work-in-progress showings of Platform. The poems serve as a sort of looking glass into the progression of the performance, and seek to create a linguistic lineage or record of the movements. They remain unedited to more accurately portray the unique space between language and dance. 

Poem 1
Platform WIP: Charles Slender-White and Liane Burns
Written by James Fleming

Happy caramel redwood floors
barefoot, heat sitting on the chest
life an embarrassing introduction

the dancers drink diet coke and
seem to defy the languid uncertainty
of Sundays at noon

Balkans, 5 weeks
platform V.2
so much cooler in the US
to say this, the project premise
a hand brings up the foot legs splay
out as a splash of water
the film: us doing the piece
“this is true so far?”

indoors, outdoors, the setting
all is change, that’s it
today this section is all front
is not oriented to the cardinal
proscenium and
there is no projections
but other elements, what else
is missing?

relationship to the piece, each other,
to space/desire to do the
space, the main things
and we don’t know, without force,
our relationship to each other

different times, different places
our hope, more stuff, steps,

a lofty industry to the music
the wind, the frown
10 tracks, new ones the
last ones
knowledge wreathed in
the sweat and delight
of bodies in motion

the frame is a central
wetness through the shirt
the frame is an idea

a body can flow in any
direction if the heart, the hip
is willing. knee to wood.
hand up swinging, sip, the neck
as a stork in hunger, how
mechanic the doings of nature.

heel up heel down
i had more grace than a queen
a rest at throne

tap atop the crown of the foot
nodding and the right hand
a foundation for the stoic frame:
a body can be a monolith
if one slows breathing to nadir

complex motion, limbs are fans
whipping up a froth into the air
roll the shoulders back
I saw charles steal a glance at liane
did she, did she ever know?

can you snatch a glance not for you outta the blue?

fetal rest a thesis on automation
the angle of the arms to
swinging pendulum of foot

the duet is a solo is a duet
hallowed on the ground
a sopratice beat
have you ever seen a hundred
women calling for a digital spectre?
I have
how does a machine cry?

the artifice suddenly the body
and the heat turned angry
the limbs routing a precise, stolid
measurement of form in motion

god the beat!
          liane stared

and charles stared
pinser/grab the foot as one
does a rifle, a cig, a glass of cab
the scarf of the gaze sweeps behind the shoulder
rearing up the haunch//

found the rotation again both
measuring the stroke of standstill
only evidence is the breathing

honey / steel / monks and a tenor preening the plunk
of rain from out their throats to cool the room
sad spectre: sound.

the body seeks the language of action, choice
O if movement ever was so sweet
        I would die to see them float
and light is a galeful bounding thought
to wash hands across the back, face, abdomen
straight legged mewling, pucker sop and grind
ply the cotton skin off to wrack the burning floorboards in sweat
       if only the body could sex the beat
pulled up from the floor as
to wrest in the air poised
as bird before flight

liane grabs charles’ shirt
they don the wet-wracked
cloth of the other and
the body seeks a renewed association
with the other

I begin to fall I begin to fall
belong - repeats and a mimicry
of semiotics, a semiotics of the body
seeks a shared motion
as each dancer
grabs at neck held, head
pressed to hand, bent
turned swept up to thigh
cheek breaking against the fist

liane smiles to a tune
turning about more quietly
I would wrack my body to speak to them
finding the pure sources
of meat at talk

charles follows suit, a moment
behind till his feet
slide out and he is gone

she is speaking
now to the comparative silence
we have all known this silence

of cement walls and the ambient
track of life outside passing

exits and I shudder
do I take up the mouth of the dancer
in flee

back to land through

an earlier choreography
of fans, swinging petals, rotating
through the root of the foot
to roll, spread, wire and spin
an entire room in the chordant
sweeping flush of wind

if i were to stay alive
if I were to stay
back back into you
raining a circle, and charles
sees her, liane standing ahead

a dancer breathes with their eyes
a look beginning in the base of the spine
to inform an entire ecosystem of musculature,
the skeleton, poised into the wild-toothed shot
or a blade of green reposed in morning frost

can you be, in dance, everything you wanted

how does meat mimic industrial clamour?
moments of great precision
are shared through a look
eyes searing the dialogue
of the body at work
      the body
hand over hand
the squeak at sweatpants on floor
water breaks
                   no diet coke
                  that’s it.


Poem 2
Platform Practice: Charles Slender-White and Liane Burns
Written by James Fleming

when do I drop out

white skin on grape silk
movement is clockwise, a round
a flow, precision
as it were the body a mechanism

monastic quality of cloth
tabard tabard
poses repeated perhaps why
open shoulder is it seductive
or ill-fitting, negligent

motion continues between songs
which gives the impression the body
is not a mechanism to/of the song

the twirling is exact (thoughtful)
an immense equality (subsuming, like a pitched fall or a bed sheet lost to the wind)
the rotations
attend to the limbs
and mostly I am in awe.

they begin to respond,
bodies at talk
tka tka tka go birds of paradise
or clops of a heel on repeat
over gravel, a crunch or call
universally satisfying.

adjacent seeming unison
focus, an animal at performance

my attention drifts
and the music turns to mush
after all, synthetic clamor on repeat

regained my eye when they flushed out their limbs onto the floor
dashed as a loosed armful of wood or stones thrown down a shoot,
fetal, all was a reprieve. and suddenly silence.

movements between constant sounds useful -
babies sigh in silence between sobs, susurrations must
slip away if they are to remain a lure -
a certain physical solidity, no gravity to
dance prone as a lip of water lapping the shore

so heavy your body, charles.
they are sweating.

refrain - most noteworthy song?
silk wrinkles across wet skin
molting into primordial red

undertones of the skin, pink beneath
the skin is a compliment to purple.

complicated talk
when on the ground
on your back.

I thought momentarily on the project of sex

stillness almost always is welcome
love it on the chest.

hymn - high, formalist
poses to pupa
a human form

all this humming
harmonies apparent
as they are in good food, sceneries, conversation

flapping of wind into calls,
scratching a terrible gasp
birth, language, la!

sticky slip about the ground
as skins is purged
the wind is a boiling, adolescent crush
ripping across my ear

a pain, things hurt (often, most places you go)
a penance, likely considering
a chrysalis left to the uplift
of a new body, limbs breathing
through a gentle extension to be
thrashed in rain, silence.

put into exact reflection
leaning is discovering
as in to a mirror, the self

hard gaze in the morning sun
the skin the skin
a bugle calls

kneeling prostrate, prim
chins turn toward chins
exchange of soaked shirts back onto the body

who casts glass casts
far more particular exchange
of motions of language, sophisticated

I am thinking of whenever we (humans) decided
enough of grass huts it is time to sow seeds and
stroke metal

more and more words adjacent to rhyming, meaningless almost
but closeness
returns to unison.

who casts longest?
articulation of the face
skinned fruit, after all.
pound the belly, claimed
paws clapping walks in circles
liane's hair all down - what a sight!

rain, breaks of matter
a whipping, a creaking.

I could be grieving.

why then to the neck,
core movements.

lost attention thought of sara's work

arms spread, legs spread

out and circular
I need other words than circular
to describe the ways a dancer can
inspire the cusp
of oranges, cherries, slices.

I had forgotten their clothes
there seems to be a great
deal of looking going on these days.

wild as the willow; as the
whicker in mom's hand on a mare;
as a sister's eye.

hi hi welcome
papers shuffling
they feel lucky

yes yes yes

affirmations abject rambling
agreeableness is rarely a quality worth its salt

so much hollow noise.
I'm going to touch you now

compulsive thought:
is the losing of virginity always like this?

susurrations of the phrase
you are great repeating
almost as if sand paper on the wind

what is happening - so many
between noises of the body
I am sickened with
this excitement of new movement.

ululations of limbs in spin, howling
their breath louder:
eye contact leaves me exhausted, hungry.

motion drag between synchronicity
and complete breakage

how many times I felt that way
thank you charles, thank you

dance in silence
the breathing, slapping
brought me to the sounds
the speakers, love really,
growing so apart.


James Fleming is a poet and curator. He is particularly interested in the intersection of semiotics, performance, and digital art. James currently leads artistic partnerships across creative teams at Facebook, while curating new works with collaborator Kelly Lovemonster. 

[Editor's Note: Choreographers Liane Burns and Charles Slender-White invited Platform collaborators to write about their experiences witnessing rehearsals and contributing to the development of the work. These two poems, written by Creative Advisor, James Fleming, are in response to the Platform creative process. In addition to the poems above, FACT/SF has previously shared reflections from Slender-White and Maurya Kerr (Creative Advisor), and will be sharing writings from Cara Rose DeFabio (Dramaturge) and Liane Burns. In offering these thoughts, questions, observations, and impressions, FACT/SF aims to provide some insight into our creative process and a bit of context for Platform's conceptual considerations. ]