https://www.eyefilm.nl/en/exhibition/jan-svankmajer



A crown of sonnets based on The Flat (1968) by Jan Svankmajer 

I
Flickering flitting flighty flesh surface
reveals nothing tribal as a man rolls
like a monkey in summersault purpose
from the brightness outside, he, dead sea scrolls

he, becomes trapped inside the room, sutured
with nails to the outer door, he, starkness
he follows the white arrows, his futured
hands and knees crawling across rough darkness

drawn on the dirt floor, leading to hanging
tattered wall covering a bathroom door
a cruel state of inward urban planning
white arrows leading to a state of war

a doorknob cruelly breaks off in his hand
as a bell rings invisibly unmanned

II
As a bell rings invisibly unmanned
He surveys the room, a dingy sparseness
Speaking epically of an upper hand
Wielding a mirror that obeys harshness

Reflecting itself and not the outside.
He strikes a match to alight the woodstove
But finds the rainwater gushing high tide
In elemental residue, mangrove

Of twentieth century chemistry.
A photograph of solemn, stern priesthood
Below a gunshot riddled bestially
Among all the ways we know we could/should

One by one, he finds above it a gun-
Shot riddled nude photograph of someone.

III
Shot riddled nude photograph of someone.
Her left breast and hip tattered to straighten
Attempting the crooked frame, overrun
The chair upon which he stands, shrinks, hasten

To the floor upon which he is standing
As though in punishment for eyeing it
Naked breast with priests beneath, commanding
A light bulb that begins swinging outwit

And bashing into the rock wall without
appearing to crack, continuously
breaking until appears a hole ground out
by the bright sunlight mysteriously

He appears in the light by the bright rock
Looking through to be bashed by the sun shock

IV
Looking through to be bashed by the sun shock
With the entrance of a retracting glove
His nose became comically pillow block
A boxer’s trial and erroring dove

He sits at last at a wooden table
And, attempting to eat the food set there,
Only finds that nothing will enable
Him to eat the miscellaneous fare

The cutlery breaks at the cracking egg
Putting materialisms aghast
At the weight of the forces he must beg
In the interior weather forecast

Even the waiting soupspoon filled with holes
Descends to the bowl, nothing, dead-sea scrolls.

V
Descends to the bowl, nothing, dead-sea scrolls
And a beer glass that constantly changes
With no warranty at Size of controls
Nor with the egg and wall it Exchanges

He tries tossing the egg at the brick wall
Where it disappears like a liquid drop.
Attempting to retrieve the egg, hand fall
Into the wall where it is devoured, plop. 

His hand emerges, dug from the wall, free
In his cupped palm he finds hardboiled egg yolk
And Cracked egg shell staring up like a sea
In which he swims, of a practical joke 

A dog enters and eats the potatoes.
The bed eats him like worms on Tomatoes.

VI
The bed eats him like worms on Tomatoes.
Devouring him in a fast forward lip
Satire of a communist like Plato’s
Underdeveloped darkness reaching zip

A darkness at the opening despair
Absurd, grotesque, and terribly clever
In its depraved black and white Evening prayer
Engaging your lunacy Forever

Now all the surfaces in the flat bite
The simpleness of surface grain attacks
His clothing becomes shredded like a kite
As though the wind became full of metal jacks

Which forces him to strip down to skivvies
An unbecoming failure, Ulysses.

VII
An unbecoming failure, Ulysses
cannot wait another final moment
until, at last a break in the disease
in the form of a bowler hat loment

breaking against the seeds of despairing
with a white dove in his hand which he rests
comically on a white glove declaring
that the man follow him, beckon suggests

that solemn faced man be given an axe
leaving the man alone, attempting bash
at the door he finds a wall writ, not wax
inscribed the names who came before, a stash.

He writes his name in lead pencil, Josef.
Flickering flitting flighty flesh surface.