'Beyond Compare' / Tommy Baring

'Beyond Compare' / Tommy Baring

Tommy Baring’s ‘Beyond Compare’ is self- conscious. Self-conscious not in that way it is so regularly used - unsure, reserved, offended, uncommunicative - it may well be the opposite of this. 

Rather, is self-conscious in the sense that it constantly reflects itself, refracts itself and projects itself - onto itself.  

Its poetics are communicable, consistently filling in their own gaps - the hard and fast “lacks” are subdued by an elongated “indispensability”, the “faster” and “faster”  rhythm is performed by words as well as meter before it violently signals its own refraction, moves onto another “isolated exchange”. ‘Beyond Compare’ performs its own role as a recursive system, "eclipses" itself from stanza to stanza - to move through this poem relies on what has come before - as said, “light doesn’t exist without dark”. 

My first google search for Instant Life returned results for a life insurance scheme, hardly surprising in hindsight, but … 

‘Beyond Compare’ is frustrated, pushing hard against its own strictures mapping the tension between the “links” and “nodes” of reductive logic, of “demands unmet”  of desperately seeking sense and of desperate apathy towards it.  It is a poem that is bursting at the seams trying to answer its own questions - “trying to find, every[thing], any[thing], no[thing], something.  




Beyond Compare

I have fallen into this Instant Life,
fallen onto fleet feet that take in less
and less
of their environment, faster  
and faster.

it used to be
as if I knew
                                     another, from which
                                                       to equate,
to expound
each quirk and quark,
to gauge
what this life lacked, required.
it’s superfluity. it’s indispensability.

similarity of sunlight
illumined, my ego’s defence
against dissolution, whence
evaluation eclipsed as it
bent back
onto itself;
part of the same
recursive system.
circular reason.
isolated exchange.

the old ‘light doesn’t exist without dark’
comparison our only tool to etch,
the antonym of interpretation
a baseless guess. so I evolved

wings in order to walk,
fingers to fulfil flight
mental appendages
to draw ephemeral
lines in the sand, belied
every-time high-tide befell.




with my arsenal confined to comparison,
how can I perforate
a mixture whose proof is itself?
stirred within one pot,
no kettle to call black, 
or to call “exist,”
I think therefore I
a presupposition of to-be’s relativity,
to call ~~ every ~ any ~ no ~ some ~~ thing.


friction in fruitless pursuit
of traction, self-farce-centrism
tunnel vision cannot
compute function. I wake nonetheless. 

realism confronts
irrespective of
undoing bound. demands unmet.


survival instinct takes over
closing off links and breaking
down nodes, entry points,
incomplete schema:
that overwhelming ache
for a sensical universe
when a thrown birth is the only offered
 – take it – or – leave it –
(neither action can promise ~ thing)




subconscious mediates substitution,
acquiescence to aperture unfilled
through which truism undulates to the surface.

“A proposition that states nothing beyond
what is implied by any of its terms”

Firmament fervour dissolves,
youth subtly subsides.
Become au fait. Focused. Singular
concern forgotten, forcibly diverted – 
“of course it is this way” – 
instinct inaudibly whispers,
behind and below thought,
its efficacy outside logic’s bloated
reductive reach.

Securely cuffed, I settle
into supplied framework,
this fluid thing, seems more than plausible.





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