Wednesday, November 29, 2006

fRAIR'S tOQUE*

A spoiled milk sky, the shamble leg man hovelled under a refrigerator box, cardboard slogged with rain, hands pressed together to form a pyramid, a foil for mizzle and rain. The rainwater sluiced the cardboard eaves, collecting in a puddle at his feet. He remembered buying Indian chewing tobacco, brown coconut clew with sugar, nothing like the chaw his granddad kept in a pouch on his belt, and pretending he was a trapper, feet in mukluks and woolen socks, a friar’s toque pulled tight over his head.

Monday, November 27, 2006

aUTO dA fE*

Mans’ laughter, manslaughter, the man in the hat saw little difference between the two; the one a way of dealing with the horror of the other. The man in the hat had seen his fair share of horror and awfulness, so seldom if ever distinguished between mans’ laughter and manslaughter. He had once be party to an Auto Da Fe where a man was felled at the kneecaps for denying the existence of his poverty, a telling retold with caution and in hushed voices. The harridan told him a story about a dog that had been tortured and left for dead, its eyes yarned with lice and flatworms; stink and fester poaching the carcass, steam rising from the gore. Even though the man in the hat had a weakness for dogs, his stomach churned for the poor beast, evoking horror and disgust, the difference between mans’ laughter and beasts’ slaughter, the awfulness of awful.

Friday, November 24, 2006

cATTERY*

The man in the hat often thought that he would like a chieftain’s hat, a Hetman’s sou'wester with a drawstring and cincher, a measure of his good nature and middling intellect, or simply to prevent the rain from wetting his face. He knew a man, a knockabout, who wore a cane-boater and spoke in tongues, and lived in a trailer near a Babbling brook, or so he claimed. Cane-boaters, or pinpricked fedoras, were not to his liking, as they disproved reason and made one look silly and at odds. Now a Hetman’s sou’wester, bejeweled with baubles and tinkers, was a different thing altogether, something worth considering, if consider at all. A man must take a stand in life, after all, and make the best of a bad situation. He reflected on the assumptions of cattery, thinking that small bonnets or sun visors for felis catus, as the zoological textbook had said, might be worth considering. As he had no preference for cats’ broth, bouillabaisse or chowders, he felt that cattery might be to his liking.

Monday, November 20, 2006

sKINNED kNEES*

These are the days in between, those not quite there days, thought the man in the hat, the wreckage for the future. When he was a boy he would shave sticks into knives, rubbed smooth with tack-paper and sand. His father denied him toys and little things, so the man in the hat made his own, fashioned out of wood and paper, nails and brads, whatever was at hand and within reach. He smoked twigs and braids of grass, anything that could be lit and kept so. He hid behind the garden and smoked until the tuck of his lungs ached and his face turned red, thinking of ways to escape the past, forget the present and dream up the future. He remembered skinning his knees or bumping his head, casualties that only little boys remember, and his father’s vacant stare, lost in his own sadness and despair. When he grew taller than the pencil marks on the doorframe, the man in the hat left home, leaving behind his father’s vacant stare, rubbed sticks, and memories of skinned knees and bumped heads, a childhood spend hiding behind the garden shed, the days in between, the not quite there days.

cOWSLIPS aND dAFFODILS*

The shamble leg man gave her a gift of flowers, cowslips and daffodils, a nosegay of peonies and chrysanthemums cinched together with a bootlace. She put them in a Gin bottle, stopped the neck with a trackman’s stub and opened her legs, a boar of pubic hair caught in the elastic of her underpants, red blotches where cockroaches had eaten soft tissue, and a Rorschach birthmark, the one identifying mark that made her, her and not someone else.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

nYLON, fLAY aND sKIN*

She soaked her feet in Epsom salts to encouraging blistering, and to harden the callus that grew like scats on the heels of her feet. Her toenails curled up at the ends like birds’ talons, yellow shale, sharp and cetaceous. The barbs and hooks gibed her stockings, tearing through nylon, flay and skin.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

dEFIANT rEASON*

She kept her thoughts in a casket with a bird’s foot and an ostrich feather. The man in the hat awoke to a sky blistered with rain, smoke trailing from a half-spent cigarette left smoldering in the ashcan. He scooped his hat from the floor; weevil-wood cursed with scuffing, and re-lit the nub of the cigarette with a struck match. He smoked in defiance of reason and common sense, the bellows of his lungs heaving, breastbone cockling rib-stays.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

tHE sKY iS fALLING*

‘The sky is falling, she said. ‘How can I be expected to make a living in such horrid conditions?’ The harridan sat under a curd of lamplight knitting the hem of her dress with chopsticks she had found behind the Chinese grocer’s, next to a placenta of bock chow, fingers pearling, eyes cast into the hollow of her brow, sticks clacking against metal shims. The harridan cocked her head, her neck spidery and variegated with loose skin, and stared into the sun, her eyes squinting into the hoar. The sun scalded her face; a face sallow and bricked with age, and bellowed into the crop of her ears. When she was a child she stood for hours in the hot sun, her face a cowering glissade of red skin and tuck. She thought of marigolds and peonies, her father’s arm slung out the car window, his cigarette threading a blue line of sky, and her mother’s dower face crinkled with distemper and bile. She slapped her with the back of her hand, the one she wore her wedding band on, leaving a red line on her cheek, her eyes watery with tears and murder. She called her a little cunt and made her stand in the corner, her nose pressed into the bricks, mortar bleeding into the pall of her face.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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