Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Grandpapa rolled shag and tuck that he bought from the K-Mart across from the Waymart. He tamped the shag slaving it between the gummy fold of the paper with his thumbs. The paper stuck to his bottom lip, a clot of blood and skin poled to the shag-end. His dentures clewed the tissue around his lips, giving him a clownish look, his cheeks bellowed with smoke. The man in the hat’s grandfather wore crepe-soled boots with metal catches. He wore chain mail gloves with railheads sewn into the palms to engage a better grip on the felling-hammer, which was swung over the hip and across the front of the chest in one unbroken parry, ensuring a clean even cut back. The man in the hat’s grandfather stood knee-deep in gore-house offal, his waders bled through to the lining. He never once blinked an eye or winced, as he was too busy correcting his swing or rebalancing his footing. He preferred the older cattle to the greenlings, as they felled easier and lost breath quicker. He wore a woolen cap with earflaps to keep the bone and gore from liming his head.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Strep is Upon Us

There’s no such thing as double-knots and thrombosis, or shoes with colic. These are images of someone else, a person with too-tight shoes and hobnailed feet. I regret to inform you that the strep is upon us and accounts for much nausea and poor stitching. Poor mama aside, these are things that tighten my throat, round the collar and up into the shoehorn of my breastplate, a double-knotted ascot that cinches and nips. Grandma stove the Crown Royal bag in the closet beneath a brigand of shoes and leggings. For safe keeping, she said, but we suspected it was to keep grandpapa from stealing pages of the Bible for roll-your-owns and toothpicks.

Grandad's Rickets

The moon is like salted cheese, a Richford or Blue, perhaps a Camembert or Brie, thought the man in the hat. I prefer Jesus milk in my mourning coffee, ashes to ashes, a creamery of sin and contrition, and poor mama stitching together hems and cuffs and seams that wouldn’t stay shut. I have things to do today, he thought, too many to account for or remember on such short notice. Poor mama would remember, as she always did, reminding me when to brush my teeth and how to double-knot my shoes. She said the colic was coming, and if I weren’t careful I’d get the strep throat, which would have me bedridden and full of aches and thrombosis. Granddad’s rickets put him at odds with God and prayer and reading the Bible that my grandma kept in a Crown Royal bag next to the bed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Castor Oil and Apple Skins

The elderly woman rebalanced herself and went about her market. The shamble leg man watched her disappear up the sidewalk, her handbag clutched to her chest; his thoughts on corrugated skin, castor oil and legs rubbed clean with ointments and soaves. The pool ball headed man skipped down the street, stilts striking the asphalt like diving rods, his legs bucked and crabbed inwards. The shamble leg man recalled eating applesauce stewed in a double-boiler with cinnamon and allspice, his grandmother pinking the skins off the simmer with a fork, the meat falling away from the cores like flayed skin. His mother gave him castor oil for colic, pressing the curved end of the spoon against the roof of his mouth. She claimed it went down easier that way, but it stung the insides of his mouth and made him feel clammy and out of sorts.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Stilted Man

This is tedium, thought the shamble leg man, this not quite being anything or anywhere. A man with a pool ball head scramble passed on high stilts affixed to his trousers with brads and twill. His legs bucked at the knees and crabbed inwards. The pool ball headed man rubbed his leg with the flat of his hand, corseting to one side like a flagstaff. An elderly woman with a spoiled apple face lost her balance and faltered to the sidewalk, her handbag clutched to her chest. The stilted man shinnied over her, his face pawned to the left, clacking his stilts together like castanets as he went.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lucien Freud

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Freud at Work

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Lucien Freud

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Lucien Freud

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Freud at Work

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Freud at Work

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Freud at Work

Photographs by Bruce Bernard and David Dawson

Plums and Shale

The harridan’s sister, Flora, had Dalmatian skin and a birthmark in the shape of a thumbprint on her forehead just above her eye. She spoke Esperanto and ate over-ripe plums and gypsum, her teeth yellowed and frail from the stones. The alms man hated the harridan’s sister, and made no bones about it. He liked plums and shale, slivered into knife-size shims, and found her fondness for gypsum and soft plums distasteful.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Moments in Between (for Mary)

in the chattel of your hair, fingers touch unspoken words, of skin, of breath, a sigh uttered, an ache to be quelled, and I whisper your name, a poem, the ache of untouched skin

a tangle of blue sky, a lost child playing in the willow of your hair, and I reach out for your hand, russet with cold and fallen leaves

Monday, February 12, 2007

Her Mother's Sewing Box

These are the moments in between, the ones yet to be. She had an overbite that cut into the crop of her jaw, a sinewy colossus that made her appear sideways and off-centre. The harridan wore frocks stitched from burlap sacs she’d found in the dustbin behind the haberdasher’s. She hemmed and cross-stitched odd strips of broadcloth with the bone needle she’d stolen from her mother’s sewing box, the same one she kept a hatcheck stub and a quail’s foot in. A taffeta dress; a broach with a cameo-face and a swath of pale blue linen, these are the things, cross-stitched and hemmed in between.

Odd Nerdrum

Odd Nerdrum

Odd Nerdrum

Odd Nerdrum

Odd Nerdrum

Friday, February 09, 2007

Olga Sinclair

Antonio Bonilla

Rafael Trelles

Delmer Mejía

Vladimir Cora

Pablo Weisz-Carrington

Claudio Luchina

Switch Off the Current

Thanks, old chap, the man in the hat cried briskly. That will do nicely. Switch off the current, will you? The shamble legged man frowned and clacked the light switch off with the heel of his hand, the one he used for rubbing balms and soaves into the rickets of his leg. I regret to tell you that I have the rickets, a bowing in the seams of my legs. Such as it is I will be unable to attend your birthday party, much as I would like to. The man in the hat felt that all births were the same, careening headfirst feet twisted into whalers’ bind, thighs wet with exhaustion and bad thoughts. His own mother pushed him out like a skink liver, an unwanted organ fen with wither and rot. His father, his hands reedy with tar, sat in the car heaving quarts of home-brew that he kept hidden in an apple crate at the back of the garage. The man in the hat thought that if he could conjure up someone worse off than himself his thoughts would stop, even were he to think himself senseless in the process. So by conjuring the shamble legged man he could throw himself headfirst into the day, his thoughts indifferent to rickets, palsy and clacking.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Chilean Nights

For some writing is a reawakening. When I think of Roberto Bolano I think of a cold Chilean night. When a writer writes he or she lives within the moment, away from a voice that faults and encourages penitence. Perhaps all writing is a form of penitence, contrition, an apology for sins never committed. If this is so, and I believe it to be so, then the writer is a penitent, a waking child who survives, flourishes, when the inside becomes the outside, the hidden the revealed. But this self-disclosure has a cost, and many are unable to shoulder the weight of contrition, the apology for sins never committed. A child believes, takes to heart a parent's voice, even when the absurdity of that voice is deafening. It is from this very deafness that the inside becomes the outside, the hidden the revealed, the voice bellows and cries. For some writing is a reawakening, a revelation, a wailing into the night.

Roberto Bolano (1953-2003)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Birthday James

The man in the hat awoke and ate a peameal sandwich with raw onion and Macquarie’s mustard. ‘INTROIBO AD ALTARE DEI’ he said to no one in particular, ‘DEI ALTARE AD INTROIBO and good riddance to you all’. He felt the rickets in his legs again this morning. He much preferred mock chicken, sometimes Porker’s bologna or a mild capriole, but the Hasidic butcher where he bought his meats refused to sell anything cloven or un-bled. The man in the hat’s father ate pork sausage and tripe, wingtips of blood clowning his face. He once ate a cow’s head, the ears curled like prepuces, a dead fly balled in the seam of its eye. His father told him that gypsies ate calf’s testicles, boiling the scrota in the same pot as the potatoes and cabbage, a placental hash that encouraged vitality and good hair growth. ‘GOD BE WITH YOU ’he hollered, ‘DIEUS EX PLURIBUS IN HASIDIA’. He shook the worms from his legs, a mischievous grin on his otherwise dower face, and climbed the stoop leading up from his lean-to.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Spent Matches and Sulfur

She hooked her legs round his neck and wailed into the trove of his ear. The gypsy woman smelled of orange roughie, creel and roe. The heels of her feet were bricked with calluses, a plagiary of hard skin that caused her to keel to one side like an abandoned ship. He tried to push her from his chest but she heeled upside his kidneys, so he shook his head from side to side hoping she’d declutch and leave him be. When this didn’t work, he boxed her ears and whispered, ‘you gypsies are a miserable bunch, all this wailing and plagiary', and threw her to the ground, an odor like spent matches and sulfur bricking the air.

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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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