Monday, April 30, 2007

Gibb's Hard Mustard

The man in the hat, who was standing behind a man with a tonsured bald spot, spat an oyster onto the pavement in front of him, barely missing the man’s shoe. Dejesus had begun his homily with a prayer about forgiveness and humility, his eyes two black cumin seeds, then throwing his arms up over his head exclaimed, ex pluribus abracadabra and so forth. The crowd of first-timers, all of whom had never been to a rally before, sighed, then began to stamp their feet, shoes scuffing and graveling the pavement, all eyes trained on Dejesus, who was so pale looking he looked like he might fall willy-nilly into the crowd. The man in the hat shuffled his weight from one foot to the other, his mouth dry and pasty from the curbside wagon-vended pretzel he eaten moments before the rally, smothered in Gibb’s hard mustard, and tried to spit again, this time expectorating a glob of Gibb’s mustard and mushy pretzel, his eyes watering like the devil’s.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Dejesus left France--a small town outside of Paris, not far from some other French town--when he was twenty-five, moving to some other town in another place that wasn’t France. He took a boat. Dejesus’ parents abandoned him when he was a farthing child, leaving him with a great aunt who had citrated eyes and a faintly moustache. Her left eye, the less citrated of the two, crossing into the bridge of her nose, a nose like potter’s clay; the edges frilled and corrugated. The man in the hat met Dejesus at a rally, a rally for those who’d never been to one, and disliked him from that moment onwards, avoiding him at all cost and with no little fleet of footing. He disliked the fact that he was from another country, spoke in tongues he didn’t understand, and wore a beret instead of a standard hat. The day of the rally, a rally for those who’d never been to a rally, the sky was gunmetal gray, a cuvee of seagulls hovering above the rallying spot, pecking at cigarette butts and candy wrappers, seething and yawping and making a general nuisance of themselves. Dejesus was the first to speak, hoisting himself onto the soapbox like a man determined to make a presence of himself, his beret tilted to one side, a knot of hair swaying from under the lip of his hatband, a gull circling his head like a deathbed halo.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Burnished Copper

he slept under the coffin
burnished copper so bright,
you could see God’s face in the hasps

the grave-men stood their shovels
against the grave-cart wheel,
God’s quarry-men biding time and grace

his father bought a new car that year
with a hood so wide,
you could see the sky from the back seat

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Glico J. Glico and Bradley

Glico J. Glico lived in a press-board house. He ate roots and tubers, cow’s stomach and black licorice and wore a floppy hat with an ostrich feather in the banding. In a parry, and while lamping for night-crawlers, the alms man ran into him in the park behind the aqueduct next to the Waymart across from the Jewish Baeyer’s. They exchanged un-pleasantries, the alms man lamping Glico J. Glico with his lamp, Glico J. Glico in turn swiping his hat at the alms man’s head, saying as he did ex pluribus minatory, then both men going their separate ways, the alms man back to lamping, Glico J. Glico to his press-board house. Neither man, Glico J. Glico nor the alms man, had ever heard of the Einer der nichts merkte tome, and even if they had, would have forgotten about it; anyhow, fisticuffs and yowling and racing-tab IOU’s and wearing garters instead of elasticized socks were more to their mien, and stoking through the dustbin behind the Jewish Baeyer’s when he and his wife were fast asleep beneath eider and down; all the while exchanging un-pleasantries and sucking on peps of licorice and tripe. These were things men with bad teeth and fencing scars did, never once stopping to ask themselves why they had bad teeth and fencing scars, or why tarpaper is sticky on both sides and smells like Dejesus, who comes from France and wears a beret, back to front, and speaks in Esperanto and Portuguese, strange fellow, but long on alms, and refers to Glico J. Glico as your majesty and the alms man as Bradley.

Field Notes

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Book of Kale

These are the tomes of Einer der nichts merkte, the book of kale and celery-root, the recipe for madness and corker’s stem. A slight-of-hand-me-downs handed down from the fader to the son, the unholy sacrosanct; written on desiccated rice paper and the finest fine velum. Madness is madness any way you slice it, parsing out spore and scat like common fodder. The shamble leg man found the tomes of Einer der nichts merkte in the dustbin behind the Waymart next to the aqueduct across from a dead tree that sat upright next to a green bench in the park where the dustbin-men ate they’re lunch on the one day that week it rained, a mad corker’s rain, so he recalled. He thought he’d discovered the Book of Kale, rain or no rain, a book of great importance and principle. He thumbed through it, taking precaution not to dog-ear the pages, even though the rain had softened the spine and separated the backing from the leaf-jacket, then placed it in his rucksack. He decided after a few moments deliberation, during which he watched the dustbin-men eat they’re lunch, that the book was unreadable, the rain having bled the ink like a whore’s mascara, so he’d dry it out on the clothesline he’d jerry-jigged in his bed-sit and use the pages to roll-his-own with. As he’d used up his Bible, the one his great grandmother had given him on his confirmation, he was in the market for roll-your-own paper.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Corker's Stem

The day the harridan’s mother died it rained a doggish rain. The sky opened up its great maw, teeth chattering against clouds grayer than old linen, and poured. The last time it rained with such recital was when the harridan was a little girl, and her mother a middle-aged housewife with bunted hair and cobalt blue eyes. She remembered her mother’s scrimshaw face, years of fret and worry having clawed there way past bone and ligament, flaps, corrugations of skin, into the sinew that defines feature and grace. Her mother’s face was a reminder that life is harder when lived from the inside of a gin bottle, a stoke-pipe, fate prescribed by a crooker with a scribbler’s rote, one eye closed, the other looking from the inside out. Children bore out of haste, the besotted aftermath of chicken wings and porter, the timing just a hair off, panties balled up and soaked through with discontentment and corker’s stem.

Einer der nichts merkte she said, not knowing what she said or why she said it. These phrases, words and sentences parsed together, came to her without her being aware of there origin or why they came to her and not someone else, the shamble leg man or the alms woman, some bootblack or a crucifier. Phrases like this seemed to hang in the air like dandelion spore, or those russet puffballs her brother kicked with the toe of his boot, releasing a cloud dulcet scat.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shamans and Philologists

He wears a hetman’s hat, bauble and frilled with a plumage so colourful and sublime it sears the eyes. Unlike the Witness, who lived a life of depravity and slow-wittedness, he exists on a horizon known only to a few, shamans and philologists, men with uncluttered thoughts. Some say he can double-knot a cherry stem with the brad of his tongue, or twist elephant leaves into yoga mats; there are those, too, who say they have stood witness as he pulled a tortoise from his hat, then made it vanish as quickly as it appeared. There are those, few in number, who claim they have seen him, albeit at a distance, on a foggy, overcast night, juggling cats and hamsters, and rats he’s coaxed from their warrens, double-knotting their tails with the scup of his tongue, his eyes seared shut with deft concentration, pockets full to overflowing with baubles and nip. Some say that he is so inured in thought, so parasitic with his own metaphors, that he seldom sees the light of day, living in a world of his own making, a world of cherry stems and rats, elephant leaves and yoga mats.

Escritoire Rasa

As the author (note-taker) of these pages for a person who prefers to remain anonymous, nameless, I retain the right to remain nameless. I could, yes I could, delete this exegesis with a simply tap of my index-finger, sending all this note-taking into the ether, the nameless unnamable ether of my imagination, the firmament of my cogito-escritoire-sum. But as that would be an act of self-denial, I won’t; at least for the time being, and time (and this you must know, even at the expense of my wellbeing) is simply a figment of my escritoire, the tabula rasa that sits between my hypothalamus and the pineal gland.

Return of the Sun

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jose Lezama Lima

Peppermint, Cloves and Lanolin

The harridan’s sister slept in a horsehair bed, the very same one she fell onto, sluiced out through her mother’s vaginal-cloacae, her tiny head coned and bloodied. Her mother’s grunts and angry protestations were heard far and wide, waking up the rector’s assistant, who promptly woke the rector who in turn shook awake the friar-cook, who was in a deep narcoleptic sleep, who called the constabulary to complain about the awful racket. She thought of working horsehair into the design of the jacket, but couldn’t for the life of her figure out how to make it subtle enough to accommodate the weave, in keeping with the overall integrity of the design, so sloughed it off as moronic and duplicitous. She did, however, use Popsicle sticks as collar stays, an idea that came to her in a dream, so she claimed. Remember, if you may, I am simply remembering all this for someone else, so I suppose these are really my memories, or things I have made up in lieu of memories, or memories of memories that I had even though clearly imprudent, laughable imprudence.

The midwife who attended the half-sister’s birth smoked Cameo’s and smelt of peppermint and cloves. She arrived in a hansom cab at exactly 12.27am, three minutes before the delivery, sleeveless and dressed in a midwifery smock and sandals. She never wore a blouse with sleeves as placental spoil and blood had a way of working themselves into fabric, and the midwife abhorred scrub-boards, lanolin and lye.

Danilo Kis

Pas Fini

Shreber's Cat

The harridan’s sister slept in a horsehair bed, the very same one she fell onto, sluiced out through her mother’s vaginal-cloacae, her tiny head coned and bloodied. Her mother’s grunts and angry protestations were heard far and wide, waking up the rector’s assistant, who promptly woke the rector who in turn shook awake the friar-cook, who was in a deep narcoleptic sleep, who called the constabulary to complain about the awful racket. She thought of working horsehair into the design of the jacket, but couldn’t for the life of her figure out how to make it subtle enough to accommodate the weave, in keeping with the overall integrity of the design, so sloughed it off as moronic and duplicitous. She did, however, use Popsicle sticks as collar stays, an idea that came to her in a dream, so she claimed. Remember, if you may, I am simply remembering all this for someone else, so I suppose these are really my memories, or things I have made up in lieu of memories, or memories of memories that I had even though clearly imprudent, laughable imprudence.

Bruno Schulz: The Mythologization of Reality

The essence of reality is meaning. That which has no meaning is not real for us. Every fragment of reality lives due to the fact that it partakes of some sort of universal meaning. The old cosmogonies expressed this in the maxim 'in the beginning was the Word'. The unnamed does not exist for us. To name something means to include it in some universal meaning. The isolated, mosaic-type word is a later product, is the result of technique. The original word was an hallucination circling the light of meaning, was the great universal totality. The word in its colloquial, present-day meaning is now only a fragment, a rudiment of some former, all-encompassing, integral mythology. For that reason, it retains within it a tendency to grow again, to regenerate, to become complete in its full meaning. The life of the word resides in the fact that it tenses and strains to produce a thousand associations, like the quartered body of the snake of legend, whose separate pieces sought each other in the dark. The thousandfold yet integral organism of the word was torn into individual phrases, into letters, into colloquial speech and in this new form, applied to practical needs, it has come down to us as an organ of understanding. The life of the word and its development have been set on new tracks, on the tracks of practical life, and subjected to new notions of correctness. But when in some way the injunctions of practice relax their strictures, when the word, released from such coercion, is left to its own devices and restored to its own laws, then a regression takes place within it, a backflow, and the word then returns to its former connections and becomes again complete in meaning - and this tendency of the word to return to its nursery, its yearning to revert to its origins, to its verbal homeland, we term poetry.
Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth.
When we employ commonplace words, we forget that they are fragments of ancient and eternal stories, that, like barbarians, we are building our homes out of fragments of sculptures and the statues of the gods. Our most sober concepts and definitions are distant offshoots of myths and ancient stories. There is not even one of our ideas that is not derived from mythology, a mythology that has been transformed, mutilated, remoulded. The spirit's first and foremost function is to tell stories and to make up 'tales'. The driving force of human knowledge is the conviction that at the end of its investigations, it will discover the ultimate meaning of the world. It seeks this meaning on the heights and scaffolding of its artificial mounds. But the elements which it uses in construction have been used once before, have come from forgotten and shattered 'stories'. Poetry re-cognizes the lost meanings, restores words to their proper place, and links them according to their ancient denotations. In the hands of the poet, the word, as it were, comes to its senses about its essential meaning, it flourishes and develops spontaneously in keeping with its own laws, and regains its integrity. For that reason, every kind of poetry is an act of mythologization and tends to create myths about the world. The mythologization of the world has not yet ended. The process has merely been restrained by the development of knowledge, has been pushed into a side channel, where it lives without understanding its true meaning. But knowledge, too, is nothing more than the construction of myths about the world, since myth resides in its very foundations and we cannot escape beyond myth. Poetry arrives at the meaning of the world anticipando, deductively, on the basis of great and daring short-cuts and approximations. Knowledge tends to the same inductively, methodically, taking the entire material of experience into account. At bottom, both one and the other have the same aim.
The human spirit is tireless in its glossing of life with the aid of myths, in its 'making sense' of reality. The word itself, left to its own devices, gravitates towards meaning. Meaning is the element which bears humanity into the process of reality. It is an absolute given. It cannot be derived from other givens. Why something should appear meaningful to us is impossible to define. The process of making sense of the world is closely connected with the word. Speech is the metaphysical organ of man. And yet over time the word grows rigid, becomes immobilized, ceases to be the conductor of new meanings. The poet restores conductivity to words through new short-circuits, which arise out of their fusions. The image is also an offshoot of the original word, the word which was not yet a sign, but a myth, a story, or a meaning.
At present we consider the word to be merely a shadow of reality, its reflection. But the reverse would be more accurate: reality is but a shadow of the word. Philosophy is really philology, the creative exploration of the word.

Translated by John M. Bates
Source: Bruno Schulz, "Mityzacja rzeczywistosci", Republika marzen. Warszawa: Chimera, 1993: 49-50.
©Dr John Bates, 1999

Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass

Two Sisters and a Half

The Romanians, two sisters and a half-sister with roulettes’ syndrome, lived in a cottage with a dog, two cats and a three-legged chicken. The half-sister had lost all sense of balance, needing both half-sisters to help her get around, each taking hold of an arm, steadying her one step at a time until she reached her destination. She fell down often; both her half-sisters helping her regain her balance, then continuing their three-sister perambulation, knees knocking together like mallets. The man in the hat, lest we forget, was acquainted with the three sisters, having met them at the same church bazaar where the harridan’s sister had a table hawking things she made from scratch, Popsicle stick placemats and napkin holders fashioned out of toilet paper rolls and electrician’s tape. Unlike the bow legged man who met the sisters once, and having had a most unpromising conversation with them avoided them at all cost, even when it meant missing out on church bazaars and eight-pin bowling, which he was no good at anyhow, the man in the hat saw no harm in saying a cheery hello to them three whenever their paths crossed, which they did but seldom, but often enough to warrant an amicable salutation, seldom as they were. The harridan’s sister was working on the cut-out for a winter jacket made from lobster carapaces, using the pinchers for clasps, the soft underbelly for lining and the antennae for stitching around the pockets, both breast and kidney, which she had yet to figure a way of doing without disrupting the integrity of the jacket.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Sam

The Pope's Hat

Empanada caught strep throat from the neighbour’s child, a sickly waif with a cowlick so big it looked like the Pope’s hat. When she complained that she couldn’t for the life of her see how someone could be so thoughtless as to allow their child free reign knowing they had the mumps and strep, she received such a harsh rebuke that she set fire to the neighbours car in retaliation, watching it burn like a Roman candle, the night sky sick with smoke and oil. Her great, great grandfather, had he had the opportunity to measure and calibrate the bumps on his great, great granddaughter’s head, would have diagnosed savantism, probably something to do with numbers and vectoring. As the DSM1V had yet to be written, simpleton or dullard were out of the question, so he stuck with savant, feeling it best described the majority of his family.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Empanada Del Amore (part1)

Empanada Del Amore fell madly in love with the butcher, a Basque Quaker who was never seen without a bloodied apron knotted lengthways round his waist. He chopped and minced, diced, cubed and decapitated legs, shoulders, torsos and heads, cleaning up the offal and gristle with a wire broom and a hose, sluicing the castaways and offs into a sewer grate he had built flush with the slaughter-room floor, which was built onto the back of the butcher shop. He had canary yellow teeth and a hooked nose that bridged the space between his eyes and perineum above his upper lip. She seldom kissed him, and when she did with eyes closed and lips clenched, their teeth clacking like castanets. Empanada came from Puritan stock, so saw nothing unfitting about a man who cared little for his teeth or went about unshaven, one suspect hair coiling from a mole that served as a spar between his two eyes.

Ignatius, the butcher’s uncle on his mother’s side, was a snake handler who worked for an Episcopalian mission in Macaw where he taught the Episcopal Bishops how to charm a snake without being bitten or en-venom-ed. The butcher’s mother gave up reptile handling after being bitten one too many times, the last leaving her with a palsied left hand and half a thumb. The butcher’s father was a stern Presbyterian and daft in the head, or marbled, as his mother never hastened to say, and had no patience for his wife’s evangelistic enthusiasm for snakes and cannons. Empanada wore smocks and knee-socks and white linen blouses with floral embossing on the collars and elbows. She seldom if ever wore anything else, unless it was a skirt, which she accompanied with black nylons and braid-over-braid sandals, gifts from her father’s father, a gunrunner with a Phthisis-pubis birthmark just below his eye and to the left of his cheekbone.

Her grandfather hated the colour green, advocating for a moratorium on anything that fell within the rubric of salads and side-dishes, even green ales or pilsners on the bicentenary of Parnell’s birth, which he celebrated twice, even though Parnell had come into the world but once. The butcher butchered everything he could get his hands on, pork, mutton, beef, hogsheads and horse meat, some of which was still twitching when it arrived at his doorstep, and was known to slice through a bull’s scrotum without blinking an eye, blood splatter and gore flying every-which where, bits of bone and cartilage collecting in the folds and creases of his butcher’s shirt.

Empanada’s great, great grandfather plied his trade as a phrenologist in the cafes and dime-stores in and around the hamlet where he lived with his wife, a failed seamstress (her fingers had been callused down to the bone) and a dog with three legs, one of which was peripatetic, moving in the opposing direction of the other two. He had an assortment of phrenological tools, many of which were made specifically for him, which he kept in an autoclave in the basement next to the boiler. His wife, now that she was unable to sew and hem, made sure the tools and medical implements were kept clean and sanitary, or his impalements, as she referred to them in salon talk. Empanada’s great, great grandfather knew where each bump, hillock, cone or indentation was situated on the head, and kept a cartographic foolscap of them in his desk drawer, the very same one where he kept an eyedropper and a bottle of liquid morphine. He kept his syringe, a glass one with a bendy rubber plunger with centigrade markings on the side, in a rosewood box stowed away underneath his desk, far out of sight of his wife and the dog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Papal Phrenology (fig.1011)

Facial Mappings (figs.3&4)

Cranial Mapping (figs.1&2)

Phrenology1011 (fig.144)

Dutch Pleasantries

The Driver's Side Window

Out of the feral blue yon a cusp of sky so blue it seems impossible. Impossible things are possible when the mind removes itself from the appearance of things: a blue sky becomes a blue sky that defies description, and if it did, would seem meaningless and unimaginable. The harridan cambered her legs into a curlicue, knees bowed in at the meniscus, ankles touching, cartilage torn into lettuce yarn. She sat like this to encourage the blood to circulate in her legs and to discourage stiffness and rickets, which was an ongoing concern and none too irritating, even for a harridan. Her mother, long dead and rotting in some cesspit, the whereabouts of which she’d long forgotten, told her that were she to twirl and bend her legs into inhumane knots she’d end up with camber-legs and stretched ligaments, or buck-kneed and short on brains. This was reason enough to sit with her thighs abutting her hipbone, pelvis turned inwards and a smidgeon to the left, scheming up ways to further defy a mother she never cared much for, even a dead one. She remembered the day her father bought a new car, a shiny green Falcon with a turning-knob on the steering wheel, and the look on her mother’s face when he pulled into the laneway, her apron cassocked over her shoulder, a sternness that made her look more manly than womanly. She chastised and harangued him, then refused to allow the beastly motorcar in the laneway, or him for that matter, to which he responded by gravelling the car over the front lawn, his finger extended above the chrome of the driver’s side window. The harridan felt that she was doing her part to ensure that her father’s protestations, as small and ineffective as they were, were kept alive: his finger well above the chrome of the driver’s side window.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Trenching Tool

Now the alms woman carried a trenching tool with her wherever she went, toting it in a rucksack she slung over the hip of her shoulder and around her back, which she then cinched taut with a length of clothesline string and a copper nail, bent inward to serve as a clench, and to prevent the trenching too from jimmying around in the rucksack. She used the trenching tool to excavate and exhume things, things she found in back parking lots and alleyways, next to park benches and picnic tables, things caught up between other things, trees and bushes and prickly pears and shrubs with unorthodox flowers and spiny cropped stamen that seemed to defy botanical common sense. She scrapped the tool up against blocks of stone, marble and granite, chiseling back limestone and cobalt, and chipping away at great slabs of stone big enough to put off the most journeyed mason. She used it to block and true things, planning warps, beveling misalignments, things that caused her no end of worry and fretting.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maudlin Banalities

One of the most indecent things about OCD is the insufferable anger that it causes; petty annoyances, like fumbling to screw a cap back on a water bottle or light a cigarette, which takes so much energy that by the time its lit I haven’t the energy or lung-capacity to smoke it. My tolerance level is subnormal; at a level some would refer to as pathological or niggling. This constant need for order, things lined up in neat rows, books, slips of discarded paper, useless and droll reminders of my genius for maudlin banality. Should you have the patience, which I certainly wouldn’t, not for this drivel, this business of typing is merciless, a cursor-ous re-cursing cursor-ing, back-spacing ad nausea and with little regard for the gavel of my fingertips, none whatsoever. Just typing this nonsense has taken an extraordinary toll on my patience, tolerance and ability to stave off this persistent niggling, annoyance all lined up in neat perfect little rows, the tiers of my impatient niggling life.

Petrel-oil and Epaulettes

It rained so hard, and with such total disregard for hatters, that the man in the hat had to turn his hat brim-side up to ward off the rain and prevent it from splashing into his face. The upside brim served as a sluice gate, redirecting the rainwater onto the epaulettes of his jacket, where it formed goblets, not unlike those found on plants and awnings. He jaunted his way up the sidewalk, his leg picking up bits of garbage, odds and ends left behind by shoppers and gadabout’s, and stopped in front of the alms woman, who was seated with her legs crossed in front of the haberdasher’s. She told the man in the hat that her pubic-bone was out of alignment, and that the doctor had cautioned her against sitting on sidewalks and cement planters, or wearing fashionable shoes with steeple-heels and low arches. There had been a rumor spreading that a worm had been discovered in the crotch of a dead woman, the labia, major and minor, jumpy with night crawlers and nits. The alms woman had seen this very thing before, when she lived in the city of fester with her now decocted mother and a lapdog with no tail or left eye. The outbreak was dealt with swiftly by the local constabulary, who sprayed down all of the shanties and crude huts with a mixture of petrel-oil and gasoline. The petrel-oil was rendered from dead birds, and in its desiccate form added to mechanic’s grease and a solvent that stank like near-death. Once the outbreak had been controlled, the shanties and huts were burnt to the ground to prevent any further infestations, and as a way to caution those who chose dereliction and sloth over good manners and chirpiness to either shape up, or have their homes razed to smithereens.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Be My Dog

Shag and Jar

‘Albert Scrim is dead’, said the man in the hat, ‘died from leg sores and an affliction of the gout. Poor bastard, underexposure, imagine that, doctor said he was underexposed to food and proper lodging, had teeth worms and an ulcerous gut, rotten clear down to the large intestine, all putrefied and mollies, poor bastard. Never did much like the cunt, but he was a good fellow with the shag and jar, never one to say no to a hand-me-up.' The man in the hat tossed a handful of coppers onto the sidewalk where Albert Scrim petitioned for stuff that weren’t no matter or good for those that already had stuff that mattered, saying in a polite, whispering voice, ‘allow me, sir, to beg of your pardon, have you a copper or a half-nickel to spare, I seem to have forgotten my change-purse at home, in a rush I was this morning, out the door like a lick of speed I was.’ Albert Scrim left behind three shoes, two pairs of soiled underwear, a greatcoat, a pair of army issue trousers, a woolen sweater, fisherman’s knit with cabling, a green pullover chemise and three dollars and twelve cents, all in pennies, that he had stitched in the inside pocket of his coat, for safe keeping and to help redistribute his weight, his left side being slightly bigger than his right, which caused him to keel to one side like a channel buoy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fishcakes and Felonry

Sears and Roe, purveyors of fishcakes and treacle-sweets, an eye on the quick-and-run where less-finer fare is sold, to encourage a second hob at the can. I recall supping on genuine Indian craw, made form cobnut and brown stain; and the felon behind the counter scouting out greenhorns and wee knockers. His wife, so enlarged that the veins in her legs, right up to the thigh, bulged and crooked like a house on fire, her floral dress cowed round the drawl of her hips, a sight worse than buggery or hard-candy. She sat en-tooled as we rocked through the store, pilfering Pixie Sticks and Sipsacs and allsorts of odds and felonry. Her husband, hat in hand, penciled in racing stubs and smoked Uruguayan cigars that he stowed in a box behind the counter, a real five-and-dime operation. I met his daughter’s husband, a fast-chef at a men’s club, and recalled my youthful knocking-around, to which he replied, ‘she was a fat one, she was, all veins and blubber and those too-tight reading specs.’ She, the fat lady, a nickname I passed round like an alms cap, one even our parents used to refer to the poor woman, collapsed behind the counter one day while serving the ice-maker from the hockey rink, three-fingers, as we called him, as he’d had the others sheared off like cog-pins, her husband kneeing the racing barrier, track-stubs squeezed harder than hard-candy or algebra in his fists, while she took her last gasp of worldly air, the veins in her legs, right up to her thighs, bulging and crooking like a house on fire.

Roberto Bolano

Roberto Bolano (1953-2003)

Roberto Bolano

Los detectives salvajes


Roberto Bolano-1953-2003

Roberto Bolano, By Night In Chile

Aphasia en Travail

I forgot what I was going to tell you. But then again not much I remember is worth much, not even the thought it takes to remember it. I addle and confuse what most people take for granted, the everyday intuitive things of life, like making toast or turning on and off the kitchen faucet. I do these things with an eye for detail, an eye that sees the detail in the mundane trivialities of life, the travails that most people, or at least some, perhaps, do without much thought, leaving out the detail and eye. For example, I have never met, even bumped into, a man in a hat, let alone spoken with one. Harridans and alms women are pure fictions, mere images, rebuses of an overarching imagination, a segregation of fact from fiction, mere trivialities; dalliances. Bow legged men and the baker at the Cantor’s are make-believe, things I conjured up to amuse myself; frivolities. I myself am a trifling thing, something I conjured up to amuse others, an endnote to an insufferably boring spy novel, a bete noire, a game of snakes and ladders played in the dark, blindfolded and gagged for good measure. It’s at times like this, the times in between, that I truly wish I couldn’t remember, anything, not even this.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Consonant World

in this cloister
of words, a metaphor
an infinite regress, a conjecture
the missing vowel in a consonant world, drawn
from tears of mercy, and
inexpiable pain

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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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