Friday, August 31, 2007

Skinner's Knife

The legless man had a purloined copy of the Venus de Milo hung on a nail on the wall in his motel room. (Astraddle the sepulcher, lingeringly) he spoke in gibberish, his eyes fixed on the missing de Milo arms. A Jackdaw flew flapping across his forefront, wings cutting into the sky like a Skinner’s knife. The legless man pushed his handcart out from beneath the Seder’s awning and whispered, ‘Cupper’s Finest, feign of liver and gall’. As a farthing child the man without legs was forced to wear short-pants with cuffs that cut into his legless legs. His mother bought him short-pants made from Egyptian cloth that belled out at the bottom like flour sifters. They buttoned at the fly, had curlicue stitching round the pockets and pleats. The amble legged man shackled and shot his way atop the aside ways. ‘No rustle for the leery and incontinent’ said the man without legs; his tam-o’-shanter angled a pigeon to the left and a Moyle to the right.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oedipal Edacity

Did I say he was old? Well I was mistaken. The man in the hat is no age, he is ageless, neither one nor a hundred and one. Age tells us nothing, nothing other than we know so little about anything and all things at all. What we know or what we pretend to know (fakers, all of us, shame, shame on us) means nothing, not a thing. All this fakery and dimwittedness is tiring, alchemy without strings or a green-board to project images onto. We beginning with a false premise; erect a theory on it and then switch on the camera obscura: shadow play and shamming, nothing more than dimwitted stupidity, Oedipal Edacity. Did I say I was mistaken? Well perhaps I am just too old, decrepit and dimwitted to know the difference between a pure thought and a green-board.

Francisco Toledo

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Chadwick Piebald stood in the exact spot where the lamplighter lit his last lamp and higgledy fished for eels, gently pulling the eeling-string to and up. His great, great-uncle Moesha Piebald taught him at his knee to eel and string, tucking the caught eels beneath the greatest part of his greatcoat. They caught dogfish (Mustelus and Squalus) and dried it in a sooty fish-kiln built out of tinder and woo-dash. There is no Chadwick Piebald nor a great, great-uncle they are mere knockabouts in my head, collusions and disruptions, nothing more. Without them I would be lost, lost to other thoughts, thoughts of a less savory character. Right now, this very moment, I am thinking about the loss of character in my own life, my lifeless life; a life spent in search of characters to fill the emptiness, the void, of my own characterless life. Chadwick’s and Piebald’s; great, great greater uncles and waifs with raffish hair; jaunty jaunts and steps that tap and tip and tack across the blacktop top, these I imagine, or imagine imagining, the point seems measly and not worth the bother of getting to the point of, piebald baldness, roughed-out and copied onto tracing-paper. This squalor of thought; this thoughtless thoughtlessness: such upheaval and boondoggledness.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cock's Wattle and Gibb's Hard Mustard

When he awoke, which he did grudgingly, he bit down hard on a rasher of clothe knotted into a gag to stay the niggardly pain that he awoke to each and every morning like a scalding. He positioned his handcart to affect a bulwark between him and the outside world and mused on the day ahead. ‘Cupper’s are rot’ he mumbled, ‘rot and feces’. He saw the shamble leg man gambling and shimmying across the sideways his arms flailing like sailcloth. Empanada Del Amore strode defiantly across the sideways hissing and horning and making a general spectacle of herself. She tossed a bloodied butcher’s apron into the nearest dustbin and hurried up the downwash, the harridan gibbering after her ‘sluttish slut, whore’s belly afterbirth!’ The legless man bellied from atop his handcart, ‘cock’s wattle and Gibb’s hard mustard, so much blather and nonsense, off with her head, sluttish whore!’ A coxswains’ shuttle whirled past his head, just missing his ear and the knob of his chin, and caromed into the Seder’s storefront window. ‘Cupper’s rot and feces; a tin of putrid sardines’ he hollered at the top of his lungs. Empanada Del Amore tippled sideways up the sideways, her feet marking the pavement like struck matches. ‘Never a moments rest for beery and incontinent: such rot and feces’. The lamplighter lit the street lamps with a kerosene wick held aloft over his left shoulder, his right holding forth and tight with the pavement below. As he was a wobbly old fool the lamplighter seldom lit a lamp on the first try, having to reposition himself, left shoulder level with his right knee, right shoulder beading an imaginary plumb-line on the asphalt, his eyes straining to find the exact spot on the lamp-wick. His greatcoat was grackle with ashes, the tops of his shoes piebald with burns and charred lamp-wick.

Coxswain's Shuttle

‘Sleep is for the sleepless, people with nothing better to do than catnap and lay hidden from the world’ thought the legless man sleepily. He slept beside his handcart with a blanket stitched together from odds and ends of cloth, a throw-rug beneath his buttocks to keep the dampness from creeping up the apse of his buttocks where it would lie like an icy pox in the kipper of his lower bowel. His alimentary canal was stilted with rot and cursed with crones, a disease he had picked up from a rusty tin of sardines that left a metallic taste at the back of his throat. He tried for weeks to rid himself of the offal taste, drinking gallons of Port and Sherry, but the tack and bitter aftertaste remained, traces of mariner’s oil and Castor biting like a chigger at the lining of his throat. The label on the can bespoke: ‘Cupper’s Finest Sardines, Man’s Best Friend on a Cold and Dreary Eve’. He tried swallowing skiffs of bread salted with brine, but the taste remained. He sucked on stones, quid-peat and briar-rot, but couldn’t rinse the offal taste from the back of his throat. He made a sluice out of rags, knotting the contraption together with bits of string and twine, and sleeved it down his esophagus, hitting the tag at the very back of his throat, which made him gag and moan like a mange dog. ‘Cupper’s Finest Sardines’, he said over and over to himself, ‘castor of feces and lye’. That night, the one before the last, he slept beneath the Seder’s awning devising ways to rid the world of aftertastes, and would have given a knot of hair braided into a coxswain’s shuttle for a moment’s sleep.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brick and Brecht

His Handcart Cart

The legless man awoke awakened, his legless legs aching like phantom stumps. His handcart, this was built from wayboard and old nails and a piece of tin hammered into a scoop. The scoop added leverage and absorbed the vibrations between him and the asphalt. The legless man carried a three volume set of Russian philosophy (volumes 1, 2 and 4, as he was missing volume 3 which would have made it a 4 volume set) in a specially built shelf attached to the backend of the handcart. He wore his porkpie hat, the one with the visor so as to keep the sunlight in abeyance and the scolding thoughts out of his head, when he read Russian philosophy, never really understanding a word he read. Embossed on the inside facing page of each volume was a three-headed eagle in a newsboy cap encircled by a somatoform in the shape of a quails foot, the Russian insignia for honor, forthrightness and vodka.

Wedge Caps and Zucchettos

The Waymart sold porkpie hats with chaff whistles and cinch-strings with just the right balance of chaff to cinch to allow for a seamless fit. The alms man preferred a rattan boater with a green hatband, a gift from the harridan’s sister who wore a going-to-church sunbonnet with marigolds, dahlias and hyssops arranged in a circlet on the top. Calico Cat hats and hats made from Ruggeri and ammonite, a haberdasher’s spectacle of hats, caps, bonnets and toques. A milliner’s hatter of hats: bonnets, caps, toques, boaters, bucket hats, fedoras, pointy, slouchy, sun bonnets, Trilbies, Balmoral Bonnet, Borsalino, zucchetto, turban, Boucle, capuchon, Taqiyah, Suma cap, Flat cap, garrison cap, wedge cap, rain hat, kepi, skullcap cap, Kufi cap, Nasaq toque, Salakot, newsboy cap and the nightcap cap. The man in the hat kept of list of all the hats he knew the names for starting with his own collection of hats. He owned two fedoras, one cowboy hat, several boaters, a rain hat, three flat caps, two bowlers, three porkpie hats and a beret, which he wore every second Thursday or on those days when he felt like wearing a slouchy hat or a pointy cap but not a flat cap or a zucchetto.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cudgel Swipe to the Low-Belly

‘Begin at the begin’ said the man in the hat, ‘start there’. Life’s beginnings begin at the beginning then promptly end. There is no middle, halfway or in between, but just an almost there but not quite, a somewhere other than there. The sky fell to its knees in a puddle of rain; an umbrella stuck up it’s upside down. All holes are alike, even those without ways in or out. The man in the hat knew this but paid it little regard. The hole in the sky that let the sunshine in he could agree upon. Soft yolks and holes, these he could make sense of but nothing more, and even if he could he’d rather not, not make anymore sense than was needed.

‘Cabot collected scats’ what an odd thing to say thought the man in the hat musingly. ‘Cabot collected cats’ scats, now that’s more like it’ thought the man in the hat thoughtfully. ‘Cabot collected cats’ scats and mats made out of rats’ scats’ he said to himself, not whisperingly or thoughtfully but musingly. ‘Fuck Cabot’ he yelled ‘and the cats’ scats mat he rode in on’. This is foolish, foolish indeed. Were O’Malley in town there’d be hell to pay, he’d surely not put up with such cockish shenanigans: soft yolks and holes in the sky, what a sorry sad state of affairs indeed, a cudgel swipe to the low-belly, where the wee intestine coils into the rectus amore, that ought to put things back in order. ‘Me grandmamma had it right’ thought the man in the hat out loud, ‘she’d have surely put things right, line the ducks up in a perfect O, she would have, yes mamma, yes, a perfect solvent O’.
‘O dear me dear what a day indeed’ sighed she sighed; so began the harridan’s day, insolvent and full of rumor and punch-ups.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Littler Little Hand

The shamble leg man loosened a stone and reshoed his shoe. He shooed a quarrel of crows, a quorum of quail and a gaggle of geese. He quaked and queried his way down the upside, legs shambling and shimmying, the stone jangling. A fowl flew flippantly flapping, its beak bent into a perfect O. He cast his eyes skyward and said ‘ex pluribus abracadabra’ the crows scattering like mice, a beer cap rolling fitfully on the blacktop. There were drifters in these parts who carried cudgels spore with nails in dog-skin scabbards, and wineskins full of calf’s urine. Life’s curves begin with a withering, typeset set to 27 ½. This is absolute nonsense! Dog-skinned drifters, a cudgels-worth of gimp hoisted over hip and holler. Cabot’s nuisance: a scuttle of crows caw cawing, one leg one over the other, a knitting bee gone terribly wrong.‘These are strange times indeed’ thought the shamble leg man. He stood in the shadow of the Seder’s clock, one eye on the big hand the other on the sun, squinting to make a bead on the littler little hand, the one that tells time in seconds, not days or affliction. At exactly 27 ½ seconds past twelve he let out a scream, the bulb of his nose curling up like a marigold, eyes two black holes, 27 ½ teeth missing and not an (innkeeper’s dimwit) in sight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Alewife's Commodepot

Cabot: there is no thieving bicycle thief (the alewife’s commode-pot), no bent-cock. I steal bicycles in my sleep, tares and wheels humming; yellow seats sparkly with sparkles. Cabot is a fig of my (me) imagination, a mere prune. One sews what one seeds. Cabot: Cabot’s cock wallowing (alewife’s commode-pot pitted with stale urine). I stole my first bicycle on a lark; suckling lolling saltlick milk, yellow sparkly. The innkeeper died a most horrible death at the hands of bare-knuckled men; fisticuffed him to a pulp, poor sod bastard dead rotting in peat and blight (the innkeeper’s dullard) nowhere to be found. A simper filament of (me) imagination, and not another word.

Cabot the Bicycle Thief

Cabot (the innkeeper’s dullard) peeked, spying on her and him and his bent-cocked cock through a hole in the wall. Cabot was a bicycle thief. The shamble leg man knew Cabot, Cabot the addle-minded bicycle thief. Cabot the bicycle thief stole bicycles (the innkeeper’s dullard) Cabot. There is one Cabot for every stolen bicycle, one stolen bicycle for every Cabot (the innkeeper’s dullard). Bicycles have tares and wheels that hum and bleat (Cabot the bicycle thief) stealing stolen bicycles. ‘I had a bicycle with a yellow banana seat sparkly with sparkles’ said the shamble leg man. ‘My granddad greased up the gears with machinists’ oil and a sleeve of old shirt’. Sleeves: torn sleeves. ‘It had a sissy-bar, the banana seat, sown my friends could hold on while I peddled and sped madly mad’. Cabot (the innkeeper’s dullard) stole banana seated bicycles, yellow sparkly sparkles.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Parturition Hole

Her mother was neither small nor medium-size, neither too small nor too big. She had a cleft-palate, not a harelip or rabbits’, but a lip that seemed to cut upwards and to one side. She stitched and tatted, basting together cushions and cover slips, some blue and red, others red and blue. She kept a brown bunny in a hutch behind the house beside the aqueduct across from the Waymart near the Sears where she lived with a man named Slocomb. She knew the man in the hat but not the shamble leg man, nor the legless man or the harridan. She thought his name was Clams, not alms, and liked shellfish with roasted peppers and laetrile chutney. No: she likes clams Alfredo in a mustard sauce and green brown green lentils diced and minced and chopped into tiny bitable morels. Mushrooms Alfredo and scallions green olive green. She spent her honeymoon at Nolan Falls backcombing lice out of her hair. The bed she shared with her bent-cocked husband was overrun with nits and lice, cuvees of them. She swam in the sheets swaddled like a calf in its mother’s tripe, stomach to belly, her husband’s cock swiping a bead across the small of her back, finding purchase between the perineum of her ass-bone. They made the beast with two backs, her parturition hole moist with spittle and clove oil, her husband’s cock bent into her like a Bowie knife, eyes staring blankly at a wet spot on the ceiling tile.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Waiting for Godot

Francis Francis (John Deakin)

Small Pox

Everything below the waist stopped growing when she reached eight years of age. Her feet were smaller than monkey’s feet, hammerhead toes, swayback arches that seemed to separate the bottom of her feet from whatever she walked on; legs tacked into her hip joints, skirted with nails and bailing wire, no bigger than tarn reeds. She stopped growing after tipple-toppling-tippling down the basement stairs, severing her spinal cord just below the crack in her bottom. The doctor diagnosed acromesomelia-malevolencia even though she hadn’t suffered from rubella or rickets before the age of five or had a history of smallness in the family. Her mother figured it was a curse from God for the drinking and carrying on she did while carrying her daughter. Her father, a doctrinaire Episcopalian with a weakness for Rye Whiskey and grapefruit juice felt it was just sorry luck and left it at that. When she turned eleven her legs bowed out so much they had to put a post between them fastened with screws and copper wire. She skipped and hut down the street, crutches striking the pavement like dud-matches, her mother hollering at her to be careful. The alms man knew her from outside the church, where she sat on a pillow with a picture of Nolan Falls stitched into the cushiony part.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lime Sherbet and Kiwi

‘Can I buy you a Coke a Cola Coke?’ asked the man in the hat. ‘No thanks’ answered the harridan, ‘Never touch the stuff’. ‘I here say the sky is going to cave in today, round nine o’clock’. ‘So it is, so it is’. ‘Can I offer you one of my hats?’ asked the man in the hat, ‘for protection?’ ‘Nope, I be fine’ said the harridan. ‘Just in case, you never know, it might be a fierce one’. ‘Been through worse’ said the harridan, ‘far worse’. ‘Pepsi?’ asked the man in the hat. ‘Can’t stand the stuff’, said the harridan, ‘tastes like the sky falling’. At nine O’clock sharp the sky caved in, falling like a brick into the harridan’s head. The man in the hat, wearing a double-brimmed Stetson, sat under the Seder grocer’s awning sipping contentedly on a Coke a Cola Coke, the sky missing him by no more than a harridan’s hair.

The clochard met the harridan who in turn met the man in the hat at the church bazaar, the second of the year. The harridan’s sister was busy arranging her knick-knacks, Pop-sickle stick figurines and dollies tatted from old rags and shoestring, an assortment of glass jars, some blue and red, others red and blue, and gunboats made from Paper-Mache, when the clochard appeared to the left of her, his eyes closed tighter than a pugilist’s fist. ‘Orange’ he said in a hissing staccato, ‘lime sherbet and kiwi’.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Clochard's Wake

The clochard shook violently and stood up, wrangling free of the man in the hat and the alms man and the legless man who had him pinned to the asphalt with they’re knees and elbows. ‘He’s a fucking wake’ whispered the legless man. ‘Wake means dead’ said the man in the hat, ‘and he’s definitely not dead’. ‘Dead wake dead’ said the alms man, ‘surely not dead a wake, maybe fucking a wake, maybe he’s that, a wake fucker’. The legless man knocked the alms man’s cap from his pocket, a capful of coppers and face-coins toppling to the ground. ‘Wake that, you braggart’. The alms man made a fork of his fingers and jabbed at the legless man’s eyes, cap scuffling beneath his feet. ‘Fuck off and away!’ he hollered, ‘is you doffed?’ ‘One doffs one’s cap, not one’s…’For the love of fuck, away with you both’ yammered the alms man, ‘the man is surely dead’. ‘Dead as a dormouse’ said the legless man, ‘deader than a wakeful wake dead’. ‘Stop it, the two of you, before I slap you down to size, which from the size of it would be a short slap’ said the man in the hat, his hat tucked under his arm for safekeeping. The clochard slowly raised himself upright, knees knocking like saw-blocks, and hobbled away, mumbling to himself ‘ is a strange world this world, such nonsense and blather’.

Hotchpotch and Finfish

‘Don’t tug at him like that’ said the alms man, ‘you’ll rip his head off’. The clochard drew in a deep breath, held it for a second, and then exhaled, a clot of tripe forming a bubble on the tip of his tongue. ‘He’s going into shock by dimity’, cackled the alms man, ‘pull up his head’. The man in hat pounded on the clochard’s breastplate with both fists and then turned him on his side, gently resting his head on the blacktop top. ‘He’s surely fucked’ said the alms man, ‘surely fucked’. A crow spun out from beneath the Seder’s awning caw, caw cawing, its wings hotchpotch with tar and shingles. The legless man hollered ‘finfish jag, the bottoms falling out’ and leapt up and down on his stumps like a whirling dervish.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Trumpeting Ass

Jawbone biscuits, currants and arrowroot, a slough-pump rum-cake, packet of crisps; seedy soppy loll; Howth Head penance, Graveclothes coiled in Guinness, a stone bowled into the rope of the sea. Odysseus and Mall Ox, these are troubled time, troubled indeed. Here I sit trumpeting through my ass, a symphony of flutes, oboes and a coalman’s spinneret, a brash and assuming morning pushing in through my bedroom window, this is how the day begins, Mall Ox and Odysseus, trumpeting ass.

a beggar
hawking half-ones
from a suitcase tied together with string
determined to be noticed, opens the
suitcase, Pall-malls and a letter he’s
never read, from
his father

Alulae, blasphemy, crossways, drachma, egress, flutist, gingivitis, hackneyed, imperious, jack-o-lantern, keelhaul, Loman, matriculate, nil, obstreperous, pixilation, queasy, Rasputin, scrofulous, timidity, ukulele, viviparous, Wallenstein, xylophone, yammer, (over)zealous.

Bloom in commode eating kidney soiled, fetter of surd. Denham dead rotting in bog peat, no such luck with trackman’s stub or adman’s commission, or coitus in porkpie hat, a wee Stephen begging foreskins for alms and mother, dog’sbody, jellyfish and undertow, and the Liffey runs round and back, over hillock, copse and morgue.

I conspire to conspire against myself, a conniving, a theory without a plot or narrative: incendiary thoughts, notions and dioramas, the cogs and wheels that drive the conniving machine. I reckon things out on the whetstone of my back, calculations and permutations, collations and computations, an adding up of figures and prime numbers; an abacas without beads and slide-rule.

The Pantry Shelf


she lives
the memory
her father’s hands
pressed into the small
of her back, legs splayed like peels
the smell of sweat, courier
and rye

Clinker Ash

you stood under a hovel of rain
a child’s roughed up knees
pressed into the spar of your chest
storm clouds like phantoms
a childhood gray as clinker ash

Dirge Wood

hymnal wood rotted down to skeletal post
chiseling latch screws from ply-timber, tallness lines
penciled in level doorframes, they say he was much taller then
the crown of his head touching the edge of the pantry shelf

For Alan

you could walk on lodestones in your bare feet, or on animal bones
grubbed white in the blistering July sun, or on fence-wire scrolled like
snakeskin after a hard summer rain, or on beer bottle caps and fliptops

or on a gravel road marrow with feldspar and potash, cob tacking and railheads
rusted into warps of keel wood, you could not, however, walk on water, or shrug off the pain
or remember a time when life was less complicated and happy, or at least less sad

Straightened Nails

do you remember the fort we built between the house and the garage
with battleship wood and straightened nails
and the hinge for the trapdoor we pilfered from the neighbors shed

we shared a cigarette you’d stolen from your older brother
and those baby rabbits my father etherized and chucked in the garbage
then stood out at the foot of our driveway in the pouring rain

do you remember when it first happened and your thoughts went haywire
and the voices started and you couldn’t remember me visiting or the fort
we built between the house and the garage with battleship wood and nails

Becoming Became

I am nothing more than my becoming; beyond that I am nothing. I will never became, but will always becoming, moving in and out of a space that is itself becoming. To became is to be nothing, nothing more than my becoming 'became'. As Heidegger said, I will never experience my own death, my becoming 'became'.

Codlings and Pinochle

This one scout master, a real fat shit with white mint shit in the corners of his mouth, not humbug mints, but those white pocket-mints that old people chew on like candy, I didn’t care much for, not in the least, really. When some of the other scouts, the ones with way more badges sewed on they’re sashes used to whack me in the ass with they’re moccasins he’d just keep chewing and chewing like the fat bastard he was, fat shitty bastard. I had all these welts on my backside, moccasin-shaped.

Grandmamma had this theory about getting old, as long as you don’t think you’re old you isn’t, it’s the codlings what’re fucked from the get go. On account of the fact I don’t have a bank account I’m considered little, littler than my grandmamma what has two, one for groceries and the other for pinochle. Sometimes she dips into the grocery one when she needs money for pinochle. Thing is she plays pinochle more than she does the grocery shopping, so having two different bank accounts seems sort of stupid. She might as well just have one and pretend she’s buying groceries when she’s really playing pinochle. She’s probably way littler than she thinks, but can’t say it out loud in case my granddad hears and makes her feel silly and like a liar. Our scout master was a big liar and a bastard so I can stop talking about him, for now at least.

Clochard a Paris

Cloppicare, Cloppicare, Cloppicare

‘I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the crummiest party’ he said the man in the hat said. ‘I am a hatman not a hetman’. He knew a man whose great, great grandparents were hassock peasants whose sole purpose in this life was to grow corn, soybean and beats. He could, the man in the hat, care less about hassocks and hetman and people whose head’s were too big for they’re hat, or sombrero-wearing cockfight enthusiasts with bad teeth and bowlegged legs. These were worries and frets for someone else, someone with more patience and less bitterness. The sky blackened up and out like a cast-iron skillet; a rasher of bloodied-sausage, a toe of tripe and offering of offal, a breakfast fit for a Queen. But fuck Queens and sausage, horsed-toes and Hallowell; fuck the Lot of ‘em; fucking peasant stock and barrel.

‘E’s got the aboulia flu’ chided the legless man, ‘and it’s getting worse’. The clochard hocked and waffled and spat up a bleb of cows’ stomach and marrow-bone, his jaw clenched taut as a skew-wrench. ‘We best get him over on his side before he spits up a lung, or worse, two of ‘em’. The man in the hat gently rolled over the clochard, careful not to bang his head it up against the side railing; cloppicare, cloppicare, cloppicare echoed and flittered through the air like a fiery kite. ‘He’s got a bump on his head’ said the alms man, ‘like a rat escaping a faltering ship’. ‘Rats don’t have heads you moron’, said the man in the hat, ‘they have rats’ heads’. ‘Half a dozen of one, six of the other’ said the legless man, ‘now lets get him settled and calmed’. The legless man helped the man in the hat straighten out the clochard’s jacket, which had twisted and snaked round his belly, creating a beveling where his waist met his hipbones. ‘Is he breathing? Asked the alms man, his alms-cap peeking out of his jacket pocket. The clochard opened his mouth, spittle with cows’ stomach and marrow-bone, and whispered ‘cloppicare, cloppicare, cloppicare’.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Inexcusable Things

He had a snake-charmer’s tan bulwarked into the posterior lobes of his skull. The man in the hat espied Orofino from across the street standing cocksfoot, his cap held aloft, brim-side out. The first time he espied Orofino was behind Didier’s grocery after a rather ruthless cockfight in 1979. Neither man had a hat, though the man in the hat had one in a hatbox under his arm tied with string and ribbon. Orofino, Orofino cocksfoot: posterior lobe aloft brim-side out. The man in the hat sat across from Orofino, a fiery red cockscomb leaping and jumping in circles, talons like penknives. Cockfighting is merciless, feathers and chicken fat and the Mexican hollering at the top of his lungs, ‘kill, kill, scratch, scratch!’ It’s a fucking butchery, an abattoir on wheels. Miserable how a man can get so riled up and red-faced over two chickens scratching each others eyes out; fucking pathetic and miserable. Cock Robin in a cloak and dagger, such a shame, a shame indeed.

A coaldigger’s cold morning, the shamble leg man shimmying from side to side, his feet fit to be quartered, a crescent moon hung hanging in the coaldigger’s cold sky. Cigarette paper leaves stained nicotine brown, yellow, the advent of death and wither. In decay and perish, such life and advent, an august autumn, the time of fester and blain. The alms woman stoked her alms-cup beneath her skirts and ambled the sideways; the harridan, busy rearranging a nosegay of peonies and daffodils let out a wailing wail, feet shuffling under the barrows of her go-round. They met at the Piazza del Tornado one hot, very hot Sunday afternoon, afternoon in July 1979. She was dressed in a gabardine jumpsuit and he in a cashmere sweater made from organic sheep’s wool. They spoke in Esperanto and Gaelic, neither one understanding the other, gibbered and gibbered and willowed. Sometimes it’s the voice that doesn’t speak that speaks the loudest, a child’s whisper, a dog’s howl, ‘scratch, scratch, kill, kill, out with its eyes, faster, faster; kill, kill!’ The man in the hat lived in a world where charnel appetites existed at a distance, where they couldn’t be mistaken for real things and places, in a world of make-believe and trickery.

He drank Mescal and tic-tac; the smell of wormwood and chattel-sticks. The legless man skirted across the blacktop, the staves of his feet anchored to the corset of his ankles, blood-blistered raw. ‘These are small times, small times indeed’ said the shamble leg man. ‘Not a moments rest for the weary, nary a one’. He slid back out from under the Waymart weigh-door and heeled it up the sideways, a skid of jujubes, black and red, red and black, tucked up under his favourite shirt, the red and black, black and red chequered one. ‘Lord have mercy on my mole’ he shouted, ‘and then some.’ Robbing the Waymart caused him no end of worry, as did wearing mismatched socks or going to temple on Thursdays. He, the shamble leg man he, felt that being a nuisance or a blockhead were forms of contrition for sins committed, yet to be committed and never to be sinned or committed at all. Sins, after all, were funny amusing things; things without cause or effect; causally inexcusable things which were neither things nor not-things, but thingy things, those things that never quite make it as things, but pretend to be things regardless. ‘God have Percy on my bowl’ he hollered at the tiptop of his lungs, ‘and then sun’. The shamble leg man fell, kersplat! jujubes, red and black, black and red, tumbling like bayoneted soldiers onto the asphalt ahead of him. He doffed his cap and sped in the opposite direction, feet shambling and shimmying, the alms woman hollering behind him ‘jujubes, red and black, black and red, oh dear what a sight indeed’. In his haste to make a clean getaway he’d forgotten his lever-bar in the Waymart weigh-door lock.

Marmalade compote on seedless rye, weigh-bar bar stuck in the Waymart lock, end of story. He doffed his cap saying ‘algebra isn’t about numbers, but squiggles and darts, a countenance whereby the waybill remains hidden in the vectored vector; adman and may clods bless’. Such began the begetting, daylight and then some.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jacques et Jose

Portmanteaux Merleau

Unconsciously conscious, this is how the day begins, a slight opening betwixt the two, just big enough to peek through into pre-consciousness.

Colours evoke and revoke simultaneously, what they give they take away. My mother is a colour, red perhaps; my father the colour brown, the sky quail egg blue, the moon yellow-white-yellow. The strongest colours are those that signify nothing, have no colour yet evoke a palate of feelings, moods, evocations, senses. Colours do not exist outside they’re evocation, they’re sense, the moods and feelings they evoke; juxtaposition, nothingness, my mother, my father, quail-egg blue, yellow-white-yellow, brown.

Blazes Bowman: legs gone palsied re-crossing Liffey, Portmanteaux worn skivvies inward out, woollen under-linen to dress-side; billfold stuffed with Queens Pinot; Irish turbidmoyle bluebells side-grave; bedside manor inexcusable, monks’ chips and suet; surplice worn over shoulder and rector, speyside frowned upon for Mort on salt; Irishman oddment, such calumny and prescience of mind, threadbare homily and Quaker’s roil.

I am a phenomenologist, not a Husserlian or a Merleau-Pontyian, or a Getafe smoking Sartrean, though I do enjoy a Blond Gallicises occasionally. I do, however, have a penchant for Absinthe and green tea. I have been known to wear culottes before July and a sou'wester, sometimes a Trilby without a hatband when it’s uncalled for and unfashionable to do so.

Mired in thought I sit in front of you, not a moment’s reprieve from the thought that thought the thought antecedent to this thought, to and fro, back and forth, the seamless thought that thinks in the dark, awaiting the march forward that will bring an end to the mire and fen. I thought an answer, but I was sorely mistaken, the thought I thought, the one antecedent to this one, was mistaken, a thought, thought out of line, a thought without a thinker, mired in the slough and peat, such is my Gomorrah in life, my fen and spoil.

My own experience with psychoanalysis has taught me what I think I say I say is often mistaken, a faulty transcription of a symptom, a manifest expression of something inexpressible. Within (or outside) the inexpressible lies the etymology of the symptom that is the expression of the expressed; the expression of the yet-to-be; the inexpressibility of expression. Free-association is the evocation of the symptom (the faulty transcription) of the inexpressibility, the manifest latency of rebus, dream and memory. Joyce, in his masterful use of stream-of-consciousness, expressed this inexpressibility, the night-terrors and shades, the hurt and anger, the cuckoldry that lies veiled behind the faulty transcription, the yes behind the I think I say what I say; the Heideggerian unconcealing, the expression of the inexpressible, an evocation of the symptom of the unconscious wish, the yes concealed behind the no.

There is an evil genius living in my shoulder and in the corset of my back. He is the villainy that crushes the discs in my neck, the degeneration; the ramshackle. I awaken with the bones in my neck tamped like sheared nails, my postured limited to crouching and hunkering. I am a curvature. Should this continue, which it will regardless of my writ to the contrary, I will surely curve into a perfect C, thereby dispensing with posture once and forever.

...these are burrow-thoughts; out-thoughts, the afterglow once the pain has subsided; blue red thoughts, yellow green, blue; afterthoughts thought in blue, yellow, green…once the pain has subsided, ebbing...

This is all new to me, this newness. This is not what I supposed it to be, not even close. Why this and not that, or that and not this? I am stymied. Why is it that one thing is this and another that, or one that and not this? I am confused, addled, not quite with it. Where to begin when all the beginnings are the same, identical and interchangeable? This is not supposed to happen, this battlement and confusion. I once saw a man with a pole for a leg; he scrabbled across the top of the pavement like a match, a fiery cockscomb in his wake. When I asked him why he had a pole for a leg he answered, because there were no new legs to be had, so I jimmy-rigged this one out of a mop handle and yoke. I see, I said, not wanting to make eye contact with him, a mop handle and yoke, very industrious indeed. He winked at me, the folds in his eyelids snapping, and headed up the pavement, his pole-leg waking and corseting. I looked down at my legs, the left one then the right and said, I’m close, very close, but not quite there, not yet at least.

This is the new world, the same old new world they promised us, the one they made out of string and clothes pins. This is the same old world with the same old promises, the new world that they promised us, the one they made out of string and clothes pins. This is the world they built out of electronic money and banknotes, pork bellies and hedges. This is the world they built out of sneakers and handbags, the world they built on curved spines and missing fingers. The world they built out of towers and shinning glass, out of slums and barrios. This is their world, not mine.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Badges and Sashes

This one scout master with mint crumbs in the corners of his mouth, not humbug mints, but those white pocket-mints that old people chew on like candy, I didn’t care much for, not in the least, really. When some of the other scouts, the ones with way more badges sewed on they’re sashes used to whack me in the ass with they’re moccasins he’d just keep chewing and chewing like the fat bastard he was, fat shitty bastard. I had all these welts on my backside, moccasin-shaped welts that hurt like bee stings, and that fat shit scout master just sitting on his fat ass chewing on mints and making hacking coughing sounds when he swallowed one down the wrong hole. I almost got the orientation badge but lost my compass just near the end so they said I was way too clumsy and didn’t deserve a badge for something that meant you were well-oriented.

Strindberg Tractatus

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mrs. Crabstick of Upton Manor

The alms woman sits sitting in the midmorning morning mourning stitching hems and haws with a bone-needle she found in the harridan’s mother’s hatbox box, the one she keeps on her bedstead vanity next to a package of Camels and a wren’s foot cameo, a gift from a blind tinsmith with tiny ears and no teeth to speak of. ‘Fuck you Camel-maker, fuck you good and sinfully’ she wiled, dropping a stitch, a hem and a haw. Freakshow freaks, Camel-makers and a man in a hetman’s hat worn at wrong angles and weigh. ‘Some mornings begin’ she said to herself, ‘better than others.’

Albert Scrim scrammed crosswise across the crosswalk yammering at the top of his lungs, ‘Mrs. Crabstick of Upton manor eats ribbon-thin Melba with creamery cheese!’ Mrs. Crabstick preferred headcheese to cream cheese on suet crackers, unable to see the succor in the creamery or whey. She liked porker’s saltpeter, ginger aspic and Plumtree’s arrowroot biscuits, especially the tinned variety, which she doubly liked. She liked what she liked and disliked those things she didn’t like; the unlikely things that so often go unnoticed or acknowledged.

She liked liking things she liked liking, good things like ginger aspic and ribbon-thin Melbas. She disliked things she didn’t like, like creamery cheeses and scramming across crosswalks crosswise. She liked something’s better than others, and other things less than those things she disliked but might have liked if she liked those things she disliked liking. She liked freakshows and jar-lids, the sort that never seem to tighten tight round jars. She disliked bad freakshows and weak-kneed tightrope walkers and men who wore britches with link-socks and bowties tied in curlicues and bolos. She herself preferred culottes to Capri’s, red blouses to cable knit sweaters and bobby-socks to hoses. The shamble leg man liked her, the alms woman, but from a distance, not wanting to incur her wraith and colon, both of which she displayed with equal parts wreck and havoc. He liked to espy her as she shunted up and down and along the sideways, her bobby-socks cinched round the rill of her ankles. She liked to watch the shamble leg man from across the wayside, trenching his head up against the Upton Seder’s, a funny sight indeed, but well worth the bellows and titter.

Reference Points

‘I feel referenced’ she said, ‘and none too soon.’ Having a record of one’s wanders, referential points, allows for a quantum of referential points and junctures for one’s life. Without them one tends to wander aimlessly in circles bumping one’s head into doorjambs, forgetting who and where one is, or failing to find one’s way home should one have a home to return to. Not having a home to return to, but a firm grasp of quantum mechanics, the alms woman used street signs as reference points, which themselves had ever-shifting reference points, making referencing quite a chore, or simply closed her eyes and hoped for the best. Hoping, after all, trumps reference points 27 ½ to one, so sometimes hope is all we have when references run thin.

‘Cat got you’re tongue?’ she said, her eyes bulbar and red with redness. Because of her short-circuited circuits the alms woman seldom spoke but in logarithms and doublespeak. This could get quite confusing, more so, doubly confusing, so anyone within ear-range had a tendency to make a swift getaway when they heard her approaching, which she did nimbly and fleet of foot. ‘Gunboat got you’re rear-hind?’ she said to a man with a gumdrop nose and three fingers on his right hand. ‘Not in a figs eye’ she mumbled to a woman with cubbish feet who on hearing the alms woman’s gibbering turned tail and made a swift go for it in the opposing direction. ‘The Pryor is in the prodding’ she yammered to no one in particular, her eyes flashing like direction blinkers. A man out walking his dog, a brown and red and ecru foxhound, glared mirthfully at her, his dog turning up its offish snout and laying a pee-line on the sidewalk in front of her. ‘I’ll have none of that, madam, none whatsoever none!’ The alms woman tilted her head to one side, then the other, and said ‘off with the dog’s head, and be quick about it.’

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Constancy of Object by Repeating

Freud spoke about the childish need to repeat to ensure a constancy of object, act and mother. By repeating the child feels safe, although the act of repetition carried into adult life becomes an act of repetition for the sake of repetition, a nausea-nauseous-ad-nausea. Obsessive compulsive disorder is the act of repetition taken to its most absurd imprecation. My own experience with the devil-repetition, this stick in the eye, this discontinuity of object, act and place, has been a constant struggle to maintain a sense of safety, a safeness that in its illusion is elusive, unattainable and childish. The most indelicate feature of OCD is the self-awareness of its absurdity, the dissonance it creates in the mind, thoughts thought forward, backwards and with little regard for reason, common sense and finitude. However, I suppose things could be worse, I could be limbless, headless and syphilitic, so I best count my blessings, and count and count, and…

Floating Round in the Sky in Pieces

It’s what you don’t know that really matters, all those things just waiting to be thought. Something’s you know you think, but really don’t know at all. Or sometimes it’s thinking that you think you know when all you really know, for sure, that is, is that you’re thinking about thinking those very same things, the things you thought you knew but don’t, never did, really. I get sort of stuck in between, between the things I think I think, the something’s, and the things I think but haven’t really thought, the no-things. Having thoughts is like when you drink an ice-slush too fast and you’re head freezes all up and you feel like you’re going to passout or something. I can do without that sort of shit, honest.

Our scout master was a fat bastard; scout masters are either fat bastards or real skinny ones; ours was the fat bastard kind. Sewing badges on sashes is for sissies and kids that play chess and wear glasses what’re too big for their faces. I’m saying this because if I was to keep it inside I’d explode like a one of those helium dirigibles, and that’d be a shame, me all busted up and floating round in the sky in pieces. Now you can see why I’m not so big on thinking, especially if this is the kind of crap I’m always thinking thoughts about; me all busted-up floating round in the sky wearing way-too big glasses and playing chess with fat kids.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Giant Sand (Howe Gelb) - Shiver - 2001

Ploughman's Lunch

A blue gunmetal blue sky, the like of which are seen once every 29 ½ years; an indigo-dyer’s blue sky, so blue that it appears green-blue; a Haitian sun so hot it seems unimaginable, a yellow specter squinting from on-high. Things getter hotter the hotter things get. The shamble leg man who knew the alms man, who knew the harridan and her sister, the sister with a stonemason’s jaw, knew no one who he didn’t already know. The sky was a steely oven, smelting slag metals, tins and coppers, aluminums and steel into car doors, side-panels and industrial joists. When the world got Haitian sun hot the shamble leg man would retreat to the cool of the museum to stare at the painting of Christ weeping that was hung next to a woodcut of a dog with three legs and the water fountain. He would bring with him a ploughman’s lunch, two hard boiled eggs, three pickled onions and persimmon (Diospyros Genitalis). He would sit, his left leg hooked round his right, take one small bite of egg, a quarter-bite of onion and a mouthful of persimmon. He ate in this manner, not once straying from his method, until the ploughman’s lunch was finished.


Bees, Hornets and Ants

One thing I know for sure is that thinking isn’t worth a damn. It seems like the more I know the more confused I get about all those other things I think I know I know. That sort of shit, confusing shit. Like the time I was thinking about this nature show I saw about bees and hornets. Well it turns out it wasn’t about them at all, bees and hornets, but ants, except I thought they were bees and hornets on account of I don’t see too well when the television gets all blurry and static-like. I just figured they were bees and hornets that’d lost they’re wings or something. My grandmamma said it was on account of I sit way too close to the television and it was scrambling up my brain patterns making them think I was seeing one thing when I was really seeing something else, something different than what I thought I was seeing. That sort of shit, confusing shit like that. Granted I did need spectacles--that’s what my granddad calls them--but the social worker said there wasn’t any money in my grandparent’s account to pay for them. So the way I see it, which is quite confusing, really, there really isn’t all that much difference between bees and hornets and ants, not when the television is all blurry and your eyes all fucked to shit, not much of a difference at all, really.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hogshead Cap

The man in the hat had never read the Cat in the Hat or anything that made animals into humans. He preferred Reader’s Digest, Popular Mechanics and National Geographic. He read folios and book chapters devoted to tightrope walking and circusry, how-to books and anything remotely concerned with weighs and balances. He read articles on scouting and beetroot and editorials that championed the use of sulfas for trench-foot. He liked to drink clam juice cocktail and chew Black cat chewing gum while reading, the gum adding anise tartness to the clam juice. He read for such long stretches that he went blind, his eyes pebbly and course with salt and tears. His sight would reappear, but only after he’d applied a beetroot sulfa with a dampened rag, or forced himself to squint for 27 ½ minutes without stopping. He knew a man whose eyes were so milky with cataracts that he had to wear a cardboard cutout over his face. When he took off the cardboard cutout to wipe sweat from his brow, which he did sparingly, the man in the hat saw that his eyes were pinpricked with tiny white perforations, some no bigger than the head of a pin, others the size of small polka-dots. He used a cane made from briar root, shinnied smooth and scalloped round the hilt, with a silver hogshead cap that he twiddled between his forefinger and thumb.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two Cocks and a Wheelbarrow

As legs are the stays that keep a body from topple over, their son’s body was in constant topple. He caromed and swayed, listing like a broken metronome. What balance he had went to staving off obstacles and impediments, which were many. His parents figured that a clown’s nose might prevent they’re son from toppling over, so rigged one from ear to ear, tying it at the base of his head with a reef-knot. The legless man’s parents shunted him around the circus grounds in a wheelbarrow, his father pushing, his mother making sure his head didn’t bang up against the sides. He was a queer sight, the legless man, his face cobbled with fear, arms flailing, his nose redder than the reddest red tomato. Jocose and Bovina rented a small cabana with a makeshift portico and soiled awning; they owned three lawn-chairs, cross-hatching with wire coils, and a tree trunk fashioned into a coffee table.

They ate from the circus garbage, spoiled cottage hams and wieners, some so shriveled they looked like amputated toes, curds of dry hard bread and things almost rotten, but not so rotten that they weren’t edible. The man in the hat knew of the circus family but only in passing, which he did with most people, passing, without giving them a second’s notice. The second time he saw them they were performing under the big-top that had been set up across the street from the Waymart next to the aqueduct beside the Sears. The legless man’s parents, Jocose and Bovina, were running in circles, they’re hair combed back into ducktails, eyes bled with fury and camp. They pretended they were two cock’s fighting, feet shuffling, backs ridged, they’re feet kicking up clouds of circus dirt. The legless man sat sitting astride his wheelbarrow, his eyes crossed and sallow, suckling the end of a rubber glove his mother had puckered into a nipple.

Rufino Tamayo

Bovina and Jocose

He was raised by clowns, Bovina and Jocose, one with a drag anchor foot, the other with two normal feet. Jocose and Bovina conceived the legless man after a night of circus debaucher, the likes of which occurred once every 27 ½ years. Bovina, moaning like a banshee, clown’s nose splaying his cheekbones, went-off inside Jocose, her thighs queering and thumping against the cabana walls. The prophylactic, red with twills and feathers, burst off the end of his penis, hitting the roof with such force and wit that it shook the cabana like a swift boot, the door clacking against the outside wall like a flydoor castanet. The legless man was spit out from between his mother’s thighs like a rotten oyster, a boil the size of a grapefruit on the tip of his nose. Having managed to wrench him free with a speculum and length of rubber tubing, the doctor noticed that he had two arms, a nose with a grapefruit-size boil on it, ten fingers, two eyes, one brown, one blue and no legs to speak of. His father, rising from his barstool, exclaimed, ‘for the love of God, what have we done?’

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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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