Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sauerwald’s Father

Or perhaps her name was Bolesław or Chwat. She worked in the patients’ canteen where Sauerwald made pop-siècle placemats and matchstick tugboats. She wore fleece-lined slippers and left nary a scuff mark or sound when she scurried round the infirmary. Or perhaps she did and no one was the worse for it. The Marmoreal Asylum where Sauerwald made pop-siècle placemats and matchstick tugboats and Celina ran the patients’ canteen was a pleasant place, an oasis in the eye of a stormy world. Across the street from the Marmoreal Asylum sits the Montessori Asylum, home to halfwits and dullards. Built by Masons and Quakers after the big war, the Montessori Asylum is home to Sauerwald’s father and great uncle, both men convicted of bestiality and ballot box tampering. The owner of the Vincennes Glove Co., an unpleasant man with boiled corn eyes battling the tertiary stage of syphilis, purchased the property across the street from the Montessori Asylum where word had it he was going to construct an amusement park complete with a rollercoaster and cotton candy machine.

Over his bed scrawled in dirty white chalk is a portion of his favorite book, “From the street I can hear the unpleasant screams of little boys. I lie there dreaming up tortures for them. Most of all I like the idea of afflicting them with tetanus so that they’d suddenly stop moving. Their parents drag them back to their respective homes. They lie in their little beds and can’t eat, because their mouths don’t open. They are nourished artificially. After a week the tetanus goes away, but the children are so weak that they still have to be confined to their beds for the whole month more. Then, bit by bit, they begin to recover, but I afflict them with a second bout of tetanus and they all expire”. (Daniil Kharms, Today I Wrote Nothing) He reads and rereads the lines every day upon rising and before falling asleep, the words taking on a life of their own, his thoughts taking leave of his body for the time it takes to reread and read it.

His father is a sickly old man, yes, but sickly well versed in ancient dialects and chalky lines. The first time the man in the hat met Sauerwald’s father was on a lime sunny day in July, the viola legs of crickets making an awful high-pitched din, Sauerwald’s father scratching the stubble on his chin with the tines of a fork. The second time he met him was on a Saturday afternoon behind the aqueduct, Sauerwald’s father rubbing his legs together like a cricket, the stubble on his face coarser than cracked pepper. The third and fourth times he was to meet him he forgot, Sauerwald’s father taking this as a sign that he was in fact a cricket and not a sickly old man. The Society for Moral Hygiene closed down the Montessori Asylum on a Thursday, the patients’ canteen closing the following Saturday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Marmoreal Asylum

‘stop that thumping, can’t you see I’m trying to read?’ said the legless man. ‘trying or can?’ said the alms man, ‘there is a difference’. Grumbling the legless man returned to his paper, his eyes squinting to make sense of the squiggles and curvy lines. ‘either one reads, and therefore can, or one can’t read, or not too well and is trying to read… the difference is quite obvious, don’t you think’. ‘fuck your difference’ cuffed the legless man, ‘...anyhow the light is dim in here’. ‘you mean faint, don’t you?’ said the alms man petulantly. ‘...one dims the lights, which means they were at one time bright’. ‘have you nothing better to do that correct me?’ said the legless man gruffly. ‘no, nothing that I can think of’ answered the alms man. The lights inside the tunnel under the Waymart that leads to the pumphouse below the aqueduct flickered on and off, the alms man snickering to himself, ‘and then there was dimness’.

Bedridden and bedraggled the harridan awoke, her eyes sticky with sleep. Before taking to bed she’d read one of the pamphlets left behind by the Witness, the phrase ‘God loves those who love Him’ racing in her thoughts. ‘Job loves those who love Job’ she said to herself, her nightgown whittling between her legs.

Sauerwald stowed his socks in a panzerkassette once owned by a childminder known only as Resy, though many suspect her family name was Krüll or Kroll, or perhaps Krill. Or Celina, her name might have been Celina. She was known far and wide for her oblomovisms. She was a person prone to inaction, sloth-like, unable to move an inch from her bed without the aid of a friend or lowly acquaintance. Hung over her bed was a needlework that exclaimed, "All his anxiety resolved itself into a sigh and dissolved into apathy and drowsiness." (Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov) Back then the Marmoreal Asylum catered to the senile and the moribund, Sauerwald having lived there in his twenties, a young nursemaid by the name of Krill running the patients’ canteen.

When he recalled these times he felt a shiver corseting down his spine, a wintriness that accompanied thoughts of past things and passed persons. Awakening he lay half-sleep ruffled beneath the covers, his head crushed into the boxboard, the sky outside his lean-to as sinister as a villain’s cape.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Savant or Genius

The Loudac twins wear the oddest clothes, jackets sewn from rags and scraps of soiled linen, trousers tied round the ankles for those fiercely cold winter nights, and shoes made from fichus bark and old string. The Loudac twins wear clothing worthy of a savant or a genius. Oddments’. Directly above overhead the moon glistened like a fresh wound, the Witness’ beggaring evoking neither God or beast. The Witness knotted his rosary and walked westward, his mouth a black hole of anger and disgust. ‘never again will I set foot in this place!’ he grumbled, the man staring at the sickly-sweet moon eying him out of the corner of his goggles. In his haste to leave the Witness left behind 27 pamphlets of assorted colour and pagination, a hand-painted pictures of Christ, a framed photograph of Pope Pius the 2nd and an etching of Herodotus dressed in the finest silk, a well-thumbed rosary and a half-smoked cheroot. ‘may God smote you lifeless, every last beast of you!’ Having witnessed enough defilement and despoliation the Witness left the way he came, skulking under dark of night, a lowly beggar who’s life had been made back to front, death arriving before the advent of life. Now he would take in the world from a distance as a bystander or a passerby, leaving the plunder and desecration to those who have sterner orders and braver hearts.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ovalle Coquimbo

‘I will sleep when the sun comes up, not a candle before’ said Dejesus. ‘sleep is for fools, and I I assure you am no fool’. Levering his weight from heel to toe, his eyes wormy with sleep, the Witness teetered on the edge of inconsciência. He held his breath until he turned blue, praying that God would see fit to stop him before he suffocated to death. When God did not intervene he gasped for air like a fish on dry land, the skin on his hands rolling up to the wrists. That night under a glomming yellow moon the Witness made his peace with the animals in the world, freeing them one-by-one from his Christly wrath. ‘dogmen I will never set free… to hell with them all’ he proclaimed to those standing within earshot, a man in goggles bawling at the sickly sweet yellow moon.

Oliana Cataluña bed Bad Clonmel in a one-room walkup rented out to Ovalle Coquimbo, onetime bare-knuckle fighter and acquaintance of Disd Pest, the last remaining whore of the Kalmthout Bordello. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do, that’s all. Something’s are best left unthought-of, bare and easy. God will see fit to think the unthought-of. Laying under a sickly-sweet yellow moon praying that He will stop me before I suffocate myself.
Baying to Ovalle Coquimbo that he’s kept a vacant room open for me. Dejesus slept 2½ hours ensconced in the whitest white linen, awakening well before the snap of dawn. One-by-one he relieved them of his Christly wrath. A helicopter looped overhead buzzing, the pilot hanging his arm out the window. ‘is that you?’ he hollered to Disd Pest, ‘or am I seeing things again?’ When God did not intervene he flew his buzzing copter into the mountainside. Nights like this were all too numerous to remember or place in a spiral-bound notebook. The man in goggles stared directly into the sickly-sweet moon, his eyes popping out of like yolks.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Alforjas

Stinking old goats taking flight over the Waymart spire, the carnival crew drive pegs and unfurl tarpaulins, the circus arrived early that year, oxcarts pulling man and sideshow beast. “…they set out for El Toboso”, the legless man punting his pushcart, the alms man “on his old Dapple, his alforjas furnished with certain matters in the way of victuals, and his purse with money” that the harridan had given him should he meet with any emergencies. Her sister “embraced him, and entreated him to let him hear of his good or evil fortunes, so that he might rejoice over the former or condole with him over the latter, as the laws of friendship required”. The alms man “promised him he would do so, and” she “returned to the village, and the other two took the road for the great city of” (Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote) Kalmthout. Meu Pai stood admiring his reflection in the water, his father’s ghost looking over his shoulder laughing. Having wasted too much thought thinking thoughts that are best left unthought-of, the man in the hat sat in the shade of a stately elm, a sun-dappled dog on his way home to his master stopping to sniff his leg.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nor Sceptres, Nor Mitres

"The fact is," continued the man in the hat, "that, as your worship knows better than I do, we are all of us liable to death, and to-day we are, and to-morrow we are not, and the lamb goes as soon as the sheep, and nobody can promise himself more hours of life in this world than God may be pleased to give him; for death is deaf, and when it comes to knock at our life's door, it is always urgent, and neither prayers, nor struggles, nor sceptres, nor mitres, can keep it back, as common talk and report say, and as they tell us from the pulpits every day." (Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote) The Witness stared at him with alarm, his face red as blood pudding, the handful of pamphlets he’d been carrying falling determinedly to the ground. Off to his ongoing left Victor Cockscone stood admiring his reflection in the glass, the Greek Deli, now owned by the dogmen, battened up for the afternoon, the windows, soaked in eventide, ideal for admiring one’s countenance in. ‘I have witness much in my life’ said the Witness, ‘but never have I witnessed such a vile display of heathenry’. Looking over his shoulder, a soiled goat whizzing by, the man in the hat said ‘one hears worse from the pulpit every day’. Frozen stiff as whiplash, her eyes two icy gemstones, Paraná softened by the glower of the fire, the biggest dogman snapping fichus branches over his bent knee. The last they’d seen of Brimblecombe he was booking passage aboard a Belgian whaler, his clothes soaked through to the bone. Scavenged corpses and poached ivory pled a man crazy, captains and yeomen willing to take a chance on a guinea and a gawk.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Casimir Lowry

He swatted at the goats flying overhead, battling them like a good Mormon soldier. The goats took flight a-farting, a stink settling over the canton and parish. The Slovo Bros., proprietors of the Bothell brothel, haven’t a leg to stand on. Born unto this world with stump-ends rather than legs, they allot the day-to-day duties of the brothel to spanks and blowhards. Spanks are great one’s for keeping tabs on flow, cash coming in and nary a copper going out. Blowhards, on the other hand, are masters at keeping things in line, their disposition akin to slaphards and Mormon soldiers. That winter the dogmen found a half-frozen woman in the scrubweed behind the aqueduct, her left eye caved-in, the cheek smashed to bits. Word had it the whalers had thrown her overboard, a harpoon line tied round her ankles, the North Atlantic swallowing her whole. Thawing her scavenged body, the blaze of the fichus fire summoning bluebottles and fireflies, the dogmen danced like Mormon fools, the littlest playing a tympani on the drum of his chest. Paraná fell victim to rum and scurvy. Brimblecombe cut the harpoon line, sending Paraná headfirst into the swell. Casimir Lowry, who had booked passage aboard the whaler exclaimed:

He knowing well the miserable hags
Who tend the queen of endless woe


Brimblecombe tittering like rum sated fool.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

3 High

Right side up or upside down the sky falls into the ditch. The cabman’s gatehouse holds 7 people, 8 if the door is left ajar. The day before the Squaring of the Cross the gatehouse is stacked three-high with congregants. A woman rebukes a sickly man for taking up more room than his share, expressing her displeasure to a cashier who says she has come to rejoice in los Féasta a Chaitheamh Gabhaireoil, the rebuking woman laughing as she tells her she has come on the wrong day; los Féasta a Chaitheamh Gabhaireoil falls on a Wednesday, not the day before winter solstice, which day it is today. A sign over the door to the cabman’s gatehouse reads,

Now to the Brocken the witches ride;
The stubble is gold and the corn is green;

Not sure what it means, and thinking that it may be a fraction of a larger whole, the rebuking woman says to the cashier ‘only God knows, and even He has His bad days’. To which the cashier rejoins ‘how splendid life would be to have but one bad day’. ‘splendid indeed’ says the scolding woman ‘now get out of my way you filthy cur!’

And then: “Man was entering under false pretenses the sphere of incredible facilities, acquired too cheaply, below cost price, almost for nothing, and the disproportion between outlay and gain, the obvious fraud on nature, the excessive payment for a trick of genius, had to be offset by self-parody”. (Bruno Schulz, Street of Crocodiles). To which the scolding woman replies ‘a fraud on nature… a trick of genius, can’t you see?’

There is the carnival crew to be seen,
And Squire Urianus will come to preside.
So over the valleys our company floats,
With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.
(Von Goethe, Faust)

Friday, December 18, 2009

György

(Zapopan and Jalisco thread rosaries in a shop behind the Greek Deli. Akin to the abacus’ craftsman they thread holy beads onto foot-long pieces of starched string, sealing the ends with hot wax. György and Białystok cut string into 12 inch lengths, Eliezer and Semenov arrange the beads, Zapopan and Jalisco string the beads and Lazarus Zamenhof dips the completed rosaries into a vat of boiling wax. Sarick and Kamifukuoka deliver the rosaries: Sarick driving Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sunday, Kamifukuoka Mondays, Fridays and Saturday. Rijn and Saitama, cousins of Zapopan, play jack the ball behind the rosary shop, Saitama winning 27½ times out of a hundred0.

‘where are my beads you cur?’ screeched Lela. ‘I have no idea’ said her mother, ‘and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you’. Pointing at the picture of Dante hanging over the door Lela leaves, her mother’s fishy smell ruing the air. On Mondays she goes to the market where she haggles with the Greek Deli, now owned by the dogmen, for old bread and pigs’ stomach. Tuesdays she fishes for castoffs and things people no longer want or care for behind the Seder Grocer, her long auburn hair tied back in a braid. Wednesdays she plays pinochle with the alms man in the park behind the aqueduct, the alms man winning 7 times out of eleven. Thursdays she eats nothing, having eaten everything she’d haggled or fished. Fridays she sleeps all day, her legs curled up beneath the half moons of her buttocks. Saturdays she makes the beast with two backs with the legless man, her eyes smarting from the stench rising off his befleaed body. On Sundays she sticks plums in her cunt, listening to the juice trickling down the insides of her thighs.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

3 and a Half Fortnights

Squatting behind a hawthorn bush the littlest dogman watched Lela work her rosary, her fingernails making a scrapping sound against the beads. Lela watched the assistant to the assistant rector leading the procession, a woman with a small child trapped between an enormous oak tree and a lamppost, the child wailing, the woman tugging angrily on his tiny arm. ‘that’ll be enough’ screeched the woman. ‘I told you not to run in circles like a harebrain fool… now look what you’ve done’. Tugging harder mother and child followed the procession into the park behind the aqueduct, Lela, working her rosary, staring off into the distance, the littlest dogman thumbing his nose with the back of his hand. ‘hurry up’ yelled the woman, ‘we don’t have all day you know’. At that moment the sun disappeared behind a panoply of white clouds, the day descending into night, the lamplighter, awake and ready for work, checking his kit for matches and fresh wicks.

The pain started in her elbow, working its way through her wrist and into the tips of her fingers. This was not the first time: once before it had started in her lower jaw, moving like a arsonist into her neck then down into her breastbone where it burned for three and a half fortnights. ‘nothing… that’s what you’ll be’ said her mother rousing her from sleep every morning. ‘an ugly little nothing’. Lela cowers in the corner, her mother circling her like a rabid dog. ‘smell this’ her mamma barks, ‘this is what you’ll smell like’. Lela falls back into the wall, her mamma’s finger smelling of fish and sweat.

Monday, December 14, 2009

27 Red Coppers

He said to himself “Her legs were rather sturdy, but long, and fine-ankled” (Hans Fallada, The Drinker) all the while thinking of the girl who served peaches and toast to the stonebreakers in the alleyway behind the hangman’s cemetery.’now she’s a fine catch’, his da would say, ‘…good sturdy legs and fine ankles to boot’. ‘but da’ he would exclaim, ‘...she gives the men her mouth like a pig on a dog’s thing’. ‘yes, but those ankles of hers… no better specimen in the world could you hope to find my boy’. They spread mashed peaches and crumbs on her unclothed back, riding her like a wayward foal through the afternoon and into the caramel coloured night. No matter how sturdy her legs or fine-ankled she was, she could not say no to 27 red coppers and a sackbut of peppermint sweets. Can’t say I can blame her given the brutal humility of life. One must make ones way regardless of the disequilibrium it invites. One must one must. Anyhow who am I to judge, fool that I am? Fool that I am I judge with impunity, myself and my other, that is. My other lays claim to myself thereby laying claim to the I myself as other. Those who’re claimless live far better lives, less of a fistfight with the other myself I. Me da said I’d grow out of it, find my way in the world and lay claim to myself. I dare say he was mistaken, off the mark, speaking in tongues some might say. If I had the chance I’d make an amends to the other myself, the I that has never been given a chance to make a way in the world, become and I myself without the other. But as that is not to happen I may as well settle with the other than I myself, its much simpler that way, I assure you. Lela stood knock-kneed in front of the church worrying her rosary. She was late as usual. The procession of the Castigation of the Milliner had left, the rector’s assistant assistant leading the way, his surplice caught up in his belt.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Brutality of Living

Going back over his life he came across a memory of his grandmamma dressing a chicken. She hung the plucked remains on a childlike cross she’d built from pop-siècle sticks and elastic bands. Going back over this memory he recalled the stern red look on her face and the smell coming up off the cross.

(Her dulcet brown eyes made a fool of him, the milky white softness of her neck. Of him they made a fool. Her eyes, those dulcet brown eyes, a man cannot escape them… A fool cannot but draw more foolishness upon himself. Drowning in it).

The odor coming off the cross reminded him of his grandmamma’s cinnamon waffles and boiled pudding. Her stern red face grew sterner with every passing year; so stern and red that she could barely open her mouth but to spit. He recalled that the Fealsúnacht brothers of East Ivy like boiled mutton with mint jelly, a ball of the sweet stuff on the side. Then he remembered sweet potato pie and raspberry faille, the filling oozing onto his napkin. Pot stickers and lump sugar, syrupy ices and tart coulees, those things his grandmamma made in the winter kitchen in the summer, the curtains trembling in the dewy morning breeze. He remembered then forgot, forgetting what he’d forgot he’d forgotten.

Boyhood came and went, leaving behind a brutish reminder of the cruelty of youth. He’d forgotten much of his boyhood, days of youthful innocence and childish pride, awakening to the possibilities of life and the brutality of living.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Stonebreakers

‘I’m tired’ said the alms man. ‘there must be an end in sight… there must’. Rewrapping his scab-worn stump-end the legless man listened on. ‘who in their right mind would think such nonsense?’ continued the alms man, the legless man scrapping dried blood off his stump-end. ‘for the love of God stop before its too late!’ Looking up from his stump-end, the skin peeled back revealing a nodule of shattered bone, the legless man said ‘the sky looks very dark… perhaps it will fall’. ‘and this time for good’ said the alms man assuredly. ‘who are we to complain?’ said the legless man digging in the trench of his wound. ‘I haven’t a leg to stand on’. ‘yes…’ said the alms man, ‘...but you do have a pushcart… and as a conveyance it’s better than two pole-like legs, wouldn’t you agree’.

The stonebreaker’s in the yard behind the church smashed their sledgehammers into a pile of gray milky rocks. ‘La caída de Ícaro!’ howled one of the stonebreakers, ‘for the love of Christ!’ yelled Kilmainham, ‘...shut the fuck up!’ ‘you see what I mean?’ said the alms man, ‘...its all around us… there’s no escaping it… we’re hostages’. The sky didn’t fall that day. It stayed put, clinging like a suckling child to its mother’s breast. Arequipa the stonebreaker sat down on a pile of rocks to eat his lunch. Unwrapping his sandwich he hears a voice admonishing him ‘Arequipa you fool, what were you expecting: a whore’s glove?’ ‘shut the fuck up’ yelled Kilmainham, ‘...can’t you see we’re working here?’

Kilmainham kept a velocipede in the woolshed behind the stonebreaker’s hut. Expecting that someday he would find himself without legs, or worse, arms and legs, he kept the velocipede for just such an occurrence. And should he loose his arms and legs his feet would soon follow, and then his capacity to walk, and with that the need for a wheeled conveyance to get him from the hangman’s yard to the stonebreaker’s hut. He could crawl on his knees like a man, but men are in low supply these days. He hears a voice ‘put that down you ungainly yob’. Why should I? ‘you’ll be sorry… mark my words you will’. I have enough sorrow to go round. ‘I’ll smash up that moped of yours’. Go ahead, I can’t stand the thing. ‘you’ll see’. See what? ‘stop your joking… can’t you see we’re working here!’ ‘shut the fuck up’ proclaimed the Witness pushing his way to the front of the queuing. ‘...or hell will break loose… mark my Word’. Before he knew it he was on the bottommost step, the only thing separating him from the ungainly mob a blue and red pamphlet given to him by the Witness’ assistant. ’crap’ he said to himself, ‘...when will this all come to and end… when?’ Expecting the sky to fall he closed his eyes and cinched the string under his chin, the griddling of pulverized rocks echoing in his ears. ‘you’ll see’ he whispered, ‘mark my words’. He awoke in a slurry, today being the day of the Eminent Endowment of the Proof, and if he knew anything he knew that he must be at his best if he expected to come in first.

A man wearing a threadbare greatcoat rounded the corner, his hat skimming the top of his head like a lump of melting ice. Eyes pooled in ice-cold water, he rounded and rounded until he could round no more, his legs giving way to fatigue, the ground on which he fell harder than zirconium. ‘what time is it?’ he asked of whomever was within earshot. Hearing nothing in reply he rolled over, a grayish white talcum covering his threadbare greatcoat.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Castigation of the Milliner's Head

He fell asleep on the bottommost step, the assistant to the assistant rector boxing his ears with the cuffs of his hands. Maxima Kongsvinger and Hortence Hedmark, watching from the topmost step, looked out onto the field in front of the church where Pena and Astra Emilia-Romagna frolicked in the long grass, children not permitted to attend the Castigation of the Milliner's Head, followed by the sacrament of the Efflagitasti and a light tea to be held in the basement under the sanctuary. From behind his hiding place behind the thorn bush the littlest dogman penned curlicues and squiggles in a notepad.

O Muses! O high genius! now vouchsafe
Your aid! O mind! that all I saw hast kept
Safe in a written record, here thy worth
And eminent endowments come to proof
.
(Dante Alighieri, Inferno)

Anton Antonovich, the Governor, Artemy Filippovich, the Superintendent of Charities, Luka Lukich, the Inspector of Schools, Ammos Fiodorovich, the Judge, Stepan Ilyich, Christian Ivanovich, the Doctor, and two Police Sergeants stood on the bottommost step taking in the breadth and wealth of the world, the Inspector of Schools saying to the Superintendent of Charities ‘what a queer little man’. ‘and hairy as an ape’ said the Superintendent of Charities, ‘and among the genteel and god-fearing’ said the Inspector of Schools ‘what a strange sight’.

Redditch and the Calf

His mamma told him that he was an albatross hanged on the neck of the world. His mamma spat him out onto the winter table, the midwife giggling like a schoolgirl. From that day on he gasped for life, his mamma wishing him dead. In order to understand the difference between life and dying you must suspend your belief in miracles; the difference between life and dying is no different than the difference between gasping for breath and lying still; both require attention to detail, a sense of finitude and immanence.

Redditch held the calf’s head between his legs and pulled, the head splicing in half. Redditch appeared one Christmas eve, gunnysack slung over his shoulder, a halo of bluebottles circling his head. Rubbing the back of his head he took in the land from atop the knoll, his eyes the size of coat buttons. The difference between Redditch and the calf: the calf hadn’t a hope in hell. When they were boys Redditch and the man in the hat shared a taste for Indian chewing tobacco and wax cigars full of juice. The man in the hat and Redditch shared their spoils behind the Greek Deli, Redditch the better of the two at stealing. It was the man in the hat’s job to keep the Seder Grocer busy while Redditch stole his way past the rabbis' inspection block, the top bleached clean, to the counter where the Grocer kept the penny candy. He once overheard the rabbi saying to the Grocer, ‘the boy’s without a czar in his head’. ‘a simpleminded fool’ replied the Grocer, ‘indeed’ said the Rabbis, ‘and he will only worsen as he gets older’.

Men in hats and enormous greatcoats, women dressed in frills and waist-fitted jackets, scrawny boldfaced children in tow. They all came out for the Procession of the Unholy Sinner, the rector’s assistant leading the way to the steps of the Church of the Perpetual Sinner, the littlest dogman eying them from behind a thorn bush. The procession worked its way up the sidewalk and through the park behind the Waymart, stopping to wait for a child to pee on a rock, then picking up speed approached the church where the assistant to the rector’s assistant stood on the topmost step waving a Christly flag.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

El Rio Sin Orillas

Mutis Miranda, now there’s a woman of haughty standing; stockings and evening gloves and a necklace made from Guilin’s gold and her hair, sweet Osmanthus, makes a man weep like a nickered child. I’m not one to be knackered, I assure you that, but for the love of God the woman has it all. A queenly Queen, Guinevere, Dulcinea, Margareta, may God smite me dead should I forget a moment’s prayer. Her children stole flowers from their beds, kicking wheels of dust into the blue bluer sky. If I had a knife I’d cut them some manners. Then they’d know what time of day it is, I assure you that. They say he got spilt in a knife fight, pierced in the guts with a bone-handle pig’s ticker. Can’t say as I blame ‘em, cunt probably had it coming, slight fellow that he is. Gardens trampled into muddied gravesites, nosegays scattered from there to Kingdom Come, all those pistils and stamens and cone-shaped hats and that family of miscreants just moved in, wife plays the spinneret on the front stoop, concha española tonta. Can’t say as I blame her, I’d probably do the same if I had a stoop and a hilera vieja.

Jacopo Nuix is no fool, fully clad in a gray moleskin jacket and matching trousers. Nuix, Jacopo Nuix, jumps and leaps, shoulders square, his feet never once touching the ground. I’d probably do the same if I had feet to leap with. I’d jump and leap from here to Kingdom Come, faster than a jackrabbit or a leaping snake. That faster or faster. Can’t say as I blame me. Sits on three legs off-balance kilting. Yellow ivory keys whitened with carpenter’s glue. Can’t say as I blame her. My yellow ivory teeth gleaming. The glassblower, his puffy blue lips moving up and down, told him the story of the ‘sombras sobre vidrio esmerilado’, which took place on a garbage scow that sailed El rio sin orillas. Never quite understanding what he was saying or why he had such puffy blue lips, he sat and listened, enrapt with the glassblower’s tales of revenge and bravery on the high seas.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Composição e Qualidade

He pursed a pocketful of hard bellot corn and high-tailed it westerly, the alms man looking on with saber eyes. ‘well I’ll be damned… and so fleetingly swift’. Thumbtacked over the door to the Brother’s Grimm taverna was ‘composição e qualidade, and then some’, the Grimm brothers laughing bellyfuls. ‘never before have I witnessed such tomfoolery’ said the alms man, his arms seining swimmingly. ‘be that as it may’ offered the grimmest of the brothers, ‘it’s a fool who doesn’t see the grass for the trees’. A tinker from Wolfsburg, know for his ferocious appetite, and a cooper from Modella Birdie, renown the world over for his concentrically perfect barrels, met a carriage builder from Falkirk, the carriage builder known for nothing of import or principle, the three meeting under the broiling noontide sun to discuss there whereabouts of the mislaid whore’s glove. ‘‘tiss a miracle’ said the tinker to the cooper and the carriage builder. ‘a woman running about with only one glove’. ‘and worse’ said the cooper, ‘...with legs all scabby and torn’. 'yes but that’s the nature of her avocation…' said the carriage builder, the tinker interrupting '...you mean trade, not avocation'. ‘yes’ said the cooper, ‘an avocation is nothing more than a passing fancy’, to which the tinker replied ‘and a damn cruel one at that’. Having debated and aroused each other’s slow wit, the three left for whence they came, the tinker riding on the back of an ox, the cooper in a barrel fitted with wheels and a crank and the carriage builder by foot and bravery.

The following morning well before the cock’s crow the man in the hat awoke with a start, his lean-to filled with rainwater, the hammer of his thoughts wildly swinging, the day convened and listing. Next to the hangman’s graveyard, where he went as a boy in search of marbles and carbine shells, some still reeking of creosote and oil, sat an old wooden box frail of life and wormy. For a time Pascual Duarte and his family lived across the street. Mrs. Pascual Duarte liked to play the spinneret on the front porch, the metallic plunk of the strings purring in his ears. Her children stole flowers, trampling the neighbors’ beds and gardens into muddied gravesites. One morning before the cock’s crow he left for the woods behind the house, his da’s bone-handle penknife hidden in his sock. In his head he heard the voice saying, “...I'm not made to philosophize, I don't have the heart for it. My heart is more like a machine for making blood to be spilt in a knife fight....( Camilo José Cela, The Family of Pascual Duarte) the sun rising slowly into the sky.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Olomoucké Syrecky

Slavo Šerc fabula dresses in Wellington britches and wooly knee-socks. Its cold, mercilessly cold outside the five-mile fence. Mutis Maqroll and Guaviare Álvaro could give a rat’s ass if the sky fell, each in his own way feeling little sympathy for beggars and shortstops. Slavo Šerc fabula lives in a bedsit above the Greek Deli now owned by the dogmen. He stops short before he reaches the door, stopping to comb his hair and smile in the hallway mirror. He abhors the Flems and merchant-traded sausages. ‘I’ll tell you this… nary is the man who can keep up with me, the galloping rubberneck that I am’. Stopping to raceme his hare he looks at his reflection in the mirror: a man beside himself full of anger and dread. ‘I’m not quite home yet… but mark my words I’ll be there soon!’ Maqroll and Álvaro make a mockery of chicken, faces red as a cock’s cock. ‘abed sleeping is where I should be’ he said, a mirror-image of himself glaring back. ‘not counting the days left before the Feast of the Acolyte’.

The cembalo stood four-nags high. The violist ran his bow across the strings, an inharmonious moan issuing from the instrument’s bowls. The Witness struck his head against the cinderblocks, fays of mortar crumbling onto his trousers and the tops of his shoes. ‘I’ll be damned’ whispered the Witness, careful not to draw attention to himself. ‘they’re making a mockery of me’.

Holding up a piece of torn paper on which was written Olomoucké Syrecky cheese, available at your finer grocers, dry goods store and Farnborough and Zephyrhills Bodega, cordial yours Chagatai Manuela’, he smiled as broadly as a man’s face could possibly smile. As he was of the opinion that a good ripe cheese could remedy whatever ails one, powders and liniments, salves and hardy mustard poultices as useless as a garlic bath, he went in search of a block of Olomoucké Syrecky. As this was unlikely to happen, cheese panaceas a rarity, even among the doctoral, the letters affixed to their names a testament to an arrogant demeanor, he settled for a mustard poultice with sea kelp and garlic.

Friday, December 04, 2009

El Dirigible - Juan Carlos Onetti

Beyond the Walls

Knowing what he knew the man in the hat knew very little. He knew what day it was and the colour of the sky, he knew how to roll a roll-your-own and peg his lean-to with a mallet and overhand swing, he was acquainted with birds and fish, dogmen and harridan’s, her sister, too, with whom he was acquainted a year or two before making the acquaintance of her sister the harridan, these things, paltry and few, he knew and knew well. But what does knowing matter? The man in the hat was of the opinion that knowing things, and things that attach themselves to the things like roots growing beneath the surface, hidden from sight, yes, but there just the same, was a waste of time and mental energy. He knew that he would never build a house or repaper a wall; eat anything resembling goo or play pinochle with a three-legged dog. These things he knew, almost. Knowing and being in the know are quite different; knowing requires concentration and mental energy, being in the know slight-of-hand and buffoonery. He much preferred buffoonery and guile, deviousness and cunning. The mundane and ordinary, the monotonous and unexciting, that was his goal, a life lacking lackluster and sheen, ordinary and dull. The sausage merchant’s daughter wears roses in her hair dappled with sunlight and vinegar, her catarrhal smile enchanting man and beast.

I admire the Flemish painters.
Was it easy to give the look of a naked goddess
to the plump mistress of a sausage-merchant?
Though
she could buy silk knickers if she liked
a cow + silken knickers is still a cow
!

(Nazim Hikmet, Beyond the Walls, March 20)

It was here, between the almost and not quite that he made his home. No, that’s not true! He lived on the bottommost floor in a one-room walkup with a picture of Dante overlooking the rectory and the bust of King Olaf. No! He lives outside the five-mile fence with a cat and a bottleful of Gibbs’ Soft Mustard. Of course, yes. Of course. He admires Flemish knee-britches, plump-bellied women and sausage meat. In a hatbox stowed under his cot he keeps a picture of Dante dressed in silken knickers. Following the Feast of the Acolyte he fell asleep coddled in silken sheets and a terrycloth bathrobe. ‘these stairs will be the death of me’ he grumbled. ‘living on the bottommost floor can be a real killer indeed’. Awaking from troubled dreams the man in the hat put on his favorite tan boater and went out into the world, the sky blacker than chaw pitch.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Nâzım Çerkes and Pieter Madly

Pieter Madly swats flies with the Op Ed page of his newspaper, a butchery of guts and wings scabbing his fingertips. Forlorn he goes about his day wondering when the sky will fall. The sky will fall regardless of his wont of the contrary. Nâzım Çerkes, renowned for his passionate undertakings, sat under the bust of King Olaf, the sun dappling his russet brown face. ‘never before have I witnessed such a shameful display of humanity’ said Çerkes to Pieter Madly, both men facing the northernmost corner of the rectory spire. ‘I concur, most certainly’ said Pieter Madly swatting a fly from the bulb of his cauliflower-shaped nose. ‘I dare say the end will come soon…’ said Nâzım. ‘…and none too quickly’ interrupted Madly swatting. ‘but of course there is a way out’ said Çerkes matter-of-factly. ‘and?’ asked Pieter Madly inquisitively. Clearing the rails from his throat Nâzım Çerkes said ‘the missing whore’s glove…it, pray tell, holds the secret to the delivery of humankind from madness and immorality’. Looking on on fire with curiosity Pieter Madly said ‘and where, pray tell, do we find this miraculous glove?’ Clearing the rails from his throat a second time Nâzım Çerkes said ‘that, my dear friend, is a long troubling story’. ‘will you tell me… please do?’ asked Pieter Madly, a second fly alighting on the bulb of his cauliflower-shaped nose buzzing. ‘yes, but first let me tell you the story of the missing whore’s glove’ said Nâzım Çerkes, his own nose abuzz with guts and wings.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Qué Exquis

Raising the jug of Sunday Sherry to his lips Paweł said ‘qué exquis boira’. He lived in a one-room walkup overlooking the cross on top of Mount Parnassus. Raised by a dyspeptic mamma and a sot da he made his way into the world untouched by nurturing hands.

Falgce and Fluhtorh bayed at the moon, their wooly underclothes soaked in urine. Doctor Auber Castorp took the salts in the waters above the tree-line, his head swaddled in stiff linen. The bridge spanning Pont Ivy and Pont Bretagne is longer than the bridge spanning Pont Bretagne and Pont Ivy. Retracing his steps he found himself back where he began. The way back, however, longer than the way there. Upsetting God he knelt in front of the bust of King Olaf. Once lit the lamps glowed like bottled fireflies. As he was nowhere to be seen he was never seen or heard from again. He awoke with a stutter, his head a swarm of bees, the sky outside his window black with rain. ‘with God as my witness I swear I am within my means’ the Witness fell to his knee and prayed, his shirttails pooling beneath his buttocks. Decamping he left the train, his hat quivered under his arm.

“Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare or honorificabilitudinitatibus?” 'beg your pardon?' said the Witness. Falgce and Fluhtorh again said “Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare or honorificabilitudinitatibus?” ‘never before have I heard such nonsense’ said the Witness.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monsieur Hellene

Remembering how to forget he forgot all the bad things in his life. Get out of the way you smarmy git! Auxilio sings doe-ray-me-la-so-tea. Stop that doe-raying can’t you see it’s los fin de siècle? By God and grace shut the door! He forgot to remember forgetting everything he’d remembered to regret. Bounding and leaping he skyrocketed into the great blue, leaving a trail of corn-fed piss in his wake. Presto Desejo fell from such a great height he fractured his collarbone and the hinge that keeps his jaw from falling open. Queretaro de Arteaga and his dog Rinconete are fond of the cool evening breeze blowing in off the bluffs, face and snout pushed into the evening scrimmage.

Decamping from the train he felt a tremor his legs; the elder wheelchair-bound rider spitting a glob of black chaw out the closed window. Enid Pollock and Mary Blyton fell from such a great height, far far above sea level, higher than the highest kite could ever hope to soar, falling into the Le Solidarność, a barge on its way to meet a ship carrying the likes of, and no other than the great tightrope walker and gastromancer Paweł Hellene who was on his way into town to celebrate the biannual Running of the Snakes. ‘so nice to see you monsieur Hellene’ said the Witness in welcome. ‘it has been some time, indeed a year has passed, and none to quickly since your last visit… if I may be so bold, and please correct me if I am mistaken, which I assure you I never am, but…’. Monsieur Hellene, feeling the cool evening breeze blowing in off the bluffs, hair tussled, tresses whipping wildly round his shoulders, cleared his travel weary throat and said ‘shut your git and get me a jug of your worst Sherry… and I don’t mean that dog piss you drink on Sundays!’ Taken aback, his teeth cutting into the back of his jaw, the Witness smiled and went in search of a jug of Sunday Sherry, his thoughts on how best to drowned Paweł Hellene without getting nabbed or upsetting God.

This is how it all began, one man’s search for nonsense in a practical world. Upside or right-side, never the twain shall meet. These are troubling times, tell say so he heard. Right-side or bottommost never shall the train meet. Decamping from the twain he watched a wheelbarrow-bound man throw caution out the window. ‘the next time I see that troublemaker Hellene I’ll give him a good thrashing by God’. The Witness witnessed himself standing cockeyed awaiting the lighting of the lamps, the lamplighter nowhere to be seen. ‘a fine cock of a lackey… leaving the lamps unlit on such a black dreary night’.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mladych Klub

‘what?’ asked the alms man. ‘the absurdity of it’ said Dejesus. ‘of this?’ asked the alms man making a circle with his arms. ‘yes’ said Dejesus. The day began like a daring goose crossing the sideways quacking. You never know when the truck that will smite you is rattling round the corner. Keeps a man two-steps out of the fray dancing. Sils Maria and her lover Klidas spent the afternoon counting tall ships anchored at the Mladych Klub. Jaroslav and Hasek banged up a good-for-nothing first-mate with a lousy outlook on seafaring. ‘what?’ asked Hasek. ‘that no-good-for-nothing stepped on my shoe’ said Jaroslav. His great-granddad fought the Second Battle of Ypres over and over again in his head. His great-grandmamma lit the pilot light with a canary-yellow wooden match, the flames scorching the overhead salt and pepper shelf. Marcelle Spottiswoode fought shoulder to shoulder with his great-granddad, overtaken by gas he fell dead in a man-size trench. His great-granddad had nightmares of men gassed dead falling into trenches. Men smote dead by men with better weapons and bigger helmets. Falling into man-size holes trenched in the dirt by men not yet overtaken dead with gas. His great-granddad fought in the gas trenches in the Second Battle of Ypres.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cielo de la Puta

This is not the time for dillydallying. Time is momentary and fleeting, not durational or all-consuming. Time is reckoned in minutes, seconds and hours, not in hammer strikes and uppercuts. Uproars beget pandemonium’s beget mayhem beget chaos beget upheavals and tumults beget rackets and hullabaloos. Mayhem begets bedlam begets anarchy begets disarray. Nestor Sargent, lifting the latchkey well over his head, belayed ‘best keep your feet aboveboard… the seas are crummy this time of year’. Never before had he thought that the sea would toss him overboard tacked as he was to the planking. The silverfish floundered swimming lazily alongside the boat, dorsal fins cutting a piano-wire thin incision in the blue green water. He felt like a rock bottom fish swimming against the encroaching tide. Wave upon wave crashing, booming, in his ears. Eyes sisal red and weepy. The back of his head spun with kelp and seagrass. Gulping breath after gasping breath of ocean spray, a din raging in his heart and liver, the outside world spinning round around and round. ‘best keep your feet aboveboard… keeps a man hale and undrowned’.

(That summer his da got la palmada from a puta dentada torcida, La señora del Cielo de la Puta, una cara grave puta with a quick temper, threatening him with la maldición de la puta if he didn’t keep his chancrous yap shut).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nestor Sargent

Suddenly, unexpectedly, the man in the hat felt a burning pain his leg. This was not the first time a discomfit had careworn him. He concocted a concoction of salves and ointments, fulminating the wound with Rhamnousia’s palliative and Gelderland’s tonic. Arhus Risskov concocts the most mercurial unguents, filtering the concoctions through tripe and corn-fed gizzard. ‘oh but what I wouldn’t do for a Risskov’s tonic’ said the harridan to her sister. ‘goes down smoother than a pealed plum’. ‘how eager thou must be’ said her sister, ‘...begotten at Harrogate vicarage and born at Kiernan’s pub’. She slept under a blanket of tripe, gizzards tucked into her boots. We at Risskov’s swear, by Christ, we have the best tonic, bar naught. Eager for a Gelderland’s tonic she set out for Kiernan’s, her sister hot on her heels. ‘you mustn’t leave these things too long… otherwise they get stiff as whiplash’. The Harrogate vicarage keeps stock: soiled bed linen and week-old palliatives and a picture of King Olaf on the cistern wall. Nestor Sargent fell ass over teapot emptying pissbuckets for the Harrogate vicarage, his left hand sullied with other men’s drippings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Delegacy’s Butcher Shop

Outside Delegacy’s butcher shop a three-legged cur hunts the scraps table, her back raised to the moon. Outside Barney Kiernan’s pub Calloway and Berks throw craps and drink bitter ale, the cur wandering into the throwline. And not a moment too soon the sky falls crashing onto their heads, Calloway, Berks and the cur finding safekeeping beneath the buckler’s awning. Thake tripped the buckler sending him bounding head over teapot. Thake was known to eat horse cakes with syrup, shifting the blame for his ruinous life on those few crumbly people who populated his meager sad life.

Annalisa Cuarón, mistress to man and beast, and Orozco Ojørn, man of uncommon endowments, left the train station on a Wednesday, never to be seen or heard from again.

“God bless me, gentle (or it may be plebeian) reader, how eagerly must thou be looking forward to this preface, expecting to find there retaliation, scolding, and abuse against the author of the second Don Quixote--I mean him who was, they say, begotten at Tordesillas and born at Tarragona!”.
(Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Volume II., Author’s Preface)

Scherpenhuyzen Qankejeff, ass, fool and malapert, thinks nothing of jigging the rig with wood sweepings and chokecherries. Quetónoma, malapert, ass and fool sees the world kilted to the left. Scherpenhuyzen Qankejeff and Quetónoma were last seen leaving the train station on a Thursday, their asses kilting to the right.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fräulein Breitbach

The legless man crawled out of the ditch exhausted and none the better for wear. He was no stranger to wells and ditches; though when it came to falling he preferred ditches to wells. Clapping the dust from his pant’s legs he read the sign over the door to Consolas’s taverna, 'Enter at Your Own Hazard!' ‘I dare say I’m up to it… no truer man am I’.

He covered his hat in vark. This, he figured, would prevent the microwaves from coddling his thoughts, currying them into a soupy rue. Reif, a vark fanatic of enormous rein, cautioned him against applying too much gold skin on his head, fearing it might disintegrate his brain or cause a inoperable tumor. That winter he rented a room at the Hotel zum Blauen Kreuz, Fräulein Breitbach serving him breakfast and straightening his bed sheets. ‘deixe por favor a placa na cama’. That winter the whore’s dog died from the whooping. That summer a savant was born to a woman with pale yellow skin. That autumn she sold her savant child to a rag peddler with grey brown eyes and a cudgel foot. The North Harrogate Curates are in cahoots with the Northallerton Barbers, the twain meeting behind the Alperton Abattoir Saturdays and Wednesdays after seven. Saturday before the first snow flew one of the North Harrogate Curates found a swaddling under a faggot of sticks, the pale yellow skinned woman’s savant child bundled in oilcloth and rags. He swore he’d never let a woman steal his heart twice. ‘stay away from pale yellow skinned women’ said his mamma, ‘…they’ll crush your heart’.

Gwinnett hat das die grössten grey brown eyes… the blacks whiter than the whites. Standing cocksfooted the buckler hailed a cab, the hack stopping on the edge of a dime. Then he hailed a second third and fourth, a column of cabs queuing as far as the eye could see. ‘that’ll teach you’ he said, ‘that and a pointy stick in the eye’. The clock on the clocktower struck 7½ past the hour, the custodian screaming ‘awls well that ends well’, the sky turning red green blue and pomegranate.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Caballo de Pegamento

Painted in white lye on the guardrail he read:

And sought renown on Rocinante mounted;
Here, underneath this cold stone, doth he lie
. (Ibid)

How odd indeed he thought: a Spanish ne’er-do-well and a Caballo de Pegamento. Never shall the twain meet. Vilém de Flossier rides sidesaddle, his rump galloping across the open plains. A man of such gainful abilities need never explain a thing. They drank tic-tac under a jaundice yellow moon, gulping and eructating like sniggling pigs. ‘there aren’t many horses like yours left in the world’. ‘and those few there are are fit for the pegamento factory’. Brushstroked on the back wall of the Consolas’s taverna he read:

A man’s house is his Consolas’s; Here
Doth he lie underneath this cold stone
.

Doffing his cap he doth act like a maudlin fool. Ne’er-do-well, his manner and gallop is fit for a gabber. Men like him cantor not, preferring rump galloping across the open plains. Under the stable-post he kept a pot of glop for riposting the stiles, the glue-brush stiff sticky and wiggly loose. ‘Gwinnett hat das die grössten areolas’ offered the post-digger. ‘and my leben but she is sweet’ added the ne’er-do-well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Curate and the Barber

…whether he was cured of his madness or still suffered from it, and then begged leave to continue his journey; in short, they all separated and went their ways, leaving to themselves the curate and the barber.” (ibid) The carter yoked Catullus (who suffered with mono-onomastikos) to Cratylus, Dario and Argento bridled to the muleteer’s wagon. Giallo and Mulock swan the Guadix channel backwards, Yolande Rose and Joséphine Cardinale inflamed over a lost glove, pilfered, so they believed, by Sergio Ferzetti, who took off in a gallop on the back of his trusty Rocinante. ‘we have no time for this nonsense’ preached the Witness madly. ‘in times of strife and pestilence a man must find his cantor, not gallop off like a woebegone ass’. Awaking from his dreams the man in the hat found a summons pinned to his lean-to flap. The rector’s assistant requests your presence immediately . Please come quickly please. And thank you. Throwing the summons into the rainspout the man in the hat lay down and forced himself back to sleep, hoping and praying that he could revisit the dream he had awoken from a few minutes earlier.

(Author’s aside: I am a phenomenologist, per say… everything I see, feel, touch, etc. has gone through a reduction, even, per say, my own reduction).

They drank tic-tac under a black opium sky, Pelléas et Mélisande sucking him stiff as whiplash, her head making slapping noises against the footboard. Reduced to a mere shell of a man he took a pull of tic-tac, her lips making a smacking noise like wetness. Witnessing the Witness witnessing he saw a man deprived of common sense for whom the world and the people in it were objects for the taking, measly cunt that he was. Some days were better tempered than others, today being no different than the day that preceded it. The image of Pelléas et Mélisande sucking stiffened him, a picric of sugared apricots dancing in his thoughts; things he once coveted but were taken away from him, even in thought.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Los Violadores

‘Ŝi estas ensorĉo graveda grasa’. The Seder Grocer hired a pale skin girl to wipe down the butcher’s counter. Her belly, swollen with new life, sagged below her hips, the grocer’s stomach pinched with cardamom and lentils, the stock pot left to simmer on the stovetop. She slept with her backup against the stars, a daffodil marigold nosegay clutched gamely in her hands. ‘my but you have such pale ashen skin’ said the grocer gaping at his new hire. ‘and such beautiful red auburn hair’. ‘ensorĉo graveda grasa’ said the pale auburn new hire. ‘yes I see’ said the grocer, ‘and what a beautiful swollen belly it is’. On her hands she wore alpaca gloves with goat skin, and on her feet fish shoes with eel soles. Unsheathed he wielded his epee “which the buckler could not protect against the clownish assault (Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote) and slew the monstrous ogre. Chiclana sleeps beneath the moon-filled sky. The Mulhouse sisters sleep with both eyes open. The Celbridge sisters of county Kildare fish for curds behind the Monument Creamery. The stoutly buckler sat beneath an apricot yellow moon, his awl sheared down to tin-ash. And not a moment too soon the sky fell crashing onto their heads, each to a one jigging round the onion-board groaning. ‘ensorĉo grasa’ whispered the new hire, ‘estas graveda’. The congregates pelted Los Violadores with stones and broken bottles; expecting Los Graveda Grasa they were itching for a punch up. The Feast of the Redeemer ended with 27½ men downed by pelting and kicking, the ½ felled halfway to his knees and then onto his back. A woman in fish shoes cobbled past, her hair pulled back into a straight-pin bun. ‘my my what pale ashen skin you have’ said the stoutly buckler. ‘Ŝi estas ensorĉo graveda grasa’ bellowed the Celbridge sisters of county Kildare, the moon-filled night aglow. On the 27th day of the 7th month the Sisters of the Immaculate Deception arrived for the Feast of the Redeemer, the congregates welcoming them with outstretched arms, a child with a nosebleed holding out a nosegay of marigolds and daffodils.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Los Boyos et Los Détentes

Amazonas sisters dress in cockleshell blouses and red ruby red shoes. Unlike the Kallisto sisters, Oreias and Erinyes, who sleep escarped under a blanket of sparkly bright stars, the Amazonas sisters sleep underneath scratchy horsehair blankets. Dearest aunt Alma makes the most delicious raspberry tarts. 25 pea a half-dozen a dozen a half-crown. Aunt Alma dear tucks the edges with the whites of her fingernails, curbing the bottommost crust with a straight razor. Her tarts are know far and wide for their oozing red berry filling. He sat puzzled and wet under the mutton gray sky eating sweet mouthfuls of raspberry treacle tart. ‘tomorrow is Ship’s Day surely’ he quibbled, ‘...or the day after tomorrow, or after that...’. He offered the sisters a bite of red berry tart, the sisters giggling like schoolgirls. ‘no thank you’ said the sisters, ‘…our stomachs’ are about to burst’. Upon awaking, which he did at 27½ minutes passed the hour, he reached for the last morsel of tart, his stomach growling, lips smacking. ‘bursting stomachs. I best keep my distance surely’.

The night came and went, leaving a slight trace of darkness behind. (Los Boyos abhor Los Détentes). Néstor Tolosa and his bride to be Elizabet Fernández live in a one-room walkup over los Partido Justicialista. Los Mambos De Rastreó, a well-received pantomime group, came and went, leaving nothing behind. ‘bursting stomachs. I best keep my distance surely’. Grumbling his stomach swelled, steam escaping through his naval. ‘Giulia!’ shouted Néstor, ‘your stomach is bursting’. Giulia glared sternly at Néstor Tolosa, betroth of Elizabet Fernández, her eyes red as bloodshot. ‘how dare you sir, my stomach is none of your concern!’ The sisters giggled like schoolgirls, jiggling their auburn red tresses. At 27½ minutes passed the hour, not a moment before, Ship’s Day commenced, a gulag of throwbacks and scalawags queuing for funnels of pink cotton candy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Counting Clouds

Marušić carried a picture of his mamma in a blue dress wearing a pair of the Vincennes Co’s. finest gloves holding a twisted nosegay. Alex Degrande and Simon Drogue tend to the animals, feeding the dogs, horses and oxen from nosebags. The Antinomianist’s congregate behind the Waymart. Unbeknownst to all Marušić jacked the ball and called in nines, the largest fattest Antinomianist yowling ‘yuck yak a daisy… give it back you scoundrel’. Not one to be batfowled by simpletons and dolts Marušić let go with a resounding fart, too to toot to too to toot, his spit-valve willowing the wisp. This is nonsense, pure and simple. All this is is it not? ‘the library is closed’ announced the head librarian sternly, ‘so do go home… please do’. The last time this happened the sky fell, or almost did fell. It did fell almost the sky did that day that last time. All things fell falling almost at the same same time that last time. They did did they that time? The horses and oxen ate from nosebags, the dogs from plastic bowls laid out under the starlit sky. Alex Degrande and Simon Drogue congregate behind the Waymart, the Antinomianist’s having gone home. ‘Ship’s Day falls on a Thursday, not on a Sunday’ said the man in the hat, ‘surely’. The day had taken its toll on the man in the hat, his head sore as trampled ants and bayberries. Its never too late (nor too soon) to learn a new trick.

Blattzinn & Stagniol stood under the Waymart awning counting clouds in the rue gray sky. 1,2,4 7, 1000 they counted. 1001, 2000, naught. Counting they recounted those they saw twice, but in different configurations and places in the sky. They wore tin-foil caps punched out and folded to fit snuggly on the crown of the head.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tales of Intrigue and Folly

Dejesus, not one to underestimate stupidity, threw prudence to the wind and asked for his money back. ‘surely you can’t expect me to accept this?’ he said shaking foot to toe. ‘its practically torn in half?’ ‘posada missioners’ replied the agent, ‘muerte blanca… sí hará el truco’. Not having the faintest idea what the agent was saying Dejesus again demanded his money. ‘you, sir, underestimate my fury’. ‘y usted, sir, subestime mi mañosidad’ said the agent boldfaced. His head aching like a boiler he removed his shoes and lay them sole-side-up on the muddy ground in front of him. Breaking a toothpick-size twig from an elm overhead, its canopy stretching as far as the eye could see, he tatted the mud from between the crepes. Clapping the shoes together like castanets, carobs of dirt falling onto the dry grass, he craned his neck upwards, the sun bathing his face in warmth and bliss. ‘tomorrow's the 10th of yesterday’ he mused, his eyes darting to and fro. ‘the day before Boat Day’. Stretching out under the yawing elm, canopied beneath its chartreuse arbor, he said a prayer ‘God forgive me for I stole an apple from the grocer’s bushel… I beg your forgiveness blessed The’. Hearing nothing, not a peep, he recued himself and went about the day, basking in his ungodliness.

Fiume and Abruzzi stole away in the guts of a scow, eating mangos and salted meat and singing as loud as their lungs would permit”.1

The sign over the door to the apothecary read, ‘Quite Por Favor Sus Cauchos’. The sign over the lavatory read, ‘y, estaba por favor la esperma de sus manos’. ‘Gracias los caballeros y las señoras’ said the cigar store Indian propped up against the register. Of a sudden a parade of younkers and squibs stole in passed the dispensing counter, the apothecary assistant trying valiantly to oversee the oversight of having left the front door unbolted. Every year without fail the day before Ship’s Day fell on a Sunday. The sign over the cotton candy stand read ‘la esperma de sus manos’, anguishing those who hadn’t bothered to wear gloves and those who suffered from Quinsy’s Chill, known to grieve a man to pots, the man in the hat among the unvanquished. ‘have you no mercy?’ cried out a man with a fine-looking cowlick. ‘shut the door and sit down’ quipped a woman sporting a flashing smile, her ears turned out under her bonnet. ‘surely this isn’t happening’ said the man in the hat, the cigar store Indian staring at him mockingly. ‘surely we are mistaken... Ship’s Day falls on a Thursday, not on a Sunday’.

Abruzzi et Fiume, Tales of Intrigue and Folly, 1889.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Gorman Bros. Apothecary

He walked from Appenzell Innerrhoden to Appenzell Ausserrhoden, stopping once to retie his shoe and enjoy a birdlike sandwich roll. After consuming the sandwich roll, delighting in the viands and fruity peppers, he turned and walked backwards, the early morning sun shining down on his cheery countenance. ‘what a day’ he said to himself, ‘...banal yet satisfying just the same’. Wrapping the crusts in the Gladtidings Weekly, Patrick O'Driscoll tourniquet to Honora Cahirgarriff, he retied his shoe a fourth time then set out for home, a static buzzing echoing in his ears.

The Gorman Bros. Apothecary carry face creams and foot oils, Dead Sea facial scrubs, for the woman who needs a leg up in the morning, sore throat lozenges and cough suppressants, lard candies and tasteless pastels, tar, ten-penny nails and truepenny screws, washers, bolts and bunghole mallets, levels and planes, mercurochrome bandages and syphilis tablets, one per customer. The morning he was born his father fell from a great height. He fell into the street below, the draymen catching him in a blanket.

What more can one say when one has said nothing? The man in the hat fell from a great height into the day, the draymen nowhere to be seen. Aarschot and Brabant stood admiring the Admiral’s Duffy unaware that the man in the hat was staring. At them. Walking backwards sideways he made his way towards the statue, stopping just long enough to gawk at the Admiral’s Duffy, the Admiral teething him a broad-faced smile. ‘perhaps I could interest you in a lozenge’ he said to Brabant, Aarschot staring at him suspiciously. Seeing as neither man cared for his solicitous manner, he himself lolling on a freshly unwrapped lozenge, he bolted sideways forwards and vanished into thinning air. ‘gladtidings my arse’ he grumbled, ‘never a truer penny trued’.

The morning he was born his da threw himself headfirst out the hospital window. The Seder grocer, noticing a slumping in his awning called out ‘my God an angle has fallen from the sky!’ ‘sure enough’ said a man picking through a bushel of apples. ‘...and straight as an arrow’ said another man, his hands shaking uncontrollable. Rolling himself off the slumping awning his da brushed off his jacket and hurried down the street, the grocer yelling ‘stop thief… you have an apple in your pocket!’

The Hold Steady - The Swish

Friday, November 06, 2009

Crum’s Bleach

The harridan came down with scrub typhus, ‘serves you right’ scolded her sister ‘you should be more careful with your mouth’. The apothecary agent dispensed a Trombicula Neotrombicula anti-agonist, cautioning ‘this is a cunt to get rid of… so keep your legs closed and your mouth shut’. Pull the ole muffler ova your knows bye Jesus. She made a poultice with Crum’s bleach and an old washrag. Placing it on her forehead she lay down lengthwise on the floor, her arms folded across her breasts. Daisy’s clap started in her shoes and moved end-to-end into her shinbone. It lay dormant for a fortnight and a day, the chills and fever subsiding, then progressed into the soft bones in her sternum. On the second fortnight it moved from her breastplate into her jawbone, where it stayed put for another fortnight and a half. From her jawbone it transmigrated to the crown of her head. And after another fortnight and ½, the smell of Crum’s bleach turning her stomach, it escaped through a borehole drilled in her fontanel, the yellowy vile substance collected in a kidney-shaped saucepan held aloft her ear by the apothecary agent’s wife. ‘that’ll teach you to keep your mouth to yourself’ scolded her sister, her hands gesticulating maddeningly.

He glanced through the Anniversaries and Gladtidings page of the Weekly, his eye fetched by the wedding announcements: Burchel, John and Driscoll Mary Castletownbere, Costello, Augustine E O'Driscoll and Kate (or Catherine) Castletownbere, Crowley, John Driscoll (Minihane) and Johanna Castletownbere Driscoll, Jeremiah Harrington (Caobach) and Mary Allihies Finch, Brendan O'Driscoll and Ann Castletownbere, Paddy O'Driscoll and Katie Allihies Gortahig, Joe O'Driscoll and (Abbey Philomena) Kelly, Pad (or Patrick) O'Driscoll (Minihane) and Honora Cahirgarriff Lynch, Tade O'Driscoll and McCarthy, Edmund O'Driscoll and Catherine Adrigole, Patrick O'Driscoll and Patricia Castletownbere (owner and sole proprietor of the Grocery Shop, Fish Tackle, Radio/TV) McCarthy, Johnny and (Murt) O'Driscoll (Minihane), (O'Driscoll), John Houlihan and Mary Eyeries Cummeendeach wed in a group service at the Gorman Filing House just outside the Five-Mile Fence.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Blue Mouldy

They whored for a fortnight and a day, backs bent double like lowly sinners. He was feeling blue mouldy for a fight, all that bucking and her throwing back her head and the smell of diaper ointment and Crum’s bleach made him navy for a fist-up. “Restitution of conjugal rights”[1] he said loudly under his breath. ‘I heard that somewhere… on the bally it was, chappy bastard laid the comeuppance on me’. Daisy’s clap prêt near slew her, all her hair and eyelashes falling out. Never can tall wend nor hew. Last time she all muss lust hen eye. …whores its cruel out: coal enough fur kittens and a cat. Pull the ole muffler ova your knows bye Jesus. When he started to think like this, in circles and strays, he knew the jig was up; it was only a matter of time before the wind would hearse him willy-nilly home, back bent-double staring starry-eyed at his shoes.

The man in the hat found a letter in the coffee can outside his lean-to awning. Still feeling blue mouldy from the night before he put the letter in his breast pocket and went about his day. On cold days he sniffed sweet ether from a takeout bag, holding in the vitriolic gas until his neck muscles bulged.

[1] Ibid

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Molaño de Salamanca

‘if the sky doesn’t fall tomorrow I’ll take a stroll over to Middletown to see the new jakes… I hear tell its got a sparkling glass seat’. Long before it was unpopular he was reading books about magic and alchemy, folios and scholarly texts on miming and unconscious reasoning; he read until his eyes bled and his nose ran, he read and reread until he couldn’t feel the tips of his fingers, he read upon waking and upon retiring to bed, reading in between appointments and school trips. He was well into his thirties before he realized that all that reading had given him eyesore eyes, his eyelids twig-brittle from salty night-sweats and uncontrollable blinking. ‘nonetheless even should the sky fall tomorrow I will still make my way west to Middletown, stopping only to refresh my memory and slake my thirst’. Whenever he recalled these times he couldn’t help but laugh; all those wasted hours jacking the ball and counting to one-thousand backwards, measly matters of choice and crap reasoning. He’d much rather have spent his time eating warm jammy tarts or spotting turtles with an upturned rake.

(You might ask why, why so many characters, so many troubles, so much confusion and madness? Because I can and I must, and nothing more nor less will do).

Having no legs the legless man had no need for shoes or boots, his stump-ends well cared for with reason and cheesecloth bunting. On the other hand the alms man suffered from podiatric dystopia, both feet pointing in the same direction, to the left, and corns the size of plums. Sometimes reason can indeed be very unreasonable. Molaño de Salamanca shoed his oxen and set out for Borgomanero y Lombardia, Castilla the fool close on his heels. Castilla would rather be at the heel of a fishcart eating warm jammy tarts or spotting turtles with an upturned rake, anything but in the service and company of Molaño de Salamanca. Molaño de Salamanca and his abet Castilla were never seen or heard from again, Borgomanero y Lombardia enveloping them into her flatbone ivory bodice.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Of Hygiene and Prophylactic

Vigo Darzere sleeps under old lady Tregonwell’s stoop, his long gamy legs woven into the latticework. When he is not striking wooden matchsticks off the stone foundation he can be found sitting in front of the public library across the street from the alms man. Written in emerald ink on the foundation stone of the library was the following,

Of hygiene and prophylactic to which should be added suggestions concerning preliminary wetting of the head and contraction of the muscles with rapid splashing of the face and neck and thoracic and epigastric region in case of sea or river bathing, the parts of the human anatomy most sensitive to cold being the nape, stomach and thenar or sole of foot?... Dietary: concerning the respective percentage of protein and caloric energy in bacon, salt ling and butter, the absence of the former in the lastnamed and the abundance of the latter in the firstnamed”.
[1]

He sat four feet to the right of the bust of King Olaf, just enough to ensure an unobstructed view of the sleeping prince. The sleeping prince, his eyelids aquiver with holystones and torturous dreams, had fallen asleep while awaiting the arrival of the circus. Feet unshod and sockless, his oxcart tethered to the lamppost unsteadily, he fell in and out of sleep like a drunken chump, the sort of sap men of good measure avoid at all cost. Vigo Darzere struck a match against the sleeping prince’s oxcart, and holding the flame jittery over his hatless head intoned, ‘always loafing on the job, those crazy Jesuits’. Tossing the extinguished match onto the ground in front of him, Vigo let out a long drawn out yawn, the back of his throat scabbed with tapeworm bites and pokes from the stick he used to clear his throat, a milky dribble collecting on the pad of his tongue. Rapidly he shoed the oxen and hightailed it northward, the oxen’s dung-scabby tails trailing behind them. As tomorrow was the day the Deacon gave his perennial exegesis on the Icon Rasputin, every one was in a rush to get home before dark, even Vigo Darzere who had no interest in Russian sexpots or iconography.

[1] James Joyce, Ulysses

Monday, November 02, 2009

Dorset Conurbation

Mostly he liked it when the circus came to town in the middle of July when the sky stayed light past ten o’clock. That way he could see jumping up and down from the back seats behind the tent flap. His granddad sat at the front clacking his tongue and making the face of Jehovah, his grandmamma hiding behind her handbag writhing. On account of she had a bad heart she had to be careful not to let her temper get the best of her and snap one of the veins in her neck. His great-granddad recited The Rape of the Lock before and after lunch,

What dire Offence from am'rous Causes springs,
What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things,
[1]

his face a mess of busted vessels and eyesores. His grandmamma grew up in the Bournemouth Dorset Conurbation, her own mamma reading Poe’s The Sleeper before and after breakfast,

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim
,
[2]

the breeze in the curtains wildly flapping. Wymore Tregonwell the apothecary agent dispensed to Mrs. Elmira Clemm a stool softener, and to Ms. Virginia Royster a mild epagogic. The imbecile Sphären delivered tinctures and tablets by bicycle, stopping every so often to retie his shoe or take a piss. He watched him from his bedroom window gliding effortlessly down the street in front of his house, sidesaddle stuffed with vials and little boxes, his cock crowning through his open fly, old lady Tregonwell covering her face in horror.

[1] Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
[2] Edgar Allan Poe, The Sleeper, 1831

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lecher de Cabra México

Toda Saitama, lecher de cabra México stood admiring his reflection in the window, passersby grumbling under their hats, vainglorious is a blessed curse, makes a monkey out of an otherwise sane man. The man in the hat remembered that drizzly late October morning when the sky fell toppling onto his favorite tan boater, the earflaps snapping, the brim folding up, the smell of bursting clouds and singed rain. All those other stories, tales told by morons and imbeciles, paled in comparison.

He came down with Agony Fever, his granddad bringing it back with him from a trip to Dunakeszi to see the Pest Syphilistarium, El Giral fixing him up with a spoon and a tincture of all-cure. ‘fuck it!’ said his granddad, ‘never heard of a man dying of the jitters’. Makes a man want to sell all his things and head headlong west. …or not… I suppose. Aslant the cabman’s tack taking notes and carryalls with a two leaded pencil. Sad sot doesn’t have the wherewithal to make a missive stick. …slanting the clap with two feet in the tucker’s gin. Skinniest fuck I ever seen! Truth be known. That winter his da bought him a shinny stick for a twofer, hid it in the close with the dog’s bowl. Funniest thing I say I ever seen. His granddad recited Faust before and after dinner,

Toward whom the withering breast doth strain-
Ye gush, ye suckle, and shall I pine thus in vain?
[1]

his grandmamma full of anger and stew sitting aslant him. ‘enough of your gibbering’ she’d say, the veins in her neck bulging, his granddad’s stomach hanging over the edge of his chair. Fattest Faust I ever seen, and I seen my fair share. And a fun time was had by all, mostly.

[1] Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Der Tragödie erster Teil

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dante’s Chin

J. Renfrewshire bought his son a toy horse for his fifth birthday, his son eating the head, bridle and the rider’s gunnysack. They sent their son to the boy’s asylum in Hauptstraße, their son eating the nurse matron’s hat, a stool leg and Dante’s chin. The Renfrewshire’s lived in a white and blue house across the street from the man in the hat’s blue and white house, the two children sharing a keen dislike for one another. Poor sot hasn’t a cake tin to eat from, gristles ‘em down to stubs, his teeth. Hear tell that sickly fellow knows a thing or two about the old in and out, sure enough. Doesn’t give a dodder’s cuss about some Italian cunt’s chin, waste of time and bother he says so. Shakes those kind of things off like a green-fin, too many woebegone to remember when and why come. Always been that way as long as I can tell, and that’s a damn long time so it is. Had a chocolate layer cake for his seventh birthday, laced with icing and hard silver candies, enough to make the teeth in your head fall out, sure enough. And sweeter than a coddler’s ass it was… banging kettle over cake tin into Dante’s chin like a Hauptstraße waif. Fucking unpleasing it was! His da never made that mistake again; sent the dog it’s papers and called it a night. Like trying to balance a cake tin on the chimney chin chin of your chin… makes a fine mess so. Ate a whole tin of cake he did. And then some.

The Dead (Michael Furey)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jalisco Please Send Help!

On his eighth birthday his da and mamma bought him a feather duster to clean Dante’s head. "In that case," said the canon, "take all the beasts there, and bring the sumpter mule back."[1] His da and mamma had a dog with a crooked tail that slept in the woolshed behind the house, the dog blinder than a cave of bats. He took the picture of Dante off his bedroom wall and hung it on a nail in the dog house. Not knowing Dante from a bone the dog licked the frame and slobbered all over Dante’s chin. Dante don’t mind much said his da further complicating his hatred for his parents.

“Jalisco please send help! …my condition is worsening, watery stool, abdominal cramping, and a bloating nausea overcoming me… and weight loss, all after swimming in flint river… I implore you… be swift! François”. He placed the note back where he found it and walked out into the street, the sun throwing cherrybombs across the blacktop. The day his dog got run over he slept in the dog house under the picture of Dante. His mamma said dogs and trucks don’t know any better.

On his eighteenth birthday he left home and took up with the Herstal Liege pantomime troop, Dr. Sickly figuring that such a sickly boy with such awful manners must have some exploitable skills.

[1] Ibid

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brothers Quay - Institute Benjamenta

Glanz auf der Nase

(Abel Cromwell has two fingers on his left hand and three on his right and hair as red as copper wire. He, Abel Cromwell, I will no longer write about, Abel Cromwell will remain a mystery. I have that right, more or less).

The Elmhurst Boys swing their cudgels at those passersby who look weakly and grim, loping off a head here and an ear there. ‘Glanz auf der Nase’ they scream, ‘off with your head!’ …fascinating!

Inscribed with a hens-tooth on a scrap of eggwhite parchment he read and reread and red the following, “…inflamed against vice, and in love with virtue…
[1]…fascinating! Moving one leg over the other he sidled backwards, never once loosing his balance or falling Heathrow. ‘these are strange times’ he castled. ‘indeed’.

On his seventh birthday (which came on a Thursday) his mamma and da gave him a picture of Dante to hang on his bedroom wall. Unwrapping Dante’s head he felt a edginess in his fingers. Never before, nor again, did he feel such repulsion for his parents and birthdays.

The Kallisto sisters, Oreias and Erinyes, swing their cudgels at those passersby who look weakly and grim, knocking off a hat here and a bonnet there. ‘off with your head!’ they scream ‘Glanz auf der Nase’. …fascinating!

[1] Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hector and Aquitaine

Verlag yanked hard on his mamma’s skirts, ‘mamma, mamma the clowns are frightening me’. ‘wipe your mouth’ said his mamma loudly. ‘but they’re staring at me mamma’ he wept. ‘that’s none of your business’ replied his mamma, ‘now is it?’ Hector and Aquitaine waved their big white gloved hands at him, Hector slapping Aquitaine on the back laughing. That summer the circus came to town twice, once in May and once in late August. Chakra the choker went twice, Verlag at the end of August. The man in the hat went three times, twice in May and once in early July. Later that summer, long after the circus had packed up and left town, leaving behind a circle of brown grass and three overflowing buckets of stale beery piss, the man in the hat found a hatbox squished between a boulder and a tree, and in that hatbox he found three whore’s gloves and a note, ‘to whomever finds this box please, if you can and may, find the missing and fourth glove, her sisters miss her dearly’. Toting the hatbox home under his arm, the man in the hat mused ‘first I must find the Vincennes Glove Company… then steal my way passed the guards’.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chakra the Choker

He threw up a sour bellyful of candy floss and two half-cooked caramel apples, his da admonishing him for being a lousy son. He stood in the corner of the tent with his back to the clowns, his shirt a gravid of candy floss and caramel apples. The Hogeschool Voor Elementary school, across the street from the Voor Hogeschool Grammar school, taught not so smart young boys how to mind their manners, the parents and guardians of these boys more than happy to pay a full-size fortune to guarantee their children were groomed and ready to reenter society.

Chakra the choker lives under an abandoned warplane behind the circus tent. It is here that he takes his mess and hand-washes his raggedly clothes. As a boy he caught the croup and was ordered to stay in bed for the first seven years of his despicable life. His mamma, a whore of a woman with maize yellow teeth threw her son out onto the streets on his eighth birthday, having no more cause to care for him at home. The day after he left she burned his bed in a bonfire behind the house with his raggedly child’s clothes and a wooden horse given to him on his second birthday by the doctor who delivered him into this miserable of all possible worlds. The day the circus arrived in town Chakra the choker was sitting on the street in front of the Seder Grocer collecting dead swatted flies with the scoop of his hand, the grocer rubbing down a brisket with coarse salt and minced herbs. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Dejesus tattling behind his da, his knees knocking together like mallets, his da scolding him for making them late for the opening act. Pocketing as many dead swatted flies as his pockets could hold, Chakra the choker stood and followed behind them, his pant’s pockets abuzz with half-dead flies and bluebottles. Stopping in front of the flap to the circus tent he pulled in his stomach, forcing the air from his lungs out through the holes in his nose, snot sprouting from his ears and out of the corners of his eyes.

Hidden behind a mollycoddle of bushes and scrub sat a podgy clown wearing a woman’s dress, his fingers bejeweled with rings, his head shorn down to the white of his skull. Yanking on his da’s arm Dejesus asked ‘father why is that man so unhappy?’ To which is da replied ‘pick up your feet when you walk, you’re making a fool of yourself’. Watching from behind a bucket overflowing with stale, berry urine Chakra the choker reached into his pockets and pulled out a handful of dead and half-dead flies and bluebottles, and holding them out in front of him let them go, the dead and half-dead taking flight and storming abuzz over the podgy clown’s shorn white head, the clown not flinching an inch.

Enrique Mussel, MD.

The parsonage doctor asked the rectory assistant for a sampling of his stool, assuring him with a stiff smile that he’d be happy to write him a note of apology should the need arise. ‘breath in, now hold it… fine, just fine’. ‘not in this world nor the next’ dovened Dr. Enrique Mussel. The Dr. removes boils and cankers, pimples and abscesses, syphilitic blebs and gonorrheal flare-up’s, deformities caused by shoddy skin care and excess weight. Over the door, etched with glosser’s acid, is the following 外科. Written in beige ochre-ink below ‘Great books are written in a kind of foreign language’[1]. My goodness me, what next? Her hacking cough brought back memories of orange and yellow Jujubes and caramel apples half-cooked on splintery sticks. Behold man he cried... whom you have besotted. His mamma took him by the ear to the circus, the clowns throwing animal pellets at his poor mamma. ‘eat… eat and be merry’ they clowned, his mamma yanking him by the ear out through the flaps of the musty smelling tent. He never forgave his mamma for letting the clowns make fun of her, the fusty smell of animal pellets lynching in her clothes long after she washed them.

[1] Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve

Friday, October 23, 2009

Buzón de Correos

The next day the man in the hat received a letter in his postbox. Opening the envelope, which he did nimbly, he unfolded the letter, and laying it upon his lap read, ““Please remit an answer ASAP. Thank you in advance for your for your kind adjunction. “…case study swimming everyday over the summer in flint river now you are having gi distress watery stools abdominal cramping bloating nausea and weight loss?”” He felt safe with the knowledge that people like the letter writer existed only in the thoughts of madmen and halfwits. He wondered, out loud and with some vociferation, why the author of the letter repeated ‘for you for you’, such poor grammar striking him as a slight to epistolary correctness. Runcorn Rum is made from the sweetest cane. We here at the Arconcey Distillery assure, and seldom do we mince our words.

All this annularity was making the man in the hat feel woozy. One minute he’s fast asleep ensconced in bed linen, the next he’s startled awake thinking he’s asleep yet awake just the same; some form of somnambulistic alchemy. ‘yaw pooh yawn’ he thought to himself, not certain if he was asleep or awake. He recalled drinking Runcorn Rum with a cheapskate, the cheapskate swindling him out of a pocketful of silver. ‘cad bastard’ he whinnied to himself, ‘...the man should be sketched and quartered’.

The next day the man in the hat received a letter in his buzón de correos. Opening the vellum parcel, calfskin or lambskin, which he wasn’t certain, he read the following looking into the windowpane overlooking the pipe factory across the way, “We here at the Arconcey Distillery assure you that we use the sweetest cane. Our canehands cut cane with alchemic precision. Should you have any queries please don’t hesitate to send us a note, we would be delighted to answer any inquiries. All the best, Harold T. Cowper.” Rubbing bits of loose glue into balls he resheathed the letter and placed it on the windowsill, the sky outside his oilskin casement spitting blue flames. He thought of old flames, mostly ugly ones and one with unpleasant teeth and a hacking cough.

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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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