Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ari, Quepay

Taking a wide berth the alms man opened the morning news, and spreading it across his lap read the following: “This morning at 27½ minutes past the noontime the sky will fall. Authorities suggest staying indoors until 28 minutes past the hour”. The radio announcer, transmitting from the hillsides of Montlimar in the Rhone-Alpes, cleared his throat and said ‘…Tukums Tukuma…’, the radio catching static, the word ‘KOPIDEJA’ clanging and crashing and banging in his head, ‘…Ari, quepay…’ he screamed, the static getting brasher, louder ‘…Arequipa Quechua…’. The train came to a stop, the alms man placing the newspaper on the seat opposite, the sky blue yellow blue. Looking upwards he took in the majesty of the sky. Looking sideways he reached for the door handle. Looking downwards he took hold of his carpetbag and detrained, the redcap lending him a stiffened shoulder. On the opposite platform a child with eyes black as peppercorns darted in and out of the shadows, the loudspeaker over the station door announcing 'KOPIDEJA', LAST STOP BEFORE MONTLIMAR’. He ran into a man holding a sign, "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 spilled in a knife fight..."[1] He asked the man where he could find a cool draught to slake his travel-weary thirst.
[1] Camilo José Cela, La Familia De Pascual Duarte, Círculo de Lectores, Barcelona, 1972

Monday, March 30, 2009


On his travels the alms man met a Vaudevillian Septuagint, the two getting along like a house ablaze. Grapewin the Vaudevillian, formerly the name of a mute ventriloquist, who straining his vocal cords beyond their capacity to contract fell willy-nilly to the stage floor, his wooden doll decapitated in the fall, happening to be in the same town at the same time as the alms man, both men contracted to play the Ole Oboe House. Admiring one another’s skill at gastromancy the two went for a drink, and talking throughout the night missed the morning train; Grapewin falling asleep on the tavern floor, the alms man between two chairs. One day traveling by train between engagements the alms man sat beside a juggler named Thesprotia, the seat they shared divided by a torn armrest and a well-read newspaper. Leaning in, his eyes double-crossed, the juggler said ‘…so, you know that cad bastard Grapewin…?’

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Montoises and priestly pats béing in low supplié the alms man begged for mercy and wooden nickels, never once flinching or batting an eyelash. A mealworm corkscrewed across the sideways, its body segmented in two, each half going its separate way. Agog, the alms man said ‘…had I moment’s rest I’d scotch the poor thing back together...’. When he was a boy the alms man hunted for worms and strays in the fields behind his house. He developed a keen dislike of authority, didacts figuring low on his scale of likeable things, cad bastards somewhere between dolt and imbecile.

When he turned seventeen he took up gastromancy, studying under the great ventriloquist Pūthia of Athens. He carpentered together a wooden doll with odds and ends of wood left behind after the workmen finished building the addition to the Waymart. He fashioned a jaw out of scrap metal, using a safety-pin hinge to move it up and down, which was accomplished by clapping the hinge back and forth like a pair of castanets. He made a wig from his grandmamma’s favorite skein, dying it blue to distinguish it from his own hair, which was mousy and thick as north moss.

After his tutelage with the great Pūthiac came to an end, which took 27½ months, he took to the road, his dream to become the best ventriloquists the world had ever seen. The day he turned 27 his eyes went all milky, the doctor diagnosing cataracts; the cure, an overnight stay in the overnight sanitarium where he would pay witness to physical oddities and cruel deformations far more heinous than his own. When he left the overnight sanitarium, having stayed a fortnight, he traveled to the farthest ends of the earth, never to be seen or heard from again until the day he arrived in town, where he took to begging for alms in front of the library and playing jack the ball against the Seder grocer’s storefront window.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The History of Spitting

Every Friday morning at 7;27 his great granddad delivered fish to the Church of the Perpetual Sinner, the rector’s assistant greeting him with a toothsome smile. The Mercury Fish Co. had a contract with the Church of the Perpetual Sinner to supply them with Friday fish, his great granddad being the first member of his family to block and tackle the fish crane that sat in the alleyway behind the Mercury Fish Co. As far back as he could remember his entire family, great granddad, granddad and da, worked for the Mercury Fish Co.

On the nonce, it happened but once, and verily at that. His da had no fancy for mongering or lorry driving, both jobs requiring heavy-lifting and double-clutching. The Basingstoke Fish Co. have a deal with the Hampshire Cannery who are in cahoots with the Rokiskis Bros. who are members of the Panevezio Apskritis Union of Fishmongers. His great granddad preferred alliances and mergers, having little patience for unions and blackguards, seeing the integration of mongers and drivers as a sin against natural law; the shelves in his small library, where he retreated after dinner, except Sundays when the hay was fleecing, lined with Lenin’s notebooks and hardbacks, all of which his granddad had read and reread, the 1027-page History of Spitting his favorite.

When he was old enough to read, which came on his tenth birthday, his da yet to make the beast with two backs with the Celbridge whore, the man in the hat stole through his da’s Popular Photography magazines, stopping every so often to inspect a bare breast or a hairless shin. On his eleventh birthday, his da’s feet letting go at the bottoms for the first time, he read Lenin’s notebooks squared away in his granddad’s armchair, his feet dangling over the edge like footless socks.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jeeves’ Salve at Cutthroat Prices

Mrs. Mastiansky, known for her gruffness and weak evangelic face, said ‘…where is it, where’s the damn glove...? After which she upended a cripple, a muleteer and a braggart, announcing ‘…get the blasted out of my way, you clubfooted doe…!’ This being the umpteenth time she’d sent flying a braggart, a cripple and a muleteer, she threw her purse-laden hands into the air, exclaiming madly ‘…man against beast against swine, whatever will I do…?’ (Athlone Westmeath Bucharest Vaslui, Jeeves salve at cutthroat prices, madam’s et monsieur. For the umpteenth time she correlated three with seven arriving at nil. Why the bother? A cause a cause, she sallied …that a way). On his umpteenth birthday his da bought him a drawstring apron with a pocket on the front. Malcolm Sisyphus was stitched on the bib, master tailor and haberdasher. His da said the name was stolen from a book about sunshine and squinting he’d read when he was twelve. Nothing further was said about squinting, sunshine or Malcolm Sisyphus. His birthdays came and went, his da spending his birthdays with a Celbridge whore he met after the bar let out. Two birthdays later his da came down with the Lyme, his feet letting go at the bottoms. ‘…hey da…’ he asked, ‘…how come the Celbridge whores have the Lyme…?’ His da saying ‘…on account of the Lyme being such…’. ‘…such…?’ he asked. ‘…such as such…’ his da explained, ‘…the Lyme as such, that is…’. After his eleventh birthday he didn’t learn much else from his da, his da being prone to fits and seizures and sleepy most of the time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Acrobats and Jugglers

His grandmamma tapped the underside of the bowl with the heel of her hand, whittling the dried flour and egg from the bottom. His grandmamma, she cooked with Chota chocolate and Cajamarca vanilla handpicked and packaged in hemp sallies. Grandmamma, she had a matching set of Cali pots and Valle del Cauca skillets, Zaventem ladles and Brabant teacozies. Sitting at his grandmamma’s skirts he learned how to whisk egg whites and sugar into meringue and prepare heavenly biscuits with unleavened flour and salt. Feeling uneasy around the unprincipled, he chose a life of sycophantry, carousing with upright people, those with high ideals and a low opinion of cads and cheats. On his eleventh birthday his granddad bought him a set of knives and a butchers’ apron, the chainmail branding the skin round his waist. On the day of his birth the Hlohovec-Trnava traveling minstrel, arriving by oxcart and wagon, put on a Purim spiel, acrobats and jugglers, thespians and fire-eaters, the townspeople rejoicing in the beauty and splendor of new life.

Monday, March 23, 2009


…the sound of jangle-bells and children wailing… lambs to slaughter… enough to send a man to his grave. Corked, steadying himself against the Waymart clock tower, the town fool counts his blessings (the sisters having taught him well with the back of the hand) the sky whizzing round his ears. In the next township lives a town fool, kin to a fools’ fool. The man in the hat, hereby nearby, watched the fool balance a jack on his nose, the crowd gleeful with delight. On the other side of the street, barefoot, the fools’ fool juggled three yellow balls, a small crowd of people jeering him on. ‘…more, you fool, give us more…!’ His eyes crowding, the old fool let go with a sigh. When he tired of juggling, which he did without regret, the old fool began bouncing pebbles off the pip of his nose, the crowd letting go with a fucking amazing fool! Sitting beneath a cowslip of blue sky the man in the hat counted his blessings, 27 hats three pairs of Oxford’s and yellow rubbed cob. ‘…were I a betting man…’ he mused, ‘…I’d bet on the fool to win …’. With the nighttime sky nearing the end of its tether the two fools packed up and hightailed it, the man in the hat falling back to sleep.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Dry Brown Earth

That morning the sky was a blue ocean, the clouds splashing against the dry brown earth. The man in the hat sat on the edge of his cot laughing, the morning sun gleaming on the battlement of his skull. An old-time Barger from Galapagar Madrid ran into a wet-behind-the-ears Barger from Surabaya Jawa Timur, both men, Barger’s by trade, exchanging suspicious glances. ‘…what brings you here…?’ asks the old-time Barger, his eyes flicking. ‘…certainly not the weather…’ says the wet-behind-the-ears Barger shivering. Both men look at one another, the old-time Barger clearing his throat, the wet-behind-the-ears Barger stamping the cold pavement. ‘…see you then…’ says the old-time Barger. ‘…and you…’ replies the wet-behind-the-ears Barger, his lips bluing.

…more oft than oft (more so oft) the world spins and whizzes, dodging in and out of traffic, the trees begging for water. A lapdog without a lap, a muleteer without a mule (gunmetal hooves clip-clopping), a blue sunny day without a tear in the sky, the world picking up speed like a whoring dervish. I know you know he said. Know what he said? That the world will spin whizzing out of control he said. Your soft in the head he said. So I am so I am he said. The slap of Quaker boots on wet cement, pebble by pebble they march single-file past the Church of the Perpetual Sinner, the littlest sinner keeping tabs on the fattest, the sky blacker than misspent youth.

That evening the lamplighter lit every second lamp, leaving the path leading to the aqueduct in darkness. It was here, in the quill-black darkness, that the dogmen danced round a burning maypole, the littlest dogmen keeping rhythm with a trashcan lid and a fichus branch, a cock’s tongue of smoke corkscrewing into the night sky. ‘…i e i e…’ yipped the littlest dogman, his eyes red with smoke. ‘…e i e i…’ yapped the biggest dogman, his face clenched tight as a fist. Together, the ash covered earth quaking under their feet, they sang ‘…e i i e i i e e…’, the lamplighter, crouching behind a stand of fichus trees sighing ‘…cunts don’t know the difference between a maypole and hedgerow …’.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bouvard et Pecuchet

He awoke staring at a spot on the ceiling until the spot, spreading out along the ceiling and onto the wall, took over all his thoughts. Next to the window sat a vase, the marker Lugansk Donets'ka Oblast' embossed on the foot. Next to the vase sat a bowlful of flowers, dahlias and peonies, carnations and bluebells, the flowers slake. Next to the vase and the bowlful of flowers, dahlias and peonies, carnations and bluebells, a painting lay face down on the windowsill, the name Jeungpyeong Ch'ungch'ong-bukto coming to mind in the beauty of the artwork. Sitting, he opens a package of crisps, the proprietor of the crisp company haling from Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, a place he has heard of in stories and dramatic pieces but never had the opportunity to visit.

He stares at a box of raspberry faille, his thoughts reeling back to the spot on the ceiling, the bluebells squealing with delight. In a book, which he picks up, cradles in his arms and fingers through, he reads the following: “A blue steel rainy day, a marrow bone simmering in the pot of the sky. Mister Thompson’s wife had podiatry problems, corns and peapods, a Braille of flora growing in the nooks and crannies between her toes. She used pumice stone, scrubbing the hard nubs with vinegar and Epsom, but to no avail, as the corns and peapods persisted and continued to flourish in defiance of her lavations”. His thoughts flying he stands by the window next to the vase and the bowlful of flowers (carnations and bluebells, dahlias and peonies) staring at the spot, the spot having grown through the window and into the garden. ‘…my goodness…’ he exclaims, ‘…what a mercurial blue sky...’.

Staring sternly at the congregated, his eyes two black pips, the Witness proclaims ‘…everything is permitted but nothing is allowed…’. Taking in a gulp of muddy air, his eyebrows twirling like caterpillars, he continues ‘…and those of you who believe that I am mistaken are the lowliest of sinners…’. A Barger with an apple red face stood cleared his throat and announced, ‘…I am the Argil Gardener, and I have an audience today with Bouvard et Pecuchet for the job of le Gardenia Deus Plenteous de loess…’. Throwing his arms into the air, infuriated, the Witness says ‘…my dear man you are an ass…’. ‘…perhaps so, but at least I have no quarrel with them…’ says the Barger pointing at the dogmen. The Witness, his face as red as an autumn apple, turned tail and fled, the congregants hissing and croaking after him. ‘…swindler…’ yells one of the congregants. ‘…mountebank…’ screams another, her face red with fury. ‘…stinking rat…’. ‘…off with his head…’ hollers a congregant with a blind eye, his good eye widening with anger. ‘…leave him be…’ pleas the Argil Gardener, ‘…his sins will soon enough catch up with him…’.

Kazimir Malevich - 1878 - 1935

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Feast of Saint Ignacio

‘…never underestimate the power of thought…’ said Dejesus. Witnessing his own folly the Witness fell to his knees in prayer. As today was the day before the feast of Saint Ignacio, a day of rejoicing and trumpeting trumpets, the Witness felt it his sworn duty to acknowledge his own foolishness. ‘…were I a better man I’d do my penitence, but as I am not, and even were I I wouldn’t give it a seconds’ thought, I will kneel and play jack the ace with this wee trumpeting fool, God bless and away with you, scat…!’ The congregants, laying bare their souls, rejoiced at the power of ace the jack, the Witness tossing the die against the church wall. ‘…seven gets you eleven…’ he yipped, ‘…no two words about it...’. A hush fell over the congregants, a man sitting on a cross breaking the silence ‘…make way for the king…!’. The Witness, having rolled double jacks, loudly said ‘…for the love of God man, clam up…’. ‘…what a sham, $27.50 per half-liter, a sad sate of affairs, sad indeed, awfully…’ said a man in a flatcar cap, the congregants clapping madly. ‘…God bless the blessed…’ sang out a woman with cob yellow teeth. His patience waning, Dejesus left in a huff, his coattails catching the wind like a topsail, the sun setting behind him like a burned out bonfire.

Things such as this happen more oft than oft; congregants and off-shiners having it out with one another, salting the earth with perturbations and lies. The Witnesses of the world, off-shiners and parishioners, queuing and filing abreast the common hurrah.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Querecotillo del Marcavelica

Pressing forward the sun rising to his flank the legless man gibbets and yaws. He tries to figure, tautologically, why red tinkers don’t get along with black tinkers, they’re dislike for one another going back some thousand years. Then, perhaps sooner, a beggar leapfrogs from behind a thicket, his cap jangling with coins and coppers. ‘…coppers, if you may, a pittance no more…’. Taken aback the legless man offers the beggar a nickel, the beggar scooping it up in a flurry of fingers and thumb. ‘…you’re kindness is great…’ says the beggar, ‘…and tall…’. Taken aback a second time the legless man turns, his eyes prickled with sun dots and milkweed silk. ‘…you’re most welcome…’ he says to the beggar squinting. The congregants stood two abreast waiting for the doors of the church to open, a man with a day’s worth of beard turning to his fellow congregants, and in a high sotto voco voice saying, ‘…cough it up…!’ ‘…up what…?’ asks one of the congregants. ‘…the whore’s glove you cads…’. ‘…Sullana Piura…’ says a woman sitting on a cross, ‘…Piura Sullana…’. ‘…off with her head…’ yells the man with the day’s worth of beard. ‘…Querecotillo del cual hablaremo Marcavelica…’ says the woman sitting on the cross, the skin around her eyes tightening. ‘…off with both her heads…’. As the clock strikes noontime the doors to the church open, the congregants file in two by two, from the worst sinners to the least, the woman sitting on the cross pushing her way to the front of the queue, the man with the day’s worth of beard yelling at the top of his lungs ‘…the glove, where’s the glove by God…?’

Monday, March 16, 2009

Port Bou, Spain

He awakens to discover that overnight he has immigrated to Port Bou, Spain where he will hang himself from the joist over his writing desk. Feeling off and weakly, which he does more oft than oft, he lights a match and breaths in the sulfur, his eyes red against the blue curtains. ‘…I’d give a pocketful of God’s shillings but for one last go at it…’ he says facing the wall opposite to his writing desk. ‘…dog meat, what a sham, $27.50 per half-liter, a sad sate of affairs, sad indeed, awfully…’. Looking piebald, the ceiling black spackle, he lets out a scream ‘…for the love of God let me have one last go at it, I beg you please…’. He awakens face down on the sidewalk to a queue of petty con artists and low-brows waiting for the doors to the soup kitchen to open, today’s offering knuckle broth with carrots and day-old bread, a feast fit for a king. A black tinker with a half moon scar on his cheek baits the others on, screaming at the top of his lungs ‘…soup, give us soup…’. ‘…that’ll be enough…’ challenges another tinker, this one red, ‘…we get fed when the clock strikes noontime, not a minute before…’. ‘…kill the bastard…!’ yells the black tinker, ‘…into the grave with him…’. ‘…killing him won’t do any good…’ says a man in a torn overcoat holding a spineless umbrella. ‘…though it couldn’t hurt…’ says the black tinker, his left eye weeping. ‘…that’ll be that…’ said the man in the hat, his face pressed into the cobblestones.

The Suipacha Bros. of Buenos Aires are in cahoots with the Kent Bros. of Gloucestershire; the Barreiro Setubal Bros., of places near and far, yell screaming ‘…fuck the king…!’ for no other reason than they can and do. A fat yellow sun creeps over the horizon, a slurry of fat gray clouds riding the rays of her back. Squinting, the Greek cranks open the steel gate, the day beginning again.

Bride's Skirt Shimmied

Caparica Setubal, Villmergen Aargau and Billancourt Ile-de-France. He’s a mad cock, that one, gilded edges, epaulettes and knags heads, must have a bilks’ full of ‘em in his closet. Always one for the hello fader blest be thy mane, fucking blasphemous cunt he is. Hour fader coo art in haven mallow be thy game. …cad bastard, no three words about it. Quick with the plate, clack clang, a pocketful of God’s shillings, all smarmy, the bride's skirt shimmied up to her armpits, sad sight indeed, awfully. I’d have it at him, the back of the skull, baby soft all kicked in… …for the love of it, awfully fucking awful…

That morning the man in the hat cooked a skillet-fried breakfast, bread-heels braised in skillet fat, onions, boiled, two runny eggs and ¼ of a pigs’ shoulder, a cup of brown pail water culled from the rain barrel on the stoop outside his lean-to flap, and a hunk of farmers’ cheese. Picking up the morning news the man in the hat reads an advertisement for Pappy’s Spirit Gum, $ 27.50 per 1-liter bottle, postage extra. His eyesore eyes bloodshot, he places the now folded paper on the table next to his chair and sighs ‘…smarmy bastards…’.

On the transom over the door to the Greek Deli is a sign that reads, Olive Oil is God’s Oil, and beneath that a drawing of two dogs barking at a man, his pant’s leg torn clear off his cuff. The man in the hat has his suspicions that the owner of the Greek Deli sells dog meat, butcher’s paper soaked through with urine and blood. Hour fader who’s in haven… looking upwards up, the sky darker than yesterday’s death, he looks round his lean-to for a matchstick, his mouth forming a perfect O… ‘…shimmied up to her armpits, awfully fucking awful…’.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Declan Keogh Bewails

Drafting ether from a plastic bag, his nose bluing, Declan Keogh bewails ‘…if only I could find some peace and quiet…’. Having that morning out-witted a roustabout, Declan capable of holding his own with connivers, he felt exhausted, his legs tin heavy. ‘…damn roustabouts, never know when’re and how the bastards ill get you…’. At that very moment, as if from out of nowhere, a snap of lightening flashed across the sky, the windsock on the Cocks’ Tower twirling like a whirling dervish. He knew the man in the hat and the harridan’s sister, the Seder grocer’s wife and the henpeck Simms; but had yet to make the acquaintance of the legless man or Dejesus, or the littlest dogmen and his brothers. He did his weekly shopping at the Waymart, where he bought Porker’s ham and cheese spread, rutabaga and heads of ice-cold lettuce, liking the odd sandwich with a leafy garnish and Gibbs’ hard mustard. When he was a boy in britches and knee socks his mamma made him cheese spread sandwiches with pickle and onion salad, serving the sandwich open-face on a tea saucer and the salad tossed in a tin caldron. ‘…stop that infernal humming…’ his mamma would hiss, ‘…its enough that I have to listen to your father clicking his dentures, clackety clack...’. Having huffed the last of the ether, the skin splitting round his eyes, he tossed the ether bag into the nearest dustbin and walked staggering up the sideways. ‘…if only I could escape this din in my head…’.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Run Faster Run

‘…fuck…!’ screamed the alms man, ‘…the world is a disease and I am getting colder by the minute…’. A whittle of a boy scurried past, the alms man cheering him on like a proud father. A second boy, his neck swollen with mumps, raced by, the alms man waving madly, ‘…run my boys run, the world is getting colder…’. Without a minute to spare the first boy picked up the pace and disappeared into the distance, the second boy hot on his heels. ‘…run faster my boys run…’. A sparrow hawk circled overhead, riding the thermals like a stunt pilot, its wings making mincemeat of the sky. ‘…fly faster dear bird, faster faster…’ The alms man turned abruptly to his left, his feet crossing one over the other, his knees giving way to gravity. Falling, his head bounding off the cobble, he lay flat on his back staring at the sky, ‘…run sky run, the moon will surely catch up to you…’. ‘…fuck…!’ screeched a woman in a topcoat, her hair nettled with spruce twigs and vermin, ‘…can’t you see I’m trying to read…?’ Turning a second time, his feet positioned directly in front of him, the alms man glared at the woman, ‘…and you, madam, can’t you see I am trying to avoid catching the death of me...?’ The whittle boy scurried past on his return to where he’d come from, the second boy, his swollen neck wrapped in a damp kerchief, tight on his heels, the two boys larking and singing to beat the band. ‘…see that…?’ said the alms man to the woman, ‘…a whittle boy and a boy with mumps, I told you, the world is a disease and I'm getting colder by the minute…’.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brothers Quay - Institute Benjamenta

The Daybed in the Kitchen

In the winter her grandmamma slept under the blankets on the daybed in the kitchen, her granddad in his chair counting sheep in the next room, a cob of ash on his chest. Her grandmamma made the most scrumptious raspberry pie, crimping the edges with the heel of her thumb then laying them on the windowsill to cool. Saturday afternoons she made all things raspberry: tarts and flans, raspberry tortes with custard, pinafores and teacup size cakes, rolls and raspberry jam cookies. The kitchen was a symphony of smells, her grandmamma breaking saffron-yellow eggs on the lip of the mixing bowl, her hair spun like cotton candy, her knuckles rubbed raw, and Lela, counting the Bluebirds in the tree outside the kitchen window, awaiting the first mouthful of raspberry pie, the kitchen air sweeter than kissed apples.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paula Rego - 1935

Merseyside Port

On the cliffs of Ellesmere island sits a woman, a child cradled in the folds of her skirt. She looks out onto the spume of Merseyside Port, the whalers’ setting out to sea, belly’s weighed with gut buckets and cork-handle harpoons. Maidenheads crowning portside, she looks out beyond the breakwater, her eyes salted with tears, the sky sinking red into the belly of the sea. Lela reaches between her legs, the skin scalloped and salty. Lowering her head she runs her fingers along a kop of bone, nettles of wet hair latticed in the folds of her thighs. Moaning, she speaks to the sky ‘…cover me in thistle, then lay me back to sleep...’.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Father Rheinland-Pfalz

Her belly hangs in slough, carrying the weight of her infidelities. Lela stands naked in front of the window, the glass reflecting her unhappiness. Vejle and Jelling sing lullabies to birds and lost children. Thursdays and Saturdays Stefan Stambolov and L.J. Lovech play checkers on a wooden door balanced on two sawhorses; Sundays they play pinochle; Wednesdays and Tuesdays they sharpened sticks; Sundays are for sleeping in past the cock’s crow; Mondays they play checkers with Vejle and Jelling, the sisters having tired of lullabies and birds.

Collapsing, his bedsore eyes teary, he sits looking at the birds. He remembers his first visit to Nuevo Laredo where he saw a blind man walking a gibbon (Hylobates) on a leash, and in Tamaulipas where the sun was so blistering he fell faint for 27½ days, father Frankenthal of Rheinland-Pfalz offering him a cool damp cloth on the 28th day, and the one-legged beggar in Cartagena who claimed he worked for Bolivar Under Secretary and was on the job spying on tourists and the no-good. He saw the bear he fought for a half-pint; the bear taking him down twice before he could lay the piker into its skull. He saw his mamma arguing with his uncle over a misdealt hand, his mamma throwing her cards in his uncle’s face, her eyes blacker than tar spit.

He had so many memories he thought his head would implode, time running backwards, gushing, stop. He remembered his granddad saying ‘the early worm gets the bird’ and thinking, ‘sad cunt’, and that the air was porridge thick with bluebottles and cob smoke. He tried to remember how to forget, thinking that even if he could he’d remember that he had and have to start all over again. The sun fell from the sky, the moon pricking it like a child’s balloon. ‘…if I could only sleep…’ he said to himself, ‘...and awaken with the sun on my face, if only…’. He stared at the sky and whispered, ‘…its never too late to learn a new trick…’, then putting his best foot forward walked away, the birds caw-cawing well into the night.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Koknese Aizkraukles Swims

Koknese Aizkraukles swam the length of the channel in one breath, stopping when his fingertips made contact with the cement railing. Not even the littlest dogman could swim the channel on one lungful of air, making it halfway, his once pink lungs weighed down with salt, the second breath taking him to the other side, the cement skinning his forehead.

Koknese Aizkraukles swam the channel 27½ time before disappearing for good, leaving behind a pair of wet swimming trunks and rubber nose plugs. People come and go, leaving traces of themselves behind; signs of life and death. Lela ran her hand across the railing leading down to the aqueduct, splinters picking at her skin. ‘…I wonder where he’s gone, one last breath and off he went…’.

Swimming on her belly, her arms and legs above the surface, her back curving into the oncoming current. ‘…one last breath and off he went, cutting the waves like an otter…’. Neither the dogmen nor the rector’s assistant saw fit to appeal, the congregants lining up for free biscuits and plum sweeten wine. All feasts end with a becoming, one man’s wafer another man’s curd. The day ended as it had begun, the sky chasing nighttime from the closet of sleep. Its never too late to learn a new trick, ever.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Gracula Onychognathus

The Reykjavk sisters (of Gullbringusysla) sat next to the Copenhagen sisters (of Staden), the sisters scheming up ways to upend the Kobenhavn sisters (of places unknown) who had more whores’ gloves than a swank-house coterie. They connived and conspired, thinking up ways to deliver the sisters of their coterie of whores’ gloves. The Reykjavk sisters, yipping and yowling, could bust in through the back door, the Copenhagen sisters charging forward, sharpened sticks at the ready. Or the Copenhagen sisters could barge in through the gables, the Reykjavk sisters whipping rocks and mud hens at the unsuspecting Kobenhavn sisters, the innkeeper’s mule hoofing the scrub.

Whores whore, a woman’s glove is a sacred thing; spiffed with perfume and handlebar wax. This had Lela (hiding in the pokeweed) thinking of her grandmamma’s crimping fork, the one she used to frill mutton pie, grandmamma serving up a plateful of double steamed tripe, her face worn thin from too much scatter and boil. Lela headed for the park behind the aqueduct, a worry of gulls crackling in the branches over her head, her thoughts on her grandmamma’s sweetbreads and pot gravy.

Her grandmamma made ratfish stew with turnips, thickening the rue with flour. On Thursdays she cooked grackle (Gracula, Onychognathus) with wild garlic, separating the meat from the wing bones with the heel of a fork. On Fridays she baked cuttlefish pie, tiding the edges with held-end of a spoon, creating the most glorious crimps and folds. The summer kitchen was peppered with flour and cork yeast, her grandmamma potting the tip of her nose with the end of her thumb, flour and salt butter blushing her cheeks.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Beirut - Elephant Gun

Maracaibo Zulia

Its late into the morning, those wee early hours when mice and troubled writers scamper round in the darkness; the mice looking for a deeper hole, the writer’s belly bloated with ribbon ink and words. ‘…off with your hat you scoundrel, the whores have all gone to bed…’. Maracaibo Zulia threw his hat to the floor, ‘…to bed you say, well we’ll see about that…’. Nothing more was seen or heard from Maracaibo Zulia, belly bloated writers having no place among genteel ordinary folk.

Feast days came and went, biscuits and spilt wine littering the steps of the Church of the Perpetual Sinner (children playing with sharpened sticks) the sun barely risen above the Waymart spire. Away you scoundrels; away with you! The rector’s assistant, his surplice threadworm tattered, angled his way past the congregants, looking for a quarter-moon biscuits and a swig of spilt wine. The blast furnace scowled under the gables, the smell of boiled onions and coke dust fallowing the post Mass air. Feast days were known to coax the worst out in a man, charming an otherwise slow-witted man into a brainless idiot. A man’s best friend is the sword he lances himself upon. The dimwitted and the enfeebled, the after-feast leaves no man unspoiled, not even the cutter’s assistant. He addled his way through life, so they say, a frail weakly man with a crumpet pocked face. But on feast days he came alive: the moon as calm as a seamstresses’ hand, the sun as sharp as a snake charmer’s tongue, the day his oyster, the congregants his time trusted friends, the rector’s assistant, his surplice spliced in two, feeding him biscuits and wine.

Today I will buy a pound of pickled calf’s tongue, a loaf of Quakers’ bread and a pint of cottagers’ cheese, thought the man in the hat, then wile away the day feasting on heavenly spoils and earthly delights. The lamplighter, setting the gas valve to 27½, lit the last lamp of the night, his fingers blackened with soot and oil.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Gråbrödraklostret Orphanage

The Franciscan Ystad Roskilde slept on a wire cot in the Gråbrödraklostret orphanage until he was ten years old. On his eleventh birthday he went to live with the Cutter Van Dom Van, who had three thumbs and four ring fingers. After that nothing more was heard of him, his life just another torn page from the Childhood Book of Forgetting. People like Ystad Roskilde come into our life and are quickly forgotten, giving us something other than our dreams and sorrows to forget. I haven’t enough thumbs or ring fingers to count how many such people, faint glimmering stars, tailless comets, fall in and out of our lives, leaving behind nothing more than memories of our own dreams and sorrows, triumphs and defeats, coming and going like a warm summer breeze, no, a hell-bent wintery storm.

Friedensreich Regentag and Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser live under the Shoreditch bridge. While on vacation in Csu Cēsis, Friedensreich there to see Portico del Mondi, Dunkelbunt the Hackney Hippodrome, they discovered they both shared a fondness for tomfoolery and milquetoast. After a ribald evening of drink and whoring, Friedensreich spending the night with a lazy-eyed Latvian, Dunkelbunt choosing a swayback Prussian with the whooping who kept him up until the wee hours of the morning, both men went their separate ways, each with the knowledge that someone other then they had a weakness for tomfoolery, milquetoast and whoring. (No sooner do we lower our guards, our guards, dear author, then in you jump with this dross and piddle. How dare you!)

Soon sometime soon Friedensreich Regentag and Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser, the man in the hat and the harridan, the legless man and the alms man, the harridan’s sister and Dejesus, the Witness and the friar, will meet under the Waymart clock, tick tock ticking, the littlest dogmen setting the day on fire like a Roma candle, Oreias tootling from the trumpet of her ass. Such will be the beginning of the end, not a soul knowing the difference between a tootle and a clang (not even the choir master) the church bells ring ringing, summoning the little ones to come out from their hiding.

The man in the hat met a man in a hat, both men admiring each other’s hat. The other man in a hat exclaiming ‘…goodness, but what a fine hat you have my dear man…’. The man in the hat, his eyes on the other man in the hat’s hat, saying ‘…yes, and at a cutthroat price…’. ‘…might I inquire…?’ said the man in the other hat, ‘…where one might find such a fine specimen of a hat…?’ ‘…why of course…’ answered the man in the hat, ‘…at your finer men’s haberdashery…’. ‘…yes of course…’ said the other man in a hat, ‘…my apologies for asking such a brainless question…’. Reaching into his coat pocket the man in the hat pulled out a business card with the name of a dentist embossed on it, and handing it to the other man in a hat said ‘…a man who wears such a fine hat as yours, my dear sir, must attend to his dentistry…’. The man in the other hat, thumbing the card between his ring finger and his pinkie said ‘…right you are dear sir, right you are…’. When the sky falls, and surely it will, a hat will be a man’s best friend.

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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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