Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Annunciation of the Acolyte Bleeding of the Lamb

Uruguayan Criollo

His father wears the same work shirt Monday through Saturday, the front covered in mortar chiseling’s. The man in the hat never met the father of the child who arrived on the back of an oxcart or the mother, a woman with scarlet red hair and a deadwood leg. All he knew of them he learned from the child, who spoke of them in yellow vowels and black constantans. Over the door to his childhood home was written ‘Do not, I beg you, look for anything beyond phenomena. They are themselves their own lesson’[1] his father demanding a strict adherence to naturalistic philosophy and mathematics.

Mr. and Mrs. Aloysius Rathgar sell rhubarb tarts on Thursdays, the smell of sugar and lard wafting through the windows and into the street. Klasterec Nad Ohri and his brother Ustecky Kraj Ohri sell whore’s stockings off the back of a dogcart, the eldest brother keeping stock with a pocket calculator. Their sister, Sofia Grad Ohri, wears a two-button waistcoat made from the rarest Sofiya silk. The man in the hat met the brothers Ohri one evening after the Annunciation of the Acolyte, held every third Wednesday after the Bleeding of the Lamb. The brothers, known for their love of card tricks and looting, activities that when undertaken by the brothers fit snugger than a new pair of shoes, made an impression on the man in the hat who was himself fond of ransacking and pinochle, even if it entailed back slapping and hurrahing.

The Montalto stables, home to nags and glue horses, Abyssinian Akhal-Teke's and Albanian Altai’s, American Albino and Castilian Andalusian’s, Russian Andravida’s and Anglo-Kabarda Appaloosa’s, AraAppaloosa’s and Godolphin Arabian’s, De Bello Gallico’s, favored by Caesar, Argentine Criollo Spanish Asturcon’s and Australian Brumby’s, Mexican Azteca Majorca’s and Balearic Baluchistan’s, Japanese Ban-ei Maghreb Barb’s and Bashkir Volga’s, Bashkir Curly Belgian stallion’s and Schwarzwälder Fuchs’, also known as Schwarzwälder Kaltblut’s and St. Märgener’s, Wälderpferd Riebeeck Boerperd’s and Bidet Breton’s, Soviet Budyonny Byelorussian’s (used for plowing and meat) and Arabian Camargue’s, Brazilian Campolina Don Picado’s and Carthusian Oriental Caspian’s, Korean Cheju’s and Chilean Corralero’s (arriving with the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia in 1541) Cleveland Bay Lanarkshire’s and Clydesdale’s, Uruguayan Criollo’s and Bulgarian bay Danube’s, Kazakh Deliboz’s and Nigerian Djerma’s, Gudbrandsdal valley Døle’s and Eritrean Dongalawi’s, Dutch Draft horses and Dutch Warmblood’s, purchased riding crops and two-handed pommels from the Ohri brothers, the brothers buying crops and pommels from the Nagshead Bros., makers of equine finery. Feeling that he had once again been duped, the brothers having pulled the wool over his eyes, the man in the hat set out for the aqueduct where he was to meet the harridan and her sister for a light picnic lunch.
[1] Goethe

Monday, June 29, 2009

Althing Medal of Achievement

This is how it was told to me (by a person without a face, an apparition) so I’m sworn to tell it how it is. He arrived on the back of a wood-splintered oxcart drawn by three snorting oxen screaming, not a word that came out of his mouth heard by another. Tied in sackcloth, the burlap biting into his soft yellow flesh he yelled ‘--Mlaga Andalucia, God have mercy on my shapeless soul’. The man in the hat first met him under the Waymart clock on a Thursday afternoon, the sun barely risen above the second-hand, the sky threatening rain. His father laid the stones for the Lögberg, a granite seat that sits two meters shy of the Lögsögumaður’s House, around which lays a circular pond approximately 135 feet in diameter surrounded by a ring of 24 planted trees. His father, who never once took the Lord’s name in vain or double-crossed a mountebank, was awarded the Althing Medal of Achievement for not once dropping a cinder-block or spilling mortar on the Priester’s awning. The Rathgar Infirmary, run by Aloysius and Mrs. Eileen Rathgar, sell strawberry tarts, 5 for a dollar a half-dozen for 4. Thursdays they substitute rhubarb for strawberry, the tarts going for a nickel a piece.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Pedro de Valdivia

When he was five the alms man saw his first hobbling; a seven-hand gilding brought down with a grass scythe, the man standing over the horse moving his jaw back and forth like a gristmill. The stables at Montalto billeted horses that were past their prime; glue horses and nags, Abyssinian Akhal-Teke's and Albanian Altai’s, American Albino and Castilian Andalusian’s, Russian Andravida’s and Anglo-Kabarda Appaloosa’s, AraAppaloosa's and Godolphin Arabian’s, De Bello Gallico’s, favored by Caesar, Argentine Criollo's and Spanish Asturcon’s, Australian Brumby’s, Mexican Azteca Majorca’s and Balearic Baluchistan's, Japanese Ban-ei Maghreb Barb’s and Bashkir Volga’s, Bashkir Curly Belgian stallion’s and Schwarzwälder Fuchs’, also known as Schwarzwälder Kaltblut’s and St. Märgener’s, Wälderpferd Riebeeck Boerperd’s and Bidet Breton’s, Soviet Budyonny Byelorussian’s (used for plowing and meat) and Arabian Camargue’s, Brazilian Campolina Don Picado’s and Carthusian Oriental Caspian’s, Korean Cheju’s and Chilean Corralero’s (arriving with the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia in 1541) Cleveland Bay Lanarkshire’s and Clydesdale’s, Uruguayan Criollo’s and Bulgarian bay Danube’s, Kazakh Deliboz’s and Nigerian Djerma’s, Gudbrandsdal valley Døle’s and Eritrean Dongalawi’s, Dutch Draft horses and Dutch Warmblood’s (on the skirt below the pommel was written, ‘i am a roofer and now i have a lump on my knuckle and it is soft’, the rosin bleeding into the stirrup leather). Uffugo Calabria, the head stableman, secured the halter and slung the rope over the block and tackle, catching the end of the rope in his left hand, the stable boy waiting for the okay to kick free the sluice-gate.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Los Prostitutas Bariloche

Holding his head high he marched into the day wishing. He wished he lived in Anpolis Goias or Amersfoort Utrecht, or Malopolskie, a tiny village just outside Cracow, or maybe Comunidad in the deep green forests of Valenciana Valencia where the sky is blue all day long, or nearly.

He wished he’d never wished anything at all. Turtle-like he espied the man coming down the sideways, his shell a shiny Kopek. The Daguerréotype Lewkowicz Porto, not having a Kopek to his name, lived in the henhouse behind the Wool Merchant’s estate. His coveralls smeared with black silver and unctuous chemicals Lewkowicz Porto developed portraits for the Wool Merchant; photos of the merchant’s children and wife, wide-lens shots of his property and adjoining houses, the henhouse far enough out of the frame to insure a minimum of indignity. Los prostitutas bariloche sang to the fat people standing in line waiting for the doors to the Church of the Perpetual Sinner to open.

The muleteer beat the animal to the ground, tearing the bit from its mouth. Watching, his eyes smarting like bee stings, the alms man felt his heart break in half. The animal lay on its side, a coil of intestine spilling onto the street.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Speyside Battery

Die schweigsame Frau read the banner flapping madly wildly from the flagstaff pole. Overhead, tailed to the rudder of a silver gold plane the Braslia Distrito Federal Bank heralded the arrival of lower interest rates, the pennant splashing in the blue watery sky. A Rapa das Bestas’ shout the men dressed in boxwood shorts, the horses gibbeted to the stay-post neighing. Not far, brattled to the backdrop of the sky, the congregants pined for home, Woodchurch parish laying 7 miles from Ashford and 5 miles from the Cinque Ports, Tenterden. Not far, overlooking the Speyside Battery, the men of Guadalajara Jalisco draw the cover of night over the dead body of their friend. Over his gravestone was written ‘Biganos Aquitaine, Bombay Maharashtra, Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes the poor man never having made it past his back door’. The men kicked bootfuls of dirt onto his grave, caviling over who would punt the lid and say The Man’s Dead, By God’. The man in the hat found the dead man too haughty for his liking, his jawbone mulish, his demeanor peevish and uncorrectable. When he was alive the man in the hat had avoided the dead man, crossing over the blacktop when he espied him coming turtle-like down the sideways, scuttling into the alleyway, or rerouting his trajectory, the day being ruined by a man in whom he had no practical interest.

Monday, June 22, 2009

27 Bushes

Burning, the bonsai smoked like a hand-rolled cigar, the ash falling onto his jacket like gray ceramic dust. The bonsai grew in abundance in front of his slag-hut; 27 bushes and 17 support sticks, 2 plants to a stick, 3 on the sturdiest. Astonished he eyeballed the sticks, the 18th bending tautly into the 19th; the 20th and 22nd leaning up against the rainspout. The Horsham hoisters and the West Sussex swingtops are in cahoots with the Siguatepequ Concertina Co. owned by the Comayagua Bros. Stumbling backward on capriped feet the fry-cook fell into the black thug of night, the skillet of his head bashed in right up to the warming handle. Stopping in front of Sweny’s Chemist he stared at himself in the tincture blue window, his nose a red splotch in the middle of a cabbage gray face. Having fled into the asylum of dreams the man in the hat prodded himself awake, his hat crumpled cockeyed on the floor next to his cot. ‘--one more dream like this I will surely go stark raving mad!’ he whispered, lest he awaken the entire sleeping world with his quibbling blub. ‘--tomorrow I will buy a hatbox with satin lining and a cinema-cord handle and place my best hat in it, then stepping out into the day cast the shadow of doubt on the head of the first man I see’. His dreams came and went like circling gulls on a sea-salty June day. Having forgotten how to forget he fell back into a state of mild stupor, his best hat swinging gaily at his side, stowed in roughed-out cardboard and tied in a butcher’s knot.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


His very honor Babeş-Bolyai, his hair soup-bowl tonsured, sits under the sky reading his newspaper. On the front page, written in soft even strokes, he reads ‘wife fuck another man who has syllepsis’, the return address 28 Ilford Redbridge Bilbao, Pais Vasco. On the back page an advertisement for a lithic tool announces, Dig It, $27:95, scabbard not included. Standing on the shoulders of colossus’s he looked out on the day, the sky knitting a gray blanket of tattered clouds. Babeş-Bolyai, the very, very, was honored by persons far and wide who held trickery and bad faith in high esteem. Accolades, well-wishes, praise, homage, reverence, high admiration, worship, awe, veneration, astonishment, amazement, admiration, rapt adoration, toadying sycophancy, some fawning and sweet talking, others bestowing flattery and adulation, he was held in the highest esteem, this nasty venal man. …el rodanxó Boc Mulligan aparegué al capdamunt de l'escala read the banner over Palgrave’s Concertina Repair Shop. The Cartagena bullfinches are in cahoots with the Murcia Siguatepeque Comayagua Agde Languedoc-Roussillon larks, the bullfinches ahead 27½ to 27.

Friday, June 19, 2009

King Olaf the Penitent

…you can’t give a leg up to a footless man, thought the legless man. …thank the heavens I have no feet. Punting he sped across the blacktop, his paddles whittled down to matchsticks. Skidding he caromed sideways, avoiding a mishap with a woman carrying a footstool. …that was a close one. …thank the heavens I have my wits about me. (A seamstress from Altrincham, a stone’s throw from Cheshire, and a tailor from Santiago sit cross-legged under a blue gray sky stitching whore’s gloves with silver thread; both women aching, pining for Slough, the day unfolding like a many-layered cake).

Coming to a tapering halt the legless man swiped his brow with the cuff of his shirt, the woman carrying the footstool darting up the sideways hurriedly. Hissing over her shoulder she said ‘--Thou old melancholy devil, out of thy lament soundeth a lurement: thou resemblest those who with their praise of chastity secretly invite to voluptuousness!’
[1] Thinking nothing of it the legless man punted northward; ‘--a rube, and such fine dainty feet’. Looking skyward he intoned ‘--such a fine sky blue day’. She hung her hose on a gibbet to dry, crowing out the window into the gray cloudless sky ‘--caw-caw caw caw-caw!’

Everything blue turned yellow, everything red turned green and so on, until all the colours of the rainbow were back to front. Thinking this was odd, odd indeed, the man in the hat stopped and took in the colourful spectacle. The woman carrying a footstool scurried past, her hair willowing in the heavy wet breeze. Across the street a man with a lapdog, a beard of mud rimming its shithole, stared at the bust of King Olaf the Penitent, his eyes double-crossed on Olaf’s Miter. ‘--for the love of it!’ said the man in the hat, ‘--has the man no common sense?

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pressing His Eyes Open

The alms man, watching from behind a heap of trash-tins, his alms cap full to busting with pennies and train flattened nickels, said to himself:

"O God! is it possible I have found a place that may serve as a secret grave for the weary load of this body that I support so unwillingly? If the solitude these mountains promise deceives me not, it is so; ah! woe is me! how much more grateful to my mind will be the society of these rocks and brakes that permit me to complain of my misfortune to Heaven, than that of any human being, for there is none on earth to look to for counsel in doubt, comfort in sorrow, or relief in distress!"

Pressing his eyes open and shut, he picked up his cap, and weighing the day’s take, enough to buy a tin of sardines and a bag of scrap bread, slipped darkly into the night, the OAS guard floundering round in a nudniks’ circle. ‘--why are all these characters suddenly appearing in my life?’ he asked blandly. Not having a good leg to stand on (his legs having given up years ago) he sat on a bustard in the Waymart parking lot, the bird having fallen from a nearby tree. Curiously he looked between his legs at the bustard, the bird looking up at him, both he and the bustard giving one another the once-over. ‘--strange animal, and not a good leg to stand on’. The alms man called every living thing that wasn’t a man, woman or a child an animal, foregoing the bafflement of remembering names for things and objects which he had no real interest in, not personally at least. Hoisting himself up, the bustard wheezing and spitting, its eyes turning in their sockets, bloodied, the alms man went his way, curious why such a colourfully plumed bird, and with such bandy sticklike legs, should find itself laying flattened into the Waymart asphalt.
[1] Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bruno Schulz: The Mythologization of Reality

The essence of reality is meaning. That which has no meaning is not real for us. Every fragment of reality lives due to the fact that it partakes of some sort of universal meaning. The old cosmogonies expressed this in the maxim 'in the beginning was the Word'. The unnamed does not exist for us. To name something means to include it in some universal meaning. The isolated, mosaic-type word is a later product, is the result of technique. The original word was an hallucination circling the light of meaning, was the great universal totality. The word in its colloquial, present-day meaning is now only a fragment, a rudiment of some former, all-encompassing, integral mythology. For that reason, it retains within it a tendency to grow again, to regenerate, to become complete in its full meaning. The life of the word resides in the fact that it tenses and strains to produce a thousand associations, like the quartered body of the snake of legend, whose separate pieces sought each other in the dark. The thousandfold yet integral organism of the word was torn into individual phrases, into letters, into colloquial speech and in this new form, applied to practical needs, it has come down to us as an organ of understanding. The life of the word and its development have been set on new tracks, on the tracks of practical life, and subjected to new notions of correctness. But when in some way the injunctions of practice relax their strictures, when the word, released from such coercion, is left to its own devices and restored to its own laws, then a regression takes place within it, a backflow, and the word then returns to its former connections and becomes again complete in meaning - and this tendency of the word to return to its nursery, its yearning to revert to its origins, to its verbal homeland, we term poetry.

Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth.

When we employ commonplace words, we forget that they are fragments of ancient and eternal stories, that, like barbarians, we are building our homes out of fragments of sculptures and the statues of the gods. Our most sober concepts and definitions are distant offshoots of myths and ancient stories. There is not even one of our ideas that is not derived from mythology, a mythology that has been transformed, mutilated, remoulded. The spirit's first and foremost function is to tell stories and to make up 'tales'. The driving force of human knowledge is the conviction that at the end of its investigations, it will discover the ultimate meaning of the world. It seeks this meaning on the heights and scaffolding of its artificial mounds. But the elements which it uses in construction have been used once before, have come from forgotten and shattered 'stories'. Poetry re-cognizes the lost meanings, restores words to their proper place, and links them according to their ancient denotations. In the hands of the poet, the word, as it were, comes to its senses about its essential meaning, it flourishes and develops spontaneously in keeping with its own laws, and regains its integrity. For that reason, every kind of poetry is an act of mythologization and tends to create myths about the world. The mythologization of the world has not yet ended. The process has merely been restrained by the development of knowledge, has been pushed into a side channel, where it lives without understanding its true meaning. But knowledge, too, is nothing more than the construction of myths about the world, since myth resides in its very foundations and we cannot escape beyond myth. Poetry arrives at the meaning of the world anticipando, deductively, on the basis of great and daring short-cuts and approximations. Knowledge tends to the same inductively, methodically, taking the entire material of experience into account. At bottom, both one and the other have the same aim.

The human spirit is tireless in its glossing of life with the aid of myths, in its 'making sense' of reality. The word itself, left to its own devices, gravitates towards meaning. Meaning is the element which bears humanity into the process of reality. It is an absolute given. It cannot be derived from other givens. Why something should appear meaningful to us is impossible to define. The process of making sense of the world is closely connected with the word. Speech is the metaphysical organ of man. And yet over time the word grows rigid, becomes immobilized, ceases to be the conductor of new meanings. The poet restores conductivity to words through new short-circuits, which arise out of their fusions. The image is also an offshoot of the original word, the word which was not yet a sign, but a myth, a story, or a meaning.

At present we consider the word to be merely a shadow of reality, its reflection. But the reverse would be more accurate: reality is but a shadow of the word. Philosophy is really philology, the creative exploration of the word.

Translated by John M. Bates

Source: Bruno Schulz, "Mityzacja rzeczywistosci", Republika marzen. Warszawa: Chimera, 1993: 49-50.

©Dr John Bates, 1999

Letter to Nora

60 Shelbourne Road

"I may be blind. I looked for a long time at a head of reddish-brown hair and decided it was not yours. I went home quite dejected. I would like to make an appointment but it might not suit you. I hope you will be kind enough to make one with me -- if you have not forgotten me!"

James A. Joyce 15 June 1904

The Staffordshire Men’s Auxiliary

A bang, then silence. One of the Algerian waifs broke free from the guard, weaving in and out of the people waiting for the parade to begin. ‘…stop that damn child…!’ yelled a guard with a crooked nose. The child, having made his way past the line of people and into the back alleyway turned and stuck out his tongue. ‘…the child is a menace…’ screamed a woman carrying a footstool. Bet Shemesh and Bet Yerushalayim, members of the auxiliary OAS, took a head count, 15 French-speaking children and two Algerian waifs, a girl and a boy. ‘…he’s a pickle that one…’ said a woman with a sore tooth. The second guard blew his a nose into a dirty hankie, trumpeting like a brass quintet. ‘…put that thing away…’ said the head guard to the trumpeting guard. ‘…you’re making an awful noise…’.

The Staffordshire Men’s Auxiliary hold their weekly meetings in the Tamworth Livery, the stable boy sweeping up before and afterwards. ‘--it has those, whatchamacallit, prickly things on it’. ‘--like a cat’s tongue’. ‘--yes, that’s it, a cat’s tongue’. The stable boy shooed a cowl of crows---coo-cooing from the rafters. ‘--strange, these things that prick’. ‘--like a cat’s tongue, you say’. ‘--yes, cat’s tongue’. ‘--prick?’ ‘--prickle’. ‘--prick?’ After shooing the crows---cooing-coo---from the rafters the stable boy cleaned the mucking rake tines.

The man in the hat felt a prickling in his foot. Removing his shoe he scoured his foot for tic bites. Once before he’d been bitten, forcefully, by a tic, the tic leaving a red scabby tic-mark on the bottom of his foot. Thinking, suggestively, that he might have again been bitten by a tic, perhaps the selfsame tic, he checked the bottom of his foot, and not finding a red tic-mark laced up his shoe and went about his business free from worry, though stymied that he had not sought attention, medically, the first, and what appeared to be the only time he'd been bitten by a tic as far as he could tell.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Bloomsday


Brazilian: SOBRANCEIRO, fornido, Buck Mulligan vinha do alto da escada,...

Italian: Solennemente, gravemente, Buck Mulligan veniva dall'alto della scala...

French: Majesteux et dodu, Buck Mulligan parut en haut des marches...

German: GRAVITÄTISCH kam der dicke Buck Mulligan vom Austritt am obern Endeder treppe...

Spanish: Solemne, el gordo Buck Mulligan avanzó desde la salida de la escalera...

Czech: Otylý, statný Tur Mulligan se vynoril ze schodu, nesl misku s mydlinami...

Danish: Buck Mulligan trådte op fra det øverste af trappen;...

Norwegian: Statelig trinn trådte Buck Mulligan frem øverst i trappen...

Swedish: Högtidligt trädde den satte Buck Mulligan fram fran det överstatrappesteget...

Finnish: Komea, pulska Buck Mulligan tuli portaidenpäästä kädessään vaahdokekuppi,...

Dutch: Statig kwam de dikke Buck Mulligan uit het trapgat...

Catalan: SOLEMNEMENT, el rodanxó Boc Mulligan aparegué al capdamunt de l'escala,...

Turkish: SARMAN, BABAC BUCK MULLIGAN, üzerine bir aynayla bir ustura haçvari...

Portuguese: POMPOSO, rolico, Buck Mulligan veio do alto da escada...

Slovenian: Dostojanstveno je sisao gojazni Buck Mulligan s vrha stopnišca...

Croatian: Dostojanstevno je sisao gojazni Buck Mulligan s vrha stubista...


Monday, June 15, 2009


Closing his eyes he watched the cinema projected on the inside of his forehead; squiggly lines and dots, flashes of electricity, purple and yellow, orange and red scalding the inside of his eye sockets, a kaleidoscope of pastels and oils, greasepaint and shoeblack, a Craiova of intense colour.

The Chelmsford Essex Women’s Auxiliary collect donated shoes, raffling them off in the church basement on Wednesday afternoons between 1 and 5. The women’s auxiliary consider themselves God’s cobblers, and see no reason why a man need go about shoeless, especially when there are so many unwanted shoes in the world.
Every year following the Feast of the Blessed Shepherd the sky falls, gray clouds filling in the blackness like ship’s sails. Lela met Bezdomny behind the swimming shed behind the aqueduct, the shed built from wooden planks and doweling. The shed towered above the trees, the trees casting shadows on the swimmers swimming, white bellies breaking the waves.

Every third Sunday the Bathgate Women’s Auxiliary have a picnic for the West Lothian orphanage in the park behind the aqueduct. The children arrive by oxcart, wagon, pushcart and on foot; some, the French-speaking children and a few Algerian waifs, under guard of the OAS (Secret Army Organisation), others free to go wherever they please.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gogarty and Cobequid

Lela, dearest Leal, are your wheels stuck fast in the mud? In his dream he sees a frail thinly woman laying under a great oak, legs splayed open, her delicate fingers worrying the hem of her skirts. Gogarty and Cobequid, colporteurs, inveigled Mrs. Mariánské Lázně into buying them both a pair of cobbled shoes. ‘…that’ll be enough of that…’ she quipped, returning to her sunbathing, her reprieve from the doldrums of life. Her hair worried into a hag’s knot, Lela pulls herself up from the muck and sets about the day, the sun on her face blisteringly hot. Letting go of the bollard, the curbstone prickling her hands, Lela humps herself free and sets about the day, a pair of newly cobbled men’s shoes on her childlike feet. Muddied, she sets out, the sun scoring lines in her whey soft face. The lamplighter gives her a wink, his wick burnt down to the handle. ‘…a fine sunshiny day my dear…’ he says smiling, ‘…best day in years…’. This will never do, never! Shoes are God’s gift to one’s feet! Cobblers beware, should you care for the goodwill of you children see fit that you nail, stitch and hobnail shoes fit for a King. Nothing less will do. Nothing I say, nothing! Pouring himself a tin of Coober’s Rye the alms man set about the day, his alms cap placed brim-side up on the henpecked concrete in front of him.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Villefontaine Headcheese

(He’s a yobbo, the wee tit). Awaking, corseted in white linen, the odor of Villefontaine headcheese, wheeled by the Rhone-Alpes friars, shipped by the Eltham Bros. of North Victoria and purchased with Goodwill stamps from the Greek Deli, stilling the air, Lela reaches for her hair brush, a gift from her grandmamma on the occasion of her first communion.

All things that sink to the bottom float to the surface. In time. A.J. Bergen of Hordaland county, a stones’ throw from Didcot county, barks day-old wafers from the back of an oxcart, the wheels stuck fast in the morning dewed mud. Hawking, he yells ‘…Oxfordshire wafers, a guinea a piece 5 for a pound…’.

Walking by the man in the hat stops, and turning to face A.J. Bergen says ‘…what a funny man you are, from what I can see…’. ‘…back off my dear man…’ growls the barker Bergen, his face reddening. Turning southward towards the aqueduct, where a child’s birthday party is in full swing, children bounding and skipping every-which-where, the man in the hat walks away, the sky redder than a basketful of bashed in tomatoes.

(He’s a tit, the wee yobbo). His great massive head pushed into the pillow he falls sleeping to bed. He dreams of Lela’s childlike face, her hair twisted into pig’s tails; opening her legs she gestures for him to come nearer; he climbs astern her, his cheeks pushed into the hard bones of her chest. That’ll be enough of that she squibs, her back arching like a taut bow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Peach Skinned Boy

De gants de putain c’est past sal. The Witness stood tightlipped staring at the ceiling, the hole letting in a bucket of rain. Next to him sat the other rector’s assistant, a gaunt man with graying hair and paper-thin lips. Next to him, beside the rectory bench, where the rector’s son spat up his first wafer, the congregated, yawning, listening to the fader proclaim the Feast of the Mormon Table, sat the other rector’s assistant’s assistant, a peach skinned boy with parboiled eyes that could see beyond the present into the immanent. Cardenio the curate wanted to quit his life of misery. Next to him, tightlipped, stood the ferryman, pulling hard on the halyard, his face boiling. ‘…castoff…?’ snarled the ferryman. Wheezing, his legs unbuckling, the Witness snookered to the left, the sky opening up like a catcher’s mitt. ‘…get out of my way you buzzard, I’ve got a ship to catch…’ he hollered, the ferryman splitting a gut. ‘…the first wafer’s the toughest, after that its clear sailing…’ snickered the ferryman, the rector’s other assistant pulling on the towline, a birch of keel-wood floating to the surface. ‘…get a load out…’ bellowed the Witness. ‘…the Mormon table fills up quicker than a preacher’s dance-card…’.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Fealsúnacht Brothers of East Ivy

(The Pomorskie brothers of Gdansk are in cahoots with the Racconigi brothers of Piemonte, the Pomorskie brothers having the upper hand).

Drawing a bead on the front of his skull his da circled the ferryman, ‘…I told you to stay clear of here, now you’re going have to pay…’. Ulises Griego Antiguo lives in his da’s head, making up the world as he goes. The bowsprit swigging, té ferian ferryman ihs da saw ando herrad tiñas that weren’t Uthere, noté in the world oí tiñas ando sounds. The soft-headed pimp Enrico lives with his mamma in a two-room walkup with a cat and two goldfish. He spends his mornings drawing pictures of his fish, the afternoons reserved for smalltime pimping and thieving.

(The Fealsúnacht brothers of East Ivy like boiled mutton with mint jelly, a ball of the sweet stuff on the side).

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Fumbling Boy

“you’d been stripped down to the last squalor”[1] said the Witness to the fumbling boy. When in the presence of the Witness the fumbling boy kept his head bowed, fearful as he was that a bolt of lightening or God’s hand might smote him dead. He’d decided that he wasn’t ready to die; not yet. His da cheeked pepper black snuff, splicing the dried bits off the cob of his tongue. His da was a stout angry man, known for his weakly legs and bearish hands. His ma, a delicate woman with soot black hair pulled back into a hag’s bun, drank teacupful’s of backhander’s Gin, her breath hot tempered with juniper berries and starch. ‘…you will amount to nothing…’ said his da offhandedly. ‘…prepare yourself for that, my boy, and life will be much easier…’. His da left a half-circle of snuff on the floor in front of his chair, the soles of his boots grainy with field mud and tobacco.
[1] John McGahern, The Dark, 1965

Saturday, June 06, 2009

La Nación de la Puta

Jupon R Mutt, jack-of-all-trades, works for the Duchamp Brothers, his employ, to fasten tocadors to restroom walls. The day after the Feast of the Dreyfusards J.R. Mutt left the courtyard behind the Church of the Perpetual Sinner with a bee in his bonnet, the rector’s assistant hot on his heels. The assistant, claiming to have seen J.R. Mutt stealing from the alms box, felt a shiver corseting up his spine. So unsettled was he that he slobbered like a suckling child all over his neatly pressed surplice. ‘…God have mercy on his lowly soul…’ canted the rector’s assistant. ‘…may God release him from the bondage of thievery...’. At that very moment, and without warning, a boy darted past bouncing a red and blue ball, picking up steam as he wheeled northward along the edge of the aqueduct, his blue and red ball striking the pavement like a greased pig.

‘And I…I want soup that doesn’t have scalp-lice in it!’ yelled woman, her hands jittering like autumn leaves. A stout man in a rain slicker holding an umbrella yelled, ‘…I want what I want, nothing less…’. ‘…fuck it…gimme something or else I’ll kick the living shit out of you...’. Jupon R Mutt, jack-of-all-trades, stared agog. ‘…scalp-lice…’ he mumbled, ‘…kick the living shit out of you…’. Laid out on hospital-white-linen Eröffnen Spielräume let out a moan. ‘…the hole…’ said Zilina. ‘…the saw…’ said the doctor, his heart racing madly. The following day the man in the hat, leaving his lean-to, strode out into the day, the blue sky full of cackling graylings. Leaving behind what he could not carry he walked along the embankment alongside the aqueduct, the sun at his back, his thoughts on red velvet gloves and pepper black snuff.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Solihull Overnight Asylum

The paralysis started in his big toe, skinning up his leg and into his hipbone like a poisonous snake. Eröffnen Spielräume had felt this before. The first time he’d be able to pull himself from bed, one leg at a time, slowly, achingly, but now he lay flat, pinioned, his legs heavier than yesterday’s regret. That morning he lay abed weaving baskets in his head, wondering where the day had gone.

Doctor Solihull of the Solihull Overnight Asylum and Zilina Alomar of the Zilina Women’s Auxiliary stood over Eröffnen Spielräume. ‘…he’s stopped breathing…’ said Zilina plainly. ‘…let’s get a look-see…’ said Solihull pushing Spielräume over on his side. ‘…seems fine to me, maybe a little stiff…’ said Solihull, his face reddening. ‘…what about his leg...?’ asked Zilina Alomar curiously. ‘…well we could cut it off…’ said the doctor. ‘…I suppose…’. ‘…but first we need a hole…’. ‘…with the saw…?’ interrupted Zilina Alomar.

La Nación de la Puta, the newspaper of choice for the upwardly and well-groomed, sold out in 27½ minutes (a record for a broadsheet with a reputation for high-living and corruption) the day it carried a story on the ‘missing whore’s glove’.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Medoro and Agramante

“Returning to the proceedings of him of the Rueful Countenance”, an unpleasant affair of cudgels and catapulting stones, and “having slept more than two siestas with Medoro, a little curly-headed Moor, and page to Agramante”, Benavente Giosuè turned and darted away, leaving behind his pocket comb and a half-package of hawker’s chewing tobacco. Who are these strange oddball people? …standing on the shoulders of giants makes it all seem bigger, massive…

‘…stop that yammering. I’ve had quite enough… alright already, enough’s enough…’. Agramante, summoning up the bile from his stomach, let go with a whalestail of heady spit-up, splashing… Two siestas on the shoulders of a curly-headed Moor, silly cad bastard, what’ll he think of next. Leaving what was left behind he gambolled into the night, not once taking leave of his senses or stepping outside the five-mile fence. These are strange times, strange indeed.

Having seen all that he could see, the giant’s shoulders giving way, he clambered down and went on his way, stepping around two beggars fast asleep under the Waymart clock. ‘…the next time I’ll need bring my haversack, filled with calf’s meat and sniggled eel…’. Having been witness to the kafuffle the man in the hat returned to his lean-to, safe in the knowledge that what he’d seen today he'd never see again. ‘…how can one man, a pittance of a man at that, cause such a kafuffle…?’ he said. ‘…and without a proper hat on his dockside head…’.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Benavente Giosuè

Out from behind a bust of King Olaf carved in Etruscan marble scurried a boy holding a stick high aloft his head, wobbling, he proceeded up the sideways scampering, moving in and out of traffic hurriedly. ‘…stop that boy, he has my wallet…’ yelled a man with a port-wine birthmark on his face. A man with an Angel kiss birthmark hollered in reply ‘…salmon patches and stork bites, egad the boy’s a veritable sickbay…’.

Benavente Giosuè, hat in hand, said ‘…for the love of it, the boy’s a miracle…’. Among those assembled, some standing single-file, others standing in twos, it was the man standing on the shoulders of a giant who had the best view of the scampering boy.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Palestine Festival of Literature (PALFEST)

Chinua Achebe Addresses the 2008 Palestine Festival

Horace De Moyle, Parnassian

The Parnassian Horace De Moyle lives outside the five-mile fence, making his home in an austere shanty cottage overlooking the Vincennes Glove Co. He eats nothing green, olive, pea or army, bright green or Brunswick green, Celadon, Dartmouth or emerald green, Feldgrau green, Green-yellow, Harlequin green or Hunter green, India green or Islamic green, Kelly green, Midnight green, Office green or Persian green, Pigment green or grass green, Rifle green, Sea green, Asparagus green or Fern green, Gray-asparagus or gray-green, a close relative of jungle green, Moss green, Myrtle green or Sap green, Shamrock green, also referred to as Irish green, Tea green or Teal, which has equal parts blue and green, and color wheel green, known also as X11 green, preferring bright yellows and earthy browns.

The Groningen women’s auxiliary of South Groningen, known for they’re splendid voices and operatic arias, and the Kosice sisters of Kosice-Trebisov New Kosice, builders of moveable daises and concert chairs, met one afternoon under the Waymart clock, the two parties, unbeknown to the another, there to attend the Feast of the Goat, a yearly gathering of oxmen and roustabouts. On the other side of the street, with they’re backs to the sisters, stood the Krasnoyarsk twins, Ivan and Igor Krasnoyarsk, Ivan sticking his tongue out at whomever passed by, Igor simpering about the cost of fish and costume jewellery. ‘…when, by God, will they come out with an affordable pair of coral earrings and a boneless whitefish…?’ simpered Igor, his face reddening.

Horace De Moyle, Parnassian, let go with a yipping hurrah, summoning the attention of the Kosice sisters, who, having found nothing of interest to catch they’re fancy, were shuffling to and fro, the eldest sister pealing a tag of skin from her leftmost eyelid. The man in the hat, having moments earlier arrived behind the Groningen women’s auxiliary of South Groningen, watched as the Kosice sisters of Kosice-Trebisov New Kosice secured a scrap of linoleum over a sizeable hole in the daises’ awning. ‘…this is absurd…’ he said whispering, his hat flapping in the noonday breeze. ‘…yes…’ said Ivan, his face lit up like a neon sign, ‘…but isn’t everything…?’ His hat flapping, the man in the hat rejoined ‘…yes, but on such a glorious sunshiny day…’.

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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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