Monday, August 31, 2009

The Pursuit of Honors and Riches

While all this was happening the Vincennes Glove Co. was busy stitching together gloves: whore’s gloves and evening gloves, dinner gloves and postprandial gloves, woolen gloves and goatskin gloves, calfskin and ostrich, emu and alpaca, gloves for dancing and gloves for sitting, furry gloves and fleece-lined gloves, gloves for debutants and gloves for seniors, the bobbins and skeins whirling and spitting out gloves for all occasions and all sorts of people. Stitched in gold thread onto the palm of a dinner glove was the following, [4] (1) By sensual pleasure the mind is enthralled to the extent of quiescence, as if the supreme good were actually attained, so that it is quite incapable of thinking of any other object; when such pleasure has been gratified it is followed by extreme melancholy, whereby the mind, though not enthralled, is disturbed and dulled. (2) The pursuit of honors and riches is likewise very absorbing, especially if such objects sought simply for their own sake, [a] inasmuch as they are then supposed to constitute the highest good.[1] The glove was made for a Countess with a whorish disposition, a disposition she unveiled behind her husband’s back in the cold cellar. The psalm stitched into the palm was a reminder that men are beasts and women saintly whores. She hadn’t the foggiest who this Baruch Benedict de Spinoza was, for had she she would surely have had second thoughts about disgracing such an eminent, albeit unassuming man. The Countess spreads her legs, the smell of mare’s piss sating her desire, she’s a fine fuck, never ‘disturbed and dulled’. His breath smelled like vintner’s gas, sour and vinegary. ‘I dare say I wouldn’t dare touch a hair on her head’ said the tailor’s apprentice, ‘...surely she’d bust a stitch’.
[1] Benedict de Spinoza, On the Improvement of the Understanding

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Smock's Beshit

Haskell O’Casey tightened his grip around Phil Villefontaine’s neck, his face turning plum purple. MacFlecknoe and Funcke ganged up on Collofino Olbrich, Collofino teetering left and right, Dejesus hollering ‘stoolie bastard!’ Stanton, O’Casey yanking him left and right, yowled like a kicked dog, ‘it wasn’t me, I swear!’ A mist appeared out of nowhere, ‘scat bastard!’ hissed Abe Abingdon’s ghost, ‘…always had your hand in the till’. ‘kill the bastard!’ crowed the cock, its coxcombs standing on end. Not one to miss out on a good opportunity, Marjorie O’Casey jabbed Villefontaine in the eye with a stick, a cockscomb of blood spackling her newly washed dress. Teetering Villefontaine fell ass over kettle, his nose splayed across his cheekbones like a maple tree seed pod. As he fell swooning to his knees Villefontaine paid homage to the Debauchee of Rochester,

By all love's soft, yet mighty powers,
It is a thing unfit,
That men should fuck in time of flowers,
Or when the smock's beshit.

Fair nasty nymph, be clean and kind,
And all my joys restore;
By using paper still behind,
And sponges for before.

My spotless flames can ne'er decay,
If after every close,
My smoking prick escape the fray,
Without a bloody nose.

If thou would have me true, be wise,
And take to cleanly sinning,
None but fresh lovers' pricks can rise,
At Phyllis in foul linen.

(John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester)


Dorset and Rogaland met Eschborn under the bust of King Olaf to discuss what was to be done with the scoundrel orange merchant Villefontaine. ‘oranges are God’s fruit’ said Rogaland, ‘...not some mammy ambry child’s soother’. ‘right you are my dear friend’ added Dorset, ‘…nor are they to be taken lightly…’ ‘…or eaten like a slob prince’ interrupted Eschborn. King Olaf’s skirt stuck out like a broken thumb, the folds in his sash snaking round his legs and torso. ‘that hardhead O’Casey’ll lay a beating on the bastard Villefontaine’ said Rogaland. ‘fuck him up to next Wednesday’ said Eschborn, Dorset’s lips trembling with anger. Rogaland hung his arm over King Olaf’s shoulder, resting his hip against the King’s thigh. ‘merchant of spoil’ laughed Eschborn, Dorset joining in with a thundering guffaw.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Collofino Olbrich

Mullingar ran the photo booth at the church bazaar. For 25-cents you could have a photograph taken of yourself and watch it develop right before your eyes. Mullingar won the Rollei Instamatic for an essay he wrote on choiring; second place going to an essay about deep-knee-bends written by an asthmatic. Vilna Kroner was born in Sebastopol in 1958, son to Abe and Lois Kroner, brother to Oliver and Stu, grandson of Haskell and Marjorie O’Casey, on his mother’s side. Vilna spent weekends and holidays collecting odds and ends, things small enough to fit in his sachet or in the basket on his bicycle handlebars. He had a particular hanker for old bottles, green, brown, yellow, blue and navy, match packets and shiny bits of glass, green, blue, orange, yellow and black. One day he found a crate of spoiled oranges in the alleyway behind the Seder Grocer; on one of the spoiled oranges was written,

"If there were no commandments, no duties in the world, I would die, starve, be crippled by boredom. I only have to be spurred on, compelled, regimented. It suits me entirely. Ultimately it is I who decides, only I. I provoke the frowning law to anger a little, afterwards I make the effort to pacify it."
[1]

Phil Villefontaine, cofounder with Abe Abingdon of the Oxfordshire Orange Co., met his demise at the hands of Haskell O’Casey on the 10th of August 1900andaught. Vilna’s grandpappy beat him senseless over a crate of spoiled oranges, shouting ‘a man ought stand by what he sells… and you, sir, are no such man!’ Mishearing fishcakes for fig cake he beat the man specious with the clubs of his fists. ‘God almighty’ shouted Cecil Funcke, ‘…you’re going to kill the man!’ ‘mind your own business’ huffed Vilna’s grandpappy, ‘…or you’ll get some of the same’. At that moment, unbeknown to the people gathered taking in the beating, Dejesus stared into the fiery blazing sun, his eyes flashing blue murder. Bumping and trundling along the sidewalk came a wheelbarrow, a cock sitting pretty in the barrow, its cockscomb sweltering red murder. ‘we live in strange times’ said Dejesus to Cecil Funcke., ‘strange in deed only… everything else is gravy’ replied Cecil Funcke.

MacFlecknoe gave the bum’s rush to Thomas Josef Stanton, ‘you foolish scat!’, Collofino Olbrich laughing a stitch in his side. ‘strange’ said Funcke, his eyes rolling back into his brow. ‘who would have thought MacFlecknoe would waste his time on a scoundrel like Stanton?’
[1] Robert Walser Jakob von Gunten

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dante's Inferno - Canto I

Crappy Skull

That day, the day before the running of the dogs, a boy wearing a bowtie fell off his horsy and broke his busted nose. Jorge Estadística, standing nearby exclaimed ‘good god the boy’s wearing a bloodied bowtie!’ The boy yowled like a whipped dog ‘yaaaa hooooooooooo wl!’ Cecil Funcke of Basingstoke Churchdown wears his surplice inside out, saving an offering coin or two on dry-cleaning and refolding. The Basingstoke Churchdown boy’s choir sing for their supper, lunch and breakfast, the choirmaster egging them on with his baton. When he was a boy Dejesus sang in the Basingstoke Churchdown boy’s choir. Celebrated for his piercing castrato and flash blue eyes, Dejesus was a favorite among the parish fish.

‘look his nose is all bloodies’ said a boy frighteningly. ‘bloodied’ said a boy chewing on a whip of red licorice. He threw a punch that came down on top of the other boy’s head like a hammer, caving in his already crappy skull. ‘that’ll be quite enough!’ roared a man clenching his jaw. ‘you boys should be in choir practice… now git’. Both boys took flight, disappearing round the corner tumbling. That morning Dejesus laid a out a boy he’d had a fight with earlier in the day, knocking him tea kettle over arse into a mountain of apples. That day, the day after the running of the dogs, the Basingstoke Churchdown boy’s choir brokered a deal with the choirmaster, they would stay late on Wednesdays and Sundays after Mass if they could have fig cakes for supper. Agreeing, free of caveats or conditions, the choirmaster sent out for fishcakes and sodas, mishearing fishcake for fig cake and sodas for rum.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Un Solo Hombre Ha Nacido

The bootmaker’s wife worked for the Eire Abu Society pandering to opera enthusiasts and highbrow charity types. The man in the hat met the bootmaker’s wife after the Feast of the Lamb, the two enjoying a good laugh together. As he was a sensible man the curate congratulated Gretchen Micomicona on her stately mission, to become the heiress to the Vincennes Glove Co. The bootmaker’s wife swore up and down that a woman of such illusory beauty should not be allowed to set foot in the Vincennes Glove Co. ‘the Eire Abu Society does not recognize such sexual shenanigans. Women like you should be sent to the mines… ply your dark trade there, madam, and leave us alone’. While this was happening the man in the hat sat facing the Waymart clock waiting for the little hand to pass the big hand. He felt uncomfortable around angry people, preferring the tick tock of the Waymart clock to arguments, won or lost, that made fools of everyone except he. Gretchen Micomicona let go with a gush of anger ‘how dare you, madam!’ the bootmaker’s wife shrinking in fright. The curate of Churchdown Cecil Basingstoke, known for his high teas and low morals, chastised the bookmaker’s wife and Gretchen Micomicona, the blood in his temples reaching untold of duress.

Under a hodgepodge of eel skin, left behind after the dogmen harvest their catch, under a fichus tree, one of many that surround the aqueduct, the man in the hat found a notebook; and in the notebook was written the following:

Un solo hombre ha nacido, un solo hombre ha muerto en la tierra.
Afirmar lo contrario es mera estadística, es una adición imposible.


In all the world one man has lived, one man has died.
To insist otherwise is nothing more than statistics, an impossible extension.


Jorge Luis Borges

As curious as curious can be the man in the hat read on, hoping to discover the secret, a simple fraction, an into or out of, something he could say he’d learned but couldn’t say how or why. Sursee Aargau belittled the dogmen for leaving behind ‘such a god’s awful mess’, the grassland surrounding the aqueduct littered with eels skins and belly guts.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Schleswig's Bugleweed Paregoric

His uncle made potions and salves from the desiccated weeds and grass, mixing the brew with agarics and tonic water. When Schleswig was twelve he stole a bottle of bugleweed paregoric (tinctura opii camphorata) from his uncle’s desk drawer, heralding the beginning of his addiction to morphine and carpenter’s glue. Before bed each night his uncle Rex plants a watery-mouthed kiss on his wife’s melony rump. Schleswig took to covering his ears every time his uncle spoke, not wanting to be privy to his uncle’s sexual proclivities. Sometimes a mild paregoric helped deafen his uncle’s voice, other times a stiff draft of bugleweed tonic topped off with a menthol cigarette. ‘a melony rump’ Schleswig whispered to himself, ‘I’d give up breathing to get a look at that’. Schleswig fell in love with Maria Puglia, a textile worker from Foggia. Maria Puglia and Schleswig were lovers for three years, their tryst coming to an end when Ms. Puglia cheated on Schleswig with a lamplighter from Tuxtla called Gutierrez Chiapas Jr. After a series of unhappy relationships, one tryst ending with Schleswig hightailing it after his lover put a contract out on his head, Schleswig found refuge and safety in the town where he now works in the sanatorium emptying stool-buckets, a job he has held for the past 2½ years, almost.

Schleswig’s mother Peggy attended the Marchmont School For Girls. In her senior year she wed a delivery man for the Crompton Linen Co., one Albert Schleswig. The following year she gave birth to a baby boy. As his parents couldn’t agree on a first name, Peggy wanting ‘Hilbert’, Albert ‘Hulbert’, they settled on Schleswig, ‘Schley’ for short. Schleswig’s great granddad was a Midshipman on the freighter Elijah Stubb. Gabriel Bunger, the freighter’s captain, keelhauled whomever disrespected his commission. Being a cheek and short-tempered salt, 'Schley’s' granddad many a time found himself scraping the ship’s hull, his disrepute legendary among seafaring men. Vicente was in charge of keelhauling, a family tradition handed down from his great-great great granddad to his great-great granddad and so on, Vicente the latest in a long line of keelhauling seafarers.

…there are no Schleswigs, no midshipmen, no keelhaulers…! The Bunger School For Girls, 2727 Stubb’s Ave., a crow’s throw from Crompton’s gym, muscle-bound roughnecks putting the boots to poor old Elijah. …stomp stomp, don’t Lethem up boys, let’s keelhaul the fucker… heave ho even as she goes… Sternshipman said it’ll be more rigorous if we ketch ‘em over the bow, boys…


He dreams that he is in a one room schoolhouse watching Ms. Hicks write into’s and out of’s in yellow chalk on the chalkboard. He awakens, shakes the sleep from his head and jumps headfirst out the window, landing feetfirst onto the asphalt in front of the Church of the Perpetual Sinner. Shaking his head a second time he mounts the steps and walks into the church, the rector’s assistant sitting in the second to last pew. Clearing his throat the rector’s assistant turns and whispers ‘the truth is not in your head… when will you ever learn?’

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Black Lung

The harridan’s sister spent one afternoon a week visiting with the consumptives. She read to a woman with gangrened feet, tatted dollies with a syphilitic and played pinochle with a deaf mute. She kept her distance from Rosario Santa Fe, who she feared might punt her between the legs should the impulse arise. One night Fe Rosario Santa ate shoeblack, her face breaking out in boils, the duty nurse scrubbing her cheeks raw, Fe Santa squealing like a sow.

He remembers the stool-buckets, hammered from cheap tin, and the reflection they made in the metal jakes under the door. Schleswig made the rounds on the floor for consumptives and drug fiends. In the bed next to the window overlooking the courtyard lay the General, a Bell palsied consumptive with a hooked nose. In the bed next to him slept a Black Lung consumptive, his railing punctuating the stillness of the room. Schleswig emptied the stool-buckets, the tins clanking as he shepherded between beds. Schleswig was born to Albert and Peggy Schleswig, peasant stock, in Bowerchalke Wiltshire in the year of the dog, 1948. He aspired to nothing; his parents having instilled a sense of hopelessness in him at a very early impressionable age. Growing up Schleswig visited his uncle Rex who lived in Biggleswade Square outside New Bedfordshire. His uncle Rex picked bugleweed and crowfoot grass, drying the flowers in a brick oven behind the outhouse around the back of the house.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

House of Borges

He remembered the surly look on the custodian’s face and his eyes, pale blue with flecks of gammare. He could see the gray cloudless sky and the crows sniping at passersby. He could hear the custodian laughing when he walked on the balls of his feet, his shoes worn through at the heels, the cobs of his toes chafed crumbly. Rosario Santa Fe they called her, never once using her given or Christian name. Rosario lived in the room above him with the other consumptives and dope fiends, the ward known for its indecorousness fecal odor and broken door handles. Santa Fe, as she was wont to call herself, wore the same blue and white jumper, the cuffs frayed, the waistband twisted round her hips. Rosario Santa claimed she’d been a courtesan to the House of Borges in Ola Buenos Aires. Around her neck she wore a lion’s tooth broach, a gift from a man with a black face and white white teeth. Fe slept with her feet facing southward, interrupting the microwaves that flew like tailless kites around her head. Fe Santa wore a toque lined with tin foil, the chinstrap tied in bows and double-knots lest it jimmy loose exposing her to violent thoughts and spasms of the brain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Tall Spiraling Bush

‘--how often is often?’ the harridan’s sister asked. The harridan’s sister asked questions mostly of strangers or people she ran into in the street. If she didn’t get an answer she asked a second third and fourth time. ‘--where is Torrent Cataluna?’ she asked pointing. ‘can I get there by boat?’ ‘how often does the boat leave if it leaves for there?’ pointing. Out from behind a tall spiraling bush approached a poacher, his gunnysack slung crosswise over his shoulder. Pointing she asked ‘poacher, can get me from here to there?’ ‘I can take you as far as Pietarsaari…’ said the poacher, ‘…maybe Mendoza’. ‘Mendoza…’ pointing ‘…I’ve always wanted to go to Mendoza’. ‘give me your hand’.

A green leaf sky, the tree outside his window in full leaf. As he waited for the feast to begin, he reckoned noontime, half-past on the outside, he picked his gums with the half-moon of his thumbnail. ‘sure I could..’ he said thinking he could eat a horse, or a back loin or shaker. Trimming the fat, separating the whey from the curd, the wheat from the chaff. He’d been to the Waldau Sanatorium once before, the day after Christmas 1959. He’d overheard two men with fat crumbly-skin talking about the Transhumance, a tribe of natural runners who live deep in the red canyons somewhere in Mexico. ‘barefooted’ said one of the fat crumby-skin men, ‘they run without shoes’. He’d been a patient at the cantonal sanitarium of Appenzell-Ausserhoden in Herisau since June, moving to the Waldau Sanatorium after Christmas 1958. He had a hard time remembering when he was a patient at the Appenzell-Ausserhoden, thinking that it might have been the Waldau Sanatorium Christmas 1958 or 59. He had a difficult time distinguishing between sanatoriums and madhouses, places he’d been in the 1950’s, placed he’d been taken against his will by roughhouse men in white jackets. He remembered reading a note written on one of the madhouse wall, the pale green wall, “Some who jumped had fiery wings, their heads burned, or their hands, and they looked like strange birds who could scream but couldn’t fly.”
[1]

His moustache was longer, bushier then. Back then his moustache was blonde, like angle’s wings, not gray and wiry. He had hard white teeth with gold fillings then, not a salver that made his gums bleed. Back then, before he was taken against his will, he went crabbing with the man in the hat, sometimes the harridan and her sister. They all three had fun, jolly good fun. Now he was lucky if he was permitted a walk around the grounds, the custodian waving at him to stay away from the gate. Now was different then back then when things were simpler and less hot. Now he was always complaining about the buzzing in his ears, like bees in a bonnet, the custodian waving him off. The first time he felt it, his insides, he was eeling with the littlest dogman, the water calmer than death, his ears buzzing and hissing. That’s when he thought of ‘bees in a bonnet’, his forehead doubled in two. The pain was excruciating, the sound deafening, his back stiff as a dressed corpse. It was three o’clock, he remembered, the sun slinking behind the gatehouse bridge.
[1] Robert Walser, Theater Fire

Monday, August 17, 2009

Del Mar Valparaiso

The reoffering follows the conferring, reoffering and conferring referring to the Lamarckian maxim ‘what comes into the world must exit the world’. The Reofferer arrived the day after the last calf was conferred. A panhandler by trade, it was his job to initiate the reoffering of the calves; an avocation passed down from grandfather to son to grandson. The man in the hat met the Reofferer the day before the first snowfall. His hat hunkered on the crown of his head he set out into the day. As the midday heat was stifling, the blacktop a sizzling cast-iron skillet, the man in the hat decided to defer the remainder of the day. When the days grew weary with heat the townspeople stayed indoors, cooling the inside temperature with frozen saltlicks wrapped in bed sheets, the windows sealed shut, chinking stuffed with rags and shirttails. Del Mar Valparaiso makes ice in an abandoned trolley-car, saltlick-size bales going for 25 cents a block. The Reofferer arrived the day after the last conferring. In the boot of his sedan he carried iodine, mercurochrome and sulfuric acid, gauze, tensor bandages, coarse salt, alcohol, a set of speculums arranged in order from 25 centimeters to 7½ centimeters, a lever and three changes of clothing. The Reofferer began the reoffering with a short prayer ‘--what is conferred shall be reoffered’. Smearing an unctuous oil of calamine, stinkweed and fichus root on the calves’ head, the Reofferer slapped the calf on the tenderloin and said a second prayer ‘But ye, also, my brethren, tell me: What doth your body say about your soul? Is your soul not poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency?’[1] The Potchefstroom Bros. make Porkpie hats, 2 for a dollar 3 for a fiver. He gave him a priestly pat on the back and set out to meet the day.

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA, Zarathustra's Prologue, 1891

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ena Sallied Forth

Its never too late to forget an old trick. Dr. McCredie dispenses stool-softener to the incontinent and down-at-the-heel, never once asking for a script or a handwritten note. ‘Soften the bowel and free the man’. The Greek palmist sang in recitativo accompagnato, the audience succored into a deep hypnotic trance. The Dionysian Chorister, master of the Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) sallied forth accompanied by Demeter and Persephone, the trio singing at the top of their lungs, ‘Ena sallied forth to face the day, her gait determinedly nonchalant’. Slouched against the Waymart guardrail the man in the hat said ‘--sally on poor man, rally forth’.

A boy swinging a cat by the tail said "Three quarks for Muster Mark!"
[1] to which Kemerovo esta Kemerovo trumpeted “big ass fackeng” to which Marcus Hook declared “Bloemfontein is a Free State…” to which Dom los Alcanena Santarem announced “Hemel Hempstead Hertford has the best fried eel pie”, all four giggling like mischievous waifs.

The day the abortionist arrived in town the sky was black as soot. That year the rains arrived in June ending with the first snowfall in November. Calving time came early that year, the pastures overrun with feeble-legged calf’s and slack-belly heifers. “…and then, all because of him, came the other gentleman and carried off my tail, and gives it back more than two cuartillos the worse, all stripped of its hair…”
[2] said the abortionist in rhyme, his head bobbing from side to side. He had a way about him, the abortionist did, that to the untrained eye seemed awkward and unneutered. He terminated fief calves, the stillborn and deformed, two-legged calves and calves with no legs, half-formed calves with half-formed heads, tiny bale-size calves with red eyes and wet noses, he came to town once a year to confer death upon new life, his tools tinkling like cutlery in his doctor's bag.

[1] James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
[2] Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cutthroat Eel

The next day the owner of the Greek Deli left town never to return. The following day the dogmen took ownership of the store changing the name to Dogmen Bros. Store, the sign in the window reading ‘we sells eels and salt goods’. Seeing that the dogmen had taken over the Greek’s Deli the Seder Grocer exclaimed ‘--things are changing... and not for the better’ The man in the hat gawped at the new sign over the door ‘--I’ll be damned, Greek dogmen’. Eel brisket and eel pot pie, poached eel and braised eel, eel fricassee and eel a la king, eels jubilee and blanched eel with parsnips and vinegar; the dogmen sold eel fillets and eel loin, picnic eel and minced eel with garlic and parsley. They sold freshwater eel and salted eel (Anguilliformes), deep sea eel (Monognathus) and river eel, eel roe (leptocephalus) and coral reef eel (Chlopsidae), mud eel (Heterenchelyidae) spaghetti eel (Moringuidae) and cosmopolitan eel, thin eel (Myrocongridae) and Longneck eel (Derichthyidae) Snipe eel (Nemichthyidae) and Sawtooth eel (Serrivomeridae) duckbill eel (Nettastomatidae) and Cutthroat eel (Synaphobranchidae), the dogmen sold all manner and species of eel.

He unsheathed his naked dagger and plunged it in to the hilt, his thoughts spinning in his head. "Fate, it seems, will not grant my just desire complete satisfaction, but it will not be able to keep me from satisfying it partially at least…"
[1] The verse evoked memories of his great aunt’s marmalade tea biscuits dusted with icing sugar and friar’s cocoa. The grocer of his childhood, Doha Ad Dawhah, sold sassafras soda and saffron pie, betel nut candies and lemongrass suckers, syrupy cakes and soft licorice, things you could only find at Mr. Ad Dawhah’s corner store. Across the street from the ten pin bowling lanes the fat lady sells cold beer and rainbow gumballs, the clap and crash of the ten-pins echoing in her ears. The owner of the Greek Deli gathered his belongings and returned home to Parala Pieria, Doctor Solihull of the Solihull Overnight Asylum warning him that feebleness runs in families, αδύναμες οικογένειες, so you best keep your πέος στο παντελόνι σας. Resheathing his dagger he plunged his foot into the mossy earth, balancing himself on the ball of his foot, his dagger shackled and scabbard at his side. In his dream he thrusts the cook’s knife into the picnic ham, a suckling watery sound oozing onto his pants leg.
[1] Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Monday, August 10, 2009

Girolamo Fracastoro

This wasn’t the first time he’d had his fetters with the Mormons. A few years back late into the evening he fell upon a Mormon wingding in a circus tent on the outskirts of town (the Mormons not being allowed within the five-mile fence) the head Mormon scolding ‘--be gone heathen… you are not welcomed here!’ The South Shields Mormons and the South Tyneside Mormons are in cahoots with the Brayside Episcopalians, forming the Church of the Greater Scientist, know for its pig-knuckle competitions, held the second Sunday of every month, twice during the month of Lent. Not feeling the faintest bit faint he stood his ground and stared bulls’-eyed at the head Mormon, his knuckles brandished at his sides. ‘--I assure you, my dear man, I am no heathen…’.

When he was old enough to burn ants with a magnifying glass his da bought him a telescope with silver dials. He burned small black dots into ash, spiny legs like fake-eyelashes disappearing under the hedge, his mamma screaming ‘supper!’ at the top of her lungs. ‘--if it’s a fight you want, dear sir, then so be it… I will show you no mercy, I assure’. (Dear auntie hadn’t the faintest why the gonorrhoeae visited her on Wednesdays and Friday’s after fish, just the damndest thing).

In the village of Wolverhampton, under a jaundice yellow moon, the Wolverhampton apothecary dispensed a tincture of flea salve to the man standing at the head of the line, the queued fuming like a nest of angry mud-wasps. Girolamo Fracastoro, professor emeritus at Padua university, handed out copies of his epic poem ‘Syphilis sive morbus gallicus’ to those gathered, men, women and children alike applauding with enthusiasm. Skulking in the shadows, his pamphleteer’s cap pulled over his brow, the Witness pointed his finger at the eminent professor of medicine and proclaimed ‘--you sir are a crackpot and a phony!’ His face calm and unwrinkled, the eminent professor replied ‘--the educated classes… who consider themselves the brains of the nation. In fact they are not its brains but its shit… do not waste yourself on the whining of decaying intellectuals’
[1], the sun disappearing into the brown dirty earth.
[1] Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to Maxim Gorky

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Efflagitasti Convicio

Howard Zweig fell from such a great height he broke his collarbone, three knuckles and a tooth. Had he not been in such a hurry to get where he was going he might not have fallen from such a great height breaking three knuckles, his collarbone and a tooth. But on that day he was in a hurry hurrying to get a glimpse of the missing whore’s glove said to be in the possession of a frail weakly man staying in a room above the Greek Deli. (On the wall facing the five-mile fence, the plaster pale-ashen, was written the following: “Thoughts---- Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings----always darker, emptier, and simpler.”)[1] On the wall opposite, beneath a framed facsimile of the first page of the Bible, was a handwritten note, “Anselmo, hidden behind some tapestries where he had concealed himself, beheld and was amazed at all, and already felt that what he had seen and heard was a sufficient answer to even greater suspicions…” {Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote}. After reading the handwritten note, before which he took a wide-eyed glance at the facsimile, the man in the hat said to himself ‘--ah yes, the missing whore’s glove, suspicion does as suspicion is’.

The last time he’d seen a framed replica was in Buenos Balcarce in the nineteen-fifties, the page torn from the book of Los Conchas de Putas, owned by the Dundee Bros. of Dundee. The Dundee Bros. sold the replica page to the Allerd City library, the facsimile placed on the wall next to a duplicate replica of the Frederiksborg Book of Laughter, chapter 27 revealing the proper technique for belly-laughter and chortling. ‘--I sure could use a feast’ said the man in the hat, ‘…its been months since the Feast of the Thirsty Boar… the harridan’s sister flying off the handle and making a damned fool of herself’. Peeking from behind the bust of King Olaf, the King’s nose whitewashed with tern (Sternidae) shit, the littlest dogmen tittered, his pockets weighed with river stones and pebbles. ‘--if I had a nickel’ said the man in the hat weighing his words carefully, ‘--I’d be a rich man, nickels being what they are… prime real estate in a bunkers’ market’.

That summer feasts were a rarity, few churches and women’s auxiliaries having the chairs or time to put on a banquet, those with a craving for formal meals having to settle for tinned vegetables and canned meats, under-ripe cheeses and hard boiled eggs, the sort of trough one found at the Greek Deli or the Seder Grocer’s, both of which were closed Saturdays and Wednesdays after one (the proprietor of the Greek Deli spent Wednesdays eeling and Saturdays reciting Homeric poetry; the owner of the Seder Grocer’s paid his mother a visit every Wednesday afternoon at two, Saturdays he baked wafers for the following week’s communion, non-salted from eight to noon, salted from twelve to five-thirty).

‘--out of my way, can’t you see I’m in a hurry?’ cried the Witness, his arms overburdened with pamphlets and jars of ink. As today was the day before the Quintilian he was fit to be tied, his thoughts baying in the pulpit of his head. In his right hand he held the first oration, ‘Efflagitasti cotidiano convicio, ut libros, quos ad Marcellum meum de Institutione oratoria scripseram iam emittere inciperem…’
[2] and under his left arm a duplicate replica of the first page of the Mormon Bible, the words bleeding one into the other, the printer having used cheapskate ink and discount paper.
[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Trans., Walter Kaufmann, New York: Vintage, 1974.
[2] Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, The Orations.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Charcot’s Beret

The Redditch constabulary are on the lookout for a smarmy cunt and a two-bit con, both cunt and con having been seen in the vicinity of the Vincennes Glove Co. on the night of August 6th nineteen-hundred and aught. The newspaper headline read, “The cost of whore’s gloves has skyrocketed! Having become the accessory of choice among the gentry and simple folk alike, finding a haberdasher with a pair in stock, even a mismatched pair, is a chore indeed. And with Flag Day quickly approaching, followed by the Feast of the Comeuppance and the return of the Herstal Liege pantomime troop, all hell will surely break loose if the Vincennes Glove Co. cannot keep up with the demand for whore’s gloves, be they mismatched or in pairs”.

On the wall over the transom, just out of reach of meddlesome hands, was written ‘Pulchrum est Paucorum Hominum, áskēsis is not for the weak or faint of heart’. Having read the very same infixion on a plaque honoring the Feast of the Redeemer, the man in the hat thought nothing of it. The Altrincham Bros. of Krung Thep and the Cheshire Bros. of Bangkok met one muggy August day under the ferric-wheel in the park beside the town hall. Upon seeing one another, the sun licking the salt from their chins, the two brothers shook hands, loosened their ties and climbed aboard the ferric-wheel, the eldest Altrincham Bros. exclaiming to the youngest Cheshire Bros. ‘--acicular ferrite, and by the bushel…’ As the Cheshire Bros. were in the market for needles and pins they agreed to pay the Altrincham Bros., makers of fine needles and small-headed pins, the sort used for dress busts and kitchen windows, $27 a bushel, postage and shipping included. The Cheshire Bros., who were in cahoots with the Vincennes Glove Co., supplying them with small-headed pins and sewing needles, figured they could corner the market on haberdasher’s appurtenances, insuring their fair share of whore’s gloves.

Having never seen nor smelled a whore’s glove I fear I am in no stead to make pronouncements about them. Objects without subjects, words without meaning, its all slight-of-hand, trickery. Should you believe what I say, put trust in me, you are nothing more than a fool’s fool, a buffoon, a simpleton, an ass, a predicate without a subject. Go back to your incontinent morals and public confessions; there is nothing left to see here… move on, find someone else to amuse you, SCAT! He awoke from a disagreeable sleep, the world having changed since he last saw it, vanished, kaput, gone. Disagreeably he eased his legs from bed, unbent his knees and plopped his feet on the cold linoleum floor. ‘--so this is it, what I have to make do with…’. He slid off the edge of the bed and onto the floor, the cold linoleum bringing out the worst in him, and peered out the onionskin window, the sky blacker than Charcot’s beret, the day starting as if for the first time again.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lux Ex Orient

Gonzalo Fernández de Canela and Christopher de Rómulo Oviedo y Valdés were to meet Gallegos y Gallegos behind the Waymart the Friday before the Feast of the Comeuppance. Gonzalo Fernández de Canela saying to Christopher de Rómulo Oviedo y Valdés ‘--this is the place, its buried here… under the 27th pew from the altar, if we count back from 1001 we should have no difficulty finding…’. ‘--the glove?’ interrupted Christopher de Rómulo Oviedo y Valdés. ‘--yes?’ said Gonzalo Fernández de Canela in a censorious voice, not wanting to draw attention to himself. Christopher de Rómulo Oviedo y Valdés upon turning noticed Gallegos y Gallegos standing straight as maypole behind the Waymart.

Fixing his gaze on Gonzalo Fernández de Canela he said ‘--he’s here’. ‘--we best get the ropes from the cart’ said Gonzalo Fernández de Canela, ‘--before he thinks we’re lazing about doing nothing’. Gonzalo Fernández de Canela, Christopher de Rómulo Oviedo y Valdés and Gallegos y Gallegos were but three of many who coveted the missing whore’s glove. The barrister Simms, unbeknown to his wife, coveted the missing whore’s glove, as did the rector’s assistant, for reasons of a daemonic nature, the glove being a golden calf, and Dejesus, for whom the glove represented the end of hatred and jealousy in the world; all who had come in contact with the glove, be it through travel, happenstance or duress, coveted the glove, the glove having a power over people far overreaching any women’s apparel, be it nightshirt, corset or lacy underclothes.

What’s all this buffoonery about whores and gloves? The two appear together like yesterday and tomorrow, everything and nothing, sunrise and sunset. To think otherwise is to covet buffoons and clowns, gadflies and busybodies, cranks and nitwits. Fyn told me that a man’s Svendborg is his castle… On the island of Funen upriver from Langeland, Ærø and Tåsinge, Møller-Mærsk Fyn opens a letter from Valdemar the Victorious (Valdemar Sejr) announcing the investiture of Walpurgis Night, to be followed the next day by national Flag Day, a day of highfaluting rejoicing. ‘--but where will we ever find enough whore’s gloves to appease the throngs?’ said the second assistant to the first assistant. ‘--I’ve heard say of a place beyond the Ærø across the Tåsinge where a man can buy as many whore’s gloves as his heart commands…’ said the first assistant to the second and third. ‘--Vincennes…’. ‘--Vincennes, yes I recall the name’ added the third assistant, the second and first assistants beside themselves with joy.

Gloving and whoring found their meter in the early Dark Ages, a time of low-culture and swank haberdashery. A time when Lux Ex Orient rang throughout the land, summoning the Teutonic Knights to the knee of Pope Gregory IX, Inquisititor, whereupon he cautions them ‘be wary of tomfools and heretics’, sidesaddle to Pope Gregory IX Pope Innocent IV, his face red as fresh meat, requests Isabella’s fair hand in dance, Pope Sixtus IV arriving by landau, his Chantilly frayed and torn, demanding of Lucas de Tuy ‘as we speak the Moorish are convening… get thy shoulder beneath the wheel, I command you be fleet and unnerved… now get moving we have no time to waste’, his booming command catching the ear of Torquemada Pope Paul III, his Miter tippling on the tonsure of his head, who decrees in a deep Bassano voice ‘Galileo, who you will find on page 27½ of the Liborurm Prohibitorum, is a crackpot, a heretic… I demand that you set his telescope on fire!’… and off in the far to middling distance, his threadworn surplice gathered round his shoulders, Giordano Bruno, pale and ashen, sits in the sanctum dais playing pinochle with two monks and an ass.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Northallerton Abattoir

His da’s da first worked for the Metz Bros. Abattoir, the brothers admiring his granddad’s overhand swing and steady hand. The brothers sold chuck and picnic shoulder, ribs and loin, flank and inside round, his da’s da dressing the meat with brown paper and string. On his off-time, those few minutes between pigs, his granddad smoked his cob outside the back door of the slaughterhouse, the alleyway a litter of rotten loin and chuck, half-incised picnic shoulder, flaps of meat pocketed to yellow bone, broken ribs and flattened out inside round. As the day drew on the back alleyway took on the appearance of a war zone, bales of putrefied flesh and sawed bone, coils of knotted intestine and guts, things hacked and chopped into unusable flanks and cutlets. The Parigi Bros. and the Emilia-Romagna Bros. are in cahoots with the Metz Bros. Having lost 50% of the yellow bone market to an abattoirist in Cork, the Emilia-Romagna’s and the Parigi’s figured a cahoots with the powerful Metz’s would be in their best interest.

A slaughterhouse bureaucrat from Northallerton plotted a cahoots against the three sets of brothers… the plot, to corner the market on picnic shoulder and inside round. His da’s da ended up working for the Northallerton abattoir, making 27½% more on dressing and 42½ on hanging. His face pushed like a spinnaker into the wind, his feet barely touching the peddles, he rode his bicycle round in circles, his grandmamma hollering like a banshee out the summer kitchen window.

That summer he lived with his granddad and grandmamma in their tack-board cottage with the funnel chimney and woodstove in the winter kitchen. While his granddad worked at the abattoir he spent his days in the fields inside the five-mile fence looking for spent shotgun cases and blasting caps. The men who blasted craters in the hard rocky earth for the Northallerton abattoir left behind unexploded caps and golden-brown whiskey in old apple jelly jars. On a good day he found 27 caps and a quarter-jar of whiskey, the mouths of the jars gritty with sand and chipped shale, the caps as new as the day they were taken out of the crate, some still with the red tappet on the hammer-end.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cabman's Shelter

He’d had enough of all this fumble about in the past, ‘--memories punt you off-kilter’ he thought, ‘--making a mockery out of what you’ve become. Its what you are at the moment of death that matters, everything else is conjecture and happenstance… today I will buy a new hat, a fedora with a red satin hatband’.

‘--throw it in the fire’ yelled his da, ‘--it’ll burn good once it gets the flame’. His da’s da watched from the head of the scud, his jaw working a plug of Warhorse chaw. Every autumn his da and his da’s da burnt ground apples in a fire-pit behind the woolshed, his da’s da stoking the fire with gasoline and chaw spit. The cabman’s shelter wasn’t far from the Masonic temple. The Masons’ sanitize the jars with hydrochloride, the measure of which is to ensure that the apple jelly doesn’t get moldy and sour. They dispatch cartfuls of Masonic Jelly to places where jelly is valued for its high sugar content, such places as Chesterfield Derbyshire where jelly gourmands have such rotund gaseous bellies their nightshirts scarcely entomb the girth of their ballyhoos.

Dejesus prefers crabapple jelly on half-done rye toast, the sweet nectar pleasing to the tongue. ‘--I fear I fear going mad’ said a man standing beside Dejesus, the dread in his voice immanent. ‘--that and loosing my legs, because a man without steady legs is nothing but a falling down fool’. ‘--you needn’t be so dramatic’ said Dejesus, ‘--worse things could happen…’. ‘--like what?’ interrupted the fearful man. ‘--like falling head over kettle into a cesspit and not being able to climb out’ said Dejesus, the skin around his eyes tightening. ‘--I never thought of that’ said the timorous man. ‘--thank you dear sir, and now I must be off’ and off he went, Dejesus thinking ‘--how strange indeed, and to think I once aspired to such nonsense’.

When he turned twelve his da’s da bought him a secondhand bicycle with money he saved from his job slaughtering pigs. His da’s da was known for his precision at placing the head of the ax into the halves of the skull, felling the pig four legs out from the body. Pumping the tappet with his left hand he raised the carcass over the boil, dropping it in headfirst, his right hand obliging the push-rod into the cogwheel, the whirr and bustle of machinery filling his ears with dirty thoughts.

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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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