Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sauerwald’s Father

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Marmoreal Asylum

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

Savant or Genius

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ovalle Coquimbo

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Alforjas

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nor Sceptres, Nor Mitres

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Casimir Lowry

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

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


Brimblecombe tittering like rum sated fool.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

3 High

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

György

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

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

3 and a Half Fortnights

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

27 Red Coppers

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Brutality of Living

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Stonebreakers

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Castigation of the Milliner's Head

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

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

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

Redditch and the Calf

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

El Rio Sin Orillas

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

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

Monday, December 07, 2009

Composição e Qualidade

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

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

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Olomoucké Syrecky

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

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

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

Friday, December 04, 2009

El Dirigible - Juan Carlos Onetti

Beyond the Walls

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

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

(Nazim Hikmet, Beyond the Walls, March 20)

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

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Nâzım Çerkes and Pieter Madly

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

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Qué Exquis

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

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

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

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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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