Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tubbercurry Creamery

The Unificationists pelted the crowd with crabapples and unripe pears; one of them, an odious-looking boy with a fat face and matching nose grinning from ear-to-ear. ‘God save the King!’ hollered a boy in knee-britches and a candy-striped nightcap, ‘and the Queen too!’ hollered a second boy, his sickly yellow face riddled with pockmarks. Lela made her way along the icy balustrade that ran like a Chinese Wall from one end of the town to the other, the thump of the drums vibrating in her ears. She walked past Monument Creameries, the heavy oak doors creaking on their hinges, an ashen face cooper sliding the quarter hoop into place then tamping the head hoop round the chime, cherry wood barrels of fresh cream saddled onto the back of ox-driven wagons destine for house and home, then past a stray dog pissing on a dead dog, the pissing dog leaning into it furtively, Lela pulling her muffler over her mouth, the dead dog grinning from ear to snout. She passed by a woman and a wailing child, the woman’s face red with fury, the wailing child sucking its thumb like an icicle candy.

She walked and walked, stopping only to redress her skirts, which owing to the clamminess in the air wouldn’t stay flat against her thighs and buttocks. She walked past the bust of King Olaf, his figure looming over the commons like a regal courtesan, his feminine side, something he was disparaged for as a young man, fief and serf alike mocking him for his womanly manner, outstripping his masculine side, past a sandbox where a boy and a girl were building a sandcastle, the boy throwing handfuls of sand in the girl’s tear-stained face. She walked and walked, her legs aching like whittled sticks, her feet as tender as milk pudding. ‘wait up!’ yelled a man in a overcoat beguilingly. ‘I have something for you’. ‘shove off I’ll call a cop’ said Lela firmly, her eyes fixed on the man’s face. ‘that’s certainly no way to talk to your great uncle, now is it?’ ‘my great uncle is dead’. The man smiled and went his way, his overcoat billeting in the wind, a crow riding the thermals like an acrobat signaling the end of days. ‘damn scoundrel pigeons…Call it domestication…keep them in rooftop hutches…skin and boil them with radishes and field greens, saw a peddler griddle cook a dozen on a sidewalk grill, juices spitting all over his boots…sold them two abreast, slat-rubbed and quartered, pick your teeth with the leftover quills’. Her great uncle died from overexertion, collapsed on the street like a whipped horse, flies laying eggs in the whites of his eyes. She past a man making the sign of the cross, an X marked with ash rubbed into his forehead.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Óglaigh na hÉireann

Poldy Magyar set out into the snowy streets, his toque pulled tight around his ears. On the other side of the snow-white street, the collar of his overcoat cinched up around his ears, stood Dejesus admiring his reflection in the Seder grocer’s window. Further up, beyond the snowy hedge that had formed alongside the taffy-pullers shack, beyond the Waymart, beyond where the sun fell like a golden shadow upon the earth, he saw the legless man punting across the wet uneven cement, the sleeves of his coat dragging behind him. ‘make way!’ piped a man clad in full Óglaigh na hÉireann military dress. ‘make way, damn it!’ Plowing through the snow-white snowy streets, past Dejesus admiring himself in the Seder grocer’s window, past the taffy-pullers shack, past the legless man punting across the wet uneven cement, marched the Sligo Armory, the Cork Constabulary hot on their heels.

He saw the world as if it were upside down; everything floating on a snowy white plateau, the sky a great troubling sea, waves crashing, the sun, yellower than any buttercup, sitting on the ocean floor, his senses replicating, doubling, until he imagined his head would fracture into a million worlds, each world rupturing into yet another and another until there was nothing; only a white glowing light: the godhead, the beginning, nothingness. Advancing, flags flapping in the midday wind, a band of troubadours moved up the sidewalk, the lead singer, a diminutive cantor with a headscarf entwined round his thickheaded skull, for indeed he was in possession of a un-gauntly large head, shouting out the count: one, two, three, four ‘stay in line, damn you!’ five… ‘left, to the left by God!’

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cork Constabulary

The Wren Boy Procession made its way up the street, drums pounding. Tam tam tam tam went the pecking wrens. With Christmas eve on the quick the Wren Boy Procession came out of Kilmainham Jail and marched down Inchicore Road, a small group of onlookers giving them the once-over. ‘here they come’ said a woman in a Kerry scarf, ‘and in such a neat orderly line’. Alongside the barricades dressed in full regalia the Kerry Women’s Auxiliary tossed nosegays of daffodils and carnations and bluebells and marigolds and frothy half-pints of chocolaty brown Guinness into the streets, the onlookers roaring with enthusiasm.

Peeping slyly from behind the bust of King Olaf, his chest puffed out like a Spring pheasant, the littlest dogman watched the procession march by. A woman holding a sign that read “A godless person is like a public woman to whom everyone has access” (Witold Gombrowicz, Bacacay) charged to the front of the procession, her face a medley of consternation and bliss. ‘mark my words!’ bawled the Witness, a waif, his tongue stuck out like a red Pop-sickle, tugging on his coattails. ‘out of my way!’ bellowed a tugboat of a man, the prow of his belly cutting the crowd in half. ‘make way for the Óglaigh na hÉireann!’ piped a man clad in full military dress.

Standing in the middle of a lottery of broken plates and dishes, the aftermath of an all-out brawl between the Cork Constabulary the Sligo Armory, the man in the hat watched the Wren Boy Procession make its way through the icy streets, the blue sky above his behatted head turning centenarian gray. Tomorrow is another day, he thought, and then another and another, until the one is indistinguishable from the other. A week, a month, a year, the days following one after the other, like sheep to the slaughter, dancing like dervishes under a whorish yellow moon, his father smiling, counting the day’s take: tomorrow will be a good day, a fine day indeed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nollaig Shona Duit

They came by what they come by dishonestly. Salty bastards! Ben Nachtaí and James Nollag live the life of O’Reilly. No more dishonest two, thither or thon, are there to be found. Upon their backs haversacks they carry, pleasing cur and hag with nosegay and candy, Nachtaí and Nollag wander a tithe to a hither. Her da told her the tale of Nachtaí and Nollag one Christmas eve, the shutters clapping and the wind howling like a sanitaria dog.

Her great great uncle, deceased and exhumed by worms and wood tics, lived the life of O’Reilly, pillaging and raiding and spending the evenings in compotation with his marauding brethren. Sad but true: sadly so sadly. Astride the cattlements he heads for home on the backside of a bull. Never delimit the cosmos, he would say, his chaps hipswaddled round his legs. The morrows another day, believe you me. So mount up; the suns lowing and the winds blowing and the sky is red as hickory. The insurance man said he’d have the tuque in the mail by Friday; Saturday at the latest. Can’t trust those cunts, always got something up their sleeve. Puffed up notions of righteousness and high merit. Impressive: I dare say nay! Cat-o-nine-tails across the back makes a man into a lowly crumb. Her da made candle-wax heads, spiking the tops with spent matches and that damn sulfur smell. No matter what she did she couldn’t get the paraffin stink out of the sofa cushions. Had to sleep with her head at the bottom of the daybed, her new hairdo lousy with grave worms. A sight for soar ewes. All that bah-bahing and jumping one over the another. Her da said things could only get better, when what he really meant to say was needs some more butter. Can’t stand a dry flapjack on a midwinter morn. Sticks to the eaves of your mouth, he’d say, his eyes trained on the brown sugar bowl. Cows all lined up like toy soldiers waiting to be shipped out; never can tell which is which: the cows or the toy soldiers. Saturday last Thelma cashed in her diner’s card, got more than she bargained for. Two free entrees and a side-plate of mash. Never did ask why she didn’t ask for the butter. Might have got it mixed up with salad. Mixed greens; smell worse than spent match heads. All that sulfur and burnt wick smell. Do better with a plate of griddle-cakes. Tastes like mamma’s homemade cooking, except for the gassy smell coming from the oven. Can hear the clapboards cricketing. Lives under the hydro electric towers, the buzzing in his ears a constant consonant hissing. Like burnt wick and sulfur but louder. Can’t stand wet things on a dry summer’s day.

Sniveling like a scolded child the Witness threw pamphlets into the gathering mob. ‘there will be hell to pay, I assure you that!’ ‘fuck you!’ yelled a man from the back of the mob. ‘go back to where you came from!’ yelled a second. ‘sack of shit!’ yelled a third, and a fourth ‘eat shit pamphlet man!’ Puffing out his chest like a windsock in a hurricane the Witness bawled ‘mark my words; the wrath is near!’

Junkhouse - Shine

Monday, December 20, 2010

$27½

When her great uncle wasn’t beheading cows he bowled for the Boondocks’ Brachycephals. Every Sunday they played 27 wickets, 27½, weather permitting. Her great uncle was known for his overhand bowl; launching the cork orb like a meteorite, the batsman stepping out of the wicket like a man fearing for his life. His mother watched seated on a blanket in the stands, her eyes too weakly to see beyond the end of her nose. Oskar Lynch Kokoschka edging closer slops potato pot pie gravy onto her blanket, his great uncle bellowing ‘perro cuerpo, fucker!’ the cork orb ricocheting off his head. Of course none of this is true. Her great uncle was a tinker’s assistant, not a slaughterer. He never once held a cricket bat or bowled a cork ball. He was a fearsome man with uneven eyes, one a half a centimeter higher, a port-stain birthmark and a three-fingered hand; two fingers having been mistakenly severed by a knife-wielding maniac who mistook him for another man. Oskar Lynch Kokoschka I made up to amuse myself. Which he/it did. (Authorial note: it’s what I do, make things up, so please please don’t harangue me unduly; it’s in my Nature).

He fell from such a substantial height his arms and leg looked like corkscrews, the missing one aching like mad. His great great uncle suggested he use a cricket bat, jimmying it to his stump-end with leather straps and baling wire. Seeing this as a sign of his uncle’s misfortune, a mule waggon accident rendering him uncollectable and rivetingly small, he thought he’d give it a try, tamping the metal snip in place with a soft-wood mallet. Of course this reminded him of his great grandfather who’s missing leg was mistaken for his gamy leg, the bad one rankled with sores and pustules, and severed at the joint by an overconfident intern with thick horn-rimmed spectacles and globules of salty sweat on his forehead which the nurse swabbed off with a green and yellow surgical napkin. The litigation ended with his great grandmother receiving a cash disbursement of $27½, payable to her from the conceited bespectacled surgeons insurance company. Give her a Hogansberry soda; with a straw, by God, a straw. Astride the battlement he strode, his funereal clothes tarred and fathered. He was a sloppy fellow prone to fits of nervous tics. A tic tick here and a tick tic there. He likes België waffles with Maple syrup for breakfast and for supper.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bullwhip Black Porter

That morning the sky broke like an egg, the sun filling the horizon with a yolky glaze. Lela walked the battlement that crossed the aqueduct and met up with the path behind the Waymart, her eyes fixed on the yolky yellow sun. She heard that the dogmen slept three to a bed, four if they shared with the littlest dogman who slept at the foot curled up in an eel-basket. She dug in her heels, the straps and buckles of her shoes creasing the skin around her ankles, and watched a clamshell of gray clouds move across the blue sky. A swan swam across the surface of the aqueduct, its neck twisted into a Midshipman's Hitch. You can see the funnels from here... there, out beyond the breakwater she said pointing. A man kicking a hedgehog, the hedgehog curling up in a ball, the man kicking it again and again, crossed in front of her, the man hollering ‘that’ll show you! Never underrate me! Never!’

Lela felt sad for the lowly hedgehog, the man forcing it, underfoot, to walk a faster straighter line. She thought of her great uncle, his ham-fisted grip on the sledgehammer, swinging it over his shoulder and across the head of the cow; felling it as it stood, a mass of cowhide and hamburger spreading out on all-fours on the switch-room floor. Her mother said it was man’s right over Nature: to kill or be killed; to eat or to starve; to go around coatless or to be dressed in the finest leather garments. Her great uncle was doing us a great service; maintaining the lifestyle we had all become accustom to. But what of the disservice to the cow? Was it not deserving of life and limb, a trough full of hay and leather coat? If it was her great uncle was doing the cow a grave disservice; treating it as a means to an end, not an end in itself. But really, she could care less; cows were ugly bovine brutes, and as her mamma said, open season for well-dressed fat people. As for her great uncle, well he had other things in mind; things so ugly and ghastly he never spoke a word about them, in polite or impolite company.

Meisce’s tavern drafts Bullwhip Black Porter, the aleman’s wife, Euryclea, scurrying from table to table, her apron, on back to front, revealing a bony white shank of knee. Her great uncle drank tankards of molasses thick Black Porter, the space between the tip of his nose and his upper lip frothy with head. The well-dressed cad at the next table, next to the commode, a two-seater with an onionskin seat, drank his cups like a man once denied a good hearty slake, his beard birdied with biscuit crumbs and salt, his nose up to the hilt of his tankard. ‘by Jove yes!’ exclaimed the well-dressed man. ‘you’re that fellow who likes sweet nutmeat biscuits’. Lela’s great uncle swabbed a moustache of frothy head from the space between the tip of his nose and his upper lip and said ‘you must have me confused with someone else, for you see sir I despise biscuits’. An angry-looking man with a broken arm got up from his stool, and turning to walk away said ‘perro cuerpo, hond se liggaam’ huis voice follón bejina hiñe lique a bar ámel. ‘by Jove what an uncouth fellow!’ said the well-dressed cad. ‘comes here every night to use the pisser. Always has something nasty to say on his way out’.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

O’Casey’s Whore

His fader came across on a famine boat, captain Gorta Mór standing the helm of the Clachans’ like a man incorruptible of mind and spirit. His da was the first settler to set up a hiding and tanning shop, working the hides into high-grade leathers fit for a Lords Lieutenant or a Waterford fop. He ate his ploughman’s lunch astride the O’Connell bridge, a rusted out bicycle fender gasping for air in the bottle-green Liffey, a chiliadal waif throw crusts of black bread into the swales, a lone duck, the waves pushing it into the chalk-marked battlements, wings slapping like a shingle, treading the surge. ‘shove off!’ bellowed a tart, her heavy-weighed hips anchored to the Speyside balustrade. His fader came across on a famine boat, captain Gorta Mór standing the helm of the Clachans’ like a man incorruptible of mind and spirit. His da was the first settler to set up a hiding and tanning shop, working the hides into high-grade leathers fit for a Lords Lieutenant or a Waterford fop.

Cunts like him always want a free-one, don’t want to wear galoshes neither, the cunt. Like boots make the man. Rather have his cock in my mouth than up my skirt. Never know if the packers got the crabs; crawl all over you like the British fucking army. Lords Lieutenant gave me a dose, squeezed it out like toothpaste, saying he’d never been with a lady before. Said his da came across on the Clachans’, took the helm when the captain went starker’s. Had to lock the mad cunt in his cabin, tried on his graveclothes to see if they still fit. Found a fiver in his pant’s pocket.

Leftover from the last time he was ashore; probably got the whiplash from that fat tart on O’Casey, hear say she practically gives it away, waiting on the famine boats like an expectant mother. Got a mouth bigger than a man’s head; good for swallowing and spitting back up. Saw her with the gimp, practically sucked it off, poor bastard. Almost fell head over into the drink, held on with one thumb it was. Famine boats coming and going; some never making it past the breakwater, others crashing into the breakers by the funnels. See the little ones cutting their milk-teeth on runt potatoes, a cup of bilge water to wash it down. Sad sight for sad eyes.

She was twelve when her da first told the story, his face screwing up like a tight-knuckled fist when he got to the part about runt potatoes. He said he remembered swimming out as far as the breakwater, the funnels belching plumes of gray brown smoke, the engine master wrenching the bilge gate open, the tanks filling up with seawater. It’s all a lie; her da never learned how to swim. He couldn’t hold his breath or make flippers with his hands. Anyhow the funnels are chimneys, not breakwaters. Any other man would know the difference. Anyhow the British fucking army would put a stop to that; cutting them off at the docklands, guns emblazing. Stead’s bad for a so-and-so with a wiggly tooth. Bilge water up the arse I’d say. Makes a mockery out of an otherwise charming fellow. Her da held hold of the gimp’s arm, pulling him furlong into the drink, O’Casey’s whore splitting a gut. Serves ya right she bellowed, maybe next time you’ll come by it honestly!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dolman Coats

Flanking the curbside a timid man with a stock-stiff leg stumbled. Lela knew this man; not so very long ago he stumbled into her as she strolled idly along the sideways, her favorite dress frilling and dancing in the midmorning breeze. Could it be him? Could it? No not him. The man she was thinking of lived beyond the five-mile and wore fishstockings, so no it couldn’t be. Anyways she hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him, nor had she given him much thought, really. He was a ghoul that lay quiescent in her thoughts; pushed back into that place where she kept memories that had frightened her when she was a formless child; a tot, her grandmamma used to say, her brow as tight as the hatband in her father’s cap. The Mormons kept a monkey in a cage hidden from sight behind the Kingdom Hall; its leper spotted coat infested with lice and wood tics. Bug-ridden and half-crazed the poor monkey scurried round and round the cage, its flea-bitten tail trailing behind it like a masochist’s whip. Lela recalled the day she first saw the monkey, one of the Mormon’s feeding it mashed up grapes, the monkey flinging itself round the cage like a furry acrobat, its eyes daring to be met. The Mormon, a cubbish man with a child’s chubby face and yellow-brown teeth, was talking to the monkey, warning it if it ever tried to run away he would wring its neck and throw its half-dead body into the aqueduct, where it would lay rotting until the Spring thaw. Then, if anybody gave a good damn, they’d scrap what remained of it from the oily green muddy bottom and throw it into the nearest trash heap, where it would unthaw and start rotting all over again. As monkeys don’t understand Mormons’, and even if they could they certainly wouldn’t care, the bug-ridden infested animal stared blankly at the stupid man crouching outside the cage, its eyes daring to be met. As this happened a long long time ago, before Lela knew the difference between a monkey and a dogman, she had mostly forgotten about the monkey; only now, standing in front of the grocer’s swatting flies off the picnic hams having an inkling of what she’d saw.

Above the screen door to the grocer’s was a sign that read: “If all my life and my being were judged by a few incidents it would rightly be determined that I was a complete imbecile”. (Felisberto Hernández) The owner, a cheat with caterpillar eyebrows and a sneak’s grin, sat on a wooden stool behind the counter counting the day’s take: $27 plus the two he stole from the old woman’s handbag when she wasn’t looking. ‘Not a bad day’s take’ he thought to himself stuffing the pilfered two dollar bill in his apron pocket, ‘the old biddy shouldn’t have nodded off… stupid cow. What’s a hardworking man to do?’ Turning, his brown teeth sticking out and upwards like walrus tusks, he locked the strongbox and placed it under the counter. ‘anyhow serves her right. Maybe next time she’ll be more careful, feeble cow’. He placed a crate of iced cowfish on the top shelf behind the counter with the hope that by the time he arrived in the morning it would be unthawed and ready to be sold. ‘cowfish for a cow’ he said to himself, his front teeth touching the end of his nose, and slamming shut the screen door hurried down the street like a burglar.

The West Ham Newham Glove Co., owned and operated by John J.J. Newham, manufacture Dolman coats, a one-piece garment with led pellets in the hems to keep the coat from riding up on the wearer. Above the cutting table, written in gargantuan block letters, by the hand of a behemoth, perhaps, or a hippopotamus, even though one hadn’t been seen in the vicinity in years, nay eons, was the following epitaph: "Everything is possible, everything, even the most sordid and undignified things." (Robert Walser, Jakob von Gunten) His father, J.J. the elder, beat his mamma with the wooden skeins the coat cloth came wrapped in, his mamma shrieking and moaning like a wounded animal.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Og Fjordane

He wore his wooly rollups, cinching the tops round the basins of his ankles. On those dreary days when it was colder inside his lean-to than it was outside, which given his leaky roof and poor circulation was more oft than not, he warmed himself by the coil-flame that spluttered and gasped from the entrails of his hotplate, where, should he need he’d lay his socks and listen to the thread crackle and hiss like a yuletide log. Dog was a corpse sniffer; would snuffle the arse of a lamb were it in whiffing range. Fed it on drake and gander, goose the fowl smell out of it, hindquarters shaking like Ouija board. Not uncommonly common that a man of such low means should find pleasure in subordinate things: simple mind simple pleasures. Subordinate the ordinate, so to say. The more vertical the Y, the plumber the X; like a chalkline thwacked on a perpendicular. Born in haste, mamma pushing him out like a scalding hot oyster, placental entrails coiling round his neck, his mamma’s borehole gaping like a shucked clam.

Og Fjordane arrived on the back of a mule-drawn-carriage, the sleigh scooping and splitting torrents of undulating snow, some higher than a man’s shoulders, others no higher than a curbside, small enough to hop over without splitting a collarbone or shin. Og, as he was called by those of his acquaintance, dispensing with the formality of a last name, which connoted a snobbery indicative of high ideals and low temperance, came to town twice a year to purchase gifts for his wife; a mediocre looking woman with pale skin and uneven teeth who demanded extant chivalry from her husband, who given his line of work, a tanner of high-grade leathers and leather apparel, could afford to keep his wife ensconced in the lap of luxury. Leaping off the carriage he walked in a straight line to the Waymart, his overstuffed billfold weighing his gait to the left. ‘corpse sniffer’ he grumbled, the dog sniffing at his plantlet. ‘you’d think the mayor would have the common sense to rid the town of these shameful brutes’. He opened the front door and walked into the Waymart, his chin waggling like a fishpie, the doorman rubbing the tip of his nose with his ring-finger. Lela’s mother told her about a strange man who came to town twice a year to buy gifts for his duck-ugly wife, his wiggly chin bouncing off the prow of his mule-drawn-carriage. She warned her to stay away from this strange man with the fishpie-chin lest he entice her into running away with him.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Waggon Horchers

‘where’s the boy?’ he asked, his enormous head sinking into his chest. ‘I haven’t got all day. I’m a busy man you know’. His mother searched all through the house, from top to bottom, but couldn’t find her son. He must be hiding, she thought; or has simply forgotten that today is the day. ‘just a minute’ she said, her face reddening. ‘I know he’s here somewhere’. Tightening his belt, his trousers bagging round his socks, the Mohel cleared his throat loudly, a gravelly rasp like a steam-shovel scrapping a mined-out quarry quickening her pace.

The day began anew; the sky opening like a perfectly cracked walnut, revealing a buttery yellow sun. ‘now hold on, boys in his position tend to squirm’ said the Mohel, his goatskin skullcap shifting on the top of his head. ‘grab him round the hips… that’s it, now push down… !’ Loosening his belt then tightening it again the Mohel coupled the boy’s testicles in his right hand, and with his left pinched the tip of his fleischig, the boy squirming like a fidgety baby. ‘stop that you little ganef!’ hollered the Mohel, ‘you’ll only make it worse!’ Snipping off the orlah with his scissors, the boy’s mother covering her face with her shawl, the Mohel bent over the boy’s privates and drew the blood into his mouth. ‘it’ll heal quicker if its exposed to the air… and for the Love of YHVH don’t play with it!’

The Waggon Horchers arrived two abreast; the left one keeling rightward like a failing kiss. Reining in the horses, his teeth clenched like a farrier’s clinchers the leftward Waggon Horcher slowed the waggon down to a stop, the rightward one pulling in behind him. Qabbals, for that was his name, bestowed on him by his father, jumped from his waggon landing irrefutably on his arse. ‘quickly, pull me up from this godforsaken fen’ quipped Qabbals, his upper lip quavering. The second Waggoner, a lithe, lissome man who went by the name Squibs hurdled from his waggon landing squarely on his two sturdy, albeit flat feet. The Mohel, his goatskin skullcap tilting like a windmill, hurried up the sideways, his Mohel’s bag pinched under his arm. Unable to see more than an inch in front of him, his locks, untrimmed in abeyance to Rabbinical law, covering his eyes, the Mohel ran amok into the first Waggoner’s waggon, his Mohel’s bag skidding sideways under the waggon. Lela, who happened that day to be sitting atop the hill just outside town watched on as the Mohel tried to un-upend himself, her eyes fixed on the lead horse who’s bridle had become entangled in the legless man’s pushcart; the alms man, sitting on his patch of cardboard in front of the Waymart, laughing to split a gut. And that was that.

Jean-Philippe Pringles, Coronel, his smart gentleman’s hat perched atop his full-head of hair, slivered an ivory toothpick between his eyetooth and his incisor, no one within earshot paying him any notice. For you see the Coronel was in town to visit a dear friend, and if time permitted, buy a toothpick placemat from the harridan’s sister, who that afternoon could be found with the other hawkers and peddlers in the basement of the church. Old Pitschobed wanted a Dolldy Icon and was willing to part with a day’s wage to purloin it. He had heard say that a hawker, one who barks and vends handmade goods, had a table in the basement of the Church of the Perpetual Sinner, alongside a woman who vended Pop-siècle placemats and gravy bibs. Old Pitschobed (born in Oalgoak’s Cheloven to a Barbary whore and a tinsmith) collected Dolldy Icons and women’s silk supper gloves. He fell down the stairs to the basement of the church, his tumbling caroming body going kun-ruhtnenedroohoohootnwaksnwanuohrravortnnuhtnnoutnnorrennotnnorbnnoknnorranimmakathgarahgladababab!

Monday, December 06, 2010

70 Wilmersdorfer Straße 141

She sat on top of the hill just outside town, the very same one where she sat years ago waiting for the jugglers and acrobats to arrive, the snorting of ox-driven carts filling her heart with expectant joy. The sun that day filled the sky with a buttercup yellow flame, the trees and high bushes surrounding the neighbor’s yard in full blossom, the sweet nectar of rosehip and lilac filling the soft afternoon light with a gossamer scent, like her grandmamma’s handkerchief drawer or the perfumer’s shop where her granddad bought tiny green bottles of Eau de Cologne called toilet-water, but not the same kind she flushed after making her commode each morning, that was different, not something you sprayed on your neck to entice eager young suitors or another man’s husband.

That Christmastime, gathered round the Menorah his great grandparents brought over from the old country (they lived at Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße 70 Wilmersdorfer Straße 141, the apartment next to them occupied by a strange fellow who scribbled tiny verses on the back of postcards and scraps of odd-sized paper) placed in the window and festooned with every Hanukkah decoration imaginable, they slit the throat of his penis, heralding in his ascension into manhood. The Roscommon Women’s Auxiliary, which convened every Sunday afternoon after church and was renowned for its allegiance to making Roscommon a place of haute couture, a stopover for travelers and the peripatetic alike, organized the fifth annual the Gorging of Friedrich-Straße, to be held the day following the Feast of the Lamb, the day after if it snowed. Lela attended the first Gorging of Friedrich-Straße held on the second day after the Feast of the Lamb, as it snowed the first two days, much to the surprise of her mother who was expecting rain. Belly-swollen Lela walked the dirt road home, the sweet doughy aroma of oven-baked bread kindling memories of simpler times when a young girl didn’t have to wear her heart on her sleeve or pretend she didn’t care when the boys called her names or made fun of her hand-me-down dress. The Mohel arrived by car, his goatskin skullcap covering the tonsured bald spot on his head.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Jējūnus

A discomfited man, prone to impetuosity and overgeneralizations, he sat staring blankly at the ceiling, each individual tile providing relief for the one next to it, a mosaic overlay that generated its own plane; equidistant, yet flaring out in plinths that created a Zoroastrian composure, a mesmerizing jējūnus that marveled the eye. ‘fuck the dog and the horse it rode in on’ he exclaimed, his face turning three shades of red. The constabulary wrestled him to the ground, his face smeared like a stain into the sidewalk. Kick him… kick him in the head! Harder… HARDER! …PUT some effort into it MAN! What do you think this IS? …we’re the CONSTABULARY!...!

‘get off my foot or I’ll smash your face!’ Dashing sideways like a punter hell-bent on laying a fiver on the last race of the evening, the off-track betting window three blocks away, he kicked up a few pebbles here and a few stones there, dragging his coattails behind him like a shredded windsock. ‘Aviate ahoy! he hollered, ‘ahoy I say: aviate!’ As no one could make heads nor tails of what he was saying, and even if they could they could care less, for you see they loathed anyone who hollered for no apparent reason, those closest to the back of the queue threw themselves flying out the window and into the streets, Lela’s mamma, pulling on her arm like a ragdoll, swearing a blue streak at the nerve of some people. That winter, a cold cruel wintertime, Lela found a glove hidden among the odds and ends of her mother’s things; things she kept in a lockbox stowed under the stoop behind the house that led to the woolshed where her granddad chewed shredded tobacco, his mouth, or was it his lips, ringed with black resin, or tar, yes tar; it was his favorite cob that left a circlet of resin, the smile a child gets after eating a stomach full of Easter chocolate.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Jenny and Johnny - Scissor Runner

Deeshy

Deeshy ordered a taggeen of Ballyhooly and returned to his stool at the opposite end of the bar. A queer bosthoon, known to spend umpteen hours counting ceiling tiles, his trousers and coat, threadbare both, begging a seamstresses’ attention, spent his evenings eavesdropping in on the chatter and hullabaloo that filled the tavern with a buzzing din. The two woman next to him, both regaling one another with tales of misfortune and love gone bad, were sharing a package of Saltillo Crisps, made and packaged by the Coahuila Tortilla and Flatbread Co. 27 Avenida de Zaragoza, Paco Grande Texas. Cunts, he grumbled to himself, his nose twitching like a dog’s tail. The salt will surely make them drier than a empty well, pity their husbands, like fucking a sandshoe.

He order another Ballyhooly and sat ruminating over the recent loss of his favorite hat, the one with the red and black hatband. Majeklejohn’s a real boozer, chugs back a 40 ouncer every other day; every three on a leap year. Not one for the Ballyhooly, claims it brings the worse out in a man; makes him into a headcase. Not that Deeshy gives a pile, makes a counterclaim: a taggeen a day keeps the bedbugs away, cleans out the whistle-hole too. And a man with a clogged up whistle-hole is a man on the verge of collapse. Can’t inhale and exhale; goes up down the wrong tube. He first met Deeshy at the Feast of the Lamb, Deeshy having come to pay a visit to his sick aunt, a woman of uneven temper who had contracted syphilis and was unable to pry herself from bed.

Having no other reason to acknowledge him than to ask him to move, for you see he was obstructing his view of the Lamb, he exclaimed ‘you, you stupid oaf, can’t you see you’re blocking my view?’ Deeshy replying in kind ‘get off my foot or I’ll smash your face!’ An awkward man he seldom spoke, worrying that a sentence would come out missing a preposition, or worse, in a language he didn’t know. Careworn with ticks that caused him no end of embarrassment, if he came upon a acquaintance in the street he would cover his face with the cuff of his greatcoat, replying to a solicitous hello with a muffled good bye, scurrying passed like a man hell-bent on meeting the noontime train.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Kick the Bastard

Lela stood in front of the Seder Grocer’s admiring the reflection of the person next to her, his greatcoat coattails hanging in tatters. The man, as indeed he was a man, perhaps a gentleman, had a hardnosed look on his bewhiskered face, the face of a journeyman or a jailor. She troubled with asking him if she might pull on his coattails, realigning them with the jib of his wooly trousers. But soberer thought told her that she best mind her own business and let bygones be. But why not, she thought? A man, any man, would be grateful to have a complete stranger, someone altogether unknown to him until today, draw attention to an obvious and glaring impropriety in personal attire. Not wishing to appear untoward, or worse, a troublemaker, she turned and walked away, his reflection sutured in her thoughts.

The following day, a day much like the day before, yet in and of itself an altogether precedential day, Lela awoke in a foul and uncharitable mood. Had I a mind to I’d give him a good talking to! Not clothing oneself propitiously is a sin. By the age of twelve Lela had already read A through P of her grandfather’s Funk and Wagnall, consigning to memory those words she felt she might need when she grew older. She twirled a braid of hair round her middle finger, the moon laurelling her head like a birds’-nest halo. Kick the bastard in the teeth, send his upper plate unhinging. The steeple of his head warding off lightening strikes, a common phenomenon when the temperature plummeted below 27½% Celsius, the man who’s reflection Lela admired in the window turned and skedaddled headlong up the sideways, his greatcoat tails rag-tagging behind him. She remembered how hot the woolshed got when her father banished her to think about what she’d said; the few sheep her granddad kept caked in shit and piss, the stench of mildewed hay bringing a sweat out on her forehead.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Niccolò Falcucci

‘Then that’ll be that’ said his da leaning over the table, his fork moving a mixed bag of organ meats and boiled things around his plate. ‘The end will come and wipe the slate clean; for all and once, my boy’. You mean once and for all don’t you da? ‘Shut your pile! Now move along, damn you!’ His da didn’t take kindly to sass. He was quick with a slap, swinging his hand like a fish mallet, his fist leaving a red weal on a back-talking face. You’re worse than the Inquisition! Prodding and pushing people round like desecrate Jews. Unburying whole families and burning their remains a second and third time. You’re a fucking menace!

She has the ‘French Disease’, the skin around her mouth as hard as a scabbed over knee. Her father read to her from Grünpeck’s ‘Tractatus de Pestilentiali Scorra Sive Mala de Franzos: Originem Remediaqu[ue] Eiusdem Continens’, [published by the in Nuremberg by Kaspar Hochfeder, 1496 or 1497]. When she began to show signs of necrosis, a surfeit symptom of the tertiary stage, common to advanced syphilis, her father summoned the Catastrophist from the village, a tunicate-fleshed man with a doctorate in zoology who was familiar with treatment by Salvarsan, discovered by Niccolò Falcucci and available at the conurbation library under ‘Sermones Medicinales Septem’. [Venice: Bernardino Stagnino, 1490-1491]. The abattoirist prepared the slaughter-room floor, skimming off the blood and intestines, some tied in bows, the pastime of men with minimal intelligence and weak morals, and laid down a double-sided oilcloth, then, with a wave of his hand told him to bring his daughter to the middle of the floor and lay her next to the trap. He did as he was told and stepped back, the Catastrophist stepping forward, his eyes glazed over like a honey cruller. The Catastrophist swabbed the infected areas with a mixture of ox piss and spirit gum, sourcing the contamination at the font, then applied an oatmeal plaster, tying off the loose ends with brass clips. He lay his hands on her forehead and closed her eyes, like one does to the recently dead, then pried open her mouth with a tool that resembled a bung-tapper, the brassy end riveted with past strikes, and cleaning any debris from her throat, which necessitated sticking his longest finger, generally the middle one, though in some the next to middle, given a mother’s excesses while carrying, dislodged a piece of half-digested meat, a roast of pork or mutton, clearing the air passageway for the trenching tool, which he held like a prognosticator’s wand over her head, and edging the tip of the tool down her throat yanked free the vile pox; the smell of rotting organ meat and bile filling the slaughterhouse air with an offal distemper.

The following day, awaking from plodding dreams, her forehead glistening with an oily sebaceous sweat, she lifted her head from the pillow and exclaimed, ‘I’m cured by Jove I’m cured!’ The dead die and the living die; the trick is in knowing which is which.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Conurbation

His mother played pinochle with the gasfitter’s son; never once winning a hand. His da threw craps with the stevedores; rolling snake-eyes seven times out of eleven. His grandmamma tatted doilies with a whalebone hook, weighing her Gin in the barrows of her skirt, a look of deepest absorption on her hag-wearied face. His granddad spent Sunday afternoons sloughing the pump out back of the Hogshead, the proprietor promising him a slow pint and a package of saltine crisps, the stink of cabbage thickening the nighttime air, the unclipped hairs in his nose billeted with snot. He was born on the butcher’s block in the summer kitchen, the tiny hairs on his skull dewy with placental wash, the doctor stinking of saltine crisps and washtub Gin. His grandmother held the bottom half, his da the top, his mother squirming like an eel. His cone-shaped head was the first part of him to appear, the doctor callipering his skull with his grandmother’s corn tongs, then his shoulders, the umbilical cord twisted round his throat, his mamma screaming bloody murder. The doctor said he hadn’t delivered such a bad-tempered baby since he was held at gunpoint by the littlest dogman, his currish mother giving birth to a hirsute baby with gigantic ears and the remnants of a caudal tail.

The doctor delivered most of the children of the conurbation; many of whom grew impatient with life inside the tenements, leaving to find fame and fortune beyond the five-mile, only to return, cap in hand, to a city overrun with swindlers and cheats, a city on the verge of ruin and despoilment, where dogmen roamed the streets like packs of wolves and children begged for scraps under a yellow sky, their noses billeted with snot. The day the alms man was born his father swaddled him in burlap, loaded him into the back of his mule cart, and sent it caroming over the crags into the aqueduct.

The dream tells him little other than he is doomed to an unimpeachable dullness; a life of sorrow and debt. The dream: he is at home minding his own baseness, doing whatever the baseless do to wile away the time, when his older brother arrives on the doorstep, a squad of rowdies in tow. We want barbecued ribs! bellows one of the rowdies, what little hair he has on his head standing on end. Smothered in sauce! bellows a second. But how are we to spit them? asks a third. Why not use your brother? says a fourth. Yes, your brother says the second. We could push coat hangers through his shoulders. They’d make a fine spit. Fighting off the rowdies as best he could, threatening to stab his brother with a kitchen knife, he is overpowered by the rib-thirsty mob. While two rowdies hold him, the second and third pierce his shoulders with straightened coat hangers, his brother, a sibling grin on his bewhiskered face, watching on. They suspend him a pit of glowing coals, his arms and legs bound with basketball mesh, prodding and pushing him over the coals like a skewered pig, the hiss and sizzle of roasting flesh rivaling the heathenry of the Inquisition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reminiscences

His father wore the same blue shirt day in and day out, the collar ringed with his own filth. Had he a mind to he’d tell him off this is what he’d say, ‘by Lord father but your shirt is filthy dirty’. His father’s blue shirt was manufactured by the Barking and Dagenham Shirt Co. The Barking and Dagenham Shirt Co., owned and operated by the Barking bros. of Dagenham Council, are known for their haughty craftsmanship and eye for detail. Over the door to the cutting-room, framed in oak, the wood buttering in the dovetails, are the following two quotations: “I did not receive my visitors with boisterous rapture as the bearers of any gifts of profit or fame” (Joseph Conrad, Some Reminiscences, 1912) and, “. . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream—alone. . . .” (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 1902). As neither brother knew how to read the quotations fell on blind eyes.

Were they able to read, able to make out squiggles and dots, the words would have leaped out of their wooden frames, calling to arms the brothers against the impunity of falsifying the story of one’s life; the battle, if they had enlisted, having ended in their ruin. For the brothers, you see, were numbskulls, incapable of making sense of anything more challenging than a brothel address or the embossed face on a coin, which they did by touch, not sight, making their competency fraudulent, calculating at best. Frank Goya, a first-rate embosser and clerical tailor, has the needlework contract for the Vincennes Glove Co. He is a scoundrel and a mountebank, and undeserving of charity or good will! He has carious teeth and ill-defined features; a tomblike smile and bloodhound red eyes. He is to be avoided at all costs! Pray tell who? More people peopling an over-peopled world. This must stop! {Author’s aside: you must excuse my overzealousness; confession, so the rector told me, is good for the soul}.

Let us begin again: The sky appeared and disappeared leaving behind a streak of blue. ‘can’t you see his head is crooked? Now cradle the back of his head in your arms; now push, gently… that’s it, now you’ve got it’. He didn’t know whether he should pull or push, the half-dead corpse mumbling something in Gudrun, a altogether unpleasant parlance of constantans and misplaced vowels. ‘cradle, now pull!’ Liphook stood over the half-dead corpse whittling the point of a stick. Having been rousted from sleep by his grandmother’s foot kicking at his slumbering head, which she did without fail every morning, he felt none too solicitous towards any thing or one.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Enscheda Apothecary

His grandfather bartered whole grain and rye seeds for Bocholt-made Limburg steel, convincing the blacksmith that his wife could use some vulgar flour for her biscuits. The blacksmith agreed, trading 27½ ounces of Bocholt steel for three sacks of whole grain, passing on the rye seeds which he said stuck to his wife’s dentures, “the insufferable cur”. There are coincidences in life that make your teeth ache. This, however, is not one of them. Cudgels were commonplace and found among all hooligan’s magazines, like battering rams and trebuchets, so making a claim as to their inimitableness is pure folly! The mercantilists are in cahoots with the industrialists, neither seeing the nonsensicality of their coalition. Nary a brainpan among them. Feel sorry for their children, probably haven’t eaten a decent meal in months. All embroiled in their coalition, making it hand over knuckle, sucking the lifeblood out of the gloving industry. The post diggers staged a strike; had to sidestep half-excavated holes on the way to vespers. Came close to turning an ankle! Left their shovels in a hurry to be the first at the union office. First cunt in line gets a saloon chit. Spend a dime on pale ale and pig’s-feet. Maybe a butter plate heaping with chitterlings, spleens, I hear say, are good for the heart and proper bone formation. Cunt Scheherazade eats ‘em like there’s no tomorrow, sucks the guts dry. Cunt doesn’t know the difference between lamb and mutton, uses the hotplate for boiling soaked bandages. Blood and chafed skin flying every which where. First one to the union hall gets a brand new hotplate, boil up a mess of oily shoulder. Old Overijssel lives above the Enscheda Apothecary with a blind dog, neither aware that the other is watching him. Though unable to see, the dog is sucking the lifeblood out of Old Overijssel. Before moving into the bedsit above the apothecary Old Overijssel worked as a fitter for the Vincennes Glove Co., retiring with a handshake and a cutout for the women’s red evening glove, the company’s top seller. Last one to the union office gets the dregs. Blue-fin eel, blacker than the ace of clubs. Don’t get much these days for a union chit. All hell broke loose. Dodgy cunts don’t know the difference between pork belly and Blue-fin.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Troy Scheherazade

A few boxes of raisins; bastard needs his ears lowered. Covered in pocket lint, sticks to the roof of my gob. Cat strangler, seen him wring a few feline necks, pushes ‘em over the cornice and into the river. Tails white with plaster. Sells them to the Asians, make a wonton or soft roll with the not so bad parts. The sun bled yellow egg yolk. His father told him that if he sat under the biggest tree in the forest an apple would sooner or later fall on his head. ‘That’s how we know we’re down here and not up there’ said his father pointing a resin brown finger at the sky. ‘there’s only the apple and the serpent’ said his mother scolding his father, ‘now get in the house!’ He lined up the toffee and raisins on the floor next to his bed. He counted until he couldn’t stand counting any more. Five pieces of toffee and 27 raisins, each in its own tiny box. Taking into account the plumpness of the raisins he figured he could eat one raisin and one piece of toffee a day, the entire cache lasting 27½ days, longer if he broke the toffee into smaller pieces. The writing on the side of the box said, The Tuxtla Bros. Raisin Co., Chiapas Gutierrez, Mexico. 'The finest plumpest raisins grown and sundried with lots of nice plump sunshine'. Each tiny cardboard box carried within it a handful of plump sundried raisins, some so plump they looked more like plums than raisins.

He wrecked havoc wherever he went, smashing and wielding the cudgel his grandfather made him from a sledge of grainy oak. He and Troy Scheherazade, an uncomely boy with jug-handle ears and an ungainly smile, vandalized and laid waste to anyone who got in their way, using their cudgel sticks as batterers and swords.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pentland Mahaffy

…would have won a medal if it weren’t for the rum-fits. Had her all crippled and bent over. That winter Lela bought a pair of red gloves, the mercantilist offering to wrap them up and top off the package with a scissor-pulled bow. She chose instead to wear the gloves, clutching herself against the brisk weather on the other side of the belled door. The mercantilist lived with his ailing mother on the second floor across the hall from a woman who lived with a bluefish. Neither he or his sick mother ever saw the fish that it lived across the hall on the second floor with the big-boned woman. Taking their neighbor’s word for it who had seen the fish, they agreed that there was indeed a fish in the apartment across the hall, but as for anything else, anything of importance, they hadn’t the foggiest. Sunday mornings their neighbor took her cat for a walk, clomping up and down the stairs like a bull elephant, cat in toe. The owners of Plunker’s Market kept a dog in the crawlspace beneath the stairs, its snout, were one inclined to look, visible from the top of the stoop. The dog was called Temecula, named after the mercantilist’s wife’s mother. The woman across the hall from the bluefish was indifferent to the dog, climbing and descending the stoop in a hurry when she took her cat out for a walk. No one cared, not even the harridan’s sister who lived in the apartment above the mercantilist and his wife, or if they did they, did a fine job of pretending they didn’t. Everything was taken for granted, and those that weren’t were taken with a grain of salt. When he was a boy Poldy bought penny-candy from Plunker’s Market, each treasured piece placed one by one into brown paper sacks, the counter-person trying to pinch his cheek as he tried valiantly to escape through the belled-door, the ballooning sack clutched in his tiny hands. When he got home his da would take the jelly beans and mojos, redskin peanuts and licorice, leaving him the hard toffee and a few boxes of raisins. Over the door, fished in cobwebs, was a sign that read “for the corner boys who spit into the Liffey” (The Rev. Sir John Pentland Mahaffy) Remorselessly he set about the day a second time, his hat sleeved in his armpit, the corner boys gobbing, their youth belying their ignorance.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Esther Pivner

They came by oxcart, by foot and on their knees, people so grisly and depraved they left a terrible taste in your thoughts. His father had warned him of the coming of ‘the many’, the hordes escaping across the five-mile and into the cities. ‘The five-mile will not hold forever’ his father warned. ‘sooner or later we’ll be overrun with them, the same people we forced out wanting backing in’. His father squinted, his upper lip curling like a beheaded worm, splitting in segments. He never thought he’d see the day when being sane would be a shortcoming, as commonplace as silk gloves and woolen trousers. Coro Falcon wears knee-britches with candy-coloured stockings, the tiny hairs on her shins swimming in nylon. Father but why? My son, that you’ll learn when you grown old; like a puny stalk of celery. His father wore gray trousers, the inseams grayed with Hawken’s plug. Father but you’ll surely choke on it! Never you mind, (mijn zoon), I’m hardier than an oak; spinier too. Esther Pivner, big-boned and prone to fits of hysteria, lives above Plunker’s Market with a blue goldfish. His da used to lay-in with her Sunday mornings when his ma was busy cleaning the dust in between the pews. She used a duster with a silver handle; the kind used by street-sweepers and old-fashion charwomen. The kind his own grandmamma used to clean the ceiling and the bottom of the cupboards. She was prone to rum-fits and horse-coughing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mijn Zoon

Not the man in the hat (Poldy Magyar), nor the weekly fistfights held in Landesschule Pforta gymnasium were affected by these extraneous goings-on’s, it just was as it was, the rest of the world going about its business. His father felt the violation in his head, the talismanic beginning of the madness that was to plague him for the rest of his life. But father, the goose will surely shit all over the floor. Stop your bellyaching, shit is good for the milkman. Keeps him hale and hardly. Hardly what, father? Hardly worth the bother to give it a second’s thought. Father, you’re always goosing around, I can’t understand a word you say. It’s better that way my boy; you’ll understand it when you get older. But what if I don’t? You will, and you will enjoy it. He wondered how her sagging breasts must feel trapped under her blouse, hanged men swaying on the gallows.

Frederica Cárdenas wears shiny shoes with beanpole heels. Abel Rotwang hasn’t a pot to mik-chə-rāt in, piss yellower than buttercups trickling down the inseam of his trousers. My boy (mijn zoon) never underestimate the imbecility of people! Ja vader ja. Hij leefde in een twee kamer bedsit, de bank stijver dan gematteerd paardenhaar. He wondered if her legs rubbed together when she sat in church, the tiny hairs on the insides of her thighs chaffing against the pew wood. His grandmamma had oniony breath, the fine hairs on her upper lip sweaty with uiensap. Pinesap, that’s what it was, not uiensap. His father felt the contravention in his head, the tiny hairs in his nose clotting and twisting like tree branches. Onderschat nooit de domheid van mensen (mijn jongen)! He never forgot the terror-struck look on his grandfather’s face when he choked on a plug of Hawken’s, his throat squeezing like a boa constrictor, his eyes nearly popping out of his head.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Henotheist Smith

The priest told the same lies over and over again, his altar skirt mulching up his hairless white legs. Afternoons when the church was emptied of sinners, a few stragglers hiding under the ciborium licking the pot clean, the priest salted his white hairless legs with chalk dust, hoping to bring a fine sheen to his once youthful gams. Hidden under the altar box, wrapped in sackcloth, was a copy of Ibsen’s 'When We Dead Awaken', the Henotheist Smith stealing into the sanctuary after vespers to read by candlelight. The Poitou-Charentes-Poitou children’s choir sing evensong, the youngest castrato devastating to pieces the chandelier over the Baptismal. ‘Never underestimate the stupidity of children’ his da said, his head pressed between his hands like soft cheese. The children’s choir wear burgundy robes and gray stockings stitched from unprocessed wool, corduroy overcoats and tare sandals. The youngest chorales’, a slight boy named Oporto, possessed such a piercing castrato the other boys called him Voz Alta, he with the high voice. Mr. Artsybashev, the leader of the Poitou-Charentes-Poitou children’s choir, though never married, was known to keep company with Greta Felisberto, the pianist for the girls’ chorus, a plump angry woman with oniony breath.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hamlet’s Father

On Saturdays his father slept until eight o’clock. Upon awaking, which he did slowly, like a slowcoach with a sore tooth, he would order his children to line up at the foot of the bed, then taking a deep breath, his wooly chest rising and plummeting, tell them what he wanted for breakfast: skillet-fried liver with onions and garlic, which he expected to be served in bed. Using his barrel-chest as a table he ate like a ravenous animal, forking slivers of pinkish liver into his mouth, scabs of burnt onion and garlic slickening his lips and the gray stubble on his trebled chin. ‘Most people in this world are bit-players, so don’t expect much from them’ he would tell his children, the youngest sucking his middle and next-to-middle fingers. On Sundays his father admonished the priest for telling the same lies over and over again, the congregation too frightened to stand up for the priest or silence his father’s weekly tirade. After Mass his father would go hunting in the fields behind the woolshed, the crack and boom of gunfire besetting the calmness with agitation and terror. His father had no idea who Hamlet’s father was, and if he had, he wouldn’t have cared. Considering the deficit of most people, bit-players, rogues and hooligans, he had little to feel terrible about. Afternoons, when the stink of skillet-burnt liver and onions filled the house with an organ stench, his father went hunting in the clearing behind the woolshed, his little brother sitting in the corner by the stove sucking his thumb and next-to-middle finger. The hog pit behind the woolshed stank to high heaven, piles of dead rotting feces pickling the dry brown earth. The unfed hogs grunted and bellyached, the biggest one ramming its head against the pen, its eyes two black holes of rage. His father’s beard smelled of organ meat and diced onions. ‘Don’t expect much; your life will be less disappointing’ his father’s eyes two black holes of dirt and liver grease.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Dieter Kopf

The Absinthe burned like Hades, the taste of wormwood and cloves in his throat making speech all but impossible. Considering the paucity of most people he didn’t feel all that dreadful about the fact he couldn’t make heads nor tails of most things. Franz Alexander Platz and Dieter Kopf crossed the bridge (the rickety bridge; for this fact is duly important) that crosses across the aqueduct spanning the five-mile and no-man’s-land. Having both abandoned the Herstal Liege troop years earlier, they now travel by foot bringing their hodgepodge of pantomiming and dramatic asides to whomever have eyes and ears to listen with. The first time Poldy saw the Hans Lamprecht troop, for they called themselves the Hans Lamprecht troop so as not to be confused with the Hans Lampeel troop, who were hacks, the leader of the troop known for his dislike for Hamlet’s father, whom he felt was a bit-player, and as with all bit-players dispensable, he experienced for the first time that feeling deep in his guts that would follow him for the rest of his life. Considering the deficiency of most people he didn’t feel all that terrible about the fact he couldn’t make heads nor tails of most things.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Green Fairy

He thought until his head felt like it was going to split open, the bone spurs in his jaw aching. The spurs, a gift from a streetwalker with a garish hole for a mouth, who upon hearing him call her a cunt slapped him across the face with her purse, cracking his molar in two, a puss canker the size of a walnut effecting his speech, which now came out in half-vowels and constantans, his father’s hopes that one day his son might take up the opera or speak in tongues squashed forever. He walked slapdash idly up the sideways, his hat squeezed like a ripe orange under his arm, the brim folded over levering his armpit and bicep. ‘never again will I listen to an imbecile… after all any man worth his weight in salt knows that imbeciles can never be trusted, even a well dressed one’. Across the sideways the harridan’s sister let go with a loud commanding howl, his ears crackling like tinder. Unaware that he was sinking into a cesspit of despair, like a man resigned to failure, someone whom life’s lottery had missed over yet continued to encourage, he ordered a glass of Absinthe and sat dejectedly in the corner by the stove. I will overcome this, he thought, the corners of his mouth awakened by the Green Fairy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Las Bragas de Oro

While all this was going on the legless man sat reservedly on his pushcart wondering what all the fuss was about. Across the street squabbling with a sales clerk the harridan’s sister walked in circles, the hem of her skirts entangling her legs, the mercantilist trying to elicit the attention of the constabulary, his face as red as Polish cabbage. The legless man thought ‘No wonder the world’s in such a mess. No one wants to give an inch, and when they do the other person takes a mile’, the smell of black oil fish besetting his thoughts.

His father read to him on those nights when his thoughts wouldn’t stay quiet. Two of his favorite stories were ‘Encerrados con un Solo Juguete’ (Locked up with a Single Toy)* and ‘La Muchacha de las Bragas de Oro’ (Girl with Golden Panties)* (*Juan Marsé). The girl with the golden panties, the one character his father found appealing, his father called ‘La Muchacha de grandes bucetoes’, after a dice-player named Sofia Sofiya who threw craps behind the Waymart, the momentum of her ‘grandes bucetoes’ driving the die hard against the brick wall. ‘what a magnificent ass’ his father said, his cheeks flushing. ‘and the way it wriggled, my God, what a sight, parading round like the Queen of asses’. He sucked his fingers when his father talked about Sofia Sofiya, his tongue thumbing the roof of his mouth.

Friday, October 29, 2010

El Cerdo

The morning sun rose behind the Waymart, a forebodingness settling over those up and about attending to their morning victuals’. The day stopped flat in its tracks, the alms man struggling to get his cap to stay put in front of him, a gale force wind picking it up and whirling it round and round like a top.

‘Hell’eth, yes by God, Hell’eth!’ If only I could stop the flow, all these notions and schemes, brainchildren gone terribly awry. I can if only. The Gog and Beggar drafts Pilsners and Ales from a spigot attached to a hose attached to a keg underneath the counter, the alewife hiking her skirts up round her hips, the drawstrings of her corset flapping to and madly. Hell’eth has no fury like slaking man. El cerdo stood admiring his reflection in the mirror, his unusually outsized nose obscuring an otherwise unusual face. Obscure as it was it was indeed his face he was admiring in the mirror over the counter. The Witness closed the door behind him and took a seat next to the window; his hands blued with pamphleteer’s ink and glue. ‘a bitters! Something with a good head on it if you don’t mind’. Hiking her skirts up the alewife flashed her hirsute bush at the Witness, a slatternly smile on her ungainly face. ‘madam, if I wanted a hair pie I’d ask for one. Now, if you please, put that ugly thing away!’ El cerdo snickered, his usually expressionless face screwed-up like a mousy glove. This will not do. To hell with it! May a gonorrheal dog mijao on your leg. The proprietor of the Beggar and Gog spit into a glass and rubbed it inside and out with a dirty rag. ‘gentlemen please, enough of your shenanigans, either you drink up and leave or I will be forced to throw you out; all three of you, headfirst!’ Snickering, his face a mess of warts and unlancerable boils, El cerdo pointed at the proprietor, his liver red tongue dancing in his mouth ‘you sir! Dare I say you will be up to your shirtsleeves with trouble if you try and toss us three out!’ Bustling in front of him, hirsute bush exposed, the alewife laughed, her soiled underpants hanging on by a thread. ‘put that damn ugly thing away!’ grumbled the Witness, his voice filled with bile. ‘can’t you see we three are engaged in a battle? Now scram woman, and for the love of Jehovah be quick about it!’

The day after the littlest dogman sniggled the biggest eel anyone had ever seen, a sickly child with a horsetail cowlick, hands knit in prayer, begging for a bite of the black oily fish. The littlest dogman cut the eel in two and handed half to the boy, the boy thumping his chest like a sideshow strongman.

David Grossman on Bruno Schulz

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)

















Rudy Virag

He turned the world over in his head until it spilled out on to the ground in front of him, a frail twisted arm reaching up towards him beseechingly. Who’s arm is this, he thought, and why is it pointing at me? The world turned over again, the arm stretching, bending trying to touch the yolky sun above his head. And why is it pointing at the yolky sun? When he was a boy his da fastened baseball cards with clothespins to the spokes of his secondhand bicycle, the cards click-clacking as he rocketed down the sidewalk jumping puddles and potholes.

The Landesschule Pforta gymnasium holds weekly craps behind the kitchen, the Brandrübel brothers beating the coal out the Schmölln brothers seven times out of three.

Leaping potholes and puddles he rocketed down the sideways, the clothes-pinned cards clicking in the spokes. His da sat on the porch spitting tobacco juice into a coffee tin, the night sky redder than a slapped face. Anchises Lethe drank the Dog and Beggar dry, gulping back throatfuls of fortified wine. José Arturo, seated on the stool next to him, his face half-hidden in the turtleneck of his shirt, said a prayer for dead and recently deceased poor Rudy {Virag} who the year before had hanged himself from the rafters overlooking the Overnight Asylum. ‘may God bless his slithering soul’ said Arturo, his face ashen pale. ‘for God know’eth, Hades is hotter than Hell’eth’. ‘yes by God’ interrupted Ennis Forghas ‘hotter than Hell’eth!’ Hoisting their tankards above their heads, all three men yelled ‘--HALLELUJAH! To Hell with Hell’eth! May his rung’eth neck unbend and his soul rest in peace. Adman’.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Schmölln

His da’s mamma bought salt cod from the Oppegaard fish market, a man called Apercus separating the heads from the fillets, wrapping them in brown paper and securing the slimy package with twine, then winking at her salaciously as he handed her the package over the counter, the tattoo on his forearm separating his wrist from his elbow. Not that one; I hate Tegucigalpa flatfish. Pointing, give me that one, yes, that one there. Hack me off a piece. The Francisco’s make a fine Morazán fishpie. Too salty? Not at all. Now stop your quibbling and scythe me off a piece. My da once got a whitefish bone stuck in his throat; damn near choked him silly. Taught me how to dislodge it with a thump to the back of the back; pops out like a crumb. No really. Ask the monger at Oppegaard’s, he’ll give you the goods. Apercus I thinks his name; smarmy cunt gave my grandmamma the once over. If I remember correctly she was wearing her herringbone stockings that day. Up to her waist in fish guts, heads separated from the fillets so there’s no mistaking the good pieces. (ibid). Pops out like a crumb. Partial bones in the hips so they say; easier to get the middle parts down. Worthless parts are good for soup and headcheese’s. Never know when company will drop by. Crawdaddy in her left hand, mudbug in her right. Throat stretched out like a firehouse. If I remember correctly. Remembering the past, and what lay in between, his thoughts stretched out like a firehouse, partial bones lined up on the tablecloth, the back of his back thumped black and blue, his grandmamma spooning bowlfuls of headcheese soup into greedy hands, smiting the bicycle pump like a tea spout, his da’s da thumping his head against the table trying to knock some sense into himself.

The Landesschule Pforta gymnasium holds weekly fistfights; the Schmölln brothers beating the tar out of the Brandrübel brothers three times out of seven.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Obadiah

Tiring of the befuddlement that cursed his being, the man in the hat sat under a mighty elm and counted the stars in the noontime sky: 2. He had no other recourse than to admit defeat; his life having become a peccadillo of disappointment. Were he but a farthing, a boy called Poldy who’s worse fear was his ma’s uneven temper, wading knee-high in the muck behind the woolshed spearing frogs with arrows his da’s da gave him, the sucking noise his boots made when he unstuck his foot from a grave of squashy mud, his arrow a spit of frogs, garlands of roe and green things, three frogs impaled with one pull of his bow, his piss yellower than the buttercups they held under their chins to see who liked butter and who didn’t. {His best friend Obadiah was keen on oleo}.

“(He smites with his bicycle pump the {mudbug} in his left hand.)” (James Aloysius Joyce, Ulysses). His da wore his shirt back to front, affecting a backwardness that followed him wherever he went. Woolshed frogs, his granddad smiling broadly from ear to ear. ‘never admit defeat my boy’ thinking what he really meant was deafness, but his upper-plate slipped and got in the way. Pumping he went about the day, his unstuck boot making a sucking noise. Un-tucked he strode into the day, his cudgel dangling betwixt his legs. Knuckling his bicycle sump he set off into the world, Obadiah at his side. ‘never overestimate the forces of nature’ said his da’s da jawing his upper-plate. Time and again he lost time of time; the hours and days fleeting by like scat through a goose. Up to his waist he went about the day never-minding that at noontime he had a meeting with Dejesus. He wondered: who likes butter and who doesn’t? Maybe Dejesus. Who knows? “(He smites with his bicycle pump the {crawdaddy} in his left hand.)” (ibid). Maybe not. His da taught him how to make a cudgel out of worthless metals, the blacksmith’s apron cutting into the partial bones in his hips. That night his grandmamma served whitefish, his da rescuing a crumb of bone caught in his throat with a thump on his back.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

La Belleza Convulsa

They stitched up the hole in his da’s leg with box-suture; the unraveled ends tied in double-knots then twisted round until the blood stopped spurting. Time was when his da’s legs were fair game for dog-bites and lacerations. Humping through the dogbane behind the woolshed, milking the tall grass, his hipflask hanging from his belt loop, his da hunted wild geese and turbot. His da’s da hunted woodlot pigs with a bow and arrow, taking down garbage-fed hogs with a single shot. When he was a boy his da’s da took him out to the woodlot behind the woolshed, showing him how to string a bow and pull back the feathers so the arrow wouldn’t fly cockeyed. He took his first kill that day; a Landseer with a maggoty eye. His granddad hung it from a bowed sapling, digging the maggots out with his hunting knife, his heart racing in his throat. That was when they called him Poldy, long before he came to be known as the man in the hat.

La Belleza Convulsa: Where I lost my Spleen’ was written over the doorway to the Dog and Beggar Tavern. And on the opposite wall, covering over ricochets, near misses and bullet holes: 'Freedom for Los Desaparecidos!' Suhcamelet, prelate to Norman and Varangian, his churlish egg-shaped jowl hanging below his chinstrap, stood admiring his reflection in the window, a stray Landseer with a maggoty eye sniffing his pant leg. ‘away bucetão! I have no time for strays and kettledrums’. On the back of his greatcoat, written in an unsteady Punjabi hand, was the following “(He smites with his bicycle pump the crayfish in his left hand.)” (James Aloysius Joyce, Ulysses). Harping, Suhcamelet retied his shoe and sent his hat flying; the brim whirling like a railroaded top. ‘haven’t seen head nor tail of the crapper spleen, must’ve hightailed north to sky-scraping ground’. Harping, the strings of his heart soaring, he delivered a sermon to those assembled in front of the Waymart, ‘may the goalie host redeem your pitiful souls. So say’eth Robin Goodfellow of the Puck’. Fool, hasn’t a toadstool to piss upon. See his sort round and a bout, piddling in the flowerbox out back of the Dog and Beggar; piddle-puddle astride the grave. Ill-omened, his shirttails un-tucked, he hightails it northerly, his cudgel dangling betwixt his legs. Makes a man harp, lest it does.

Alfonso Osip

That morning, or was it the next?, a legion of fools arrived in town; some on foot, some hanging onto the bumper of the truck clip-clopping like horses. ‘well I’ll be damned’ said the alms man, the buttons on his shirt sparkling earnestly in the sun. ‘its getting harder and harder to make a living these days’. Legions of fools were not an uncommon sight; putting on a show here or there, collecting what miserly gratuities they could, then leaving by truck and on foot, some clip-clopping clip-clopping. Doesn’t take much to teach a man a lesson, specially if he’s taken a turn for the worse. The {horse-headed Dane}… {aka Buachaill Báire} ‘a cunt, dear sir, were I a man accustom to using profane language’. I dare say; it’s the Franciscan’s that prefer the soaked ends, not the Jesuits! Alfonso Osip and Ochoa Emilyevich stood admire one another’s reflection in window of the Dogmen Deli, neither one aware that the sky was about to fall. Osip, a castrato with an oversize chin, and Emilyevich, a pint-size violinist with glass-blue eyes and a goatee, had that morning arrived clip-clopping behind the legion of fools’ truck, the sun glaring off their button-down chemises.

The hunch-backed barber Hascheck, known for his vile demeanor and insatiable guile, jumped off the back of the legion of fools’ truck and into the mud-crummy street, the tails of his greatcoat flapping madly. Catching his breath, his chest pumping like a five-alarm fire he said,

“Her stomach is ugly, isn't it? Covered with folds of fat? You must be able to see it when she bathes...You say she is not very fit. Her breasts, her fat stomach, slap slap, flabby as boiled pork. Just like that, Polzer, slap slap, the mother sow!” (Hermann Ungar, The Maimed)

Taking a tonic from his breast pocket he took a long insatiable swill, suckling like a newborn hog. ‘I dare say’ said Osip, ‘a boiled pork sandwich would go nicely’. ‘with a cream jug of rum’ added Emilyevich, his face wrinkling like a shaken cloth. ‘indeed, yes, indeed’ said Osip. Roca Cathedras sat on the edge of the dais thinking of ways to make slag into gold, his upper lip knitting. Roca Cathedras hated nothing more than truckloads of fools and woman “slap slap, flabby as boiled pork”. He had no time for Alfonso Osip or Ochoa Emilyevich, suckling hogs both. The legion of fools never stayed longer than a fortnight, two if the moon stayed put. The first time Poldy Magyar saw the troop of fools was on a Sunday after Saturday Mass, the fools setting up their tents in the parking lot behind the Waymart, Osip and Emilyevich laughing to burst a gut, Roca Cathedras gawking at them crossly, his forehead stretched tighter than a pigskin blanket.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Laggardly

The truth has its own weaknesses. The day he was born his mamma screeched at the top of her lungs, God forgive me, I have given birth to a monster! He was born Poldy Magyar, his mother changing his name to Japheth on his eleventh birthday. Then on his twelfth birthday, realizing that her son had no competence for shipbuilding, she began calling him ‘my little man in the hat’, as he wore a cap whenever and wherever he went. "Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed." [U.1.242] she said in a soft lilting voice, her ‘little man in the hat’ tugging aggressively at her skirts. I did say at your birth, dear boy, that I had given birth to a monster; but that, I dare say dear son was a mistake: that morning, the morning in question, I had slaked my thirst with Sloe Gin Fizz, thereby corrupting the hole you were hatched from. I beg your forgiveness, my dear lovely child. So that was how it began: from Poldy to Japheth to ‘my little man in the hat’. But mamma why do you feel such shame; a boy is a boy even if his name be untilled.

Laggardly, slowly, he pushed sleep from his body, his eyes trapped shut like the jaws of Nepenthes rajah. The pigheaded four: Death, judgment, heaven and hell. Never underestimate the wisdom of the dead. These his da told him over cold mock chicken sandwiches and warm raspberry Kook-Aid. My son, you must never forget, the world is a sham; life is lived by the stupid, not the wise. Off in the distance woodshadows floated silently across the horizon, his da tugging on his coattails, coaxing him over the five-mile and into the dustbowl of the future. It isn’t your fault mamma; some boys are born monsters. Written on the ceiling, the ink bluing into the corners above his head, was the following: “The Alçada of the village came by chance into the inn together with a notary, and” {the Witness} laid a petition before him, showing that it was requisite for his rights that” {the rector’s assistant}, …there present, should make a declaration before him that he did not know” {Japheth}, also there present, and that he was not the one that was in print in a history entitled "Second Part”” {pamphleteering by way} of {colportage}, by one”{pigheaded Dutchman}… {also known as Buachaill Báire}…" (Cervantes, Don Quixote)

Poldy Magyar awoke from troubled dreams and winched himself out of bed, his legs giving way to inertia and a lack of exercise. The {pigheaded Dutchman}… {also known as Buachaill Báire}, stood at the foot of his cot counting the tiles on the ceiling. Earnestly he proffered him a cigar, offering to clip the prepuce for him with a nod of his gigantic head. ‘roll the clipped end round in your lips, that’s it, like a lolli’ he said holding the extinguished matchstick between his thumb and forefinger, the sulfur smarting his eyes. ‘the Jesuits prefer a soaked end; the Franciscans less so’. The clipped end fell to the floor like a spiraling autumn leaf, the tip frayed and scrimmaged. ‘I’m sure you’d be better equipped to understand what I’m getting at if you weren’t such a good-for-nothing. And good-for-nothings, well they seldom understand a thing; not even their own thoughts, simple and contrived as they may be’. He could fell the earnestness emptying from his body; disgust overcoming his sense of magnetism. ‘dare I say you’re a scoundrel… a cunt, sir, were I a man accustom to using profane language’.

JAMES JOYCE IN PARIS 1920s

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poldy Magyar

‘you look tired’ said J.M. Gutierrez swatting at a fly circling his head, its tiny wings thrashing up a dustbowl of infinitesimal filth. The knife made a kinching sound, the hilt slipping against the open palm of her hand. ‘be careful, she’s a whizz with a pocketknife. I’ve seen her gut a man in halves; his insides coiling like a loose spring. Can’t be too careful around her kind!’ Lorelei, her golden jewelry glist'ning, devouring the boat men both with her dulcet-voiced power. Oh sorrow fill my breast! Thrashing round like a caged tiger, his thoughts falling in and out of consciousness, he felt the sorrow of his age pressing in on his very being. In a catheter-voice, his throat breaching and constricting, he spoke of the age of foolishness, of stout angry men with asthmatic voices and deceitful bathetic pride. ‘you look tired’. ‘no, just trying to make sense’. She’s a tigress, can slit a man in halves with a single thrust of her pocketknife. Best be careful lest she stick you like a suckling pig. ‘I’ll be fine, just give me a moment, I’m in the middle of the thick of it’. With a heavy breast he stepped out into the cool autumnal afternoon, his hat cinched under his arm, a militia of gray and black piebald crows caw-cawing in the branches of the boxwood outside the rector’s study. ‘in the end all that matters was that we took nothing to heart; the misery and cold-heartedness of life’. ‘you mean, don’t you, all that matters is?’ ‘no, all that was, not is, is never was. Listen clearly: when was is is becomes was’. He could feel it, the past overcoming the present. It would only be a matter of time before ‘is’ succeeded ‘was’, relieving the past of the future. The knife made a kinching sound, the blade hilted to the hilt. Cold-hearted she is. Can draw-and-quarter in half the time.

Buachaill Báire stood outside the grocer’s taking in the warm summery day; crooking his head to the left, then the right he took in the entire landscape. The sun warmly caressing his neck, a hole in the clouds above the Waymart pierced by a bolt of raining sun, he made up his mind to pay a visit to the man in the hat whom he had not seen since the Fast of the Bleeding Lamb when both took up the unstitched thread left dangling by the sermonizing pastor. “O, my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade”. [U. 4.54-55] said the man in the hat looking to mend loose ends. The vicar of Wrexham stood to address the congregation, the hem of his Alb steeped in a gobbet of spit. Poldy Magyar stood admiring his refraction in the awning window, rumpling and poleaxing his face like a kid-soft glove, the sun forming a halo over his behatted head.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Feast of the Rapture

‘...I killed sleeping flies, turning my back to him and whistling’. (Juan Carlos Onetti, Goodbyes and Stories).
The man in the hat met J.M. Gutierrez at the Feast of the Rapture, neither man recognizing the other. Years earlier they met at the Feast of the Lamb, acknowledging one another with a tacit nod of the head. He pulled her across his torso, the hard coils of her breasts digging into his chest like dirks. The smell of her own sex making her sick, his hands despoiling her empty flesh, she lay like a frightened child unable to feel the simplest emotion. Her noviciate last three years; two hanging from the rafters in a horse-sling. They called her Lorelei,

1. I cannot determine the meaning
Of sorrow that fills my breast:
A fable of old, through it streaming,
Allows my mind no rest.
The air is cool in the gloaming
And gently flows the Rhine.
The crest of the mountain is gleaming
In fading rays of sunshine.

2. The loveliest maiden is sitting
Up there, so wondrously fair;
Her golden jewelry is glist'ning;
She combs her golden hair.
She combs with a gilded comb, preening,
And sings a song, passing time.
It has a most wondrous, appealing
And pow'rful melodic rhyme.

3. The boatman aboard his small skiff, -
Enraptured with a wild ache,
Has no eye for the jagged cliff, -
His thoughts on the heights fear forsake.
I think that the waves will devour
Both boat and man, by and by,
And that, with her dulcet-voiced power
Was done by the Loreley.

(Heinrich Heine, Die Lorelei)

Swaying, trembling, the horse-sling cutting her in halves, she surrendered to his pow'rful skiff. ‘I cannot determine the meaning’ said the man in the hat. ‘I think that the waves will devour the fading rays of sunshine, but I could be mistaken’. Fearing that he might be forsaken, or worse, abandoned to the jagged sea, he walked out into the sunshiny bright day, his hat proudly atop his head, the smell of starchy laundry assailing his sense of balance.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Emilio Videla Rafael

{This is foolish! There is no Departamento de Grandes Inquisidores or a Brotherhood of Dialectical Immaterialist’s. These are thoughts thought with little regard for my saneness. The sort that choke me with melancholy.}

Emilio Videla Rafael, Jorge Redondo, Ramón Eduardo Orlando and Massera Agosti meet every Sunday afternoon in the rear of the Waymart to split-hairs over which one of them was responsible for the atrocities carried-out at the Overnight Asylum. They grumble and moan, none willing to accept responsibility for the horrors perpetrated by the orderlies and doctors who were under their control. They were simply following their own conscience, pursuing their moral innerness. They were never forced to do what they did they did it because they chose to, and at no time were they coerced or subjected to duress. They just did it, that’s all. Miscreants tailored to fit the shoe that kicks the poor and underprivileged, all four men live lives of carnal approbation, depraved animals who spread pestilence and disease.

[He remembers a broken-down motel room in a town where no one except a empire of dog-like people understand a word he says. Moneyless, carrying whatever he owns in a haversack, the broken-down motel room smelling of other people’s sex and urine, he sits on the edge of the bed and tries to figure out how he got here. There were mountains; snow covered mountains. A dirt road that bends just outside town, the halogen eyes of a truck slicing through the darkness. Not a soul stopped when he stuck out his finger; not even someone he thought he might know, or thought he knew. The dog-like people offered to help him but first he must be put to work. A dwarf in clown pants and a crocheted toque points to the dogs rummaging through the garbage and says ‘here, feed them’ and hands him a bucketful of innards. The dog-like people come running, in single-file and in groups, dressed in codpieces and toting long spear-like staffs. They enter a campfire ring, single-file or in twos, he can’t remember which, the walls constructed from trees whittled into dagger-like points. One of the crazies points at the snow-covered mountains and says ‘there, that’s the way out’].

J.M. Gutierrez has a mostrar tatuajes de cangrejo on his chest, a mark of los hermandad de los sobrevivientes. He lives in a one room bedsit over the Seder Grocers with another man who refuses to make known his name. Every morning at 7 o’clock they join the line in front of the clinic, talking to no one and clapping their frostbitten hands together waiting for the heavy aluminum doors to open.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Grandes Inquisidores

El hombre del sombrero se detuvo y saludó a Dejesus; hombres cuidado de los demás. Minas, Gerais and Belo Horizonte live in a woolshed with one window and half-a-door. They have to crouch when entering the woolshed lest they bust their heads against the doorframe. The brothers are all under five feet in height, the shortest coming in at just under 4 ft. 9½. The sky fell twice the year the man in the hat met the Horizonte brothers; on Easter Sunday and the day after Lent. Minas, Gerais and Belo had come into town to buy blankets and salt, snookering past the guardsman where the five-mile meets the outland and entering thought the gate behind the earthwork barricade. Sövtöe J.J. Eötvös, the guardsman who was caught sleeping when the brothers crossed the five-mile, was shipped off to the Overnight Asylum where he was interned and subjected to series of vicious incapacitating psychiatric procedures, one such procedure so vicious it resulted in his death. When pushed one of the orderlies claimed that del paciente testículos were subjected to una serie de baños de hielo dando lugar a atrofia del paciente testículos y el escroto rompiendo en mil pedazos de hielo. Sövtöe J.J. Eötvös remains were sent to the Pays de la Loire cemetery where they were buried in a tobacco tin behind los sepultureros’ cubierto. ‘a tobacco tin, how disgusting!’ said one of the inquisitors, his lips bluing from the cold. ‘you’d think they’d at least give the man a decent burial’ said a second inquisitor, ‘testículos y el escroto rompiendo en mil pedazos de hielo, how repugnant’. ‘we’re all to blame’ said the first inquisitor. ‘every last one of us’. ‘I suppose we could have intervened and brought him back’ said the second inquisitor. ‘after all it is our job to protect those who have made it to the other side, even if we find them repugnant’. Eduardo Banzato, Eucrio-Rodrigues de Bonaventura and Risottos-Oliveira Netto work for Los Departamento de Grandes Inquisidores, also known as the Department of Undertaking. It is their responsibility to ensure that those tortured on the other side are brought to safety and to guarantee that they get the proper medical care while interned. As representatives of Los Departamento de Grandes Inquisidores they are required to recant their past as simpletons and embrace a brotherhood based on Dialectical Immaterialism even though none of them understands what Dialectical Immaterialism is or what it requires of them.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Los Sepultureros

He called her his little cunt and said that if she didn’t stop bellyaching and learn how to act like a grownup she’d end up a spinster with a houseful of cats. He use to see her with her da shopping for hand-me-downs at the Saint Vincent De Paul, her da yanking her by her pale freckled arm, Snježana wishing they could go to the Eaton’s where they had brand new dresses not ones that smelled like other people’s dirty houses. Never once did she feel soft cotton against her skin or lace-up a pair of new shoes. He said new things were a waste of money and that if that’s what she wanted she could go live with the nuns or sell herself to men with troubled pasts and uneven tempers. She wished her name was Lorelei and that when she went to the bathroom her da didn’t peek at her through a hole in the wall. She wished she had four arms so she could push her da off her when the pale freckled ones were pinned behind her back. They carried her father to the cemetery in a wheeled bier. The gravediggers, their jaws working like gristmills, spat tobacco juice onto the raised area around the grave; fader Sieraków, humming a Gaelic funereal dirge, knelt in front of the wooden catafalque, his Chastibule collected round his waist, the hem of his Alb steeped in a gobbet of spit. The ceremony for The Absolution of the Dead was conducted by fader Tunuyán, a tonsured Franciscan with a brash tone and uneven teeth.

"Los sepultureros, sus mandíbulas de trabajo, como molinos, jugo de tabaco escupió en la zona elevada alrededor de la tumba; Sieraków fader, tarareando un canto fúnebre gaélico, se arrodilló delante del catafalco de madera, su Chastibule recogido alrededor de su cintura, el dobladillo de su Alb empapado en un trocito de saliva."

Once the funereal Mass had been said, and the mourner who had thrown herself on top of the coffin had been pulled free, fader Sieraków wiped his brow, and turning to leave stopped in front of the sepultureros, who were impatiently shuffling back and forth waiting for the mourners to leave, and said ‘may God forgive you your sins’, then pausing, his uneven teeth spitting out the words, whispered ‘lousy cunts’. György and Löwinger, for that were their names, both beneficiaries of lowbrow intellect and less that honorable temperament, stared popeyed at fader Sieraków, neither man knowing how to respond.

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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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