Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire

Some things have no beginning or ending, they just are. There is no arrival or departure, they simply are as they ‘is’. There is no movement as movement requires action and action choice and choice demands that we start from a proposition, a premise, then move onto a middle and an ending, finis. Lela saw only a middle; and sometimes the middle disappeared leaving nothing, no centre, core or midpoint. Midway she found herself standing in front of the Seder grocer’s, the window reflecting back nothing, no centre, midpoint or core. ‘smack her with the end of your cudgel!’ shouted Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire, ‘and quick before she gets away!’ shouted Pest, the clamor and commotion of the crowd muffling his voice. At that moment the biggest dogman appeared from behind a hedgerow of honeysuckle and felled fichus, his hands raised flailing over his enormous head. ‘so, do you like fruitcake?’ Lela asked Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire. In the turmoil and hubbub that prevailed Lela couldn’t make heads nor tails of what Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire said in reply, hearing only the whirring buzz that people gathered with nothing of importance to do fell into. Stepping over hedgerow and hedge the biggest dogmen stood head and shoulders above the uproar, his eyes flashing like broken headlights. ‘so, do you like fruitcake?’ she asked a second time, Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire doing his best to ignore her. At that moment the littlest dogman appeared as if out of nowhere, his eyes flashing like static radio dials. ‘I like fruitcake’ he said, dust flaking off the bib of his jacket. ‘Not you, I tell you you are a millisecond away from a good thrashing!’ Not knowing who had spoken or why Lela felt a shimmying in her legs.

Wassily Kandinsky

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Boyars, Pest and Cheltenham

Parlously she took aim of his mal-petit head. Hasn’t a tosspot to piss in, as sorry a state of affairs as I’ve ever seen. Sloppy attire and no shine to speak of. Keeps his keepsakes in a sachet under his cot, boxful of lice and balls of hair. No mohair, just dog and lemming. Its appalling: as scandalous as a house on fire. Keep looking my dear, its just around the corner, I assure you. The light flickered in through the window, her face pushed into the midpoint of her pillow. An open window is a sure-fire invitation for bugs and flying things. The man in the hat took a seat and let out a halfhearted sigh. ‘I can’t take it anymore…! it will never end’

The next morning Lela found a letter from the man in the hat stapled on the wall over her head. ‘Best get your things together, the sky looks like its going to fall… Hurry!’ Boyars, Pest and Cheltenham headed for Gloucestershire, Boyars having forgotten to close the window in his cheese house. Lela thought this strange but looked aslant out the window just the same, hoping to catch a glimpse of a titlark or a thrush. People were always coming and going, a steady line of vagrants and louses, but today seemed different; they came but didn’t go, setting up small encampments in the parking lot behind the Waymart and the paddocks alongside the aqueduct. Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire stood admiring his reflection in the Seder grocer’s window.

Sepahan Buxton of Derbyshire sits under the Seder grocer’s awning thinking of ways to steal women’s attire: gloves and hats, purses and handbags, stockings and hoses’, panties and brassieres, ladies’ undergarments and unmentionable’s. Yonder, behind a hedgerow of honeysuckles, Boyars, Pest and Cheltenham scheme ways to upend the legless man’s pushcart. Pest taking the lead suggesting they kick his cart out from under him; Cheltenham suggesting they crack him over the head with cudgels; and Boyars, shaking his head saying ‘we’ll manhandle the little creep… he ain’t got no legs for God’s sake!’

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Amor e Iturbe

Juan Cortés de Campo, stately and plump, met the Marqués de Valdegamas under the butcher’s awning next to the Dogman Deli. Don Torcuato, standing beneath King Olaf’s shadow exclaimed ‘O, begor, I want no expert nursis symaphy from yours broons quadroons and I can psoakoonaloose myself any time I want (the fog follow you all) without your interferences or any other pigeonstealer’. ‘thing’s are getting crazy round here’ shouted Don Torcuato, de Campo and de Valdegamas giving him the once over. ‘wait’ said the legless man, Juan Cortés and Marqués turning, Don Torcuato crouching in the shadows ‘this is only the beginning… it gets worse’. At that moment a dog pawning up the street stopped, raised its flea-bitten leg and pissed all over the flowerbox in front of the Dogman Deli. ‘see?’ said the legless man. Having relieved itself the dog moved on, its legs wet with piss. ‘not that I care’ said the legless man, all three men staring at him blankly, ‘but sure makes a man think don’t it?’ Arteaga Enrique Valparaiso met Amor e Iturbe behind the coxswain’s cabin. Writhing, legs mended together, they made love well into the night, her skirts cinched round the thicket of her hips.

Everything can be reduced to equal parts. “"If I had money," said the page, "I would ask senor ape what will happen to me in the peregrination I am making."” (Cervantes). The puppet-showman met Don Quixote after the strangling of the Moor; Santo and Master Pedro standing a-flank the gluey mare. Now stop that now! I can’t take it any more! He thought and thought until the thought of thinking made him sick to his stomach. Sometimes when he thought he thought that he would think until he was all out of thoughts; other times he thought until thinking itself became the thought of thinking, everything he thought he thought turning out to be a thought about thinking about a thought he would never have or think. He thought like a machine with wheels and levers, cogs and dials, but no on or off button. ‘who in they’re right mind would think such thoughts?’ he thought to himself. ‘I mean really, who!’ I mean really who thinks such thoughts, really I mean who? Lela fell into bed, the moonlight flickering in through the open window. Lela slept curled in a ball, her head cradled in the fleshy sloop of her chest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stamperia Valdònega

Lela struggled to stay asleep, her eyes heavier than cast-iron skillets. On rainy nights she slept facing west, on hot summer nights facing east and on cold winter nights she slept with her head under the blankets facing neither north or south. Die Zimtläden they said. Slonim das good she said. People spoke in her head. These people that spoke spoke in tongues. ‘atún de boleto de sahleedah ahdorno de pahdreh behrdeh’ said one voice clamoring. ‘pwehrtah de mostrador de facturaci’ said another. ‘Ón té Vuel Os Recogida de salidas de llegadas’ said a third drawling cacophonously. The summer Lela spent with her grandparents in the country she found a box under a hollyhock bush, and in the box she found a pair of silk women’s gloves, the fingers cut off at the second phalanx. Carefully she unwrapped the gloves, for they were ensconced in tissue paper, the tissue delicate and paper-thin, and held the gloves one at a time on the upturned palm of her left hand, her right hand outstretched steadying her torso against the branches of the hollyhock bush. Admiring the gloves, her eyes straining to see the delicate stitching and wrist hemming, Lela sighed, the insides of her mouth, for she had two, like a cow has two stomachs, strep with cankers. ‘I will buy a bottle of tanner’s oil’ she said quietly, not wanting to disturb the hobo asleep under the railway trussing. ‘Caw caw caw’ heckled a crow from its roost on the branch of a fichus bláin with dead-rot.

Before loosing his legs the legless man tested shoes for the shoemaker Oberg Moon. Each pair of shoes was tested for durability, comfort and style. On Mondays and Tuesdays Giovanni Mardersteig worked out of the Officina Bodoni office, the remainder of the week, except for Saturdays which he took off, he worked out of the Stamperia Valdònega office. Known far and wide for his Dante shoes, fashionable among the fur-clad gentry and those with an eye for quality craftsmanship, Giovanni Mardersteig lived the ‘life of Reilly’. Lela recalled seeing something painted on a plank of cherry-wood over the door to the Bodoni office. Later in life, when she learned to read and write, Lela returned to the office and read the plank over the door. “Love brings to light the noble and hidden qualities of a lover - his rare and exceptional traits: to that extent it conceals his unusual character”.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, March 14, 2010

di Folco Portinari

She spent her honeymoon at Nolan Falls backcombing crablouses from her hair. She bucks and heaves, my uncle riding her like a furlong mare, her tungsten crown clanging off the headboard. The duck-liver paté swells her stomach, my uncle snorting like a soulless dog, hips tuning the bedsprings. There were four paintings in the room, a nude by Sutra Slupsk, a pastoral landscape by Sviland Rogaland, a pointillist water-scene by Prague Lavin and a still-life by Mesto Praia, the pastoral landscape and the still-life of particular interest to my uncle, who felt most art was childish and obscurant. His uncle preferred portly round women, even though, with his flabby legs and a fleshy sagging belly, he found it difficult to ride them from on top. That summer his uncle succumbed to yellow jaundice, the folds of his sagging belly sweaty with lye and calcium. His mother serving him notice ‘either you do something about this monstrosity or never set foot in the house again’. The following day he paid a visit to the Moorcock Bordello, where the fattest whore rubbed castor oil and iodine into the folds of his belly, salving the yellow jaundice, thereby freeing him of his mother’s curt admonition.

1. Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428–1501); probably 1470
Hans Memling (Netherlandish, active by 1465,
died 1494)
Oil on wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2. Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, 1456–?), probably 1470 Hans Memling (Netherlandish, active by 1465, died 1494) Oil on wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lola Fresán-Restrepo and Juan Pedro-Gutiérrez stood shoulder to shoulder admiring their reflection in the motel window. It rained that day. It rained until the sky couldn’t hold itself back, until the clouds, split in halves like melons, watered the ground and stars, it rained until her eyes and mouth filled up with water, until every step she took took her one step closer to the ocean, until keeping her head above water was all she could think of, all she could do to keep from drowning. It rained until it could rain no more, the sky bled empty, the moon a love-struck whore smitten with her reflection in the water. The following year his uncle returned to Nolan Falls, his eye on the chambermaid who had cleaned their crablousy room the year before.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


On the wall above her bed under a photograph of her grandmamma hugging a pillow she bought at Nolan Falls was penciled,

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
(William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow)

Her worst memory was of her da eating oysters, the guts clinging to the hairs in his beard, her littlest brother making faces at the waiter. Her granny ate leafy spurge with dill and unsalted butter, her crinkly face glowing with cheery abandon. His grandmamma kept a herbatorium in the cupboard over the kitchen sink. In jam jars, each with their own label, she kept Japanese Knotweed, Dog's Tooth, Couch, Devil's and Scutch Grass, Bindweed, Black-bindweed, Bittersweet Nightshade and Climbing Nightshade, Fleawort, Felonwood, Poisonberry and its cousin Poisonflower, Scarlet Berry, Snakeberry, Trailing Nightshade and Violet Bloom, also called Woody Nightshade, Trailing Bittersweet, Burdock, Trefoil Clover and Ground-ivy, DAN-dih-ly-un, Goldenrod, Kudzu Milk Thistle and Bloodweed, Spinach Dock, or Narrow-leaved Dock, Tipton's Weed, or Klamath weed, and s(j)uːmæk, Wild Carrot, Bishop's Lace, Ragwort Spear and Bull Thistle, Plumed Thistle, Roadside Thistle and Curled Dock, also called Curly Dock, Yellow Dock, Sour Dock, Narrow Dock and Bluntleaf Dock. His grandmamma purchased weeds and grasses from the Dedham Sisters of Surry and herbs from the Trujillo Brothers of Dagenham. Barking, the dog that guards the Trujillo Brothers' shop, situated across the street form the Sofya Launderette, pisses, his grandmamma splitting a sober gut.

That summer his grandmamma read ‘Les Chants de Maldoror’ by Comte de Lautréamont, her gums bloodied and raw from biting her lip and the insides of her mouth.

“Lice of remarkable beauty that crawl like aspiring philosophers from cherished eggs; pubic hairs conversing in a brothel; sharks preparing duck-liver paté and cold soup from victims of drowning; a human-faced toad, as sad as the universe and as beautiful as suicide; covetous fingers prodding the lobes of innocent brains in order to smilingly prepare an effective unguent for the eyes; how Man. applauded by the crablouse and the adder, shits on the Creator's uplifted face for three days; devouring your mother's arms with gusto while she is still alive by tearing them off and cutting them into snippets...!”
(Comte de Lautréamont, Les Chants de Maldoror)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Freud (Part 1 of 14)


He awoke covered in a cobweb of his own sweat, the undersides of his arms and legs spit wet. Having awakened earlier than usual he decided to smoke a filter tip and make it a day. He exhaled a blue tail of smoke, his head bludgeoned into the headboard, the sulfur from the match smarting his eyes. Remember Mulvey? Over her bed over the headboard on the wall she had written: “Parents live on. Unresolved dissonances in the relation of the character and disposition of the parents continue to reverberate in the nature of the child, and constitute his inner sufferings”. (F.W. Nietzsche). Strange she was that Mulvey. ‘stop talking in circles. Now stop it now!’ Her da, a merchant seamen, circumcisioned the globe collecting sexual diseases along the whey. He was covered in boils from head to toe, cankers as big as your hand. ‘circles, your talking in circles!’ I can’t stand to look at him. Bib him and get him out of here. Covered in them he was. The undersides of his legs and arms. He tried to grab hold of the glove but the glove soared higher, disappearing over the horizon. ‘in circles’. J. S. Crumlish lives in a cardboard box under the bridge over the aqueduct. He has three toes on his left hand, replacing the fingers he lost in an accident. Never know when the underneath will fall out: the worst isn’t all that bad. J. S. was overcome with grief. It isn’t what you think: really. Hit the ground damn hard: upper plate fell out. The rooftops are slippery, given the inclimate weather. Sat on top of the chimney: figuring he could tell which direction the sky would fall. Came close a few times. Worst of it was the toes on his left hand: the accident saw to that. Covered in them he was. That Mulvey: sometimes slept next to Crumlish on a scrap. Can’t say as I blame her, the weather, as it is, being inclimate.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mrs. Breen

(The Glamorgan boy is in cahoots with the Leighton Buzzard brothers, all three, as there is but one Glamorgan boy, fighting it out under the weight-scale beneath the Bedfordshire clocktower).

He fell from such a great height that he broke all his teeth and all his legs. All those splintery bones. His da said he’d amount to nothing. Now its too late. When he started to think like this the man in the hat opened his throat and spat, an oyster of spittle cobwebbing the Seder grocer’s awning. After the Hotel Belmont he took up residence in an old folk’s home, the head matron cursing him for being such a louse.

Her shoulders and arms were covered in benday dots, her armpits a hanging garden of moles and tags. I told you to stay clear of her! Now look what she’s done, covered you in warts and cobwebbing! Little did he know that he would find peace and solitude in her arms. And those buzzard boys, what a slight on the eyes. Glam organ’s, least they have the good sense to wear galoshes. He had little patience for open throats and cobber. ‘atrociously hideous’ he said. ‘like a raisin pie gone sour’. Mona met Millie, known for her soft-shell shoes, under the Waymart clocktower to serve notice of her decision to leave the church choir. Why such inanities? The world is full of bigger ideas, surely I could do better. Mrs. Breen met Silvina Acampo and Bustos H. Domecq under an umbrella she had brought specially for the occasion. The sun that day was brighter than a geniuses’ cortex, nary a cloud in the blue sky. ‘I had thought of bringing some organ meats with me but left before I could remember why and where I was going’. ‘no need to worry, we have plenty of food’. ‘basketfuls’. ‘bushels’. ‘oh good, I felt so ridiculous, you see I am not one to forget things, and this, I dare say, was a terrible oversight’ ‘please sit down… there’s plenty of room for all of us under the umbrella’. His throat constricted then went flat, his mouth gulch-dry. I say there, you, yes you, what have you to say for yourself? It was here fault he said pointing at Silvina Acampo, she said it was okay that I be here. Nonsense! Look at her shoes, they’re ghastly. Bib him and get him out of here. I can’t stand to look at him.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Hotel de l'Univers

The Eastleigh Hampshire boys snort like ox’s. Hooking stones off the grocer’s awning he fell cock and barrel into the street, his face smeared into the blacktop. Says who, he said? ‘says us’ they said, faces blackened with blacktop. I prefer blackstropped molasses, makes the panfry go down like a shucked oyster. But not so swelled so as to cause me any discomfit. I see no end to this nonsense; none whatsoever. He believed in something greater, and the words made it so. Every morning before setting out he spit polished his boots, bringing out a shine that drew the blood out of the whites of his eyes.

His father lived at the Grand Hotel Corneille, rue Corneille 5, 9 rue de l'Universite in a hotel, 5 rue de l'Assomption, 5 Boulevard Raspail, 71 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 9 rue de l'Universite, again in a hotel, 26 Avenue Charles Floquet, spent time in London and Bognor on holiday, then moved to Hotel de l'Univers, and from there to Victoria Palace Hotel, then 6 rue Blaise Desgoffe, 8 avenue Charles Floquet, 2 Square Robiac and 192 rue de Grenelle, relocated to London where he took up lodging at 28b Campden Grove, Kensington, then back to Paris and 2 avenue St Philibert and Passy, 42 rue Galilee, then a short stint in Belgium, Luxemburg and Switzerland, where he stayed at The Hotel Carlton Elite (now Carlton Restaurant & Bar, Apero Variante 2 near Bahnhofstrasse), Zurich, returning to Paris where he leased a walkup at 7 rue Edmond Valentin, a two room bedsit at 34 rue des Vignes, then a suite in Hotel Lutetia, where he stayed through until the Spring, moving to 43 Boulevard Raspail, (In Saint-Gerand-le-Puy and Vichy, both of which are communes in the Allier department in Auvergne in central France) in June to avoid the inclimate weather he abhorred so dearly, then in August to Hotel Powers, 52 rue Francois Premier, La Residence, 41 avenue Pierre Premier de Serbie and Hotel Belmont et de Bassano, 28-30 rue de Bassano, Champs-Elysees where he stayed until moving to Hotel Lord Byron, where he was treated for over-exhaustion, the treatment including sulfur baths, low altitude walking and Shiva massage, and finally to 5 rue Chateaubriand Paris 75008 (a three-star hotel located in Champs Elysees, close to the Arc de Triomphe) where he stayed until he moved to the quadrangle behind the aqueduct, where he remained until his death of violent whooping in 1957. His body transported by oxcart to the Grand Hotel Corneille, rue Corneille 5 where he was laid to rest in an unnamed plot behind the aviary.

He remembers very little else about his father other than the on-suite room they shared at Hotel de l'Univers, the rest a faint blanching in his memories. It was there, amidst the thunder and lightening of his father’s life, that he first met the legless man, with legs, who was working as a bellhop and collecting ideas for a memoir he was never to write nor give a second thought to.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Dull Pettiness

That morning the sky fell head over heels into the aqueduct; taking with it a man sniggling eels, his dog, who was asleep at the time, three crows, a drake, ½ a dozen green billed mallards, 9 Boobies, 15 Albatrosses, 3 Phalaropes, 4 Loons, two with necklaces, two without, 5 Cormorants, 16 Pelicans, 2 Storm-petrels, 4 Terns, 7 Razorbills, 8 Dovekie’s, 1 Black Guillemot, 2 Northern Gannets, 3 Herring Gulls and a Common Eider, so the story says. On the north side of the aqueduct a pod of pullets were busy pecking corn from between Ms. Christopher Nicholson’s toes. ‘oh my’ exclaimed Ms. Nicholson blushing, for she had forgotten to wear socks, her feet fair game for fowl and pullet alike. On the south side of the aqueduct sat a man reading the newspaper, his hat pulled down over the figs of his ears. He cut his toenails too close. ‘dog’s nails… black pegs’ he thought. ‘must be more careful with the cutters lest I shear one off… then what, a hobbled black footed dog, a mangy cur’. On the wall over his bed was a scrap of burlap; and on that scrap was written the following:

“One thing must be avoided at all costs: narrow-mindedness, pedantry, dull pettiness. Mot things are interconnected, most threads lead to the same reel. Have you ever noticed swallows rising in flocks from between the lines of certain books, whole stanzas of quivering pointed swallows? One should read the flight of these birds…” Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass – Bruno Schulz.

When asked why he had it over his bed he said on account of he believed in something greater and the words made it so. ‘you’re fooling yourself, they said. ‘there isn’t a thing greater than a spit polished man’. Says who, he said? ‘says us’ they said. Nothing I know, he said. ‘but you don’t know much’ they said, ‘and what you do know is small apples’. Changing his mind he walked away, a child (a waif) hooking rocks off the grocer’s awning snorting like an ox. I have swelling glands, he said. But not so swelled so as to cause me any discomfit. ‘you you’re delusional’ they hollered after him. ‘and what’s more a fool’. Yes swelled, but not so bad as to cause me any pain.

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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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