Tuesday, June 21, 2011

School For Uncombed Boys

He was going to live a life of vagrancy. ‘seed the unsown and sow the seedless’. ‘only a fool lives a fool’s life...’ said the rector bunching his cob. Bodes well, ‘specially if you’re an atheist. Watched him eat an entire sautéed liver, skin and all. With fried shallots. Told who he was: out on a limb and needing a leg-up. Got all-over sores. MacOrmick’s handlotion. O’Malley’s sells it over-the-counter, sixpence on the layaway, seven on credit. Easy on the skin, and at half the cost. His me•cum’s on the soak. Quiffed the shelf. Can’t keep enough in stock. Mind you a hankie ‘ell do just fine; long and short of it. The way out is the way back; just make certain you close the door behind you. MacOrmick O’Malley. Good for making things lay flat. Otherwise they’ll lay crooked. Nothing nonetheless came true.

People grinding the grist. Hordes of them, single-file and in twos, waiting for the doors to open. The seed unsown is the seed left to rot. Life. Is. Sinful. Go forth and prosper ye! Can’t keep the shelves stocked. Everyone needs a leg-up. Mind ye some don’t deserve it. This was the seventeenth time he'd fallen off the waggon, his head bouncing like a melon off the dog yellow pavement. The sixteenth time he fell backwards squarely, his ears ringing for weeks afterwards. He stuffed his ears with rags and knotted the ends, the buzzing in his head worsening until he couldn’t stand it any longer. He tried changing the rags but couldn’t get his finger in passed the knotted end. Not uncommon in a common’s way. Seen half a dozen bent over the handrailing puking up gobs of it; yellowy and down soft. Tar-feather used to keep them from falling over overboard. Mind ye some don’t deserve it. You can pick ‘em out from the look on their face. Scrunched up like a discarded manuscript. This brought to mind something he’d read years early while a grammar student at the School For Uncombed Boys, “Captain MacWhirr wiped his eyes. The sea that had nearly taken him overboard had, to his great annoyance, washed his sou’wester hat off his bald head. The fluffy, fair hair, soaked and darkened, resembled a mean skein of cotton threads festooned round his bare skull.” (Typhoon, Joseph Conrad).

The Dean of the School For Uncombed Boys, a self-pitying crumb with uneven teeth and a piercing stare, his left eye, the colour of a throwing marble made of glass, his right, making up for the left, able to pinpoint ill-disciplined boys and truants, abjuring from the peak of his lectern that God does not take kindly to skivers and badly behaved boys, and could smite them dead if He so chose.

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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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