When you walked out of the jungle wearing nothing
I thought all of my kingdoms had come at once.
Putting down my elephant gun was second nature,
third was entering a state of trance.
Then you spoke in that tongue like wet gravel and foam,
and I knew I’d never return to my willowed home.
Thick stubby plants coated with nodules cloaked you,
also the shadows cast by what seemed like two suns,
until you emerged into the llano, warily sniffing,
projecting that lethal nonchalance
which I suppose you acquired from enslaving people.
Grimly I decided I would be the last to topple.
I readied a fortification – a trench dug with a mattock
and a mound reared by sinew and puke and purest brawn.
I made it brown to counteract your yellow and orange
(brown being the only harvestable pigment)
and I bade my people kneel at the lighting of the lamps;
I instructed them that no lady or gentleman be exempt.
If only day had broken and you had smitten us entirely!
The citizens go about their business, pumping gas,
but there’s a region of thorns close to the surface
producing nightmares in filigree and glass.
The first, and deathless, nightmare, is when you emerge,
horrible, and we all fly, and all mortal things diverge.
I’m probably too drunk to be writing this. Of course when this blog was young and horny, I was never too drunk to write in it. But now I’m old and horny and no-one reads me any more, and that’s a big difference.
When the wife announced she was leaving me, and taking the kids…
for one night to stay with a friend at a local ski resort, I quaked a little at the prospect of a whole night free for myself. I could watch my Beckett DVD’s. I could masturbate insatiately. I could… there were lots of things I could do.
Of course, all I was ever going to do was take those hours between six and eight to read my novel and eat sushi, and after that it would just be a normal drinking night, except without the warming prospect of hot thighs to slot my thighs into, but with a hell of a lot more real estate to play with in the bed. Cats notwithstanding.
I don’t mind driving. On a freeway. Full of fucking assholes. Well I do. But I positively cannot stand it. When I have an old Afrikaaner riding shotgun. Talking for three hours. In a very. Clipped. Aggressive. Accent. About. His. Daughters. One of whom is married to a Town Planner. In Dubai.
Wet streets at Christmas; shopping in full spate.
Umbrellas bob like water-lilies. Here
a bus disgorges with a muffled cheer;
there, drains exhale. There, pub-doors gape and freight
the air with sour perfume. I am late
for our appointment. Now that you are near,
the crowds recede, the night seems less austere,
the hubbub ebbs, the rain starts to abate.
I notice you drinking gin amid the disjecta
membra of a tragicomic spree:
bags and a look tormented by the spectre,
Old Flame, of a too-new family.
Before you return my glance I change my vector
and head outside again, abruptly free.
The gravelled walks and potholed access roads
of the Fairmount Mortuary and Cemetery
are habitat to dogs, dog-owners, me,
coyotes and the dead. The dead concern
themselves with weightier matters: rooty trees,
and grudges from decaying centuries.
In the Jewish section, photos of the dead
peer out from tombstones; Weiss and Eisenbaum
return each other’s stares. Weiss bought the farm
in ’73, when those eyes and that moustache
must have been lordly, a look at once tender and fierce:
yielding to lovers, unyielding to the years.
The pelt of the coyote resembles oil
spilled in a public park, a violation
deflective of discourse or remonstration.
That ammoniacal stench, even upwind;
and their harmonious silence as I pass by,
and that imaginary battle-cry.
A congress of small white stones is reserved
for reservists, coastguards, and of course
G.I.’s and the United States Air Force:
a huddle of anxious, unassuming names.
Also three flagpoles brandishing Old Glory
gratefully to those who continue pro patria mori.
Simply a shortcut, avoiding the busier streets.
Three seasons of the year, the grass is bright,
the sprinklers chitter; the paths are the delight
of dog-owners who jog and meet, divulge,
in passing, commonplace confidences,
and pass on through the halcyon expanses.
But today’s snow is a taut crust, inviolate
except for the quinquelobate prints
padding between crypts and monuments,
carrying with them the heavy, jaundiced eye,
the questing muzzle, and the dogged ear,
hungry, attuned to raggedness and terror.
Late sunlight prompts an incipient thaw.
The dogs sleep in a huddle, wreathed in steam;
paws twitch with the quick abandon of a dream.
A choir sings, warms the dead so they feel again
the desire for home, and sex, and all they miss
in all their sexlessness and homelessness.
This p.m. at the Ivy Chapel a choir sings,
and none of us are here. The dead repose
delinquently, not dead but in a doze;
their memories coagulate, ooze from the earth.
Align yourself with the coyotes, rub paraffin
into your coat. Don’t let the dead ones in.
My daughter wants an Mp3 player. She’s only 8, but children develop faster now than they used to. I knew nothing of music, except the occasional strains of Bob Dylan or Joan Baez from my Dad, or Fairport Convention – but I must stress this was pretty unusual – before I was about 13 when I got into New Kids on the Block.
I think the reason she wants one might be ’cause we offerred her one if she would shut up and go to bed. Whatever the truth of the matter may be (as Herodotus would say) I will donate my old Coby to her. First I need to clear it of all my music, which is probably so uncool it will give her leprosy or maybe the plague, complete with fleas and rats for the fleas and a market town full of timber-framed homes and outhouses hovels bread eels dwarfs lutes piss and so on. Then I need to load it with a few cutting-edge tunes that eight year olds are into. I don’t know what these are so I’m going with some Sisters of Mercy, Led Zeppelin, Dave Dobbyn, Sonic Youth etc.
But no Freeport Convention or Joan Baez.
What’s the idea with gingerbread houses? The toy/model ones you can’t actually eat. They’re made of some cardboardy branlike substance. I mean, maybe you can eat it, if you’re desperate, but I’ve never been that desperate yet. The kids fling candy and glue at them, some of it adheres, and then… what? The gingerbread house just sits there, an abhorrent travesty. Eventually an adult wearies of it and chucks it in the trash, its sides folding in apologetically, crumply like deer-legs. To be worthwhile you’d want it to be edible, and not just edible but alluring, made of actual gingerbread, and to contain a horrid beldam with a hooknose and a wart on her chin, shrieking and cackling.
“You take and split the bean, and cut the wart so as to get some blood, and then you put the blood on one piece of the bean and take and dig a hole and bury it ’bout midnight at the crossroads in the dark of the moon, and then you burn up the rest of the bean. You see that piece that’s got the blood on it will keep drawing and drawing, trying to fetch the other piece to it, and so that helps the blood to draw the wart, and pretty soon off she comes.”
-Huck, in “Tom Sawyer”
I wasn’t sure what kind of bean to use:
my favourites are fava, but their season
seems to be more or less two weeks.
The baked kind are messy with the juice
and I couldn’t afford any mistakes.
A soybean isn’t even a bean; that’d be treason,
so I plumped for P. coccineus
(available from all fine legume purveyors).
I took and split the bean (or rather the pod),
felt the fine interior down, and a pang
of sympathy. Then I took a paring knife
and cut the wart so as to get some blood,
which was a new kind of grief
somewhat longer than a parasang.
I wonder if Huck Finn knew how long it was,
probably not having read Herodotus.
Finding a real crossroads is no mean feat
in suburban America. There are four-ways,
but they’re of two kinds: one, patrolled
by neighborhood-watchmen packing heat,
and two, cornered by buyers of gold,
payday-lending laundromats, and the haze
from the Dodge Rams and Chevy Silverados
of drag queens and dime bag desperadoes.
So I had to go a long way in a shitty car.
I dug a hole with my bare hands in the desert and
having reopened the wound and resmeared
the pod (and previously having found a bar
to drink in while I grew a Jesus beard)
let the bean fall from my trembling hand.
In the end it took no time at all to bury it,
but I felt, and still feel, like Judas Iscariot -
well, it’s America’s fault for having so many roads,
or it’s my fault for associating with toads.
Contigo duermo como los que no
tienen anclas, los que caen y
quieren solamente caer más.
Solo, yo caería con el deseo
de rescatar todo lo que yo vi,
desahuciado, casto, vil, obsceno.
Me despiertas por la noche; veo
brazos, espalda, cuello. Te despierto,
hago huellas, siempre estar detrás
en el salvaje, el descabellado huerto.
Otoño sigue, barriendo las hojas.
Cojo la pelota dondequiera la arrojas.
Bajo la lluvia, calma. Duermes como
barco sin ancla, tregua sin palomo.
I was 34 when I learnt to make scrambled eggs. I had always suspected there was something you could do with eggs that I was missing. I had always suspected a lot of things.