Saturday, August 30, 2014

last of the degenerates

Throb. His jaw aches.

The tooth - lower eleven, molar - threatens to shear off with every jarring step. Has been this way since Pablo left the flat, in fact.

From the moment he obliterated the denier illusion on a slice so sweet it felt like a kiss.

Pablo scratches his nose. Tugs on one earlobe.

Too many electric pulses. Tight smiles in mouths resembling c-section scars; neatly packaged astringents that leave a stain on the eye.

He dimly recalls the climax. If one may call it that. Drooling over his shirt and onto the carpet while the sparks crackled and blew on the severed cable. The last six inches or so still coupled to the wall socket like an umbilical cord as he held his breath and waited to die. Good thing he couldn't scream.

He thought of the air terminal. Turbines in his head. Leather wings.

Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been two years since I last wrote a word.

Uncertain of what is expected of him, he stands dejected and simply gazes at the blank screen for long seconds thereafter. Terrified lest it wink back and hold him there forever, black Lazarus of la-la-land.

A Persian taking a piss.

He definitely remembers choking back the bile as he fumbles the torn sheet over it and leaves it at that. Thinks of mouldering corpses as he dresses it. Solid state soulless. Antique. Grisly unplumbed in that corner of his living space.

The vomit came then in rich velvet waves. Unpinning his head on a corkscrew turn. Keeping him retching when there is nothing more than the viscous puddle drying between his knees.

It's late.

Pablo only realizes how dark it's grown when he collides with the humped back of one of several cripples lining the kerb over from the laundry.


Cheap wine over the shoulder. Where a girl might string a purse.

Pablo checks the tooth is still intact.

Where the crowns have worked loose on the upper rows, he has taken to using fixative intended for dentures. Cheaper than a visit to the dentist. Less untidy than fighting multiple extractions.

He quickly backs away. Is jostled off the pavement.


He is unaccustomed to conversation. The anxiety over words tumbling after teeth.

If he was ever adequately schooled in it, Pablo Dillinger has forgotten how to dance.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

gangsters, recapping

Blame it on Tillie. The Pep Boys.

A refugee from Asbury Park. Retired. Residing in the armpit of a tattooed driver in Santa Rosa.

Or Dr. Josef Mengele. On vacation by the sea.

I have not written a word while under the influence of lysergic acid diethylamide for quite some time. Since I was, twice, beaten so severely that the nerves down one half of my face have never healed. I have not written a word for close to two years. Nor worked with pen and ink for ten uninterrupted hours, the psilocybin pumping up from where my feet are rooted to the floor.

I don't know why I mention this. It does little to intrigue me.

I wake up. Plug straight into the mainframe. I do not light a cigarette. I do not plumb in the kettle or fill my little china cup to the brim.

I check my mail. The sort which does not drop through the letterbox in a brown envelope marked, "this is not a circular". I huff and puff and hum along to the white collar noise of fans starting up.

I startle the mouse and stroke some keys.

Make light of these chores with my son, Milo still safely tucked up in bed.

Millport is a tiny island anchored off the coast. Thirty miles from my front door, give or take. A grassy pimple the approximate size of Alkatraz.

A retreat, like the more up market Rothesay, for gangsters and bicycle enthusiasts.

I have a tea towel with a heart shaped map of San Francisco printed on it, a wedding gift, hanging on my kitchen wall. I have a more concise understanding of its topography than I do my native burgh.

I type.

You can cycle right round it in a couple of hours or less, I am told. They had a little fairground with bumper cars then; the dodgems, we call them here. I went on them one brisk Saturday night, the wind whipping at my collar. My hair a blindfold. I was the only child out there on the polished hardwood deck. The embarrassment was excruciating. I drove around in diminishing circles for the duration of my ticket, one song by Engelbert Humperdink on the tannoy, a string of lights reflected in the spectacles worn by my grandfather - my grandfmother too - their faces wracked with a kind of anxious telepathy as they watched me sailing round and round. Willing me to enjoy myself.

Later. We return to the guest house. My grandparents sit drinking whisky. Toasted by what may have been an open fire, the roaring houndstooth sports jacket. I do not remember if there was a working television in the lounge; if it was tuned to snow.

I remember my grandfather's face beginning to redden. His voice turning louder. Slurring. Lingering near the ceiling before drifting onto the hearth as cinders.

Monday, August 25, 2014

fucking with the impenetrable

Like Vachel Lindsay - bowler hat traveling under ice - she approaches me on the stair.

A complexion, too short in the kiln, the consistency of curdled cement: Django's second guitar, left out in the rain.

Two full strides to each one step. Fingers jabbing, red meat darting between bee-stung lips, to seek - pluck - at strings, where none remain full wound, less tuned. A nature acquainted with staves. Wayward notes. Two sails to the wind sheet music.

She comes to me on the stair. It's a wonder she does not lose her footing.

Smitten, like Lindsay, a lifetime of financial woe uncoiling to receive her. Throttle out all hope of comfort.

Still. Petitions must be mustered. Before they can be served.


Promptly swallowing one fist.

And, backing off, I try not to look upon those ruined gums. The ring of pustules weeping on a giggle.

Where an indulged dolt like Crowley set out for higher peaks, thrashing at Sherpas, Vachel Lindsay - they say - peddled poetry on blistered foot between Kentucky and New Mexico. Drawing a line under it one December, Christmas 1931. Choking back a bottle of Lysol.

Despondent. In poor health from ministering to chronically depressed yokels.

I begin anew.

The world persists in turning. A little faster with each new year, and yet you do not seem one day older.

She curtseys. A tiny wizened monkey emerges from beneath her skirts. Chased by three white rats. Between the 6th and 7th tread where her bodice comes undone. A tangle of tails. A capriccio of dress pins on a pilfered pianola.

She comes at me on the stair. Just when I have made up my mind to make off with the silverware.

The right hand which ought to deliver wafers working, hard, inside a borrowed cassock. The faded maroon of the church choir's first eleven.

One more inconvenience.

Ah. But doctors may dabble in pastries each and every Sunday. A man of the cloth, on the other hand...

The rats come racing back up the stairs. Followed by the monkey. On crutches. All impediment preceded by an imperious erection wagging left and right. Twitching like a sceptre.

But, madam. Your pets are run amock.

Well, fuck, scowls she. My children will not be tethered.

All rats fragmenting in a tumble of confetti. And the monkey ascending the scaffold of her rags, tugging at her bustle. A checkered bandana tied about its brow; bellicose jockeying imp.

I cough. She simpers. The monkey shoots its load.

The dowager's nostrils quiver.

A tremor of snot escaping into the furrow carved out twixt drooping nose and lip. Bloodied at the edges.

I snatch the paper from her fist and call for an alter boy; a glowing virgin; begetter of contrition.

Her submission is quite blank, of course, no trace of ink within its margins.

We sigh. As did Vachel. Poor brother. When I felled him with the candlestick, left him to bleed out at the altar.

Someone fetch the plague doctor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

prism of cruelty

The madwoman's face reminds one more than a little of Antonin Artaud. Under a dyed black beehive.

After the teeth came out.

The Theatre of Cruelty has not been kind. Various assaults griddled one upon another like raw emotions uncongenially served.

She has this habit of proferring her middle finger. On which is perched a garnet set in yellow gold. There are some who stoop to kiss her ring.

There are always a few in any crowd.

We circle each other on the square like vultures. Sparring between cigarettes as only institutionalized lovers will. She tells me she drinks in the Saracen's Head. I look at her and see why some drink to forget.

After supper one evening she comes right out with it.

I don't believe you're a warrior monk. That vegetarian sham is just so much pish.

One eye glittering with malice, the other dry as a raisin. She has a point. A stiletto shank, a tongue.

No one has mentioned wars. Faith. A month of Sundays shy of gorging on beef has left me weak. I have no appetite left for a fight. No stamina to quarrel. I dig my arse into the bench and light a cigarette.

She looks at me and sneers.

I can see why she has so quickly risen through the ranks. Of the sedated. Sitting there like she has always been there.

in regione caecorum rex est luscus.

Erasmus might have been a queen. Here, he is just one more Napoleon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

pablo, king of the juice

Sunday is the cleanest time
for slipping through
picking at stitches, the damp
laundry of mourning sheets
an afternoon drizzle
High Tea and one last tipple.

Sunday does the dirty.

That first time
I was passing glass
one eye open
on a poorly fitted blind,
called on twice to step outdoors
usher in an ambulance
two undertakers
Noah's boys

           measuring the stairs.

All the bullfighters are pissed
we never much cared for them
those rained on Spanish sketches,

Pablo was another matter.

A cold egg roll
a Sunday broadsheet, a tabloid
laid out on the dashboard.

10 years ironing out the grieving
a sparrow's courting
through one Sunday to the next
a constant dash of claret
propping up the Indian in his cups
the Japanese brush
and the ink this time scarcely dry
on unsized paper. 

What stole onto the pillow slip
a groan
a blotted stain the size of Sicily
spilled over the carpet incontinent.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

part 11: the odds on evens, the juice

Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the stairwell echoes with the whisper of melodica.

A scale of notes. Piping.

From 10PM through 5, the disinfected steps slump wetly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down cobalt blue, tubercular rails faintly trembling. A distempered cough nudging metallic wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.

Your cat is a long time dead. Unrecognizable under sod. Its litter, lost or stolen.

Door to door.

Hello ?

The knuckles trailing go unanswered. The neighbours are evicted.

By 1AM the sirens falter. Subside. The hammers to the south bed down to a pulse. Pablo never sleeps. Not soundly. The quiet he inhabits is the space between sinew and socket. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream. The engineering nowhere so critical as the end result: chin to midriff, thickening to a river. What started out as an anonymous pouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.

Hello ? Jesus fuck, it's cold out here.

The wheedling bleeds and grates like he'll never be done. Give in. Come. Die. Inside the canvas blind comes undone and flutters like a bat until you get off the sofa to rescue it. You tie it down because you can't abide the way the wind plucks at it with the windows already drawn.

It takes two or three attempts to do it right. The cigarette knocked across your face, sorely tempted you are to set it ablaze.

And the trains. Always the trains. Harassing late into the night. The bastard son of Ernest Borgnine.

Motherfucker. Cunt. Turn on the heat.

And, slow at first, hesitant, there comes a fitful pissing. On wheelbarrow. Tin roof. Crumbling sandstone lintel.

Under it a skin of gales.

We tumble as ash, smoke, past vast Georgian houses hugging avenue, circus, a puzzle of lanes.

Among those nursing homes and divided lets, an odour of squandered wealth persists: blackmail, jaundiced slants; under quarried flagstone and vans deploying fibre optic to the curb. Out of rookery and reclaimed wind.

Tunneling not with crooked sovereigns, but dog-eared subway tokens.

Friday, August 8, 2014

part 10: exorcismus

The afternoon sky in my window darkens every day about four.

The crows invite me to reconsider the uneven ground of our back lot. Undulating as over relics.

Two or three are already out there having dined early. Or breakfasted late.

Get out of Dodge, Pablo. Before they slip the cuffs on again.
But I sit in my room. And I smoke and I write. And I wish I could write that I bear you no ill will, but I can not.

And I think of you entertaining guests in our home. I imagine those visitors going through my things. Committing a hundred small uncharitable acts. Laughing in their wine.

And I should like to conjure up a storm. Something out of the fossil mouths of birds.

A prehistoric brooding beginning in the kitchen, say, a cupboard left ajar. Rattling preserves. Cutlery. Unwashed dishes. Standing in the sink.

A claw hammering on linoleum.

When we first fell upon each other you surrendered your key on on a tongue fastened on the roof of my mouth. I was bent on breaking and entering. Your toes curled when I snuck in through your basement window. Too much in haste to oil your catches.

Burgle me, you pleaded, quite beautiful in ambush. The long boned appetites of an ogress.

Spitting down the hall on the whirling hem of a go-go dancer. Upsetting coasters. Distressing appearances. Causing foul tempers to belch. Emerge.

Out. Out. Chasing out loiterers.

The only soul unruffled, my little son, safe in his pen. Clutching his elephant. Painted wooden wheels hurling sparks.

And, oh. Such a storm.

A crusading angel who folds, knots, the pretzel in my fist. Refuses to spare the soles of my feet. As I go marching in filthy socks. Begging for a match to burn it down. The inconvenience of a spouse breastfeeding swine, tickling bristled snouts with one long ring finger.

But the storm I conjure is not perfect. It does not compel you to run for cover. It does not ignite a firework in your pants.

Well. Such is my poverty in working magic twice removed.

When we fuck, in the aftermath of our coupling, I am plagued with insecurities. The sound of whittling.

The smell of wood shavings.

They scrabble up from between my legs. Blossom in my throat like cockroaches, deathwatch beetles.

And the crows are like flies. The hard buds on your breasts, candies. A priest might set a course by their swarming to deliver up last rites.

Your long winding sleeve. My impecunious anatomy, by comparison, is a blunt protrusion. Thrashed at by Sherpas travelling beneath sterile ice.

I want to throw you down on the bed and remove your leggings with my teeth.

But when it is done, when you have mined all roads meandering back, I refuse to go waving a scalpel.

Better to go bury all memory in a padlocked trunk. Load it on a ruptured trolley. Wheel it several miles to the bus station, one side bereaved and listing.

For this is where it terminates.

Between a police cone and a unicycle.

And the blood from the wounding refuses to scab. It snakes in coagulating tributaries joining at the elbow. Tiny black points when the gauze comes off.

And when it is done, papers are served, I will slouch into a stance and smoke three cigarettes. Buy a cup of coffee.

Watch people come and go, the seams on creased overcoats concealing destinations. Pablo, last of the degenerates.

And when the coffee has gone too, I will get up off my bench.

Inter what remains of a marriage in left luggage. Weighed down with charred silver chains.

part 9: scorpio rising

She rises late from bed, lidded irises chased by shadow. It is a little after 5PM.

You listen to hot needles rain down on her skin. From your stool in the kitchen. The sound of water hissing. Gurgling.

A spider walks over the simple meal you prepared for her while she was sleeping. You lift it on a fork. Conscious she will only pick at it, the smell and texture of cooked meat seems to repel her. She has no appetite.

You listen to her step out the shower and bind her head in a towel. You know her routine. She shaves her armpits with her husband's razor - your razor - you have not used it since the cuffs went on. She does not trouble her secret hairs but proceeds directly to her legs. Ankles. Calves. From there to the hall, the master bedroom.

Your son's bottle stands in a striped ceramic bowl. Near the open window which channels every whisper.

She enters the kitchen and lights a cigarette. Her back speaks to you so eloquently. The black strap of her bra unclasped, the damp coil of hair not quite aligned with her spine.

If there is anything left unsaid, neither of you can find the words.

The nurse's tunic hangs on the radiator where you have left it to dry.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

part 8: spike

Saturday. You revisit "Cain's Book".

Trocchi was in his mid-thirties, you have read, at the time of its completion. A relatively young man, still. Schooled in philosophy and the etiquette of parochial alliance.

One has the sense his embracing the spike, the spoon - its attendant reliance on facilitators - was just as rooted in the politic. The replacing of one narcissistic ritual with another.

Crows wheel. Make a racket.

Congregating on telephone wires. Consummating a primal urge to sound a warning bell. All the while picking at a union dashed against the rocks.

The caravan, its trousseau, is overtaken by Indians.

There is no sign of your fox out there. You've seen neither hide nor hair since that last time squatting. Tongue lolling while he excretes and sniffs his carefully laid festive turd.

Reminding you that everything turns to shit. Wily old bastard.

You are back where you started out four weeks ago. Painted into a corner. You need a good cut man. Someone to slice and dress just to to get you up off the fucking stool.

Inject a little insulin.

That thing with Trocchi.

The singular determination to avoid the consequences. Emotional fallout. You are naturally envious. In this he is spectacularly evasive, always gravitating to the simple mechanics of scoring. Proceeding directly to the hit.

Holding court in a lair in Sheridan Square, the cunt. Craftily fixing.

It is entirely as if he is still attending lectures, tutorials, in the thick of all this dodging. Engaging in a discourse with his mentor there.

The chemistry of alienation.

And all this time your wife continuing to dispense good care to the terminally wounded. Amputees marching helplessly in circles. Over toast soldiers and straight off the table.

Wiping shit off arses. Wrestling bodies into slings.

And you unreconciled in your beaten suede jacket. Riding the subway back and forth in a circle of her bidding too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

part 7: sunday morning

It is Sunday morning. Again.

What begins, innocuously enough, with coffee and cigarettes has me waving in coordinates less than one hour late later. Cell phone in hand. Leaning out over the geraniums on our balcony.

Irene, Irene. Turbulent of eye. Cruelly inflicting Category 3 damage in the Caribbean where she first dabbled in tearing down the house. Horrifying cosmonauts in perpetual orbit. Truck drivers from Campanario through West Virginia.

There is rain in the air. Bruised skies.

And the threat first nursed in her sulking retreat in a Latin safe quarter, silk knickers hand-stitched and waiting in a loft somewhere in Manhattan. Flushed north, west with the tourists. On across the Atlantic. Those sodden skirts whipping up a lather.

What's that ? I scream. No, no. Right I said. Turn right.

My wife hands me the baby and jumps down the stairs. She and our visitor miss each other by a couple of streets.

Take a fucking right and follow the avenue straight on down.

I windmill my arms and pace back and forth like Fidel on his mountain in 1957. Take our son inside and return to light a cigarette. It has been years since I have been close to a good cigar.

We meet up - our friend, my wife, her four-year-old daughter - and drink more coffee. Her little girl trips on the concrete and splits her knee. She does not blink an eye, but asks for pen and paper. Tires quickly of the scribbling and imprisons my tiny son in a pink chalk circle.

We listen to Cachao. Israel Lôpez. A little Miles.

I don't own a passport. I can't fake the moves. But I love to marvel at the women. The cars. Those tail fins. Radiator grills like the grins on circling barracuda; Myer Lansky's junkie cronies bedded down at the Hotel Nacional.

Hot-pants. Basketball vests. Ripe melons. Mojitos.

A ring of fingers spread along the Malecón.

Not quite 11:00 AM, my head is cloudy. Jammed full of trivia. Fatigued too easily.

Irene, Irene. She'll give you a slap still.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

part 6: dead beat defendant


S38 (1) [FUC EWE 28 − 1]

The submission ought not to be regarded, by any means, as an admission of guilt. Neither is it an unburdening of mitigating circumstances.

My client contends that the preceding and following stand solely as a document. I would emphasize his determination, then, that it not be construed, either, as a plea for reconciliation. In short, it "is what it fucking is." Insomuch as, (it is) something no better or worse than   "idly doodling (noughts and crosses) while waiting for an aneurism."

part 5: interruptus

I press my nose into her belly and open my mouth. My nostrils filled with long dark hairs. Scented by musk. Damp not with arousal, but confinement. Her pants. Her jeans. Toil and walking.

I open my eyes and look up at her, over her pubis. Her head lolls faraway atop a pale mountain, the graceful pillar and tendons on her neck. The cool slab of one shoulder, folded blade turned away from me.

I open my eyes, then, and fasten my lips on the dark flesh of her cunt. No gentle cleft, but spilling from its canopy.

Sharp. Pungent. Confrontational.

A wound which has expelled three children, the long midnight sex which drew my seed. Alive with the sense of toughening.

I probe the entrance to it with my tongue. An exploratory nibble. Conscious of depths winding back through her cervix, into her womb.

The sweeping red wall of it.

The ticking of its pulse.

I tease out her clitoris and massage these folds which envelop it. Follow her labia down to where it sits on the arch of her buttocks. Caress its mended tear with all the tenderness I can muster. Her fingers on my left ear now, the gristle, as I turn to examine the stretchmark at the core of her thighs, the white scar of it there as long as I have known her.

Solitary. Almost abashed. Singular.

A fissure in the landscape of my map of her.

I open my mouth and drink of her. Wash my face in the river which springs from the heart of her. Listen to the rhythm of its current.

There is quiet here. Healing. A potency of volcanoes.

The potential to turn all to ash.

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, she will be gone. Taking our son with her, the son I would not let go. And my stepchildren are delighted, and my older son will miss his little brother. And my little son is too little to be perturbed.

So I sit at her well and I listen to the sound of her leaving.

Her pockets are steep to the strings of her coil. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

part 4: a knife, a fork, a spoon

I fall out of bed on the flat of both feet and weave to the bathroom. The Shaving Mirror. One glance is sufficient to identify a welter of mistimed feints. A jumble of standing counts lurking just beneath the tissue thin skin.

My eyes are ringed blue and black. The hair is an affront. I do not have the fortitude to peel back my lips to examine what remains of the gums.

I fill the kettle and leave it to boil. Forced to transfer water to it from an empty coffee jar. The sink is too shallow, its taps set too snug in its porcelain bowl, to do it directly.

The entire process reminds me of Necchi bailing out his scow, his barge, on that stretch of black ribbon between New Jersey and Coney Island. Several inches of bilge water lapping at the timbers, his kit packed neatly in a tin box on a string. Bobbing in the hold.

I sit on the bed and roll a cigarette.

It is three minutes past eight. Another morning, but this time I am summonsed.

Already I am hot under the collar of my favourite shirt. The colour of scorched jacket potatoes. The boiler is working again, intermittently since the front desk fixed it, a seizure during the night once more sending the temperature plummeting.

I crouch on the edge of the narrow bed and pull on the spastic chain inches from my shoulder. The blind flies up and rattles on the spindle fitted in the window. I look out. Watch a fox take a crap on the bed and breakfast's stricken back lot. Littered with felled trees from the storms, snow from an upended sugar pot.

Listen to a door slam and the creaking of the stair as the first tormented soul ventures down into the bowels of this ship for a cup of milky tea. A sliver of toast.

I rub my nose as the fox shivers up on its haunches.

The building has been besieged by an uncharacteristic calm all weekend. The tone deaf midnight singer has checked out. Two more ejected when prohibited paraphernalia is discovered by room service.

A crack-pipe on a bed. A stash of syringes behind a u-bend.

Anyone here will tell you.

You don't need fucking junkies ruining your Christmas.

Pupils contracted to the size of pinheads from his most recent hit. Irises the precise colour of pebbles paled and eroded by repeated body blows, the crashing Irish Sea, the constant movement of sand, peat. Weighing probabilities as he eyes my hands clenched in my pockets.

And through it all, yet, a New Year looming.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

part 3: pencil as scalpel

You're going to regret this.
What ?
You're going to regret this. I'm going to make you cry again.
What ?
Shut your fucking mouth, you prick.
Two hours a week.
Shut your fucking mouth.

Your clothes have not been machine washed in close to five weeks. You rinse your underpants in the shower, you scrub and scrub, and hot water rains down on your ochre aged body; but you dare not wash your socks.

The radiator in your mean little rented room is permanently cold to the touch. It is half way through December and you will never get them dried. Sick of constantly rotating your undergarments in the vague hope they might prove self-cleaning, you sneak out in this latest downpour and purchase the cheapest you can find.

Twelve pairs of stockings, like the days of Christmas, half as many boxers.

Room No. 6.

Scarcely big enough to accommodate a tangle of black thoughts; a worn pair of shoes drying too beneath a wash-hand basin, the brown nylon grip bleeding ropes of spoiled laundry when there is no space left behind jammed bureau drawers.

Ti jean's last dance in Big Sur cracked open on the bedsheets. Terminally crippled from a spinal injury. Slack jawed. Catching flies. Spitting bright red bubbles through the shredded pulp of a Florida orange.

Sitting barefoot in the middle of the floor, a sunlit rug browning in late afternoon, surrounded by lengths of copper tubing. Attaching paper notes to curling branches with surgical precision.

How do you like my emotion tree?

Wetting the gummed margin of a cigarette paper with your tongue.

It looks like it needs a Valium, doll.

So you fall back to the bed and try to count those dessicated insects entombed behind the glass ceiling shade. Fried there by the element tortured in the shape of a branding iron. Section 38. There are too many. Clusters of droppings where there once was fluttering.

Drawn there through the crack under the window on July's thermals. The air creeping there has long turned to ice.

Between hubcaps chasing trampolines down the street in 160mph winds to squirrels impaled on listing television antennae - more hurricanes, your son's first birthday, a quartered chicken smoking in the pan where you hide your head - you skulk in second hand bookstores when the subway is not flooded.

Looking to score.

"A writer of no literary consequence whatsoever."

Poor Alexander. The copy of "Young Adam" is decades removed from its first pressing. It is not, either, the book, that old acquaintance, you hankered after. The filmy jacket displays a women naked from the waist down. Submerged under water, legs splayed immodestly, an untidy parcel between her thighs spiraling up beneath a scrap of muslin.

She looks just like your wife, half drowned.

It is probably why you are drawn to it.


part 2: a knife and a fork

At which point does mere bickering simmer into something more heated? At which point do raised voices - agitated, rattling tea-cups - boil over into something actionable?

He said things. She said things.

He did not want her to leave with their baby.

He did not pause to consult a barometer, let alone measure degree.

She is present in court when I arrive for the hearing. 5'9" in stockinged feet. Arranged on a pedestal of sorts overlooked by the benches.

Two solicitors are engaged in a preliminary examination of the evidence. Peering up at her over the glittering rims of their glasses. Nodding at one another.


Unsettled by such close scrutiny, my wife raises one arm protectively. Covering her breasts. Since she is quite naked, save for knee length socks, the gesture prompts much chortling from the gallery.

The sheriff calls for order.

The younger of the two solicitors produces a set of tweezers from his waistcoat pocket as if bent on grooming his moustache. He wears a signet ring on his middle finger, lurid and yellow like something in a pawn shop window. A natural showman, he reaches out and teases a sprig of hair on her belly. Pincers it. Holds it aloft for his counterpart to appraise.

On the strength of an immediate assessment of one pubic strand's resistance to tensions, those existant special conditions of bail may or may not be removed.

I want to call out to her from the dock. But we are permitted no dialogue. I calculate the solicitor's brazenness to have caused a maximum of distress, to any reasonable person, but of course he is immune to all charges.

I remember my wife once arranging herself on unvarnished floorboards. Those long legs stretched out in front of her, sneakers and tights tossed under the sofa. Up to our ankles in winter.

You have beautiful feet.

What ?

Your feet. Are gorgeous. Beautiful.

The pocket-book allows me the luxury of revisiting the scene of the accident, all intersecting trajectories, but does not afford us protection.


part 1: out of a mouth, a dark crocus spills


The consensus - propagated, largely, by a small tribe of transplanted New Yorkers: Myers, up to his elbows in mimeographed scribblings, the purpled stain of off-set litho; Hell, not Rimbaud, to Miller's Verlaine - was that the contagion spread exponentially from an infected locus on the Bowery. Between 1974 and 6. The Gorbals and Stonehenge. Via the tortured point of a safety-pin.

Conveniently bent to expose a path between (a) and (b).

Circumventing (c).

Evidence - memory, binary and mutating - suggests otherwise. That the virus first sprang up among those vacant lots littering America's Midwest. Where it would not be contained.

At times an addled spider, nesting veined and fractured tumors; at others a bleak mushrooming nerve agent coalescing in cold blue flame. Licking out broken windows in downtown Cleveland. Igniting pockets screaming for change.

A tangle of words.

Jihadi. Pulchritude. Punk.

That its seeds may have been scattered by great squalls billowing up through the gulf. Ushered in from Kansas, the yellow brick threat of misdirected violence. Lying dormant. Awaiting excavation like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

2, 4, 5-T; 2, 4-D.

Leaking canisters of Rainbow Herbicide.

1000 genome clones transferred from acetate under 170 lbs per square inch of steam heated scrap iron. Its sum weight an exploratory craft set adrift, one hand pummeling on its rotten hull.

Waiting to catch a wind.

Well. Out of a mouth, a dark crocus emerges.



"The court granted bail and imposed the following conditions, namely, that the accused:

(aa) that breach of a condition imposed is an offence and renders the accused liable to arrest, prosecution and punishment under this act.

(g) that the accused does not approach or contact nor attempt to approach ____ ____ in any way.

(h) does not enter nor seek to enter _________ ____ or come within 100 yards of _________ ____. [sic]

Submission 1, Section 38 (1):

The fiscal submits that the accused did threaten, in a manner liable to cause distress and alarm to any reasonable person.