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There appeared one day in my class a new guy. He was sitting right beside me. Like a ghost but not a ghost. I leaned over and whispered, "Hi." He nodded. I whispered, "What's your name?" He shook his head, vigorously, in fear.
I tried again next day. Again, he wouldn't answer.
Things went on like this for weeks.
I was sitting alone in a park. He came up to me. He said, "My name's Robert."
"Why didn't you tell me that til now?"
He said, "I can't talk in crowds."
"It was just us."
"Oh, there was a crowd."
I was sitting down to eat dinner when I suddenly realized I didn't know how to go at the soup. Do I scoop it up pushing away from or pulling toward me?
I went next door and looked in the Jones' window. What luck! They were having soup! Yes, pushing away!
Then came the steak. Which fork to use? I called up Smith. "Which should I use?" "The bigger one," he said. Success!
Trouble with the bun. I went over to the new neighbours'. "Should I cut it or tear it?" "Do whatever you want," he said.
What bad neighbours!
Mary and I were sitting at home watching
when there was a knock at the door. We mutually shrugged because we nearly never had any visitors.
I went to the door and opened it. There stood two police, one male and one female. They said nothing. I said nothing.
The female police said, "Well, go on."
The male police said, "We got a call for a domestic disturbance."
She sighed. "What a gormless start."
I said, "There's nothing wrong here."
He said, "Well, you see...."
She yelled, "C'mon, let's go!" She elbowed him violently into our entranceway.
He stomped into our living room. Mary said nothing. He turned to his partner. "Why do you have to be like this?"
She said, "You're so useless! Someone's got to take charge!"
"I'm getting sick of all this, just sick of it."
"Okay, look: what are you saying?"
He clutched his throat. "You're fucking strangling me!"
She laughed a malicious laugh. "Like you had the strength to strangle anyone."
Mary said, "Anyone want some tea?"
He shouted, "You are an evil woman! You are a monster!"
She laughed again, sharply, and looked at me. "You look like a
I said, "Me?"
He stomped around the room. "You're not going to get away with this."
She said, "What the fuck you gonna do?"
He pulled his gun from its holster and pointed it at her face. "I'm fed up with you."
Calmly she pulled out
gun and aimed it at
face. "Go on, bitch. Fucking shoot."
I said, "Wait."
He said, "Go on. Think you're the man. Shoot me."
So she did. She blew off his head. Blood and brains went everywhere.
She harrumphed. In a fugue state. She laughed. She said, "So- who should we call?"
Draw some meaning from this sea for me, darling. Consider the sands the surf of the stars. That horizon is not like that horizon. A bird appears from dune to dune--yes, no, yes, no. Smell the salt and hear the hissing water. Stones tumble in the shallow near. There's grass, there's the wooden walkway. Hear the child far away. We're sinking into the grey granules. It tumbles, it's all tumbling in. It tumbles, it tumbles in. The sun appears to move away. There's meaning you're drawing from the sea, my dear. Now let's close our eyes. It fades away!
Dogs are mangy.
Horses are skitterish.
Crabs are sidewise.
Ants are industrious.
Robins are bobbin'.
Elephants are unforgettable.
Gnats are pesky.
Cats are scaredy.
Scorpions are dangerous.
Parakeets are small.
Lemurs are lemurous.
Squirrels are greedy.
Seagulls are nasty.
Chipmunks are cute.
Foxes are sly.
Toads are horny.
Tigers are pouncy.
Giraffes are herbivores.
Horses are long-faced.
Pigs are non-sweaty.
Songbirds are various.
Hippos are hungry.
Deer are noble.
Eagles are bold.
Beetles are automobiles.
Crustaceans are yummy.
Monkeys are silly.
Centipedes are flexy.
Dinosaurs are extinct.
Magpies are thieving.
Insects are abecedarious.
Gerbils are useful.
People are strange.
As I lie on my deathbed, I, a natural philosopher--a scientist--feel free to finally break the scandalous
of myself and my fellows.
I'm sure you've heard the trope: that scientists are simply children gazing with awe at the universe and its multiplicity of beautiful forms.
Let me inform you here that this is a self-serving lie, that we've pulicized this falsehood to dupe you all, yes, to dupe you! into feeling parental, head-patting, and generous, and that we are merely soulless technicians lusting for power.
Writers try to dupe in a similar way--don't buy it.
This is a fountain.
Is it dedicated to anyone, is it a memorial, does it commemorate past deeds, is it meant to stir the youth of Boston to
have ducks swum in it, are ducks afraid of it, do they wish they could land and quack on it; has anyone ever thrown a box of laundry detergent in it to watch it foam, how many drunk women have at three on the morning stood in it and revealed themselves as woman, how many coins are in it and what're they worth in total?
I don't know.
Once upon a time there were four women. Two were a mother and daughter who lived in France, and two were a Franciscan Sister and her niece who lived in Boston.
The French mother treated her daughter badly. The Bostonian Sister treated her niece with Franciscan indulgence.
One night, the French mother and the Sister switched souls--for no real reason.
Come morning, the Bostonian niece was surprised her aunt gave her a pittance for breakfast.
The French daughter was overwhelmed by her mother's offers of food, food, food.
The French daughter beat her mother to death that eve.
Once PHOEBUS had a hundred circuits made,
Sweet HYMEN rose from BOREAS' frosty bed,
Shook off the ices in her heart inlaid,
And to her frigid lover thus she said:
"Farewell, my northern pet, bright EROS calls
"For love to spread again across the land,
"And ere red-visaged Nature starts her brawls
"Of germ and germ, all creatures I should band
"From hand to hand so Harmony, that tone
"CECILIA gives, can sing awake our friend
"Bright CERES, she who richly all alone
"Creates anew the earth from rock and stone!"
(Thus HYMEN does the whole wide world engend!)
It started on a Tuesday at two.
Stanley Sitzle, banker, was sitting at his desk processing exchanges when he realized he had the distinct feeling of fingers around his neck. He ran his hands around--there was nothing there.
By three the sensation was psychologically all-encompassing. Stanley could not concentrate on his work at all. The fingers felt feminine, tips on his apple. He called his doctor, made an emergency appointment, but told not why.
Going down into the subway, Stanley stumbled down--and was dead before hitting bottom.
The coroner examined him. Stanley Sitzle had died--of strangulation!!!
And false antiquities
And Jim trying to know what's going on
And a statue of a boy with a horse
And Jim trying to see behind it all
And it's a wedding
And there's hors d'oeuvres
And laughing is happening
And more beef
And drinks of some sort
And what's behind the old
And the new
And there's flashes from flashes
And then there's more drinks
And someone's telling anecdotes
And if there's something here it's eluded Jim--perhaps the curtain is the only thing.
Part seven in a six-part series (because our flight was cancelled and we hadda stay an extra night in Boston)
For three nights we stayed at St. Raphael's Convent in West Medford, Massachusetts, courtesy of Mary's aunt, Sister E-. We took a commuter train into North Station, Boston--and during our stay the Celtics won two of their three games. Go Celtics.
Then we were for two nights at the Wheatleigh Inn in Lenox, for the wedding of people I shouldn't mention here.
Massachusetts isn't the nicest place I've been, though Lenox is a pretty place to walk to.
A humourous addendum.
After the ceremony, everyone went outside for cocktails. A bagpiper was playing. Mary said, "I'm going to change the card in my camera. Be back in a sec."
So I stood there, frozen, watching the piper. I couldn't approach anyone, so I stood there, pretending to listen to that piper's caterwauling. He stopped playing. I was still frozen with social anxiety. Where was Mary? I was perfectly still.
After about twenty minutes, Mary came back.
Later, she told me what other people had said about my immobility. "Wow, he's really concentrating on that piper and the landscape!"
FROM THE MAILBAG
D- from the Chesapeake area writes:
Goddammit, John, help me! I can't stop writing. Because whenever I stop.... Look, got a wife and two kids, ages two and six, but when I'm not writing, that's the end of them! It's like unless I mention them they don't exist! I drop my pen an' I'm in nothingness. How can I exist without writing about it?
Me: Your boy'd been misled by you. I don't know! I don't know what you are! Are you there? Can you hear?
Chesapeake said nothing. Knowing how to write ain't no big deal.
"Oh yeah, the G20 roadshow is coming to town, and there's tons of OT for the cops etc. Everyone's freaked because the basement-dwellers will shout. But I don't think there'll be too much kerfuffle. All the loony lefties had the wind knocked out when their Potemkin protest--'Global Warming!!1!11!!'--got the shit kicked out of it because it was all a fraud. I think they're so busy trying to come up with some new half-assed slogans--'North-South!'--'fairest trade!'--that they won't be ready in time to delight themselves killing the neighbour's cow. If I'm wrong here, so be it."
How did it happen? I want sitting on the streetcar in the seat behind the back exit. I looked up from my Zola to barely catch the sight of a woman passing by me- Not just any woman. but the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I couldn't turn to look, but I knew she was there.
Then another goddess passed and sat somewhere behind me. Then another, and another. All these beautiful women were sitting beind me, probably looking at my curls, eh?
My stop. I looked back--and the back of the streetcar was empty. All fantasy!
SOMETHING ABOUT ZOLA
Roger Pearson's introduction to the Penguin Classics Germinal: "[S]exual promiscuity, for example, is not attested to in any of the contemporary accounts of mining communities [...]" and so on.
So why did Zola, Mr. Naturalism, choose to lie about this and weave it so deeply into the novel? Was it just because he got his jollies writing about sex? Or was it because he simply could not admit the morality comes from the spirit and not from society? I suppose it's a little of both. It's nice to come across such a significant error in another writer.
TRANSLATION INTO PARTS
Proper noun's noun preposition article noun adjective noun: "[A]djective noun, preposition noun, verb adverb verb preposition preposition noun preposition article adjective noun preposition adjective noun [...]" conjunction adjective preposition.
Conjunction pronoun verb Noun, Adjective Noun, verb preposition verb preposition pronoun conjunction verb pronoun adverb adverb preposition article noun? Pronoun pronoun adverb conjunction pronoun verb adjective noun verb preposition noun? Conjunction verb pronoun conjunction pronoun adverb verb adverb noun article noun verb preposition article noun conjunction adverb preposition noun? Pronoun verb pronoun's article adjective preposition noun. Pronoun's verb preposition verb preposition adverb article adjective noun preposition adjective noun.
My parents came to town a couple weeks before Christmas to do some shopping so Mary and I decided to meet up with them for lunch at a place on Yonge Street around College. We went into the place and we were asked to wait. I went off to the washroom. When I came back, they were gone. I walked through the restaurant--no sign of them. About a half hour later they showed up. They'd been shopping. "No one was waiting for us," my mother said. "
was waiting for you." She looked at me like I was crazy.
IT has been chasing me all day and now it's night. IT doesn't have the power IT had during the day, so I think I'm safe--even though I can feel IT coming from below my feet. How long will I be able to withstand IT? IT seems to have half my mind half the time. IT won't get me tonight, I vow--and IT won't get me tomorrow, and I know IT's powerless the day after that. Then a week without IT--but after that, IT could strike at any time. Everybody has an IT of his own.
Here comes the scum, doo dee doo doo
Here comes the scum
And I say let them fight
Little anarch, it's so sweet you look in all black
Little anarch, I can smell you from way o'er here
Go join your scum, doo dee doo doo
Go join your scum
And watch tv tonight
Little piggy, you smile as you break faces
Little piggy, you're of a grade nine brilliance
Here comes the scum, doo dee doo doo
Go join your scum
Use your daddy's cellphone
Scum, scum, scum, here it comes
Scum, scum, scum, here it comes
-What do you think the most popular crime is?
-Oh, gee, that's a toughie. Is it theft?
-What about ... trespassing?
-Public exposure, public indecency?
-I give up.
-Oh, c'mon, keep going!
-Dropping stuff off buildings.
-Cooking with asparagus.
-Driving without a map.
-Swimming at noon.
-No, no, no.
-Bulldozing under the influence.
-Really, I give up. Tell me!
-The most popular crime is ... rape.
-Oh. Rape. Riiiiiight.
She was a half hour late, and Jimmy could see her face was disfigured from across the barroom. She staggered closer and he saw it was because of a gash across her cheek and a bleeding nose. "Jimmy!" she cried. A fat woman turned to look. Jimmy said screechily, "What happened to you?" She dropped into her chair and took his pint and drank. "Aaah!" "What happened?" She blew to her bangs. "Just a fight. With a roomie." "Why didn't you, I don't know, clean up a bit?" She grabbed at his hand. "But then I'd be late!"
She snapped her fingers "Waiter!" Jimmy had never seen anyone do that for real. The waiter came over. "Pitcher of Keith's, please." She turned back to Jimmy. "So, what're we gonna do tonight? Play some trivia?" "I suppose we could. Think you're capable?" A cross look came. "Of course! I'm fine! I can even read the questions to ya!" Jimmy patted his pockets. "I waited real long. Now I want to go smoke." "Okay." "Have to buy some first." "Okay, okay!" "I'll be back soon." Jimmy slipped out from the table, crossed the barroom without look at anyone, and left.
Science has turned out to be of overwhelming value to humanity. Our entire lives, from cradle to grave, depend upon it. Yet, little attention is paid to those who make it possible--namely, the scientists themselves. And these scientists the world over make less money than athletes and have less power than politicians. Is this a sustainable situation? Can such an interconnected world continue to be? Many scientists say we need a quantum shift to a new world, a world in which the scientists run everything. And the scientists themselves have proved this scientifically. Tonight, on The Nature of Things....
I prepare for the descent.
The maps show the location of the maelstrom. Above the Murray Fracture Zone. It has been there for eight months. Spotted by satellite.
I check my boat for leaks. There are no flaws in it. It is a perfect boat.
I check my supplies. I have made four hundred cheese sandwiches. They are wrapped in waterproof baggies.
I put new batteries in my flashlight, just to be sure.
I check the train schedule. Leaving in two hours, to San Francisco.
My knapsack is packed. My hair's perfect.
I am ready to descend into the maelstrom.
Three years ago--it was a Friday--M. and I got on a train bound for Niagara Falls. Just a long Canada Day weekend.
While we were on the train, heading south from Hamilton and through the vineyards, I said to her, "Wow, this might turn out to be impressive. I'd guess that people from all over Southern Ontario come to this place for the fun of it. Hell, maybe there will be some Americans there too."
It was all that and more--namely, a girl suiciding over the falls.
This is once again in memory of her.
"I can't believe it, I can't believe it, she is such a fucking skank, just a common whore, takes it three-way, the stink of come fucking just envelops her, in her breath, her hair, everywhere, I've seen her fuck animals, swear I have, on the internet, I'm going to be fucking sick just thinking about her and her greasy cunt hole, takes three cocks at a time before breakfast, squeezes her shit off 'em and puts it in her coffee, bitch, bitch, bitch, and she's got such a fucking foul mouth, she's such a fucking foul-mouthed poltroon!" said Allan Rock.
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