27 Mar. 2023

27 Mar. 2023

Untitled (James Joyce Ulysses), 1995 by Raymond Pettibon (b. 1957)

26 Mar. 2023

Inherited Absolute, 1992 by Imants Tillers (b. 1950)

24 Mar. 2023

The Eternal City, 1937 by Peter Blume (1906–1992)

22 Mar. 2023
20 Mar. 2023

Spring and the Student, 1975 by Norman Blamey (1914 – 2000)

19 Mar. 2023

My family and I had a wonderful time vacationing in Mexico City last week. We rented an apartment in Condesa, a friendly, walkable neighborhood marked by shade trees, lush gardens, and robust parks. And dogs. Lots of lovely dogs. Over eight days, we took in as much of the city as we could (as well as some excellent day trips to Grutas Tolantongo in Hidalgo and Teotihuacán in Edomex). The city is huge, with more than 150 museums, and the food is excellent. While the four members of our family share common interests (including a love of art), making sightseeing somewhat streamlined, I left Mexico City feeling like I had barely scratched the surface. It reminded me in disparate ways of New York City, Bangkok, and New Orleans. Like those cities, there’s not a single aspect that intrigues me, but rather a vibe. But this is not a travel blog, it is a book blog, so:

The first thing I noticed is that the selection of titles in the several bookstores I visited (a few just very briefly) was generally excellent. Shops tended to feature big-ell Literature titles in lieu of bestsellers and airport novels, with new releases like Mircea Cartarescu’s Solenoid and Yuri Herrera’s La estación del pantano getting prominent displays.

I visited both locations of Cafebrería El Péndulo, and picked up an inexpensive Debolsillo edition of Roberto Bolaño’s La literatura nazi en America, resisting the urge to grab one of the big novels. I’ve read Chris Andrews’ translation of Nazi Literature in the Americas a few times, and I figured that it would be better for me to attempt reading and comparing the shorter sketches here than to jump into 2666 in Spanish. Although I practiced my Spanish for a year in preparation for the trip (it helps to have a Spanish professor friend whose office is down the hall from mine), my vocabulary is still limited and my conjugations are a mess.

Also Bolaño-related: We lunched at Café la Habana, a charming restaurant boasting a history as a salon for poets, politicians, theorists and other bullshitters. In Bolaño’s Mexican opus The Savage Detectives, Café la Habana appears as Café Quito.

I also visited Under the Volcano, a tiny and charming bookstore in Condesa that carries English-language books–mostly literature. The store is named for Malcolm Lowry’s excellent novel, but there didn’t appear to be any of his books there the day I visited. There was a first-edition hardback copy of Robert Coover’s Pricksongs and Descants, but it was jacketless and out of my price range. There was also a standalone magazine-sized Dalkey Archive edition of William H. Gass’s story Willie Master’s Lonesome Wife, which, based on its price, the owner seemed to believe the most valuable item in the store. I also spied a copy of Jay McInerney’s 1984 novel Ransom, notable because it’s the first and so-far only hardcover of a Vintage Contemporaries edition I’ve ever seen.

I wound up with two books from Under the Volcano: a Europa Editions of Steven Erickson’s Zeroville and Vintage edition of Aldous Huxley’s Beyond the Mexique Bay. I listened to the audiobook of Zeroville a few years ago, loved it, and have kept an eye out for a reasonably-priced copy ever since. I admit that I picked up Huxley’s essay collection in large part because of its title and its cover design (by Bradbury Thompson). I only found it because I was looking for a copy of Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun. I’ve been falling asleep to an audiobook version of Devils for about three weeks now.

I stopped into a La Increíble Librería at random while walking through Condesa. It’s a charming store that specializes in art books and arty children’s books. They also sell a small but excellent selection of Latin American titles in English translation. I picked up a coffee table book there called 50 íconos de la Ciudad de México. The book is in both Spanish and English, and features lovely illustrations of iconic Mexico City locations by ten different artists. Here’s a detail from Diego Huacuja’s illustration of the Auditorio Nacional:

As we looked through this book this morning, my wife remarked on just how few of the fifty icons presented we missed seeing on this trip. And although we saw a lot that’s not in the book, it nevertheless confirmed my feeling that we need to visit Mexico City again.

17 Mar. 2023

On pages 611-613 of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, St. Patrick meets the archdruid Balkelly:

Tunc. Bymeby, bullocky vampas tappany bobs topside joss pidgin fella Balkelly, archdruid of islish chinchinjoss in the his heptachromatic sevenhued septicoloured roranyellgreenlindigan mantle finish he show along the his mister guest Patholic with alb belongahim the whose throat hum with of sametime all the his cassock groaner fellas of greysfriaryfamily he fast all time what time all him monkafellas with Same Patholic, quoniam, speeching, yeh not speeching noh man liberty is, he drink up words, scilicet, tomorrow till recover will not, all too many much illusiones through photoprismic velamina of hueful panepiphanal world spectacurum of Lord Joss, the of which zoantholitic furniture, from mineral through vegetal to animal, not appear to full up to-gether fallen man than under but one photoreflection of the several iridals gradationes of solar light, that one which that part of it (furnit of heupanepi world) had shown itself (part of fur of huepanwor) unable to absorbere, whereas for numpa one pura —— duxed seer in seventh degree of wisdom of Entis–Onton he savvy inside true inwardness of reality, the Ding hvad in idself id est, all objects (of panepiwor) allside showed themselves in trues coloribus resplendent with sextuple gloria of light actually re-tained, untisintus, inside them (obs of epiwo). Rumnant Patholic, stareotypopticus, no catch all that preachybook, utpiam, tomorrow recover thing even is not, bymeby vampsybobsy tap — panasbullocks topside joss pidginfella Bilkilly–Belkelly say pat — fella, ontesantes, twotime hemhaltshealing, with other words verbigratiagrading from murmurulentous till stridulocelerious in a hunghoranghoangoly tsinglontseng while his comprehen-durient, with diminishing claractinism, augumentationed himself in caloripeia to vision so throughsighty, you anxioust melan-cholic, High Thats Hight Uberking Leary his fiery grassbelong- head all show colour of sorrelwood herbgreen, again, nigger- blonker, of the his essixcoloured holmgrewnworsteds costume the his fellow saffron pettikilt look same hue of boiled spinasses,other thing, voluntary mutismuser, he not compyhandy the his golden twobreasttorc look justsamelike curlicabbis, moreafter, to pace negativisticists, verdant readyrainroof belongahim Exuber High Ober King Leary very dead, what he wish to say, spit of superexuberabundancy plenty laurel leaves, after that com-mander bulopent eyes of Most Highest Ardreetsar King same thing like thyme choppy upon parsley, alongsidethat, if please-sir, nos displace tauttung, sowlofabishospastored, enamel Indian gem in maledictive fingerfondler of High High Siresultan Em-peror all same like one fellow olive lentil, onthelongsidethat, by undesendas, kirikirikiring, violaceous warwon contusiones of facebuts of Highup Big Cockywocky Sublissimime Autocrat, for that with pure hueglut intensely saturated one, tinged uniformly, allaroundside upinandoutdown, very like you seecut chowchow of plentymuch sennacassia Hump cumps Ebblybally! Sukkot?

Punc. Bigseer, refrects the petty padre, whackling it out, a tumble to take, tripeness to call thing and to call if say is good while, you pore shiroskuro blackinwhitepaddynger, by thiswis aposterioprismically apatstrophied and paralogically periparo-lysed, celestial from principalest of Iro’s Irismans ruinboon pot before, (for beingtime monkblinkers timeblinged completamen-tarily murkblankered in their neutrolysis between the possible viriditude of the sager and the probable eruberuption of the saint), as My tappropinquish to Me wipenmeselps gnosegates a handcaughtscheaf of synthetic shammyrag to hims hers, seeming-such four three two agreement cause heart to be might, saving to Balenoarch (he kneeleths), to Great Balenoarch (he kneeleths down) to Greatest Great Balenoarch (he kneeleths down quite-somely), the sound salse sympol in a weedwayedwold of the firethere the sun in his halo cast. Onmen.

That was thing, bygotter, the thing, bogcotton, the very thing, begad! Even to uptoputty Bilkilly–Belkelly-Balkally. Who was for shouting down the shatton on the lamp of Jeeshees. Sweating on to stonker and throw his seven. As he shuck his thumping fore features apt the hoyhop of His Ards.


Good safe firelamp! hailed the heliots. Goldselforelump! Halled they. Awed. Where thereon the skyfold high, trampa-trampatramp. Adie. Per ye comdoom doominoom noonstroom. Yeasome priestomes. Fullyhum toowhoom.


This meeting between sage and saint was one of the earliest sections Jocye composed for Finnegans Wake. Here’s Joseph Campbell explicating the scene. From his book A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake:

The grand national meeting is introduced as a colorful, rhythmical, fashionable horse race (611) during the course of which Patrick and the druid chat.

And here are the details of their debate.

Balkelly, archdruid: “The phenomenal forms beheld by mortal eye are comparable to the refracted hues into which sunlight is broken by a prism. The mineral, vegetable, animal, and common-man inhabitants of the world are incapable of experiencing the whole source-light. But the true seer, in the seventh degree of the Wisdom of Being, knows the inwardness of reality, the Ding an sich, the essence of each thing: and for him all objects shine with that gloria of seed light which is within them. The entire world, for him, is an epiphany.”

Patrick, however, did not quite follow the drift. While the druid waxed in eolquence, the saint’s eyes wandered to High King Leary, whom, by way of passing the time, he tried to envision as King Harvest: with kilt like spinach, (612) torc like cauliflowers, eyes like thyme chopped with parsley, stone of ring like an olive lentil, war scars on face like chopped senna: Hump cumps Ebblybally: a veritable Feast of Tabernacles.

Patrick’s reply [begins with “Punc”]: “It is a mistake to say that knowledge a posteriori, even for a seer, can attain to the celestial. When you speak of the essential knowledge of the true seer, it is as though, by a paralogism and circumlocution, ‘My’ were to be spoken of as ‘Me’ or a handkerchief were to be taken for the owner of the handkerchief. If we are to permit to you such seeming 4-3-2 agreement, then we may also accept for common man the Sacred Heart as adequate sound-sense symbol for the fire cast therein by the sunlight of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

That was the very thing, begad. The druid was completely nonplussed. His throw had lost. Thud.

(614) “God save Ireland!” hailed the populace, awed. And the heavens resounded: “Per eundem Dominimum Nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum.”

And the entire company, saints and sages, kings and earls, was moved.

Read more about the St. Patrick and the Druid passage here, here, and here; read Finnegans Wake online here, and download a musical adaptation here.

16 Mar. 2023

“Old Mr. Marblehall”


Eudora Welty

Old Mr. Marblehall never did anything, never got married until he was sixty. You can see him out taking a walk. Watch and you’ll see how preciously old people come to think they are made—the way they walk, like conspirators, bent over a little, filled with protection. The
y stand long on the corners but more impatiently than anyone, as if they expect traffic to take notice of them, rear up the horses and throw on the brakes, so they can go where they want to go. That’s Mr. Marblehall. He has short white bangs, and a bit of snapdragon in his lapel. He walks with a big polished stick, a present. That’s what people think of him. Everybody says to his face, “So well preserved!” Behind his back they say cheerfully, “One foot in the grave.” He has on his thick, beautiful, glowing coat—tweed, but he looks as gratified as an animal in its own tingling fur. You see, even in summer he wears it, because he is cold all the time. He looks quaintly secretive and prepared for anything, out walking very luxuriously on Catherine Street.

His wife, back at home in the parlor standing up to think, is a large, elongated old woman with electric-looking hair and curly lips. She has spent her life trying to escape from the parlor-like jaws of self-consciousness. Her late marriage has set in upon her nerves like a retriever nosing and puffing through old dead leaves out in the woods. When she walks around the room she looks remote and nebulous, out on the fringe of habitation, and rather as if she must have been cruelly trained—otherwise she couldn’t do actual, immediate things, like answering the telephone or putting on a hat. But she has gone further than you’d think: into club work. Surrounded by other more suitably exclaiming women, she belongs to the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, attending teas. Her long, disquieted figure towering in the candlelight of other women’s houses looks like something accidental. Any occasion, and she dresses her hair like a unicorn horn. She even sings, and is requested to sing. She even writes some of the songs she sings (“O Trees in the Evening”). She has a voice that dizzies other ladies like an organ note, and amuses men like a halloo down the well. It’s full of a hollow wind and echo, winding out through the wavery hope of her mouth. Do people know of her perpetual amazement? Back in safety she wonders, her untidy head trembles in the domestic dark. She remembers how everyone in Natchez will suddenly grow quiet around her. Old Mrs. Marblehall, Mr. Marblehall’s wife: she even goes out in the rain, which Southern women despise above everything, in big neat biscuit-colored galoshes, for which she “ordered off.” She is only looking around—servile, undelighted, sleepy, expensive, tortured Mrs. Marblehall, pinning her mind with a pin to her husband’s diet. She wants to tempt him, she tells him. What would he like best, that he can have?

There is Mr. Marblehall’s ancestral home. It’s not so wonderfully large—it has only four columns—but you always look toward it, the way you always glance into tunnels and see nothing. The river is after it now, and the little back garden has assuredly crumbled away, but the box maze is there on the edge like a trap, to confound the Mississippi River. Deep in the red wall waits the front door—it weighs such a lot, it is perfectly solid, all one piece, black mahogany…. And you see—one of them is always going in it. There is a knocker shaped like a gasping fish on the door. You have every reason in the world to imagine the inside is dark, with old things about. There’s many a big, deathly-looking tapestry, wrinkling and thin, many a sofa shaped like an S. Brocades as tall as the wicked queens in Italian tales stand gathered before the windows. Everything is draped and hooded and shaded, of course, unaffectionate but close. Such rosy lamps! The only sound would be a breath against the prisms, a stirring of the chandelier. It’s like old eye-lids, the house with one of its shutters, in careful working order, slowly opening outward. Then the little son softly comes and stares out like a kitten, with button nose and pointed ears and little fuzz of silky hair running along the top of his head.

The son is the worst of all. Mr. and Mrs. Marblehall had a child! When both of them were terribly old, they had this little, amazing, fascinating son. You can see how people are taken aback, how they jerk and throw up their hands every time they so much as think about it. At least, Mr. Marblehall sees them. He thinks Natchez people do nothing themselves, and really, most of them have done or could do the same thing. This son is six years old now. Close up, he has a monkey look, a very penetrating look. He has very sparse Japanese hair, tiny little pearly teeth, long little wilted fingers. Every day he is slowly and expensively dressed and taken to the Catholic school. He looks quietly and maliciously absurd, out walking with old Mr. Marblehall or old Mrs. Marblehall, placing his small booted foot on a little green worm, while they stop and wait on him. Everybody passing by thinks that he looks quite as if he thinks his parents had him just to show they could. You see, it becomes complicated, full of vindictiveness.

But now, as Mr. Marblehall walks as briskly as possible toward the river where there is sun, you have to merge him back into his proper blur, into the little party-giving town he lives in. Why look twice at him? There has been an old Mr. Marblehall in Natchez ever since the first one arrived back in 1818—with a theatrical presentation of Otway’s Venice, ending with A Laughable Combat between Two Blind Fiddlers—an actor! Mr. Marblehall isn’t so important. His name is on the list, he is forgiven, but nobody gives a hoot about any old Mr. Marblehall. He could die, for all they care; some people even say, “Oh, is he still alive?” Mr. Marblehall walks and walks, and now and then he is driven in his ancient fringed carriage with the candle burners like empty eyes in front. And yes, he is supposed to travel for his health. But why consider his absence? There isn’t any other place besides Natchez, and even if there were, it would hardly be likely to change Mr. Marblehall if it were brought up against him. Big fingers could pick him up off the Esplanade and take him through the air, his old legs still measuredly walking in a dangle, and set him down where he could continue that same old Natchez stroll of his in the East or the West or Kingdom Come. What difference could anything make now about old Mr. Marblehall—so late? A week or two would go by in Natchez and then there would be Mr. Marblehall, walking down Catherine Street again, still exactly in the same degree alive and old.

People naturally get bored. They say, “Well, he waited till he was sixty years old to marry, and what did he want to marry for?” as though what he did were the excuse for their boredom and their lack of concern. Even the thought of his having a stroke right in front of one of the Pilgrimage houses during Pilgrimage Week makes them only sigh, as if to say it’s nobody’s fault but his own if he wants to be so insultingly and precariously well-preserved. He ought to have a little black boy to follow around after him. Oh, his precious old health, which never had reason to be so inspiring! Mr. Marblehall has a formal, reproachful look as he stands on the corners arranging himself to go out into the traffic to cross the streets. It’s as if he’s thinking of shaking his stick and saying, “Well, look! I’ve done it, don’t you see?” But really, nobody pays much attention to his look. He is just like other people to them. He could have easily danced with a troupe of angels in Paradise every night, and they wouldn’t have guessed. Nobody is likely to find out that he is leading a double life.

The funny thing is he just recently began to lead this double life. He waited until he was sixty years old. Isn’t he crazy? Before that, he’d never done anything. He didn’t know what to do. Everything was for all the world like his first party. He stood about, and looked in his father’s books, and long ago he went to France, but he didn’t like it.

Drive out any of these streets in and under the hills and you find yourself lost. You see those scores of little galleried houses nearly alike. See the yellowing China trees at the eaves, the round flower beds in the front yards, like bites in the grass, listen to the screen doors whining, the ice wagons dragging by, the twittering noises of children. Nobody ever looks to see who is living in a house like that. These people come out themselves and sprinkle the hose over the street at this time of day to settle the dust, and after they sit on the porch, they go back into the house, and you hear the radio for the next two hours. It seems to mourn and cry for them. They go to bed early.

Well, old Mr. Marblehall can easily be seen standing beside a row of zinnias growing down the walk in front of that little house, bending over, easy, easy, so as not to strain anything, to stare at the flowers. Of course he planted them! They are covered with brown—each petal is a little heart-shaped pocket of dust. They don’t have any smell, you know. It’s twilight, all amplified with locusts screaming; nobody could see anything. Just what Mr. Marblehall is bending over the zinnias for is a mystery, any way you look at it. But there he is, quite visible, alive and old, leading his double life.

There’s his other wife, standing on the night-stained porch by a potted fern, screaming things to a neighbor. This wife is really worse than the other one. She is more solid, fatter, shorter, and while not so ugly, funnier looking. She looks like funny furniture—an unornamented stair post in one of these little houses, with her small monotonous round stupid head—or sometimes like a woodcut of a Bavarian witch, forefinger pointing, with scratches in the air all around her. But she’s so static she scarcely moves, from her thick shoulders down past her cylindered brown dress to her short, stubby house slippers. She stands still and screams to the neighbors.

This wife thinks Mr. Marblehall’s name is Mr. Bird. She says, “I declare I told Mr. Bird to go to bed, and look at him! I don’t understand him!” All her devotion is combustible and goes up in despair. This wife tells everything she knows. Later, after she tells the neighbors, she will tell Mr. Marblehall. Cymbal-breasted, she fills the house with wifely complaints. She calls, “After I get Mr. Bird to bed, what does he do then? He lies there stretched out with his clothes on and don’t have one word to say. Know what he does?”

And she goes on, while her husband bends over the zinnias, to tell what Mr. Marblehall (or Mr. Bird) does in bed. She does tell the truth. He reads Terror Tales and Astonishing Stories. She can’t see anything to them: they scare her to death. These stories are about horrible and fantastic things happening to nude women and scientists. In one of them, when the characters open bureau drawers, they find a woman’s leg with a stocking and garter on. Mrs. Bird had to shut the magazine. “The glutinous shadows,” these stories say, “the red-eyed, muttering old crone,” “the moonlight on her thigh,” “an ancient cult of sun worshipers,” “an altar suspiciously stained…” Mr. Marblehall doesn’t feel as terrified as all that, but he reads on and on. He is killing time. It is richness without taste, like some holiday food. The clock gets a fruity bursting tick, to get through midnight—then leisurely, leisurely on. When time is passing it’s like a bug in his ear. And then Mr. Bird—he doesn’t even want a shade on the
light, this wife moans respectably. He reads under a bulb. She can tell you how he goes straight through a stack of magazines. “He might just as well not have a family,” she always ends, unjustly, and rolls back into the house as if she had been on a little wheel all this time.

But the worst of them all is the other little boy. Another little boy just like the first one. He wanders around the bungalow full of tiny little schemes and jokes. He has lost his front tooth, and in this way he looks slightly different from Mr. Marblehall’s other little boy—more shocking. Otherwise, you couldn’t tell them apart if you wanted to. They both have that look of cunning little jugglers, violently small under some spotlight beam, preoccupied and silent, amusing themselves. Both of the children will go into sudden fits and tantrums that frighten their mothers and Mr. Marblehall to death. Then they can get anything they want. But this little boy, the one who’s lost the tooth, is the smarter. For a long time he supposed that his mother was totally solid, down to her thick separated ankles. But when she stands there on the porch screaming to the neighbors, she reminds him of those flares that charm him so, that they leave burning in the street at night—the dark solid ball, then, tongue-like, the wicked, yellow, continuous, enslaving blaze on the stem. He knows what his father thinks.

Perhaps one day, while Mr. Marblehall is standing there gently bent over the zinnias, this little boy is going to write on a fence, “Papa leads a double life.” He finds out things you wouldn’t find out. He is a monkey.

You see, one night he is going to follow Mr. Marblehall (or Mr. Bird) out of the house. Mr. Marblehall has said as usual that he is leaving for one of his health trips. He is one of those correct old gentlemen who are still going to the wells and drinking the waters—exactly like his father, the late old Mr. Marblehall. But why does he leave on foot? This will occur to the little boy.

So he will follow his father. He will follow him all the way across town. He will see the shining river come winding around. He will see the house where Mr. Marblehall turns in at the wrought-iron gate. He will see a big speechless woman come out and lead him in by the heavy door. He will not miss those rosy lamps beyond the many-folded draperies at the windows. He will run around the fountains and around the Japonica trees, past the stone figure of the pigtailed courtier mounted on the goat, down to the back of the house. From there he can look far up at the strange upstairs rooms. In one window the other wife will be standing like a giant, in a long-sleeved gathered nightgown, combing her electric hair and breaking it off each time in the comb. From the next window the other little boy will look out secretly into the night, and see him—or not see him. That would be an interesting thing, a moment of strange telepathies. (Mr. Marblehall can imagine it.) Then in the corner room there will suddenly be turned on the bright, naked light. Aha! Father!

Mr. Marblehall’s little boy will easily climb a tree there and peep through the window. There, under a stark shadeless bulb, on a great four-poster with carved griffins, will be Mr. Marblehall, reading Terror Tales, stretched out and motionless.

Then everything will come out.

At first, nobody will believe it.

Or maybe the policeman will say, “Stop! How dare you!”

Maybe, better than that, Mr. Marblehall himself will confess his duplicity—how he has led two totally different lives, with completely different families, two sons instead of one. What an astonishing, unbelievable, electrifying confession that would be, and how his two wives would topple over, how his sons would cringe! To say nothing of most men aged sixty-six. So thinks self-consoling Mr. Marblehall.

You will think, what if nothing ever happens? What if there is no climax, even to this amazing life? Suppose old Mr. Marblehall simply remains alive, getting older by the minute, shuttling, still secretly, back and forth?

Nobody cares. Not an inhabitant of Natchez, Mississippi, cares if he is deceived by old Mr. Marblehall. Neither does anyone care that Mr. Marblehall has finally caught on, he thinks, to what people are supposed to do. This is it: they endure something inwardly—for a time secretly; they establish a past, a memory; thus they store up life. He has done this; most remarkably, he has even multiplied his life by deception; and plunging deeper and deeper he speculates upon some glorious finish, a great explosion of revelations … the future.

But he still has to kill time, and get through the clocking nights. Otherwise he dreams that he is a great blazing butterfly stitching up a net; which doesn’t make sense.

Old Mr. Marblehall! He may have years ahead yet in which to wake up bolt upright in the bed under the naked bulb, his heart thumping, his old eyes watering and wild, imagining that if people knew about his double life, they’d die.

16 Mar. 2023

Sleeping, 1986 by Paula Rego (1935–2022)

15 Mar. 2023

“The Unruly Child”


Bob Perelman

There is a company called Marathon Oil, mother,
Very far away and very big and, again, very
Desirable. Who isn’t? Back connecting pure dots,
Fleecy intelligence lapped in explanatory sound
The faces make difficult.
Learn the language.
That beautiful tongue-in-cheek hostage situation:
My mind, up close, in pjs, and I use it.
Wanting to fuck an abstraction nine times in a row,
Continuous melismata, don’t stop, don’t stop, no name, no picture.
There is a series of solids, mother,
Called people, who rise to the transparent obtainable
Solo windows, mornings, afternoons,
And there are military operations called
Operation Patio, Operation Menu.
It is the individuals who finally get the feel of the tenses.
So that it may snow, has to snow on the muddy corpse.
There is a boundary, mother, very far away and very
Continuous, broken, to interrogate civilians, the self,
The text, networks of viewers found wanting a new way
To cook chicken, why not?, to kill while falling asleep.
There is the one language not called money, and the other not called explosions.
14 Mar. 2023

“There was upon the sill a pencil mark”


Edna St. Vincent Millay

There was upon the sill a pencil mark,
Vital with shadow when the sun stood still
At noon, but now, because the day was dark,
It was a pencil mark upon the sill.
And the mute clock, maintaining ever the same
Dead moment, blank and vacant of itself,
Was a pink shepherdess, a picture frame,
A shell marked Souvenir, there on the shelf.
Whence it occurred to her that he might be,
The mainspring being broken in his mind,
A clock himself, if one were so inclined,
That stood at twenty minutes after three -
The reason being for this, it might be said,
That things in death were neither clocks nor people, 
    but only dead.
14 Mar. 2023



Joy Williams

from 99 Stories of God

The child wanted to name the rabbit Actually, and could not be dissuaded from this.

It was the first time one of our pets was named after an adverb.

It made us uncomfortable. We thought it to be bad luck.

But no ill befell any of us nor did any ill befall the people who visited our home.

Everything proceeded beautifully, in fact, until Actually died.


13 Mar. 2023

Self-Portrait with Root Skirt, 2022 by Julie Heffernan (b. 1956)

12 Mar. 2023

“This Condition”


Lydia Davis

In this condition: stirred not only by men but by women, fat and thin, naked and clothed; by teenagers and children in latency; by animals such as horses and dogs; by certain vegetables such as carrots, zucchinis, eggplants, and cucumbers; by fruits such as melons, grapefruits, and kiwis; by certain plant parts such as petals, sepals, stamens, and pistils; by the bare arm of a wooden chair, a round vase holding flowers, a little hot sunlight, a plate of pudding, a person entering a tunnel in the distance, a puddle of water, a hand alighting on a smooth stone, a hand alighting on a bare shoulder, a naked tree limb; by anything curved, bare, and shining, as the limb or bole of a tree; by any touch, as the touch of a stranger handling money; by anything round and freely hanging, as tassels on a curtain, chestnut burrs on a twig in spring, a wet tea bag on its string; by anything glowing, as a hot coal; anything soft or slow, as a cat rising from a chair; anything smooth and dry, as a stone, or warm and glistening; anything sliding, anything sliding back and forth; anything sliding in and out with an oiled surface, as certain machine parts; anything of a certain shape, like the state of Florida; anything pounding, anything stroking; anything bolt upright, anything horizontal and gaping, as a certain sea anemone; anything warm, anything wet, anything wet and red, anything turning red, as the sun at evening; anything wet and pink; anything long and straight with a blunt end, as a pestle; anything coming out of anything else, as a snail from its shell, as a snail’s horns from its head; anything opening; any stream of water running, any stream running, any stream spurting, any stream spouting; any cry, any soft cry, any grunt; anything going into anything else, as a hand searching in a purse; anything clutching, anything grasping; anything rising, anything tightening or filling, as a sail; anything dripping, anything hardening, anything softening.

11 Mar. 2023

Angel, 1998 by Paula Rego (1935–2022)

10 Mar. 2023

Self-Portrait, 1554 by Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532-1625)