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international
Spring 1974
$'•75  Editor-in-Chief
Associate Editors
Managing Editor
Editorial Assistants
MICHAEL BULLOCK
DOUGLAS BANKSON
GEORGE MCWHIRTER
C. J. NEWMAN
PENELOPE LOWENTHAL
ROBERT BRINGHURST
DENNIS FOON
IRENE FRIEDMAN
JOSEPH HUTCHISON
HAROLD OBER
Secretary    lynette duncan
international
A JOURNAL OF
CONTEMPORARY WRITING CONTENTS
VOLUME THIRTEEN     NUMBER THREE
SPRING 1974
EDITORIAL NOTE
4
POETRY
Six Fragments
EMPEDOKLES
20
Three Poems
JOE HUTCHISON
22
Two Poems
KERRY SHAWN KEYS
24
Two Poems
THOMAS HOWE
27
Two Poems
DAVID CONN
28
Three Poems
BRIAN HENDERSON
42
Three Poems
JIRI GOLD
45
Conversations of Madmen
OLDRICH MIKULASEK
48
Seven Poems
HAGIWARA SAKUTARO
60
Clear Water
MARK FRUTKIN
85
Two Poems
CRAIG POWELL
86
Three Poems
ROSALIND MACPHEE
88
Two Poems
DENNIS NOSON
90
Three Poems
JOE ROSENBLATT
98
Four Poems
IRENE FRIEDMAN
100
EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS
MICHAEL DE ST OUEN
65
FICTION
from Nanda's Nurds
JOHN LOWRY
6
Helen Morley's Finger
WALTER BENESCH
9
It Was A Bad Winter
A. SOUTHGATE
30
The Face
PAT LOWTHER
39
Mr. Spoon's Visit
'	
JERRY BUMPUS
73 Strange Fruit harold ober 77
Planets charles brownson 92
Lamb donna e.smyth 102
REVIEW MEREDYTH SAVAGE 107
BOOKS AND PERIODICALS RECEIVED 117
The cover drawing, "The Fall of Icarus," is by Michel de St Ouen, who was
born in Zaire in 1930 and educated in France. He is a self-taught artist. He has
had nineteen one-man shows and has participated in numerous group shows. His
work has been exhibited in the United States, France, Holland, Belgium and
England, where he now lives.
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS APPEAR BESIDE THEIR WORK
DESIGNED AND PRINTED BY MORRISS PRINTING COMPANY LTD., VICTORIA, B.C.
PRISM international, a j'ournal of contemporary writing, is published three
times a year by the Department of Creative Writing at the University of British
Columbia, Vancouver 8, B.C. Annual subscriptions are $5.00, single copies
$1.75, obtainable by writing to the Editors at that address. Microfilm editions
are available from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and reprints
(vols. 1-5) from the Kraus Reprint Corporation, NYC. Editorial Note
FIFTY YEARS OF SURREALISM
1924-1974
PRISM international is not and never has been a surrealist periodical. Nevertheless, unlike the majority of literary magazines in Canada, it has always been willing to open its pages to surrealist writing
and surrealist art that reached what the editors considered a high
degree of excellence — notably extracts from the long poem "Half-
Way from Here to There (a surrealist accusation)" by the Czech
poet Arnost Budik, and reproductions of work by the leading surrealist artists Conroy Maddox, Joe Rose, Rikki and, in this issue,
Michel de St. Ouen. We therefore believe it appropriate to remark
upon the fact that 1974 is surrealism's fiftieth anniversary, if we take
as its birth date the year 1924, which saw the publication of the
First Surrealist Manifesto and Andre Breton's first dictionary definition of surrealism.
What is the position of surrealism today? Repeatedly declared
dead by critics and public alike, it is, in fact, very much alive, both
as a movement whose degree of organization varies from country to
country, and also as a pervasive influence traces of which are visible
in every aspect of literary and artistic life. Poetry, the novel, the
theatre, films are indelibly marked by the liberation brought about
by surrealism and its influence has even penetrated such unlikely
areas as commercial art and shop window display. An appreciation
of the shock value of the unexpected image, the juxtaposition of
apparently unrelated objects, is part of the equipment of every
designer of advertisements and displays. However far removed from
the aims of surrealism the activities of these people may be, their
appropriation of surrealist techniques shows how closely related these
techniques are to the deepest human needs and impulses.
However, surrealism was never intended to be a purely literary
and artistic movement. Its objectives are best summed up in this
sentence from the Second Manifesto of 1930: "Let us remember
that the idea of surrealism aims simply at the total recuperation of
our psychic force by means of what is nothing else but the vertiginous descent within ourselves — a perpetual walk in the forbidden
zone." Surrealism proposed, and still proposes, to transform the individual man and through the individual society. The hope of a
total transformation of society has clearly not yet succeeded, nevertheless the general trend towards freedom in all walks of life is not
without its debt to surrealism, as the French students in revolt against
the state and authority well knew when they wrote on the walls of
the Sorbonne: "Power to the imagination."
Like any movement or idea that has lasted fifty years, surrealism
has undergone certain changes. At the outset, Breton pinned his
primary hopes for an exploration of the depths of the human mind
and the liberation of its riches, for what he called the "mechanism
of intellectual subversion," upon automatic writing and, later, automatic painting and drawing, parallel to "free association" in the
technique of psychoanalysis. With the passage of time, however, the
limitations of purely verbal automatism as a method of liberation
became evident; the dream, after all, while it defies the laws of logic,
has its own inner coherence; however unpredictable they may be,
complete images follow one another in a developing sequence — and
dreams are the most completely unfettered expression of the mind.
The application of surrealism to painting, in particular, showed that
complete automatism was scarcely attainable.
Thus by the end of his life Breton no longer believed that automatism was the only weapon in the surrealist's armoury. The search
for the "marvellous," the liberation of the imagination, the enrichment of the world by what the banished areas of the human mind
contain, can take place through means that are not entirely automatic. Some degree of conscious participation, though not of control,
is entirely permissible. Ultimately this, together with a belief in the
possibility of a constructive purpose, is what came to distinguish
surrealism from its forerunner, Dada.
Since the imagination, and man's desire to transcend what passes
for "reality," are eternal aspects of the human condition, surrealism
— which represents the most complete and intense expression of
both — will never fade into oblivion.
M.B. The following stories are part of a collection entitled Nanda's Nurds. It is John
Lowry's ambition to bring this out in paper with pictures.
from NANDA'S NURDS
JOHN   LOWRY
1
On a Sunday afternoon, I happened to see two police cars parked
in front of my neighbour's home. I put down the paper and leaning
on the back of my chair, spent some time looking at the scene, waiting for some resolution. Quite a while passed. The longer the wait,
the worst it must be I reasoned. He might have had a heart attack;
why, he could have killed his wife, or beaten her to a bloody pulp. I
was just about to give up when four policemen came out — empty
handed. They were smiling and chatting. They got in their cars and
drove off.
I went out and canvassed the neighbours who had waited like
myself. What the hell happened, I asked. No one knew. George
Atkins shrugged; maybe it had something to do with P.A.L. A man
who I did not know said someone had had a seizure but was o.k.
The little knot dissolved. I looked at the house: white, red roofed, it
looked just like mine. A bicycle stood on the porch, and I could see
a lamp burning in the den.
I went back to my home and, after pacing the floor a while, said
the hell anyway, got into my car and headed downtown. I drove by
the Police Station once or twice, seeing nothing unusual, and finally
parked a block away. I had it out with myself, yes, no and maybe,
and decided I couldn't do it. I couldn't go into the Police Station
and ask for information about my neighbour, Wallace Mahoney.
Instead, I drove home, garaged the car, went into the house and
turned on the football game. I poured a drink and settled into my
easy chair. Then, as though on some kind of command, I stood up,
shouted what the hell anyway, and bolting out of the house, made a
bee line for Mahoney's. Along the way, I picked up one of the big,
white-washed rocks at the foot of his driveway, and dancing shamelessly on his immaculate lawn, screamed for him to come out and
face it like a man.
"Come out, you two-faced, lying, yellow, son of a bitch!" And with that: pow, the rock through his living room window.
Well, Mahoney, poor devil, came out all right. He was skinny and
slope shouldered at best, and this afternoon, he looked plumb scared.
I never knew he wore suspenders, and they were hanging down the
sides of his pants.
"Johnny. ..." He stopped to wag his finger. "Johnny, what in
God's name...."
Swinging with all I had, from the shoulder, I powered my fist
into his face. He went down hard, his suspenders swinging.
I guess his wife or someone called the police. It seemed as though
they had been waiting around the corner. Only two this time. They
didn't ask me why, or anything. Just said, in the car. I got in.
A number of years ago, during the Kennedy-Nixon campaign, I
was walking down Fifth Avenue. A short girl with a pale complexion
asked me if I would help elect John F. Kennedy. I told her I didn't
care, really. She explained that there was a great deal to care about;
not to participate in the electorial process was self-defeating. I would
willingly co-operate in my own alienation.
She was an earnest, sweet girl. We had a drink. She talked a lot
about anomie and alienation. She told me to read Fromm, Kahler
and Sartre. She spoke about taking risks, chances. Choosing.
"How about us?" I said, taking her hand.
"Can I trust you?" she replied.
I didn't know what she meant. She explained. She felt I had a
great deal of promise, but I lacked commitment. I should be deepening my awareness through participation in a worthy cause.
"Do you always talk like this?" I asked.
"Please be serious."
"I am serious."
"I'm going to trust you," she said.
Would I come to a Kennedy rally in the Garden that evening?
She would speak to people, find meaningful work for me. I agreed.
"Now?" I said.
She smiled. She didn't smile easily.
We spent the afternoon in the Biltmore hotel. I drank a lot of gin
and, when we weren't making love, listened to the girl. She knew I
was sincere, a good person. I was fine and needed someone to believe
in. I got a bit drunk. I promised to see her again at the Kennedy
rally and meet the people who would put me to work. I took a nap and awoke late. I decided not to go to the Garden
rally, but something about the girl, about the afternoon, impelled
me. It was crowded and I got confused. It took me a long time to
find the right section, and, by then, the rally was in progress. Ken-
nedy was speaking about moving America forward, something like
that, and he looked fine in the spotlight. I found the girl seated in a
box. She was listening intently and taking notes. I smiled and
touched her arm. She started.
"Hi."
She stared blankly.
"Hey, remember me? I'm from the Biltmore."
"Oh," she said, resuming her contemplation of Kennedy. "What
do you want?"
"I'm going to work in the campaign, right?"
"There isn't any. Go away," she said.
Kennedy finished speaking and the girl jumped to her feet,
applauding wildly.
When Henry got his new 30.06 we all got into an argument. It
started with deer hunting and ended up about people. Some of us
said that no one would kill a person: you had to be nuts. Henry and
some other guys laughed. Henry said for a hundred dollars, he
would shoot anyone with the exception of his mother. We took him
on. I put up fifty, a guy named Louis another fifty. We gave him
fifty down, the rest he had to get when he shot someone. He said he
would do it from his roof by the end of the week. We could all
watch from the window in my place.
There was some excitement. If he didn't shoot anyone, we got the
rifle. Every night, we watched Henry from my place. We could see
him on the roof, pacing, and sitting down with the rifle across his
knees. Sometimes, he aimed at pigeons and, twice, we saw him
following some jerk corning down the block. We thought he meant
it: he squatted down, so all you could see was the top of his head
and the rifle sticking out from behind the chimney. He followed
people right to the coiner, but nothing happened.
The week went by. It was a Friday night. We were all watching
him. He had only a couple of hours left. All of a sudden, he stands
up. He's barefoot. We see him put the rifle in his mouth. There was
nothing we could do. He won the bet. Walter Benesch is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of
Alaska. He has studied both in the U.S. and in Europe and holds a Ph.D. from
the Leopold Franzens University in Austria. He has contributed to a number of
little magazines and a collection of his stories will be published next year by
Hellric Publications.
HELEN MORLEY'S FINGER
WALTER   BENESCH
The owner of the delicatessen down the street is fascinated by the
middle finger on Helen Morley's right hand. Saturdays when she
does her shopping he nibbles her in the mirrors of mirrors up and
down the aisles where she squeezes along from the bread to the
bananas, thumps canned goods and watermelons (in season). No
matter how firmly the rest of the hand commits itself to a tomato's
ripeness, a grape's state of juice, the finger stands rigid, ready like
some wild animal sentinel to spring... as if possessed of the same
rabbit fear that peers from her wet, gray eyes above the little
peroxided moustache. Her narrow face is streamlined in a bun at
the back of her head to offer less wind resistance in flight.
He never stops her, partly from pity, partly from respect for her
deceased father — a wealthy attorney. A strong, fierce man who
had served as an officer in France in World War I and always wore
at least one of his medals attached to his lapel. " . .. a real tiger he
was . . . yes sir! I remember once I'd took some kolbassa up to the
apartment. . . she was at work and the old guy let me in hisself. My
god, what a place! Heads on the walls and all that African stuff, but
real ones . . . and he'd shot 'em all hisself over there. Well, he seen
how interested I was and he told me about each one of 'em and how
he'd almost been eat a hundred times by elephants and lions and
giraffes. But the damndest thing, right there on the mantle, was this
glass of stuff . . . looked like water . . . and a hand in it! Of course I
knew he'd lost one . . . someplace in the first war he said, he'd been
trapped in a tank or something like that. He wasn't keen to talk
about it and I didn't want to pry. . . but there it was, the old guy
still had it staren at 'im . . . damndest thing I ever seen ..."
Her mother had passed on while Helen was quite small and she
had been raised by the cook. Her father was too seldom home to assume much of this sort of task. When she was 16, he fired the cook
and Helen took her place.
That she might not waste her time when he wasn't there to be
cared for, he sent her to a secretarial school. "... either a woman
marries to raise a family and keep house, or she learns to feed herself. You've got a house and your own family to take care of so
there's no need for marriage — but when I'm gone you'll have to
take care of yourself . . . that way you've got the best of both cakes of
cheese and with no man around your neck who's a bum. ..."
Halfway through the secretarial course she was in a car accident.
He was driving and drunk — a pity as he said because otherwise
she might have sued. Helen broke her right arm in two places and
lost her middle finger. At school she had to shift her finger pattern
on the typewriter, but graduated at the top of her class. The same
automobile accident injured the reflex in her left foot so that as she
walks its gentle flapping raises small puffs of dust in the summer, of
snow in the winter.
She got a job in the secretarial pool of one of his client's firms.
After typing all day, she dusted the stuffed heads, vacuumed the
rugs and prepared dinner. Before he became bedridden he took her
cheque at the end of the month and gave her an allowance. Later,
when constant care was necessary the cheque went to the string of
male nurses who wrestled the old "tiger."
Any secretary new to the pool is confounded by the phenomenon
of will and skill that the fastest and most accurate of the typists is
missing the entire middle finger of her right hand! And every newcomer is quickly forced to select a side in the controversy that fives
in the coffee room on Helen Morley's gloves.
To conceal her deformity, Helen wears gloves at all seasons to and
from the pool — the sleeve of the missing digit is stuffed with wool
fuzz and when she relaxes her right hand, the sleeve points like an
asparagus stalk at the passing day.
One school of thought, with Ruth Thompson in charge, insists
the stuffed glove is an intolerable absurdity. "She's certainly no
beauty, no one's arguing that, but why should she go out of her way
to make herself ridiculous?" "... and she's always catching it on
things and in doors..." "... it just makes it worse, I've seen the
way people stare at her on the street and in the stores. ..."
The other and larger school by one, is led by Ruth's rival for
10 section supervisor, Alice Crowder. Not so outspoken as Ruth, Alice
brings a more subtle psychological insight to her point of view. "But
that's it, the poor dear needs anything she can get to bolster her
soggy ego." "If it helps let her do it." "... that's no worse than
bleaching her moustache ..."
Occasionally, through promotion or pregnancy, the balance shifts
from one side to the other, but the change is never so solid that one
of the leaders might feel secure enough to speak to Helen Morley
directly about the glove. That other people notice her is certainly
true. Most of them assume, like the owner of the delicatessen, that
she has a "severed tendon" and are not faced with the enlightened
choice of the members of the pool.
Helen Morley's interest in the pool, for as long as those who work
there can remember, has never gone beyond typing at great speed
what she is fed to reproduce. She drinks no coffee with the girls.
Lunches alone. Rumour intimates that she is "Mormon", though
one of the girls claims to have "seen her drinking coffee in Wool-
worth's one Saturday .. . she thinks she's fooling us ... "
She doesn't drink coffee nor does she think herself better than the
others. A childhood of stuffed animals' glass glances and the old
man's pickled rages early atrophied all self assurance — and coffee
and alcohol upset her stomach. Helen likes the delicatessen's "mild
green tea . . . with the tang of distant adventure sealed in every bag
at the factory!"
The death of her father has altered the substructure of Helen's
world little. His "goddammit woman, where's the you know what!?"
no longer disturbs her sleep, but the glazed animal stares that spied
on her while he was alive now post their observations to him beyond
the grave where someday he will confront her with all she has done
or neglected to do in his absence. The raised trunk of the elephant
still threatens obscenely to seize her when she dusts it. But she is
more afraid not to dust. The tiger's promised roar reminds her of
her father's flawless teeth arched in a grimace when something
displeased him.
In the evening the tall, thick shaded floor lamps light smokey fires
in the yellows and oranges of their eyes. On the high, dim ceiling
antelope prongs fence vast parallelograms around the elephant's
tusked erection. Deer, intent on the marlin above the buffet point
their ears for the lion sounds of dripping saliva. When she turns the
lamps off, the room is thick with their waiting. Even though she
11 sleeps with the door to her bedroom locked, she hears them whispering beyond the wall.
The apartment exudes the dark, masculine scent of the hunt. It is
as strong in the kitchen where half full bottles of expensive gins,
whiskies, brandies still throng the cupboards, as in the bathroom
where three straight razors, two shaving mugs, and a year's supply
of shaving soap live in the medicine chest. Only in her room is there
a break in the pattern. The rug a little brighter. The high ceiling
kept at a distance by a spiraling lace canopy over the bed. The
smells from the bottles on the dressing table thin the dense musk that
comes in the open door.
After his death she thought of subletting part of the enormous
apartment, but was afraid of the heads . . . besides ... he would not
approve. A guilty glance at the glass containing the hand on the
mantle scattered such thoughts.
She had deliberated before the burial whether the hand should
be enclosed in the coffin? "We can attach it in the sleeve and with
a little colouring it would appear it had never been severed. ..."
the mortician had assured her when she asked his advice. For sentimental reasons she hadn't included it. After all it was a part of her
father, and that as a young man before the world had superimposed
its cares upon him. There was a picture next to the hand of the
virile young officer in his high collared uniform, his hair slicked
back, the two hands folded in his lap. She liked to think that the
hand in the glass ... by some miracle had never aged the way its
companion had. The other was eroded with swollen veins flowing
about arthritic mounds. Its muscles helpless to lift it from the sheets.
(Almost the same miracle might have happened to her finger ... if
it had been salvagable and salvaged . . . ?) Besides . . . those terrible
heads couldn't really hurt her with the young officer's hand
there . .. ?
The picture frame she covered with black ribbon, but the hand
.. . black seemed inappropriate .. . Six months after the funeral, in
desperate loneliness she placed a little bud vase near the glass and
kept a fresh red rose in it. Gradually the animals shed their terrors
as if the rose met their approval. They stopped whispering. Their
eyes glazed. They slept.
Once when she returned later than usual from the office — several
of the girls had been ill — as she stopped before the door to search
for her key, the finger caught in the straps of her purse and she
dropped everything in trying to disengage it. Coins rolled in all
12 directions. She bent to retrieve them and heard the crash of breaking glass from the apartment. When she opened the door the air
smelled of alcohol.
The marble hearth was covered with glass splinters, both the
bottle and the vase had fallen and broken. The hand and the rose
lay together on the pile rug a few inches further away. "My God,
My God!" — her eyes raced about the room seeking an explanation,
paused briefly at the elephant's head as though suspecting his trunk,
but that was too far ... he couldn't have . . . ?
She picked up the hand and laid it gently on her handkerchief on
the table. This was the first time she had ever seen it out of the fluid
or touched it. It was firm and slightly warm as though the fireplace
had been burning?
She emptied what rubbing alcohol she could find into a fruit jar
and then, without cleaning up the mess, rushed to the all night drugs
on 2nd Avenue for another quart.
How could it have happened? An earth tremor? A passing subway train that she had missed in the excitement of finding her
keys . . . ?
The next day she bought a new bud vase and two rose buds.
Three days before Christmas a light, dry snow was falling. It had
begun about noon and some of the girls had used the "blizzard" as
an excuse to leave early. At 4:30 Mrs. Calvin from Accounting
brought in a stack of "admonition" letters on various overdue
accounts. Because the accounts were all of them sizable and Mrs.
Calvin wanted to be firm without antagonizing, each letter softened
the sharp black of its numerals with the pastel of its individual tone.
Each would have to be typed separately. Mrs. Calvin retreated to
Accounting. A couple more girls vanished on the way to the supply
room. At five Helen and two others remained to finish the stack.
It was seven before she left. An inch and a half of powder swirled
underfoot — too dry to pack except where an underground source
of warmth took the subzero chill off the ground and melted an ice
flow across the walks. There was no wind and the broken reflex in
her foot cast a snow shadow several times larger than the shoe.
"I've got to get some mittens" she thought—-then she could
leave the gloves with their dilemma at home. She knew of the
controversy, but avoided it like she avoided the animal eyes and his
half full bottles of whiskey in the cupboards . . . though sometimes
13 she thought of opening them and drowning all those heads in their
contents! But. . . then where would it stop? Wouldn't she drown
too? Why didn't she want to drown?! No! ... to think that way!
She tried to visualize him, sitting silent, solid at the table — unable
to do this, at least recall the photo on the mantle. The young man's
hand next to it. These visions almost always steadied her.
When she opened the door on the dark apartment, she heard a
strange sound like a great cat lightly padding across the blackness.
She quickly turned on the light in the entry way and tried to peer
into the living room. The room exposed in the door's trapezoid was
vague and noncommittal. She switched on the floor lamp. The room
was as she had left it, yet changed .. . She did not look at the heads.
Glanced at the photo to steady her nerves. Saw that the lid was off
the fruit jar and drops of alcohol were scattered near the glass? The
hand didn't appear to have been disturbed . . . had someone been in
the room . . . opened the glass . . . ?!
As she co-ordinated her various sense impressions with possible
explanations, a terrible feeling of another presence in the room
pressed against the back of her neck. Should she scream . . . run out
into the hall! ? She edged back to the door, opened it, and backed
into the rows of locked apartments. They assured her enough that
she could examine the lock on the door. There was no evidence that
it had been forced. No scratches on the key plate or wood frame.
Down the hall a door opened and a couple came out. Stared at
her, then walked toward the elevator. The man pressed the button.
"The Wilsons" . . . she recognized them and quickly limped back
into her own entry way. She knew they were watching her. She
closed the door.
Most of the people on the landing she knew from the elevator, but
like her father she avoided any closer acquaintance. A cold formality
separated all the entries from one another. The inhabitants had
their interests and friends abroad.
The sight of the Wilsons had sobered her enough that she could
return to the living room. The apartment door had not been pried,
there was no disturbance except on the mantle? She turned on the
lights in the other rooms. No one. The $20 bill in the corner of her
mirror was still there. She put the lid on the jar and wiped up the
alcohol stains where the liquid had now dried.
In the kitchen she warmed a TV dinner. She didn't want to sit in
the living room with the heads ... it was almost as if they had been
awakened again. After supper she went to her room to read in bed.
14 She wouldn't look at the ceiling even in her room and was glad that
the canopy was there between the white sheets and the vault.
For several days after Christmas she couldn't approach the outer
door without her fear returning. She was anxious in all the rooms of
the apartment except her own. Began to take her supper there to eat
on the dressing table. She moved the photo from the mantle to the
table in the living room that like a talisman it might restore the
apartment to normal.
Beyond her closed door at night she occasionally heard the animals
whispering again. Sometimes she awoke in the dark with a start —
had she sensed some peculiar sound in her sleep? . . . listened intently
till the clock fractured the darkness with its alarming scream .. .
Finally, she moved the photo and the fruit jar into her room onto
the dressing table. For several nights slept soundly.
The temperatures outside dropped steadily. The only pauses in
the cold came in late January in short bursts of moist air and heavy
snow. Many of the girls were absent with the flu. Her health held.
Nothing more serious than an occasional headache. Toward the end
of February she developed a harsh cough and a mild fever. By this
time the situation in the pool was critical. Almost half the girls were
gone. She did not feel she could stay away from work even a single
day.
In the middle of one particularly taxing afternoon, plagued by a
splitting headache and light nausea, she left her typewriter to join
the others for coffee — certain that she would not make it through
the afternoon without some sort of drastic assistance. .. perhaps
coffee. . .
The fact that most of the absent girls were from the other side
gave Ruth courage and she began a conversation which moved from
surprise that Helen did drink coffee after all, to a comment about
how pale she was, to pleasant agreement with the fact that she was
now wearing mittens, to the question whether or not she knew how
ridiculous the stuffed glove made her look? It didn't fool anybody.
Helen mumbled something and took the paper cup to her desk —
a serious breach of one of the pool's rules. No one protested.
At home she didn't bother to heat a TV dinner but went straight
to her room, took two aspirin and went to bed.
About midnight she was suddenly awakened. Something had
happened in the room! As she lay still, holding her heart back, trying to recall what she might have heard on the periphery of sleep
. .. she noticed a dripping sound coming from the dressing table.
15 She switched on the light above her head and got up. The jar lay on
its side, the lid off, alcohol dribbled onto the dressing bench. The
hand lay on the floor.
There wasn't anyone else in the room, the door was locked still...
she even checked out the closet and glanced under the bed. She
stooped to pick up the hand. The fall had spread the fingers and in
order to return it to the glass she had to force them back in place.
As she pressed them together she found them as warm and plastic as
her own ... a shudder flowed up her arm. She began to cry in
convulsing gasps. She half fell, half sat on the edge of the bed,
unconscious that she still clutched the hand until several minutes
later a firm pressure on her own fingers startled her!
The well preserved reflexes in the hand, reacting to the nervousness of her grip, had closed the fingers about her own. The clasp of
the fingers was at once sobering and comforting, almost tender, in a
way the old man had certainly never been. For a moment she was
overwhelmed by her own loneliness. Still holding the hand firmly
gripped around her own she walked over to the photograph. The
young man there in his uniform was straight and sober, but the eyes
were kindly . . . the old man's eyes had been bloodshot and inflamed
from alcohol and too many trips to the sun.
She returned the hand to the glass, the reflexes continuing to
resist her attempts to disengage the fingers. After she had cleaned
what she could of the alcohol from the rug she lay awake for a long
time trying to find herself in all that crowded in on her splitting
head. The animals fortunately were not whispering. The apartment
was quiet.
As she finally slept the young soldier with the high collar and
kindly eyes gently opened her door and led her by the hand through
the wall and out into a grassy valley where animals of indistinct sorts
and sizes roamed along the ridges. The two of them sat down on a
small sandy knoll. He was pointing at something in the distance. ..
she couldn't quite understand what he was saying — the voice she
knew was that of a fractious old man . . .and this was another's. As
she strained to see what he intended, she noticed that on the rim
before them the animals had stopped moving aimlessly and had
begun descending the slopes — sideways... as though to conceal
their intent. Even at that distance even before she could clearly
distinguish their forms, she could see the hard yellow-orange eyes.
He seemed oblivious to their movements. When she tried to speak,
she couldn't. . .
16 She attempted to rise, but her legs were lost in the sand ... he was
still pointing in the distance. The pressure of his hand on hers began
to increase, timed it seemed to the approach of the animals . .. then
he did see them .. . ? The greater the hurt the closer they came .. .
so close she could now hear them breathing, their paws sliding
through the grass . . . and still he sat there ... !
The cold shock of her sweating awakened her. The cover had
slipped from the bed. The first signs of the sun fired the canopy's
lace. As she turned to retrieve the blanket she rolled onto something
hard in bed. Raising herself on her elbow she found the hand ... its
fingers twisted into her gown. She recoiled so violently that it rolled
onto the floor with a gentle thump. She must have fetched it in her
sleep . . . the overturned jar lay on the rug near the bench . ..
For the third time she picked it up. It was warm from her body
heat and soft to the touch, the fingers as pliable as with some living
thing.
She straightened the jar and started to place the hand into it.
Suddenly the gentle pressure of the dream was back. She attempted
to disengage the fingers with her left hand, but the pressure increased
at once and began to hurt! The warmed reflexes held her fast. It
was impossible to turn it loose, the pressure relaxed when she relaxed . . . but was there immediately if she tried to put the hand into
the bottle . ..
She could see the animals along the walls. Fell over the bench
and against the dressing table, knocking the jar to the floor. A cream
container rolled off on top of it and shattered it. In the fall the hand
relaxed its grip but she didn't notice. She squatted on the floor on
her knees for several minutes before she realized the hand was lying
quietly on the dressing table. How had it come there . . . ?
The grandfather clock in the living room began striking . . . 9:00
. . . years of habit took motor control over her groping mind and
carried her into the bathroom, dressed her and walked her out the
door. Even the idea of lateness, the first time in ten years, did not
reach a conscious plane until she was already on the bus and surrounded by women with small children instead of gray office
workers.
Mrs. Calvin stopped by her desk to collect some forms that afternoon that she had left there earlier in the day . .. they were still untyped ... "Are you ill" .. . concerned and not unkindly. Mrs. Calvin
respected her, "one of the girls one can always count on . .. of course
she has her peculiarities . .. I've never seen anyone quite so... so
17 . . . withdrawn . . . yes .. . withdrawn . . . sort of dried up, you know,
like a prune..."
"Go home, dear, and go to bed. It must be the flu. I'll get one of
the other girls to take care of these ..."
She was not only having hallucinations, was late for work .. . and
now. . . what had happened? Where had she been all day!? She
couldn't neglect her work . . . there wasn't anything else! By four it
was obvious she couldn't sit at her desk any longer. The typographical errors completely corroded the pages.
What awaited her at home? She couldn't clearly recall the events
of the previous night. She didn't want to. At the drugs she purchased
another quart of alcohol and bought an attractive coloured candy
jar with sealing lid. At the apartment paused before the door and
listened. There were only the normal hall noises.
In the apartment the evening's half light coated everything with
a thick dusk. Taking her hat off she went into the kitchen, the
brightest room when the light was on, and made a pot of strong tea.
After she had had two cups she took her coat off and laid it over a
chair . . . went into the living room.
The sun had set and the room was quickly darkening. She did not
turn on the lights. Washed her face in the bath before going into her
room. Here in the bedroom, because it had a south window, there
was more light and she could make out the form of the tumbled bed
through the thin lace curtain. She hesitated for several minutes in
the doorway, staring at the receding light on the window drape. She
did not look in the direction of the dressing table . ..
When it became too dark to see, she switched on the ceiling light.
Blinked in its brightness. .. quickly and brusquely walked to the
dressing table. The hand lay exactly as she had left it. Cold and stiff
now. She picked it up with her handkerchief and hastened to the
kitchen. .. the increasing warmth came through the cloth and the
stiff fingers began to relax.
She set it on the sink drain to unpack the candy glass. Fetched
from the cupboard what was left of the rubbing alcohol. Out of the
corner of her eye she thought she saw a finger move . . .
She grabbed the half empty bottle from among the whiskeys that
flanked it and returned to the sink. The lid slipped out of her
nervous fingers and clattered into the basin. The sound of metal on
metal startled her and she spilled some of the contents onto her
hand. It was cold. A thin, antiseptic smell wrinkled her nose.
She glanced at the lid resting on the drain, bent slightly to retrieve it. Her finger and thumb, however, instead of seizing the lid closed
on the knob of the drain. She lifted the cover out and looked at its
holes as though trying to remember what the strainer was for?
From the strainer to the candy glass.. . her eyes skimmed over
the white form on the counter. . . had it moved? She dropped the
strainer onto the drain board and seized the hand. Before her nerves
had time to register its texture, she stuffed it stump first into the
basin's cavity. Turned on the disposal and the hot water ... shoving
the fingers down with the dish brush. There was a dull edge to the
sound for a moment as the grinders caught the bones, then the water
drained the sounds off. . . she poured the rubbing alcohol into the
sink, emptied the new bottle after it. Went to the cupboard and
seized the first two bottles. . . dumped one of them in, started to
empty the second but changed her mind and placed the neck to her
lips, coughed, spit, and pulled another mouthful in and down.
The kitchen smelled of good bourbon. Steam covered the window
above the sink. She threw the empty bottle into the basin where it
broke, sending splinters into and around the grinding hole. A speck
of blood appeared on her forehead. She took her coat from the chair,
the gloves from its pocket and pushed them into the disposal. From
the utility drawer removed a screwdriver and ran into the living
room, perched on one chair then another began prying the eyes out
of the heads. Whenever she had a handful she dropped them down
the hole which belched a sandy response. After she had the
elephant's eyes she fetched a hammer and shattered his tusks. The
head hung askew, the trunk was twisted .. .
... as she pushed the fragments of tusk into the steaming neck,
she remembered the photo in the bedroom! When she tilted the
frame to remove the picture, she suddenly noticed the plate behind
the srlass was blank . . .
J9 EMPEDOKLES
SIX FRAGMENTS
Translated from the Greek by Robert Bringhurst
FRAGMENT 57
Maxillae went into motion without mandibles,
arms walked naked, unhinged from their shoulders,
eyeballs wandered without brows .. .
FRAGMENT 61
A lot of them sprouted sternums and eyes on both sides.
Ungulates with human faces, also the opposite,
oxheaded bipeds appeared. Other mixtures: creatures
part man and part woman, with umbrous broadleaf limbs.
FRAGMENT 62
This is how the fire, as it separated, germinated
the night-flowering seedlings of human beings. Listen.
The lesson is relevant and full of information. Listen.
Crooked forms imprinted out of earth existed first.
They were partly water and partly opaque shape. Fire
desired to arrive at its own image, therefore fire
forced them into flower. They had at that time no limbs,
nor the hand and the lonely voice which join in a man.
FRAGMENT 105
. . . tumbling in the surf and undertow
of blood, where the thing called thought is. Thought
is, in fact, the blood around the human heart.
20 FRAGMENT 115
There is an instrument of mandamus, an edict issued
long ago by the gods. It does not expire. It is sealed
edge to edge with promises. It says that whenever
one of the demons who are doomed to immortality hexes
his hands, commits a murder or perjury, he is to be
banished for three hundred centuries. He is to be born
into mortal bodies, exiled from happiness, inhabiting
one incarnation of pain after another. The high air's charge
chases him into the sea and the sea deposits him
in the dirt. He is seized by the sunlight, and the sun
drives him back into the undertow of air. Each one takes him
from the other but none of them offers him shelter.
I am one of these, a vagrant, a refugee from gods.
Me. I believe in a drunken brawl.
FRAGMENT 127
They come among the animals as mountain cats,
and among the broadleaf trees in the forms of laurels.
Empedokles (c. 490 - c. 430 B.C.), Greek poet and physician, was born and
lived at Akragas (now Agrigento) on the south coast of Sicily. Of his two long
poems, Peri Physeos and Katharmoi, fragments remain. Of his other work
nothing survives. Recent scholarship suggests that he may have died in the
Peloponnese, instead of diving into the mouth of Mount Etna, as tradition
claims, (cf. The immortal lines quoted by Bertrand Russell: Great Empedocles,
that ardent soul,/Leapt into Aetna and was roasted whole.)
Robert Bringhurst is the author of two books of poems, — The Shipwright's
Log and Cadastre, both published by Kanchenjunga Press. He now lives in
Vancouver.
21 THREE POEMS BY JOE HUTCHISON
WELL
going on as I
do just
gabbing across the pillows
comes
the sudden faint
pressure of
lips
my
brain (that
bucket of darkness)
drops
& you pull it
up
full
of fire
& silence
SKY FOUNTAIN
The river dives
down from a slit
in the sky
white froth a shout
on the rocks
but here the stream slows
slivers of light flicker
in the small coves
along the bank in the clear
eyes of water
22 FOR PABLO NERUDA
d. September 1973
You held forth the pure rose
wrapping the cut
stem in the weather
of your blood
a storm
darkening
the numberless
white petals
till
heavy with color
they fell
and fall
continually
death-ripe syllables
volcanic rains
that sing
as they kiss
the black wet earth
Joe Hutchison's poems have appeared in Abraxas, New: American and Canadian Poetry, Lamp In The Spine, Concerning Poetry and Edge. He lives in
Vancouver and has recently obtained an M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing at
the University of British Columbia.
23 TWO POEMS BY KERRY SHAWN KEYS
LUNA MOTH
All dark's evening
where love hides
in an iron age,
I've waited for you,
green daughter
of walnut and moon.
Like a fire
tending your silver flight,
my heart
opens
all its windows
and describes
a shield of fight,
an endless orbit
of silk
through
the Yellow Pines.
Butterfly of beryl and darkness,
blind lunar mask, flared moth
swept from an emerald sky,
kissing
your vesper dust
of lilac and lavender
I uncover
an azure tint of water,
the azalea
pulsing
in coppered loam
of the outer night.
24 I love only you;
the green rhythm
of your powdered wings
lulling me like
jade-water under
laurel,
the scented filament
of our embrace
threading
a final moon
to the earth.
25 FIRE
Without flint,
without sun,
fire found the worm's highway,
grooved out the blood-channel,
bellowed the heartsmith,
scorched the flesh
into light.    Light out of light,
fire in fire, dusked were the eyes of men
full of fire, the salamander
emblazoned his ashes
under rock.
Now fire
from the fallen fireman's glove,
fire in the palm of his hand;
fire in the wood,
in the seed, the ash.    Fire
around the curtain's tail.    Fire
where the hellbender
circles the river's mouth.    Fire
hissing from its book.
Fire in the reed,
fire in the thief's throat,
in the giant's eye,
on the bird's beak; fire
when firestone flows,
fire behind the firewall,
fire where the dwarfed amphibian bums,
fire where his flaming tongue
eats through the blood's blue asbestos.
Kerry Shawn Keys is the author of one book, Swallow Tails Gather These
Stones (Kanchenjunga Press) and has had poems in variouc U.S. magazines.
He has an MA. in writing from Indiana University and now teaches at a college
near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
26 TWO POEMS BY THOMAS HOWE
THE SNOW FIELD
I am in a snow field with sparrows in my eyes,
We climb with unnecessary effort.
No one will explain a salmon.
The snow has been scorched white
And down the valley flies the eagle;
He waits for the mole to penetrate the light.
All the snow will melt, become water
And drive down the valley; I will try to drown.
Sparrows peck eyes, I'm told they taste like shrimp.
I will waste no effort in the gathering snow,
And after the flake has completed a final turn,
I will await the eagle.
THE HOUR
The winters are colder now
Beneath wet shoes the frozen ground jumps at me
And the snow translates the language of the city.
When you are angry and sick in your house
With all the things I did not do to you
All my complaints will petrify with the soil.
Tonight I will be standing in the Plaza and
I know that one after one the pieces of ice that
Spell my name will break and flash.
These things have happened to us before.
They say there is an hour in winter
That freezes out the inside of your heart.
Thomas Howe has had one volume of poetry published entitled There Is The
Sunshine. One short story has previously appeared in The Canadian Fiction
Magazine. He studied Creative Writing at U.B.C. He is currently making a
documentary film on Al Purdy at Loyola College.
27 TWO POEMS BY DAVID CONN
SCHLOSS HEIDELBERG
Coming from a land
of wood,
I can't conceive
the age that raised
this hilltop citadel.
Overgrown, bombed
in successive wars,
its foundations are carved
out of the mountain.
In my country the stones
speak for themselves
and the ancestral lodges
have sunk into the ground
without trace.
There is no echo
to follow back,
only a worn cobble
from the main court
to carry away in my pack.
As we cross the drawbridge
a shadow of wind
crests up the valley,
bleeding through walls
where flowers are easing
open the chinks.
28 YOUR ISLAND
(for Noona)
Inside
winter nights,
skin becomes
a manuscript,
set into silver
daguerrotype,
then crumpled
and touched
to flame. In
the pale spaces
around words,
tears polish
a cheekbone,
the winter sea
honing its
thin beach.
David Conn grew up in rural Quebec, and has now settled in Vancouver. He
holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of British Columbia.
29 A. Southgate is a graduate of the Creative Writing Department of the University of British Columbia and is at present living and writing on Babine Lake in
B.C. This is his first publication.
IT WAS A BAD WINTER
A.   SOUTHGATE
It was a bad winter. There had been no thaws. Snow accumulated
on the ice. When the ice cracked from expansion, water came
through and formed slush beneath the snow. The slush, protected,
didn't freeze. The lake was uniformly white — impossible to tell
where the slush lay just below the surface and where it was deep.
Helmut and Janie came back to the landing at the end of
February. Early in the day they set out to snowshoe across. No one
had been more than a few hundred feet from the shore.
It was heavy going. Wet snow piled on their large bear paws. The
muscles along the inside of their legs ached, then burned, then
screamed. They stopped to remove the snow from their snowshoes.
The lake was a hundred and twenty miles long. Their place was
half way along the length of it and on the side where there were no
roads. It was like living on an island. The only way there was over
water — fifteen miles.
Open water holes quietly bubbled as air, trapped under the ice,
worked its way to freedom. Helmut and Janie ploughed a heavy
furrow around them . . . without stopping . . . propelled by fear.
Away from the holes they stopped often to clear their snowshoes. At
dusk they were still on the lake with a long way to go. It began to
be difficult to see the open water holes. The dark outline of the hill
that was the background to their cabin kept them moving.
About an hour after dusk Janie fell and had difficulty getting up.
They had been forcing themselves since early in the day. She fell
again and Helmut had to help her up. When it became necessary
for Helmut to help her walk he realized it would be easier to carry
her — otherwise it simply meant that they both fell. They left her
snowshoes behind.
30 Helmut had packed moose quarters many miles, but never in
deep slush. With Janie on his back he could walk ten steps before
he had to stop. Janie figured he moved two feet forward with each
step. By the landmarks she could tell they still had a mile to go. Five
thousand two hundred and eighty feet. If he made ten steps between
stops he would have to do it twenty-six . . . no . . . two hundred sixty-
four .. . Jesus. She counted out loud for him. Instead of going ten
steps in each lot he went twelve but Janie counted it as ten. That
way they would get there ahead of the calculated number of lots.
He also made an effort to go more than two feet with each step. She
refrained, however, from calculating how much earlier they would
arrive.
The effort of the steps articulated itself into the counting. It began
to seem as though the counting were the difficult part. The numbers
had to work hard to drag the steps behind them. If Janie could
count faster Helmut would surely be able to step faster. But Janie
kept a steady pace.
It became hard to get going again after each stop. Helmut's
muscles simply wouldn't work until the message coursed through his
body with overriding authority. Janie suggested he try twenty
(twenty-two) steps at a time. He did it.
It was all a matter of counting. If Janie lost track Helmut would
be finished. She couldn't allow her mind to wander — even if she
had to make Helmut stop in the middle of a lot to recalculate and
organize. Once, when Helmut had completed a lot of twenty, he
looked and saw open water a few feet away. As Helmut made his
way back and around it, Janie clung to the count and struggled to
compute the number of steps that would have to be added because
of the detour.
Even when they passed the point that was the beginning of their
harbour — only a hundred and fifty feet to go — Janie continued
counting, calculating, straining to keep track. It was a long mile.
It took an hour or so to get the cabin warmed. Their ancient
wood cookstove was slow to build to a good steady heat and it was
cold in the cabin. Once they had recovered a little, with the stove
blazing and the lamps lit, they had a closer look around.
The year before, when they had arrived back from their sojourn
in the city, a packrat had been in the cabin and more or less demolished it — chewed a little bit of everything and dragged the
31 remains to a huge pile in the middle of the floor. This time there
were some mouse droppings but no serious damage.
In the morning they could barely get out of bed. It was the sort
of pain that made them weak with laughing when they tried to
move.
In the afternoon Helmut dug a path to the outhouse. Janie took
stock of the preserves. Except for some fish that had come unsealed
and some pickled onions that had gone mushy their large stock of
food was intact.
When Helmut came in Janie showed him the bucket where they
put all the kitchen wastes to be composted. It was nearly full of
beans from a large bag of kidney beans they had left in the porch.
Kidney beans were just the thing packrats love to get into. There
was no sign of packrat.
But how did the beans get into the bucket? There was room under
the door for a mouse but only just, and it seemed impossible for a
mouse to carry anything up the sides of the bucket -— sheer metal.
And where were they now?
Helmut dug trails to the shop, basement, woodshed, septic tank.
He dug out the snowmobile and started it. He would have to make
two trips across the lake to pick up supplies to last them until conditions were better for crossing or until the ice broke up and they could
use their boat.
He left early in the morning and followed the convoluted swath
they had made coming over. The slush had frozen where it was
exposed and, although it was bumpy, he had no trouble staying on
the surface. The snowmobile was safer than snowshoeing but he
didn't waste any time getting by the open water holes. He stopped
once to pick up Janie's snowshoes.
On the other side he loaded the toboggan lightly with supplies
from the van. He didn't want to overload the toboggan for fear it
would break through the crust on the trail. The lake invited and he
crossed.
When they had unloaded, Janie took Helmut into the cabin again
and showed him the bags of sugar they had left behind the armchair
in the corner. The mice had been there, eaten some sugar, left some
dung and some beans. They decided it must have been mice that
had taken it there. But mysteries remained.
The mice had obviously moved in when Helmut and Janie
moved out in the fall. But what could have enticed them to move
out again? — out of a comparatively warm nest? .. . away from an
32 abundant and varied supply of food? The dung looked fresh and
there was lots of it. Why hadn't they heard or seen them? Did the
mice sense humans coming and move out just before they arrived?
Or were they abandoning ship for other reasons? Was the roof going
to fall in from the weight of the snow? ... a tree going to fall on the
house?. . . the foundations give out? How did they get the beans
into the compost bucket? Helmut and Janie descended into comic
paranoia, laughed at each other, and rebagged the sugar.
The following day Helmut took the snowmobile across the lake
again. It had snowed and the trail was hard to find. In some places
the slush had seeped into the trail beneath the new snow.
On the other side he took the van out to the town and bought
fresh vegetables and meat. By the time he got back the weather was
beginning to warm up. He loaded the toboggan quickly and headed
across the lake.
By now the slush had moved in where he had passed in the
morning. It was too warm for it to freeze. The slush thrown back by
the two churning tracks of the snowmobile built up on the toboggan
and weighted it down. In the valleys between the drifts the toboggan
dug in and caused the tracks to spin. Helmut leaned as far forward
as he could to take the weight off the back. He rocked from side to
side to get the tracks clear and give them new footing. He made it
home but the trail was covered in slush behind him. Unless there
was a severe frost he would not be able to cross again.
Janie had the mysteries solved. Cleaning the pantry she had
pulled out the five gallon crock from under the bottom shelf. Like
the compost bucket it had kidney beans in it. Under the beans she
had found a nest made of a skein of wool she had not realized was
missing. She pulled it carefully apart. In the nest were eight mouse
tails, neatly severed and rejected. The mice had eaten each other.
It rained. The snow packed and melted. It rained again. In a few
days all the snow on the lake had turned to slush and it was impossible to move on the ice. Helmut and Janie were isolated.
Several days passed with no change in the condition of the lake.
There were still many things in the van that they wanted. They
waited for freezing weather and another trip.
Water ran off through cracks in the ice. Overnight the ice lifted,
pushing up the remaining slush so that the lake appeared white and
solid. They recognized the initial stage of the long breakup process
33 that would eventually release them. In the meantime the lake,
despite appearances, was still covered with enough slush to make it
impossible to cross. And the breakup wasn't until May. In March it
seemed unlikely that they would have no more freezing weather.
Nevertheless, it was conceivable that it might not freeze enough or
that it would be too late, with the ice already too far gone on the
shoreline, to make the lake traversable. It was possible that they
would be isolated for a long time.
Janie kept busy.
Above the stove on the sleeping balcony she had two staggered
lots of Moong beans sprouting in cut-off plastic milk containers.
They had to be rinsed with water once or twice daily. Each lot took
five days to sprout completely and then she started a new lot.
On the windowsill by the sink she had a ginger-beer plant in a
tall open jar. She fed it every day with a spoonful of ginger and a
spoonful of sugar. The plant moved constantly up and down the jar
in its own liquid, leaving a trail of yeasty bubbles behind it. Every
seven days Janie strained off the liquid, put in a gallon of water with
the juice from a couple of lemons and bottled it off to age for three
weeks. The plant went back on the windowsill to repeat its cycle.
In the same manner she kept a sourdough starter for bread. She
made bread every four days or so, taking her yeast from the starter
and carefully replacing it with the same quantity of flour and water.
Every five days she made yogurt in a crock over the stove, saving
a little of the culture from each batch to start a new one. When the
culture became weak she started a new process with a few spoonsful
from a carton of commercial yogurt they had brought with them.
In the fall she had picked a basket full of rose-hips. Now she
thawed, crushed and strained them and started a two gallon crock
of wine. She put it under the kitchen counter and checked it every
day to see that it was working properly.
Further along under the same counter was a crock neatly full of
thiny sliced cabbage covered with a cloth, a wooden plate and a
stone to weigh it down. Every day Janie skimmed off the mouldy
liquid and changed the cloth. In four weeks it would be sauerkraut
and she would can it, label it neatly and store it on shelves in the
porch along with all the food she had canned during the summer.
Extending inward and along the full length of the other window
in the cabin there was a planter that she had seeded with radishes
34 and leaf lettuce a couple of days after their arrival. They were
planted in humus from the compost and they did well. She hoped to
be using the radishes in three weeks and starting on the lettuce in
five weeks.
Pinned to the wall in the kitchen part of the cabin was a list
which she had contrived in a way that helped her to keep track of
the many feedings, waterings, and tendings that were necessary
daily, twice daily, weekly and so on.
She made another careful inventory of their food and worked out
a menu that would give them a healthy diet for over two months.
Although they were short on meat and vegetables they had all the
ingredients necessary to sophisticated preparation. Janie had several
excellent cook books. She spent long hours following complicated
recipes exactly and produced gourmet meals from the simple food
they had.
In her spare time she worked on a five foot by six foot afghan
that she had started the year before and which was half finished.
She kept herself busy.
Helmut filled the water tank every few days. He smashed the ice
off the edge of the pier and carried the water with buckets. It took
him about a quarter of an hour to fill the tank. He covered the hole
with plywood so it wouldn't freeze solid if they had cold weather.
In the fall he had split and stacked enough firewood to last them
easily through the winter. He brought the odd armful into the house,
but Janie liked to pick her own wood so she could control the fire for
whatever it was she was doing at the time.
On nights when it threatened to be extra cold, which weren't
often, Helmut brought the frost susceptible vegetables into the cabin.
In the morning he took them back into the porch, which received
some heat from the stove during the day.
Although the snow on the lake was gone there was still two foot of
heavy soft snow on land. He started to snowshoe into the woods.
Thinking of shooting a rabbit or grouse with the .22. His shoes
weren't made for wet snow and his muscles still remembered the
first crossing. He came back after a few yards. They didn't need
rabbits.
There were things he wanted to build and improvements he could
make in the cabin. But he had left all his tools in the van. He didn't
35 fret too much over not being able to get at it. He was ready to relax
for a while until he could make another trip across the lake.
He didn't think the ice would remain dangerous. He kept watch
over it from the window of the cabin. At least once a day he went to
the lakeshore to inspect the ice closely. There was very little change.
Each day it thawed a Uttle. At night it froze the same amount. For
a while he was sure there was progress. It seemed as though the ice
was definitely going. It was getting further from the shore every day.
Then he realized the water level was rising. The run-off from the
rain was coming into the lake. The ice wasn't moving away from
the shore. The shore was moving toward Helmut.
When he wasn't watching the lake he spent his time lying on the
couch in the cabin. He watched Janie as she worked. He dozed. He
thought about the mice.
There was very little to think about the mice. Still, they came into
his mind often. He wondered mildly what could have happened to
the last one. Many things. Predator probably. One day he stuck his
nose out of the cabin and shwoosh. An owl.
Helmut saw the parallel with their own situation. Plenty of food,
warm nest, long isolated winter. Perhaps he would end up eating
Janie. Or she him. He watched her kneading the bread. He tried to
visualize her arm cut into pot size pieces. Soup bones. He thought
back to times that he had cut himself. He couldn't remember the
colour of the meat.
After three weeks of neutral weather it was apparent they would
be stuck for a long time yet. Twice the temperature went far below
freezing and Helmut thought he would be able to make the trip in
the morning. But the crust wasn't quite strong enough and by one
o'clock it was gone completely.
Janie cleaned the cabin. She washed the floor, walls, shelves,
windows, ceiling, and finally the stove. When she finished the cabin
she started on the clothes, washing them all with a hand plunger in
a five gallon pail. She cut a huge stack of kindling. Her afghan grew.
Helmut forgot about the ice. The breakup would come in mid-
May and they would use the boat to go across the lake. There was
no use thinking about it until then. He stopped going to the window
to look at the lake. He spent more time on the couch. Janie was
always busy around the cabin and Helmut watched her, slept, went
to the toilet, slept, watched.
36 At times he thought of all Janie's activity as being for his sake. He
felt gratitude and pride. What a fine cook and comfort-maker she
was! He ate huge quantities. They had run out of meat but Janie
continued to turn out fine meals. She fed him well and he grew fat.
At other times he resented her persistent fecundity and wanted to
smash all her jars and boxes and crocks full of things fermenting and
multiplying. They threatened to fill the cabin with their growth and
push him out. But he didn't smash. He ate more bread and sauerkraut and yogurt and beansprouts and filled the cabin with his
growth.
Sometimes she was repulsive to him. In the warm cabin she wore
a short-sleeved shirt and the hair stuck out on each side of the
muscles of her arms. When she smiled or spoke her upper lip moved
far up to reveal another thin lip — like a foreskin pulled back to
reveal the head of a penis.
These things also attracted him. When he found her desirable he
revelled in the coarse skin on her feet, the misshapen fat on the backs
of her thighs, the poreless scar on her belly.
The idea that he might eat her didn't leave. One day as he lay
on the couch watching her stir a vegetable soup the compulsion
swelled in him until it was nearly overpowering and then subsided
and was replaced by terror. Sweat poured out of him and he left the
cabin to sit on the toilet.
Thereafter he stayed in bed. From the sleeping-balcony he
couldn't see her. He didn't get dressed or wash. He came down only
to eat and defecate and, every few days, to brush his teeth. When
Janie came to bed at night he was afraid of her.
One late morning when Helmut came back into the porch, after
running out to the toilet with only his boots on, he noticed several
layers of paper spread out on the floor around the door to the cabin.
He stepped into the doorway and a super clean .22 short neatly
entered the middle of his forehead, passed through his brain and
lodged itself far away in the back of his head.
Janie quickly removed the boots, cut a hole in each leg just behind
the ankle and inserted a heavy cut-off broom handle through the
holes. Notches in each end of the handle held the legs apart. With
the aid of a rope around the broom handle and a pulley attached to
a rafter in the porch she hoisted the body up until the hands were
just touching the now bloody paper on the floor. She placed a pail
37 under the body and cut off the head. There was nearly a gallon of
blood.
After replacing the bucket with a large washtub she washed the
carcass with scalding water and scraped off the fine hair. She
emptied and washed the tub and put it back under the body. Working quickly but carefully she made an incision below the penis and,
putting her hand completely into the incision to hold the intestines
clear, cut the abdominal wall to the breastbone with the heel of the
knife. With a few deft strokes she cut around the anus and penis.
She pulled them through to the abdominal cavity and tied them off
with a cord. After cutting a few muscles and pulling the windpipe
through she was able to scoop everything into the tub. Lungs, heart,
liver, kidneys, stomach, bladder, intestines. The sexual organs, large
intestine, and bladder she discarded in the compost bucket. Lungs,
heart, liver and kidneys she put in a bucket of water to soak out the
blood. The small intestine she cut into workable lengths, turned
inside out and scrapped. She emptied the stomach and set it to soak
in a separate bucket. Then she went back to the carcass and split it
down the middle using a heavy knife for the breastbone and precise
strokes of the hatchet from tailbone to neck. She left it to cool and
age for a few days.
The lungs she cooked with kidney beans and then canned. The
stomach had to be simmered 48 hours and then she pickled it. The
small intestine she used as casings for blood sausage and meat
sausage from the trimmings. Some of the meat she put in crocks and
covered with brine to cure. The rest she deboned and canned. The
head she cleaned and boiled for headcheese.
In ten days all was preserved and on the shelf neatly labelled. She
breathed a deep sigh and went back to her afghan.
38 Pat Lowther is a Vancouver poet and is at present working on a multi-media
script to be shown at the Vancouver H. R. MacMillan Planetarium in 1974.
THE FACE
PAT   LOWTHER
I.      THE FACE
Always when i wake my first consciousness is of your face, inside
me, as it were under my own, as if my features overlay yours. In
those first moments the face is stylized, the hair and beard curled
like those of statues. Only gradually, as I move, you move too, the
face becomes individual.
I do not recall having dreamt of you. I cast back into sleep: a
heavy vacancy, neither of us was there.
All faces change minute to minute. Aspects of your face accompany me, changing without waiting for my intention. I do not
invent you. The photograph you sent me has an aspect which has
occupied me less than others. I must bring it into balance with your
other faces.
The face in the photograph is impressive, formidable in fact. The
man with that face, I say to myself, can cope. That man will always
have everything under control. I am perhaps intimidated.
Most often I remember your face close up, foolish-loving, looking
much younger. Or with eyes closed kissing, the even tension of shut
eyelids, a sheen like wing cases, a detail giving disproportionate
pleasure.
But at my first waking I think we are both eyeless, with the brutal
dignity of ancient masks. I imagine myself thin and gold, my hands
locked at my sides, tongue locked to the roof of my mouth, each hair
root locked in its pore. I imagine myself a sarcophagus carried to
burial, an image of you static as a photograph locked under my face.
2.    the clothing
You are so much more clothed than I am. Underwear top and
bottom, everything tucked in. I could never touch your body by
39 accident. I could never in a casual embrace slide my hand onto skin
and body hair. You have to undress first.
And you carry your life like clothing too. It's very becoming, it
suits you. Your relationships with the people around you look good,
their textures are interesting. You are conscious of origins.
Maybe you have it all worked out: just enough pain and struggle
to allow you to keep the nerve ends vibrating. Enough disorder to
have let you fall in love with me.
I have a longing now to stare at your real face, to question,
demand to know you. But you were the one who stared that way
into my face. All the time we were together your eyes never left me,
I couldn't eat or sleep. And when you asked me to tell you about
my life, so that you could picture what I'd be doing at different
hours of the day, I wouldn't answer you.
Listen: every morning I take a razor to the fabric of my life, I cut
out a woman shape, I step into it, I go out, I perform, it works. But
every morning it has to be done again.
Sometimes I can't get the blade sharp enough, the shape flat
enough. I can't manage a protoplasm silhouette one molecule thick.
My shape takes exaggerated depth like those optical-illusion
letters they use to advertise religious movies, where the edges go back
and back into the page and come together at a point representing
infinity. My continuum drags behind me, a rubble of dark and
rough and glitter stretching back probably to the point of birth.
Then my whole life seems like the act of birth, as violent and
difficult and inescapable. My clothing is bloody membrane and sea
water, dragging at my body.
I can't even imagine what you feel like in your turtleneck sweater,
checkered pants, tidy underwear.
3.    the machinery
The machinery is, in abstract, like a space wheel in orbit. Stately
precise turning into and out of sunlight. If we were separate from
it, it would seem lovely. We would breathe in delight seeing it in a
movie.
The machine is, of course, a centrifuge. We're locked on its ouside
walls by the magnetic soles of our feet, the veins branching downward. I think of a glass anatomical model of a man, with an
erection.
As if the earth had gone transparent and its gross axis become
40 visible, turning us. Like a drill-core spectrum, a blackened rainbow,
the red orange yellow at the centre, further toward the ends roughness, jumble, glisten of coal and oil pools, moving capillaries of
water. The ends themselves hard glossy white, ice that never melts.
The effortless spin of the thing generating so much brute power.
Sometimes I think I can see you across the curvature of the walls.
We might reach out, try to touch.
But the machine holds us motionless. Our muscles flatten, our
veins and arteries spread out like maps. We are splayed, pinned
down on separate beds, in separate cities.
I'm turning downward into sleep. I will not dream of you.
Slowly, slowly, it's turning you toward your morning. You are
beginning to remember me.
41 THREE POEMS BY BRIAN HENDERSON
MACKENZIE
Me rising, hear
a feast of gulls
cackling over carrion
at the water's edge, see
a silent crane
orphan at the peak of sky
heading north, need
to rise as high
to recognize my own
direction, my own
appointment
among these forests
these rivers endless
these lakes and rocks
among men whom I do not know
their ways marvellous
and savage as May weather
in this country
Sleep peels from my body
like skin
How do I become operational
in this air, grey
silvering at edges:
my feet are covered in boots;
by their very nature
these bones preclude flight?
With compass
and canoe
I must content myself
My mind and instruments
may still contrive
new boundaries
42 And with gulls
I shall be conversing
awhile yet
INTIMACY
Fearful names naming
fearfully, Terror, Erebus
the thin threads
of the lives of men
and cold waters incognizable
ferry us to ourselves
The crews would have me
turn my ships about
but already I am
countyman
of the constant
grind and squeal of ice
huge and ageless pressure
moving against my skin
from the centre south
from the inside out
I have found
figured in ice that corridor
into the farther sea
nameless and
named after me
43 11 JUNE 1847
The cold sea is woven
with sullen lights
auroras, suns. Too
the breath is woven
three sisters say it
But I learn
it is my invention
this arctic tapestry
The warp is the wave
the weft my nervous breathing
alone here now
at the margins
Brian Henderson's work has previously appeared in The Wascana Review, The
Canadian Forum, Quarry and other periodicals.
44 THREE POEMS BY JIRI GOLD
from the volume Minotaurus, Prague 1967.
Translated from the Czech by Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz
MORNING SONG
Play for me fakir
I will writhe
like the most intelligent
snake
and I will look wise
like a cobra
And I will exude horror
to all sides like
a snake
while you
will be the recipient
of admiration
encircle me with the tones
of your flute
and conceal my nakedness
enrich me with the sweetness
of your breath
and still my hunger
Sprinkle me with the shower of your talent
and I will move with the awareness
of usefulness
Nothing is sadder
than a wineskin
drained of wine
waiting in the darkness by the wall
for you
rat-catcher
45 THROWING PEAS AT A WALL
He spent a long time choosing the wall
Having found the appropriate one
he began to throw peas
He kept throwing for a long time
occasionally abused by passers-by
who called him a lunatic
or a rabble-rouser
and notified the police
But
the peas
did not stay on the wall
as was to be proven
the wall
fell
The air began to move
so as to fill the space
which it had occupied
At the same time
It was possible to notice something
which much later on
was given the name
stars
46 LOCKED-UP CHILDREN
Today
I will be the window and you
the bars
I will be the door
and you the key
You will be the board and I
the backside I will be
the whip and you
the back you will be
the face and I
the fist I will be
the spoon and you cold
soup I
will be the prisoner and
you free —
The children laughed
No one knew how to play such a game
And even he who shouted it
spoke out of his sleep
Jiri Gold is a young Czech poet whose book of verse Minotaurus appeared in
1967. Since the political events of August 1968 he has not appeared in print.
Oldrich Mikulasek is a Czech poet, born 1910. Throughout his work he tries
to give form to the unexpressible, to draw from his own subconscious the patterns
of man's joy and pain. The most important feature of his work is the complex
mixture of analytical intellect and passionate emotion.
Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz teaches German and Comparative Literature at
the University of British Columbia. She translated Ernst Barlach's play The Poor
Relation for our Spring 1968 issue and Five Prose Pieces by Jiri Jirasek for our
Summer 1970 issue. She has published articles on East European theatre and has
translated other Czech poets.
47 CONVERSATIONS OF MADMEN
OLDRICH MIKULASEK
from the volume That Royal (Prague, 1966)
Translated from Czech by Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz
First Conversation of the Madmen
FIRST MADMAN :
You are writing sad poems, Mister,
it's springtime .. .
second madman :
The blacker the trunk, the greener the foliage,
your pharisaical park,
whitewash and make-up!
first madman :
Sniff! Stuff yourself with lilac!
It won't happen.
You'll begin to stink yourself. It's springtime.
I have seen dead ones. I see you.
The nose is the first to shrivel.
second madman :
Madman! They are different madmen
those dead ones.
Even when it is a skull the head is bridled
Even when the head is a skull it is bridled
and the sword that cuts most rapidly
urges it sometimes into a gallop.
They did not smell because they died. They perished because they
smelled in themselves
the smell of the whole world. Of everyone. Everything. All.
With their heads tossed back like lovers. Ah Springtime,
only the bees will fly to your lilac —
and it, oh laughter
(the lilac)
with its cups drained to the dregs,
48 and it, o laughter,
its head droops.
The lilac is sad.
first madman :
The moon is waxing, she is almost shameless.
That's like wanting to hold more and more
in your hands —
what can you depend on in the darkness?
It is springtime.
The louder the leaves' whisper
the deeper the trunk's silence.
And it grows out of darkness.
Blood darkens the cold,
the shivering cold
of men's trousers.
second madman :
The moon is waxing, she is almost shameless.
But always at least one
death is missing.
Knees breaking
into emptiness, into fullness
breaking knees.
Head tilted backward, lilac and park
and wailings and groans,
which the branch knows.
The branch on which men are hanged.
The branch beneath which rebels
the mad jubilation of your life
in the thinnest flute
up to your mouth, up to your throat,
which with your last breath
will be cut.
Second conversation of the madmen
first madman :
Because a man actually walks
on a very thin line.
49 And one step is enough, one wrong step.
And it's enough to have a drop too much —
And something drinks you up.
second madman:
Oh, happy whale,
who is all wood-grain,
too often tempted, often under the thumb,
and of perfumed amber
under the skin, secretly, alone,
I know what lamentations are
when the hunchback is crushed,
great big lamentations.
Your body will not beg
and glides to the bottom.
(If the ocean has a bottom.)
first madman :
Because a man, at best
he flows.
And then he swims in it
like the greasy eye of pain.
O, I am so overgreased
and not heavy enough, I will make
only a meagre soup,
just good enough to spill down your shirt.
second madman :
And then the word — end.
FIRST MADMAN:
How endless, sir!
SECOND MADMAN:
And then those little things,
scalpels, scissors, knives,
when they open the body
and even when it is freezing you steam.
FIRST MADMAN:
Because man, at best
he steams.
50 SECOND MADMAN :
Oh, happy whale,
your tuft turned me on,
your fountain, your splatter,
with which you let the sea fly up
for a little shellfish, for some plancton,
for some food.
FIRST MADMAN:
Because man, at best
he flares up.
second madman:
And falls back like ashes.
first madman :
And falls back like ashes.
Third Conversation of the Madmen
he:
And you like him?
As the hedgehog the snake
or the hiker the trail?
she:
As water by the spoonful.
he:
As water by the spoonful?
Isn't that too little
in these days of floods
when a mere bee drowns
quickly in a whole calyx
its legs shaggy with pollen,
the camel in the desert
may be sustained by the leather wineskin,
the cow by her bulging udder,
the ant by the aphis,
the poet by a hundred and two verses,
5i (and that until the last one conceals within itself sometimes
a tiny drop of unscrupulousness),
and the lunatic only by his own hand
on a stranger's throat?
And I alone also by the sight of you,
so emaciated, that people are bound to perceive
whole processions of massacres,
so that they cry out,
someone here is still breathing
and holds on to his own body.
she:
As water by the spoonful,
which no longer harkens back
to broth or soup
and oceans of any kind —
and if that gentleman had run after her
on thin legs,
that don't even get wet in the well,
a water strider,
perhaps it would be a clear comment
on her obvious purity.
he:
But that would be bad.
But that would be like love
and love by the spoonful
goes to mouth from mouth, from mouth to mouth.
You would almost be enough for each other.
she:
Nothing less, sir.
he:
Of course there are different ones:
a little tiger-striped (shake the prison bars),
a little leopard-spotted (spots our advantage),
a little electric (but only polyester),
a little scented (oh my truffles),
a little to be touched (in solitude it gets lost),
a little mad (holding on with the very nails),
52 a little quiet (while sowing, but with needles),
a little faithful (knives always in bed),
a little themselves (strangers preferred),
a little beautiful (crying only for their own eyes),
a little too much (even their hips they envy us),
a little wild (death is very close),
a little cruel (and why has it to be you),
a little eternal (what's happening to me),
in the nettles a little
I smell roses, sage,
a little I am mad,
give me some mint. —
But on a spoon?
she:
Like water on the spoon
I love him.
Slowly I taste him,
there is long thirsting in the tunnel
and in the end I gulp
the whole landscape
that swallows me
together with my blindness.
If I drank from the well
I would buy myself a jug.
I drowned,
Oh, I drowned
in a little tear.
I am a little mad,
give me some mint.
Fourth Conversation of the Madmen
FIRST MADMAN :
I hear steps in the hall.
Someone is coming to me
shuffling.
On the threshold he wipes for a long time
his bare feet.
53 SECOND MADMAN :
Perhaps he is only ashamed
to knock.
FIRST MADMAN :
It is as if tired hoarfrost
were settling.
The hand grasps the door handle
but has no strength.
How I would like to wake up.
But I want to* go to sleep.
I am wrestling with the angel of sleep,
until feathers are flying all around,
but then they settle on me.
How heavy they are.
And I so much want to go to sleep.
SECOND MADMAN :
That is from weakness.
Another piece of clay?
It will slide better then.
FIRST MADMAN:
And that obvious mist
Do you feel it rising from the gardens?
SECOND MADMAN:
Everybody wants to warm himself.
Even that cool little trout
in the frying pan sighs with pleasure,
may the devil take me!
FIRST MADMAN:
It rises from the feet.
It forces you to get
on your very feet.
Lying down we somehow push ourselves
over a corpse.
Hemp! Hemp!
Why — hemp?
54 SECOND MADMAN:
(One must scratch through the ice
before reaching the heart)
FIRST MADMAN :
And then again the fire
roars into my face.
Somebody is shovelling earth with a spade
and it's me who is covered with sweat.
Or is it dog's steam
that rises from my lungs?
SECOND MADMAN:
There you are with her now.
FIRST MADMAN :
With her? With whom?
It seems to me rather
that for all those blossoms
I no longer see the stem.
SECOND MADMAN:
Oh, that's only the blood
on the tips of his knives.
Think of meadow-saffron!
FIRST MADMAN:
They stretch too much.
Dead glaziers
breathe into them.
SECOND MADMAN:
But not without end.
FIRST MADMAN:
And they remind me of a box.
SECOND MADMAN:
In that box there is nothing.
55 FIRST MADMAN:
And that nothing, can you eat it?
SECOND MADMAN:
FIRST MADMAN :
It just occurs to me, do you hear me?
(I hear you only from far away),
that not a single bird has
violet feathers.
Fifth Conversation of the Madmen
They say that when in great anguish swans rise as high as possible,
their wings pressed to their bodies, and, folding them inside out
as if imploring (in vain), they fall headlong to earth,
to their deaths.
They say.
Dying swans, they say, also sing.
They say.
But what if they fly constantly to their bottomless fall
that has no end? It is said that they
scream as if they were asking.
They say.
FIRST MADMAN :
I don't want anything,
but ask,
where do swans fly to?
My shoe pinches here.
SECOND MADMAN :
And you with your shoe!
They stretch their necks,
their swans' necks,
and scream,
scream and ask,
where swans fly to.
56 FIRST MADMAN :
Swans fly,
they are black or white,
but later black,
fear of fear.
Where swans fly to,
the black swans are asking,
or the white ones spotted with fear
to ask where they fly to
with orange-coloured beaks,
with the last hope,
those that ask,
where swans are flying to,
black in the black night,
and whether they don't get lost,
and where the white ones go,
desperate small sails of thought,
almost the last ones —
is it possible just to swim like that?
SECOND MADMAN :
Where swans fly to,
God knows.
But does God know where swans fly to?
Swans fly and scream,
that they don't know where they fly to,
and they fly Godknowswhere.
Do you feel like eating something?
If I remember rightly,
there was some talk of stretched necks.
And they are in front of the wings.
FIRST MADMAN :
The wings don't move.
The sea and the air move.
The sea does not know. It is.
As terror believing in a throat
(at least that of a bottle from a shipwreck)
and the throat again in a muffled moan.
The air does not know. It is, because it moves
before it dies for a little while at least
57 my dear,
with shivering insides.
SECOND MADMAN:
Swans are and do not know,
that they fly,
beneath them the sea of their torture,
that they do not know where they fly to,
under their wings the air of nothingness.
It too will get angry some day — and I,
am I thin air for everybody?
Actually it should be glad.
FIRST MADMAN :
Where are you getting lost to me
so completely, that I lost you,
an icecream-cone in a hungry mouth,
black in my night,
that you are lost to yourself too,
white in your day of snowstorms,
when pain is the only presence
on a cruel plain:
"Tear, wolves!
I am still warm inside,
there in the mucous membranes of the soul."
I hear your scream.
It is frightened, everyone is afraid
of his own tooth,
even the butterfly of the sparrow, the old lion of the hyena,
God is afraid of God,
who asks,
where swans fly to,
and the swan of the devil,
who out of fear does not ask
(heis proud),
where swans fly to,
because perhaps white swans fall
into black hell,
because perhaps black swans fly
into the white sky
in praise of eternal air-conditioning,
58 they fly, but they scream
they scream, but they ask,
where the troubled swans fly to,
that sad, sad bird?
I have been drinking my cup for a long time.
As long as the length of your hip,
which kindly offers itself.
Why do I drink and why so slowly
because dying from mere thirst,
I conquer desert after desert,
so that I would be thirsty again
to hold my cup for a long time,
as long as the length of your hip,
which provocatively offers itself —
and why?
Only so that I would take a long time dying,
because I live so short — like breath?
Where do swans fly to?
SECOND MADMAN :
Where do swans fly to,
When dawn in the bottle from the shipwreck shows
that it contains no message about
where swans fly to.
FIRST MADMAN :
And every morning night makes your accounts.
Downy dear duck, I ask you,
if you like me a little.
I like you more than the main railway station.
There isn't much there.
Buffers and tracks.
And steam. And bitterness in the mouth
after stale beer.
And the swans — that descended in flight (shot in the side)
Thick are the feathers of our lives.
SECOND MADMAN :
Dig through them. Lice.
They don't move. And they fly.
And they eat swans.
59 SEVEN POEMS BY HAGIWARA SAKUTARO
Translated from the Japanese by Terry Nabata
GREEN FLUTE
Dusk in the middle of this plain
elephants with long ears slowly plodding
yellow moon shaken by the wind
grassy leaves like a hat fluttering here and there
is it sad, my love?
here is a small flute
the colour of the sound is clear green
please play the mouthpiece gently
blow it as a sky become transparent
call up your mirage
from the longing of the distant sea
it will seem as if a single phantom
were slowly drawing near
being like a headless cat
hovering in the grass-shadows of the graveyard
I prefer dying in this sorrowful twilight scene, my love.
60 FACE IN THE DEPTHS OF THE EARTH
In the depths of the earth
a sorrowful sick man's face.
in the darkness in the depths of the earth
softly softly the stalks of grass unfold
a rat's nest unfolds
tangled in the rat's nest
countless hairs begin to tremble
at the time of the winter solstice
from the sad sick earth
roots of slender bamboo sprouting
sprouting
look well and see deep sorrow there
vaguely we can see
truly truly an obscure depth
in the darkness in the depths of the earth
a sorrowful sick man's face appears.
61 TURTLE
There are trees
there is a swamp
there are blue skies
in a man's hand a weight is felt
quietly a pure gold turtle is sleeping
this shining
pain of sad nature must be endured
it gropes and sinks into man's spirit
this turtle
sinks into the deep blue sky.
BAMBOO
A straight thing grows out of the earth
A sharp blue thing grows out of the earth
penetrating frozen winter
this green leaf sparkles in the morning sky
weeping
weeping tears
and already now the penitence
melts from my shoulder
tangled bamboo roots spread out
a sharp blue thing growing out of the earth.
62 DEATH
From the depths of the gazing earth
a strange hand appears
a foot appears
a neck pushes out.
My friends
what in the world
what kind of a goose is this?
From the depths of the gazing earth
with a foolish look
a hand appears
a foot appears
a neck pushes out.
EGG
In this high treetop there is
a small egg, shining
look up — a small bird's nest shines
now is the time for the criminal's prayer.
63 WINTER
Marks of original sin appear
in the sky.
They appear on the fallen snow
appear shining in the treetops
because they can overcome
the depths of winter
the marks of the crime committed
are manifest.
Look!
in the dark sleeping
earth something alive
begins to build the house of penitence.
Hagiwara Sakutaro was a Japanese poet who wrote early in this century. He
was noted for his innovations in language and structure in Japanese, as well as
for his bleak tone.
Terry Nabata is a student in the Department of Creative Writing, University
of British Columbia, as well as a student of the Japanese language. This is his
first publication.
64 VENUS RISING
Indian Ink and Brush THE DEVIL S BRIDE
Indian Ink and Brush THE CENTAURIAN GATE
Indian Ink and Brush PORTRAIT OF JEANNE (ARTIST'S WIFE)
Indian Ink and Brush HOME IS THE WARRIOR
Indian Ink and Brush THE RETURN OF THE HERO
Indian Ink and Brush CLEOPATRA
\ndian Ink and Brush SELF-PORTRAIT
Indian Ink and Brush Jerry Bumpus's novel Anaconda (December Magazine, Box 274, Western
Springs, 111.) is being made into a movie. He has had stories in Esquire, Tri-
Qjiarterly, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at San Diego State.
MR. SPOON'S VISIT
JERRY   BUMPUS
Such a brilliant morning ! Mrs. Dutt had Newfield carry the glass
table and three chairs into the garden, and when Mrs. Kilfoil came,
the ladies strolled arm in arm along the paths, pausing at each new
"yellow pearl," Mrs. Dutt's miniature roses. Then the ladies followed
the path into the little maze of japonicas, profuse with red blossoms,
where they were lost for a delightful moment.
"I so wish I could have been here when your nephew arrived,"
Mrs. Kilfoil said. "I can hardly wait to meet him."
"He actually arrived twice," Mrs. Dutt said.
"Gracious! How does one manage that?"
"He came in the afternoon, but then he left again."
"You don't mean it!"
"He left his luggage and didn't come home until all hours."
"All hours! Did he explain himself?" Mrs. Kilfoil said.
"Not at all. But he is just a boy. I was surprised at what a boy he
really is. So . . . incomplete. But he is quite charming in his way.
He's very quiet and ..." Mrs. Dutt's thin lips rifted at the corners
in a rather sly smile, "I have the feeling he would like to be unusual."
"How interesting!" Mrs. Kilfoil said.
They turned up the path and returned to the table. Newfield
appeared and served coffee.
"Yes, my nephew is charming in his way. And he certainly delights
in spending Sister's money!" Mrs. Dutt's laughter tinkled in the still
air of the garden. "There has been a parade of deliverymen this
morning. Apparently last night he went shopping. They've brought
a phonograph, and a peculiar chaise longue, and dozens of pillows,
and an extraordinary carpet..."
"Where is he putting it all?" Mrs. Kilfoil said. "He is in that
lovely large room upstairs, isn't he?"
"He refused to step a foot inside it. So I showed him around and
he chose to plant himself in the garden."
73 Mrs. Kilfoil sat straight. "You mean he's . . . there?" She turned
to the little guest house, not forty feet down a path.
Mrs. Dutt nodded.
The doorbell chimed in the distance, and Mrs. Dutt's eyes
sparkled. "More of the merry merchants."
"I believe you're enjoying this immensely," Mrs. Kilfoil laughed.
"Perhaps," Mrs. Dutt said, smiling slyly.
But the person whom Newfield showed to the garden was not a
deliveryman. He was a well-dressed gentleman, tall and dignified,
with silver at his temples and the extravagantly suave, rather strained
visage of a sensitive, decently intelligent soul. "Mrs. Dutt?" he said.
"I am she."
"R. C. Spoon." He bowed. "I have come to see your nephew."
He approached the table, totally at ease and conveying the impression that he somehow wasn't aware that he had numbed the ladies.
Mrs. Dutt regained speech. "Is it about? ..." She lifted her hands
and twirled two vague circles. "I suppose he's buying more things.
Very well." She turned toward the guest house. "He's ..."
"Ladies." He spoke softly and looked quite directly first at Mrs.
Dutt, then Mrs. Kilfoil. "You have here a lovely spot." He glanced
about the garden, his gaze pausing on the guest house for just a
moment. "Idyllic," he said. "A place of dreams."
"Please, Mr. Spoon," Mrs. Dutt said.
"Thank you. For just a moment," and he sat down. He tilted his
head, took a deep breath, and sighed. "Time," he said with his eyes
closed. Then he opened them and looked rather sternly at the ladies.
In a clear tenor, Mr. Spoon sang:
The whippets of joy bound down golden ways,
While harvester Time collects hours and days.
The ladies murmured.
"Thank you," he said, and his brow tightened with two smooth
grooves, giving his face an elegant pensiveness. "We hurry along
and it is only in rare moments such as this," his hand moved over
the garden, "that we realize time has. . . taken us. And that it has
taken us with cruel indifference."
"So true!" Mrs. Kilfoil said low.
"I've often thought, that before it's too late I would face up to
time and ..." again the hand moved through the air as if blessing
the garden, "stop. For we can, you know. We can stop, really. And
74 then ..." He reached across, picked up Mrs. Dutt's cup, and took a
sip. "Truly taste life."
"Oh! Please!" Mrs. Dutt sputtered. "Won't you please? ..."
"Mrs. Dutt," his tone was hushed, urgent, "we so ruthlessly dedicate ourselves to limits, we can't taste life." He closed his eyes and
took a deep breath. He whispered, "We can't breathe."
They sat in silence, the ladies large-eyed, their lips parted, watching Mr. Spoon stare afar. He stood and handed Mrs. Dutt a card.
He bowed, turned, and walked down the path. He knocked at the
narrow door of the guest house and the ladies heard a word from
inside. Mr. Spoon answered, the door opened, and he went in.
"What does it say?" Mrs. Kilfoil whispered.
" 'R. Cumington Spoon, Classic Autos.' "
"Do you suppose your nephew is buying a classic auto?"
From the guest house came a burst of harsh laughter. Then a
peculiar, metallic grating. The ladies turned toward the little house.
"What was that?" Mrs. Dutt whispered. Before Mrs. Kilfoil could
answer, there was a loud bump inside, and rubbery thrumming
sounds rather like bouncing.
"Gracious!" Mrs. Kilfoil said.
The garden was silent a full, tense minute. Then there was a
prolonged dragging, scraping — and a truly tremendous crash with
the shattering of glass.
"What is happening?" Mrs. Dutt exclaimed.
"Things are breaking," Mrs. Kilfoil said.
"This is awful!" Mrs. Dutt stoood, hesitated, glancing at Mrs.
Kilfoil. But Mrs. Kilfoil didn't rise from her chair.
Mrs. Dutt marched down the path. As she reached the guest
house she heard a furious scuffling and knocking about, with grunting and gasping. Something banged against the wall, rattling the
door. Mrs. Dutt rapped on the door and there was abrupt silence
inside.
"Yes?" said an odd, tight voice which didn't sound like either
Mrs. Dutt's nephew or Mr. Spoon.
"Is everything all right in there?" Mrs. Dutt said.
"Yes, thank you."
She waited a moment, but there was no more forthcoming. "Well,
I must say ..."
The phonograph came on with loud, jumpy music that pushed
Mrs. Dutt from the door. She hurried up the path. Mrs. Kilfoil,
chalk-white, was standing by her chair. "I really must be going."
75 "No," Mrs. Dutt said loudly, over the music. "You can't leave
now."
The music covered some noise, but the ladies heard more knocking about, and the ultimate — a shuddering crash that fairly shook
the guest house and jolted the phonograph needle off the record
with a squawk.
The silence was unbearable. But gradually the garden uttered its
mild whisper of leaves, and there was the preoccupied twit of birds.
The ladies sat at the table staring rigidly ahead.
The guest house door opened and Mr. Spoon stepped out. Head
down, he walked up the path and for a moment it seemed he would
pass right by. But he stopped and, turning, revealed his face: it was
quite pink, like a child's after a good scrubbing. "Would you ladies
accept my invitation to join the Club of Secret Treasures?" he said
softly, almost as though offering his condolences. "It really is a nice
club; Mrs. Spoon and I are members. The Club is very select and
one hundred percent sincere." He stood straight and sang in his
radiant tenor:
The mourning dove her love laments,
Yearning for sweet recompense.
"Buffs, hobble-dodgers, and maybe a flam or two, we enthusiastically welcome new members." He bowed, then still bent rushed
forward and reached out as if to seize Mrs. Dutt's nose.
From her hair he plucked what at first seemed a red ball. But
when he rolled it across the glass table, it untumbled into a bright
red rat with a quivery nose and keen little eyes. The ladies gasped.
Mr. Spoon reached into Mrs. Kilfoil's hair and out popped a sky
blue frog. On the table the rat and the frog looked at the ladies. Mr.
Spoon aimed his arm, long and straight, at the rat and frog, and a
green snake shot forth. The rat and frog leaped from the table, and
the snake slithered off after them and disappeared into the garden.
Mrs. Dutt blinked. "My word!"
"Unexactly earthshaking," Mr. Spoon said, "but fun, you see,
and definitely dignified." He licked his lips and straightened his tie.
"So give it a think, dear Mrs. Dutt, and call when you decide to
join." He bowed. "Good-day." And he was gone.
Mrs. Dutt and Mrs. Kilfoil sat holding their breath. Then a bird
swooped from the sky and darted through the garden.
They stood at once and hurried off when they saw the narrow
door of the guest house opening.
76 Harold Ober is a graduate student in the Creative Writing Department at the
University of British Columbia.
STRANGE FRUIT
HAROLD OBER
Chiquita Banana haunts my dreams. In the latest installment she
and her husband, Raoul, are having a bitter domestic quarrel. Raoul
wants to join the rebellion against United Fruit; Chiquita naturally
forbids it. "There are forces in this world more powerful than you or
I," she remonstrates. "To resist these forces for the sake of mere
heroism is the act of a coward!" "Are you calling me yellow?" shouts
Raoul with a mighty oath. "Tu eres una banana (You are a
banana)," replies Chiquita quietly. "Yo soy una fruta!" cries Raoul,
leaping to his feet ("I am a fruit!").
I am sitting here typing this for the ears of the young lady in the
room next door. She is every bit as beautiful as Nancy Poole was.
She says she is a former Miss Toledo. That seems questionable. Anyway, when I told her I was a writer she was obviously thrilled to
death, began asking me all kinds of embarrassing questions about
what I've written, who I write for, how I write (standing up, like
Ernest Hemingway? lying down, like Marcel Prowst?). Rather than
tell her about this king-size block I've had for the past three months,
and how I spend my time reading magazines from the laundromat,
cover to cover, and that whatever fleeting inspirations do happen by
I immediately smother under a barrage of Peek Frean Digestives or
Stoned Wheat Thins or Mister Salty Pretzels, I gave her a lot of
cheap, evasive, answers, and that night I moved my desk closer to
our mutual wall and began to type. I typed what I had bought at
the supermarket that day, I typed the lyrics to a half a dozen songs,
including forty-four verses of "A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the
Wall," I typed a list of the states and their nicknames and capitals,
77 and as much of the Pledge of Allegiance as I could remember. In
succeeding nights I grew more ambitious: a dossier of friends and
enemies and what made them so. A physical description of Herbert
Feldsher of Feldsher's Pharmacy. A fable about a pig and a pelican.
A dialogue between two necromancers. And so on. Now I can't stop.
Every night I filibuster away, making fierce, agonizing, islands of
noise on the machine, surrounded by seas of hesitation filled with the
silent search for truth — even though I know she's in there fucking
Ray Trutch from down the hall: she wouldn't dream of taking me
away from my work. So I can't very well stop even if I wanted to,
which I don't. I'm the lover manque, after all, which is at least as
good as lover, I'd say. Certainly it's better than no lover at all.
I am at once reminded of the lesson of Maryanne and the Nun,
which has probably been repeated in one form or another in everyone's experience. Even in its singularity it seems to reverberate
familiarly.
I was at Writer's Camp in the green hills of Vermont for two
weeks, and it didn't take long for us to notice a rather curious, and
not unattractive, couple within our midst: a beautiful doelike girl of
eighteen named Maryanne (I never knew her last name) and her
constant companion, a young nun in white who was quite pretty
herself — despite a diminishing pair of seamstress's glasses — and
whom I knew only as "Sister."
These two naturally became the subject of intense speculation
during the course of the two weeks, for they were as inseparable as
body and bodyguard. Not that Sister wasn't a very interesting individual in her own right — indeed, she was by far the more vocal of
the two, always quick to give her opinion in a literary debate, a hard
laugher at any joke, quite popular on her own, in fact — while
Maryanne stood decoratively at hand.
What strange hold, I wondered, did Sister have on luscious Maryanne? Protective jealousy? Were they lovers? Was Maryanne happy?
In vain I watched for some pleading, maiden-in-distress, glance. All
I knew was that Sister taught creative writing at a seminary in
upstate New York, and Maryanne was apparently her star pupil.
But if she were deliberately being kept beyond reach, then why did
she make herself so available in those short skirts, tight jeans, blouses
tied teasingly above the waist? Before long I began to notice a discreetly suggestive smile playing on her lips. But for Sister . . . but for
Sister!
78 So it went, day after maddening day, until the last night. I had
already drunk a fair amount of booze and was on my way over to
the barn for some creative sitting in one of the big cushioned wicker
chairs there, when who should I meet coming from the other direction but delicious Maryanne herself, and unattached. I smiled
quizzically. "Do you know where the party is tonight?" she asked,
eyes darting this way and that. "No," I confessed. "Didn't even
know there was one." Without another word she walked off into the
night and I, rather bemused, continued on into the barn.
I found myself a big chair in a corner and had only just settled
into it when I realized through my boozy fog that there was Sister
sitting a few feet away talking anxiously to a boy and a girl. "What
did she say?" she urged. "Well," the guy said, "she started talking
about how she's always been jealous of her older sister who was a
cheerleader, too, and how she's always been competing with her in
everything, and then she said that last year her father tried to rape
her. ... I didn't know whether to believe her, really. She was acting
pretty strangely."
"How do you mean strangely?" prodded Sister.
"Talking fast, laughing a lot, making weird faces."
"Did she seem to you to be under the influence of any drugs?
LSD? Pot?"
The girl shook her head. "I thought maybe, at first, but it seemed
so obviously a put-on that I changed my mind."
"A put-on?" said Sister sharply.
"Yeah, like I think she was trying to make us think she was
stoned. But I could tell it was an act."
Sister was silent. "But she told you she was going to the party?"
she finally asked.
"Yes."
"Well, thank you very much." And off Sister went, to "the
party," presumably, in search of her charge. I moseyed over to the
girl and boy and told them I couldn't help overhearing. The guy
shrugged, told me Maryanne had wandered up and asked first about
this party, then wanted to know where she could get some dope,
then out of the blue began to talk about her sister, her father, etc.
He was of the opinion that maybe she could have been spaced out
on something, but the girl was still skeptical.
I felt like a big city journalist interviewing two eyewitnesses, and
gave my head a sad little "it's all too much" shake. I decided that
bed was probably a good idea at that point and I headed back in the
79 direction of my room. I didn't like the secrets this night was harboring. It seemed to me that every Maryanne I had ever known had
been mysteriously, conspicuously, remote — including the one in the
song, "down by the seaside, sifting sand."
Anyway, I walked into my dormitory, and immediately upon
entering I discovered none other than, you guessed it, Maryanne and
Sister sitting in the lobby engaged in low, murmuring conversation.
They fell thickly silent as I made my way up the stairs, and I felt
certain that one of the vital universal secrets would be found out if
one could only eavesdrop on them. So I closed the hall door to the
Men's Wing, and then slowly, inch by inch, I tiptoed back to the
top of the stairs and crouched there. Below me I heard Sister
giggling and whispering: "... and then he told me you were jealous
of your sister who was also a cheerleader, and that your father tried
to rape you ..." And Maryanne let out a delighted, tinkling, peal
of laughter. "And so then I asked him ..."
I didn't wait around to hear any more. Turning on tiptoe, I fled
to my bed and my nightmares.
The most satisfying vomit I ever had was also in the long run the
most expensive. It took place as I was walking out of the Odyssey
Bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, one summer night, with R. F. Kahn
and Art Marroquin. I had long since passed the critical point after
which you become a mere sluice-gate for whatever beer is set on the
table in front of you, and in the act of getting up and making my
way out the door into the wide-open night, I set in motion a simple
and obvious catalysis which bade me excuse myself and vomit cleanly
and genteelly into the gutter. It came out like a bean bag: no muss,
no fuss. I even had an audience. A police cruiser had drawn up at
approximately the same time, and the two policemen stood watching respectfully and solicitously while I finished what I had to do.
Then they ushered me into their car and took me to jail. The charge
was "drunk and disorderly conduct." Drunk — maybe, but disorderly? Not at all, I felt like protesting, but I was feeling too orderly
to protest. If jail was the logical consequence of my action, then I
would embrace it was Socratic equanimity. At the jail they took
away my glasses, my watch, my belt, my wallet, and they rolled my
fingers on an inkpad and stamped them hard on a big piece of paper
with appropriate spaces for all ten fingers. I co-operated like a
schoolboy on a tour of the police department. Then they led me
through a series of iron expansion doors that opened with an electric
80 buzz and closed with a metallic clang. At last I was put inside my
cell. It was like a large gray metal boxcar with other hoboes asleep
or muttering in the corners. I found a vacant metal berth for myself,
and lay down, still beery and magnanimous, and fell asleep.
I woke up in the gray-on-gray of early morning, sober, shabby,
and scared. The fact was I was in jail, and I needed badly to take a
shit, but some guy was using the roll of toilet paper for a pillow. I
tried to savor the experience, the hard knocks, but I was feeling too
lousy. The Negroes who had been muttering all night were gone. It
was no boxcar I was locked in, but a locker room, and the only soft
surface I could see was the toilet tissue under my cellmate's head.
What was I doing in jail, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I had
lived between the ages of one and two? Compare home movies of
me romping in the Arboretum.
I had to go worse than ever when the police, different ones from
last night, came to take me to court, and these were not friendly,
they were no longer tolerating a benign drunk. No, I couldn't have
my glasses back until I was released. In silence we rode to the courthouse. Outside, the free of Ann Arbor were waking up, making
breakfast, going to work. I was escorted into the building from a
rear door and they locked and double-locked me into a room the size
of a small elevator. Squinting out through the tiny window out the
wide window across the hall, I could see figures in the window of a
distant restaurant — free! free as birds! Then they unlocked me. I
was brought to trial. R.F. and Art were there — character witnesses
if I needed them. The public defender advised me to plead guilty;
since it was my first offense the probation officer might plead on my
behalf. I pleaded, and was found, guilty: the evidence was overwhelming. I couldn't even see my accusers! The probation officer
was too busy to see me. Would I pay a fine of thirty-four dollars, or
would I spend another night in jail? My friends paid for me. I got
my glasses back, along with my wallet, belt, and watch, but not my
ngerprints. That's all.
Want to hear about my first authentic religious experience? I was
in England, studying there, Junior year abroad, etc. We had a five-
day vacation in late October corresponding to Thanksgiving. Fine-
man went to Cardiff. Romano went to Paris. I went to the Isle of
Wight, where I was going to stay and write poetry for five days.
Fancied myself a poet back then. I ended up taking a room in an
inn called The Horse and Groom in the seaside town of Cowes. I
81 was lonely. There's nothing going on in Cowes during the off-season.
I would walk the narrow streets, eat seafood in some restaurant, go
down to the promenade and watch seagulls. Sometimes I would try
and write a poem. Once I copped a found poem off a sign for Pascal
Atkaey and Sons, Ltd., Yacht Fitters Marine Engineers. The sky was
always overcast. After five the streets were totally deserted. I would
go back to my room and try to write a poem. Finally, with nothing
else to do, I would go to bed at nine-thirty and wake up at nine the
next day — to another wan, unpromising, sky — so as not to miss
breakfast.
The day before I left, which was also the day before my birthday,
I was feeling pretty bleak from the accumulated effect of four days
of bleak, sunless, weather, plus lack of companionship, plus lack of
inspiration. When I emerged from the Horse and Groom in the
afternoon, however, I saw that the clouds had cracks in them, there
was blue! Maybe it would clear up! Armed with new hope, I
decided to take a long walk along the promenade as far as it went,
which was to the next township of Gresham, and maybe find a likely
rock to sit on by the sea and perhaps compose a poem or two. So I
walked toward Gresham, and by the time I got there, as a reward,
the sun itself was setting. I sat down on a rock and tried to write a
poem about the setting sun. First I compared it to a bronze Belgian
coin. I changed Belgian to Congolese. I crossed the line out altogether. Then I compared the color to the orange-yellow Crayola in
the sixteen-crayon box. I didn't like that either. Meanwhile the sun
continued to set. I suddenly realized that poems were utterly futile,
second-hand, translations. That even my perception of that "sun"
was once-removed. I began to get an intimation of that thing we
identify as "sun." If we had no name for it, if we were all utterly
ignorant and illiterate, it would still be there, rising and arcing and
setting, that thing. I could feel a keen infant joy blooming in me.
There was that thing, in its thingness pure, almost abstract, and
perfect. And that thingness was everywhere, in everything, all
around me, perfect. The sunness of the sun. The sandness of the
sand. I picked up a handful and rubbed its gritty texture between
my palms. Yes, that was what that was! I felt as if I were discovering everything around me for the first time. The sky: skyness. The
sea: seaness. My joy was overwhelming. I could touch anything and
feel its essence. The roadness of the road as I walked. I even savored
the words. Road. Tree. I ran my hand over familiar surfaces —
bark, stone, water, wind — and felt more of them than I ever had.
82 The smell in the air at that moment was the perfect essence of the
sum of all its ingredients, and each of those ingredients, whatever
they were, was perfect, too.
It grew dark. Obediently, I walked to the bus stop, waited there
for the bus to take me back to Cowes. (Everything!) An old lady
came laboring up the hill and as she approached I smiled at her
benevolently. Without introduction or preamble she said: "I was
feeling quite low this morning and so I went to the vicar and he
read to me from Scriptures and I felt so much better, it's been
a lovely day, hasn't it?" and then without a goodbye she walked on.
Next day, one score old, I left Cowes, bringing back with me to
Waterloo Station about two thirds of the original intensity of my
discovery of the thingness of things. After another two weeks maybe
one third remained. Today, a trace is still detectable.
The deepest I've ever been in love was with a girl in a dream. I
dreamed I was riding my bike through a muddy crossroads and
along came a girl on another bike, and I "bumped into her." But
the "bump" took the form of a complicated, almost co-incidental,
hug — and that hug was more tender and more precious than anything I have ever felt. I seized the rear wheel of her bike and stopped
her. We looked at one another — over our shoulders — in astonishment. We were incredulously in love. I had to hug her again, though
it couldn't quite compare with that first "bump." It turned out we
lived far apart, perhaps at different ends of the earth. We had to
plan a bike route where we could deliberately intersect. The dream
ended with us kneeling in the mud in front of a road map, plotting
out various routes with our fingers. I woke up in love. I loved her!
Would I ever find her, I stayed in love for almost a week. I took it
with me wherever I went. For the first day or two it was self-sustaining, a physical condition. After that I needed only to remember the
"bump" to feel the flood. Then it became less easy to re-create in
my mind. Each succeeding memory drained it a little more. Finally
I am left with this dried fruit, which will keep.
It's April ninth. Time marches on. No sound next door from Miss
Toledo or Ray Trutch except for somebody's cobbledy snoring. I
stopped typing at around 4:30 a.m. and went outside for a walk.
Robins were already broadcasting at that hour. And the sky, to my
surprise, was already "streaked with dawn." I walked over to the
park. No cars. Saw three shadow-dogs crossing the street into an
83 alley. I entered the park and walked cold over to the jungle gym
and stiffly, still night-jittery, I climbed up and sat on the top cusp of
bars. I sat and shivered for a while, and then I stopped shivering
and just sat, vigilant. There were light, TV-blue, streaks to the
northeast and to the southeast, but not due east. I felt like a hawk
perched on a high limb; I was one. I turned my head to the left and
to the right. I ruffled my coat like feathers. I gazed steadily out at
the lights of the city. The streaks in the sky grew lighter — the sky
was all of a blue cast now. I could make out the silhouette of the
mountains. The water held a more lucid blue than the sky. Lights
on the piers, red and yellow, twinkled. All around me the robins
were monotonously fluting and barking their rhythmic chirps, and
the streaks were turning apple green. I thought about the sun
advancing like a papal procession across North America. At last, us.
I closed my eyes and tasted and felt something massive and polypoid,
some old, familiar, thickness in me and around me. When I tried to
analyze it, it retreated. Meanwhile, the robins were chiming something they know better than I do, in their unsubtle animal clocks:
just survival, by one more day.
84 CLEAR WATER
MARK FRUTKIN
clear water in the depths of the eye
where the fish swims without mind
as light as silence
the lidless sea awaits
without a glimmer of waiting
the arrival of my absence
here where all songs join
here where the waves of wood
transcend growth
and leaves are neither
a greeting nor farewell
this star has received no light
from distant neighbors
no silver utterance
gleams in its throat
it has no mind to speak
and hears the others
as its own silence
a sea calm beyond images.
Mark Frutkin was born in 1948 and now lives on a farm in Western Quebec
among the Gatineau Hills. This is his first appearance in print.
85 TWO POEMS BY CRAIG POWELL
ATTEMPTED MURDER
The scar above my spleen where his
knife shoved in chafes hasn't
begun to whiten yet the Indian
hates me he slews        mad as a
foetus past me in the male ward        mouth
sloppy with pills and electroshock
waiting his time
as the stone
dromedaries wait kneeling in the
tomb garden among iron
bells embossed with calligraphies such
quiet between the rubbed muzzles
is beautiful all movement
a contemplation of their pose
I loiter still between
the stone and the wind not expecting
the dromedaries to unclasp
their knees and rise the knife
to be gentle when it comes
again
I flailed
like a cockroach when he struck a
dead man almost my shoes
slam heavier onto the stones now the
dromedaries in their glistening haunches
cradle the ludicrous
itch those deep bells they
listen to that tell no sound
endure endure
86 THE SILENCE IN WHICH MY FRIENDS DIE
I have one face in snowlight a
moustached man beside
me smacks his gloves together
shifts his weight on the ice women mutter
and gather like nuns the immense
metallic frosts of the Kingdom
stream over us my body
rises breaking all that it loved
Winter knifes
the iris like the broach of Jocasta
I am almost old and the art
is difficult fresh pine
needles are burning under the snow
What is it turns my life
into a grave for my friends?
my bones upright? the blood
quaking in its caves? the inhabited
light explodes on the distant houses
another World identical to this
Craig Powell graduated in Medicine from the University of Sydney, Australia,
and is a Member of the Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. He
came to Canada in 1972 and is now the Clinical Director of one of the three
regional admission units at Brandon Mental Health Centre. His poems have
appeared in the Canadian Forum and Tuatara.
87 THREE POEMS BY ROSALIND MacPHEE
RESPITE ALONE
His barn busy sucking in cows
a veterinarian
paces the heartbeat
of the fevered Mennonite horse:
loosening its teeth on the wind,
sensing on its lips
the kiss
of another regime.
SHAD HOLLOW
Pilgrims come here each year.
Lovesick, we
dared our breasts
to ride the wild winter wind
wanted to look up
and see
the lidless eye of the bell
always in position,
its muscle
ready for the call
of the salamander's claw.
88 CRUCIAL EDGE
At the filling station
a horse bends to his knees; he is
being serviced
by two girls with straw hats.
He asks for direction.
They mumble something about
his underside; whitewashed by angels,
they say.
With reverence, they draw a chalk line
around the perimeter
of an adjoining construction site,
advising him of appropriate landmarks.
Recognizing their kindness,
he follows this line against death.
At the end
of his contentment, he looks at himself
suspended from scaffolding,
theorizing:
I have been whitewashed by angels.
Rosalind MacPhee is a part-time student at the University of British Columbia. Her poems have appeared in a number of magazines in Canada and abroad.
She now lives in Lions Bay, B.C.
89 TWO POEMS BY DENNIS NOSON
LEGERDEMAIN
Along the way home
through dim and narrow straits
lie islands of dwarf pines
mad caps
with branches all grasping
east
where the sun would be.
Branches wave ragged
in the westwind
sweeps of spume
lace the dead-wood shore
wind mystifies the air.
Long streaks of salt-stained mist
slip into a small white light:
it winks
and the wind dies
it winks
and the waves damp down
it winks
and the branches reach round
toward the sun
which does not set.
90 PRESERVE AND PROTECT
Hooking my left-hand finger
into the belt loop over my right hip
and likewise for the right finger
and left hip loop
I found that speech came hard
and wasn't really worth the effort
anyway
the pressure from the crooks of the elbow
pushed in the diaphragm
slowed respiration
heart beat down
and instinct relaxed
in this way my M-16 was effectively
jammed.
Dennis Noson was born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles, San Diego,
Honolulu and Seattle. He was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After two years in the U.S. Army he is now a graduate student in physics
and oceanography at the University of British Columbia.
91 Charles Brownson is a displaced Westerner, now a librarian at SUNY,
Oswego. Another story of his appeared in the South Dakota Review, and he is
currently at work on a fictional exploration of the conditions of autobiography.
PLANETS
CHARLES BROWNSON
Someone had written fuck you on the back of the seat ahead.
When the streetcar slid out of its tunnel the words stared at him like
painted eyes. He looked away, scrunched down in the seat to peer
through the lower part of the window, watching the street signs
which flicked by now and then almost overhead. Like avocado trees
— four leaves on a long stick.
She was living out in the Sunset again, but not so far out this
time, 34th Avenue. The houses all looked alike —■ white stucco and
Spanish tiles, with that flight of steps running sideways up the front.
With green lawns painted on the cement between the red driveways.
She would be around back, three rooms of plumbed white plaster
behind the garage and the family overhead, a kid practicing the
piano all morning. He would stay only a couple of days, maybe.
The lips of the automatic door flapped open in front of him and
he tumbled out into the street. He wished he could have stayed
away.
She was in Ingleside before this, which he liked better. Going out
at night to Ocean Avenue the car slid stiffly out of its long tunnel.
He sat inside in the sour green light looking down into another
world of dimly visible buildings and tiny, solitary aliens whirring
along faint blue streets. That afternoon he had met her downtown
and after a few minutes of desultory talk she scribbled her address
on a Kleenex for him. He was going out now to Ingleside for coffee
or maybe a bottle of wine, and they would sit until nearly morning
without talking at all. Before going to work she would wake him to
92 ask if he would go out later for bread or a pound of hamburger or
something, and say that she had left some money by the telephone.
It wasn't necessary any longer to invite him to stay. He felt small
and well-regulated. He felt ashamed to stay, and sanctimonious to
pretend shame after so long.
And before this it was Noe Valley, where he had the choice of a
streetcar or a bus. It was her first unfurnished room. She had gotten
a job and with her pay she had bought a pink Formica table, two
wobbly chairs, and a double bed. He tried to be useful, to make the
chairs more solid with some bent coat hangers. The wire laddered
her unfamiliar stockings, but she said nothing and sat on the floor
instead.
He resented her endless affection but weakness drew him to her
like gravity. From guilt he eventually slipped away each time; from
fear he tried to avoid her; he dreaded meeting her again, though he
knew he would, and that he would follow her again to wherever she
was living then. They were different worlds stuck together by
gravity, kept apart by the swiftness of their orbits.
Before this he found her in one of the first permanent places she
had, one room over a Chinese grocery, where he came one night for
a bag of rice. She was buying a can of baked beans. After a few
minutes he went up with her to smoke.
It was a single room the size of a closet with a bed in the wall
which, when it was pulled down, left no room for anything else.
They sat on rush mats, a low table between them on which a misshapen homemade candle burned, drinking tea from two small
bowls, sharing a pipe, and saying nothing. In the telephone alcove
a bundle of dry sticks stood in a plastic tumbler, but perhaps even
that had been left behind by the last tenant. In the course of many
dislocations she had never found the trick of extending herself in
objects. Reduced to ectoplasm, she was as insubstantial as he. An
atmosphere to shroud him. Doppelgangers.
She yawned and stood up to let the bed down. He pushed the
table out of the way and stood flat against the wall. She squeezed
into the telephone alcove on the other side and let the bed fall
between them. Then she sat down on it and began to undress.
In his memory were thousands of other nights in unfamiliar
places, which he had dreaded since childhood. There was an aunt,
a plain, shy woman who lived by herself in a tiny house where he
and his mother spent weekends in the summer, visiting, behind the
deserted school in a dry and brilliant, dusty little town. One summer
93 she was operated on for breast cancer and they stayed a month.
After that she padded her brassiere with Kleenex and in August,
during hay fever, she kept her supplies of tissue there, shrinking
toward evening. Lying on the couch in the parlor, unable to sleep,
the dusty plush fabric coating his sticky skin, he had tried to imagine
her appearance. Were her breasts gone entirely? Was her torso
smooth and clean now, a neat, slightly tapering cylinder like a rubber
truncheon? In his mind he took away her navel, too, and imagined
that perhaps along the sides of her body, beginning under the arms
and running down as far as the hips, he might find a tell-tale flashing
left. On other nights he imagined two nasty raw spots, round sores
the size of salad plates. Certainly they had covered up these holes
with something. Maybe they had even painted the nipples back on
somehow. And if that had been done couldn't they have blown her
up again some way?
He stared as she sat on the bed and began to strip. Her body was
familiar. She was not old, not decayed — her legs were strong, her
hips solid, the pubic hair still dense and black, vulva gorged. But
dread came over him and as she pulled off her shirt he fled.
He always fled in the end, slipping out sometimes in the night, or
failing to return from an errand, or leaving the door stand open
behind him, clattering down the stairs, bursting into the street.
They lived before this in a flat in the Western Addition where the
walls were covered with newspapers to keep out the drafts. Time
was made visible on these walls — a grand quadrille, an elaborate
Allemande from the door to the window danced to the illusory
music of a string quartet, four musicians who sat over a wall sconce
with their instruments on their laps, rigidly, day after day, performing still the concert reviewed in the papers six months before. In a
moment of enthusiasm he imagined that he might project another
universe here and he began to visit the paper theatres and cabarets,
the restaurants and strip shows, the symphony, the opera, taking
always an inexpensixe box on the second night, wanting to go unnoticed. Actors trod the boards for him alone, traveling shows
stayed on months after the troupe had entrained to install itself
elsewhere.
Here was a performance from the entertainment section: a long-
legged chanteuse and a troupe of comedians with her. With the
troupe a rundown old man, a portly old goat who nightly flapped
his elbows, croaking, in imitation of a young cock. Thus humiliated
by the whorish singer with whom he had so long been infatuated
94 and for whom he had thus debased himself, he went berserk one
evening in the middle of his croaking, crowing performance and
pushed backstage in a mad attempt to murder the woman and free
himself.
In the afternoons of that winter he took long drives across the
city. Women in muffs and heavy coats, their somber clothes sweeping the walks, young men in black school uniforms, sailors, Chinese
in black silk and soft hats, made their ways through the street
around him. Before the University he alighted, an elegantly attired
old man, from his carriage. An acquaintance who happened to be
passing along the walk raised his hat in greeting. He nodded in reply,
dismissed his carriage with a rap on the side, and caned his way
slowly up the marble steps of the School of Philosophy.
In the spring the streets, which had turned to a sticky gumbo
during the rains, began to dry out beneath the wheels of his carriage
and the hooves of the horses which drew him ceaselessly, eternally
in his diurnal circuit of the city. In the spring the dandelion wine
fogged up in his cellar and the fried potatoes that his housekeeper
served him for breakfast had sprouted away their best flavor. With
the spring his health degenerated. His fate, now darkly seen, waited.
He began to brood.
The first compartment they had together was the basement of a
rickety wooden building in the Sunset, a few blocks from the ocean.
It reminded him of a converted root cellar. The drainage was bad
there and the room was constantly wet. Water dripped from the
ceiling, it ran out of the walls, it collected on the floor in puddles.
Because the building had been erected on wet sand it now leaned
downhill and nothing inside was straight. Things fell out of the cupboard in the night. Water wouldn't stay in the ice cube tray. There
were no windows, and the entrance was down a sort of well fitted
with a nearly vertical flight of wooden steps, half of which were
broken. During the winter the sludge and garbage collected in the
well so that they could hardly get the door open and when it rained
the mucky water ran over the sill.
She disliked to spend much time in this dismal cellar and therefore he was often alone. She had classes at the University when she
cared to go, which was not often. Evenings she spent with other
friends or in the theatre around the corner — there was always some
interminable series of Russian or Japanese classics showing, or a
Bergman retrospective — or next door to the theatre was a coffee
shop where she could spend an hour over a book and a cup of cold
95 tea. There were usually one or two others there, sitting quietly on
stools in their tattered ulsters and long gray scarves, so that she never
had to be entirely alone. When she stayed home she read books, her
feet drawn up beneath her, wrapped in a blanket against the wet air.
She read pulp thrillers, books with faintly colored covers that she
bought in art shops, stories with whores in them, thieves, and priests
gone bad. As she read she tore the pages out one by one and threw
them away, so that when she was finished she had nothing but the
empty covers.
On Sunday morning they would get up early and go through the
park and down to the beach to sit on the wall below the esplanade
until noon watching the ocean. A few ships passed and if the fog
lifted, as it sometimes did in winter about ten o'clock, they might
pick out tankers and freighters far beyond the buoy lights, black
specks which seldom moved as they sat hour after hour, wrapped in
scarves and greatcoats, on the esplanade. A few times they wandered
all morning in the park and never got to the ocean. And if, in the
hours before the fog lifted and the traffic picked up, it rained, the
city would be almost silent.
It seemed useless to speak on these mornings but often he did
speak, words like exhaust smudge appearing out of the air, clinging
to every exposed surface. He tried to explain himself. She told him
to be quiet.
When they first met, in the theatre coffee shop around the corner
from her compartment in the cellar, she asked him his sign.
Leo, he said. The Sun.
He always spoke of the Sun with awe, conscious of its monumental
power, of the doomed weld of life and death that was its nature.
Before the Sun it was acquiesce or be broken.
But there is pleasure in submission, too, she said.
He looked at her face under the fluorescent lights of the cafe. It
was still well-tanned, he saw, and her skin had the characteristic
open-grained texture of sunbaked clay.
Eventually, she said, the Earth will fall into the Sun, when it slows
down enough.
We'll all be dead of the cold before then, he replied.
Imperturbable noises filled his dreams after that. Constant,
monotonous noises — the painful sound of the summer wind of his
childhood, of a blizzard at night, of bare feet on a straight gravel
road.
In the park there was the endless sound of water — of rain drip-
96 ping from the leaves of trees, of dirty streams trickling across their
concrete beds, of viscous bubbles rising in the ponds, of the condensation of fog, of the mucky earth. There were the voices of birds —
the ever-present scavenger gulls, the muttering of flocks of ducks
beneath the overhanging willows, the wings of pigeons. Wind. An
old gentleman walking his dachshund, one hand on the brim of his
hat. A horse being ridden at full gallop around the polo grounds.
The hiss of a rare automobile on wet pavement. Footsteps — on
concrete, on sand, on wet leaves.
97 THREE POEMS BY JOE ROSENBLATT
THE TOXICOLOGIST
He has scrutinized the egg
& has placed it back into its refrigerated sarcophagus.
The guru has heard the motet under the plaster:
a bird in full bloom!
The egg is contaminated, poison . . .
In the health food store
he sniffs the carrots.
The horizon is lined with stilettos,
unsprayed, earthy
ikons.
They will grow into a carrot manse, together.
DREAM FOOD
Remember me when I'm invisible
leafy & green inside a dream
where birds are snug in a nest
like a child's boots in a shoebox
I'll be a blue sky for uxorious spiders
weaving their highways in the light
to establish their thoughts in my space
of greening skin, & first-born of nuance
Daffodils will laugh in the heart
of the dream, all ashimmer with pollen
from my unspoiled acreage of images
where birds hang out their signs:    egg wanted.
98 IT WAS NEVER LIKE THIS BEFORE
I don't want to get up in the morning
the dreams are becoming more intense
the vivid reds are boiling in my brain
erupting through a purple sky.
Leaves bury my fantasies:
I'm in a russet pond full of virgins
their skin is the white of lilies
they want to make love under water
The women have glowing turquoise eyes
small half lemon breasts
& inoffensive thighs, smooth
like the arcs of doves in the blank
I wear a smile like an old suit —
the dreams are becoming more intimate
I'm afraid of the orange sunset
it will impregnate the ladies
The virgins of the deep extend their arms
their raspberry nipples flash in the sunflower light
but morning hauls me up
up toward the earth, & another day.
Joe Rosenblatt is the author of five books of poetry. His work has also
appeared in a number of anthologies and periodicals. He has taught at York
University and the University of British Columbia.
99 FOUR POEMS BY IRENE FRIEDMAN
ONE BROWN DAY
It is the kind of day that used to be green but is now brown.
The trees have eyes where their leaves used to be.    The grass
is breathing hoarsely.    There is no one in the square except
for two dogs and an old man feeding pigeons from a plastic bag.
The rain has left eyes in the puddles too.    The old man feeds
the pigeons.    He feeds them a wrinkled crust of bread which he
breaks and scatters around him.    The pigeons shrug and come
closer.    They come closer.    They surround the old man and peck
at the bread with their twisted beaks.    The old man keeps the
bag inside his coat, as if to shelter it from the rain.    Every
now and then he stops with his hand inside the bag and looks
around him with fish eyes.    He doesn't see me.    I see only his
round fish eyes.    They swim in little jerks every time his fist
comes out of his coat.    His coat is moldy.    It's been somewhere
too long.    I can even smell its spider smell.    I can smell his
dusty breath. There is no one in the square except for the
old man and myself and two dogs avoiding each other's tails.
There is no one around the square either.    No one on the
downtown streets around us.    There's a red barbecue sign over the
treetops.    It has a red rooster which winks.    It is impossible
to see the top of the skyscrapers.    The streetlamps are on although
it's noon.    There are several statues of green heroes whose faces
I don't recognize.    They have no names.    The old man removes his
hat and throws it to the pigeons.    The dogs race toward the hat.
The pigeons disappear among the eyes in the trees.    The old man
turns and looks at me.    Our eyes meet.    I too have fish eyes.
He has no hair.    It is my lover.    The one who used to grow in
my garden.
100 ATTICS
one of these days my mother
will wake up with a new
pair of eyes and
she'll discover
the bargains her great
great grandmother found
a moment
before she finally
closed her eyes
LOVE
Love
is a key you find
long before
you've got a door
UNTITLED
don't ask me what it means:
the hairs bend their heads
on my arm (corn,
after all, does it)
there's been lots of sun lately
lots of sun
Irene Friedman was born in the Russian Urals in 1944 and lived in several
countries before coming to Canada at 15. She has recently completed her graduate studies at McGill and is now a student in the Creative Writing Department
at the University of British Columbia. Her work (poetry, fiction, and criticism)
has appeared in various literary publications and over the C.B.C.
IOI Donna E. Smyth is teaching English at Acadia University, Nova Scotia and has
published stories in The Writer magazine (England), The Canadian Fiction
Magazine, and The Antigonish Review.
LAMB
DONNA E. SMYTH
He holds her up a mirror but she shakes her head. Her refusal
irritates him. He swings round in the swivel chair to look out the
window where the brown grass of spring shows how long it has been
without rain. Each day the clouds mass on the flat horizon, each day
it does not rain. Unless it rains there will be no green for Easter, the
lambs will be born into a brown and dusty world. That will not
affect the price of meat but, nevertheless, he is depressed.
She twists a kleenex into knotted shapes and seems unable to
control the trembling hands. It is difficult to breathe. Each time she
comes she means to ask him to open the window but each time she
forgets until it is too late and he is displeased with her again. He
never says he is angry but first his lips grow thin and he taps his
fingers together, then he swings round to the window. She re-crosses
her legs and clears her throat.
— I saw a crow today. Black as sin against the blue sky.
— Yes, they have returned early this year.
— Isn't it funny how you say things like that and never stop to
think what you're saying. Why is sin black? Why isn't it red, for
instance.
— Black is the absence of light.
He is dressed in black but also white and he kneels before the
altar. The words he is saying make no sense to her but she comes
each morning to listen and to look at the pictures of the saints on the
walls where the plaster is peeling and cracked, cracked too some of
the pictures and faded. The faces of the saints are stiff, they are
wooden faces, and their eyes stare at her. There is a musty smell, a
damp one. Spiders run under the wooden seats. There is never anyone else but him and her and he does not know she is there, at any
rate he gives no sign of knowing, and this is enough to reassure her.
102 She likes to sit on one of the wooden seats, just inside the door, and
watch him and listen to him. It is like listening to the sea inside a sea
shell which you hold to your ear.
— Perhaps I should stop coming here. We never seem to get anywhere.
— That is your evaluation of the situation, not mine.
— I don't like to waste your time, I know you're very busy.
— What is it? Are you afraid?
They are together, seated side by side, in a small airplane. Across
the aisle are two other seats but they are empty. The pilot has his
back towards them. He looks out the window and sees nothing but
snow and a white, rolling plain that extends as far as the horizon.
They are flying between the grey cloud cover and the white land.
He has the impression of extreme cold and notes that he and she are
dressed in parkas and boots. Both wear fur mittens. He looks at her
as if to say something but does not, instead he takes off a mitten and
leans forward to tap the pilot on the shoulder. When the pilot swings
round, he gasps and recoils. There is no face. No, there is a face but
it is hidden, the features obliterated beneath a stocking mask.
— You know everything there is to know. I'm afraid of boring you.
— You are afraid of telling me something.
— What? What? I have told you everything, my whole life history.
More than I have ever told anyone else. It is a boring life, an
ordinary life full of ordinary things. When I got up this morning I
looked at our weeping birch, we have one in the front yard, and
now it looks dead and dusty as if it were winter, as if it were not
spring. It made me feel like weeping myself. But that is such an
ordinary thing to you, weeping. You must have seen hundreds of
people sitting here, in this chair, weeping.
He swings the chair so he is looking at her again, and that is
better, at least she can see his face. But not his eyes. They are hidden
by goggles, ski-goggles tinted yellow.
— Why do you hate yourself?
— It's you who hate me.
— Or you who hate me.
— No, I... I don't hate you. I have dreams about you.
— What am I doing in those dreams? I said — what am I doing?
— You have a giant penis in the middle of your forehead and you
stick it into me.
They are walking down the road together, side by side, and the
white dust rises and settles and rises, a whitish dust that clings to the
103 shoes and the pants and the legs. On either side there are fields of
wheat, yellow miles of it brighter than the sun which is at a mid-day
position in the sky. She is tired and feels the sweat running under
her arms and pricking between her legs but she does not dare suggest
that they stop. Something in his manner makes her certain that he
would not stop. Behind them the road is a white line between the
fields and ahead of them is the same fine. It is difficult to tell if they
are progressing or merely walking in a circle. The dust settles back
and covers their tracks, they could have been here before, there is no
way of telling. Then the building appears. Inconspicuous, at first it
is merely a brown structure on the horizon. As they approach it
assumes a recognizable shape, that of a house, a two-storey house.
No, there is only one storey and a false front put up so that it looks
like two. There is a porch which sags and the boards are faded, they
are weather-beaten to a fine sheen of grey. On the front of the
building is some lettering, an A and something else, neither of them
can make it out because the paint has flaked and cracked and
peeled. The porch and the darker interior promises relief from the
sun but they both stop when they hear a growl from inside.
It looks like a bear poking his snout out, a black bear, but then
they see it is a dog, an old dog who walks with difficulty, dragging
one leg. They laugh and he says, Here, boy! and the dog allows
itself to be patted. They follow him into the interior where it is
slightly cooler, where the dust has seeped through cracks and lies
thick on the floor, on the shelves, on the counter. There are two
windows, both broken, but across one some boards have been nailed.
He walks behind the counter, stoops to examine, lifts up a metal
object and places it on the counter. Dust covers brass but it is plainly
still what it was and the two pans, one on either side of the centre
support, sway slightly, having nothing, on one side or the other, to
weight them, to tilt the balance.
— You have no right to judge me.
— Everything must be weighed and considered. It is part of what is
happening.
— Sometimes I think I see you as you really are but then I forget
what your face looks like. Perhaps it is the goggles. If I were to meet
you on the street, at a party, if you were to come to my home for
dinner, I would not recognize you. But you, you would know me
anywhere. You have passed me under your microscopic gaze several
times this year. By now my structure must be perfectly plain to you
yet you continue to poke and pry.
104 — If it does not rain, the crops will not grow. It will be like the
Depression again. I suppose you remember how it was?
— I was a girl with my hair full of grasshoppers and dust.
— Of course it could also snow. That is very likely. Rain or snow,
there is little difference. Once I was in England during the spring
time, in some county or other. We were walking past a field and saw
a lamb who had just been born. The blood was still on him and the
ewe was licking, licking with her tongue to clean him. In the grass
beside her was the bloody mesh which held him once but now lay,
shiny and slick like jelly, useless.
It is cool and dark and quiet. The candles, two of them at each
corner, flicker but the form between them is still. She clasps her
hands on her lap and looks at his face which is still like stone, still
except for the shadows of the candles which play over her face and
his. His hands are crossed on his breast. There is also stone, cold and
uneven, beneath her feet. Some of these stones have writing on them
but it is difficult to read because the only light comes from the
candles. His hair is white, her hair is long and golden and hangs
heavily on her white neck. She says words which are not familiar to
her but must be said, words older than stone.
— Why do you seek to destroy me?
— I merely wish to know you. That is why you are here, so I may
know you.
— If you were to take your goggles off, your eyes would turn me to
stone. Turn back to the window. I don't want you looking at me.
— I listened to the weather report today and they said, maybe rain,
maybe snow. But look at it. Nothing happens, only the interminable
wind blows the dust into your teeth, into your eyes.
— Into your hair. Once, when I was a girl, it was so bad we had to
abandon the car because we couldn't see to drive, there was so much
dust it was like a blizzard.
— Do you wish to continue?
— You must tell me what to do.
— Buy the children Easter eggs and hide them on the hillside.
They will roll them down like stones, like snowballs.
He sees her sitting on the grass. There is grass sprouting from her
fingertips, it waves like green flames and her thighs are silver as the
bark of birches, are silver as the tender young shoots reflected in the
water. The water gushes from between her legs and he drinks it
eagerly, he splashes his face with it. Her belly gleams and is slippery,
silver and slippery as the salmon leaping. He tries to hold her
105 between his hands but she arches and leaps and is gone. He sits
down in the dust to weep.
— If the lambs are born in the snow, they will not know about the
sun and the blue and the green. The world will be white as they are
white and cold and shivering. The crows sit and wait for the lambs
to die. You know what the crows will do.
—■ Perhaps we should become vegetarians.
— When you are born your head is covered with blood. That is why
they wash you.
— Or lick, lick with their tongues.
She sees that he is coming out of her hole, a tiny man in a business
suit, perfectly featured, perfectly formed. He has been inside her all
this time. She holds him in the palm of her hand, undecided.
Perhaps she will keep him in her purse and take him out from time
to time to look at. Perhaps she will plant him in her garden to see if
he will grow. Perhaps she will eat him.
He swivels in the swivel chair and feels his penis growing, growing. Soon it is so large that it rests on top of the desk. He is
alarmed by the weight and size of it, it threatens to render him
helpless and, moreover, seems to be taking on an identity of its own,
apart from him. There are branches sprouting from it and green
leaves unfolding, sweet and sticky. Soon the tree fills all the room
and still more branches spread, breaking through the window, putting pressure on the walls and roof.
Amid the falling plaster, he perceives that they are lying beneath
the tree, he and she, the one inside the other and it is difficult to tell
who is inside and who outside. He closes his eyes.
— I don't think I will come anymore.
— You've got what you wanted, have you?
— Without the goggles, your eyes are mirrors. I see us reflected
there. You are a crow, black as sin, sitting in the tree; I am a lamb.
— Some kind of sacrifice is to be expected.
Washing off the dust, the rain falls gently on all the leaves, it is
rain, not snow, the meteorologists were right. He swivels in the chair
to watch the brown grass darken.
— The farmers will be glad to see this. I hope you won't get wet as
you go.
— I can take a taxi.
— Well, then, next week as usual?
— Do you think it should go on?
— There is no way to stop it.
106 Meredyth Savage is a Vancouver writer and translator who lived for many
years in Mexico. She received her M.A. from the Department of Creative Writing at U.B.C. Her translations of poetry, fiction and essays from the Spanish
have appeared in a number of literary journals, including Prism, Mundus Artium
and The Yearbook of Literary Criticism, and her translation of a Spanish play,
The Perfect Gentleman by Max Aub, was produced by the C.B.C. She has also
published translations of Canadian poetry in Spain.
After Douglas Day:
Lowry and Tony Kilgallin
A REVIEW BY MEREDYTH SAVAGE
Douglas Day's recent biography, Malcolm Lowry (483 pages, put
out by Oxford University Press) is the most comprehensive work to
date on the "demonically" gifted Canadian author and his work.
Day's biography is a penetrating one, engagingly and thoughtfully
executed, as unflinchingly honest and unbiased towards Lowry as it
is generously humane. Lowry, with his robust and untidy devils, his
alcoholism and his exasperatingly appealing infantile dependencies
is an all-too-easy mark for dragon-slayers who could be guaranteed
a facile trophy by the simple execution of a contemptuous burlesque
of his especially vulnerable underbelly in order to hue down his
genius. With keen, compassionate eyes, Day neither persecutes nor
romanticizes the man but rather offers an illuminating portrait of
Lowry and his work that seeks to comprehend him in all the breadth
of his complexities, from his often dazzling visionary gifts to his
crippling limitations, and succeeds in integrating these divergent
elements into a coherent and perceptive whole.
Close on the heels of Day's widely acclaimed biography, Vancouver author Tony Kilgallin has come out with a book on Lowry
which must bear examination in the light of its predecessor. Not half
the size (211 small pages), Kilgallin's book, Lowry, is published by
Press Porcepic in Erin, Ontario and sells for $8.95.
The two books on Lowry are not at all parallel. It is only the
common subject matter and the fact of their nearly simultaneous
appearance in print that invites any association between the two.
Both in emphasis and in attitudes, the perspective of these authors is
poles apart. Douglas Day may be said to approach Lowry and his
107 work from a primarily psychological perspective, gestalt in outlook,
and Tony Kilgallin from a more symbolistic and analytical literary
viewpoint. Though both books deal with Lowry the man and his
writing, they are highly dissilimar in aim, scope and stylistic content.
Douglas Day's book is indeed a biography and deals with Lowry in
the larger context, attempting to convey the essence of the whole
man as well as the development and body of his writing.
Kilgallin, on the other hand, does not shoot nearly so high nor
attempt to cover such extensive territory. Kilgallin's title, Lowry,
leads one to expect a biography. But Lowry is not a book about
Lowry; not really. As to what Kilgallin's book actually is is a bit
more difficult to say. The book suffers from a lack of clear identity:
its character is ambiguous and its specific intent remains somewhat
obscure to the reader. The general artistic presentation of the book
and elaborate mythological illustrations (unfortunately rather artificially imposed and not always directly relevant to the text in any
intrinsic way) certainly suggest an appeal to the aesthetic layman
and seem to imply a general, rather comprehensive overview of the
man and his work.
What the book provides instead is a skilful but fragmented
diagnosis of an assortment of compressed, un-integrated and unevenly fleshed elements of considerable interest to Lowry enthusiasts.
The style and content of the book are essentially academic and
scholarly in nature, and, much in the manner of a literary treatise,
seem directed primarily to colleagues and dedicated students of
Lowry's work. If this was indeed Kilgallin's aim, why then the
elaborate presentation, seductive ornamentation and resulting price
of $8.95 for 211 pages? Due to the nature of Kilgallin's approach, it
would seem to have been far better for him to have clearly confined
his scope to areas of his most obvious expertise, namely, the specific
and in-depth literary analysis of particular aspects of, say, Under the
Volcano, in a well-defined perspective, without the dressings of a
more comprehensive overview (though in the case of Under the
Volcano, it is the latter which is far more needed).
Kilgallin's book is divided into three autonomous chapters, or
essays, one dealing basically with Lowry's first novel, Ultramarine,
one dealing with Under the Volcano, and, preceding these, a
chapter giving a highly compressed bit of biographical data amplified by a collection of quotations taken from comments of a number
of Lowry's contemporaries who knew him in various capacities.
Curiously, it is this lively collection of anecdotes in the first chapter
108 which provides the most attractive and readable material in the
book, and it is certainly to Tony Kilgallin's credit that he has used
these direct personal perspectives on Lowry as extensively as he has
and that he has retained them in their original language. These
direct quotes give more access to the colors of the man and afford
more immediate perceptions into his personality than purely biographical narrative ever could. Many of these recollections are as
engaging as they are insightful into Lowry's psychology:
A friend of Lowry's, Peter Churchill, with whom Lowry and his
wife, Margerie, stayed briefly outside New York before leaving for
Italy, revealed an incident, quoted by Kilgallin, wherein Lowry had
been following with great interest radio reports on the progress of an
approaching hurricane named "Edna" ("Malcolm and hurricanes
had a peculiar affinity"). Early the following morning, near the time
for their departure for the Italian-bound freighter, a high wind was
gusting. In Churchill's words:
Joan and I were still in bed when Margerie burst in upon us and
announced with a suitably dramatic gesture that Malcolm had vanished.
She had searched the house. He was gone ... I put on some clothes and
went to look for Malcolm. In passing I saw that a full bottle of gin had
disappeared also. The trees outside were swaying in the wind. I noticed
that one of the low sweeping branches of a Pawlownia tree seemed to
be swaying rather more than was accounted for by the wind. Through
the mass of enormous leaves I could see Malcolm in pyjamas clinging to
it desperately. When he saw me he shouted, "Hang on! Here comes
Edna. Don't let go!" I subdued Edna slightly by leaning heavily against
the swaying branch and in a matter-of-fact tone asked Malcolm if he
could lend me a razor blade as all mine seemed to be blunt. Edna
forgotten, he followed me into the house and duly found me a razor
blade. (L 76-7)
This incident was also quoted in Day's biography; the following
reminiscence, however, appears only in Kilgallin's book:
Dorothy and Harvey Burt, close friends and neighbours of the
Lowries on the beach at Dollarton, B.C., recall the Lowries' homecoming to their beach shack in March or early April of 1953 after
their annual winter retreat to Vancouver. Their shack was generally
vandalized during these absences, and on their return this time they
found their outhouse pushed over on its side:
it was no surprise when we reached the trail leading down the bank to
the beach to see the massive, heavy-planked two-holer sagged on its side
amongst the salmon-berry bushes, its great catch-pit gaping obscenely
up at the trees. We took the suitcases down to the house, fortified our-
109 selves with gin, and clambered up the stairs to start work. As we
approached the pit, Malcolm noisily cleared his throat, advanced to the
edge of the hole, looked down, put his left hand to his heart and extended the right, and in the most perfectly resonant parody of melodrama declared, "O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth ..."
{Julius Caesar, Selected Letters of Malcolm Lowry 388) at which point
we both exploded in guffaws. The forest echoed with our hoots and
sobs . . . We staggered, bent over with hands on knees, grabbed trees,
stumps, branches for support. (L 63-4)
Further fortifying themselves with still more gin, they set up a block
and tackle and pried up the outhouse with a cedar pole. ("Male
told us later the place was dear to him: he had built it himself, and
had read the whole of Remembrance of Things Past on its throne.")
At one point the house tottered, sagged and threatened to fall on
Lowry, who lunged forward to try and force it up again:
For a moment it had looked as though the house would topple over
onto Male, and both of us were alarmed and exhausted. He looked at
me, grinned, and said, "Harvey, can you imagine what it would look
like in the books to have the most famous Canadian author killed by a
falling shithouse!" (L 65)
Vancouver, unfortunately, took a rather dim view of Lowry and
his much loved shack in Dollarton, which provided Lowry with
possibly the only real periods of happiness of his life and a tiny, vital
fortress of sanity in which to work. Though Lowry and his wife had
rebuilt the shack with their own hands from literal ashes after it had
burned to the ground in a fire, enough citizens in Vancouver were
sufficiently morally outraged upon discovering that a man who had
"struck it rich" should be living so cheaply in their midst that an
article appeared in the Vancouver Sun on August 1, 1947 headed:
"Wealthy Squatters Find Rent-Free Beach Haven". In "righteous"
indignation the article began: "A successful novelist who could write
a cheque for thousands is 'king' of the beach squatters of Royal Row
at Dollarton, 10 miles east of Vancouver." (ML 389 It is perhaps
understandable, given the provincial attitudes prevalent in Vancouver at that period and Lowry's most expressive nonconformity,
that Lowry regarded Vancouver as "the most hopeless of all cities of
the lost", and in his short story, "The Bravest Boat," turned it into
the sinister and philistine city of Enochvilleport.)
The outhouse incident and other often poignant recollections,
including glimpses of Lowry's struggle with his own private goblins
(which he both conjured up and sought to assuage in the bottle),
amplify the picture.
110 Vancouver writer and CBC producer Norman Newton, who knew
Lowry, had this to say about him:
He seemed to me to be a self-destructive visionary, who used liquor the
way some Romantic poets used drugs, as a kind of anesthetic for the
mundane self. When one was with him, one seemed to drink in the
same way. Deep in his personality there was some kind of spiritual
horror: he was very interested in magic, and I suspect had to some
extent become a victim of malign spiritual forces. Certainly he thought
this was the case .. . His speech when he was drunk often had a kind of
'prophetic' quality about it; and at these times his eyes would sparkle
with an almost demonic glitter .. . He seemed almost an angelic creature captured and tormented in Hell. .. (L 59-60)
The interesting and revealing personal observations by Malcolm
Lowry's contemporaries do indeed shed light on the world of Lowry's
personality. However, welcome though these authentic glimpses of
the man are, the biographical portion of Kilgallin's book must,
regrettably perhaps, be viewed in the larger light of Day's biography,
by which it appears as a kind of abbreviated journalism attractively
spiced with colorful, vivid interviews to compensate for flesh lacking
in the narrative. In due fairness to Kilgallin, it must be said that he
does not pretend to the breadth and depth of Day's biography in his
account; however, one would have hoped to find some at least
hypothetical distillation of insights drawn from the facts of Lowry's
life and the observations of his contemporaries, some in-depth probes
into the man and his perceptions.
The stylistic change between the first chapter of Kilgallin's book
and the other two is marked and abrupt. The second and third
chapters, dealing basically with Ultramarine and Under the Volcano
respectively, are rather heavily academic and require a serious devotion to the subject matter on the part of the reader. Kilgallin has
quite apparently researched his material extensively, although there
are instances when one would like to see more direct references to
source material for certain unsubstantiated assertions which the
reader may question.
An example of this is to be found in Kilgallin's chapter on Ultramarine, where he states that the novel's heroine, Janet, was
"modelled upon the silent movie star Janet Gaynor, since Lowry
had no girlfriend at the time of the novel's composition" (L 99),
whereas Douglas Day, speaking of Lowry at the same period, states
that "Perhaps he was, like Dana Hilliot of Ultramarine, keeping
himself pure for a girl back in England. (Conrad Aiken has said
that the original for Ultramarine's Janet was a girl in Liverpool
in named Tessa, but there are no more clues to help us, here.)" (ML
93-4) We would hopefully assume that Kilgallin did have a source
for his remark but might wish he had let us in on it.
The two chapters dealing with Lowry's work, which constitute
the bulk of Kilgallin's book, are frequently somewhat thick in style
and language. Kilgallin's manner of presenting his material is not
always inviting in itself, as opposed to Day's book, which fully and
immediately engages. Kilgallin's rhetoric, at its worst, is all too often
overweighted, and instances of turgid and pedantic writing are to be
found.
The contrasts between Dana's thoughts and the stichomythic dialogue
of the crew throughout the book are emphatically ironic in illustrating
interior and exterior modes of consciousness. The abrasion of these
modes creates not only double perspective but the important interfacing
conflict of values that wages within Dana. (L 103)
Too frequently one can hear the thud and clank of the heavy wheels
of analysis in laborious motion.
Called by Douglas Day "the greatest religious novel of this century" and by Kilgallin "the global masterpiece recognized to date in
sixteen languages as one of the few touchstone novels of our century" (pretty strong stuff), Under the Volcano is indeed a magnificent, tragic, compassionate and beautiful work, as John Woodburn
rightly called it in his review in the Saturday Review of Literature
after the novel's publication in 1947. In looking at Lowry's masterpiece, Kilgallin pursues, almost exclusively, symbolic patterning,
literary allusion and structural technique, looking so minimally at
the novel itself as to leave it almost non-existent. He quite apparently
takes for granted an ample familiarity with the novel on the part of
the reader. Basically absent from Kilgallin's book is any real consideration of the essential nature and textural feel of Under the
Volcano, its language and mood, the emotional ebb and flow of its
characters, its thrust and vision or the dynamics of its tensions. This
exclusivity of perspective in Kilgallin's study necessarily narrows the
field of vision considerably, denying us what we might have hoped
for and expected in such a book: at least a glimpse of an attempted
holistic view of Lowry's major work. What we have here, however,
is a dissection with no real evidence of a fleshed body lying on the
examining table. Rather there is only a prolific array of isolated
organs lying about, connected by an intricate wiring of veins and
arteries but with no trace of the body.
In his study Kilgallin over-indulges himself in a sea of literary
112 allusions to external material — citations from works of other
authors, potentially analogous literary situations, Freudian commentary, books on magic, the occult and esoteric religions — some
of these allusions pertinent and illuminating but others — too many
others — considerably strained and intrusive. Lacking restraint as to
the judicious employment of literary allusions, Kilgallin is often
excessive to the point of ostentation.
On pages 173-4 Kilgallin refers to an incident in Under the
Volcano involving the novel's protagonist, Geoffrey (the Consul) as
follows:
A Cabbalistic interpretation reinforces Geoffrey's observation: "I have
another enemy round the back you can't see. A sunflower. I know it
watches me and I know it hates me" (UTV 148). Swedenborg believed
that if God appeared in the heavens it was because He was the Divine
Love by which all spiritual things existed, in the same way that all
natural objects thrive by the sun. Talking to Hugh later about this same
sunflower, Geoffrey states that "it stared. Fiercely. All day. Like God!"
(UTV 183). As Adam and Christ, Blackstone and Livingstone, Geoffrey echoes the belief of the hero in Claude Houghton's novel Julian
Grant Loses His Way. .. Agreeing with Houghton that "a man can't
imagine his own heaven till he's found his own hell" Lowry had Geoffrey look into the abyss of his life for his salvation. (L 174)
These references might be quite justifiable in this context had Kilgallin taken the trouble to reveal the reasons for their relevance to
the reader, which he fails to do. This sort of thing occurs all too
frequently.
Kilgallin is preoccupied with the detection and definition of
Lowry's symbolic usage, of the techniques by which the work was
structured and the sources of its materials, whereas Lowry's prime
concern in Under the Volcano was a thematic one and one which
wrestled with the question of personal meaning in the largest context
— at the risk of sounding grandiose: that of man vis-a-vis himself
and his relationship to the universe, in the abstract, and to his
fellows, in particular. Kilgallin does not touch on the passion for
meaning which informs the novel, and in a book that pretends to be
more than a technical analysis, this omission is to be regretted.
Kilgallin's tracking down of all appearances in the novel of the
significant number 7 in any shape or form is characteristic of the
manner of his intensive symbolic pursuits. To cite a few examples:
The novel started and will end at seven with the actions of the horse
associated with death, the Book of Revelation and the four horsemen
of the Apocalypse . .. the number seven drew to it the Seven Taber-
"3 nacles in Hell... the seven daughters of Atlas called the Pleiades to
whom Yvonne will speed after death; the Seven Wonders of the
Ancient World, among which is the Pharos of Alexandria duplicated
for Geoffrey as the Farolito, and the seven stages of man which Geoffrey relives before seven o'clock. (L 184) ... Vigil's triangular tennis
racket, Laruelle's quadrangular — totalling seven ... (L 145)
A major portion of Kilgallin's study of the novel is given over to
the unleashing of the hounds on such symbolic and mythological
figures occurring in Under the Volcano as the number 7, the scorpion, the wheel (of fortune), the tree (of life), the horns (of the
cuckold), the goat, the split-rock, the number 666, the swan, the
dog, the horse, the eagle, the hare and so on, discussing the manner
of their employment and function in the novel, with attending
literary allustions.
Symbolic witch-hunting is a natural temptation with this novel, it
must be admitted; Lowry begs for it — demands it, even, of the
serious critic who seeks to comprehend the work maximally. However, a symbolic pattern is not a novel but merely one of its many
features, and to dump the bulk of the weight of appraisal disproportionately on to one attribute — even in the case of Under the
Volcano — is to thrust the perception of the whole substantially
awry.
Lowry himself, unlike many of his critics, acknowledged that the
symbolizing and mythologizing in Under the Volcano is not the
prime foundation and concern of the novel. Day quotes excerpts
from Lowry's thirty-one page exegesis included in a letter to his
publisher Jonathan Cape:
all this (the mythological content of the novel) is not important at all to
the understanding of the book . . . The novel can be read simply as a
story which you can skip if you want. It can be read as a story you will
get more out of if you don't skip. (See Selected Letters, pp. 57-88)
Day comments:
The inclusion of various kinds of arcana is, not, then, for the purpose
of ornamental or pretentious complication, but to add resonance ... to
simplify, to make the work accessible to any kind of reader. (ML 319)
Highly pertinent to an appraisal of Kilgallin's approach are Day's
remarks on pages 321 and 322 :
Lowry may... have thought of the process by which he wrote and
rewrote Under the Volcano as one of simplification; but the fact
remains that his novel has seemed to almost every reader an enormously
114 complex, even obscurantist, piece of fiction. It is not surprising then,
that, instead of essays which explore the novel as Gestalt, critics have so
far concentrated almost without exception on one or two of the many
strands which woven together produce the whole work... At this
moment, there is . . . only one published work of criticism which is immediately and unqualifiedly valuable to any reader of the whole novel:
Dale Edmonds's Under the Volcano: A Reading of the Immediate
Level, which assumes what no one else seems really to have assumed:
that the novel "exists powerfully as a story about people," whatever
else it may be: and that it is on this immediate level of "people, places,
events and circumstances within a fictional world that most resembles
our own" that Under the Volcano communicates most affectively. To
read Edmonds's essay is to learn that Lowry's novel does indeed respond
to a sane, non-Procrustean, non-thesis-pushing analysis. Someday . . .
we will perhaps see our paths cleared for more fruitful and illuminating
studies, and fewer instances of earnest drudgery. (ML 322)
Fortunately, Kilgallin is not without moments of humor in the
business of symbol-hunting, and in a brief but delightful moment
(shaft of sunlight in the symbolic swamp) he pokes fun at this
pursuit with a neat bit of word-play: Dealing with the symbolic
associations of the Mexican town Cuernavaca ("Cow's Horn") in
Under the Volcano, Kilgallin says: "Geoffrey is quite aware that
'Venus is a horned star' (UTV 220). Accordingly, he calls the town
'Cuckoldshaven' (UTV 64), the name of London in the Elizabethan
play Eastward Ho! In true fashion he is the cuckold shaven (UTV
177-8) by his cuckolding half-brother Hugh" (L 159), (who
literally shaves Geoffrey's face, as the latter is incapacitated by
alcohol).
One of the most interesting features in Kilgallin's study of aspects
of Under the Volcano is his disclosure of Lowry's use of cinematic
technique in the structuring of his novel, as revealed by Lowry in his
exegesis. Calling Under the Volcano "one of this century's most
cinematographic novels" (though certainly not in so self-consciously
obvious form as Robbe Grillet's Jalousie), he describes the opening
of the novel and its filmlike handling thusly:
from the satellite camera angle of the novel's first paragraph to the
telescopic close-up shot in the fifth the reader-viewer will have closed
in, frame by frame, from the global panorama to the focal centre of
Laruelle. Employing rapid cuts from perspective to perspective (panoramic to close-up) Lowry has employed five examples of montage:
a) juxtaposition of the separate settings in the opening paragraph:
b) presentation   of   the   characteristic  features  of  Quauhnahuac  by
showing selected portions of it;
"5 c) combinations (churches, cantinas, pools) connected not only spatially and temporarily but also symbolically;
d) fluctuation between the positive spaces of (c) where there are defined objects, and the negative spaces of the third paragraph where
absent ghosts are invisibly perceptible, (compare the body in Blowup) ;
e) rhythm of shot-sequence from wide and long angle to narrow and
short (L 131-2)
The discussion of Lowry's employment of film techniques and the
tracing of influences of the German Expressionist filmmakers on
Lowry and in Under the Volcano is both illuminating and provocative. It is a pity that Kilgallin's exploration here is so highly abbreviated, as this is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of his study of
Under the Volcano.
Throughout the book Kilgallin compresses far too much pithy
information into far too little space, often crowding a mass of profundities and fascinating perceptions into apparent near insignificance. It is really almost incomprehensible that so much material is
so unduly condensed in this book. One is curious as to why Kilgallin
has done this. That he has actually succeeded in presenting such an
amazing quantity of pertinent information within the constraints of
so slim a book is quite remarkable.
Whatever its limitations, one cannot help but come away from
Kilgallin's book with a sense of grudging respect for the author's
substantial accomplishments and diligent, back-breaking research.
The undertaking of the compilation of a broad range of studies on
particular aspects of Under the Volcano, excerpts from works of a
wide variety of other authors which bear relevance to Lowry's book,
applications of Lowry's exegesis to elements of the novel and the
pertinent relating of all these to components of Under the Volcano
is an exceptionally demanding one. Kilgallin brings a high degree of
skill and knowledge of his craft to the examination of a profusion of
elements in Lowry's work, and, in the main, his analysis is intelligent
and informative despite its somewhat wearisome handling. The
context is wrong, the excesses are evident and the compression is
regrettable, but judiciously edited and broken down into different
contours and developed in breadth along the lines he has set down,
the material provided by Kilgallin in this book could present a
valuable key to a great many aspects of the work of this extraordinary and often bewitchingly enigmatic author.
116 BOOKS AND PERIODICALS RECEIVED
PERIODICALS
Arts in Society, Fall 1973, Volume 10, Number 2, Film: New Challenge and
New Possibility, published The University of Wisconsin-Extension, subscriptions $7.50 per year, $2.50 per copy, 320 pp.
Books Abroad, Autumn 1973, An International Literary Quarterly sponsored by
The University of Oklahoma, 216 pp., subscriptions $8.00 per year, $2.50 per
copy.
Canadian Literature, No. 58, Autumn 1973, A Quarterly of Criticism and
Review, published University of British Columbia, 116 pp., subscriptions $5.50
per year, $2.00 per copy.
Chelsea 32, 1973, poetry/prose/art, 170 pp., subscriptions $3.50 for two consecutive issues, $2.25 per copy.
Chicago Review, 1973, Volume 25, Numbers 1 & 2, Quarterly of art-work, book
reviews, drama essays, poetry, prose fiction, published University of Chicago,
Illinois; subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy, 210 pp.
Cut Bank 2, 1973, published University of Montana, poetry/fiction, subscriptions $3.00 per year, $1.50 per copy, 92 pp.
Fiction International I, Fall 1973, Semi-annual Journal of letters and arts, published St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York, subscriptions $4.00 per
year, $2.00 per copy, 136 pp.
Journal of Popular Culture, Summer 1973, Volume VII, No. 1, subscriptions
$15.00 per year, $4.00 per copy, 248 pp.
Announcing the
U.W.O. PRESIDENT'S MEDALS
for Canadian periodical writing published in 1973
One hundred dollars accompanies each award.
Closing date: June 15, 1974
last year's winners :
Jack Hodgins — Short Story
Peter C. Newman — General Article
No award for Single Poem or for Scholarly Article
Competition rules should be obtained from:
Professor R. G. N. Bates, Department of English
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada    N6M 3K7
117 OKS
for almost every taste
and purpose can be round,
easily, at
DUTHIE
and PAPERBACK CELLAR
919 Robson
670 Seymour
4560 W. 10th Avenue
1032 W. Hastings
684-4496
684-3627
CA 4-7012
688-7434
University of British Columbia
Bookstore
TEXTBOOKS
REFERENCE BOOKS
PAPERBACKS
STATIONERY
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
n8 Mosaic, VI/4,  1973, A Journal for the Comparative Study of Literature and
Ideas, published by the University of Manitoba Press, 236 pp., subscriptions
$8.00 per year, $2.25 per copy.
Overland, 56, Spring 1973, Quarterly Literary Magazine, published Melbourne,
Australia, 62 pp., subscriptions $2.00 per year.
Partisan Review, 1973, Volume XL, Number 3, Quarterly Review published by
Rutgers University, New Jersey, 210 pp., subscriptions $5.50 per year, single
copies $1.50.
Poetry,   September,  October,  November  &  December  issues,   1973,  published
Chicago, Illinois, subscriptions $12.00 per year, $1.25 per copy, 64 pp.
Poetry Australia,   1973, Number 48, published South Head Press, New South
Wales, Australia, subscriptions $7.50 per year, 64 pp.
Quarry,  Autumn   1973, Volume 22, Number 4, published Kingston, Ontario,
poetry /fiction, subscriptions $4.00 per year, 80 pp.
The Canadian Fiction Magazine, Autumn  1973, A Journal of Contemporary
Canadian Fiction, subscriptions $5.00 per year, $2.00 per copy, 100 pp.
The Fiddlehead, Fall  1973, published in Fredericton, New Brunswick, poetry/
fiction/art/reviews, 126 pp., $1.00 per copy.
The Little Magazine, Winter-Spring 1973, Volume seven, Number one, fiction/
poetry, 64 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.25 per copy.
The Malahat Review, Number 29, January 1974, An International Quarterly of
Life and Letters, published University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.,  140 pp.,
subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
The Southern Review, Summer  1973, published quarterly at Louisiana State
University, 750 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
The Tamarack Review, No. 60, 1973, poetry/fiction, 80 pp., subscriptions $5.00
per year, $1.50 per copy.
Wascana Review, Fall  1973, Volume 8, Number 2, fiction/poetry/reviews, 82
pp., subscriptions $2.50 per year, $1.50 per copy.
West   Coast  Review,  October   1973,  Volume 8,  Number  2,  published  Simon
Fraser University, Burnaby 2, B.C., subscriptions $6.00 per year, $1.50 per
copy, 64 pp.
Western Humanities Review, Autumn 1973, published quarterly by the University of Utah,  110 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
BOOKS
adam, ian, Encounter, 1973, The Ladysmith Press, Quebec, poetry, 40 pp.
beatty, jean m., Gamut, 1973, Collected Poems, published Marlowe House
Ltd., Victoria, B.C., 78 pp., $3.95.
birney, earle, What's So Big About Green?, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.,
poetry, 64 pp., $3.95.
blais, marie-claire, David Sterne, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited, fiction,
92 pp., $5.95.
brennan, anthony, The Carbon Copy, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited,
fiction, 216 pp., $7.95.
cardenal, ernesto, Homage To The American Indians, 1973, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, poetry, 116 pp., $6.95.
clark, D. M., Inside Shadows, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited, fiction, 106
pp., $6.95.
"9 garner, Hugh, One Damn Thing After Another, 1973, an autobiography, published McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., Ontario, 290 pp., $6.95.
jacot, michael, The Last Butterfly, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited, fiction, 220 pp., $7.95.
jourdry, Patricia, The Dweller On The Threshold, 1973, McClelland &
Stewart Limited, fiction, 162 pp., $6.95.
ludwig, jack, A Woman Of Her Age, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited,
fiction, 196 pp., $7.95.
marty, sid, Headwaters, poetry, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited, 112 pp.,
$4-95-
novik, mary, Robert Creeley, An Inventory, 1945-1970, McGill-Queen's University Press, Quebec, 210 pp., $6.00.
oquilluk, william a., People of Kauwerak, Legends of the Northern Eskimo,
292 pp., AMU Press Book Publication.
purdy, al, Sex & Death, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Limited, poetry, 126 pp.,
$3.50.
such, peter, Riverrun, 1973, Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited, fiction, 144
PP-, $5-95-
taminga, Frederick w., Bunk Among Dragons, 1973, Wedge Publishing Foundation, Toronto, poetry, 84 pp., $2.95.
The North Carolina College Poetry Issue of Tar River Poets, 1973, edited by
Vernon Ward, 64 pp.
LAKEHEAD UNIVERSITY REVIEW
VOL. 6, NO. 2
Canada Into The Seventies
Clara Thomas, Stephen Scobie, Dorothy Livesay,
Robert Kroetsch, Douglas Barbour, W. H. New,
more
$3.50 TWO ISSUES; $10 THREE YEARS
3035 Ryan Building, Lakehead University
Thunder Bay, Ontario
120 The
Canadian Fiction
Magazine
FIRST ANNUAL CONTRIBUTORS PRIZE/
PREMIER PRIX ANNUEL POUR COLLABORATEURS
$200.00
For original Canadian fiction appearing in French or English in the
preceding Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn issues.
To be awarded to the writer whose work is selected as most outstanding by the year's contributors.
The winner of the award for 1974 will be announced in the first issue
published in 1975.
All manuscripts must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope
and Canadian stamps or international reply coupons.
Pour un oeuvre de fiction canadienne en francais ou en anglais parais-
sant dans les numeros de l'hiver, du printemps, de l'ete ou de l'automne
precedents.
Decerne a l'auteur de l'oeuvre choisie la plus notable de l'annee par
nos collaboratcurs.
Le nom du gagnant pour 1974 sera annonce dans le premier numero
de 1975-
Tous manuscrits doivent etre accompagnes d'enveloppe adressee et avec
timbres canadiens ou de coupons-reponse internationaux.
THE EDITOR
The Canadian Fiction Magazine
P.O. BOX 46422, STATION G, VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA
v6r 4G7 

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