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 PI IM
international
Winter-Spring, ig66     $i.2j  STAFF
editor-in chief  Jacob Zilber
associate editors   Robert Harlow
Prose
Dorothy Livesay
Poetry
art editor Charles Mayrs
advisory editor Jan de Bruyn
business manager Cherie Smith
cover David Mayrs
illustrations   Charles Mayrs
John MacKillop
PRINTED BY MORRIS S PRINTING COMPANY LTD., VICTORIA, B.C.
PRISM international is a journal of contemporary writing, published three times
a year by the University of British Columbia. Annual subscriptions are $3.50,
single copies $1.25, obtainable by writing to PRISM, c/o Creative Writing,
U.B.C, Vancouver 8, Canada.
MSS should be sent to the Editors at the same address and must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope and Canadian or unattached U.S. stamps,
or commonwealth or international reply coupons. PRISM
CONTENTS
ESSAY
international
VOLUME FIVE     NUMBERS THREE & FOUR
The City of Nannies     maria kuncewicz
FICTION
Thibidault et Fils clark blaise
The Perfect Game patlowther
High Dudgeon ruth jespersen
26
52
94
POETRY
Remembering You miriam waddington
a miscellany of
vancouver poets
Four Poems david parkin
Two Poems milton acorn
The Fountain bill bissett
Two Poems john newlove
Two Poems nancy-lou Patterson
on poets and poetry
Saltimbanque Frederick candelaria
Two Poems peter stevens
The Proper Evaluation of Poets ralph j. Salisbury
Fession (Pro- and Con-) l. a. mackay
Elegy for Mr. Eliot david m. summers
Poetry Readings rella lossy
The Craftsman albert drake
10-20
10
1
20
24
43-51
43
44
47
47
48
48
50 Egg Sonata
30 Below
A Few Myths
Our Zoo at Night
The Arms of St. Peter's
Two Poems
Two Poems
Three Poems
Two Poems
If Only Someone Else
Would Come
Two Poems
Letter to My Mother
Sigiriya
Two Poems
Song of a Walking Lampshade
Books and Periodicals Received
JOE ROSENBLATT
02
GEORGE BOWERING
65
PETER STEVENS
66
FREDERICK CANDELARIA
7*
ALBERT DRAKE
7i
DAVID M. SUMMERS
72
BARRY LORD
74
WILLIAM WANTLING
77
ROBERT KROETSCEC
80
ENDRE ADY
(with translation from the
Hungarian by
J UDITTE SARKANY-PERRET
and earle birney)
D. M. THOMAS
DOM MORAES
SIRI GUNASINGHE
(with translation from the
Sinala by
GAMINI SENEVIRITNA)
A. E. DUDLEY
GASTON BART-WILLIAMS
83
84
86
89
9i
92
118
notes on contributors appear beside their work
EDITORIAL NOTE
To simplify publication procedures, this issue has combined the Winter 1965
and Spring 1966 numbers. Future issues will appear three times annually, and
will be larger than in the past. The new price of individual copies is $1.25;
subscription rates are unchanged.  We begin a series of essays on great cities of the world with this translation
by Maria Kuncewicz, from her recent book of travel commentary, published
in Poland. Mrs. Kuncewicz, the noted Polish essayist and novelist, presently
holds the Chair of Polish Literature at the University of Chicago.
MARIA KUNCEWICZ
Really, at times Seville appears to be a city of nannies. At noon
the parks and squares are populated with children accompanied by
uniformed nurses, and one is struck immediately by the clash of interests between the governesses and their subjects. The babies almost
pour out of the perambulators, so keen are they to get to know the
world, such passion is aroused in their breasts by a running dog, a
hopping sparow, another child's toy, a passerby's shoes, or a gleam
of sun on the sidewalk. The nannies have hardly had time to
spread out their bottoms and their food baskets on the benches, the
feet of the pram passengers have hardly touched the ground, and
the elder children have barely looked around them, before the conflict breaks out. The younsters squat down on the dirty ground,
they busily collect stones and insects; the older years rush to conquer
the steep slopes, the perpendicular poles and posts; they reach out
for somebody else's things, but — especially, especially! — somebody else's secrets. In such activities clothing is bound to get dirty
and torn, hands and legs are sure to be cut and bruised. Tradition
imposes vigilance to ensure that the thoughts also are not sullied or
the feelings bruised. The adult's care of the young is considered a
task so simple that it is entrusted to anyone who has the time and
a more or less sound mind. Hence the endemic drama: the guardians regard themselves as mediators between their charges and the
world, setting, of course, their own interests above that of their
wards. For their meritorious service will always consist in seeing that
the children return home clean and unhurt. On the other hand, it
will be counted against them if the child returns dirty, sad, or
thoughtful because it has begun to know the world. How can that
"square" on the chessboard in the sand be eliminated to which
youth may not move, because death is there, or a pain too great for an infant to bear? The pedagogues recommend organized games
and occupations. But creative curiosity cannot be organized. And
in the end it is the mediocrities and the cowards who more often than
not remain on good terms with the nannies (in this category I include the grandmothers, grand-dads, the police, the politicians, and
the majority of teachers). What of the parents? As the days pass they
have less and less time for siestas in the parks. In any case, I have
known only one mother, and she an Englishwoman, who, in fear
and trembling, allowed her six-year-old daughter to stand for several
minutes on the footboard of a speeding train.
I spent many lazy hours in the Square of San Fernando. It is
bountifully provided with lamp-posts and statuary, and these were
a constant temptation to children to climb, which in turn gave the
nannies constant justification for smacks. I could not but notice
with what self-indulgent relish, between two bouts of gossip, between
two veiled glances, they distributed these smacks. The crime was
committed in public, and easy to evaluate: it called for punishment.
But how much cruelty and childish debauchery went unpunished
in the bushes!
The little hypocrites, tenderly led by the hand, returned to their
homes in glory; whereas the iconoclasts and explorers were pushed
around, and bruised, and dragged sadly home to dinner without
dessert. And so, whether it be in Suchedniow or Seville, at the beginning or in the second half of the century, for the nannies the
problem of Don Quixote remains unchanged: they are against.
I realized all this as I sat one afternoon in the Plaza de Espana,
while the nurses and soldiers carried on their romances asrainst the
background of history recorded in colorful ceramics on the walls of
a palace.
Truth often thus makes a pattern beyond the consciousness of
people who once illustrated it with their conduct. At first sight the
confrontation of Don Quixote and the nannies sounds absurd. These
two incompatible forces entered my own life quite automatically,
before I was at all ready to appraise them. It was simply that in
the Polish village of Suchedniow, where I spent a certain vacation
away from my parents, the nannies functioned as a powerful clan,
imposing on me and similarly situated children orders against which
there was no appeal, our parents being as unreachable as God in
heaven.
It also happened that a book which I was not old enough to read,
but which I persisted in looking at in bed at night because of its
pictures, fell victim to the nannies' repressive activities. And it also happened that the causes of their irritation with
children who didn't want to get off to sleep quickly were soldiers
garrisoned in the town.
All this I realized only much later; but the moment I recognized
the antinomy: Don Quixote and the nannies; and the symbiosis: the
nannies and the soldiers, these conjunctions left their mark on my
memory with a plus sign against Don Quixote and a minus sign
against the nannies and soldiers. I came to dislike the nannies and
the soldiers, and fell in love with Don Quixote. As I grew in experience, the concepts: Don Quixote, nannies, soldiers, began to have
not only practical connotations but also metaphorical significance.
And Spain — in that irrational, yet profoundly justified fashion in
which "accidents" form a repeated pattern — became for me the
land of Don Quixote, attacked as he was by nannies of every kind,
beginning with the Holy Office and ending with the Franco regime:
nannies, behind whom, and seduced by them, young, awkward
soldiers lurk in darkness.
When I set out for Spain I had in mind a call on Don Quixote,
who had visited me in Suchedniow. I went in the hope that in his
own country it would be easier for me to understand him. And
truly, the moment I crossed the Pyrenees I was absorbed in Don
Quixotery. Not only because of the people, their mythological
gravity, their fondness for gesture, their passion for dying beautifully and their archaic life, but also because of Nature. The Spanish
scenery, whether mountain or seascape, pleasant or harsh, does not
appear to provide suitable ground for so-called normal life. It is
a back-cloth for superhumans. For Don Quixotes, who tiiirst to be
"sons of their own deeds," never a function of society. Only in the
fight of the sunsets over Sierra Nevada and in the mythological
mists of the river Guadalquivir was Cervantes' text transformed
into truth, and only then did the paradoxical conflict which had
arisen from the accidental juxtaposition of Don Quixote and the
nannies begin to find justification. Here, indeed, the shade of Rosi-
nante fell over everyday matters. Driven out from the Spanish dirt-
roads the errant knight was now wandering in the clouds of various
and opposing ideologies; foreswearing romanticism he was still tormenting the Spaniards with a yearning for ends bigger than nature.
At the same time the powerful clan of nannies, those guardians of
the immature "mass," stands up in arms, forbidding Don Quixotic
flights and ordering off to bed. The official cult of Cervantes in Spain
may be even greater than the religion of Mickiewicz in Poland. But
the cult has been deprived of its "passport to life." Like so many n
other archetypes of humanism, Don Quixote has been fettered in
bronze and marble, imprisoned in monuments, condemned to be a
classic. And with him, bewitched but not subdued by the chivalrous
chimeras, the simple peasant, the wise Sancho Panza. Symbols have
been rendered harmless. But will the element which gave them birth
allow itself to be fobbed off with a museum fame? This element
produced philanthropists, as well as inquisitors. Don Quixote set
the malefactors free because he believed that God alone can mete
out justice. The Holy Office, which burnt bodies at the stake in
order to save souls from the fires of hell, also worked in the name
of God. These two mystiques — the red and the black — did not
die together with the symbols. They have survived right up to the
present day, and they continue to haunt the guardians of the
people,  those powerful nannies who  have such influence  over
soldiers.
Thus meditating, I turned out of the Plaza de Espana into the
heart of the park, the Sevillian tropics created by Marie Louise, the
dissolute Bourbon who so brilliantly rationalized her lust. Here the
trees form a jungle; but the palms are not entangled with parasitic
plants, only with jasmine and the roses known as Maiden's Veil,
because they fall to the grass in white cascades. REMEMBERING YOU
When you kissed you
kissed like a young man
filled with greeting and gaiety:
When you loved you
loved like an old man
filled with slowness and ceremony:
When you left you
left like a man of no age
filled with fear that ceremony
Had given me something
to keep more lasting than ritual
richer and brighter than darkness.
MIRIAM WADDINGTON
One of Canada's best-known poets, Miriam Waddington considers herself "un-
controversial, non-violent, 'unexciting' (what a critical term!), passionate and
contemplative; something out of the nineteenth century — or who knows — the
twenty-first? . .. The truth about human relationships needs to be told from the
way women see it as well as from the way men see or experience it. There
is a subtle but pervasive irritation in the literary world with the way women
see and know things — it isn't the way men would have them see or know;
or maybe it is another way in which we can't stand non-conformity?" Mrs.
Waddington lectures in English literature at York University. Pages 10-24: A MISCELLANY OF
VANCOUVER POETS
Four Poems by David Parkin
arrival of the tooth fairy
all set now.
nothing to do
but just lie back
and fall asleep
and await the visit
of the tooth fairy.
how much faith must one have?
does the fairy really
know what i believe?
couldn't i merely be receptive
and then believe
when i eret the money?
&■-
i have always wondered
about the gender
of the fairy:
a dew-eyed nymph who leaves
my bedside with reluctance;
or,
and more likely,
a grinning old faggot
who doesn't want my teeth at all.
10 everybody loves satyrday night
on satyrday night,
the children's dragon is controlled.
he sleeps
in his dark corner of the room.
on satyrday night, the maiden views
the bloody, pregnant-rising moon
with delight and apprehension.
on satyrday night,
i saw a griffin in a hedge.
on the mountain, in the city's   .
shade of distant light,
the sound of pipes, the wind
in hollow trees, the hunter says.
he waits, he thought
there was an antelope.
the one-horned beast
that eats his lunch
does not believe in hunters.
was that his daughter's laughter
echo
in the carnal night?
(but she
lies safe in bed, he knows)
blossom-scent now drugs his mind;
his pillow-rock, in dreams,
an altar by which pass
strange animals untrappable.
awakened by the damp
and hesitant first light of day,
the hunter puzzles blood
and cloven hoof-prints,
that there was a struggle, but
he saw nobody on satyrday night.
ii karen found a satyr
karen found a satyr in her bed.
she blushed, and held
the shaggy creature to her breast,
unabashed by horn, hot breath.
the neighbours wondered
at such revel-sound;
her laughter; goat
man's, cry-
second/night/life (mythology no time)
children and satyrs know her magic,
(enchanted time is never told on clocks;
a castle is a tenement in moonlight)
you must have forgotten the story
you must have forgotten the story.
you dance before you run
to the godmother's midnight curfew,
leaving a shoe — a sandal if you wish
for me to trace, it won't be hard;
i'd know that ankle under any skirt.
perhaps it is another story.
i seem to be the only prince
who rides back to his castle
in a large, mouse-drawn pumpkin.
These are David Parkin's first publications.
12 Two Poems by Milton Acorn
whose poetry appears frequently as books and in journals.
THE KING RAINS
The king rains like a bloody waterspout
that gathers in the elements and spews them out
onto the noses pointing him, the upturned
pack of eyes, the brocade of the courtly city.
Truly he rains. Ask the sad hounds, worshippers
in the loaded wind, how all men rain, how every draught
bears fragments escaped from their urgencies.
Maybe this is why the dogs know better ...
By no reflections, by no estranged energies
bouncing in their own crazy context, do they know
their gods, or for that matter their devils, but
by particles just shook loose ... homuncuUi perhaps.
The kings eats, and the lowly vegetable, the stupid
moo-cow flesh becomes royalty — grand gestures, surges
of vision inpainted with power .. . And out
it goes! Ah manure! That once tottered so high!
Gurgled from the sewers of history, the rivers bear it
to plebian seas. The clerk, paid less than a laborer,
tidies his balls' threadbare covering and still votes
conservative. Does that dirty worn string, the continuum
of his consciousness, still wave in fantastic breezes?
The king points down his beard and listens. Oh grandly
does he permit the fight whose flux is the blood of souls
to iUuminate even his royal planet of a heart! "I am
your friend ... oh let my worshipful word clothe itself
J3 in your proud and glorious body!" And the king says,
"Friend? What does it mean? What interest of mine
can you fulfill? Which do we have in common?" "Inwardness,
outwardness ... And the going to and fro between them,"
the councillor, if he were wise and brave, might answer
if the king were not a fool. Then he might look up
and see himself take shape in the king's eyes,
as if we all bore shields like mirrors, and the reflection
made the object, or else our meanings
dropped sizzling into the crucibles of one another's wills.
The king's a secret heretic. "Look at my hunting pack,"
he thinks, "How well they know what men are! And what makes
men?
My pleasure! How wrong
it is to say that I've got no dominion over souls!"
The king tells his confessor, is forgiven, feels a chilled moment
the winds of imagination blowing thru him; peasants
sowing his bones; armorers hammering out his shape.
Last night he dreamt he was a splattering pool
and his rain was a rain of bloody sweat. Splashes made rings
that ran out crisscrossing to his farthest edges. Then suddenly
some clouds — some men — would no longer rain, but stood over
him
: shadowing. He woke up crying, "Revolution!"
He slept again and dreamt he was a spark
hissing along the fuse of time.
Milton Acorn says he is generally regarded "as a bit old-fashioned — a carryover from the old 'proletarian' school; but the appearance of fine new poets
(e.g., Joe Rosenblatt, Bill Bissett, Myra McFarlane) confirms my suspicion that
I'm not_ a last survivor but a predecessor. I'm against the dogma that poetry
and politics do not mix ... history proves just the opposite."
14 THE CIGARETTE MACHINE
Always apart, with a row of figure-flecked
brands for eyes (How does one read surety
into a thing that never thinks : "No ...
No cigars for sale here. Cigars don't matter!"
?) like someone who never feels lonesome
one stands, so designed that
it seems always at the moment before flight.
Only in part has thought touched; and feeling
's better described as 'sense', or some word
more partial. This
is what nobody ever wanted in the way the tongue tugs back
in the word 'want' : this flies so high
in the thin wind of abstraction that the eye glazes
and skids as if on its own shallow moisture
over the glitter — a dead glitter — of its surface.
At the centre of a thousand beings who tliink
it doesn't think, only controls
them ... Tliink of the blanking of the cheeks
, sucking a cigarette, of the thousand ways
one expresses a dread detachment, a
detachment come from dread; or drooping from the lips,
a man-canceling toughness, or bewilderment
(I've seen that) ; or for a matter of fact the way
the match is shaken out, tossed with one jerk
, as if it were a life calling for love.
*&
Time's an invention, not of men, but of matter
evolving thru life toward life, of amoeba
perhaps. Cancel out time and imagine the lines
going out from each trickley clutch of change
dropped in the box : of the web entangling brands
each tasting "like any other brand ... rotten"
; of the smoke reaching and making felt
each tube and baglet of the lung; of the spots
of purposelessly multiplying cancer; of the knife
a corny older poet might call 'compassionate';
of all those rich men's sons, rich sons' fathers,
with their right hands elevated, abolishing the Hippocratic oath
as a hypocricy few people have the energy left
to give a damn about.
15 THE FOUNTAIN
The power
of the dream is
in Heaven
there is no difference
between ourselves
and the music of our intent.
But in the world, the mystery
of pain separates us
from God, ourselves
from ourselves. Listen
to the mountain.
The power of the dream
on this still abundantly green Earth, is we are
always living. We are alive to others, sure,
as we express interest in their souls, to
forget, time long enough for compassion,
that to which they merely subscribe.
What discretion can there be
except that of your heart beating.
Lips murmur song held in dream;
the singer and the song are one.
Irony is the firing squad, Peace
to the hired assassins. Are you ready
to stand, lambs to their promotion.
Some worms and some neon
show the picture; everyone is
in the fountain, to bear fruit,
bear witness, seed, to value
the flow we together ride.
If the analogy holds, we fall
to the ground to enter source,
so that we may again give.
16 1
We give from the centre we are
the fountain, circle, spirals
of magic water, ("the body is 90%
water") we need water to grow,
to sow our seed, generations
return again and again to the water-
hole, source we hold dear enough
to assure the music is our own, of
our own making we move among the oxen,
horses, and dogs, in the heat, to drink.
The girl in the forest
looks at the trees, at
the circles of growth
within them, hears
everything, the birds,
the flowers, growing,
herself a sound thru her,
and her lips let it out,
the sound, maybe love,
it is a baloon in the air,
and she is echo.
But she comes to the city
to learn of Hiroshima, Dresden,
how growth does run wild as men do
use that for control of other men, gain,
life is on sale as Mankind further divides,
is split, as the atom is, Dachau, the
wholly horrible leash of history
startles her genes; she becomes a pro,
dies in Skid Row; she is an Indian,
daughter of a Chief.
I The general, he subscribes to death
for the many, a crystal living for few,
to succumb to an august mirage, himself,
at a later date. Says it is time America
stopped letting herself be bullied
by these emerging nations. Says he
doesn't know if there are more Vietnamese
being killed daily than in LA. car accidents.
Perhaps he can forgive himself, but not
the others. Of an evening alone, he practices Zen.
The lover, subscribes touch of hand
and finger over and into each other, juice
of adoration, a forgetting smile, the simile
of desire. We eat each other at the end.
The teacher requires obedience.
The poet will sing if he has to.
A woman of the figure marvels
at the reflections, how we pose
for each other
to create different deaths.
And the green is locked out to us,
enclosed as it is by freeways, by
high-rise apartment blocks, we
have become tourists to Nature.
The images buried
within the marble
under the water's splat
down from the tower, the bright
babies sailing around it, on
their pipes, our faces buried
in the marble, rising again
to dust.
18 How he resents or regrets the burden
of pain drives Man to present the world
as unified, as whole, purposeful, (General
Motors, M.G.M., NATO, the corporate
Mystik Progression), tho he no longer accepts
the God who does support such notions. I say,
accept what pain there is for you as yours to live
as human in the world with other men
and women, as your own kind. There can be
much light in even the general's house, through
his courtyard. The boy who had to get off the bus
was not myself, not that time, the ads, the silence,
and the sanitation all around him so un-nerved him,
was my projection, I held on hard to the stanchion,
to look at him, sending what message of peace I could,
one elderly lady, cherry-brimmd hat looked
concerned as the bus lurchd, he got off, to find
what small plot of grass in a vacant lot
he could stumble down on to puke over.
What men and women do now, the measure
of the fountain is beyond anyone's single
comprehension, that we rise
now toward the music of suicide,
into the mushroom cloud rising
and falling, a long shot of the disaster,
tiny flotsam and jetsam, arbitrarily
at drift, no image, no focus, no significant
direction, all is one, good manners
proven beyond pain, what made God
impossible and Man a wreck to his own
way of dunking, Raphael buried in the moon,
arrows and daggers crossd; Satan
moves westward. Or was it our own will to
significance that led us all this far from the fountain.
BILL BISSETT
The author is the Vancouver poet, painter, and also publisher of Blew Ointment.
I Two Poems by John Newlove
A FILM OF LHASA
In the film shot by one of their brethren the monks
move with ease across an overexposed landscape. Dalai Lama is
going to three monasteries to pass his exams. It is the first
time I have seen a man almost a god moving.
The scattered bushes are light green on white soil,
the garments of the lesser men have been washed many times.
All move slowly, chatting — no urgency when a man
becomes a god or part of a god. It is ordained, what will
happen; the perfect moments will be found. And exalted the
ordinances!
An emperor of Rome smiling on the deathbed sardonically
made a joke of his impending divinity. Dalai Lama does not die;
he smiles, moving back and forth, he questions the examiners and
claps his hands like a small delighted boy.
RIDE OFF ANY HORIZON
Ride off any horizon
and let the measure fall
where it may —
on the hot wheat,
on the dark yellow fields
of wild mustard, the fields
of bad farmers, on the river,
on the dirty river full
of boys and on the throbbing
powerhouse and the low dam
of cheap cement and rocks
boiling with white water,
20 and on the cows and their powerful
bulls, the heavy tracks
filling with liquid at the edge
of the narrow prairie
river running steadily away.
Ride off any horizon
and let the measure fall
where it may —
among the piles of bones
that dot the prairie
in vision and history
(the buffalo and deer,
dead indians, dead settlers,
the frames of lost houses
left behind in the dust
of the depression,
dry and profound, that
will come again in the land
and in the spirit, the land
shifting and the minds
blow dry and empty —
I have not seen it! except
in pictures and talk —
but there is the fence
covered with dust, laden,
the wrecked house stupidly empty)
21 here is a picture for your wallet,
of the beaten farmer and his wife
leaning toward each other —
sadly smiling, and emptied of desire.
*
Ride off any horizon
and let the measure fall
where it may —
off the edge
of the black prairie
as you thought you could fall,
a boy at sunset
not watching the sun set
but watching the black earth,
neverending they said in school,
round: but you saw it endinsr,
finished, definite, precise —
visible only miles away.
Ride off any horizon
and let the measure fall
where it may —
on a hot night the town
is in the streets —
the boys and girls
are practising against
each other, the men
talk and eye the girls —
the woman talk and
eye each other, the indians
play pool: eye on the ball.
22 Ride off any horizon
and let the measure fall
where it may —
and damn the troops, the horsemen
are wheeling in the sunshine,
the cree, practising
for their deaths: mr poundmaker,
gentle sweet mr bigbear,
it is not unfortunately
quite enough to be innocent,
it is not enough merely
not to offend —
at times to be born
is enough, to be
in the way is too much —
some colonel otter, some
majorgeneral middleton will
get you, you —
indian. It is no good to say,
I would rather die
at once than be in that place —
though you love that land more,
you will go where they take you.
Ride off any horizon
and let the measure fall —
where it may;
it doesn't have to be
the prairie. It could be
the cold soul of the cities
blown empty by commerce
23 and desiring commerce
to fill up the emptiness.
The streets are full of people.
It is night, the lights
are on; the wind
blows as far as it may. The streets
are dark and full of people.
Their eyes are fixed as far as
they can see beyond each other —
to the concrete horizon, definite,
tall against the mountains,
stopping vision visibly.
John Newlove's most recent book of poems, Moving in Alone, was published
in 1965 by Contact Press.
Two Poems by Nancy-Lou Patterson
SALISHAN BOYS ON SATURDAY NIGHT
The sheen-backed boys as brown as cedar
Polish flesh between linked arms,
Drink blame against the dry outsiders,
Burst at lip and knee with harm:
This lacking teeth, and that burnt-eyed
As dying salmon — each one hides
His heart inside a burnished bole
Axe-reft by common alcohol.
24 k.
Embracing, shod for show in black,
Among their shining nipples' eyes
They bear the wink of medals: crack
Their sable knuckles, grin as shy
As baskets; heavy heads like trees
Or bushes blown too dark for grease,
Too coarse for school, grown rank with heat
As river sheds on fire with night.
They stumble, fallen mouths agape,
And soil the beach with sorry wine.
Tomorrow, Sunday morning, strewn
Like broken shells on sand, they'll sleep.
MOTORCYCLE HILL-CLIMBER
Let there be supine roads of long
hot asphalt cloven by the roar
of my machine's imprudent song;
that stiff hill there, erect before
the white sun's eye-defying gape
offends me. Nothing vertical
but my own shin-bones, greasy nape
and doubled skull should stand so tall.
Hide me in dust; obscure my sight
from urgent watchers. Let me rise
and drive my bones up that whole height,
a thunderbolt of need and noise.
The author has published in various Canadian journals.
25 *h
THIBIDAULT
ET FILS Clark Blaise teaches at the University of Iowa. His fiction and poetry have
appeared in various quarterlies including Colorado Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, and Shenandoah. A personal comment by him follows this story.
CLARK BLAISE
/ can see now why my parents divorced; why they tried so hard to
reconcile, and why that failed too. But they are dead now, buried
separately, and died before I learned not to fail them. Frank Thibi-
dault, the man-sized boy of this story, has grown up and married.
His wife would never guess that he was once so capable of indignation, of such exclusive loyalties, and was once so righteously indifferent to his father, a man he often talks about.
That summer my parents were divorced, I was living alone in
Paris, studying for a Master's in French. News of the divorce trial
came in weekly letters from my mother. There had been outbursts
in court, all from my father: testimonies from unfamiliar doctors,
hysterics, pleas for his freedom from my mother, from our furniture store, from evei^thing, so he could rest. There was not another
woman, as my mother maintained. But his show of shattered
nerves was finally so convincing (and my mother's silence perhaps
so corroborating), that the suspected woman, Sheila Diamond,
was never called. He was awarded the store and inventory, the
truck, his car, and a delivery wagon. For my mother there was
the new house in a Milwaukee suburb and a recently-started
mutual fund. After repaying the mortgage, she was left with twelve
thousand dollars. She didn't appeal. Rather than return to her
family in Toronto, she stayed in Milwaukee and found a job. Her
wealthy sister Doris invested the settlement in Canadian stocks.
Then just two months after the divorce came the news that
took everyone but my mother by surprise. Gene Thibidault, known
in the trade and all over Milwaukee as "T. B. Dee", married the
ex-decorator and took her to Mexico for a latin honeymoon.
It was February when I came back to Milwaukee after a year's
27 study in Paris. My mother met me at Mitchell Field and put me
at ease with a light hug and a smile. She was a rangy woman
with sharp features and gray eyes that looked perpetually startled,
and though her hair had whitened in that year of dissolution, she
still looked much better than I remembered. I had last seen her
still Irving with my father, suffering indignities in silence, ashamed
to admit that something irremediable was running its certain
course.
She had found a room and shared kitchen in a dingy section
of the southside, and a deadening job at fifty a week in a dying
corner of downtown, selling fixtures. She had a television, stacks
of paperbacks (legal guides, psychologies, the occasional classic),
and faithfully she followed the divorcee's regimen: art shows, foreign films, a public speaking course at a local high school —
interests suspended in twenty-five years of marriage to an uneducated man.
"Eveiything that's left is here," she said that first night, pointing to the suitcases under her bed, and the boxes of china piled
in the kitchen. On the walls were the watercolors of European
cathedrals she had painted in the thirties, while studying design
in Prague, Leipzig, and London before she had returned to Canada, to Montreal, and marriage. Those had been the years of
privacy in her life. "It's a horror, seeing everything shrunk to
this." And then she sobbed, stretched on the bed, her legs taped
and throbbing, her heart struggling for breath. "What have I
done wrong?" she pleaded. "Was I a bad wife, Frankie, honestly?"
"Of course not — you were guiltless."
"I can't hate him. He had no more use for me, that was evident. Other women would hate him, believe me. It was just bis
lies... the way he forgot everything I'd done for him, the way
we'd fought to get started here. And when we finally made something, she took it all away and he couldn't even be gracious. Nobody wants you when you're old, when you're tired out. That's a
hard truth to discover when you're fifty-seven years old." She
nodded her head, assuring herself, while I watched the floor,
speechless. "The world doesn't let you make it up. One mistake
and it's at your throat for life."
"Maybe you could go back to Toronto?" I suggested. "The
world's still full of possibilities. You don't have to stay here if
things are too bitter."
"There's nowhere else except Toronto. But I couldn't. Doris is
so important — we'd never get along. I'd feel a nuisance and I
28 couldn't stand that. I always did everything on my own. Always.
I married against their advice, and I came to the States against
their advice. And don't misunderstand me, dear, I had some
wonderful years with Gene. Some very happy memories I guarantee she won't have. But this is the only place left - - I'll do what
I can here, or die."
It was clear what my mother needed from me, in the answers
I couldn't supply. She needed guilt: a just person, she felt,
couldn't be punished as she had been. Just a shred of culpability
to justify her fate. She brushed aside ennoblement, yet it was all
I could give her.
"Then live for me," I said in desperation. "For my sake. I'll
look after you, whenever you say. I'll never desert you."
"Please believe me, Frankie, you are all I've lived for, for many
many years. But I'll die before I'm a burden." Death was the
final topic each night; she spoke of it with familiarity, almost
longing. And I knew, if she were to die, I'd be an orphan.
Yet there was no forgetting my father. Talking of him, remembering him, made me want to see him — maybe just to tell him
that I, at least, could hate him. I carried two pictures of him, and
in each shot he seemed a stranger. The first was a New England
beach scene, taken shortly after we had come down from Montreal. I was a stocky seven, with the thick chafing thighs of my
mother, and her narrow chest. My father was then forty-five yet
looked in his thirties with a wide grin and wavy black hair, and
the firm body of an athlete who still skiied, still skated. I had not
been a satisfaction to my father, physically, professionally, but he
couldn't be excused. He too had never tried. After we have moved
into the States and English became the decisive language in our
house, the early love began to die. In Montreal he took me to the
Forum and taught me hockey; thereafter we'd never played catch.
On the back of the photo he had penned, Thibidaidt et fib, 5
d'aout, IQ46. Old Orchard Beach. That afternoon in a stuffy Milwaukee kitchen, I stared into these pictures for hints of future
chaos, but there were none. Thibidault and son gazed straight
ahead, smiling at my mother who had taken the snap, while a
barren beach curved in the distance out of sight.
The other was of my parents, taken by me, when we had given
the South a try: Clearwater, Florida, 1949. Mother squinted
against the sun — how dark her hair had been! ■ - father was
tanned, smiling, hair graying in a bar at his temples, in a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts. Both reclined on the porch furniture
29 he was selling so successfully, a banana shrub blooming just beliind.
How he had changed in those three years! Not that he had
aged, particularly, but how American he had become, despite his
accent and citizenship. I remembered Montreal again, the War
years, when we had driven around Westmount, admiring the
houses. We would stop those Sundays at tiny restaurants where
my mother ordered and my father and I spoke our Sunday English. Then we'd return to our flat on Rue Durocher and I'd watch
soldiers drill and the occasional McGill student hurry to his classes.
Years later, at the Furniture Mart in Chicago, I remembered my
father leading songs—"Alouette", inevitably — then a medley of
Crosby tunes in French so no one could follow. His voice had been
so good no one minded. Even later, with secretaries or the girls
I dated, he became a gay and mellow flirt, retrieving the accent
he had come to lose. And much later, when our Milwaukee store
was getting bigger, giant billboards had been erected ... a garish
triptych. Middle panel: a living room suite. Left-hand panel —
do you want la vie en rose? And from the right, his face smiling from a massive fleur-de-lis: "Then See T. B. Dee!" At the
bottom: thibidault furniture, waukesha.
But at home he had prowled in his shorts on Sundays, sleeping
late, then napping before the TV all afternoon — no boulevardier,
my father. I learned to detest Sundays during my high school
years, the one day I saw my parents for more than an hour or
two, the only day I didn't eat out. On that day, my mother did the
week's wash and housework, and cooked the lone hot meal. There
had been complaints, I recall, from my father and me, if the meal
were not perfect.
I had only a week to spend with her before starting school
again, this time at Cornell, where I held an assistantship in French.
After that first night we avoided talking of my father. I met her
at the trolley stop, drove her home, ate, and quietly watched television with her. We talked pleasurably of Europe, comparing
continents of different dimensions; in her old Canadian passport
were the claw-mark stamps of the third Reich — in my fresh
American book, discreet little eagles marked "Bremen" and "Saar-
briicken". I spoke of my eagerness to return some day to Europe.
"You must, dear — plan independently of me. You have to be
a little selfish. If 1 had obeyed my father, I'd still be a schoolteacher somewhere in Ontario. But I went over and got my arts
degree, then I got the job in Montreal. I'd never have met Gene,
of course . . ."
30 a
"Don't worry about the past."
"I don't. It's the future. This business with him isn't over, believe me. I know your father too well for that."
"I think it is," I said. "He's made enemies and a huge mistake.
He has some pride, after all."
"It's not a question of pride, dear. That just doesn't enter into
it."
I came back from Ithaca for Easter vacation. My mother had
moved from the stagnant company of spinsters to a small apartment in a near-by house, owned by a sprightly widow named
Libby. The new apartment was attractive: low-ceilinged and
freshly painted, and my mother had invested in drapes and a new
chair. The boxes had been unpacked, and mementoes suddenly
familiar now cluttered the dresser and mantle top.
That vacation I saw her as she might have been, had she never
married. Energetic, alert, she substituted curiosity and adaptability
for authentic brilliance. Her reading among the classics was slowing down, but her social life had begun again. There were divorcees, slightly younger, more conscious of careers, and old friends
of the family now calling her for dinners or musicals at the Pabst.
She had reopened old college friendships in Canada, by letter, and
these women (some widowed, none divorced) had invited her up
for her next vacation. She spent many hours watching television
with Libby. I was disappointed that she had dropped her solitary
interests (the art movies, the proper books, the lectures); but
happily she spoke less often of my father and her imagined failings. While she was at work, I sat in her kitchen reading, and
thinking back over the year in Paris that was gone and the summer
that was coming — I had been given a scholarship at Laval in
Quebec. Another Paris, I hoped, only hospitable. It would be my
first trip back to Quebec in fifteen yeears.
Then, just before I left for Cornell, my mother received a
postcard from my father, postmarked Los Angeles. Situation hopeless. Coming back. All my love, Gene.
"I knew this would happen," she cried. "Oh, the poor man."
"What will you say to him?"
"I'll have to see him, that's all. After all, I still love him."
Late in May he came back to Milwaukee. He didn't call her,
but she often saw him, she wrote, pacing in front of the fixture
3i shop, never entering. He looked well enough from what she could
see; he was thinner and tanned. When I came home in June for
two weeks before leaving for Laval, he still had not called. She
worried that something beyond her control was brewing; that perhaps he was trailing her, vengefully. Finally, a year and a half
after I'd last seen him, a year after the divorce, he called from his
hotel room to arrange for a dinner date. Very businesslike, my
mother reported, just as he had often called from hotels on the
road when he had been selling. We agreed to the next Sunday,
which would give my mother time for a beauty appointment and
the buying of a dress. He had chosen Milwaukee's finest hotel as a
base of exile.
I called him from the lobby that hot Sunday, and after many
rings he answered, saying he was just stepping into the shower
but to come right up, the door would be open. We were already
twenty minutes late; I had hoped he'd be ready.
We entered the room without knocking.
"Mildred," he called from the shower. "Is that you?" The voice
was clear, the inflections intact. It frightened me; that voice, I
felt, should be dead. The water shuddered off.
"Yes, dear. We'll just make ourselves at home?"
"Right at home — I'll be with you in a jiffy." We heard wet
footsteps patter on the tile, then the whine of an electric razor.
"Great room, eh?" he called.
"Very lovely, dear."
"Sy Lewis is letting me have it at ten a day till I get settled," he
shouted back. "You remember Sy, Mildred? He asked about you."
The room was long and narrow: twin beds, television, a walnut
dresser mellowed by a thick-pile gold rug. My Madras jacket was
too light for the air-conditioning. Mother rubbed her bare arms,
then opened the top drawer of the night stand to check its manufacturer.
"Drexel," she said, arching an eyebrow.
"Mom — what difference does it make now?"
"Mjldred" he called again, "did Frankie come along?"
"I'm here."
"Hey — that's terrific."
We took a bed and sat, facing the bathroom door. I kept thinking: no matter what happens today, you'll be in Quebec next
week. You'll survive.
"They didn't skimp on furnishings," my mother said quietly.
She looked frightened — intimidated by my father's joviality. The
razor stopped.
32 "Well-11," came the sudden greeting. He stood before us.
"Gene!" She made no move, for like me, she was stunned. He
was in his shorts, clutching the doorframe, with a towel draped
over his shoulders. His skin was tanned but appeared now sallow, a
texture worn and wrinkled, too perfectly observed. And his hair;
the hair that had been long and graying now grew in snow-white
patches, close-cropped but growing back.
"Mildred — thank God you've come."
She bowed her head.
"Hello, son. So good to see you." Then he coughed and doubled
over with a series of retching coughs that echoed sharply off the
bathroom tile. He had become fragile. Clean, rubbed dry,
powdered — barely the shape of all we remembered. He shuffled
to my mother and she stood to meet him, her arms outstretched.
"Won't you come to me?" he cried.
"Oh, Gene, what's she done to you?" He kissed her loudly,
wetly, like a very old man. They sat together on the bed, my father
crying on her shoulder.
"You don't know what I've been through... it's been hell,
Mildred, hell..." He pitched forward, knocking her on her back.
I turned from the sight, but caught it again in the low mirror behind them; she was half-holding, half-pushing him away.
"Gene, please!"
He snapped up straight and slowly tucked his undershirt back
inside his shorts. He blew his nose and smiled at me, extending his
hands.
"Hello, son," he said, taking my hand in both of his, knotting
his fingers in mine. His lips were thin and dark. Only his front
teeth remained.
"Thank God you've come. Thank the Lord."
Mother too was crying.
"You look so good — both of you. You don't know how good
you look. Thinking of you was the only thing that kept me
going..." He stood, facing us, then backed towards the dresser,
walking, smiling, like a children's photographer afraid he'd lose
the pose. "Some scotch?" he asked.
"Sure, a little," I said.
"None for me, dear," said my mother.
He spilled a jiggerful over the ice, then plucked a half-pint of
milk from the icebucket. "Ulcer," he explained as he handed me
the drink, "can't keep anything down. Hour later, up it comes."
"Gene —" my mother cried, "you never used to —
33 "It made her laugh. She used to cook things that would make
me sick. Spicy Mexican stuff she learned specially for my ulcer,
she said."
"Gene, no, the creature's insane."
He downed the milk. I sipped the scotch. Then he crushed
the container and braced himself against the dresser. "You can't
imagine what it's been like. No one can." He shook his lowered
head. "It wasn't human, Mildred, inhuman, that's what it was.
Everything started out so —"
He slapped the dresser. Mother nodded; her hand covered her
mouth.
"Christ! Things ended up hell, Mildred." Then he walked
slowly to the nightstand, and from a graveyard of green bottles
and lurid cans, plucked out two gold bridges and slipped them
in. "Well," he grinned, "I'll try not to complain. We have to
make the best of it, don't we, Mildred?" He stepped off to the
bathroom, stopping at the closet door to turn and say, "Drexel,
Mildred, all of it. Did you notice?"
"Why — you're right, Gene."
"A thousand rooms — figure it out for yourself. Someone made
a killing." He slid the closet door open, exposing a rack of suits
and shirts. "I'll just take a suit and dress in the bathroom. What's
it like outside?"
"Hot," she said, "stifling."
"You know, I haven't been outside in over a week? Just sitting
in that chair there trying to figure out things."
"There's been a lot of time for that," my mother said.
"Well... it's a good thing I have these tropical weights then,"
he laughed. He left the bathroom door open as he dressed, and
hummed, a new tune he didn't know the words to.
Minutes later he was singing loudly ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?") and my mother whispered to me, "I can't stand it."
There were tears at the corners of her eyes, and moist fingers had
smeared the rouge on her cheeks.
"He could have met us in the lobby, mom, fully dressed, if he
wanted to be cordial about it. He wanted something else and this
is the only way he could get it."
"But what could he want that I wouldn't give him? He got
everything he wanted. Everything, he was very clear about that.
It's not as if there's anything left, or that I have anything he
wants. He was very clear about that at the trial, believe me, very
34 clear. She was everything he wanted. It was 'Mrs. Diamond this
and Mrs. Diamond that —' the way she dressed, her opinions, hei
suggestions, till I wanted to scream. He couldn't ditch me fast
enough for her ..."
"He wants pity, that's all."
"But I do pity him. She never wanted him. Not for a minute
and that was as plain as the nose on his face. I could have told
him that if he hadn't tried to hide everything that was going on."
"He wouldn't have believed it, and you know it. He'd never
believe anyone was using him or lying to him. He can lie all he
wants and that's all right, but no one can lie to him — he falls
for everything."
"And listen to what he's singing," she cried. "Oh ..."
"I have been listening."
"Then how can you be so hard on him?"
He called, "I'll be right with you, dear."
"Mom," I whispered, "don't be taken in. This is a show — a
very important one if he'll sacrifice his vanity to pull it off. Like
his show at the divorce trial, right? The accusations, the hysterics?"
"Please, dear, I don't want all that dragged up. It was too
dreadful. And he might hear you."
"Good God, mom — it's a cheap lousy script—"
"I must ask you to be quiet, Frank," she said. "It's obvious this
isn't an act. Just look at the man." Then she leaned over to investigate his medicines. "You can't fake what we've seen" she added,
then handed me the bottles: insomnia, headaches, stomach
cramps, "attacks" ... Serutan and Fasteeth stood out; these I
believed, and even respected.
"How he must be suffering. Think what it must be like for him
here." She hefted the Serutan, then smiled. "He always thought
he'd die if he didn't have a movement a day. Old World nonsense.
And he'd never go to the kind of doctor he needs."
How close this is to the way things have always been, I thought:
the yellow laxative box, the singing from the bathroom. And perhaps it was always this close to horror too.
He emerged suddenly from the bathroom and asked, "How do
I look?" Clothes had done more than I thought possible; the dark
suit held his body firm, the white shirt set his face off as tanned.
He looked like a vacationing executive who had left his wife at
home. From his breast pocket peeked the monogrammed handkerchief: "TBD".
35 "Fine — just fine,  dear."
"A little more to drink, son?" he asked. "I think I'll have a
little drink just to celebrate, Mildred?"
"Just a wee bit, with soda."
He stirred our drinks with a hotel swizzle, humming over the
tinkle of ice. He was smiling handsomely. 'You know what I was
thinking about in there?" he asked, looking at us both. "Remember
one night — long ago — back in Montreal, I took you all out to
the Chez Son Frere? I just suddenly remembered old Ouimet running over after he recognized me, and getting me to do a few
songs . .. you remember that night, Mildred? I was thinking of
that while I was getting dressed." He gave us the drinks and I
drank immediately, to head off a toast.
"I vaguely remember that," I said. "I got embarrassed when
you and mom started dancing in front of everyone."
"I remember perfectly," said my mother, "you sang Je vous
aime beaucoup." She continued hurriedly, "Frankie's going back
next week, Gene. He'll be in Quebec City all summer." She pronounced it Kwee-bec. "Tell your father about it — he'll be very
interested."
"I have a scholarship to Laval for the summer," I said, "that's
all. I've promised not to speak English for the term."
His grin grew wider and his eyes didn't meet mine at all.
"Laval — that's some school," he exclaimed. "I was supposed
to go there, you know."
"Gene —" warned my mother. "Please, nothing like that."
If he heard her, it didn't register on his face. "Well, then," he
said, "you're doing so well, both of you." He held his glass high
and smiled at it, a toaster's smile. We held our drinks out awkwardly, mine half-emptied, and he bent close to tap them. "To
us," he whispered. "To a beginning." He set the drink down; his
smile was broad.
"No, Gene. Let's be honest."
"Mildred, what?" He wheeled suddenly, facing the mirror, and
pounding his fist on the dresser top. "Honest!" he cried. "I've
been honest." My mother stared at the ceiling, shaking her head.
"Gene, dear Gene," she moaned.
"Mildred," he cried, now falling on the bed. He reached
around her hips, crying out. "She tried to kill me. She's choking
the life out of me. You have to help me..." His voice rose until
it cracked, then he started coughing. He blew his nose and dried
his eyes. "You have to help me," he repeated, this time a com-
36
^ytjj|jj~j^~ 1
mand. When his face at last emerged from the TBD handkerchief, it was brick red and glistening with tears.
"I'm so lost, Mildred — it's awful. You can't imagine what
I've been through. She's attacked me — here, see this dark line on
my temple? Ten stitches to close it. When I was asleep, Mildred,
in my sleep she attacked me with a nail file when I closed her
charge accounts. Mildred, I don't have anything left. Sy Lewis
thinks I can pay this hotel bill, but I can't. He's going to check up
some day and he's going to find out I don't have a bank account
even. She's choked me dry ..."
"How much, Gene? How much did she take you for?"
"God, when I think of it, Mildred — the promises she broke on
me. How good she was before, all changed the nvinute we got
married. She's looking for a way to get me and she'll do it, I
know. You can't imagine what I've been through. No one can.
She took me for plenty. Plenty. Everything I ever had. Everything I built up — you remember how hard we worked, every
night at the store, Frankie helping on the weekends?"
"You think I've forgotten?"
"And all those years getting started. The failures... Oh, God,
Mildred, what I lost."
"And for what, Gene, tell me that. For what?" Her voice was
so controlled, so reasonable, that my father couldn't even hear it
over his coughing.
"And I gave her everything. A woman like that, Mildred —
she has to have nice things, fashions and jewelery or she can't be
happy. So I got it for her. She ordered everything direct from
Nieman-Marcus. One thing I'm not is cheap — it's a fault and
she played me for it."
"Where is she now, Gene? Did you leave her there?"
He gestured. "Yes," then buried his head in her skirt. "Out
there in Waukesha in her old house. But I haven't seen her in a
week, not since I moved in here."
Her arm still circled him; he was hunched over. Her eyes were
dry, and riveted on something distant — it could have been Nieman-Marcus. I wondered how she could hold it in, the disgust
she must have felt, learning what Sheila Diamond had taken him
for, when she'd gotten nothing for all those years.
"It's hard to forget the trial, Gene," she said calmly. 'You
made a lot of charges I've been trying to live with. You made me
want to end it all."
He scrambled to his feet and glared at her. "Mildred! Surely
37 you're not bringing that up again? All that unpleasantness? I made
a terrible mistake and I've paid through the nose for it. She put
me up to all that, Mildred. I didn't know what I was saying half
the time. Then the lawyer coached me. But he took everything I
got from the settlement, Mildred, believe me, and she took the
rest. I've been sitting here with a pencil and paper just figuring
it all out, everything she got from me, and now I have it in black
and white, I know what it's cost me, and I know it's worth getting rid of her. Don't start telling me about wanting to end it all.
No, no, I'm just beginning. I've been blind but I'm seeing clear
now." He turned from us, paced to the dresser, muttering all the
while, "Look, look. I'm fixing her wagon for her now. She thinks
she has me over a barrel but I'm getting off. Yes, ma'm, I'm getting off and she's going to be one might-y sur-prised woman."
He held up a set of manila folders. "It's all here. Evei^thing I
need is here, evei^tiiing she did, sworn and notarized. I walked
into the lawyer's last week with these papers and he said to me,
'Gene, they'd throw her out of any court in the country. Gene,
don't you worry with proof like this.' That's what he told me.
Believe me, it cost quite a few pesos getting it all down, getting
statements from the bartenders — in Spanish even," he added,
glancing at me, "all about how she carried on. She laid around
the beach all day with her bathing suit straps down and made
the beach boys guess her age. Then she told them I was just her
boss who kept chasing her. She never told them I was her husband. Just someone to pay the bills. She made me look terrible
and I couldn't even sleep—"
My mother traced the nubbing on the bedspread, and smiled
embarrassedly.
"Well?" he demanded. "Nothing? Well listen to this: according to the lawyer I have grounds for divorce, cruelty and neglect.
He told me, 'Gene, I don't see how you took it that long. She
doesn't have a leg to stand on, legally speaking'."
"For Christ's sake — isn't that enough?" I cut in suddenly.
"Hasn't this gone far enough? Do you think we give a damn if
you have the goods on her or not? Did you bring us up here to be
an audience for your performance?"
"She wants me dead . .." he began.
"We know what she's like. Anyone but a damn fool knew all
along. And you got what you deserved. Why are you making
mom go through it all over again? How can you be so cruel?"
"I have the proof — documented.  No one wanted to protect
38 her. Mildred," he begged, "you know what kind of person she is,
don't you?"
"Oh, Gene ..."
"Of course she knows. You called mom a liar when she said it
all in court. Maybe we're not interested in your witnesses — get
your divorce, or crawl back — we don't care. If you knew what
mom has gone through these months you'd be ashamed to whine
about your suffering down in Mexico —"
"Frankie!" she burst in. "I won't have you talking to your
father like that. I just can't take it."
Then suddenly my father and I were grown men, staring over
the width of a bed. In other years he would have struck me, but
in other years I would not have struck back.
"Thank you, Mildred," he said. Then he turned to me, pointing with the folders. "You — you could try to be a little understanding, it seems to me. You're the one who lived through it all
in Paris. That must have been very hard to take, eh? You're
smart — you read French I don't understand, but you don't know
me at all. You never cared how hard we worked so long as it sent
you to college. My only dream was building a store you could take
over, but your mother kept saying you were too smart to run a
store. So everything we built goes nowhere, no Thibidault and
Son, just a store for us to slave in and maybe sell when we get
sick. You don't know what that means — you were too busy
studying. No pride — that's what it means. After so many years,
I got tired. Your mother got tired. Why were we going on? — I
kept asking and all I got for an answer was, 'So Frankie can go
to Paris.' Well, let me tell you this, boy: for someone so bright,
you can be pretty goddam dumb."
Don't understand? I towered over him, a giant of indignation.
Admit it, I tried to say, admit it was a little more than a mistake,
something other than unpleasantness. The question of your guilt
isn't yours to answer, T. B. Dee. He picked up the folders, then
slammed them on the dresser top. They cracked like a whip.
"She's crying," he said. "Look — your mother's crying. She
knows the truth. She remembers what it was like before all this
came up."
He went to her, then sat beside her, dabbing her eyes with his
handkerchief. She hugged him, crying on his shoulder, and I had
given him that chance to make himself needed. And he was in
possession, not about to cry. I touched my mother on the shoulder
39 and said I was going home. She bobbed her head, but her crying
was hysterical. He patted her back.
"Good luck, son," he called as I shut the door.
I packed that evening, deciding to leave early. As I waited for
her return, I concluded that perhaps it's good to have one person
in my life to whom I owed nothing; a man I could face honestly.
And perhaps too, to have another that summoned such clear loyalty. When she came back hours later, she said very little of that
afternoon except that I had hurt him very badly. He had forgiven
me. And she had forgiven him. Then she produced a list of restaurants, .relatives, and old friends that might still remember him and
help me get settled. He'd predicted I wouldn't like it.
I had sworn an oath: pas un mot d'anglais. I was to spend my
summer immersed in French, living in approved monolingual
housing, reading Le Devoir with breakfast, studying linguistics all
morning and assisting in a seminar held twice a week. The only
English I attempted was in letters home to my mother.
From her letters, I learned of a near-reconciliation. She cooked
for him, sewed, and did his wash. She had kept her room with
Libby, but he had a key, and while the women worked he would
let himself in, sit in the kitchen and drink instant coffee, leaving
sticky rings on the windowsill. Weather permitting, he'd sit on the
porch and watch cars turn the corner, certain that Sheila Diamond
was trailing him, meaning him injury. Or hoping perhaps — I
interpreted — that she might be corning back, for he could not
forget her. He could talk of nothing else, no one else, but their
marriage and her behavior. How he had been deceived. How
happy my mother and he had been, before the store, before the
unpleasantness. "I tell him I can't bear to hear those things but
he can't stop. It's compulsive — he can't control himself. He has
no one but me. I tiiink he's truly sorry for what he's done but he
can't express it. I take him to movies and he sleeps through them,
even the French ones. He can't watch television and he cries when
he reads the newspapers..." Every two weeks I'd receive a card
from him, telling me of his little room near the Marquette campus, in a house filled with med students. He got along fine with
the boys and they gave him advice about clothes and invited him
to their parties, which were too loud for him. They gave him pills
40 for his stomach, and for sleeping, and he was relieved to be living
around doctors, in case anything happened.
But at certain moments I could see him from the students'
angle, more clearly from Quebec than I ever had at home. What
of the times he must have left his teeth on the communal toilet
ledge, and Serutan granules in the sink? He was no artist, I
thought, but he was a liar; and that was his tragedy.
The classes at Laval went quickly. I loved the city, roaming
the streets for hours, absorbing as best I could the origins I couldn't
claim. But I made no real contact. I had a room on Avenue Ste-
Genevieve, behind the Conservatoire, and all day the music students practicing the scales reminded me I had no real business in
Quebec. It seemed I was trading one shade of exile for another.
Sharp memories of Paris were brought back, of those first few
weeks, before contacting Boniface, when I had worked Times
crosswords at student cafes. In the early evening I'd take a book
and stand on the boardwalk behind the Chateau Frontenac and
watch the mountains creep closer after sunset. The river would
smooth itself after a day of heavy shipping. And the lovely girls
paraded by, as they had in Paris, as they would — it seemed —
all my life.
As the weeks wore on, it became clear to me, as a repatriate
trying to return, that Quebec lay far behind me. The old ways
were foreign, and the new rebels were not fighting my battles. I
began to realize what I would have been, had my father not taken
us across in 1946. Half-French, half-Catholic, a lesser exile in
Montreal, allied to a relic people speaking a relic tongue. He had
been bold, and he had been right, fleeing from Quebec. The
demons that had driven him came from this province — and now
that they were gone, who picks up the pieces? I felt ready to try.
That summer splayed my affections; those simple, noble loyalties
that my mother had so easily commanded, were no longer adequate. And the forgiveness my father had so painlessly assumed —
that was the difficult sentiment I wanted now to summon up.
A warm evening in early August I walked down from my
room to the benches by the Montcalm Monument, just above
the boardwalk. At my side sat a bearded old man in a woollen
suit and straw hat, studying his missal. Then down to the boardwalk, past the Americans out after a heavy dinner. I looked French
to them. And to the kittenish girls, strolling by in threes and fours,
in tight slacks and bouffants,  transistors swinging around their
41 necks — I was also French, one of them. I understood their small
talk, their foolish small talk.
But I am not French, I knew, walking further, beyond the
terrasse and up the ramparts to the Citadel; past pensioners reading their evening Le Soleil. High above the city from the old fort,
I sat till a cold night wind skimmed the Plains and the silent town
below me turned on its lights. And rurming to the mountains was
the river, calm in its channel, respecting the wakes of departed
ships.
Clark Blaise's stories reflect the influences of his life in Canada and the rural
American South." As the only American in my family, ever, Canada seems to
me vital, a marvellous place for writers. I would choose Montreal over any
city on the continent."
42 STATEMENTS
ON POETS AND POETRY
BY DIVERSE HANDS
SALTIMBANQUE
'The green lawn hangs heavy
over my head,
And I stand on blue sky,"
the poet said
Through somersaults
woven and turned
Around black clocks
he spurned.
FREDERICK CANDELARIA
Frederick Candelaria, who teaches English and edits West Coast Review
at Simon Fraser University, writes: "The multiplication of verses dedicated to
shocking middleclass sensibilities somehow surprises me. Even psychiatrists have
given up shock treatment for better ways to get at reality. The raw rituals of
the bedroom and the bathroom are obvious and easy truths and the verses that
capitalize on them are also easy and obvious. These are verses that narrow our
vision. The poems that truly electrify us, through their structures of sound,
assimilate our basic and chaotic experiences and broaden our vision." Another
poem by the author appears on page 71.
43 Two Poems by Peter Stevens
AN AXE JOB
Kafka once said
a book should serve
as an axe
for the frozen sea
within us.
Here we are
on the verge
of suicide
knowing somewhere
creeping up on us
is the sharp edge
to cleave our brains.
Bland Howells said
music and architecture
are the true creative arts
for they make
real form
they evolve    a camel
out of
their inner consciousness.
So look
at a book of poems
with their built-in music
in another way —
44 locked in ice gritty with sand
Eskimos Arabs
hack to the peak gallop to the top
of an iceberg of a dune
and watch
the flash the ludicrous dignity
of the axe of the camel
break into grains spurt into splashes
the dense ice the loose sand
gashing it open striding distance
in the glare in the chill
of an Arctic sun of a desert moon
until
they   see
caravans of camels
stalking across the snow
and
an ice - axe
chopping the palms
So remember
when you see
a camel lurching up an iceberg
an Eskimo lunging at the skin
of an oasis with his axe
looking for fish
you may be looking at the image
of the real form of a poem.
45 PRAIRIE POETRY
around us
sometimes lies
a rawness
drifting
fortuitously
crusts the snow
with no pattern
but
swell
greens into crops
which push
under care
to full sound
wheat
made neat at ears
shrivelled
later
strangled
by droughts
understanding
is not
creation alone
may yet discover by
steadfast
questionings
but somehow
stalks
must brace up
the land
knowing they are
to be slashed
and stacked
the prairies
ramshackle hovels
in unknowing hands
assert themselves
hopefully
in awkward
growth
stone
sprouts from earth
persistence
with
wheat
stamps
desperate cities
moulds
order
with elevators
such blank buildings
the prairie decays
into one-street towns
with the false fronts
that slide away
in the hard glare
of poetry
to vacancy
Peter Stevens, who lives in Saskatchewan, calls Prairie Poetry "mobile poetry.
It can be read down in columns or straight across. The opening phrase invites
the_ reader to step inside and 're-compose' it, for there are no punctuation
limits set. The reader should be prepared to let the poem happen around him.
The split-column is used at a much simpler level in An Axe Job." Another
poem by the author appears on page 66.
46
, THE PROPER EVALUATION OF POETS
A mirror is only breakable glass,
the experts said.
Let's shove some pieces up the poet's ass
& give his soul a look at itself.
The hammer they swung again and again
shattered as if on chrome, its quivering handle
shattered them, and only in quicksilver were they whole;
were they men.
RALPH J. SALISBURY
Ralph J. Salisbury is editor of Northwest Review. His work has been published widely in Canada and the United States.
FESSION  (PRO- and CON-)
The disgusting thing about writing, except for the dedicated souls
(and I think they are lovely people, the dedicated souls,
the eager beavers with their gleaming incisors,
their fat flat tails and their chisel-tipped incisors
— That dates a man, that zoological comparison,
so too, perhaps, the explicit working-out of the comparison)
Is finishing off after the first draft's done,
Putting in the superfluous details when the interesting work's all
done,
Checking the references, being consistent, going over the timing,
Changing the sequence — that's clearer, but what does it do to the
timing? —
Forestalling objections, planting anticipations, underlining the
obvious,
Amplifying, simplifying, clarifying, rejecting the obvious,
Checking again for the.obvious flaws that got passed over,
— And what use can you make of all those bright ideas left over?
Pretty haggard by now, your fine fresh novel creation.
So are you, my boy. It has to be done, but it's damn dull work.
L. A. MacKAY
L. A. MacKay teaches at Berkeley. His poetic satires have appeared variously,
including our 5:2.
47 ELEGY FOR MISTER ELIOT
Please be seated, members; remove the crepe
While I light soft lamps which yellow,
When fans settle on the panels of the dark wall.
Silence breaks; the curtain strokes the cold floor;
The arms move upward: a penetrating click.
Now we will never know, never discover the rocks
Where the lighthouse sank in kelp, stirring
The fragments of cloud with the distinct bow;
Nor miss again the rising smoke behind
The philodendron in the white marble lobby.
Who let the whining of the shining cables
Enter through the doorway of the noisy room?
His face was unfamiliar, we thought.
Remember the wasted politeness of the figure,
The quiet stranger in the hall? And recall that hat,
The tactful reservation of a smile ...
A sudden interruption. Twelve is struck,
Followed by a giant click.
DAVID M. SUMMERS
David M. Summers is a student at Victoria University. More of his poems
appear on pages 72 and 73.
POETRY READINGS
Faithfully, I have put on my coat
and gone to witness the man
who rose like smoke,
opened his book and began to read.
Not once could I close my eyes
to let rivers flow by.
48 The people who came were
like myself, some
reflections of a fun house self
with the deserted longings sticking out:
the flaunting girls
trailing their long dark hair behind them,
the old ladies
ugly as dry flower beds,
the usual oddity, madman,
most recently the one without pants,
just a sheet furled between his thighs,
who came in late, determinedly Hindu,
but painfully swaddled and loose
in the noiseless room.
Noiseless, but at one reading
I thought we would rise like fire
to consume the thin, cold octogenarian bard;
and at another, somebody yelled,
'Emptiness, Sham!"
And once I left with the hecklers
who had the word.
It has never been right.
I've gone hoping to find
God burning the stage;
instead, some man
read a poem off a page.
RELLA LOSSY
Rella Lossy produces .a literary magazine programme on KPFA-FM in
Berkeley. Her poetic beliefs, she says, "echo those of Blake, Roethke and James
Dickey, who is the best American poet we've got. I concur with him that poets
must stop lying, must start saying something directly to the readers, something
honest and necessary."
49 THE CRAFTSMAN
The Middle Ages as apprentice to the
Renaissance; a monastery, the fusty
Friar both scribe and craftsman. Of
Architectonic design, he steps from
The catacombs, rises to the heavens;
His horny hands span from the universe
Center, grasp caliphers and book,
Possibilities to learning. His face
Is a gargoyle; eyes rose windows;
Hair of gothic tracery; skin a mono-
Chromatic mosaic; the mouth a kiln.
Here craft is no aesthetic exercise.
Manuscripts are illuminated, stone
By stone cathedrals rise. If the
Guide be a heavenly blueprint, the
Product is pleasantly blunt, for the
Artisan works without mystery. It is
The material, not the immaterial, that
Matters. Elemental earth, air, fire, water.
5° So too with my craft:
In the tradition of the craftsman,
Honest with myself, true to my tools.
The steel of sense is oil and fire
Tempered; my keys unlock images which
Spring to mind, transmute them to the
Blank luxury of rag paper. Words flow
Molten in flux, stand clean when set,
To weld sound and sense, without slag;
To build thin utilitarian forms, brittle
As gold leaf, yet strong and simple.
No alloy dilutes sounds of chime and
Gong: tinkle without tin. Or the fat
Sound of industry, where words mesh
Like cogs, spurring forward.
I have apprenticed: and now with every
Dictionary word ready, and my portmanteau
Packed, monuments may begin:
Words build to sentences to paragraphs
To pages, a strong but baffling gridwork
Construction, an eloquent pyramid, where
The plumbline of thought holds the margins
True, the only limits.
ALBERT DRAKE
Albert Drake is working for his M.F.A. degree in writing at the University
of Oregon: "After writing steadily for eight years, I finally feel — as The
Craftsman says — that I've completed my apprenticeship."
51 THE
PERFECTm
GAME 1
Pat Lowther, who lives in Vancouver, has published verse in England and
Canada. This is her first published story.
PAT LOWTHER
It was a breaking day : Yesterday, on my last run, the five o'clock
traffic had forced me too close to a high curb, and had broken the
wheel of my motorcycle. So my delivery contract was also broken.
It gave me a laugh, thinking of all the fumble-fingered wet-
mouthed popeyes arriving in all the little tobacco-and-bookie joints
in the city for their daily confection of rape, ax-murder, and exotic,
invented deviations. And finding the magazine racks empty. Or, if
not empty, papered only with yesterday's scandals, last week's
nudes. All because my motorcycle sat in the repair station, with the
sidecar full of yellow dailies and picture magazines with fold-out
wet-dream-of-the-week spreads. What a find for some mechanic.
I had broken my pattern, also, and sinned against order by arriving home on foot, too late for the landlady's Friday fish. Then
broken it again this morning, by not going out at my usual time,
revving the motor and roaring off in a cloud of smut.
On my way downstairs, after sleeping through breakfast, I broke
the landlady's conversation with old Miss Striller. They were standing at the bottom of the stairs cutting up and serving somebody,
probably me, and broke off in a sour confusion when I appeared.
I went past them without speaking, deciding it was a breaking day.
And I decided to break old man Freeman's solitude. I could see
him through the flawed parlor window, sitting in his year-long
corner of the porch, with the little wicker table in front of him,
playing solitaire.
I moved closer to study him, to find my point of entry. He was
changeless, exactly the same each day — balding brown head, narrow shoulders, tough, sullen profile, deliberate motions of his hands
with the cards. All through the heat of summer he'd sat in that
corner, in the thick shade of the grape vine, playing solitaire. Now
the vine was a tangle of brown and chartreuse vegetable wires, with
the folded corpses of leaves hanging here and there, rocking in the
wind. And now the old man wore, over the patched navy blue
cardigan he'd worn all summer, a thin blanket tucked around his
shoulders. It was the same kind of cheap, grey blanket that was on
my bed — on all the beds, probably.
53 I went out and stood in front of him.
"That's my blanket," I said.
He raised his eyes and looked me over, then looked down thoughtfully and moved a card.
I rested my hip against the porch railing and folded my arms.
"That's my blanket you've got, old man."
He laughed, showing a mouthful of horribly rotten teeth.
"It is a dull day, isn't it?" he said. "What do you want?"
"What's that game you're playing?"
"Solitaire."
"It doesn't look like any solitaire I've seen."
"It doesn't? But how perceptive are you?"
He was looking down at the cards, laughing under his breath.
I was growing impatient.
Then he said suddenly, "I invented it. It's the perfect game of
solitaire. It always comes out right."
He swept the pattern of cards together and shuffled through
them, selecting cards to show me.
"Look, the two kings. The king of hearts and the king of clubs.
Look at their faces. The kindly judge and the hostile judge. And
here is the — I don't call hirn victim or culprit; the one has a paranoid ring, the other suggests a rather overdone sense of guilt —
no, I just call him the Jack.The Jack of diamonds. Look at his face.
Ingenuous, passive. Utterly passive. There's the true criminal of
our time."
The old man was growing excited now, producing cards like a
conjurer, his brown speckled eyes glinting in the weak sunshine that
came through the interstices of the vine. I could see the landlady
standing in the parlor like a fish in a tank, watching us.
"Look," the old man said. "Each card represents a crime or a
folly. The ace of hearts, the crime of love. Of diamonds, the crime
of greed. Clubs, cruelty. And of course, the ace of spades, the conventional murder. There are cards for the penalties, too. Even one
for acquittal. It never comes out that way, though. When I first
started playing, sometimes it used to come out at the death penalty,
and that satisfied me. I thought it was working out all right. But
I have perfected it. Now it always comes out at solitary confinement."
He offered me a card, a deuce, and I saw the red marks in his
palm.
"What's that on your hand?" I said.
He laughed, expelling the odor of his foul teeth. He spread both
54 his hands, palms up. There was a tiny deuce tattooed in the centre
of each.
"That is my sign, my verdict. Solitary confinement. The eternal
dialogue with oneself."
I felt the whole, huge day, like the old house, creaking with
boredom.
"Ha!" he laughed at me. A leaf shadow lay momentarily like a
pirate's patch over one of his eyes. "You think I've got a Messiah
complex. Stigmata. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"I was the opposite of Lady MacBeth — 'Out, damned spot' —
People came to me and paid for their damned spots. I did this
myself, you know. This one," he pointed to his right palm, "I did
left-handed.
"Oh, yes, I made a living tattooing. Giving courage to the uneasy, virility to the secretly doubtful, the seal of experience to wistful
boys.
"Once I had a customer, a man in his fifties, said he must be
reminded constantly of the depth of his corruption. Wanted swine
eating out of his navel, and serpents twining among his genitals.
I gave him what he wanted, his specifics against temptation."
"Don't you do it any more?" I asked.
I was tliinking perhaps I should have some insignia of my own,
and wondering what would be suitably original. A match and a tin
of kerosene? A pictorial representation of a cerebral hemorrhage?
"I gave it up," the old man said. "It was all in vain, as vain
as the painting. I used to paint, too, as a hobby. It was my way
of coping with reality, turning the day's disasters into some semblance of order.
"Order, that's the thing! A kind of redemption. But I realized
finally that the painting, and even the tattooing, though it made
my living, were only steps in the evolution of this game of solitaire."
His small, coarse hands moved again among the cards, constructing a pattern. I didn't want him to escape. I put my weight on to
a loose board of the porch. It creaked gratingly. He looked up,
laughing again.
"Ah, but you should have seen the paintings I did. Demons and
erorerons battiinar. Blood and bestialities from one end of the canvas
to the other. But no one ever noticed the angels, or the little pure
humans, away down in the corner, bringing bandages or planting
flowers. Or maybe they did. Maybe they did see them, and that's
why they called me mad."
"Ha!" I said. "So you have been called mad."
55 He opened his mouth wide in a soundless laugh.
"Twice! Twice before a magistrate, and twice sent up. The kindly judge and the hostile judge. The first time — No. I won't tell
you what it was I did.
"I was in the merchant navy. You can see I'm not a large man.
There was this fireman, Semlin was his name, one of those great,
muscular turds who must always be proving the superiority of muscle over mind. He took a dislike to me. He made my life misery.
As if I were a new first-former at a boarding school. The jeering,
the debasement, the surreptitious kick or cuff or twist."
The old man's wrinkled eyelids dropped. His hands moved restlessly, then turned up a card.
"One night I got back at him. He came aboard drunk from an
evening ashore, and passed out. I... will not tell you what I did.
It was a petty thing. But I'll tell you this —"
His sullen old face tried to assume a mask of wisdom ■— the
venerable llama, the sage elder, the eternal crap-shovelling ancient.
I yawned.
He went on, "Let a strong man do a spiteful act, and he stands
an even chance of being forgiven. Or at least understood. But do
a weak and spiteful thing, and the whole world will rise to accuse
you, having found, at last, a just object for its contempt.
"They locked me up — to protect me from his vengefulness, they
said. Then, when we reached home port, he laid charges against
me. The magistrate ordered me examined. He was a kind old chap,
soft-spoken, chosen no doubt for his excellent projection of the
father-image.
"Two doctors spoke to me, for perhaps forty minutes. I was
younger then, I believed in the power of facts. I told them how I
had been driven. I spread before them instance after instance of
Semlin's cruelty.
"They said, Yes, yes, but you need a rest. There are so many
Semlins. You have to rest and grow strong before you face them
again.' So they signed me away. I would have appealed to my
friends from the ship for help, but I'd seen the aversion on their
faces when they glanced at me."
"You tattooed him!" I said. "You tattooed him while he was
passed out."
I felt a surge of strength, of the power of action that was in me
and not in the old man. I stood over him triumphantly.
His eyes flickered over me.
56 "Maybe," he said. "Maybe that was it. Maybe it was something
else. What do you care?"
"You said twice." I bore down on him. I was beginning to enjoy
myself now. "You said twice you were sent up. The kindly judge
and the hostile judge."
The old man sighed and straightened a row of cards.
"Yes. After a while they let me out. They didn't tell me whether
I had been cured, or even whether I'd been sick, for that matter.
They said I could go, and I went home to my wife.
"Yes," he grimaced. "I had a wife. Of course, we hadn't lived
together steadily for a couple of years, with me being at sea and
then in the hospital. I don't think she knew quite what to do with
a husband, especially a husband just delivered from the lunie bin.
"She screened off a corner of the front room for me to sleep in.
I opened my tattooing shop. She worked in some office. She kept
me while I was waiting for customers. She cooked my meals and
looked after my clothes. Sometimes she'd go out with me for a
drink, or to a movie. She was very polite and patient, even when
I'd try to touch her. She would just break away gently, reproachfully, and tell me we must get to know one another again first.
"Four months we lived like that. At night I could hear her undressing in the bedroom where I'd used to sleep. I got so I would
yell at her, curse her, accuse her of having lovers. The neighbours
looked at her pityingly. She was polite and patient.
"Then one night I couldn't stand it any longer. I went to her
and forced her. I forced myself on her.
"The next day I was again before a magistrate. A different one.
This one was obviously practiced in dealing with the scum of the
city. He had a look and tone he put on like a pair of reading glasses
when he was addressing me. All of my wife's neighbours were there,
to testify to my violent temper and jealousy. There was a statement
from the hospital that I had been dismissed 'condition unchanged.'
"So they sent me back. And I stayed. I began to feel at peace
there. Everything was so orderly, so routined." He laughed again,
showing his brown, broken teeth. "One must go to a madhouse to
find the truly stable society.
"There was a fairly good library there. I read and painted and
began gradually to evolve this game of solitaire. I might have been
there yet, but," and here he grew excited; his hands moved rapidly,
"they wanted to take out all my teeth! 'Remove the organs of infection', one of them said."
And now, for the first time, I did see some hint of madness in
57 his face. His yellow-brown eyes glinted like coins. He leaned toward
me.
"After all that — they wanted to unpoison me!"
He went into a spasm of coughing laughter, spraying his foul
breath at me. I moved quickly back.
"I walked out," he said. "It was easy to do. They weren't expecting me to try it. I just walked down the road to a bus stop,
and caught a bus. I had a little money that I'd been able to earn.
Enough for a set of clothes and a room. I got along. I worked sometimes, sometimes just played solitaire. I don't know whether or not
they ever tried to find me.
"Of course, they could find me now if they wanted to. The welfare department has me filed in quadriplicate, no doubt. But they
know I'm harmless. They pay my pension and leave me alone.
Except every so often some nervous social worker wants me to
have my teeth out."
The old man reached into his pocket and brought out a packet
of tobacco and papers.
When he had finished rolling his cigarette, I said, "I have no
cigarettes."
He looked at me cautiously, under his lowered eyelids, then sighed
and held out to me the one he'd just made. I took it.
The reaching forward motion of his arm dislodged the grey
blanket he was wearing. As he put up his hand to tuck the corner
around his shoulder, the sleeve of his cardigan slid back. I saw a
steel-blue serial number tattooed on his arm, a mark he could have
been given only in a Nazi concentration camp. A wave of horror
and anger came redly up into my head. The old man was lying, or
really mad, innocently mad.
"You've been lying to me!" I said. "It was all lies! You were
there. It was there that everything happened to you."
He swung his hands up in a placating gesture, with the marked
palms facing me.
"No," he said. "I know what you think. But I got that mark
here, in this country."
"How?" I challenged him.
"I don't really know. I can only guess." He leaned across the
table, his eyes dilating, pulling me in. He put a hand on my wrist.
I was shocked by the touch, dry and smooth like a leather glove.
His voice was low, portentous. "You've heard of the phenomenon
of automatic handwriting? I woke one morning with this number
on my arm, and my dyes and needles beside me."
58 I pulled my wrist away from him. My back slammed against the
porch railing.
"You're putting me down!" I screamed at him. "All this time
you've been hoaxing me, laughing at me!"
The enormity of it, absurdity piled on absurdity, and me fish-
mouthed taking it all, swept over me. I felt I was shrinking, becoming a child or an old, dried husk like old man Freeman himself.
"You're a rotten liar!" I shouted.
The landlady and Miss Striller came to the door and stood muttering, watching me. And the old man sat there laughing at me,
his eyes lost between their wrinkled lids and all his rotten teeth
showing.
At last he stopped laughing and said, "Calm yourself. Light your
cigarette."
I obeyed like a child. I picked up the cigarette that I'd dropped.
My hands were shaking so that I had difficulty lighting the match.
"I don't remember your name?" the old man said.
"Brander," I told him, too angry and confused to refuse him.
That set him laughing again.
"Brander!" he wheezed. "An excellent name! Did you choose
it?"
"Choose it?" I said. "No. I just accepted it."
"It's a name I misrht have chosen for myself when I was in the
tattooing business," he said. "But I didn't choose my name until I
had my number."
I dragged on the cigarette he'd rolled. It burned unevenly, the
coal eating down one side. The landlady and Miss Striller decided
there wasn't going to be any more excitement. They went back into
the house, glaring over their shoulders.
"I'll tell you the truth about this number," old Freeman said
softly. "I don't know how it came here. Only I know it freed me
when it did.
"You know how the bodies of young boys, and young girls too
probably, are often sprinkled with soft brown moles? Velvety, like
mullein leaves. I had a big one here on my arm. As I grew older,
it changed, became coarser, blue-black, ominous-looking. I used
to worry about it. I thought it might be pre-carcinomous. One day
I woke, and it was gone and this number was in its place. All the
malignancy had concentrated into this number, this prison mark.
"It's strange, but the moment I saw it I felt a wonderful sense
of relief, of freedom. It was the realization of what I had been try-
ins: to achieve with my tattooed deuces. I was marked, and the
59 r
mark was there to be seen. It coincided with the mark I wore inside me. Order, you see? Harmony.
"It was then I chose my name. Freeman. Freedom is the recognition of necessity. Jack Freeman."
He smiled at me, parternally, like a kindly judge. I knew he
would stick to that story. I wouldn't be able to break it. I knew
there was nothing I could do.
I threw away the ragged cigarette.
"You've got my blanket," I said. "I want it. Now."
He moved two cards on the table and bared his brown teeth at
me in a grin of triumph.
"It worked out again," he said. 'Take the blanket."
He unwrapped the thin blanket from around his back, and
handed it to me. I held it over my arm, aware of it as an extension
of him — the thin, gritty texture of it, and the smell of his tobacco.
I moved a step away. He did nothing. I walked deliberately almost
to the door before I turned around again. He was still grinning.
I went back to him as though I'd been jerked there, shoving the
blanket on to the table, under his face, brushing his damned game
all ways onto the floor.
"Don't you want it back?" I said, and I could hear the baffled
anger in my own voice. "Aren't you cold, old man?"
He just laughed.
"Look at you, look at you," I shouted, "you're shivering! You
need this blanket, old man. You need to get it back from me. Ask
me for it, go on! See, it's right here, all you have to do is reach out,
maybe I'll let you keep it. Go on, go on, try!"
He went on laughing and laughing.
"Why don't you at least curse me!" I yelled at him. "You fool!
You stubborn old fool!"
I grabbed him and shoved the blanket into his face, screaming
at him to take it, take it, take it!
"Mr. Brander!" Shouted, right in my ear. The landlady. She
must have come up behind me. Kept saying, "Mr. Brander, Mr.
Grander," even after I dropped the blanket and stepped back'from
the old man.
Miss Striller was standing in the doorway with her mouth open.
"I'll call the police," she said in a high, quavery voice.
Old man Freeman had his breath back.
"No, don't," he called. "It's quite all right, Miss Striller, Mrs
Bossom" —he nodded to the landlady — "Just a misunderstanding.
60 He stood up, a little guy about half my weight.
"Mr. Brander felt that I was in need of an extra blanket, and
wanted to give me his. Young people often fail to understand that
their charity, however kindly motivated, can be repugnant to an
old man's pride. Nevertheless, he meant well."
A practiced liar. The two women softened, flattered by his dignified language, and their attitude toward me changed from fear
and outrage to something less clear-cut.
"Well," the landlady said doubtfully, "well, all right. But I can't
have such an emotional person around. You never know what
might happen. Mr. Brander, I'm giving you notice. You'll have to
leave at the end of the week."
I just stood there, watching old man Freeman's hands gesturing
as he talked soothingly. His hands were nimble and lively from
years of dealing cards. It was almost impossible to glimpse the
tattooes in the palms.
I was so fascinated by his hands that I wasn't listening to what
he said until he had satisfied the landlady, and she humphed back
into the house. Then his last sentence penetrated my mind.
"Mrs. Bossom, I'll personally take responsibility for Mr. Brander."
I stared at him, at his knowing, malicious eyes. He was befriending me! As if he knew how few people had ever offered to befriend
me, and what kind they were, and the disgust I felt for them. It
was all there in his eyes, without pity.
I got away from him, upstairs to my room, hardly able to breathe
until the dark, varnished door was closed behind me. I was still
clutching his blanket. I threw it into a corner, and opened the window to get the old-man smell of it out.
From the narrow window of the room, I could see, past the rows
of close, old houses and the few skinny trees, a lighted hill of
suburb, and sweeping past it, the road out.
I'll go, I decided. As soon as the motorcycle's fixed, I'll take off
west, or south, or somewhere. But maybe I won't. All cities are
much the same, and at least here I have a bed with an extra
blanket.
I took off my shirt. I twisted myself before the cheap mirror on
the highboy. That soft mole behind my shoulder — I had noticed
lately that it was becoming coarser and darker. I wondered if it
might become malignant.
61 EGG SONATA by JOE ROSENBLATT, a young Toronto poet, whose voyage of the mood
was published in 1965 by the Heinrich
Heine Press.
"The Chick Peepeth From The Egg"
— Akhnaton
To an ounce and a half of energy strutting around in the palm of my hand
I say: congratulations ..., you've made it;
don't blame you for being mad at me,
digging your beak into my finger,
don't blame you for looking up at me with defiance
like I was responsible for you being in the egg in the first place;
congratulations! you've made it, nosed your way out of the egg;
a poet would have died there, deciding he was mad, curled up and died there
in a perfect oval nightmare, but you my little refugee, are here in my palm
scratching for the answer, you have an Oedipus fixation, you think I'm responsible
for your situation, and bent on revenge, you follow the life line in my palm —
would I have made it in your place?
don't really know
it's tough on your nose
breaking; the enamelware
then suppose, your nose is kind of soft
what then?
it makes me sweat!
O birdie! congratulations, a thousand times congratulations,
congratulations! congratulations! congratulations!
Yes! every morning at breakfast I get kind of religious
how fortunate I am
breaking the egg
from the outside
instead
of inside
out.
62
u II
Let the egg live, let it be lowered, into a flower pot and buried in loam, and yes,
let the egg dream in technicolor, dream black loam and sunlight, egg-plants,
pear shaped purple enigmas, fruitation —
the last vegetable fantasy of the egg and not
Canadiana
— a dull maple leaf —
the egg should live forever, the yellow yolk endeared to the egg, loved
by the oval exterior
slick art form
erotic spheroid!
this morning I've cooked
— a wild enormous egg —
intact on a plate
I've scalped a hole
in the plaster
the spoon gouging out
the egg, gouging! gouging!
for dead
dinosaurs, crocodiles, lizards,
turtles, kingfishers, albatross, webbed toads, flying dragons, salamanders, golden
eagles, herring gulls, blue jays, great horned owls, peregrine hawks, Canadian
mallards, deadly hummingbirds, garden snakes, seedy romantic poets...
what evil lies in the egg?
63 Ill
"Mass production methods sweeping the egg industry
have given Canadians the lowest egg prices in more
than 20 years..." Globe & Mail — March 5, 1965.
EGG PRODUCTION CRACKS PRICES
or
Depression Time For Hens
the price of eggs are falling —
thirty-five cents a dozen
that's three cents an egg,
that's depression
for the farmer
the hen
and the egg, unwanted,
unloved;
— a sphere of melancholia —
on our breakfast table.
the egg
can't hide its curved feelings,
enamelled skies crack,
the egg, emotional....
shell-shocked and broken.
spills its yolk heart
out on the breakfast plate.
It's a bad year
for the farmer, the egg, and the hen
that's depression
that's automation
that's exploitation
the perfect Canadian hen, reduced
to a second class bird, a bum,
a prairie chicken, a tramp,
pimped away on the market
for practically nothing ...
soon the eggs will roll out of gum machines.
64 30 BELOW
In Alberta the antelope
are dying on the CPR tracks
at 30 below zero.
Their frozen bodies
lie beside the tracks,
feet pointing
at the passenger train going by.
This Fall
the hunters will walk
far north
looking for game.
Chief Walking Eagle says
Manitou brought the ice
to punish white hunters
who leave their dead ducks and rabbits
by the side of the road.
But the animals are frozen
carcasses now by every road,
the hunters are warm in lodges
waiting for the big thaw.
They know Manitou
doesn't hold his breath
all winter.
GEORGE BOWERING
George Bowering, who teaches at the University of Alberta at Calgary, is a
widely-published author and critic. El Como Emplumado brought out his
latest book of poems, the man in the yellow boots, in 1965.
65 A FEW MYTHS
When a short-panted boy
with a home-made bat
with Graceless efficiency
into old man Shirt's
("Get off my garden!")
we appealed to a god of cricket,
not a white-bearded W. G. Grace
but an Australian
with sloppy accent
"Who d'you think you are —
with an Australian accent,
heard about,
clouted
a six
garden,
Don Bradman?"
A god
never seen,
ruthless,
the English consistently,
like that aboriginal savage
we all read about in The Wizard
untouched by colonialism,
for the colonials played cricket
on neat well-watered lawns
in the humid jungle
Somehow Strang would take care of it
with his civilized weapon —
an old
(with a sloppy accent)
bequeathed by an old
And so
wielded his home-made
with enormous swipe
(to the power of six)        and
took care of
he slaughtered
Strang the Terrible
a primitive giant
and left evil
outside.
Clicky Ba
cricket bat
colonial.
Boy the Terrible
Clicky Ba
old man Shirt.
66 Who d'you think you are —
Don Bradman?
But any time you hit the ball
into his neat garden
(and it happened often)
you had to go and get it —
sneak into the flower beds of evil
where lilies festered                              and
Old Man Shirt
might pounce and carry off
your balls.
When a short-panted boy
with a mouth organ
plugged
with pocket fluff and spit
managed
with wheezy suck and blow
to approach a tune we knew,
we appealed to a god of music,
not a motleyed pied-piper
| but                     an American
"Who d'you think you are —
Larry Adler?"
: And we'd pelt
along the road
spellbound
with the tune                  and
with the thought
of the matinee we were going to
at the local bug-hut.
Each week
some petrified man                                or
innocent girl
(but what did we know of innocence?)
gaped at
the evil shadow
i of an enormous hand —
The Clutching Hand
coming
to obliterate them
as the music swelled      and
we saw
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.
And so
Boy Piper
blew loud and big
his mouth organ
hoping to freeze
that Hand.
67 But we daren't say it
out loud
in the presence of
beauty and love
afraid for our lives.
She might turn round and
despoil us.
Then that comic war came —
(we'd seen The Great Dictator
at a theatre called The Gaiety)
started by
a German Charlie Chaplin
an Italian Silenus
and later a midget Jap.
And it all happened
remotely as a comedy
although we saw an     inferno
one   Christmas.
Our school was bombed —
smashing! one week's holiday.
And some of our schoolmates were killed
when they decided to take apart
a bomb they'd found,
and
the funeral got us out of German homework.    And
wrecked German planes were trundled into
the RAF post
in our school yard —
our contribution to the war effort,
but we used the Nissen hut
(we had a key —
one of the boys lit the fire
for our gallant RAF)
to play hookey and table tennis.
68 Who d'you think you are —
Larry Adler?
But it was always
continued next week.
The Hand
always              came back
ready to clutch
and rob you of
your organ.
When some mother we knew
as a lond-moiitriftrl rlpsnnilpr
went out
we jeered at her
of our
("Bill-eee! Your tea's ready!")
games
and
(consciously beautiful)
dressed herself up
to town,
secretly
(we always jeered at beauty and love —
conditioned at the local bug-hut
where beauty and love
had nothing to do
with what we knew)
we appealed to a goddess of beauty,
not a Hollywood Helen or Venus
but an American
"Who d'you think you are —
When she stepped onto the bus
she rode into another world
shop windows
full of model finery
Mrs. Simpson?"
where
she dazzled
dukes and men
gave up
kingdoms
for her.
And so
we jeered
at her
secretly
Who d'you think you
are-
Mrs. Simpson?
69 And afterwards our mysterious and alien
Don Bradman
Mrs. Simpson
Larry Adler
became
was
played
(not a mouth organ) with
We had suddenly been
despoiled
spellbound
come to manhood and
balls and organs taken
taken apart,
we could no longer jeer at beauty and
for there was
only
(but what did we know about evil?)
heard about,
never seen,
ruthless,
in a land without gods
gods
left us.
Sir Donald
a Duchess
his harmonica
a symphony orchestra.
our world
Petrified
love,
nothing left,
the evil outside
ready to clutch us
afraid for our lives.
PETER STEVENS
A Few Myths, says Peter Stevens, is about "extensions back into the past. Key
words and images are isolated in the column to the right so that the poem
extends back along the line. The poem should be read across in the normal
manner before the right-hand column is seen in isolation."
70 OUR ZOO AT NIGHT
There are lions
in the park,
Dream-devouring
hungers,
Tigers in loins
in our dark.
FREDERICK CANDELARIA
Other work by Frederick Candelaria and Albert Drake appears on page
43 and page 50 respectively.
THE ARMS OF ST. PETER'S
Enclose the stuttering clouds
Of pigeons which spiral up
Under the wheels of tour buses,
Sweep over the black massed
Clouds of priests who, having
Traveled a world to get home,
Ignore the rough chalk wall sign
The thronged tourists disown:
Dirty scogg BOBS was here —
ANDOVER MASS
suppliziato brother
suppliziato
ALBERT DRAKE
1 Two Poems by David M. Summers
PROCESSION
So wave your piece of lace and let me guess
Lean and let the dark leather creak again
Together we shall wait, listen and gaze
To listen for the unexpected plops
Strike the hollow bridge on time and in time
Watch the blurred waves chop, the sails chop, in time
Slow, it is slow, each black leg lifts and falls
A regulated accent of a whip, cracks
They seem to move, do they, their twisted arms?
Their iron cold and melting into curls
Shaking the black faces, unrelenting
Bow in disrespect and say they said so
Passing across the gap between the cloth ...
It is long and slow. It is long and slow.
Exhale and draw the heavy curtains black.
72 GOD, IT'S DECEMBER
Through twisting black bark, the branches
Shield the marchers from the sounds.
Heavy breathing on the marsh.
And, in the same land they arrange
The splinters of the mandolin
Between the flames of dying cinders;
There sever fir, the holly boughs;
Crack stems, rip the aging veins,
Plunge and burn the stolen seed.
Gather the fallen mother, heap
And kiss her broken stone-white face:
Sacrifice the virgin, melt her,
Stir the candle with an iron.
In, into the fire with all of them.
Those gold spires, those reaching points
Twist, torture their direction;
They do not touch the frozen heaven,
Caught between the snapping beams
Which glow and stain the tiles red;
Frail wrestlers settle and twist,
Finished, with dust to dust, forever.
Lay the black wreath on a snow drift.
Another poem by the author appears on page 48.
73 fl^^^^^^R^^^^^^^W
Two Poems by Barry Lord
poem on revolution by a Castro sympathizer
recently removed from Vancouver to Saint John
no
you have no
God in man
you go back
the begmning
Simon Bolivar
and Jesus Christ
after the revolution
crucifixion
God saw the Atlantic
ocean in wave
and wave on shore
as Castro
sees Havana harbour
God in
Jesus Christ
I have no meaning
but the word
revolution
and the waves
the crucifixion
now
in Havana
the harbour of Saint John
I have lived in Vancouver
I have the False Creek in my mouth
I have the inlet disease
Lowry in Dollarton
and Bolivar
we have the sickness of the great steep wave
we have
we have revolution
74
I blowing
1
in Saint John harbour
we have blood
buried behind King Square
on a hill top
we have a tree
crucify tree
the tree the word
revolt
her anger always
waiting
I declare an anniversary
of my waste
I ask the dead man
found in bush
who dies afraid
remembering
pretends himself
the power of the boots
from kicking
and she is the wind
I live at the edges of continents
her anger a wind
afraid
and pretending
I am blown along the steep sides of highways
railway freight sheds
the road and the tracks are blown in the bush
75 snow
on the body of the dead man
him afraid
I ask
his boots
her anger
pretend to fear
my tracks my sides
myself
the shed
remember
the anniversary of winters
in bush on road
blowing
Curator of Art at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, Barry Lord
describes his style as "influenced generally by contemporary American poets,
conversations with Roy Kiyooka, the curious examples of Bill Bissett and (very
slightly) Lionel Kearns, but largely by my own need for greater honesty, clarity
and strength of language." The poems published here will eventually be in
Poets '67.
76 k
Three Poems by William Wantling
DON'T SHOOT
"Don't Shoot!" she
screamed, & as the dark
shadowed figure clicked
back the pistolhammer
twice I muttered Sheeeit...
I snapped off the set &
Ruthie hollered in from
the kitchen — Whatsamatter
Genius, too deep for you?
& I put Miles'
Sketches of
Spain on the stereo & we
had popcorn that night, 7-
up, & made love on the
livingroom rug
then when Ruthie was sleep-
ST
ing, I read an old letter
from my first wife, wrote
a poem about her & the years
in L.A. & the narcotics, &
wondered about that old man
whose skull we'd had to
fracture to take his lousy
$83 that one bad sick
time, wondered if he'd
lived, if he'd ever just
loved & lived simply & with
total thanks as I had this
night...
77
i HOPE
hope
is a lynching
framed over & over
on the blunt split
platform of
life
IT'S COLD FOR AUGUST
it's cold for August
& it's been raining now
for 3 days & nights
a vague unease has
settled over many in
this place
unease
denied in the usual
manner, things going
on as usual
when I see
the people playing
golf in a Sunday rain
see them
flocking to a small
sad circus & being
gaily cheated, peeping
small sad peeps of
counterfeit joy, as if
the grand old days had
never ended
78 or I
notice the insects are
gone, the ladybugs
the hghtning bugs
the grasshoppers &
the ants
& how few birds
returned this year
I remember the famed
mount of ancient days, how
the volcano came like the
Voice of God, burying the
town as it went about
its daily tasks
& then remember the
Huoshima volcano, the
one erupting over
Nagasaki
& I walk alone through
a deserted park, wishing
I could leave with the
birds, or like the black
dog before me, pissing
on the nearest public
statue
William Wantling, an American whose poems have appeared frequently, including Best Poems of 196s, is presently at work on a novel. He considers
Charles Bukowski "one of the Great Ones of our time, who will probably be
the typical great poet unrecognized by the literary Mafia until many years after
his death."
79 Two Poems by robert kroetsch, who
teaches at Harpur College in New York.
His novel, But We Are Exiles, was published in 1965 by Macmillan of Canada.
NATIVE
Laughing Crow was a Black-
foot brave who knew half
the women west of Winni
peg;
he had a Ph.
D. in anthropology from Yale,
an Oxford accent, a Mercedes-
Benz convertible
and a love
potion brewed from sunflower seeds: a sprig of water
hemlock: the claws of a female
wolf: his own semen:
and an
academic interest in Christian
mythology.
80 SYLLOGISMS OF DESIRE
A. All dogs have fleas.
My bed and blankets all are rank
with itching; back, belly, bum and
balls all burn.
Therefore my dog has fleas and keeps
me scratching.
B. Whosoeuer desireth to Hue vertuously,
desireth to auoide fornication.
Whosoever desires the above
has never heard a Tristan grieve
for pale Iseult, has never wept
where sad Francesca and Paolo move:
nor dug an early grave,
nor drunk wine from a sieve.
C. Man is what he eats.
For breakfast, two raw eggs:
kidney for lunch, with turnip
and mushroom red in the peppered
juice of a crushed onion: fresh
nutmeg and gin at six, with pods
of vanilla oyster-crammed: neck
(after the ten o'clock news)
of mutton fried in deep hot
fat, two raw eggs, and one
small rhinoceros horn.
Ergo: come, sweet, I must
in thee abide.
81 D. All beauty lies in the beholder's eyes.
Radiant Apollo, god of sun
and wisdom, giver of song,
healer of mankind, teller
of past and future, right and wrong,
bringer of peace and harmony and good:
embraced the branches of a tree
and kissed the wood.
Therefore: you certainly shall want me yet
like Pasiphae, hot for a big white bull,
ttotting the pastures in a perfect sweat.
E. Socrates met Xantippe.
Did he ask: What
is justice? Did he
ask: Young lady, what
do you mean by love?
Did he undo her
brassiere?
All men are mortal.
F. All women praise this poem.
These lines have taught
them all the difference between
Thou Shalt and Thou Shalt Not.
Therefore: now try your dialetic skill,
and let us one on other work our will.
82 IF ONLY SOMEONE ELSE WOULD COME
(Translated by JUDITTE SARKANY-PERRET and EARLE BIRNEY from
the Hungarian of ENDRE ADY.)
To show how I loved
I rushed you the wild hungry
troops of my desires, the proud hordes
of the blood
I envy, pity, detest you,
you lucky slut,
royal beggar
of Lust.
If only I could want somebody else
as I want you. O if someone
would come. A different woman. Somebody. Another.
Anybody.
CSAK JONNE MAS
Hodolni kergettem elebed
a vagyak ehes csapatat,
nomad, vad, biiszke csapatat
a vernek.
Irigyellek, szanlak, utallak,
szerencses koldusasszonya
Kiralyi koldusasszonya
a Vagynak.
Csak tudnek en nast ugy kivanni
Mint teged. Oh, csak jonne mas.
Egy mas asszony. Valaki. Mas.
Akarki.
Endre Ady, who died in 1919, was a leading Hungarian poet of his generation.
Juditte Sarkany-Perret's translations of Attila were in 5:2. Earle Birney,
one of Canada's best-known authors, is writer-in-residence at the University of
Toronto.
83 Two Poems by D. M. Thomas
the English poet whose verse has appeared extensively. The following poems
are in the "science-fiction" vein which he has been exploring.
CANCER
Robert Ettinger, in "The Prospect of ImmortaHty", suggests that
disease can be overcome by deep-freezing our bodies until such time
as medical-science has found a cure.
T who was "dead" and locked in ice
— ten years? — ten thousand years? — now feel
my venal, grey storm-troopers rise,
re-form their ranks, re-fired with zeal
to occupy this all but-vanquished land.
But wait! No sooner does my H.Q. hum,
than comes a greater Lord than I,
who massacres our strategy
and plunges us to second night.
I die; the City stands upright.'
So, when at last the sheeted host
shall spring untarnished from the ground
at Gabriel's trumpet-blast, the most
shall be chastised and re-engulfed;
while Christadelphians stand like flags around.
84 ANDROID ELEGY
At the last moment I
thought of the Neanderthals
pouring their flint arrows
into the rough grave
with its skins, haunch of meat, and
the wedding-ring I did
fling down onto your
casket was like a
lifebuoy, but where could I
possibly pretend that you were
going? I think that if I could
have paid more for you,
there would have been more persons
standing above that hole.
*&
Bion and Theocritus
seeing your straight limbs,
classic grace of feature and gold
dazzling curls would have
unhitched their pipes but
chancing to see the
tiny emblem 'made in
U.S.A.' in the whorl of your
navel would have
shuddered and walked
on. And yet I loved you, E-
vanasse, passing the love of
women.
85 LETTER TO MY MOTHER
I address you only,
my lonely mother.
Where seven islands
Squat in a filthy sea
You say your rosary.
The seven hills of Rome
Loom daily over the deaths
Of the weepers in the bazaar,
Equally without hope,
In the shape of your home
Which was also on a hill.
My small prosperous grandfather
Built a house there. He died,
Mourned by you, from me
Farther even than Rome.
Holy he rode to heaven.
He would be ashamed of me
Who attend to no virgins.
You are not ashamed.
In the corroding sun
You sit alone with your Church
And the memory of the son
You have scarcely ever seen.
You pray he may be spared
For the arms of the blue wife
God raped in an orchard.
You do not understand me.
I am tidying my life
In this cold, tidy country.
I am filling a small shelf
with my books. If you should find me crying
As often when I was a child
You will know I have reason to.
I am ashamed of myself
Since I was ashamed of you.
86 II
Your eyes are like mine.
When I last looked in them
I saw my whole country,
A defeated dream
Hiding itself in prayers,
A population of corpses,
Of burnt bodies that cluttered
The slow, deep rivers, of
Bodies stowed into earth
Quickly before they stank
Or cooked by the sun for vultures
On a marble tower.
You pray, you do not notice
The corpses around you.
Sorrow has stopped your eye.
Your dream is desolate.
It calls me every day
But I cannot enter it.
You know I will not return.
Forgive me my trespasses.
DOM MORAES
This poem was one of the eighteen commissioned from Commonwealth poets
and presented at the 1965 Commonwealth Arts Festival in London. Born in
Bombay, Dom Moraes is now a film script writer in London. The first of his
three books of verse won the Hawthornden Prize* he is also known for his
Indian journal, Gone away.
87 QifovuS    ^VP^>'3   9*v»*V4    &£ra
jt$??'t££   lz»eyz   ypv^'z   fysl>*>(* fl^j«f3w
*/ /i,*r     ^Mjpo     <r^l£ ^-'
&£*/)   %v*t*l    *ofe(™     Jlir?
€7gC^>tl    <&l7p&    Q/^Vg^
€^rr^f   ®#^9rJ    ^J"**5    cfc^ >>V$v^ ^^ SIGIRIYA*
Under the weight of stupored heads
the palace stoops;
shall we in laughter
watch love's fortress fall?
Love overspreads the sky,
and the moat is filled with tears
that stay love's secret
from the ignorant eye.
The Rock of Love is mangled
by a thousand paths,
on every side
paths lighten through the sky;
yet, trapped in the earth
among roots blind feet have dragged,
we never could
love's pinnacle overtop.
Above this cragged hill
fashioned by broken lives,
lightly love dances,
89 music floats away
borne upon the drifting wind, music
forgets me.
From a rocky cave at the foot of this great rock
with a lone leopard to jaw my loneliness
shall I gaze on Sigiriya, the Lion Rock,
till from the swampy earth my feet are loosed.
SIRI GUNASINGHE
A rock fortress of ancient Ceylon; the caved-in walls contain the
now world-famous series of murals depicting ideally beautiful
women as seen by an artist-king of ancient Ceylon (600 A.D.);
the figures are symbols of love and, by extension, the rock Sigiriya
itself stands as an undying monument to Love.
Translated from the Sinhala by Gamini Seneviritna.
Siri Gunasinghe is one of the New Poets of Ceylon writing in the island's
major language — Sinhala. He is considered a revolutionary innovator trying
to establish a new form devoid of the traditional trappings of "literary" poetry,
and the rhetoric that has dominated the poetic scene for long centuries. Challenged and attacked by the older masters, he is at the same time accepted by
many as a recognizably new voice worth listening to. Author of three anthologies
of poetry and a revolutionary novel, Gunasinghe presently lectures in Sanskrit
literature at the University of Ceylon. The poem printed here is one of several
he read at the Commonwealth Poetry Conference held at Cardiff in 1965.
90 TWO PoemS by A. E.DUDLEY,past editor of C/uwe
and widely-published poet. He is deputy
headmaster of a Catholic school in
England.
SONG ON MY BRAIN
I have been carrying it around with me all day,
A familiar melody, once;
Singing it over silently,
Time and again.
It is you here in my mind,
The simple phrases, trite and well-remembered,
Popular once.
I have been repeating and repeating
(The monotonous fascination of it)
The hypnotic lines,
The inevitable sequence of chord changes.
It is you changed from the once familiar
Song on my brain,
Ineradicable pattern,
The sad corpse of a tune.
THE ESTUARY BIRDS
We have our longbilled songs of perception:
Sand and mud are a world,
Heaven is a smooth veined tidewash of perfection.
Strandwalking landwinged life is in a shield,
The vacant air of compass, round to migration,
Round with protection.
Life is a flat of two-dimension,
Death is a wingwide sky beyond concern.
Limitation is not forlorn.
Our types are lived in parallel conventions:
We have our personal longbilled songs of perception.
91 SONG OF A WALKING LAMPSHADE
To the God of Power
I am a walking lampshade
On this earth
Black parchment
On white skeletal frame
I am a walking lampshade
For your mind's delight
To shade my burning heart
The searchlight
The Death light
To shade my light from you
But do I dare
to open up
To flare up
To show you
Some corners of your room
The abstract shapes from Hiroshima
The blood on the Berlin wall?
Do I dare to show you
A looking-glass
An Asylum
Yourself
Crazy as craziest you
With your backside
On a heap of arms
And your glory at its height —
A bloody mess
A horrible decay?
Do I dare to show you
Your faces
Funny as funniest you
Like the nights when you
Kissed me with your lips
92 Or the days
When your bootsoles stamped my face?
Do I dare to tell you
That I have some feeling too
And that I am bloody sick of you
Your demented view
And your God of Power spew?
Do I dare to lighten up
The rotting rats
In Kaffirs' shanty towns
The lethal air you breathe
The graveyards of the wars
The sexuality of the night
Masturbating itself
Along a missile
Along a graveside
Along a corpse
I am a lampshade
In this world
For the light in the slum
The shanty town
The wall
The cell
The graveyard
The pulpit
The ministry of death
I am black light
In blacker light
A light I dare not show to you
GASTON BART-WILLIAMS
Gaston Bart-Williams, born in Sierra Leone in 1938, now lives in Germany.
His stories and poems have won international awards, and he is well-known
to European radio audiences as a reader of poetry with drum montage.
93  Ruth Jespersen lives in New York City, where she is at work on a novel.
Her stories have appeared in Epoch, Points, Zero, and elsewhere.
RUTH JESPERSEN
"So, STEPHEN, YOU'VE COME HOME!"
She unhooked the screen door and swung it open with a fierce
stare of fright.
"Only till Monday, Mother. Much as I'd like to stay longer."
My conventional remark calmed her anguish. Smiles of relief
flowed over her face, and she kissed my cheek warmly.
* *
Thick hangings of ivy hushed the porch and shut out the outside
world. In the early evening fight that percolated through the powdery leaves I saw my mother in her wicker chair, the carpet slippers
on her bare blanched feet, her sweatblotted baggy grayflowered
pinafore, her round white cat face with its flickering eyes, her night-
black hair brushed back.
"These awful flies," she repined. "Aren't they awful? I had to
spend sixty-five cents on flypaper. It's enough to try the patience
of a Jeremiah." She looked at me bleakly. "Sit down, Son. Make
yourself comfortable. It's real nice to see you again, Son."
My mother's face was feminine, but she thought it hard. Therefore she kept pouting, and grimacing, and swaying her neck, and
lolling her head, and covering her cheeks with her hands, and restlessly disarranging her hair into draggletailed ringlets, and opening
her mouth into an O when she smiled ... all of which she thought
softened her.
"So, Stephen, here we are." The wicker chair creaked with her
deepseated sigh. " Getting along all right in the city, I spose? Tell
me what you've been doing."
"Well," I said, "I have a new job now. I was fired from my last
one, and ... found this new one," I wound up, seeing her wavering
eyes.
"Still write music, I suppose?" She smiled in her odd and careful
fashion, and tugged at a strand of hair.
95 "Yes, Mother, I do."
"You must be hungry after your trip. I'm waiting supper cause
your Uncle Hubert is corning."
"My Uncle Hubert? Oh .. . yes."
"Why, you remember him. My side of the family. He's the one
that used to give you a dime at the family reunions when you were
a teeny weeny boy."
She snickered, putting her hand across her mouth. It pleased
her to recall the humble constraints of my childhood. I said nothing.
"Hubert is spiling vacuum cleaners now," said she, expressing
distaste.
She sighed and looked at me and looked away.
"He'll be here any minute now, I hope. I hope so. Well, Son!
Well. What do you think of this heat?"
"It certainly is hot."
We spoke slowly and our speeches were separated by dreary
silences. My mother was just beginning to tell me that "Whatsis-
name says everybody complains about the weather but nobody...."
when there rose from the front steps a stumbling sound and then a
thump. "You've got to learn to mind what you're about, Hubert,
and not take things for granted anymore," she sang out as I jumped
to unhook the screen door.
"Are you all right?" I asked when I had set him on his feet.
"Hah? Oh... no. I mean, yes, thank you. Thank you very
much."
He was a small neat man with black leather hair a little too long.
His broad face and neck were boiled a deep freckled brown from
walking around in the weather all day. Abstractedly he stood before
me in a kind of prolonged bow, looking, but for bis sharkskin clothes,
his glasses framed in plastic, and the fresh carnation which bulged
aggressively in his lapel, more like a figure out of a dream about
the East than like a product of the Epworth League.
"You're on time for once," my mother congratulated him. She
bounced up and replaced the hook on the screen door.
"Yes, I tried," he replied, listlessly massaging his right leg with
his left shoe.
"Stop rubbing your ankle. If you twisted it, I'll get out the Epsom
Salts and bathe it for you after supper. Not now, cause I've got
things waiting on the stove."
"Okay."
"I'm Stephen. You remember me, don't you, Uncle Hubert?"
I said, seeing he did not.
96 Behind the glasses his eyes blinked and blankly popped. His flabby
jowls hung down so that they almost rested on the shoulders of his
purple pinstriped suit. He, like my mother, had long tapering saffron
eyes, a snub nose and a thin mouth — features which, expressive
in her of anxiety, awareness and strength of will, in him bespoke a
relaxed sort of shame. About his lips there sagged a weak little smile,
like that of a person who has been insulted and is trying to pass it
off as nothing. I had no trouble in forgiving him for the dimes my
mother remembered.
"Oh sure, sure." He fumbled for my hand, and as we clasped
he said something in a moan that kept sinking lower and lower until
it went dead and the last word was only a light thud.
"Pardon me, Stephen. Fact of the matter is, I'm going blind."
"I don't think it's a bit necessary to tell everyone, Hubert, and
feel sorry for yourself," my mother scolded.
Tears welled up in my uncle's eyes and trickled down his jowls.
He staggered to the hammock and flopped, clutching his knees with
his pudgy freckled hands and crying with small, soft, blubbering
sounds.
My mother untucked a soggy handkerchief from between her
breasts and went to him.
"All right, Hubert. If you want to be such a baby. I know you've
had a hard day. They haven't fired you yet, have they? No? Well,
that's good. But in a little while it won't matter anymore. Cause
I've got things all worked out for you, Hubert. I've got a plan.
You're going to be taken care of. I'm seeing to that. Yes sir. Are
you listening to me, Hubert? I'm telling you I have good news for
you. Want to hear it? Then come and have your supper. Now —
shall I go on wiping your eyes for you or can you do it yourself?"
"Gee, I'm sorry, Effie."
My uncle got up from the hammock, and I could see he was
feeling better as he looked forward to hearing the good news. We
all went in to dinner.
Although the thermometer was at the hundredmark, my mother
served us each a heaping platterful of roast pork, mashed potatoes,
mushroom gravy, baked lima beans, steamed squash, fried eggplant, apple fritters and cornbread just out of the oven. As we were
beginning to eat she said:
"Now, Hubert, I want you to turn up here again tomorrow night
at six sharp, for supper, and I want you to wear your blue suit. Be
sure and get it pressed. Don't forget to clean your nails good and
take a fresh hankie and, let me see, for goodness sakes get a haircut.
97 Show me your shoes, All right, better have them shined."
"I will, Effie. It's nice of you. Why, though? I mean "
"How would you like to get married again, Hubert?" my mother
asked, her eyes sparkling.
"What, tomorrow night?" he almost squealed.
"No, use some sense, Hubert. Tell you what, though. If you do
as I say and are subtle and discreet I can have you married, I
figure, within five weeks. Stephen, would you mind cutting that
meat up small for your uncle?"
"Who would want to marry me!" the man snorted.
"Why, this woman that I have for you would. I know she would.
Of course, she is a very refined woman but even so, at her age one
has to make certain concessions. You'll see, Hubert. Everytiiing will
proceed smoothly if you'll just do as I tell you."
My uncle sat blinking at the scuffed and rusty oilcloth. He seemed
as lonely as a child. I passed hrm his plate, having cut up the meat,
for which he thanked me in a low, gentle voice.
"There's nothing to worry about, Hubert. Eat your supper and
don't dawdle. If you can just hold on to your job for five or six
more weeks, that's all that'll be necessary. If anyone discovers you're
going blind, deny it and pretend to be indignant and that will put
them off for awhile. I'll get you married as quick as I can, and
after that you can relax for the rest of your life. You can do anything you want. I understand they're putting out the comic magazines in Braille now."
"What kind of a woman is she, Effie?" my uncle asked uneasily.
"She's a rich woman, Hubert, a rich woman."
"Oh."
My uncle gazed at his plate, chewing in silence. Suddenly a blush
flowed over his tanned skin, ttansforming his face to a frightful
purple which matched his suit.
My mother observed this blush and glanced at me with irritation.
A hand rose to unravel the raven skein of her hair. Her face besran
O
to work wildly.
"If you mean what kind of a woman personally, she is a very
nice churchlady, about your age, Hubert, or maybe just a teeny
weeny bit older, serious and religious and a real lady in every sense
of the word. She is very distinguished-looking and people will look
up to you for having such a fine wife. Her hobbies are Bible study
and crocheting little caps for the poor babies. She never married
but spent her whole life taking care of her mother. Now, I call that
devotion! Her care must of been excellent, cause the mother died
98 just recently at the age of one hundred and one. The only other
thing to know about the mother is that she died very rich, Hubert,
and the daughter was her only living relation," my mother went on
slyly, unable to drop this fascinating subject. Her face had gradually
subsided and she seemed quite happy now. "What else? Oh yes,
her name is Miss Smythe, Huldah Smythe, spelled with a y and an
e. Of course, you must not address her by her Christian name till
I tell you it's all right. She fives over on Elm Street in a great big
house full of expensive furniture. She wears made-to-order dresses
that you can tell must of cost an arm and a leg and she is . . . well,
as I said before, a very chstmguished-looking lady."
My uncle shifted and squirmed in his chair and snorted once
more and related in his slow, soft voice:
"Talking about the ladies, funny thing happened to me today.
I was in this house demonstrating my vacuum cleaner to this lady —
you know, fat, and she had on sort of a long loose light-color dress,
a neggle-gee, I guess. Well sir, she was kidding me along and I
was kidding her too although I was demonstrating my vacuum
cleaner at the same time and giving her the little sales pitch. Well
all of a sudden she says to me, You're likeable,' she says, just like
that, You're likeable,' and when I straightened up she took my
hand and put it on her stomach! What do you know about that!"
My mother frowned and laid down her fork.
"Hubert, I want you to promise me you won't tell any such
stories before Miss Smythe tomorrow night. She is a very refined
lady and she wouldn't like that kind of a story at all. Now promise
me."
"Sure, Effie," he said, looking dashed. "Sure, anything you say.
I didn't mean any harm." He sighed submissively.
Throughout all this I wore the mournfully decorous expression of
the dinner guest who remains resolutely unaware of anything of
which it might be impolite to be aware. This displeased my mother
— in order to cope with people's reactions she needed to be able
to identify them. However, she had decided to ignore me, at least
for the present.
"I am going to serve the same supper tomorrow night as tonight.
I was just trying it out. I want everything to go off real nice and
I don't want you spoiling things, Hubert."
"Okay, Effie. Does that mean I shouldn't tell about any of the
things that happen to me in my work every day? I just thought —
for something to talk about?"
"If you have anything particularly interesting or amusing, I mean
99 on a high level of course, it would be all right to tell about it briefly.
Don't be long-winded, Hubert! Have the point of your story clear in
your mind before you start! Or no — better still, if you think of any
anecdotes bring them to me first and I'll see if they're acceptable."
"But spose I don't get a chance? Sposing I think of some story to
tell when she's right here with us. I couldn't whisper it to you without being noticed."
"Then don't tell it. Remember this one basic rule, Hubert:
when in doubt, be silent. Have you got that? Say it to yourself
over and over. The silenter you are the more likely she is to think
you intelligent, serious—she might even think you mysterious."
My mother snickered. "Your tie is dragging in your mashed potatoes, Hubert."
"I really am awful grateful to you for helping me out like this,"
he told her sadly.
"Tell you what, Hubert. It would be smart not to mention anything about being a vacuum cleaner salesman."
"Why not? Is there something wrong with that?"
"I've already told her you're a salesman. Take my advice and
leave it at that. Salesman is a nice-enough-sounding profession if
you don't go into details. So remember now, Hubert, if she asks you
any questions about your work — don't you dare mention anything
about the house-to-house angle. Just give vague replies and give
them in a casual manner. Don't brag, of course, but be calm and
casual so as to suggest that you are well-satisfied with your own
achievements. Understand what I mean, Hubert?"
"I think so, Effie," he glumly groaned.
"What I want you to do is act nice but a teeny weeny bit on
the reserved side. Am I making myself clear? Extreme affability
is a social handicap. So don't go breaking the ice with a crash. On
the other hand, don't freeze her out. Remember the golden rule,
no, I mean the golden mean. Warm up to her for awhile, and then
cool off, and then warm up, and keep on like that, blowing hot
and cold. That way she'll feel insecure and won't know what to
think, and so she'll like you. Actually, I know she already likes you
a lot, on account of your gender, but you never can tell about
people, and I'm not taking any chances."
"Okay, Effie. Gee, I really will try to do everything you say."
"What did I say, Hubert? Go over it with me, from the be-
ginning."
"Hah? Oh. Well, you said ... get my suit pressed."
"Your blue suit. That's right. Go on."
100 "My blue suit. And next you said — or I think it was next —"
My mother took over at this point and briefed him carefully once
more on his Rules of Behavior for the following evening.
* * *
At midnight, as I was reading in bed, she opened the door.
"You ought not to be burning the light this late, Stephen. That
runs up the bill something terrible."
Instantly she was sorry she had said this. A strenuous smile distorted her face. A laugh of false sweetness broke from her throat.
"It does a mother's heart good to see you looking so well, Stephen,
and so happy, and so prosperous.. .."
Her voice faltered on the last word as her eyes fell on my threadbare jacket hanging over the chair.
"Can I get you something from the pantry? How about a nice
piece of pie, a glass of milk...."
"No thanks, Mother. It was such a big dinner."
"It's so nice to have you home again, and sleeping in your old
room. I only wish you were going to be here longer than two days."
I answered: "Oh well, you know how it is. My work calls me
back to the city."
This whole sequence sounded to me exactly as though it had been
taken from a movie. My mother became sweeter and more motherly,
like a mother in the movies....
The twenty-watt lamp she provided for a reading light engulfed
the monumental walnut chest, desk and wardrobe in a deep gloom
which made them resemble the stalls and pulpit in a church.
Hovering over my bed, she had an unsuhstantiafity which partly
compensated for the indecency of her attire. She wore a wrinkled
voile nightgown, bedecked with bedraggled blue ribbons, through
which I glimpsed her soft lumpy body white as lard. Her pathetic
and distinctly feminine appearance gave her a new air of vulnerability which did not suit her, and yet I knew it was as true about
her as about any other person....
The least real thing was the long thick batch of hair which
swathed her cheeks and swallowed her shoulders and arms. On
many a night had I beheld, shocked, my mother thus, her harrowing
black hair down. It lifted her from pathos to tragedy — she seemed
a damned soul in search of an absolution that would never be
granted her.
She swayed before me, laughing coquettishly, making faces.
"Oh Stephen, isn't it touching about your Uncle Hubert and
IOI J^P\1\?
Miss Smythe? Two such dear lonely people, and looking forward so
eagerly and hopefully to meeting each other. I've told both of them
all about the other, of course, and they're so attracted. And why
not? Two of the loveliest natures in the world. Talk about made
for each other! And to think that it is I who am bringing them
together. Oh, isn't it just too wonderful? I haven't felt so romantic
since I was a schoolgirl!"
"Yes," I said.
"Oh, I know you think I'm silly to gush like this," she went on,
throwing me a sharp look. "There you sit, so stiff and superior, and
saying to yourself, 'Women'!"
"No, honestly I'm not, Mother."
"Yes, you are, Stephen. I can feel it. I can always feel things.
All evening you've been looking at me with your eyes and thinking
thoughts about me. Mean thoughts. Thoughts that aren't true."
To my surprise she burst into tears. She went on through sobs, "I
can feel it! Yes! You don't like me, Stephen, my boy."
There was nothing blubbering about my mother's weeping. It
had form, and a certain complexity of meaning was controlled by
this form. It was, as a matter of fact, beautiful. I soon recognized
the form as that of the passacaglia. Her weeping had surged into
a series of strong cantabile sobs which rose and fell rhythmically in
a changeless pattern on and on. The timbre was that of the lowest
string of the violin. Full of noble anger and sorrow, this theme ceaselessly proclaimed, "I am innocent!" Around it she now began to
weave an elaborate embroidery of smaller themes with her second
voice — that voice which everyone has but which is heard only
through tears, or rather, is also used at times in song to create something marvelous that is like a chord. The smaller themes, as she
brought them forth, were in a rninor key and seemed the deep issue
of bassoon, piano and trombone. Among them were such statements
as: "I am guilty and I despise myself," "I am neither innocent nor
guilty but the helpless pawn of fate," "I have been a good Christian
all my life," "I am not to blame, for my life has made me the way
I am," "There is absolutely no alternative to what I am doing,"
"Your father was afraid of me but he loved me in his own way,
while you detest me, and now I have no one," "You've got to admit
I'm doing the smart, sensible thing," "I feel so sorry for myself" .. .
And all these chimed with that heavy cry of innocence which suddenly was wrested from the strings and broke in a trombone shrill.
Swooning about it were strings and keyboard and wind all weaving
in distress. Lost she sounded, and mad as Lear. Soon again the
102 theme was seized, thrummed and clattered on a brilliant piano
while the counterpoint kindled anew. Her "I am innocent!"
quavered with thunders and the tears boiled down. Her sobs were
bottomless and ranged the skies.
Without stopping her masterful weeping she cried out:
"All evening you've been sitting there criticizing me — for meddling, for being an old busybody."
"Oh no, Mother. I don't object to matchmaking in principle.
Please calm yourself."
I drew her down to my arms and gently, with a thrill of horror,
stroked her hair.
"Stephen, Stephen, I implore you. Tell me you condone the
simple pleasure it affords me to engineer this little romance."
My mother's vocabulary improved according to the degree of her
transport — I had often noticed that.
"You agree, don't you, that it will bring good to both of them,
harm to neither? Whom am I hurting, Stephen? No one! Then
you've no qualms, have you, my sweet, good, indulgent, understanding boy. Tell me you forgive me my insignificant senile joys!"
I stroked the hot swell of her hair that splashed in wisps, and
I listened. Among the melodies that curled and climbed around her
deathlessly throbbing proclamation "I am innocent!" was a muffled
one which now, the organic perfection of her work having at length
been destroyed through a couple of imprudent hiccups, reannounced
itself more frequently than the rest, a heartbroken bassoon sound
which sighed, "Why did you have to come home at this time!"
She insisted:
"Tell me you forgive me."
"I forgive you, Mother."
She swept up all the smaller themes into a grand suspiration, "I
am innocent!" — sung now with certainty and triumph.
Radiant, she rose to leave, pausing at the door as a thought struck
her.
"Stephen, I do wish you'd turn off the light now. You can read
in the daylight, and it's better for your eyes anyhow."
* * *
My uncle acknowledged the introduction with a whispered confidence. All I heard was a sort of hiss and then a short hurnming
sound.
"Didn't quite catch what you said." Miss Smythe bent down to
him, engrossing him in her rose perfume, wagging the grizzled
permanent under her pink velvet picture-hat, unfurling her pinch-
lipped smile.
103 She was a scraggy six-footer in a baroque gown of pink organdy.
Pink flurries of scarves swung silkenly from her, baring her spare
and ashen arms. Lank strings of pearls festooned her chest. Bobbing
pearl eardrops mumined her jaws. She had the shocking face of
persons whose eyes burn with animation when all else around them
has slumped into plummets of spongy flesh and craters of bone.
My uncle cleared his throat. "I said, I'm a salesman." He bashfully shuffled to his feet.
"Yes, so I understand," she breathed. "Now, that is nice. I am
rather fond of salesmen. Many of my parishioners are salesmen."
My uncle didn't think of an answer to this.
She was one of those people who believe that you are as young
as you feel. Her romantic getup, her rapturous mezzo-soprano, her
relentlessly cheerful pale blue eyes proclaimed her eagerness even
yet to help herself to what possibilities the unknown might have to
offer, should fate be so kind as to present anything of an interesting
nature.
My mother curtsied coyly at the porch door. "Dinner is served,
Mamzell and Monsoors."
"You shouldn't of gone to all the trouble," Miss Smythe reproached her. "Uh — it's snowing down south," she added, delicately. My frazzled mother groped for a shoulderstrap, gave it a
forceful yank which did not correct the disorder. We went in, Uncle
Hubert following on my mother's heels. He pulled at her dress and
I heard him whisper:
"You didn't say she was a minister!"
He was furtively reassured: "No, no, that's just her way of
speaking."
Overnight he seemed to have won my mother's respect. She was
most helpful and kind, coaxing him into his chair and drawing it
up for lurn to the round table, meekly patting his shoulders. "There
now, Hubert dear. Comftable?"
Miss Smythe was placed next to him, and I next to my mother.
"Everything looks so yummy!" said the guest of honor. She
lowered her eyes and seemed to sulk for about twenty seconds during
which I gathered she was mentally saying grace, instantly thereafter resurning her air of suspenseful cordiality. She stripped off her
pink lace gauntlets and we started in on the roast pork, mashed
potatoes, mushroom gravy, baked lima beans, steamed squash, fried
eggplant, apple fritters and cornbread. My mother was very gay as
she passed the dishes — her face glowed whitely with the heat and
her anxiety.
104 The conversation was as follows.
My mother told about how some men were making an excavation
in order to build an annex to the local jail, and how very interesting
this was to watch. Had Hubert noticed it, and didn't he feel it was
interesting? He whispered yes, he had, and yes, he did.
Miss Smythe explained how her garden was coming along better
than ever this year, especially for the Showy Pricklepoppies, the
Princesplume, the Houndstongue, the Cockscomb, the Purple
Candytuft, the Farewell-to-Spring and the Love-in-a-Mist, and
also for the Common Four O'Clocks, the Bfistercress, the Honesty,
the Mealycup Sage, the Job's Tears, the Helensflower and the Rose-
mallow, but for some reason, in spite of all the tender vigilance of
her morning efforts, she was not having much success with the Dusty
Miller, the Tom Thumb, the Sweet William or the Herb Tree-
mallow. She bowed down to my uncle and inquired if he knew what
should be done in order to succeed with Dusty Miller, Tom Thumb,
Sweet William and Herb Treemallow. He shook his freshly-shorn
head in a shy disclaimer of knowledge upon this or, by inference,
any other horticultural subject.
My mother recommended a fertilizer which she said she had
found excellent for all her flowers. Her sharp eyes marched right,
left, right, left, from Uncle Hubert to Miss Smythe and back.
Uncle Hubert was modestly atentive to his food. He did look
up for a second when my mother gave him another helping of the
meat. His lips moved.
"Hubert? What did you say, Hubert darling?"
"I said, thanks, don't mind if I do." And he ducked his head and
ate. My mother pouted and pulled frantically at her hair. The
Woolworth brooch at the throat of her black Sunday dress came
unpinned but she took no note of it.
White lace curtains lay limp and hushed at the incandescent windows. The dying white of daylight glinted on our water glasses and
on the glass door of the china closet whose blue and white Willo-
ware contents now adorned our table. Beside us loomed the sideboard, a grand mahogany edifice, submerging faces in a sweltering
gloom. Over our heads the flies buzzed thickly, colliding with discordant clicks.
"I saw Bet Davis in a wonderful picture, How Green Is the
Corn," said Miss Smythe to my uncle, hopefully plying her pearls.
"I surely enjoyed it. So picturesque, and .. . wonderfully enjoyable.
I understand they're bringing a new Bet Davis picture to the
Orpheum this week. ?"
105 He squinted at her with considerable curiosity, and went politely
back to his dinner.
I felt my mother reach out to kick him under the table — but
her little leg could not pass the colossal pair of lion's paws which
formed its base, and she uttered a small sound of rage and helplessness.
Abandoning her efforts to tempt Uncle Hubert, Miss Smythe
talked to my mother. Without removing her cautious gaze from my
mother's eyes she lowered her hands and neatly, rapidly untied her
pink velvet sash and retied it more slackly. By this time we had
reached dessert, consisting of four kinds of pie.
The two women discussed last Sunday's sermon as given by the
new young minister, a recent graduate of the Theological Seminary
at Princeton University. The text, Miss Smythe well recalled, had
been: "Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the
beasts that perish." The sermon had been wonderfully inspirational, she believed, but perhaps ... a teeny weeny bit on the highbrow side for the average layman to understand. My mother said
Miss Smythe had said a mouthful, had really hit the nail on the
head. Miss Smythe could say that again, my mother affirmed. Well,
Miss Smythe thought, her new young minister soon would learn.
Suddenly we all realized that the faint rumble in the room was
issuing from my uncle. Miss Smythe and I leaned forward, while
my mother sprang to, agog and atremble in her wary delight, and
wearing her strange round smile.
Uncle Hubert was that sort of man — did not talk much, but
sometimes he would decide to tell a story, and the story might turn
out to be surprisingly lengthy. At first it was a little hard to hear
what he was saying.
". . . Had a little wifie once," he hummed, and it was like the
rumble of water over rocks. "She was just nineteen years old. Big
blue eyes and the lightest hair you ever saw. And her figure? —
saay! Just nineteen she was. Maybe you know how they are at that
age. And then she was twenny-one when she died, and I was
twenny-five."
He paused and my mother clattered some spoons as though
rapping for attention, but he rambled on in his dreamy way:
"There was one thing about her. I never could understand it,
but I got used to it. I often think about it still, not in bed at night
cause then I'm too knocked out to think about anything, but in the
daytime when I'm walking around and all of a sudden I'm in my
old neighborhood. It's funny and I don't know how but it seems
106 like I'm always ending up in my old neighborhood. And then I get
to thinking about her and this thing there was about her. It was this.
"Whenever she'd be mad at me she wouldn't be home when I got
there at night, making my supper as usual. No, she'd be in a cafeteria right around the block, sitting at a table in the corner, drinking
a cup of tea and looking sore. At first I didn't know that. So when
I'd come home and not find her, I'd get panicky. The first time, I
remember, I went out and took a cab and toured the whole neighborhood, looking for her and calling out the window. But I couldn't
find her, so I went to the police station and spoke to a cop, but he
wouldn't help me — just told me to come back later if she didn't
show up. I didn't know what to do, what to do. I ran home and
she still wasn't there, so I went out and walked around some more,
thinking oh my God what's happened, oh my God.
"And then I found her in that cafeteria," he told us, his voice
breaking with relief. "The next few times I was panicky too — it
took me a little while, but I finally got it through my head that
whenever she was mad at me she'd be in that cafeteria. So I got
into the habit of when I got off the trolley at night asking myself,
let's see, is she mad at me today or isn't she? — and if I had kind
of a hunch that she was, I'd go straight to the cafeteria instead of
home. That way I saved myself time and worry. And if I wasn't
too sure if she was or not, I'd go and take a look in the window —
it was only a half a block extra walk.
"Well sir, when I went in the cafeteria she'd pretend like she
didn't know me, and when I sat down she'd act like it was too bad
the place was so crowded people like me had to sit at the same table
with her. But then I'd talk to her a bit, and say I was sorry . .. and
I'd go up to the counter and buy us a dinner. I'd buy her everything
she liked — no vegetables. And you know, in a little while everything would be swell, and we'd go out of there holding hands. That's
the way it was.
"I've often thought about it," he marveled. "She was a fine girl
and believe me, not hard to live with. She always kept things nice
and neat for me and she liked to talk, but not too much, and she was
always laughing, and ... a real looker, my little wifie . . . and ...
how was I to know she had TB? You never could tell from seeing
her. She coughed a bit, but I thought it was just the climate and all.
"Sometimes I go back there, and I think I'll go in and order a
cup of tea and bring it to that corner table. I keep forgetting they
tore down the building. There's a used-car lot there now — there
where she used to wait for me when she was mad. And I walk
107 around and look for her in other places, but I know there's only
one place she could be, the cafeteria — and the cafeteria is gone.
"That was a funny habit of hers, wasn't it?" he asked, slowly
blinking his glass-shuttered eyes. "Some men's wives do awful things
when they are mad at them. Mine just went to the cafeteria. .. ."
His words trailed off gravely and he rested, dazzled, wrapped in
the vast silence of his dream. For a moment no one moved. Then:
"Why, I think she was a very naughty girl to do a thing like that
to a nice man like you," said Miss Smythe, swatting her eyelids at
him and tensely giggling.
A change smote my uncle's spellbound face. His fat jowls stabilized and seemed to vanish. His pug nose sharpened. Folded in
dignity was his mouth. Alive and warmly ashine were his eyes. Now
he closely resembled my mother, except that his expression was more
loving. He reached across the damask cloth and took Miss Smythe's
gaunt hand between his palms. She appeared startled, then gladdened. She flushed with pleasure beneath her rose-colored rouge,
and wisely waggled her dust-colored curls, and allowed him to
fondle her hand as he said:
"I think you're nice, too, Miss Smythe, honey. I think you're a
very nice lady, and I have nothing against you, believe me. But
there's something I got to tell you. I can't marry you. I can't marry
you cause it would not be right. I'm fifty-nine years old and no
angel, but I couldn't do a thing like that, cause it just would not
be right. And that is why I can't marry you, Miss Smythe, honey."
My mother jumped up, shaking with rage, and slammed her
hand against his cheek. He and his chair swayed from the blow.
The glasses rattled on his nose. He swung to a stop like a rundown
clock. It was a while before he spoke.
"Gee ... I'm sorry, Effie. I don't know what came over me...."
He sat goggling at the overturned gravy-boat which she in her
violence had knocked to the floor. A purplish red badge of shame
appeared on his swarthy cheek. Perhaps, though, he was not utterly
miserable. My mother leaned over him glowering and going through
her whole repertoire of mad grimaces.
"Never in my life have I heard of anything so presumptuous,"
declared Miss Smythe in the hollow and precise tones of the
wounded. "Never, never in my entire life."
"But please, Miss Smythe," my mother cried, aghast, "he's not
himself tonight, he has a little touch of sunstroke, hasn't been well
today but usually he's very well and he's very good. I mean," she
went on wildly, as a cold sweat blenched her face, "what it is is
108 that he's so smitten with you, Miss Smythe. You're making him run
a temperature and he doesn't know what he's saying. Why, you
should only of heard the nice things Hubert was whispering to me
about you, Miss Smythe." She bared her teeth imploringly, in a
smile that was all awry. "So distinguished-looking he said you were
and so refined. A lady in every sense of the word. 'Why, I've completely lost my heart to her,' he told me. Didn't you, Hubert? Miss
Smythe, won't you listen? Hubert thinks you're simply —"
"I would like all of you to know," enunciated Miss Smythe, discarding us all in a glance, "that I haven't the slightest interest whatsoever in entering into holy wedlock with that man. As Heaven is
my witness I never had any matrimonial intentions whatsoever toward that man and I must say I was never so disgusted by anything
so disgusting in all my life as when he said that disgusting thing. I
must say I think that man is a pretty poor specimen of a man anyway and when he said that I felt so amused I had to laugh. Yes,
I positively had to laugh."
"Oh Miss Smythe, I'm so glad you recognize he was only teasing
you!" cried my mother, undoing her hair in her distress. "Hubert's
a great kidder — the things he comes out with, honestly, he's a
scream. Why, whenever I see him he just keeps me in stitches. Such
a tease he is, but then of course it's all in fun. How silly to think
that you'd mind, as if you were some ordinary, insignificant person,
petty and shallow! Hubert was trying to test what a wonderful sense
of humor you have, Miss Smythe. And I know you do have a wonderful sense of humor," she wheedled, looking dreadful. "Ha ha
ha!" she laughed, encouragingly.
The other woman responded to this with some uncharitable remarks concerning Uncle Hubert's manner and appearance, concluding with: "And I don't like the shape of his head. You can tell a
lot about a person from the shape of their head." She was intently
stirring the contents of her pink-beaded brocade handbag, searching
for something.
"He'll apologize to you for the rest of his life, Miss Smythe!"
my mother panted. "Wait till you see how nice he apologizes."
Sweat flowed down the throbbing fingers which clutched her face.
She pitched profoundly from side to side like a ship in a storm,
and her hair floated. "Have mercy upon him! He'll go down on
his knees to you, he'll kiss your feet. Why, even I, I will kiss your
feet, if you'll forgive. I'd do most anything...."
And she rocked forward, ravenous with despair. She seemed
about to fall upon Miss Smythe, strip her of her jewels, tear away
109 r her finery, pillage her to the bone.
"I would like all of you to know," said Miss Smythe, banging a
fist on the table for silence, and brandishing what seemed to be a
letter, "that I couldn't of cared less when he said that to me and I
must say it had no effect on me at all in the slightest whatsoever,
being that," she stated, and here her voice soared a full fifth, "I
am already engaged to be married to a man —"
My mother reared up like a cat.
"Yes, a very fine man, a very refined gentleman —"
Slinking slowly back, my mother narrowed her yellow eyes.
"Yes, a deacon in my church, who is boarding in my house at
the present time. This letter is from him —"
My mother let off a long, low wail.
"And I shall read it to you." Miss Smythe unfolded the letter, her
elongated chest heaving with the heartfelt satisfaction of revenge.
In a rolling andante maestoso, she read:
"I think of nothing but you all the time sweetest Huldah, there
is so much work piled up for me here at the office but dearest I
can't seem to concentrate, your lovely beautiful face keeps coming
up before me and I keep telling myself to be patient, only three
more hours till evening when I can see you again, but precious it
seems so long, oh my angel, my Huldah, this waiting is almost impossible to bear, every second that I spend away from you is like
an eternity...."
And so on, in the usual phrases expressing the sickness of love.
Declaiming them, she swept us with her wicked glances, and held
her head up proud.
But as she went on her voice began to sound decently embarrassed, and sank to a kind of croak. Fidgeting, she gaggled a phrase
to the effect that the deacon was suffering from insomnia because
of her. He thanked her, too, for remembering to wind his watch, as
he could never remember that anymore, or anything else either, and
all he could think of was his own little Huldah, his treasure, his
perfect one, his little girl, his adorable and dear. Grimly she sermonized us and would not stop. The cords in her skinny neck stood
forth and grappled with one another in the agony of her manful
effort. The letter seemed quite long, and all the same.
My mother stood stockstill at last, locked up with her own unblessed thoughts, shrunk into whatever was her private world, and
as those words of melancholy joy and desire floated to her across
the room she seemed to grow smaller, older, her face paralyzed in
sourness, a starved and wasted white.
in From the depths of Uncle Hubert a huge yawn swelled, mightily
convulsing his dull and gentle features, straining them urgently and
long until finally his mouth fell open in a soundless yell and tears
shot from his eyes and his body seesawed, shivering all over in a
very passion of fatigue. Giddily he clapped himself together, and
sat back stupefied, as deep and empty as the grave.
Miss Smythe's expression was compounded of arrogance and
guilt, like that of a person who gets into a taxi in front of some
people who are waiting at the bus stop. I had at first doubted the
authenticity of her letter. I saw I had been wrong.
At last it did not seem so strange that such a woman would receive such a letter from a man. All around you, everywhere you go,
the most unlikely-looking people are involved in something or other
so complex, so intense, so extraordinary, that it would quite stagger
you if you were to know of it.
Huldah Smythe had merely craved that which should have belonged to her youth, the felicity of having more than one suitor.
She read on in her wretched voice, and her wrathful pain was awful
to see. I decided to go for a walk.
Her harangue rang after me even as I reached the door. "How
can you want to spend an evening without me, sweetheart?" she
ranted. "You know I don't object to your seeing any of your girlfriends, not even that rattlebrained old bore that's always so lost in
prayer when the collection plate is passed. It's just that I think you
could have arranged to talk over your Ladies' Aid business during
my working hours. Why do you have to go for dinner and leave me
to eat all alone? Unless, my darling," he probed, showing the instinct of the betrayed, "you have not told me the whole truth?
Maybe you are not going to be the only guest. Maybe somebody
will be there that you want to meet. No, no," he lapsed, "forgive
me, Lord, for thinking such a thought about my little duck. Who
should know better than I that her heart is pure and true? My pet
had to accept that dinner invitation because she is an angel and
does not have it in her nature to hurt anyone. She will miss me
terribly, terribly, just as I will. . . miss . . . oh!" she gasped, suddenly awake to what she was reading, and silence fell like a bomb.
"Now you see? You see now?" howled my mother. "Hubert,
why didn't you mind me, you booby? It could of worked. Ah. Ah.
It could of worked," she mourned.
*
Before the town bank stood a stately signboard of dark wood
112
l carved in Gothic forms, a little text engraved upon its bronze
plaque:
"It is better to have insurance and not need it, than not to have
insurance and need it."
I searched, as I had always searched, to see if this behest were
not followed by a Biblical reference.
A watercolor sunset hung over the square where the world and
his wife sprawled on benches. In the shadow of elm trees their faces
glimmered, hot, sad, profound. No one addressed me as I drifted by.
A car backfired, breaking the quiet, and birds, mindful as we all
are of the imminence of death, swept up to the sky in a long breathtaking parabola.
People walking on the streets looked at me and I looked back at
them and we did not know each other.
Porches were shrouded in green. A young girl spoke, her pretty
voice from behind the vines rippling out on the flow of the summer
night.
"And she's sloppy. Ooh, is she a sloppy girl. Why, I remember
seeing her in a corduroy skirt. Can you imagine? And all rumpled in
the back and everything. I and the girls were gonna take up a collection for her, to buy her a skirt. Yup. Honest to God, Virginia, I
never yet saw her in one single thing that was decent. She has
absolutely no clothes at all."
I fled down years of streets. Anger had not smashed the town,
nor tears of loneliness washed it away.. . .
Darkness sank upon the shuddering heat. People went home and
pulled down their shades. Streetlamps shone in meshes of branches
that flickered with lime-colored leaves. My shadow leaped from
the dark of elms.
I passed by beds that vibrated from headboard to footboard with
human heat. I listened to the silence that lay in patches.
On my mother's street the lights were extinguished, for she had
organized her neighbors to stop paying their taxes. Nor was there
a moon aloft, which made me think the heavenly as well as the city
fathers affronted by some mutiny. Around me as I moved through
this deepest dark, vague darknesses broke like the shapes that swarm
on the inside of an eyelid.
In the August night the houses droned the helplessness of dreams.
So lay the town, slung in uneasy sleep.
This was the land of darkness and the shadow of death, the land
dark as midnight, the land of the shadow of death, without any
order, and where the light was as midnight. I thought the souls of
I][3 mPy^
the shutdown town were saying, We are but of yesterday and know
nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow. Therefore,
better thou shouldst have insurance and not need it, than shouldst
not have insurance and need it. For what is thy life? It is even a
vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Gather insurance.
My mother and Uncle Hubert were still sitting at the littered
table when I crept into the dark front hall.
Head propped in hands, my uncle seemed not to have turned his
sheepish speculation from the gravy that was still seeping into the
oriental carpet. A squalid fight poured down from the chandelier
and for the first time in years I was able to see the dank old wallpaper with its tan ghosts of roses. ...
"Now listen, Hubert," my mother was saying, her voice sharply
weary like the light that bleared upon her face, "I don't want to
hear another word of your suggestions. What you could do around
here in the way of gardening and so on just would not be worth the
cost of your keep. As it is I never hire anyone to do anything anyhow. Last winter I even welded the furnace when it broke. And
besides, I'd need no help from people even if it came free of charge.
I enjoy being alone. No, you're no good to me, Hubert. There has
to be some other way. So shut up now, and let me tbink."
My uncle kept his eyes on the floor.
"The thing is, I could of carried it off," my mother grumbled.
"I know that deacon that she means and for goodness sakes, he's
nothing I'd let stand in my way. He may be a little smarter than
you, Hubert, but brains don't count for too much in matters of
this sort, and in the looks department he's no Adonis anymore than
you are. Besides, he lacks one important thing that you have, Hubert,
and that is — me. Oh, I know I could of carried it off, I know it.
If I had only of stopped her in time — but I let her blow off steam
just a little too long. She gave herself away, Hubert, and she'd never,
never be able to forgive you for that. She gave herself away, and
that is the one thing nobody can stand." She sighed drearily, "Well,
it's over now," and briskly rapped out: "There are other fish in
the sea to fry. My head is dusty but unbowed. I'm thinking, Hubert.
Oh sit up, don't slump like that! I wonder just how much time
there is left — can you see me, Hubert?"
"A little. Yes. Not so good," came his morose murmur.
"All right. I'll hit on something. Shut up now, I may be getting
an idea."
A short while later she sprang to her feet and began to stack the
114 dishes. "I'm going out to the kitchen and start clearing up. It's
possible I'll have some good news for you by the time I'm done."
When she had gone I entered the dining room. Hearing footfalls,
my uncle jerked up, eyes blackly dilating and exploding with alarms.
I spoke his name and put my face up close, and laid my hand on his
quivering shoulder.
At midnight, as I was lying in the dark, she opened the door.
"Asleep, Stephen?"
She waited, and softly said:
"No, you're not sleeping."
She waited, and I was silent.
"/ know what you did."
The sibilance of breathing, hers or mine, seemed to come to a
dead stop. Presently she padded to my bed and switched on the
lamp.
I had to open my eyes. She stood regarding me steadily, sad and
bedraggled, luridly white, and her heavy hair hung down.
I said, "Oh, Mother — how are you?" — and realized the idiocy
of this.
She observed me for a long time.
"How much do you make a week, Stephen?"
I said, "I. .. why do you ask?"
"Very well, I withdraw my question. Naturally your poverty is an
unpleasant subject to you. My question was incidental. I can easily
guess at the modest reward your labor reaps."
I tried to appear indifferent under her sombre stare.
"And out of that you purpose to support your uncle. You will
send him weekly checks of sufficient amounts to sustain him for the
rest of his life."
I was silent.
"What do you expect me to tell you, Son? That it was a very
noble and generous gesture?"
"Anything you like, Mother."
"I should like to be able to tell you that, Stephen. I should like
to be able to applaud you for the unselfish heroism of your act. But
I can't, Stephen. Want to know why? Because what you did was
not heroic. It was not unselfish. It was not generous. And it was not
noble."
"I don't understand you, Mother."
"True, and amply demonstrated. What I mean, Stephen, is that
hi you were not moved by love or sense of responsibility when you
arranged to support your uncle during his remaining years. What I
mean is that you have no feeling for your uncle and that you simply
do not care what becomes of him."
"That's not so, Mother."
"You are right and it is not so. Even I ought not to presume you
totally without compassion. Very well, you met him and you responded to him. You told yourself how terrible it is, this thing that
is happening to him. You even wished there were something you
could do. Now, Stephen, let us unbeguile ourselves on how it will
be when you go back to your city life. For possibly five moments in
a year will you think of him and be sorry. But he, one of these
mornings he will wake up and he will no longer see. And this he
must live with every moment in the year. Can you commit a kindness capable of reckoning with that, Stephen? Can anyone? Yet it
hasn't escaped my notice that there are people who try. Evidently
some rich gift of the mind, or something, some greatness or freakish-
ness, or something, some singular power of love, or something,
impels them to such endeavors. You, with your gentle doctrines,
your educated feelings, are you among them? Will you avow you
have found yourself sincerely inclined to extend yourself in the
service of others? No, my boy. Your heart, like mine, like the most
part of hearts of the world, bleeds but briefly for this man or that
man who is suffering and needs our help. So, Stephen, I tell you that
your sacrifice had quite another motive."
She leaned liturgically over the bed, blinding me with the white
fiare of her face, drowning me in her hair.
"You wanted to make me feel cheap. You wanted to kill me
with your contempt. For well do you know that I have ten times, a
hundred times, it's nobody's business how many times, more money
than you. What you have done I cannot countenance. I am an old
woman and I have had much anguish in my life, far more than you
can ever imagine. My money is all that I have left that is my own.
Everyone has something he cares about more than anything else in
the world. You have your music, I have my money. Tell me, is there
any person, any person at all, for whom you would give up your
music? No. Well, that is the way I feel about my money. And who
are you to censure me? I am a human being, not a brute, and it may
be that in the end I shall be judged to have atoned for my lack of
tenderness by my excess of concern. It is true that I shall part with
no part of my money in your Uncle Hubert's behalf. But have I
not planned for him, acted for hhn, thought for him, have I not
116 overtasked myself till I am ready to drop, in trying to procure for
him the calm and decent old age he deserves? This man for whom
you care nothing is my brother, and never for an instant did I intend that he should die in a gutter with a tin cup in his hand. My
son, you have insulted me most monstrously. Is that not what you
came here to do? What other purpose might you have in honoring
me with your visit? I ask you now to leave my house, my house over
which the odium of your base disrespect to me will hover for the
rest of my fife. Do not return, I entreat you. And henceforth spare
me your Christmas cards. I shall expect you to be gone before I am
up in the morning. The first train leaves at five-fourteen. You will
find a box of cornflakes on the pantry shelf, and the milk is in the
icebox. Goodbye, Stephen."
She switched off the lamp and left and I lay in the dark that was
dense and black and soft as a woman's hair flowing over and around
and along me as I lay stilled and quelled and stunned as someone
at the bottom of the sea.
Mew Canadian Fiction
A GIFT OF ECHOES
by ROBERT HARLOW
Again set in the British Columbia hinterland, this second
novel from one of Canada's most exciting younger
writers explores the tension and violence in the world
of a man attempting to stand aside from life. By the
author of Royal Murdoch. $4-50
BUT WE ARE EXILES
by ROBERT KROETSCH
A riverboat's journey on the Mackenzie from the Arctic
coast to Yellowknife forms a stark background to this
story of a man's essential passions — his lust, jealousy
and hatred, his battle with a harsh environment and
with his own guilt. $3-95
At Your Bookseller's
MACMILLAN OF CANADA
117 BOOKS AND PERIODICALS RECEIVED
Rosenblatt, joseph, voyage of the mood, poems, Heinrich Heine Press, Don
Mills, Ontario, 11 pp.
siebrasse, glen, the regeneration of an athlete, poems, Delta, 3476 Vendome
Ave., Montreal 28, Quebec, 58 pp., $2.00.
webb, phyllis, Naked Poems, Periwinkle Press, Vancouver, 50 pp., $2.25.
The Beloit Poetry Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, Quarterly, Box 2, Beloit, Wisconsin
53512, 50^ each.
The Canadian Composer, No. 3, Quarterly bi-lingual magazine of music, 1263
Bay St., Toronto 5, Ont.
Canadian Poetry, XXVIII, No. 4, Quarterly magazine of poetry & reviews,
Canadian Authors Association, 1339 Bathurst 'Street, Toronto 4, Ontario,
$2.00 per annum.
Chelsea ij, No. 15, Quarterly of poetry, prose & plays, P.O. Box 242, Old
Chelsea Station, New York 11, New York, $3.50 per annum.
ICA Bulletin, No. 151, magazine of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, poetry,
prose & art, 17/18 Dover St., London Wi, England, 1 shilling each.
Japanese Poetry in English, No. 4, Quarterly, c/o Syoin College, Nakazima-dori,
i-tyome, flukiai-ku, Kobe, Japan, 75^ each.
Kauri, No. 7, Quarterly magazine of poetry & prose, ed. Will Inman, 362 East
10th St., New York 10009, New York, $1.00 per annum for individuals,
$3.00 per annum for institutions.
Open Letter, "No. 1, magazine of poetry & debate, Canservcol, Royal Roads,
Victoria, British Columbia.
Silo, No. 6, Bi-annual magazine of poetry & prose, Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont, $1.00 each.
Views, No. 7, Quarterly review. This issue on "Britain in Labour", Marxist
existentialist psychiatry, American Office, 100 Fifth Ave., New York 10011,
New York, $1.00 each.
WRL news, July/August 1965, Newsletter from War Resisters League, a
pacifist organization with affiliates in 53 countries, 5 Beekman Street,
New York 38, New York.
Correction:
Our last issue had an incorrect listing of poetry books by Raymond Souster
and R. G. Everson. The correct listing is as follows:
everson, r. g., Four Poems, American Letters Press, Box 356, Norwich, Vermont, 4 pp., 25^.
souster,raymond,  At Split  Rock Falls,  American Letters  Press,  Box  356,
Norwich, Vermont, 1 p., 10^.
Il8
— The editors of PRISM international welcome the following
new journals to the literary scene and wish them success:
WEST COAST REVIEW
a tri-quarterly, published at Simon Fraser University and edited by
Frederick Candelaria. It will publish English and French poetry, fiction, drama, music, and art, as well as essays and reviews dealing with
the arts and creativity. The first issue is scheduled for appearance in
Spring of 1966. Contributions and subscriptions ($2.50 annually) are
invited, c/o the editor, Department of English, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby 2, B.C.
THE OPEN LETTER
published at Canservcol, Royal Roads, Victoria, B.C. and edited by
Frank Davey. "The Open Letter is an attempt to combine within the
pages of a periodical the features of both a symposium and a debate.
The subject will be poetry and its medium, language. The debaters will
be the editors... and, of course, the readers." This journal is distributed to interested individuals on selection or application.
WASCANA REVIEW
published bi-annually at Wascana Parkway, Regina, Sask. It will contain poetry, fiction, and critical articles on literature and the other arts.
"It will be neither regional nor specialist, its bias being to address itself
to all readers who have passion and interest." Contributions and subscriptions ($2.50 annually) are invited.
"9 -
BOOKS
for almost every
taste and purpose
can be found,
easily, at
DUTHIE
BOOKS
and PAPERBACK CELLAR
901 Robson (at Hornby)
Also 4560 W. 10th Avenue
MUtual 4-2718
CAstle 4-7012
University of British Columbia
Bookstore
TEXTBOOKS
REFERENCE BOOKS
PAPERBACKS
STATIONERY
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  mm
international
Past issues
this double issue contains
have included
stories, poems and translations,
these authors
and an essay
LINDEGREN
essay
KUNCEWICZ
BOSE
CHAKRAVARTY
stories
BLAISE
LOWTHER
LOWRY
JESPERSEN
SABA
WADDINGTON
PAVESE
SOUSTER
4 Vancouver
poets
PARKIN
ACORN
LAYTON
BISSETT
TAGLIABUE
NEWLOVE
ATTILA
PATTERSON
BOWEN
on poets
CANDELARIA
STAFFORD
and poetry
STEVENS
SASAZAWA
SALISBURY
KANASEKI
GRANT
MACKAY
SUMMERS
LOSSY
CARDARELLI
DRAKE
LAURENCE
ROSENBLATT
and many others
BOWERING
LORD
WANTLING
KROETSCH
translations
ADY
SARKANY-PERRET
BIRNEY
GUNASINGHE
SENEVIRITNA
THOMAS
MORAES
DUDLEY
BART-WILLIAMS
Published by the department of creative writing
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
VANCOUVER 8, CANADA
mi

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