PRISM international

Prism international Prism international Jul 31, 1968

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international  STAFF
editor-in-chief Jacob Zilber
associate editors  Robert Harlow
Douglas Bankson
/. Michael Yates
art editor Clive Cope
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, B.C.
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
Tales of the Fantastic     jorge luis borges
The Yard Man
My Friend
The People of the Via
(translated from the Italian
by MICHAEL bullock)
A Man, A Girl and A Door
The Obelisk
The Last of the
Renaissance Men
Two Poems
(translated from the Japanese
A Cadenza for Lori
Two Poems
Epoch of Rain
(translated from the Spanish
by eric forrer)
Four Poems
Two Poems
Two Poems
43 Two Poems
nancy a. bawden
Three Poems
Two Poems
(translated from the German by
Two Poems
Two Poems
d Graveyard,
Two Poems
Two Poems
Th Cleveland Burlesque
Co. Unltd!!
The Moor-Hens Have All
Died of Pneumonia
Two Poems
Two Poems
Two Poems
Tableau en Rouge
Two Poems
I was a Smuggler's Aide
in Algeciras
Two Poems
Two Poems
Books and Periodicals received
(translated from the German
by david summers)
The photo cover is by Paul Kalk of the Vancouver Art School. The art work
within this issue is by Leonard E. Kesl, whose drawings have been exhibited
widely and won many awards. He teaches art at Northern Montana College.
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS APPEAR BESIDE THEIR WORK Senor Borges spoke at the University of Toronto on the ist of
March this year. He is a slight figure who looks eager, ready to be
surprised at the world he lives in, and perhaps himself. He laughs
easily. His voice is in the tenor range, and if in English he has an
accent it is, oddly enough, as if his first language were Gaelic rather
than Spanish. He sat at a table looking up at his audience, his face
mobile and friendly around his nearly-blind eyes. The crowd was
large, almost twice the number the University had expected, and
it had come not to worship but perhaps to try to share the Borgesian
metaphysic it had confronted individually in his writing. The Borges
reader is different from other readers; he feels Borges a personal
discovery, and I'm sure many of us there were surprised to find that
so many others had found him too. One has public opinions about
Grass, Mailer, Robbe-Grillet, but one keeps Borges to oneself. His
poetry ("I am always a poet, yes, the poet always," he told us after
his talk) is quiet, astounding work for the whole of one's being.
Ficciones may in fact be a life's work for the reader, and that seems
a terribly serious idea. It was good, then, to meet and hear this man
who seems delighted in everything and who gives the impression
that he is aware, pleasurably aware, of the complexities, absurdities,
ironies and impossibilities of life and whose happy revenge on them
is to see them as entertaining and endlessly fascinating and fruitful.
As in his writing, his talk (and afterwards his conversation) demands one's stunned presence willy-nilly in his world where metaphysics are actual and the artifacts of life are only what he might
call "realism" — a rather sentimental and arbitrary collection of
"facts" about which we become uselessly emotional. A dream in
which a dreamer dreams a dream of a dreamer dreaming Borges
himself would not confuse him. But perhaps Peyton Place would.
His presence among us made his writing seem humanly possible.
Even probable.
The talk has been edited as a talk. I have tried to use punctuation
to keep the rhythms of his speech as they were on the tape. He
spoke, of course, from out of his experience and his memory, and
I have tried also to keep this flavour present in print. It is one of the
measures of the man that he gave me verbal permission to print
his talk and did not ask that he check the typescript. Some members
of his party were less than enthusiastic about this arrangement, but
Senor Borges waved his hand and said, "I'm sure the young man will
do a good job with it." I have not deserved to be called young for
years; I hope his faith in my doing a good job will now prove to
have been given with no risk. robert harlow Senor Borges is considered the greatest living writer in Spanish. Among his
books are: Ficciones, Other Inquisitions, Labyrinths, and Dreamtigers. In
1961 he and Samuel Beckett shared the Formentor Literary Prize. During the
past year he was Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard. His
home is Buenos Aires.
ft   A
A few years ago I compiled a brief encyclopaedia of monsters.
Now, monsters are a blending or linking together of different species.
For example, the Minotaur is a man with a bull's head, or, as
Dante saw it, a bull with a man's head; a centaur is man and horse;
the mermaid is a maiden with a fish's tail, and the permutations of
the species are almost endless. I thought that I might be able to
unearth a very large number of monsters. Then, after a close study
of Pliny, of the last pages of Flaubert's Tentation de Sainte-Antoine,
of Sir Thomas Browne and so on, I discovered that the number of
monsters was quite a small one, and more or less the same thing
happened to me in the case of tales of the fantastic.
One might think that realism, which treats of everyday humdrum
reality, would cover but a small section of literature if you compare
it to tales of the fantastic, and yet I spent my whole life-time reading
tales of the fantastic and I found that they can be reduced to a few
types. You may call them archetypes to dignify them, and it is my
purpose to review some of them.
Now, first we have the idea of the interweaving of dreams and
reality, and there my first example comes from Coleridge. This is
merely a jotting of Coleridge's. I found it in Potter's book on him.
It covers but a few lines and runs thus: "If a man dreamt that he
was carried up into Heaven, and in Heaven they gave him a flower as a proof that he had been there, and if on waking up he should
find that flower in his hand, what then?" Is he sure? I suppose it
is sufficient, and we shall see later on, how from this very brief
jotting of Coleridge's came a very fine novel, one of the finest nightmares of H. G. Wells.
But let us go back to the subject of the dream and of reality.
There comes into my mind a different tale, a tale that came long
before Coleridge. It is to be found in one of the delectable volumes
of that very extended dream called The Arabian Nights, or as Captain Burton has it, The Book of the Thousand and One Nights.
The story is quite a short one. It runs more or less thus: A man in
Cairo dreams. In his dream he hears a voice, and the voice tells
him that if he goes to Persia he will find there a treasure. When the
man awakens, he remembers his dream; he is obedient to his dream
and he sets out on long travels through a perilous geography of
wastes, of seas, of deserts, of heathens, and, after a journey of many
years, he duly arrives in Persia. The dream has mentioned the city
of Ispahan. Well, he arrives there at Ispahan, he is very weary and
he goes to sleep in the courtyard of a mosque. Robbers break in,
the soldiers arrest everybody and he is taken with the others before
the cadi, before the judge. Then he has to explain his presence
there and he says, "I'm an Egyptian, I had a dream in Cairo that
if I came to Ispahan a treasure might be given to me." And when
he had said those words, the cadi laughs and says, "O foolish
Egyptian, I have had a dream like that many times over and I
have never believed in it. I've had a dream of a garden in Cairo
and in that garden, a sundial, and behind the sundial, a fig tree,
and under the fig tree, a buried treasure, and yet I have never
thought of going to Egypt." Then he orders the unfortunate — or
perhaps the fortunate — Egyptian to be flogged. The Egyptian
receives a flogging and well-contented he goes back to Egypt, and
there the cadi had described, of course, his own garden — the garden of his house — and there is the sundial, there is the fig tree and
there is the treasure awaiting him.
Now, had the Divine Voice been more economical he might
have said there is a treasure lying quite near you. But of course, the
man had to take the trouble, he had to take the journey. So he was
rewarded and the cadi, of course, lost the treasure. Now, here in
this story, even as in Coleridge's vision, we have those two elements
blended. We have the idea of a dream and of reality.
And now, we will try another common source of fantastic tales.
We will take the idea of an omen, and the first tale that comes to my mind, the first story, is that ancient Greek fable of the tyrant, the
fortunate tyrant, who thought that things were going too well with
him: Polycrates was his name. Well, he was a successful tyrant; he
had alliances with the neighbouring kings; he was fortunate in all
his ventures. And then he thought: I am too happy, this cannot go
on, I must bribe the gods, or I must bribe fate somehow. And so
he bethought himself of his many possessions and said to himself:
"Of all my possessions, the one I prize most is this gold ring, so I
will sacrifice it, I will give it to the gods." Then he dropped the
ring into the sea and he felt quite happy. He thought he had bribed
destiny. But a fortnight afterwards, a large fish was served at the
royal table. The fish was carved, and then the king fainted because
he saw a glimpse of gold. The ring was there, and he knew that the
gods, or fate, had refused his gift, and when it was known that the
ring had come back to him, the neighbouring kings felt they could
no longer be his allies and his people rebelled against him and he
was killed.
Well, here you have another common subject. We have the idea
of an omen, we have the idea of a kind of secret language, the
idea of small things — the ring coming back for example — being
a secret mirror of ominous events yet to happen, the idea of events
casting a shadow before they come. This also is common for tales
of the fantastic. There is another idea akin to this: the idea of
causes and effects not being somehow different. For example, if a
man does something apparently meaningless, and if that thing, that
quite unimportant thing, causes other events, this is of course allied
to an omen, but is not exactly, at least from the point of view of
logic, like it.
And now there comes to me another tale, and this time the tale
comes from the Welsh mountains and it is to be found in that very
strange collection of tales called the Mabinogion, turned into English during the 19th century by Lady Charlotte Guest. The tale is
tucked away in another tale, and no special significance is given to
it. It runs thus: We have a battle, we have two streams of men.
These men are wounding and killing each other at the foot of a
mountain, and on the top of the mountain there are two kings. The
kings are the leaders of the armies, but they seem to be quite unaware of that whirlpool of men fighting each other. They are intent
on a game of chess. The game begins at dawn and goes on till the
evening. Then, at the last moment — the battle has been raging all
the time — the kings are pondering over the chessboard and at the
moment the sun is setting one of the kings moves one of the chess- men and says, "Checkmate." The other acknowledges that he has
been defeated, and just then a horseman comes riding up the hill
and says that that king has been defeated. And so we see that the
armies were the thoughts of the kings, that the batde was the game
of chess, but that the fate of the men, of the living men who were
fighting, depended on the game of chess.
I spoke of dreams, and I regret that some are forgotten, but one
of the finest stories about dreams that I can remember comes from a
Chinese novel called Monkey that was turned into English by
Arthur Whalley, and it runs thus: We begin with a Chinese Emperor, and this Chinese Emperor is sleepless. So, finding that sleep
is beyond him, he gets up and walks in the garden, in the dark
garden. He feels that something is clinging to him, something huge
and at the same time something that's worried, pathetic. And this
thing that he cannot see clings to him, and a voice comes to him,
and the voice says, "I am a dragon. I had a dream that tomorrow
your Chief Minister is going to kill me and I invoke your help."
Then the Emperor gives him his word that he will be protected,
and the moment he says those words he wakes up and he is not in
his garden, he's in bed. And he remembers what has happened and
remembers that he has pledged his word and he thinks, "Well, if
an Emperor pledges his word even in a dream, he must keep it —
even if the word be pledged to a dragon and not a human being."
Then he calls his Chief Minister and he tells him— (here we have
chess: there seems to be a linking together of chess and magic,
which is as it should be) —he says to his Minister: "I would like
to play chess with you." And the Minister says that of course he has
been hungering and thirsting for chess, and as they sit before all the
Court, they play. The Emperor knows that the Minister is about
to kill the dragon and so he has to keep him from doing it. They
play together. The long day passes by and at the end, in the evening, the Minister dozes off, the Emperor wins the game. The
Minister has dutifully lost all his chessmen. We may think that he
was a better player than the Emperor but, of course, no Emperor
should be allowed to lose. Suddenly a great crash, a great noise is
heard in the hall, and a few minutes afterwards two captains come,
and they carry a huge head. And that huge head is bloodstained. It
is the head of a dragon. One captain says that this head has just
fallen from high Heaven. And then the Minister, awakened when
he hears the crashing of the head on the floor, rubs his eyes and
says: "How strange, I had a dream that I was killing a dragon with
a face exactly like that." And so we see how very finely this was
8 done: we have a dream within a dream. The dragon had a dream
of the Minister, and then the Minister killed the dragon in a dream.
But of course, he killed it in reality, because in this story we have
the vision and the dream all together.
There are, of course, many stories of ghosts, or stories of gods —
stories that speak to us of the possibility of having near at hand
dreams that are quite different from us. And I recall at this moment
a story that comes to us from the North. It comes from Norway.
It is a story of Olaf Tryggvason who brought, I think, the worship
of the White Christ to the lands of the Norse. This Olaf Tryggvason
was assailed and was killed in a sea battle. I wonder if you remember a ballad that Longfellow wrote about that battle? He took the
story from the Helm Skringla. The king is on the deck of a ship.
He is fighting his enemy, and behind him there stands Einar Tam-
berskelver, the finest bowman, the finest archer in Norway, and
they are both fighting and the king hears something breaking behind him. It is the string of Einar's bow that has been broken by
an arrow. Without looking back he asks: "Einar, has something
been broken?" and the archer replies: "Yes, Norway, King, under
my hand," or, as Longfellow has it:
Einar then, the arrow taking
From the loosened string,
Answered, "that was Norway breaking
From thy hand, O King!"
But now we may go back to the story. The king is in his court. He
is surrounded by his noblemen. An old man comes in, and this old
man is a weary old man, he looks tired, he looks as if he has been
travelling a long way and he is wrapped in a shabby blue coat. He
has a grey beard, his hat is over his eyes. He sits down, and after
supper the harp goes round, and when it comes to the old man he
takes the harp and begins singing in a very tired voice. He sings to
the music of a very old tune and his words sound somehow different,
as if they came from the past, and he tells the story of the birth of
Odin (the Woden of the Saxons, the god who gave his name to the
day Wednesday) and how Odin was born. He tells how the Three
Fates came and of how one of them had not been invited. The first
two Fates shower splendid gifts on the god, but the last Fate is an
ugly Fate and she merely takes a candlestick and lights it and says:
"The life of Odin shall last no more than the life of this candle."
And then the Three Fates vanish, and the father of Odin puts out
the light in order that Odin should go on living. When the old man had sung this song, people stared at him in amazement. They
laughed at him as if he were a child, and they said that of course
those things might have been believed in the past but nowadays it
was a mere children's tale. For now the White Christ is worshipped
all over the lands of the Norse and nobody thinks of the old gods.
The old man appears not to understand what they say. He gets up,
he feels very tired and he takes a candlestick from his cloak, even
as the first Norn, the first Fate, Neutra, had done centuries and
centuries ago, and he says: "Yes, but my story's closed and here is
the candle." Then he lays it on the table, and once it is on the
table, he proceeds to light it, and the king and his noblemen stare
at it. They feel a kind of fascination for the light of the candle, and
when the candle has gone out they look around them and Odin
has disappeared. The king tells his people to go outside and they
find the god dead in the snow by the side of his good horse. Here
we have found a motif that comes, and will come, in tales of the
fantastic. But now I should like to dwell upon the idea of a man
changing his form.
You remember, of course, Jekyll and Hyde. You remember Jekyll
drinking the potion and becoming Hyde, but I wonder if you remember that this scene, the central scene in Jekyll and Hyde, was
given by a dream to Stevenson. Stevenson wrote a book called A
Chapter of Dreams. He thought of his dreams as Brownies, as brown
Scottish elves, and he says (he speaks of the writer, but he means
himself, of course) that he had to train his Brownies to help him
and that these Brownies brought him stories. Once they brought
him that central scene from Jekyll and Hyde, that scene wherein
Jekyll drinks a potion and becomes Hyde. They also gave him another story, or rather a central scene in a story, and he saw a courtyard — there was something Spanish-looking about it — and there
a young man was biting the hand of a girl. Then he awoke and he
felt there might be a tale in that scene, and he wrote a story called
Olalla, and he says of it: "The story is not, I am afraid, a very
good one; the only effective scene is where the brother bites the
hand of his sister, and, as to the rest of it, I must apologise, because
that was not given by the dream, that I had to invent by myself
and, of course, I cannot cope with my bogies, they are far beyond
And now we come to a different pattern of tales of the fantastic,
and this pattern is quite common in our time; in fact, it is a commonplace: the idea of playing with time. Of course this idea is not
new. We have, for example, that old medieval story of a monk.
io A monk went out from his monastery. He walked into the garden
and heard a nightingale singing, and he was entranced by the music
of the nightingale. He listened to it and lo, when the nightingale
had ended its song, he walked back and found that 300 years had
elapsed. He had been carried away by the music. We get more or
less the same plot in the story of "The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus."
(I am quite a good plagiarist as you may happen to know. There
is a story of mine called "The Secret Miracle," and there I have
used the same idea. I do not think that there are many ideas available, so, of course, "Je prends mon bien ou je le trouve.")
Now, if we may come back to that fine jotting of Coleridge's: the
idea of a man who had been carried into Heaven and had a flower
given him. We might suppose that Wells read that jotting, because
he wrote a story wherein an incident rather like the incident of
Coleridge's is found. I am thinking of that very fine nightmare of
Wells' called The Time Machine. Wells invented that story in the
last decade of the nineteenth century and at that time people were
really aware of magic. They wanted to believe in the supernatural
but they could no longer believe in magic rings, in magic lamps,
in talismans and so on, so Wells invented, all by himself, what is
now called science fiction. He thought people would take in a more
kindly way to machines, and so he wrote The Time Machine. In
The Time Machine we have at the beginning, a chapter on the
fourth dimension, the nature of time and so on. (This was divulged
by Dunne in his book on experiments with time later on.) Then
we come to the story, the story of a man, a man who has made a
machine, a machine made to travel through time (of course we
are travelling through time all our life long, but in this case, the
machine could take off very rapidly through time) and the Time
Traveller rides towards the future, towards the very remote future,
and when he arrives at the future, mankind has split asunder. Mankind has split into two different species. We have the Morlocks.
The Morlocks are the proletariat, or the defenders of the proletariat, and they live in underground caverns where they work rusty
and quite useless machines. They go on working them for they
cannot break away from a habit that is centuries and centuries old.
And the Morlocks are blind because they have lived hundreds of
years in the dark. On the surface of the planet are large gardens
and in those gardens live the Eloi. The Eloi are the degenerate aristocracy. They live on fruits, they make love. Now and then, at
regular intervals, the Morlocks come out of their underground
hiding places and they devour the Eloi. Now, the Time Traveller
11 falls in love with a woman who is a girl of the Eloi, and he is pursued by the Morlocks and escapes in his time machine, but he bears
with him a flower and this flower has been given to him by one of
the Eloi. He goes back to reality, he goes back to his own nineteenth-
century London, and the only thing he has retrieved from his venture
in the future is a flower, a flower that has not yet bloomed, a flower
that will bloom after thousands and thousands of years (and the
flower of course, decays and falls to dust) and we think of Coleridge
and of the flower that was brought back, not from the future of
time, but from Heaven.
Now, Wells was a friend of Henry James. Henry James read
that story and in the year 1916 he, James, said to himself, I will rewrite that story, I will write another story more or less like it, and
the officials won't like it, of course. Now, James, of course, had no
use for machines. He would not bring himself to believe in machines
any more than he would bring himself to believe in dreams or lamps
or talismans. So he said, Well, I will take something more modest. I
will take the case of a man who lives in the twentieth century, who is
my contemporary, who feels that the world is hard to judge and
that really he should be living in the eighteenth century. And so he
thinks of a young American, because one of the themes of Henry
James is the theme of banishment, really of exile — the idea, for
example, of Americans in Europe, and so on — and this time he has
as his hero a young American. This American lives in London. He
lives in a house that belonged to his forefathers, and in that house
there is a picture, and this picture somehow fascinates the young
American, because it dates from the eighteenth century. The man
in it is dressed after the manner of the eighteenth century and it is
an unfinished picture. It is a picture of. .. himself. The young
American is carried away by the picture. He thinks, maybe this is a
picture of myself, not of one of my forefathers who may have been
like me, and then he thinks of working himself back into the
eighteenth century, not through magic, but in a psychological
way. First he breaks away from his friends. He sits all day in that
eighteenth-century house in Berkeley Square. He sits there turning
over the pages of Johnson, of Hume, of Boswell, Pope, Voltaire and
so on, and then he says to his friends, I'm going back to the
eighteenth century, but nobody believes him, and he hardly believes
what he is saying himself, but he goes on reading despondently and
finally a night comes when he is in his darkened room. He has
stopped reading. The room next to his should be in darkness also.
Suddenly, he feels he hears human voices but he is not too surprised.
12 He walks into the drawing-room, next-door to his study, and he
finds that he is dressed after the fashion of the eighteenth century.
He is surrounded by a crowd of people and they are all eighteenth-
century people, and he finds out from the conversation that he is a
young man, a relative who has come from the Colonies. He feels
very happy, of course, because he says to himself, I have been yearning, I have been hungering and thirsting for the eighteenth century
and now here I find my true home, here I find the time I have
always wished to be living in. He meets a girl. Obviously enough,
he falls in love with her, and then he meets a painter, a great
eighteenth-century painter. The painter looks at him and says,
There is something in your face that attracts me. I do not know
what it is, but I would like to paint your picture. Now the young
man knows all about the picture. He knows the picture will be left
unfinished, and he says to him, Well, you can try your hand at
painting my picture but I don't think you will be able to finish it,
and then the painter says, Of course I can finish any picture I begin.
And then the painter begins, sits down at his work and after three
or four sessions he throws down his brushes and says, No, I'm afraid
you are right, I cannot paint your picture. The young man understands. The painter can not paint his picture because, after all, his
face is the face of a man of the twentieth century, and no eighteenth-
century painter would be able to reproduce it, and he feels very
sad because he had always felt that he was living in banishment in
the twentieth century and now he finds out that his lot, his destiny,
is nowhere because when he lived in the twentieth century he
yearned for the eighteenth century and now, in the eighteenth century, a painter has somehow detected that he is an outsider and has
no right to be living in the eighteenth century. And so he speaks
with the girl who is in love with him — they both love each other —
and he tells her, Tonight perhaps, I shall be going back to America.
Of course, America is a metaphor, but she understands that what he
says is final. They kiss each other, he walks back to a darkened
room, he sits down, he is alone and he is back in the twentieth
century. Stephen Spender has written of this story and he has made
a very subtle remark about it. He has remarked that we have that
relation of cause and effect which is very paradoxical in this story,
because we have this strange fact: the young man goes back to the
eighteenth century because his picture has been painted in the
eighteenth century, but his picture has been painted in the eighteenth
century because he has gone back to the eighteenth century and so
on and so on for ever.
13 Now here, perhaps, we are stuck when we try to consider what
has gone before this. Of course, there are other quite common elements in the tales of the fantastic that I have not spoken about;
for example, the idea of mirrors, the idea of a double, or in the
Highlands of Scotland, a fetch. We find this for example, in Poe's
"William Wilson," in German tales of the Doppelganger, in Scottish
tales of the fetch. From that very fine film, Psycho, I always remember the story of the young man who murders his mother and then
somehow becomes his mother and his mother betrays him, without
knowing that she is the man she is betraying. Well.. . but we find
that tales of the fantastic can be traced back to quite a small number
of patterns. I mean, if we look at tales of the fantastic from all over
the world, we should find the same thing occurring over and over
again. The idea, for example, of ghosts, the idea of juggling with
time, the idea of omens, the idea of dreams being interwoven with
reality, and so on. Now, how can we explain this? Of course, our
first temptation would be to say that the human imagination is poor,
that the human imagination cannot evolve many plots. But I think
that this is quite wrong. I think the real explanation must lie somewhere else. I think the real explanation is that the tales of the fantastic are not literary. I think they are symbols, and so those symbols
are symbols of emotion. They are essential symbols. Let us have a
look at the tales I have been telling. We have, for example, the idea
of cause and effect — the idea that something which to us is trivial
may mean something somewhere else. And this is not a false idea; in
fact we find the same idea in the very first chapter of the Bible.
You remember — who can forget? — you remember, of course,
Adam in the Garden. He is happy, he is immortal, he is wrapped in
everlasting bliss, and he is forbidden one small trifle. He is forbidden to eat of the fruit of one small tree, and then he eats that
fruit and is lost, mankind is lost and we are lost with him. That is
to say, we never know the consequences of an act. From the very
trifling may come disaster and this, of course, is woven into the
idea of small causes and great effects.
Then we have that other major field of dreams and visions and
waking life, and this also has a meaning, since, as you know, there
is a school of philosophy called idealism and in that school we are
taught that man's life is but a dream, that there is an essential kinship between living and dreaming, and this is something felt by all
men. I don't suppose that Shakespeare studied much philosophy,
but life brought him to this conclusion when he wrote:
14 We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
He must have felt that.
And then we have the idea of a man changing. We have the idea
of monstrous transformation. We have that common idea of the
werewolf, the lycanthrope. And this, of course, is true, because life
is changing us all the time. When I think of my childhood, when
I think that once I was a little child and now I am a man and at
any moment I shall be, we shall be, dust and ashes, then we are
made to think that the idea of a transformation is somehow a symbol of something real. We remember that story "Die Verwandlung,"
"The Transformation," by Franz Kafka, and I think he explains
that he had written that story as a kind of metaphor, as a kind of
parable of sickness, because a man wakes up one morning and finds
himself sick and then he is changed into another being. He cannot
move away from his bed, he is really a monster to himself, and to
this very common human experience Kafka gave a shape in his
story. So I think that the tales of the fantastic have a higher dignity
than one usually allows them. That is to say, they are not haphazard
combinations. They have a meaning, they make us feel that we are
living in a strange world. And so, in a sense, tales of the fantastic are
more real than realistic stories, because realistic stories are but an
echo of what is going on, what we see every day. We do not need
them. While, if we read a story by Edgar Alan Poe or by Kafka
or by Arthur Machen or by any other author you may choose, then
somehow we are being told through the form of a symbol that we
live in a very strange and alarming world. And this of course brings
us to another question. I have been speaking of tales of the fantastic,
and I remember that if we compare the fantasies of Poe or Kafka to
those other loftier fantasies called Theology and Philosophy, then
the dreams of the writer dwindle to nothingness, for after all, men
think of only the Minotaur or of a bogey or of a ghost and that is
nothing if you compare it to the high fantasy of thinking of an
omniscient, all-powerful spirit called God, and living not in time,
but in the everlasting. That is taught to the youngest. Whereas, if
we think of our life as a dream, if we think as the solipsists do, that
there is but one being in the world, and that one being is every one
of us, or rather, I am the only being, and for you, each of you is the
only being, and there is no reality beyond this dream, what we call
reality is but a part of the dream. I mean, the whole vastness of
geography, the whole depths of past or future time, these are but
15 figments of hypotheses of a dream, and while at this moment you
are dreaming that I am speaking, I am dreaming that you are hearing me, and this of course is far more wonderful than the weird
fantasies of the literary mind.
And so we come to this question, and I am putting it very seriously: if we speak of literary genres, if we speak of realism and of
the fantastic, can any man tell us, can we tell ourselves, whether our
lives or the universe, for this present moment, belong to realism or
to fantasy? I do not know.
16 Two Poems by Hagiwara Sakutaro
Translated from the Japanese by Graeme Wilson
Things like dogs, by barking; by becoming
Deformed children, things like geese;
Things, by shining in the night, like foxes;
By congealing as crystal, things like tortoises;
And things like wolves that run as nothing can:
All these do harm to the good health of man.
Where the frog was smashed
The children stood,
Stood in a circle
And unamazed,
Their hands upraised,
Together, good.
Bloody and sweet
In that ringed place,
They placed their hands
On the moon's fat O.
And someone stands
On a hill; a hat
And a face below.
Hagiwara Sakutaro, who died in 1942, is a great Japanese and world poet.
His first collection of poems (1917) used Western techniques to exploit Japanese
subject matter, and this fusion, together with his use of colloquial language,
made him an important figure in the shaping of modern Japanese verse.
Graeme Wilson is a Counsellor in the British Diplomatic Service and is
currently in the Far East as a Civil Air Attache. His poems and translations
have appeared widely, and he is now translating all of Hagiwara's poetry.
This joke was too much — I am sorry.
Sorry I tried
to eat lean, to stay hungry;
sorry I thought
a crooked house was enough;
sorry the friends
grew fewer and fewer;
sorry the motorcycle raced
outside our house
and you could not ride it.
I used to think
you married a genius, and that
would take care of all
would come later
and pictures in the hall.
A crooked man could rise
and balance these years
with his name,
and then the parties we missed,
the friends I insulted
would fade
while we would eat fat
and stay slim,
not regretting the young
wretches we've become.
These last few weeks, I've done
nothing of worth, while the ground
outside stayed unplanted.
18 I watch late movies ■— until
test patterns hum.
I drink and count lines.
Sometimes I open
our door
and look at the airfield.
Sometimes I try
to stack up our books
in my mind.
While you are asleep, I play
the labyrintspel,
taking longer and longer —
anything, I discover,
but face up to quitting.
This meanwhile living is awful.
Why should a crooked man
beat up on his wife?
How can I turn you to dust
on a broom?
Who gave me the right
to grow small?
Living with me, in God's name, how
will your own garden grow?
I wish I had
the Russian courage, and could
subject you to the State
or the Wall
or like tired businessmen
send you away
for a separate vacation.
Love is a slap
on the mouth
when you marry the prince
who's a frog
19 and never finds a drink
will make him grow tall
or a godmother wand.
But this is self-pity.    I find
I'm using our lives,
exchanging the empties
for cash
and while you wheel
the aisles, I wander off
to the counters — stocked
with magic books and toys
and guaranteed heroes; drugs
to pep up a marriage,
the instant solution —
the world
blown off its rocker, while we
are anti-reactive.
Nonsense breeds nonsense: the pig
had a ring on his nose.
I thought
the bong tree grows, and you
were seeing us dancing
hand in hand
on the edge of the sand.
Well, we are there.
We are where
your husband hasn't gone
outside for days
and your prettiest slip
from your clothes
is wasted, and lonely.
20 V
The crooked mile I've walked
was a long way around
and at the end, nothing
but sore feet and blisters,
a thirst,
and a need for some sleep.
My hair has grown long
as a girl's.
My clothes are all tattered.
Your face
is covered with grime.
I've dressed you in shreds
yet you say go on
as if self-respect
doesn't matter.
The soldiers, marching in columns
of four
are healthy and laughing,
toss us some coins,
chocolate bars,
and left-over nylons.
Why do you see them, you ask,
knowing I couldn't
join up if I wanted.
In fields, homes, churches,
mothers sing
to their beautiful daughters.
What are you doing
to give up your daughters
for me?
21 VI
What a joke!    We are young
and grow old.
And when we are old,
we'll grow older.
Does life have a middle, a station
clearly marked: here
you must turn,
as on a flight, the needles
are fuel
and you watch them creep over
the half.
What was the point —
what strip did we pass
when the needle fell left?
Should we try for the beaches,
forced landing,
parachute up, or jump out?
There are limits set
on the search;
after five days lost, we are dead.
Our life jackets keep
us afloat
but our bodies hang limp.
How many books we could publish
could we suspend
the sun on the water.
With my crooked sixpence,
I found by the stile,
I have purchased you time
without luggage.
All I can do is let
you use it and use it.
22 Whether you give yourself
to hold the pole
or dangle the weeds
is beyond
my control,
although I think blessings.
My loot
is not yours.    I walk
with a limp and a cane.
There is no one I follow.
But could I survive
without tow?
Given no choice, I perform
in a travelling show.
Sometimes I turn,
cursing your presence;
and sometimes I love you.
Withering outdoors, the years,
the lightings and fadings,
have at themselves.
We thought they were switches
and now
each night one more day
I didn't surrender is gone.
Our faces are white — it may mean
we will burn.
Or we are straigthened,
hands folded, food on the table,
friends at the door — but too late.
The visitor knows
we are dying.
Dick Allen teaches creative writing at Wright State University, and edits
The Mad River Review. His poems have appeared in many journals, and he
has won an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Hart Crane Memorial
Fellowship for Poetry.
23 Jack Matthews is Director of Creative Writing at Ohio University. His book
of short stories, Bitter Knowledge, was published by Scribner's in 1964. A
volume of poems (U. of North Carolina Press, 1966) and a novel (Harcourt
Brace, 1967)  have followed. Our 7:1 and 7:2 carried two of his stories.
The Yard Man
He was deprived of reality, but not of subtlety.
Already he was beginning his plan, although he wasn't fully
aware of it at the time. His daughter evoked him from a deep midnight of sleep, and wheeled him to the window, where he gazed at
the two acres of lawn on that side, undulating into a chalky stone
fence, and a thick hedge row above.
So he was a wealthy man, and very old. In the anonymity of sleep
he had been younger, perhaps — but only by implication, and by
the negation of any possibility of age, since the sleep was totally
that, black and unconscious.
"What is the name of our yard man?" he asked his daughter.
She sighed and picked at a thumbnail. "Jenkins," she said.
"You've asked me that four or five times lately."
"Don't be petulant," he said. "I forget. I am very, very old."
She turned her head, at that, and looked at him. The skin of her
neck was tanned and wrinkled, and crossed by a necklace of white
pearls — strangely out of place with her light summer dress and
her ethereal white hair. Her face was still young; although he could
not associate it with the face of any child he had known.
"Jenkins," he said, pronouncing the word the way a magistrate
might pronounce sentence.
"Yes. Jenkins. He's been with us six months."
"And the asters and the line of yew trees? The ones we just
planted? And the irises and phlox? And mums?"
His daughter did not answer, and he was aware of her disapproval
24 simultaneously with the realization that he had mixed events, and
even seasons. What a fool he was living inside! What a fool he
had to listen to, as it spoke with his own voice, even, and exercised
old and familiar mannerisms!
Already by her silence, and already by his commission of this
senseless little folly, his plan was taking a deeper, more tangible
shape. Along with his fear, of course: because the plan was merely
the light side of the fear, and would not have existed without it,
any more than the darkness of a shadow can exist without the definition of light, and the embolus of a body.
"Then the yard man, Jenkins," he began, "he's out there every
day, taking care of the yard."
"Of course," his daughter said. "What else would he be doing?"
His daughter was clever, just as he had been at one time, and
she sensed something different already. Now the plan was beginning
to be known to her, too. Although she couldn't have said anything
about it, yet. . . knew nothing, in fact, except the plan as a potentiality. His daughter was subtle. She knew the emptiness, suddenly,
which something must eventually fill. This something would be the
plan, and such a monstrous surprise to her that the whole thing
was almost worth it for that alone.
But things mustn't go too fast, and he himself did not have a
clear idea of the plan, yet. He merely understood the geography of
the void it must occupy better than she did. And he had the advantage, for his daughter's cleverness consisted almost entirely in
the ability to answer, not in asking or doing the unexpected.
He gazed at her smooth profile for a moment as she stared at the
sunny lawn and took long smooth breaths, so that the pearl necklace rose and fell. She was a handsome woman, and he must not
forget that she, also, was a survivor of life . . . that she was a widow,
whose husband had been dead for almost a decade, and whose three
children were grown and living far away, and now she occupied
his house and waited on him and scolded him like a strange woman,
and called him Daddy.
"He, the yard man, possesses the yard," he finally said.
His daughter turned her head and stared at him so hard (with
her head so close to him) that her eyes were almost crossed.
"What are you saying?"
"The yard man ..."
"Jenkins," she prompted.
"Yes, Jenkins, possesses the yard in a way that I do not."
"Are you sure you're feeling all right?" she asked him.
25 "No, I am not feeling all right," he said. But the way he said it
conveyed a particular meaning to her, so that she did not rush to
the medicine cabinet or start fussing with him about returning to
the bed.
He licked his lips and fingered the wheels of the wheelchair,
making it vibrate slightly, and because of this, making his head
nod back and forth in a short arc.
"What are you trying to say about possession?" she said. "Finish
what you were trying to say."
"Jenkins," he said. "If I am not mistaken, the last syllable indicates a diminutive. As is reflected in 'manikin.' It derives from the
"You and your dictionary," his daughter said. But she was not
deceived, and she would ask again about possession. He had sunk
his hook.
"Yes," he said. "Does he work out there in the yard while I am
"Of course he does," his daughter said. She thrust a hand up to
straighten the collar of his dressing gown. It was as much an aggressive action as it was a tidying one. Her father smiled, and one of
his eyes watered, which turned the lawn blurry.
"Where is he now?" he asked.
"I think he's back by the pond," his daughter said. "Why do you
ask? Why all this sudden curiosity about Jenkins?"
"BecauseI" This was a peculiar and identifiable satisfaction to
him, because —■ like most very small children — his daughter had
once used the word blindly, constantly, uncritically to justify any
of her acts. Why had she done it? Because. Because. Because.
And now, predictably, she assumed his own old role and said,
"That is no answer!" As if he were indeed a child. He looked at
her, but she was not smiling. She was not frowning. But she was
looking at him in a way that people had not looked at him for a
long time.
"Because . . .," he said, letting his voice die away as if into the
most distant regions of speculation. ...
And then her hand, holding a soft paper tissue, dabbed the tears
from his eye, and his mouth went shut as he waited.
"Because?" she said, when she had finished.
"Because I don't know him .. . the yard man. Jenkins."
Simultaneous with his remembering and speaking the name, she
spoke it too, and both of them looked out over the yard, as if the
magic of their both reciting the man's name together might make
26 him appear. But he did not appear, and the lawn merely blazed
under the sun. This part had been cut yesterday. He remembered
this, for he had asked that very morning. And had, in fact, the day
before watched the yard man following his involute patterns about
the crab apple and magnolia and dogwood trees, astride his tractor-
"What do you mean, you don't know him?"
"He is a stranger," the old man said, in a voice that was suddenly
lower in both pitch and volume. "He is a stranger, and every day
he circles my room and cuts the grass. And he inhabits my yard,
and I can't even go out there. He possesses it. Now do you see?"
"I see," his daughter said, "but I don't see the point of it." She
shook out a cigarette and snapped a lighter before it, so that a wisp
of smoke danced quickly across his vision, and then evaporated.
"He is a stranger who, when I am asleep and totally helpless,
makes circles around me. Encloses me in circles, atop that thing he
rides and mows with."
"But what do you expect him to do when .. ." But his daughter
stopped speaking, aware that expectation had nothing to do with it,
and that her father was not at all surprised by the yard man's acts,
but somehow vindicated and confirmed by them. He was insisting
upon a meaning that was to her still a void, while already to him,
the plan itself was about to commence filling this void.
"And when he kneels in the dirt out there in the iris bed that I
planned ... that I conceived, and eventually had enlarged, to balance the fishpond on the south side . . . while he is kneeling there,
he possesses it more surely than I do. His presence there mocks me.
Don't they call me the owner?"
"They! The law. Society, people, whoever . . ."
His daughter was laughing smoke above his head. "Don't be
ridiculous, Daddy," she said. "He doesn't think of you one way or
the other, let alone mock you!"
"I didn't say he mocked me, I said his presence did."
"But that's something entirely out of his control. And not even
human, but an idea — a relationship. It's he that matters."
"Yes, Jenkins. He's the one that matters, and you can believe
me—-to Jenkins, you are as powerful and remote as God. Just
the other day, he asked me if the noise bothered the 'Mister' in the
afternoon when he mowed. That's what he called you: 'the Mister.'"
"As God, you said."
27 "Now don't pick something I've said out of context and start
elaborating on it. You know, I've always thought something about
you that for some reason I've never had the opportunity to say."
"Which is?"
"Which is, that you're too subtle. Your intellectual tricks get in
the way, so you can't see the inevitably real things. Your mind tricks
"So that if I weren't so clever, I would understand more?"
She didn't answer that, and he was surprised and gratified at how
sharply his mind was working. This was an island of light in the
past few weeks of darkness, and it might well prove to be the last
such island he would inhabit, or visit. He knew this, but was untroubled by the realization.
"And who are his helpers?" he asked.
"Yes. Jenkins had some helpers here yesterday."
"That was two days ago. He had two boys from the nursery to
help him spread fertilizer. Remember, you smelled it and watched
them for a while."
"Yes," he said. "I remember."
"They've been here before to help out. The same two boys. One's
in college, I believe."
"Yes. But they didn't wave at me, did they?"
"I don't think they can see you, behind the dark screen."
"But they know I'm there. They know that."
"Well, I suppose they do, but that's no reason to go paranoid.
Now, is it?"
"I am the opposite of paranoid," he said, "and I am thinking of
calling my lawyers. When I talk to them, you'll know what I mean."
"You may be sure, I have no idea now." But she said this too
cannily, and he was almost certain that she had an idea, at least.
Their minds were too familiar with each other's, and were predictable even in their complementary differences, the way the contours
of a void will predict something of the shape of that which will fill
it. Or the way a fear can prefigure a plan.
"Will Vanscoy be available, do you suppose?"
"I have no idea," she said, "but I am sure if you call, they will
get someone here to oblige you. Probably Vanscoy himself."
Was she being sardonic?
Possibly, but he needed to say more: "You have never really
loved this place as the rest of us have, have you?"
She didn't answer, which was one of her weapons.
28 "It isn't paranoia," he said. "It isn't me, it's the land. They know
it too."
"Know what?"
"Know what I've been telling you. They know it's theirs more
than it is mine. How could they help it?"
"I don't understand what you're saying."
"How could they help it? Even if they don't circle the house
because they are confining it, they inevitably begin to sense such a
confinement after they circle the house. I've seen them throw the
hose around, and the tools . .. and work the machinery and repair
it. ..."
"Believe me," she said, snorting smoke again, "you are attributing entirely too much to them. I mean, to him. Surely, you don't
think the two boys .. ."
"No," he said. "I am thinking of Jenkins."
"And you believe that, in some secret or unconscious or insidious
way, he is trying to take over. Is that it?"
"No, not trying. Which makes it more insidious, still. For it's
beyond his intention, too, but ultimately more effective than if he
did indeed, and with full awareness and cunning, intend it. . . ."
"No," she said, "I will not phone Vanscoy for you."
The surprise of the statement, which was made in a very low and
well-modulated voice, caused him to stop and turn his head. His
mouth was hanging open — from fatigue and age, rather than from
astonishment. But then he was trapped in this look of infantile bewilderment, and since he could not possibly change it, he forgot
about it, and began to consider where he might turn and how he
might go forward.
"Because," he said slowly, "I will legally turn the yard over to
them, and then there cannot possibly be this ironic disparity between
legal possession and usus et fructus, or what the Romans would
sometimes refer to as. . . ."
"Stop," she said. "These things are beyond question, and there
is no use your toying with me any more. I am not a child to be
toyed with, and I find your humor exasperating and not quite
"Not quite wholesome," he repeated. Now he was bewildered,
and looked it. Although she did not see, because she was contentedly
looking out upon the lawn and stubbing her cigarette out in an
"You haven't really heard my reasons yet," he said, sounding
petulant instead of angry.
29 "If they own it legally and in fact," she said, "then the threat
will be gone. Is that it?"
"Only part of it."
"Well then, let it be the part we consider. You own that land in
a way they can sense, but not understand. You own it in a way that
I can understand and sense both. You own it in a way that you
can understand, but not sense. Now do you understand?"
"Understand what?"
"That if you actually do what you are considering, you will
destroy me. You and that yard man can change places, and pretend,
if you like; but you would destroy me in the process. I am the one
who holds you two together. To the yard man, you are as intangible
as God! You own this place, and that is something he can't forget
and you can't forget."
"Jenkins," he said.
"Yes," she said. "His name is Jenkins."
When he next awoke, it was evening, and his daughter brought
him something sweet in a cup. It was neither warm nor cold, but
blandly pleasant. He was sitting up in bed as he drank it.
"I'm afraid you tired yourself out with so much talking," she
said. "Now go back to sleep."
She patted the bed and then left the room.
He lay back down and stared for a while at the window, which
still retained the light of evening. A cool breeze caused the curtains
to dilate periodically. And then something came to him from the
distance. He wasn't sure, but he thought it was the sound of the
tractor-mower. Which the yard man was undoubtedly driving, there
in the twilight, in the great curved patterns about the dogwood trees
and the magnolias and the crab apples. And, no matter how meanderingly, always in such a way as to circle the house in ever tightening circles. Upon his land, upon his machinery.
He saw him then, in the twilight — his heavy body nodding gendy
upon the machine. He saw him clearly enough to realize that he
did not have a face at all, and did not even have to look where he
was going.
30 Two Poems by Wes Magee
My blue balloon
(hydrogen packed; coon smiled; skin as thin as October ice)
is flying away
(above the fir-tree spears; string trailing wispily)
into the sun.
(tucked up in hot beds; air as sharp as crushed glass)
hiding behind that chimney pot
(open mouthed to crows; burning with frost-fire)
is something yellow.
It's my balloon
(disfigured and pale; the night grows lonely)
with two eyes, a nose,
(cats scrawl; trees crack in their iced-up hearts)
and a jagged mouth.
Slivers of browned breast
dive and roll in a circular sea
yet only a few chicken-shitting hours ago
these scraps pranced and pecked in unity
around a concentrated camp of square earth
while I watched, flesh thirsty,
this side of the wire, this end of the spoon.
Wes Magee teaches in London, where he edits the English little magazine,
Prism. "A Tough Pill to Swallow" won for him the one-act play competition
at the London University Arts Festival; his poems have appeared in England
and the United States.
Translated from the Spanish by Eric Forrer
The tropics erode.
Cracked in its equilibrium
the city regains the colour of death.
without a place to hide
the limits of my fear.
With the wind's change
following old customs of my race,
I thanked the rain.
The gods had abandoned my lands.
Even though they applauded my performance
I saw myself wrapped up
in the time of my insights.
Through a strange screen I watch
with the tension of the first instant,
the faces and the places
of this time in which I am given sight.
Step by step I pass through cities that I ought to love.
But rocks will forget their contraction
before we are able to understand ourselves.
Now, everything has fermented.
32 There are as many monstrous faces in the dry season
as there are times my eyes half close
from fear of being alive.
The climate is a tenacious pressure
in the middle of my courage
But this hell is no accident:
We have inaugurated the silence preceding maturity.
America, primitive, cruel, ignorant,
still, she stretches out her arms
to those trying to understand.
Land of no one.
Land of no one that I have seen and been saddened by
to the point of confounding the heart of the places.
Land of no one which I do not want to leave.
Useless land.
I have joined to my expenses
knowing the danger,
the verbs of disorder.
I go without speech, like so many madmen I have seen.
Until it infuses my life blood and may be.
And may be peace.
Luisa Futoransky is an outstanding Argentinian poet. "Epoch of Rain" is
from her recent volume, El Corazon de los Lugares. Eric Forrer's work has
appeared in earlier issues of Prism international. He lives in Alaska.
33 Four Poems by George Amabile
for Mel Rosenthal
Down Lenox Avenue, at five in the morning,
Through the feverish haze of worn off gin, he watches
Dimples firm the lush backs of her knees
With every step.    A false dawn breeze
Puffs the blue sail of her shift, then
Lets it softly down to palpable fact:
She has nothing on underneath.    She stops at the corner,
Balancing, on high heels, the intimate weight
Of a body whose natural rhythms might have moved
Priests from their clothes in Babylonian temples.
Here in New York, she turns, with a sweet smile,
And all-out lips painted the color of pearl
Pout for the rounded whisky kiss she'll blow
Him down with.    Under flutter-lids made rare by turquoise
Eyeshadow, exhausted volumes of bourbon and pot
Sully the whites of almost innocent eyes.
Still, her skin looks wholesome as milk chocolate,
And inhibitions fade into booming blood.
From some other life, he summons a Brando mumble:
"How much?"    "A dime, honey.    And two for the room."
Grey light from unwashed windows.    Crooked walls
Under loosening skins of paint.    But a tangerine blanket
And orchid sheets emanate delicate whiffs
Of lavender.    He begins to relax, a little
Toward some happy, casual, eloquent mood.
But small talk dies in his throat when he turns to find
Her completely naked except for a jostle of earrings
As her neck arches, stirring up beautiful hair.
Oblique unblinking eyes are looking him over,
Making friends with his pulse.    What high breasts!
Tight waist. .. and the way her thighs mature
Without touching.    She moves toward him.    Her body
34 Turns a kind of painful music on
In his.    He feels a slow, hot-blooded rose
Open inside his crotch.    It's all hers.
I love that mound between her legs, cupped
With a soft bramble, the jungle weather in
Her walk.    Her tense nipples graze his chest,
And a cool shudder turns his skin to gooseflesh.
Open palms move lightiy over the small
Bones of her back, over deeply fulfilled buttocks,
Her smooth hips.    Not yet.    Not yet.    His mind
Races.    I've got to make this last.    "Look,
Let's get some booze and have a couple of drinks
First."    He counts out five bills.    She smiles,
"Groovy.    You wait right here .. ." and puts on her dress
As if his body framed a full length mirror.
The glimpse he gets of her calf as the door closes
Will last.    And last. . .
Out on the street, she picks up
Speed, humming a bar of blues and stuffing
Seventeen singles into a huge purse.
"Ten Thousand Miles . . ."
He sleeps with grit blown loose from the shabby plumes
Of trains, dead drunk, on the floor of a wrecked house.
Muscles shrug off the needling
Nerves, but his mind starts.    Clears.    Counts
Padfalls mounting the staircase.    His pulse mounts.
Then nostrils flare at his neck and a beast fastens
Its hot bulk to his back.
His rabbit heart goes crazy in its cage.
He staggers free, into the street, a shocked
Hulk driven by choked whimpers.    Shadows
That glide across the pavement
Slither into his body heat like chills.
Under leaves laced with moonlight and honeysuckle
He leans against the wall of St. DePaul's
Asylum, watching one high
Barred window burn with the comforts of home.
Flows and pulses in the room.    Outside,
Thunder crumbles, a faint catastrophe
In the far sky.    Somewhere a cave-man
Is crouching among giant ferns.
His nostrils flare, testing the small breeze
That dies down as the storm gathers.
If grasses rasp in such deadlocked air,
A slow spasm of fear takes root and grows
From footsoles up through vertebrae
Soaking the tight scalp,
Condensing the loose fog in his mind
To focused sweat.    In that moment,
A glimmer.    A glimpse that scatters.
Moisture sparkling the folds of a dark rose.
Escaped, at last, to the room of fire,
Surrounded by gutteral cries, wild
Shadows, glistening stone, what
Can he tell the others?    He tries
To revive that blinding insight,
But the crooked figure
Of lightning that has danced
Off in the darkness of his mind
Flickers to life at the storm's core
Millions of nightmares later.
36 A NUN
All night, candles threaten to melt
her strict face, the frost of her veil.
At dawn she'll marry her virgin's eyes
to the sad smile of a two thousand year old ghost.
The shadows barely move.    She tries
to keep her perceptible breath
from disturbing the stone shape her body aches
to become.    She prays
to be spared the shuddering ecstasies
of St. Theresa.    Let teen-age body heat
be drained off, each night,
into the dark temperatures of space,
and never build to the melting point
every passionate woman flowers from .. .
In the pressed lips,
In the closed opaque eyelids,
the bluish fingertips,
her grim determination hardens.
Feelings that were once wild
as health, sunlight, desire,
unfold a spider's geometry . . .
Soon, she will don
the black cloth of untouchable brides.
George Amabile's poems have appeared in Poetry, Harper's, Prairie Schooner,
The New Yorker, and many other journals. He teaches at the University of
Manitoba, where he co-edits The Far Point.
37 Two Poems by Douglas Barbour
Her face betrays
the sleepless nights
spent running
thru an alien land
scape from lithe black
the great gloom she
is too heavy
and the lines around
her eyes
demand respite
this woman
flees from demons
why?    we cannot follow
in their twisted footsteps
prints on sand burning
the horizon red and far
beyond comprehension
or relief
a pall on the
she won't stretch to
to eke out
appalled by
the silent shrieks streaming
up into the sky
after night
Today no one
would carve them like that
husband and wife
bent and held together
in tension
a brooding soft silence
the two heads lost
in hair flowing
into each other as one
curve of waist of
shoulders    muscles
of arms    closing
to gather all together
his hands taut on
her flesh her
bent back    arms
clasped round his neck
all is lost now
in abstraction
torso of small
sculptor    I
to the influx
of love or
long gone.
Douglas Barbour is studying for his doctorate in English at Queen's, where
he helps edit Quarry.
39 Gaston Bart-Williams is Sierra Leone's representative in the International
P.E.N. His poetry, fiction, and plays have won international awards, and have
appeared in numerous journals, including Prism international. Currently he
free-lances in Germany.
my friend
every day the same trains stop at this same station every day the
same trains change their same drivers at this same station every
day the same passengers change the same trains at this same railway
station every day I come to this same railway station to wait for
my same friend my friend comes from this town he is a proper
citizen of this place the prime minister also comes from this
town my friend is not really the prime minister the prime minister is not really my friend my friend is pure white my friend
wears a pure white suit my friend is blond but he is not really
blond he is pure white he has bleached his hair white he smokes
white cigarettes with white tobacco I prefer cigars myself with
black tobacco or black cigarettes with black tobacco I am dark I
mean this woman tells me so I mean this woman who sits opposite
me in this waiting room of this town's main railway station this
woman has a poodle a black poodle and keeps muttering that she
loves dark things this woman is quite frail this woman is not
pregnant this woman must have a very large stomach this woman
ordered sausages dark sausages twenty-one dark sausages and
gulped them down within three minutes ordered twenty-two dark
sausages and gulped them down within three minutes ordered
twenty-three dark sausages and gulped them down within three
minutes etc. when I joined her at the table she must have already
eaten one plus two plus three etc. dark sausages etc. in three plus
three plus three minutes etc. when I joined this woman at this
table she must have already eaten 21 o dark sausages in 60 minutes
and for the next 60 minutes this woman will eat twenty-one plus
40 twenty-two plus twenty-three plus twenty-four plus twenty-five etc.
plus three plus three etc. minutes etc. for the next 60 minutes this
woman will eat 610 dark sausages in constant progression this
woman must have a stomach full of dark sausages or must have
a womb full of dark sausages zygotes this woman may not be a
woman after all this woman has a beard this woman has a
moustache this woman has hairs on her hands and her legs this
woman has hairs on her palms and feet this woman has hairs
on her teeth this woman has bad teeth this woman has bad
feet this woman is no woman this woman is not the prime
minister of course the prime minister is not a woman this woman
is white this woman has white teeth white hairs on her feet white
eyes white moustache white hairs on her head and hands and wears
a white suit but this woman is not my friend my friend comes
from this town he is pure white of course and does not eat dark
sausages of course my friend eats white bread white rice white
potatoes white fish white flesh and drinks white tea white beer
white soup white water white wine etc. the prime minister comes
from this town the prime minister is white of course from old
age of course my friend is not white from old age the prime
minister talks like an old man white with age of course the prime
minister talks through his white hat the prime minister is not my
friend the prime minister would not come into this waiting room
at this town's main railway station this waiting room would not
go to the prime minister either the prime minister does not know
these people who come to this waiting room in this main railway
station they must be strangers the prime minister must know his
own people people the prime minister does not know are not his
people the prime minister does not know my friend but my friend
comes from this town of course my friend knows all the people
who come to the main railway station and come into the main
waiting room my friend knows the prime minister but my friend
does not like him because he talks like an old man through his old
white hat but the prime minister's hat is new he changes his
hat every day but his head remains the same the prime minister's
people also remain the same the prime minister's people like old
things the prime minister's people like the prime minister of
course the prime minister's people change their badges and their
suits often enough but maintain their same old underwear the
prime minister's people like old things my friend also likes old
things and this woman who is busy with the sausages also likes old
things    my friend and this busy sausage woman may be the prime
41 minister's people after all this busy sausage woman might be my
friend after all but as my friend is not really the prime minister this busy sausage woman is not really the prime minister after
all may be this busy sausage woman is the state maternity officer
after all may be this busy sausage woman is the mother state the
state mother is beautiful except for the few strangers like us who sit
at the other side of the table watching this busy sausage woman
who likes dark things trying to beat the production of sausages
for consumption this other stranger the man at the other side of
the table eating macaroni is also dark if he eats macaroni he must
be a dark stranger he must be a strange worker of course his nose
is bleeding he must be a stranger the prime minister's people do
not bleed in spite of inconduction weather the prime minister's
people are hard and weather beaten the prime minister's people are
very strong this man must be a stranger because he eats his macaroni spiced with his own blood this stranger must be cannibal
eating his own blood actually my friend does not really like
strangers my friend keeps me waiting on purpose my friend is
not my friend until I am developed chemically my friend is not
really my friend until I look like him pure white and despise work
strangers my friend I mean this woman who is busy with the
sausage progression keeps muttering about helping me develop I
mean this woman really loves me this woman wants me to develop this woman wants to develop me this woman loves me
because I can develop may be this woman is my real friend after
42 Two Poems by Robin Skelton
At forty sensual enough, no grey
at jaw or temple, though beneath each eye
the softly folded skin announces years
of peering in the brown and emptying glass,
I recognize myself, could sketch the mouth's
disconsolate swerve, the nose, the tilted head.
This is achievement of a kind. When young,
I could amaze myself with my own stare
and touched discovery each time I reached
the razor to my cheek. Now nothing's new
but comprehension. Each road I have walked
rewards each footfall with a vacant gaze.
I rack my long-imprisoned brain. Complete,
and stuck with that accomplishment, I probe
philosophies to swear I'll be reborn,
pay tailors to transform the usual, break
habits, friendships, promises, contrive
a fresh evasion for each humdrum doubt.
Yet I remain myself. A woman's bed,
that changing-room of truth, can dress me up
in clownish finery only for the night
or the tempestuous moment. Mornings shake
each lending loose, and I can never find
a different mastery on the downward stair,
but only this Familiar, blandly gross
with confidence, firm-set in his old ways,
foul-breathed, libidinous, who at the end
when I He sick will mutter through the room
his worn discordances, his usual prayers,
and mumble in my pillow friendly lies.
Wovoka believed
in a Messiah,
a newcomer,
the plains black
with buffalo,
taught the tribes to dance,
tell the truth,
not fear death,
and gave them shirts.
This morning shirts
arrive for me
from a dead poet.
evolves deaths.
They sang through bullets,
boys in rain
catching the wet in their
mouths, licking
their bare arms.
The shirt fits;
the same shoulders,
the same neck:
I stare out from
his photograph.
44 The consequences
of prophecy matter
less than the act.
At Wounded Knee
that Christmas time
two hundred died;
for thirty days
the Ghost Dance War
choked up the trails.
The Gods allow
us transformations
the earth foils.
I wear a dead poet's
shirt.    Belief
derides the ring of
firelit faces
as all history;
in Nevada
the prophet,
every victory won,
praised as I praise
the dead that dance
the dance, are truthful,
and consume.
Robin Skelton teaches at the University of Victoria, where he co-edits The
Malahat Review. He is the author of several volumes of poetry, and his writing
has appeared widely here and abroad.
45 Two Poems by Nancy A. Bawden
Like an elephant
through a field
of cottonballs
you caught me
Not frightened
I waited,
watched as you circled me
through one bright eye.
I stood waiting
until you shuffled closer
to sniff me.
Your trunk smelled
of old women
dusty flowers,
and little girls.
it's not
I don't like you.
(But I really don't like having my tongue
down your throat — I find it hard to speak
properly in the morning.)
I do enjoy
your company,
must you speak
with a foreign tongue ...
(And kiss with it too.)
Nancy A. Bawden's poems have appeared in West Coast Review and makar.
She attends Simon Fraser University.
47 Three Poems by John Judson
The ice cracked
far out.
Seated around the fire
we heard the wind
wearing the pines down,
and my father
composed a drinking song
to thirteen rigid fish
and all firm flesh
that rose like a red flag.
Bela laughed, dancing in the snow,
"By Christ, a Communist!" he said;
and chipping ice from pickerel,
we sang to them
watching our breath
at seventeen below,
hearing the wind
wear down the pines.
I live alone with my boat and the river.
In summer, at the time of water lilies,
I touch eel grass and know by its run
that there is a woman of shallow waters
breathing in the caulking,
swelling with a clear line
that will wear my wandering to stone.
Remembering how a fast line sings,
I lift flat stones for bait.
In the upper hills, heat lightning;
a worm struggles;
I sway like cobras to a fine brass wind.
Someday I will be temperate
as Carolina, walking slowly by the sea;
but for now,
a clear stream,
granite smooth as a woman in love,
and the trout reach into themselves
to strike.
John Judson teaches at Wisconsin State University, and is poetry editor and
co-founder of Northeast, the international literary annual. Many journals have
published his poems; last year Colby College Press brought out his first book,
Within Seasons.
49 Two Poems by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Translated from the German by Peter Paul Fersch
in defense of a murderer
look at the musk-rat's hard eyes,
scanning fire-proof walls and necks;
look at the skull: a shaved football,
pronouncing death sentences between two drinks;
look at his hand: a clamp of scrap-metal,
with an empty bottle it crushes the victim.
be charitable, you judges, forgive those weaker!
too noble his resolution, too little strength,
did he fail.
look at the faces of those who sit above you,
their eyes sincerely concerned, smiling at glass lenses;
look at these spiritualized temples, behind which
they rehearse the extermination of your cities;
look at those well-groomed hands, with golden pen
they decree: the earth under the wheel!
set free, you judges, the young murderer!
place him on the curule chair, he will be
more compassionate with us.
5° answer from a fable-creature
the dragon married the carnation
to create you.
somewhere you live, that is,
where the claw breaks out in march
to bloom,
where October's thunder subdues
and turns to fragrance,    call!
i will come to you,
tell me where,
that we can ask questions
and can love,
fearless joy,
and be good? —■
to be good is nowhere!
Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in Germany in 1929; he now lives
near Oslo. Poet, essayist, translator, editor, he received the Critics Prize for
Literature in 1961-62 and the Georg Biichner Preis in 1963. Two of his poems
were in our 7 ■ 1 •
Peter Paul Fersch translated two stories by Georg Britting in the same
issue, and is presently working on a book of translations from Britting's prose.
51 Two Poems by Kenneth Bernard
He was subtle, an infernal wit,
Bombastic on occasion, and a lover.
Not that I was a woman or his woman,
But that he had love and gave it.
I was a grateful recipient, gay,
And always ready to repay in spades
What ecstasy I had of him.
What grieved me was his generality,
Not his generosity.    My love
Was a fortunate reflection of his
And no gift of mine.    His lips
Might have touched another's as well;
He gave no credit, not even to himself.
Our debt was to the heavens, to fate,
And we were bound to enjoy,
If mutually, the better.     And we did.
Hundreds of nights we paid homage
To his damned gods, and after
Listened to Mozart or read Proust.
He would have continued like that until he died,
Loving me naked under the sky.
When I wished us less success, more agony,
A little individualized pain,
He pinched my nipples hard and laughed.
I hated him and made love again,
Cursed him through all my climax,
And curled into sleep, spent and contented
In spite of myself.    In the morning he shaved.
I lingered over the scratching noises,
52 Sought comfort in the piddle of his urine,
And watched the sun extend itself.
"Don't come back," I said, when he was ready.
He touched one finger to my mouth,
Pressed slightly as his eyes twinkled.
We both knew that I had lost him,
Knew that in one stabbing, apocalyptic moment
He and his gods had been betrayed.
He rose slowly, looked down at me,
Then turned and walked through the high window.
Now he is mine forever.
In the end, she said, it is the living
That matter.     The frailest flesh can kiss,
Where death, you see, lies only cold upon the lips.
I know.    At night I still can feel
His dribbling tongue sometimes,
And sicken to a kind of lust,
Soon mercifully spent.    Awake, the pace is slower.
A Spartan dying overcomes me
As I'm sliced precisely with my grief
(You've not mistaken me, I hope).
But now I'm dead to death and all those noble agonies;
I recognize and accept the sin of flesh to memory,
And am ready to propitiate my commonness,
If you will come, but now!
Kenneth Bernard teaches at Long Island University. His poems, fiction,
and criticism have appeared widely, including The Nation, Mutiny, Four
Quarters, Outcry.
53 Henry H. Roth's stories have been in Transatlantic Review, Latitudes, December, among others, and in Philip Rahv's anthology of new writing, Modern
Occasions. He lives in New York State.
Like everything else in the County Core Chapter, the decorating
committee was well integrated —■ two negroes and two whites all
women, all very nervous as they stood under the torn canopy fronting the squat two-storey building waiting for the janitor and looking
anxiously at the chalk-grey sky becoming uglier every moment. The
rain fell through the canopy with great force; thunder and lightning
completed the unfortunate backdrop for the scene to their thoughts.
A summer storm.
But it's not summer, monday will be the first day of summer, oh
Somebody does not know it replied Agatha Haynes a small robust
woman, she was fifty-years-old and had lived in the County for
forty-five of those years; she was the first negro to own her home
outright. Agatha's husband was a respected dentist who had a number of white patients; his explanation was — they feel guilty so they
come sit down in my chair and purge their feelings while I clean
out their cavities. Sam Haynes always introduced Agatha as my
great snob and it was true and it was all of Agatha's charm and
lack of it...
The other colored member was Elizabeth Vaughan, she liked to
be called Mrs. Vaughan but that was her first husband she had
since divorced a second and was now living in the back of an ESSO
garage with a goateed mechanic who owned half the gas station.
Agatha was the first to put the girl down on every occasion both
behind her back and to her lovely face — a negro girl to graduate
54 a good white school like Cornell and she can do nothing but laugh
it up and have men shuttling to and from her legs. Elizabeth couldn't
help laughing everytime she saw tight assed big mouthed Agatha
Haynes whatever the woman said caused Elizabeth to giggle until
the giggle evolved into sublime laughter. Elizabeth was tall and
slender possessing the bounce of a teenager, her small breasts seemed
to be always pointed into the eyes of an interested man and her gay
behind beckoned all. She was not too careful about whom she took
to bed but never had the man been white. Only once had a white
man's hands touched her carressingly and that was a man with
whom she was beginning to fall in love. And after that night she
never saw him alone again. Both her parents were dead — LUCKY
said Agatha, they were fine people and would have died of shame.
Elizabeth Vaughan said Lucky too for they had left her quite a
sum of money.
There was Betty Ann a southern lady who upon moving up north
in the winter had joined the CORE chapter before even calling a
diaper service, at this moment Betty Ann was the most nervous. I
hope the rain lets up.
I hope, said Elizabeth Vaughan, the janitor man comes soon.
All the stuff is inside, I hope.
O God, Betty Ann squealed, my hubby brought it down last
night. The janitor said he'd bring it in.
Elizabeth laughed, if he wasn't too drunk to do it, he did it. Mr.
Simkins is fine at keeping his promises when he's sober.
The man ought to be fired, Agatha Haynes said, he's a disgrace,
got a good job at the Legion Hall and he's all as likely to fall down
drunk as not. One night he'll be boozed up with a lit cigarette and
the hall will burn down, another negro will disgrace his race.
And death to hisself Elizabeth teased.
Betty Ann could not understand why Elizabeth and Agatha so
disliked one another, they were both good responsible reliable
workers, heaven they ought never to get angry. The Klan would
sure love to hear them talking so sassy. Betty tumbled as the rain
increased and she thought of how her daddy was still a Klan member after twenty years. Oh God I wish those two black girls would
kiss and make up. Now Betty Ann's thoughts shifted to the lengthy
drought and this land that needed weeks of rain, but the CORE
Fund Raising Dance would be the loser if the rain didn't stop; she
weighed the many advantages of the rain and still she prayed it
would stop. Please she looked up at the sky, have it rain on Mark's
vacation time but not today we need this day and night.
55 What do you see charming Betty Ann, Elizabeth sang.
Way up there.
The eye of God is on you, Elizabeth Vaughan warned Agatha
suddenly religious. Well sister I'm scratching anyways.
Rose saw the janitor first, she ran to him accepted the key and
ran back; Rose was the chairman and it was her duty to handle
keys and be responsible for them. Rose held the door open and the
other three women entered and ran for the bathroom — Rose
stood drenched in her poorly reproofed raincoat idly recalling how
few meetings she had attended this year. Civil rights is out and
bond issues are in and perhaps Robert was right though he rented
his house and so paid no taxes and bond issues were just words to
him. Her husband too had pointed out that this bond issue was the
most important vote to hit the county for fifteen years. Lately she
seemed to be only quoting Robert Byron everywhere even Charles
had noticed her new hero — but she was helpless because she thought
only of him and the mess of her life and so in despair she turned
back to Robert again and again. It's been a mess so long even if
this man is the right one or even much better than the others what
can you do about it now. Rose Saidenheim was 38 the man Robert
Byron her thirty-fourth lover; she kept meticulous count of the
men in her life following Charles, who had been the first.
Rose longed for the damn decorating to begin, Charles' s car was
busted the children still had to be ferried to a birthday party —
she could call Robert no damn it leave him alone for a few hours.
The women worked effectively and with little noise, Rose chain
smoked as she twisted balloons into contorted shapes, Betty Ann
sweated profusely, Agatha breathed in quick asthmatic bursts and
Elizabeth hummed some freedom songs. In two hours it was done,
chairs were out, tables set the place was clean and gaily decorated.
Elizabeth smiled winningly and said colors were good and hot, even
Agatha agreed. Betty Ann happy to see the women almost hand in
hand, offered to buy everyone lunch. All agreed.
Hot pastrami is the only thing you all have up here I never had,
Betty Ann confessed.
What about northern men?
Agatha shook her head, Rose laughed.
Mark is a northerner, Elizabeth Vaughan.
Please pass the pickles sweet Betty Ann.
Betty Ann was about to cry though she had never told anyone
about her daddy's Klan activities, she sensed that Elizabeth knew
56 and was only waiting for a most opportune time to deliver the
news. Betty Ann knew that negroes had a pipeline to the south and
they knew just everything. And she could cry at her pitiful position.
Agatha Haynes said, I remember when we had to drive to the
Bronx for a hot corned beef sandwich.
My my Agatha Haynes you sure are ancient.
I am ancient and very wise when I see how you are behaving at
What about me, Rose broke in quickly to avoid conflict, look at
how I carry on. Surely you don't approve of me either Agatha. Rose
was just talking wildly not knowing what would come out next,
she just wanted Agatha off Elizabeth's neck.
You Rose?
Of course it's the quiet ones that should be watched most carefully. I'm carrying a baby, not my husband's it's Martin Luther
Betty Ann gagged.
Elizabeth laughed.
Agatha was open mouthed.
Then Elizabeth stopped laughing long enough to blurt out, I'd
have been more impressed Rose if it had been that cute Reverend
Shuttleworth's child.
Agatha said nothing but walked out. Betty Ann was crying,
Rose and Elizabeth still laughing tried to comfort her.
Agatha Haynes spent three hours in the beauty parlour and the
rest of the time telling Sam about Rose's outrageous behavior. But
she didn't really blame Rose Saidenheim it was that damn Elizabeth
that make anyone go half mad. Sam only said but honey you aren't
half mad you are all the way and then she stopped talking to him.
Elizabeth returned to the garage and washed her hair in the
men's bathroom locking the door behind her refusing to open it for
any customers. Go to the SHELL toilet across the street, I got VD
get the hell out of here. Her mechanic knew few things but one
was how to repair cars and the other was that he was very fortunate
to have such a fine girl running about and he only laughed good
naturedly at her goings on. And Elizabeth thought he was the best,
the strongest man in bed she had yet known and she was still impressed by his sexual prowess sufficiently to ignore his defects. He
managed to get away for an hour and she kept whispering into his
big black ear kill me you big bastard kill me, and he ignorant wonderful, dumbly kept at her.
57 Betty Ann bathed the children early, fed them at five and gave
each a huge portion of ice cream, she always felt guilty when she
left them for the evening, the children always profited with an extra
large dessert when there was to be a baby sitter. Mark walked about
the house whistling, delighted at the rain she could have killed him.
But being Betty Ann she said nothing decided to take her shower,
Rose was to pick her up early and Betty Ann dreaded ever keeping
anyone waiting. Once under the shower she remembered that the
bathroom door was not locked and she ran to bolt it — Betty Ann
just had a thing about being discovered naked, it had happened
once in high school, she and the young man were suddenly wrestling
together and the only good thing about it was that two weeks later
right on time she had her period.
Rose chauffeured the children to a party Charles was taking his
lengthy Saturday nap so she drove to Robert's house; he was in the
midst of an article on Francois Truffaut — His View On Women.
And what is his view Mr. Byron?
Well Mrs. Saidenheim, it's sympathetic in fact think he's nuts
about them.
He was studying her, she blushed, Rose Saidenheim tired experienced veteran of countless sexual trysts blushing because Robert so
wanted to finish the article and he was searching her face to see if
she wanted it. You're a poor lover she admonished him silently
with a tight grin, but to be with and to talk to — you are very important to me.
May I sit with you while you write?
Of course, want a beer?
No, red wine, you don't like me any more, you hate me.
He smiled, Wrong, when I was in the city yesterday I bought a
sixpack of wonderful Mexican beer — join me in an arty beer
She pointed, my earrings are Mexican.
He laughed, Rose dear that makes no sense.
I'll still have a beer, shall I get it?
Please. And he proceeded to his article typing slowly.
She swung open the icebox door, so she said the it I seek today
is Cresta Blanca.
Eight o'clock was the meeting time agreed upon, Rose and Agatha
were to be ticket takers and sellers and Elizabeth and Betty Ann
were to be hostesses — to make newcomers welcome. Only Elizabeth
58 was on time but she was the only one who had taken very Utile
time to arrange her appearance — by eight thirty the committee
was present. Agatha was wearing a low cut ball gown of shimmering white sequins Rose was wearing an old dress but her best, Betty
Ann wore the latest Lord and Taylor idea for a summer dance. As
life would decree Elizabeth with her careless bun, and tight dress
off the rack from Korvettes was beautiful while they at best were
only lovely. Rose beamed in delight at Elizabeth — you are truly
Cinderella Elizabeth. Rose honey I'm not taking any chances I'm
taking my slippers off right now and puttin'em under the piano.
Elizabeth returned to the entrance alcove and grabbed Betty
Ann's arm c'mon honey let's get ready for all those men and the
ass grabbing. Betty Ann turned red but Rose and surprisingly
Agatha smiled. Agatha Haynes admitted there will be that. Elizabeth pleased by Agatha flashed a beautiful smile that the older
woman tried in vain to match.
By nine o'clock Dan Borton the chairman of the CHAPTER
and his thin ugly white wife were there, but no one else. Elizabeth
was teasing Betty Ann as to the actual services a CORE hostess
must perform for the men. Dan laughed the phony laugh of a professional doctor though he was a lawyer. Rose was truly becoming
schize — the rain let up — where were all the phony white liberals,
all my friends. I'm here, where are they? Charles hated dances and
wouldn't come but he had paid two dollars for his ticket and Rose
cajoled two more for the liquor he would have consumed. The
large dimly lit dance floor echoed with Elizabeth's raucous laugh
and Betty Ann's why no I'd die. Then you're going to have to die
more often than sweet Jesus. Enough girl, Agatha's voice rang out.
There was a loud racket at nine thirty when the band arrived,
they were friends of Elizabeth and there was plenty of noise and
some music was started — Elizabeth danced with the bandleader,
Betty Ann moved about the floor with Dan Borton. Five couples
arrived at nine forty and Robert walked in five minutes later. Rose
drank two double scotch and hoped the night would end quickly,
she dreaded to return to the empty dance floor. As she and Robert
danced she whispered no one is here there isn't going to be a sudden
flood of people Robert no one's here . . . How much did they lay
out — thirty for the hall and 125 for the band. God knows how
much for the liquor.
Robert sighed and laughed. How can you be so heartless and
laugh? I was recalling a story by Evelyn Waugh about an old lady
who spends all her money for a massive ball in her decaying man-
59 sion and no one comes; the biddy dies of overeating while the band
plays only for her but it's really a broken heart that does her in.
Her heir finds among her effects stamped addressed invitations
but none were posted.
You're cruel said Rose but she laughed softly, it is not a funny
Ten thirty — the dance hall was half filled, that meant about
fifty couples add to that ten people down at the bar and you have
very few. Oh Robert God it's a disaster. I must go back to the
door Agatha must feel dreadful.
All Agatha Haynes said was, did you see my Sam out on the
dance floor?
No, I haven't seen him at all. Agatha, take the rest of the night
off and dance, the band is very good.
Agatha said softly I pray to God we break even.
Rose looked back towards the dancing and saw Robert manfully
attempting the monkey with stone faced Grace Borton.
Dan Borton was leaning against Betty Ann. Your husband coming? Yes she answered, but there was a football game on tonight
and he wanted to see the first half.
Damn fools playing so early in the year.
And damn fool staying home watching it, Betty thought she
read Dan's mind. She leaned towards him to show how sorry she
was. He smiled priest-like down at her, let's go out back a while.
Contritely she followed.
Dan was singing a Phil Ochs song, she joined him but when she
yawned for a minute he suddenly shoved his tongue in past her
teeth. Betty Ann fell forward and accidentally encouraged Dan
who grabbed her breasts and squeezed them mightly. She shivered
in fright, pain and some sort of abstract pleasure. She was very
dizzy how many vodkas had he encouraged her to drink?
See how hot you got me Betty Ann dear and he grabbed her
hand along his pants. Finally she was free of his tongue but her
fingers were upon a greater menace.
I'm so excited he said, c'mon.
A giggle and an apologetic cough followed as Elizabeth and Sam
Haynes emerged from a station wagon, Sam walked right past them
but Elizabeth stopped for a second and said howdy. Betty's hand
still encircled Dan's throbbing penis.
Betty Ann was in control now she was as sober as a judge she
moved a step away and using her best imitation of a klansman's
60 voice she said Now you put that right back in your pants Dan
Borton. I'm going to try and forget what happened and you better,
Now zip up your pants and take me back to the dance.
Twelve-thirty. Rose had danced with two strange white men and
more than a dozen colored men all strangers. One of the white men
tried to goose her the negroes merely danced never spoke a word
and nodded their thanks. At one o'clock Rose returned to her position at the door where Robert joined her and was no longer teasing.
It's a damn shame Rose the decorations were worthy of a far bigger
We were going to send half the profits to the Louisiana project.
Now we'll have to write them for some money. I feel so guilty so
damn responsible.
How can you blame yourself for such apathy. It's more than one
person's fault Rose. Publicity was not too good I saw very little
mention of it in the county papers and the dance should have been
held in late May not June.
Even Hans and Alyssia didn't come. Hans would have put us
in the red by himself. Did you notice how much he's been drinking.
Robert thought only fresh gossip can override a woman's disappointment.
Robert asked, What about the chairman is he a dynamic guy?
Dan, oh no we thought we might need a lawyer available if there
was much picketing and sit ins. Picketing and sit ins, we must have
been mad, we can't even fill a dance hall with a good band.
It is a good band, let's not waste them. He offered her his arm.
She stuck her tongue out at him, but did finally accept his arm.
Agatha hissed out at Sam. Where you been Sam?
I was around darling looking for potential customers. The streets
is quiet.
Not the back alleys.
The back alleys where that hooer lies down.
Stop Agatha.
You defending that bitch.
I'm not defending anybody honey, let's dance.
She almost agreed would have forgiven him if he had gone off
with Rose or even Betty Ann but that black girl always mocking
You fucking that girl?
Agatha everyone's looking.
Sam I don't care. You fucked that girl this past hour.
61 No more, let's dance.
I'll dance Mr. Haynes but after the last dance I'm going to grab
that girl and tear her big eyes right out.
You won't Agatha just dance with me and listen for the next
five minutes.
Sam held her very tight, Agatha relaxed slightly and listened as
he told his tale.
Elizabeth was dancing quietly with her mechanic, he smelled
clean looked real good and his hands were almost free of dirt but
the fingernails were all split and bashed in. She kissed them. Like
the music she asked.
Good band, where's the people?
Out demonstrating but she was not mocking in fact Elizabeth
was close to tears.
Betty Ann was talking to Mark who was overwhelmed by the
rapidity of her sentences, he was not that drunk but Betty Ann
was — she wasn't making a damn bit of sense but he was happy
because whenever Betty Ann had four vodkas too many she was a
fascinating performer in bed and he anticipated the next hours
after the dance. In fact Mark was all but rubbing his hands as he
tried to listen to her. Betty Ann was ready to scream out, she thought
if she drank even more her anger and dismay at this evening would
pass, she was one second from heaving; she agreed with daddy, she
agreed with CORE, she agreed with everyone she was a silly fool
who ought to just stay home. Of God why doesn't Mark say something instead of looking like a moonsick imbecile like Dan Borton.
Dan, she felt the revulsion rising in her.
Dan Borton, the four women and their men, one drunk and the
drummer who thought he had an outside chance with Elizabeth
still remained at three thirty.
The party is officially over, announced the CORE chairman.
Amen said Robert Byron. Rose withered him with an evil look.
Have you finished counting up Agatha?
I have, we made ninety dollars.
Ninety dollars baby Elizabeth squealed, I thought we'd lost nine
Rose said glumly, we make more than that from a nursery school
Damn said Mark. Betty Ann looked at him lovingly.
Agatha spat out the words, you damn fool we could have made
that much asking for donations through the mail. All this lovely
work for nothing.
62 The drummer beat a solitary tune trying to catch Elizabeth's
Nobody's interested in civil rights, never really was Elizabeth
said quietly. It was the in thing now everyone says we have a negro
problem, now let's go and admit to some more problems.
Dan broke in, I think it's not that simple, we had a grand dance
last year everyone paid too little attention to it this year.
I think Elizabeth Vaughan is right for once. I think she better
leave us and the county and join SNNC and go fucking with some
intellectual white boys from Harvard and leave my husband alone.
She flew at Elizabeth who seemed to be calmly waiting for the onslaught and kneed the charging woman in the stomach.
Sam kneeled down at his groaning wife's side and looked at
Elizabeth in horror. You could have moved aside.
Man I stand still, you know that, I stood still for you outside.
The moaning Agatha Haynes in tears was cursing. Sam and Robert
hauled her away. The drummer tapped his drum still playing.
Elizabeth turned on the drummer, go home baby the party is over.
The drumming stopped, it was suddenly absolutely quiet in the
room. Elizabeth spoke to her man, throw that drunk out and let's
go home. When's the next meeting Dan?
Wednesday an evaluation.
She giggled, God you're crazier than that crazy Agatha Haynes.
Dan asked will one of you drive me home? My wife took off
without me some time ago.
Mark said, We'll be glad too, OK Betty Ann? She grinned like
the dumb bunny she was. Then they too were gone.
Rose's final duty was to turn out the lights, and hide the key in
the vestibule.
Well we've become the new NAACP.
Pretty hostile final act.
You don't know it all, Dan made a pass for Betty Ann, a pretty
violent one.
Sounds more like a Unitarian shindig.
Rose laughed, you're right. And so was Agatha, perhaps the fund
raising should be through the mail. That way we would never have
to meet and see ourselves in action.
Tomorrow will bring another day.
On that one, good night dear.
Are you angry?
I know you want to make me smile but I can't. We all failed
miserably in there. Dan might have risen above a politician lawyer
63 type but it's unfair to single him out. All of us might have honestly
risen above our level maybe Elizabeth did, I don't know . . .
She certainly is an interesting girl.
The only one her age in the group, no one younger, we've picketed
once sat down only in our own kitchens, we haven't broken down
a single barrier that we know does exist even up here in this liberal
county. Please don't say anything Robert. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow, are you going to the Henderson's buffet?
I was invited.
Good I'll see you tomorrow.
Rose sat down on the sidewalk next to her car, too tired to move,
the spurned drummer paused in front of her. She said, I'm sorry
the turnout was so small.
It's OK lady we got paid.
That precise moment a cop car braked to a loud stop catching
both figures in the glare of the lights.
The tall young cop got out and asked, trouble lady?
It's late, he a friend or trying something?
I was merely saying goodnight officer.
The cop stood undecided, Rose began to cry; go away, both of
you ... when she looked up only the morning sky was left. The lovely
night became a clammy huge shroud quite alive and mocking as
it settled easily about her; its taunt became louder — white fool,
fool, white foolfool fool. Suddenly Rose felt comfortable so comfortable she could have remained at that curb stone for the rest of
her natural life.
64 Two Poems by Charles Mountford
You may not take this course because
You may not take this course.
The big river shoulders aside the boulders
And takes its own course & chuckles in the spring.
When you enter the classroom you must sit down
Chairs and desks will be provided for this purpose
And when you wish to question
You must raise your hand.
The tall trees that whistle in spring's sharp winds
Raise their whole bodies and endure without question.
But what is good for trees
Is not considered good for children
Who must raise their hands before
They are not allowed to question.
The shark bursts like a blood clot
From some raging depth of unreason
Suddenly is there    THERE
The problem is suddenly yours alone.
All the palms beyond the line of shallow water
Cannot help you now your help
Fades with the conch sound of a pale blue sky
The slap of bare feet on wharfs
Is suddenly retreating.
You are left alone with a diamond studded maw
And a brain that loves you as a razor
Loves some tender throat in high spring.
The whine of the warm water is no nightingale
To sing at your strange wedding.
Charles  Mountford is in graduate  studies  at the University of Western
for Francis Webb
The hour clanks in the cracked bell mouth.
That steeple, like a ponderous stone fist,
ruffles the abrasive Easter wind.
How would you speak of it if you were here?
From the hill's mouth the gapped and socketed
white teeth of grave stones glare and twinkle,
and from the soil, groaning toward my footprints,
those cramped religious bones — I cannot tell —
surge and wrestle against the heavy turf,
their ribs shuddering for oxygen.
Yet all this
makes no sound. I walk in a river of light
between the hard ranks of death, and call
these living shades, my thorn-crowned and awkward friends.
Afternoons of wind. My hair flies
in the staccato gusts, and now my footsteps
fall somewhere between the absent and the dead.
Who knows which it is easier to be?
66 I think of you, Frank, in your khaki rags,
with your soft haunted voice, and your large head
forever cocked to one side, listening.
You would tell me, if you were here, how the Word chimes
always in a cracked bell; how you could see
over the ruined hillside the Holy Spirit
ablaze and descending. But I see forms
of old stone and old inscriptions and old silence.
And if we spoke only silence to each other?
I would still show you this (perhaps with gestures):
the stone church squatting on its haunches, and the dead
grave stones scratched with pious Sunday psalms
— that banal incorrigible human grace —
and show, with a deeper name, the forgiving light
unravelling over the tombs and across the chilled
astringent grass —■ O flesh over many bones —
drenching the tower, the live and thudding bells,
enfolding with eternally torn hands the tangible earth.
Craig Powell is an Australian doctor. His first collection of poetry was part
of the Australian display at Expo 67; a second book is now with the publishers; and he has had poems in The London Magazine, Encounter, and others.
67 Two Poems by Forrest Robinson
The trees speak in pastels of leaves,
And the wind hums a thousand blossoms.
This is the day; I can feel its eyes
Burning down upon my face and arms;
I sense a gathering muscle crouch
In black tree trunks, and feel
Its footpads as I walk the grass
And feel the supple ground give way.
I walk back to the hotel alone in the rain.
Catherine is a marble statue in a room;
And birth becomes two deaths.
And it is night.
Why do I smell Abruzzi?
The priest says the air is cold and dry,
But I have never been there.
Walking corridors of hotels
Down all the years since now,
I listen to the stillness of one room.
No clock measures time;
Nor are there windows, only walls,
With only one door leading up the stairs.
And I count every step,
Listen to each creaking board,
Until I know by heart
How footsteps feel the wood
And how the eyes,
In total darkness,
Forrest   Robinson   teaches   American   literature  at   Heidelberg   College  in
68  HA
\1' ^ ^t^.j
\^6€  Two Poems by Eric Hammerstrom-Green
Picture us, poet, show us undressed.
Show us veiled and in tears,
let us see the unexpurgated self
with the baggy error of terror
hanging as a sackcloth toga:
let us see the wax within sacks
that has its little wick
burning now bright, now less
bright but forever burning.
The poet's business is rape.
In the forest under the stars
let us find them trampled
by the heavy feet
of the satyr's words:
he cauterizes
the tangle between legs,
mind and eyes with his torch,
and the screams they sent out
are heard forever.
The velvet is in the coffin.
For what are we mourning, poet?
You let us stand before a mirror
and nude in an x-ray machine;
let us hurray and get it done,
the vivisection of blood and dream
and let us pull up our trousers
in a hurry, because the landlord
is pounding on the door with an axe.
Is it a clean song
to know
that my matter or mass
is equal to my energy?
So, something is equal,
or coeval,
or sits like the panther
I never saw
barking a dog up a tree
it never climbed;
and the hunter
is his own treed bear,
and I sight
down the barrel
of an old 30.06
seeing the gold bead
of the front sight
between your eyes;
I imagine
you looking up,
confronted with my winking
behind the peepsight,
and the joy
melting your face
as the bullet of my love
knows its will.
74 I love the feel of bark,
and I rub it;
I love the smell of lumber
and its winning
is a clean smell from the woods.
You (I tell you)
have no right to bend
over my pond
like a young willow tree.
But the song
of your silhouette
against the night sky
drinks there too.
That's perfectiy all right.
I shall be our cabin
in the rugged mountains
where we all live,
if you will keep house.
Eric Hammerstrom-Green has had television plays produced in Canada. He
lives in Vancouver.
75 Th Cleveland Burlesque Co. Unltd!!
a/ th Buchanan Bldg.
away went we
frm my wrrld
of th roz
lisseng t yng
poits read
maw velous personal poetry
& it's almost asif
their only skills're
the poisonous gruel
heaved up
& specially
those unbelievable
constructng ther poems
as coldly as cone
openg catfish lips
emittng such squeels & grunts
to send termpapers flyng
thru th air &
dustclouds to linger
in th air
fr days
76 why, why
there's far sweeter
emittng frm th bowery
so Ah
then i gt t thinkng
Ime on sum mad mailng list
an impromptu hatelist
fr everywhich wuna us
Surrounded these days
by myriad piles of meaningless
. . . artwrk
& poems frm greyhoun depot
A therapy of a kind
fr alienated rejects
Dont they realize
tht th FUCK FOR THE BUCK ckthngs theyr
yellng toplung at bourgeois bankers
theyr just as good at?
: Tht theyr capable of sum inarticulate
dosnt free them
frm th obligation of partakng
in this fanciful dance of Livng
Chuck Carlson is a young Vancouver poet who edits up the tube with one
eye open.
The moor-hens have all died of pneumonia
in the splintered reeds
The girls have all got old
& buy their smiles in the supermarket
victims of Woman's Own and the Hoover Company
Every flower's been torn open
& the wind is blowing its delicate colours away
Enough pain
& it will nail silence forever on the tongue
hands may try writing their messages on other bellies
but must always fail, falling away
exhausted with loneliness
Although its late
& to-morrow is terribly near
Remind me
of the fat sheep on the island where nobody lives
any more
rubbing themselves on 200 year old gravestones
green with rain
of the cabbage-fields where shadows of flights of birds
move quickly between snowflakes
& I'll remind you that schoolgirls in red knickers
are playing netball on the Friendly Society Sports Ground
sunlight on their thighs
that I read in a friend's poem that someone is going to mow his lawn
one day next week
Lets remind each other too sometimes
of Mr Death
the curious & troubling stranger who is carefully following us
reason to end all arguments
question all other certainties
78 The old are thinking of returning their library books
theyre looking forward to next week's ounce
of Three Nuns tobacco
next Saturday's ninepenny film matinee
Everyone else
is worrying about money
I'm worried about money myself
& almost as often as I get sad get filled with panic
at the possibility its real
this sneezing this rolling cigarettes
this talking in furnished rooms this smiling
this ordering cups of tea in Cypriot cafes
during walks across Islington
this going into cinemas strip-clubs bookstores
bumping into people on the street
treading on people's toes on the Underground
this reasonless certainly funny agonising
by-yourself being here
But its the world either way
Knowing I know nothing
I unbutton my hands & face & try
to love
Owen Davis has published in Expression; he is a librarian in London.
79 Two Poems by Marvis Tutiah
See the ice honeycombing on the lake?
It's almost time now.
Yesterday we tracked bear spoor
Behind the woodshed;
Today the star-nosed mole
Declares himself at stud.
Even the crocus saffrons
For the sensualizing sun.
The vernal equinox spawns
Estrus among the mares.
Sap thaws solidity.
So if you want me
I'll love you.
in stalactite caves
thalidomide stories
while ice-breakers
dull their prows.
Heaps of outdated slate
are stacked in guarded piles.
July's ice-age
has refrigerated
all the left-overs.
And even though Friday's meat
has been taken out of the freezer
still fly-cast on the ice.
Marvis Tutiah is in graduate studies at the University of Manitoba.
80 Ugo Betti, who died in 1953, was Italy's leading playwright in the generation
that followed Pirandello. He also published three collections of short stories,
three poetry collections, and a novel. Michael Bullock: see page 92.
I he I eople of the
Via Lungagna
Translated from the Italian by Michael Bullock
In the old part of the town of S in those days there was a street,
the Via Lungagna, full of laundries and above all of taverns whose
globes lit up as evening fell. It was interrupted by irregular squares
with narrow, peeling houses showing faint traces of the colours they
had once been painted — green, pink, yellow — rendered delicate
by the rain. As soon as the weather began to improve, the women
brought out chairs and an incredible number of children emerged
from the doorways.
I had been living in the Via Lungagna for some time, occupying a
furnished room which I shared with two other tenants. One of these
was a tall man with curly grey hair, who went out early in the
morning, before I was awake, and when he came back in the evening — very late — quickly went to bed, almost without looking at
us, as though he despised us.
The other tenant, with whom, on the contrary, I struck up a
friendship, was a light-hearted, helpful lad named Leandro. No
one, seeing him so broad-shouldered, would have guessed that he
was a barber's assistant; the only things about him that were typical
of a barber were his hands, which were very fat, soft and hot, so
that it almost made you shudder to touch them. The room was
curiously large, with quite fine, clean furniture. On one of the chests
of drawers, in a rectangular glass urn, among white and yellow
flowers, lay a Christ Child also of wax, pink, with wide-open blue
eyes, wrapped tightly in silvered swaddling clothes. I spent some
beautiful months in the Via Lungagna at that time. Everyone knew
81 me and used to tell me they liked me, because I had a friendly,
kind face.
In those days the thing the people of Via Lungagna thought and
talked about most was love. The thin, frantic little girls — still with
no bust and dressed in rags — each chose a boy, and when he passed
they used to smile at him, brazenly shouting compliments at him
and then stopping to look at him and impudently answer him back
when he spoke to them. At first the boys would laugh at them, sometimes going up to them and burning them with their cigarettes;
then, one evening, they could be seen chatting together in some
corner, and soon afterwards everyone knew those two were in love.
When darkness began to fall, the most beautiful girls who had
taken to a bad life came out and walked quickly away wearing
smart blouses. The wives in slippers, sitting with legs apart outside
their doorways, passed rude comments, using filthy words, as though
resentful at having lost their youth so soon. Sometimes they too
would fall ill with love or jealousy; then they went about with their
hair oiled and curled, their thin faces covered in rouge, their eyes
desperate and burning. From their houses came the sound of quarrels, the savage thud of blows and then their wails like the cries of
butchered animals.
The young girl loved by Leandro was called the Little Moor and
was employed as a dressmaker. She often used to come during the
day and sit right outside our house. She was very short but very
well proportioned and attractive, with a big bosom, very dark, shiny
hair always carefully combed, a round, white face and eyes that
were a bit on the round side but beautiful and dark. Every now
and then Leandro would come into the room and ask me if I could
go out for a moment. The Little Moor would be waiting outside
with downcast eyes and an expression almost of contemptuous nonchalance on her white face that seemed shadowed here and there,
livid. Leandro also smiled at me with a kind of embarrassed, melancholy humility. I went out and roamed around, not returning until
The Little Moor often used to come out and sew in the street,
sitting on a chair with her companions. From there, if I was at the
window or standing in the doorway, she would gaze at me for a
long time, look away, then stare at me without lowering her eyes,
so that I became embarrassed. Sometimes they would all sing together, in low voices. I could distinguish the Little Moor's voice
among the others; it was a contralto and seemed caressing, limpid,
when she sang. By contrast, when she spoke it was a bit husky, like
82 everyone's voice in Via Lungagna, I don't know why. In Via Lungagna, generally, people fall ill very easily; there was a constant
coming and going to and from the hospital, which was very near
by, in a big, old convent built of dark brick.
Towards March, when the evenings were beginning to get warm,
the seamstresses used to remain sitting on their chairs for a while
after the day's work was done, watching the fights go on in the
taverns; one or two of the young girls used to come along, and sometimes Leandro too, who was returning from work, often in my
company. Leandro was always full of jokes and the seamstresses —
especially when he came out with certain ambiguous obscene remarks— used to kill themselves laughing; the only one who remained silent was the Little Moor.
One evening at a certain moment I felt a warm little hand resting on mine.
I realized at once that it was hers and I actually felt a slight surprise that she had a hand that was so tender, a little moist. I found
it hard to breathe and a great feeling of pleasure passed through me.
Later it happened again. Some evenings it was I who went and
stood beside her, some evenings it was she who, bit by bit, without
attracting attention, managed to move across to where I was. No
one noticed, the seamstresses went on laughing, and after a bit I
felt that hand come to rest on mine and stay there. I had difficulty
in breathing and a great feeling of pleasure passed through my
whole body.
Although I would never have spoken to the Little Moor of my
own accord, I began to realize that I loved her, and when I woke
during the night I thought of her, then I thought of Leandro whose
breathing I could distinguish in the same room, and I thought of
killing him, trying to imagine how I could do it without being found
out and condemned. For the most part, however, I was weighed
down by a continual and very painful melancholy. Above all, it
was Leandro's affection for me that made me feel remorse. He took
me with him everywhere and talked to me at length about his feelings for the girl. On certain evenings, in order to talk about her at
his ease, he would go for a walk with me and knowing how hard-up
I was he would stop at some stall lit by an acetylene lamp and buy
me a morello cherry ice.
The syrup, so red as to seem almost black, spread slowly through
the crushed ice, sparkling like snow, while I wondered how I could
kill him. He went on talking about his love and little by little I
realized that Leandro, in spite of his gay nature, stood in awe of
83 the Little Moor, who inspired in him a kind of melancholy. But
this, instead of pleasing me, made me too feel intimidated, almost
When summer came, Leandro and I got into the habit of going
for a swim in the river every Sunday, in a remote, lonely spot known
as the Bishop's Well, where the current, at a bend, spun round and
then settled in a patch of almost stationary water, leaden-grey and
cold, which was said to be immensely deep and where we had room
to swim. The path to this spot ran along a grassy bank between overhanging vegetation, on the one side fields full of trees, on the other
poplars, reeds, willows. As we passed the houses of peasants, deserted
in the glorious afternoon, we sometimes used to look into the rooms
from the height of the bank and see women in petticoats dressing.
We stopped and made signs to them. When we reached the Bishop's
Well we undressed and dived in.
It was a silent place; there was nothing to be seen but a reedbed
and deserted riverbanks dotted with bushes, looking somehow naked,
mournful. Higher up, where the river spread out over the gravel,
we sometimes saw young peasant girls bathing in long petticoats.
We shouted to them to come down to us; they laughed and swore
at us. Then they went away and silence returned. After this we
swam, but always with a touch of fear, because we imagined we
could feel on our legs, in that opaque water, the icy touch of some
trailing root which, according to Leandro, could have knotted itself round a foot and made us drown. It seemed that this had happened more than once just here.
One day I decided either to tell Leandro everything or to kill
him. After swimming for a while we stretched out, dripping wet,
naked, on a small patch of sand. Lying on my back I looked up at
the pale blue sky.
In the silence I could hear a small bird trilling softly among the
reeds. Turning over on one side, Leandro tried to imitate it. He
whistled quietly and gazed thoughtfully, abstractedly down at the
sand. His eyes were dotted with yellow, dismal; they made me think
of sheep.
I lay down again; my heart was pounding.
After a little, I realized that he had fallen asleep; he was lying
face down; the hair on his back and between his shoulder-blades
was still wet with little drops of water on it. I could have killed him
with a blow, then let him slither down into the Bishop's Well and
started yelling. I rolled over onto my back again. I saw a tiny sickle
moon in the sky and began to feel sleepy. Suddenly I was filled
84 with hatred for Leandro and for the Little Moor, but especially for
the Little Moor. It was because of them that I was unhappy; I
thought that I never wanted to see them again, I wanted to remain
like this for ever, stretched out on my back, alone, quiet, and rest.
I wanted to fly up into the air, become the moon and never think
Soon after this the Little Moor fell ill. Several weeks had passed;
one Sunday I went with Leandro to see the Little Moor in hospital.
At the entrance they felt our pockets to make sure we weren't carrying liquor or cigarettes. A lot of people came in carrying sweets,
oranges, well-ironed handkerchiefs for the sweat. The women's
ward was the old nave of a church, whitewashed, with big windows
and a smell of soup everywhere. From the beds the women watched
us pass with a fixed, shameless stare. As it was visiting day they
had all painted their thin cheeks and their lips a reddish purple;
perhaps they had used the foil that some chocolates had been wrapped in.
The Little Moor's cheeks and lips were also a violet red. She
spoke a little in her husky voice, without looking at me.
Then, little by little, there began to rise in me, as if starting from
the stomach, a great grief and also a desire, almost an anguish, to
feel her hand on mine, imagining that it would be much moister
than in the past, sweaty, burning.
I had put my hand on the edge of the bed; I wanted to die.
At a certain moment, as though bored, she turned over on the
pillow and stopped answering when we spoke to her. The nurse
told us it was time to go, so we left.
Meanwhile winter had returned. It had become a habit of mine
to spend the afternoons in a laundry which was so well heated that
the girls were half naked under their white aprons. You could see
they had good, plump figures. When they passed there was always
someone who gave them a slap; you could hear a loud smack and
the girls laughed. There used to be several people who spent the
hours crowded together on a bench telling stories. That was a lovely
85 Two Poems by Joy Kogawa
There's this no-good typewriter
On this ridiculously high narrow plant stand
In front of the store on a slanted hill
And no matter how you try
Flicking the ribbon lever from white to black
To red and pound and back-space
The word 'understand' won't come through.
There's this typewriter sliding off
The plant stand and all the messed up
Papers mushing up the gears
And the invisible word punched on
And the whole heave-ho dropping
Like dung down a huge hole
Full of starving people —
And all the time the man in the store
Lines his shelves with fresh bread.
This business of jumping into bed with everyone —
It's almost becoming a past issue finally — make sense?
I mean, I'm in a great big roomy bed
And I can't spend my whole lifetime sleeping and
— sorry, I can't use that word yet — in other words
It hasn't really yet become a past issue but
It almost is — anyway, here I am in this bed
At a level of reality and honesty that — so help me —
Is covered with responsibility and I'm really
Being snowed by love and being female —
Hating and loving and hurting and so on
And this whole big deal means that
Love owns me but I haven't discovered
A way to jump out of this big bed without
Jumping into others — there's surely more
To living than staying in a bed — but maybe
I'm supposed to be here forever, do you think?
Jov Kogawa's poems have appeared in Prism international and other journals;
Fiddlehead Press brought out some of her work in 1967 as a chapbook, The
Splintered Moon. She lives in Saskatchewan.
87 Two Poems by Joan Finnigan
You lived in the sun, yet would not look at it
you never came to the long whole stretches of flats
between the sea and the woods
where the evenness runs between boredom
and clarity
you advised and consented; yet never for yourself
all those lost psyches found in the closed parlours
of the lecherous grandmothers
but never your own
with turn, turn language
and heavy sweat on your arm-pits
and those masterly manipulations
you mapped the INSIDE
but yourself floundered and threshed about
on the lost roads
that ended in the evil flowers of the swamps
and quagmires
your intellectual deliberations were
an unqualified evasion
of the childhood you couldn't remember
when you meet the rat in the basement
it is dark
and you must feel your way with your hands
and when you sight the fiery mendala
you are blinded with a mass of light
and you must feel your way with your hands
and I think perpetually now not of your dead HEART
(for no one could get directions to that place,
not even yourself)
88 but of your dead mind, knowledge to nothing
and brilliance to nothing and the evolution
of a life-saving technique
to nothing
Night after night in the student's quarters
when you were at medical school
I sat and listened to you grind the memorization
of tomes into your bones
and I would rail
and am powerless to rail
always our tears disguise the total inadequacy
of our proper rage against the alienation
of islands
I think you were happiest in water;
the river was your favorite archetype
but we must all crawl onto the land eventually
to the woods and the mountains and the deserts
and to the long whole stretches of flats
where the evenness runs between boredom
and clarity
but you, after a long swim,
always seemed to arrive at an island
and I have your children here now;
what lies shall I tell them about your final results?
how shall I make the boys into men
when they have seen the labels from the bottles?
how shall I teach them about love
when the basic statement
from generation to generation
has been one of hate?
wherever you are now, did you hear the likeness son
cry out at the news,
"How could he do this to me?"
even at twelve sons can smell castration
and I am supposed to be sculptor now,
every day turning the wheel to new images
and new answers
89 but I am only a woman —
as you yourself used to say
the problem is not to give our lives meaning
but to give our deaths meaning
and these are the children you seeded
and regretted
and there are the situations of fife
you misinterpreted
and ended
and this is the memory
of your defensive humour
all down the hospital corridors
where you worked
and who at the parties shall ever hear again
"Where have all the flowers gone?" .. .
Perpetually I see gratitude in your old office,
the tears of the patients at whose birth
you attended when they were forty,
courage you lit in people who had to learn
to live on the outside without love,
the hatred of a house exorcised
in a microcosm,
the Oedipal curse, broken by recognition
who, seeing you at the door of your office,
greeting, prescribing, directing your secretary,
who sitting before you in the salvation chair
who giving you his trust before shock treatment
who, who could ever believe our private murders
or the possibility of this revenge?
Today I can do nothing but think
that the first snow blows
over your grave and I walk the house
with a heart that knows
with my wrecked heart that knows
nothing, and something, and all
the paradoxes that come clear to us
on the landscape after leaf-fall
in what wide worlds do these children live
that they can with such joy greet
a first snow that folds your freezing hands
and further stills your feet?
and in what strange world do I belong
still struggling with disbelief,
integration of loss and agony and guilt
and the guilt of relief?
this city is sharpened with places that hurt
and memory is a bleeding sun;
not love but ambivalence is the knot
remains in death undone
out of the north-west, obscuring the trees
larger, swifter the snow-flakes loom; ■—•
by what later snows shall I learn to accept
your choice to return to the womb?
your choice to go into your longed-for woods
beyond this child's sound, that child's touch —
Oh, I always knew you were in love with death
but not that much. No. Not that much.
Joan Finnigan lives in Ontario. Yes magazine has brought out a special issue
of her poetry, and her work has appeared in other Canadian journals.
91 Michael Bullock is a playwright, fiction writer and poet, with four poetry
volumes in print. He has translated over 70 books and plays, including the
complete works of Max Frisch, many contemporary German and French
poets, and poetry by Mao Tse-tung. He lives in London where he edits and
publishes Expression. His translation of a story by Ugo Betti appears in this
issue, and he has also appeared in other numbers.
A Man, A Girl
and A Door
Noire has left Blanche and is now living in a two-roomed flat on
the fifth floor of a six-storey house in a narrow one-way street in
town, so full of parked cars that it is difficult to drive down it even
one way.
There is nothing unusual about this flat apart from the door,
which changes colour with the mood of the occupant. Unfortunately,
ever since Noire moved in it has mostly been black. This is sad, and
I feel obliged to do all I can to change Noire's mood and thereby
the colour of the door.
My first attempts consist in the expenditure of a vast mass of
words, which sink to the ground and collect on the floor in the
shape of little white objects like plastic snowflakes or flower petals.
They can be picked up in handfuls and used for dusting the furniture, but when the accumulation becomes too great they have to be
gathered up and thrown out of the window. They flutter down to
the ground and lie scattered about the pavement, the roofs of the
cars and the roadway, creating what appears to me a curiously
Japanese effect, recalling the second and third of the three major
beauties of nature:  tsuki hana yuki — moon, blossoms and snow.
However, effective as they may be in beautifying the street outside, my words have little or no effect on Noire's mood. This may
be partly due to my impatience to check my success by objective
criteria — namely a change in the colour of the door (to pink perhaps?) — which causes me to keep running out to look at it. This
92 action on my part not only interrupts the flow of my discourse, but
leads Noire to suspect that my encouraging words are aimed less at
bringing her comfort than at demonstrating my power to influence
her mind. As a result, any effect I may have had is immediately
dissipated, and by the time I am outside the door it is already black
again — if it ever changed.
Convinced that a purely verbal approach will never change the
colour of the door, I decide to take Noire to the Botanical Gardens
for the day. It is Sunday. I arrive at Noire's flat at about eleven
in the morning. Looking closely at the door I ask myself whether it
is not a shade less black than when I last saw it — dark-grey, perhaps? Or at the very least, off-black? But in my heart of hearts I
know only too well that this is merely a trick of the light and that
in reality the colour of the door, and hence Noire's mood, remains
When I go into the flat I find Noire in her underclothes ironing
her slacks. I notice that her panties are also black, like the door, but
with touches of red. I think about this very deeply and wonder if
it might be possible to operate in reverse; that is to say, to add a
touch of colour to the door and thereby influence Noire's mood,
instead of vice versa. Since Noire is a painter, it is easy to find a
tube of red paint and a brush. Taking them outside, I put a few
dabs of paint here and there on the door. I stand back for a moment
to look at the effect of my work and observe that if all the dabs
were joined up they would form the outline of a huge spider, or
possibly a crab — it is hard to be sure.
Pondering the significance of this, I quickly go inside to inspect
Noire's face for signs of a change of mood —■ but no, her expression
is as sombre as ever. I go outside again: the door is as pure, unbroken black as when I arrived. Not a trace of red remains. So my
hopes in that direction are dashed and my promising theory totally
disproved. But I am still optimistic about the result of our trip to
the Botanical Gardens.
By the time I am back inside the flat Noire has finished her ironing and is ready to go out. As soon as we are in the car and driving
towards the Gardens, Noire's mood improves. She begins to talk in
quite a lively manner, and although what she says is permeated
with complaints of all kinds they are made with a certain self-
deprecating humour which largely offsets their plaintive character.
I am strongly tempted to turn round and drive back to the flat to
see whether the door shows any change of colour, but it occurs to
me that the door may very likely operate as a mood barometer only
93 when the occupant of the flat is actually inside; moreover, this evidence of my obsessive preoccupation with her current mood might
very possibly affect Noire adversely and undo the good achieved by
taking her away from her solitary lair and moving her at speed
through the world outside (the reasons I adduce for her relative
So we continue our journey. Naturally, I do not share my
thoughts with Noire, but assent politely to her comments on her life
and its problems, and draw her attention to the beauties of nature
in the shape of the autumnal foliage of the trees, which Noire seems
genuinely to appreciate.
We reach the Gardens and I pay 6d at the turnstile, reflecting
that this is a good investment if the visit brings about a radical and
lasting change in Noire's state of mind. If it fails to do this, at least
the Gardens' melancholy, end-of-the-year beauty may inspire me to
write a poem which may then be sold, perhaps for dollars — and
thus ... It strikes me that my meditations have taken a slightly
mercenary turn, out of keeping with the noble and humane mission
on which I am engaged. I compose my mind to a loftier frame of
reference and once more draw Noire's attention to the beauties of
nature, this time in the shape of a cluster of mauve chrysanthemums.
Her eyes light up with a momentary pleasure and I congratulate
myself on the dawning success of my efforts.
I am deeply moved by the beauty of the Gardens and become
vividly aware of how very well Noire, with her long black hair,
rust-red slacks and oatmeal sweater, fits into the scenery. I listen to
the birds in the trees and the rustle of the leaves. Aki no oka ha, I
think to myself, red autumn leaves. I try, fairly successfully, to
ignore the rather excessive number of visitors to the Gardens, and
feel that life is really quite good. The word idyllic comes to mind.
After strolling about under the trees, along a rhododendron dell,
devoid of blossoms, of course, and past a clump of bamboos that
give the Gardens a pleasantly exotic note, we come to a reed-fringed
pond, shaded in places by weeping willows and with a few late
waterlilies still glowing red and white on their green coverlets.
"There ought to be a haiku there," I say, taking care to pronounce
all three syllables. "Yes," says Noire, "yes. I'm sure there is," and
then: "The weeping willow on the banks of the lake / laughs to see
its reflection / distorted in the ripples." I am delighted by this swift
and creative response to my suggestion and feel that the content of
the verse is indicative of a very positive frame of mind. If only I
could see the door! Not to be outdone, I cap this with: "The eye
94 of the pond / within its lashes of reeds / reflects the changing sky."
Noire claps her hands in appreciation.
After strolling a little longer, we have lunch at a cafeteria, then
go into some of the hothouses, revelling in the warmth of the houses
and the exotic vegetation, so redolent of far-off places we have seen
and remember or would like to see so that we can remember.
Then back to the car and home to Noire's flat. All the way back
I am thinking to myself how wonderful it will be to see her door
transformed into some bright and glowing colour. Pink, perhaps?
Or orange? Impossible to foresee.
Back in the narrow one-way street, I park the car with difficulty.
Then we go in through the entrance door and mount the five flights
of stairs. As we approach the fifth floor I almost hold my breath
with tense anticipation. What colour will it be?
When we reach the fifth-floor landing and see the door, it is —
black! I swallow my disappointment and tell myself that obviously
the door only operates when the tenant of the flat is inside.
We go in and I quickly dodge out again to look at the door. It
is — still black.
Shrugging my shoulders philosophically I go back inside, borrow
a dustpan and brush, sweep up the remnants of my words lying
about the floor in the form of plastic snowflakes and petals and
throw them out of the window.
When I leave, some hours later, and drive away through the dark
streets I am filled with a mixture of satisfaction and rancour. A
pleasant day charitably and creatively spent, and not without its
gratifications, though marred by Noire's almost unremitting gloom.
Ah well, I think to myself, there's always tomorrow, and I have
come away one, if not two, haiku the richer!
Locally the smokestacks are red,
Which, I believe, signifies something
to the wild geese.
You'll have a cognac?
Red's a considerable color, on the sides
of factories, on water mains, on wire
— on bruised lips, to tell the truth.
I always turn to you, you see: red's the color
of the uncertainty of possession.
There's a grove of trees beyond, that's true,
old colors and sounds of steamers,
But we'll never again be so well matched
against these walls (against our mutual
I sometimes wish we'd be as frank as furnaces.
But I see your point, of course.    We confuse
ourselves with clarity.
And I apologize. These questions of color
prematurely risk what little's left of
Joseph Margolis is currently Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. His poems have appeared in Prism international and other
96 Two Poems by Parm Mayer
I    Wearing Wax Breasts
All mellow-robed
you sit propped up by pillowed air,
cranked to tame the earth;
nibble tender books;
listen to the bleat of pastured men;
view only proper gestures
through a proper windowpane.
You fondle saffron fruit;
suckle pale-lipped flowers;
perform unvarying histories
in your dreams.
Once you looked longingly
(with your surpliced eye)
at a curbside model made of flesh.
Then quickly masked your genitals
and started counting
the parochial signals of your beads.
II    Let Flesh Clap Hands
Uncross yourself;
pound bongo on more muscular drums;
hack jackstone from a stiff-edge cliff.
Ring bells that are wild
and hungry for ringing;
sound horns that tumble walls
and dust old worlds down.
Nude now, outside your mirror:
Stand intoxicated with what is red inside;
occur in the hot glare
of what is fused with flesh;
turn to the carnal whistling
that is me.
Like carrying news
to doors banged shut.    Or trying
to space what slowly drifts
since birth.    Looking now
for lost pages from a book;
pictures tilted on an attic wall.
The block was a square clock
forever rewinding itself, thus appearing
never to run down.    A sober numbering
announced that the world we five in
and the world we once lived in
are years from being one.
Going on from there,
he tried to decide what slows down
the race; and will humanity
eventually take shape again.    He named
places paths once crossed, and situations
that had grown useless.
A walked street is longer, he thought,
and houses stand still when you're on foot.
And bushes hold their shape in eyes
that are not racing down a road.
And ears hear better,
if sounds wait for you to listen.
There, a deep-eyed man
plagued with an old despair, died
without trying to defend himself.    And
there a married woman preachers praised,
stood with ready buttocks
and told him with a look she would.
98 And now, who once lived there,
before the man was wounded;
when he could read the rooms
in Emsley's house they rented;
and there was no need
to steady the breathing of his world.
There, his sons were born
(in that room), crying out the hour
he'd waited for.    And the doctor said
what he'd fallen to his knees to ask
about the woman on the bed
and the wet fife in his hands.
And camera, quick, to catch
what swings high and laughs;
what will never return riding great events
on new red wagon wheels;
what blows its breath against small years
candled on a birthday cake.
Other lamentations, too:
paper hats and horns to amplify caprice;
a broken arm to re-define
what's held too tight.    To see a robin
and so be first to speak of signs
that promised one more Spring.
But he puzzled why he'd come:
to bleed from gut; to retch at what
stared dead-eyed through a windowpane.
And let the calling from the porch
think it was someone
he didn't recognize.
Like when
there's something in your eye
that's out of season.
Parm Mayer has had poems in numerous journals and in the anthology Heartland; for two years he helped edit Voices. At present he is associate professor
and resident writer at the Michigan campus of Northwood Institute.
99 Brian Shein's first story was in our 7:2. His play, Kafka, appeared in 7:3.
He is a student at the University of British Columbia.
Like myself, the planet is ancient. Desert and swampland cover its
surface. I took refuge here and survived; I burned beneath its
hideous double sun, inhaled its vapours, ate sand, drank poison, slept
among its crushed metallic rocks and its acrid wind. My memories
were of perilous escapes, occult knowledge, the necropolis of the
exiles, the smell of burned-out worlds, the violence of atoms and the
infinite horrors of interstellar space — of those and of my crimes
and of my name which in all languages is translated "The Curser."
I took refuge here and survived. I rested and regained my
strength. Then the sand grew beneath my feet as I shaped it; the
wind responded to my touch and I began to control the energies
of those deserts, those marshes and those rocks. My powers were
I despised that waste planet to which I was now doomed. To
amuse myself, I conceived of a city in the midst of that desperately
sterile world and conceived of it as an immense and utterly grotesque hell. I reasoned thus: I will create a deformity and populate
it in its turn with deformed creatures. They and their city will be
hateful by all the laws of order known to me, their limbs twisted
at random, their dreams askew, their language a senseless babble.
Their gardens will be a mockery, their streets and buildings a vile
and lunatic shambles. They will be formed in inversion and distortion, their generations will proceed by sickening chance, unpredictable to them and unknowable even to myself. The son will be
a parody of the father, brother will not recognize brother. Like the
planet, they will be ultimately waste and I, invisible to them, will
Like the Mephite Ptah, like the Surantian Lhysid — ancient
powers, old names across the planets — the conception stirred in
100 my blood, my mind turned it about and I spoke. I uttered the
existence of the city Segrob (which has no meaning in any language), and it appeared before me, cancerous. It arose from the
sand of the swamps, I made its creatures which I cannot now describe for to do so would be to multiply their number needlessly and
that I cannot bear to do. Suffice it to say, they were unspeakably
marred; like the city, cancerous. And I laughed.
But then I thought: these creatures must somehow learn of their
condition, so that their suffering will make the city a very hell and
their suffering will be as grotesque as they are in my eyes. They
must know and be helpless. I determined to erect, in the desert to
the south of Segrob, an obelisk on which I would inscribe the history of their creation for them to discover. And I would write it in
such words that they could eventually decipher its meaning, if they
That would be far in the future. I devoted myself to forming the
words of their epitaph and to regaining my strength, for the making of that despicable metropolis and its inhabitants had sapped my
energies. The cycle of their generations, the machinery of their time
meant nothing to me: I divined that on that planet, beneath its
hideous double sun, I was literally immortal. I waited. I rested.
The words of the obelisk are sacred symbols. I conceived of one
word at the end of each of their solar years and had composed the
following: i make known that i came to this planet from . ..
when a circumstance caused me to strike those words from the
obelisk. I had discovered the scar.
The scar was and still is imprinted on the instep of my left foot.
It is not large; I had never noticed it before. It is a brand, a symbol
of some kind that means nothing to me. I asked myself, what had
it to do with my exploits, the worlds I had traversed and the exiles
I had undergone? Yet it was not recent, but, like myself and like
the planet, old. And while the creatures of Segrob procreated and
spread their city and their number like a plague across that noxious
world, I puzzled over the scar until finally I grasped its meaning.
I did not know whence I had come to this planet. Those memories
of mine were false, inconsistent and for all I knew impossible; beneath the dreamlike vividness of their surface I shuddered to discern
the structures of Segrob, and beneath the structures of Segrob I
perceived the outlines of the planet itself.
I am no coward. This, I reasoned, is what took place: my powers,
that had seemed so great, were nothing but the result of a fortuitous
combination:  some stranded being from another world and the
101 planet itself. Its forms, its forces and potentials — incomprehensible
on any other world, beyond my understanding — lay dormant beneath the sand and the marshes, its energies stirred restlessly beneath the glare of its double sun. The planet had no means to realize
these forms until the arrival — from where, and why? — of such
a being as myself, or rather such a being as I used to be before the
planet bled my strength. And somehow the planet, the atmosphere
itself and the ground beneath my feet, imposed upon me those false
memories of hatred and exile, hatred so great that I was impelled
to create what the planet willed. For what I did could not have
been done with love: the sacred words had to be curses, the city had
to be for me a vile jest.
The scar was the sole remnant of my former life. That brand
could have been, if not removed, then disguised by some alien
memory. I could have been left in ignorance but the scar remained
as a reminder. It was meant to remain, a sign such as my obelisk
was intended to be, a sign that I would eventually decipher, if I
dared. I dared, and hatred is no longer a false memory. The Curser
is indeed my name.
My powers, whatever they were, have left me. When I have done
with these words, I will remain eternally helpless, eternally waste.
There is no escape. I do not laugh now.
The scientists of Segrob develop new means of harnessing the
energies of the planet for their own inexplicable purposes. More
cities will appear. The population grows and each generation is
more repulsive than the former. The planet will swarm with their
life. Eventually I will be compelled to live in their midst, invisible;
they will not perceive my presence but theirs will drive me mad.
Yet they are not unaware of my existence. The priests of Segrob
teach that, while their own kind must eventually die, there is one
living on the planet — a god — who is immortal and exists in a
state of what I can only call hell. I am their god, their creator, and
I am in hell: so the priests declare, the people believe and I know.
Their rituals for me are of laughter and of torment and I suffer
beyond belief.
These words I utter and inscribe on an obelisk to the south of
Segrob. These words are a curse, while they to whom I gave form,
they whom I despise and curse, inscribe these words through me as
a cruel mockery of my eternal, impotent and ignominious rage.
I was a smuggler's aide in Algeciras,
And, oh, there was wine and there were roses,
And I didn't get some, kiss my ass,
Because I drove like thunder, round the bay
Six times, three round trips that day,
Carting some Louis Quatorze furniture jazz
From Gibraltar, under the customs' noses.
We passed "Take Courage" signs in every block,
But beer, no beer, no baboons on the Rock.
The simple groundwork had been laid for weeks:
She stuffed our car and mouths and tweeds with leeks.
No customs man would dare get six feet near us
When I was a smuggler's aide in Algeciras.
Richard Sale has published poems and reviews variously. He teaches at North
Texas State University.
103 Chet Taylor won the graduate fiction award at the University of Texas in
1965. Since then his stories have appeared in many periodicals. He is currently
teaching at the University of Oregon, and intends to complete a novel this
summer in the Dominican Republic.
The Last of the
Renaissance Men
Cars are like women: they sell better under the lights where there's
the illusion that they're not completely broken in. It was the way the
long string of bulbs danced beneath the deeply waxed hoods like a
thousand new world moons; then, too, she had been there then.
Five, six years ago he had watched the fuzzy golden globes in their
pools beyond touch, with blurring edges as though viewed through
smudged glass; he standing there with the torn-out classified section
ripped in one motion leaving a long tapering absurd tail. Perhaps
he thought that decisiveness was a symptom of knowledge. When
he first put his hand on her breast she did not pull away but merely
requested that there not be any fumbling. If things were that good
why did they not seem so then, then when her nipples were angry
blooming brown flowers.
Outside the protective air-conditioning the negro porter slaps his
chamois over the just-hosed cars spreading the water beads into a
defenseless thin film that is sucked up by the brittle morning sun,
already hot, that if not viewed through protective shading pushes
pain into the backs of the eyes. The trick is to look indirectly. The
porter arches and the chamois hangs for a moment spread full in
the air like a cast net before comes the slapping and the squeaking
of the follow through.
The Judge is talking to both of them but really to Smith for
Smith is the new man and all new men listen closely at first. / was
walking down tired iron row here when I see this repo'ed Chevy,
only two years old but already with over eighty thousand miles on
104 it. The owner had taken off right after the downpayment and they
never found the car until it broke down. I finally get the price down
to three hundred and figure to make a real killing. I run want ads
out of my apartment until some mexicans show up and drive it
around the block under the streetlights. They could not tell the
actual mileage as I had paid a mechanic a fiver to turn it back to
twenty thousand. The rods are knocking real bad and left an oil
track on the pavement but the mexicans really like the four ninety-
five price and leave me a hundred cash deposit. The next morning
they all show up, the whole family, with the inevitable relative
claiming to be a mechanic. He circles the car a few times shaking
his head like an expert and the family bunches all together and
jabbers in Spanish. The guy comes to me and says the car is in
terrible condition and they want their deposit back. I tell the flakes
right then and there that the deal has already been made and that
the deposit would be forfeited. Hell, that's what a deposit is for.
Did they think I was a branch bank? There is much yelling and I
think for awhile there is going to be trouble but I was younger then
and had them kind of scared so it finally comes out that I make
myself an easy hundred. But I still have a car that was a mess.
Being an amateur I made a lousy buy. Being an amateur that was
the only possibility. I finally sell it for the original three hundred
plus an old Olds that runs good but looks lousy. I put a twenty-nine
dollar baked enamel job on it and ten dollar seat covers and resell
it for two seventy-five the next week. I was hooked and been in the
business ever since.
The Judge was then as he is now except that now he has prostate
trouble and no longer takes Phyllis to the back office with the leather
couch on afternoons when the lot is empty. His pants are pulled
high over his belly leaving the sheet white skin of his ankles showing. Large soggy patches fan out on his white long-sleeved shirt
under the armpits, and in the back a network of raised ridges cling
like a relief map. A huge belly accumulates thickly and pouches out
over the constraining belt. A short wet cigar. Stubby pencil behind
the ear. Bald but for a fringe. Tie loose. Collar open. The Judge.
Smitty gets the talk that all new men get. Look at the sign above
the door, boy. GTM. Get The Money. You will read that everytime
you walk out to sell a car. Smitty nods. We pay for results only.
By commission. We got no positions here, just jobs. We take no risks
and the flakes weed themselves out after going hungry for a few
weeks. Auto salesmen are a transient bunch. Milo here says it is
economic natural selection, whatever that is. I just know I don't
105 have to pay nothing unless I get more than I pay. Smitty nodding.
He heard the same thing before when he had first come and often
since. It is fair because nobody gets any special deals. I'd give Judas
and Eichmann both a job if they could sell. Milo here is a strange
one but he can sell with the best of them and I've grown used to
him around. It is now like it was then. The wounded flourescent
fixture still flickers too swiftly to be authenticated breaking a con-
tinuam into fleeting fragments. Never mind filling out no forms,
boy, they're only a substitute for thinking. Smitty nodding. Just remember, son, you didn't make those cars, you're just selling them.
You're a car man now and if you let up on the cripples and lift up
the floor mats to show where the frame has rusted through or let
on that ten minutes before you saw the porter scooping solid grease
into the crankcase then you're the cripple. From outside, from the
heat, comes the slapping. Soon the clouds must come in from the
ocean, massed rumbling banks moving quickly with their underbellies swollen dark with moisture. It is for such that there is the
waiting. All business is notes now. We carry our own notes and
the hidden interest is gravy. But don't sell to anyone living in the
country. Cars disappear in the country. And no lawyers, absolutely
no lawyers. No one who works for a lawyer, no one that has a
lawyer for a relative, and no one that has a relative that works for
a lawyer. Then the rain will ping like a million silver bells on the
overheated, respectable-looking family sedans and the slant-lined
hardtops soothing their submerged stirrings down the long rows
stretching half a city block. Then the dust will bead up into tiny
balls and be washed clean from everywhere and the air will be
friendly and cool the way it must have been when she was there only
he had not known it could be otherwise and had not been aware of
any other possibility. Remember that your time is money and learn
to use it selling and not waste it on the tire kickers who only want
some free attention. Shrug off the flakes, the check-back-laters. Get
the money. Smith nodding. The pinging of bells like the Centuries
of Music albums she left. He listened in the evenings to the crude
percussions and simple melodies from the Renaissance flutes that
fleshed out in the succeeding ages into complexes of intricacy and
movement until now even the possible combination of sounds had
increased with the new dissonances which he had not learned to
appreciate yet. He had never thought he was through developing;
the thought that he might be scares him like the fear that is there
when he reads the defeatist arguments that there is no final form.
The use of a car comes with the job. Take your pick every night
106 off the lot. It's a free ride around here. Outside the slapping makes
the strings of lights, now naked rather than nude, quiver along
their daylight-grotesque skeleton strands. Outside the pinging would
come and with the pinging would come the silver bells.
For a real education watch an operation like Crazy Alexander's.
A salesman gives the customer a "special deal" and then, in front
of the cripple, notifies the sales manager who screams to high
heaven. After a great show of reluctance the sales manager finally
relents and explains to the customer that the salesman has made a
great mistake and that the price is far too low but that since the
salesman is their representative they will do the honorable thing
and back up the price he quoted. For a change of pace the salesman gets violent and tells the cripple that he can't possibly lower
the price. Then he stomps off. The sales manager waves the cripple
over to his office and all but scrapes the floor in apologizing to him
for the salesman's behaviour, and, he explains, to preserve their
reputation and build goodwill he will knock another hundred off
the price. Those boys make us look crude when it comes to hustling.
What an operation! Five blocks of merchandise!
He laughs and he feels the asthma in his chest choke the sound
into whistling gusts. It's the air the Judge says. The air. There's
bad air everywhere. He knows he looks like a man in his mid-
thirties which he is, but he regrets he does not look like a successful
man in his mid-thirties. Perhaps that was why she was no longer
with him. He did not like to be deceived by appearance and knew
that there must be more but most did not know this. He tried to
explain these things to her in long handwritten letters that went
each month with the check while at the same time he tried to understand them himself but all that came back were the cancelled checks
in his bank balance. He liked to see her endorsement, the smooth
flowing curves of her name.
When you make a sale just turn the cripple over to Phyllis and
she'll fill in the forms. Forms are not a man's work and besides, she
has a way of making them think that maybe she's part of the package
and they never notice the insurance charges, the interest on the
notes, and the padded carrying charges. That is Phyllis Lay. The
Judge mispronounces her last name and both he and the Judge
cackle. He sees Smith turn and look at the obese young woman
behind the typewriter. Short but quite fat. Heavy lips. Tight kinked
hair so that her flaccid cheeks that grow heavy with a matted silky
fuzz and the gross fleshiness of her neck are unshielded. Her availability hangs as easily and obviously from her as does her handbag
107 yet so is it detached but he does not know from what it is detached.
He is not fooled by externals. Phyllis protests but is pleased by the
attention. She explains to Smith that it is spelled 1-e-i-g-h and rhymes
with tree. And with free. His laughter becomes a thin wheezing
while the Judge makes no sound, only a rippling in the jowls. He
wonders what is beneath all her scar tissue. Men try to push into
her, to set hooks into her, but are left with nothing except a loss.
Maybe because they follow the way set by others, the worn channels, the paths of least resistance. That cannot be where the secrets
Everyone's out for his little piece. I overcharge a guy on a car
and tomorrow he overcharges me to fix the TV. The Better Business
Bureau called again yesterday and want us to calm it down out
here. Hell, if we're crooks then the whole bunch of them are crooks
except that most of them have gotten smart and hide behind secretaries and outer offices and hire lawyers on a retainer and work
with their top button fastened. Most of all, they don't meet the public face to face. They don't sweat the phonies a bit at Crazy Alexander's where they got all the salesmen running around in white sport
coats monogrammed with dollar signs. Alexander told them once
when the Bureau called him that he's got the Bureau on his list!
A young negro buck reviewing the front row. Get them in with
the front row and sell them something off the back. Out the door.
GTM. Change to the hot air. The gravel crunching. Things give
way. Nothing solid. More pressure only produces more giving away.
There has to be a point where things push back and reveal themselves. A cement drive shows the motor and transmission leaks.
Gravel just soaks it up and gives nothing away. Nothing shows and
the flakes really want it that way. White shoes, snig black slacks that
show the muscle and crotch lines, orange striped sportcoat, homburg
with a gold feather. You sell the man, not the car. A muffled crash.
He drops the hood of a three-year-old Chrysler. Not his car. Too
much car. Bring him to the third row. Seven-year-old Ford black
with chrome painted gold. It'll just go with that feather. The buck's
teeth flash white in his face. He nods. Another deal cooking on this
one. Grab this car now or never. The buck fumbles with the hood
latch. Motor bad, throwing oil. He jams the hood back down almost
mashing the buck's fingers. Special deal. Fifty off list for an immediate sale. The buck hesitates. Push. Now or never. Still hesitates.
The other guy will be back this afternoon with the money. The
buck yesses. Selling a nigger a nigger car is like selling sex. Hearing
those mufflers rumble was the difference. Probably will be a repo for
108 it will take two hundred to put new guts in the motor. First he will
buy a pink coon tail for the antenna. He delivers the money to
Phyllis. GTM. The buck follows his money inside. Papers are completed. Downpayment deducted before time payment charges are
added so the full amount never appears together on contract. It's
all legal. The power of the written word.
When she left she left the Wisdom of Man series, the volumes a
uniform green leather across the long shelf. Every night he read of
the progress of man, of cultures rising, deteriorating, the new on the
old, the assimilations. He liked best the expected climax of the Renaissance. The glories of the last and greatest birth. Man becoming
what man can be. Off came the ancient shadows, the habitual unquestioning, the primal fears. Revealed were new inventions, new
worlds, new art, but most of all there was the questioning and
from the questioning came the new truths of man in a universe
discoverable, explorable by man. He read of the new philosophical
battles as men shrugged off the old confinements and tried to find
the god which is truth on his own as they looked for God's face and
intepreted his word as free agents. Man had found a freedom and
raced to keep his truths ahead of the new science which had also
begun with the Renaissance for freedom is not selective. Science
changed subtly from an ally to an enemy and tried to turn on the
new freedom but words were not absolutes but attempts to capture
absolutes and phrases like free will and determinism were not op-
posites but incompletes and they could be taken beyond themselves
by the new man and become a larger, fully compatible truth. That
there were still great truths to be discovered he believes and a man
must try to find them for there was nowhere else for a man to go.
The Wisdom of Man piled higher and higher like an unevenly rising
tower beside his bed as he concluded volume after volume.
The sales bonus: Phyllis. She lies on the bed rubbing her pubis
excitedly with one hand. She says she wants it. She wants it to last
a long time. She wants him to hurry. There had been the smell of
fertility then, with her. With her, touchings were different that were
stiff, awkward with others. He mounts her, embarrassed at his own
flabbiness where his clothes had been. Her waistline is nondefined
and hangs in fatty folds; her breasts collapse overflowing her chest
with the brown splotched nipples buried in her armpits. The dark
patch of pubis spreads onto slabs of thighs like a growth. She clasps
him, the thick lipstick caking, sticking. She closes around him but
he does not touch, only feels the nearness of the touching. The bed
had swayed slightly then too and the sheets had been comfortable
109 in their sweated wrinkles. Her nipples had become firm pegs in his
mouth and her thighs trembled from his tongue and her head
whipping in half-turns against the pillow and the long hair fell
over her face as he mashed against the short stiff hairs that did not
want to hold him out; their hands touched and her nails in his
skin. The noises. Everything ends or seems to end but it is more
impossible that things should end than they should not. In the
mornings she rolled over to him and he felt where the sleep had
cracked her lips. The early glimmerings of desire were comfortable
and it was the warmth that was remembered most. Sex cannot be
depleted, that is not the real loss; it is the loss of love that wounds.
And none of them have proved half as warm as she. He realizes
he is finishing too soon and with it goes the thin line that keeps
back the sickness. He tries to stop it but it is too late and his body
acts alone. He is through. Her body pushes at him but he is through.
She says he can't quit on her now. A fat arm motions him to get
back on. She makes kissing noises with her mouth. He is through.
She asks about the young one. Smith. She wants Smith sent in.
She says hurry and her hand goes back to her pubis.
In the front office he nods for Smitty to go in. Smith smiles nervously and licks his lips, goes in turning away from him. The air
blows cold through his shirt from the ducts. He has to pull the air
in harder as the asthma constricts his chest. The Judge sits behind
the desk; the sunlight bursts in his thick lenses obscuring his eyes in
the brilliance.
Most people think the used car market depends on the new car
market but the opposite is true. When the used car market becomes
saturated the trade-in a new car dealer can give to a buyer goes
down and the buyer won't bite. We are the backbone of the whole
The basin looks deep and cool before the fire in his throat and
the red lumps in the water held together by a clear mucous binding
that had a clearness different from the water. The fire hangs in the
far backness of the throat where it cannot be spit out or swallowed
and sours each breath and the breathing is forced. Long elastic
threads drip from his lips and nose. These are the times when he
misses her the most.
The Judge is in trouble. Out on the lot he is being pushed against
a panel truck by a thin young man who moves in sudden jerks and
whose voice does not penetrate the windows and the sound of the
air conditioning. He goes to help the Judge. The Judge is in trouble.
The man's face is a rat's with a broad forehead that slants the
no wrong way and falls sharply to a weak sullen chin and his larynx
thrashes wildly as the man shouts which he can now hear. The man
keeps twitching to throw the hair away from the eyes and the eyes
are intense but glazed, not an aware intensity.
Roy Lee Bell. He thinks a two hundred dollar car should have
a guarantee. Roy Lee Bell pushes the Judge back against the truck.
The skin is tight at his temples. Roy Lee Bell is not looking at him.
He takes a full swing and the fist bounces off the side of the head
and Roy Lee Bell stumbles against the panel truck. The fist to the
open mouth and the sound of it hitting, a soft sound, and the pain in
the small bones of the hand. Roy Lee Bell on the ground. He kicks
Roy Lee Bell deep down between the knees until the momentum is
dulled by the clothing and the indefinite softness. He watches Roy
Lee Bell scream and twist under the panel truck for protection. The
asthma pulls at him from the exertion and he sees the face of Roy
Lee Bell behind the tire. A faint reddish wash over the teeth except
for the new black space somehow ludicrous and between the teeth
the red packed in thick rich lodes. There should not be a smile but
there is and it does not go away.
We will have to pick up his car. I had a stick note on it but I
phoned the furniture company and they have already picked it all
up. They told me he gave their van man some trouble. I think what
really makes him mad is that Phyllis told him to go to hell. He took
her out once and Phyllis said his idea of a big night is to play stinky
finger at the drive-in movie then go to a two dollar motel with no
hot water. You can't beat them all up but it makes you feel good
Behind the office the back row was full of junkers from trade-ins
and soon would come all this tired iron must go and they would
come, the tow trucks snagging the front ends into the air like
doomed fish and hauling them on their rear wheels to the junk
yards that keep getting pushed farther and farther out to the cheap
acreage with the drive-in movies and golf driving ranges by the
apartments, shopping centers, service stations, bowling alleys. All
the makes are stacked according to year after any radio and air
conditioning equipment had been removed and the tires taken off
to be recapped and the battery, starter, generator, and radiator
stripped to be rebuilt. If a late model the entire motor and transmission were pulled, then the carcasses laid in open air graves to be
further dismantled and sold as used parts to garages. He liked to
walk through the huge yards with the rusting bodies, windshields
shattered in cloudy complex networks, flat tires collecting stagnant
i ii rainwater in their hollows, loose tire rims, hoods ripped off showing
rudely violated spaces. Narrow worn dust paths wander through
the labyrinth of stacks, often three, four, or even five high. Clumps
of weeds and shoots of wild grasses grow around the broken glass
and fallen fenders, crankshafts, dismembered steering wheels, collapsed tire tubes, doorpanels, headliners, headlight lenses, axles, universal joints, wiper arms, bumpers, bent chrome strips, rust-disguised
parts. One he brought her there to explain to her the fantastic
system and lead her through the paths. He explained the intricacies
whereby nothing is lost and everything recovered and how even at
the end when there is nothing but the skeleton even the hulks are
melted down and recast as raw iron. She seemed little impressed
by the system behind the appearance of disorder and wanted only
to make love on an old car seat that the stuffing was coming out of
between a Ford and a Cadillac. He explained carefully how nothing
was lost and now she is lost. True, the junk yard system is a small
truth but it must be respected as such. The small truths have to be
carefully segregated from the half truths so they can accumulate
without distortion into larger truths. To sort and reveal such truths
is the true work of man. The clouds roll and jam overhead, coming
in huge banks from the sea, perhaps with rain. The seeming vagaries
of their movement form gigantic heads and the outlines of primal
forces in an immense, furious, soundless battle. He doubts that any
final form will reveal itself this easily but has no doubt that one
does exist.
Auction! Smitty will be all right at the lot with Phyllis ready to
help him now that he is checking her oil with his dipstick.
The negro drivers squeal the tires lining up the cars in long inspection rows. A stop in the long wholesalers' sweep West. One
pulling the other with a tow bar in long caravans that line up a solid
twenty deep at state line toll stations. The young bucks that drive
all the daylight hours and double up in cheap colored courts, living
on hamburgers and passed around quart beer, sprawl in the outside
shade of the tin auction shed waiting for the white boss and the
end of the auction as they talk of crossing the broad chest of Texas
with stops at Dallas and San Antonio and El Paso before the two
state jump to California and the highest prices, as in earlier times
the golden prize for those that had crossed the continent. The hidden
112 cycles, the hidden patterns: almost too large to be noticed. He
backs out of the aroused dust because of the asthma.
Dealers only. The amateur moonlighters ran us ragged selling
out of their neighborhood driveways through the classified ads and
cutting our prices. Thank god our lobby finally pushed a licensing
law through the state legislature. No public, no credit. Most of the
dealers are inside the shed out of the heat waiting for the beginning
drinking free lemonade and eating free barbeque. They used to
give free beer with the barbeque but a few years ago a bunch of
dealers got drunk and bought everything that came through without checking. When they sobered up they refused to honor their
drafts so that was the end of the free beer.
A rough bunch today. Must be a load out of the Gulf Coast. He
kicks at the underside of an old Chevrolet. His foot breaks through
the rotten metal and rust and paint flakes off on his shoe. Body
cancer. The salt water rots them out from the inside. You can buy
these cheap and fibreglass the cancer holes and paint them over so
smooth you can't tell unless you really look close and nobody does.
Alexander has his own shop to recondition junkers. Last year he
bought an entire consignment of foreign compacts that had been
sitting on the open docks almost two years after the stateside dealer
went broke and couldn't pay for them on delivery. You have to be
careful when you buy foreign cars because the year that goes on the
title is the year they're sold, not the year they're made like domestic
models. Alexander just spray painted over the rust and sold the
whole lot at new car prices. One flake was driving on the freeway
in the rain and the whole layer of paint from the hood slid right
over the windshield. You ought to hear Alexander tell that story.
The Judge pushes at his face with the handkerchief. This heat will
melt you down to the essentials.
The first car moves into the shed. The dealers part in front of it
and close back. The negro driver sits impassively while the motor
runs. If the red fight above the auctioneer is not turned on it means
that the car can be bid on with the understanding that it has no
major mechanical defects as guaranteed by the seller. The light is
on. As it stands. As is. At least it runs. If you can get it for fifty
we can get that much back on the downpayment alone and the rest
is pure profit with no risk. I can get that much for anything that
will move. The auctioneer's voice is nasal rural white southern
which injects comments when the staccato bidding slows. He bids
twenty five. Last of the big time spenders. Another raises it to thirty
five. Forty. Forty five. That's Alexander's man against us. He bids
"3 fifty. Alexander's man shakes his head. An Oklahoma guarantee:
if it breaks in half you own both ends. The buck races the engine
and the clutch slips and the car goes out farting a heavy swath of
blue smoke that causes the dealers to stumble into each other like a
cluster of flustered dominoes.
He tried to explain to her how the dealers' auctions established
the wholesale prices and thus the loan values allowed by banks and
finance companies and he tried to explain how these values once
established influenced the pyramid of all economic institutions and
how once it had been religion and then ideas but now it is economics
that decide the political realities. After she left he had tried to write
these things when he saw how an author could build his own world
and his own truth but the writing came only in erratic bursts under
too much pressure when he found he had little to say and no way
to say it because he did not want to synthesize an ultimate system
but discover it. He did not want to make the same error that others
had made now that he had reached the contemporary volumes of
Wisdom of Man; he would not purposely throw something away in
a childish attempt to prove that it is worthless.
Things are pretty calm compared to the old days. That's when
all the big fortunes were made in the business. Crazy Alexander
made a couple of million before the new laws on interest and repossessing, and, of course, there was the war. He had a big bald
nigger working for him as repo man. This nigger was about six-
six and must have weighed close to three hundred. A big black
sweaty bastard. I never knew his real name; everyone called him
King Kong. He was the real king of the repo men. He'd walk into
dark garages at three a.m. with a chain slung over his shoulder and
haul them out. They say he never lost a car. Finally some white
trash shot him in broad daylight. The son of a bitch couldn't stand
having his car repoed by a nigger so he shot him right on his front
lawn, right in the belly. They say old King Kong bled all over the
sidewalk for an hour and never said one word. King Kong is still
a legend among the older dealers. Things were pretty wild then
but the whole lid blew off when one of Alexander's collectors curbed
a pregnant woman downtown and took the car. She had the kid
right there on the curb with cops and ambulances and people all
straining to see. The yellow press screamed and they cracked down
until now everyone's soft; one's scared to hit and the other's glad
of it. Hell, I was repo'ing just a few years ago in nigger town on
Christmas Eve and talked the flake into helping me push his own
114 car away — then he invited me in for some egg nog! King Kong
is dead.
Look at that old sedan you bought. It's the same one you kicked
a hole in before the auction. Those things have a way of coming
The sun is beneath the sea. Neither can be seen but the bottoms
of the high thinly-hammered clouds glow golden as burnished by
Byzantine brushes in History of Art which she left. Much can be
discovered by careful analysis, by careful observation; if the form
cannot be discerned then it can be implied by its displacement. The
strands of flaxen fleece sweep in a tilted sky draining toward the
submerged sun as swirling debris is drawn after a sounding ship.
The glare is soft on the pavement and long shadows stretch out
from objects that had earlier appeared insignificant.
Smitty nervous again at another initiation. His first repo. Faces
flattened against the inside fog of an air-conditioned bus that passes
with the sound of escaping air. Still the heat. Long ago an upper-
class neighborhood now taken over by transient whites. Porches
crumbled and nexer fixed. Windows covered by cardboard. Front
yard fountains cracked and long dry. Huge drooping trees infested
with a clogging moss. Ground growth untrimmed. Only a few older
cars and pick-up trucks unmoving along the curb spilling over with
weeds. The cigar is a glowing short-lived arc before striking the
ground in a spray of silent sparks. He tried to explain.
It is luck if the car is on the curb and all that has to be done is to
get in it and let the other car push it away to a safe distance but it
is not by the curb. He walks up the gravel drive trying to stay in
the middle of the driveway where the grass grows to stop the loud
crunching. Everything gives way under pressure. There is a pulling
but he does not know whether it is the asthma or the fear. He
squeezes the duplicate key. Cold. Thin. He turns the door handle.
The inside is dark but the pulling is gone so it was the fear. He
turns the key. Nothing. No sound. He puts the automatic transmission into neutral. A low labored cranking. Too slow. Not fast enough
to catch. He jiggles the accelerator pedal. The noise must be easily
heard now. The pulling is back. The starter motor gains momentum.
He pumps the pedal. The engine catches partially and he continues
"5 to pump the pedal to let the engine build up revolutions so it will
not die when he throws it into gear. He puts the lever in reverse
and the car begins to shudder and roll, engine missing and transmission, backing slowly into its own oil cloud. He is not stopping
now. A voice says something on his blind side and he sees Roy Lee
Bell in the other window and the teeth then an explosion in his
face of yellow but the yellow stays and beyond it Smitty is in a
gliding run amazingly graceful as if in slow motion and a woman
is screaming from the house.
I do not understand why she is screaming and it is like Phyllis
but I have never heard her scream and I do not understand why
Smitty is running. There is trouble and I do not understand. It
must be the asthma squeezing my chest, holding it in, but if it is
the asthma it is all right for the asthma always gets better and
goes away by itself. The yellow has deepened into an orange with
red at the edge like the clouds. I am outside the car because the
gravel is on my hands. Gravel does not show leaks. GTM. And
outside the slapping. The high afternoon sun will bother the Judge
and he will try to adjust the Venetian blinds. No pain. I must be
all right. That is what is important. If I can get to my feet that
will be the final proof but the metal is all rounded without handholds. My face feels good against the coolness of the metal. Too
good to be in trouble. There is a stickiness between my fingers.
She had not been like this and it no longer seems right that the
absence of she should be proof that she was. The heat will leave and
low tiers of dense blue-gray clouds will come from the north like a
long flat bruise and the northers will arrive in waves like a dirty,
sluggish surf. The metal keeps sliding under my fingers and it is
smooth long smooth without breaks. These are the times when I
miss her the most but I tried to explain with the Wisdom of Man
and she wanted without telling me what she wanted and I tried to
explain with the wisdom of man that it is the loss of love that
wounds though the body acts alone. The rain has come but it is not
wet and not warm and at first uncertain like a handful of pebbles
thrown but growing and overflowing the curb into the gutter and
from the gutter to the sewers that I hear rumbling as the rain gushes
heavily in the bowels. I cannot see but the night is dark and it is
impossible to see in the dark. I worry a little. The north will blow
and the Judge will feel it first inside his cuffs and pants legs then
later across his chest and belly and into his loins. Things have a
way of coming back and there is trouble. King Kong is dead. I feel
the tailpipe which proves I am all right for all right is being able to
116 feel. I feel it solid and can use it to get to my feet for if I can get
to my feet that will make everything all right for no one is in trouble
on his feet. The Judge will look over the lot with his fingers pinching the fatty rolls around his belt and the lot will be full and unsold
and the rows will be unchanging in themselves. A small truth
grander than the golden clouds and the silver bells. The form implies the perceiver and it cannot be me here but it is and without
me there is nothing. The tailpipe has disappeared in my hand. I
feel the crumbling and the pain from the rust that pushes under
my fingernails. It is the pain that proves everything is all right because pain is feeling and feeling is good except that my hands feel
too much and the rest is nothing. There is trouble and it could be
that I am not all right. It is as is.
117 Two Poems by David Summers
Young lady,
remove your pants.
Allow me to inspect
the rectum and the breasts:
please touch your toes
while I record dimensions
and compare the complexion
of the buttocks and the thighs.
Let me check
the softness of the back . ..
Do you know off-hand
the mean circumference of the leg?
Or the length between
the navel and the neck?
Now let me see you walk.
That is
satisfactory.     This report
informs me
your diseases are
inconsequential and irrelevant,
(it mentions
your myopia and your
virginity.) But tell me
something about yourself.
For example, what beds
do you prefer, what
are your opinions
concerning children,
and would you
seriously object to
spending your summers
in the nude?
That will be sufficient.
I will inform you
118 of any forthcoming developments,
and should you be picked
I shall arrange
another appointment.
And before you go
I have one final question:
do you consider yourself
toilet trained?
You smiled when the sun surprised you
this morning at the window —
I saw you —
and what I want to know is why.
Later in the wheat field you stopped singing:
the dry boards knocking on the shack's wall
while the orange hill touched the sky.
I heard you laughing,
and what I want to know is why.
After supper when it rained
the wind, it twisted in the grasses
until every shingle on the house trembled;
and you were running on the ridge.
When you reached the veranda,
I could hear you crying.
And what I want to know is why.
Still later in another city I will ask again;
I will let my robes glisten in the sun:
I will ask if you were mad,
or holy,
or if it mattered which.
David Summers, a student at the University of Victoria, has published in
Prism international, The Malahat Review, and Poetry Northwest. He has also
translated for this issue two poems by Christian Morgenstern, the German
writer of nonsense verse.
"9 Two Poems by Christian Morgenstern
Translated from the German by David Summers
Sophie, you are beautiful,
so come and kiss my broken skull;
my mouth, I admit
is a gaping pit,
but Sophie, you'll get used to it!
Sophie, you are beautiful,
so come and kiss my reeking skull;
I know my head
is cold and dead,
but Sophie you have been well fed!
Sophie, you are beautiful,
so come and kiss my crumbling skull;
true, these flies
eat my eyes,
but Sophie, you are wonderful!
Once in a provincial town
a picket fence had been around,
and in between the pickets lay
empty spaces, naturally.
One night an architect tip-toed
to the neighbourhood,
from the fence he cautiously
ripped the spaces all away,
and with this emptiness he built
a mansion which he filled
with nothing less than nothingness.
The fence however was left a mess,
the government was not impressed
and had the fence condemned;
the police had tried to apprehend
this architect (who later flew
all the way to Honolululu.)
bis sett, bill, Lebanon Voices. Weed/Flower Press, 501 Markham St., Apt.,
1, Toronto 4.
chatfield, hale, Teeth. New Books, R.D.3. Trumansburg, N.Y. Poems. 36
pp. $1.25.
davies, Robertson, Samuel Marchbanks' Almanack. McClelland & Stewart,
paperback, $2.35.
fox, lucia, Redes. Carabela, Barcelona, Spain. Poems, 55 pp.
godbout, jacques, Knife on the Table. McClelland & Stewart. Novel, $5.95.
grier, eldon, Pictures on the Skin. Delta Canada. Poems, photos, drawings,
collages, 61 pp. $4.50.
gronowicz, antoni, The quiet vengeance of words, poems. Reprinted from
Polish Review, Vol. XIII, No. 1, Winter, 1968, pp. 66-94, New York, N.Y.
A Quarterly published by The Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in
America, Inc. 59 East 66th St., New York, N.Y. $2.50.
helwig, david, Figures in a Landscape. Oberon Press, Ottawa. Poems, prose
and plays, 218 pp. $3.00.
layton, irving, The Shattered Plinths. McClelland & Stewart. Poems, 96 pp.
$5.00 cloth, $2.50 paper.
leacock, Stephen, Further Foolishness. McClelland & Stewart. Humorous
sketches. $1.95.
ludwig, jack, Above Ground. Little, Brown & Co., Toronto. Novel, $6.95.
martin, tyndale, Gentle Anger. Sunyata, P.O. Box 1012, Montreal 3. Poems
26 pp. $1.00.
moore, brian, I am Mary Dunne. Novel. McClelland & Stewart, 217 pp. $6.95
newlove, john, Black Night Window. Poems. McClelland & Stewart. 112 pp
paredes, pedro sanchez, Siete Apocalipsis. Libreria Rubinos, Madrid. 7 plays.
582 pp. 1965.
paredes, pedro sanchez, La Ley Viva. Libreria Rubinos, Madrid. Novella.
223 pp. 1964.
paredes, pedro sanchez, Dios Ha Pasado Sobre Los Bosques. Graficas Martinez, Madrid. Novel, 250 pp. 1963.
richler, mordecai, Cocksure. McClelland & Stewart. Novel $5.95.
Roberts, Theodore goodridge, The Harbormaster. McClelland & Stewart.
Novel. $1.95.
Bengali Literature, Poems, short stories, articles in English, by Bengali writers.
Ed. Ashis Sanyal, 53 Bidhan Palli, Jadavpur, Calcutta—32, India. 50^ a
copy, quarterly.
Gaillardia (LLARD), Poems from University of Calgary. Students' Union,
MacEwan Hall, University of Calgary, Alberta.
Hyphid, Weed/Flower Press, c/o Nelson Ball, 501 Markham St., Apt. 1, Toronto 4. Ed. Nelson Ball. Poetry. Quarterly. $2.15 yearly, 75^ a copy.
122 Journal of Popular Culture, University Hall, Bowling Green State University,
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402. Ed. Ray B. Brown. Official publication of the
Popular Literature Section (Comp. Lit. II) of the Modern Language Association of America, and of the Folklore Section of the Midwest Modern
Language Association. Published 4 times a year for $4.00. Single copies $1.50.
Le puits de I'ermite, Ed. lean Chatard, 25 rue Edgar-Quinet, 93 - La Cour-
neuve, France. Poetry, review, articles.
Mainline, Eds. Dorothy Farmiloe, Len Gasparini, Eugene McNamara. Poetry,
three times a year. 179 Hanna St. East, Windsor, Ontario. Sub. $1.50. 50^
a copy.
Mt. Adams Review, Ed. George Thompson. P.O. Box 6054, Cincinnati, Ohio
45206. Poetry, fiction, articles, features, artwork, published periodically
by the Art Association of Cincinnati Inc., a non-profit corporation.
N.: Occasional Verse. Copp Clark Publishing Co. $5.00 hardbound.
Pluck One, Eds. Stan Dragland & Gary Willis. Assiniboia Hall, University of
Alberta, Edmonton. Poetry, graphics, articles. 50^.
The Angels, Ed. Judson Dicks. 70 Snowberry Lane, Central Islip, N.Y. 11722.
Original Poems. $3.00 a year, 75<f a copy.
The Czech Aggression against Nazi Germany. A Legend that almost happened,
published by Legends of our Time Ltd. 1967. Illustrated booklet.  14 pp.
Sunyata Magazine, Ed. Tyndale Martin. P.O. Box 1012, Montreal 3. Poems
and book  reviews.  $1.00.  Sub.  $5.00.
for almost every
taste and purpose
can be round,
easily, at
514 Hornby
670 Seymour
Also 4560 W. 10th Avenue
MUtual 4-4496
MUtual 5-3627
CAstle 4-7012
University of British Columbia
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. "...strikes me as  ranking with  the  best  dozen
or so little magazines published in the  U.S."—
"News and Ideas," College English, Dec. 1966.
"...stimulating, varied, enjoyable, enlightening,
and absorbing."—The Booklover's Answer No. 11.
" of the fattest fullest mags on the scene."
— Writer's Forum, Vol. II, No. 3.
"...a   splendid   magazine..."—Bulletin   of   African
History, 1964.
"...the   excellent   but   little-known    magazine,
December."—Esquire, 1963.
"...avoids the imbalance of most literary mags..."
—Mt. Adams Review, 1965.
"One  of the better   literary   magazines."—The
Smith, 1965
si magazine of tne
arts and opinion PRISM
Out of thousands of literary magazines published in
modern times, 104 are now having rare issues reprinted by the Kraus Reprint Corporation of New
The purpose is to make available to collectors, libraries, scholars and general readers, reproductions of
out-of-print volumes of those journals which have had
the most important role in the shaping of modern
literature, and which have been first to published virtually every significant modern author.
Volumes 1 to 5 of PRISM international may be purchased in reprint form from Kraus Reprint Corporation, 16 East 46th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017, at
the following prices:
A one-year (three issues) subscription to PRISM
international is $3.50, and may be purchased from the
Department of Creative Writing, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver 8, B.C., Canada. Some back
issues from volumes 6 and 7 are also available at $1.25


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