Friday, December 25, 2015

dynamite by moonlight, part 2






he took his time lighting his cigarette
and handled her with kid gloves
where are the clothes i was wearing last night?

he eyed her through the drifting smoke rings
they are in the coffin with maxie
he replied with perfect self-assurance

what you might call impeccable sangfroid
he’d been planning it for a long tome
because he wouldn’t beat up a woman, would he?

he looked around for the bottle
she had that mean look on her face again
he’d been planning to get rid of her for a long time

just because he wouldn’t actually beat up a woman
with sober and passionless precision
i thought the coffin was a pretty good idea

it didn’t mean he wouldn’t bump her off
strictly dynamite as she might be

“we’ve known each other for a long time.”

but i’m not the same guy i used to be
even though i am not yet in my coffin

“you are not fooling anybody with that line of grapefruit.”

where did you put that bottle?
when did you start caring so much about bottles?
those look like the same clothes you were wearing last night to me

you know i wear a new suit every day
even though the liquor bills are sending me to the poorhouse
and everybody and his uncle owe me money

sources: don’t get in my way, by frances clippinger; the murderer is a fox, by ellery queen; dread journey, by dorothy b hughes; the curse of the bronze lamp, by carter dickson; the double take, by roy huggins; too late for tears, by roy huggins; violent night, by ralph jackson; run from the hunter, by keith grantland; to find cora, by harry whittington; framed in guilt, by day keene; my flesh is sweet, by day keene; the devil thumbs a ride, by robert c du see


dynamite by moonlight, part 1






you wouldn’t beat up a woman, would you
where’s the bottle?
she was strictly dynamite

things are pretty rough right now
so don’t hold anything against me
a warm haze of smoke enveloped the room

we had to build a special coffin
he’d been planning it for a long time
he lounged there with apparent calm

yes, things are pretty rough right now
where’s the bottle?
she asked with sober and passionless precision

you have already mentioned that things are rough
with sober and passionless precision
his liquor bills ate up a third of his salary

i can’t stand to think about you, either
yes, you heard me right
his liquor bills ate up a third of his salary

she looked him over with sober and passionless precision
she had had plans for him for a long time
a warm haze of smoke enveloped the room

i’m not the same guy you married
i can’t stand to think about you, either
and you are not the same dame

where are the clothes you were wearing last night
a warm haze of smoke enveloped the detective’s face
because she was strictly dynamite


sources: don’t get in my way, by frances clippinger; the murderer is a fox, by ellery queen; dread journey, by dorothy b hughes; the curse of the bronze lamp, by carter dickson; the double take, by roy huggins; too late for tears, by roy huggins; violent night, by ralph jackson; run from the hunter, by keith grantland; to find cora, by harry whittington; body and passion, by harry whittington; framed in guilt, by day keene; my flesh is sweet, by day keene; the devil thumbs a ride, by robert c du soe



Sunday, December 13, 2015

misunderstood


illustrations by palomine studios




i don’t get out very much
a little light burning blue and coming toward us
thinks like a man, feels like a woman, and acts like a child

in the clear, sweet atmosphere of the openings
their faces had grown pale and their eyes bright
the northern passes of the bohemian frontier were secured

with large eyes and long, dark, curly hair

“do not misunderstand us”

some of the dances are extremely graceful

but their faces had grown pale and their eyes bright
in the clear, sweet atmosphere of the garden
they ravaged the seas at their pleasure

thinking like men, feeling like women, and acting like children
they taught green parrots to whistle
with bright eyes and pale, pale faces

with large eyes and long, dark, curly hair
they ravaged the seas sat their pleasure
as lights played on the restless surface of the waters

the queen’s chamber was panelled with irish oak
light played on the restless surface of the curtains
i don’t get hurt very much

although i drink as much brandy as i choose
and as much whiskey and port also
in the dank atmosphere of the public gardens

thinking like a conqueror, feeling like an an animal, acting like a robot
the play of lights caught the restless surface of the rain on the sidewalk
with bright eyes and long, dark, curly hair

sources: buddy jim, by elizabeth gordon; the campaign of koniggratz, by arthur l wagner; three wisconsin cushings, by theron wilber haight; captain william kidd and others of the buccaneers, by john s c abbott; a beginner’s history, by william h mace; the life of general garibaldi, by giuseppe garibaldi; royal winchester, by a g l’estrange; the man of genius, by cesare lombardo; the first christmas tree, by henry van dyke; the truth about the congo, by frederick starr; the dark other, by stanley g weinbaum; a tramp’s scraps, by h i m self; silver cross, by mary johnston

these books were "recent additions" to project gutenberg on november 27, 2015


Monday, November 2, 2015

4 poems



by chuck leary

illustrations by pete palomine




poem


time stood still
when the blue girl picked the white flower

and took it home
and put it in a purple paper cup

but it speeded up again
when the red sheriff shot the green dog

the orange sun beat down
on the bald-faced lies of the time share salesman

and the princess flew away to mars
on the back of the silver-winged whale

the reporter filed the story
in the cracked telephone booth

beside the abandoned drugstore
in the pink sunset






wet


you have never really been to corpus christi
until you have been to albuquerque

the panda didn’t like the strawberry ice cream cone
or the way mrs osgood looked at him

and no self respecting coyote
or hammerhead shark

would prefer a bathtub to a side of french fries
not even one they could find

in the wet pages of a telephone book
thrown out in the rain

in chillicothe ohio
on may 19, 1965





avocado


nobody likes me
i have not a friend
i tried to be nice
but i could not pretend

i am an avocado
through and through
it is what i am
to myself i am true

i am boring and nasty
it is just my way
and you bore me as well
so i bid you good day

when i die, when i die
write this on my grave
to fate an easy target
to circumstance a slave






stupid poker game dream


a poker game started
it looked too heavy for me
and i didn’t have much time

i made an excuse
i told them i had to go somewhere
i forget where - laredo, denver, cleveland

then i changed my mind
i decided i really wanted to get in
but all the seats were taken

a couple of players took a break
i wanted to get in
the others insisted on waiting for them

finally they came back
then right away they went into the bathroom
for a smoke

i could hear them laughing
then i woke up
i knew it was a dream

i wanted to go back to sleep
so i could get in the game
but i couldn’t get back to sleep



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

a distant memory





julia, do you remember
the night i lost my cigarette lighter
in the wooded path behind the iridescent bandstand
before the failure to remonstrate grew serious?

as the bourgeoisie in their white seersucker suits
and the hoi polloi in their blue hawaiian shirts
forgot the combination to the lock in the depths of despair?
and the band - what exuberance! what passion!

islamabad!
the people have taken to the streets!
vladivostok and port arthur and crocodiles!
“i think i have had just about enough of this lot”

the night spun like the canary islands
and then it was over -
forever
until the cadillacs come back to aurang-zebe



Sunday, September 27, 2015

poem






alabaster boyardee
cherry declasse
enervated fractals
gum balls in the new mown hay

iridescent juggernauts
leading in the kindlly light
mothballs in nocturnal obsolescence
petrified with quiet fright

roll on, roll on, sasketchawan
turn your damper down
underneath your virtuous airs
surge the walpurgnichtical exponentials of clowns

youth will be served forever
when zeroes proliferate beyond the grave
i have walked this way before
when all the streets were paved



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

an unfortunate interruption


part three of three

for part two click here

for part one click here






“i think, before we commence, “ the empress began, “we should agree that the final manifesto we issue should consist of no more than one hundred and forty-four words, as it has been amply demonstrated that this is the maximum number that a human brain can comprehend.”

“does anyone not agree?” the duchess of g——— asked pointedly. no one responded.

“i believe it is settled then,” said the count of a————. “please proceed.”

what a lot of rot, thought terence. but of course he said nothing. how he wished the whole fiasco were over with, so that he could keep his assignation with h————.

“here is my rough draft,” said the empress. she proceeded to recite, without notes:

the peoples of the earth have demanded justice for centuries. justice from gods, justice from kings, and justice from theories. so far they have not been satisfied. the time has now come -“

just then there was a terrible crash and the window opposite the empress was shattered.

all the conspirators knew at once what had happened.

“save yourselves!” cried the elderly, gouty general b————.

but they were already saving themselves.

the rebels seized the baron de d——— (their chief target, at least according to the communique they issued after their bold and largely successful excursion), the count of a————, and fra paolo.

roger, the unfortunate cipher clerk from the embassy of p———, was killed in the melee, but he was not regarded as significant enough to me mentioned either in the rebel’s communique, or in the official statement issued jointly by the involved embassies.

the others all saved themselves. from the rebels, not from the endless recriminations that followed.

later, seated in the club car with terence and the empress, sylvie vowed never to be involved in politics again.

“nonsense,” interposed annette, as she passed their table on her way from the powder room to the bar, “what else can one do for excitement in this dreary age?”

“you might ask the colonel over there, “ terence responded sulkily. the colonel’s face was flat on the bar, the gallant gentleman himself dead drunk.

“where is the barman?” asked the empress, looking around. the question did not seem to require an answer. the colonel and the others had simply helped themselves to the stock behind the bar.

“we should be in c———————— in two hours,” sylvie observed absently.

“yes,” sylvie added as she seated herself with the drink she had poured herself. “at least this train has an engineer. we can be thankful for that.”

“if he has not jumped off at some point,” terence replied sourly. he was still miffed at having missed his assignation with h—————.

sylvie suddenly remembered the faceless man who had been seated in the corner. what had become of him, she wondered?

***


sources: clarissa, by samuel richardsion; sir charles grandson, by samuel richardson; war and peace, by leo tolstoy; anthony adverse, by hervey allen; the man without qualities, by robert musil; the recognitions, by william gaddis; lord of the rings, by j r r tolkien; the demons, by hermito von doderer; gravity’s rainbow, by thomas pynchon; dhalgren, by samuel delany; infinite jest, by david foster wallace



Monday, September 7, 2015

after dinner the conspirators gathered in front of the fireplace


part two of three

for part one click here






sylvie suddenly remembered where she had seen the colonel before . at the sanitarium at t————, where the conference had taken place to finalize the details of the first catastrophe.

how innocent she had been then!

the colonel for his part - absorbed as he was in his own machinations - had not recognized sylvie, although he was quite taken by her womanly charms.

far paolo was attempting to tell a joke, but it was not going well, as it depended on the hearer’s recognition of the intricacies of long-forgotten heresies.

but who was the faceless man in the corner that sylvie noticed for the first time.

had she been informed of his identity - if she had enquired as to his identity - she might have been surprised by the answer, as the gentleman was widely believed to have perished in the dungeons of the people’s republic of y—————.

the baron de d———, absorbed in his own thoughts, blew a few perfect smoke rings.

sylvie’s mind drifted back to the conference at t————. not to the discussions themselves, but to the perfectly clear air - the first she had ever breathed.

where had far paolo been, when the others had been at table? had the message from the pope really taken up the whole time?

modest as the meal had been, they had had six courses.

after tonight, after the arrangements had been made, nothing would ever be the same. either for the wretched of the earth, or their masters.

the baron smiled to himself, as he considered the deviltry which would soon be unleashed.

and the opportunities it would provide for such as himself.

sylvie twirled the ring on her finger. she had quite forgotten where she had obtained it.

roger and general b————, who had taken their time over dessert - the general because of his advanced age, and roger because he had had three servings - now rejoined the party.

it was time for the last act to begin, and judgment to be levied on the peoples of the earth.

what the gutter press, if it had been privy to the proceedings, would have termed “zero hour”.

annette yawned.

the duchess of g——— rang a little silver bell to get everybody’s attention.

roger stood at the fireplace, behind the empress. the others, even the languid annette and the supremely indifferent baron de b————, arranged themselves in chairs in a semicircle around the empress.

so it has come to this, thought sylvie with some amusement. as great a pack of rascals as has ever been assembled - and not an honest person left in the world.

“if no one has any objections,” intoned the empress, “we will agree that the decisions of this night are to be regarded as final. at least as far as official versions go. as it is unlikely that we shall ever meet again.”

they all agreed, although the count of a——— had to be asked by the empress to speak up, as his response had been somewhat mumbled.


sources: clarissa, by samuel richardsion; sir charles grandson, by samuel richardson; war and peace, by leo tolstoy; the magic mountain, by thomas mann; anthony adverse, by hervey allen; the man without qualities, by robert musil; lord of the rings, by j r r tolkien; the demons, by hermito von doderer; gravity’s rainbow, by thomas pynchon; harlot’s ghost, by norman mailer; infinite jest, by david foster wallace

part three


Saturday, August 15, 2015

the unspeakable, part 2


illustrations by konrad kraus

click here for part 1





his head fell on the table with a sickening thud
in those moments she wept bitterly
as the car rolled down the interstate

it was certainly very good of you
but he does not see things the way we do
his head fell on the table with a sickening thud

“what other kind of thud is there?”

and rolled around like a beach ball
she tried to remain calm and do her

duty

he does not see things the way we do
her tears flowed like a fine white wine
at the horror she had discovered inside him

you must earn your own living
painful as it is to contemplate
since we are speaking of serious things

she had never been so humiliated
traffic was light as dusk fell
as if he were praying

she squeezed her eyes shut to stop the bitter tears
the horrors kept piling up
because he did not see the things the way we do

like civilized and rational human beings
he could not really be praying
you must earn your own living

just like it says in the bible
do not let him suspect what you are thinking

“we can not piece together exactly what happened”



sources: frankenstein, by mary shelley; dracula, by bram stoker; three lives, by gertrude stein; the counterfeiters, by andre gide; lust for life, by irving stone; native son, by richard wright; memoirs of a shy pornographer by kenneth patchen; finistere, by fritz peters; pictures from an institution, by randall jarrell; last exit to brooklyn, by hubert selby; daughter of evil, by jerry weil; the dark side of love, by jerry weil



Friday, August 14, 2015

dinner will always be served


part one of three





“i don’t have time for this. my guests will be arriving in an hour. leave a memo explaining, in the simplest terms possible, who this person is and what he wants, and i will address the matter tomorrow.”

“but, madam - “

“i have spoken.”

“but the fate of the empire is at stake.”

“i am the empire and i have spoken.”

my sister particularly was pleased with this answer.

the menu for the evening meal had been decided the day before.

the colonel took down the assault rifle with radiation bullets.

as advised in the margins of somebody else’s lost notebook.

they were aware that death had entered the room.

it was left to the duchess of g————, the oldest member of the party, to make light of the fact.

the colonel, the only person in the room who had been through the siege of f———, suddenly felt a curious sense of embarrassment.

they all obviously belonged to a privileged section of society.

and were what the gutter press is pleased to call “people of the world.”

yes, they were, weren’t they?

not that it really left them any better informed than the rest of humankind.

rather less, really, as they had more illusions to cherish and protect.

sylvie had suddenly had quite enough.

“come, roger,” she commanded the youngest member of the party, "let us go out on the balcony and look at the moon.”

poor roger, who had hoped for a trustful evening after a long day breaking codes at the embassy, could do ought but comply.

annette was rather pleased than otherwise that sylvie was showing such spunk and savoir-faire.

“the mist is quite silent tonight, don’t you think?” roger asked when they shut the balcony window behind them.

the count knew when he was being well served.

they obviously belonged to a privileged section of society.

baron de d—————, ignoring the attempted ostracisms of the other guests, was quite enjoying himself, sitting my himself by the fire in the most comfortable chair in the room, sipping his wine and surveying the scene.

he found sylvie particularly fetching, and was indifferent to the venomous glances of annette.

“it is frightfully simple and straightforward” terence was insisting to annette.

sylvie had always loved silence and mist.

the devilfish is found quite commonly on mediteranean shores.

the duchess, under her calm exterior, felt a strong sense of foreboding, and wished she were back in africa, with her lions.

”everything is quite simple and straightforward if one has the means to make it so,” annette drawled.

suddenly a chill entered the room - followed by the forbidding figure of fra paolo - the aggressively austere papal envoy.

general b——————, in all the innocence of an old soldier, offered the worthy friar a cigar.

to the surprise - astonishment would be too strong a word - the offer was accepted.

the count began surreptitiously examining the pages of the mysterious abandoned notebook.

the duchess composed herself, and began examining the curiously coloured painting of a devilfish which hung over the blue divan.

the room served various vague purposes.

“can you see a star - right over there?” sylvie asked innocenttly.

“no, i am afraid i can’t,” roger replied dubiously.

“oh, bother!” cried sylvie, and flounced back into the room.

forgetting that our mothers were married at twelve or thirteen.

the duchess herself had been married at fourteen, the empress at eleven.

they viewed young women of the “the fast set” like annette and sylvie, with amused disdain.

dinner was announced at last.

the temperature had fallen in the room, and the banquet hall beckoned invitingly.

reluctantly, the colonel placed the assault rifle back over the fireplace.

they were reminded to speak a language appropriate to their civilized european lives.

the country which the general staff was planning to invade was rich and kindly, though it had long been deserted.

the butler appeared, with a message for fra paolo that his holiness the pope was on the phone.

far paolo politely informed the empress that in that case he would not be dining, and insisted that they proceed without him.

annette and sylvie were impressed with her majesty’s frankness in accepting the worthy friar’s excuses.

outside in the mist the silence had become well nigh unbearable.

though civilization was crumbling minute by minute, the amenities were scrupulously observed.

especially by the empress, whose demeanor thrilled them all.

as they went to dinner, they continued to speak a language appropriate to their civilized european life.

the colonel cast a last regretul glance back at the assault rifle hanging over the fireplace.

death, who had not been invited to dinner, watched them depart. did he admire the empress, or any of them, for their frankness?

*

sources: clarissa, by samuel richardsion; sir charles grandson, by samuel richardson; war and peace, by leo tolstoy; the magic mountain, by thomas mann; anthony adverse, by hervey allen; the man without qualities, by robert musil; the recognitions, by william gaddis; lord of the rings, by j r r tolkien; the demons, by hermito von doderer; gravity’s rainbow, by thomas pynchon; dhalgren, by samuel delany; battlefield earth, by l ron hubbard; harlot’s ghost, by norman mailer; infinite jest, by david foster wallace


part two