augury doggerel

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Coo, Meow, Snow

At the window, I put out extra seed, a year-end toast to the birds. Two fawn doves eat and eat while sharp little tits gather and plot on a fence. The doves look around after each peck, so I sit still and try to look like a dove�s reflection. The cat, their usual demon through the glass, is just home from the vet with her left arm shaved sleeveless, seamed, full of metal. She hops and complains, sleeps, and the painkiller hasn�t worn off yet. The kid has bandaged two toy cats and two toy horses, all on the left foreleg, and crayoned an X-ray. The woman has gone out in good snow for last things and a small bottle of champagne. I sit and resolve.

Monday, December 30, 2002


My purred familiar has tangled with some gull�s best friend and the slobberer has won the match. But I�m busy conjuring the spots off Dalmatians, wishing only St. Bernard bitches for Dachshunds, Schadenfreude for German shepherds, mirrors for bulldogs, burr patches for poodles, cold spells for Chihuahuas, new rhinoviruses for bloodhounds. Beagles beware, mutts meet AKC: the beast has silver bones now and an in with the chief dog-debollocker.

Sunday, December 29, 2002


Cat's broken. Dog-legged. Man blubbers.


It's warm, misty. A fox just ran through the field, shifting back, going forward, shifting back again. I looked away for a second and she was gone.


Thursday, I broke the kid�s sled and was told I couldn�t use it anymore. Which was true.

Friday, with the backup sled, we climbed seven hills and crossed seven valleys in search of the ideal run. Along the way we picked up another pilgrim and her father (who later broke his kid�s sled). The four of us came out of the woods into a white hollow full of screamers. Three or four dozen boys and girls worked four variously deadly arcs down from where the roots of pine trees hung in the air. A few minders stood by to soothe the wounded. A white dog flew after the fastest sleds. I perched up in the roots and watched the kid, who has no fear, play with gravity. When we returned home five hours later, she was wet and sore and filthy, and I had to explain. To explicate. To extricate.

Saturday, it rained.

Saturday, December 28, 2002


The kid tears a dangerous match to a candle and the room blows up, me sprawled over here, the cat paws up, the woman in a warm heap, and flame up and down the kid�s face.

Friday, December 27, 2002


I�m reading, this week, Plato (Socrates dies and dies again), Anthony Trollope (Barchester Towers), Philip Larkin (collected), and E.B. White (One Man�s Meat). Nothing is better than a long stretch at the radiator with tea and books and birds and cat, and socks drying somewhere. Of course, we could fuck. But we�ve got that, too. Bookmarks are good.

[The next day: I will let this entry stand, if only as a public service. Never click "Publish" until you're sober.]

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Window Dressing

It's dark and cold and I must get home when I find a thin, gray man standing along the sidewalk and looking into the underwear shop. Warm lights shine on golden torsos all peak and perk and very little waist. The cardboard ads propped up between dummies show women slumped in bras and pants and parts and looking up intent or askance or takeaway. But I have disturbed him and he slides off.

Up the street, a shop window full of one-wear dresses. The bodies are whole here, but mostly tucked away in great bells of consuming conspicuousness, and I may be the only man who has ever stopped here alone. I check the cost of one and vow to remain unsanctified.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002


Dinner at her parents, no inconvenient uncles or aunts, just good wishes and kissed cheeks, creepy dishes of jellied fish, old ornaments on a new tree, a few presents, walking the dog in a frosty park, and watching overwrought senior ballroom dancers (World Masters Professional Latin from Innsbruck, Austria!) on Eurosport. Then home with leftovers, and the discovery of a few more presents for the kid under our tree. This morning, watching birds find the new feeder, then the woman and kid off to ride horses in the cold while I read my presents. I'm getting used to this place. I hope you're used to where you are. Where else would we be?

Monday, December 23, 2002

Pickup Line

A toddler at the pub boots around the rug with a serious look while men ten times his size scream about a ski jumper on television. Mama? Mama shops, says Dada, and heads off for a found urinal while uncle keeps half an eye. The boy slip-slips snowsuit legs to the bar and stares into the dark wood.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Snow Job

We're at the window this morning watching the snow and resting after being horses and playing chess, sometimes at the same time.

The rules for being horses are too complicated to write here. She's a very good horse. I lack a bit of the spring, the certainty that I am a horse.

The rules for playing chess are whatever rules we remember. I remember part of what I learned in the fourth grade, in the days before her mother was born. She remembers her grandfather letting her pawns move backwards as needed. Also, my opponent might be Pikachu or a horse she knows called Waterloo or the cat (consulted at the heater) or a girl who should finish her cereal before the milk is cold.

"No one has a father like you," the kid says. Well, that's a dirty trick. I'm trying to watch the snow. "Yeah, yeah. Same to you. Now what about that cereal?"

Saturday, December 21, 2002


We piss through our hairy isthmus,
We piss through our hairy isthmus,
We piss through our hairy isthmus,
And we crap through our rear.

(I loathe shopping, shopping centers, and shopping peripherals. But this beer is pretty good.)

Friday, December 20, 2002


An American couple is talking on the other side of the room. She just asked for borscht when she should have said barszcz, a difference of one consonant in pronunciation, but the difference between former occupier and formerly occupied. And now an Englishman has come in. He was missing for a week, holed up in his flat with the malarial shakes, something left over from his Africa days. In assertive English, he orders an omelet with cheese, and the cheese has to be melted. Melted. My pal the cook will surely give it his special attention.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Goats of Christmas Past

With spirits whirling through his Christmas, Dickens still has one hand nudging at your elbow and another just resisting a clutch at a pretty girl's skirt.

Dickens watching the girls in the streets:
Here, again, were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling; and there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-booted, and all chattering at once, tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's house; where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter�artful witches, well they knew it�in a glow!

Admiring Scrooge's niece:
She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face; a ripe little mouth, that seemed made to be kissed -- as no doubt it was; all kinds of good little dots about her chin, that melted into one another when she laughed; and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature's head. Altogether she was what you would have called provoking, you know; but satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory!

Watching a young man and woman fumbling at a party:
And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing between him and Scrooge's nephew; and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker, was an outrage on the credulity of human nature. Knocking down the fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping against the piano, smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went, there went he. He always knew where the plump sister was. He wouldn't catch anybody else. If you had fallen up against him (as some of them did), on purpose, he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would have been an affront to your understanding, and would instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. She often cried out that it wasn't fair; and it really was not. But when at last, he caught her; when, in spite of all her silken rustlings, and her rapid flutterings past him, he got her into a corner whence there was no escape; then his conduct was the most execrable. For his pretending not to know her; his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head-dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain chain about her neck; was vile, monstrous. No doubt she told him her opinion of it, when, another blind-man being in office, they were so very confidential together, behind the curtains.

Jealous of the children tumbling over the daughter Scrooge never had:
The consequences were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. What would I not have given to one of them! Though I never could have been so rude, no, no! I wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair, and torn it down; and for the precious little shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off, God bless my soul! to save my life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have done it; I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and never come straight again. And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The Pants and Who Wears Them

Someone has run out of underwear and taken a pair of mine.

I'm at work. She rides horses almost every day.

I'm getting an ironing board for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


An old conceit: if the young me somehow walked by me today, what strange uncle might that witless kid think I am. My hair now razed, then long and wavy red. My skin then set smooth sails, now in the doldrums. I can feel a scar on my head where a little girl heaved a very big rock at a little boy instead of into a brook. There's another scar where a deaf dog bit a boy resting from crazy tackle in the grass. My skull is scored. I keep brown leaves and chestnuts and white shells on the sill. I write these things.


Three seeming sisters appear in the door and stare down the menu. This looks like trouble. "The soup," they say, and huddle.

The fat cook swelters and they're satisfied, three in a line on a wooden bench.

I didn't hear the door but they're gone.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Brilliant Day

A girl in the snow outruns her father and makes her own clouds. Her father listens to birds and the girl laughing. He can't keep up or know where she's going. The snow is so bright he has to shade his eyes. When he staggers over the hill, she jumps him and dusts him with snow. Then she runs again and he's gone.

Sunday, December 15, 2002


The cat walks in, looks at me, turns around, and lifts her tail. A rude reminder of my morning's duty. From the dreaded bag's label:

Lecho Para Gatos
Lettiera Per Gatti
Leito Para Gato
Cat Litter
Litere Pour Chats
�wirek Dla Kota
חול לחתולים
Άμμoσ Υγιειυήσ
Песок Для Кота
Kraikas Kat�ms
Nisip Pentru Pisici
Kedi Kumu

She has feet of clay.

Saturday, December 14, 2002


In an eatery outside the hospital, a cluster of professional squeezers and feelers, plastic surgeons and baby doctors, finger their personal assistants under the table. A waitress covers their white tablecloth with steaming chops and chicken, then moves off in a slow two-cycle walk for the rest of us. Doctors take up knives and pare off flesh and bone.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Death's Dateless Night

The black is good. Black never goes out of style. But the whole hood and robe thing. I got to do something about the hood and robe. Chicks don't go for the draped look much anymore. Not like in the 60s.

And the scythe. But, hey, fuck 'em. I'm a bad boy, right? Chicks are supposed to go for bad boys, am I right?

So how come no one calls back? Here I am, baby, waiting for you.

Thursday, December 12, 2002


The Dow that can be charted is not the eternal Dow.

The name that can be registered is not the eternal name.

Do without doing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002


I've been sitting at the bar for twenty minutes and my nails are still blue, the backs of my hands white renaissance craquelure. On the radio, Oh, need you, Oh, love you, an entire song hung on one bell. In the corner, an intense woman whose name might be Blanche Davidian looks through rugby trophies to apply madagascar to her brows. Leaning in the doorway to the back, the cook sneezes into his palm and wipes it on his jeans. "Good health," calls the bartender without looking up from his soup, and the cook retreats to the kitchen.

Monday, December 09, 2002


It's almost eel season here, eel in oil and vinegar and spice. A jellied eels slips your plate. And eel in mustard bites your tongue and gullet and goes down.

Sunday, December 08, 2002


On the flat snow, a curved spine of earthen eruptions. How does the mole tunnel in this weather?

Saturday, December 07, 2002


It's only the seventh but something's astir. Yesterday six bean geese (Anser fabalis) flew over in a neat puzzle for Pythagoreans. A black-and-white cat dismembered a starling (Sturnus vulgaris) in the snow. It stood on the carcass and pulled up with its teeth. Later I went to check the remains. Speckled wings. Our cat this morning winked at us green. Outside, sparrows (Passer domesticus) were fruit in the bushes. Eight jackdaws (Corvus monedula) picked at the mud where a steam pipe runs under the ground and keeps off the snow. A larger and scruffier ninth jackdaw standing off to one side had difficulty with the f when he looked straight at me and said uck awwwf.

Friday, December 06, 2002


Venus between dark clouds was bright over the bus stop this morning. Eleven people stood on the sidewalk. I wait by myself on the other side of the wall so I can stand back and watch the others waiting. No one looked up today at the only thing in the sky.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Porn (Without Sex)

Last night, I come home and no one's there, so I kick off my shoes and make a cup of tea and eat leftovers and unbutton my pants and relax. I turn on the radio and it's jazz, man, mysteriously compelling but lame 1970s jazz. Cool bongos and bass snared in the baling wire of some damned Radio Shack kit synthesizer. Soundtrack jazz. Music for dirty movies.

My doorbell rings. It's the woman from upstairs, smiling, licking wet lips. Bongos in the background. She says that the guy had come to read the gas meter earlier and only my woman was not home, so the meter man and she had it not off in the hallway. He left this note that slipped down the steps and that she's handing me. I catch her not looking down at my pants, which I've not forgotten to button, and I don't invite her in for a fast, noisy one. Swelling synthesizer and throbbing bass.

I'm just relaxing again, not having a smoke and whisky, when the doorbell rings again. Shit. Now what? Bass thumping. It's a different neighbor this time, an older one wearing a fur coat and a skirt. She's just let my cat in the front door and wants me to know she's waiting for me hungrily in the stairwell.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002


The pretty girls in the corner have ordered tripe soup. I saw it for a moment steaming on the counter. Now they sip and nibble sticked lips and polished teeth through thin strips of honeycomb, one of the 'miscellaneous variety meats'. They stomach stomach.

One recipe begins: "Thoroughly wash tripe, scald with boiling water, scrub, cut off dark ends, rinse once again, put into boiling water and cook covered for 15 minutes. Drain, put into freshly salted boiling water, cover and cook on a low flame until completely tender (about four hours). Drain, save some stock, cool and cut into thin strips." To which I could add only: see if the cat will eat it.

Monday, December 02, 2002


The kid and the woman rode horses in the snow yesterday. Apples, muzzles, steam, manure, hooves, brushes, bridles, saddles. The kid still rides at the end of the trainer's tether. The woman is galloping now.

But horses do most of the work, so that burned off just half the kid's energy. Later it was my turn. After sundown, in the long twilight, we left mama at home and went out into the woods to ride the humble plastic garbage bag.

We met another man and girl in the woods. He was trying to exhaust his girl, so we shared their slope for a few runs, but his kid was already dropping and mine was still fresh. So we went on to steeper hills alone.

The kid ran up and slid down every hill that had a slope without trees. She wondered whether I would go all the way home, get her a drink, and come back out into the dark woods to find her. No. So she ate snow. She was sore and tired and had worked up a sweat. And still she ran up every hill.

And home. When will she get to ride the horse again? Soon, but. Will she go sliding again? Yes, yes, but eat, sleep. Sleep. Yes, but you have to sleep.

Sunday, December 01, 2002


I put the cat out in the snow. (It is snowing now deep snow. The author watches snow, to which he can add nothing. His works have been translated into French and German.) She doesn't come back. More snow and more snow and cat less. I feel guilty. I walk around outside calling her name in the pathetic high-pitched woo-hoo voice I speak only when I call the cat. It's like calling hogs but with more fur. Sooey. But the cat's name is Zuzia. Zuuu-zia. But no cat. Around in the snow I walk. I think I hear her and I go around a corner and in a pine is a blackbird (Turdus merula indeed) silently staring at me with one yellow eye. I'm sure it was him just a second earlier imitating me calling the cat or imitating the cat calling me. And it manages to keep a straight face.