augury doggerel

Tuesday, September 30, 2003


I read Pablo N and he slips into Smoove B via the Marquis de S. You must be careful how you read, what you read. Read not too closely, not too randomly, not too late at night. Girl, there will be candles. There will be hot wax dripping. I will take you to the edge and hear you scream out the stars, for tonight I can write the sadist poem. Damn.

Monday, September 29, 2003


In the afternoon, when we're all coming in from Sunday, the usual three toughs from the bus department get on for a surprise ticket inspection. The man with a big bucket of mushrooms on the floor has a ticket. The man with the nylon gym bag has a ticket. I have a ticket. The two women in gaudy track suits have tickets. The woman near the door is suddenly talking and the inspector standing over her motions another to come back him up. The woman near the door is getting louder. The pitch of her voice rises. No, she has no ticket. She has no money. She has children, not money. The inspector is trying to convince her to lower her voice. She won't. He is speaking softly now. The inspector looks frustrated or embarrassed. She cries. She tells the bus she has no money. She tells us she has food to buy. She tells us she has rent to pay. She has heating bills. She has no money for this. Come with us. Come with us. The inspectors take her off at the next stop.

Friday, September 26, 2003


A mustached man comes in and stands at the bar and stares at the bartendinatrix waiting on the other side. She says 'Good evening, sir' and smiles. He waits three seconds, four seconds, then says GOOD EVENING MA'AM with enough voice for two or three men. Everyone looks. I HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR YOU, MA'AM. Everyone looks even more. HOW DID LECHIA DO? BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN A GREAT LECHIA FAN FOR TWENTY YEARS. I AM TERRIBLY EMOTIONALLY INTERESTED IN THE OUTCOME OF THE LECHIA MATCH.

He's not angry, he's not yelling. He's not apparently excited at all. He looks the opposite of excited. The music is quiet and he has no reason to think the bartendinatrix can't hear him. Maybe he's deaf? Maybe his parents were deaf? Maybe he's a tester at the fireworks factory? But I'm sure his hearing is fine. He understands the bartendinatrix when he turns his back to hang his jacket.

He gets a juice (A RASPBERRY JUICE) and sits at a table (IS THIS TABLE FREE?) and waits. Two young women come in and take a table next to his. He asks them, DO YOU LADIES FOLLOW LECHIA? DO YOU KNOW THE OUTCOME OF THE MATCH? They are not football fans. He turns and stares straight ahead with both hands neatly around his glass of juice.

I'm afraid he'll ask me, but then a cell phone rings and he answers. He's not deaf. HELLO. YES, I'M AT THE PUB. I HAVE JUST ARRIVED. NO, I DON'T KNOW. NO ONE KNOWS. In the same voice. The pieces snap together. He's speaking Cellphonese. He's a Cellphonian. After the call (GOODBYE), he walks up to the bar and asks, COULD I GET A STRAW? THANK YOU.

(I just checked. There was no match. There has been no match for several days.)

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Old World

A spider in the bathtub big and athletic enough to make me woo the woman. We glass her, slide an envelope under light feet, and look inside at a sprawl from lip to lip of the overturned glass. Out, I'm told, and I don't argue. Days are getting cold, but she outlegs us, ravels our nerves, and we need to breathe at night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Somehow I live with an accordion- and piano-playing, figure-skating, ballet- and ballroom-dancing, aerobics-springing, horseback-riding, English-teaching, kid- and hair-raising woman a dozen years my junior. I'm afraid to look. Is that telephone doodling or Sanskrit? Is that a vacuum cleaner or a time machine? Next time I trip over my laces, I'll claim I'm learning to be a stunt man and hope she doesn't produce a cannon and net from under the bed.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Slowly I Turned

My friend Dan introduced me to interesting music in about 1980 when we still lived in and around pestilential Niagara Falls and you had to drive to Buffalo or Toronto to find a good record. I haven't lived there in years and Dan no longer lives anywhere, which, no, is not better than living in Niagara Falls.

I thought about Dan recently and remembered some of the music from that time. He was crazy about Holger Czukay. I haven't heard them since they were new, but certain songs � "Cool in the Pool" and "Hit Hit Flop Flop" and "Hey Baba Rebop" � are still in my head and still make me happy. So I scanned the electromagnetographic book-o-tron, and there was Holger Czukay himself, with his own web site.

Czukay was born in � hmm � Danzig in 1938 and escaped with his mother on a German troop train in 1946 before maddened Russians and Poles raced in. Studied under Stockhausen, was a member of Can, then went solo. A pioneer of experimental electronic music and still a leading proponent.

I wrote to Mr Czukay, told him how and why I was thinking about him, asked for the address of his old house, and went to sleep. The next day I had an answer from Holger. His birthplace is not far from where I live now and just a minute's walk from where I lived when I was single. Temporal strangers, spatial neighbors.

I walked out there. The street is narrow and quiet. The buildings look old enough to be his old neighborhood, his old house, though a couple of homes are converted to modern businesses�computers, acupuncture�and the sides of the street are crowded with parked cars. There was a cat on the step and the sound of dishes and cutlery coming from inside. But you can't stand in the street and stare at someone's house and you can't go in.

I walked back to look at my old place, another pre-war home. The balcony my cat fell off and the garden where she hid. My door, my gate, my cobblestone street. The windows we opened to let out the steam of our party and blast the neighborhood with loud music one New Year's eve.

My friend Dan, the one who introduced me to Holger Czukay's music, kept a web site, Waterpower at Niagara, an online history of electrical power generation at Niagara Falls. This was his other mania, local history, the history of the falls.

After he died, the web site stayed up. I would sometimes go back to it. I could click and look. Here was Niagara Falls. Here was hydroelectricity. Here were the black-and-white faces of people he used to chuckle about as if he had known them. And here was his face in color. Eventually the web site went down. It's in the Wayback Machine, but they've lost his face.

I looked and found his wife's name in an online family tree database. Apparently she has married a guy named Chucky. Not Charles or even Chuck, but Chucky. Or maybe Chuckie. The database has since been passworded and I don't trust my memory.

My friend's son, who was small and moonfaced the last time I saw him, is now in his late teens. I found his address buried in an online product review and wrote to him. He said one day his father just finished dinner, sat on the couch, made some strange noises, and died.

Dan's messages about music are still hiding in old newsgroup archives. There's some real overgrown fanboy stuff there: "If electricity and magnetism could sing, it would sound like this. This music is the electrical interplay between the lobes of Holger's brain." Maybe. I'll listen again. But I'm thinking of a John Cage song, the text of which is supposedly based on Thoreau's journal entries on telegraph wires singing in the wind.

No danger that worms will attack. Thrill them to death. Sounds. Mad so long. What more wonderful than a wire stretched between two posts? Buzzing strings. Will be. The telegraph harp. Wind is from the north, the telegraph does not sound. Aeolian. Orpheus alive. It is the poetry of the railroad. By one named electricity. Like a harp high overhead.

I might write to Holger again. Or tune the guitar.

Saturday, September 20, 2003


After work, a woman with a small girl heaves bread at ducks. It's harder than you know before it's you and a kid and forty unnoticing ducks. They are left with nothing to do but home. The ducks don't care. They aren't eating. I think they're listening to me sing as high and soft as I can sing without attracting lonely policemen.

Friday, September 19, 2003


{It's talk like a pyrite day.}

Thursday, September 18, 2003


At work we're building Faraday cages big enough to work in, perfect asylums for folk with metal-lined hats. Not me. I follow Mesmer and Galvani.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


I see that a woman I lived with and almost phew never except that one time sort of but not is now a standup comic. Add to this the early girlfriend with whom also never in those days what are you nuts we were kids is now a lesbian nun. It's enough to give a guy doubts. Where are the others? In the deep-space solo astronaut corps? Running a moss farm in the Yukon? But there's nothing to make of it, except that I hope I helped them along a little in their careers. The latest has taken to horses. I'd look it up, but we don't keep Viennese sausages psychoanalysts on our shelves.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


The bartendinatrix is having herself a chain reaction with Diana Ross and a mirror and a thousand transvestites on MTV Polska. Will she survive? Yes, hips handed down from countless Aunt Esthers aver that she will survive. But will she pour me a beer?

Happy Birthday, Li.

Monday, September 15, 2003


First, the sound of chickens made me look up in time to see a white goose flying low and perhaps being talked about by chickens. Then all of us into the woods. I'm not a mushroomer but I found a good one today, golden stalk and helmet and sponge, something I might have eaten on the spot if I was alone. I walked on tether and moss behind a kid circled by a woman unless there were spiders. That's how we went on one of the last good days. And I've just plucked something itchy off my back.

Sunday, September 14, 2003


You might suppose if you spent your life looking for dwarves, that you would see them everywhere. But I do look for dwarves lately and they aren't everywhere. Today I see my only dwarf again, the construction worker from the bus, for only the second time.

Our bus pulls up at the light and he's at the wheel of a white work van in the other lane. Later, I wonder how he works the pedals and sees over the dash, and how he manages in the land of the Ditch Witch and giant Caterpillars. But when I see him, I have time just to wonder what makes him so angry. I can't hear him, but he's yelling at something, screaming over the dashboard, turning his big face red, while two regular-sized workmates next to him in the van stare ahead.

Thursday, September 11, 2003


It's cool and misty this morning, good weather for running through wet leaves, for mushrooming snout to the ground. Then hard trotters clipping on slick asphalt.

A man is standing at the side of the road, looking at the front of his car and at a wild boar as big as a man lying still on the verge. She had beautiful streaked fur.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Seventy Feet Down

The kid has wet her bed and wandered in and, after changing, fallen into our own. Now with the cat hopped up from midnight wilds, the four of us breathe down the mattress springs. I'd dream whatever men dream in my place, but woman, girl, and cat are elbowing, and morning finally piles on with the rest of them and makes me work to let them sleep. They don't hear what I'm singing in the shower, and I have no idea what going on inside three kicking brains curled in our bed, except we need the time away from us, and door locks clack to keep us in and out.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003


A wagtail comes to my sill each morning when the sun hits this building. She's brown, with dark eyes. When she has run her beak through all her feathers and stretched and warmed herself, she walks along the ledge looking for breakfast, looking not out across a surface of water, but up along our surface of glass.

Monday, September 08, 2003


This is when people wander out of their homes, into the woods and off the trails, looking into leaves. We were out just after six in the morning with an empty bucket.

We caught frogs and saw big snails glued to trees and stepped around spider webs and ate sweet berries and clover leaves that taste like lemons. A red squirrel leapt treetop to treetop. We heard a hawk somewhere. There were hoof prints at the watering holes, deer or boar or both. The kid sang a song about going back to school.

We were hopeless but happy mushroomers. The woman knows best and the woman, I know, mostly guessed. But we took home a mixed bucket for her father to bifocal and divide: here is death, here is breakfast, here is another death.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


The girl or the woman who was thirty or fifteen and stood over me on the bus looked as soft and smooth and pale as a baby's simile. I would have given her my seat but there were other places to sit and other places to stand, so I left her standing over me. I was reading Russian translated into English and she was reading Russian translated into English upside down and translated into Polish, but I was really watching her read my book and she had the vaguest smile. When I stood to get off the bus, she settled into my seat, which must have been warm. Then there was me and eleven ducks.