augury doggerel

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I'm getting to this.
her-ni-a (h�r'nee uh) n. pl. <-ni-as, -ni-ae>(-nee ee )
1. the protrusion of an organ or tissue through an opening in its surrounding walls, esp. in the abdominal region.
[1350-1400; ME < L: a rupture; akin to hira gut; see HARUSPEX]
Derived words
--her'ni-al, adj.

OK, let's see this HARUSPEX:

ha-rus-pex (huh rus'peks, har'uh speks ) n. pl. (huh rus'puh seez)
1. one of a class of ancient Roman diviners who based their predictions on the interpretation of animal entrails, natural prodigies, and unusual meteorological phenomena.
[1575-85; < L, = haru-, akin to hira intestine, Gk chord� gut (see CHORD 1) + spec (ere) to look at + -s nom. sing. ending]
Derived words
--ha-rus'pi-cy, n.

Fine. I'll be back in a few days with my X-ray haru-spex.

Monday, March 29, 2004


You work for an hour and are asked, Do you want to save the changes you made? And this is difficult. All of them? Since when?

Sunday, March 28, 2004


This link is sucked pudding through a thin straw. Until I get back to the industrial pipes, I am not quite all here.

Meanwhile, I look out at the audience and, as you are advised, I imagine them all naked. Sure, I'm a bit shaky and I don't know what to do with my hands, but I've prepared my speech: "But, officer, I was only imagining..."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


At the jumping competition, all went well�horses leapt, people cheered, ribbons were won�until one horse maddened and frothed in a paddock corner. The owner was in Warsaw and would come home to a dead horse. The rider is imaginable. The horse is not.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


John Davidson was one of the fin-de-si�cle poets who met at the Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street, and called themselves the Rhymers' Club. They attempted to simplify and purify English verse. If you've heard of him, it's probably for "Thirty Bob a Week," about which T.S. Eliot wrote, "The personage that Davidson created in this poem has haunted me all my life, and the poem is to me a great poem forever."

But that was one poem. Success was brief and he had money problems that a loan from George Bernard Shaw did not solve. On this day in 1909, John Davidson went down to the water at Penzance, swam out and away from England and debt and failure, and did not swim back.

Here's another of his poems. I wonder when the swim formed in his mind.

A Runnable Stag

When the pods went pop on the broom, green broom,
  And apples began to be golden-skinned,
We harboured a stag in the Priory coomb,
  And we feathered his trail up-wind, up-wind,
  We feathered his trail up-wind --
    A stag of warrant, a stag, a stag,
    A runnable stag, a kingly crop,
    Brow, bay and tray and three on top,
    A stag, a runnable stag.

Then the huntsman's horn rang yap, yap, yap,
  And 'Forwards' we heard the harbourer shout;
But 'twas only a brocket that broke a gap
  In the beechen underwood, driven out,
  From the underwood antlered out
    By warrant and might of the stag, the stag,
    The runnable stag, whose lordly mind
    Was bent on sleep, though beamed and tined
    He stood, a runnable stag.

So we tufted the covert till afternoon
  With Tinkerman's Pup and Bell-of-the-North;
And hunters were sulky and hounds out of tune
  Before we tufted the right stag forth,
  Before we tufted him forth,
    The stag of warrant, the wily stag,
    The runnable stag with his kingly crop,
    Brow, bay and tray and three on top,
    The royal and runnable stag.

It was Bell-of-the-North and Tinkerman's Pup
  That stuck to the scent till the copse was drawn.
"Tally ho! tally ho!" and the hunt was up,
  The tufters whipped and the pack laid on,
  The resolute pack laid on,
    And the stag of warrant away at last,
    The runnable stag, the same, the same
    His hoofs on fire, his horns like flame,
    A stag, a runnable stag.

"Let your gelding be: if you check or chide
  He stumbles at once and you're out of the hunt;
For three hundred gentlemen, able to ride,
  On hunters accustomed to bear the brunt,
  Accustomed to bear the brunt,
    Are after the runnable stag, the stag,
    The runnable stag with his kingly crop,
    Brow, bay and tray and three on top,
    The right, the runnable stag."

By perilous paths in coomb and dell,
  The heather, the rocks, and the river-bed,
The pace grew hot, for the scent lay well,
  And a runnable stag goes right ahead,
  The quarry went right ahead --
    Ahead, ahead, and fast and far;
    His antlered crest, his cloven hoof,
    Brow, bay and tray and three aloof,
    The stag, the runnable stag.

For a matter of twenty miles and more,
  By the densest hedge and the highest wall,
Through herds of bullocks he baffled the lore
  Of harbourer, huntsman, hounds and all,
  Of harbourer hounds and all --
    The stag of warrant, the wily stag,
    For twenty miles, and five and five,
    He ran, and he never was caught alive,
    This stag, this runnable stag.

When he turned at bay in the leafy gloom,
  In the emerald gloom where the brook ran deep,
He heard in the distance the rollers boom,
  And he saw in a vision of peaceful sleep,
  In a wonderful vision of sleep,
    A stag of warrant, a stag, a stag,
    A runnable stag in a jewelled bed,
    Under the sheltering ocean dead,
    A stag, a runnable stag.

So a fateful hope lit up his eye,
  And he opened his nostrils wide again,
And he tossed his branching antlers high
  As he headed the hunt down the Charlock glen,
  As he raced down the echoing glen
    For five miles more, the stag, the stag,
    For twenty miles, and five and five,
    Not to be caught now, dead or alive,
    The stag, the runnable stag.

Three hundred gentlemen, able to ride,
  Three hundred horses as gallant and free,
Beheld him escape on the evening tide,
  For out till he sank in the Severn Sea,
  Till he sank in the depths of the sea --
    The stag, the buoyant stag, the stag
    That slept at last in a jewelled bed
    Under the sheltering ocean spread,
    The stag, the runnable stag.

Monday, March 22, 2004


Just now, two field-colored deer meet a man walking the rail road. They halt and bounce in the brush, then turn and bright white bums across the field. "The rump patch becomes white and expands to form a large disc when they are excited or alarmed," say deer watchers with the British Forestry Commission, and they're right.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


At the art museum here, you are trailed by women. They turn on lights as you enter their section, they watch you look, and they turn out lights as they pass you off to the women of the next section, the next lights, the next watching. There is a prescribed circuit, and they want you to walk it once and leave. Still, the collection is bad and you don't want to see things twice.

As I move toward the door and finally out of their way, I see one pair of my followers pour their coffee at a window sill, and, in the next section, another pair sit down to lunch laid out on another sill. I wish them a good meal and I go out into the park.

Even the trees have provenance cards, but there are ducks and running water and winding paths here, there's a concrete whispering gallery that smell of urine, and a gazebo is full of men and women drinking beer from cans and laughing.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Klek klek klek klek

Stork luck breaks down like this: You see a stork fly, you have good luck. You see a stork walk, you have bad luck. You see a stork nest, you begin to collect your own sticks.

This morning, when a big invisible stage manager parted fat clouds and pushed the sun through the space, I looked out the window and saw seven storks find an up-spiral. They did not move their wings, but rose bill to tail on their own good luck.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Id�e Fixe

The kid has lost the same tooth twice, once when she worked at it and pulled it out rather than wait, and once again when she could not then find it at bedtime. She cries, but the tooth fairy wants hard teeth, not talk.

The cat, meantime, has lost his balls, snipped off this morning. He hides away and mewls in a dark room. There is no ball fairy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


I wouldn't waste so much hot water if I could avoid imagining Sister Windy wafting through museums in a billowing habit, or if I couldn't sing Old McDonald to the tune of Biko. (And the poultry inspectors are watching now, watching now.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


The kid screams she's not Michelangelo and throws down pencils, so I show her Miro and Mondrian in real books. She goes off and returns as a cat with a bee-bunny drawing in her teeth.

Monday, March 15, 2004


Four roe deer does now.

Sunday, March 14, 2004


Outside, spring rain and umbrella ladies walking to church. Inside, a girl in thick socks and nightgown eating warm cereal and milk in bed, building mutant spiders.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


I've just been reminded that I wasn't here 43 years and a day ago.
Another of the king's chief men, approving of his wise words and exhortations, added thereafter: "The present life of man upon earth, O king, seems to me, in comparison with that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the house wherein you sit at supper in winter, with your ealdormen and thegns, while the fire blazes in the midst, and the hall is warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow are raging abroad. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry tempest; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter into winter again. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all. If, therefore, this new doctrine tells us something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed." The other elders and king's counsellors, by Divine prompting, spoke to the same effect.
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England

I'm made of tougher stuff; it would take more than death to convert me. But life is frighteningly beautiful and brief.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Almost home from work and two swans dip necks in the pond and pull up from the bottom. Their necks are related to dinosaur, come down through snake, kiss cousin with this girl and another at the bus stop.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


On the radio, a report that storks have been spotted crossing our border. But I knew this morning when songbirds were waiting at the bus stop. (Songbirds to us; to them, they are talking up their fierce strength and exquisite fuckability.)

Sunday, March 07, 2004


All day with a girl who thinks she's a pony or a tax inspector or a cha-cha dancer. So far, she loves Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, she's not sure about Nat King Cole, she's glad Frank Sinatra is dead (in those words), and the Polish woman who sings about our four-legged friends makes her a hoofer. When I fall asleep, it will be forever.

Saturday, March 06, 2004


At the bus stop after work, almost dark, we stand in the snow, a woman on a phone, a woman and man smoking and talking, a man on a phone, a man looking and shuffling. A planet and a helicopter, a full moon and light plane, Orion and spouts of smoke. The houses burn coal. In the nearest house, a woman in a shift works a knife at something. I see right through her kitchen.

Thursday, March 04, 2004


The newer beast at home, a cat six months old, takes no shit. I mistakenly had him dance the mambo (we call him black mamba) to get the kid out of bed, and ended with a bitten nose. I went to work when the bleeding stopped. The kid was fully awake.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

A Tee-Too

My mother must be 82 today. Far awa' and auld.

When I was wee, she used to tell me, I would call a cow (a coo in her dialect) a tee-too.


Another farmhouse gone along the road to my job in the nanometer trade. There was a workhorse here and wandered chickens and a dog spun from rope. I looked there just Sunday but the yard was empty. Now the house and all outbuildings, all the red bricks, everything is gone but, for now, the old trees. They're widening the road for us without hooves and furrows to follow.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Just out this window, four deer across the snow, one behind the others. The three in front cross the road but cars leave the last one standing alone in the brush. It's cold and I see her breathe. I type blind (fix after) and spill tea and watch and she breathes white and steps in the snow. The others don't wait.


Girl in a baby-blue sweater has been through the swinging door three times to run down her phone and recharge her nipples, which are the miracle of the age. We follow her progress keenly but

Girl in a gray sweater laughs and stretches when she's gone and she's gone.

Monday, March 01, 2004


Nogirl walks intonight with outknowing the gandk are silent.