augury doggerel

Sunday, February 27, 2005


A tall skinny Frenchman in black but for red gloves gets coffee and cheesecake for himself and his companion. He counts his money out with long red woolen fingers. It is cold outside but not cold in here. His companion is just like him but short and not skinny and without red gloves. But he is also French.

France is something I have read about. They speak French there, for instance. They speak French here, too, in a corner with red gloves and without red gloves, and nibble cheesecake microwaved warm on the recommendation of the slinky woman who manages this place.

The slinky woman is slinky from table to table. She slinks to a standstill and slinks standing still.

The other woman has no intention. She would not slink for you or for me, and it is no matter of dimensions. Here she comes across the room, down a step, with a tray of lighted candles that barely flicker. This is the wind-tunnel test in the School for Ladies, an experiment in fluid mechanics at the bra factory. I try to think how to describe her face and throat and breasts lighted by a dozen candles.

The tall skinny Frenchman lifts his fork in a red glove as she passes and looks the other way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

6:43 6:44 6:45 6:46 6:47 6:48 6:49 6:49 6:49

I almost faint at the bus stop this morning. Burred vlision. Chills. Sweats. Freezing sweat. Concentrate on something else. I think it was Schopenhauer's birthday yesterday. I like to track the local folk. Don't fall over. Loosen my collar. (Zip!) I was reading Schopenhauer last night (Zip!) and I think that Schopenhauer was right. I hang on to a lamp post and hope no one is looking.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


It happened before I could think. It was just an accident. She grabbed the scissors, she started to run, and

I told her not to run with scissors.

Here I am, just like all the others. The scissors lie in front of me now, mock me, dare me to pick them up and run.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It's Fixed!

I win the second annual St. Valentine's Day Limerick Contest. Normally, I might not have gone for it, but: "Extra points this year for references to medical pioneers, microscopic animals and skin conditions."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


After coffee, there is time for a little of old Danzig. As we walk along Ulica Swietego Ducha, which in English would be the Street of the Holy Ghost and in German was Heilige-Geist-Gasse, we come to number 45 or to number 47 or perhaps to number 81, any of which may have been number 114 in the old numbering system. In fact, we come to nothing, and it is dark and cold, and we are only me, for you are not here and I am here making up everything in my head, and there is nothing to show where the king of pessimists took his first steps.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


The woman would be jumping horses but she is sick, sends the kid away, lives in a heap in the dark. She watches every Fawlty Towers in two sittings wearing headphones and all I hear is the laugh, her laugh, then Her laugh, Her laugh, Her laugh. The horses must miss her.


A warm day, all birds, then snow comes hard again at night and I go out to the woods. No prints, just my creaking feet to remind me each step someone's out here. Then human tracks and I follow, the social reflex, while I write in my head. In a clearing the statue of Gutenberg, a man in a cape, is caped again in snow, and little swastikas are sprayed round the base. Then out on the street I walk in car tracks and hear nothing. Street lights turn on and off as I go by, some kind of trick.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Test Pattern

The kid rolls over and says:
Potato, tomato, the chicken is licking the car.
I'm not very happy today but you are.

Is this on?

I'm just playing. And writing limericks.

By the way, she gave me the mitten. In fact, she gave me two.

Friday, February 04, 2005


It all depends, of course, on where you sit. Where I sit on the bus, the doors swing open and all the cold comes in and I am mumbling to close the things and get us on our way. The steam rolls from my nose and down my chest and it's too cold to hold my book and read.

But then the door jams open with the frost and we are off through snowy pinking woods, a morning open-air ride through the trees.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pan Bogdan

We used to watch the gardener from our window at work and say he had the best job, out in summer in the grass or winter in the snow. He scattered grass seed with his hand and mowed the grass when it had grown long enough. We watched him on his smoke breaks in the shade.

His enemy was the mole at night. Our gardener would surround fresh molehills with bottles upended on stakes to send the sound of wind down their tunnels, but the mole was not so easily put off and each morning new eruptions spotted his lawn.

When our gardener stopped coming to work not long ago, we wondered where he was. Yesterday, we were told he had been in hospital with lung cancer, just breathing, "no lungs at all," and that yesterday he died.

On a break in the afternoon a friend at work and I were talking. He's the oldest man here now -- "just two years younger" -- and he showed me pictures of his village cottage and garden and a satellite photo of where we all live, and he had one picture of our gardener they happened to take when they were trying out a new camera.

Today is as good a day as any for a funeral. There is a fine half moon this morning and the ground is hard and I can see from my window at work three molehills on the frosty grass.