augury doggerel

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tongue Salad
Cut fresh-cooked beef's tongue or calf's tongue into dice. Have ready peeled perfectly round smooth tomatoes, take out the core and scoop out the seeds. Fill each tomato with the cubes of tongue, sprinkle over a teaspoonful of lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Stand these on nests of lettuce leaves, put on top of each a large tablespoonful of mayonnaise. Dust thickly with paprika and serve one to each person.

The Belgian Cookbook
Game is like Love, the best appreciated when it begins to go. Only experience will teach you, on blowing up the breast feathers of a pheasant, whether it ought to be cooked to-day or to-morrow. Men, as a rule, are very particular about the dressing of game, though they may not all be able to tell, like the Frenchman, upon which of her legs a partridge was in the habit of sitting. Game should be underdone rather than well done; it should never be without well-buttered toast underneath it to collect the gravy, and the knife to carve it with should be very, very sharp.

A cold sucks the urge and energy from me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

June in January

It is only now, after my tea has infused and my testicles have descended from somewhere deep within my abdomen, that I can enjoy this other part of winter, the one from near an open kitchen door, behind a steamy window, thawing among thawing people. This is the part that Bing Crosby tried to sell in the television specials he shot in warm weather between rounds of golf.

I mention old Bing because Bing is, of course, the God of Winter. Or because Bing is on the stereo when I walk into the used book store near the old hay market. The record crackles on the turntable and the cover shows Bing's crackled face (Morocco bound) under a fishing hat. It is his last recording. He finished it, flew to Spain, played a game of golf, and keeled over on the way to the clubhouse. As I walk in from the snow, Bing sings a jazzy rendition of "In the Good Old Summertime" and I hear no irony in his voice even though birds crystalize in midair and fall from the sky this morning. The sugary backup singers go long stretches without Bing, as if he is sitting and catching his breath.

The man at the book store talks to me of Bing as if I must be interested in Bing and knowledgeable of his life and career. He marvels that, as he has read on the back of the album cover, no one is sure when Bing was born. But, I tell him, we are all sure Bing is dead. Yes, he says, Bing is dead and Franek Sinatra (he says Franek) is dead, Franek Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack are all dead except Dean Martin. He believes Dean Martin is old but alive and I am willing to let him believe this.

The woman who appears from the back of the store tells me she is a painter, a poet, and something to do with strewing wildflowers. I don't understand the word she uses, but wildflower strewer sounds exactly right. I am certain she makes time to be a regular strewer of wildflowers. She asks me if I prefer beer or whisky, I think to determine whether I am Irish, and then she gets out an album by a hairy group of fellows called the Dubliners. But I must run, I am sorry, I must go, I must buy this cheap little book I'll never read and I must dash into the street.

Monday, January 23, 2006


My weekend has passed grr-manically in dishpanwashing and homeworkbadgering and coldwalkshivering and windchillfactoring and badheadachegrumbling.

But now I have before me an hour and a photograph of skaters on the moat around our city.

It is 1890. A brick and earth wall rises beyond the moat. It is white with snow and is many feet thick.

Safely behind the wall I see the ancient jail, the ancient torture house, the ancient Brotherhood of Saint George.

Outside the city wall on the frozen moat, people glide. A few of the skaters are men or boys in narrow pants but most are women with hems that reach the ice or girls in shorter affairs. They skate alone.

The plane on which the skaters skate, the frozen moat, is buried under highway now. There is no moat and there is no wall on either side of the old stone gate into the city.

Monday, January 16, 2006


While they sleep, I open a box. Pay stubs, tax returns, cat fur, dust.

Old letters from my mother, now so changed. She writes that she will send me a copy of a letter from her sister in Kirriemuir about people long gone.
John Cameron apparently came to Perth to do some kind of stonework on the Cathedral. Auntie Mem, my Godmother namesake always said he came from the West -- and that was that. She was the youngest of that family. She was the only one alive when we were growing up -- I wish we had asked her more.
She never sent me the copy. I don't know if the original exists. The originator is gone. The house is gone.

And here under the letters are pictures, pictures of imposter me smoking, drinking, philandering, a scrawny imposter dancing with a different woman. A New Year's Eve full of people I haven't seen in ten years dancing in my home so the neighbors all round us stood in their windows and glared. After, a woman slinks for me on a grand piano in the corner of my living room.

And under the pictures, journals the imposter must have kept. On real paper, of all things.

Three hours left to sleep. I'll never get up. I wish we had asked her more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

She is packing the Scala horses and sled to go to the Alps. I check the bottom of my teacup. Packing the Scala horses and sled. Packing the Scala horses and sled. I make her laugh, then laugh again, then laugh again, this last time almost just to show myself I can do it. One miniature woman with bendable legs has a baby. The other, whose legs also bend, is pregnant. Preparing the Scala horses and sled for an Alpine adventure. She has a Galupy and Diddl clock on the other. Preparing the Scala horses and sled for an Alpine adventure. She looks at the clock twice a day. I can hear it ticking right now. I force her to laugh. Harnessing the horses for a winter ride to the Alps. Getting the dog ready. I think she has laughed enough but I make her laugh anyway. She has a W.I.T.C.H. calendar on one wall. There is no tea in my cup. Leaving the dog behind. I don't look at the dates. I don't think she ever does. It is just a picture on the wall. She is packing the plastic horses, one chestnut, one roan or Appaloosa for all I know. I cannot be bothered with the color of a plastic horse just now. I have ways of making her laugh. She is packing the Scala horses and sled for the Alps. I convert to several religions and back. She is packing the Scala horses and sled for the Alps.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The way home, through the mall, stop for tea. A man in green sequins and a giant gold bow tie appears on a temporary stage near the fountain. After an introduction, he hoofs and sings to recorded cabaret tunes. Two dancing girls twirl umbrellas, shadow him, wag their bums. They distract fifty shoppers for the length of a song.

But I am home with cheese and bread and tomatoes and pears and cloves before I know he's famous: dancer, composer, guitarist, choreographer, recording star.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ouch, ouch, ouch! I give myself a chicken wing, a Chinese burn. Uncle!

Every day, every day, every day, even if everyday.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

This little slope at the edge of the woods is where we sled and snowboard and, just an hour or two ago, set off rockets and Roman candles.