Graeme Miles

Three Poems

Skilled Vacancy

“More skilled vacancies on offer.” And I
aspire to be a skilled vacancy,
always to know the right thing not to do when
anything enters my orbit, just how
to side-step it or guide it over
my shoulder like a well-mannered boy
practising Ju Jitsu. A skilled vacancy
will reply to “Occupation?” that it’s “just
someone” and that even that is two words
too many.

Occasionally: the idea

Occasionally: the idea of the frozen moment,
constant youth, constant growth,
money and jobs always springing up
in mushroom-time forever.
The city too, a nomad camp
turned to stone.
Or there’s the frozen story of the year,
Easter to Christmas,
and Books of Hours
with only the Office of the Dead
to let the wild creep in.
For now,
the days of the week
murder each other cheerfully
in a sort of Valhalla.

Who hammered

Who hammered out his arts
like a bouncer making order with his fists?
Who hollowed a chamber underground,
squared and packed the walls, mining
geometrically? Who sealed
the mouth, nose, ears, eyes
and arse of a killed cow so that none
of the liquid organs could escape? Who
distilled bees for the liquid summer?
A singer of cicada songs, endlessly
repetitive, songs where no verse
can be allowed to fall away,
where nothing can easily come in
or out, a parody of its totem insect
clinging to now withered things.
The spirit of skint, he brings along
his own grudging famine, its own
cause and effect, feeding only
on itself, dry as long nostalgia.
So of course the bees had died. Quiet
in place of humming in the ultraviolet
bushes. Quiet in the hives. Quiet
in the cells of unhatched eggs.

“Skilled Vacancy” and the one beginning “Occasionally: the idea …” have appeared in print in Empowa (Emerging Poets WA) issue 2.

Jordie Albiston

The Fall

Press On

Take short views of life – never further than dinner or tea.
– Rev. Sydney Smith

Press on, through the delicate day of your ritual reality:
the flags on the line, the forks in the drawer, the filial clichés
calling from coat-hangers on the back of the laundry door.

The verdict is hung from every angle, every peg: the leg
in the pantry, the salt in the pig. You endeavour to weigh all
these things up correctly, to provide due process for produce

in season, but feel disconnected to the whole domestic realm.
The fax is frantic, the telephone calls, the stove bell tolls for
you alone, so fill your lungs with suburban air and press on.

Yes, guide your hands to your father’s piano, and give them
up gently to familiar chords: raise your eyes to the long light
ahead, and press on. Though the heart has atrophied and the

numberless moments you thought you possessed have gone:
through the catacombs of conscience, the dreamless dawn
and the unfinished night filled with silent guests, press on.

Poet’s Ark

The poem is the boat, dictated by God, in strict
Old Testament terms. The ship-builder Noah
raises her pen, and copies by rote in the face of
the Flood its stern verse: Make thee a poem
of beautiful words, and rhymes shalt thou place
in the poem. Take to the poem every kind of
verb, and nouns and adjectives, line by line, and
make the poem short, and make the poem long
and make sure the poem can float. And create

thee a window in every page, for the reader to
look out on the world. And create thee a door
for the reader to open when the world does
not want her anymore. Thus it came to pass
Noah built her boat in the shape that God had
intended. She first sent the raven, and then sent
the dove, to test that the poem was filled with
love. And God was not angry, and the reader
not hungry, for the poem, at last, was complete.

How I spent the Night, in Twenty Lines or Less

for Debra Hewitt

I ran Rafter and Agassi fifth set seven times
and watched the ball fall on its face at the net.

I played Barenboim play Beethoven’s second
last sonata until the sounds parted into silence.

I burned incense hand made and blessed in
Tibet and breathed in the Holy One’s breath.

I read Rilke in particular at least thirteen times
the bit where he reckons No One Can Help.

I kicked quarters of valium down with a
vengeance and threw all my powers up hourly.

I ate herbs from the garden like a dog on my
knees and prayed to the thyme and to parsley.

I howled to the moon even though there was
not one and heard others like me howl also.

I fell through new doorways that weren’t there
before. I’m sure they weren’t there. I swear

with my hand on the Buddha’s bent back they
weren’t there before, they were walls. I never

slept once and I wasn’t ever missed and I didn’t
see Alien but I bet it went something like this.

Loving at the Ending of the World

for Ian McBryde

Love, the horizon is changing, and the surface
we stand on sinks slightly as the warm air rises.
A fog of silence surrounds the world, the odd
hole sucking the words right out of our mouths.

Love, we speak with our fingers, to protect the
language from mismanagement and overuse:
officially endangered, it will soon be forgotten
a species gone mute at its own pending extinction.

Love, we hold confessions, statements, admissions
promises, whole paragraphs close to our hearts.
Our minds wrap themselves around remaining
phrases as we whisper our pledge, never to forget.

Love, the dialogue weeps as it breaks into parts
sentence by sentence, clause by clause, right
down to the final letter. Entire volumes reduce
to soft ash which blows away on our breath.

Love, a poem loses its ink in the gutter, its life-
blood swirling in circles at our feet. The unread
script washes slowly somewhere, erased from all
memory: that poem will never be written again.

Love, the horizon lies on a very strange angle, and
millions have lost their tongues. The words I love
you cost more than we have, but we spend them
anyway, leaning, leaning, into the sun’s bright wind.

The Body Desires to Recover Its Soul

What, oh what would have to happen to me so that I may feel it?
– Rainer Maria Rilke

for Terry Jaensch

The body desires to recover its soul when
separated thus like a child from its mother
with miles and miles of silence between
it calls and it calls and then curdles its cry
to listen for a moment in case it’s been
heard, and starts up again when it knows

she will never return. The body desires to
recover its soul when split like a refugee
from her home country it walks and it walks
over barbed-wire acres with nothing but
memories and hope on its feet. The body
desires to recover its soul like the cup for

the saucer, like summer for heat, like a
dream for its dreamer all lost in the war
games of sleep. The body has tears and it
weeps and it weeps, for the soul has gone
missing, and it won’t be retracing its last
footfalls back: it will not be coming back.

From a new collection, The Fall, due out early next year. Previously published in print are: How I Spent the Night, in Twenty Lines or Less – Island, Jones Av. (Canada); Loving at the Ending of the World – Jones Av. (Canada); Press On – The Age.

Egon Tenert

LANGUAGE POLICE oder: Die alten Leiden mit den jungen Wörtern

Obwohl, oder vielleicht gerade weil ich selbst Anglist bin und die englische Sprache beinahe so sehr liebe und beherrsche wie meine Muttersprache, stört mich die zunehmende Anglisierung der deutschen Sprache, speziell in den Bereichen Mode, Freizeitgestaltung, Sport und Technik. Die Breitenwirkung von Politikern, TV-Moderatoren, Werbetextern und Film-Synchronisatoren (also nicht gerade die intellektuelle Elite der Gesellschaft) ist erschreckend und läßt für die Zukunft der deutschen Sprache das Schlimmste befürchten. Jeder (auch wenn er sich schon in der MIDLIFE-CRISIS befindet) will nur noch COOL sein (obwohl das ein alter Hut aus dem Jazzer-Slang der 50er ist), um sich so im vorauseilenden Gehorsam bei den KIDS anzubiedern, mittelmäßige Veranstaltungen werden als ULTRA-GEILE MEGA-EVENTS angepriesen, wo man jede Menge FUN und ACTION (das „T“ wird dabei natürlich immer zu Unrecht ausgesprochen!) haben kann, aber auch SHOPPING in der CITY macht erst so richtig HAPPY, wenn man MEGA-PERLS (warum nicht gleich PEARLS, verdammt noch einmal?) kauft. Auch Sportreporter, die an Rennläufer Fragen stellen wie „Wann hast du REALISIERT, dass du gewonnen hast?“ oder von einer „INITIATIVEREN (aktiveren) Mannschaft“ sprechen, sind schwerlich den intelligenten Lebensformen auf diesem Planeten zuzurechnen, da sie wohl niemals ERKENNEN oder BEGREIFEN werden, dass sie durch den Gebrauch von solch schlecht eingedeutschten Wörtern aus dem Englischen (realize) kaum zu Intellektuellen, sondern nur zu traurigen Witzfiguren werden können. Auch die Meldung, ein Stürmer habe mit seinem Tor seine Mannschaft IN FRONT gebracht, ist kaum ernst zu nehmen oder nachzuvollziehen, da dies im Englischen eine völlig andere Bedeutung hat bzw. in ganz anderem Zusammenhang gebraucht wird.

Eine andere Bedrohung kommt aus dem Kabel- und Satelliten-TV, über das man in Österreich die kommerziellen deutschen Programme empfangen kann. Was Hitler und Goebbels nicht gelungen ist, schafft das Fernsehen spielend: Den kulturellen Anschluß der „Ostmark“ an das „Deutsche Reich“! Schon die diversen „Talk-Shows“ mit den zumeist geistig minderbemittelten Teilnehmern, von denen man kaum jemals einen einwandfreien deutschen Satz hört, sind schlimm genug, doch werden sie von den unzähligen Werbeunterbrechungen noch übertroffen. Jedes der dort angebotenen Lebensmittel schmeckt angeblich LECKER – als ob es die Wörter KÖSTLICH, HERRLICH, PHANTASTISCH, AUSGEZEICHNET usw. nicht gäbe! Dieses so typisch piefkinesische Attribut kann einem Österreicher doch nur den Appetit verderben, da es eher an das Götz-Zitat als an eine delikate Speise erinnert. Ich halte auch nichts VON, bei Wörtern wie DABEI, DAVON, DAZU, DAFÜR usw. die Vorsilbe DA- wegzulassen, selbst wenn sie am Anfang des Satzes schon geben sollte. Leider finden unsere nördlichen Nachbarn jedoch nichts BEI, ihre Muttersprache auf diese Weise zu verstümmeln. Überhaupt scheint man in Deutschland ein gestörtes Verhältnis zu Präpositionen zu haben, sie KRIEGEN den korrekten Umgang damit einfach nicht AUF DIE REIHE, schon gar nicht IN DEN GRIFF.

Wenn ein Deutscher angesichts eines Problems meint, „DA MACH ICH MIR KEINEN KOPF“, denke ich, dass dies auch gar nicht nötig ist; es würde schon genügen, den bereits vorhandenen Kopf bzw. das darin (hoffentlich) vorhandene Gehirn zu benutzen und sich damit wenigstens GEDANKEN ZU MACHEN; man muß sich dafür nicht einmal DEN KOPF ZERBRECHEN.

Strukturelle Anglizismen schleichen sich heimlich über schlecht synchronisierte Filme ein, in denen Sätze wie „LET’S MAKE LOVE“ als „LASS UNS LIEBE MACHEN“ übersetzt werden, was man nicht einmal einem erstsemestrigen Studenten am Dolmetsch-Institut durchgehen lassen würde. Selbst wenn die Sprecherin einen noch so KNACKIGEN Hintern haben mag, könnte einem bei einem derartigen Angebot sofort die Lust vergehen, das mich jedenfalls überhaupt nicht ANMACHT (ein Ausdruck, der übrigens eher in die Pampers-Werbung passen würde und auch eine schlechte Übersetzung von „IT TURNS ME ON“ darstellt) oder gar AUFGEILT, sondern mich eher ABTÖRNT (was für eine geniale Wortschöpfung!). Man könnte auch von der unterschiedlichen Ausdrucksweise in diesem Bereich auf Unterschiede im Paarungsverhalten der Österreicher und Deutschen schließen, da die einen in der Regel MITEINANDER schlafen, die anderen zumeist nur ZUSAMMEN, beide allerdings auch tagsüber und mit offenen Augen. Der etwas aktivere Aspekt des MITEINANDER scheint darauf hinzudeuten, dass sich in österreichischen Betten mehr tut als in deutschen. So mancher Zeitgenosse, der nicht den Mut aufbrächte, eine Frau ohne Weiteres ANZUSPRECHEN oder gar ANZUMACHEN, geniert sich jedoch nicht, bei einer Diskussion ein Thema oder ein Problem ANZUSPRECHEN, das er eigentlich nur ANSCHNEIDEN bzw. AUFGREIFEN, vielleicht sogar ANREISSEN (aber keineswegs AUFREISSEN) dürfte.

Es sollte auch WIEDER EINMAL oder NOCH EINMAL darauf hingewiesen werden, dass EINMAL MEHR schon einmal zuviel ist, da es sich nur um eine zu Unrecht vorgenommene wörtliche Übersetzung der englischen Phrase ONCE MORE handelt. Es MACHT oder vielmehr HAT für mich auch KEINEN SINN, Wortpaare aus einer Sprache ohne Selektionsbeschränkungen in die andere zu übernehmen und gemeinsam anstatt getrennt zu übersetzen. Wäre es so einfach, dann könnte ja jeder (Blech-)Trottel Übersetzer werden.

Mögen die Deutschen auch den österreichischen Dialekt belächeln, so sind wir ihnen in grammatikalischer Korrektheit und Logik doch manchmal überlegen. Während ein Deutscher nämlich zwei Stunden lang wegen Konzertkarten an der Kassa GESTANDEN HAT um dann im Konzertsaal zu sitzen, so würde ein Österreicher zwar auch sitzen, wenn er bei einer Gerichtsverhandlung GESTANDEN HAT, aber nur im Gefängnis. Ich KANN ES AUCH NICHT AB (bzw. HALTE ES NICHT AUS), wenn Modalverben gegen jede Syntax-Regel mit Präpositionen anstelle von Infinitiven gebraucht werden, meiner Meinung nach MIT DAS SCHLIMMSTE Verbrechen gegen die deutsche Sprache (oder doch vielleicht nur EINES DER SCHLIMMSTEN ?) Auch die reflexiven Verben scheinen durch diesen Einfluß im Aussterben begriffen zu sein, die Gesetze der Valenzgrammatik werden ignoriert: „ENTSPANNEN SIE!“ rät mir der Fernsehdoktor, und „ES KÜHLT AB“ oder „ES LOCKERT AM NACHMITTAG AUF“ höre ich verblüfft bei der Wettervorhersage, und ich frage mich, WAS da wohl aufgelockert wird, weil es SICH ENTSPANNEN soll. Nun, ich GEHE DAVON AUS, dass SICH DIE BEWÖLKUNG AUFLOCKERT, ich kann dies als sicher annehmen. Wird jedoch ein Politiker nach einer Prognose für die Zukunft gefragt, so GEHT er zumeist VON ETWAS AUS, das er höchstens GLAUBEN, ERWARTEN oder VERMUTEN dürfte. Wer von Dingen ausgeht, die er noch gar nicht mit Sicherheit wissen kann, darf sich nicht wundern, wenn er nie irgendwo ankommt, schon gar nicht bei den Wählern, die sich ein klares, leicht verständliches Deutsch wünschen würden! Da wir schon bei Vermutungen und Schätzungen sind: Nach den Kosten oder Erträgen einer Maßnahme gefragt, gibt so mancher Politiker oder Wirtschaftsboß an (sofern er sich überhaupt eine konkrete Antwort entlocken läßt), sie würden (IN) ETWA soundso viele Millionen SCHILLINGE (die werden vermutlich in einem riesigen Rucksack transportiert) betragen.

Wenn jemand glaubt, irgend etwas UNTER BEWEIS STELLEN zu müssen, so BEWEIST er damit nur sein Defizit an Stilgefühl. Ich mache mir auch große Sorgen um meine Muttersprache, wenn jemand verspricht, für die Durchführung einer notwendigen Maßnahme SORGE ZU TRAGEN; ich bin schon zufrieden, wenn jemand dafür SORGT, dass uns derartig aufgeblähte Formulierungen erspart bleiben, die doch nur von aufs Zeilenhonorar schielenden Schreiberlingen erfunden werden können.

Es verletzt nicht nur mein Sprachgefühl, sondern auch meinen Gerechtigkeitssinn, wenn ich hören oder lesen muß, dass wieder einmal irgendeine politische Persönlichkeit oder Institution irgendwelche Kriegsverbrechen, Terroranschläge oder Menschenrechtsverletzungen VERURTEILT hat. Es wäre viel besser, diese Greueltaten anzuprangern und die dafür Verantwortlichen zu VERURTEILEN und zu bestrafen. Solange nämlich nur die Taten und nicht die Täter VERURTEILT werden, wird sich der Zustand dieser Welt kaum bessern.

Es ÄRGERT mich auch, wenn jemand, der aus einem bestimmten Grund VERÄRGERT sein mag, von sich behauptet, er sei ÄRGERLICH. Wenn er nur wüßte, wie recht er damit hat – Wer solch ein ÄRGERLICHES Deutsch spricht, wird selbst zum ÄRGERNIS. Ebenso ärgerlich ist die in den letzten Jahren aufgetauchte Wortschöpfung „ZÖGERLICH“, die man ohne zu Zögern ausmerzen sollte — sie ist ungefähr so notwendig wie ein Kropf! Es ist auch ziemlich peinlich, wenn ein Professor, der es ja eigentlich besser wissen müßte, von einer PROFESSORISCHEN Einteilung spricht, und wohl dabei eine PROVISORISCHE meint.

Wenn ein Selbstmörder oder ein Geiselnehmer damit DROHT, sich selbst oder andere umzubringen, dann nehme ich das durchaus ernst. Lese oder höre ich jedoch, dass ein Bergsteiger abzustürzen DROHT oder dass gar ein Haus DROHT, nach einem Erdbeben einzustürzen, dann weiß ich nicht, ob ich darüber lachen oder weinen soll. Durch solche offensichtlich von Journalisten ohne Sprachgefühl und logisches Denkvermögen erfundene Floskeln droht nämlich der deutschen Sprache der Verfall ihres Stils. Meine Damen und Herren, es besteht dringender Handlungsbedarf, oder auf gut Deutsch gesagt, es muß etwas geschehen!

Alexandra Ekkelenkamp

Dutch and English Poems


ik wilde dat we weer samen
drongen achter een ruit

zacht zou ze ademen
wasem op het uitzicht

dan werd de rivier uiteindelijk zo glad
de verre paarden gaven kopjes

dan mocht ik schrijven
en schreef van haar en ik

schreef dat uitzicht
met lange lome letters


Zomertje voor Ingi

je rent rond
in het verhaaltje
dat je schreef

klaprozen tot je knieën
tenen in gras
huppelend in een zon

de wind trekt je mee
jij de lucht in: een vlieger
in een blauw jurkje


(for Ursula Wood)


hand guiding gaze
fixed Venus
on my retina
last night

another cloudless sky
I cannot recognize

stars and planets
in chaos
without you:
my patient telescope

still you know not where God lives


a spaceship has no anchor
to keep it
from dreaming

is tugging
at an umbilical cord

I am always offspring
of continent
yet my spirit is a Briton

and my limbs spring from strange soil


before whose time
am I alive

will I be a haunting spirit
over brilliant shoulders

will I copy poetry
in chimney dust

dating it             73 yrs after me

Ian C. Smith

Three Poems

At the salt-rimmed coast


Young men shout for a red bikini
languid under a blue umbrella.
A dog barks, lunges at a football
bobbing out of reach on modest waves
which rush into the hot embrace
of yellow sand, & far out,
painted against the convergence of blue,
a white yacht points toward the estuary,
the sun draining golden out of the sky.


Now those football shouts haunt the airwaves.
Expired froth gums the tideline.
There is no yacht, the sun is defeated,
flinging out pink streaks, gesturing for help.
Ignored, waves just go through the motions.
Gulls skim the estuary’s mud cracks
like skateboarders in cool disguise,
feathers shot by the sandsplit wind.
The shore is littered with departure.

Cinematic Overdose

Sleeping in, never seeing the sun rise
After sitting out the late nights of my youth
Ruining my sight in the steep end of seats
Swashing my buckle in imaginary feats
An acolyte lover learning to be couth
A gangster or priest or master of disguise.

Bogart, world-weary on the tarmac as Rick
Jane Wyman speechless as Johnny Belinda
Nazi cities bombarded into rubble
Bill Holden drifted into town and trouble
While Brando, who could have been a contender
Found Steiger’s corrupt waterfront no picnic.

Screenwriters suffered McCarthy’s embargo
As Newman hitchhiked through a long hot summer
His wife, Joanne, made up three different faces
Gable enjoyed Monroe’s misfit embraces
Hitchcock cued Janet Leigh’s screams for a plumber
And Julie Christie pleased Dr Zhivago.

Now I am as lost in my celluloid past
As that astronaut Kubrick stranded in space
Woody Allenesque, prompting bemused glances
Walter Mitty dreaming, missing my chances
Stumbling in the light of day, I know my place
I would be perfect in a Jim Jarmusch cast.

Low Tide

Sentenced now, who saw so little beauty,
his time already served even from before
those tantalising forms lured him
despite a young wife, growing old now,
her love absorbing sneers & jokes,
innocence damned whichever way you look at it.

Coastal trader of this remote bay,
he guns through waves, always waves.
Fearful of sinking into his own history,
he strives to leave behind the urgency,
that same camping-ground where, long ago,
he listened for his father’s quick breath.

He has been counselled, denies nothing,
frowns across glistening water,
its secrets probed by these fishermen.
He knows the lighthouse is out there.
He will never leave his turbulent shoreline,
must ride out the howl of every storm.

Bonny Cassidy

Four Poems


And what else could a father do, but carefully edge you aside? His baby didn’t care for cars and races, so he left your believers on the doorstep. All the old money in Bendigo couldn’t get a ring on your finger, and so he delivered your rope on a silver platter. Christ, what a disappointment; Belgian paint dust under your nails, exhaust in your hair; lashes caked with stuff as if, before the mirror, you’d thought violently, this’ll make up for it all and more and more.

And while girls no better than you were fucked and framed by Madox Ford in Paris,
you put the status quo and their bathing houses into the picture, and their Model Ts;
all to be rewarded with a lone call from the other side
that might have just been the sound of your patience running out.
And now they wipe their brushes on your nous,
too lost in the found to warm the quiet virus that killed you.

I could say you went out that afternoon looking at the horizon
and not feeling the winter and the death thoughtfully insisting,
but your reach matched your grasp and so,
it was just bad luck,
your failure.


Geraldton wax and corners of conversation overheard
and a town full of living rooms, sitting rooms:
thick spreads of carpet and dust
the races of a Wednesday afternoon,
TV if you’re lucky,
and in your kitchen,
that smell like aging milk and something else,
sun edging in at angles or not at all.

Geraldton wax and cutting through the heavy skeins of your conversation;
lying in state after waves of sex, you’ll still hear the voices next door, hear the grass
growing up by the fence, just about,
see the nasturtiums coming up under the patio.
You’re thinking of burrowing down into the cool ground, parting those
leaf-skeletons like handfuls of crisp, gritty omens.

Every minute, another map of dust is slid under the locked doors of empty rooms,
posted by the wind,
by the ocean brimming close, and you wonder when you will find its
when you will slide by and up the coast,
interrupt your roots and go.

*Geraldton wax is a small, tough native desert flower.


“Look at this!”, he says, then falls back slow beside us
as if we’d already guessed his pride. The chapel, coloured one by the wind,
waits for its flock to return, clean sockets glaring with fierce hope as we
approach like a kid to its first horse.
He disappears inside, still clutching his wine glass and hollers
“Be thou my battleshield”, but it’s long gone on the air,
and he comes out grinning, slapping the stone door-frame and saying
“old girl” with such force that a few turn away.

“The poplars …”, someone points; sallow this Autumn, and standing
to grand attention in a scape that collapses flat. A mothlight willow
stretches down to dust, down to its shadow, pulling the grasses up.
The earth has been skinned to white
by him, and the wild joy of those yellow blushing trees
can’t hide his failure to conjour up sense from this place –
the fact that he’s ruined.


It’s over, honey. I’ll be out next week, and again there’ll be three,
a regular family and how! Do say what Daddy’s been doing –
you know he’s ill, too. I’m sorry, dearest, you’ve been through it
as well; God knows we didn’t see this coming, but we
carried on some funny stuff those years, and now we’ve got to pay
it back with interest, Do-Do would say. Alot went on before
you came, so much; I wish to Heaven I could tell you, and more –
I wish you had been there, in the background, watching those gay
times; but, I suppose you were, and much too young. Much too
soon, perhaps. Your first gin fizz at three, imagine that! Most nights with
Paris nannies, fools the lot. Ah, we were all fools. Goofo smitten
with that brute from Chicago, and me. Me, throwing down enough to
fill the Mediterranean and buying squirrel fur on the Champs-Elysées.
And waiting, that’s what it mostly was; killing time while Daddy shut
the apartment door and stopped his nerves, with no damned sound but
the hush of his cigarette in its tray and the pen on its page.
And waiting, drinking with Hadley and the women and the wives
whose roaring men our Goof could never match. He thought I was
careless, but Christ, how I hated asking for his money, when there was
nothing for it but to dance over the top of our lives.

Well, you can read the books. They’re his diaries, and no mistake;
Fitz got his value out of me, yes sir, and still buying whiskies with it. But my
novel’s almost done, at last, and the Doctors might get it together behind
Scott’s back, behind Scribner’s, if that’s what it takes.
We’re still as brilliant as ever, you see? Will you read mine, dearest?
Perhaps you’d tell Daddy I’m about ready to come home again;
I must get back in shape for the Russes auditions; I could still be a hit with them –
Or he might send an allowance cheque – Will you ask him, please?
He mentioned New York and one of its goddamn women of letters;
those lumps ain’t got a patch on me, Goof said then, but – are you old enough
to know? – he doesn’t want me like then. Doesn’t want to touch
me. Take my scrapbook, if you like: Montgomery’s Prettiest
and Most Attractive Girl, and there’s a photograph the summer we
went to Mother in matching plus fours. That year there was a second child,
almost; Do-Do had doubts, see.
Write him in the city, if he’s well. Tell him I’d like one of our drives,
when I wait for the sharpest bend to ask him for a smoke,
and he shakes and swerves, fumbles in the pocket of his Norfolk,
while I slug him out a cap of gin and we hang on for our lives.

Christian H. Soetemann

‘ontic’ short stories

//Grey lever

The ironing board possesses a small grey adjustment lever on one side which serves to open up this object so that the process of ironing clothes &c. can begin. Hence this lever, probably made of steel, has got a distinct purpose. Yes, I do iron my clothes from time to time, and yet this lever means much more to me than a means to utilize the generally accepted function of the object we call ironing board. I let the board rest against the wall, and with sincere pleasure, I press down the height adjustment lever, not wanting to open up the board at all. My sole intention is to push down the lever. In addition to that, I enjoy regarding the grey lever, being able to refrain from pressing it down if I can control my ego functions. I realize this grey lever is there. It’s part of the world, just like the clothes, the house, the dust on the shelves, the mental picture of the lever (now that I am considering the role the lever plays in my life), like everything else that is there. The grey lever gives me a tender feeling.

//The man who searched for nothingness

The man who searched for nothingness failed abysmally. He looked under carpets, amongst brushwood, outside the realm of street lanterns, but nothingness was nowhere to be found. He stared at little holes in trousers, tablecloths, shirts and linen – but there were always holes; nothingness was nowhere to be found. He turned around all of a sudden, just to see whether nothingness was laughing at him behind his back – still, nothingness was nowhere to be found. He observed sunspots, but even those turned out to be lower temperature areas amidst this giant mass of gas – so nothingness was nowhere to be found. He threw glasses and vases to the ground to wait for nothingness to reveal, but there were only broken fragments of porcelain and glass, so nothingness was nowhere to be found. He witnessed a neighbour pass away and rushed to see the corpse being carried into the ambulance – but there was a body, if only a dead one, and nothingness was nowhere to be found. The man who searched for nothingness finally gave up and committed suicide, expecting nothingness to dawn on him in the very moment of his death. But nothingness was nowhere to be found, and the presence of his corpse meant his final experiment had failed, even with him being unable to observe the result.

//Mirror magazine

Did you see the man on the bench, sitting and reading a magazine? Actually, I haven’t spoken to him at all – that would have been rather embarrassing. For a moment, though, let’s imagine I would have got up from my bench, would have walked over to him and proposed the following: namely, to put the magazine on the ground, with the front cover facing the sky. Then I would have loved to take a silver safety pin out of the inner pocket of my coat. Subsequently, I would have put this safety pin on the surface of the magazine cover. It would have been a perfect fit of two objects which form a part of the world, of two present objects, both – like everything else in the world – occurring. Why a perfect fit? The cover of a magazine displayed a large mirror, and I so cherish combinations of silver objects. They happen to be there. And think of the potential pleasure stemming from a safety pin lying on the picture of a mirror, without the mirror being able to reflect. You might argue, this wasn’t a mirror at all, and as far as materialistic organization of mass goes, you’re right. This is not what we call a mirror. However, it would have made for an enjoyable co-existence of two things. In the end, of course, none of this came true. Who knows whether the man would have agreed to my proposition. I went for a more solipsist option and bought a copy of the mag myself, just to create this enjoyable co-existence in my private rooms. I heartily recommend it to you too!

//Presence of a candle

The candle is white, has been fit into a silver stand. Now it resides exactly in the middle of the dark-brown wooden table. We currently do not have any information on who bought either table or candle; neither can we enlighten you regarding the question: why a candle of white colour? I’d assume it is down to the personal taste of the subject X who purchased (or even made – what do we know) the candle. At the moment, the candle is lit, thus spreading its light across the small room which contains all of the aforementioned objects. Without this situation being one that has got an obvious background or that at least suggests an interpretation as to how it might have turned out this way, we can easily maintain the presence of the candle. You might as well state the presence of the room, the table & the stand … or whatever. Still, the candle is. There can be no debate.

Julia Carpenter

Man, Woman, Knife

Softly now, quiet. You don’t want to wake her. She always complained when you woke her, she hated that. Sometimes she would call the police when you made a noise outside her window. But that was only when she was alone. When she had that thug with her she would send him out. What a big tough man he thought he was. Standing there in his silky boxer shorts and puffed out chest, yelling ‘come out here, you fucking pervert. Come and fight like a man.’ What would he know about being a man? He doesn’t satisfy her. He satisfies himself, and it’s all over in three minutes. Who is he to question your manhood? I bet his mother bought him those damn boxer shorts.

You know she’s alone tonight. You’ve already arranged that. Now you just have to surprise her. She loves suprises, but I don’t think she’s going to like this one. You once cared what she liked, what she didn’t like. Not anymore. She hurt you, betrayed you. She needs to know, she needs to feel what she’s done to you. You have to show her.

* * *

The blade seems out of place lying next to her flesh. You wonder what you ever saw in her. She’s so pale, so vulnerable, so weak. Her soft skin, barely visible amongst the tangle of blood and white sheets makes the knife look so much sharper, deadlier than it did lying motionless amongst the clutter of the kitchen drawer. It is no longer simply a utensil, a piece of cutlery, but an instrument of destruction; the force that filled the gap between you and this once living being. Staring at it now, it represents so much with its shiny edge, blurred by crimson. You see everything in that knife; the love, the desire that rapidly turned to hatred and the greed for revenge. As you pick the knife up and wipe her clean with the corner of the bed sheet, you think how she deserves a name. A beautiful name. Victoria, yes. Call her Victoria. Victoria slipped so bravely through the flesh; so boldly, so carelessly. Even the bones, the so-called strength of the human body, meant nothing to Victoria. She has come from the dark depths of the kitchen to complete your bidding better than you could have ever imagined. She has ridded of the soft weak mass, the vermin that plagued you.

‘Victoria …,’ you whisper, as she plunges into your heart.