mgversion2>datura mgv2_88 | Swan Song | 04_17 edited by Walter Ruhlmann ÂŠ mgversion2>datura & contributors, April 2017
Contents | Sommaire Special guest | Invité spécial: Necro Monger. Tous les textes à retrouver sur: https://thenecromongersblog.wordpress.com/ Necromongers
Une histoire vaine de l’araignée du monde: Mourir à la loupe
Expiration Date The Busted Watch
Histoire écourtée 14
Inequal condition Inequality
Standing in Awe
La mort suicidée
Cinq textes courts
Stephen Philip Druce
Creature Thunder Race Radio DJ’s
Khalid EL Mokhabeti
Spider Finale on the Via Veneto Post Viaticum
poetry poetry poetry
La petite folie dans la prairie
C. Z. Heyward
My Cold Dead Heart Blonde
Histoire écourtée 16
The Coma The Butterscotch
Randel McCraw Helms
Recipe for Contentment White Old Whore Chooses her Epitaph
Jusqu’à plus soif Avec deux mains on ne va pas plus loin
James B. Nicola
Casserole Fade In/Fade Out Feet To Casper from a Passing Child Autumn Patch
poetry poetry poetry poetry poetry
J. J. Steinfeld
The Narrative of Existence Waiting for the Final Sound By a Final Notice Written in an Indecipherable Hand The Frightened Magician’s Final Performance The Anticlimactic End of the World
poetry poetry poetry
End of the Season Grains of Time In the End The Fall The End
poetry poetry poetry poetry poetry
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Une histoire vaine de l’araignée du monde: Mourir à la loupe de Necromongers Je suis comme une mouche sur une toile d’araignée, Je m’essouffle à gigoter, je peine à respirer. J’ai le paradoxe de la liberté, Je pisse sur la guerre et je fais la guerre à la peace. Technique d’investigation instrumentalisée D’une épique propriété évincée, la vie. Je somnole rien que d’y penser, Je ris rien que d’en parler, Je m’amuse d’en penser rire, J’en pleure de joie d’y croire pire. Je ne suis qu’un idiot qui pense à tort Pendant que certains ont raison d’espérer. Je n’ai rien vécu qui soit pléthore Suffisamment pour émettre la mort au nez, Mais j’ai connu le fond de l’âme Qui prête à tous la raison de pleurer. Je m’en remets à la mort pour la vie d’une autre, A l’accord entre la forme et la passion fondée, Au désespoir calciné des amours maudits A l’oracle enraciné du parcours des envies. Je m’en remets, à qui veut me prier A qui veut me parler, je l’écouterai jusqu’à la lie. Tout autant que je sais oublier les paroles incomprises Improvisant à ma guise les mots susurrés, J’aimerais certainement entendre les frises Des paroles haranguées, des formules convoitées. Mourir à la loupe, comme la mouche agglutinée Au passage d’une escarmouche le sommeil englué, Je languis d’établir une forme de vérité Une semence fertile, un champ d’éternité. J’ai perdu plusieurs fois, l’avenir des réalités, Je m’en remets aux liens, dictés par ma foi La force d’un amour vivant plus que de raison, Une unité de lois m’efforçant d’écourter la vie. Publicité : Mourrez, mais mourrez mieux avec « L’IDEE DE VIVRE ! » La seule harmonie volontairement maitrisée, L’unique passion de vos soirées tardives ! J’ai compris que la mort n’était qu’un subterfuge de plus, Une profonde amitié avec la vie lui confère une sympathie d’attente. La patience étant une limite bornée à s’éconduire d’elle-même Il faut, en substance, écourter le temps de son verdict. 7
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Flash info : Une tendance de plus en plus répandue, consistant à s’auto exécuter sans sommation préalable, fait de plus en plus parler d’elle. Cette activité, dont aucune loi ne fait rempart, envahit la planète comme une trainée de poudre. Les communautés de suicidaires (c’est le nom scientifique de l’acte) se multiplient sur le globe et la peur gagne peu à peu du terrain. Certaines régions du monde semblent épargnées, mais d’une façon assez générale le mal qui pousse à se tuer, le plus souvent dans l’anonymat le plus total, semble irrémédiablement prendre sa source au plus profond de soi-même. D’après nos sources, les scientifiques sont unanimes, les raisons les plus souvent constatées sont : un manque de confiance en la société, une estime de soi malmenée, une peur caractéristique du changement, une vision de l’autre manipulée par l’ordre moral. A ce jour, nous n’avons malheureusement pas pu rencontrer officiellement un représentant de la science, et le gouvernement n’a pas désiré s’exprimer sur le sujet. Je suis comme une souche sur une rivière enflammée, Qui navigue à perte, entre l’eau et le feu. La tragique incidence, charriée par le fleuve, Qui fuit la peste blanche, la terreur aveugle. Quelque part, sur cette branche voguant Se tisse une histoire, d’un fil de soi collant. Les intempéries n’ont pas fait fuir l’habitant, Solide embarcation virevoltant à flot sans couler. Dans sa toile prisonnière, l’araignée retient le mystère, Une vie fuyant la misère, une mouche prise au collet, délétère. S’enfuir à la loupe, par un déluge torrentiel, S’accrocher à la voûte, comme un élu providentiel. Fin des programmes : (zoom sur les yeux de la speakerine) Le monde a retenu son souffle une partie entière de la journée. Les visages se sont figés dans des bouches bée de fortune. Quand nous avons appris, par le plus grand des hasards anticipé, que l’araignée qui suspendait nos chaînes a cédé sa toile aux éléments. Depuis que nous savons être morts, nous sommes devenus vivants !
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Expiration Date by Edward Ahern
"You're going to die if you keep on like this. I'm your friend and doctor, and have to tell you that you're obese, definably alcoholic and a strong candidate for lung cancer." "All probably true. I picked my life style decades ago. I live by satiation, well on my terms, badly on yours. Rochefoucauld quipped that hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. I don't need to pay you that tribute. Gratification is my life learning, and I'm postgraduate." "You're cutting your life short by decades. Think of your family." Snort of laughter. "I think of myself like delicious German beer or French brioches—no preservatives. But you're in the business of pickles and prunes, prolonging withered lives that no longer remember what is was to be fruit, bursting with juice and subject to rot." Sigh. "You'd have a better life, not worse. Physically active, clear headed, mentally awake…" Half smile. "I explode with sensations, doctor, and there's very little I won't try to add to them. You see me as a chart, but I'm just garish graffiti. Try and enjoy what you see." "Think of the pain you'll undergo, what your loss will mean to your children, your wife…" "Ex wife. And I'm saving drugs for that phase of my existence. You wouldn't let me suffer in pain, it's against the pickle code." Wrinkled frown of displeasure. "But you're just numbing and dumbing yourself down until you're inert. What kind of life is that?" Several second pause. "You are a friend, I know. But you measure quality of life by length, and I by a pleasure meter that I want to frequently peg. Think of yourself as a vintner pruning away at our lives. Once we're sprayed and sunned and plucked and crushed and fermented you put us in a bottle labeled with our birth year so we can be consumed at what your medical taste buds tell you is the right time. Not me. I'm just a satyr with the life expectancy of a goat.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17
"I don't want to be poured into your bottle. Your mercy for my life is to not try and strain it. Just spill me on the ground as a bad batch. Then, my friend, sooner rather than later, I'll be thanking you."
The Busted Watch by Edward Ahern We’d spent our years together in guy-talk banalities, beneath which I think both Pete and I knew that it would end badly. The awareness of the ending started with a phone call. “No George,” I said. “I haven’t talked to Pete in at least three weeks, so I don’t know what he’s up to.” “Look Mike, I’ve tried calling and e-mailing him for over a week with no response. His voice mail is full. Something’s wrong. I’m trapped into appointments until next week and can’t get up there. He’s your friend. Could you go up and check on him?” “I squirmed for a few seconds. “Well, hell. All right, George, walk over and drop off the keys. I’ll try to get hold of Pete and if I can’t reach him I’ll make the run up tomorrow.” I hung up and called Pete’s number. The message box regurgitated on me. I fired off an e-mail that disappeared into the ether. George dropped off the key to what had been his childhood home. The next morning I waited until the morning traffic congestion dwindled down. I had four hours to weave my way around trucks from southern Connecticut to Fall River, Massachusetts. Lots of time to think. Pete Harding and I had been get-drunk-together buddies, which meant we didn’t have to believe each other, just back stop fantasies. We were unattached Caucasians living in Japan. Our limited Japanese made it hard to say anything significant to our neighbors, and we’d defaulted into closeness. After three years we both bailed out and took corporate jobs stateside. Once I’d dried out and Pete hadn’t we saw each other less frequently. Pete’s fabrications had grated a lot more without the lubrication of booze. Over the next ten years Pete spiraled down through increasingly menial jobs and spent what little money he had. “They’re throw away jobs, Mike,” he’d said. “But once I get something decent the first thing I’m going to do is take my Rolex out of the safe deposit box and get it fixed.” He’d sold or pawned everything else of value. The watch was the only thing left he could brag about. And even that was suspect. I’d never actually seen it. When Pete had been threatened with 10
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 eviction from his two room apartment I’d arranged for Pete to take care of George’s vacant family home in Fall River. I hadn’t been there since I’d helped Pete move in. Pete’s car was in the driveway. I rang and knocked at the front door but there was no answer. The mailbox overflowed with letters and circulars. I unlocked the front door, but it was bolted from the inside. I walked through the snow covered yard to the back door. The key worked. The smell ballooned out and pushed me back, a wave of throat rasping decay. I held my breath and stuck my head into the kitchen. It was full of flies, alive and dead. Even without breathing, the sweet/sour cloy oozed into my nostrils. I slammed the door shut and dialed 911. A long five minutes later the squad car pulled up, followed by an ambulance and a fire truck. I wondered what the firemen would do. I explained to the cops who I was and what I’d done. One of the cops took the keys and reopened the back door. He backed away a lot faster than I had, but had the experience to leave the door open so the concentrated rot could dissipate. He turned to the other cop. “Jesus, I hate these.” Then he called over the EMTs.” You’ll need respirators and suits.” Four of them suited up and went in. A gust of wind reminded me how cold the day was, maybe five degrees below freezing. I went back to my car, put on my winter coat, and called George. “George, hi. Listen, I think Pete might have died in the house.” “Are you sure it’s not just the refrigerator that’s crapped out?” “No, Pete’s car is here, and the smell is awful, something’s dead in there. I called the cops. They’re in the house now. That’s all I know, but I’ll call you back once they come back out.” The EMTs came out first and starting getting out of their hazmat suits. I gave one of them a questioning look. “Mr. Marteau, there’s a body on the sofa in the TV room. Been dead a long time. There’s maggots and flies all over and decomposition fluids have seeped through the sofa and into the carpet.” The two cops came back out, pulled off their respirators but left the overalls on. The cop I’d talked to, Royce Burrows, called the medical examiner’s office. We organized coffee from a nearby diner while we waited. When the guy from the ME’s office showed up he and the two cops dressed up and walked into the house. The Medical examiner and first cop came out empty handed. The second cop came out carrying a body bag in one hand without leaning over from the weight. Once they’d stripped out of their suits I went over to Burrows. “Is it Pete?” 11
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “Dunno. The body’s badly decomposed. The remains go to the ME’s office for identification and a cause of death, although determining that will be tough. The heat in the house had been set high, around seventy five, which accelerated things. I turned the thermostat down to sixty. “We have all your contact information, Mr. Marteau. Is there a next of kin?” “Sort of. He has a bitter ex-wife in Oregon, and a sister he hasn’t talked to in eight or nine years.” “We’ll need their information. Once we’ve authorized entry the owner can go in and clean up. Whoever goes in there should get respirators and hazmat suits.” The second cop relocked the door and put warning tape on it. The vehicles cleared out of the yard and I was left alone in the snow. I called George. “George, listen, they found a body in the TV room. Yeah, pretty sure it’s Pete. The cops and Medical Examiner have been and gone. The place is locked up again and we can’t get in until they give their okay. Do you have insurance for this? The cop said that the place would have to be stripped and decontaminated.” “Mike, is the house all right?” “No, listen, shit, I don’t know. The heat’s still on, so there shouldn’t be a problem with the pipes. Nothing else I can do here, so I’m coming back.” Fewer trucks clogged the road on the way back, but I missed them, they would have kept me busy maneuvering. Random thoughts fired off. How much Pete aggravated me. How I hated his constant lying about important people he knew and the important things he’d done. How I could be doing more for him. It was only when I wondered about the cause of his death that I realized I’d been thinking of Pete in the present tense. I remembered the last fishing camp we stayed at. It was as close as I ever came to bracing Pete about his lies and as Pete ever got to being honest with me. The dead dark of Canadian forest swallowed the dim cabin lighting just outside the windows. We were both drunk. “And after I came back from Japan I picked up an MBA while I was working out of Hartford.” “Bullshit Pete. I think you got an MBA just like I think you really met Henry Kissinger. Tell me the truth, for Christ’s sake.” Pete stared at me, eyes bleared. “What do you know? You don’t know what it’s like to be completely broke, to have nothing, to be able to do nothing. You’ve got a wife, a job, money.” We‘d stood on the threshold of his purgatory, me looking in and him looking out, but went back into hiding, talking about the next day’s fishing.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 I had to stop in at George’s place before I went home. He’d grown up in the Fall River house that now was uninhabitable. He deserved a face to face apology from me for recommending Pete as a lodger. “What the hell happened, Mike? Pete sounded drunk a couple times when I called. Was he an alcoholic?” “Could be. He hadn’t had anything good happen to him in a long time. His wife divorced him within a month of his losing his best job. He had gout and terrible eyesight, and was at least seventy pounds overweight. He’d lost his last job as a jitney driver about a month ago.” “He was broke? He always paid me.” “Flat. The only times Pete went out to eat was when I took him. He talked about a safe deposit box that had an expensive watch in it but I never saw it. Probably just another of his lies. Look George, I want to help you with this. Pete was my friend and not yours. I recommended him to you. We’ll take care of things once the cops let us in.” The next day I dug up Pete’s wife’s telephone number and the name and location of Pete’s sister. I called officer Burrows and the ME’s office in Boston and passed along the information. The ME’s office called back a few days later. “Mr. Marteau, this is Jennifer Carson of the Medical Examiner’s office in Boston.” “Yes?” “I’ve contacted Mr. Harding’s former wife and sister. Unfortunately neither one wishes to become involved with the disposition of Mr. Harding’s remains. His sister was, um, quite firm that she would decline to have anything to do with his affairs. This means we have no next of kin to work through.” “I’m not surprised. They hadn’t spoken in years.” “Mr. Marteau, we need someone to assume responsibility for Mr. Harding’s burial once identification is confirmed.” “But I’m not his executor…” “I understand Mr. Marteau, and it would be impossible for you to act as administrator of his affairs, since you reside out of state.” “Pete had no money. Doesn’t the state just bury him?” “The state may provide burial assistance, but we need a person to take responsibility for his burial. You don’t have to be related to Mr. Harding to do this.” “Oh. Ah, there’s no one else I know of, so I guess I’m it.”
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “Thank you Mr. Marteau, I’ll e-mail you the forms. Based on our initial examination I believe the police will let you have entry to the house shortly. One thing though…” “Yes?” “We haven’t been able to identify the body yet, because of its deteriorated condition. His dentures were missing. It would expedite matters if you could locate the dentures and forward them to us.” “How does that help identify him?” “We match the contours of the dentures to the bone structure of his jaw.” “Dentures. Jesus. All right I guess.” I called Burrows and got his okay to go into the house. George and I drove to Home Depot. They had hazmat suits but no respirators, so we had to settle for masks with filters. The next day we drove up from Connecticut to Fall River. I anticipated the stench, which made it worse. The mask and filters kept the flies from our faces, but did little to keep out the odor. Thousands of dead flies littered the floor and furniture. The latest generation of living flies was listless. There was nothing left for them to feed on. Soiled clothes and food remnants were strewed about the rooms. The garbage disposal in the kitchen was clogged with clam shells. We opened up doors and windows to the winter air. The smell was worst in the TV room where Pete had died. An empty scotch bottle lay next to the couch, which was soaked in body fluids and retained the shape of his body. Pete had died while lying on his side. I held my breath three times to enter and reenter the room and shove open the windows. On my way out on the third trip I noticed Pete’s car keys and wallet neatly placed on a yellow legal pad with some numbers written on it. I scooped them up as I left. George started gathering family items while I bagged up Pete’s personal effects from the bedroom and a desk in the living room. Pete had organized nothing. Bills, diplomas, photos were all jumbled into drawers. I grabbed handfuls of material from the drawers and threw them into a trash bag. I noticed two little envelopes for deposit box keys in the bottom of one drawer. There really was a safe deposit box. I loaded another trash bag with four weeks of mail from the front porch. I found the dentures tossed loose into a drawer in the bathroom and added them to the trash bag. George was ominously silent, but compulsively reacted to the violation of his family kitchen. He spent two hours cleaning rotten food from the refrigerator and sink, and fly infested boxes from the cabinets. When we walked out just before dark the kitchen was the only room in the house that looked remotely habitable.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 George blew up on the drive back to Connecticut. “How could he treat my house like that! Not his dying, the way he was living. Rooms filthy, food left to rot on the stove. The bathtub was filled with dirty underwear!” “I know. And I recommended him. But God help me, he was my friend, George. He was a broke drunk with no job, and bad health problems. The last time I saw him he could barely walk. His sister and ex wife hated him. Maybe he just gave up.” But George deserved to be let in a little more. “As his life got worse he compensated by fabricating stories about what he’d accomplished and who he knew. It got so I didn’t believe anything he told me. I liked him in spite of it all, by osmosis maybe, or because of who he once was. And God help me I still like him, for all that he did to you and the money he borrowed from me that I’ll never see again.” After I dropped George off I was too tense to vegetate. I spent the evening going through Pete’s effects. He’d jettisoned most of the records of his life. There was only one picture of his parents, two of his ex-wife., and none of his sister. There was no will or instructions on what he wanted done after his death. He had a few dollars in a savings account, and one dollar bill in his wallet. He owed about $30,000 to credit unions, banks, doctors and hospitals. He was the most improved student in the third grade of St. Margaret’s school. He graduated with an MBA from a well known business school. One for you, Pete, you did tell the truth sometimes. There was a severance letter from his last company advising that he was being fired from his minimum wage job because, for the third time, he had hit a parked car with his service truck. I realized that Pete must have concealed the loss of sight in his right eye. A yellow legal pad had handwritten numbers listing his income and expenses for the coming month. Without his check from the livery company he was below water by $350. I called a recommended undertaker in Fall River the next day. He was nicer than he had to be, given that Pete would be buried with $1200 in State assistance in an unmarked pauper’s grave. The death certificate arrived a week later in the mail. The cause of death was listed as heart failure, which I assumed was their wild assed guess. After I’d talked again to the undertaker I called Camille, Pete’s sister. “Camille, I appreciate your talking with me. I know you and Pete weren’t close.” “He was dead to me a long time before he died. I don’t want anything to do with him, alive or dead. Just send me a copy of the death certificate.” “Pete could be hard to put up with.”
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Camille’s voice broke. “He was a thief and an ingrate. I took care of our dad and mom when they got sick and died and he never helped out, never sent money or came to visit. And then after they were dead he went to the house and took stuff. How can you be his friend?” “I sometimes ask myself that, Camille. When we were drinking buddies we were okay with each other. Later on he was, I don’t know, part of me that wasn’t surviving, that needed protection.” Pete’s ex wife Rose was also scarred over. “Mike, I never told you, but Pete lost his job in Hartford because of his drinking. And he got worse. Pete was nice around you, but he was abusive when he drank. Even after we got divorced he would get drunk, call me and make threats. I can send you a little money to help with the burial but leave me out of it.” “Do you want me to send his papers? There isn’t much.” “No, don’t. There’s nothing I want. Mike, for what it’s worth, Pete seemed to be happiest when you and he were fishing together. It was like he could take some time out from a bad life.” I scraped together some money from Pete’s acquaintances and another $300 of my own and got him buried. I mailed copies of the death certificate to the creditors, telling them that Pete had died broke and not to contact me. Three of them tried to reach me anyway. I told the car loan company where to collect the car and keys. And that left just the safe deposit box. Carol Groves was in charge of the safe deposit boxes at the bank. “Mr. Marteau, Mr. Harding was the only signatory with access to the box. Although you have the keys you’re not the administrator of his estate, so you have no access. If, as you say he has a sister she can petition for access to the box.” “She wants nothing to do with his affairs. What happens once the rent isn’t paid on the box?” “We open it and turn the contents over to the State.” “I’ll call you back.” I called Rose first. “Listen, Pete apparently has a safe deposit box. The only thing that’s maybe in it is a busted watch. I can’t get into it, and from out in Oregon I don’t know that you can or want to get involved, but I wanted to tell you about it.” “Safe Deposit Box?” “Yeah. I’ve got the keys but only Pete could have used them. His sister could spend some money and get the right to open the box, but I don’t think she wants to go anywhere near it.” “Pete had money our first few years together, but after all he’s been through I can’t believe there’s anything left. Do what you need to do, Mike.” Camille didn’t hesitate. “Nothing, I want nothing to do with him Mike. Least of all going through the legal expense and aggravation of trying to get into a bank box.” 16
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “I don’t know what’s in there Camille, maybe his will, maybe an old Rolex, maybe nothing. If you’re sure I’ll just turn the keys back in to the bank.” “Do it.” Camille hesitated. “You’ve were a good friend to him Mike. Too good. He always thought he was better than me, smarter, better educated. Look at him now.” “Yeah.” I called Carol Groves back at the bank. “Carol, I’m going to send you a letter with the keys and a copy of the death certificate. A favor to ask though.” “As I said, Mr. Marteau, you have no access to the box.” “I understand, but we should know what was in the box, just to settle things. Could you give me a call back and let me know?” “I guess so.” George and I spent three days stripping his family home of its furnishings, most of which were consigned to a dumpster. We bricked up the experience, and never mention how and where Pete died. It took two more months for Carol Groves to call back. “Mr. Marteau?” “Yes?” “Carol Groves from the bank. We opened the box. The only thing in the box was a watch.” “No will?” “No. the watch apparently is an eighteen caret solid gold Rolex. It’ll get turned over to the State.” I smiled. Busted Pete and his busted Rolex were both being taken care of by the State. Better care than maybe I’d been able to give him. I waited a year, but no one contacted me, so I burned his photos and papers. I couldn’t bring myself to just throw them out. I keep his wallet in the center drawer of my desk, where I see it fairly often. I left the lone dollar bill inside it. A leather keepsake from a good friend with no gravestone.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Histoire Écourtée 14: (La publicité) de Necromongers
Il prend le flacon indice 60 et injecte au spray une énorme noisette huileuse de son contenu dans le creux de sa main. Le sable, déjà immiscé partout sur ses pores lui fait la sensation d’un massage granuleux au contact du liquide gras et protecteur. Il faut bien passer entre les plis et soulever la chair molle. Le soleil frappe aussi intensément qu’une lame de fond sur le coin du museau, sans l’effet fraîcheur après coup. Ça sent le beurre rance au collagène sur des kilomètres de rôtissoire. Les lunettes, les maillots et les poils meurent assassinés par les UV, assommés par la chaleur paralysante. Même se oindre est une torture, il faut régulièrement pénétrer dans une eau suintant la graisse des corps coulant pour espérer ralentir sa sudation. La mer est calme et plate comme le silence d’une forêt avant une tempête. Il n’y a pas de vent, l’atmosphère est lourde et pesante, même les enfants sont épuisés par leurs jeux. Une lumière vive fixe la ligne d’horizon, un scintillement bourdonnant. Une légère brise se lève sans crier gare, quelques secondes qui viennent tirer les amassés d’une léthargie mortuaire. Le vent se fait plus fort et commence à brûler. Les badauds, soudain pris d’un élan commun, se ruent à la mer sous une houle devenue féroce. Des mouettes plongent en piqué, des transats s’envolent, des parasols s’embrasent, les enfants tous à l’eau sont les premiers touchés. Sous la chape d’air de braise le sable se mue et redevient verre, les chiards fondent, se dématérialisent. Pendant quelques millièmes de secondes il se demanda si l’affiche « Finissez votre vie sous le soleil de Mururoa! Vos prochaines dernières vacances! »… n’était pas une publicité à caractère ironique.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Unequal Conditions II by Gary Beck Disturbances disrupt tranquility of the world, revolution, terror, flood, shatter achievements, disaster devouring loved ones, savings, expectations, childrenâ€™s futures dissolved in sudden event that defied preparation, burdening the poor denied recovery, dismissed by the rich with ample resources for continuation.
Inequality by Gary Beck Strikers walk the picket line in front of an office building, ignored, looked down on by a gullible public conditioned by the media to favor middle-class attitudes that a protesting worker is greedy, selfish, most too confused to realize we should be protesting aggregation of wealth by the uncharitable few strangling the labors of our citizens by refusing to share a tiny portion of a huge economy dedicated to serving the privileged.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Premier baiser de Necromongers Ses lèvres humides ne reposaient plus contre les siennes, et ses mains avaient déjà voyagé. Les vagues venaient briser leur unique baiser. D’un allant, d’un venant, la caresse lascive de l’étendue salée léchait leurs eaux prématurément lâchées. Tout disparaitrait surement, emporté par les tonnes de liquide s’abattant sur la grève. Sans compter les crabes, véritables éboueurs du littoral, assez performants pour ne laisser aucune trace de leur union. Mais nous n’en étions pas encore là. Il suffisait qu’ils se laissent aller un peu plus longtemps, juste de quoi profiter de ce dernier des premiers contre lèvres. La mer ne s’en irait pas, s’écrasant sur leurs joues comme un ressac les poussant sans cesse l’un contre l’autre. Fabriquant par marée l’éternité d’une minute à jamais. Ces instants qui conduisent inexorablement à construire un passé sous silence, s’éprouvant par seconde comme une jeunesse de l’âme, d’une fougueuse éprise de sang montant la tour la plus solide du monde. Allongés sur ce verre microscopique aux allures de sable, déjouant les lois de la physique dans un chant d’enlacement, ils s’étreignaient pour la première fois. Ils s’étaient rencontrés pendant les vacances, rapprochés par petite touche et finalement avaient opté pour l’auto-stop le long de la côte. Depuis, ils se languissaient sur la plage, suintant l’un contre l’autre. L’accident s’était produit plus haut, depuis la falaise.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Standing in awe by Chereze Booysen (Tribute Uncle Albin Williams) The golden gates of heaven Gleaming in the light As angels sang until their lungs almost gave way A soul was captured with peace and honour A gentle touch of hurt in our hearts However, happiness beyond compare A Cinderella-ending left us in awe As we all heard funny tales of the rough diamond Finally taking his stand in the gravel Of which we never explored The diamond finally adored Like an Astronaut for the first time on the moon Leaping in orbit, leaving giant footsteps behind That was how he walked – With giants leaving footprints in the hearts of many
Le tombeau de Necromongers
« La fosse céda sous son pas. Machinalement ses mains agrippèrent le bord du gouffre et stoppèrent sa chute. Il se balançait dangereusement, ne se tenant que par quelques doigts malhabiles qui cramponnaient de moins en moins bien son corps trop lourd. Un simple et rapide coup d’œil en bas, dans le noir rugissant des cris, suffit à le refroidir. Ses phalanges ne supportaient plus son poids et glissaient sur la dalle rugueuse. Ses ongles en sang crissaient sur la pierre froide. Il allait lâcher. Il ferma les yeux, comme pour mieux prier sa dernière inspiration avant le saut fatal… et se laissa aller. Une poigne forte et musclée lui saisit l’avant-bras, juste au moment où la pesanteur lui levait l’estomac. Son regard s’alluma sur un large sourire plein de dents. Il chercha à trouver le chemin de ses yeux, mais ne vit qu’une tête arborant une gigantesque rangée d’émail étincelant de part et d’autre. L’énorme bouche, maintenant d’une béante ouverture ruisselante de salive, fit un profond appel d’air. Tiré par une force surhumaine qui le hissa hors du vide comme un pauvre insecte, il n’eut le temps d’apercevoir dans son envol que le fond des amygdales de son sauveur à la minute. » 21
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Capturing Arimathea by Roisin Browne That was the photo - the phone-photo Botanic sun dawning in dying January days - the very last taken by you not knowing - that was this.
La mort suicidée de Necromongers Nouvelle parue aux Editions de La Matière Noire, dans le magazine des Shorts-Stories Etc… Il l’avait faite agenouiller devant lui, lui tournant le dos. L’atmosphère, zébrée d’instants fugaces et incertains, laissait son corps se parcourir de secousses nerveuses. De derrière son dos, il cernait beaucoup mieux tout cela. Elle tremblait comme une feuille, respirait comme un animal pris au piège et transpirait comme une joggeuse du dimanche à plein nez. Elle sentait l’effroi, parfumait la pièce d’une odeur qui perlait de son front et s’écoulait le long de son corps. Il prit l’arme enfoncée entre sa ceinture et son tee-shirt. Du bout du canon, il caressa sa nuque huilée par la sueur sur toute sa largeur, deux fois. Puis, plus rien, l’abstinence. Jusqu’à ce clic crispant qui la fit sursauter, ce petit bruit sec qui annonçait le chargement. Il recommençait à parcourir de la pointe de son arme l’étendue soyeuse de sa chevelure en tous sens, en tout point, sans ordre de cheminement. Le canon caressait à outrance les particules ondoyantes de son écrin de cuir, et s’immisçait même régulièrement à l’intérieur de ses mèches délectables. Elle sentait parfois le métal froid de l’instrument glisser sur son crâne, emporté par le ruissellement de ses eaux. Elle avait su dès le départ qu’il était malade et pervers avec son masque sur le visage, et ça lui plaisait. Elle avait misé gros en lui donnant son adresse, mais son désir était monté dès qu’il avait pris possession du bout de papier plié en quatre entre ses doigts, qu’elle avait effleurés. La vie ne l’avait pas épargnée, l’épargne ne l’avait pas rendue plus vivante. Elle mourait à petit feu depuis des lustres, alors s’aider lui paraissait évident, la solution séduisante.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Le canon sous le menton, il lui intima de force à pencher la tête en arrière, contre l’entre-jambe de son jean. Depuis sa position, ses yeux miroitaient le faciès encagoulé de son Torture Porn, comme un abîme des temps modernes. Elle n’avait plus d’espoir mais le désir était encore là, au pas de la porte de son âme, comme une envie d’en finir avec la souffrance et le plaisir, intimement liés. « Les bas instincts au service de la jouissance éternelle », tels étaient les attraits et les promesses du site. Il pressa davantage sous son menton pour écraser sa bouche contre le renflement proéminent de son pantalon. Ses lèvres englobèrent l’amas boursouflé avec une pression sincère et violente. Il chancela légèrement. Elle avait mordu la vie à pleine dent une bonne partie de sa durée. Mais depuis l’annonce de sa maladie incurable et dégénérative, elle cherchait désespérément à vivre encore un peu, surtout les dernières folies de ses fantasmes. Au jour d’aujourd’hui, quelques trois semaines lui avaient étés promises. Mais dans celles-là, au moins une à mourir dans d’atroces souffrances impossibles à soulager de façon médicamenteuse pure. Médica-menteuse… elle avait décidé subitement, à la gifle de ce mot construit pour la détruire, d’y renoncer par principe. Hors de question de mourir en sachant qu’on doit accepter de le faire en souffrant, bien assez de la vie pour ça ! Son arme était descendue le long de son torse et forçait maintenant le tissu de son soutien-gorge. Elle sortit sa langue et lima la grosse bosse du tissu en jean. Le son du zip de la fermeture éclair lui donna un spasme qui fit introduire l’arme de son prétendant assassin au fond de sa poitrine. Rien de préparé par ses soins. C’est seulement quand sa sonnette avait retenti, et que le judas lui inscrit « la mort suicidée » sur la rétine qu’elle eut encore le choix : vivre à jamais dans sa douceur ou mourir pour toujours dans la douleur. Une exaltante et profonde jouissance préliminaire l’avait parcourue quand elle libéra le loquet de la porte. Il l’ouvrit violemment, l’obligeant à reculer en perdant l’équilibre, pour se retrouver les fesses à terre et les mains en appui de chaque côté. Il lui faisait face de toute sa hauteur, une cagoule sur le visage. Cette fois ce fut elle qui chancela légèrement, quand d’un coup sec la pression du canon sur le balconnet arracha son dessous de poitrine. Sa langue, en réponse, réussit à s’infiltrer dans l’ouverture béante du pantalon de son bourreau. Auparavant, quand à peine entré il s’était rué sur elle, elle n’avait opposé aucune résistance. Se faisant débarrasser de ses habits d’un déchirement successif de fibres à l’envolée. Il l’avait ensuite aidée à se relever, la tenant par les mains et l’admirant en sous-vêtements. D’un grand coup de pied, sans se retourner, il ferma avec fracas la porte d’entrée. (Si la nuit porte conseil, le jour déploie ses contrées de questionnements. Et jusqu’à présent, il ne lui était jamais arrivé de se questionner sur la nuit de ses jours. Au pire, les nuits de son séjour oui, mais le jour de ses nuits non. Vraiment, vivre à jamais, mourir pour toujours… le plaisir de ses nuits en 23
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 plein jour… elle n’avait pas su choisir, non, elle n’avait pas su mourir autrement qu’en vivant encore un peu.) Il se recula, se détachant de sa langue chercheuse. Elle redressa la tête, oubliant un instant ses recherches. Il lui faisait toujours dos. Elle lui faisait toujours face. Il avait toujours la braguette ouverte et l’arme à la main. Elle avait toujours la bouche entre ouverte et le désir qui montait. C’est seulement quand il l’avait poussée dans le salon qu’elle avait remarqué sous son tee-shirt, enfoncé sous son pantalon, la crosse d’un revolver. Envahi par le doute, elle s’était une fois de plus reposée la question… mais une fois la machine en action plus de question à se poser. Et cela avait joué avec son plaisir, plus de retour en arrière, l’inéluctable pour démesure, le délectable pour seule censure. Son ventre la secouait de l’intérieur et le désir montait en cadence. Comme quand elle était tombée par hasard sur « la mort suicidée », ce site qui ressemblait à un FAKE, d’une barbarie déconvenue et d’un monde prisonnier de lui-même… elle avait cliqué, donné un pseudo pour l’inscription (mission_acceptée), réglé un PAYPAL et un mail lui avait affiché un contact. Simple, rapide, efficace, dépourvu d’explication, mais tellement évident. Sa vie n’avait pas l’ombre d’une importance maintenant qu’elle se finissait. Il lui attrapa les cheveux à pleine main, lui penchant la tête sur le côté, plaqua le canon du revolver sur sa tempe. Elle s’empressa d’attraper sa vulve. Il pressa la détente.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Cinq textes courts de Basile Rouchin
Tête à fétus, la cigale muette, transie, se tait, attend. Les espèces sonnantes et trébuchantes se détournent de son escarcelle. Dans un sac de couchage retroussé, son tronc se redresse lentement, assume l’hiver. Tignasse châtain, aux allures d’épi fauché, notre chrysalide agonise sous des néons souterrains. L’esprit en pleine mue, elle s’efforce à quai, de trouver une issue à sa vie. Pour son anniversaire, la vieille souffle sur ses tartines de pain grillé. Elle boit à petites gorgées son grand crème. Les visites s’espacent. Les appels se raréfient. La fin approche. Ses doigts osseux effleurent son téléphone mal raccroché, soulèvent la télécommande. Les images défilent sur l’écran devant son œil mi-clos. Le temps est long à filer comme une crampe au mollet.
Depuis un demi-siècle, la doyenne de l’immeuble a vu venir et partir de nombreux voisins. Ainsi, revisite-t-elle sa vie, en rinçant la vaisselle. Les souvenirs tristes s’égouttent, transitent de la bassine à l’écumoire. Des petits bonheurs sèchent ou tintent sur les parois de son passé. Pensive, elle regarde cette pousse en pot orner son rebord de fenêtre. Une surprenante descente en piqué la saisit alors, dans sa rêverie printanière. En quête d’embellie, la célibataire du 15 e étage, précipite sa chute, salut en silence, le monde. Passe encore une hirondelle du scotch au bec.
Elle entre dans l’habitacle. Un proche la reconduit en voiture. Des odeurs de soupe aux poireaux mêlées de tabac brun imprègnent sa veste. Le temps du trajet, entre deux mimiques d’agacement, elle garde le silence. Ses lèvres pincées pensent tout haut. Sécrétant une couche de répulsif, elle pare d’éventuelles avances du conducteur, se défend d’engager la conversation. Nerveux, ses yeux se muent en essuie-glace. S’adresse-t-elle à elle-même, la tête tournée vers la vitre, trempée par une pluie intérieure ? Arrivée à destination, saine et sauve, elle fuit son taxi. D’étranges effluves, place du mort, se dissipent.
Un visage taillé en lame de couteau monté sur un costume trop large, il parle. Sa main gauche pourvue d’une chevalière masque la bouche qui passe aux confidences. Ses membres inférieurs ont « brûlé » dit-il et une cicatrice zèbre son bras de ferraille. Il se plaint aussi de l’état de santé de sa femme, invalide, rivée à sa charrette. Ses propos résonnent au son du métal et du grillage : réminiscences de cheminot. Subitement, il rejoint les sanitaires : un canadair a lâché sa flotte sous son pantalon. Fin de vie dans l’incendie, la rouille et la fuite des organes.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Departure Implicit by Bruce Dodson
Loretta lives across the street has cancer both of us are long of tooth it happens but at least I don’t have cancer . . . yet all of us carry the malicious cells within waiting for weakness less immune than yesterday but she’s a tough old bird from North Dakota and offended doctors by refusing treatment costing thousands hair loss nausea. Takes pills for pain brain tumor headaches while she waits. “I'm ready to go,” she says. Worked thirty years same job same place small office manager/receptionist eleven months ago she finally gave it up. Sometimes I think retirement has killed more of us than cancer.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Creature Thunder Race by Stephen Philip Druce flying serpents dash with fire dragons - in bullet wagons that race the clock, voltage jets of flaming demons flash devil spaceships crash in aftershock, pixie arrows chase cannoned goblins skiing fairies cling to the mermaid train, forked vampires in lightning rockets, go neck and neck in the bloody rain.
Radio DJ’s by Stephen Philip Druce So, let’s rip out the tongues the irreverent wrongs of radio DJ’s that talk over songs, they fade out the best bit a track in its prime, for their small talk bullshit a sacrilegious crime, turn off the station, their self-exaltation and get them off the air, take them to the gallows and fire at them arrows, and leave them all dangling there.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Poème de Khalid EL Morabethi Un singe enrhumé touche le fond de la chose et devient lucide, Il touche la chose mais ça sent le vide, C’est vide, C’est un sens déformé par l’usure, par son miroir, par ses rides, C’est vide, C’est fatiguant, C’est répétitif, C’est la mémoire qui regarde ces cernes sous ses yeux, quotidiennement, C’est vide, c’est fatiguant mais faut s’occuper, La mémoire s’occupe à regarder ses yeux afin de sentir tout au fond ses cris silencieux, La mémoire s’occupe à chercher comment se nourrir de sa propre haine et sentir ses cris silencieux, La mémoire s’occupe à chercher la figure, à chercher le père aux mains dures, à chercher les cris silencieux, La mémoire s’occupe à entendre la bête qui porte le cœur à deux mains, elle s’occupe à l’entendre gémir, crier et dire. C’est répétitif, C’est fatiguant, c’est vide… C’est fatiguant, c’est vide… C’est fatiguant, c’est un singe qui devient lion puis homme stupide. Point D’INTEROXCLAMATION Un point et un vice, Un point froid et une virgule spectatrice, Un point sclérosé et une existence fatigante, répétitive et ivre d’un vertige, Des points sur le cou, sur les yeux, les vases, les mains, le dos et la gorge du poisson, Des points sur les pieds, la mémoire, les doigts, le verre d’eau et le poison, C’est répétitif, c’est fatiguant, C’est répétitif… sans sens, C’est répétitif… c’est un homme qui redevient un point puis un hibou qui pense, C’est répétitif, dit le frappeur, C’est répétitif, dit la peur, C’est répétitif, dit le hibou qu’à la fin, il meurt. Point D’INTEROXCLAMATION Un point et un tueur, Un point froid et un sens incompris qu’au final, il n’est que simple spectateur.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Poème de Khalid EL Morabethi Mon porc gris regarde le ciel Il pleut Il pleut sur la ville, sur l’individu, sur un taureau en or, sur un arbre, sur le poids des points qui attendent, sur les syndromes allongés les uns sur les autres, sur Odeipe , sur la foi, sur un cannibale qui mange son foie, sur une figure gourd, Il pleut sur le poids d’une sensation sourde Et il pleut … Et il pleut sur une répétition lourde. Mon porc gris regarde le ciel Il se passe quelques choses Il existe une cause Une cause La cause qui ressemble à une vieille dame La cause qui a faim… la cause, la cause normale, la cause du grand mal, la cause du diable, la cause d’une vieille dame, la cause… la grande cause du mangeur d’âmes Il existe une cause Il se passe quelques choses Il existe une rose Il y’aura une pause Une minute Une seconde Une cause, une grande cause, la cause, la cause de la pluie Il pleut. Mon porc gris regarde le ciel Mon porc gris prononce Il se passe quelques choses, entre le sombre rien et le silence Il se passe quelques choses, entre la maladive répétition et le sens Il se passe quelques choses, entre la vraie cause et le mot qui perd sa puissance Il se passe quelques choses, entre le dessus des yeux et mon porc qui prononce. Il se passe quelques choses, entre le dedans du ventre et mon porc qui prononce Il se passe quelques choses, entre la fin d’une phrase et mon porc qui prononce Il se passe quelques choses entre une faible respiration et mon porc qui prononce Il se passe quelques choses entre le geste lourd et ce que mon porc prononce Il se passe quelques choses… Il existe une rose, une cause… une grande cause. Mon porc gris regarde le ciel La pluie est belle. Mon porc gris regarde le ciel Il pleut sur les papillons et les abeilles Mon porc gris regarde le ciel Il pleut sur une cause, sur une rose, sur une veille voyelle.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Spider by Jack Grady I watched you as you weaved your web like a fisherman focused on mending his nets. I never noticed the flies you drained of life, though I saw the aftermath you left like pennants hoisted on the halyards of a ship. I enjoyed greeting you every morning and saying goodnight to you while the sun still shone in summer. Though you had grown fat, your only kill I witnessed was your last: a wasp more massive than you. Later, I watched you angle your plump berry of an arse over the rigging sheets of your web and shit out digested remains in dark viscous drops. Soon, a giant of a wasp (perhaps your victimâ€™s mate) took you from your web like an owl hooking a mouse out of an open field. I did not see the lair where its larva consumed your still living, paralyzed body, but I saw your web as a ship abandoned, adrift in a gale, sails torn, stays and shrouds tattered ghosts unspinning in the wind.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 L'araignée de Jack Grady traduit de l’anglais par Jack Grady Je t’ai regardée quand tu tissais ta toile avec la concentration d'un pêcheur qui répare ses filets. Je n'ai jamais remarqué les mouches qui tu as vidé de vie, bien que j'ai vu les séquelles que tu as laissées derrière comme fanions hissés sur les drisses d'un navire. J'ai bien aimé te saluer tous les matins et te souhaiter bonne nuit tandis que le soleil continue de briller en été. Bien que tu ais engraissé ton seul meurtre dont je peux témoigner était ton dernier: une guêpe plus énorme que toi. Plus tard, je t’ai regardé quand tu mets à l’angle la baie dodue de ton cul au-delà des plans du gréement de la toile les chiures des restes digérés en sombres gouttes visqueuses. Bientôt, une guêpe géante, (peut-être le partenaire de ta dernière victime) t’a arrachée de ta toile de la même manière q’un hibou plongeant du ciel attrape une souris entre ses griffes. Je n'ai pas vu le repaire dans lequel sa larve t’a dévorée tandis que tu étais paralysée mais encore vivante. Ce que j'ai vu était ta toile comme un navire abandonné, à la dérive dans la tempête, voile toute déchirée, les étais et haubans en lambeaux, en proie aux fantômes la détissant dans le vent.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Finale on the Via Veneto by Jack Grady This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper. —T S Eliot, The Hollow Men Before the curtain drops on a buzzing hive of swarming Lambrettas, Time’s end glows in the face of a Fellini clown as his red bulbous nose blows in on itself with a clown’s bicycle horn sound. That nose is the heart of the universe imploding. It swallows all laughter in its cries and all cries that linger in the stardust trail of its laughter. It swallows streaks of black-painted tears that drip from the clown’s disconsolate eyes. It swallows clown and all as the curtain falls forever on the Via Veneto.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Finale sur la Via Veneto de Jack Grady traduit de l’anglais par Jack Grady C'est la façon dont le monde se termine Pas avec une détonation mais un chuchotement —T S Eliot, The Hollow Men Avant que le rideau tombe sur un essaim de scooters qui bourdonne comme une ruche, la fin des temps s'allume dans le visage d'un clown de Fellini. Son nez bulbeux et rouge, souffle vers l'intérieur, dans la tête du clown, avec le son de Klaxon comme la poire de son vélo. Ce nez est le coeur de l'univers qui est en train d’imploser. Il avale tout rire dans ses cris tout cris qui s'attardent avec son rire sur le sentier de la poussière d'étoiles. Il avale traînées de larmes peinte en noir s’écoulant de ses yeux inconsolables. Il avale le clown et tout le monde pendant que le rideau tombe pour l'éternité sur la Via Veneto.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Post Viaticum by Jack Grady I watch the dead, their arms and fingers crossed on cribs that drift beneath ladders to nowhere. Their road is a dark river; their sky a cave’s ceiling whose beams are the ribs of Jonah’s whale. Soon, they are swallowed by the vortex of a nightmare, before shipwrecked on the beach of my last dream. And I, the explorer, claim them, embrace them, and implore them for answers. One tells me the world is cruel; another swears every gunshot is but the orgasm of love; while a third draws me into her arms with inscrutable smiles so hypnotic I am blind to the nakedness of her skull. Until now, her ears I have never whispered to and her lips I have never kissed. Until now, I was no necro, neither –philiac nor –mancer. Until now, I was no ghoul. When the graves finally open and we see distended bellies of clouds pregnant with loaves and fish, will it rain on the dust of our tongues; will we at last awaken, re-fleshed and in bliss?
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 La petite folie dans la prairie de Necromongers Le jour était d’une clarté sophistiquée. Quand mes yeux se sont ouverts pour répondre à l’appel de la lumière qui m’éclaboussait déjà les paupières, ce fût d’abord une irradiante et éblouissante ondée de blanchâtre luminosité qui envahit ma rétine. Mes yeux n’arrivaient pas à s’habituer à cette active luminescence. Cela me prit un temps fou avant d’arriver à passer d’un flou à une image visuellement plus perceptible. Mais quand mes yeux purent enfin mettre une image nette sur la scène qui m’entourait…je faillis perdre à nouveau connaissance ! J’étais dans un champ, une prairie d’une immense étendue, sans doute sur des kilomètres. Devant moi, à quelques centimètres, se trouvait un bras sans corps dont les os étaient apparents. Un large lambeau de chair déchirée traînait à moitié détaché de son membre sur l’étendue d’herbe violacée qui arrivait jusqu’à mon visage. L’humidité du matin avait déposé des gouttes de rosée sur les couleurs vives de la chair en putréfaction, mon nez était assez près pour en sentir les effluves. Un certain dégoût me fit relever la tête. Pris par une odeur qui me lança un remous d’estomac significatif j’eus des hauts le cœur. Je me redressais pour m’extirper de cette vision et cette odeur cauchemardesque. Seulement, mon répit fût de courte durée. Le champ entier était recouvert de corps et de membres çà et là. La couleur de l’herbe, avec le lever du jour et les reflets du soleil sur la rosée matinale avait transformé la prairie en une palette s’étirant du mauve violacé au rouge carmin par endroit, concédant quelques parties encore vertes. Je ne comprenais pas. Ni ce qu’il m’arrivait, ni ce qui avait pu se passer ici, ni ce que je faisais là. Côté pratique oui, je savais qu’on était le matin…une trique d’enfer ne me permettait pas d’en douter une seconde. C’était même une impression bizarre de sentir ce membre dur au milieu de ce carnage sans nom. Et là encore, m’expliquer pourquoi le naturel n’avait pas été chassé au galop par pareille vision…m’était impossible. Les veines de mon sexe me faisaient mal au point de sentir le jean de mon pantalon bien vivant, au contraire de ce qui m’entourait. Une certaine excitation ne cessait de monter en moi et pourtant, mon cauchemar visuel était bien là. J’entrepris de me sauver de cette réalité. Je ne comprenais pas, il fallait donc que je quitte les lieux pour réfléchir. Mais à quoi ? Je ne savais déjà pas ce que j’y faisais ! Peu importe…mon corps était soulevé par toute cet horreur famélique qui se répandait sur l’horizon à perte de vue…et par cette odeur qui me soulevait aussi le cœur. Je cherchais un endroit où des bouts d’individus déchiquetés ne poursuivraient pas mes circonvolutions outrancières de l’âme. Oui…je bandais toujours comme un fou ! Mais quelle folie s’emparait de mon sexe, de mon esprit malade et de mon corps intact ? Je me mis à courir sans regarder, à pleines enjambées, au milieu des tronçons d’inconnus. Butant sur des bras que j’envoyais plus loin, roulant sur des jambes qui finissaient contre d’autres membres inertes. Titubant de douleur presque à chacun de mes pas…ce que je ne compris pas au début…mais je m’aperçus vite qu’une de mes propres jambes souffrait d’un énorme trou béant. Mon mollet gauche était largement troué, au point de voir au travers l’herbe rougeâtre de la prairie cadavérique, entre les fils sanguinolents de mes artères qui pendaient. Concentré momentanément sur ma blessure en courant, j’en oubliai quelques secondes ma crampe phénoménale au niveau de l’entre-jambe, avant de butter sur quelque chose qui me fit perdre l’équilibre. Je m’étalai comme un poids mort, ma tête venant s’enfoncer dans le poitrail ouvert d’un homme gisant. 35
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 C’est en relevant ma tête coincée, dans un « flop » suintant et dégoulinant de viscères, que mon regard se porta sur un autre corps quelques mètres plus loin. A moitié adossée contre un arbre, dans une pose esthétiquement parfaite, baignée par un faible halo de lumière qui perçait d’entre les nuages, comme une invitation divine au milieu d’une boucherie suspendue dans le temps, une femme à moitié nue m’offrait sa beauté morbide par ses formes généreuses légèrement dénudées. D’un revers de manche, sans quitter des yeux cette beauté fatale, j’essuyai mon visage des bouts de poumons gluants qui le parsemaient. J’étais debout et je m’avançai lentement vers cet ange mort-né tombé du ciel comme un mirage pour damné. D’ailleurs, le damné que j’étais ne démordait pas d’une énergie latente qui sommeillait tel un diable au fond de mon pantalon. Mon sexe me faisait de plus en plus mal…et je ne m’expliquais toujours pas pourquoi cette seule sensation prenait de plus en plus de place dans mon cerveau. Le sol et l’espace autour de moi était jonché d’une macabre tuerie déroutante, mais des spasmes orgasmiques me secouaient le corps comme une orgie dérangeante dont la dépendance était plus forte que ma raison. Cette radieuse émanation plastique, illuminée par une véritable beauté angélique me défiait par sa présence…et par son absence de vie. Elle était là, inerte, à déchirer mon bas ventre de son aura. Je ne saurais non plus expliquer pourquoi, le regard posé sur ses lèvres pulpeuses, je commençais à déboutonner ma braguette. Mon cœur battait de plus en plus fort, ma respiration devenait presque un râle…je sortis mon sexe. J’attrapai la tête de la fille qui était penchée, et la tournait face à mon membre. Un craquement d’os collé à l’arbre se fit entendre et une légère ligne de sang coula le long de son cou. Je venais de lui arracher une partie du crâne qui vraisemblablement avait été broyé par un choc contre le tronc. Elle avait le cœur perforé par un groscalibre, ce qui avait dû la projeter contre l’arbre. Je me posais des questions qui ne m’intéressaient pas…ce qui m’intéressait, c’était aller au bout de ma pulsion…après tout qui m’en voudrait ? Des cadavres ne peuvent pas témoigner ! Je fermai les yeux. Cette histoire était terrible, je n’y comprenais rien mais je ressentais des choses. Je commençai à me masturber au niveau de son visage. Ses lèvres étaient fantastiques, et la pression de mon pénis, par va et vient successif au rythme que ma main imprimait sur mon sexe, jouait délicatement avec leur douce sensation de velours. A plusieurs reprises, je forçais leurs commissures pour m’introduire un peu plus loin dans sa bouche… ressortir…m’introduire…ressortir…pendant que mon pouls s’accélérait. Je sentais comme une humidité, une sécrétion salivaire terriblement bonne le long de mon sexe, et j’imaginais le son d’une succion délicieuse et partagée par un entrain mutuel. Une morte ! En ouvrant les yeux sur la sortie de mon sexe je le vis en sang. Mais déjà des tremblements ébranlaient mon corps, le sang me montait à ma tête et mon pénis se gonflait de douleur, je me sentais comme aspiré par la bouche de cette femme et je ne pût me contenir plus longtemps. Dans une abominable et fabuleuse sensation de vide, comme une petite mort cérébrale, j’explosai dans une giclée de sperme qui vint éclabousser son joli minois blanchâtre. La vision des filaments de ma semence étalée sur son visage, du coin des lèvres jusque sur ses premières mèches rousses, me fit penser que la mort n’avait pas d’importance. Pendant quelques secondes, celles qui avaient suivi ma retombée d’excitation, je me sentis plus libre, reposé, serein…le temps de reprendre une grande inspiration de satisfaction, je fus coupé dans mon élan par une déchirante impression au niveau du ventre. Une lame horriblement large me transperçait de part en part, et venait lécher le nez englué de liquide séminal de ma partenaire docile. « Putain ! Il ira pas plus loin ce gros con ! J’te l’ai planté comme une citrouille bien mûre ! 36
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Ouais, saleté de zombie ! On a déjà pas eu assez de mal à tous les zigouiller, faut en plus qu’y baisent entre eux ! Avec une salope de morte en plus ! Dis…elle à pas l’air si moche que ça pour une morte…pis maintenant elle a un fond de teint reluisant ! Ça la rend presque vivante tiens! ahahah ! » Mon tueur posa son ranger boueux sur mon dos pour y prendre appui, et retira lentement sa machette en la faisant glisser dans mon intérieur. La lame ressortie dégoulinante d’un sang fraîchement ponctionné, et mon corps vint embrasser celui de la fille contre l’arbre, ma tête contre la sienne. Il sortit de l’intérieur de sa veste militaire un 357 Magnum, recula de quelques mètres, visa nos deux têtes et appuya sur la détente. Une partie commune de notre âme vola en éclats de mille morceaux indistincts de cervelles en bouillie et d’éclaboussures en giclées sanglantes mêlées de sperme. Nos cerveaux ne faisant plus qu’un sur le tronc, dans une indéfinissable tâche aux couleurs d’un amour périodique tenté malgré tout. « Faut bien un flingue comme ça pour défourailler du zombie…hé ! J’ai fait un coup double ! Ahah ! Allez, traînons pas ici, je viens d’entendre sur le talkie qu’ils avaient réussi à en parquer un autre groupe dans un champ pas loin ! Des familles entières à ce qui parait ! Va falloir bien viser…les gosses ça court plus vite ! Ahah ! Ouais…et dire que j’ai même pas de permis de port d’arme, mais je sais sacrément bien viser ! Bon… t’as raison, filons là-bas, pour une fois qu’on s’amuse ! »
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 my cold dead heart by C. Z. Hayward my cold dead heart remembers to forget the melodies we once hid inside my lips betray me however and i make porcupined air bubbles of the lyrics where you slipped on my skin i forget to remember there are holes in the walls where memories used to hang with promises of forever as the dirge plays on I don't ask for salvation nor forgiveness just the sweet wet crackle of my showering on your grave as you watch
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 blonde by C. Z. Hayward she invades the crevices of hope molded from the time i first suckled my mother's breast Freud would say. but somehow i need her even more. sweltering walls entomb me. my marrow gnawed dry by war dogs who use my manhood as a chew toy. im a stray in my own village. my wife mother sisters merely bitches meant for breeding by boys with guns. the puppies have steal teeth. so i lie on my cot stained with the residue of the promises of beauty by the Norwegian with her golden locks. Rapunzel wore a wig as most whores do. she made he hard with her whispers and her smile that stroked my flaccid dignity. but now the ticks and leeches get to feast first on what should have been my first son.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Histoire écourtée 16 (La course) de Necromongers Le souffle était court. Un battement sur deux ne savait plus que le sang ressourçait son oxygène. Les arbres dansaient comme un rêve narcotique. Ce n’était pas la pluie qui glissait sur son corps et trempait sa chemise. Quelquefois, des branches venaient gifler son visage. Ses jambes couraient toutes seules, avec une volonté affolée. La douleur trouverait d’autres instants plus propices pour se manifester. Derrière lui, l’expiration de l’air s’étendait sur des centaines de mètres. Devant lui, aucun but précis, si ce n’est de garder les yeux ouverts. Son pied accrocha une racine bien ancrée, faisant trébucher son regard sur le sol. L’air eu peine à poursuivre son chemin avec toute cette terre qui lui barrait la bouche. Pendant quelques secondes, l’oxygène ne savait plus que les battements existaient. Le retour à l’envoyeur. Quelque chose lui tira les cheveux en arrière. Il prit une grande respiration encombrée, s’étouffa un peu et recracha de l’humus. Reprendre ses esprits, le temps de sentir un froid glacial sur sa tempe. Quand le coup retentit, une flopée d’oiseaux s’envola en nombre, faisant résonner le bois d’une vie jusque-là silencieuse. Leur souffle était court. Un battement sur deux ne savait plus que le sang ressourçait leur oxygène…
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The Coma by Christopher Knodel
Karl was a corn-fed, American Redneck. His tee-shirt had it written on the back, surrounded by a bass, deer, and a topless blonde in a cowboy hat. He never left the house without a leathersheathed bowie knife tucked into his boot beneath blue dungarees. His balding head was always covered by a red NASCAR hat. Karl was proud to be an American. As a patriot and Navy veteran, Karl hated faggots, hippies and communists. He was from the golden age of nationalism. He was open about his views. He thought Texans were traitors for threatening to secede. Montana was getting it right with their militias. Colorado was stoned, Massachusetts was gay and he was pretty damn sure that God Almighty would sink California back into the sea. He loved to hunt, and hated that he had to work during shooting season. Karl was night supervisor in a Diesel fabrication unit. The shift was filled with blacks, Asians and Cubans. He hated them, and tried purging the roster when he came on board. But that minority-loving HR bitch was a flaming liberal. She made him rehire every “harassment victim.” Karl’s only joy was spending afternoons in his garage, drinking beer and chain-smoking with Boots, Brad, Schultz and Spider. These meetings went back decades, from playing ball together to hunting dove behind the Elks Lodge. *** Karl and Spider were having supper at the Brass Kettle. Two young men entered the restaurant and sat in the adjacent booth. Karl glanced over his shoulder at Spider’s nod and shook his head. “Couple of faggots,” said Karl. “Genuine ass-ramming, fairy-fucks. And here in Washington, PA. Why do they even come here? I don’t like it.” “I hear you,” Spider said. “You wanna teach ‘em how good Christians behave?” Sheriff McElroy wasn’t at his usual table tonight. Karl felt his patriotism swelling. “Let’s do it,” he said. Maggie brought the couple their dishes. After they ate, she dropped off the bill. It read “Paid in full by admirers.” Ricky and Henry looked at each other, and then did a scan of the restaurant. As they glanced in Spider’s direction, he winked and nodded towards outside. “Let’s just leave a tip and go, Rick. This place is in the middle of Hicksville. People like us disappear in towns like this.” “You’re a drama queen,” Ricky countered. “It’s not like we’re in Mississippi. We should at least thank them. Just tell the guy we’re in a relationship.” “Fine. But I’m telling you right now, they don’t look like ‘friends’ to me,” said Henry. 41
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 They walked out. Henry had parked his Mercedes far to the rear. They saw Spider leaning against a camouflaged Silverado. “Hello, faggots,” he began. They both stopped, only to hear Karl’s voice from behind. “Jesus didn’t suck cock, girls.” Ricky felt the two-by-four strike him behind the knee. “Like a goddamned woman,” said Spider. “You scream like that when your boyfriend wiggles his pecker in your mouth?” Spider was dancing over Ricky, while kicking his face and genitals. Henry ran to the Mercedes. His C-Class became a $45000 panic room. But Ricky’s screams rapidly brought him back to reality. He slid the key in the ignition and cranked the car. It roared to life as Karl swung his board at the back windshield. The Mercedes lunged as the glass shattered. Karl was struck by the corner of the bumper. His body flew backwards and skipped across the gravel while his head struck a paved divider. Ricky dove into the waiting Mercedes. It peeled off, leaving nothing but dust, glass and a very broken body. Spider pulled up to the ER entrance and laid Karl gently upon the pavement. Then he sped off. Spider still had outstanding warrants, and couldn’t afford to be involved in this mess. As he drove away, Spider looked into the passenger seat. Laying there were Karl’s keys, cell phone, and wallet. He had left Karl his identification; that would be enough. *** Karl awoke with a start. Movement was difficult and clumsy. He looked around at the whiteness of everything. Clearly a hospital, but like nothing he had ever seen before. He attempted to sit up and felt the tug of tubes on both arms. He gagged as he weakly slipped out a feeding tube. He was connected to IV, sensors, and a pulse monitor. He dragged his finger out of it to get some service. Within seconds, nurses flew in, dumbstruck. Karl stared back. “Mister…. Simpson,” one nurse began, “Forgive us our surprise, but….” She slipped a chart out of its sleeve. “You’ve been in a coma for two years. It’s… rare for someone to awaken after so long. But, congratulations.” The name Simpson registered with him. He tried to remember other details, but couldn’t form a clear picture. He had trouble recalling anything past early childhood. He tried to get up, but couldn’t. “Your muscles have atrophied, Mr. Simpson,” the nurse offered. “It will take some time to get you back into an ambulatory state. We’ll get you on the physical therapy roster.” Karl began an extensive inpatient rehabilitation. His therapist was a black man named Raoul. He was 6’1”, well-built and lean. He maintained a neatly-trimmed beard and took good care of 42
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 himself. He was attractive by any measure. Karl couldn’t place his accent, but thought it was someplace tropical. “Haiti,” Raoul said one day. “I can tell you are wondering about my accent. I came to the states for medical school, and specialized in rehabilitative technology.” Raoul went over good dietary practices, an exercise regimen and even some relaxation techniques. Karl began to look forward to his sessions. He felt better and embraced the realization that he’d have to start life anew. He hadn’t regained his memories; there was no guarantee he would. By week five, Karl was up and walking again. He’d begun strengthening with swimming and resistance training. He began easy running and spending afternoons outside with his trainer. Karl was in excellent spirits. This camaraderie had done him good. But as the final week approached, Karl lapsed into depression. Raoul immediately sensed his decline in mood. “You are rehabilitated, my friend,” he said, “and are one of my accomplished patients. Be proud.” “I don’t want to leave,” said Karl, surprising them both. “Why not?” “I…,” Karl paused, unsure of what to say. Raoul leaned over and lightly held Karl’s chin. A second passed, and he leaned in and kissed him. Karl tightened a moment, and then gave in to his desire. They kissed several seconds. “Now go,” said Raoul. “If it’s something you want, contact me. If not, I still wish you every happiness. Goodbye, Karl.” Karl walked out, his lips moist; his penis erect. The hospital returned his license. He had been identified upon admission, and his sister had been contacted in Oklahoma. Ginger had done her best managing his affairs, but she’d really just put a hold on all accounts. Karl called her and let her know he was out of the coma. He explained that he had no recollection of his previous life, except as a very young child. She opted against an immediate visit, while he became acclimated to his life. She sent him money instead. On the way to a hotel, the cab drove past his address. It was unfamiliar, and seemed occupied. He found his phone number online. It was still active. He called and a gravelly voice answered. It sounded drunk. “Yeah?” said the voice, “Whadya want?” Karl sat quietly, and after a view choice words, the recipient hung up. He’d need to figure this all out, but right now he just wanted to feel normal. He wasn’t as concerned with who he was. He was still deciding who he wanted to be. The next morning, Karl contacted Raoul. They had lunch near the hospital. Most of the deli patrons were medical staff. Karl didn’t recognize anyone, but glanced around several times. Raoul noticed. “Are you ashamed to be seen with a man?” Raoul stated, more than asked. 43
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “No, I… just…,” Karl stumbled, “This is all new to me. Waking up, not having a home or friends. It’s just a lot to take in. I keep expecting to see someone I know.” “So, having a relationship with a man…” Raoul added, “you’re at peace with that?” “I am,” said Karl. He reached over and placed his hand on Raoul’s. From across the diner, a pair of green eyes opened wide. *** Boots, Brad, and Schultz all stared at him, mouths agape. “I’m tellin’ you this is fer real,” Spider said. “Bobby Mackey’s sister Gena is a nurse at Washin’ton Hospital. She eats at that place with the bean sprouts and organic carrots. She called and swears it was Karl. Back from the fuckin’ dead.” The guys cheered. “That’s when her story derails a bit,” he added. “She claims he was havin’ lunch with a doctor.” He paused for effect. “A colored boy. Says he was holdin’ the spade’s hand. Like a faggot.” All eyes went blank. “You givin’ Karl back all his stuff? His house, chair ’n shit?” Boots asked. After Spider had left him at the ER, he’d gone back to his trailer. Once he learned that Karl was in a coma, he moved into Karl’s house. When the power cut off, he called on Karl’s cellphone and explained that he wanted to reactivate service. After that worked, Spider rented his trailer and decided to ride it out. He assumed payments and lived as Karl for the next two years. No one seemed to notice. Spider told Gena to keep a lookout at the restaurant. The boys started keeping their eyes peeled at the familiar haunts. Spider maxed a couple more credit cards in case Karl did come back. Gena texted Spider two days later. He and Boots parked at the Elks Lodge and walked through the wooded area behind the restaurant parking. From there, they had a concealed view of the patio dining. Sure enough, they saw Karl. “Looks smaller,” Boots said. “Lost his gut.” “Pasty, too,” Spider observed. “Needs some beef and beer. Jesus Christ on a cracker, he’s eating a fucking salad!” Raoul was in blue scrubs, but Karl had on a polo shirt and slacks. He wore an Irish flat cap. They exited the restaurant and walked together towards the hospital. At the back entrance, Raoul leaned over and kissed him. Karl walked back to the parking and hopped into Raoul’s BMW. Spider and Boots tore back through the woods, and did an involuntary 360 in the parking lot, clipping a sedan. They did not stop. Boots kept the Beamer in his sights while Spider wove through the dense traffic. They watched him turn into the Palomino Motel, and park. He entered number six. Both men were still breathing heavily from pursuit. “Gather the boys and meet me here at midnight,” Spider said. “Bring bats.” Boots squinted at Spider, shrugged and nodded. 44
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 At ten past midnight, the door burst open. Four men rushed in to see Raoul making love to Karl. Brad vomited immediately on the shag. Boots and Schultz just stared, as if frozen. Spider simply greeted Karl as he would anyone in this situation. “Hello, faggots,” he seethed. Karl stared at his former friends with fear and anger. There was no recognition. How dare these men invade his home? Who were these fucking redneck drunks? The first bat came down. *** The next morning, Spider sat in Karl’s porch swing and watched the Deputies. Every few minutes, the country silence would be broken by a siren. The lights would strobe past and disappear around the bend. He knew where they were going. He listened to the chatter over a short-wave scanner. Law enforcement was baffled by a scene at the Palomino. Two men had been bludgeoned to death. The maid found the bodies. The remains had been positioned in a lover’s embrace, a the black man spooning a white. Both bodies were missing penises; the white victim was also missing his fingers, facial features, teeth and a patch of skin from each bicep. Only the black man had been identified. Spider smiled. He moved back inside and flopped back into Karl’s recliner. The Steelers are playing! Time for some football. The cops would figure it out eventually. But until then, it was time for another beer. He’d just say he was taking care of the place. Ain’t like Karl’s gonna say anything different. He smiled again, genuinely happy. Thing’s couldn’t get any better. I re-inherited all this shit, and now there’s two less fairyfucks to soil God’s country. Kind of a double-win with one being a colored boy. Spider thought back to the exact moment Karl’s skull caved in. His cock stiffened. God Bless America.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The Butterscotch by Christopher Knodel
The Butterscotch won an erotic story contest at FanStory.
John’s family planned a trip to Germany the summer preceding his senior year. But his grades plummeted after Christmas break, and now he was in danger of being held back. He was being forced to attend summer session, and no amount of petitioning had managed to secure him leave. His mother was livid. John couldn’t be left alone all summer. He wasn’t a bad kid, but tended to be too smart for his maturity. He could talk anyone into anything. He’d always had the gift of persuasion, but rarely got out of bad situations unscathed. His mother knew if left unsupervised, he’d “wind up in jail, out of school or dead in a ditch somewhere.” John’s mother called the usual sitter, only to find that she had entered college on early admission. Both the backup and the third string were unavailable. No one seemed willing to commit. Lainey felt her chance at Europe dissolving. She called her sister, Mindy, to cry. “We’ll just have to cancel my part of the trip,” she said. “This was my final shot, and that crazy kid has done it again. Why couldn’t he be smarter? Or study? Or just skate by to the next grade? No one expects anything from him. Jesus, Mindy, he always destroys my chances at everything. Remember in high school, when I was going to study in Paris? He fucked that up, too.” “Lainey,” Mindy said, “You got pregnant. With John. I’m not sure he did that deliberately.” “Whatever,” Lainey said. “I’m still screwed. No one can sit for us, and I’m going to have to stay here. I hate that little asshole. He did this on purpose.” An uncomfortable and palpable silence spread between receivers. Then Mindy sighed, “I’ll watch John.” “Will you really?” asked Lainey. “Jesus Christ, Mindy, I am so glad that you showed up on the fucking doorstep. Adopted or not, you are the best sister anyone could have asked for.” Mindy cringed at the reminder. It was true, of course. She had suddenly “appeared” on the welcome mat of their suburban home. Lainey’s Mom had just lost her uterus to cancer, and the dreams of a larger family had begun a fetid decay. And then, “the miracle.” Lainey had been less than thrilled with this new addition to the family. Honestly, she was elated to find out that her mother could not bear anymore children. Who wanted siblings? She was perfectly happy with the current pecking order, and this new “issue” was already tapping into attention that should have belonged to her. So a very real and very strong resentment targeted this tainted “bundle
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 of joy.” Mindy’s life was harder than it should have been, and little connection formed between them until adulthood. An awkward silence brought Mindy out of her introspective state. “What’s that, Lainey?” she asked. “I said, twice, that I love you, you little shit. Now, let’s talk logistics. Here’s what John will need while we’re gone…” Mindy agreed to keep John fed, tutored and clean. She promised her sister that the boy would be more mature and responsible having been in her charge. After a week of sporadic calls with last minute details on the “care and handling” of John, Mindy moved into the guest bedroom the morning that his parents headed to the airport. As she leaned in to kiss Lainey goodbye, Mindy whispered, “I’ll take good care of him.” “Whatever,” Lainey said, absent-mindedly. And then they were gone. Mindy drove back to the house. John, not surprisingly, had opted out of bidding his parents farewell. He knew how angry Lainey was about summer school. But it wasn’t like his mother had planned on spending tons of time with him in Europe. She had her agenda, and John could “jump on board or not.” She told him that. No one really cared what he did. No one ever cared. Mindy looked in on John that evening. As his aunt, she saw John at holidays and those times when his Mom really needed to get away, but Mindy didn’t know much about him. He was newly eighteen, handsome and somewhat mathematically-challenged, but overall, a smart kid.
He was that rare
breed that was personable, but introverted. He had always chosen to be a loner, but these days, seemed more depressed than independent. He just sat at the computer and played World of Warcraft for hours on end. She remembered John as an outside kid –always running, screaming and teamoriented. Now, he seemed a bit introspective for an upcoming senior. The first weeks went smoothly. John enjoyed the change of pace, although his aunt seemed a stickler for rules. Each evening, homework was followed by supper, washing and bed. Television or other activities could be done immediately after school, but only before the nightly regimen began. Dinners were not as varied as his mother’s fare, but often consisted of those items rarely experienced –hamburgers, fries, milkshakes and pizza. The only true divergence from a normal pattern was Mindy’s insistence that he take long baths. She doubted the effectiveness of his quick showers, and wanted him clean for bed. Baths made certain he did not skimp on this task. Occasionally, she’d pop in to make sure he was scrubbing down.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 She’d crack a few jokes in passing and they’d both get a chuckle out of it. He liked his aunt’s company, and honestly, her brief presence at bath time hardly seemed odd. The house seemed different with Mindy there. Instead of the heavy feel of disappointment and stress, there was a lightness. She kept everything immaculate, and was often flitting around in gym shorts, sports bra and a crooked grin. It was a stark contract to his mother’s business suit and biting tongue. Each day seemed a bit more relaxed. He studied hard, and spent less time online with the guys. Sometimes, he even smiled. Mindy softened John’s routine a bit after several weeks. His grades improved, and he seemed happier. Baths were still mandatory, but the addition of some evening television was added. Mindy and John would flop upon the cushions and grab a few episodes of this or that, usually end up laughing together, and then she’d walk him up to the nightly bath. One evening, an awkward moment passed between them. Mindy was shutting everything down for the night, and decided to pop by John’s room a final time. He was still at the computer, but slumped down in the chair. It was as if he were laying on it instead of sitting. She leaned in to see if he was alright, when the video clip finished buffering. The screen filled with a close-up shot of a woman’s naked buttocks bouncing on a man’s throbbing member No other features were shown. John was listening through the earbuds. His right hand was rapidly pumping his penis to orgasm, when he saw movement at the door. Mindy had already gone, but John was certain she caught him masturbating. The next morning at breakfast, everything seemed normal. Mindy was the same chipper host and disciplinarian. John relaxed a bit and convinced himself that he’d imagined her presence. He’d be more careful in the future. He didn’t whack it daily, but found that he was looking forward to those times more and more often. And honestly, his time with Aunt Mindy had seemed to make it worse. She looked younger than she was, and although she had suffered through two failed marriages, her twenty-nine years had been kind. She hid her post-traumatic stress disorder by staying active. Her hobbies were jogging, kayaking and tennis. These activities, along with a daily regimen of deep-knee squats and calf raises, provided her with a near-perfect body. She rarely smiled, but had full lips formed into a sultry pout. The brunette locks, emerald eyes and tanned skin only added to her allure. Most men found her attractive, unless they were in search of a formless, skinny girl. Mindy sported powerful thighs, chiseled calves and a backside that would have made a Dutch odalisque envious.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 One evening, John began his bath. It was several minutes before he noticed music playing. He continued lathering, when the door opened and Mindy entered in a white hotel robe. Kumamoto Hotel Castle with embroidered in gold over her left breast. The vocals of Sinatra crooned as she lit three candles and positioned them around the room. She clicked off the light, sat on the toilet seat and lit up a cigarette. After two deep drags she dropped it into the toilet, disrobed and entered the tub behind John. He stiffened for a moment as she embraced him lightly from behind and began to lather his thighs and chest. Slowly, she moved down his stomach to the genitals. Within minutes, John heaved forward and quickly scooped his orgasm off the water’s surface and sat quietly – uncomfortably, until Mindy began to stir. His back was still to her, but he could feel her moving against him. Her pulsing and writhing became rougher –less rhythmic. John reached behind him and began exploring her thighs, her skin, her hidden recesses. He never glanced behind him; everything was learned through tactile stimuli. He felt immediately what pleased her, what raced her heart. The act felt natural; it all felt so right. With a stifled squeal she shuttered and collapsed against the back of the tub. After several seconds, she stood up. She robed herself, lit a second cigarette, and exited the bathroom without a backwards glance. The music ceased and the sound of Mindy’s feet receded down the hall. John sat in the now-tepid water for another ten minutes. He was again, erect. The affair had changed the routine. John returned from school the next day to find Mindy dressed in nothing more than a tool belt. He made love to her over the back of the couch. Afterwards, they ate fish sticks and watched Ben Hur. Before school, they sixty-nined in the faculty parking lot, giggling as they pleasured each other. Daytime was the for playful mischief, but once the shadows lengthened, true desire emerged. Evenings were for exploration. Mindy had John perform acts that were denied her by former partners. They had intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal sex; they role-played, mutually masturbated and watched porn together. Skin was coated in pudding, oils and candle wax. Mindy even had John pour Pop Rocks candies into her rectum. She came twice. There were no limits, no bounds between them. In fact, her only rule was that after going down on her, John suck a Butterscotch before kissing her again. She loved having his musk all over her, and never wanted to expunge his taste from her mouth, but she couldn’t kiss him if she tasted her scent on his lips. She kept a bowl of the orange candies beside the bed, and even kept several stashed around the house for impromptu affairs. 49
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Summer ended, and she left. Scars developed. He sought out Mindy when he was twenty-seven, after years of failed relationships and therapy. She was in her late-forties, broken down and miserable. She hadn’t held a steady job since her last divorce, and moved five times since their summer together. She ended up in Georgia, working in a diner on Atlanta’s southwest side, with its long-haul routes along the I-20, I-75, I-85 splits. Her skin was paler now, leathery and lined. The left corner of her mouth and dominant fingers were stained yellow from years of nicotine. She looked sickly to him, somehow, but John saw her from the parking lot, and was staring through painted scrawl on diner glass. His movement drew her eyes to his. She saw him there, and whispered something inaudibly. He never caught the words. After a few more seconds standing in the thickening mist, he left. Two weeks later, his mother announced that Mindy killed herself. She was diagnosed with Stage-2 lung masses. She had authored a short letter to the family that explained her illness, her thoughts, and her resolution to swallow a shotgun. Lainey said she wasn’t surprised, “Orphans are like that, apparently. And we’ve heard some pretty disturbing stories about her…. um, extracurricular habits that have embarrassed the family. I’m just glad Mom and Dad are dead and gone. This would’ve killed them. I never liked that girl.” Mindy’s will ended with an address to John. She began with an apology, and stated that he should harbor no guilt from her death. At this, Lainey cut her eyes at him, questioningly. He ignored her. Mindy left him a single cardboard box with his name across the side. He quietly accepted the package, avoided his mother’s probing eyes, and returned to his hotel. Two hours later, John was lying on the couch with his feet thrown on an ottoman. He had poured two-fingers of rum and was mulling over Mindy’s final message. In essence, she had confessed that she loved him that summer –and loved him still. He smiled as he glanced at the cardboard box. In his hand was a single postcard that read “I’ll always love you.” John wore Mindy’s hotel robe and used her Zippo lighter to fire up a Camel Wide. He closed his eyes and replayed those memories in his mind. He loved her, he knew. She was his first. John slowly unwrapped a piece of candy and slipped it into his mouth. For the length of his cigarette, he sucked on the butterscotch. As it dissolved and faded into the recesses of his mouth and mind –he smiled. His sadness left him. It was time to begin again.
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Chant du Cygne trois poèmes de Patrice Maltaverne Au rayon du supermarché des envies évanescentes De beaux cygnes charnus Déjà emballés sous vide Viennent se poser en bordure De chacun de mes pas J'ai envie de ralentir Pour les caresser M'enfoncer peut-être dans l'eau trouble Avant de resurgir en haut du prochain pont Mais gare à leurs becs Une seule de ces ouvertures Pourrait me conduire dans le noir total Pire que cette grisaille aplatie Sur l'horizon des quais de ciment Qui sert de nez au hasard
La blancheur impeccable des cygnes Est-elle vouée à être un mirage ? Comme si l'eau qui les cerne Avait récupéré tous les microbes De cette mise au net Glissant à côté de nous En un compagnonnage truqué Dernière offrande avant disparition Derrière les murs en barrières Nourrissez-vous quelques regrets Sur les cygnes que vous avez laissés croupir Malgré leur dentelle ? 51
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Non Pas du tout Nous avons récupéré des escaliers de pierre Qui montent ou qui descendent Et le sismographe de nos vues Peut se poursuivre à perte
Je continuerai d'écrire jusqu'au bout de l'horizon Là où se déploient les ailes De ce bel oiseau en forme de cœur Je n'ai pas les idées très claires Permettez que je trébuche Pour servir la vieillesse Il me semble certain que ce cygne Est là-bas lui aussi perdu Sur une île sauvage pour la cité Au lieu d'imaginer un paysage rebelle Je m'installerai dans un canapé cotonneux Nourri par la sensation de boire Ces duvets comme des nuages En signe de confusion totale et généreuse J'y suis presque Au cœur de mon tapis volant Il n'y a plus qu'à dézinguer Quelles Aliens en métal dans les coins Croyez-moi ça ne compte guère À côté de ce qui se prépare…
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Recipe for Contentment by Randel McCraw-Helms Understand this: nobody understands anything, We all are blind, benighted, terminal, And lost in a darkened maze with no outlet Save one, nor is that lighted. The lucky few Amble toward it patiently, trusting that Many tasks are unfinishable, and Many burdens beg to be laid down, left For others, who also may, if they wish, Pass them on with the merest shrug and smile. Ignore siren despairâ€™s summons, there is No one right thing to do, ever, and most houses, Employments, children, will outlast us gleefully. If not, we have as choices grieving or singing. Each is medicinal if accepted.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The Wise Old Whore Chooses Her Epitaph by Randel McCraw I repeat the advice my first madam gave Before she went down to an early grave: “A poor man may sometimes get what he begs for, But I never met one worth spreading my legs for. “There’s much to forget, but memorize this: Cash is the best aphrodisiac, Miss. You don’t need a husband to run your life, Just give him relief from his boring wife. “You won’t need a ring to drive a big car, If you learn how to pick up a guy in a bar. You don’t need a man your life to encumber, You just need a cunt, and a card with your number. “Let this be the verse you carve for me: ‘She never gave it away for free.’”
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Jusqu’à plus soif de Necromongers Je n’ai pas retenu le nom. Non, je n’ai pas retenu le nom du gars. Je n’ai pas vraiment eu le temps faut dire. Et puis retenir le nom de quelqu’un qu’on n’a pas eu vraiment le temps de connaitre, ce serait une coïncidence amusante. Je ne le connais pas vraiment moi ce gars. Je n’ai eu qu’un bref aperçu de lui-même, un bref aperçu tout court…faut dire. Son visage je ne le connaissais pas avant, mais je ne l’ai pas vu assez longtemps pour m’en souvenir. C’est qu’il a fait vite le bougre. Je ne peux rien en dire d’ailleurs, je n’ai pas d’avis sur le personnage. Que voulezvous que j’y fasse ? J’aurais pu avoir le temps de m’entretenir avec lui, un peu. Mais visiblement il était pressé. J’aurais pu apprendre à le connaitre, mais je crois qu’il n’avait pas envie, pas le temps, pas que ça à penser, bref, il a comment dire…précipité les choses. Et moi-même je n’étais pas dans le ton. Je n’ai pas eu la présence d’esprit de l’interrompre. C’était assez furtif il faut dire. J’avais peine à reprendre haleine après avoir craché toutes mes tripes dans la ruelle à côté du pub. De toute évidence, j’avais quelque peu abusé de la boisson. Courbé en deux, mon corps en appui grâce à la main plaquée au mur qui le tenait en équilibre précaire. A vomir mes abus, comme un repenti qui prend conscience d’une partie de sa vie, qui s’arrête, prend appui et se libère des péchés qu’il a commis. Mon ventre me faisait mal, autant que ma gorge à rendre de la bile. Le film de la soirée passait en boucle dans ma tête, avec quelques vagues et brumeuses hésitations sur le fondement des choses, les réponses aux questions des possibles confrontations. J’étais arrivé tôt à l’ouverture. A vrai dire, j’ai même attendu devant la porte qu’elle se décadenasse. Le premier client…j’étais le premier client à commander ma rétribution au système social, le premier à rembourser le trop plein d’une vie chargée d’impayés en plus-value. Quand le deuxième client est arrivé pour renflouer les caisses, j’en étais déjà à mon 5ème don républicain. J’étais prêt à payer très cher, à rembourser ma dette au complet, dussé-je être 55
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obligé d’assister à la fermeture de la banque sociale des emprunteurs par intérêt pour y parvenir. Je n’ai pas pu m’empêcher de contribuer avec lui, à l’exaltation de l’émancipation patriotique qui nous exacerbait tous. Le renflouement de la dette. Et la dette est importante, croyez-moi ! Au fur et à mesure de l’arrivée des nombreux actionnaires, j’ai eu la vague impression d’avoir épongé une partie du problème, avec beaucoup d’enthousiasme. Si bien que je m’étais déjà fait beaucoup d’amis, en plus des connaissances donatrices que je pratiquais déjà. La vie n’a vraiment de sens que quand on la confronte. Avec celle des autres, avec ce qui nous lie aux autres, avec une certaine sagesse syndicaliste…la dette sinon rien ! Tant et si bien que la dette s’est accumulée…surtout pour mon quota prépayé ! J’avais déjà pris des stocks options sur mes récupérations depuis plus longtemps que la simple ouverture de l’établissement. Que du CDD…mais à long terme ! Mais enfin, en bon citoyen, je n’avais pas les moyens de renflouer sans emprunter, donc, j’avais une ardoise. Ce n’est pas parce que j’étais socialement reconnu comme un contribuable fiable de l’établissement que j’avais connaissance de tous ses créanciers. Mais ma soif de justice et de connaissance était telle que je ne pouvais m’empêcher de me mêler aux nombreux donateurs de la soirée. Avec une certaine délicatesse du verbiage, faisant valser en titubant, la plupart du temps, le contenu de ma rétribution sur les occupants du pub, j’avais acquis une certaine notoriété. Une notoriété que tout le monde considérait comme une évidence acquise, par un taux de présence remontant jusqu’à la simple ébauche du projet de l’établissement. Donc, plus question d’être un simple pilier, mais une véritable entité représentative de la débauche du système social. En fait, j’étais un des concepteurs du projet d’origine, et j’avais encore des parts. Des parts que je dépensais uniquement en ardoise, et que j’avais l’honnêteté de déclarer publiquement. Ma présence dans les lieux n’était plus à justifier, à prouver par son excès…je m’en croyais le propriétaire spirituel. Un concept devenu quelque peu désuet de nos jours. Mais enfin, ma joie participative à l’ensemble de la procédure s’était pérennisée dans le temps. Mon apport 56
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spécifique, caractérisé par la libre évocation du don de soi par la contribution économique au projet, avait sans doute, au-delà de populariser l’endroit par ma simple présence, ajouté au constat évident des impayés de l’état au niveau du système social, une liberté autorisée de l’âme dans ses dénouements les plus restrictifs. C’est justement le problème, on ne sait jamais qui on rencontre vraiment dans ce genre de lieu. C’est un tout venant où les gens semblent heureux de participer à l’amélioration d’une justice civique, autant qu’à éponger une morale déconvenue, tout droit issue des excès débordants de la vie. Les gens viennent liquider leur espoir dans un spasme de partage, tronqué par les visions d’une théorie brumeuse, que l’alcool parsème de son illusion pratique. Et, croyez-moi, je sais de quoi je parle. De table en table, de verre en verre, j’ai dû oublier pourquoi j’étais venu, et ma compagnie commençait à trouver l’écho d’un symptôme récurent chez l’être humain, la patience. Celle-ci engendrant du même coup un symptôme directement lié au premier, la politesse. Et en cela, il était aussi clair que les gens ne savaient plus, non plus, pourquoi j’étais là. De verre en verre, de table en table, d’un bout à l’autre du pub, je n’étais plus en capacité d’assurer une conversation normale, de marcher normalement, de boire sans renverser. Tout autant que ma bière sortait régulièrement de son contenant, je déversais des flots de paroles que, pour ainsi dire, je jetais littéralement au hasard des visages qui croisaient le mien. Commençant une phrase ici, la ponctuant plus loin, pour tenter de la terminer par là…phrases d’ailleurs, qui devenaient aussi approximative que ma capacité à garder la majeure partie du contenu de mon verre à l’intérieur de celui-ci. Tout cela aurait pu continuer encore un temps si, par mégarde, ma cheville ne s’était prise dans le pied d’un tabouret. Un croche patte qui scella une partie de mes tergiversations mentales, par un effet d’une symétrie remarquable, visant à projeter dans un alignement parfait le contenu de mon verre fraichement remis à niveau, sur les clients accoudés le long du bar. Et dans un cri de rage décomplexé, à la finesse d’un verbe éclairé, je pu de nouveau étirer le contenu de ma phrase d’un bout à l’autre du bar, sur la figure de chacun de ses occupants : « Puuutainnnnnnnn de bordel de meeeeerddddddeuuu de tabouret à la connnnnnnn ! » 57
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Ce petit incident malheureux de rien du tout provoqua néanmoins un émoi général. Avec une volonté presque unanime et sans la moindre concertation, dans un élan spontané de soutien, la petite dizaine d’idiots qui peuplaient mon environnement proche (à peu près de la superficie qu’avait pu atteindre les projections de mon verre dans l’élan) se rua sur moi pour me jeter dehors. Si vite que je n’ai pu me préparer à l’idée de m’y retrouver avec un verre vide… quelle merde ! Quelle histoire ridicule que de vouloir à tout prix endoctriner les gens avec mes théories sans fin ! Il n’y a sans doute que moi qui buvais mes paroles. Tous des abrutis congénitaux, à ne même pas savoir ce qui les avaient amenés dans ce bar. Moi j’y étais bien avant eux, et ma raison était simple, j’en étais le propriétaire spirituel…ce qui s’y disait et s’y passait me regardait, c’était le lien de mes pensées. Croyez-vous seulement qu’ils avaient tous conscience de ce qu’il s’y jouait ? Bah…qu’ils y crèvent ! Malgré la force avec laquelle ils m’avaient expédié à l’extérieur, et les rouler-bouler que j’avais fait, j’avais toujours mon verre bien en main, intact, mais vide. Avachi le long du trottoir, à moitié sur la route, j’étais là, à me demander pourquoi ce verre était vide. Qu’est-ce qui avait pu empêcher qu’il se remplisse, alors que ma tête était pleine. Dans un effort largement haché, découpé par une complexe désynchronisation de tous mes mouvements, je mis un certain temps à me remettre debout…toujours avec ce verre vide à la main. Où bien allais-je pouvoir étancher mes idées ? Il n’y avait pas une minute à perdre. Il fallait se mettre en chemin. Trouver la soif de vie qui épancherait mon savoir. Reprendre l’histoire là où elle s’était arrêtée, pour achever la difficile aventure des trésors cachés de l’âme. Il fallait remplir ce verre. N’importe quelle direction ferait l’affaire…tous les chemins mènent au Rhum. Je finirais bien par tomber sur une source lumineuse, à la devanture alléchante. Une lumière réfléchissante m’invitant au dialogue. A cette heure de la nuit les rues se ressemblaient toutes. Il me fallait procéder avec logique et pratique pour ne pas trop tourner en rond. Pendant que d’une main je tenais les murs des bâtiments, qui risquaient à tout moment de s’effondrer, je tendais en avant l’autre, le Saint 58
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Graal en évidence tel une baguette de sourcier. Ne pas le casser, la source de vie devait rester pleine d’humilité. Enfin, pour l’instant la coupe était vide…ma quête en devenir. Les murs me suivaient, l’impression d’une force plus grande que moi qui m’empêchait de trouver la source lumineuse. A plusieurs reprises je butai sur des obstacles, m’obligeant à chaque fois à danser avec la vie, qui faillit s’échapper de mon étreinte et de ma poigne. Mais ma volonté de ne pas s’en tenir aux possibles échecs avait payé. Les ruelles inconfortables, mal éclairées, et parsemées d’embûches ne me faisaient pas peur. Ma foi dans l’éternelle consistance de cette coupe me montrait le chemin, j’en étais sûr. A quelques mètres d’un angle de rue, là, devant moi, la luminosité blafarde et hasardeuse des faibles éclairages, laissait deviner un halo rougeâtre clignotant. J’en étais certain, ce n’étais pas le fruit du hasard, ni le mirage d’un désert provoqué par la soif…ça ne pouvait être que le rayonnement d’une source, le câble de l’alimentation qui me manquait, la batterie d’une seconde chance…un miracle…un débit de boisson ! Mes soupçons furent confirmés, quand à l’approche lente et pénible de cette apparition angulaire, je pu entendre le doux frissonnement d’un ensemble de murmures qui se délectaient d’un contenu. Oui, il y avait de la vie, donc…une source d’approvisionnement et de partage revitalisant. Ce monde de bar dans lequel nous vivions commençait encore à ressembler à mes attentes…les réponses à mes questions pourraient peut-être trouver le chemin de mon âme. Mon corps en tremblait, mes membres ondulaient de plaisir, ma trachée salivait de nouveau à la simple évocation de l’écoulement du fluide divin dans mon corps. Ma nuit n’avait pas eu son compte, mon verre n’avait pas fini sa servitude, et le flot de mes pensées n’aurait pas à dormir sur mes idées, j’allais pouvoir les confronter. Cette chaleur physiologique, plus qu’humaine, m’enguirlanda l’esprit, et mon corps s’emballa. D’une marche pénible et aventureuse dans le brouillard de ma nuit, mes jambes se mirent à tituber d’affolement, sans plus prendre garde aux possibles obstacles. Comme une réponse évidente de mon esprit vers mon corps, inconsciemment, mon allure s’accéléra, alors même que j’avais déjà le plus grand mal à mettre un pied devant l’autre. Qu’importe, je n’étais plus qu’à quelques mètres. 59
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Alors même que j’approchais une fois de plus de la consistance qui donnait vie à mes illuminations, un signe vint éblouir mes convictions. Un flash étourdissant, me sortant de la torpeur de ma nuit, éclaira une fraction de seconde la ruelle. Cette image blafarde qui parcourait ma rétine jusqu’à présent, et qui me guidait vers le lieu sacré de ma rédemption, m’a explosé à la vue, autant qu’elle m’a exposé à une déformation de mon champ de vision qui tâtonnait…dans ma course, je perdis mon rythme et mes pieds se sont pris dans quelque chose qui me poussa à céder à l’équilibre, la perte totale de celui-ci. Si bien que ma main, tenant jusqu’ici les murs pour me guider, ne suffit plus à me maintenir dans la chute. Par réflexe (oui… j’en avais encore) j’écrasais mon autre main, tenant le verre, sur le mur pour échapper au pire. Une explosion supplémentaire survint dans un fracas d’émiettement qui rayonna de milliers d’étoiles rouges…ma main et le visage en sang, étalé sur le flanc, la tête sur un sac poubelle tombé d’un container pour amortir ma chute. Alors que je tentais de me relever avec les dernières forces qui me restaient, j’entendis du coin de la rue : « Regarde ce que je viens de prendre, un sac de vin près d’un sac de merde…surréaliste comme photo ! ». Les fins débris de verres plantés dans ma main me firent atrocement grimacer quand je pris appuis pour me relever. Le sang qui coulait sur mon front et sur mon visage obstruait ma vue. Mon enfer était à quelque pas de la vie, et j’entendis encore : « Bon allez, c’est bien joli tout ça mais je vais fermer moi…TOUT LE MONDE DEHORS…ON FERME ! » J’ai toujours eu la vision d’un avenir empêché, d’une vie entravée par le questionnement perpétuel des attentes à avoir. J’ai toujours misé sur la dévotion spirituelle, l’attachement sans limite aux idées qui tiraillent. Mais dans l’immédiat, mon verre était vide, dématérialisé en une myriade d’étoiles de verre, et ma quête voué à être reportée, sans nul doute. Cette soudaine agitation m’avait remué les tripes, et je commençais à sentir comme une remontée d’orgueil caractéristique me prendre de l’estomac jusqu’à la gorge. Ma main ensanglantée s’appuya sur le mur, et, dans un spasme douloureux mon corps entrepris de vider le contenu de ses vices sur la flaque de sang qui gisait à mes pieds. Un sac de vin près d’un sac de merde…il a rien compris à la vie celui-là ! Je suis en quête d’une vérité qu’il ne trouvera lui-même jamais, trop occupé à 60
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compter la rétribution du rêve qu’il vend sans mesurer son impact. Il ne sait sans doute pas que les réponses se cherchent là où les limites se côtoient. C’est pas grave, il y a des choses pour lesquelles j’ai de la volonté…et dès que possible, je retournerai expliquer à cet idiot que la vie ne ressemble pas à un instantané, qu’il va lui falloir plus qu’une photo pour la comprendre….tiens, je me demande même si sa clientèle est déclarée…
Avec deux mains on ne va pas plus loin de Necromongers Une heure chaque jour pour un jour chaque heure, Une éternité pour y réfléchir. Deux doigts pour rien en plusieurs fois pour une poignée de demains, Quelques embrassades pour se questionner. Trois choses seulement pour des émois sans raison, Subir le temps et attendre son verdict. Quatre à quatre sans se retourner pour comprendre, Longer le fleuve pour reprendre son souffle. Cinq fois le tour du pâté de maison pour vérifier, Comme un seul homme apeuré. Six coups tirés en l’air pour vider le chargeur, Sommations sans précédent pour apprendre à se noyer. Sept vies consumées en n’ayant l’air de rien, Pour briser l’anathème d’une éternité au rabais. Huit calmants pour endiguer la fatigue accumulée, S’endormir éveillé et se contempler en flottant. Neuf chats plus tard à se caresser le désir idolâtre, La moisson du poil soyeux aux avant-postes. Dix sur dix à la rédemption de soi-même pour la communauté invisible, Finir en brochette sans Totem d’immunité, et rendre la monnaie.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Casserole by James B. Nicola I've been thinking again of that geezer Who had no kids of his own And the annual PTA gala the time that he Brought a casserole His hair was grayish and splotchy His beard of a taupish tone You said he was crazy to come since he had No kids of his own He stood by the punch and served it Straight-faced from the crystal bowl But almost smiled whenever a kid took a Scoop of the casserole Years later at Dad's funeral He showed up again alone And took Mom's hands between his palms Still he had no kids of his own Then afterwards at the house he had Two deviled eggs and a roll And between the green beans and the salad I saw that he'd Brought a casserole Next day to return the dish Mom called him on the phone Then sent us to take it over since he had No kids of his own We left the thing on his doorstep Refusing to ring the bell (You remember?) so never met the man who had Brought the casserole And now you're in California With all your kids long grown And my Pat has passed on before we ever Had kids of our own And my hair's gotten gray and splotchy And I'm proud that I'm not on the dole Last night was the PTA gala I brought a casserole 62
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Fade In/Fade Out by James B. Nicola
And now it is as if we’d never met each other. It’s as though we never knew what we knew, quite. As though what we once were. . . which might not have been much, but I know you were something to me, though I’m mostly sure what I was, you have managed to forget. . . . But whatever it was we were, you will allow, is nothing more than—No, it’s nothing, now, isn’t it, more than a screen’s dissolving image with the chortle of a choked down memory? I know you own no photograph of me, nor have I looked upon your Facebook page in years—which, I admit, was sweet as sin. Since then it’s been as if you’d never been.
Feet by James B. Nicola When I was still a slime-eyed tadpole crawling on the dirt I saw a lot of feet. Sometimes a sudden light would hurt My eyes. Between the shadows I would spy upon the wall An angel, sometimes singing—and heard giants, I recall. Their goohs and gahs were gibberish, but sounded rather sweet. But mostly I would crawl around and see a lot of feet. And now I do not understand what’s happening at all. I'm seeing lots of feet again and shadows on the wall And hearing sounds that beckon in an eerie foreign tongue: They sing like angels like they used to do when I was young. And in a blinding flash I think I see my Dad and Mom As if I'm being reborn, and they've come to take me home.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 To Casper from a Passing Child by James B. Nicola Dear Casper, I am writing this because though I don’t think I’m going to miss it here, I’ve heard of big ghosts there who play mean tricks and like to scare little boys. And would it be too forward of me to confess to you that there are some nights I worry I might become like them? I hit my pillow hours on end for no good reason. So I need a friend, or will need one, eventually. Do you think you could be a friend to me? If only you had heard me sing, you’d have understood everything. I used to sing, at Sunday mass (so I might be an angel when I pass), soprano parts they’d give to boys. They said I had an angel’s voice. But that’s when I still got around. Now it’s hard to make a sound. My voice, you see, is gone. So I write! Sometimes all night. My dad says it’s impossible to fly but if you were my teacher, I would practice every chance I could. I’d promise to be very good and promise to eat all my toast— Oh can't I be a friendly ghost? Signing off now, here comes Dad and I don’t want to make him mad ’cause boy he’d kill me if he knew that I was writing this to you. He thinks that I’m asleep in bed but I’m not dead, no, I’m not dead, not yet. Till next time, then, good-bye. P.S. Is it really fun to fly?
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Autumn Patch by James B. Nicola The splotchier the rind the greater is the hope the meat within is sweet. To find the ripest cantaloupe a surface blotch belies the sweetness we pursue. With watermelon this applies as well, and honey dew. With either I can tell, should its skin spring back somehow if I squeeze and give a smell, that it is ready now. Since people do not sit for me to squeeze their skin, I’ve been, with them, less fortunate than with watermelon. It’s not spring anymore for either me or you. But though my timing may be poor there’s autumn harvest, too. See my extended arm? Attached to it, a hand? A touch would not do any harm; a grab would be just grand. Or slice, and find within a mellow ripening of all that I have ever been into this ready thing who’d like to know at least if our season is past. But if it’s not, O let us feast, and end a summers’ fast.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The Narrative of Existence by J. J. Steinfeld
first published in Star*Line
A pitifully slow day you know, the kind where even God is bored such slowness inspires quick if not misguided thoughts of unwieldy questions not of falling trees in unpopulated forests nor countless frenetic monkeys banging away at countless keyboards but of final things such as what will be the final prayer ever uttered when the sun finally gives up and the narrative of existence fizzles out at long last. That final prayer concerns me makes the day more bearable not that I will be its author or speaker weâ€™re talking a few eons away: What will God hear afterward?
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Waiting for the Final Sound by J. J. Steinfeld
first published in Poesia
A week into his new life wearing a recently purchased suit and a tie for the first time in twenty-five years he falls off the edge of the known world after warnings dire and straightforward about not getting too close to the edge first thing, he starts flapping his arms like that bad joke about flying into town and winding up with tired arms then the search for a suitable prayer prayers learned during childhood prayers from huge religious books prayers overheard from a lifetime of ears to walls then the prayerful improvising like on stage when youâ€™ve forgotten most if not all your lines except youâ€™ve fallen off stage, so to speak, the stage an image for the edge of the known world finally, approaching last resorts, the philosophical initially denying your descent then transforming it then accepting its embrace after the exhausting arm-flapping the anxious praying the inadequate philosophizing the person descending waits for the end of the descent listening only to the wordless whooshing and waiting for the final sound.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 By a Final Notice Written in an Indecipherable Hand by J. J. Steinfeld out of nowhere, they arrive, complex as elaborate jokes geometric as shaped lies sometimes as slaps other times a gunshot awakening still other times a sting by an insect perfecting the art of surprise and pain most often as confused thieves in the night giving and taking kindly and unkindly memories of this and that faded remembrances of a kiss of things done and not done of lists quarter completed of love becoming loveless of turning down near beauty and being pushed aside by meagre little deities by clattering old machinery by sleight-of-hand by a final notice written in an indecipherable hand this is a life lived not nearly as fully as sketches and diagrams would indicate a sad film seen three times alone an old record thrown to the ground and broken as the wrong song began
first published in Poesia, and also included online in Dark Metre.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The Frightened Magician’s Final Performance
in a slightly different version, was first published online in The Furious Gazelle
by J. J. Steinfeld There at the front of the stage a frightened magician begins to perform one more anxious trick the night has been long and disappointing the tricks and trickery getting more convoluted than an inveterate swindler reminiscing over a lifetime of seeking the beauty of deception. I will make a ghost appear and offer solace and consolation I will make a ghost take earthly form and offer a million sweet proofs, the frightened magician says, sweat on his straining brow knowing the weight of last chances— in the midst of the most sonorous abracadabra words I’d ever heard he drops dead and hits the floor like a discarded prop or a perfect clattering curse. Everyone in the audience goes home with a new memory and something to talk about for at least a day or two.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The Anticlimactic End of the World
from An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press, 2006)
by J. J. Steinfeld God uses special effects and excessive pyrotechnics, a mute speaks, sweet-voiced, upon regaining speech and a sense of humour. Everyone in the room is awed left trembling and sweat drenched. Itâ€™s a precursor to the most transcendent night, an elderly hunchback declares, the hump dissolving into ramrod straightness. Prestidigitation will become commonplace, a former stutterer slips into eloquence, greeted by applause like legendary thunder even a hint of legendary lightning and divination. Three in the room grip camcorders ready to capture the unfathomable then the three swell to thirty to three hundred to three thousand soon an excited sea of camcorders attempting to outwit the incomprehensible. Will all this be on the morning, evening, or night-time news? I wonder, silent in my confusion. This is a lousy movie with sloppy dialogue, a blind cynic grumbles, retching out metaphor, then screams in mid-sentence, I can see, and looks at the delicate feet of the most beautiful sinner in the room. This room, spacious beyond measurement, populated like a history of forgotten parades, I inadvertently entered, haphazard condemnation, sat at the very back, seeing all the deformities and infirmities and worn-out dreams. One by one slowly and consecutively things are resolved, errors undone, wounds healed even belligerency is soothed. It is miraculous, the youngest in the room says, 70
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 a recent wrist slash now a soft decoration. It is glorious, the oldest in the room says, long-memoried scars turning smooth. I know itâ€™s the end but Iâ€™m not letting anyone in on the secret the one-liners are just too sanctified and I have nowhere else to go.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Mature Student by John Tavares
Anna moved downstairs to the basement, where she learned the meaning of living in a damp and cold dungeon. When she had the woodstove burning, the cold basement, cluttered with soiled laundry, bras, panties, halter tops, yoga pants, short skirts, and athletic apparel hanging from the clothesline, and a growing collection of paperbacks, pocketbooks, and hardcover books on the shelves that once held jam and jellies jars and preserves, she felt comfortable. The house was her sole asset, and living downstairs she learned firsthand how rundown and small the basement of the dwelling was. After she received a layoff notice as a residential care worker at a group home, where she worked for eighteen years, she spent more time at home and first noticed how promiscuous her partner was. As she searched the local job openings on the Internet through her desktop computer, she could not avoid overhearing, as Jenn got intimate with her boyfriends and girlfriends upstairs. Anna and Nick had lived in the house with her parents, but neither sibling ever overheard their parents making love in the house. Listening to Jenn’s debauchery was a novel and even an appalling experience, but Anna refused to move from her own house, despite Nick urging her to find an apartment and move. She could not live with Nick, though, simply because his wife would not allow her. Anna was untidy, kept late hours, and the two women never got along, his wife complained, but Nick thought the true reason lay elsewhere. Anna set up an improvised office in the basement, after she accused Jenn of hacking into her e-mail and vandalizing her bicycle. She reproached Jenn for leaving a video of a threesome she had with former high school classmates, from her smartphone on the computer they shared. In a fit of rage, Jenn shoved and plowed appliances and furniture from the living room into the kitchen. Jenn destroyed living room furniture, as she moved the television, computer monitor, and desktop tower into the kitchen, and punched a hole in the drywall. Downstairs, Anna confronted the reality she could be a slob. She stared at the evidence cluttered around the desk. Mosquitoes buzzed around the dried crust from the reheated pizza, pastry leftovers and composting apple cores and blackening banana peels. Fruit flies hovered and flew around the hardened sauce from the canned chili she heated in the microwave oven. As Anna finished her latest correspondence course assignment on her laptop computer, she told Nick, “The other day I realized throughout our relationship Jenn never bought a single appliance for the house. Now she drinks so much liquor and beer she can’t afford to pay for the cable television or the internet.” The 72
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 partners agreed Jenn should pay these utilities as her fair half of the household expenses, since Anna never, on principle, watched television. She also preferred to check and send e-mail from the workstations in the computer room at the public library. Meanwhile, Anna applied to teacher’s college in suburbia of the sprawling metropolis of Toronto, at York University, located north of the fuel storage terminals, expressways, and high-rise apartment towers. At first, the administrators thought someone stole her identity, since the clerk who processed her application thought her too old to apply as a university student. Then an admissions officer realized, yes, they accepted mature students, growing in number as laid off factory workers, tradespersons, and stay-at-home parents and their offspring returned to college to upgrade their qualifications. Then, a front desk clerk, with an aged, gravelly voice, who smoked a few packages of cigarettes a day, reassured her that, even though she was a woman and they did not suspect she was a sex offender, she was too old to apply to live in the student residence. So much for the provincial human rights code, Anna replied and slammed the telephone. When the residence manager, worried a student might mention human rights, called back, Anna simply decided it was not worth the time, trouble, and merely hung up the telephone. Finally, Anna decided she needed to tidy up house, as if she was moving out. After deciding to discard junky appliances from downstairs, she called Nick to borrow his four-wheel drive pickup truck and ask for help disposing of the broken down laundry dryer and the vintage refrigerator. Nick heard more than enough of the trouble, arguments, and fights in which she was entangled in with her exgirlfriend, so he procrastinated. When he reluctantly agreed to help and lend her his truck after several more delays and excuses, he showed up at the house, but Jenn confronted him at the door as they tried to carry the dryer upstairs and through the porch. He couldn’t believe the extent of the skirmish. Anna was relieved she managed to persuade him to help, but Jenn actually pushed and yelled at Nick, who realized he needed to keep his cool. When he saw the argument Jenn instigated with Anna he stepped outside the house and waited in the pickup truck until the confrontation cooled down. “Where are you taking the dryer, Anna?” Jenn demanded, stepping in front of her former lover, pushing her. “The dump.” “The dump is closed today. It’s a Sunday.” “The dryer is broken, Jenn. We’re hauling it away to the dump; the piece of junk is twenty years old, not worth fixing. Don’t you want the basement tidier?”
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 When Jenn hissed and stepped out of the doorway, Nick beckoned to Anna. They loaded the broken front load dryer into the back of the truck, with a crash. While he fiddled with the button for the FM radio, tuning into the Beaverbrook radio station that played pop hits from yesteryear, and drove down the highway, Anna noticed through the rear view mirror and back window a police cruiser tailgating them, and she recognized Constable Dias. “Jenn said Dias started his policing career in Northcliff police, and then he went to the provincial police, before settling down with the Beaverbrook municipal police.” “What do I care?” Nick asked. They mused, joked, and chuckled over the nickname, Car Wash, Dias after a deaf mute, David, who grew up on the nearby Ojibwa reserve, recognized him having sex with Jenn in the back seat of his crew cab pickup truck in the coin-operated car wash. Dias figured he had nothing to worry about with the hearing-impaired young man, and carried on as if David didn’t exist. Soon, though, townspeople knew how to gesture “sexual intercourse” and “car wash” in American Sign Language and a few did so to much hilarity in Dias’ presence. When they pulled into the country road, Dias’ municipal police cruiser followed them, and Anna wondered aloud why he was pursuing them. With a beer tucked between his clenched legs, Nick took evasive action and drove down the maze of roads until he lost the police car, which returned to the highway and parked at the turnoff, waiting. The siblings hauled the dented, broken white appliance dryer down the highway and to the private landfill down the highway outside the abandoned unorganized township where Nick dumped the ashes from his woodstove. “Do you think he’s after us for illegal dumping?” “This is a private landfill, and I know the owner.” “Are you sure?” “I better be sure; it’s a hefty fine.” Anna looked at him with an expression of apprehension. “This is close to where Dad once hoped to own a farm,” Nick said, “until he realized farming in Northwestern Ontario would likely lead to bankruptcy. He realized you’d make more money with a nine to five job, or shiftwork, in our town pretty quick.” “Yeah.” Anna remembered from their childhood the long hikes and drives along the bush roads around this area north of town as their father yearned and dreamed of owning his own farm, as he had in the Azores. As they dumped the dryer from the back of the truck, the door popped open and frilly, lacy lingerie spilled out. “This is Victoria’s Secrets stuff. It looks nice. It’s expensive, isn’t it? You sure you want to chuck it?” 74
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “I don’t want to throw it out, but she’s lost her figure. She’s drinking and eating so much junk food she’s bloated and her face is puffy. I doubt it would fit her.” Anna started to worry about being confronted or charged by the police; at least one of Jenn’s boyfriends and girlfriends was a police officer, but Nick tried to reassure her. He handed her a beer as he dropped down the tailgate of his pickup gate parked at the edge of the country road beside the small garbage dump. Then Nick mentioned he had chatted with their uncle in Toronto, who still believed that the shock of her revelation that she was lesbian had killed their father, their uncle’s closest brother. “I already talked to Uncle Rick about it. I thought I, we, cleared this up.” “Uncle still thinks the shock of Dad learning you’re queer killed him. He remembers talking with Dad on the telephone one Sunday afternoon, soon after you told him. They were both shocked and stunned. Then the very next day you called and informed him Dad died, on the couch where he took a nap, right after he had that heart-to-heart with him on the telephone.” “Talking to his brother long distance may’ve stressed him so much he suffered a fatal coronary.” “I shouldn’t have said anything, but he still has this theory about how his closest brother died. You know he’s been in Canada for decades, but he’s still old school Catholic and Portuguese so being lesbian isn’t worth a medal in his books.” “I thought most traditional Portuguese men don’t care for women as long as they do what their told by their husbands and fathers.” “Anna, sometimes you might consider sometimes it doesn’t pay to advertise; in fact, it might be counterproductive.” “I’m heading down to Toronto shortly and I’ll try to sort this out with Uncle.” “There’s nothing to sort out: Uncle Rick grew up Portuguese in the Azores. He went to church Sundays and every morning during Lent. He was raised a strict Catholic and went to religious school. He’ll believe what he’s taught, like any normal, sane guy, no matter what you argue. You can’t erase his past and upbringing in the old country.” “He’s been living in cosmopolitan Toronto for decades, since he was a young man.” “Since when you are you going to Toronto?” “Since I decided to return to university.” “At age forty?” Anna nodded. “Are you serious? Where will you stay?” “In Uncle’s rooming house, if he has a room.” “He does prefer to have men as tenants because they tends to give him less trouble.” 75
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “I’ve stayed with him before in his basement apartment so it shouldn’t be a problem. We actually stayed out of each other’s way and got along fabulously.” Anxious to assuage her worries, Nick insisted they drink another beer as they leaned back on his lowered truck tailgate. They reminisced about childhood and their father’s thwarted farming dreams. Then Anna worried about the beers they drank, since she suspected Jennifer had sent her police friend after them. So Nick decided to take the logging road around the long way, along a circuitous, bumpy route back into town to avoid a police vehicle. Since he simply no longer had patience to wait, he told her to wait again until next week to try again with the aged refrigerator, which needed to be emptied and moved. He was surprised, but her assumptions were correct: the police officer followed Nick’s truck back to her house, and all along the route she badgered them about drinking and driving. She kept turning her head and told him positively the police officer was the same man with whom Jenn had an intermittent affair. She figured Jenn called, urging him to harass them. The following week when Nick tried to haul out the refrigerator with Anna, Jenn stood at the door upstairs and confronted her. Nick decided to wait in the truck outside, while she guarded the refrigerator, leaning upright against the porch doorframe. Jenn started to argue and quarrel with her, but Anna tried to explain. “Jenn, this refrigerator belonged to Dad when he worked as a caretaker. This fridge is obsolete and not energy efficient, and, in fact, it’s over thirty years old. The teachers at the high school where he was a caretaker gave him the fridge from their staffroom because he loved gardening and could easily stock freezers and fridge compartments with vegetables. But it’s antiquated and draining electricity.” Anna reminded Jenn she had trouble paying her share of the utility bills, an assertion that triggered an argument which spilled onto the neighbourhood street. When Jenn saw Nick clenching his smartphone to video the pair as they squabbled, she lunged towards him, but she drew back, as he clenched his fists ominously. Instead, she held out her open hands to block the view and stepped back inside the house. Anna called Nick for help, and they carried the refrigerator down the yard sidewalk and lowered and eased it into the box of the truck. When they turned, the officer parked his cruiser behind the truck, blocking an exit through the driveway. “Is everything all right?” Dias demanded. “No. He’s taking away a fridge.” “An old fridge—that’s mouldy, energy inefficient, and should be thrown out.”
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The officer consulted in private with Jenn. Then he glared at Anna ominously before, gripping his utility belt and walkie-talkie, he strode over and chatted with Nic. He walked over to the idling police cruiser and Anna sensed the animus and hostility he exuded as he drove away. The siblings hauled the old fridge to the landfill, where they drank a few more beers at Nick’s insistence. Later that afternoon, towards the early evening, Anna saw the police cruiser parked partway on the lawn and stepped outside the house and approached Dias in his car. “Pardon me, but this is private property. The oil from your tires will kill the grass and nobody invited you or called. Are you trying to harass me?” Constable Dias emerged from the cruiser, hurtled her against the trunk, handcuffed her slender wrists, and threw her into the back seat. He drove to the doughnut shop where he ordered coffee from the drive through window. “That’s what you get for cocking off at a police officer.” “So much for freedom of speech.” “It’s not about free speech; it’s about respect.” As Dias drove through the streets, towards what she expected was the municipal police station and jail, she started to sob. “Your girlfriend is not an evil woman.” “I didn’t say she was. I know she has plenty of friends.” “Why don’t you just try to make some friends yourself? You’re looking for work? Your girlfriend says you’re looking for work.” “I plan to go back to university, teacher’s college.” “So you want to teach?” “I want to try.” “How is an arrest for assaulting a police officer going to look on your background check for a job?” “You wouldn’t dare.” “Don’t push me.” Handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser, she pounded her head against the caged partition and moaned. “Listen, I’m willing to let this pass. Just understand your girlfriend is going through a difficult time.” “She was my partner, but it sounds like she’s your girlfriend now.” “Remember I warned you about cocking off.” Dias abruptly stopped the motor vehicle a block from her house, clenched her elbow, clutched her shoulder, and flung her out of the back seat onto the street. On the curb of the residential neighbourhood, on a route she walked every afternoon and morning for groceries or mail at the post office, he unlocked the handcuffs and released her. She strode the block home in her slippers, rubbing the welts the handcuffs left on her wrists. 77
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 Anna managed to clean up the basement and even installed a pump to drain off the water that seeped through the walls after she tried a few years ago to complete some renovations to a basement room that went wrong. Jenn asked what her intentions were in tidying up the house and cleaning up the basement, and she replied she intended to make the house more hospitable. Scheduled to start studies in the education program in a few weeks, Anna packed a single suitcase, her handbag, and a backpack. She walked to the heritage train station on Railyardside Street of her hometown of Beaverbrook. Anna waited for the transcontinental passenger train in the refurbished waiting room, renovated by a municipality dreaming of prosperity, reliving the glory days of railroad travel. When Anna realized Jenn followed her to the train station, driving the compact car she kicked and crashed countless time out of sheer recklessness and drunkenness, Anna did not want to speak with her. Anna stood beside the empty police cruiser in the parking lot, where Constable Dias gossiped with a cab driver, smoking cigarettes, drinking takeout coffee. After Anna boarded the train and settled into his seat in the coach section, she spotted from her window seat Jenn, sobbing, looking distraught, slouching on a bench. In fact, when she saw her crying uncontrollably on the train platform she pulled down the train curtain and shuffled to the food counter for a coffee and a bag of potato chips, salty snacks to take the bad taste, the bitter, metallic flavour from her dry mouth and chapped lips. Anna arrived safely in Toronto. Weeks after she settled into her education studies at York University, she walked into the twenty-four hour study area of Scott Library, where she had her nightly routine at textbooks and academic journals and the library computer, without any sense of anticipation or foreboding. So Anna was shocked when she found Jennifer sitting at a hardwood study table, alongside students with their textbooks, reading a bus and subway system map, looking bewildered, lost, forlorn, as if she was waiting for her. And she treated her former lover as a scourge to avoid, maybe even a serial rapist or killer, but she managed to stay calm to a limited extent. She disappeared in the reference section, with her laptop, index cards, lecture notes, and thumb drive, in her handbag. She defensively clutched her textbooks against her breasts, which she had taken to wearing in a pushup bra, since she felt lonely and needed to attract flattering attention. Then, when she saw Jenn pacing, Anna decided to disappear in the stacks. After Anna spotted through the shelves of books Jenn strolling the length of the stacks, she locked herself in the wheelchair accessible washroom. Anna called her brother on her brand new cellphone, which she could barely afford and which had only a few minutes of airtime. Nick confessed Jenn called, begging him to tell her where she might find my sister. Feeling sympathy for her, believing her well-intentioned, she provided the information she demanded, and, disclosed Annaâ€™s 78
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 whereabouts and routine. Knowing Anna could be as regular as an atomic clock, Jenn had no difficulty locating her, tracking her down on campus. A few days later, looking forward to a cappuccino while she studied for an educational psychology multiple-choice test, having completed an exam at noon, Anna went into her favourite coffee shop. She saw Jenn, who returned from a trip to nearby Yorkdale shopping mall with a shopping bag stuffed with new designer clothes, drinking coffee. When Anna saw Jenn pour something from a brown paper bag into her coffee, she realized she visited the Yorkdale mall liquor store and interpreted this as a warning to stay away. She decided to beat an inauspicious retreat and rode the bus and subway to her uncle’s house. Then, in early February, Uncle Rick warned her about an urgent call from Nick. The family home she inherited, the house on Railyardside Street, where she grew up happily, with her parents and a brother, the house where she had fond childhood memories, had burned to a shell in its corner lot, in the neighbourhood of the Moose Hall and the Masonic Lodge. The volunteer fire department fought the blaze that raged through the house, which Anna abandoned to Jenn to attend the faculty of education at York University. When the fire started David, the deaf-mute Ojibwa, who lived down the street, walked his dog down the back alley. When he saw the fire he dashed inside the burning house, but the door to Jenn’s bedroom was locked. Sensing someone inside, he kicked the door open. He managed to carry her body out before the whole building went up in flames, but, even though Jenn appeared alive to a firefighter, wearing an oxygen tank and masks, she perished in the house from smoke inhalation. The fire marshal thought the fire was suspicious but leaned towards a cigarette igniting the mattress or bedroom carpet. “Shouldn’t you come home?” Nick asked. “Where is home? It’s kind of a relative concept.” Nick snorted with disgust, since he possessed no interest in philosophical discussion and worried about the ruins and insurance and other unsettled matters. Still, he realized Anna, at forty, no longer cherished material possessions or property, when many of her peers were prospering financially. “So maybe you should put in a claim with insurance,” Nick said, as the cackle from static filled up the airwaves of the long distance line. “Do you think she even paid the insurance for the house? I bet she fell behind on payments or didn’t pay altogether.” “She turned that house into a crack house.”
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 “It’s curious you should mention it; I actually watched her smoke crack in that house. I never saw anybody smoke crack and wondered what the big hullaballoo was about crack, but, with her bong and vaporizer, she taught me: nothing’s exciting about smoking crack. I’m sorry; it took me a while to finally realize, with the benefit of hindsight and distance, she was an addict of the worst kind, but I fell for her because superficially she was a charming and charismatic person and had a beautiful body, when it wasn’t punctured by needle marks.” “I know all that bull. I did grow up with her and we attended high school together. I tried to warn you to stay away, but you chose to learn the hard way. That’s why your friends tended kept their distance and stayed away, except for you. She seemed to have a stranglehold over you.” “Stranglehold is a good word.” “I’ll give them a call and ask what I can do.” “Give who a call?” “The police, the municipality.” “Why call them?” “Because a burnt structure needing demolition stands at our old home address. The town probably wants somebody to clean up the mess before issuing warnings and fines.” “Her family can look after her remains. I assume the funeral home is taking care of her?” “She’s gone, somewhere in a morgue or funeral home. The more I think the more I realize it’s not my business.” His voice faded behind the background noise of a radio as he puffed on his cigarette and coughed. “To be honest, I never had much experience with a crazed woman who burned down her own house, or, I stand corrected, may’ve burned the house they lived in. I don’t know why I bothered to call you. You’re living like a holy sister. Nuns and monks take vows of silence, stay cloistered and aren’t supposed to talk, right? So, I better say good-bye.” “Wait,” Anna shouted hastily into the pay telephone. “You did right, you did good. Thanks for calling.” “No, don’t worry about us. Forget about your friends, family, and hometown. If you’re okay and maintain your grade point average, everything is okay, life has purpose and meaning.” Then Nick muttered a curse and threw his switched off his smartphone. From the pay telephone in a building at the edge of campus, Anna looked around the darkness and stillness and the lights reflected in the pool of the commons on suburban campus of the university, which featured concrete monoliths interrupted by rolling green lawns and roadways and trails. She walked through the still, tranquil night, quiet and peaceful for the city suburbia and campus, along the pathway, across the campus to the twenty-four hour bus stop. She met only a 80
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 racoon, which paused to eat fried chicken from a discarded fast food paper bag. The racoon tensed, ready to bolt, but Anna veered course, walking on the lawn of the arboretum around him, so he could finish the meals of leftover pieces of breaded processed chicken meals from his fidgety, tiny paws in peace. Then, when Anna arrived at the abandoned bus stop at Finch Avenue, she marveled at a bat fluttering crazily about the streetlights. She realized she was safe; she escaped the wild woman she had loved and survived. Then she received her second call on her cellphone from Corporal Dias, who, she speculated, was acting in his capacity as a police officer, or Jenn’s former paramour. Still a Beaverbrook municipal police officer, he mumbled over the cellphone, he was in the city for a conference on provincial code offenses and by-law enforcement. He asked to meet Anna at the large Starbucks café at King and Yonge Street downtown. Wearing a suit and tie, he look decidedly less intimidating and, after he settled down with an espresso, she thought she’d never expected in her life she’d see him sipping an espresso in a tony takeout cup, but he said he just started the twelve step program, attending Beaverbrook’s Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. “So why am I here? I mean, should I be asking for your identification?” “No, I’m actually acting as an emissary for your brother.” Surprised he used a word like emissary, Anna thought the term unusual for his tough cop diction. “You know I’m actually Portuguese-Canadian.” Anna did not say, with the name Dias, she somehow thought he was Jewish or Spanish. “In fact, as soon as I’m done here, I’m taking a streetcar west along King Street to Little Portugal. I actually grew up in a neighbourhood around Ossington and College Street.” He handed a torn envelope and Anna opened a folded letter and cheque from an insurance company. She marveled over the numbers printed on the cheque: one hundred and nineteen thousand dollars and thirteen cents, payable for the fire damage to the house and related costs. So Jenn had paid for insurance, and somehow Anna became the beneficiary, which made sense since it was her house. As she examined the check in amazement, she thought she could use the proceeds for graduate school studies, even though she was scheduled to start a paid practicum, teaching grade six students at a public elementary school in Cabbagetown. Then he handed her a small cardboard box, which she tore open, with the return address of a Beaverbrook funeral home. The parcel contained Styrofoam packaging material and a black marble urn, which, he said, contained Jennifer’s ashes. He apologized, wiped a tear from his eye, and firmly shook her limp hand. He dashed out of the Starbucks to catch the westbound King streetcar waiting at the intersection outside. Although he finally appeared a genuinely warm person, even a gentleman, Anna only remembered an intimidating
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 cop, an enforcer ready to kill someone if they made the wrong move, said the wrong word, or gave the wrong look. She hoped she never saw him in her life again. She took the urn of ashes and cheque in her handbag and rode the subway and bus to her room upstairs in her uncleâ€™s rooming house. She took the urn and check into the washroom. She incredulously glanced at the check, which looked genuine. Then she took the cheque and held the flame from a roommateâ€™s cigarette lighter to the edge of the fine thick paper and held it over the toilet bowl. The check started to burn, but in a flash she remembered how hard her parents had worked and how they had paid for the house for cash and how indeed it had been her house, until Jennifer had moved in and taken over the place through her bullying and bluster. She remembered the student loans and the expenses associated with the costs of an education and the fact that with the check she would even be able to rent her own apartment, a bachelorâ€™s apartment or a one bedroom. She burned her finger as she smothered the flame that singed the corner. Then she stuck her reddened, singed finger into the urn of cremains, held her fingertip to her nose, and gently licked. Although she could not believe her own urges and compulsions, Anna remembered the time Jennifer slapped and punched her and pushed and shoved into the television and computer, breaking the device that held her work and memories, and even deliberately spit on her. She remembered a law student explaining the concept of consent to assault in domestic abuse cases. In a sudden surge of anger, she spilled the ashes into the bowl and flushed the toilet. The black marble urn she smashed and cracked against the bathroom sink, and it was so strong and durable she decided later the container would make an ideal cookie jar, even though she never ate cookies and would more likely store protein bars inside. She looked at the ashes that stained the sides of the toilet bowl, and, started to writhe and heave and vomit, forcing her to grip the sides of the toilet and stare at her desecration as she retched. She puked and flushed the toilet again, rinsing the vomitus and ashes clinging to the porcelain bowl down the drain, to try to cleanse both their souls, erase their memories, and clear their minds.
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 End of the Season by Lynn White
first published in Writers Ezine, December 2015
The season of wrinkles and over ripeness has arrived too soon. Shriveled buds. Fruits bursting open, their seeds drying out, beginning to crinkle and wrinkle. Beginning to split and break. Beginning to moulder and dribble with damp. Their past spring a distant dream. Or not remembered at all. Faded away like the fresh shoots of hopeful green growth. Even the memories of the florid, blowzy summer’s blooms are fading. Fading fast and faster. Perhaps this season of dry dampness has been here a while and I haven’t noticed. It’s been approaching a long time. Slow at first imperceptible. Speeding up, then quickening. But still imperceptible almost unnoticeable as everything slows down quickly. So quickly 83
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 now. I think that winter has arrived. Darkness returned. The season is over, finished lost beyond returning.
Grains of Time by Lynn White
first published in Scarlet Leaf Review, January 2017
Time is running out for me And I sit here gazing into space Watching each grain trickle away. I can't catch them, Can't stop them, Can't slow them down Or speed them up. I can only live the moment As it passes.
In The End by Lynn White
first Published in In Flight Magazine, Paper Plane Pilots, January 2015
In the end Iâ€™ll be like you. Dust with flakes of skin and bone wrapped in long hair. Teeth chattering With no voice. No sense of taste or smell. No reason. In the end we'll be invisible, impenetrable, anonymous, figments. 84
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 But then, we always were you and I, we always were.
The Fall by Lynn White
first published in Spillwords, October 2016
I'm running downhill running faster and faster. I'm crossing the bridge now, still running, running to the end of the bridge, trying to see the end. But there is no end and I'm falling now, falling, falling. falling into the arms of the demons below with their waving arms outstretched and their claws primed waiting to break my fall and swallow me up into their depths. I grasp at the air, cling to the wind flailing, falling. flailing. Then, Iâ€™m clinging to a hopeful ray of sunshine to carry me up, to take me with it into the light. Now I'm floating, floating, floating upwards or down. It's not clear, am I still falling or am I floating upwards into the light. 85
mgv2_88 | swan song| 04_17 The End by Lynn White
first published in Magnolia Review, January 2017
Once up on a time he thought the worst would be not knowing what happened next, not knowing how it all ended. Now, with the madness spiraling into an ever tighter vortex, he no longer wants to know more. Now he thinks there will be no end to the madness. Only his end with his death.
contributors’ biographies Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after forty-nine years they’re both out of warranty. He works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors. Ed’s had a hundred forty stories and poems published so far, and a series of articles on fly fishing. His collected fairy and folk tales, The Witch Made Me Do It was published by Gypsy Shadow Press. His novella The Witches’ Bane was published by World Castle Publishing, and his collected fantasy and horror stories, Capricious Visions was published by Gnome on Pig Press. Ed’s currently working on a paranormal/thriller novel tentatively titled The Rule of Chaos. Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 more accepted for publication. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions & Fault Lines (Winter Goose Publishing). Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living will be published by Thurston Howl Publications. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing) and Call to Valor (Gnome on Pigs Productions). Sudden Conflicts will be published by Lillicat Publishers and State of Rage by Rainy Day Reads Publishing. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City. Chereze Booysen A passion for writing has been central to my academic and professional pursuits. 2004–2006: Poetry Institute of Africa, published three poems in three Chap books – The Cycle of Life and The Letter (2005), The Beauty of the Unknown (2006) 2005–2006: Hermes Academy National Olympiad – Narrow Escape 82% (2005), Fate’s Glory 80% 2007: University of Zululand – Practical Journalism, Certificate in Small business Management and Entrepreneurship 2012: City Varsity – Film and Television Production Techniques 2014: Published Devil’s Pen: The Final Product – The Opening of Pandora’s 2015: Made an inspirational speech at the Klipplaat Library week, and at my alma mater Jansenville High school; also performed my prose, ‘My true story’, in front of government officials at the Social Cohesion in Grahamstown; participated at the South African Book Fair in East London. 2016: Published an article in the Advertiser called 'First female to open a GP practice'. Roisín Browne lives in Rush, Co Dublin Ireland. She is a member of the Ardgillan Writers Group and participant in The Gladstone Readings, The Merg and Sunflower Sessions. Her work has been published in Creative Writing Ink, A New Ulster, The Galway Review, Flare, Live Encounters, MGV2 Issue 86/87, The Stony Thursday Book. She has most recently being longlisted in The Over the Edge, New Writer of The Year 2016. Bruce Louis Dodson is an expat living in Borlänge, Sweden where he writes fiction and poetry. His recent work has appeared in: Foreign & Far Away – Writers Abroad Anthology, Sleeping Cat Books – Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Pirene’s Fountain, Tic Toc and Storm Cycle Anthologies, Vine Leaves, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac, mgversion2>datura, and Maintenant 11. Khalid EL Morabethi / Etudiant / Maroc , Oujda A propos de la poésie de Kahlid El Morabethi ( : by b ɔētiane ) Langage minimal _ce qu'il réfléchit d'essentiel par le procédé d'un alphabet hybride aux accents diacritiques. Répétition par l'anaphore placée sur l'ad-verbe, se dressant sur la relative pour venir mourir en rime amoureuse. Les mots tournent et virent, et cognent _slam, slam the door. C'est alors nage d'arabesques, en boucle, à circuit fermé, là, au-dedans du bocal mental _in, mais en voix off longeant l'ébat frontal des questionnements lancés à cet autre habitant qu'est la conscience _écho, miroir, reflets nés des absences, des silences, des cris, de cette nudité de pluie, de vent, de vides peuplés en noir et blanc. Jusqu'au surgissement rouge sang. Parce que le lieu est fondamental et qu'il s'y trame le spectacle des êtres chers ou anonymes, et de leurs objets familiers. Dans une qualité narrative qui cherche dans l'ombre _le signe, la réponse et le message à porter. Jack Grady is a founder member of the Ox Mountain Poets, and his work has appeared in United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia. His poetry has been published in many literary journals, both online and in print, as well as in a number of anthologies. He has also had poems published in mgv2_81, mgv2_85, mgv2_86, and mgv2_87. In April 2016, he represented Ireland at the third edition of the International Poetry Festival in Marrakesh, Morocco. He lives in County Mayo, Ireland. Post Viaticum was originally published in Live Encounters Poetry. The English-language version of Spider appeared in
contributors’ biographies both A New Ulster and Live Encounters Poetry. The English-language version of Finale on the Via Veneto originally appeared in A New Ulster. C. Z. Heyward is a Harlem (NYC) native and aspiring poet, playwright and spoken word artist. His work has appeared in a number of literary journals and e-zines. His short-term bucket list before his swansong is sang: learn Spanish, learn to skateboard and surf. He is the proud father to three lovely daughters, Devin, Dana, and London. Chris ‘Irish Goat’ Knodel is an author, poet and ultra-distance runner in San Antonio, TX. His poetry and short fiction have been featured in/by Alba, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Asses of Parnassus, DreamFusion Press, Ealain, Four Parts Press, Glass Lyre Press, Grey Wolfe Publishing, Haiku Journal, Highfield Press, Icarus Down Review, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, Tanka Journal, The Wolfian, The Write Place at the Write Time, Writer’s Quibble, Yellow Chair Review, Ygdrasil, Zimbell House Publishing, Zodiac Review & Zombie Logic Review. He can be easily spotted by his kilt, tattoos and six inch, flaming-red, Van Dyke goatee. Né en 1971 à Nevers, Patrice Maltaverne vit à Metz. Il a publié depuis 1990 des poèmes dans une trentaine de revues. Il anime le poézine « Traction-brabant » depuis janvier 2004, ainsi que le blog : http://www.traction-brabant.blogspot.fr/.En 2012 il a créé deux blogs de chroniques poétiques : http://www.poesiechroniquetamalle.blogspot.fr et http://www.cestvousparcequecestbien.blogspot.fr et enfin les micro-éditions Le Citron Gare : http://www.lecitrongareeditions.blogspot.fr Dernières publications : « Venge les anges », (collection Minicrobe, supplément à la revue Microbe, 2013), « Même pas mort à Vienne » (Vincent Rougier Editions, 2013), « Perte / Perdu » (Asphodèle Editions, 2013), Participation à l’anthologie « Buck you » (Editions Gros Textes, 2013), « Lettre à l’absence » (Editions La porte 2014), « Patrice Maltaverne and Cie » (Mgv2>publishing, 2015), « Indiscrétions d’une vie souterraine » (La Girafe à pistons diffusion, 2015), « Double séparation » (Editions du Contentieux, 2016) James B. Nicola has had poetry appear in issues 76, 80, 82, 84, and 87. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). More at sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola. Basile Rouchin est né au début des années 70. Actuellement, il vit et travaille en banlieue parisienne. Quelques-uns de ses textes sont parus en revues ou sous forme de plaquette. Premier recueil : Détail d’intérieur (Interventions à Haute Voix, mars 2015). Relecteur pour la revue Poésie Première, il rédige aussi des recensions. J. J. Steinfeld is a Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright who lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published seventeen books, including Disturbing Identities (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), An Affection for Precipices (Poetry, Serengeti Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), and An Unauthorized Biography of Being (110 Short Fictions Hovering Between the Absurd and the Existential, Ekstasis Editions). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals internationally, and over fifty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in North America. My previous publications include short stories published in literary journals. I had articles and features published in East York Observer, East York Times, Beaches Town Crier, East Toronto Advocate, Our Toronto – plus community and trade newspapers such as York University’s Excalibur and Hospital News, where I interned as an editorial assistant. I broadcast a set of my short stories as a community broadcaster for Sioux Lookout’s CBLS/CBQW radio one summer. I recently wrote a novel and am avid photographer, with images featured on websites like blogTO and Torontoist, and Flickr’s popular Explore. Born and raised in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, I’m the son of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores. I’ve worked as a research assistant for the Sioux Lookout Public Library and as a research assistant in waste management for the SLKT public works department and regional recycle association. I also worked with the disabled for the Sioux Lookout Association for Community Living. Following a long time fascination with psychology, economics, and investments, I recently completed the Canadian Securities Course.
Le dernier numéro de la revue française mauvaise graine, éditée en langues française et anglaise. Créée en Grande-Bretagne en 1996, rebaptis...