Dalí’s Clock

“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas

Dalí’s Clock 1 & 2 / 7

 

 Dalí’s Clock

 1

I have folded Dalí’s clock,

draping time’s dressing gown

over the foot of her bed.

An elephant with a crane-fly’s

spindly legs

stands on the bedside cabinet.

Is the human body

a chest of drawers

to be opened and closed

at will

and things removed?

On the operating table,

a sewing machine

and a bread knife

wait inside

a black umbrella

for their next

victim.

 2

A hedgehog caught in the glare

of onrushing lights,

she has curled herself into a ball.

My words are wasted

movements:

lips, tongue, bared teeth.

Limp kites

with nothing to fill their paper sails,

they hang like abandoned bodies

on the old barbed wire

stretched between us.

A metallic sun

gashes harsh light.

The needles in her arm

throw an ever-plunging

sea of shadows:

bruised sunsets

on a purple horizon.

Decisions

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Decisions

We make them all the time: what shirt to wear, jeans or dress pants, black of brown shoes, loafers or lace ups, sandals … socks or not … and then there’s breakfast … tea or coffee, cereal or toast, sugar or honey … most days, we don’t even realize we are making decisions. We certainly don’t need to write out a page of pros and cons in order to choose between coffee or tea …

Then there are the big decisions, like where to go next on this blog. I have been weighing up the pros and cons and I am finally getting close to a decision. My blogging possibilities include Literary TheoryWriting about WritingHow to ReadRevising Older TextsReading Don Quixote OnlineWriting New TextsPreparing Books for Publication Offline … These are much more difficult decisions but I must think about them and make them.

Literary Theory sounds good. But what do I know about it? Nothing but the dry academic literary theory of an abandoned academia that wasn’t really very interesting anyway. An occasional question arises in the blog world, one on which I feel competent to comment, and that for me, is the way I go with my literary theory: a quick response. All that academic literary theory is money in the savings bank that I can draw on if I, or anyone else, needs to access it. But to access it on a daily basis and pontificate my way to the limbo of a blogger’s boredom? I don’t think so!

Writing about Writing also sounds good, but in many ways it is a poor person’s literary theory, rather like literary theory without the long, obfuscating technical terms. Again, if the need is there, I can contribute; but it’s not the way I want to go, not here, not on this blog, not on this particular watch.

How to Read is a subject on which many books have been written and I recommend that all people not just read, but learn to read deeply and properly. In some cases, depending upon the quantity of material that crosses the computer screen (it used to be the desk), speed reading is essential and I recommend speed reading for everybody except poets and those who love poetry. To speed read a sonnet is not the way to go. I would love to sell the film rights to some of my sonnets, but apparently, that’s not the way to go either. Ah well, we can’t have everything …

Revising Older Texts is another excellent way to run a blog. The material is always there in one form (old) and the reworking of it into another form (new) is regular, instructive, and creative. I have done that on this blog with At the Edge of Obsidian > Obsidian’s Edge and loved both the process and the result. However, at least three of my commentators, Al Lane, Chuck Bowie and Kevin Stephens, suggested that the past is in the past and should remain there, while the future lies ahead of us and needs to be created. After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that Al and Chuck and Kevin are right. I will put older material up on the blog, but I will no longer review it for future re-publication, except in exceptional circumstances, and these are yet to be determined.

Reading Don Quixote Online has been in my wish bucket for a very long time. It is something that I would love to do one more time. I have already done online readings on several occasions. I have twice taught DQ in an online hybrid environment: hybrid — an online portion and an in-class face to face portion –. To return to DQ is, for me, to return to academia, an academia that I rejected several years ago. No: much as I would like to re-formulate this project and to lay out online my definitive This Is How To Read Don Quixote, I feel in so many ways, that this is not yet the time to do so. I want so much to turn back that particular clock, but I know how much work, reading, and commitment is needed and I am not yet ready. Perhaps, like the Flowers of Scotland, those days are past now and in the past they must remain. We’ll see. I checked my DQ notes last night … they are all there, ready and waiting … and I can set out on that adventure anytime … alas, through the mists of time, I can hear those bagpipes playing Will ye no come back again? I will, my friends, but not just yet.

Writing New Texts is fun. This is a new text and it is helping me to focus  on what I want and do not want to do. There is always room here for new texts. But new texts need revisiting and revising. Maybe some of my creative texts just aren’t ready for publication yet and yes, online writing is a form of publication. Thankfully I can revise these texts, and I may yet revise this one; indeed, I will probably come back both to this text and to these decisions. And maybe I won’t and that’s another decision for another day.

Preparing Books for Publication is where I am right now in my offline life and I think this is where I want to be online as well. I have two texts in preparation: Bistro (Flash Fiction) and Echoes of an Impromptu Metaphysics (poetry). I have thus far shared 17 pieces from Bistro on this blog. There are another 17 to go. Each time I prepare a piece of Flash Fiction for publication here, I re-read it, re-think, re-frame it, re-structure it, and re-write it. Those of you who know me offline are well aware of the nature of that re-processing. Sometimes the pieces are merely sharpened and polished; often they are totally re-written. And yes, when flaws are pointed out or doubts expressed, the texts are changed. I deeply value the comments of my below the line commentators. Echoes is the other text I need to re-write. I will share that online as well. The sharing will be difficult … Echoes is a difficult and very personal text … but it will be done.

Decisions have been taken and my thought process has been shared. There will be no turning back of the clock even though I am always looking over my shoulder. Here, then, are my decisions, but remember, they are always open to revision.

  1. I will re-publish on this blog Though Lovers Be Lost, one of my favorite poetry books. I will do this as and when necessary if I need more time between blogs with my re-writing.
  2. I will finish publishing the other stories from Bistro online on this blog as I prepare it for offline publication.
  3. I will start the re-write of Echoes online. I have been away from this book for about eight months now and re-reading it earlier today I saw how and where it could be improved.
  4. I will add in literary and philosophical commentaries when and where I see the need to do so. I consider this particular article to be a literary commentary with philosophical connotations, or is it the other way round? As an academic, I could prepare a treatise on the question; as a blogger, I can leave that question in the capable minds of those who read and follow this blog.

    Vale!
    Et vade mecum!

Though Lovers Be Lost …

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“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas

Dalí’s Clock

1

I have folded Dalí’s clock,
draping time’s dressing gown
over the foot of her bed.
An elephant with a crane-fly’s
spindly legs
stands on the bedside cabinet.

Is the human body
a chest of drawers
to be opened and closed
at will
and things removed?

On the operating table,
a sewing machine
and a bread knife
wait inside
a black umbrella
for their next
victim.

 

Obsidian’s Edge 29

 

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.
When reason sleeps, monsters are born.

Francisco de Goya.

5:00 AM

… bright flowers of penance purchased for a pittance finger knitted spider webs of silence spun into wrinkles between stars and evensong while an old film shadow boxes black and white photographs and a rowing boat lurches over the waves as if a soggy brown cardboard box had dropped down on a moonbeam to pluck the mote from a one-eyed jack-in-the-truck who surveyed his road map for the dead days lying in ambush next to the sudden bonfire that flared on Guy Fawkes night and ignited the world like a Jacky-jumper vaulting a Roman Candle as Catherine spun on her wheel and a sky full of stars wheeled round the North Pole and slid down the Big Dipper’s handle to launch a long white scar of lightning that scared night’s velvet mask and plucked a diamond feather from the peacock’s tail as it strutted through the garden of bifurcating paths where Borges left his summer footprints at low tide in the sandy grief of the autumn leaf that the red fox dripped and dropped as he fled in vain like blood sizzles drizzling from an open vein and observe I say the play of light as it glistens on the voices of young children reaching to pluck the church bells as if they were ripe fruit dangling before us in our dreams and the world is a handkerchief so small it is and now not so clean and so we dream these dreams and pluck this unripe apple from the eternal branch where it lay hidden kicking and struggling up like the float that bobbled then sank through deep water and memory bent itself into two like that fragile reed dead in the water lying as straight as a bowing string at a crazy angle   at the pillows edge where mouths flap open as shadows walk and talk and we slide back into sleep’s dark waters where there are no dreams and nothing from those dark depths is ever recalled …

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6:00 AM

a clicking of claws
needles knitting outwards
towards dawn’s guillotine

the alarm clock shuffles
its pack of sleeping hours

the church bell
lurches into action

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We have come full circle and the sequence of rewrites that I have dedicated to At the Edge of Obsidian / Obsidian’s Edge ends here, with the start of a new day in Oaxaca that will be very similar to the old day that has just passed us by. For those of you who wish to read the full sequence, in its correct order, it will appear (some time soon) under Obsidian’s Edge at the top of this page.

I would like to thank all those readers who have accompanied me on this journey. In addition, I would like to thank all of you who lent your voices to this sequence either below the line with your comments or, and I refer specifically to those who are close enough to know me in the flesh and blood of real life, with your verbal comments and telephone conversations.

I hope this will be the first of many journeys that we make together. My best wishes go out to you. I trust you will consider joining me in my next verbal adventure on this blog.

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Obsidian’s Edge 28

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.
When reason sleeps, monsters are born.

Francisco de Goya.

4:00 AM

… scrabble of agile ruminants goats their basket weave ribs alive on the grass roof of the neighboring azoteas or wandering these cobbled pathways with knife-edge stones and broken all ten of those sea-faring bottles that managed to reach this land though they came floating from a distant shore each with its message lost now and he waded through the incoming waves this god-like ghost emerging from his white-cap snow bank to stagger in the moonlight where a child’s world lay buried like a bone as sharp as this black knife that slices the mind into two twin towers of tall sunflowers trapped in this wet clay rag of a body that binds itself in a fine film of glacial fire where incarcerated birds strut in the rib cage their robin red crests as distant as the light of a hurricane lamp in that moment of silence before an opening door snaps its sudden match of light and the tick of the death watch beetle gnaws at the beams of the worn out house that the earthquake cracked into a thousand pieces though one wall stood still and the alarm clock over the fireplace clicked a death mask for that anonymous face that raised both hands and threaded the black lace of the mantilla through the golden wedding ring as a finger nail of moon shredded the clouds and the body’s house slowly broke down in an unending dance round and round the garden where the teddy bear trod on his partner’s toes and the undergrowth tickled the china doll’s fancy but the garbage can intervened and dust stained the vagaries of a brutish existence both sharp and nasty as a devil’s scissors severed angel wings and tangled this skein of wool that pulled the church bells pounding their celestial hammers into a sea of wind while the sea parrot spoke in a tongue thick with anonymous flames that flickered a trigger of song while flashes of sound sparked twigs from the tree that flamed a joyless overflowing river of unknown light while the brown bear danced to a pipe and drum dance across bamboo marimbas that shimmered and shone and lay fine layers of music and dust that grew beneath bare feet as new flowers stoked a confessional of dust and gave it new life in a resurrection of the body into a world where everything is remembered and nothing is forgotten or forgiven … for how can we forgive if we cannot forget … or forget if we cannot forgive …

Obsidian’s Edge 25 (revised)

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.
When reason sleeps, monsters are born.

Francisco de Goya.

1:00 AM

… threshing from side to side panting and pouting mouths open at pillow’s edge with tongues flapping fiercely as the sharp hook pierces the dry upper lip and drives its root canal into the roof of the mouth where shadows walk and talk to silk worms wrapped in their ghostly cocoons and memories race through tumbledown alleys where shuttered windows wave white hands with silver rings sparkling on gnarled arthritic fingers and doleful uncertainties rush upwards in a cloud of bubbles to cover the sun and blot out daylight as dark descends and grief lies still on dawn’s distant altar where long-forgotten crimes stir and return each night to hunt and haunt the poor and pour fierce tears as a tap pours water and offers subliminal ablutions as the victims on their knees wear wild widows’ weeds as they kneel at each hand-carved wooden station where that dark cross flourishes with its black beads dangling from outstretched nails as necklaces clack and rosaries gnash the falseness of teeth that are white and bright and spotted with fool’s gold that reflects in a counterfeit mirror of surrogate corpulence with fleshed and bloodied hands handcuffed like some rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming crash and the car’s bones lie beached like great white whale bones on the bleached shores of an illusion that moves in time to the continuous clicking of claws and the clacking of needles knitting outwards to build a monstrous guillotine topped like a dictionary with red bonnets that move in the air as a knife edge carves night winds that slice the body’s earthbound cage of skin and bone and strip it of the fur that the white rabbit sheds as it climbs its golden staircase back to the moon from which it descended on this night of nights when sleep is a mystery revealed only to initiates who have mastered their duties and milked this market where a caravan of camels humps its way skywards like dark gibbous moons that burrow a tunnel and seek the fly’s high-pitched note with its angry black mote stuck to the cobweb that nests in whatever brain awaits the wind’s clean broom that wipes the slate clean of wild words and wars that are waged across scars that hack tracks and cross roads over this wilderness wherein we are all star-crossed and lost …

Obsidian’s Edge 27

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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.
When reason sleeps, monsters are born.
Francisco de Goya.

3:00 AM

… often the imprisoned heart pinned like a butterfly and chloroformed into silence like a resurgent Guy Fawkes sitting on his bonfire and waiting for the universe to roll its coloured dice a captive and that heart singing as the dark rum of freedom bites into its jackdaw dreams of bright silver rings married to a bird’s leg and the round open eye of a cat staring at a Queen of Hearts as champagne bubbles burst in the mouth and dash on the tongue as they wash against the tooth’s white rock as it waltzes with the white caps that crest into broken ghosts who shuffle in and out like a pack of cards filled with knaves and the joker is belled with a red fool’s cap and a bladder on a stick as a tom cat’s tom fool grin melts in the mirror when the moon’s face skids and bounces off a snow bank where tranquil midnight mysteries trap trembling worlds in hand-blown glass bubble dreams that distort all distances clasped beneath clutching fingers while the crystal raindrops serve as an eye to behold the crimson glory of the hibiscus with its blood red stains where the baby fell from the rocking horse and confessed to a crime it never committed though speckled like a fresh trout it was drawn from deep water and blamed for the rainbow fire that flickered flames to the harsh crisp sound of the candle licking at its waxen jail where flower faces float framed against the white-washed wall as the wide-open staring eyes of the snowy owl speckle a yellow madness and its feathers are nails to be fired into  a pottery tree in this harsh somniferous light that breathes fear and fire into shavings of dry bark and a beaver gnaws at the roots of the world as an accusatory beak points at the funneling snow and puffed up feathers plump out a body so thin it is unfit to fight these flames of ice or withstand these snow stones cast by blameless flint-eyed innocents who have never themselves done anything wrong though they spark at the trough with one eye clouded by a spider web of hate and the other a sharp sun peering through clouds condemned like a donkey to walk round and round crushing the heart out of the maguey in an interior world of  dust and stone where the mote in another person’s eye is larger than the beam in one’s own and slant-eyed dogs eat dust and shadows of dust as they prowl through the courtyard and bark at the full moon blazing above this world that is sacrificed to a madwoman’s madness and an ancient flesh-devouring god who lives in a nearby volcano and is stoned all day on tequila and mescal