Vermilion Lake

Your triumph in life
will be to live above
Tom's Auto Upholstery.

And when you call me "Godthåb"-- for "Greenland"-- both to be drawn out long and low, as if an electronic voice through a loudspeaker-- it is as if you were to call me "crown of the head"-- in place of my proper given name-- both to be spoken in that electric loudspeaker voice-- as if expecting me to react just because it is in the same tone of voice as the sound of my name...

spending spree
A hunnert dollars here
A hunnert dollars there
Pretty soon you're hunnert dollared
Clear up through the county

beat (1999)
I am today a very different person than I was seven years ago. Yes, there has been growth. But at the same time, I have been bent and bloodied and broken, until there is no longer a bourgeois upper-middle-class bone in my body. Throughout my late teens, my twenties, and into my mid thirties, I fancied myself not just a gentleman and a scholar, but an intellectual and an aristocrat. These past seven years have knocked that out of me. I am now a Jack Kerouac, brilliant but also "beat." "Beat" as in Okie, down and out, worn out, seen both sides of the tracks, the poor of the earth, fellaheen, trailer court, discalced, am ha-aretz, beatific, blessed are, glory be, grapes of wrath, flee from the grapes to come, treading out the winepress of his fury barefoot, flee from the wrath I've already been run wringered through, shirt sweat sopping wet, hand cranked wringer atop the white porcelained washer with chips out of the white porcelain on the side where it banged.

Be no child of thinking
One... One...
One child of Seven-Up today

the ebony baboon
The Ebony Baboon is a dread night to smell,
A somewhat detectable habit as well.
With eyebrows upraised, but with no truth to tell,
They bid us cry uncle, who've bent down to fell.
And as they go forth, with a steamboat, on knee,
Like monks to their matins at Byzantium town,
It's tilting at windmills to say you and me
Could ever, on zebraback, cob Arthur's crown.

homer never nodded like this
At the bookstore they were having some Sunday afternoon readings, with a painfully earnest audience, necks craned diagonally, sitting in plastic-and-tube-metal chairs, while earnestly painful speakers declaimed their way through short story and poem, like your high school forensics meet. I would have been glad not to be there. No doubt these people, English majors and public radio pledgers all, fondly imagine they are recreating some scene from around a Bronze Age campfire, "Listen to the storyteller!" I got news for you, baby: Homer was never like this. Homer was never leadfooted. Homer was never dull.

world tree
When I was a boy, I had a dream that God had created the world, because God lay down beneath a tree and took a nap, and dreamed the entire world, and so decided to create everything in the dream.

Variant telling: God dreamed about a tree, and so decided to create an entire universe in which for there to be a tree.

(Of course, in a mediæval morality play, this would have been the tree on Golgotha.)

judy 451
I believe you were mentioning to me the bizarre proliferation of personalized license plates with meaningless numbers tacked on the end?

Saw one the other day which makes strange sense: JUDY 451

Ah, yes: JUDY 451, "the temperature at which punch bowls catch fire, and burn"...

the road to cœur d'alene
Breakfast at 4B's in Butte, Montana, fill 'er up with unleaded, oil down by less than half a quart. On the road by a quarter to nine and, what with the hour gained from Pacific Time, it was a long morning's drive to Idaho, noon-hour Cœur d'Alene ("Only town in the US with an apostrophe in its name"). Odd sensation at points-- now that I am retracing my steps of 13 years ago August 1983-- "snapshots" developing themselves at points along the drive-- "Yes, I remember this scene when I drove this route in `83"-- how many of them mere dejà vu, how many genuine memories reawakened? Along one remote mountain river stood an abandoned brick edifice-- fairly large, really-- atop it bristled a jungle of porcelain electrical insulators-- and large paned windows all across, glass gone from panes-- it had the look of some old 1930's experimental station for the wireless transmission of electrical power-- as if out of some alternate Tesla reality-- stopped for gas in Ft Regis, Montana--

north dakota
Driving eastward across North Dakota, I saw on the railroad tracks six or eight locomotive engines hooked together-- slowly drawing two oil cars and a caboose-- off the back end of the caboose, a brakeman sprayed a hose into the brush, as if spraying weeds. Oh. But then why so many engines? Surreal. I stopped in Jamestown, for a late lunch and gas.

everyday household crisis
He: "If I'm gonna work on the toilet, I better leave my head up on the counter... There, that's better!"

She: "Damn! Who left this head sitting on the counter?! Better throw it out 'fore the bugs get to it!"

After fixing the toilet... He: "Omigod! Where's my head?! Shirley!!! Did you see a head 'round here?!!"

She: "A head?! I can't keep up with all the trash 'round here! I musta put it out with the trash!"

He: "Omigod! In the trash!!!"

She: "Well, whyn'cha keep track o' yer body parts?! (Damn!)"

He (chasing after garbage truck): "Stop! Stop! My head is in that garbage!!!"

He: "Oh shit! Lookit this! One eye's poked out, the jaw's all busted, my nose is all gone an' mashed up! Shirley, how could you?!"

She: "Well dammit, it's your fault! This is what you get for leaving your damn head sitting out on a bathroom counter, like any common damn piece of feces! Oughta teach you a lesson etc. etc..."

ELVIS: THE REAL TRUTH, PART 2 [17] [27] [36] (Documentary; 1992) Bill Bixby hosts a sequel to the 1986 inquiry into the fate of Elvis Presley and his mysterious alleged "death." Featured: a tape recording purported to be from Elvis in hiding. Leads up to the dramatic climax of a grainy black-and-white video of a man striding toward the viewer down a narrow hallway, with the sun just behind his head so that his features are drowned out in a nimbus of light: "And as for Elvis, some folk say that he may some day soon re-turn." (A woman sitting on a couch watching the show breaks out weeping.) To lend credibility to the narrative, halfway through the show Bixby metamorphoses into the Incredible Hulk.

the angers of ease
Tric hand dryers... dry hands more roughly... protect you from ape and owl litter, and the angers of ease... Available at the ouch of a butt... Step 4, wipe hands on pants. [a common piece of public restroom Americana from years back]

overheard in a hospital waiting room
"...and then she flew to Kansas City, and she ended up dancing all night..."

euclid's fifth
Axiom 5 (Cf. Euclid's Fifth-- Postulate, Symphony, or Amendment): For every universe of discourse, and every paradigm not in that universe of discourse, there exists (a) none (b) at most one (c) one and only one (d) at least one (e) more than one (f) a countably infinite cardinality (g) an uncountably infinite cardinality of universes of discourse coincident with that paradigm, and parallel to the first universe of discourse.

The Commentary on Axiom 5: Choose one, (a) through (h), like picking up off the ground one acorn out of thousands. In the first analysis your choice is free, but to be informed by it is to be bound, and to be bound by it is to be informed. You are what you geometrize, but in the final analysis the geometry, like the joke, is on you. Plato: ho theos geometrizei. Mighty oaks from little acorns. The oak, like the joke, is on you. Aristotle: Entelechy! (Humpty Dumpty: "Impenetrability!") So in the final analysis (but only in the final analysis) you cannot plead the Fifth.

Hanging out together: Clyde; Fast Eddie; The Duffer; the cat. Not present: Poindexter

The Duffer: "Hey, youse guys! You should see this out the window... Lookit... there's this tomahawk just sorta floatin' an' bobbin' around in the air, out in the yard... It's a blasted tomahawk, just hangin' there in thin air! I bin watchin' it now five minutes..."

Fast Eddie: "Aw, c'moffit, Duffer! [Opens front door] Lemme show you... that tomahawks do not just hang around floatin' in thin--" K'CHINK!!! [Fast Eddie collapses, with a tomahawk in his forehead]

The Duffer: "H-hey, Clyde! D-do you suppose Eddie is dead?"

Clyde: "Dead? Of course he's dead!! Ain't you never seen a tomahawk before, Duff? I 'member the time, one summer on my grandfather's farm outside Antigo, there was this tomahawk around...We seen it floatin' in the air, out by the barn... Hey, Duff-- ya gonna help me clean up before Eddie bleeds all over the rug?"

Tomahawks are often seen in an area of Wisconsin stretching from Antigo to Green Bay. Late July and August are the thickest "tomahawk season."

Have you educated yourself and your family on the danger of tomahawks-- especially if you'll be "up north" this summer? Do you know what safety procedures you should follow-- when a tomahawk has been sighted in your area?

Do you know what to do-- if you should see a tomahawk floating in the woods when you are alone? What if you can't get behind glass in time? What if the tomahawk shifts into "super speed"?

--A public service announcement of the Wisconsin Public Safety Commission.

The men in the tuxedoes at the snooker table. The expert at the card table: "Putting aside all high-minded purposes, if this book sells it will have succeeded of its chief end, as the author needs the money." The experts at the snooker table, in the Victorian room with high windows and wainscoting around on the walls. The man-- in the helmet-- by the tower: "Press the button. Codeword delta-- delta-- delta." -----"If this book sells, it will have succeeded of its high windows, as the man in the black helmet-- by the tower-- needs the codeword." Potting a red, then nominating a colour. The usual shot is half-on or quarter-on, so as to succeed of clearing the in jaw. Putting it shut will set you up for making out the next shot, without resort of a safety. But bringing it half on will also lead to a bring-back, which sets you pretty for leading on through, and perhaps even the coveted mark of running the balls for a century. This is seldom seen in amateur play, especially that of the player at the village pub, a game chap who is often little more than a set-to potter with hopes of pocketing a colour. So in his game, he must set himself to be snookered. This the seasoned balls-runner sees, and knows well to avoid as he is able. His game is an odd-up favourite to surpass the bar, and to make for home with scarcely a foul or baulk to be found out against his name.

state street in madison
And I went stalking down State Street through the abating rain, only then the rain got real heavy. And I took refuge under an awning, outside the Triangle Market. And wait a while, and along comes a man, wire glasses, baldshaven head, designer nylon rainjacket. He's carrying a bronze urn, has a kryptonite bike lock shackled round his neck, more bronze hardware ancient and awkward shackled severally round his waist. And on right bicep, worn out over nylon, a big wide bronze armband. He looks like a Buddhist monk, like somebody from Foucault's Future.

"What time do you have?" He asks one of the girls dodging rain beneath the awning with me, and she tells him. And he asks the girl beside her, as if he's polling several time zones; and is very pleased (though earnest) when she gives him much the same time. Then he asks me, as if now comes our report from the Atlantic Standard Time Zone (old time zone wall clocks from around the world behind Dave Garroway on the Today show in its early days). But I won't be taken in, and so off he goes, bronze urn in crook of elbow.