the trial continues

Let’s be mad scientists and make a Kafka clone!
Or a sequel to Teh Depression, this time with more
masticating (oh & the rabbit gets shot at the end;

Let’s be like bad cryogenics, bring a Walt Disney
& a couple of tea-towels (don’t forget Phar Lap’s
head! (hey & this time the rabbit wins), m-kay? 

I’ve got one: let’s be Dexter from Perfect Match,
You know, that robot. What, together? Well, no.
(in this version there is no rabbit & no fun runs

either. Dare I say boring? No, you may not say.
Let’s be gerbils, then. They’re closely related to
rabbits. When stripped of their skins, in fact, they

look almost identical. Just a bit smaller. Granted.
Are we almost there? Are we there? There yet?
Let’s get so into the meta-text that we forget 

            (the trial continues. 


Mijn co-piloot houdt stippen. Ik hou van hun simpele Engels. Stippen dat zou kunnen komen dat ik de hele wereld als ik wilde. Polka dot sjaals voor de zomer picknicks en wandelingen door symmetrische groene tuinen. Polka dot shirts voor glinsterende nachtclubs en fotomogelijkheden. Polka dot rokken voor zon-en intercontinentale vluchten. Ik kan me voorstellen stippen getatoeëerd over haar hele lichaam, maar misschien zijn ze gewoon sproeten. Ons vliegtuig is bedekt met Polka dots: zwart op wit, roze op oranje, groen op zwart. We hebben de bijnaam “Polka Dot”. We taxi in een startbaan van polka dots, het opstijgen en klimmen steil, onze vliegroute een waas van polka dot velden, groen op geel, crème op zwart. Twee katten dansen de polka. Polka dot ogen, knipogen. Ik wil een zwarte polka worden stip op een witte achtergrond. Een groene polka dot op een zwarte achtergrond. Een paarse stippen op een groene achtergrond. Een rode polka dot op een rode achtergrond. Ze is een polka dot. Als ik een douche te nemen, polka dots vliegen van de roos. Stippen! Toen ik tomatensoep en morsen te drinken over mijn hele witte t-shirt, er is nog meer stippen voor mij. Jippie! De twee kleine gaatjes links in mijn shirt toen ik mijn “I Heart Polka” badge kan ook worden stippen, in het juiste licht. Polka dot, polka dot, polka dot – als ik blijven herhalen deze woorden, alle andere woorden in de wereld geworden stippen. Het is alsof we rechtstreeks naar de zon en dan je ogen sluiten, het leven in dat verblindende polka dot wereld. Onder mijn kleren die ik ben een polka dot. Onze gecodeerde instructies (hoogte, lager, laadvermogen, doelstellingen, …) komen door in Morse, maar ik kan alleen de puntjes. De streepjes blijven een mysterie. De stille woord tussen twee polka dot lippen. De heeee van een opgewonden adem. De regendruppel op het raam, de polka dot schaduw op de muur. Geluk in een polka dot. Onze stippen, je glimmende plekken. Opstijgen. Polka dot.


well death hasn't killed
teh intranetz yet, then.

glad we got that sorted.

just send my cheque in
the mail if you can't 
make it yourself. 

spread yer words, 
make all your phone calls 
heard in the next life. 

load that drive,
erase that trail 

count to zero - 
it never fails. 

One Hundred and Five Candles

for Mary Fitzgerald Unthank nee Hurley
8 November 1905 - 16 September 2010

They say the first one is invis­i­ble,
 you only feel its heat. It’s shin­ing
 some­where out in space — or is it
 the womb — where love is a can­dle
 in the dark, cre­ated by a spark of
 some­thing felt though never seen.
 The next one, then, is num­ber two
 but we’ll call it one so that you can
 light it again, a red can­dle per­haps
 or a candy-twist pink. By this time

 you grasp & grab at con­scious­ness,
 at these appari­tions that re-appear,
 reg­u­larly, and each time in greater
 num­bers: three, four, five candles. 
 The sym­me­try of six demands your
 grudg­ing respect, which is fur­ther
 whet by num­ber seven, or heaven.
 Nine revolv­ing bod­ies in a child’s
 plan­e­tar­ium, then the ten’s maudlin
 return to its begin­ning: a one & a
 zero, together, on the same cake.
 Com­pared to this, eleven’s a breeze.
 By now, you’ve grasped the basic
 terms of the deal: some­one lights
 the can­dles, then you just sit back,
 pre­tend­ing to count stars. Twelve
 can­dles brings you a dozen roses
 which you’re too young to blow out.
 From thir­teen onwards it’s all a blur.
 The teenage can­dles, a sound­track
 fea­tur­ing a style of music no one
 over the age of eigh­teen even hears.
 Nineteen’s similar to the invis­i­ble
 one we touched on at the start, only
 warmer, and full of beer. Twenty
 brings us back to ten, which is to say
 the decade, ready-made. By this stage
 you view the whole can­dle thing with
 unaf­fected dis­dain, although you still
 pro­tect your own like a bird its brood
 every time what you know will come
 comes around. To move on to candles 
 in their thir­ties is to doc­u­ment a series
 of increas­ingly intel­li­gent — no, bril­liant
 cru­sades against the light­ing of those
 can­dles which are yet to come. When
 you think of light­ing forty can­dles, by
 your­self, in a dark room alone, a weird
 kind of uneasi­ness comes over you.
 Thence­forth, every year for at least a
 decade, you light those can­dles with
 the minia­ture flame thrower some­one
 once gave you as a present. For the
 bar­be­cue, you remem­ber. The can­dles,
 dipped in kerosene, sing in delight as
 you make your big light-sabre sweep.
 From sixty onwards you expe­ri­ence
 what it’s like to be caught inside some
 cheer­ful wax­work mon­tage, sixty two
 and three, espe­cially, arous­ing your
 long-forgotten enthu­si­asm for years
 spent set­ting stuff on fire. Seventies?
 Don’t speak of the sev­en­ties can­dles, you
 don’t want to hear. The late sev­en­ties,
 though — there’s a film, right there, in
 sev­enty eight or sev­enty nine candles. 
 The golden glow of eighty can­dles, set
 on fire, burn­ing right through the night.
 The triple zero birth­day cake, a dou­ble
 one next to another big zero. You alone
 get it: the invis­i­ble can­dle, stage left,
 wear­ing a hat that’s com­pletely green. 
 The six­ties mon­tage reap­pears right at
 the end of the eighty-ninth, spoil­ing an
 oth­er­wise flaw­less run of candle-lighting
 cer­e­monies that some­one should have
 filmed, had the means to do so existed
 at the time. Ninety and ninety one, to
 their credit, pro­ceed with­out a hitch. 
 Then you hit ninety two & you notice
 that some­one else lights the ghastly
 things now, and you don’t even mind,
 par­tic­u­larly. You review the wis­dom of
 this while sit­ting com­fort­ably on ninety
 seven, & the ninety eighth doesn’t hurt
 a bit. You occupy your ninety ninth like
 a remote eagle its eyrie, watching over 
 the abstract world two miles below you.
 When you hit the big igni­tion switch that 
 will set in motion a slow-combustion of
 one hundred mile-high candles you’re
 already in heaven. The immen­sity of that 
 agri­cul­tural slog over mid-on seems so
 easy that you’re light­ing the next one as 
 we speak, dis­patching the following three 
 with ease, spank­ing a radi­ant thrill of love
 into each of those one hun­dred & four
 can­dles, etch­ing their flames into space
 & then set­tling again on your still-warm
 eyrie, to sur­vey an earth par­secs below.
 The can­dles, clearly, will not be denied
 their even­tual vic­tory for much longer.
 You, for your part, feel no fear. Softly,
 all in one moment, you realise some­one
 has blown the hun­dred & fifth one out.

16 September 2010

(revised 11 February 2011