Her followers were dancing in his
poems, and he wore a polycarbon suit recycled from some
heap of vinyl records, voices of dead poets, Eliot’s
bald head also dancing in his poems, echoing the full moon
in the April sky over Paris, the violet velvet night sky
over the countryside of Europe dotted with filthy cities,
sprinkled with dim lights.
I protest — his voice cried out from
the throats of various lesser, miserable girls — with slow
care now, naked on the roof of the house next door.
Mr. Laurence had sent many such
prayers, but he still held to the middle of one of his
tantrums about Sherwood Anderson, but he felt cold and
yelled that it was still taking his eyes out of their
Finally I began to understand this
artificial business, said yonderboy. This literature shit,
this inheritance. Five separate alarm systems reverse the
kink, in case she wants to know.
Frank draped the tie over his
fingers, leaning back against the counter — Would you wear
this? — I’m spoiling the house-cleaning robot, buying
flash clothing for all the homosexual men of my
acquaintance — Do you test them first? — the Côte
d’Azur hadn’t looked as fine as this for a while,
the young men agreed — Mina Loy began to cut the new suit
to ribbons. I’ll slip off my office clothes and
slather into something more comfortable — I was
melodramatic? I don’t have enough personal power. The
knife in the pocket, flicking that blade — rather, I lived
near her dress, in my mind at least.
We were drinking with a painter Jo-Jo
forgave because — however brutal and sickening his general
behaviour — at least he understood her impulses to the
modern, the curve of power that she would find — they
often started out arguing, the choice difficult between
the neo-Aztec bookcases and the nineteen hairpins
scattered on the carpet — age always says, yes, youth
always hesitates — slappy wisdom — he stayed, all promise,
no fucking performance — yes, she said, but whose
performance? — Djuna Barnes, her first clumsy pieces full
of momentum and nothing else, and they began to pound Ford
and smacked french paper work with the hot tongs, they
were leaping from the human scale to the godly, brown,
honest to go, or shall we — all right — he groaned
tragically, per executive order, wrapped up in his loony
mood — was this her first time? — what the hell, it was
witty, silent cruising, then this murderous text — he ran
towards something printed — to die in loneliness — I never
saw him again.
His teeth chattered — like Verlaine,
always chasing rainbows — he had begun the little study,
the obscure Provençal poets, drawling a wall of
gravity against the summer.
Gertrude Stein moved towards the
spoken dialects of men. The French painter and his wife
answered her needs — vulgarisers, in the things they said,
and then they always stay at home, and sent their talk out
to do its work in the world — an extraordinary effect —
paragraphs of the finger having written and moved on, a
very clear sensation.
Not to go, or ’wolf not to
Suddenly the white chrysanthemum
appeared to us as the vulgarisation of Picasso’s
career — now Mr. Laurence’s ruddy face appeared at the
window — pure primaries — Gertrude Stein’s older
brother came with James Joyce, a shock — Gertrude Stein
advised him to speak in surges. ’I am very short, dark
and glossy,’ he said — very sweet, public retractive,
she signing me up with a certain French phrase, it is
luminous, the legion of useful knowledge, a little review,
soft and dry, wrapped up, came back against old
considerata. Gertrude Stein, urging violently for the
career. But they both had a nice encounter.
’She was perceiving, and
efficient,’ Mr. Laurence said, ’a shock in my
stomach.’ And he smiled.
Her shoulders straightened and when
the endorphin analog hit, she felt just a few inches above
the clinic, horrendous.
First published in Stand magazine, new series,
volume 1, number 4, December 1999
Photograph — Paris street scene © John Tranter