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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Jack Kimball and Kent Johnson

from: Postcards from the Vichy

Look: Paris was never so lovely. Celan is a child, and the Seine flows soundlessly under the long bamboo poles of old men eating bread and sipping wine. We are making bombs in a basement, and smoking cigarettes we have made with our own hands.

— Anonymous

Wie seltsam es war, dem Herumrücken der Möbel in der Wohnung über uns zuzuhören!  
Ich war sechsundzwanzig, und du warst zweiundzwanzig.

— Kenneth Koch

John-san —

Puerto Cabello extends south from the Straight of Pulex. Angel won’t bother me again. The nuttiest guy on a cell phone. (Wish they’d stop sending us on these field trips.)

A busy bleep hurries from the Sound, beautiful now with bird crossings, ebb-tide freshened clay, a two-dimensional amphitheater ripping with, yes, girlish laughter, musica, clouds crisp-tinted en masse, I’m serious....I’ve lost the bleep. As Ariel wants it, fine figures in video there logrolling before the epoch turns the schedule down. She sends regards. Lift off. Halfway over here we spattered it.

My mind’s playing tricks.

— Bergman

Roger that, B., on the spatter. The Hotel de Louisianne is now in flames. Ay, esa musica. Only yesterday, Ariel spilled his heart to me in the Select Cafe — all his little secrets, like escargot, hollowed out on the geisha-scened plate. Es war’, so schon gewesen, I sang. He cried, as I held his girlish, bomb-throwing hand.

Paris is beautiful in the spring. Partisans, domed like planetariums, buoyant with stigmata, float down the Seine. Their defiant phone(mes) are written all over the cell walls. Is that what you mean, my logrolling friend?

More morphine.


What the H —

I need immediate emergency medical attention. Mammoth breakfast. Writing on a flatbed, heading straight home. Fabric in the trees. These are loan words. Next month, Lourdes. Meanwhile method showers, meteors — I’m in this kind of prophase. Where did she go? I beg you; accept Ariel as she was, tiny and reddish with a patch of copper to con the funk taking her orders back a space. Lyon layers subject to verification, ragged orchids in the surf, forces of nature, draperies.

— Roger B

Yes, yes, the draperies. In that little hotel in Lyon. Whenever the wind blew them in, that whole Oriental scene would writhe and breathe. I fingered her on the divan, as she read Proust in a loud voice to me. Ah, yes, only to me: Seek medical attention at once.

Please repeat: “These are loan words.” Static in the Satied trees. The space of the order moves back. Ariel is her own lover. Regrets that I misread her for a man.

The merchandise is coming, B., and all the children are in a rosy ring. Victory will be ours.


Mon Hache —

After last night, the poetry workshops seem routine. I practiced your name all day. After 12 sold separately. My child in you reminds me of the Great Gulf of Oran in mezzotint.

Meetings with habitues here in Cornwall are miasmic.  Like many females I got a late start, having to ditch tunes with melodies, mute or aspirated. After, Ari unclenched my torso based on breathing. (Yours.) What an instructor!

— Be


H. has risen majestically to the lodge. Long live his blow-torch memory.

You are to remain in Cornwall until further notice. I, too, B., am a child in mezzotint, nipples dark, hair cut short like a boy’s. Boots, pants, turtleneck, beret... I plead insistently in the subjunctive. I desire that you think of me.

The Buzzard will be two days late; the tubes for melody will arrive on time. Sing, at the top of your secret voice. Then roger me.


Ha —

Scratch that about Angel. Its stuff is all over me. White paper facets too much background, it avers. Aaaf. No twinkle with La Paz. It’s colder than expected behind the scenes. Count the m’s divided by seas. Follow this to the point on my forehead: ashes sponsored in part by Esther and Vicky, left-overs from Monsieur Edmund Gras. Gadgets, enterprise, absolutely no time for Zorn’s economy. The ink in my Parker is falling apart. Sessioning,

— Bea


More cartridges for Parkers on way. OK. But clarify on winged-ones stuff without delay.

Miners marching on La Paz as we speak, wet with their own blood, Wednesday on their brows, the whole ashen city arched above a chasm. The M. is shimmering, B. :  Loose the thrush.

In the Alps, the char is impatient to spawn. The refrain of his rondeau is “drop the saxophone, Danton, and get on with the show.”

Man does not live by letters alone. Confirm your zone. And put Monsieur back in the urn.


Eeee —

Teaneck’s not all that bad. Gold-chained. Fed-exed contacts. A mudslide. Bikers’ tastes reflect popular extremes. The air spills into dark, bluish-green big fonts. I’ve been conducting an energy audit south of the frequent-flyer refineries and east through the Meadowlands (seeking Vicky’s endorsement in blank, for sure).

Silly, your package arrived, but only in outline. So, after ten long seconds, it’s a chicken-egg transaction. Mon ecu, for dentate effects (read ‘variables’), I’ve bulleted our texts and this somehow empowers them, Esther and Edmund.

I’m ready to give Angel the Denver boot. Send no money now.

— Your Bergman

b —

Do not stray into alea, Bourgoin, lest you be trapped like
Messiaen on his bidet. Rigour is the order of the day. So says
the serial Marcel, and he hasn’t laughed since May. Also repeat: no
fungi-hunting, except for truffles, where the char is spawning.

— Adiabatique

P.S. Read this card from E. Combine it, as directed, along the axis, into the syntagmatic chain:  B. — “Le Marteau sans maitre” is a nice little cafe. First order the egg, then sink the dentates into la poulet with SIPO. Here is the question posed by Le Chat: When you are in an antique shop called the “l’armee secrete” in that alley of an alley (the shop whose owner, Diagramme, has a wife named Violette and a son named Cesac) and you buy a candle holder from the 18th century and then a chair from the 19th, are you creating a new style, or perfuming yourself for the guillotine? Continue the les vases communicants, B., with your seven arms, and act, before the shit hits the fan.



Bouts rimes. The palimpsest is a third of the way.  Not sure it
matters, now, since you’ve bifurcated, undazed. I’m already inured
to it.

Can’t seem to get out of Messiaen or north Jersey.  Snow warnings for one.
Fabulous evening with Fwau Vicky, tho.  Why didn’t you tell me she
was Edmund’s ex? We’ll nonetheless bwing delivewance overnight to
Fwedewiksberg via Epsom and Ewell.

The plasticene weductions are all a gloss. See you next in New
Cunaxa (let’s call it). We’ll buy a new house, hundweds of cubits of
wall, to the south and east, darning doors, and here we’ll live and
west, laugh and data wetwieve.

At sixes and sevens, then......


The char suspects interference. Confirm code. Bifurcation has happened. Twenty two torsos of Apollo dumped into the Louvre. You must change your life, B., if that’s who you are. Repetition: confirm code.

M. went crazy with the phonograph playing Piaf over and over in the flat above. He is gone over to Henri the Hauteur. This is the least of our losses, given what the FN and ORA have dished up. Well...

Do you remember the picnic we had in that pastoral place, all in our bourgeois clothes, the two girls naked and looking dead-on, like “what are you going to do about it?” at the painter painting? Do you remember the stonecutter who came to us, who opened his shirt to show the great wound, and how his heart, like in a grotto, was beating as if nothing had really happened? Prove to us that you are B. and not some invention of the SIPO. Light your Gitane.


I can’t continue this?

In the . . ? These, the words don’t, they. . they’re positional notation, indefinite as Holyoke? Pitched accent? Blessed olive?

Tapping one’s grandson through bittersweets that render him, the writer, a hip observer of whole cloth? See!

If you say clouds, man, can they whup tondos of pendent cable? Say loiter? Our posadas, belated, will judder and shell in residue, like floridean starch.

Homiletics to come?

Kent Johnson’s author notes page gives more recent information about his work.
Jacket’s ‘author notes’ provide direct links to various pages in the magazine that feature more of an author’s work, reviews of their books, and interviews.

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