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George Kalamaras

Surrealist Inquiry

“Would You Lend Money To?”


Editor’s note: This inquiry (Paris, July 27, 1937), typical of various “automatic” experiments among the Surrealist circle, was found in the papers of Meret Oppenheim at the time of her death, next to an early sketch that served as the model for her painting, “He Rocks His Wife”. It was written in Oppenheim’s hand. We presume she acted as “recorder” at the session; however, the remote possibility that she privately “invented” answers for her associates also exists (though, given the abundance at the time of these kinds of inquiries, is highly unlikely).

MO = Meret Oppenheim; LM = Lee Miller; LC = Leonora Carrington



Paul Eluard?

Never. He still owes me fifty francs (MO).

Yes, hidden in a bed sheet (LM).

Maybe yes maybe no, depending on the dream of water I drink (LC).


Rene Crevel?

Of course, if he was no longer the sad hair of a beautiful suicide (MO).

Blindfolded, of course. With my last cigarette given to the sparrows (LM).

Money and yesterday’s news (LC).


Nusch Eluard?

Yes, in her silhouette of cracked doves’ blood (MO).

Yes, in a secret exchange, at midnight, between cars of a moving train (LM).

No, but I’d paint her a guinea fowl who lays silver pellets and then pecks them open, only to reveal saffron jewels (LC).



No. Only a kiss to smudge each lens of his spectacles (MO).

I’d hide it in Mexico’s most active volcano because he’d only give it away (LM).

[No answer] (LC).



Only if he grew peasant’s wings, left the tower for starlight in his mother’s underarm hair (MO).

Of course. I like his mustache of swan blood (LM).

No, I’d paint him rich instead, giving him a monocle, a secret door, yesterday’s jewels (LC).



He already owes me sixty-nine francs for a photo of me taken by Man Ray (MO).

Yes, wrapped in the entrails of a bee (LM).

Certainly. Twice daily, three times a week. That’s the “average,” they tell me, for couples married less than a month (LC).



I’d give him the tiny bones of mice from the milk vetch bush to fill the woman’s belly (MO).

As much as he possibly needed, and—of course—both more and less than that! (LM).

With hesitation. And only with a most brown waist (LC).


Henri Rousseau?

Yes, but from the darkness inside a tiger’s stripe! (MO).

[No answer] (LM).

Maybe not, but most likely (LC).



His false beard already contains the ink from my raised left arm! (MO).

[No answer] (LM).

[No answer] (LC).


Valentine Hugo?

With a kiss (MO).

Wrapped in a newspaper of blood green balloons (LM).

Only with my left hand, while holding in the right a Chinese blood pheasant (LC).


Remedios Varo?

I would give her the shape of starlight in the deaf man’s ear (MO).

A moon. I would ask her first if she preferred the llama blood of a solar eclipse (LM).

As a recipe for a bed of nails, for erotic dreams, for the inside out of a map of hidden treasure (LC).



Let me say simply this—“I and the Village” (1911) (MO).

How could anyone adore rooster blood above the cathedral in any more of a delicate way? (LM).

Yes, but he must paint the two faces of my portrait as a goat tenderly dreaming of being milked by the maiden’s hand, while staring intently at the green-faced man (LC).


George Kalamaras?

Only if I could sleep with him, the length of our bodies long, without ink on our arms from the printing press, inside the trunk of a Chinese elm—though my astrologer says he won’t even be born for another 19 years, sometime in the mid-1950’s, and he’ll be born as a Chagall painting at that! (MO).

Who? Lend money to whom? (LM).

Do you, don’t you mean George Seferis? (LC).


Georgette Magritte?

Yes, we’ve often peed together at 11:53 p.m., squatting on opposite sides of a railroad track (MO).

Cauterized inside the Cyclops’s eye (LM).

Absolutely, but clipped with clothes pins and playing cards to the spokes of a bicycle (LC).


The Milkman of rue de Grenelle?

Of course (MO).

Without question! (LM).

What we think we need to survive is never what it seems (LC).



[No answer] (MO).

Lend money to “Avida Dollars” himself? (LM).

[No answer] (LC).

George Kalamaras

George Kalamaras

George Kalamaras is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently, The Scathering Sound (Anchorite Press, 2009) and Gold Carp Jack Fruit Mirrors (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2008). His co-authored book with Alvaro Cardona-Hine, The Recumbent Galaxy, won C & R Press’s Open Competition and will appear this year, as will Something Beautiful Is Always Wearing the Trees, a book of George’s poems with paintings by Cardona-Hine. George is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990. His piece in this issue is from his unpublished manuscript of blurred-genre work on non-U.S. avant-garde poets of the 1920s and 1930s.

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