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The Ghost Of Kafka Walks

The Ghost of Kafka walks

(not stalks)


The streets

Of Prague.


 Prague,

(The place he would/could

Never leave
Until the last

Half year of his life)

He described as:
“The little Mother has claws.”

Which she did.

For him.


He managed

(In the last half year of his life)
To escape to Berlin

During one of

The
Worst times

Anyone could live

In Berlin


Until the end of the

Second World War.

But

That was years

Away.


But he escaped

With a young

Lover,

Which made things

So much

Better.


But his Ghost only

Walks
The streets of

Prague


Whereas

Kafka’s Ghost

Stalks

The rest of

The World.


~ D. E. BA  U.E.

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Margaret Atwood Travels Further Than Ever – Blessed Be!

the-testaments_margaret-atwood_3

I have noted some folk looking at this post from a couple of years ago. I had put it up because of the success of the television series, A Handmaid’s Tale.

Now, Ms. Atwood has produced a new novel, The Testaments, [which, by the way, has a brilliant front and back cover] with an international launch from London, England. I can humbly state that my part in her literary life remains the same.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was not my intent to piss off Margaret Atwood.

The opposite, in fact. I wanted her to know she was an inspiration.

She was giving a reading at the University of New Brunswick in my student days. I attended, but there was quite the gathering and she was whisked away at the end. However, I overheard there was a ‘gathering’ in her honour. Invitation only, of course. Academia and literati.

I crashed the party (that was the term used by the professor who clapped his sturdy hand upon my shoulder but – happily – did not thrust me into the night).

But Ms. Atwood was kept deep in many a learned conversation and I had no opportunity to converse. I did, however, overhear where she would be spending next afternoon – the historic University Observatory.

Next day I knocked upon the Observatory door.

It was not a cheerful Margaret Atwood who answered, and answered with alacrity.

She asked my name.

She asked my business.

And she asked how the hell I knew where she was. She had stolen the day to do some writing. Some ‘real’ writing, in this window-of-opportunity grudgingly offered on the book tour.

At least I was there to praise Atwood and not to bury her with some essay question.

Nor had I a manuscript to hand to her.

I might not have garnered a smile, but her curt thank you was reward enough.

For me, at least.

Featured post

The End Of Summer Is Not A Bummer When The First Of Fall Is A Comer

Right on the dot
Of a clock.


The 20th minute
 Post meridiem


Zap boom bah
Summer is over.


Then wait for a minute
And Autumn begins.


I went up the
Circular staircase
Of my lighthouse,
And leaned against
The railing
On that exact minute,
To watch whatever
Hand of time
Would shuffle the deck.


I do believe
The sunlight
Did flicker.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

Leonard Cohen’s Birthday And A Trudeau Election In Canada

I take advantage of the fact that there was a federal election in Canada yesterday, featuring a Prime Minister Trudeau, and today is Leonard Cohen’s birthday. I present this excerpt from my novel, Fame’s Victim, when Cohen was still alive and attending the funeral of a former Prime Minister Trudeau.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from Fame’s Victim

ST is present-bound enough to be aware when the end of the funeral arrives. Vested clergy group at the front of the church and the RCMP poll bearers again emerge. To the mournful strains of the organ they begin to slow-march the coffin along the aisle. He has no desire to mill about to meet the family for he has never met any of them before. He only encountered Le Monsieur the one time, but it was obviously significant for the older man.

     This ceremony of death makes everyone equal, and ST takes his place comfortably among the hundreds of other mourners who begin to leave the Basilica. Their progress along the center aisle is orderly but slow and he has time to inspect the interior of the building. As he looks at statues and woodwork and stained glass, a hand taps him on the shoulder.

     “That’s one of my favourites.”

     ST turns to see Leonard Cohen nodding and pointing to the left. He follows the other man’s finger and eventually perceives a somber painting enlivened with splashes of mystic colour.

     “I see ecstasy.” Cohen’s voice is a low murmur.

     “So do I.” ST immediately understands what the quiet voice means. “It breaks out.”

     “The way death should be.” The poet glances at ST with a half smile. “Something to look forward to.”

     “I’ve never doubted that.”

     “Ah.” Cohen shrugs. “If Pierre could only speak to us now.”

     “Do you think it possible?”

     “No.” His eyes hold ST. “Not the way I mean, at any rate.”

     “The tongue stilled.”

     “Something I will regret.” He leans toward ST. “Do you have plans after the funeral?”

     “Not really.” ST keeps to a muted tone. “I thought I’d look around the city. I don’t leave until this evening.”

     “Then perhaps we could take a noontime stroll to a place of refreshment.”

     “I don’t want such public exposure.”

     “This is the Prime Minister’s day in Canada.  It is understood why you’re here, and you will be left alone.”

     They come out into the sunshine. Media attention is heavy, but it is directed elsewhere. ST is pleased to discover that his companion is adept at quickly moving through crowds. They descend the steps and start along the street, garnering glances but no intrusions. They turn a corner, cross another street, and traverse a Square that leads to a narrower street. ST notes it is Rue le Royer and the pedestrian traffic is slight.

     “A restaurant or an outdoor café?”

     “I’d like food and to be outside.” ST speeds up to keep pace. “But I’m not sure about a public display.”

     “There is a favourite place of mine. We will be left alone.”

     The street enchants ST, much as many of the ornate, narrow streets of Europe do. He can imagine himself standing on one of the small, door-sized balconies looking down as pedestrians, such as two, black clad men, scurry along below. In a few minutes they come into the direct sunshine of a broad avenue. They are on Place Jacques-Cartier, and it is ringed with cafés and restaurants. There are also hundreds of people milling about in the crisp October day.

     “There might be the occasional ‘hello’.” Cohen glances at ST. “Nothing more than a smile is required. Most of these people are on their lunch hour, intent on a bite and a glass.”

     “I’m certainly intent on a glass.”

     “That’s where we’re headed.” He doesn’t point but starts across the square. “There are many tables still free.”

     ST again keeps pace, walking beside the other man as they go up the hill. People do indeed notice them, but after an initial surprise comes a look of understanding. The day still belongs to Le Monsieur.

     The outdoor café has hanging baskets of flowers, many in robust bloom. The tables are of ornate wrought iron and have burgundy table clothes. The chairs appear to be actual wooden kitchen chairs.

     “Perhaps that corner.” ST points to the back.

     “But – non.” Cohen smiles as he grabs ST’s arm. “Here – at the front. We are to watch the street go by in all its tousled glory.”

     “Will they not be watching us?”

     “Give and take.” He begins to steer ST to a table. “We will be taking more than they.”

     A couple of the tables have wide umbrellas open over them. ST prefers one of these but instead is gently nudged to the street front. All of the other patrons do look as they walk among them, but although their eyes linger no one says anything. At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

     “We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

     “If they approach . . . “

     Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

     ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as he has seen in any public place.

     “The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

     “Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

     ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

     “What would you like to drink?”

     ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

     “Champagne.”

time?” Cohen glances at his watch.

     “Will they have something decent here?”

     “They will offer a selection.”

     With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

     “Any food?”

     “Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

     “They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

     “That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

     “Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

     “I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

     “Then we acknowledge?”

     “Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

     “Memory – the ghost at every table.”

     The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

     “They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

     “There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

     “In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

     “That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

     “It should be the news of the world.”

     The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

     “You can not share my déjà vu but trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

     ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

     “We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

     “By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

     “By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

     “With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

     Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

Enough Fog To Lose My Dog In The Bog

Mind you,
I have no dog
Here
On Partridge Island.


And
There is no bog
Here,
On Partridge Island.


There is grass,
And shrubs,
And fewer trees,
And the rocky,
Rocky,
Shore.


But I still would not
Have found my dog
In last night’s fog.


In fact,
I had to hold
Onto the rope,
Between my Lighthouse Keeper’s House
And the Lighthouse,
That I use in winter blizzards,
To find
The Lighthouse.


In that fog
You don’t even
See
The Light.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

It Was A Dory Without A Story

There were rough seas at night,
But they did not keep me awake
For long.


The lighthouse keeper’s house
Has thick, stone walls
Like the lighthouse itself.
Built to last.


I snored away.


But the next day,

Which is clear but full of

Rough seas.


I walk the shore
Of Partridge Island,
To see what’s

Been blown in.


There’s always something.


Today, there is a dory,
As pristine as if someone
Had just rowed her here.


Though there are no
Oars.
Or any other item,
Or name on bow.
Barely a trace

Of water, awash

On it’s flat bottom.


I doubt I’ll ever
Know its origin,
Or its history.


In a couple of months
It’s mine to keep.

‘m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL sea,lighthouse,history,poem,poetry,harbor,harbour,Partridge Isl

The Mermaid Is My Girl / With Her Tail In A Curl

When I hear
The Mermaid
Singing,
She sings for me.


She comes to the rocks,
At the base of my Lighthouse,
And sighs
And sings
And fills the froth
With her frothy voice.


She doesn’t try to lure me,
But to calm me
On my way to sleep,
Or on my return to wakefulness.


Always at the twilight
Of night,
Or the dusk
Of dawn.
So I have never seen her,


Which I assume

Is her intent.


She knows my desire
Is to pursue,
And also knows
I would perish
On the rocks.


We need
Each other
Alive.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

All Work, And Maggots, Too, Cause Havoc On The Tossing Blue

Has no one before


Watered the floor


With the tears of


The poor

Sailorman?

Months out at sea


Is no place to be


No loved ones in sight


And to never feel free.


Alas!

The seas are oft rough


The boatswain is tough


The work never ends


And it’s never enough.


Drat!

The days yawn into fog


And the doldrums do bog


And create such an itch


Not relieved by the grog.


Hic!


So, any port from the foam


It doesn’t have to be home


Just some food that tastes real


Without maggots that roam.


Sigh!

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

A Tale Of Franz Kafka For Labor Day

Franz Kafka  (in the daytime) was a government employee who looked after the welfare of workers for the Imperial Government. He was on the side of the workers. Among other things, he is credited with inventing the hard hat. And, in once case where he had to oppose a worker in a dispute, he hired – out of his own pocket – a lawyer who was better than Kafka to defend the man. The man got his money.

In my novel about him, Kafka In The Castle, he has an encounter with a worker who needs assistance. This is how he would react.



16 February 1917

              There was a commotion at the office today. It was late morning, and from far below, coming up the stairwell, I could hear a voice bellowing: “Doktor Kafka. Doktor Kafka.” It was a terrible voice, full of blood and darkness.

I got from my desk and went to the door. There were other voices, trying to calm, saying: “He can’t be disturbed.” But the voice was louder, more horrible, close in the corridor.  “Doktor Kafka – for the love of God.”   My secretary wanted me to stay inside, hoping the man would just move along the corridor until the police were summoned. But – I was curious; the man had my name, and his voice was … terrified.

     I opened the door and stood in front of it.  “I’m Kafka,” I said. The man lunged at me, and went to his knees.  “Doktor Kafka?” he said.  “Yes, I’m Kafka.” He reached out, grabbing for my hand.  “Jesus, Jesus, for the love of Jesus – they say that you’ll help me.” 

He was a heavy man, and looked as if he had the strength to pull off doors, yet the tears burst from his eyes.  “I can get no work. I fell from a bridge, and my back is twisted and in pain.” He slumped against the wall, looking at my eyes.  “I have a family, Doktor Kafka. A baby not a year old.” 

“You were working on this bridge?” I asked.  “Yes.” His voice slid down his throat. “I was helping repair the surface.”  “Then you deserve your insurance. Why can’t you get it?” He straightened up, and tried to stand. “I have to fill in papers; the doctor can see no wounds; the foreman said I drank; because my brother is a thief, I am not to be trusted.” I held out my hand, and he slowly stood. “I’m telling you the truth, Doktor Kafka.”  “If that is so,” I said, “you’ll get the money due you.”  “I’m so tired,” he said.

     I gave instructions to those standing around – no other work was to be done until this man’s case was decided. I took him to my office, where he sat.

He sat – practically without a word – for five hours.

I summoned a prominent doctor to look at him. The doctor prodded, and the man screamed. Officials from his village were telephoned. I helped him with the details on the forms. His truth was in his pain. He left our stony building with money in his hand, and his worth restored.

The people who assisted me had smiles on their faces. A man had needed their help.

Finding Excitement On A Friday Night

A Fire Alarm Resounds.

Which is what happened last night at 10:20. It sounded as if the last trump might be in progress.

I called 911. I was asked if I smelled smoke or saw fire (after the dispatcher told me who I was, and where I lived). I said ‘no’, just the building’s fire alarm going off.

I was told I better get out.


Which I did, after I checked the building (laundry room especially). On the second floor I did see smoke – smelled like fish. Buddy at the end of my hall was also there. I asked if he was going to the third floor. He said ‘yes’, so I did decide to leave.


I propped open the front door and waited outside with the very few other tenants who also left.

First fire truck within three minutes.

Two others in the next five minutes.

I told the firefighters of smoke on the second floor.


And that was pretty well it.

Grease fire.

We tenants milled around for twenty minutes. It was a pleasant night out.

A firefighter turned off the alarm.

Moderate smell of smoke on my floor.

The other two fire trucks stayed up on the intersection of the two streets.

All returned to normal.


I don’t need to go anywhere for Friday night excitement.

‘Tis the pumpkin/soup season:  Pumpkin Chipotle Soup

Dip a grilled cheese into this spicy seasonal pumpkin chipotle tomato soup.

Source: Pumpkin Chipotle Soup

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