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Halifax Explosion Anniversary 9:04:35 AM

I just stood out on the steps in front of my home, waiting for the ship horns in the harbour to sound in memory of the explosion. A beautiful, clear, crisp morning. The explosion happened 06 December 1917.

I live a fifteen minute walk from the exact spot where the ship the Mont-Blanc exploded, causing the biggest man-made explosion ever created, other than the Atomic bombs dropped during the Second World War

1782 people were killed, a few of them at the bottom of my street. 9000 were injured. A large portion of the city of Halifax was destroyed.

At 9:04, as I stood in the sun, the ships in the harbour sounded their horns. There was a cascade of sound,. Most were deep and booming, some more abrupt, a few – by comparison – made me think of piping voices. I was most startled by the ship directly across the water at the bottom of my street. There are rarely any ships berthed this far along the harbour, but it was delivering fuel to a Power plant. It does not do this often in a year. So I was startled. A modest touch of fear.

And then I came in and wrote this.

DE

Kafka Warms Himself With His Own Manuscripts

My novel. Kafka In The Castle, fills in Kafka’s missing diary entries. This is how I imagine Kafka’s best friend, Max Brod, reacts to one of the many times Kafka burned his own manuscripts.

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

19 April 1917

Max was horrified when I told him about last night.

“You burned your stories? Are you crazy?”

“I wrote them, so I must be.”

He smiled at that. Max’s anger can be easily deflected, for it is never deep. Max is a very good man, and cares for me more than I do myself.

“And the novel? The Amerika novel?”

I told him that many chapters of that must have been burned. Probably right from the start – they were no doubt the first things I grabbed from the chair.  “Anything else?”

“There were a couple of plays. I remember pages of dialogue.”

Max’s voice became hollow. He might no longer be angry, but neither was he happy. “I didn’t know you had written any plays. You have secrets even from me.”

“I keep secrets from myself. Don’t be offended.”

“What else?”

I could picture him writing down an inventory.

“Some diary entries – those were deliberate.”

“And was that the end of your pyromaniac obsession?”

“Of my own work – yes.”

He looked at me questioningly – he didn’t need another secret.

“There were a couple of bundles of letters from Felice. Neatly tied with string. They burned slowly. I have not had such warmth from her for a long time.”

I See As Far As The Eye Can See Out To Sea

It’s a rare, balmy day

Near the end of November.

I’m sitting on a bench with a back.

I made it myself,

Because a bench with a back

Is a thing of luxury.

I can lean

And not perch.

It is situated safely

Up from the shoreline,

Looking out to sea.

It will not get washed away

Regardless of the fierceness

Of the ocean and its storms.

The Lighthouse is behind me,

And Paw, my cat/kitten.

Black as black can be

With one white mitten,

Is snoozing in the sun

Beside me.

I ponder whether to wake him,

To see a half dozen ducks

Paddling their way around the island.

Paw has his whims,

And might try to catch one.

He won’t, of course,

And I have no desire to scoop

Him out of the cold, November water.

I’ll let him snooze.

I’ll let the ducks go upon their way.

I’ll just sit and enjoy the sun.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2022 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report

DE BA. UEL

One Small Step For . . .

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote

March 1917

               A trail of wet footprints across one of the court yards. Tiny footprints. A child’s. Perhaps a woman’s. Starting and stopping as if out of nothing and into nowhere. She must have walked through a puddle, or some melting snow. This little waltz by an invisible dancer. I held out my arms, a partner at last.

History As It’s Known In The Writing World

While reading some literary site about Amazon,, I came across the fact that “Harriet Klausner, an esteemed Amazon reviewer who wrote more than 31,000 book reviews, died”. All power to her – that is quite a feat. However, I took more note of her last name, one I had not thought of for a long time.

In my tenure as an author in the world, I have had four or five agents. And I am currently looking anew. At the far beginning of my time, before I was published, I had the New York agent Bertha Klausner – at the start of my career and near the end of hers. She started her agency before I was born and was working two months before she died in 1998 at the age of 96.

Back in those over the transom days, one stuffed typed pages into an envelope, sent them off with return postage on another envelope, and waited up to three months for a reply. And when it came back, you sent it out again. One of my envelopes went to the Bertha Klausner Agency.

However, when it came back, it had other people’s manuscripts in it, and (to my memory)  little handwritten notes politely saying no. Mistakes happen even at revered agencies, so I sent it all back explaining what had happened. She replied, with neither apology or thanks, annoyed that mistakes do happen and adding, “Say, you must have something. Do you want to send it to me?” Which I did.

As I said, communications were through slow mails (slow on her side, as with literary agents to this day).  I assume she was initially, both being polite though seeing some promise in what I wrote.

But after a year or so she said – in effect – ‘thanks but no thanks’, and I sent things to other agents and eventually sold my first novel by, indeed, sending it directly to an editor in New York over the transom,.

I don’t think I knew that Bertha Klausner had such a stellar career until I looked her up. An agent for decades, she had famous names like Upton Sinclair, Israel J Singer, Eleanor Roosevelt and Fidel Castro. She even represented actor Basil Rathbone.

I imagine I would have become a lost tale.

Dale Estey

Kafka Changes His Life By Leaving His Old Life Behind

Kafka did not really live in this tiny house on this narrow lane – his sister did.

And she did not really live in this tiny house on this narrow lane – she rented it so she could have a place to meet her lover in secret.

The secret was necessary because her lover was a Christian.

So the house was vacant most of the time.

Enter Kafka. He  started to go there (at the suggestion of his sister) so he could have a place to be alone. Otherwise he would be with his parents, which was not conducive to either his (or his sister’s) desires.

He never stayed the night, but was there most evenings for months. He wrote a whole book of short stories in his book The Country Doctor  while there.

I set a third of my novel about Kafka in this tiny house.
I’ve visited it.
Peered from the windows.
Looked up the stairs.
Ducked in the doorway.
When I was there while the country was still under Communist control, it was a book store.
But – Kafka being Kafkaesque long after death – none of his books were displayed.From Kafka In The Castle

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

02 November 1917

               I walked to Alchemist Lane this afternoon. It is not really a part of Prague – high and removed by its ninety-eight steps. A cold, clear day – much like the day a year ago when I accompanied Ottla on her mad little quest to see it. But not (as I had thought) for the first time. In fact, she had already rented it – something I’ve only learned these past few weeks. She had wished my approval, but she didn’t need my approval. I am glad of that.

     It was strange entering the courtyards, and passing beneath the spires of the cathedral. But stranger still was to stand at the mouth of the Lane itself, and look along its length. I could have been away for years, or returning to resume yesterday’s thoughts. I felt both. It was if I were at the station, but not knowing if I were arriving on one train, or departing upon another.

     The narrow lane was deserted, so I walked along its length slowly. There were new curtains on the windows of my little house. When I returned, I did pause before my old door, and glanced between the curtains to see that all of my furniture had been removed. Much as their owner.

The Ghost Ship Under Full Sail And Flaming On Halloween

As the Lighthouse Keeper

On Partridge Island

I see a lot,

Whether I want to or not.

And I’ve seen her before,

The Flaming Ghost ship,

On the dread of All Hallows.

But you never really know.

But this time,

Paw, my cat/kitten

Black as Satan

With one white mitten,

Saw her too.

And didn’t like what he saw.

But he’s a brave soul,

And didn’t leave my side.

So we stayed in the Tower,

And watched from the windows,

The light circling behind us.

The flames coming from the dark,

Full sails, all unfurled,

And all ravaged by flames

That never burned out.

And the deck,

And the gunwales

From prow to stern,

And the sailors.

Those poor lads,

Never consumed

As the full-of-flame ship

Passed the mouth of the harbour.

And what could I do,

But touch the life that was Paw,

Feel his fur, and his breath,

With one hand,

While I made a shaky

Sign of the Cross,

On my chest.

With the other.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2022 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report

Putin and Stalin Walk Into A Bar

~ Vlad, you murderous whore.

~ Josef, you cold, cruel killer.

~ Greetings and conquest be upon you.

~  My people are letting me down.

~ Oh – and a Happy Birthday!

~  You remembered.

~  Well, the way you’re going . . .

~  Yes?

~ It will be your last.

~ You think Ukraine can defeat me?

~ If it walks like a duck . . .

~  They are an army of pissants.

~  And quacks like a duck . . .

~  They survive on American guns.

~  And swims like a duck . . .

~  They were lucky to sink ships.

~  Vlad, listen to Uncle Joe.

~ Yes?

~  You are going to have to duck.

~ The Russian people will defend me.

~  Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

~ Yes?

~ Tzar Pretender!

~ Yes?

~ I know the Russian people.

~  Yes.

~ I slaughtered them by the millions.

~ Yes.

~ Enjoy your birthday – while you can.

DE  BA.  UEL

Putin And Hitler Walk Into A Bar

~ Vlad . . . Vlad . . . You have learned nothing.

~ Adolf – the times are different.

~  Oh, Mein Gott – the times I said that.

~ I’ve learned from you, Adolf.

~ Vlad – you can’t even take the fucking Ukraine.

~ They will fold.

~ They’re kicking your Kremlin ass.

~ I will regroup and . . .

~ You’re losing men. You’re losing guns You’re losing tanks.

~ I have imposed conscription and  . . .

~Tanks!  When you’re losing tanks – you’re losing.

~ I’ve got missiles that are carving them to pieces.

~ You slaughter civilians but you are losing troops.

~ I am getting more.

~ Vlad! I ended up putting children in the trenches.

~ They are valiant fighters and . . .

~  Vlad! Even I didn’t believe my own bullshit.

~  I am the new Tzar! I will prevail!

~ Vlad. Winter is coming.

~ Cold and snow isn’t going to  . . .

~ Vlad. I know about winter.

~ You did not have my power.

~ Holy Vladivostok. You are going to lose your whole country.

DE BA. UEL

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