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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

Circles Within & Circles Without Are The Answers To All The Questions

Perhaps it is circular, but this observation, from an admittedly unreliable observer in one of my short stories, has been continuously popular over the last few years. It has even surpassed interest in Kafka. Wot the Franz?

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

“Circles are the answer.

“Just look at any circle and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, no one else is to know about the circles. They must be very stupid if they can’t see something so obvious.

“Yet, you get hints, don’t you – all the time out there. And in your own life – the way things happen so you never get anywhere. Never change.

“The earth, of course, and the sun – well, that’s something you can see. Either way you look at it, the one goes around the other in a big circle that takes in the whole sky. And the earth and the sun and the moon are round  – all circles in their own right. So you have circles which are going around in circles, if you get my meaning.

“And if you look further – reach out into the universe as far as you can go – they tell us that everything is going around everything else. Smaller circles and elongated circles which take in such large distances that numbers become forgotten.

“Now, this means that everything, eventually, comes back upon itself. The beginning is really the end. That’s what most people would think – and that’s where they make their mistake.

“You see, things don’t start by beginning – they start by ending. It’s the end which comes first in a circle, so, instead of going back to where it started, it comes back to its end.

“That explains it.”

Me And The Queen or is that The Queen And I

Don’t get me wrong – Her Majesty didn’t even know I existed. Didn’t know my name. Couldn’t have picked me out of a lineup.

But, Her Majesty has been a constant and strong part of my life. This was aided and abetted by the fact that my Canadian father was a staunch monarchist (he volunteered for the Canadian army at 31 years of age to defend England from Germany. My mother was an English war bride. The monarchy was in their blood.

I’ve had five live views of Queen Elizabeth.

During my first, as a child, I got lost in the crowds who were also present. I confess I don’t actually remember ‘seeing’ the Queen. She was in a cluster of people in the far distance. But, I am rather proud that I was able to find my way back to our hotel on my own.

At university the Queen visited the campus to have a meal. I saw her pass in a motorcade.

My most significant encounter (which I will class as an encounter) happened when she visited the provincial legislature. I managed to get close to the main entrance of the building and hoped to take pictures. I did not succeed with the photos, but realized I was not far from the Royal car. I moved to stand near it and wait for her to leave.

When Ii saw The Queen leave the building, I got as close to the car and waited. I was not watching her progress, but was trained on the car door she would enter. Just as I saw her walking toward the car, I put my eye to the view screen. (No iPhones in those days). She just came into view when someone walked right in front of me. I looked up, ready to say something rather negative. It was Prince Philip.

Next time, the Queen was to unveil a monument in a historic park. I thought I got there in plenty of time, but the crowds were five deep. But I did see her.

And, finally, the Queen was in Halifax Nova Scotia for the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. The ceremony was on National television. I was able to watch a good deal of it on TV, then gauged when the ceremony would be coming to a close. It was a long event, with a Naval pass by of many ships.  I got down to the harbour, knowing which dock the Queen’s ship would tie up to. But, not only did thousands of other folk know this, but the Security Services had created a No Go Zone near that dock. I did see her. but just as she came down the gangplank in the far distance.

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

In fiction, Her Majesty has graced two of my novels. Yes, I will relate one such encounter from Being Famous.

The soup bowls, with their attendant spoons and plates, are whisked away from all the tables, and conversations begin to occur throughout the room. Now the woman to ST’s right leans toward him. As a vase of flowers partially obscures her place name, he can only tell that she is Lady Holmes hyphen.

     “I’m very interested in your work.”

     “It’s interesting work to do.”

     “But then – “

     Lady Holmes hyphen leans very close to ST, revealing an intriguing décolleté, and breath which indicates the wine steward has not been her only source of wine this evening. 

     ” – perhaps interest in your work can be taken to extremes.”

     “You haven’t written a book, have you?” ST’s smile is moderately genuine.

     “Not about Space/Time.” Lady Holmes hyphen adjusts her gown in a manner which actually reveals more flesh. “And it has yet to be published.” She could not be offering more if she held a serving plate beneath her breasts. “I wouldn’t mind your help on a chapter or two.”

     ST is not without interest. He is spared the task of making any response, when a hand from off stage of the lady’s right is laid heavily on the wrist of his conversational partner. With a sigh and a shrug (which causes interesting motion within the revealing gown), she swivels away.

     “Are you enjoying yourself?”

     “Yes, Ma’am.” ST turns toward her voice.

     “Good.” There is a rustle of napkin across the Royal knee. “Although I do hope the poor girl doesn’t catch a chill.”

     The next item on the menu – and ST notes they have yet to hit the main course – is Berner Rosti, upon which sits a quail’s egg and a teaspoon of caviar. Does one scoop up the caviar on its own, or does one mix it about with the potato and the egg?

     ST decides he would like the taste of the caviar to be exclusive, so he pushes it onto the plate, and consumes the rest of the dish. Then, with a (fresh) glass of white wine to wash it down, he savours the salty sea taste.

     “It meets with your approval?”

     “Yes, Ma’am.”

     “It is Oestrova caviar. A subtle difference from the Beluga.” 

     “Ma’am?”

     “Yes.”

     “Has Your Majesty ever had golden caviar?”

     ST has asked a question.

     Not only is this a breach of Royal etiquette, but did he not himself advise her bare weeks ago to rein in the Royal answer to questions. Still, he is almost the guest of honour, and it really could have been a bomb. And her own royal wine steward does nothing to hamper his quest to alleviate his thirst. A thirst (he could point out, if asked) exaggerated by the consumption of caviar. 

     “A taste to remember.” She looks down somewhat wistfully at her plate.

     “I have long wondered, Ma’am. Does golden caviar actually possess the colour of gold?”

     “Oh, yes.” She glances at him. “It is a most exquisite shimmering gold” A small smile crosses her face. “It outshines the gold pot in which it is served.”

     “I must say, Ma’am, it sounds exceptional.”

     “Yes, it is.” She places her hands in her lap. “The last which we received came from President Gorbachev.” She again sits back as her plate is removed. “Isn’t it strange how people come and go?”

     The main course is Canon de Venaison Farci Sauce Fines Herbes.

     Bambi.

     ST would like to leave his place, scurry down the length of chairs, give Howard a jovial pat on the back (or a nudge in the ribs) and point this out to him. Admittedly, it is neither a steak nor a chop, but a whole saddle of venison, stuffed and sauced. Still – a hunk of deer is a hunk of deer.

     But, he decides it would be unwise to even glance in Howard’s direction.

     Accompanying the venison, along with the Pommes Nouvelles, are Courgettes Farcies A La Mingrelienne. This poses a mild problem for ST, for he is not fond of zucchini, no matter how they are stuffed or cooked.

     For some reason, this particular deficiency of his palette was a great failing in the eyes of wife number two. And, although she is not present to point out his shortcomings, he decides to follow what he knows would be her preference, and eat them down without hesitation.

     Is this not why God created wine?

     And anyway, the venison makes up for everything.

     It is as he finishes his last mouthful of stuffed zucchini (the fennel makes it almost palatable), that a Royal hand is placed close to his own. He immediately turns.

     “We shall introduce you before the cheese.”

     “Yes, Ma’am.” ST glances at the menu, and notes he will precede the Baked Brie in Puff Pastry. 

     “We shall be brief.”

     “Ma’am.”

     “It is customary for you to then say a few words.”

     “As few as possible, Ma’am.”

     “You return to America tomorrow?”

     “The first flight of the Concorde.”

     “I would like to express my thanks for your advice.” She leans ever-so-slightly closer to him. “There has been a decided lack of errant Windsor tales in the media.”

     “The power of the closed mouth, Ma’am.” ST gives a brief smile. “Silence can be as golden as caviar.”

     “And as rewarding.” She smiles in return. “Also, please accept our additional thanks for being here tonight.”

     “My pleasure, Ma’am.” ST suddenly laughs. “Happy to fill the space.”

     “Well put.” The Queen unexpectedly laughs also, causing some heads to turn. “We are relieved that you had the time.”

This Is A TEST

This is a Test  

But not “the” Test

If it were a real Test

It would need

An answer
Or two

Or multiple choice

But It isn’t.  

It is a test

To announce Something,

Or,

To warn about Something,

Or,

To warn about a Warning.  

A test basically to say,

*IF* this was a test.

Then get your shit together,

Or bend over

And kiss your ass good-bye.  

That is all.

DE BA UEL

 It is that type of test.

Six Ex-Wives Meet At A Dead Husband’s Funeral

EXCERPT FROM “There Was A Time When The Stones Were Not So Smooth”

#1-and-only husband has – in truth – not fared well under the ministrations of the Undertaker. Yes, she would recognize him, but she would wonder if he had died of some wasting disease. Perhaps the effects of the gas poisoning produced changes, though Alison Alexandra assumes the whole dying-in-your-sleep thing would make you look at peace. Perhaps he had not been found for quite a while. These are not questions she is going to ask, but he would have been annoyed about the way he looks. He was not a vain man – his standard comment about his own appearance was that ‘he wouldn’t cause a cow to have a miscarriage’. However, he was certainly showing his death.

“Should I introduce you?” asks the lawyer.

“Time consuming,” says Alison Alexandra.

Time consuming or not, it is quickly evident the other ex-wives are interested. They are happy to leave the corpse and settle around her.

“Which one are you?” The youngest woman touches her arm.

“Yes, what group do you fall into?” A heavily made-up woman leans closer. “Are you an Alison, or an Alexandra?” She laughs nervously. “I hope you’re an Alexandra like me, because we’re outnumbered.”

‘I both help and hinder your cause. I’m Alison Alexandra.”

“Well, fuck me gentle.” A woman, more sternly-tailored than the lawyer, holds out her hand. “We’ve hit the mother lode.”

“The Dayspring From On High Doth Visit Us.” A broad woman puts a chummy hand on Alison Alexandra’s shoulder and pats her. “Our Sisterhood is complete.”

“We hope so.” A woman with riveting eyes and uniform grey hair taps her teeth as she speaks. “Is Alison Alexandra the end of our merry – or, is it married – troupe?”

“Lawyer Croft?” The heavily made-up Ex points with lacquered finger. “Is she?”

“Of those who will attend – yes.” Iris Croft hesitates. “There is one deceased.”

“Oh – who was she?” The youngest Ex is excited. “An Alison, or an Alexandra?”

“There’s a story there, I’m sure.” The lawyer looks directly at the youngest Ex. “But I do not know it.”

“What do you mean?”

“She was neither an Alison nor an Alexandra.”

“Well – that’s a devilish turn.” The broad and friendly Ex now pats the lawyer on the shoulder. “What was her name?”

“Amanda.”

“He couldn’t get enough of ‘A’s”” The severe and grey haired Ex forces a smile.

“Where did she fit in?” asks the youngest Ex.

“Just before you.”

‘Well, I guess that didn’t last.”

funeral,widow,widower.ex-wife,death,history,life,Alison Alexandre,novel,marriage,“What happened to her?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“She died of heart failure.”

“Jeez Louise.” The youngest Ex is startled. “How old was she?”

“It had nothing to do with age.” Iris Croft wonders if there is any confidentiality to break. However, the Ex was not her client, and both principals are deceased. “She had a genetic heart defect, discovered at autopsy.”

“What was she like?”

“I never met her.” Iris Croft spreads her hands. “Just as I have never met any of you until today.”

“But you asked to see Alison Alexandra.” The severe, grey haired Ex speaks quickly. “What was that about?”

“It’s not for me to discuss.”

“Well…” The severe Ex turns to Alison Alexandra. “What’s it about, then.”

“She doesn’t have to tell us anything.” The heavily-made up Ex steps forward. “I have no plans of getting personal.”

“But it is kinda personal.” The youngest Ex smirks. “We all fucked him.”

“And he – us,” says the severe grey haired Ex.

Alison Alexandra would like to avoid squabbling among the members of this odd club. She doesn’t mind telling them her beneficiary status as regards the houses. They each had received the financial rewards of the houses they lived in. It’s no skin off their noses. Or hers.

“I get the house in the will.”

“What?” The severe grey haired Ex looks at all the others. “Did you marry him again?”

“First in/last out?” Alison Alexandra laughs. “Nothing like that. I was his default beneficiary for each new house – until he married again.” She decides not to tell them that she got to inspect each new house first.

“So you kept in touch with him?”

“He kept in touch with me.”

“Just about the house?” asks the youngest Ex.

“Yes.” Alison Alexandra will allow one truth to cover much territory. “Not even a Christmas card.”

Kafka Plans An Escape From His Life

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. 

############################

19 June 1917

           I arrived here tonight far later than usual. I had been on a day trip for the Institute, dealing with a court case for a few hours. I was in the station at the furthest reaches of Prague, waiting for the last train to bring me downtown. A taxi would have been more efficient, but I found myself in no hurry. I walked around the station, and found myself staring at the Departures List. All those places, with many trains still passing into the night. Bern. Copenhagen. Florence.

     I had a large amount of the Institute’s money with me (I had won our case), and all my travel documents in order – the war can be circumvented by bureaucrats. I think it was just having all that money which gave rise to such ideas. I realized that, with the right explanations, even London was possible. If I so desired. I had it all arranged in my head. The official letter I would send to Max, before I left the empire, authorizing him to pay back the Institute from my bank account. I had even figured – accurately – the interest to add for each day up until next Monday. And I knew I could trust him to tidy up my other business matters – my apartment, and this tiny house.

     I would tell him to destroy all my manuscripts – he could use this stove. Other letters I could write from other places – to Ottla, to F., to my parents. I thought that I might even be able to eventually make my way to Palestine. That would meet with Max’s approval.

And the trains kept departing before my eyes, one, and another, and another. They were not even crowded, the hour was so late.

And then, there was my train. Back into Prague.

I was the last one on.

The Monarch Of The Lighthouse

I try to hoist the Union Jack

By sunrise,

And lower it by sunset.

I am not always faithful

To the former.

This morning, I was slow to the mark.

The sun was fully risen

In the East.

The colours caught the sun

Part way up the mast.

However, my chagrin was overtaken

By the antics of my cat/kitten,

Black as the disappeared night

With one white mitten.

I call him Paw.

So I went over to see

What was what.

He was huddled over

A folded Monarch butterfly,

Getting warmth from

The flag stones,

And much the worse

For wear.

It stood firm on its feet,

And stayed upright when the wind

Ruffled its wings.

Paw sniffed around, but kept

A respectful distance.

The smell of Death,

I suppose.

Still,

That Monarch has lasted out

The day,

And might still be present

When It is time to

Lower the flag

For the night.

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

For World Oceans Day: She Had God In Her Feet And Angels In Her Summer Hair

I visit wharves and gaze out to sea.

It is a pleasure that took hold some ten years ago. I don’t know why, for I certainly had experience with oceans and coast long before that. For some things it seems its time just comes.

I prefer small working ports, gritty and smelling of fish and lobster and ocean. The scurry and comings and goings (though I also like them in the evening when most work is done). I walk the docking between the boats and peer from the end of the wharf. I ponder distant shores or endless sea and screaming gulls with sometimes seals and whales and archaic Blue Herons.

Last night, when I thought the wharf was my own, a man, woman, toddler and dog arrived. They seemed to do much as I was doing, though they knew the owner of one of the fishing boats. The man was gruffly talkative, the dog was rambunctious, the woman apologized for the toddler’s dirty face and the little girl didn’t quite know what to make of me. Friendly and chatty but she wouldn’t take my hand as I offered to walk her up a gangplank.

I left them on the docking between the moored boats and started to walk on the wharf itself.  The fishing boats and the docking were parallel to the wharf.  I was half way along when I heard a shout. I heard the dog. I looked over and this is where life becomes art becomes life. It was a Kodak moment. It was a Motorola moment. It was a ‘freeze frame/real time/fast forward’ moment. It was a composition/edited moment. It was all these things which came to my visual mind. All this and the knowledge that there was no way I could get there if I was needed.

The little girl was going for the gold. She had God in her feet and Angels in her streaming hair as she raced between the moored boats. Her dirty face was wide with excitement and it is probably the happiest she has been in her life. The man was restraining the dog and the woman was in athletic pursuit. They raced between the boats and the mooring lines and the tools of the fishing trade. The dock swayed in the movement of the waves.  I could not believe the swiftness of the child. The woman finally took what seemed to me a runner’s stance and eventually grabbed the exuberant child. I heard, over the water, admonishments of what could happen if she had “gone under a boat.” All – of course – true.

But the dog understood.

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