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A Birthday Present For Kafka – Party On!

kafka_mimi
(sweet baby Kafka)
03 July is Kafka’s birthday and –  I forgot.
I could say (without any honesty) that I am distracted by COVID-19 and all the changes (some of them fundamental) which are happening around me. {I had my own two week self-isolation to deal with}. BUT Kafka not only lived through the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, he contracted the disease. And he survived, even though he already had the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him six years later.

But, this morning, a Twitter respondent from across the Atlantic reminded me. I have already thanked her. So, I will repost my Kafka Birthday blog.

First, is the letter I have written to him (as yet, unanswered).
Second, is the diary entry I gave him for his birthday, from my novel, Kafka In The Castle.

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

My Present / Your Future

Still in this World

A Life Away

Dear F:

You would find it perverse to be wished a “Happy” birthday, but your response would be gracious. Such is the reality you understand, and how you deal with it. I have found that your reality is actually real.

Although it will give you no pleasure – well, ‘little’ pleasure – you are correct in all your observations.

Governments become the tools of the bureaucracies which run them. It doesn’t matter what type of Government, from the monarchy under which you lived, to the right wing horror of fascists that called themselves socialists, to the inept socialism pretending to be ‘for the people’. All three governments held their sway over the city where you spent your life. All three oppressed the people they ruled. All three looked after themselves first.

Writers are either writers or they aren’t. The urge to write encircles one like a snake around its prey. Feed it and it won’t quite squeeze you to death. You can not ignore it – even at your peril. It is with you every hour of every day, ever inquisitive and (sadly) always looking for something better.

Love is a see-saw of extremes. Every high guarantees a low. Every low reaches for a high. Every high reaches for a high. When these hills and valleys are eventually levelled, they are still desired.

Sex is highly over rated. The thing of it is, even rated fairly ’tis a consummation devoutly to be had. Yes – I know – you appreciate Shakespeare. On a par with Goethe, even if you can’t bring yourself to say the words.

People are just one damned thing after another. Of course, so many people have brought you blessings, you throw up you hands to ward off the snake. And sometimes – some few times – it loosens its grip.

There is no castle with walls thick enough to hide against the perils of being human. Which is why you never tried.

Except the grave, of course.

Except the grave.

Yours,

D

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

03 July 1918
 
The anniversary of my birth.
 
In celebration of the day, I did not make it my last.

When They Poured Across The Border / I Was Cautioned To Surrender ~ L Cohen

ctm-0806-canada-us-border

I crossed the border yesterday, in this time of Pandemic. On an intercity bus. Restricted to nine passengers. At least I had a seat to myself.

The last time I crossed a border under threat of reprisal was decades ago. I entered (and left) Czechoslovakia (as it was then called) by train. I had gone to Prague to follow the footsteps of Kafka. Then the concern of authorities  was all about smuggling. Dire consequences that could put you in prison. And, on my way back out of the country, I was subject to a random search. Open my luggage, and spread what items the soldier decreed upon the seat and aisle, as he poked and prodded. He took interest in an object ( I forget what it was) which quite quickly could be seen to be a commercial souvenir. Thankfully. My careful packing had then to be shoved helter-skelter back into my luggage. Better a jumble than a jail.

So, crossing the border in the same country in this time of Pandemic was not as filled with anxiety, though anxious I still was. Although travel restrictions are being loosened and (at least in this neck of the woods) the Curve is being flattened,

Death stalks the Land / and keep washing your hands.

I did change my seat once, because a passenger changed seats to “have a better view”. That seat was across the aisle from me.

I was handed a form to fill out by the bus driver at a transfer station (nearly empty of people) to give to the border guards if they asked. Apparently they did not ask for it all that often. Where are you coming from/where are you going to. Name. Full address. Reason for travel. Do you have any symptoms?

So, with mask in place (well … a lot of the time  – though always when off the bus) I had a reasonably pleasant trip on a reasonably pleasant day. Lots of elbow room. There was an hour’s delay at the actual border. When it was the turn for the bus, no officer actually did board to check us out. Or take our forms. However, the driver handed his PA microphone out the window so the officer could tell us that: “Anyone breaking the fourteen (14) day quarantine upon arrival was subject to a $1,000 fine.”

I’ve got thirteen (13) days left.

 

[image] https://cbsnews2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2018/08/06/8ae2e881-5500-4b09-876f-e1cf5bdecaad/thumbnail/1200×630/bda4ff327e62a7e92030aad7cc2e1693/ctm-0806-canada-us-border.jpg

A Flash Mob of One

flashmob

It is difficult to be,

Or, to do,

(Hard to say which is more accurate)

A Flash Mob of One.

Particularly the alto parts.

But that is all

Which is allowed

In these times of

Pandemic.

Six feet (two meters)

Apart.

Multiplied (x)

By who knows

How many people.

So,

Ya gotta be community safe

(So much better than sorry),

And do it all yourself.

This does, however, make those

High-kick routines

Much easier to

Choreograph.

(image) https://reputationtoday.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/flashmob.jpg

 

 

To Wear A Jolly Hat

colorful-fedora-hat-more-colors-10

 

Oh, to wear a jolly hat,
 
An impressive chapeau,
 
A trendy  topper.
 
And be:
 
The host of the neighbourhood,
 
The toast of the town,
 
The Crème de la crème.
 
The bee in the bonnet,
 
The bee’s knees,
 
The cat’s meow,
 
The font of celebration
And good cheer
 
To direct,
 
Like a traffic cop
 
In the midst of
COVID constraint
and
Rambunctious chaos.
 
All those
 
In their honking cars,
 
With balloons
 
Tied to door handles
 
Or streaming
 
From
 
Open windows
 
 
Fiddling
(figuratively)
Whilst Rome burns.
 
 
Bringing cheer to those,
 
Trapped upon their balconies,
 
 
Daring not to go down
To the parking lots of life.
 
 
Except
 
(of course)
 
For those few
 
– well, not so few –
 
Who leap over constraints;.
 
Social order;
 
Good health
 
&
 
Metal fencing.
 
To grab at
 
Proffered gifts,
 
And bestow upon
 
Friend and family alike
 
The hugs
 
And
 
Kiss
 
Of Death.

Hunting For A Mailbox And Finding Jesus

 

The Coronavirus makes strange bedfellows. Or – maybe not. World wide doom, and destruction, and Jesus perhaps go hand-in-hand. The One is there to cancel out the other.
 
At any rate, yesterday I was in search of a mailbox. To mail an actual letter. It is possible it was the first *actual* letter of the year. And a bit time sensitive. There was no going to the Post Office, it being Sunday and a Pandemic to boot. So I went searching for a local mail box.
 
I imagine at the best of times I’m not fully aware of the closest mail box. There used to be one at the closest gas station, but that had been totally renovated and the mail box removed. The next closest was at the local Mall, but walking there revealed the Mall was closed, since everything inside was closed. So a search began.
 
It made sense that any area where there was a grouping of buildings might have a mail box. Passing a Donut Shop (open to take-out only) and a Library (closed) and a bar (closed) yielded nowhere to mail a letter. However – in the distance – down the hill and across the road, there seemed to be a stark red box. It was in front of a large Seniors Complex. Perhaps Seniors mail more letters. Investigation eventually showed it was a Mail Box, and into its maw went my tiny envelope. To be picked up next day. So I hope that has now happened.
 
On the way back, after a well-deserved sit on a bench in a small park (more than two meters / six feet away from anyone else), upon  coming closer to home, music filled the air. Guitars and drums and female voices singing (at the first encounter) what sounded like Joan Baez songs.
 
However, upon entering a new street, it was apparent that the large church, with its commanding view of the city, was having an outside church service in their expansive parking lot. Cars parked a safe distance apart, with men wearing orange safety vests making sure the rules were enforced. The musicians and singers were under a portico at the front of the church, and they were belting out hymns aplenty. Heard, I am sure, across much of the city..
 
I’m sure Jesus was clapping along.

Was It A Full Moon of the End Times – Or the Beginning?

first-supermoon-in-april-2020-see-the-biggest-and-brightest-pink-full-moon-happening-on-apr-7

What sights indeed are these,

That turn all tunes into rhapsodies of joy,

And make the moon do gypsy dances

Through the night sky?

A sky of stars

That shower and shake and stream

Across the galaxies,

To cram unto the ends

Of the distant universe.

Grains of sand upon the shore

Need sensitive fingers,

And a lifetime of counting,

To fill this distant space where

The very numbers stand in awe.

Zeros with mouths agape

 

[image] https://1734811051.rsc.cdn77.org/data/thumbs/full/364038/650/0/0/0/first-supermoon-in-april-2020-see-the-biggest-and-brightest-pink-full-moon-happening-on-apr-7.jpg

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