Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Why I like Al Tuck

He arranges three glasses
of whisky on the piano stool. Then
the piano player wants to sit
down, so he carefully arranges
them on a small cushioned seat.
He leans back on a high chair
wearing a velvet jacket that shows
his wrists. He is concentrating on
a small brown guitar.
And he sings a slow song that
I thought had the line "beneath
the snow the unborn christ"
but was of course "unborn grass",
though I still imagine jesus
lying quietly under the snow.
And he sings this song so quietly
and long that it is only late into the
eighth minute of it that we
recognize it as "Snowbird".
Spread your tiny wings and fly away.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In the middle of thirty women talking

We're shoulder to shoulder at the
best party of the year. One of those dangerous,
catered parties, where waiters refill
your glass, so you can't count your drinks.
An extravagant party where the furniture
is hiding in rooms upstairs. There is
dancing in the coachhouse. Women are grinding
the parmesan cheese on the dance floor,
where smoking is permitted.
I broke my hand, she said, falling
off a horse.
Women arent allowed cheese, her friend
says. They have to be skinny all the time.
That's how the French women stay skinny. This,
from a third woman.
Curiosity, the woman who had fallen
off a horse said, is its own reward.
I dont think women get their vulvas
stared at enough. That was one woman
to the boyfriend of another. I guess it
was advice. She hadnt broken her hand falling off
a horse. That was her new story. She
had broken her hand doing dishes, but that
answer was not Tolstoyan enough.
She had her glass filled with the
Chardonnay that was not Australian.
The hardwood floor had electrical
outlets where the lamps would be
if the furniture had not been moved.
There was a joke told about how Jesus
saves. And takes half damage. It's a
joke I cannot uncloak but someone
at this blog will decipher for me.
Guests had removed their shoes, but,
like me, put them back on at around
midnight, to combat the naughty
shoed company that dripped their
evil outdoor melt. A fantastic party. It's
always a good sign when youve barely
spoken to a man all night. When the
beautiful women in their twinkly
sleeveless outfits or even their
smart dark numbers seem to fill the
air with the cotton of their exuberant
joy. God do I love that cotton.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It sat under the kitchen table,
bleeding. Was this a mouse. It was
a big mouse. It sat there, panting,
dripping. The rat trap upside
down beside it. The long coil of tail.
Dark and tapered and touching the
baseboard. The kitchen tiles are eight
inches square and the tail was longer than
a tile. The tail was precise and
clear, what I mean is, it did not
have fur. But it was dark under
the kitchen table. We'd set the traps.
The korean grocer was a little shocked
when I brought the traps up to the
counter, as if he didnt know he carried
rat traps. One night we'd heard gnawing. It was
tremendous gnawing. And I flicked on the
kitchen light and the two avocadoes had
been gouged, the squash had teeth marks
and two bananas in the bunch had a strip
of banana out of them the way some
people eat corn, in a row. That was rat
behaviour. But there hasnt been a rat
in the building in the eighteen years
that our friend on the first floor has
lived here. But this was evidence of rat.
And now I had a stunned rat on my hands.
I went for the hammer. It saw the move
for the hammer and decided. It trotted.
It went for the hallway. And down the
hallway it bled. Under the bed it went.
I moved the bed. Little footprints of
red out to the living room, behind the
Christmas tree. I followed the blood
trail. I moved the tree. It lumbered
over to the couch, dying but energetic.
I moved that heaviest piece of furniture
in the apartment. A smear of blood that it
had sat in on the hardwood under the couch.
Then we lost it. And we cleaned up rat blood.
And went to bed. An hour later its claws woke us,
loping down the hall to the kitchen.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

dinner with oblonsky and levin

I'm carryng two fillets of turbot,
two dozen oysters and a nine pound
capon. there's a pound of parmesan
too. It has the word parmigiana on
the yellow rind. I'm on my way home
to cook the lunch that oblonsky and
levin have in anna karenina. It's
been driving me nuts, this lunch.
They arrive and the waiter pours
them a vodka with a piece of smoked
fish. Then a fresh tablecloth is
laid over another tablecloth. And
they sit and eat oysters, champagne,
vegetable soup, turbot and capon.
Roast beef is mentioned in the menu,
but the waiter does not read it back
to them, the things theyve ordered.
And I have a woman arriving for lunch
who will not eat mammals. The turbot
sauce has absynthe in it. The oysters
are malpaeques. The champagne is from
a man who I was on a shortlist with,
and just before the winner was announced
he suggested whoever wins gets the other
a bottle of champage. It's Krug champagne.
There's also white wine. And dried fruit.
But when the capon hauls itself out
of the oven, my guests are a little
overwhelmed. They have dressed as
Russians, but they have not brought
their Russian appetites. I serve it
on a plate made in the USSR. I'm
telling you there's barely a dent
out of it.