Monday, September 10, 2007

Attack of the crazies


The thirty-fifth issue of brief, New Zild's longest-persisting avant-lit journal, has been turning up in mailboxes this week, much to the displeasure of my old foe, Anony Mouse. After Wellington writer Harvey Molloy gave the new issue a plug on his blog, Anony Mouse turned up the heat in the comments box:

Aren't the people who run that journal a bunch of Auckland crazies? Their work eludes my understanding but, hey, I'm only 78.

Age is no excuse for ignorance, my dear mouse. You ought to get in touch with new, superefficient brief editor Brett Cross and buy a subscription, so that you can psychoanalyse scribblers like Jack Ross, Liv Macassey, Richard von Sturmer, Jen 'slash 'n burn' Crawford and Michael Steven-Arnold at your leisure. Matt Kelly's cover is worth the price of the new issue on its own (Matt and Ellen Portch should go into business together).

As a teaser, and no doubt also an example of mental abnormality, here's a poem I was lucky enough to sneak into the new issue:

A Dream (for Ted Jenner)

I feel stupid, cooking a feast like this, even after fasting for a week. A whole chook, caked in gravy thick as farmyard mud. Cobs of corn the size of forearms. Potatoes as big as fists. Perhaps I should set a place for another diner?

I pissed the worm out of Lake Malawi. I remember stumbling out of my tent and down a clay bank, then aiming the yellow stream into dark water beside a big rippling moon. ‘It was at the embryonic stage, then’ the specialist explained, scratching his second chin. Small enough to shimmy up a jet of piss, all the way into my bladder, my stomach. ‘It’s a little bigger now.’ Agreed. The thing looked like an extra intestine. I pushed back the X-ray and retched into an imaginary bucket beside the door. ‘You needed to see. It’s feeding off you. There’s only one way -’. I retched again.

I fill my plate, sit down, open my mouth. Perhaps I should say grace? What harm would it do? Dear Lord, I thank thee, I think to myself. Not quite right. Dear Lord, we thank thee. I can feel it now, uncoiling, loosening its grip on the lower intestines. Smelling the hot chook, the gravy, the buttered cobs, remembering the taste of food after seven days’ famine, sliding through my stomach, into my oesophagus. For what we are about to receive. Filling my throat, pushing greedily between my jawbones, filling my mouth, sliding over my trembling tongue toward the table and its mountainous plate. Suddenly I close my mouth, and cough, and retch. In a second the worm recoils, sliding backwards down my throat and through my empty stomach, until it sits still again in my intestines, an indigestible meal.

I stop retching, and part my lips again, but before the worm can respond my right hand begins to move by itself, picking up a fork and shovelling a potato into my mouth.

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