Saturday, July 4, 2015

Night and Solitude and Silence

Ambrose Bierce:

From the vast, invisible ocean of moonlight overhead fell, here and there, a slender, broken stream that seemed to plash against the intercepting branches and trickle to earth, forming small white pools among the clumps of laurel. But these leaks were few and served only to accentuate the blackness of his environment, which his imagination found it easy to people with all manner of unfamiliar shapes, menacing, uncanny, or merely grotesque.

He to whom the portentous conspiracy of night and solitude and silence in the heart of a great forest is not an unknown experience needs not to be told what another world it all is -- how even the most commonplace and familiar objects take on another character. The trees group themselves differently; they draw closer together, as if in fear. The very silence has another quality than the silence of the day. And it is full of half-heard whispers -- whispers that startle -- ghosts of sounds long dead. There are living sounds, too, such as are never heard under other conditions: notes of strange night-birds, the cries of small animals in sudden encounters with stealthy foes or in their dreams, a rustling in the dead leaves -- it may be the leap of a wood-rat, it may be the footfall of a panther. What caused the breaking of that twig? -- what the low, alarmed twittering in that bushful of birds? There are sounds without a name, forms without substance, translations in space of objects which have not been seen to move, movements wherein nothing is observed to change its place. Ah, children of the sunlight and the gaslight, how little you know of the world in which you live!

- - - - - -

I repeat that Lieutenant Byring was a brave and intelligent man. But what would you have? Shall a man cope, single-handed, with so monstrous an alliance as that of night and solitude and silence and the dead, -- while an incalculable host of his own ancestors shriek into the ear of his spirit their coward counsel, sing their doleful death-songs in his heart, and disarm his very blood of all its iron? The odds are too great -- courage was not made for so rough use as that.

"A Tough Tussle."
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume III -- Can Such Things Be?
The Neale Publishing Company, New York, 1909.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pure of Heart and Bare of Body

Some have said that Nakedness
Is but a prelude to a kiss
From the great temptation-master:
Satan, source of our disaster.
Yet the Sages often find
That labyrinthine Humankind
Is more perverse than one may guess,
And in this blessed twistedness
A truth is found, and it is just:
Clothing is the source of Lust.
Truly have the Sages chanted
Words that cannot be recanted --

As above, so below:
Wrap thy gifts in mistletoe
And watch their eyeballs grow and grow.
But if thy treats are open fair,
Familiarity will glare
And soon obscure their passion's flare.

And there we have it: cloth and leather
Tug the heart beyond its tether,
But a smoothly naked beauty
Bores the mind and most acutely
Testifies that flesh is lacking.
Burn thy clothes and send sin packing!

But Is The Pay Any Better?

Even though decades have gone by since I worked in a hotel, I was mistaken for one of the staff this evening as I biked along the Rideau River, when a red-winged blackbird shouted, "MON CONCIE-E-E-ERGE!" right in my ear.

I thought, "Sorry, bird, I was never a concierge. I was a janitor, nothing more."

But then other blackbirds hollered, "Parapluie! Parapluie!" as if I were a doorman on a wet night.

So, yes -- I've been promoted!

Don't Ask

When I dream of my crossing a maze-like bridge between Québec and Ontario, and of being told by an unseen stranger to shift a heavy briefcase from one hand to the other, I can see how this might represent a lack of balance in my life. But when I dream of a helicopter being sexually assaulted by a tapir-nosed monstrosity... what the hell does that represent?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Song For Canada Day, 2015

As much as I would love to love my country,
I think we've had our 1933:
A two-man Reichstag crisis, ever tiny.
Now I could be deported easily,
And you could be suspected for a crafty
Barrier to business, just like me,
If only for concern about the safety
Of drinking water in the pipeline's lee.
And all these changes came because the blarney
Drowned the clamour of the public plea.
As much as I would love to love my country,
Its dying, now, is all that I can see.