Thursday, November 7, 2019

Call It the Prior Future or the Posthumous Present

  • I goofed, double-ordered the below from the publisher, want one?

  • I vouch.
  • First-timers who've never got a book get until twenty-four hours dibs, then it's first come first served amongst those of you who do all the time.
  • Rest in peace, Stephen Dixon, whose fiction, forgive me, I admire more than I like, though fuck me, I probably haven't tried in ten or so years, short story at bottom
  • Dixon short story, In This One
  • Today's links tomorrow or not, not clusterfucking (here) today
  • Found my Peter Jefferies CDs last night looking for my Dixon novels



Marvin Bell

1. About the Dead Man's Recent Dreams

Call them ravaged castles in the air.
Think them fancy, fantasy, reverie, or romance.
Dismiss them as head trips and chimeras.
He sees them day and night, call him a woolgatherer or stargazer.
He cannot stop seeing what is not there.
Call it the prior future or the posthumous present.
For his sight when asleep is that of a brain loosed from the mind.
The dead man shuffled the deck, he crumpled the map, he trashed the tea leaves.
Now he must strain to hear the springy squeaking of life among the deciduous messages of fall.
Think him the fool, if you like, the one who closed his eyes to better see.
For now there is only the sea sweeping.
There are only the clues left gasping when the tide recedes.

2. More About the Dead Man's Recent Dreams

The dead man's dreams disappear in the light.
They make no promises, they are the body's dance, they are happenstance.
Who has ever died in his dreams and told?
He cannot see the face of the one whose hand reaches for the door.
And have not many of his visions taken the bit and run from view?
He has tried repeatedly to go to sleep in his dreams.
The dead man is not one to go flying when asleep, he is grounded.
He has walked hot coals, lingered among auras, and be taught if one says a thing three times it will happen.
Wake up, he has said to himself, wake up, wake up.
He has blamed his dreams on the hours, on life, on a bite of sweets.
He knows that dreams are not an effect but a cause.
Last night he spoke aloud the word "joker" but does not know why.
He dreams of living forever for a few minutes at a time.


Stephen Dixon

His wife dies, mouth slightly parted and one eye open. He knocks on his younger daughter's bedroom door and says "You better come. Mom seems to be expiring." His wife slips into a coma three days after she comes home and stays in it for eleven days. They have a little party second day she's home: Nova Scotia salmon, chocolates, a risotto he made, brie cheese, champagne. An ambulette brings his wife home. She says to him "Wheel me around the garden before I go to bed for the last time." His wife refuses the feeding tube the doctors want to put in her and insists she wants to die at home. She says "I don't want any more life support, fluid or food." He calls 911 for the fourth time in two years and tells the dispatcher "My wife; I'm sure she has pneumonia again." His wife has a trach put in. "When will it come out?" she says, and the doctor says "To be honest? Never." "Your wife has a very bad case of pneumonia," the doctor tells him and his daughters the first time, "and has a one to two percent chance of surviving." His wife now uses a wheelchair. His wife now uses a motor cart. His wife now uses a walker with wheels. His wife now uses a walker. His wife has to use a cane. His wife’s diagnosed with MS. His wife has trouble walking. His wife gives birth to their second daughter. "This time you didn't cry," she says, and he says "I'm just as happy, though." His wife says to him "Something's wrong with my eyes." His wife gives birth to their daughter. The obstetrician says "I've never seen a father cry in the birthing room." The rabbi pronounces them man and wife and he bursts out crying. "Let's get married," he says to her, and she says "It's all right with me," and he starts crying. "What a reaction," she says, and he says "I'm so happy, so happy," and she hugs him and says "So am I." She calls and says "How are you? Do you want to meet and talk?" She drops him off in front of his building and says "It's just not working." He meets a woman at a party. They talk for a long time. She has to leave the party to go to a concert. He gets her phone number and says "I'll call you tomorrow," and she says "I'd like that." He says goodbye to her at the door and shakes her hand. After she leaves he thinks "That woman's going to be my wife."

1 comment:

  1. 1) on your blogroll right now at "the asylum" - a link to a review of a "comic novel about depression and collapse" - rabbits for food

    in the late 1970s i prepared rabbit cacciatore a couple of times

    the supermarket i went to then sold 'pel-freez' brand frozen rabbit

    i am reminded of a poem translated from goethe - "cat pie" - now findable among some other interesting stuff at

    2) re the 'wife in reverse' poem of stephen dixon

    a) the strict reverse chronology seems to get jumbled a bit later in the poem - i would rearrange the sentences, or else break it into stanzas

    b) the general theme of forming an enduring pair bond is the focus of a korean drama series spouse and self are watching on netflix - 'one spring night' - next up for us is episode 10 of 16 - each show is a little more than an hour - i enjoy reading the synopses and analyses of these sorts of shows at the blog

    c) earlier this week i sang with the choir at the funeral mass of a wife and mother, a much loved member of our choir - she had cancer for about three years

    d) as is my custom, during the ceremony i repeated the words and went through the motions despite my skepticism about the promises of paradise - to paraphrase whitman -

    am i a hypocrite? very well, then, i am a hypocrite; what matters most is sincerity - once you can fake that you've got it made

    e) or the relevant lines from 'sweet baby james' - maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep - singing works just fine for me

    f) the carrivick sisters - they're english