Zdzislaw Czermanski, Samuel Beckett
Molloy: The Flip Side
In a din chamber Mother sets my vice Little bed of needles Have no fucking idea How I got here Someone called 911 Ma’s aide, maybe Sent him a strong current Checked the floor for balance He swears “no way” Hands over a few bucks And picks up the stack Tinfoil, tin darts. We jet And unravel evidence A nest of imports, so they say What’s what now: speak! Gotta check out soon Be done with dying While they read the signs Parrot’s mess, a broken sink My legs bid adieu Who am I kidding? Haven’t done Squat in weeks, can’t read His chicken scrawl; he barks “why not?” I write mortar for mortal Without wanting to correct My mistake like a stranger In a dark forest I piss on words “Vase,” “bed,” same struggle Only plusher. A relation of sorts I spawned one somewhere He’d be an old fart now Not the grand love you’re right See a pretty bonnet, a crumb I lifted her rug, so tiny And slanted toward a door If I’m not mistaken I’ve known him, my son, that is, Crap! I forget his name again The question bars my way Every stump every bit of damp Muck wants to be born All goes blank. Any minute now I’ll go bat blind, then the head An empty pot will follow Pain’s IOUs keep in my throat Where they make a fist as if To say we’ll show you Did you say what I think I heard? Fault? Boo-boo, blunder Slip up? Do you still use such slurs? At the instant, peep holes Like troughs drain light Leaky little eaves in the bed of the sea Then neither tavern nor black weeds Only A and B in an empty field Till the cow drags its ass home It’s the fixity of the empty set A bit self-conscious of standing in For twisty bleak road ahead No doubt about it. There were two Of them; they had just met in a ditch Wearing coats because of the weather The brute mezzo of stomping feet Beneath means nothing yet But at dawn they’ll speak some It’s not like they’re buddies Waiting for a pint or a handshake On the way to the office The treason of hills Finds a path no doubt From his bedroom Where he guesses Flanks, crests and valleys Rise, indigo, even Even if it were the caverns Of his heart—that black Crevasse he roams at night Pressing his stick, I’m ashamed To say, once level and stout Now a mere shadow where I crouch But this cigar in the breach Like a corkscrew in my guts Sand, ashes and dust of fallen things The fuming hand, mangy skin; alright, I stink. My crutches scrape as I try to Ask him, please, the this and that East of history, I missed stuff The very alphabet, large glass Somebody left in the alley Shit! I hate talking about myself Since every I is a he. Look, he split! Should I be watching him still? To row in silence toward The world of objects is to wish A story resembled them but better Whereas I’m at bottom I mean literally, that’s my crib Somewhere between scum and mire B, isn’t it? Among chariots And the rah-rah of carts leaving Town before dawn; it could happen Then a series of bangs taps out Next part, fraps as with ropes or cables Nightly mares that race mad around the bend I wonder what the hell that means Let’s blow this joint—I’ve got places To be—my mother’s, to be blunt about it No need to remark a certain blue Hour when I mount the shaky Premise I’ll call hereafter a bike And don’t ask me how I tie my crutches Nor how I pedal with one leg—slightly Less stiff than the other—ah! the little red horn Who gives a rat’s ass! Who hears The crakes’ awful racket in the grain Fields, a chain of events I imagine Within the strict compass Of my journey caked with Darkness, sans sex sans parent The thing is mother and I— My shitty start—are so old now We’re like two sere fucks on a rail Dilapidated ma, Mag Hello, Caca Countess! Poor fit of flesh and bone We’ll skip the introductions Go straight to the empty sweep Of eyes, knobby knees pressed Together and the manic lift Of her dentures: a short rap to The skull means yes, no, maybe I mime the answers with my hands Lest she mix up the banknotes For that crust of bread she shoves in It’s not her money I’m after Gray soft sac and yet I’ll crawl Back like a mugger in the night But enough about her! Let’s go To the funky road bazaar at the Edge of town, purple flowers A little further on, mark the way Vats and papers in the traffic isle Like pastry doilies I vaguely think Oh no! The copper wants the other Paper with my mug on it; it’s the law He says for richer or poorer, lame or not Up to the station we must go; I remember That much—the air is kind under the blue Sky of the policeman’s eye Could it be the quarter Of slaughterhouse, gaslight And blunt instruments? Forget about it! I told you I have blanks in this area Minus the fact I’m dying To sit down although It’s a canned image Blue and gold from before The somber soil saw a crisscross A fan of figures from liquid To coarse crooks shuffling in place In the aha moment that follows I blurt out “Molloy’s the name” Sure, I’m sure, Mr. Commissar Roughly speaking though free To go I understood my body’s Dumb trespass on decency Does nothing to ease the long Theory I sit on like an abandoned Subway station, toothless and lost To the world of putrid chairs Blanched façade and the hazy Cut-out of me and my bike All that nonsense at the precinct Like kicking a dead horse Excites my hunger big time Hold on! Now comes the famous Passage of sucking stones I move From pocket to mouth and back again A suggestion of cinnamon Passes my senses, the most Stranded of organs left high and dry Hobbling I make for the ditch’s Empty bed under white hawthorn A fistful of grass on my tongue Take it easy, pal! You can Still spread your toes and hear The wind howl. It’s not over Till the fat lady sings or the flies buzz Or someone draws the blinds Or whatever the fuck that’s scary It’s not that eerie hour’s martyr light Nor the stone remains of a house In the slow effacement of a name But just before a singular night There by the side of a canal Full of shadows against my thoughts 1. Source text. Samuel Beckett. Molloy. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1951.
Franco-American poet and playwright, Chris Tysh is the author of several collections, the latest of which is Cleavage (Roof Books). She is on the creative writing faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her latest play, Night Scales, will be produced at the Studio Theatre in Detroit (April 2010) under the direction of Aku Kadogo. Her website is christyshpoet.com