LUCIFER: Princeps

As part of the research for self’s novel-in-progress (about a 25-year-old Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines — in 1756 — to fight demons), self haunted the Atlantis Bookshop in London, last summer. Atlantis has books on every supernatural subject you can think of: witches, gnomes, fairies, elves, ghosts and, yes, angels and demons. It’s a wee little space on Museum Way, off Great Russell Street.

Met a woman who asked, of all things, about the Hukbalahap (Communist insurgency in the Philippines, most active in the 1950s). Not even Filipinos ever bring up the Hukbalahap. Will wonders never cease?

So, self is reading the chapter about sacrificial goats (as opposed to sacrificial lambs, how refreshing) and is reminded of something her Hong Kong writer friend, Maloy, told her: never pick up a stray umbrella, especially if you see one on a rainy day.

The chapter of Lucifer: Princeps self is reading is about Hittite ritual (Hittites are in the Bible. Believe Nebuchadnezzar was one? Or maybe he wasn’t. Sometimes self’s memory is very spotty):

p. 70: . . .  Hittite ritual describes how a woman transfers the evil onto a mouse, which is then released.

Which, in connection with the stray umbrellas her friend Maloy warned self against picking up: People who are having a spell of bad luck sometimes leave personal items — like umbrellas — out in the open for unsuspecting strangers to pick up. When another person picks up the umbrella, the bad luck gets transferred to them.

Self will never forget how, just after Maloy shared her story, a furled umbrella came bumping tok-tok-tok down the giant outdoor escalator (We were going to Maloy’s apartment, which was on the Mid-Level. Can you imagine giving an address that goes xx-xx, Mid-Level, Escalator x, Hong Kong?) Self just stared at it in total fascination.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

(Then the God of War) by Jehanne Dubrow

In Witness, the Trans/lation Issue:

after Mary Barnard’s translations of Sappho

Bragged that he could drag off
my husband in a metal box,
which in his hands would be

more toy than new technology,
a plastic warship in a rising tub,
and Ares a toddler climbing in,

splash of bubbles, soap, bashing
together boats. What little brunt
it takes to sink a floating thing.

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of five poetry collections, including Red Army Red (2012) and Stateside (2010), from Northwestern University Press. Her new book, The Arranged Marriage, is available from University of New Mexico Press.

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