Poetry Saturday: Ernest Hemingway

We ate well and
cheaply and drank
well and cheaply
and slept well and
warm together and
loved each other

For Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. These are the women (prose) authors on self’s 2020 Reading List:

  • Liane Moriarty
  • Diane Gabaldon
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Mathangi Subramanian
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Jung Chang
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Sally Rooney
  • Peg Alford Pursell
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Dacia Maraini
  • Shahrnush Parsipoor
  • E. R. Ramzipoor
  • Elizabeth Tallent
  • Sadie Jones

Also: Caroline Kim-Brown’s short story collection, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, coming this fall: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts. You can read the title story now, in Ms.Aligned Vol. 3.

Women self has read so far 2020:

  • Dodie Smith
  • Katherine Addison
  • Jia Tolentino
  • Kathryn Ferguson

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED opens with . . . war?

And here self was expecting a fantastically elegiac escape into the English countryside, but no . . .

When I reached ‘C’ Company lines, which were at the top of the hill, I paused and looked back at the camp, just coming into full view below me through the grey mist of early morning. We were leaving that day. When we marched in, three months before, the place was under snow; now the first leaves of spring were unfolding.

Another surprise was that it’s written in first person. So how is Waugh going to pull off writing erotic when his first person is stuffy English? Something happens, she does know that, lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Evelyn Waugh, 1959

from the Preface to Brideshead Revisited:

  • It was impossible to foresee, in the spring of 1944, the present cult of the English country house. It seemed then that the ancestral seats which were our chief national artistic achievement were doomed to decay and spoliation like the monasteries in the sixteenth century. So I piled it on rather, with passionate sincerity.

He wrote the Preface in 1959 (Brideshead Revisited was written in 1944) and it’s even truer today, 60 years later.

Stay tuned.

Oxford in the Early 1920s, “Before the Fall”

from Frank Kermode’s Introduction to Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh:

  • The beauty of the city itself, in the days before it was quite ruined by the motor car, was enhanced, at any rate for its transient occupants, by its being an almost exclusively male community. Waugh remarks that few of his contemporaries had ‘any serious interest in women’ though ‘very few have developed into homosexuals.’ They were in some respects, he said, sophisticated, in others barely adolescent.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday Photo Challenge: CONNECT

The Challenge:

What the world needs now… No, I’m not breaking out into a Hal David and Burt Bacharach pop tune! During this time of social distance, it is more important than ever that we connect with one another. I thought the theme of Connect might make a lot of sense. So, your challenge is to capture anything that either connects or with which you feel connected. 

Self deliberately searched for pictures that show connection despite absence of people,  as a way to honor Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “shelter in place” order for California, her home state.

We will get through this!

20191108_105017

A London Bridge

DSCN9984

This copy of David Copperfield was read over 60 nights in a cave during Captain Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic: On exhibit in the Charles Dickens Museum, London

DSCN0271

Fowey Hall, Cornwall, May 2019

Stay tuned.

“Spores” Part 3

More sorting! More profanity!

As self has already said, written in Dublin!

Thanks again to decomP for publishing this, 2016!


Now K making delicate noises over there on her side of the table.

“The fuck is this—?” I exclaim. My fingers are snagged on a Changeable. “How did these get in with the others?”

K stops. Looks guilty. Bends her head to have a closer look at what I have in my right hand. “Oh,” she says. And starts to hum. Even though her voice is low, I think I hear her say “lash” and “blood.” She swats the Changeables out of my hand, as if they were nothing. “Leave them,” she says. Against the white-tiled floor, they look dove-colored. “I’ll take care of them later.” She notices me gaping. “Seriously,” she says. “I’ll take care of them.”

I’m shaking. She isn’t afraid. Of him. She looks at me again. “I know, R. I know.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you—” I say.

“Come on,” she says. “I’m mad. Mum says I could drive anyone to…well, you know.”


K has very quick hands, I must say. I hate those slimy Changeables. They’re rascally, which means they’re quick to mutate, and almost impossible to spot. If only three or four of them had gotten through—oh, they come after ya.

My jaw starts to ache, as if the boss had just landed another good one. But now he never has to, and he knows it. Trembling at just the memory.

K nonchalantly scoops the Changeables up from the floor, with her bare hands. I’ve never seen anyone do that before. She really must be crazes.

Her fingers are an angry, violent red. They must hurt terribly. Either that, or something has killed off her nerve endings. Or she just wants to die.

She nudges the door to the ovens with her left boot. The door slides back with a rusty groan. The fire is hungry and seems to lap out at her.

“Watch out—” I say.

But by the time I get the words out, she’s dumped the Changeables into the oven and slammed the door shut again. This whole time, I’ve stood rooted to the same spot.

“Hello?” K says, snapping her fingers. Then points to the table. “Shouldn’t you be arranging those Poriales? Into brackets?” She adds, for good measure, “You lousy Common!”

I finally smile, though feels like my face is breaking.


Next post will be longer: I’ll post the whole second half of the story.

In the future, mankind is dying so reproduction is controlled by the State, and it’s very hierarchical: Earthstars mate with Silverleaf, Common with Common, etc.

Trigger Warnings: Under-Age, Non-Con

“Spores”: Part I

This story, originally published August 2016 in decomP, is one of self’s favorites. decomP is no more, so self will post the story here, in sections. The story’s about violence, how it roots. How there are classes, even in the future. Earthstar is top class, and they can mate with Silverleafs. The bottom of the class hierarchy are Common. And the worst thing you can call another person is “lousy hedgehog.” (lol)

She was reading a book on mushrooms at the time. Which is how she got the idea for the story title. Because it’s about reproduction. In a world where humanity is dwindling.

Self loves playing with language. She wrote this story in Dublin. She’ll post Trigger Warnings in the later sections.


K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

“Me mum’s a thick,” she said once. “A focking thick.”

“Hmmm,” I said.

“She a root rotter,” K said.

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“Twelve pints one go. Honest,” K said.

K silent the rest of the day.

I’m weary of K. We have the worst job: growing giant polyphores, thousands and thousands of them, in little paper fans studded with 4-micron ova. The fans burn our fingers. Burn like sulphur. We have to wait hours for the new skin to grow back. Fingers never feel the same, after.

We can’t leave the room until Growing’s over. That means days. We’re the slowest team in the whole White Zone, the boss says. Probably even the slowest in the whole planet.

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. Where those words come from, I don’t precisely know.

“We be needing foxes,” I say once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss says, giving me a good one. My right eye swells up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gives me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.


Part 2 posted here.

Poetry Saturday 2: Kyi May Kaung

MR. SMOOTHIE

from the chapbook Pelted With Petals: The Burmese Poems (Alaska: Intertext, 1996)

This is what
you’re paid to do
spin doctor to put
a good
surface on
things —

your side says
we’re rude —
you’re recognized
by the UN
no less
defacto —
you don’t lose
your temper – polished in your
polyester
suit – cheroot burn in your
tie – big hole in the center –
but remember
truth is sometimes ugly
often ugly —
lies can be beautifully
crafted —
the smoothness of a surface
is not our criterion
lies make us angry – we shout –
blood comes out
through our
nostrils and
all our
bodies’
other
orifices —
what can be
uglier and more
truthful than
blood.


Kyi May Kaung received her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. She is originally from Rangoon, Burma and has written four collections of poetry and an allegorical novel, She Monkey Goes West, which was a finalist for a Pew Fellowship for fiction. Much of her poetry addresses oppression in Burma, now called Myanmar, as well as the experience of being a woman in relation to others.

Self’s Dystopia

From First Life (Juked, July 2015)

Ku Ling’s Rule: First Life began in the Dome.

Nervous? Her asked.

I nodded. Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

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