Screw Loose

September 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

White Zombie


A friend came over for dinner last night, and we had a nice time, nice pasta, nice salad, good wine, gentle words, but he left early, especially relative to my schedule: bed at 2 am, up at 10 am. I didn’t want to drink the rest of the wine and couldn’t focus on work, so I took a walk. Glorious night! The French-blue sky clogged with gray, slow-moving clouds; the persistent Quad Cinema; a store called Filaments, full of plump, excited lamps; and lots of NYU real estate. I realized how much the hot summer had debilitated me, pinning me to my bed to ready gory fantasy novels full of necromancers bringing the dead back to life (it’s very hard to get rid of them once they’re already dead: you must burn them or mince thoroughly), in between hours of work in the fake chill of the air conditioner…As often happens when I spend too much time without feeling physically well, I started imagining I was an automaton, or a person Who Once Was, that all the good stuff in life was over, and what’s worse, I was no longer entitled to complain.

I’m not entitled to complain. I will, though, when I figure out how to mask it better. Some pathetic ne’er do well minor character in the fifth volume of a series, a brilliant portrait of whining, petty why-me regret and greed…and, he’ll look nothing like me! No one will ever guess!

I’m remembering the good stuff now. Much of it is over. But memory has its pleasures, and if forced to watch football, one can always admire those tight, well-defined butts… I digress….When I returned from my walk, I spoke to a woman on the elevator, never seen her before, she was Southern and friendly in the old style, reminding me of the past and also reminding me of a time when I was full of excitement about strangers: who they were, how they lived. Yes, I know more now and the big surprises have been unveiled, or so I imagine. Really, who knows? Maybe the universe will turn inside out. Maybe I’ll become a button. Maybe wolves will run over the crusted snow endlessly, in a novel that is never finished, the words stopping just there: the wolves flowed like water over the untouched snow, their lean bodies merging into one shadow-colored, ferocious wave, the horizon removing itself invisibly…

III. MAD EXIT

They scare me by saying

There’s a screw loose in my head

They scare me more by saying

They’ll bury me

In a box with the screws loose

They scare me but little do they realise

That my loose screws

Scare them

The happy crazy from our street

Boasts to me

—Vasco Popa

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§ 2 Responses to Screw Loose

  • charles carrico says:

    Your description of wolves on the untouched snow would have inspired Jack London who, coincidentally, also had some screws loose:

    “…all the time I was striving to be a man amongst men… and all the time I nursed secret and shameful desires for candy.” – John Barleycorn (1913)

  • What striking imagery (as always) – the wolves running across the snow, sky ‘clogged’ with clouds, ‘plump excited lamps’. The opening of this reminded me of that Frost (?) poem about being ‘acquainted with the night’ – that sort of wild, free, solitary feel.

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