Fishers of Boys

"The Secretive Fishermen"

It is dusk now, and the secretive fishermen
are trolling for boys on the highways
north and south of here: a tradition.


there must even be times
when it is almost perfect, in its way: two strangers,
each of them a tourist exploring the Mexico
that is the other's body. It can't always be
as sad as dusk for those lonesome travellers.
Alden Nowlan (1933-1983)

And so for day 1667

Hearing from Before After

This is the effect of reciting the lover's name as heard by the lover.

This is not pride
because I know
it is not
my name that you whisper
but a sign
between us,
like the word
that was spoken
at the beginning
of the world
and will be spoken again
only when the world ends.
Keyword: "like". Symbol plugged into the relay of simile. And short-circuiting. "This is not that word / but the other / that must be spoken / over and over / while the world lasts."

Alden Nowlan "The Word" in Selected Poems (Toronto: Anansi, 2013).

And so for day 1666

Soil Preparation

Ursula Franklin on civic engagement.

She likened her approach to activism to what she called the earthworm theory of civic engagement:

“From earthworms we learn that before anything grows there has to be prepared soil. When we talk about the endless process of bringing briefs and information to government, the only thing that can keep us going is the notion that it prepares the soil. It may not change minds, but it will provide the arguments for a time when minds are changed. Unless there is that prepared soil, no new thoughts and no new ways of dealing with problems will ever arise.”
Worth taking the time to digest.

And so for day 1665

Subtile Sotise

James Lipton in the expanded second edition of An Exaltation of Larks or, The Venereal Game documents the following


This term confused me greatly: of the sergeants I have know, very few were subtle, and I couldn't believe human nature had changed that much in a mere five hundred years. And so I began a slow search through dusty library stacks for the secret behind a sotelty of sergeauntis. I found it at the end of a very long list of definitions in an exceptionally musty volume. "Sergeant," the book said, was "a title borne by a lawyer." Case dismissed.
And embellished with this bit from the French

Au XVe siècle, courte pièce satirique interprétée par une compagnie locale d'amateurs, les Sots […] Les sotties, essentiellement satiriques, étaient jouées par les Confréries joyeuses, collectivités locales d'amateurs, comme notamment la Basoche, association de clercs, ou les Enfants sans souci ; elles représentaient les préoccupations de l'époque, tant sur le plan politique que sur le plan social. [Nicole QUENTIN-MAURER, « SOTTIE ou SOTIE  », Encyclopædia Universalis]
The link to the subtle sergeants is via the Basoche:
The Basoche was the guild of legal clerks of the Paris court system under the pre-revolutionary French monarchy, from among whom legal representatives (procureurs) were recruited. It was an ancient institution whose roots are unclear. The word itself derives from the Latin basilica, the kind of building in which the legal trade was practiced in the Middle Ages. [Wikipedia: Basoche]
It was the spelling "sotelty" that put me in mind of the sotie. And so is born a false etymology.

And so for day 1664

Moose Crossings

A tale of two endings.

Alden Nowlan. "The Bull Moose" collected in Selected Poems with introduction by Susan Musgrave.

When the wardens came, everyone agreed it was a shame
to shoot anything so shaggy and cuddlesome.
He looked like the kind of pet
women put to bed with their sons.

So they held their fire. But just as the sun dropped in the river
the bull moose gathered his strength
like a scaffolded king, straightened and lifted his horns
so that even the wardens backed away as they raised their rifles.
When he roared, people ran to their cars. All the young men
leaned on their automobile horns as he toppled.
A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus's hot hood.

Towering, anterless,
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us
"Perfectly harmless. . . ."

Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
childishly, softly,
"Sure are big creatures."
"It's awful plain."
"Look! It's a she!"

Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
grand, otherwordldly.
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?

"Curious creatures,"
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r's.
"Look at that, would you."
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,

by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there's a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline.
Elisabeth Bishop. "The Moose" collected in The Complete Poems 1927-1979.

Both primed for a compare and contrast exercise.

And so for day 1663

Leaf Lost

Joanne Page
"Gravity" in the sequence Codex in Flight
Persuasion for a Mathematician

Today the subway stalled between Davisville and St. Clair, affording a clear view of the cemetery. My grade five teacher used to take us to the graveyard for the trees. Over a hundred kinds, she said. My parents are buried there. the only stone I visit says Lost. Nothing more.
This passage resonates for me for it is on a walking tour of Mount Pleasant Cemetery that I first saw a majestic katsura. I go less now to visit since there is now in our backyard a tall specimen.

Its show of spring bronze, summer green and fall gold offers opportunity to get lost in a different sort of way.

And so for day 1662

Litanies of Lust

Allen Ginsberg "Please Master" (1968) collected in Angels of the Lyre edited by Winston Leyland. This is the beginning:

Please master can I touch your cheek
please master can I kneel at your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I gently take down your shorts
please maser can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
And it goes on repeating the "please master" anaphora but it varies it and it gets more and more explicit.

Jeffrey Beam doesn't vary the beginning of any of the lines to "dickEssence" and carries the variations on a theme through a marking of race. From the middle:
My dick worshipped by a coco gallant tattooed with my name & mimosa charm
My dick idolized by a pitch-black amigo tattooed with my name & reckless charm
My dick venerated by a coffee-colored cupid tattooed with my name & seductive charm
My dick revered by a sweet caffelatte amoroso tattooed with my name & boisterous charm
My dick cajoled by a cappuccino darling tattooed with my name & holy charms
To be found in The Beautiful Tendons: Uncollected Queer Poems 1969-2007.

And so for day 1661

Not the Precursor

E.B. White "Here is New York"

The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.
All over the World Wide Web are comments on the prescience of this passage from a 1948 essay. These retrospective prophet seekers lack an historical imagination (and the willpower to do a simple search on planes, buildings and popular culture). For it is evident that the informing event is the crash of 1945 into the Empire State Building. And there's a 1977 book by Arthur Weingarten The Sky is Falling.

And so for day 1660

The Mechanism Called Teat

Often fascinating in sci-fi is the description of technology. In this case a nutrient dispenser:

Tears-crying was for face-liquid. It was useless, or rather useful only as emotional expression. It was a waste product ... (and she had been right in the first guess about twin eyes!) ... and then the further realization that the great size she had at first attributed to the bottle was relative only to the babe. The thing was a reasonably-sized, sensibly-shaped storage container for the nutrient fluid the babe and child called milk; and it was furthermore provided with a mechanism at one end designed to be sucked upon.
Judith Merril "Homecalling" in Daughters of Earth.

And so for day 1659

Slip Slippage

Harryette Mullen. Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge

At one point in Trimmings there is a set of pages with on the left a passage dealing with slips which culminates in Freudian ones and on the right is a passage that enacts slippage of a dreamwork if not Freudian sort.

[…] Without permission, slips out the door. a name adores a Freudian slip. Night moon star sun down gown. Night moan stir sin dawn gown.
Daybreak breaks the night via the slightest of vowel shifts.

And so for day 1658