See the walking dead
And the carcasses piled high
Like wood on bonfire night;
Clothes, shoes, hair and jewellery
Neatly stacked in separate heaps
Gaunt history staring us in the face
Confetti droning overhead
Gently napalming young bodies
Delta-Mekong dots on the map
Gone to fight the yellow man
Burning deserts erupting
Below technology-laden skies
Timed for peak viewing.
Scorched earth, scorched body;
What’s the difference?
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN US IS A ROOM
Somewhere between us is a room
It has six sides and no roof
‘Why is it open to the sky?’ you ask
I myself wonder why
But rather than show my ignorance
I say it is because it has no door
‘But I am in a wheelchair’, you say
‘I cannot be expected to pole vault myself inside’
‘I can make it four-sided’, I say
‘And we can use the two spares as ramps’
‘But it is eight foot tall’, you wail
‘Okay, forget it’, I say
‘It was only for a coffee anyway’.
“Authors’ complaints about publishers have been voiced on many different tunes, but their concert generally amounts to endless variations on the same theme: money. Either they moan piteously, like Henry James writing to his publisher: ‘The delicious ring of the sovereign is conspicuous in our intercourse by its absence.’ Or they thunder with foaming fury and throw colourful abuse like L.-F. Céline: ‘If you were not robbing me, you would not be conforming to my views of human nature.’ And, as his publisher had refused to increase an advance on royalties and advised ‘more patience,’ he retorted: ‘Patience is a virtue for donkeys and cuckolds! If only you could kindly wipe your arse with my contract and let me free to leave your filthy brothel!’ Yet screams merely betray powerlessness. Georges Simenon, wanting to rescind an agreement that had proved disadvantageous to him, resorted to different tactics: he achieved his aim by putting to good use his intuitive knowledge of the human heart. The novelist assessed how much it would be worth for him to redeem his original contract; then filled a briefcase with banknotes and won his negotiation simply by emptying the briefcase over the publisher’s desk”. Simon Leys
WORDS OF WISDOM
I am fed up picking my own brains
From now on I intend
To pick other peoples’
Writers, I mean
Well, the good ones anyway.
Write sober, edit drunk, said Hemingway
Or was it the other way round?
Only a blockhead writes for anything but money
That, I believe, was Samuel Johnson.
Hey Sam, in case you didn’t know
The world is overflowing with blockheads nowadays.
And then there was that other asshole in NY
Who said that the best way to get a good book published
Was to write one.
Oh yeah, shitface?
Well, swivel on this
The only dead writer is a good one.