Meredith Quartermain's most recent book, Nightmarker (NeWest), explores the city as animal behavior, museum and dream of modernity. In another recent book, entitled Matter (BookThug), she playfully riffs on Darwin’s Origin of Species and Roget’s Thesaurus. Vancouver Walking won the 2006 BC Book Award for Poetry. She is co-founder of Nomados Literary Publishers.
fabricate what would come to be unreal and more real – a creamy morality that would automate. A concoction, a contraption. A buggy for stallions. It would have cosmic friction and helium arteries. The stallions would gossip over pyramids of gears, and the buggy would have wings. It would write itself in iron ink while the stallions, Bucephalus and Pegasus, recounted wars with chimeras and Indian kings.
How did you get those two-legged things on your back, Bucephalus asks. Minerva's golden bridle, Pegasus murmurs, I looked so good in it, excitingly winding around me its magnetic flux of elastic vibrations – until I threw off Bellerophon and kicked in the Helicon which they now call the horse fountain – ah, blushful Hippocrene with beaded bubbles. And you, dear ox-headed friend, with your great eye that conquered Persia, Anatolia, Syria and Phoenicia – Judea, Gaza, Egypt and Mesopotamia, how did they get on your back?
I was afraid of my shadow, Bucephalus neighingly laughs, but Alexander kept me away from its beaters and fly-wheels and flappers and pistons – I said to my shadow, Be gone! vamoose! and stormed the Persians at Granicus – and my shadow decamped – until I found its kingdom on the River Hydaspes – my shadow puffed up 10 times my size, its nose like a tree, ears like battle shields, and long white teeth clawing the cavalry – the stench of my shadow was foul, and my shadow had multiplied – there were 50 shadows – I charged my shadows, biting and kicking like immortal Xanthus at the siege of Troy, but I fell with 4000 foot soldiers – and my shadow reigned.
She would. And she did.
You’ll take me as I come. I slick the streets, shush the wheels. Splat the plaid and black umbrellas. I hammer. I belt. Dribble and drip. On hair, on slicks, on sodden shoes. I laden twigs with dropkins, darken walls, glisten roofs, douse the feathers of chimney-hunching crows. Not the house that Jack built, not the mason that laid the brick, nor the architect that hired the mason, nor the god that hired the architect. I swamp a vacant lot, its concrete steps to nonexistent bungalow. Beat its absent window-panes, its haggard shrubs with batter, pound, and thump. Knock its dearthy lack of shingles, its truant walls. Hulloo, anybody there? Here’s weather-words for nobody-ness. Master Void and Madam Vacuum. Lord and Lady Emptiful. How do you do? Enchanté. What a splendid tabula rasa, what grand views of Non-attendance Peak! I don't mind a glass of No-man's-land champagne. And yes, I'll have a plate of null-set cakes in hearthless nothinghood. I'm not unhappy you're unamused with this nonentity naughtdom. Please may I inconsider myself negatelessly at your antidisposal, your sublimely abyssful blankship.
Through this door you'll find my social science wing shelving aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins twice removed – my statistical bureau a.k.a. birth, ABCs, marriage, number of corn-flakes, toasters, irons, TVs, microwaves, hair curlers munched – my public relations' input-output, my wage-farm disability, childhood strikes and lockouts – pleasant peasantry, passenger freight in my wireless railroad, my secondhand cyclical warehouse of convenience psychology and shopping malls' chamber of coping skills. My odd-fellows' transvesticals, charity and life-saving accidents, once homeless, my teenaged blindness, my intemperate prison psychology, detectives, and correctional drug habits.
Now we turn to my technology branch including sanitary engineering, explosives and pyrotechnics. Feel free to browse the mobile food-processing servants running my living vehicle. Survey my soft furnishings, the mechanics of my weather instruments, while I construct tunnels and bio-acoustic floods. You can skim through my plasma. I have a fine collection of applied disasters. A first edition of my inland navigation. And look at this waste reclamation plan with hydraulic dust-jacket – soon I'll have fur, rubber, and leather volumes in my textile zoo. And every edition of powerplant apparatus, its translations to circuitry and plumbing. These decorative bindings bring conditioners from all over the generator to fondle my sewing machines.
This bay holds my will and choice including spirit messages, clairvoyance and human-alien encounters. What fabric softener have I not emoted with genius and class genetics. What cheerful ridiculousness and vain fastidiousness, with my friends / enemies, flattery and guilt, stitching up the most rational climate. You'll learn how I control adulthood with applied hallucinations, mesmerism and hauntings. How ancient, medieval, and modern projections possess me with epistemological souls for space, time and matter. Next to ethics, I've placed etiquette. Customs and costumes. Party stunts and puzzles. Swords and parachutes, maneuvering the phallic tropics with the latest neutralities. Not that I wanted gabardine or burlap. Or this shantung leatherette. For my seamless galaxy. No, far from it. It wasn't at all what I'd imagined.
hides in a cave, a brother destroyed her rice fields, threw a skinned horse on her looms, a brother seduced her, a blind brother shot a bear and she got the head, he got dog meat, she goes under the world to the dead, sees with eyes of the dead, she cuts off her breast: sear it, eat it since you love my body so much, Sun grieves, faithless man-moon fucked her daughter, her morning star, dance dance for her amber tears, show her your breasts your vulva, build her a birth canal, a winter crack in megalithic hill, toothless Sun: strike my head into the well, Sun gouges her eyes: take them since you love them so much, o mirror mirror her wells, urns, brush her bloody sockets with rushes, your hair burns, you bulge huge, tabbycat, o rage rage red – princess in the sea, steal her, eat an egg but don’t break the shell, leap to the fire, in the wolf’s teeth, ladybug ladybug fly to your spinning troll luminous Saint Lucidity eating winter babies, give her pancake wheels, give her white doe’s blood on birchwood braids, skin of the doe stretched hooped, sling-shot her house, steal her bag of thread, drive o drive your chariot over Olympus, µέδων Medea Medusa.