Everyone applauds the bravado of the average European, but few know of the delicacy of his temperament when it comes to the irritating influence of the insect. Why? Because throughout most of Europe, there are so few. When there are so few, one tends to become sensitive, perhaps even a little oversensitive. Certainly this is not the case elsewhere (see below). It is the case, however, throughout most of Europe, particularly in a place such as, for example, Fasano.
Were you to introduce say, an earwig, wasp or caterpillar onto the plate of a Fasonian next to a dainty delicacy of grilled prawn or pâte des foiés gras, they would in all likelihood return quietly though expeditiously to their dwelling, pack up their belongings, and depart to a place where such a thing would never happen again. How would they travel, you might ask? They would travel in one of those delightful European trains. However, were you to up the ante a little bit and place a tarantula instead of a common insect upon a plate of a Fasonian, it wouldn’t matter what else occupied the plate, or whether or not he was of faint temperament. Under such conditions, the Fasonian would expire in haste, at the table; sadly, there would be one place still available on that evening’s departing European train.
In stark contrast to the Fasonians, were one to visit the hearty, rugged environs of Turkey, the Danubian principalities and southern Russia, one would find insects existing in great abundance with a relationship between man and insect is markedly different, for the citizens there are deeply accepting of the invasive insect breed. There, workers salute them; songs are written about them; lovers walk along the quays lulled into fanciful thoughts by their purring; children befriend them; dogs do not eat them. Everyone understands the rôle of the insect in society; this is the manner of society in the abundant insect homes of Turkey, the Danubian principalities and southern Russia.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Turks, Danubians and southern Russians don’t hate insects. They do, naturally and understandably. But what choice do they have?
Wages are low. Food is bitter. Conditions are harsh. The weather is simply awful. And there are a lot of insects. They cannot leave and their trains are not delightful.
They could be, and they were in simpler time, but the citizens and the trains have since been ravaged by poverty, by time, by earwigs, by caterpillars, by wasps and sometimes, by tarantulas.
Poor Turkey. Poor Danubian Principalities. Poor Southern Russia. Poor tarantulas.
Vertigo, nausea, paralysis: that’s hemlock for you. Hemlock has not been lost to the ages, but now travels in a stealthier mist, the kind of mist you see on postcards of London’s picturesque spring morning before all the bombs fell on all the buildings in London, circa 1940 or so.
Hemlock is something that you could pass by on the street and say, as it passed, “Wait! Don’t I know you?” as though it was a comely fraulein. But before you could gather your senses, hemlock would have already passed, with a flourish of the cape over the shoulder, resembling, if only vaguely, Sherlock Holmes, walking like a comely fraulein and returning to the mist and the enchantment of stealthiness.
Hemlock: on its first birthday, it has no power in its leaves.
Hemlock: on its second birthday, it flowers; potent. Suddenly, in warm, moist summers.
The pervasive power of hemlock comes from the alkaloid CONINE, which looks like but does not sound like the name CONNIE. There is no Conine in Connie. Still, the extract and juices, by the design of skillful hands, become what it already is.
What does hemlock taste like?
1) No one can say. There are too many other things to think about first. I want to rest upon your graceful mountain.
2) It would be speculation. Perhaps a lemony martini, with a little spritz. I will be coming soon.
3) Some say their last thoughts are of cocktail cherries and paperback novels. That is where God will look for me.
In reduced potency, and under the guidance of skillful hands, it is an effective sedative. A warm, gentle, grey, northern mist.
Hemlock can be two things; we can be two things. One passes the other, unrecognized. One passes the other, recognized too late.
Both are misty. Both are elsewhere. Both are frauleins. Quickly.
Turn around. Touch them. Quickly now.
The one thing that you never do, ever, is put your face really close to the open mouth of a hare, or bunny. If you did, however, you would see, with your flashlight, four incisor teeth in the upper jaw, two in front, which are well developed and longitudinally grooved, and two exceedingly small ones behind. The molars, the industrious teeth of the bunny are quite good for taking care of vegetable matter, which bunnies of course love. The bunny suffers, though, because his teeth are not permanent.
Years ago, this was true for all mankind. At a certain age, you say goodbye to your teeth, and hello to your false teeth. Because everyone was so scared of this, everyone made jokes about it. They tried to laugh, but they couldn’t laugh without restraint because of that creeping fear that always seems to be there everywhere you go and every corner that you turn and in every face you see. And if someone were to make a joke at someone else’s expense, especially about dientes falsos, there was a good chance that they would be punched in the nose by someone already bereft of their teeth which they loved and now miss, and hence the hapless jokester would suffer for his boorishness while anyone who saw what had happened would laugh as well, nervously, thinking to themselves, “Thank God it wasn’t the teeth!” covering their own mouths sympathetically, some of whom had few or no teeth or the teeth that jokes were nervously designed about.
Like the hapless bloodied jokester, bunnies are defenseless, timid, and shy, yet that is where the similarity ends: for the bunny will fight to the death for a woman bunny. They are willing to lose their teeth, their lives, for their ladies. These are male bunnies, of course. And while the male is ready to die for love, the female is also ready to die. In her case, it is for her leveret, or brood, of which she has two to five a year. Let their be no mistake about it: the bunnies do love life, they are simple, church-going folk, and they cherish their existence as do all of God’s creatures. The point is, though, both man and woman are willing to die, one for one thing, one for another.
Interesting bunny facts:
the bunny’s fur can be white during the winter in northern countries, while assuming a reddish-yellow hue in the more genial climates of southern Europe.
It is fond of gnawing at the bark of young trees. On the first alarm of danger, it is said to sit erect and to reconnoiter.
The bunny takes readily to water. The bunny can be the perfect victim.
The bunny is protectively colored, man and woman alike, and live in places like New Mexico and Alaska, which is also where they fight.
Sadly, there is more unfortunate news where the bunny is concerned, and in this case it involves the Evolution Genius Charles Darwin, who loved interesting anecdotes and stories. One such anecdote, or perhaps instruction, that he loved to retell involved the bunny, and the catching of the bunny, related to him, according to Mr. Darwin, from an Indian from somewhere:
“Circle the bunny at mid-day, when the hunter’s shadow is the shortest. Continue to circle the bunny is ever diminishing circles until you are upon the bunny with your open hands, at which point you may clutch the bunny, or until the point at which, paralyzed with fear, the bunny collapses, dead, at your feet, never to be a bunny again.”
No, there is no reason to be afraid of putting your face inside the open mouth of a bunny. And there is no reason to fear the bunny. It is truly a timid, defenseless creature. It has teeth, but they are not important.
The bunny is your friend.
The bunny is a timid creature.
The bunny rarely make a sound.
There is a bunny mouth for every bunny.
Teeth are sad.
Everyone has their priorites.
The bunny must be your friend.
It is important to be kind.
Walking home, as a child, I used to say the word “jujube” because it was such a friendly, honeyed word. JUJUBE JUJUBE I would say, although the road was hot and there were so many cars that I thought that I would faint. At night, with no dog by my side, I would whisper Jujube Jujube to protect me from the dark, which wasn’t at all romantic--it was dangerous!
And the cars seemed to grow larger and the dogs had venom like the snakes that I read about when I couldn’t sleep and wanted Mother who was never there.
Mother was never there because she was a superhero. Her mask was raven-black and she had either a rope, which was magical, or some very fancy boomerang from elsewhere that she could throw that would sparkle and kill people or snarly dogs or even stop cars. Her eyes gleamed twinkly. Her muscles were tautly robust. Her waist was rocket-thin. Her breasts? You can just imagine.
As for jokes were concerned, she never told them. She had no need of books. Or Raisinettes. Or Twizzlers. Yes, of course she had a cape. It was pink, like a grapefruit after it is cut into small pieces--one that is, of course, pink to begin with.
Although I found great comfort knowing my mother was a superhero, recently I have begun to suspect that she might not have been a superhero. She might very well have been a construction worker or an airplane pilot. Perhaps a taxi driver or football player. She also could have been a species of aquatic life, or an aromatic appliqué. But not a waiter. When I look at a new movie, I feel nothing. When I look at an old movies, I think to myself, yes, she could be an old movie.
The Jujube is a kind of tree. Like a walk home from school, it has a spine that is straight, sharp, or hooked. It is mysterious; it is generous. It contradicts itself nicely; its fruit is acidic, albeit agreeable as a dream of any other thing. I could never show you a picture of it, for it exists solely elsewhere. Will the circle be unbroken. Cars may roar and dogs may bark and you may be filled with fear. Still, you can say it, Jujube, and it feels good on your tongue, as though you were eating it, which you can. It is all powerful. Night or day, Jujube is up to the job.
People often ask, what is Hell? Of course that is difficult to answer because life is good. It’s hard to imagine anything really terrible, Hell-level terrible. So people sometimes prefer to say, “What if life wasn’t good? What if you died and the new life was just the opposite?”
If so, we would all be reborn into a new life, the life of the hapless lamprey: cartilaginous skeletons, no limbs, no ribs, no jaws. Long, eel-like bodies with suctorial mouths. Scaleless bodies and nothing to live for but living anyway. We the lamprey could barely lift up our heads to say “hello” to our friends and neighbors and lovemaking would be something that we remembered when life was good. “Do you remember when life was good?” One lamprey would ask this neighbor. And yet no one would have the strength to answer, or the will. What is the point? There is none, says the lamprey, silently, to himself, not admiring his grey scaleless body in the reflection of the water which he is sorry to see cannot drown him.
Henry the First loved lampreys. He thought they were succulent. He was very open minded, especially for royalty, and especially considering the unappealing nature of the lamprey. He was as happy eating lampreys as lampreys were sad living as lampreys. Still, they are tasty, but sadly, but unfortunately, they are hard to digest. One day, Henry the First, who loved life and had great verve and substance and was nothing if not a lusty gourmand with a wispy beard, found this out in the most unfortunate of ways. Trembling, his eyes looked towards the heavens. His hands made futile fists. Delicious, he said, softly.
“Do you remember when life was good?” the lamprey often asks. And there is never any reply. All the other lampreys, who do not, are deep in thought, rolling their bodies to the surface, wondering when they will pass by the royal eye of adoring majesty.*
Mythology is always made up. And this is why it is so existential: you can make it up at any time. If you want to make up an entire world of mythology, it would take a very long time, I would suggest, ten years. However, if you are content to merely make up one story, that can be done in the time it takes to mow the lawn, if your lawn is about the size of a person’s lawn from the 1940’s after they came back from the war in order to start a new life in Levittown, or in the 1970’s when lawns were splendidly green, and very filled with hope left over from the 1940’s.
Mythology can also be something that you are not sure of and therefore do not wish to say “Here’s an interesting fact that I recently discovered” if in fact what you recently discovered was mythology.
The Japanese never named their own bays. They let the European navigators do it. “This is a bay here,” they would say in Japanese, “but it really doesn’t have a name. Why don’t you give it a shot?” They would say, and the European navigators would give it a shot. “Bay of Yedo--what do you think?” The Japanese would lick their lips. “Delicioso,” they would say.
Delicious Japan. She is a rare beauty filled with apples, walnuts, chestnuts, plums, persimmons, damson and tea. Maple, mulberry, camellia and cedar. Carrots, turnips, tomatoes and barley. Monkeys, bears, horses. Liars, lovers, laughing. Crying, meaning, walking, slowly.
There is always an ocean. There is always a bridge.
There is always a Japan. It is delicious. There are always Japanese. They
have bays: they may have or may not have named them. They stroke their
cotton candy beards. You have to wonder if it matters. They say maybe.
Or maybe not. Mythology.
B R A V E S O U L S R E C E I V E
Archive of Recent Activities - Advice for Submitters
Enhanced Navigational Coherency - Long-Ass List of Contributors
Super Lo-Tech Slideshow - Five Years Ago - Four Years Ago
Three Years Ago - Two Years Ago
Last Year - Last Month
Encyclopedia of Exes, featuring short tales of love gone bad
by Lethem, Ames, Almond, Lethem, Shteyngart, and many others
(including the little old Eyeshot Editor), is now available.
Here's more about the book.
Sweet Fancy Moses #2 can be bought
Congratulations to Eyeshot contributors Daniel
Alarcon and Ryan
their inclusion in The Best Nonrequired Reading 2005 -- considerable props, as well, should be extended to
Randall DeVallance ("The") and Randa Jarrar ("You Are a 14-Year Old Arab Chick Who Just Moved to Texas")
for having their stories on Eyeshot listed as "notables" in the back of
that rather excellent anthology of writing