from Man in the Poetic Mode p. 100, McDougal, Littell, Evanston Illinois, 1971, publishers, Joy Zweigler, editor
T.E. Hulme was one of England’s Great War poets. He died in 1917 when struck by a shell while deep in thought.
Hulme captures the melancholy cool of Autumn with perfect reflection.
He brings us along on the lonely country walk with him.
Autumn is a feeling. It doesn’t have to represent death, but it can represent harvest and a necessary stage of ending when the crops fall into humus as we also must, before there can be a new beginning.
Autumn is cool, Autumn is a time for reflection. It is my favorite time.
Peace be the Botendaddy
P.S. If you fancy yourself a writer, get offline, get off the electronic reader, go to a real library or bookstore and read something you haven’t read before.
I don’t know much about her, but the fly on the wall observation of old age is riveting.
The poem gives us a keyhole view of how our own essential humanity has us going through the motions of living for the sheer joy of it and the joy of the company of a close one long after our most productive time has passed.
Peace be the Botendaddy
Gwendolyn Brooks, ‘The Bean Eaters’
from Man in the Poetic Mode, Vol. 1 at p. 58 McDougal, Littell publishers, Evanston, Illinois, 1971, Joy Zweigler, editor
“It’s official, August 16th is the last day of the Writer’s Workshop. As soon as you receive your diploma for your bizarre advanced degree in god-knows-what, we are all being kicked off campus. Hell I’m retiring, so I don’t give a f*&k.” Said the Professor.
“Yeah, no matter how much money my Kingdom donates, you can’t have a workshop without a Professor and a Graduate Student sponsor. Without the Professor, who’s going back to North Dakota and that shit-covered Botendaddy who is going back to his ancient, mysterious Utonic Manor to count his riches, we are screwed.” Stated Gryzwacz-Eek-Opp-Ork-Ah-Ah the alien. “We even petitioned the King Garbage Bolean himself and he told to me to take a flying f*&k at a rolling doughnut. He gives a lot of money to Pitt anyway, but he f*&king hates Penn State. Every alien in the universe hates Penn State, because they suck.”
“Penn State does suck.” Said the Park Ranger.
“Hail to Pitt.” Said the Caribbean Queen
“Go Panthers.” Said Hiroyuki
“What the f*&k are we supposed to do now, fatty? I have no external life. The Writer’s Workshop and fat-hate were all I had. My life is sh&t.” Said the Voat Fat People Hate Verified Shitlady.
“Botendaddy, you got us into all this. If I don’t se you every week, my Spanish Patagonian soul will wither and die.” Said Ramon
“Botendaddy is an 455h013 at any rate.” Added the Stalker.
“I am going to start a poet’s group.” Offered Devon. “But this group doesn’t know sh&% about poetry, or verse or rhyme.”
“I am a part of all I have met, though much is taken, much abides, that which we are, we are… one equal temper of heroic heart, to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. –Aeschylus….” Quod, I dramatically.
“This is sad.” Whispered the Librarian. “My life is also equally meaningless. I know this is a group of mis-shapen, freakish runners, writers and preparers of haut cuisine, but we were like a weird sort of family with the Professor as the matriarch and Botendaddy as the perverted Jim Jones slash David Koresh like cult reader. I mean he f*&ked everyone here.”
“He literally drowned them in 5p3rm.” Said Guyasuta wistfully. “Drowned, inundated with his precious bodily fluids.”
“An equal opportunity pervert.” Added the Weird Foreign Doctor Chick. “I can never go back to Nepal now. He has sullied me with his 5p3rm4t0z04. Every single orifice defiled and some other 53x acts that I never even heard of. Ah the taste of it! Now I have to like, go to work and pretend that I care what I’m doing. I have no other friends. Because I’m weird, I’m foreign. I’m a doctor and I’m a chick. But mostly because I’m weird.”
“He made me feel so dirty. He allowed me to truly hate myself to depths I never imagined. He is old, disgusting, ugly. I wanted to chew my arm off to get away from him. I am madly in love with him. He should marry me and not you stupid cvnt5! Plus we’re both from New York.” Said the Punker Model Writer Chick.
“I’m sitting back here, I am in the room.” I added helpfully.
“I DOWNVOTE YOU!” Shrilled the Angry Online Social Justice Warrior guy. “I YEARN FOR YOU TRAGICALLY! SEIZE MY ORIFICES! I LGBTQ+ABCDE LOVE YOU!” He neckbearded.
“No-one cares about any of you.” Said the No-one cares lady. “You’re all a bunch of useless anuses (anii) a bunch of talentless, stupid cock-bombs.”
“Hey yunz (not yinz) f*&kin’ sh^theads need to clear out of here. I got to clean this f*&king room.” Said fat, hairy, unionized physical plant guy. FHUPPG “A new group is coming in here. A bunch of, whaddya call, real writers.”
“I got in all my free weight workouts this year! I ran a 7:58 mile! I ran a 27:42 5k. It was a great workout year. By the way, the only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing. So write on, my beloved disciples, write on.”
“Let’s all get in Botendaddy’s party van, get wasted enroute go to Utonic Manor and 94n9 84n9.” Said the CEO.
“Honey Mocha with Nutmeg?”
The writer’s workshop filed out of the Cathedral into the waiting party van.
The FHUPPG swept up the room. He picked up a pile of the manuscripts produced by the group and threw them into a filthy shit-covered trash bin. Then he turned off the lights.
I stood in front of the Writer’s Workshop ready to pontificate my verbal bowel movement. It was ‘Pride Week’ so I was surprised that our four *gay* Writers were all at the Workshop.
“What the hell are you guys doing here? You should be at the Pride Festivities?”
“Oh delectable Botendaddy, all four of us are madly in love with you, each in our own way. We wish to sit here squirming in psychic torment as we are forced to listen to your glorious river of mindless, self-involved, megalomaniacal bull feces prattle like Alexander de Large with his eyes held open watching ultra-violence.”
Said Ramon, leaning back in his chair.
“He is a goddamned moron.” Offered Hiroyuki.
“Our lives are meaningless if we give up our Friday nights to listen to his stupefying drivel. Have I really fallen so far? I have no life!” Moaned the Caribbean Queen.
“Botendaddy is a vapid, mindless shithead. It was either come here or kill myself. It was a tough choice.” Said the Stalker.
“I’m totally drunk and high. I may have taken some acid. I’m hallucinating to the point that the Botendaddy actually sounds marginally intelligent.” Said Chief Guyasuta.
“Listen. I just read James Thurber’s short story “The night the bed fell.” It is written in a farcical, rhythmic style rising to a crescendo eerily similar to Shirley Jackson’s “The Night We All Had Grippe.”
Grippe is, in my opinion, the most brilliant short-short story in American Literature in the last 70 years. You can see influences of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” for the ‘writing as rhythm’ style, S.J. Perelman for the dry anti-humor and finally the framing of the story is almost a literary response to Thurber’s “Bed”.
In “Bed” we have the family, with vivid descriptions of the location of each and the various idiosyncrasies of each family member and guest.
While we lack the motion of each character as they move about in “Grippe”, Thurber instead mentally visits the rooms while he interprets each character for the reader through his own lens.
The swirling motion of “Grippe builds to a tornado like crescendo ending up with the lost blanket while in “Bed” separate actions in each room including the writer falling out of his own bed and the noise creating the ensuing chaos as everyone thinks the attic bed fell on father.
We see some more modern treatments of this building-cyclone style of farce that draw on both stories, such as “The Russians are Coming” which builds to complete chaos, but in a town and not a house and the final scene of Grandpa in “Lost Boys.” ‘What I could never stand about Santa Carla is all the damn vampires.’
You can find both stories, ‘Grippe’ and ‘Bed’ in the ‘Man in the Fictional Mode’ series by Joy Littell, 1970-71.
“I am exhausted.” I turned to the Professor. She rolled her eyes.
“Botendaddy… enough of your stupefying nonsense come with us back to our festival hotel suite and let’s just f@&$. You owe us after making us listen to that.”
Said the Park Ranger and Swole Bro nodding in agreement.
This is a literary critique of one of Botendaddy’s first fiction works.
Clearly it was a disaster.
Please read the hateful diatribe written by my professor and you may find some merit for your own work.
What shall we call this?A topical story?In some ways it’s more like a piece of new journalism: current events and political debates put into fictional form.Sentence for sentence you write well, but this is not the kind of topic likely to produce good stories, no matter how good the prose is.Most good stories work because they have examined something freshly, originally, make us see something we haven’t seen before.Often as not, the topic is an old one, but the treatment, the way of seeing, is new.Here the topic is new, but there’s nothing very freshly observed apart from the current political dichotomy.The responses of all the characters are predictable and often, in their own minds even, they speak rhetorically.The general is very close to caricature.I’d advise you to write about something closer to your own experience.That may be a smaller scope to begin with, but it usually produces larger results.