Wordy Mikado (Fragment #017)

I stowed the wreckage of the broken poem in my pockets and dragged myself to my room. It was there that I shook out this mishmash, onto the little table in the corner, and I fell to thinking how it could be rearranged into a new poem. Some lines stuck out awkwardly here and there, and I suddenly recalled how in my childhood I would play Mikado. This flashback was so quick and so bright that it slashed through my mind like a lightning bolt.

We preferred to play with fine aluminium wires, not with woody sticks. We bent the ends of the wires into loops, hooks, and waves. This made the game more difficult because every move had to be executed with surgical precision. (By the way, I’d heard of a variation of this game that was part of the professional practice of pocket lifters.)

I found myself mindlessly poking my finger into the pile of words. My angriness fumed away. The professor’s voice echoed in my head: “And don’t spoil such precious words for glamorous bullshit.” We played with literal junk when we were children, and we did it with style. Why should I fuck with such high class stuff now?

I pulled out a long, shiny wire from the pile and smiled. I knew what I needed to do. I accurately stowed all the wordy bits into a little box and went to the library.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Testing, Part #2 (Fragment #015)

It was like talking to a brick wall. I elevated my voice slightly.

“Hey, four-eyes!”

Yuck. Not only is he blind, he’s deaf too… I was considering poking him with a ruler when I heard a semi-cough right above me. Again.

Any questions, young lady?”

“No, Sir.”

Question 2a: Define a metrical foot used in the following poem.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots—but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

1) Trochee
2) Iamb
3) Anapaest
4) Dactyl

Question 3a: What isn’t a forme fixe?

1) Qasida
2) Glosa
3) Sequence
4) Tanaga

I looked around helplessly. No help was within reach. Well… if plan A doesn’t work out then I have to use plan B. So, I gave a shit about that, and began to select answers at random.

The blank space below question 1a was very much in evidence, and my inner perfectionist demanded satisfaction. I knew it was better not to argue as this thought would be like a pebble in my shoe—it would hinder and annoy. I wrote something like, “Prompt at five o’clock, I busted a snaplock, and walked around town in a candy-striped nightgown.”

Then I hesitated over where an adverb of time should be placed in an English sentence. Damn. At the start? At the end? Without philosophizing, I repeated the first line at the end. If need be, I could say that I was nervous and forgot to cross out the wrong line.

With a feeling of satisfaction at a job well done, I turned in my paper and left the amphitheater. I felt a roaring hunger.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Authentica (Fragment #023)

Here you are!”

Maybe I’d plopped my notebook down a little too cocksurely, but I was feeling pretty confident. Hell, I’d been sweating over this essay for two whole nights, rummaging through the dullest monographs and sneezing up billows of agelong library dust.

The professor picked up my notebook with two fingers, kind of like it was a filthy toad. Well… actually, I consider toads pretty cool. Take, for example, Hypnotoad or Kermit. Or, even, Jin Chan. I remember, once…

“… plague!”

His harsh voice made me jump. Damn! It looked like I’d lost the plot again. I needed to concentrate. What the hell was he saying? Yes, toads were  The Second Plague’, but had I said something about toads out loud?

I raised my eyes and stole a look at his reflection in the dim windowpane. Then our eyes met. For a fleeting second it seemed as though his glance was flaring a bright orange, but when he turned to me, his eyes were yellow as always. This angry look was a storm warning.

“Too vague! Up in the air! It’s a mere dalliance with the topic, not an exploration!”

Why was he always on my case? But there was no sense in arguing… at least not now. This morning, I’d heard how Uranus had said something about the Moon being in Aries and that one should avoid open conflicts. (If someone had said to me some months ago that I would make decisions with an eye to this cosmographic crap, I’d have given them a Screw Loose sign. But this University can make anyone superstitious like the last pea goose in existence.)

I took my unfortunate essay and went to the door. I had almost stepped into the corridor when his acrid voice struck my ears.

“And don’t forget that using translations in research is  ‘mauvais ton’. If you want to get a decent result, you must work with authentic texts only!”

Huh? Ball and Tzara? In the original? I fucking like it!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Schubfachprinzip Bar #3 (Fragment #026)

I was sitting on the box, sipping cold beer, when suddenly something rustled under me. I almost jumped out of my skin with surprise and spilled beer onto the counter. Damn!

Someone began to guffaw. I scowled and was going to give a rebuff, but this loud rustle repeated. I slipped off the box and cautiously peeped into a round hole on the side. There was something white inside, like a big rat or a rabbit. I looked through a hole on the other side. A pigeon! Aren’t they flyers? How on earth could someone cage a poor bird into such a stuffy, dark box? A big poker-picture on the side of the box said ‘Kuckuck Circus’. Of course. That was a given. A circus.

I stood straight up and looked about. The bar had suddenly lost its charm. It was as if someone had twitched the festal cloth off a table and bared its true, smeared and scratched ugly surface.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Schubfachprinzip Bar #2 (Fragment #025)

“Get out of the light, bimbo!”

Someone pushed me from behind with much giggling. Why on earth do these idiots call me bimbo all the time? I definitely should change my style! It’s such a pity that I can’t make a public appearance with my real exterior. They would have bitten their tongues then, that’s for sure!

But they were right to some extent. Standing at the threshold wasn’t the best way to spend time in a bar. I went right to the counter and perched on a high, narrow box which served as a bar stool.

The bartender jumped out of nowhere. I opened my mouth to make an order, but he looked me up and down, tsked, and disappeared again. I stayed there with my mouth still open in surprise. What a strange way to serve customers!

I didn’t get a chance to express my indignation. The bartender popped up again. (Was he sitting under the counter?) He plopped a hug mug with dark beer in front of me. Hmm.

The bartender gave me a wink.

“Schubfachprinzip! Do you know how it works?”

I was at a loss. Such an unexpected question! I’ve never supposed that combinatorics and beer could be married. I thought to myself for a moment then said with uncertainty, “Well… if ten pigeons are placed into nine boxes…”

The bartender burst out laughing. I felt a bit embarrassed. Maybe I’d made a muddle. I’m a humanist after all, not a digithead.

“Schubfachprinzip. It’s easy. Drink one box of beer and get another box for free.”

He giggled and disappeared again, leaving me to wonder about such strange mathematics.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017