Dada (Fragment #018)

I marched towards the library and collided with Patrick near the main entrance. I remembered this boor. He was an assistant at my entrance examination. I decided not to waste time greeting him and just passed on by.

The 20th century German literature section wasn’t a very popular place. Well, good riddance! It was much better to work without the silly background chirrup of girls writing endless nonsense about heroic troubadours and sighing over modern guys who’d forgotten the art of courtship.

Anyway, I figured I should get to work, so I thumbed along the high stacks looking for the letter ‘T’. Gotcha! Tristan Tzara, ‘Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries’.

“Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”

So, professor, you didn’t like my poem? I giggled at the thought. I’ll learn how to break something that was already broken. Let’s dada, baby! And suddenly, my attention was drawn to some other voices. They sounded pretty tense. I cocked my ear.

“I need this book!”

“The rules are the same for everyone. You can only read it in the reference room. This book mustn’t leave the library.”

“But…”

“No.”

I peeped out of the stack and looked over to the counter. A disappointed Patrick was talking with the library custodian, a large leather bound book clutched to his chest. Serves you right! I thought with gloating delight.

I’d always considered the ‘Codex Seraphinianus’ to be a bit of a joke. I didn’t think anyone of stable mind could ever truly take it seriously. My eyes flicked across Patrick’s sad features again. What a putty head!

Anyway, I needed to care more about completing the task at hand.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

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