Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

A cashier at my local food mart is a god nut. I did not intend this disparagingly, but that every third word out of her mouth is ‘God’ or ‘God bless’; and there is even something about God providing. As she hails, so I assume, from Iran, I cannot determine which god it is of which she speaks; but though she is quite amiable and though her lipstick is always bright, and despite the twinkle, the other mischief in her eyes, she strikes me as indistinguishable from holy rollers with whom I have crossed paths and who hail from Indiana or some other American closet. Or perhaps she is pulling my leg. Perhaps it is just her way of being sociable, her jocular proselytizing—In any case, I have lost the thread of conversations recently had. There have been fewer of them, I must say. Labrosse is pretty much out of the mix, having relocated himself in Carignan. Nikas has not been the same since. Someone did suggest to me that if Lord Byron, yesteryear poet, should find himself reincarnated and deposited in Chicago, he would probably take to the place like the proverbial duck to water, whereas Keats, part country boy—Like I said, I have lost the thread. But that legendary 60s idealism? It was hollowed out from within, seeing as the greatest conformists of the time were not the ‘young Americans for freedom’ types, but the hipper than thou hippies, so many of whom matriculated into the world of finance; so many of whom got high on stock portfolios or wound up foisting dubious products like chocolate tea and flash-in-the-pan bestsellers on an unsuspecting public. This sort of universe has seen the third act of Monteverdi’s unfinished opera given over to electronic larkings, as if Monteverdi himself would have said, “Wow, man, that’s so awesome.” No questions need be asked of a cutting edge sure to supercede any other cutting edge. The true law of reality’s revenge? For what it’s worth: —a flaming ocean that closed over the city of Rome and ebbed away, leaving nothing but blackened ruins, wrecked pediments, tumbled statues, and a land grown over by weeds. He saw, and he knew it would come to pass, because the true law of reality revenged itself irresistibly on mankind, and must so revenge itself, when, being greater than any manifestation of beauty, it was bartered for beauty—A bit of dour prose from Hermann Broch’s The Death of Virgil such as might spoil any evening of the Boston Pops. Otherwise, an evening’s viewing with E of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita was like being witness to the creation of the universe—For a while now, I have been expecting to subside into deep shock or to be nursing a hangover in regard to the election just concluded to the south of here. In the event that Current President was to be returned to office, I would celebrate only the fact that all the alarms that had been sounding in my head for months would prove to have been but silly season commotion; that one would be looking at four more years of pretty much the samechurlishness on the part of all branches of government, barring October surprises in some other month. I understand, and share in them, many of the doubts and outright objections of the left of centre to the man’s incumbency, but the generalities and pieties, the incessant abuse of language in nine out of ten on-line opinion pieces that seek rejuvenation of right-behaving political will does not suggest to me a better class of heart and intellect in the persons of tough-love avatars of change in waiting for the next uprising. P.M. Carpenter, a prominent political commentator down there, has remarked that today’s conservative is actually yesterday’s liberal hanging in still for the New Deal and its aging and shopworn promises (as they should be, no question); just that those liberals, or rather a certain substratum of the same, on the verge of imploding like so many mass-heavy stars, have much to answer for when it comes to selling out the farm to the one per centers and optioning poetry out to the worst kind of literariness and careerism. But, old tale, old complaint. It was a packed livingroom, election night, at my place. The Moesian, Juniper, Golden Girl, Mr and Mrs Seraph, not to mention Quickdraw McGraw whose hard-day-at-the-office dogs pre-empted the coffee table. All of whom left, after an evening’s worth of election coverage, breathing indecent sighs of relief; but that all expected to be disappointed, confounded, dismayed, and perhaps even disheartened yet again by the Man Continuing at the Helm. Why? The man’s psyche? The nature of the system? The pathologies of the electorate? Some sneering god in a dark cloud above? The Vagaries of Whatever? The media coverage, no matter the news channel, was hilarious, BBC boasting the greatest buffoon with the zippiest electronic graphs and whatnot at his disposal, he herky-jerking his way through his reportage like a man jacked up on amphetamines in a wind tunnel. And one thought, as per Karl Kraus and the Nazis, that satire has long been redundant and beside the point for all the increasingly absurd demographic breakdowns, as when it was a point to seriously ponder: how people who eschew the trimming of their toenails in a swing state might lean as they mulled their ballot options. An odd evening, indeed. Because, the election aside, Juniper did heroically endeavour to refrain from talking verse in an election year. (Still, old habits die hard.) Golden Girl was perky with an altered hair styling, however calmly sage she was in her estimations of the howlers unfolding on the TV screen. Mrs Seraph tore through her take-out as if the world might end in an ensuing hour, Mr Seraph sucking up the Southern Comfort like it was fizz. The shadows of irony just kept lengthening on the visage of the Moesian while Quickdraw McGraw, the new barbarian on the block, simply remarked that it was f—ked down there, period; that the election should never have been as close it was, no matter the point spread in the Electoral College, and et cetera and so forth and so on. Be all that as it may, I will have to convey my congratulations to the aforementioned P.M. Carpenter, the Even More Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here. He, over a year ago, predicted the outcome that has come to pass like a biblical prophecy, and he stuck to his prediction through thick and thin; and he only missed it in respect to the popular vote, he averring that Mr R would have the better of those numbers—