Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

The morning after. Nikas. In truth, there have been a number of morning-afters in the past week or so. For whatever virtues of which I may still boast have been waylaid by a Newfie poet and his accomplices who like cheap sources of entertainment and easy targets. I can just barely recall someone trying to shove Primo Levi down my throat, as in: you ought to read this guy, man. Yes, and I could always reacquaint myself with Gulliver’s Travels or the whole of the 1963 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica or some Doris Lessing omnibus. Of course, 1963 was the year JFK was shot, and down there, they are still reeling from that, just as they are still reeling from the Philadelphia Congress and Lincoln’sGettysburg Address, Lincoln being very much in the air just now, what with a spate of vampire and other-type flicks that involve the Lincoln figure blandishing a viewing public. One recent evening, in a discussion of music and Plato’s Eternal Forms, it was established that the Hank Williams song Honkytonkin’ more than likely pre-dated in humankind the use of the opposable thumb. Upon which supposition, as if to buttress the entailing solemnity of the moment, poems were hauled off Juniper’s bookshelf and read aloud. Berryman. Ashbery. Even Louis MacNiece had entrée. I myself read something by B. Pasternak, some Russian guy. An interesting but is it any good or not argument arose when one enthusiast brought forth a poem by a national of this fair-nation state who was not necessarily born in it; and the poem in question was so busy identifying the ‘enemy’ and all that ails us that the poem was, well, too busy; this in light of the Pasternak offering who, after all, literally had Stalin breathing down his neck. In other words, a serious critique of a literary nature was set loose in the room, and no one was unduly alarmed. Almost startled, Caesar looked up: “How will you protect yourself against broken treaties and perjury, how will you do this without a legion? The golden age has not yet arrived.” From Herr Broch’s The Death of Virgil, Caesar instructing the poet in political theory. —“The people cheer any victor; they love the victory, not the man”—Another all too true cliché from the just-referenced novel—Then someone with what was meant to pass for a straight-faced countenance suggested we set ourselves to the writing of a screen treatment, the theme of which would be as follows: A Massage Parlour of One’s Own. Oh dear. How very far gone were we? From his redoubt in Carignan, Labrosse kicked in with the observation that young men, when it comes to sexual matters, have no incentive to grow up. You see, everything is economics, apparently, as well as other crunchable numbers; and if there are more girls than boys looking for sex, but if boys no longer need to justify their appetites by going out there and competing in the world so as to impress a wench – you can colour in the tautological implication as you see fit—In ogni caso, I deeply suspect Labrosse read something in The Globe and Mail, which it is a fount of civilized nattering. What has been truly grotesque is the nattering that would address Israel and Gaza and what each contestant has managed to gain from the latest hostilities. As if they each break out the ordnance like one might break out the Breakfast of Champions cereal from the kitchen cupboard—Mr Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journo over at Truthdig takes on this particular bit of dystopia, saying that it is soon enough going to become a world-wide phenomenon, and the cherry on the cake will be climate change. And we will not be troubling ourselves any longer with faux art and faux artworks, let alone two-state restraining orders. That moral climate we breathe? (And I do not for a moment believe we are any of us innately moral) But it is as if the New Age pieties have made an executive decision, one that stipulates that those most darlingly in the loop ought not do without the unassailable truth of evolution which, by way of popular nature shows, more or less hammers home the point over and over that animals will be animals; they will seek advantage; they will develop weapons-systems, and failing that, they will avail themselves of evasive tactics and personal best defensive measures. Ah, CNN. I do hope to finish with The Death of Virgil in the near future. I have not yet reached the point at which London Lunar maintains I will cast aside the book in symbolic protest against a novelist’s abuse of a poet. Golden Girl has made a gift to me of a neck scarf such as I have seen uptown booksellers wear, as do secret drinkers of expensive whisky, but that MGFs avoid as being too patriarchal in tone. MGFs? Male German Feminists to you. I wear this scarf as a signal honour. Besides, Golden Girl, a core member of the Newfie poet’s Pan-entourage, is no one with whom to trifle—Lastly, just last night, in fact, E invited herself over to watch a flick with me, she, like a hanging judge, patrolling her territory. Her range extends as far afield as Toronto and the Gatineau; in the sense of ‘geist’ as opposed to geography, I exist on the fringes of her territory in Montreal-NDG. At any rate, the flick was an unremarkable screwball comedy of 90s provenance; it had its moments amidst a plethora of American dark comedy moments. At the conclusion of which flick, a discussion of Israel-Gaza ensued; and then E admitted that, in the circles she travels, poets of the moment are considered a negligible item, seeing as they do not say much, present company excepted, and, you know, they always seem so desperate to want to be loved and to be seen as entertaining, entertainment something that pop stars, do better, anyway, don’t you think? Therefore, and so forth and so on. She began to hum brightly, as is her wont when she is either anxious or exceedingly pleased with herself—