Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

We kicked off terrasse season, Juniper and I and the guy from Laredo who claimed Nova Scotia as his place of birth. ‘Bratwurst’ under new management, we will have much to do to break it in and accustom it to the sight of our mugs. Would that governance in general was as amenable to the so-called electoral base. In any case, a few days later, a private gathering of poets and such like was under way at the residence of McGravitas. Juniper – his new roomie – lent a hand in the matter of presiding. He was often heard making droll asides in respect to certain outbursts of poetic activity. Indeed, lively and promising verses were rendered up. There was, in the epic attributable to the aforementioned Nova Scotian, the immortal line: “Lobster, lobster, burning bright—” Perhaps that was the moment when Valerian Guy, very tight-lipped, suddenly departed the premises. Could be that parody was not his thing, so to speak. There was some gossip circulating there. I remain hazy on the details, but it seems that a notable to the south of here, Pulitzer-winning poet, had himself a rant on social media. To hear him tell it, the ‘scene’ is corrupt and all a scam and a debasement of the art of poesy, and so forth and so on. Master of Fine Arts, my scummy arse. Well, I figured the fellow had a point, or several. But then someone, just to keep the house honest, observed that the fulminator was not only terminally ill, he was probably demented, as well, kicking in the teeth of the hand that fed him. All those lovely people, celebrated poets with their lovely tenure and tax-deductible poetry festivals, were too lovely a people to be sullied with the charge of hypocrites, of liberal enablers of the oil wars, not to mention the gutting of so-called civil liberties, which are only the purview of a select portion of the populace in the first instance with whom the poets, no doubt, have been slumming in a reverse-field sort of way. I always knew there were political consequences to the playing of mind games with language (it has the effect of trashing poetry), but damn me if it did not require a man riddled with cancer, suffering opiate withdrawal, under the thumb of God only knows what choir of voices in his head such as might keep the fact of his mortality somewhat partially at bay, to reacquaint me with my ancient paranoia. It is always like this: those who look healthy on the outside are sick within. Those walking around with their putrid bedding conceal shining souls—Which may or may not bring one to a 19th century text entitled Dissertation on the Progress of the Fine Arts by a certain John Scott, in which, among other things, it is asked whether there has been any progress in the arts since those barbaric Greeks had their day, not to mention a bevy of thuggish Renaissance Italians. I imagine the text is a staple of art history, but I had been unaware of it until MH deposited the thing in my inbox. Well, London Lunar has been on about Pirandello of whom I have also read very little, partly through sloth and partly because what I have read did not take with me. In respect to this deficiency of mine, London Lunar, aghast, looks at me with squinty eyes. He has also been on about a new film which I believe goes by the name of Beasts of the Southern Wild. His theory? Small budgets invite big imaginations to the movie set, the big money elsewhere slicking out the film-making process. I am near the end of Arrian’s book on the campaigns of Alexander, my man Craven’s book on the Italian masters put aside for the time being, awaiting perhaps a realignment of celestial objects before I resume foundering in my suspicion that art has been the biggest shell game in town for the last 100 years. Now, is the young Mr Trudeau a chip off the old block that is his mum? Are those vicious attack ads on the part of the PM’s party apparatus something he truly rates, irregardless of politics as usual or dirty pool? When I put it to E the other evening, she having dragged me out to some yuppie café so as to listen to a musician friend of hers, E grinned and said, “Pretty vicious, alright.” One might have thought it was all fairly entertaining to her. She is somewhat politically minded, given her notion that the NDP still matters. She was in come hither mode, though I was not the one she meant to have hithered in some other, more piquant sense of the word. But back to the Trudeau lad—Even Labrosse has his doubts about the new Liberal head. Labrosse has remained an optimist through thick and thin, but it is getting to be a bit of a slog. It is conceivable that a certain political party – to borrow from a very stale metaphor – will not right itself, not even as a leaky tub—Another notable to the south of here – Mr P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator who has written me off – is measurably less optimistic as each day passes, pessimism in and of itself strictly verboten down there by order of some obscure constitutional rider. He is getting downright bleak, if not downright touchy, this man all mid-west outfitted in his beer barrel, his deToqueville laced with a tincture of Stendhal, a dollop of Schopenhauer on uppers, and, tie in a mean streak such as Ty Cobb brought to the game of baseball, and you have got your Mencken in an advanced state of spleen. Christ, you can’t make this sh-t up— There is no horror too horrific that a Republican would not exploit for maximum leverage, the White House the prize, the country be damned, the populace irrelevant. As we no longer speak, I can no longer offer Mr Carpenter my consolations, let alone meekly raise questions in respect to the Current Leadership that he stalwartly defends. It was, in fact, a red-letter day just recently for capital H Horrors, that day of the dedication of a certain presidential library in honour of a certain semi-monarch on the order of a boy-king and his panoply of viziers, and we aren’t talking butterflies or a brand of margarine—There is talk, of late, that Iraq will have to resort to partitioning so as to contend with the evils the Bush invasion unleashed. Indeed, anything is possible in the American mind, anything. There is no problem that cannot be taken on board and put through the grinder. On an unrelated matter, speaking of nightmares, I dreamed I blinked, and, summer hardly arrived, was already gone. Worse, my guitar was in want of repairs, and the kindly guitar-builder to whom I took it for fixing, waved a sheaf of forms at me and said: “Can’t make poetry without filling these out.” Poetry, music, honest to God paintings bureaucratized out of existence—Morning in Nikas. Alexander the waitress pines for some Grecian beach and sun and holiday fest, her homeland, in other words. She is going dotty, no question, flicking the levers of the toaster up and down, humming to herself—