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Archives for February 2014

Make certain.

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Blogging while working out

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… on the fancy new Korrektiv-equipped treadmills at the Y.

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 14-19

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One chapter down; forty to go! Today’s post concludes Part 1, Chapter 1 of my attempt to rewrite Crime and Punishment as a verse novel à la Eugene Onegin.

Click here and scroll down to review the story to date.

Thanks to all who have read along so far. As always, your comments — including, but not limited to, negative comments — would be very welcome.

Is the story bogging down at any point? Is the action or setting ever confusing? Are there any trite rhymes? Any syntactic absurdities, prosodic infelicities, or lapses of characterization?

And is there anything that ‘works’ especially well?

1.1.14
He scans the space: a table (smallish),
A sofa (tall), and chairs (a few) —
All cheap and old, yet bright with polish,
Immaculate; the floor gleams, too.
(‘Lizavéta’s work’, he thinks; ‘that’s certain.’)
Here hangs a small icon… A curtain
Hangs there, in lieu of bedroom doors;
Beyond it stands a chest of drawers,
He knows — though he has yet to enter
The shadow of that shrouded cell….
… His hostess pipes up sternly: ‘Well?’
‘I’d like to pawn…’ he says; presents her
A pocket watch (worn silver-plate).
‘Good sir, your payment’s two days late:

1.1.15
‘Your other pledge is past redemption.’
‘I know, Alyóna, ma’am — my ring….
Please give me just a month’s extension.’
‘I’ll do as I please with that thing.’
‘Well…. How much for this watch? It’s silver.’
‘Not even worth the work to pilfer
A piece of trash like that, my friend.’
‘It was my father’s…. If you’ll lend
Four roubles, ma’am, I will redeem it.’
‘I see. Before, I was too nice —
I lent you more than that ring’s price.
As for this watch, now, take or leave it:
A rouble and a half.’ ‘You might —
One and a half, good sir.’ ‘…….. All right.’

1.1.16
She takes her keys out of her pocket;
She takes his watch behind the shroud.
He strains his ears; hears her unlock it —
The top drawer, scraping high and loud….
While he had been discreetly peering
At her (right pocket’s) steely keyring,
One key’d looked larger than the rest:
(‘Not for a drawer…. A trunk? A chest?
… But this is all so nauseating!’)
‘You owe me thirty-five, all told.’
(She’s back!) ‘Here’s one-fifteen; I’ll hold
The watch.’ He stands there, hesitating —
Then speaks: ‘In one more day… or two
… I might… have another pledge… for you…

1.1.17
‘… A cigarette case… silver… fancy!’
‘All right. We’ll talk about it then.
Good night.’ ‘Your sister! Any chance she
Might sort of… sometimes… wander in?’
‘What do you want with Lizaveta?’
‘Oh, nothing, ma’am.’ ‘You want to meet her?’
‘No no, madame, I just… Good-bye.’
He turns, and goes — and starts to cry:
‘Oh God! Can I –? Can I imagine?
How could –? Is my mind capable –?
My heart, so hateful? Horrible!
A month! A month, bent to this passion –!’
His self-disgust is oceans wide….
He sinks, and chokes — and steps outside.

1.1.18
The evening sun continues bleeding
Its dying light upon the host
Of Petersburg, while, all unheeding,
Our Rodya passes like a ghost
Among them, heart and mind encumbered:
He reels, colliding like a drunkard
Along the boulevard, until
His feet and thoughts at last are still:
Up from a dingy basement tavern,
Two tipsy, cursing men emerge;
Raskolnikov now has the urge
To go spelunk that urban cavern.
A sticky table; frosty beer;
A gulp. His thoughts begin to clear!

1.1.19
‘No need to worry any longer,’
He says — and smiles! — with rising cheer.
‘A simple side-effect of hunger;
Just takes a little bread and beer!’
Smiles all around! Lighthearted, hearty,
He beams at one departing party
(Four men; a girl; accordion),
Grins at a fat Siberian.
Above the pale cucumber salads,
Black bread, and kippers past their peak
— Which emanate an evil reek —
Drone mediocre drinking ballads.
An ex-official sits aloof —
Alone, but for his eighty-proof.

Homage to an Empire*

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The budget talks have broken down again.
And bliss is ignorant to show what love
Between a man and wife has got to do
With lasting peace. What nature cannot do
Is rendered pointless. We’re at war again –
So power speaks its mind to truth. And sends its love.

The tyrant’s compass spins democracy
Around the globe – what prior to the fall
Had slithered forth – and scales back our freedom too.
While history plays its part for only two –
I and thou – the circus of democracy
Has swords and thumbs enough for all to rise and fall.

Which is fine. Liberty pays the price
And soldiers stay the course. So goes the game:
Your countries are all ours. Your babies – also ours.
(Too many, though, and they stop being ours.)
So empire asks its men to name a price,
To load the dice, enthrone the orb and throw the game.

*With apologies to Philip Larkin.

Exchange (for FOK Paul)

[Neko Case’s “Middle Cyclone” playing on car stereo.]

Eldest Daughter: You know, I think Neko Case is the Catwoman of music.

Me: So then who’s Batman?

Eldest Daughter: Duh! Tom Waits of course!

 

 

Those Pope Emeritus Blues

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Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 11, 12, & 13

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The adaptation of Crime and Punishment into a verse novel à la Eugene Onegin continues.

Click here to catch up on the story.

1.1.11

If you’ll excuse the interruption,
Dear reader — Something in the way
Of a digression on the Russian
For ‘crime’: It’s ‘prestuplénie’,
Which (in more literal translation)
Means (to a close approximation)
Transgression, or ‘a step across’ —
Concision’s gain, nuance’s loss.
(I claim no special erudition;
I’m just repeating what I’ve read,
But this is what I think it said
In Norton’s Critical Edition.)
We here conclude our brief aside
And rejoin Rodya in mid-stride.

1.1.12

He’s in. His hostess glowers sharply —
Sharp little eyes, sharp little nose:
A tiny, desiccated harpy,
Of sixty years, one would suppose.
Her head is bare; her hair is sallow,
Just touched with grey, smeared thick with tallow.
Her neck is yellow, long, and thin —
Much like the leg of some old hen.
Upon her shoulders hangs a mangy
Old capelet cut from yellowed fur,
For even summer’s cold to her.
She coughs, regarding Rodya strangely.
(‘Does she suspect –? Of course, I must
Act all-correct… establish trust…

1.1.13

‘… show some respect — That’s always prudent!’),
He thinks, and makes a little bow.
‘Raskolnikov, madame — a student.
I came last month…. I’ve come back now.’
‘I know, good sir.’ She’s brusque and hurried.
(‘Was she this way before? I’m worried….
Her piercing eyes… her voice’s edge….’
)
‘I’m here about — about a pledge!’
She glares, then points — still coughing, groaning,
‘In there, good sir.’ And so he goes
Into a faded room that glows
With ruby hues before the gloaming…
Stained scarlet by a long, late ray….
(‘The sun will blaze like thisthat day!’)

JOB

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The Further Adventures of Fiddleback and Mantilla!

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 9.12.50 AMPoor JOB is getting older, so it should come as no surprise that he forgot to mention one very special variation in his list of liturgical hilarities: the retro-cool fashion of the Old Rite that the kids today find so addictive.

Exhibit A (as if readers of Korrektiv needed any proof): Debra Murphy‘s daughter has taken to making vestments. It’s a curious enough vocation, but smell my bells, she’s even doing them Old School. Moda, indeed!

 

Korrektiv Press considers name change

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The Korrektiv Press board of trustees is set to vote on a proposed name change for the quasi-Catholic press. Rufus McCain, Korrektiv’s semi-reclusive director of prison outreach, has brought forward a motion to re-christen the confusingly-spelled media conglomerate as Glut Press. The small but feisty Kierkegaard-inspired publishing house–referred to elsewhere as a”loose affiliation of bad Catholics”–has a cult following that extends to heretics, pagans, Protestants, attached-lobers, and malcontents across the political and theological spectrum. The board will vote on the name change at their July meeting on Guemes Island in Washington State.