•April 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

YOU SAY FUTILE I SAY FERTILE

      let’s call the hole thing “Golf”

 

VIOLENCE … VIOLINS

TOMB … WOMB

TAINT … SAINT

EMPIRE …  UMPIRE

SQUANDERER … WANDERER

LIAR … LAWYER

SMOTHER …  MOTHER

FRAGILE … AGILE

SURFACE … SERVICE

SUICIDE  …  SUCCEED

FAECES … FACES

TERRORISM …  TOURISM

GOLD … GOD

TORTOISE …  TORQUISE

TORTURE …  DAUGHTER

INTESTINE … INTENSITY

DEFECATE … DEDICATE

AUTISTIC … ARTISTIC

 

COMPLAINT  …  COMPLIANT

DEVICES … DIVISIVE

COMPRESSION … COMPASSION

MONOGAMY … MONOTONY

INNOVATE  …  ENERVATE

AUTISTIC … ARTISTIC

GENTILE … GENITAL

HEART … HURT

SEXES …  SUCCESS

CHILL  …   CHILLI

drug smuggler/people smuggler/budgie smuggler

word trafficker

 

Type B mechanic

•February 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

There is something fraught

about temporary relationships, like those contracts between, say, a mechanic and the owner of a vehicle. None is more fraught than the relationship between a woman and a Type B mechanic.

Indulge me: your Type A mechanic is efficient, courteous and maintains a demeanour energised by an eagerness to serve and co-operate. It is a pleasure to hand your money over to this contractor.

By contrast, from the moment a woman drives into Type B mechanic’s automotive workshop and parks her car, always in the wrong place, Type B mechanic is armed, loaded and cocked for the power struggle in the gender war that is about to erupt. Type B mechanic permits nothing less than a complete surrender as the only grounds of engagement in the repairer/client contract with a woman. Beware all who venture beyond this point: this is a playing field of absolute winners and losers, where the contests are feisty and involve subtle psychological taunts aimed at vanquishing the opponent in a handful of opening intimidatory moves.

Type B mechanic believes in some apparent natural law that says a woman cannot understand mechanical engineering, corner a vehicle, let alone reverse-park. The assumption is that a woman’s predisposition to ‘being emotional’ bars her grasp of machines, and the only place for a female in a mechanics’ workshop is in a pictorial calendar.

Micromanaging Type B mechanic is impossible. If you are cost-conscious and want to make informed decisions about money spent on your car, keep shopping for your Type A mechanic. You will immediately feel the powerful, positive energy flows of water and wind on encountering Type A. There will be relief and renewal, and when you see the bikini-clad chick on the calendar in type A’s office you may even find yourself enjoying the celebration of female beauty.

 

Lycra Aversion

•February 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment
#1
I love cycling. It brings back the innocence of youth as I glide like a fluid, free agent in a fixed, stationary universe. I’m loose and free flowing, like my clothes. So I struggle to understand the wearing of Lycra in any other context other than gymnastics.
 

In particular, I wonder why cyclists need to wear tight clothing that advertises sports drinks? Do these guys honestly think that we, the admiring pedestrians, acknowledge their magnificence because it is endorsed by a corporate sponsor? Surely their Sunday morning heroics are self-evident.Why is it that the sponsors are exclusively protein drinks, when the average Joe cyclist devours an array of consumer goods as he burns through the kilojoules? This is the great, unconquered virgin territory of AdLand. It’s a great opportunity for other products to advertise, like manufacturers of washing machine detergent, or sports deodorant, sock makers, local spray-on tan parlours, sports masseurs, brands of lube oil, rubber products, and so on. And why just sports drinks when cyclists are frequently seen taking shots of expresso en route. That opens up the whole expresso machine market to exploitation on the back of their Lycra.Australia and New Zealand once pinned their economies on the back of a sheep. This is the latest incarnation. Furthermore, it is only a matter of months and cyclists will be lobbying for carbon credits in the nascent Emissions Trading Scheme. It will work something like this: every kilometre travelled by bike is recorded on a cyclemeter attached to the bike’s wheel. The device can be removed to connect to a computer. The cyclist logs onto a public data base and the kilometres travelled by bike are recorded. At the end of the financial year carbon credits are issued by the Australian Tax Office which can be used to purchase carbon neutral products.Its a cycle-led recovery. On yer bike and get pedalling.

#2
So as I watch a type A cyclist bristling impatiently in a expresso coffee queue, his pumped adrenalin levels already ramped up by the equine hormone and the imminent double shot of coffee, I notice that his Lycra advertises Express Courier services and Phuel (marketing company). Later that day Liberal Party agitator Tony Abbott is seen in his Lycra advertising AMGEN (a biotech company). Lycra-clad cyclists are mobile billboards. Choose to watch that space – or that of their flashing buns.

#3
Ok, so now Tony Abbott ups the ante with his value-added-Lycra by foisting his budgie-smugglers onto us, an aghast public audience. It will be interesting to see the effect of his scheming contours, his hard Right, and the carbon-coloured deniers from his shadowy cabinet.

Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree. Men At Work Down Under.

•February 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Australian Copyright Law needs to be reformed so it cannot be manipulated by greedy, vexatious litigants using technical ignorance of the subject area to unjustly effect an outcome.

I refer to the recent case of Copyright infringement and Trade Practices breach involving Larrikin Music and EMI regarding:

Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree. Men At Work Down Under.

 Technical issues

 It is granted that the same three notes and rhythmic values in Kookaburra’s opening phrase match the introduction flute riff’s fourth phrase. This is made clear by printed music that shows only the melody and rhythm. It also shows that the flute’s second variation riff contains the notes and similar rhythm to the second Kookaburra phrase. However, one cannot base the case against Men At Work’s use of the Kookaburra fragments on the print music transcription alone because it is only a visual representation of what is heard. Be very clear about this: music is experienced aurally, not visually.

Specifically, what is missing from the print music is the issue of harmonic embedding, a point not elaborated upon by the musicologist. He makes a comment about the “different feel” in which the Kookaburra notes are played. Let us ask more about what this means because this affects the way the flute riff is heard.

 1. In DownUnder, the tempo is significantly faster.

2. The harmony of the tune is different at precisely the flute riff. The verse harmony, in which the flute riff is embedded in Down Under, is in a minor key. Kookaburra is in major key throughout. In diatonic Western music these are two contrasting harmonic structures.

3. The intervallic relationship between the notes and the chords underneath is different in the two songs. For example, in Kookaburra the first note is in a highly consonant major 3rd relationship to the chord. In Down Under that first note is in a major 7th relationship to the chord which is a dissonant interval. This is crucial evidence, because when one hears a short melody in a different harmonic context – even with a musician’s ears – it is heard and understood differently. However, if it is isolated, or pointed out, it can be recognised. It stands to reason that the Kookaburra musical quote became the question on a quiz show because it calls upon specialist listening skills.

 To further obfuscate the reference, the Kookaburra fragment always appears as the secondary or “response phrase” within the flute riff.  I understand that the primary or “question” phrase of the flute riff is an original melody.

 The point is that if the Kookaburra reference is so weak in its power of recognition because of how harmonically decontextualised it is in Down Under, and how buried it is when played as a secondary phrase, can it really be said to be infringing the Kookaburra copyright? It is hidden, but rather in the manner of a clever musical joke. The flute riff contributes to the song by the power of its “hook”, however, the Kookaburra melody used in the flute riff is not the secret to the success of the hook because the cultural reference is too obscure.

 While the proportion of the Kookaburra material used in the flute riff is high it is only by relying on print music alone,  that is, without an harmonic context, that the case can be argued that a substantial quantity of the whole of Kookaburra was used in Down Under. An exceptional consideration in this case is that the total copyright material of Kookaburra is small to begin with. These are structural matters which have not adequately been addressed by this case, and indeed, they have been used to advantage by the litigants.

 The Quantity factor is only a part of the overall copyright infringement landscape, not the overriding issue. I repeat that music is aurally experienced, not read. The law needs to take this important fact into consideration Copyright law insists on ignoring the relationship of the melodic material to its harmonic context and it needs to take stock and be better informed about musical structures. The judge’s finding has blindly ridden rough shod over some basic tenets of the human perception of music. As a professional musician I was aghast at how the plaintiff vexatiously pursued this claim. Those of us who have specialist musical knowledge are aware of how the case was argued to take advantage of an ignorance of technical musical issues. It was particularly galling to see how a judge could be duped by lawyers.

 Cultural Issues

 The lyric content of Down Under explores the theme of a dislocated Australian youth (a backpacker travelling the world) clutching at a handful of everyday Australian icons to represent his distant culture to Old Worlds of Europe and Asia Unlike the lyric content of Australianisms which turned the song into an anthem, the aural reference failed to connect as the vast majority people couldn’t hear the Kookaburra theme in Down Under. After it being pointed out some people still struggle to identify it.

Thank you for your time in reading. We need to change Australian Copyright Law to reflect music as it is heard. Additionally, a statute of limitations needs to be put in place.

Poetry offerings

•January 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Ode to Poe

The night was warm and quiet

The hour fairly late

When dreams take hold on pillows

 and cats are wide awake.

A twinge travelled up my spine

walking the old church yard

where monuments to the dead

stood like  muted guards.

A wind whispered in my ear

and brushed upon my face.

My steps were the only sound,

they split that silent place.

The stillness of the night hung down

and heaved amongst the graves

when the crack of an open door

urged an entrance to a cave.

The gate betwixt the vault and I

by day was a modest step

but seen with a fearsome eye

it fixed like a spider’s web.

“Thou cease your gaze or ask of me

the will of your ghoulish stare”,

I cried, but a frozen ogle

was all that issued from there.

The grip the Thing had upon me

was more dire than the ugly glare

I sunk deeper into a void

seeking release from its lair

I moved quickly into the vault

and met a fearful blast

For six pairs of eyes were fixed

From walls of looking glass.

O, a wretched night that was

and will remember it well

the beast holed up in the vault

was indeed my very self!

 

 

Leonine Fantasy

Come,  Tuesday twilight,

Make haste to the lonesome.

Deliver me my muse:

A winged heel Apollo to play upon my ribs

A leonine fantasy.

Step out into the night, Cat Burglar, and into my twilight room.

Rob me of all restraint! For it’s passion’s wound this Love

and Life is a thin defence.

 

 

Distorted Art

the box is open

Pandora swears

takes her satin gown

and wipes away the tears

that slide along her downy cheek

and wrestle to collide

amongst the refuse of broken dreams

her life it is to hide.

 

 

 

UNIVERSITY POEMS

I. Library Steps

Today as I walked up the library steps

and long thin rain drops

swept my forehead and cheek

and sat like jewels in my unruly hair

a humid shower drew a gentle musk

out of the boughs;

and just as I realised how sensuous it was this moment

there were you! 

o, the embarrassment

 

II. Invincible

You can shoot

and miss

and hit

and wound.

I can walk clean up to you whilst the gun is firing

and take it away from you.

Am I invincible or simply one step ahead of your bullet?

 

III.

Now that we are a state away we can write letters.

Love letters scattered all over the pages, as if we were once lovers.

In the gutter

in the dirt

my love for you lies like a bottle of piteous mothers,

a tube of pithy mutters.

Whatever the reason, how I wait for you.

 

IV.  Off the Wall

It’s the coat you wear buffoon that keeps me eyeing you.

Blackish-brown, well- worn and iron-shiny.

Your lapel holds the scent of moon bathing and waltzing a Venetian colonnade at 5 am.

The wish becomes shrivelled, it is fragile as a face. Too much in the way of a showdown and wanting in jest.

The sight of you just turns me sickly. What was once a thrill, now is murderous as a shock, binding like the handshake of a volted gate.

 

V.  Made for the Bride

When I was a young girl

My sister was married to her boyfriend.

She was already three months on the way

To Motherhood.

“T. is getting married”, they called from the bedroom.

“Are you pregnant?” I immediately return.

Blind to the irony in the assumption

and the speed with which it was made.

Because of the danger of The Town knowing

it was denied with a laugh of condescension:

I’d shoot my mouth off, see.

The Wedding was a bright affair:

cool limes, bouquets and posies;

and a radiant white bride sliding down the aisle.

I could feel the peers peering,

astonished at the countenance.

The spell shrivels with a nervous giggle

Three movements later I was at the altar

Reining in grief.

Side by side the mute sextet stood in dumb respect

and the bride so beautifully inscrutable

like a lily.

The priest recited the text like a faded evergreen.

It was a grind I heard from a distance.

Emotions had welled and now overflowed and

Dripped like blood upon the altar.

At the Reception, the Bridal Party were set apart from the rest

like some unapproachable gods and goddesses.

There must have been a sheet of glass feet thick

between us and them.

When wearing that attire, the civilians become an ocean of colour,

and the Bridal Party marble figurines like

wedding cake models wedged into marzipan.

An uncommissioned and eager Clown

entertains the guests

with sickly multi-coloured digestive feats;

a less than sober act

to close the end of the ritual.

 

VI.

Well, I’d like to hear that you’d be tempted

by the fruit of another, and the other be me.

Your frame: wet with sweat, I could wrestle with it, like your brain.

We disagree, continually. Be savage, in nervous defense

against the suspense of everyday life.

 

VII

I am a poem.

What bore me matters not. What bores you does.

My sister was severed by a typewriter.

Like one of those fleshy murders you read about in the afternoon tabloids, they say, “He re-arranged her”.

Shredded limbs and tethered wings, o the violent whims of principle have claimed and maimed Baby.

Now’s she’s got glued eyes.

 

VIII.

If you wake up in agony there’s a list you need to read:

climb into Loot.

Although the characters loom about and boom boom,

Let go.

Up in the cava tick simular of the Library, be it 1,2, 3 or bottom,

remember to forget.

Let go.

Goodnight, my sweetheart. You will get high on fright. Your little head needs  a pat. It’s a sorrowed engine really.

Dad was a foreman, a smash repair specialist, and a garbage collector (though he kept none of it).

He can’t remember to forget now.

 

IX.

This is the Voice of Hell

Yelled in a cork tile chamber.

She speaks but is swallowed. She creaks as if hollow.

Who dares begin again and face that unmasked stranger:

the Murderer, o hateful one, you weakling;

 meanwhile my truest gifts rot in hate.

I spit on Christ and Fate replaces nothing.

 A storm of saliva follows me all day.

In the dunnest smoke of Hell she asks for a cigarette.

I think she’s joking but I hand her a Craven A cork tip.

I ask what is her final sentence and she answers she’s serving it.

Down to the deep dear friend: eleven fathoms of thick green misery,

a sea monster sucks human blood from unwary calves

cycling for their lives.

 

X. Kings Cross

Inside the Leb takeaway I’m being served the hottest chilli roll in town.

And away she vanishes down some drain in a tomcat stenched alley.

Kings X you’re more than a hard drug.

I’ve nightmared on your putrid glamour and raw evil.

How visitors throng in streetwide rectangles  of reeking fabric!

How hungry that strip! And lonely! Impoverished of regard or respect;

the dog world of tough nuts and fat suited men that sigh like beasts.

You’re crass, Kings Cross.

I declare from the warmth of a home: Your lame is peeling away as poor sluts peel off in dingy holes called rooms before starved birds of dogmen, pupheads, continental hot beds of filth and a crumpled suit 20 minutes later.

 

XI Polish That Chin

Don’t get mad about it

Don’t get sad about it

He’s a little unstable

He’s a little unable

To see the thing in its proper size

To understand or even realise.

His pocket’s out

His talk is loud

I wonder how he even holds his ground

For him to say “I want some babies” is nothing to him,

so I said it to him: “Your mother has rabies”

But it bit us apart

Now I’m in a grave

And he’s at the start.

I held him dear

His absence now is like a pit.

Yet he was the pits in many ways

And saved from this and his wasted days

By his love of life

His anti-art

His chaotic talk and what I thought was

ANRKE.

I thought that he would be my key.

 

 

NINETIES POEMS

I. Onward dissolution

Onward dissolution, mange progress,

 the sick at heart do oft digress.

At will they’re found in weird surrounds, spirits crumbling and of pride bereft.

And dwell in this Hell as if it were a quiet place. Where no soul bothers to visit.

Forgive the cobbler, call the podiatrist!

 

 

II. Wild Oats

Your wild oats will never be spread about.

They will be dispersed cleanly but fervidly into a virgin earth.

She will be your mother and your wife. You will never have a mistress.

Your wild oats cause me to seek myself.

I cannot fathom why your wild oats bring on these salty tears,

or why my desire takes no heed of your lack of years.

Your voice speaks in the tongue of John Coltrane,

stings with the metal of guitar legends who transported me to the fire.

I was later to learn of resignation without defeat, and only then understand the meaning of that chariot ride.

You, in your coming of age, were already riding and singing it.

 

III.  Ode to a Cloud

In remembrance of the cloud that swept across the sky one autumn.

It transported me in warm, cushioned comfort to a place outside myself.

It shielded me and I lay exposed beneath it.

It veiled me and my world blurred before me.

It wrapped me and I was wholly within it.

I stood silently on stage before several hundred medicos

at a conference on prostrate cancer

for an hour with my head in the clouds.

When the cloud passed over softness ceased.

The sun was harsh and painful; so I sought the Father.

And I was healed by cool, powerful Love, moonrays and saltwater.

In memory of clouds.

 

IV.  Anzac Day

Anzac Day is ambivalence.

A parade of pride and shame marches side by side down George Street.

Bravery and sense of duty is honoured and shines in the glint of metal on their chests and is demonstrated annually by the one who completes the entire course on crutches.

Brave indeed those heroes who fought.

They march now with ghosts and their widows attend with little flags.

The obedience of boys, now men, to take part in wars for duplicitous friends.

Now all the Allies commemorate what was once a nationalistic event.

Poles, Czechs, Russians, Dutch, Greek, Nepalese and our Diggers

remember multiculturally: Nations United for the Free World!

And those who shed blood in defence of their land, the original Australians, are absent, nor are they honoured with a national day of remembrance for their continual battle.

And I feel shame.

 

 

NOUGHTIES POEMS

Milford Track, New Zealand, 970m descent

We descend a windswept McKinnon’s Pass and wind around the brown tarns beneath the majesty of Mt Balloon and the Jervois Glacier.

We pick our way over a rubble of granite down to the treeline.

A perpetually moist beech forest offers no walking stick for several kilometres. Eventually I settle for a stumpy support but it’s sharp at both ends.

The forest floor is greasy with humus and sticky clay and a jangled tangle of roots and rocks. This is Milford’s “Enchanted Forest”:

a lime green veil of moss shrouds every limb and trunk, rock and gnarled root. The track is like a funnel through an extensive green web.

For a time I am wholly wrapped in its yellow green shawl.

Birdsong breaks the insulating stillness of the forest. To stay alert I mimic each call. I wonder if I’m startling my subject but continue anyway.

I’m in a resonant chamber and hear their notes carried cleanly:

the two-note tremolo motif, the complex conflagrations that confound my mimicry, and the opening melody of Chick Corea’s “Windows”.

The sublime is intensified by the endorphins coursing through my veins from a mild exhaustion.

Back at the hiker’s hut I return to ironic observations on the good time I’ve made over 14k.

At day’s end a stigmata is discovered on my right palm from my supportive but spiky stick mater.

 

 

 

Glacial Relations 

Full day glacier hikes go out daily, which is where I met Oriana, an Albanian-born Israeli.

Tourists are carted out to the glacier by bus, which is where Oriana overheard in Hebrew a conversation which caused some disgust.  

Oriana sat with sour hostility, which is all she could do to conceal her passport and nationality.

We walked from rainforest to glacier in an hour. A phenomenon unique to the land of the long white cloud.

Then like a mob of cattle we climbed the great Ice Cube and waited in queues as ice guides carved out tubes.

We shuffled and scraped and trusted our talons whether poised on crevice, cliff or rocks we balanced. 

Franz Josef was humming blue and rain had caused a white-out.

So magnificent the setting, yet  it seemed that the act of warming to strangers was forbidden.

In matters relational, you could say the society was glacial, and
Ice queens maintained distances palatial.

I think of the ice-cream slogan: “Frosty Boy Often Licked Never Beaten”, and look around at my lunch companions and muse on such social stoicism.
And as the English dined on plates they had lugged this high,

Oriana sat silent in the rain like I.
Romantic couples photograph each other at entrances to ice caves. “Hiding their passions in the freezer” I privately quip.

I, a solo traveller, photograph the ice cave as it looks to me: a refrigerated genitalia.

On the Big Ice the physical distances are  deceptive: any point of the glacier seems immeasurable until the scale of human reference is introduced.

What seems a short distance of ice alleys turns out to be over a kilometre away as a beeline of tourists snakes through tubes and barely sketches a thin moving line.

Atop the glacier we look down on the valley floor and can barely register this string of walkers on their way to the foot of the  Ice- cube some five kilometres away.

We descend gingerly the loose, steep moraine.
Our guide tells us that the ice talons work best if the wearer bluffs confidence by puffing out the chest.

We do our  best to fake a mountaineerer’s pride and make it safely to the valley floor, exhausted and exhilirated.

All poems by Aspergine Spears (C)

Kafka’s Wasp

•January 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Ken Wilkinson woke after a long nap to find himself lying next to a drain.  He was surprised to discover that he now comprised six legs, a crusty outer shell, wings and a pair of antennae. After thundering confusion, he gathered himself together and made his way from this exposed location to the cloistered warm and damp surrounds of someone’s kitchen sink.

Later that afternoon a woman walked into her kitchen to discover a waspish insect on the window sill. She closely inspected its brindled body and decided that it wasn’t pestilence, and spared its life observing that the grey, speckled body resembled the ibis feather in her car.

KW recognised the resident of the flat: it was the woman who had made subtle advances on him over the last few months, with whom he held in high regard but was slightly fearful.  However implausible the premise, KW became increasingly anxious about being recognised. So deep was KW’s shame at his changed form that he began to hide from her.  So he spied on the woman night and day, listened to her practising the piccolo, toiling with the grammar of a Romance tongue, and observed her rushed, careless ablutions.

After two days of intense scrutiny of the woman’s private world, KW began to feel that indeed he wanted to be noticed by her, even if only as a motley bug.  He felt he deserved more than her dismissive glances.  After all, KW was once the prime object of her interest – or so he flattered himself – and here he was now en casa with her. 

“How strong was the supposed bond between our kindred souls that she can’t recognise me?”, KW reasoned pitifully.

He suffered numerous days of ignominy at the woman’s kitchen sink.  After a particularly difficult night he finally lit upon the idea that he would win her attentions by acting flamboyantly.  He climbed onto a beam of the cupboard above the sink and positioned himself to a spot just inches from the woman’s face as she washed up. He waited for hours in this position and finally she returned home and began the process of filling the sink with scalding hot water and agitating a soap ladle vigorously.  KW endured the rising steam and soapy vapours from this vantage point and struggled to keep his beady little eyes open long enough to catch her looking at him.  At this moment, he would act out what he’d been practising half of the long night before.

In what seemed to him like the drawing of an infinite breath the woman finally looked up and noticed the strange little bug raising its front leg.  Using his right rear legs as purchase, KW mustered all the strength on his left side and raised his leg high and proud.

“It looks like its waving”, thought the woman. “Hi!” she bandied back. “How are you?”

The sense of accomplishment which KW felt was enormous and a great sense of relief passed through his body.  His antennae were fairly humming at his achievement.

“It’s almost smiling at me”, the woman muttered to herself.

Buoyant with his success in engaging the woman, KW decided to install himself permanently in the vertical position on the beam above the sink.  At night he would practice on manoeuvres to attract and interest her and in the morning try them out as she washed-up.  KW had even been working on a broad smile that he was convinced would radiate into the woman’s soul.

“I do believe that little creature enjoys hanging out in this kitchen”, the woman reflected after two days of KW’s blatant exhibitionism. 

KW felt he was getting somewhere.  Now the woman was noticing him each time she walked into the kitchen.  She would sometimes come up closely to him and gently and affectionately comment on his design or such like.  Still, KW wanted more out of this relationship: her mild interest was gratifying but he was seeking a significant bond.

That night while she was out, KW relocated himself from the beam above the kitchen sink to her beloved teapot.  It was a gamble because his motley pattern was a camouflage on the brindled clay pot.  She arrived home late as usual on a Monday – he had been at the flat a week and he knew her routines.  He knew her first move would be to make a cup of tea.  The woman entered the kitchen and approached the sink and began preparing a pot of tea.  When she noticed KW on the pot grinning at her she smiled warmly at him.

“How touching, it wants to be noticed”.  KW was joyous at this comment.  For her part, the woman had only just finished reading Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and was happy to entertain the idea that a recent object of her desire had been turned into bug and had come to woo her and that in true fairy story lore her treatment of the humble lowly critter would determine whether she was worthy of the gift of true love.

So here was KW, romantic hero trapped in an insect body, but were her affections for him authentic, he wondered.  He thought they seemed to pass through a series of well-charted pathways: with the kiss of a toad a prince would materialise; that the beautiful were saved by the size of their feet and the rest wore ill fitting slippers, or were devoured by wolves for vanity and poisoned by waxen apples for crimes of the heart.  He felt like he was just a frivolous construct, a plaything. She had nothing else – not even a TV! While he could reason that the woman couldn’t properly relate to him in his current state, regardless of how strong her feelings had been before his transformation, he felt no different now as he did when he was the confident, pink flesh-bodied man of just a week ago, and his feelings toward the woman became desperate. 

His outlook was dark as he struggled to accept the futility.  In a desperate bid for attention on a Sunday after she returned from choir, KW leapt into the air and landed on her left cheek.  It gave her quite a fright but she quickly regained herself and put a paper up to her cheek for KW to climb onto.  There seemed no end to her acceptance of him as a member of her household and his quirky behaviour and for this he was thankful. 

KW was noticing that he was undergoing swift changes within his crusty frame; he was aging at a rate where he could sense time slowing down.  His despair deepened.  He took to utterly senseless measures that had vague, uncertain objectives and which appeared to throw his fate into the wind.    One morning the woman arrived at the sink to wash up, to see her “little mate” clinging upside down inside the loop handle of the sink plug.  Again the woman rescued KW, once again circumventing his departure from this mortal coil. 

Her rescue set up a complex array of ambivalances which he retreated to sort throughout but only after having recovered from the effects of acute blushing.  He was, fundamentally, humiliated, at being found upside down in a degrading position.  He hadn’t expected to be recovered and then have to bear the weight of this embarrassment.  He had simply wanted to end it all spectacularly with her urgent hands at the sink acting as unsuspecting agents of his morbid design.  Then she might bear some weight, some ennui, some darkness; and thus lighten his load somewhat.  The woman, however, was increasingly attentive to KW, which heartened him and he reminded himself that these deepening attentions were his aim just days ago and now he was being rescued, lovingly relocated to “a safer place” and significantly spoken to, and now even addressed as “my KW”.

The truth was that KW could not bear himself any longer.  It would only be a matter of time, he told himself, that the woman would come to despise him and his pain would be twofold. His actions became increasingly extreme.  On one occasion he placed himself on the floorboards in a high traffic area in front of the sink.  It was tantamount to an utter withdrawal from Life. The unlikely outcome was that the woman distinguished a dark smudge on the mottled boards and picked him up.  During this rescue the woman noticed that the rather charming ambling gait of KW had slowed down considerably to what seemed like the carriage of a septuagenarian.

“KW has entered his dotage”, mused the woman and she smiled as he arthritically hobbled his antennae across the paper and onto the shelf.  KW now had eye level shelf privileges.  He had truly come up in this world and was exceedingly grateful of his fortune since his abject transformation.  If he was to muse on how such a fate could befall an ordinary bloke such as he, he may have found himself buying into a raft of absurdities such as ladders made from human hair, people from gingerbread and princesses in love with toads. He found himself dwarfed by an unfamiliar forest so he made a hasty retreat from the subject.

The woman hadn’t seen KW for three days after the floorboards incident and she had begun to miss him and feared the worst: that her last rescue was of a senile and absented-minded bug that had finally come to rest somewhere.  Preparing to practice, she opened the piano lid to find KW under there.  He graced a high Eb that only a piccolo could reach.

“A nice touch”, thought the woman. KW paraded exactly four octaves down the keyboard and then began marching back up.  The woman noticed his peculiar gait.  The rear legs would rise up in a show of impossible insect agility.  KW was demonstrating an exoskeleton prowess that the woman realised she could never really appreciate.  KW was really playing for attention, grandstanding and strutting the keyboard.

“What a performance!” she said to KW directly. 

Later that day KW appeared on a CD case of tango selections.

“Curious bug”, she laughed.

After one of her late finishes the woman returned home in a rather fractious mood. She hurriedly began assembling some food and hadn’t got far when she heard a crunch under foot.

“This is it”, said the woman immediately, “I knew it would come to this: where I will suffer enormously for having squashed yet another friendship underfoot on my incessant journeying. This friend has thrown himself not at my feet but under them, and I will be forever remorseful about how it has ended”.

She picked up his body and placed it on the eye level shelf. He was barely alive and seemed to be reeling in pain and shock. This was terrible for her. KW was not a cruel person and he didn’t want to make the woman suffer anguish. No, to be sure, KW was a performer who was compelled to evoke intense emotion from his audience. He was simply eliciting an acknowledgement of his heroism. Throwing himself under her feet was an act of sacrifice for Art.

The woman thought there was a dim possibility he could recuperate. The dilemma to either explore this, or to end his misery in a merciful fashion with the sole of her shoe, hung heavily. She flipped him onto his legs but KW forced himself back into the belly-up position. He was a tangle of animated legs, Hydra, a conductor with batons flailing. It occurred to the woman that KW might be gesticulating wildly as if waving goodbye. She returned the gesture with a worried look.

“His death scene is breathtaking”, she commented. “He’s the consummate leading man to the end”. KW thought he’d pitched it perfectly and extended the cadenza of his final moments.

“Watching him die like this ritardando makes me witness his heroism on an epic scale”. It continued for more than an hour. Just when she thought she’d seen his final flourish of limbs he would sally forth with more movement. She bade him her last goodbyes and went uneasily off to bed.

As KW lay on his back in the dark alone, he worked his six limbs over and over, gaining mobility throughout the night. A few hours had passed like this when he became aware of the antennae of another creature brushing over his body. His night sight had been fading of late but he could just make out a critter no bigger than he milling around him curiously. Soon he was being tormented by a second bug. As he lay in the prone position consolidating his strength, the cockroach began making attempts to haul his live carcass into a crevice. The torture endured for many hours throughout one of the longest nights of his life. He was powerless to flip over onto his feet and escape. His only defence was to animate himself in a flurry of limbs. At one point the other bug sunk his masticating jaw spurs into KW’s soft larval underbelly. There were times when all he could was endure it.

The next morning the woman expected to find KW expired in the place and attitude she had left him the night before: in noble insect warrior pose with left and right limbs joined in deathly meditation. Instead, she was horrified to see a brown Californian cockroach struggling to drag KW off into a hold and another bug loitering with intent, and all the while KW fighting valiantly with his flailing limbs. So the woman rescued him yet again.

“I have to make some effort to help him regain strength”, she reasoned limply, flipping him over to the legs-down position. When she checked on him an hour later he was attempting to haul himself into the belly-up position again. When he finally succeeded in returning to a larval position it felt natural, for he was very tired.

“She has saved me yet again from misadventure. What an angel. I’ll sleep now”. So KW passed into dust and ash quietly and with dignity.

The woman was slightly incredulous by this stage that KW was capable of such a passage. She had begun to think KW was immortal or possibly mythic. She recalled the numerous rescues, the wry locations in which he chose to frequent, the ubiquity that was KW, and concluded that the critter was extraordinary, and by implication, romantic love.

Just then she saw something drop from the ceiling near the exoskeleton.  It was another brindled wasp. A search of her apartment found a total of five wasps. The discovery was a revelation.  It was the end of mythic heroism for her. The little fairy tale corner, that in her solitary adult life was a private indulgence, had been ransacked. It was akin to the discovery that there were multiple Rin Tin Tins and eight or more standby Lassies. She was transformed.

Several weeks later she answered the telephone to the man Ken Wilkinson, her former heartthrob, who explained he had been rehabilitating after undergoing cardiac surgery and had called to ask her out to dinner. She declined, offering an excuse that her pet cat required an intensive flea bath on that evening. She was lightened by the anticipation of the many possibilities that awaited her.

by Aspergine Spears (C)

 
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