Fran Carlen, p.1



All night everything was ending. Happiness defected to another family. “And how was your day,” she would ask him. “Stupidly perfect. More like a gesture than a day,” Karenin complained. The declension of bright start-overs divisible by a televised parade of swan-girls. “The more we want swift return, simulated union, apparel…” He began talking at length about resurrection. “Another drawn-out expository with pointed indifference,” she sighed. Her phlegmatic eyewear and his long-suffering cravat were at cross-purposes. It would be interesting to see where he stood when the universe broke in two.


“I think…” “Prunes, don’t get started on that again.” He felt he was above brand-name bifurcation. Fixatives like fidelity and flight spelled fiction in her book. Anna paused to sense the tremor of the planet, wobbling in its lopsided orbit. Or the pull of an older world with more accessories.


Death came like a door suddenly blown open by the wind. Then came the stationing of strangers taking polaroids. All at once she was a widow. She put on a disc. Schwanengesang always took away the bottom. Her problem was how to undo the domino of numbers. And redemption, threadcount, smog and plate tectonics all tossed together. Distilling dirt from money had driven some people mad (it was one of the paradoxes of modernism).


“Grizzled cult! Esthetes! Back away from the door!” The lamb showed up with pince-nez and a supercilious grin. He said his name was Andrey Bely, and he bore a striking resemblance to Andrey Bely.

“Where are your works on paper?” he demanded.

Movers took away the divan. “When she doesn’t sing, she counts. When she stops counting, she sings. When she’s not singing, she’s counting. When she’s not counting or singing, she cries,” the factotum explained to the lamb.

“Tu és vraiment dégueulasse.”

Animal cruelty. Movie lies. Levin missing. The blank noise of lack.

“An excursion to the seashore could alter everything.”

“Ah, peregrination… is just so sweet you want to disappear,” Bely brayed leaving.


Her fertility was mental. After all who can fault the wind? Well, everyone. It wasn’t like her to ask why. She was going to die. She put on another disc. An oblong monologue about herself or transport. Dwelling on events that may never have happened. In her mind’s eye: Alma Ata. And dread of slipping through the tissue of the ridiculous. Listening to the adagio she felt as lonely as the moon, and fell asleep with her hands in her pockets.


In the Bildungsroman, the hero never reads the gazette but deliberates his own demise or mankind’s. She read The Lives of the Saints. At a moment’s notice she could give up whom she desired. The paste of her saintly pallor. She ambled along yawning like a dog.


Would he call on her again, the lamby? She guessed nyet with certitude. He was the type who liked to stay up late and make senseless rhymes. That morning he offered her fish in a bucket if she could fetch him water without the bucket.


She spilled two glasses of tea but still had the keys to the dacha. At least the confiture and poesie were still intact. She had wanted him to stay all day, in the bathroom. She should have lacquered herself, put butter in the butter dish. “There goes the muse, the sepulchre, the tidy sacrifice, witless but uplifting reason,” she thought as the door blew open.

“Cuttlefish! Why pay a fine for sugar! What are you, period. Nice and crisp, mind you!” Palimpsest, his calling card. “Anna?” Or was it palindrome?

“While you were away, I dreamt I was throwing everyone and breaking them, just like a child.”

“Angels are allowed to watch but they can’t get involved.”

“…trying to break the sound habit of reasoning.”

“Yet since Vronsky you keep changing the subject back to yourself.”

“…to show up as myself in mimesis.”

“Just imagine a devouring dragon in a crinoline. Medusa with more élan.”

“That’s your remedy for glossolalia?”

“Do you have any pop-tarts?”

“I have some lamb-chops.”

“Register your anguish as it breaks your heart and makes you want to die. Sign here.”

This devochka must lie. “Diaries take up space,” she thought.

“Everything is born in ether,” she tried.

“It’s Folsom for you this time baby,” he replied.

Your basic enfant térrible. Behold, what, gone. “Goodnight sweet pike, goodnight, goodnight…” Her toy-boat voice bobbed up and down over the surface of the song.


Or danger hanging voluptuously in mid-air, ebbing and flowing of faces, bedlam of incandescent limbs, vehicles, ragged archetypes, handy alchemical settings, lingual bridges to concomitant connectors, any system would do, certain death: sleeplessness.


Layered innuendo and memory. Checklist of her shortcomings. The poseurs were dropping like flies. The others were just lucky at cards. The next card she turned would bring her closer to death. There was the anesthesia plus the shiny lubricants they use for electroshock. Women from another continuum stood at the foot of her sledge. “Snap out of it, Anna.”

(to be concluded)