apologue; a moral fable. Turn your face toward the sun. Make something with your hands, an apologue of laurel or thistles or porcelain bricks. Smile and say something nice, I said. Say something. Chin against your breastbone, all that defeat writ upon your brow. Yes, I said. That’s what I said. Don’t look at me that way, don’t pin me down with your eyes. Make something with your hands, an...
Bowbard; a person destitute of spirit. We set up camp beneath the shadow of the escarpment, close to the bend in the river. At night we heard the faint cries of animals, and the wind traveling through the trees. We heard the rocks move as the earth shifted, fitful and restless in slumber, the fear of it making our eyes wide and white in the void of darkness. Voices low in whisper, we...
Gardyloo; derived from the French word, “garde à l’eau” (beware of the water!) when a chamber pot is emptied out of the window into the street below. Up On That HIGH BRIDGE (a shape they vaguely see, and can’t make out.) At least that’s what was written down, for FUCK’S SAKE (God bless) Gardyloo! he called. Gardyloo! That’s what he said, and that’s...
Barking-iron; a pistol. In this city, there’s too much rain. I can hear the curved rivers flowing jagged slop along the cement curbs, little chunks of detritus bobbing and bumping along, catching and sluicing and progressing to points along the vast concrete and glass grid. People step indifferently over the grey clot of sodden filth caught in a bloated gutter grate, foaming runnels...
Quadrageminus; the fortieth day of fever; the latest period an acute disease was supposed to be capable of reaching. Audio Recordings from up on the Scratchy Scree (According to Vin the Vangloid-Who-Is-Blind-Not-Deaf) File 3478-7 part (A) Commence playback: “I heard a tale once, a good one, I reckon, back ‘afore I got the damp-lung workin’ long years in the Shaft.”...
Athanor; a digesting furnace - an alchemical term. They travelled by car down to the coast of Athanor where the old lighthouse still loomed off the crumbly peninsula like a crooked finger, poking dejectedly at the rusty clouds clotting the sky. Even when he was a kid the lighthouse had never once lit up. He often wondered why, but as he got older, questions like that had a way of evaporating...
Exust; to burn. I’ve reached the limit. There’s nothing left to give - nothing left to earn or gain. I stood at the threshold of the living room and dining room last night with all the lights off, staring into the flat gloom, picking out the vague furniture shapes from the residual images of my memory like the burned retinal halos from staring at light bulbs or the sun. There was...
Gutterblood; one who’s ancestors have been in the same town or city for some generations. “Listen. Please, just listen for a minute. I want you to consider something.” She leaned forward, her eyes round and fixed on his own, two points of pale blue intensity with a fervent and almost clamoring light behind them. She was at once a beautiful and terrible thing, withdrawn in her...
Flitch; the side of an animal, salted and cured. “Kind sir,” she said, her face hidden beneath the blue shade of her parasol. ”It would please me greatly if you could buy me a lolly.” The astute gentleman with the red glass monocle huffed a great snuff from his snuffbox, then with a flitch of his tawdry wrist, twisted his waxen mustache between his gentrified fingers....
Ruttier; an old traveler acquainted with roads. A wonderful moment: She stands at the kitchen counter, washing the antique ruttier her aunt brought back from Istanbul several years ago. He walks in through the mudroom doorway, shaking off his grey, woolen overcoat. “Hello,” he says, brushing past her. A few moments pass. She senses him behind her, smiles as his arms thread through...
Aporrhipsis; an insane dislike to clothes. I don’t really know about these things sometimes. I can’t really account for when all those children with the big, wobbly, purple heads start loping up the street like a collection of swollen kidneys tumbling down a steep incline. It’s not healthy. It’s bad for the skin. My neighbour accused me of stealing his perennials,...
Granch; to grind the teeth. Goes like this: I was uptown, just skating on the sunshine side of the two-block type of roady granch (the upscale kind, with the green awnings and adirondack chairs), and the KGB stiff in a black suit with a tie made outta banana peels came up to me and says, “Son, can you buy me a ticket to Nebraska on the bullet?” and I says to him, lookin’...
Pilgarlic; one who peels garlic for others to eat, metaphorically one who is made to endure hardships while others are enjoying themselves at his expense. The Wasp King enters, walking slowly to the throne on the raised dais. He is holding the Comb Scepter Wasp King: The season approaches, a beggary of winds that change upon those whims that round earth abides. Pray, where is my Suckle? Where...
Saltation; the act of dancing or jumping. I used to date this guy who, after a few weeks of cultivated sexual trust, I convinced to treat me poorly while having sex. When he was on top, I wanted him to choke me a little bit, right to the point where I could see little dots of electric light swimming by; the sweet spot when everything goes slightly dim and tingly. I asked him to pull my hair...
Deterge; to cleanse, clear, or wipe away foul or offensive matter from a wound. “Off the bus!” he yelled. “Everyone has to get off the bus! This is the last stop!” She looked at the man sitting across the room, hunched forward, back against the wall, taking up a rumpled section at the furthest end of the divide between them, and she yearned to be in a completely...
Bedswerver; one who swerves from the fidelity of the marriage bed; an adultress. The cheap hair-plugs clustered along the salesman’s hairline made his head appear like a cheaply made doll. He found it difficult to look the man in the eye, as his gaze kept creeping back up to the sebum slick treacle of poorly transplanted follicles. “This mattress,” the salesman was saying,...
Satyriasis; an irresistible desire in man to have frequent connexion with females, accompanied by the power to do so without exhaustion. Symptoms: Constant erection, insatiable desire for venery, frequent nocturnal pollutions. She takes a pull from her cigarette, blows the smoke out of the corner of her mouth and reaches with her other hand for the beverage perspiring on the table by her elbow....
Curglaff; the shock felt in bathing when one first plunges into the cold water The small, cherub-like face on the dented, empty can of Dean’s Baked Beans stared condescendingly at him from the vantage of the slightly raised television across the room. The slick red cheeks drawn up to reveal rows of happy white teeth that reminded him of marshmallows. The eyes wouldn’t leave his own,...
Blatteration; senseless roar. From Latin, blatteratio. Her bedroom remains empty, lonely in the stillness of days. The limp curtains are drawn, proof against the sunrise, filtering time’s passage into a muted, nostalgic glow. There was love here once, and dreams and laughter; there were secrets, but the silly, harmless adolescent kind. What happens when we lose that which is most dear?...
Bawker; A roguish player in a bowling-alley who has confederates in the crowd. I’m leaving early today to go out with the guys from work. We might be at Tampa Tony’s or Bawkers. Called the electrician and he said he’d come by Thursday afternoon for a quote. I’ll be late, so leave the side door unlocked. Kisses, Ry The note was written on the back of a used envelope...
Peezy-weezies; It is said of a person who is sulky, or is in the dumps. The red bulb swayed, casting its bloody light, cutting a slow, deliberate path through the shadows choking the ceiling. The unseen maw of an air vent wheezed recycled air to gently push that singular red stare, looking down with crimson phosphorescence, illuminating exaggerated angles on the two men below.[[MORE]] Table...
Rubbage; garbage, rubbish. He watched her head loll forward, her usually composed and attractive features smudged with comic drunkenness. When her chin bounced off her breastbone, she blurted a series of loud, stuttering giggles. They sounded like a donkey caught in an electric fence. Then she lurched forward, sloshing her drink over the edge of the table before dropping the glass entirely. ...
Hogenhine; he that comes guest-wise to an inn or house, and lies there the third night, after which he is accounted of that family. “Do you drive a minivan?” “Yes I drive a minivan.” “What colour is your minivan that you drive?” “The minivan I drive is blue.” “Do you like the colour blue?” “Yes, I like the colour blue. It is the...
Gommacks; mischief, trickery. “I don’t like these gommacks,” he said. “They taste a bit chalky.” His wife sat beside him, her slender fingers gently massaging his knee. She emitted a soft laughing sound and he felt the gentle timbre of her voice against his arm. He’d received the gommacks as a belated birthday gift from his secretary. The plastic box they...
Boanthropy; a form of madness in which a man believes himself to be an ox. When he opened up the hot and slightly moist box of chicken nuggets, he found that one of them had a bite taken out of it. A small concave portion that made the nugget resemble a slightly tumescent lower-case letter ‘c’. He sat there for a few moments, staring at it, his forearms resting on the salt and...
Bellipotent; mighty in war. There she sits across from me, with a banana in her lap. Will she eat the banana here, on the subway, amidst the dense coagulation of the dreary commuter? Will she eat it elsewhere, in private? I cannot answer these questions. I can only divide my gaze between the sweet symmetry of her features, and the inevitable metaphor of the banana in her lap.[[MORE]] The...
Flurrigigs; useless finery. A toddler, in a typical fit of solipsistic rage, knocked over the carefully constructed pyramid of Heinz ketchup bottles onto the floor, creating a jagged pond of fine tomato mulch. Thomas, a teenage part-time stock boy, stood there, gaping at the impossibility of the task as it presented itself in a grossly inconvenient way. Having built the noble condiment...
Hang out the broom
Hang out the broom; to invite a group of friends over when the wife is out. “I keep the broom in the closet,” he said. “It has a red handle. The bristles look like a cartoon mustache.” “I hate it,” she said, folding her arms petulantly. “It smells like an empty tuna can.” Such dreadful things she would say! It hurt his heart for her to loath his broom. What is a man to do? “Fine,” he said, and...
Criticaster; a petty or inferior critic. She watched him watching the vague shapes move slowly along the horizon. She watched his eyes, cloud grey and clear, yet troubled, gazing inward. She followed the strong line of his neck, the solid slope of his shoulder that angled slightly forward. She fought the instinct to reach out and touch him as it rose up suddenly and powerfully, if only to feel...
Twistin’in; Luddite term for swearing in of a new member to their secret society. Barney was frantic, waving his arms about and grabbing at his hair. His mouth kept opening and closing and each time a kind of gutteral croak would belch forth, like a scum bubble on the surface of a sewege river. “I bin baayadd! I dun bin baayyaad!” He ran over to Rodrigo, who was busy squinting...
Eelery; a place where eels are caught. Sub-word: Broggle; to sniggle or fish for eels. “Sometimes I like to have pickles in my sandwich,” he said, staring out the small dirty window that had been slowly but steadily approaching total opaqueness over the years due to rising air pollutants. “Sometimes,” he continued, raising his finger to tap the side of his nose,...
Warling; someone who is despised or disliked. Peace comes from behind the sun, with the peregrine falcon, and the owl. Yet all of these drink blood. He looked up from the scrap of paper before him; looked up from the small, furtive lines of poetry scratched at the bottom of the latest missive like some kind of prophetic footnote. It was a warning - a veiled message from sergeant Hulin for the...
Navvy; a toiler, particularly with a spade. The boy combed the meadows and forests on the outskirts of his village, scavenging for herbs and wild vegetables. He wore a threadbare shirt and pants that were too large for his frame, and the hemp sandals on his feet rubbed the thin flesh of his ankles into red, weepy blisters. His sandals nor his poverty could shake his countenance, however, and he...
Quisby; not working, an idler. Two young women sat across from him, a mixture of professional aplomb and surreptitious condescension mapping their cosmetically enhanced features. One had dark red hair swept up in a tight, rounded bun; a pair of large, hazel eyes ringed by a heavy border of black eyeliner, blinked at him occasionally like a pair of lighthouse shutters. The other woman had...
Vitativeness; the love of life. There was something in her face that he didn’t quite trust. There was a shadow there, below the surface, lurking. It took him a long time to come to terms with how her manner made him feel, but the edges had become blunted and there wasn’t really anything left to discuss internally. He moved away from the wall, watched her stuff the stacks of money...
Blushet; a young, modest girl. I remember when we used to go down to his bedroom in the basement of his mother’s house. The light would filter through the thin blushet drapes, lending a kind of aquarium atmosphere to the space. We used to lie on his bed, clinging tightly together, feeling the heat of our bodies but afraid of what that might mean. He told me what he thought about me and us...
Cruckle; to sink down. Cruckle the Knuckle was a man of wide open spaces and impressive grins. He would say in a deep baritone voice, “All manner of beast are my friends,” and he would welcome all living things into his mudbrick hut to share of his fire and company. A gentle giant, was Cruckle. One day an old bearded man wearing a long tattered indigo robe showed up...
Pythonic; pretending to foretell future events. “I spoke to your principal, and he told me that the other girl, Trudy, will not need stitches. I managed to talk him into shortening your suspension down to one week, thanks in part to your father’s connections. Her parents, on the other hand, want you expelled permanently from school, and are busy building a case to take to the board...
Englottogaster; one who speaks from his belly; a ventriloquist. “Do you get the feeling,” he continued, uncertain. “Do you get the feeling that there’s something else? Something missing?” “Something missing?” she asked. “What do you mean?” “I don’t know. Something else. Something we lack but we can’t quite figure out...
Muckinder; a handkerchief. When he came home from work that evening, there was a corpse sitting on his front porch picking through the garbage bag he left by the door that morning. Half of his scalp was missing, pushed over like a tin can lid off to one side exposing greenish grey bits of brain covered in a layer of rust coloured blood. His hair was probably blond when he was alive, but now it...
Timbestere; a woman who plays tricks with timbres, batons of some sort, by throwing them in the air and catching them on a single finger. On the other side of town, close to where the bridge spanned the black muck of the river and where the factory waste tunnels bled poison into the ocean like severed veins, that was where Pander’s office was. It was a tired, spindly thing of crumbly tan...