Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Was

Was
annales nomadique: a novel of internet

by Michael Joyce

Quality Paper
2007
Price: $17.95

E Book
2009
Price: $14.36

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Was is a wonder work, half-poem half-narrative, an often comic nomadic history whose main character is the fleetingness of information itself. A post-cyber pilgrims' progress, it limns a postmodern "ages of man" (and woman) with a phosphorescent succession of threshold events, each flaring toward an elegiac still point, although not perhaps an end. Its title figure, the word was, marks that instant of utterance outside the present, which is neither past nor future but rather the interstitial space of any telling. Like Ariel in flight, what Was takes place "before you can say 'come' and 'go,'" slipping away before you can "breathe twice and cry 'so, so." The nomadic lovers here, as any lovers, attempt to linger in the afterglow of what was but it slips away like mist. Story begets story as if without author, events gathering into each other, as much memory as dream, their locales literally moving across the face of the globe by instants. Continent to continent, from hemisphere to hemisphere, synaptic episodes strobe across its surface like thunderstorms seen from a satellite. Yet in these brief flashes a memorable and deeply moving procession of characters passes before us in vignette, lovers and children, parents and refugees, sailors, missionaries, clowns, mourners, forlorn warriors, sweet singers.


Excerpt


was thought not were the yellow the irrepressible ever who said who said ends Ashtoreth one Wednesday, one Wednesday in June the damp the dampness in everything (light, profusionist, no I mean heat)

forty times now, bowing, clogs along foggy bottom news from the front, wooden boxes neatly in rows

the last the lost wandering allées (lips pressed to the neonate's skull, powder scent) willows all now gone from their ripeness

and what of the stipple, the limp, the lost what-was, despite the damp odor of canvas, the salt-cracked lips, inordinate corridors? who can say who can say

distant machines growl through die Nähe (durch)

she goes out

she goes out again

bereft, put-upon the dogs circle, their bloodied knees glistening damply

along thought now, begins with if, not begs as he misread, and if, so considered, say sawdust sausages and diesel fumes or the faded parasols and flutes of Prosecco, silver bucket of sardines sur le quai Branly, too tardy to set off, redolent of interiority, thinking, thinking a seizure, a pleasure, a string purse, the death of a tiny thing, a beetle without a common name, bloodless, foxing the endpapers of the calf-bound 12mo of Terence's Comoediae she brought back from Caracas, if then? how to live, I mean.

mean

again she goes out, la charrada (charros y musica), amusing herself- etymologically so, things

neighborhoof, once misspoke, l'amuse-bouche, cherry lipped

global creolization = URL

olé olé, under skirt's goat beard, almond scent, headcheese

benign complication, dramatis personae: due, viz., the dantesque: "volentier parlerei a quei due"

hears a good story s

et forth a skiff doomed to barratry, fouled in her scuppers, seacocks seized with velvet rust, tulipwood planks damply aromatic, porpoises abeam

land locked look at her thighs, the seas the seasons by the lee, I, no, nothing, pink drinks on ice, tumblers sweating feathers, elliptical palm leaf shadow, the Tamil princess's teeth shredding sugar cane (Gramineae Saccharum officinarum), those days glorious, glint of the chalice held aloft in pink manicured fingers, sentimental gangster (hums)

Milonguita,

los hombres te han hecho mal

y hoy darias toda tu alma

por vestirte de percal.

saxophone portico and lurid petticoats, echoes languidly intrude, relentlessly not making sense, what else is music, Davide amigo?

dead plastic telephone, curiously cocoa stained basalt

head inland

katabatic gusts rising up into the lowering overcast, winds through the pass, winds pass, winds past, whistling

hangs in, spake the man at the bar, eruption unregistered, barrista's overlapping swirls yawning, tamps a mahogany kafé, MTV on the telly

Jó napot kívánok. Egyetemista vagyok. Everything means something to someone: waterfall pinball music, the Gigue Fugue of Bach on a mobile phone

suckling creature tucked under her blouse, vaguely marsupial, mounts the steps of the trekker's Toyota jitney, backpack squarely situated v
last night's knifing bloodless, gibbous moon, potato and ramp frittata bubbling in lard, yet no one moves

bakelite (corrects him) no matter, the fat bloom whitish upon a block of ghosted Oaxacan chocolate, say, La Soledad or Guelaguetza, now a miraculous photograph de la La Virgen de Juquila, three euro, mister

my seester

the dog's abrading tongue, the nun like a dirigible, this way and that

pyramids of Calabicita, black radish, Thymus praecox, slumbering peaches, melon gash crawling with dark winged raisins
v let's get out of here, let's

yes

refugee consciousness, a radio lozenge, certain unforeseen cul de sacs, multicolored phone cards and the right festive hat, motor vehicles bureau, sultry white presidio

I want to waltz once

more.

slow descent of the mothership over the dry lake bed, a miraculous pouring forth, distant murmur, an empty stadium, all we have lived for lost, or who can tell (so irritable, she says), the hovering shade offers a welcoming respite, for once almost making sense, sweet shoots stir themselves, labial: cumulus

under the shadow their shadows lost, one two three, one, two three, one two

the same train arrives seven times running am Bahnhof, each time the same cast and crew disembarking, east time he thought, as if a film loop, La Ciotat et alia, nervous conductor tapping the crystal of his wristwatch, endless recurrence no excuse, Togolese redcap's soprano sax aria, Agapornis pullarius, 1964 definitive, listed at 200 francs, the coolness of the glass arcade after the compartment

prandial shuffle of cards, sept de cuillères, watches her sway across the plaza, shadow oblique, unveering

hesitation about trusting casement, compass, snapline, pencil (rayograph salamander their logo; slogan unknown), physics of a pawn shop diffraction grating, small town diadem, blue chalk measure of an afternoon

the precision of ennui, this moment, this (sways unveering), x7

SMS = telegram

postcard of a parcheggio in Rifredi (Line Firenze-Pistoia-Bologna ) 4.5 km from the Uffizi, asphalt inscribed with graphically crisp hatching, Egyptian temple facing the laghetto, Hellenistic temple beyond the lemon trees and the stables, off-duty gypsy woman napping on the lawn, Hogarth's Curve, loss of innocence perpendicular to the descent of narrative dans le rêve lucide, lacks patience with this and who can blame

will you love me?

when?

and again the day begins without summoning, sun wandering purposelessly, is of course its purpose, such cleverness at breakfast, laughter like ice cubes on the hotel terrace, tarry cigarettes, corporate countess with a harlot's lips, pert breasts neatly packaged as twin gabardine parcels, belted waist, Blackberry tracking satellites from a clutch purse, toast crust detritus, neatly ringed crimson cork tip filter deftly swept away, smoothes skirt abaft, aright, moves off

no nightingales in the new world, the Polish poet said, this is a problem (rueful smile, dark-haired wife midway in the auditorium), nor do your blackbirds sing

harbour seals venture far up the river

it is no matter

though you would think it otherwise it is impossible to see oneself in the mirrored surface of a CD, she said, incorrectly it turned out

it has been good

then what, the fog riven into drifting forelocks, dusty stones come pane casareccio in the morning sun. (then and what) two and a half hours before noon and, acedia, a name for every thing, waft of cloacal salt scent il Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, faraway Veneto, distant Ophir, dopo an hour before coffee again makes sense, until then (here is the origin of art), driftwood twigs twirl languidly in opalescent oil skim, beard of yellow pollen clinging to them

(then what | when that), i.e., global reversibility of cellular automata, viz., unidentified middle-age man of uncertain nationality wearing yoked gingham cowboy shirt plus Teju lizard boots with hand-tooled and painted uppers, duty-free at Schiphol shopping for salt licorice

16 min

the longing for event weighing on his shoulders like a field piece, crus ansata, fissura coronalis, good shepherd, a lace of bloody sweat on his forehead, it is a long story, a lonely motorcycle along a nearby stone passaggio soon lost, the transit of venus accomplished nightly via nickel-chrome alloy cylinder tumbling slowly through arid darkness, graphite composite and epoxy skin pinging @ thirty cycles per second, Dasabimbaras approaching the threshold of the universe (it is all very exciting but his companion, imagining the smell of straw, longs to breathe the air outside the dark theater)

baptized Eve, awkward embarrassed rictus one finds charming (rehearses the possible replies: atom, atman, admin, ad man, al-atwah, haha), smiles

(Advert: Reinforcement works from 8mm Ø to 42 mm Ø any size or shape, subcontract ok.)

greeting grasps his hand longer than one might, softly softly

Christian, spoken as if giving her a small coin

do you like to coffee? is not how it is said (as if in a sea or a game)

has a story begun then?