Say Anything

CLAUDIO GAUDIO

From Gaudio's forthcoming novel I’ll Be.

I hardly shake, except after people, so why the itch for the two-legged beast, for Bob, in particular. Everything is so much more interesting when I talk to my television, or a sandwich. That’s me in a robe, now we’re a threesome, the sandwich, me, and the TV, in case you’re not following.

I’m always ready to do the town, from my little oasis, my Costa Concordia, there are heroes in every catastrophe, but in Italy they go to bed early. I’ve pinned all that I have, all that I am, to my chest to keep it from falling, and I’m sunning myself by my ankles. I don’t mind the horizontal, or the upside-down, for that matter, here it’s the dancing that kills you.

Sunday mornings I watch nature shows, hunting and fishing, advertisements mostly, from the Deep South. Slim pickings I guess, accountants in battle fatigues have been lying in wait since the mid-fifties. There’s nothing better than carrion to bolster the love men feel for each other. Hence the double barrel to shoot down a duck, excessive, in my view, but opinion is never opinion enough when discussing a massacre. There’s the kill, of course, but the skill is in the tracking, or the carving, but perhaps I’m confusing the wetlands in Georgia with the Sudan. I don’t deny the similarities but ducks have wings, for example, and the Sudanese are always in season.

Evening has come to where I am, but I don’t speak for New Zealand. What’s important is that I’m alone with my television. CNN is reporting from both sides of its mouth, there are ways and ways to say nothing, but surely they can get a little what’s what past the sponsors. I like faking it as much as the next gal, and so did Shostakovich, because he didn’t want to die, but as far as I know Washington is not killing journalists, not here, anyway, and no one who works for Ted Turner has ever been waterboarded.

Say everything, is the first rule of broadcasting, I agree, obviously, to know a word is to use it, but not every word is a tool or a weapon. Nietzsche, for example, thought his pen was a hammer, but he may have been mistaken because German professors rarely did their own carpentry. Which is a good thing because if that man could build we’d all be in cages.

Anderson Cooper can’t get a word in edgewise in the program I’m watching, there just isn’t enough time to summarise all those assertions. Bombing children is necessary, or unforgiveable, it depends on who’s talking. Talking, not doing it, is the thing they can’t manage. Death will preserve their innocence, carbon struck, as in oil or a diamond, the children we kill are not ready for prime time.

Still, I prefer the meaningless bustle, the news will only prolong disaster, and it’s corrupt. Talking is how everything slips through my fingers, how I empty a room. I need that which never was, and so I will never have done with conjecture, this swill of hilarity and terror, because literature, says Brian, is something different entirely. Take Byron, for instance, is how I’ll begin the next paragraph.

Take Byron, for instance, Bob, Blanche, and Brian too have been mentioned already, he’s from British Columbia, now try to guess why Keats is not in this sentence. It’s the K, of course, and he died early so his poems were too quick for my cranium. A story is a story because it’s told later, late, rather, that’s how I know the worst is still to come. It should have some bounce, and the people are just a detail on which to hang a hat, a cat, or an umbrella.

Ducks will always say what they’re thinking but that’s not why we eat them, and I don’t know what they’re saying because, thus far, the translations have not been reliable. I blame the academy, and that’s why Kiki and I went to work on the problem. She mastered the phonology immediately, but I have yet to exhaust that syllable. As for its meaning, it will be allocated to inscription in general since neither exist, but they function. At least that’s what I’ll tell Bob when he gets here, philosophers do not have an ear for the garbled and so, until then, it is we who must carry them.

In the last war I was a hostage in Babylon, after which I went for coffee in the cafe next to where I buy my tomatoes. My captors were stubbornly silent, that is until they threatened to burn my genitals. That’s when I started talking, giving breadth to the cavalry. They arrived just in time to show me the past that comes later, not to suggest history is provisional, what we did when lives in the body of others. So if it talks like a duck, walks like a duck, dig there so we can continue to evolve our vocabulary.

Visionaries are people who don’t see things as they are, where there are airfields they see birds, sucked into the engines of even bigger birds weighed down by hellfire missiles. Some projectiles are fast enough to be motionless, Bush thought, though he must have said it out loud because Condoleezza thought the phrasing poetic.

Nations rise from behind a little smoke and a banner, fall too, but then they have more obligations. What happens before that doesn’t matter, unless you’re an Algonquian still stuck in Manhattan. In the Congo they’re hunting women, the security council has agreed to be outraged provided all understand, said Angela Merkel, the Congo is not Berlin.

From my window I follow a cobble footpath to the road, the stones are from India because Italian granite is much too expensive. How it got here is nobody’s business, but I’d assume the worst.

The gardener, I’m rich you see, planted two miniature pine trees where the path meets the sidewalk. I don’t think they’re indigenous to the region, the dominant species are more likely deciduous. Most were cut down when they built the city, not to be confused with the bloodbath that was happening concurrently. The grounds are variously adorned, and at the rear of the property he planted cedars. But those two little trees are a brilliant green and today, like most days, a child stopped to touch them, but this time I cried.

These are the same words I spoke yesterday, I place them in rows like potatoes, but it’s the spaces in between that grow bigger. The same thing happened in Northern Ireland, to the words I mean, the potatoes just rotted. A full stomach is not conducive to allegory, or we can’t all be English, and I know it’s true because I’ve yet to receive a pony for Christmas.

London rising, in Belfast this time, governments plan but it is we who must finish things, by force, by consensus. One walks the other and then we got to talking, it’s a kind of leapfrogging, about the weather and the absence of money, your name too was right up my alley.

Swing a dead cat and you’re bound to hit somebody, if they’re not here aim for their absence, or their advent. It was Blanche who told me to bandy donuts for tubers, but, say it with me now, my reporting precedes her arrival and so I cannot abide by her counsel.

Everything breaks before it reaches my noggin, I’m lucky that way and, like the Irish, I can really draw out a minus. Only the air will prolong a syllable, bone and tissue to these orphaned sounds. Something, said Beckett, is the worst thing that can happen to literature, or I said it for him, the difference is negligible.

In Belfast there’s no light between a saint and a killer, and they like you even less if you’re neither. I waited, not to say I did nothing, it’s not the same thing, I rolled the dice and spared my larynx, split the room and played it, until everyone was seeing double.

That was a long time ago, post Finnegan, but I didn’t catch his meaning, and before we’d tried everything. Roundabout the first ceasefire, after which Murdoch’s shutterbugs and a few independents set up in Paris to take down a princess. I was in a Volkswagen, approximately, but I can’t tell you where I was the day they shot Kennedy because I knew from my accent I didn’t speak the language.

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CLAUDIO GAUDIO

Claudio Gaudio’s work has been published in Exile Literary Quarterly and Rampike. He was born in Calabria and lives in Toronto, and at claudiogaudio.com.


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