The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Nineteen

Archaeotourism Update, Girl With an Olive Branch, and Pachyderm by Margarita Engle
The Canary by Juan José Millás
Herzenboogen's Theory of Collective Truth by Caitlin Horrocks
Just Words by Guido Eekhaut
Masks by Flavia M. Lobo
I'll See You in My Fugue and A Morbid Philosophy by Fred Ferraris
The Other Assassin and Odysseus in Hell by Zachary Mason


irreal (re)views


I'll See You in My Fugue
and A Morbid Philosophy
by Fred Ferraris

I'll See You in My Fugue

Some faint distant drumming in Jesaru Durango's left ear. Like a pregnant skeleton at the bottom of the sea with its teeth chattering. His brother Lefcadio had sent a message. Jesaru was sleeping with Sylvie St. Cyr in his room on the second floor of the Lonesome Lizard Saloon when it arrived. He wandered around in his lover's sleep looking for Lefcadio's return address. The angle of Sylvie's dreams had changed greatly this last week. Her unconscious had become too de nos jours. Jesaru himself had taken to napping in the frigo-bar. The shiny green snake left early the next morning, saying as he departed, "Couple, adieu; je vais voir l'ombreque tu devins." Jesaru sank deeper into the hallucination they had borrowed from one of the girls down the hall. As Lefcadio might have said, "You can cut or you can drug." All over the second floor of the Lonesome Lizard Saloon one could hear Jesaru's cries from inside the frigo-bar. In the bathroom Sylvie St. Cyr was shooting scorpions with a buffalo gun she had inherited from her dead ex-father-in-law, the hailstone baron. Jesaru stepped out of the frigo-bar into her diary. All the words were crossed out.

Jesaru moves into another hallucination, another life between wake up calls. Like a dog, he muses, I hunt in dreams. He drives his trike across an ambiguous landscape. He fears he is losing his ability to concentrate on his hands. He falls into another dream. He follows Lefcadio into the Hotel Gryphius. The Hotel has been reduced to rubble. Giant bulldozers grunt and fume. Only the elevator is left standing. They ride the elevator to the penthouse where they find a Ricky Ricardo impersonator rinsing blood off hailstones. They realize they are in the wrong Hotel Gryphius; they want the one with the rudely sewn hands, not the bloody hailstones. They get back into the elevator, which has become a laundry chute. They plunge down the chute into the laundry room where they discover Sylvie cradling a suckling scorpion at her breast. Jesaru wakes up, shaking violently. He takes up his coffee mill carbine and shoots the frigo-bar.

One time Jesaru caught me napping at my computer. The words he saw on the monitor were, "...death precedes birth, the scar the wound, the wound the blow..." Sylvie had become so intoxicated with scorpion venom she collapsed against the radiator and burned the diary hidden in her frontal lobe. Then I woke up. The cursor on the screen was blinking. Jesaru opened Sylvie's diary. The lines were busy detaching themselves from the page, flying out the broken window. Jesaru read as they scrolled by, "Is there no separation between the poet, the poem, she who hears the poem? Old men dream, young men have visions. The dream ends with dead winds, spent waves. The vision begins with some dialogue between strangers in a deserted airport terminal." Jesaru yawned. He helped himself to a handful of scorpions. The drumming in his ear was getting louder. The cursor on the screen continued to blink.

A Morbid Philosophy

The sky is calm today and none of your siblings have been sold into slavery. The hills are an arabesque of colored bubbles. You sense in them a fact that contradicts self-inflating mental babble, a real world outside space and time. Edgar Allen Poe was born in 1809. Virginia Woolf committed suicide in 1941. Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allen Poe are elsewhere. That is, until Ferdinand Feghoot, the time traveler and concert promoter, brings them across the event horizon for an encounter with Jesaru Durango, that mutable cowpoke of epic perception, at the largest theater in the world. It fits in your palm, a lovely bauble. Jesaru Durango's appetite to know what it means to know how we know what we imagine we know we know has not been appeased. Jesaru is wearing the clothes in which we left him. He looks like he fell off the back of a stagecoach. The old gumshoe adjusts his kimono and approaches Edgar Allen Poe, who looks like an unmade bad.

"In times of trouble I prefer to disguise my true nature," Jesaru says.

"I look at you and I see your true nature, but only when I am not looking," Poe responds.

Jesaru turns to Feghoot. "Ferdinand, what are the odds that Edgar Allen Poe will give me the lowdown on what's what about what?"

"I don't like your odds. I once ate pancakes with Poe in Baltimore. We ate them with the clear corn syrup, but Edgar didn't like them, so we ate them nevermore."

Virginia Woolf walks onstage. She has river rocks stuffed into her pockets and hanging around her neck. She looks like a traveling quarry.

Poe says to Jesaru, "Who let this unkempt woman in here?"

"Show a little respect for a lady," Virginia Woolf spits at Poe.

"O fie fie fie! Here we have a case of insubordination, just when we need a little discipline."

"I thought you needed stones," says Virginia Woolf.

"You don't want to start a feud with me."

"I put the torch to James Joyce. You don't strike me as half the wicker man."

Poe shouts for Feghoot to remove Virginia Woolf from the stage. A raven flies in and carries her off.

Poe scurries behind a cardboard palm, where he tries to remove the papier maché beak from his chest.

Jesaru waits for the next stage. When it arrives, Poe is lying face down, his shirt burnt off, back muscles smoldering. Jesaru is a man of many stages. You have lived through a few of them yourself. You understand that Jesaru is much like you, only older and more tired. Once his shadow was thick and slab. Now his shadow has the shape of a man shipwrecked in nirvana. Does this explain why Jesaru disagrees with me, so often and so vehemently, without knowing why?

Virginia Woolf opines,"There is no real world outside space and time."

"I've had an inkling of the same," Jesaru agrees.

Virginia Woolf steps on Poe's broken beak. She places a stone on his back. She says, "The real world is an unmade bed at three in the afternoon."

Fred Ferraris' work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in, among others, Soundings East, Spout Magazine, Wavelength, The Worcester Review, and The Yalobusha Review; also in the chapbooks, Marpa Point (Blackberry Books, 1976) and The Durango Chronicles, Book One (Blue Marmot Press, 2004), a full-length book, Older Than Rain: Early & Recent Poems (Selva Editions, 1997), and an anthology, Prayers For A Thousand Years (HarperSanFrancisco, 1999). His book-length manuscript, Loose Canons, was a finalist in the 2003 National Poetry Series.

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