Issue #89

Winter 2024

Head, Blonde on Blonde, and Mechanical

by Ian Seed

Head

At the opening party of the new primary school, the head did a striptease for us, bumping and grinding to 'The Stripper'. I didn't think he would go the whole way, but he must have done, for, though I couldn't see his naked crotch because I was at the back of the group of parents cheering him on, I saw him twirl his underpants in the air.

Afterwards, a woman went around gathering his scattered clothes, then disappeared down the corridor in the direction of his office.

When it was over, I walked back home through the fields along a path I hadn't taken for a long time and came to a fence I didn't recognise, interlaced with barbed wire and brambles. Climbing over, I tore my trousers.

On the other side of the next field was a farm I'd never seen before. The farmer stepped out of his barn. 'Heading somewhere nice?' he asked, brandishing a pitchfork.

'I'm just on my way home from a parents' meeting,' I said, in a kind of country bumpkin accent, as if this might appease him.

A woman came out of the barn and stood by his side. She was the same one who had followed the naked head to his office. Now she was greedily eyeing up my torn trousers.

I said nothing. I was afraid of bringing her husband's wrath down on both our heads.

***

Blonde on Blonde

In the courtroom, my Norwegian wife said I'd ruined her life. She wept copious tears, but much of this was just for the drama. More than ashamed, I was pleased by the way the magistrate looked at me with horror. I enjoyed playing the pantomime villain, for I could see he was secretly enjoying it too.

Afterwards, I accompanied her to our old home, where I kissed her goodbye on the doorstep. I was free at last to go down to the pub on my own without feeling guilty, but then I thought she might like it if I invited her to go with me one last time.

At the pub, there was a 'blonde-on-blonde' night. My hair was white now, though it had once been what my ex-wife called 'dirty blonde'. She was the only genuine blonde there, and by far and away the most beautiful woman.

The magistrate was there, too, with his blonde wig, but he hadn't even bothered to shave. His large belly swayed while he danced, beer spilling from the pint glass in his hand. Nobody would dance with him apart from me.

***

Mechanical

I wished I'd never bought that house in the village. As soon as I arrived, the next door neighbour began to build a metal sculpture on the road in front of my gate. It grew bigger and bigger each day. I had no idea what it was supposed to be. Soon it was blocking out the light. What's more, he kept asking me in his gruff voice to get involved and assist him. When I tried to explain that I had my writing to do, he regarded my pale, smooth hands with contempt.

As the weeks passed, I became more and more morose. The villagers, who had once been so friendly, now began to avoid me. Inevitably, the situation would lead to a showdown between me and my neighbour. Inevitably he would defeat me with his large greasy fists.

Then I would grow subservient to him, in both mind and body, and have no choice but to spend my days helping him with his meaningless, mechanical enterprise.

Author Bio

sphere


Ian Seed's collections of poetry and prose poetry include The Underground Cabaret (Shearsman, 2020), Operations of Water (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, 2020), and New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018), which was a TLS Book of the Year. The Thief of Talant, the first translation into English of Pierre Reverdy's hybrid novel, Le voleur de Talan, was published by Wakefield Press (US) in 2016. Ian's translation of Max Jacob's collection of prose poems, The Dice Cup, was published by Wakefield Press in November 2022. His latest collection, Night Window, is just out from Shearsman. His work appears regularly in The Cafe Irreal. More at http://www.ianseed.co.uk.