Dead souls soliloquy (for Archie Loss)

The cat is all business, can be found in the morning by the garage door flap like a killer in the shadows waiting in the dark for anything trying to get inside. Dawn remarked, there’s mouse innards in the utility sink, the laundry room—and I knew that on one level, but passed it off as the cat’s uneaten food that sometimes gets left around the edges of the drain. But it doesn’t move when you hit it with the faucet, it just sticks there. The cat traps the mouse in the bath tub or other similar surface and sits there watching it. The mouse from the bath tub the other night must have shit itself based on the marks on the enamel. I had bad sleep afterwards, stumbling to the toilet: I should have gotten a shoe box and helped the mouse out and walked it across the road in the snow to the neighbor’s field (the humane thing), but I went back to sleep instead, or tried to: the cat in the bath tub for some odd reason and there by it a small mouse, frozen. I went inside the mouse’s POV in half-sleep: pictured the cat, the proportion/scale of it, utter horror. But then I felt warmly for the cat at the same time, who needs some stimulation this time of year.

The black that is November started today in gray. I sat on the front stoop and put on my hat and though we have weekly garden service, the yard’s a shit show of leaves and broken limbs. The branches slap the windows and the days narrow down, the nights are long, and lack charm. I took a bath after cleaning the tub but the stopper doesn’t make a seal and whinges, you have to hold it down with your heel to stop the sucking sound, and there’s no relaxing to that.

I walked to the lake and sat on a log, tried to tread across the drain rock lightly so as to not frighten the eagles crying somewhere in the dark nearby up above. I sat on a log admiring the light, the fuzzy moon, the oracle of the lake, the riddle of my life, the swooshing sound the falling leaves make, the poems around my feet, the way the clouds fan out in furrowed brows to make an infinity mirror, the temptation to go back to Scotland, to go forward to Germany, to chew on the work tasks of my day, to consider my relation to loved ones and how much it could always be better, something I think about but never make any progress on, like most things merely thought.

I went back to The Dead, the last in a short-story collection called Dubliners: the cover once orange turned pink/peach, the pages copper colored around the edges, 2017. A label inside the front cover says Ex Libris (a bookplate where you sign your name) with a drawing of a cat looking over a pile of books underneath, my signature from the year 1989, Gibbard.

The Dead, which they made into a film, and my professor laughed: some video rental store misfiled it with the slasher films: and what a disappointment that must have been for some poor soul looking for a real horror film. Here the horror is buried under many layers of self, the kind of Scream-like angst that occurs in the most subtle, unexpected moments of our lives…if we’re lucky enough to even notice it…if the story of our lives could hold readers for more than a few pages…if the two truly are one in the same, our lives, the story.

The night bistro lights come on early now, sometimes in the morning, when the light sensor gets confused and thinks it’s dusk, can only interpret the change through a drop in measurable light. We’re not much different ourselves, what sensors we possess…I keep going back to the lake, keep thinking I’m either changing more than I want to or not enough, not at all.

Dedicated to my college professor Archie Loss, who introduced me to James Joyce during my freshman year of college in Erie, PA.



Categories: Memoir, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Gotta love those professors who turn us on to Joyce. You were lucky to have Archie do the duty. And now you’re spreadin’ the word.

    Love the idea of “The Dead” being misfiled in the video store … Heh heh.


  2. For me, this was the nugget: “The black that is November started today in gray. I sat on the front stoop and put on my hat and though we have weekly garden service, the yard’s a shit show of leaves and broken limbs. The branches slap the windows and the days narrow down, the nights are long, and lack charm.”

    Again, your dreamy style of prose is often gorgeous and I believe I truly “get” what you’re after. Anyway, that passage certainly describes many of my November days thus far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Justin! So good to hear from you. And happy you liked that line about November because that line kind of fell on me and prompted me to write the post. And that you say you get what I’m after; gosh I’m grateful for that. Means I’m either not nuts or we both are, we few nuts here. Hope your Idaho November has a glint of sun in it here and there and you can steal away from the classroom to enjoy it. Best to you and yours, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These pieces conjure up a palpable atmosphere with a very economic use of words really. This is one of the things I enjoy about writers sharing well-crafted reflections – – despite the fact that I’m in very different place, I can enjoy how effectively your writing conveys a scene, feeling, mood, and some of the time, I’m simply enjoying the language “chew on the work tasks of my day”. I went to see Munch’s paintings in Oslo, a few years ago, and in some ways, trying to take in an artist’s exhibit is a similar experience to reading a memoirist, I tossed out the little curator’s guide with “anomie” “alienation” blah blah —
    just pour it all in, stir, see what reactions you get.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments are like, I feel I need to write back like it’s a letter! Thank you so much Robert, it’s inspired my posts recently having your keen eye on things. Hope you enjoy your first full weekend in the city there. I was lucky I did get to see The Scream in Amsterdam a couple years ago: but jealous you’ve been to Oslo. I was supposed to go there last month for work but it fell through. Happy you seem tapped into what I’m doing, thank you for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. the cat and his activities remind me of ‘silence of the lambs.’


  5. Pieces like this suggest to me that maybe I should focus a bit more on writing and less on photography. It’s tough to focus on both, and this has definitely been a photography study year. Maybe next year it’ll be different – stories with a picture instead of pictures with a story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like how you say that, stories with a picture instead of pictures with a story. Heck, both work for me. Find your ‘metier,’ my friend! You do nicely with both. Me, I’m all thumbs with that camera it seems.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “…the poems around my feet…” I like a lot.
    I’m still here!


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