From Beatrice/Lizzy

“Blurtso channels Shakespeare”

blurtso1983

What’s the matter? said Alex. I haven’t been sleeping, said Blurtso. Why not? said Alex. I keep thinking of Lizzy. Lizzy? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, a donkey I saw on campus. What’s so special about Lizzy? I’m not sure, said Blurtso, there’s just something about her… I think I’d give anything just to brush against her. Really? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, and it’s driving me mad. Like in the poem, said Alex. The poem? said Blurtso. Sure, said Alex, the sonnet by Shakespeare: “By day my limbs, by night my mind for thee and myself, no quiet find.” Yes, said Blurtso, that’s it. Shakespeare sure knew donkeys.

“Blurtso plays Für Elise”

blurtso1899

Curse these clumsy hoofs! said Blurtso. How am I ever going to play Für Elise? I don’t know, said Pablo, maybe you could play it on the trombone…

“Blurtso is what he is”

blurtso1978

Hmm, I wonder what kind of donkey Lizzy likes? I wonder if she likes grey donkeys? Or brown donkeys? Brown donkeys are more colorful, but color isn’t everything. I wish I were a brown donkey. I wonder what else she likes? I wonder if size matters? I know I’m not tall, but I have big ears. I wonder if I’m handsome? I don’t think I’m ugly. Of course, there’s not much I can do, I am what I am. Maybe I should get a haircut…

“Blurtso fills in the spaces”

blurtso1977

I suppose when you see someone you like, and you don’t know them, you fill in the spaces with what you hope to find. Of course, you can make reasonable assumptions. For example, she was walking when I saw her, so she must enjoy going for long walks. And she was looking around, so she must like to sit and look at things. And of course, everybody likes pumpkin pie, and whipped cream, because everything’s better with whipped cream. I wonder if she likes to watch the ducks? This much is certain… she’s an attentive, pumpkin-pie eating donkey, who loves long walks, probably watches the ducks, and thinks everything is better with whipped cream. She also appeared to be simple, but intelligent, and unhurried and content—I think I detected a bounce in her step—and she was clearly enjoying the grass beneath her hooves. I wonder if she likes music? I wonder if she plays an instrument? Maybe she plays the trombone. If she plays the trombone we could play duets together, and travel the world earning our passage from place to place. I wonder what her favorite music is? It’s probably Für Elise. I wonder if that’s her name? Elise? Or Eliza? Or Liza? Or Lizzy? Yes, Lizzy is less pretentious. Hmm, I wonder what she reads? I wonder if she reads Shakespeare? Maybe she’ll join our barnyard company. Then we could stage “Twelfth Night,” and she’d be Viola and I’d be the Duke, and after many mishaps we would live happily ever after.

“Blurts loses control”

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I can’t stop thinking about a jenny I saw at school yesterday. I saw her once, passing on the lawn, and I can’t get her out of my mind. I wonder who she is? I wonder if she’s a student? It’s exciting to think of her, but it’s tiresome, because there are so many other things to think of. But no matter what I do, all I can think of is her. And I don’t even know who she is. I’ve seen other jennies, here and there, and now and then, but none like her. I’m dying to keep thinking of her, but wish I could stop. I’ve been here all day, while the hours passed, with the birds and the trees and the shadows and sounds, and I haven’t seen a thing, not a single thing, because I can’t stop thinking of a jenny I saw once, and may never see again. It’s times like this that make me wonder… if any of us have control over anything we do.

“Blurtso and Alex take tea”

blurtso1979

I am mortified, said Blurtso. What? said Alex. Poor Jane, said Blurtso, and poor Mister Bingley. Who? said Alex. I never saw a more promising inclination, said Blurtso, he had grown quite inattentive toward other people, and is not general incivility the very essence of love? What? said Alex. I am mortified, said Blurtso, I am humbled, I am grieved, and hope against hope that Wickam and Lydia will be married. I have been so ungenerous to Mister Darcy, and now we owe the restoration of everything to him. What on earth are you talking about? said Alex. And what’s that book you’re reading? It’s Pride and Prejudice, said Blurtso, by Jane Austen. Oh, said Alex. You are too generous to trifle with me, said Blurtso, if you will take another cup of tea, please, tell me at once. Another cup? said Alex. Why yes, I shall accept your offer, with gratitude and pleasure.

“Of the earth”

blurtso3093

The city before the city
was the earth
before hands held it.

The dark soil breathed
and the grasses sang,
until they were strangled
with slow cement.
To construct their shelters
the people went to the hills
where they razed
the orchestra of the trees,
stripping their strings,
so the limbless trunks
could be stacked and sold,
and only silence remained
where the music had been.

Not satisfied with a single roof,
they hired bandits
to return with their blades
seeking the slow heart
of the sequoia.
The lawyers at their windows,
unable to see through the smog,
signed the death warrants
of the hills,
while the rest
sat stupidly in their homes,
watching the walls grow,
until there was no door
for day to enter,
no crack for the wind,
and the dim light remaining
was tinted and conditioned.

When their prisons were complete,
they thrust their hands
beneath the soil
and melted its singing metal
into the graceless lines
of their automobiles.
In the sudden haste
they went from house to house,
smelling of synthetics,
stepping out only long enough
to curse the wind’s breath
disheveling their hair.

They put wheels on their homes
and carried them
groaning up the canyon.
They spread like smoke
through the trees,
splashing the branches
with obscene shapes and sounds.
They stayed until dust rose
where there had been blossoms,
and engines roared
where there had been birds,
and the waters choked
on their sudden blackness.
They left their broken trail
of plastics and noise
until even the wind could not wash
their echo from the trees.

Oh Lizzy, if not for you
the seasons would surely die!

Your sweet hooves
stepped from the foam
like polished shells
washed upon the shore.
You laughed
with the curl of the waves,
and your slow breath copied
its repeated rhythm and sway.
Your prints swirled in the tide,
and the jealous sea reached
to pull you back,
but its frothy fingers
touched only your heels,
then stretched and expired,
sinking in the sand.

Your hooves continued
over the hills and valleys,
moving in perfect balance
when the earth narrowed to a log
fallen across the stream.
They continued past the remains
of the beaver’s winter work,
along the unscarred path,
to the deer’s scented trail
that led secretly back
to the bank of the singing brook.

It was there your eyes learned
their color from the branches,
and stole the silver light
of the stone’s push upon the stream.

It was there your soul learned
the circling chase of the birds,
and your hair stole its aroma
from the cool in the shadows.

It was there your heart learned
the wisdom of the water.

When the wind
whispered your name
you followed it to the top of
a red-rock mountain.
It pressed its kiss against you,
sweeping the length of your snout,
and caressing with delicate patience
the curve and lilt of your ears.
There,
braced against the wind,
the extending light caught
and filled your form
with its rising breath of fire.

“Roman Clair” (VIII)

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“There was nothing there and everything. There were no words of love and no words for love. There were no words. He was in his and she was in hers. And hers was everything when hers was in his. But his was nothing when his was in hers.”