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 Chapter One: Cette Illusion de la Mortalité

Section i. Battlefront

 

Honoré Gremot is the first of four narrators, a Belgian not of the working class, not of the bourgeoisie . . . and not (though, like most Belgian Gremots, consumptive) persuaded life’s options are limited. Richard Everard has lost the family farm, as had Monsieur Gremot, Honoré’s father; in Richard’s case, through intemperance and loathing, rather than the fatal Gremot ambition. The Everards and the Gremots have a connection in common (annoying to both clans if they knew it) through the Sartains of Paris and New Orleans. Young Richard inherits the full weight of the Everard legacy, and the unrequited admiration of Élucide Gremot, of the Indiana Gremots.

 

 


 

Excerpts: A Figure from the Common Lot

Chapter One
Cette Illusion de la Mortalité
section iii. Passage

 

 

“I see.” Honoré undid the top button of his coat and reached inside for his letter. The clerk, after a cursory and disdainful glance, shook his head; he spoke to Honoré, but with a commiserating face, nodded to the man who crowded Honoré from behind.

“I don’t want to see this. Do you not understand me?”

He did understand, now…that Broughton meant to test him.

“Please, monsieur, where do I go, then?” He heard a snort from the man whose business his ignorance delayed, and was told, in a voice impatient and incredulous, “But, where do you imagine you are to go? What house have you come from?” Unable to believe such naïveté, the man pushed Honoré aside and stepped to the counter.

“I am next,” he told the clerk.

 

 

Chapter Two
Possente Spirto
section i. Jerome

 

 

The memorial was inscribed with a short poem, uncredited.

 

Hail! Aegis uncorrupted, flag of my Republic

Call to me! And I, ever to thy summons rising

Rally! Men of valor, to thine Union rent asunder

By base Treason’s sword.

Dare brute cowardice imperil Liberty;

Valiant champions of Freedom―forward!

 

 

Chapter Three
Peas in a Pod

 

 

Fish was not there, and so Richard did not take the liberty of disarranging his hoard. He knew what Mrs. Purfoy would think of him for this foot-dragging. Already, she’d told Richard that before Saturday—which meant he must begin the work this afternoon—he was to dismantle Hopper’s “business”; and paint the walls in Hopper’s old room.

She knew what was in there. By some means, she knew it all; all the doings within her domain.

 

 

Chapter Four
The Eye of a Magpie
section i. The House of Gremot

 

 

My friends, often we say in our hearts, “I cannot forgive”; when, what we mean to say is, “I cannot excuse.”

Many acts of a selfish or heartless kind are more than we can make excuse for; and failing to find reason adequate to justify such cruelty, we feel that the act is unforgiveable. Yet, it is not the act; rather it is our sin, our human weakness, that frailty which is the inheritance of all mankind, that we understand and forgive. And this we may do, without excusing the act. It is myself that I forgive, when I forgive my brother.

 

(Honoré, an inmate of the almshouse, reads a religious tract)

 

 


 

 

Bedlam (sequel) predicted for 2020

 

 

all bedlam courses past expected 2020 heroine Elucide

Bedlam continues the story, with the railroad scheme forcing evacuation of the county Hospital for the Insane, the registering of unknown buried; a journalist from Paris come to scrutinize Garfield assassin Giteau, another, from Cookesville, ordered to Nashville to dig dirt on a rival; a fortune-hunter among Ebrach’s spiritualists; a reunion for Honoré, a rise in fortunes for one Everard brother, a fatal convergence for another. And Élucide, ambitious only to live and work as she chooses, finds…as Young Richard had said long ago…that the world makes a place for you and keeps you there

 

 

 

“1881: the perfect palindromic year”

 

 


 

 

A Figure from the Common Lot

 

 

 

 


 

Poems and Songs

 

 

The Culture

 

We are important

Our three-letter alphabet

Constructs our limited language

The gravitational center

Draws our attention-seeking message

The message is

I am important

Yet you don’t know me

 

On an oxbow

The current passes

A fallen tree, submerged

At a cross-angle, green murky-brown

Depths, hot from the sun

The surface still, gnats rise

Kingfishers, blackbirds, bank swallows

The river has right-of-way

 

Its current carved the land

Many more miles long

Than the eye can see

Landholders, granted degrees

On the bank, exchanged in principle

The ornamental alloy

Gold

 

Leaf, sharp, continuing, under-hand

Wheeling gears, dying in prison

The message

Is a low-rate postcard

Issued by the government

One follows, the other is drawn behind

 

A fuse, a wreck

The weight of gold

The magnitude of moral conduct

Floods the bank and leaves behind

Slippery oil, combustible

Where is your confident belief?

Your commitment and your care?

You have competition

You have been consumed by fire

You have not lived five hundred years

You have not risen from ruin

 

But you have bought a tract of land

You have enclosed the grounds

Unlawful, inhumane

Spoiling by ineptitude

 

Every act and every choice

Must be a contest

Nothing you know

Bends to accommodate

Your love is a word

The word is nothing

The word is the deed

And love is nothing

 

A Figure from the Common Lot

 

The Culture II

 

The Kreutz Sungrazer

Should it return

Centuries ahead

 

Trail its nebulous vapor of ammonia

Methane

Carbon

The devil’s alloy

Nickel-plated offerings

 

Commodify your tears

Make your work efficient

Import your tears in boxcars

Be done with it

A question harms you

A word destroys you

Step from the shadows

We will hear your voice

No?

 

Then hear mine

 

Pearls to swine

Cede to the shake-down

Know yourself, protect yourself

Donate early and often

To the community coffers

Pull down the rafters

Pry up the shingles

Break the foundation

Menace with symbols

 

Your road-blocking

Your smoldering debris

May burn like lime

But the times

 

Have your back to the ledge

You hold

Within a shaking hand

Your fortune told

Doomed to wander, or to linger

Once the card is drawn

 

Your pyramid is the inverse

Top-weight crushes the future

Leverage, secrets, access

Entrée to other classes

 

 

A Figure from the Common Lot

 

The Culture: Prurience

 

Entrée

High-pitched and shrill

Take notice, be alert

Be furtive, surreptitious

Come out of your hiding place

 

Make overtures, besiege, beset, bedevil

You bear a close resemblance

Today’s project

Is your own desire

 

You feel an unreasonable emotion

An unwanted preoccupation

Akin to stealing

You play a traveling game of pursuit

Sidling, confiding private matters

 

This intolerable passion

This disordered invention

This fulfilled wish

You have a political character

An organized policy

The power to sway

You’re inflamed, excited, fear-mongering, obsessed

Talk around, talk about

On the rooftops, in the hallways

Talk it over, talk it out

In the gutters and the alleyways

Eye-popping, nodding, hand-waving, humiliating

Slippery, oily, through side-doors and back-doors

Silence and darkness

Clutching

Unyielding, unapologetic, intractable

 

You’re a victim

The unfair scrutiny

The world’s cruelty

The life blood

The backbone

The veins and arteries

The fortress stones

The den of righteousness

The good people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Die Schönheit

 

They have gone before.
Alone sightless above the chasm,
A fainting soul cowers here,
And takes never a step more—
Wakes at a dying breath unheard by Heaven;
Still muted cries bestir the air,
With an endless echo of despair.

 

They have gone before,
Who falter on this narrow span,
Made treacherous by blood and tears.
Unreconciled in wordless horror;
Their ranks unceasing none return,
But fall into the tomb and claw at air,
With an endless echo of despair.

 

They have gone before.
The wheel will turn and turn forevermore.
The hour is foreordained, no hand may steer,
Our fated vessel from her destined shore.
A-sail on waters black where starlight falls,
A sigh at place of parting fills the air.
With an endless echo of despair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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