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28 February 2012

José Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales

José Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales,
in a few short weeks it will be spring. The snows
of winter will flee away, the ice will vanish,
and the air will become soft and balmy. In short,
José Manuel Miguel Xavier Gonzales,
the annual miracle of the years will
awaken and come to pass, but you won’t be here.
The rivulet will run its purring course to the sea,
timid desert flowers will put forth their tender
shoots, the glorious valleys of this imperial
domain will blossom as the rose. Still, you won’t be
here to see.

From every tree top some wild woods
songster will carol his mating song, butterflies
will sport in the sunshine, the busy bee will hum
happy as it pursues its accustomed vocation,
the gentle breeze will tease the tassels of the wild
grasses, and all nature, José Manuel Miguel
Xavier Gonzales, will be glad but you. You
won’t be here to enjoy it because I command
the sheriff to lead you out to some remote spot,
swing you by the neck from a nodding bough of some
sturdy oak, and let you hang until you are dead.

And then, José Manuel Miguel Xavier
Gonzales, I further command that such officer,
retire quickly from your dangling corpse, that vultures
may descend upon your filthy body until
nothing shall remain but bare, bleached bones of a cold-
blooded, copper-colored, blood-thirsty, throat-cutting,
chili-eating, sheep-herding, murdering son of a bitch.

The sentence pronounced on murderer José Miguel Manuel Xavier Gonzales by a federal trial judge in New Mexico in 1881, according to Futility Closet. A few words removed to aid the line lengths: 'the' (from line 9), 'or some other officer of the country' (20), 'or officers' (24) and 'from the heavens' (26). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

23 February 2012


A motorway in Germany was closed
for hours as emergency crews
scraped frozen sauerkraut
off the road.

The pickled cabbage had spilt
from a lorry involved in a crash
near Frankfurt, freezing immediately
in the cold conditions.

A news story from the 'Weird but Wonderful' section of the Sunday Times, 12th February 2012. Submitted by Thom.

21 February 2012

Liber Amoris

To have crossed the Alps with me
to sail on sunny seas
to bask in Italian skies
to have visited Vevai and the rocks of Meillerie
and to have repeated to her on the spot
the story of Julia and St. Preux

She's a strange, almost an inscrutable girl
It is all over, and I know my fate
its giant-shadow, clad in air and sunshine
my courage failed me
its enormous but graceful bulk
You are struck with the point of a rock
The truth is, I never saw anything like her

From Liber Amoris or the New Pygmalion by William Hazlitt, 1823. The text comes from the very end of Part II, 'Letter the Last', and the beginning of the first letter of Part III. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

18 February 2012


There is still snow on the trees; it is that kind of snow.
One sees it out of the windows here
like some extraordinary garden.
It is the kind of snowfall about which girls write verse.

There is an uncommon silence
when I walk Federico to the school bus.
The light is eclipsed and lovely.
One wants to see it all so clearly.

From a journal entry by John Cheever in 1968. The Journals of John Cheever (Vintage Classics, 2010, first pub. 1991), p. 244. Submitted by Thom.

16 February 2012

Swimming a Horse

During seasons of high water, men,
in traversing the plains,
often encounter rivers which rise above
the fording stage, and remain in that condition
for many days, and to await the falling of the water
might involve a great loss of time.

If the traveler be alone, his only way is
to swim his horse; but if he retains
the seat on his saddle,
his weight presses the animal
down into the water,
and cramps his movements very sensibly.

It is a much better plan
to attach a cord to the bridle bit,
and drive him into the stream; then,
seizing his tail, allow him to tow you across.
If he turns out of the course, or attempts to turn back,
he can be checked with the cord, or
by splashing water at his head.

If the rider remains in the saddle,
he should allow the horse to have a loose
rein, and never pull upon it
except when necessary to guide.
If he wishes to steady himself, he can
lay hold upon the mane.

From The Prairie Traveler by Randolph B. Marcy (Perigree Books, 1994, first pub. 1859), pp.62-63. Marcy, a U.S. army captain, wrote the guide at the request of the U.S. War Department. Submitted by Alexa.

14 February 2012

Images of earth

The sky is clear over the Sahara Desert
It seems I am leaving the planet forever

The bond between Earth and its inhabitants
must be defended like a holy relic

I used to have dreams when I was a kid
Like an infant in the womb of my spacecraft

The night before you went up – did you sleep?
the rustle of my muscles moving over each other

The Earth was absolutely round
I could hear the sound of pipes whining below me

moving further and further away from the ship
and you are yourself a satellite

Only in my soul is there something unquiet
Enhancing our pleasure in these shapes

Then, of course, the realisation hit me
I waved to her, she didn’t see me

From The Home Planet (Images and Reflections of Earth from Space Explorers), (Macdonald Queen Anne Press, 1988), ed. Kevin W.Kelley. The lines come from the translated comments of different astronauts that accompany the photographs from space. Submitted by Winston Plowes.

11 February 2012

What shall remain

Our civilization will be known for our diaper landfills
and our nuclear waste sites
Other fragments of our culture might survive as well:
bits of Tupperware
mountains of lithium batteries
or maybe the traces of our highway system.

The foundation of a skyscraper might make
for a breakthrough excavation
but the islands of plastic bottles
floating in the oceans may prove puzzling.

Perhaps we will bury a cache of digital archives somewhere
to be deciphered one day
like the hieroglyphics on an Egyptian sarcophagus.

From the Design Observer review of A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil McGregor. The review is written by Adam Harrison Levy. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

09 February 2012


Christmas episode.
Billboard of underwear
model in opening. Black.
Cup of tea or coffee prepared.
Fart sound. Tea served.
Black. Coffee served.
Two doctors are shown arguing with some physical contact as well.
Black. “Thank God
my husband is not my doctor.”
Coffee drunk, and coffee machine
in the background. Black.
Scene in operating room. A baby is born. Non-graphic
and the baby is covered with a cloth.
“Thank God.” “If God”
“If God really
chooses to bless
me” Black.

Taken from KBYU Edits Sheet for a Christmas Episode of "Doc", starring Billy Ray Cyrus on the 1st February 2012. Submitted by Ben.

07 February 2012

We've got a different CD player now

We’ve got a different CD player now
and so tonight we are here
listening to the two versions
of this song, which is
about divorce.
If it weren’t so hateful, the song
might almost feel like an attempt
to climb out of the undertow
and get a breath of air:
it’s got recognizable situations,
phrases from real life,
the human touch.
But it sticks its head up
above the self-absorbed,
only to draw attention
to the immeasurable depth
of it all. This is
a mean thing to do.

An undated blog post on the website Last Plane to Jakarta, about the Radiohead song 'Morning Bell'. Submitted by Haley Patail.

02 February 2012


(for Fred Goodwin)

For a few years, Shreddies' advert campaigns
featured a cartoon personification
of 'Hunger' as an antagonist.

He appeared as a blue monster with big teeth
whose goal it was to taunt hungry individuals
by drumming on their stomachs
with a pair of silver spoons.

Hunger would then be dispatched
when the victim consumed
a bowl of shreddies,
sealing hunger inside a shreddie cage.

Despite his troublesome persona,
hunger was frequently used as a mascot
for the cereal during this period.

Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Shreddies on 1st February 2012. Submitted by Nick Asbury.