Wednesday, April 16, 2003

It's really hard to know where to start. I have a lot of things I'd like to do with this site, including posting reviews of new books (by "new" I mean whatever I'm reading at the moment) sample chapters from my novel, "The Tragic Circus" as well as just a general account of my life as an unknown writer trying to become a published author. I want to do an informal book of the month recomendation as well as just ramble on about my theroies (all of them crackpot) concerning literature and the contemporary state of publishing and writing. So where do I start? Obviusly I'm handicapped for now with my own technical knowldege, or lack thereof so I suppose I should follow Rule #1 of writing: keep it simple.

To this effect, Im going to start with Chapter 1 of "The Tragic Circus."

Ideally, I will have a comments section soon. But that really isn't necesary until someone other then me is reading this so one thing at a time. If you do happen to stumble upon this blog, then welcome. Any comments, sugestions, etc, send to me at

The Tragic Circus
Keith Kisser

It is our expression that the flux between that which isnít and that which wonít be, or the state that is commonly and absurdly called existence, is a rhythm of heavens and hells: that the damned wonít stay damned; that salvation only precedes perdition. The inference is that some day our accursed tatterdemalions will be sleek angels. Then the sub-inference is that some later day, back theyíll go whence they came.

óCharles Fort, Book of the Damned


Simon Said descends the staircase into the parlor, a scarf of some dubious tartan thrown around his neck; otherwise he is dressed quite dapper in pinstripe pants, scuffed wingtips and a red vest embroidered with gold Chinese dragons, which he wears over a black button down shirt. Over one arm he carries a lightweight black jacket suitable for this cool October night.
Someone once said of Simon, ìYou can almost see the gears turning in his head.î

This he overheard on his first day of kindergarten, whispered by someoneís mother to the teacher who nodded in agreement. And itís true, under the unruly cowlick and behind the black-rimmed glasses thereís something alive and prismatic. Moving. The remark stuck with him since children at that age are little sponges. He remembers it every so often and when the mood strikes, tries to provoke the same gear spinning in others. Which is taking the long way around the barn to get to the point that Simon Said is a poet. Thatís saying a lot of course, what with the deplorable state of contemporary poetry but everyone knew it from the moment he was born. Simon Said came out of his mother eyes wide open. Instead of screaming, he had a thoughtful look on his face. He was taking everything in. Making notes. Composing himself.

As if to dispel any doubts about the matter, when Simon was ten, he painted himself red and wearing nothing but a loincloth, raced through the streets of his neighborhood on his BMX bike, the one painted Haint blue with ceramic eyes attached to the front reflectors and a pair of antlers affixed between the handlebars. From a bow he launched arrows bearing cryptic poems written in a language of his own devising. Over rooftops. Into yards. Through windows. He nearly hit Misses Learyís cat and elicited a smile from miss Elsie Samathrace, aged eleven and a half. She winked at him just as he strung an arrow and let it fly with a whoop and a war cry into the trellis of old Man Halibutís prized tomato garden.

ìWhyíd you do it?î His father, Frederick Said, asked later as he escorted the young poet around the neighborhood to replace his arrows with apologies.

ìTo bring a bit of wonder to life,î said Simon. He did not elaborate.

On his twenty-first birthday Simon became a devout follower of Dionysus. While he dabbled a bit before, he baptized himself with a twenty-dollar bottle of French merlot at 8:23 A.M., on the 18th of May, the exact time of his birth. He spent the afternoon drinking Lady Saturnine, the old woman who lives at the top of the stairs, thoroughly under the table.

This evening, heís on his way to a poetry reading at a cafÈ downtown (hence the vest of oriental design) when an existential shudder creeps up his spine. He pauses on the seventh step and looks over his shoulder at the Moon seen through the window on the second story landing. By the look on his face, youíd think he could almost hear the sound that satellite makes as it revolves around the Earth. A needle on a record, scratching out its orbit.

A soft breeze, warm for this autumn night, rushes in through the window, which stands open. Simon follows the breeze to the Fourier. He sucks in a breath between clenched teeth and whispers, ìHeís here!î Just as the front door flies open.
Clouds scratch their ghostly finger across the full Moonís face. Trees moaning, mingle their voices with a stiff breeze. Leaves race through a dark wood. A Jack oí lantern glowers as a toad plops into a pond, disappears.

Out of the unanimous night and into the parlor strides a bedraggled man. Long beard, head as bald as a melon, he wears a fur coat, despite the prevailing social opinions and a ragged pair of canvas sneakers. Strung from his jaw is a grin the size of a summer sausage.

Simon and the stranger stare at each other for a long moment.

ìCan it be real?î The stranger exclaims. ìHave I been away so long that youíve gone and grown up and donít even recognize me?î

Simon just shrugs. ìCould be. Anythingís possible these days.î

ìSoren!î Comes a muffled yelp from the direction of the kitchen. Standing in the Dining Room doorway, Frederick Said dries his hands on the apron tied around his waist and grins. He shuffles across the parlor, nearly trips on the antique throw rug and wraps his spindly arms around the man, laughing and says, ìSimon! Say ahoy-hoy to your Uncle, Soren!î
The last time Simon saw his Uncle Soren was that fateful night, twenty years ago. Although so long since and he at such a young age, Simon recalls the scene in vivid color.

Simon, age three, sat on these same steps contemplating whether or not his head would fit through the banister rails when through the parlor stormed Uncle Soren, just barely thirty-five, wearing his big fur coat, muttering and twisting his jaw (still clean shaven at the time) into a wrinkled emotion that Simon would later know all too well.

Uncle Soren, in a fit of pique, announced, ìIím going out for a bottle of milk!î And slammed the front door behind him.
The family did not see him again that night or any night afterwards.

After one year, there were still no post cards, no letters, no voice on the other end of the phone confirming one thing or another. Just long sleepless nights.

After five years, the Family did not even wait to be dragged from a fitful dream in the middle of the night by a gruff, deductive voice on the other end of the line asking them to come down to the station to verify this tooth or that finger bone.

After ten years, the Said family slept with a reluctant soundness, thinking about him on obscure bank holidays, which were Uncle Sorenís favorite.

ìHe did so love Armistice Day,î remarked his older brother, Frederick, with a great sigh one November eleventh. But that was some years ago now.

Time, moving like an arrow across the face of the universe, arranges moments into meaningful patterns that always seem to move forwardÖ

And now, here he stands. A few more wrinkles, a lot less hair up top and far more on his chin, offering a lopsided grin and a handshake to his nephew.


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