Friday, July 25, 2014

Let us go then


From the private journal of the Black Centipede:

*
1933
 
After a few more drinks, I made my weary way back to the upper reaches of the Benway Building, my sanctum in downtown Zenith. It was the tallest building in the city and it belonged to me. I inhabited the top six floors and rented out the rest.

At a reception desk in the center of the lobby sat a man. He was no longer young and not yet old, dressed in his morning coat, his collar mounting firmly to his chin. He wore a rich and modest necktie, asserted by a simple pin.

"Mister Centipede!" the man exclaimed-- not too loudly, though. His manner always seemed self-consciously subdued, as though he were afraid he might somehow disturb the universe if he accidentally became too raucous. "Good to see you, sir!"

Lately, the Unlimited Advantage Worldwide Company had diversified. Formerly an on-paper-only business entity, my corporation had recently made the jump into the real world. With the assistance of Doctor Unknown-- who was a CPA in addition to being a wizard-- I had transformed the empty shell of the UAWC into a valid business entity, with financial interests in a dozen or so enterprises. It soon became more than I could handle by myself.

What with my expansion, I had to have some sort of a staff at "corporate headquarters." At this particular time, I had two employees. One-- the man at the reception desk-- was J. Alfred Prufrock, a clerkish, expatriate Briton who had arrived at the threshold of middle age without ever having accomplished anything. That's how he saw it, anyhow, and, after reviewing his curriculum vitae, I was forced to agree.

My friend Amelia Earhart, who had recently taken it upon herself to oversee certain aspects of my life, had encountered Prufrock on one of her sojourns abroad, and had recommended him for the position of office manager. She had caught him late one night, apparently making a halfhearted attempt to jump from a bridge into the Thames. She subdued him; some mild violence was involved, she gave me to understand.

When Prufrock came to, Amelia-- remembering something she had read about a certain party who makes his home in New York City-- had informed him that she had saved his miserable life, so from that point on, he was beholden to her. She offered him a purposeful life of mystery and adventure as an agent of the awesome Black Centipede. (This was many years before the word "awesome" started making such a nuisance of itself.) Prufrock denied that he was suicidal, claiming he had only been trying to "hear a mermaid sing." However, he had heard of the Black Centipede, and he rather liked the idea of a purposeful life-- but he wondered if perhaps there were some position open that didn't involve quite so much in the way of mystery and adventure.

As an office manager, Prufrock was politic, cautious, and meticulous. On a personal level, he was deferential and glad to be of use.



  
J. Alfred Prufrock was created by T.S. Eliot, and appears in the poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915), a work in the Public Domain. Look for him in BLACK CENTIPEDE CONFIDENTIAL, coming your way soon. Relatively. Meanwhile, buy everything else I've written, from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Chuck-Miller/e/B005WX2CKQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1




The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by T.S. Eliot (1915)

  S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
  A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
  Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
  Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
  Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
  Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
 
 
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the windowpanes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the windowpanes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--
(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin--
(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all--
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all--
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?. . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in 
upon a platter,
I am no prophet--and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"--
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: "That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all."

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the 

floor--
And this, and so much more?--
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

. . . . .

No!I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How You Can Be a Hero!

I've noticed that in my preface to the first installment of The Journal of Bloody Mary Jane, I used the word approbation where I actually intended to say opprobrium, which is pretty much the exact opposite. A relatively minor error, and one I wouldn't lose any sleep over-- if I were working for anybody but Mary Jane Gallows. It is too much to hope that she won't notice it, so I am making a public mea culpa here, and will hope for the best. Maybe she'll be in a good mood, but I can't help looking over my shoulder. I suppose one inevitably runs certain risks when one agrees to act as the literary agent for a woman who is the immortal, indestructible, supernatural daughter of Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper, and has, over the past 122 years, killed more people than most of us have had hot dinners.

She can be volatile at times, but I think she has mellowed a bit over the last 60 or 70 years. As she mentioned to me recently, decapitating Hitler with her bare hands was very cathartic and relieved her of a great deal of free-floating hostility.

So, I am taking this opportunity to publicly acknowledge my error and to offer my sincere apologies to the reading public and also to... uh, one of the most dangerous creatures ever to walk the earth, who also happens to be a stickler for detail and has never been known to tolerate even the slightest blunder from anybody in her employ.

Yeah.

If this turns out to be my final post, I feel certain that my body will never be found. So please make a memorial contribution to the charity of your choice, in lieu of flowers. And do not investigate my disappearance if you want to keep the body count down to one...

Hey, I just got an idea! I probably shouldn't ask, but... Gosh, it strikes me that the more copies we sell, the less likely Miss Gallows is to vent her spleen or anything else on me. So... Could you go buy one right now? They're just 99 cents, you know. Surely that isn't too much for you to pay to help save a man's life, is it? You... may be my only hope. And not only that, but you get a swell story, too! 

Did I mention that she once lifted a grown man above her head and propelled him through a cinder block wall? Head first. With one hand. 

She did that. He got the words inferred and implied mixed up.

So... Think about it, will you? Don't think for too long, though... I thought I heard something at the door just now... 

Yours Uncertainly,
Chuck Miller 
  
Remember, even if you don't have a Kindle, there are several different free Kindle reading apps available.

ON AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/Journal-Bloody-Mary-Jane-Episode-ebook/dp/B00LRJRZME/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1405272292&sr=1-1&keywords=journal+of+bloody+mary+jane





Available right now! Bloody Mary Jane-- the inside story.


Remember, even if you don't have a Kindle, there are several different free Kindle reading apps available.

GET IT HERE:

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Friday, July 11, 2014

THE BLACK CENTIPEDE'S ODDIO AUDITY OF THE DAY!!!

BATPOEM
by
THE LIVERPOOL SCENE (1968)

LINK: http://drsivana99.tumblr.com/post/91437059787/batpoem-by-the-liverpool-scene-the-liverpool

The Liverpool Scene was a poetry band, which included Adrian Henri, Andy Roberts, Mike Evans, Mike Hart, Percy Jones and Brian Dodson. It grew out of the success of The Incredible New Liverpool Scene, a CBS LP featuring Henri and McGough reading their work, with accompaniment by the guitarist Roberts. Liverpool DJ John Peel, who was then working on the pirate radio station Radio London, picked up on the LP and featured it on his influential late-night Perfumed Garden show. After Radio London closed down, Peel visited Liverpool and met the band; as a consequence, they were featured in session on his BBC Top Gear and Night Ride shows, and in 1968 he produced their first LP. Four LPs were issued with Henri’s poetry heavily featured. (Wikipedia)