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and the rest of the world.
Count Cagliostro conducted a
seminar on the art of Absence for university students. He encouraged
them to ask all sorts of questions.
“Where were you when the bomb
“I was having coffee in the
“Were you a victim of the
hold-up of the stage-coach?”
“No, I had alighted at the
“He's first-rate on every
level!” students whispered. They were still far from perfection. Over
the last year they were training themselves to be absentees in the land
of high hopes.
“My favourite trick is being
absent on group photographs – as if by chance,” Cagliostro
pontificated. “As for you, you will eventually succeed in your perfect and irretrievable absence,
for everybody achieves it sooner or later.”
of Odysseus in Crimea
As always, Odysseus was in a
hurry. Having disembarked from a trireme, he entered a long tunnel. The
grey Cimmerian light was barely visible at the end of it.
“Hey, you should have already been there,” the Nation's Voice said to Odysseus.
Odysseus contrived to get
instantly to the end of the tunnel, where he found a ladder.
“Hey, you should have been at the top of it by now,” the Nation's Voice announced.
Odysseus replied that he
already was at the top of it, because he really was there.
Next he was told that he should have squeezed through the eye of a needle, and it turned out that he had already done so.
All the same, he was late for his own life, which is why some other people, with faces as red as their flags, have since been living it for him.
On the right side of a man
an angel abides, while the devil dwells on the man’s left side. The
angel sent down to me is a listless, drowsy creature. As for the devil,
he happens to be married and drags all over the place not only his
sabre-toothed hag but also a couple of drowned girls. The cosy little
gathering every so often fails to keep pace with me, and asks me in
unison to slow down.
I envy my friends whose
archfiends are spouseless and talkative. The only thing I hear from my
Old Nick is the usual, annually asked question, if I am finally ready
to yield to him my exhausted soul.
Anatoly Kudryavitsky is
a poet and a novelist. The book of his selected novels titled Disunity
has been brought out by Glagoslav in 2013. He has also published three
poetry collections, the latest being Capering Moons (Doghouse
Books, 2011), as well as a few novellas and short stories. He lives in
Dublin and edits Shamrock
front page image is copyright ©
by Tony Kitterick, 2012