Nail Chiodo

Lucus Feroniae

Canto VI

Of our golden section’s original pentacle
which I am here sketching, only one vertex, id est Scott,
has produced offspring—a fact even more odd
if one considers that he alone is of the same gender
and mind when it comes to sexual preference.
We all have had for sex a deep reverence,
our facial wrinkles and puckers will attest to it;
and, as is no doubt only normal, we all
would also have loved to have kids one could call
one’s own in the biological sense, fate permitting—
but solely as a tribute to the rectilinear, as it were,
not out of even the remotest bias against curves.
The founding of a nuclear family seemed a worthy ambition,
yet to adopt children was deemed an equally perfect,
if perhaps more roundabout, way to effect it;
plus, it had the honorable distinction
of not contributing to the further augmentation
of an already hypertrophic world population
and, at the same time, of providing a home
to those who might not otherwise have one.

Tom, as we have seen, can claim to have done
what our theory prescribed (and to have shown
it to be entirely valid, one might add).
But fate forbade even him to become a dad
while still in the fullness of his prime,
to take the straight path towards reproduction,
yielding to the concerted efforts at abduction
of mother nature and madam society combined.
I think one might venture to say we grew certain
that to possess even but half our genes would be a burden
on the par with the next man’s or woman’s lot;
and events concurred to prevent us from occasioning
our reincarnation or compiling original sins—
all of us except that walking experiment called Scott.

To him I instead owe the perduring sensation—
which first set in when, by way of recreation,
we drove out together to remote shopping malls
in the burbs, for to hold late-night conviviums
over a sandwich and beer, a pack of smokes and one of gum—
that everything can be explained if it is liable
to explanation, that there exists a universal
order, not only to things but also to words,
in which even the social and “literary” criticism
of two neophytes such as us occupied a central spot.
It was a sensation that sprang out of thought
which had struck and sustained a prose rhythm
for the first time in conversation, analogous
to the blissful feeling of riding the dragon
that is experienced whenever the natural realm
responds to one’s tottering advances towards it
by propelling one forward as if on wings,
whether as an athlete, skipper at the helm,
artist, scientist, philosopher, animal-driven plougher
of the land or of the body of a lover.

Neither of us had been properly wounded yet,
and each rested his hopes never to be so
on the highest ideal he could reach by a bold
leap of the imagination. Scott thus placed his bet
that society would be induced to disown
all political incorrectness also thanks to his own
indefatigable efforts to promote therapy groups,
tutoring, counseling, and psychoanalysis.
I felt flattered to be a close pal of his,
such dedication to others seemed to me a scoop
worthy of the highest journalism, if not of literature:
I, too, planned to devour my world in miniature
but, having yet to be stung by the scorpion
of politics, still lived entirely in the republic
of ideas, where one could be thrust into the thick
of battle while playing scales on an accordion.

The greater part of my life has been spent
keeping tabs on all sorts of ugly conceits that entered
my mind of their own accord, without there being anything
I could do about the vile infiltrations except
to take note of them with distaste and move on ahead.
Everyday there were new ones, recrudescences notwithstanding,
which I classified according to type: cowardly, evil, absurd—
had they slipped by me unnoticed, I would have become a cur
of uncommon proportions without realizing it.
As it was, instead, I turned into an unwitting expert
in the most recondite forms of vice on this Earth,
to the extent—is there any reason to hide it?—
of deeming the planet should be metaphysically a safer place
once I were departed: another curious member of the race,
you might say, who would have done better to be a plumber.

As I recall, Scott’s insistence on the primary importance
of admitting certain terms in lieu of others into our parlance
(so as not to offend the sensibilities of a growing number
of ethnic and social groups that advanced claims on the demotic)
prompted not a few unwanted and unwarranted demonic
parodies to be enacted on the stage of my conscience.
In all fairness to my subconscious, however,
it must be said that they were fair weather
compared to the rabid version of common sense
promulgated by some of those inquisitorial linguists.
For how to imagine a more tense and constrictive
environment than that circumscribed by the sphincters
of someone who conceives of “significant other”
as an improvement upon “darling”, or “love”,
or any of the numberless names for him or for her
with which, in a tongue known as English, forty
generations of passionate speakers have invoked their abhorred
cell-mate or beloved prison-keeper? There is nothing for it:
the sensual and emotive deprivation of post-industrial
Man is as pathetic and sad as it is ineluctable;
lucky are they who still can enjoy a significant shit.

Were I to lie down now on Scott the analyst’s couch
and be enjoined to open my heart and to let it all out,
to resume our old conversation where it got left off
almost four decades ago, at the start of our life as adults,
my impulse would be to try to sum up the results
of my labors since then, to distil the slough of despond
into whose tricky depths I have been drawn pari passu
with the ebbing of hope that the world could improve.
“The compassionate feeling that has led you to defend
those who are oppressed”, I would tell him, “is one
and the same as that kindled in me by traditional wisdom.
To darn our fraying ties with the latter has hence
been for me—and not only for me—a paramount duty,
although I—we—could never have imagined how few
and far between the so-called literate men and women
would finally be who are not a part of the problem.
As for the rest, I can neither condemn nor absolve them;
it is a pity, however, that more people read not more poems,
starting from the Bible, yet not disdaining yours truly.

“I should be the first person to ridicule me
for citing my own work and the seminal myths
and metaphors of Western literature in the same breath,
had I not a strange tale to get off my chest
which I would now tell and pray you to bear with….”

Canto VII