Author Archives: Louis Kasatkin

About Louis Kasatkin

Unadulterated commentary and analyses on all aspects of contemporary literary arts news and topics, can be viewed on twitter under the cunning guise of @louiskasatkin also at my blogs,"fahrenheit451"on blogger.com and "And So It Goes"@ www.wordpress.com My facebook page etc.etc, ad infinitum...

Metropolis

Stark geometric lines
intersecting clean marble
and steel;
horizonless concourses
deserted entrance halls,
empty corridors
vacant escalators
ascending,
descending
in relentless
progression;
Walls hyphenated
with reminders
to purchase,
to consume
bellowing mutely
into the void;
shimmering platform mirrors,
clipped automated announcements,
data screens streaming
their silent prophecies;
Inexorable arrivals
whooshing
and rumbling,
debouching into
the gleaming Now
of a glass-towered
morning amid its
awakening rage
there on
the bench
face down,
his skin again
punctured,
no-one.

A 1960’s Northern Town

fading back the years,
to Friday-paid dirt-nailed
stand-up straight-razor guys,
smoke-stenched, beer-drenched,
immersed in Willy Dixon’s words
strung like wire
barbed across their hearts;
lost in deep resonances
of factory-line steam-hammers
raw and edged
like John Lee Hooker’s
“BOOM…BOOM…BOOM “,
drunk on too much scotch
and too much weekend parfumerie,
unrequited by Howlin’ Wolf’s
plaintive primordial lament
“ won’t you come back to me? ”
its timeless patina of weariness
covering the night that goes crashing,
its braggadocio getting swept aside;
the only consolation
is in the cold clear air
of Sunday morning.

Surveillance

He watches the lives of others through the end of a telephoto lens.

It’s 5:42 a.m. on an ordinary suburban housing estate and he’s been squatting for the past 6 hours in an unmarked delivery van when he catches a fleeting glimpse of a window-framed face. The same face that’s appeared at the same time at the same window on each day that he’s been here.

Parked in the driveway of the house opposite, he’s taken on the role (at least in his own imagination), of ethnographer studying and recording for academic posterity the esoteric habits and rituals of an hithertofore unknown indigenous society.He records in the neatest handwriting the ephemera of the lives of others.Their daily routines timetabled in line-ruled pocket notebooks of which he keeps more than sufficient under his seat.

Outside his ethereal realm as disembodied observer, in the lives of others a telephone rings.

Its receiver is lifted. It’s followed by a rush of silence.He adjusts his earphones and enters a menacing voicelessness.The spools of his tape-recorder engage.”Click , click ” as though a conductor is tapping his baton bringing an orchestra to order.

There is to his mind a haunting absence of noise. When telephones ring and their receivers are lifted, conversations follow. Except when they don’t and he catches another fleeting glimpse of the window-framed face that he saw just a few minutes ago.

Inexplicably, the receiver is replaced,” Click ” .The tape-recorder stops.

It’s 5:52 am and across the city in a sound studio on the fourth floor of an otherwise unremarkable office building the voices he’d captured less than 24 hours ago are on playback. Their rhythms and cadences mimic the lives of others.They hear him listening to them, listening to him listening.

Observed. Recorded. Collated. Analysed.

“Click”

Waiting for Brueghel

You yearned to see him,
longed after him as you
did in your Florentine days;
Brueghel,
as advertised
Brueghel as promised;

Amid the pristine marble
of the Royal Fine Arts
(Brussels museum of renown)
Brueghel drew them,
drew you like a moth
to immortal f(l)ame,
you exchanged more than
rubies for a promised look;

Doors wide open
staircases agape,
you hurried on up
when the laconic voice intoned,
“ the 15th,16th,&19th.centuries
will be closed for lunch ”
a momentary disappointment,
your visual caresses postponed;

At one o’clock
your heart beat faster
and faster still at a minute past,
when the doorman capitulated
down the corridors you dashed to
see blank wall after blank wall,
a veritable Tabula Rasa
they forgot to mention
that during lunch
Brueghel had also left the Casa.

A Passage Through Time

Time was forgotten

by time itself,

even those that

remembered and knew

of its harsh cadences

fell into a silent repose;

where no time

no longer mattered,

for in essence

time itself was no more,

no morrow,

no morning

mourning as it all fell silently

into an oblivion

it had created for itself

throughout its ceaseless computations

until the numbers themselves

ran out..

Dustbowl Memories

“Never felt heat like it kid..”; my grandpa would reminisce apropos of nothing. It would always be Summer and we’d be sweltering as a family out on the porch trying to catch our collective breaths and there’d be grandpa reassuring us that this ain’t so much hot today as cool.

Even though the mercury was doing its darndest to top 90. “Man, that ain’t no kind of temperature not leastways till it gets past a hundred and just stays there”. he’d always accompany this utterance with a usual expectoration of chewing tobacco effluent.

And I suppose and we’d all suppose that he was right. well, kind of. Him and his whole extended family upped sticks and trekked there way over here to California all those years ago. Because of The ( capital tee) Heat (capital aitch).The furnace that was the Dust Bowl.

By chance, or maybe as one of my Aunts contended, by some grander design, one of my many distant cousins came by to visit one day. She’d finished her journalism major up at Berkeley and had just gotten a commission to produce a series of radio documentaries on the Dustbowl, and was wondering if grandpa might be interested.

Turned out, none too surprisingly that he was and naturally that put the spring back into his step.

We taped them all, all the episodes and down the years, on big family occasions, we sit around and listen to grandpa’s voice, reminding us all. There’s one or two passages that our Cousin edited as an introduction that kind of sums up Grandpa and ” The Heat “

“Sure I recall, clear as day all the names and their faces, those times and their places,
Down at the rundown rail depot from where the last westbound left in that dry-cracked goodbye summer with me and my closest kin  on board.”
In another passage suffused with his inimitable cadences, he recalled ” Days were so hot and dry that water was our heaven
and  the wells coughed their grinding choking echo. Dust was going to be our future, had we stayed”.


“Some folks never left, they remained In those places and their times. I recall, some years later seeing in the newspaper and county archive records all the shrouded names and their faces who waved me off down by the rail depot in that dry-cracked summer when the westbound whistled its goodbye.”

And when it came to saying our farewells for another year until the next Thanksgiving or Christmas, we’d switch off grandpa’s voice and notice just how hot the tape machine had become.

Alien Nation : Alienation

We went into the Valley of Elah

looking for victory and reasons to carry on ,

when we got there those reasons had gone ;

they’d quietly slipped away

leaving us with nothing more to say ;

when we got back

we didn’t recognise ourselves ,

we looked at our faces in the mirror

that only showed someone else ;

all our words too had their meaning changed

for something that we couldn’t understand ,

and we who were born here

became strangers in our own land .

The Stranger, one last time.

There he sat,

in the place where he sat

the last time that we spoke

all those years ago;

And there he sat

as if he’d never left

and the years hadn’t passed us by;

” I’m still waiting for my absinthe that I’ve ordered ” ,

he ventured apropos of nothing,

his deprecating smile lingered

as he brushed some imaginary

cigar ash off the table;

A faint susurration arose

from a Greek Chorus somewhere

in the background of this

mise – en – scene ;

” Years in a desert of empty days,

years in a white nothingness,

Time itself marooned in

a white swirling fog “.

” Waiting..” the Stranger began,

my curiousity piqued,he continued,

” is the worst part of waiting “.

I concurred,which seemed

to set him at his ease,

though he glanced obsessively

at his pocket watch;

” Time flies and having flown

runs out of fuel and crashes

amidst the contretemps and vicissitudes

of our world “.

He once more glanced around for signs

of a waiter with the absinthe which he’d

ordered such a long.long time ago;

but no-one was forthcoming and

overcome by ineluctable disappointment

he rose and bidding me adieu

swept with customary insouciance

from the cafe into the busy boulevard;

as I turned my gaze from the departing stranger,

I saw the waiter arrive with a tray

bearing a singular glass..

**********************

Author’s Footnote:

The reader might care to also read ” A Stranger Returns ” -April 23 2018

and ” Encounter with a Stranger ” -October 3 2017 .