from ULTRAZONE: TANGIER TOMBSTONE BLUES
A collaborative work-in-progress
Editor’s Note: This is the third part in a weekly series of an excerpt from a new work by Francis Poole & Mark Terrill.
Despite Everly Tweed’s overall intelligence and various abilities, his personality was hampered by several serious deficits and a moral fiber about as robust as cotton candy. Self-discipline, resolution and perseverance were almost totally absent in his psychic make-up. Given the choice between following through on a fixed goal or just going with the next capricious whim, Tweed usually opted for the latter, especially if it had anything to do with the obtainment of pleasure. Walking through the streets of the Tangier medina, now full of early-morning activity and sounds and the smells of garbage, urine, and a salty whiff of the bay, Tweed was just approaching the Café Triangle when something occurred to him. If he were to combine the 100 dirhams he’d received from Aicha with the money he’d received as payment for the article on “Belief Perseverance” that he’d recently sold to the Journal of Experimental Psychology along with the money he’d gotten for hocking his typewriter, he could easily afford a small bag of H, a luxury he had not allowed himself in many months. All the money was right there in his wallet. This idea pleased him greatly. So much so that he stopped in his tracks, turned on his heels, and started walking toward the Zoco Chico and the Café Central, where he could usually find his favorite dealer, the Blue Messiah.
As Tweed approached the Zoco Chico, although totally unaware of their presence, he passed the ghosts of Burroughs and Dean moving up the street in the opposite direction on their way to the Church of St. Andrew.
“Well I’ll be goddamned,” Burroughs said as he saw Tweed coming down the street. “That guy’s a dead ringer for me.”
“He may be a ringer but it’s you that’s dead,” Dean replied.
They watched Tweed enter the Café Central before continuing on up the street. Tweed looked around and finally saw the Blue Messiah at a table over in the corner, dressed in his blue silk turban and matching blue djellaba. Tweed went over and sat down at his table.
“Be greeted, Señor Tweed. Long time no see. You are well?
“Well enough. But I could be better.”
The Blue Messiah grinned, displaying a mouthful of gold teeth. “Very good. How much would you like?”
While Tweed and the Blue Messiah were taking care of business in the Café Central, Aicha got dressed and went downstairs into the kitchen of her villa, where Zodelia, the watchman’s wife, was preparing breakfast.
“Where’s Mohammed” Aicha asked.
“Feeding the rabbits and the chickens. Would you like breakfast in the dining room or out in the garden?”
“The garden. Unless it starts to rain”
Aicha then went down the stairs and into the garage. She switched on the light and saw the two pieces of Dean’s tombstone lying on the ground next to the workbench. So that was not a dream either. As she stood there looking down at the two pieces of the tombstone lying on the cement floor of the garage, wondering what evil or black magic or spiritual hocus-pocus had been at work there, she suddenly saw something dark and shiny emerging from a crack that ran along the broken edge of the lower half of the tombstone. She bent down closer and saw what looked like a centipede working its way out the crack. It was not just an ordinary centipede, but an extremely large one, slithering and wriggling and crawling out of the crack and onto the floor. Already it was the size of a large snake, but it continued to emerge from the crack, while the part of its body that was on the floor was already moving in Aicha’s direction. She screamed and jumped back, banging against the Mercedes with a hefty thud.
Mohammed came running down the stairs and into the garage. He saw Aicha standing there, paralyzed with fear, pointing down at the gigantic centipede, still wriggling free of the tombstone. Mohammed grabbed a shovel that was leaning against the wall and began hacking at the centipede, severing it into chunks as big as links of sausage. As fast as he could work, each piece of the centipede started growing into another giant centipede. Within a matter of minutes, the floor was almost black with squirming, writhing, slithering, wriggling giant black centipedes. Mohammed threw down the shovel and grabbed Aicha by the hand and the two of them ran out of the garage, the door of which Mohammed slammed shut and tightly locked behind them.
They stood there at the bottom of the stairs, panting heavily and looking at each other with expressions of awe and disbelief. “What in the name of Bou Jeloud is that all about?” gasped Mohammed.
Zodelia peered around the doorway at the top of the stairs to the kitchen and looked down at the two of them. “What happened?” she asked.
“Nothing,” Aicha said. “Just a centipede.”
Mohammed was about to speak but Aicha put her finger to her lips and motioned for him to remain silent. Zodelia turned and went back into the kitchen.
“No need for everyone to get hysterical, “Aicha said. “I will find out what sort of evil is at the root of this and deal with it accordingly.”
“You never should have brought that Nazrani tombstone here. It will bring us nothing but wickedness.”
“You take care of your business; I’ll take care of mine.”
From behind the door of the garage they could hear the rustling of thousands of tiny feet scratching on the cement floor.
Mohammed looked at Aicha with an expression of grave doubt.
Everly Tweed stepped out of the Café Central with the subtlest of smiles on his gaunt face. In terms of his next move, he stood at a crossroads. Should he continue on his way to the Café Triangle and follow through with the project that had been instilled in his mind since he’d woken that morning? Or should he maybe swing by his house first, find that syringe and needle and other paraphernalia that he’d long since stashed away somewhere and enjoy a little taste of the Blue Messiah’s finest wares?
Before Tweed could make up his mind, he heard the loud shrill voice of a woman yelling in his direction; “Hey, there’s my hat! Look, that guy’s got my hat on!”
Tweed glanced over to the other side of the street and saw a young woman dressed in black boots, black shorts, and a black sleeveless T-shirt pointing directly at him. With her was a tall blonde-haired man dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt. The two of them started across the street in Tweed’s direction.
Wrong place, wrong time, wrong film, Tweed thought to himself. He quickly glanced around, turned to his right, and started running.
Before ducking into one of the many tiny narrow streets of the medina, Tweed glanced behind him and saw the couple running after him. Tweed figured he had two things going for him; he’d once been a track star at Trinity College in Dublin, and after years and years of living in Tangier he knew the medina like the inside of his vest pocket, where now a tiny packet wrapped in blue foil was safely deposited for later enjoyment.
He ran up a few short steps and into a huge market hall, now bustling with early morning activity, running along between the various stalls where pyramids of fragrant spices towered next to cages of chirping birds, crates of fruit and vegetables were displayed in impressive cascades, and buyers and sellers were haggling over prices. Tweed zigzagged back and forth between the rows of stalls until he reached the other end of the market hall where there was another door and some steps leading down into a narrow alley. Tweed misjudged his last move and just barely grazed a giant pyramid of cartons of fresh eggs, and heard the pyramid of eggs crashing to the ground behind him and the cursing of the owner as he shot through the door and down the stairs.
Tweed then cut right and followed the narrow alley into a courtyard at the back of several buildings where rows and rows of laundry hung from lines stretched across the courtyard. Several women were busy with their washing at a complex of cement basins and water spigots. Seeing Tweed they all began cursing and hissing and yelling at him, a ruckus that echoed loudly up among the narrow walls of the buildings. Tweed ignored them and turned left into an even narrower alley that sloped down toward the harbor. At the bottom of the alley where it terminated in a narrow street, a melon vendor had set up his wares across the steps. Tweed’s momentum was such that he could no longer stop or even slow down. He leaped over the head of the seated melon vendor and the piles of bright yellow melons, but his foot caught one of the melons which then created an entire avalanche of melons, thudding and bouncing and rolling out of the alley and into the narrow street, creating a fair share of mayhem, chaos and anger.
Tweed cut left and headed up the narrow street, and glancing behind him, was relieved to see that neither the girl nor her friend were anywhere in sight. He then cut right down into another dark narrow alley that snaked along, curving to the left and then to the right, with many smaller ways forking off, most of which Tweed knew to be dead ends. Eventually he came out of the narrow alley into another street and turned to the left and followed it up the hill. Completely winded, he slowed down to a sort of quick trot. As he passed a hole-in-the-wall internet café there was a group of boys hanging around outside. Seeing Tweed, one of them said, “Hey Meester, you want see Kasbah? It’s not that way, it’s this way.”
“Fuck you,” muttered Tweed.
“What’s that? You want to see me fuck my sister? Come on, this way…”
“Fuck you and your sister.”
Tweed continued up the street, leaping out of the way as a petit taxi came careening around the corner and almost ran him over. Five minutes later he was unlocking the door of his small apartment and slipping inside, where he collapsed in a panting heap on his bed, the fingers of his right hand gently stroking the blue foil packet in his vest pocket.
After several minutes, Tweed slowly got up and walked into the main sitting room above which was a multi-paned colored skylight. The light fell in odd-shaped shards across the banquette, the faded Berber carpet, and along the walls. Tweed stood mesmerized, still clutching the foil packet between his thin kif-stained fingers. He looked down and the fedora was on the floor where he had dropped it.
Enough of wearing that goddamned stupid hat, he thought. This whole Burroughs business and that witch Aicha have only complicated things. What I need is a small vacation provided by a nice fix.
Opening the packet he saw there was enough H for two or three good highs. Always frugal to the point of being a tightwad, Tweed got a small brown glass bottle from his medicine cabinet and a rectangular mirror. He gently emptied the packet onto the mirror and using the long manicured nail on his index finger, cut the H into three parts. Using a thin sheet of paper he scooped up two-thirds of the powder and tapped it into the bottle which he closed with a rubber stopper.
“The hell with shooting this shit,” he mumbled. “I’ll just snort it.”
It took him two hits, one in each nostril, to inhale the Blue Messiah’s junk. As Tweed placed the mirror back in the cabinet he picked up the empty blue foil wrapper and noticed a strange symbol stamped on the inside of the wrapper. It was the figure of a half-man, half-goat creature, its legs spread to show an erect cock. The eyes were wide open and hollow looking and it had a toothy, wide-mouthed grin. Tweed tossed the foil wrapper on the table and leaned back in his chair. The effect of the H was beginning to soften the light in the room and Tweed felt like lying down on the banquette where he could stare up at the sky and dream. But first he went into his small kitchen and poured a shot of green Absinthe flavored with cannabis. He sipped it slowly, savoring the woody flavors. Then he walked over to the banquette, spread out a silk and camel hair coverlet and stretched out.
Soon all the stress of being chased through the medina left him. His muscles seemed to soften until his whole body felt like it was liquefying—as if he were becoming part of some ocean of idleness, free to flow in a half-dream state through fragrant gardens where gentle music played. The music Tweed heard was not hallucinatory but rather coming from the young boy who lived in the building next door. The boy would often sit out on the roof above Tweed’s skylight and play his flute.
Tweed’s eyelids closed one at a time and he was soon visualizing a red velvet-covered door which had a blue handle. As he reached for the handle he saw a plaque hanging on the door with the same man-goat figure etched in gold. Tweed, or what could be considered the Tweed consciousness, entered a long hall lit with colored Christmas lights. As he took hesitant steps down the corridor he heard voices coming from the walls.
First a woman’s voice said, “How can you afford to give me such expensive gifts and so often?”
Then a man’s voice; “It comes in small packets and it will be good for you. Trust me.”
Then he heard his own voice; “It’s all in the relaxation and the giving up of your will to me. You will not remember my words. Only the feeling your thoughts have been turned inside out.”
Then a woman; “It’s me, Cherie. The frog-lipped whore you tried to rob.”
Then another man’s voice; “You plainclothes guys better be on your toes or you’ll be back in uniform.”
Then a radio advert; “Rock band hooked on junk, needs a fulltime roadie slash embalmer. No experience needed.”
Then Tweed’s voice; “I’m looking for a new disguise. Something involving a green nylon aviator’s jacket, one of those Peruvian wool earflap hats, tight black leather pants, and silver Doc Martens.”
Then a young woman’s voice; “I wasn’t chasing you to get my hat back. My boyfriend and I just want to fuck you. Ha, ha, ha…”
Then a voice with a clipped British accent; “I took you into my confidence, gave you a gift in exchange for delivering me from Tangier, and you would rather squander your talent on the Blue Messiah’s junk. You’ve behaved abominably and in a most unceremonious fashion. And I might add, you know nothing of the affairs of the church.”
Then Moustapha’s trembling voice; “Please don’t let Aicha steal my soul. That witch is a djinn from hell. She has already caused my member to shrink to half its normal size.”
Then Aicha’s deep and somber voice; “Hello my darling Señor Tweed. Underneath my haik I have a surprise for you.”
Tweed groaned in horror at the thought of Aicha’s “surprise” and attempted to roll over on his side, only to find that he couldn’t move, as though the junk in his veins had turned to molten lead which had now cooled and hardened. He was virtually paralyzed, rendered immobile by the Blue Messiah. But it was a pleasant variety of paralysis, a sort of womb-like suspension, and no cause for alarm or panic. With a Herculean effort he managed to open one eye, then the other. Staring up at the colored skylight he heard the flute music suddenly come to an end. Tweed listened to the silence that followed, which was occasionally punctuated by the sound of distant traffic or the honking of a horn, and then a blast from a ship’s horn somewhere down in the harbor.
A shadow loomed over the skylight. Then Tweed heard a metallic scratching noise as someone started to pry open the skylight. It creaked open just big enough for the boy with the flute to stick his head in and look down at Tweed lying on the banquette. Then there was another smaller head next to the boy’s. It was a monkey. The boy said something to Tweed but he couldn’t speak Arabic and anyway was unable to speak at all in his present state. The boy pushed the skylight open a little more and then lowered the monkey down into the room on a long leash. The monkey scampered about the room as though looking for something, stopping briefly to look at Tweed. The monkey’s eyes glowed yellow with simian mischief.
Slowly turning its head around the monkey carefully surveyed the contents of Tweed’s flat and seeing the tall bookcase stuffed full of books, clambered up to the top shelf and took out a book. The monkey looked at the front cover as though reading the title, then tossed the book over his shoulder where it landed with a thud on the floor. The monkey took out another book, did another mock-reading of the cover, and tossed it as well, continuing with this procedure until the entire contents of the bookshelf lay strewn across the floor. The monkey then opened the old wooden armoire that contained Tweed’s clothes and quickly emptied its contents onto the floor, item by item. The monkey looked at Tweed and it appeared as though the monkey was grinning with satisfaction.
Seeing the hat lying on the floor amidst the books and clothes, the monkey grabbed it up, then leaped up onto the table, and seeing the small glass bottle with the rubber stopper grabbed that as well and then shimmied up the leash and out through the open skylight which then slammed shut behind him. The two shadows hovered there for a moment and then disappeared.
Tweed groaned and his eyes slowly shut, like two flowers folding in their petals in the encroaching darkness of night.
Moustapha had finished piling the cane cuttings and dead flowers on top of Joseph Dean’s grave, effectively concealing the absence of the tombstone, at least for the time being. Just as Moustapha stepped back to survey his work, Zora emerged from behind a nearby tombstone. Zora looked up at Moustapha with a look that he knew well and he turned to see who was approaching before he had even heard their footsteps. It was the rector of the Church of St. Andrew, Augustus Bridgetower McClean, bald and portly, with thick-lensed nickel-rimmed glasses perpetually sliding down his bulbous nose, waddling along in his black robe with the red sash.
Although a man of the cloth, McClean lived in the shadow of a dubious reputation that had followed him from Edinburgh to Tangier. There were rumors of sordid doings and a penchant for young boys which had gotten McClean in trouble in the past, but all that had been dutifully swept under the carpet and anyway was only of minor significance in anything-goes Tangier. But it did get in the way of Moustapha’s attempts to cultivate any sort of respect toward McClean.
“A most pleasant good morning to you, Moustapha.”
Behind McClean’s treacle-like pleasantries there was usually some ulterior motive, which always put Moustapha on guard.
“Good Morning, Señor McClean.”
Glancing up at the gathering clouds, McClean rubbed his hands together in a gesture of anxious anticipation. “Looks like we might have a little rain finally. The flowers will be most grateful, don’t you think?”
Moustapha glanced up at the dark clouds and nodded his head, then turned back to McClean, waiting for him to get to whatever issue it was that he actually wished to address.
“By the way, Moustapha…”
Here it comes, thought Moustapha.
“I spoke briefly with Mrs. Walcott this morning, who lives just over there behind the cemetery. I’m sure you’ve seen her here at the Sunday services. A most charming woman indeed. And she’s proved to be such a resolute person since the death of Mr. Walcott. The poor soul. Anyway, she told me that she heard some strange commotion coming from the cemetery last night, and saw some kind of lights, as though someone was burning something. Have you any idea what she might have been talking about?”
Moustapha furrowed his brow and shook his head in what he hoped would be interpreted as serious consideration. “No idea, Señor McClean. When I arrived this morning and unlocked the gate, everything was as it should be. Perhaps she is mistaken.”
“I hold Mrs. Walcott in the highest esteem; an astute woman of the most upright character. The sort of person whose word I would never doubt or question. But alas, even God’s most decent and honest children are allowed the occasional error in judgment.”
“Yes, Señor McClean, we Moroccans see it that way as well.”
“Ah, yes, of course,” McClean said dismissively, obviously bristling at the very thought of the hedonistic native Moroccans having any concept whatsoever of God. “Well then, I’ll let you get back to your work. We have a funeral coming up this week, so I’d like to see the cemetery as pristine as possible.”
“Certainly, Señor McClean. As always.”
“You can begin by carting off all those cuttings and rubbish there,” McClean said, pointing at Dean’s grave. “That belongs on the compost heap in back and not here in the middle of the cemetery.”
“Of course, Señor McClean,” Moustapha said, turning to look at the pile of cane cuttings. Looking back at him out of one half-closed eye was Zora, from where she had curled into a round ball of fur directly on top of the pile of cuttings and flowers. Moustapha smiled to himself. “As soon as Zora is finished with her nap I will take care of it.”
“Yes, by all means, do not disturb Zora.”
McClean turned and waddled off while Moustapha continued to smile and absent-mindedly scratched his chin.
From their places behind two nearby tombstones, the ghosts of Burroughs and Dean had been watching the proceedings, not without a certain amusement.
“You know, Dean,” Burroughs said, “If we had a nickel for every incident of subterfuge and every lie told in Tangier we could buy out Fort Knox, the whole kit and caboodle.”
From a little further off, behind his very own tombstone, Walter Harris watched Burroughs and Dean, speculating as to whether they might eventually be of assistance to him and his plan to get back to Malta, or if they too would just provide more complications, like everyone else seemed to be doing.
Harris had seen a lot of strange doings during his life in Morocco and even more since his death in 1933. As the second son of one of the wealthy owners of London’s Harris-Dixon Shipping Line, he had sailed around the world before his 18th birthday. He recalled once arriving in Gibraltar aboard ship and having to wait for the visit of the British health officer due to the prevalence of various fevers which required strict health regulations. When the health officer arrived in a row boat alongside Harris’ vessel, he advised the captain that the ship would have to move to the quarantine ground where it would remain at anchor for several days. During that time boats would come and go bringing supplies and delivering messages to the ship. To prevent the spread of disease in case of infection aboard ship, all currency or bills of payment had to be taken by long wooden tongs and then dipped in vinegar to disinfect them. Finally after several days of grumbling by the ship’s crew and passengers, the health officer gave clearance for the vessel to proceed to Tangier.
Once in Tangier, Harris’ wealth gained him entrée into the close knit circle of Tangier’s High Society. He liked hanging out in the Zoco Chico at a cave of a bar called Sotiry’s. It was named for Antonio Sotiry, the fat Cypriot who ran it. The bar had an old upright piano and a clientele of Europeans who would drink red wine, smoke hashish, and gossip. The place reeked of drunkenness, illicit sex, and other debauchery. In its day Sotiry’s was probably the most Bohemian bar in Morocco. Today the Café Central sits where Sotiry’s once was. The Café Central is now a focal point for the pseudo-hip, tourists and day trippers from Spain, and the usual mix of drug dealers, black marketers, and hustlers.
As Harris mused over his Tangier past he watched the ghosts of Burroughs and Dean hovering near the site of Dean’s grave which was now covered with plant cuttings and tree branches. He could overhear them talking about Dean’s missing tombstone.
“Look, Monsieur Bill, I may not know where my tombstone is but whoever has it is in for quite a surprise.” Dean went on, “Not long after my funeral, some thieves tried to carry it off but were stopped by the watchman, a Spaniard named José Losa. They dropped the two pieces of the tombstone and escaped.”
“Doesn’t sound like a very good way to begin your final repose.”
“Exactement, Bill. That’s when I visited a Moroccan magician in a dream and had him infuse my tombstone with a unique security device.”
“Don’t tell me. You placed a curse on your tomb.”
“Mais bien sur. I got the idea from you. The Black Centipedes. It was one of my favorite parts in Naked Lunch.”
“You went for the old Black Centipede fix? Ah, that was a leftover from when I worked as an exterminator in Chicago. God how I hated those loathsome creatures. On one of my jungle expeditions in South America I discovered how truly revolting and, I might add, poisonous they can be. The Peruvian centipede is the world’s largest centipede. They are fast and aggressive, as with any Scolopendra centipede. Despite their cute appearance giant centipedes are extremely venomous and their bite can be compared to a viper bite. The poison gland is located on the head. The venom is a neurotoxin and is secreted through their powerful jaws. The victim becomes paralyzed and eventually succumbs resulting in a slow, horrible death by suffocation. In Peru I passed through a village of a particularly hostile Indian tribe and found that a giant centipede had bitten a young girl. The damned thing was over a foot long and had actually wrapped its body around the girl’s leg. Its fanglike jaws were buried deep in her foot. She was barely alive. After one of the natives had chopped off the bugger’s head and removed it, the village Witchdoctor tied some colored cloth around her leg and started chanting. Somehow I convinced him to let me use the cloth as a hot compress over the wounds which drew out some of the venom. The girl’s breathing improved and I had brought along a couple of vials of penicillin. Once they had covered her leg with a blanket, I managed to give her a shot to fight any infection. Then I beat it out of there. I was scared shitless.
More from the centipede than the natives. In Chicago I had actually seen some huge buggers which were immune to pyrethrum powder. A few times I had to use a baseball bat to kill ‘em. Bullets were not effective and would just pass through their segments leaving globs of yellow ooze on the floors and walls.”
“Now I understand why you included them in Naked Lunch,” said Dean.
“Precisely, Dean. But how did you manage to conjure centipedes to safeguard your tombstone?”
“The magician was also an herbalist and amateur chemist. For several nights I beleaguered his subconscious and suggested the centipede curse for my tombstone. He resisted my hauntings at first but eventually gave in to them and came up with the fix. I’m afraid I gave him a few scares when I had him dream of centipedes crawling up his ass.”
“How did he devise the curse?” asked Burroughs.
“First he caught a number of centipedes easily found in Tangier and made a mash of their bodies. Then he prepared a special solution made from combining the mashed centipedes with various fungi. The result was a compound which when applied to my tombstone would act as a theft deterrent. Anytime my tombstone was removed or disturbed spores would be released causing the thief or thieves to hallucinate centipedes. Those infected would imagine they were seeing centipedes of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Though the spores were not deadly, contact with them would have disturbing results. Unfortunately spores are not easily controlled and could be passed from object to person and person to person. A kind of centipede contagion could result so there was the possibility of innocent victims being infected.”
“Sort of like the Ebola virus then, eh Dean?”
“Sort of. The effects could last for minutes, hours, or even days and could come and go without warning. The hallucinations would sometimes seem so real one might imagine they were crawling on one’s flesh.”
“That would be a drag,” said Burroughs.
“Right. I know because the magician experienced the effects himself before he applied the solution to my tombstone. I was able to feel his panic via supernatural empathy. It was terrifying.”
“Any antidote,” asked Burroughs.
“Yes, fortunately. Once the tombstone is returned the released spores would die and the centipede curse would disappear until the next time someone tried to steal my tombstone.”
“I would certainly like to meet your magician. This sounds like a psychoactive pharmaceutical with medical and commercial potential. Kind of reminds me of yagé. I believe the ancient Egyptians might have been working on such a concoction to scare off tomb robbers.”
“Bill, do you mean like a Pharaoh’s curse?”
“Well, something definitely knocked off that Tutunkhamen thief, Lord Carnarvon. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed that Carnarvon’s death was caused by “elementals” created by royal priests to guard the royal tomb.”
“Very interesting, Bill. Maybe if we linger here awhile we may see if the Black Centipedes are doing their job.”
“Ah yes,” said Burroughs with obvious enjoyment. “The curse of Dean’s tombstone.”
Meanwhile, up on the Old Mountain, Mr. Garland was standing out on his balcony drinking a cup of morning tea while watching the groundskeeper and his assistant feeding the animals. The lions and tigers and ocelots were pacing back and forth in their enclosures, growling and snarling, while the macaques were hooting and chattering and occasionally one of the peacocks would let out a loud scream. The horses and donkeys and goats and chickens and geese were all restless as well, contributing to the overall tension that was in the air. Eventually all the animals received their food and the mood began to settle back into its usual routine.
Mr. Garland called the number for the petit-taxi and told the dispatcher he would like a taxi at the usual time, preferably with Farid, the driver who usually catered to most of the residents in their homes and villas on the Old Mountain. Farid was running a little late this morning, having somewhat overslept after last night’s ferrying of Aicha back and forth from the cemetery and helping her with her plants and the tombstone. Farid neither liked nor trusted Aicha, but she was a regular customer, and in the case of last night’s strange nocturnal doings, she had tipped exceedingly well in order that he maintain a vow of silence concerning all that he had been witness to.
Farid arrived on time at Mr. Garland’s villa and drove him down into town. It was Mr. Garland’s regular morning ritual to take an outside table at the Café de Paris and read the International Herald Tribune while drinking an espresso accompanied by a snifter of Fundador. He would usually read the entire newspaper from front to back, completely ignoring the entreaties of the countless shoeshine boys, beggars, scam artists and various hucksters.
When Farid pulled up to the curb in front of the Café de Paris on the Boulevard Pasteur, Mr. Garland asked him if he perhaps had a business card with his name and phone number, as he wanted to recommend Farid to a new neighbor on the Old Mountain.
Farid reached over and opened the glove compartment and suddenly let out a blood-curdling scream. He wrenched open the driver’s door of the taxi, leaped out and started running down the street, screaming the whole way until he had disappeared into the winding streets of the medina.
As Mr. Garland climbed out of the back of the taxi, looking with bewilderment in the direction where Farid had disappeared, a policeman who had been standing nearby approached and asked what had happened. Mr. Garland told him about asking Farid for a business card, his opening of the glove compartment and his sudden screaming exit. “The last thing I heard him say was something about giant black centipedes.”
The policeman glanced inside the petit-taxi, and seeing nothing unusual or out of order, pulled out a small notebook and a pen from his shirt pocket and began to make some notes.
Mr. Garland picked up a copy of the Herald Tribune and a pack of Gauloises at a tabacaria next door to the Café de Paris, and then found an empty table outside with a commanding view of the Place de France, now swarming with the usual traffic and pedestrians. A waiter appeared and he placed his order. Odd that was, thought Mr. Garland. I’m sure if there had been a large centipede in the glove box it could not have escaped that quickly. Certainly I would have seen it. Unless it had wings. Well, perhaps Farid had been dipping into the majoun jar.
Mr. Garland took a sip of espresso, followed by a sip of the Fundador, unfolded the Herald Tribune and started reading. As was his habit, he would read the entire paper, line for line, word for word, and if he was in the mood, he would also do the crossword puzzle.
He was on page two when he registered a shape moving into his peripheral vision. An important aspect of Mr. Garland’s paper-reading ritual was the absolute blocking out of anyone who approached him or wanted something from him. The idea was to read the entire paper undisturbed and uninterrupted. But it was obvious that the shape was drawing closer and closer, and then there came a familiar voice with a trace of a Spanish accent; “Good day, Mr. Garland. May I join you?”
With a slight air of annoyance, Mr. Garland looked up into the round face of Doctor Microbia, with his drooping black moustache and his round nickel-rimmed glasses. Tipped onto the back of his head was a somewhat threadbare black Homburg. A few strands of greasy black hair were plastered against his brow with a film of sweat. Under his arm was clutched a disorderly bundle of books and papers.
“Good day, Doctor. By all means, have a seat.”
Doctor Microbia sat down, grunting and a little short of breath, as he always seemed to be. Mr. Garland didn’t know Doctor Microbia’s real name, nor did he know anyone who did. It was a nickname that he’d picked up and which had stuck for all the years that Doctor Microbia had lived in Tangier, ever since he came over from Spain as a teacher of sex education before getting involved in a scandal which almost resulted in his expulsion by the authorities.
Some whispered that Doctor Microbia was actually a Gibraltarian, descended from British and Spanish stock. Fluent in Spanish he spoke perfect English with a slight accent. After the scandal had died down (the stories involved sex abuse and human trafficking) Doctor Microbia began practicing medicine. After arranging a few strategic bribes of officials he was able to rent a small office above Rue Angleterre and put up a brass sign on the door. With a fake M.D. diploma hanging on the wall and his white Dr.’s smock, he began seeing a steady stream of Moroccan and expatriate patients. Though not a real doctor, he had served as a corporal in the Spanish Army Medical Corps—mostly treating blisters, ingrown toenails, sprains, minor cuts and bruises, dysentery, the clap, and the common cold. He had also assisted a real surgeon several times in performing appendectomies. So in Tangier he began cutting open the bellies of appendicitis sufferers and snipping out the offending organ. Surgeries were performed in a back room on an old billiard table that had once belonged to the British Legation. He always demanded payment in advance, cash from the well-off, or if one was short on funds, a service or item for barter. The result was that he had carved (or sliced) out a comfortable niche for himself.
Over the years he had removed dozens maybe hundreds of appendixes whether or not that was the actual cause of the complaint. His hands were often unsteady after a night of heavy drinking or the snorting of various drugs. This may have resulted in the occasional patient death from sepsis or a perforated intestine due to a slip of the scalpel. Since autopsies were rarely performed in Morocco, the cause of death was never attributed to any malpractice on Doctor Microbia’s part. Deaths were usually believed to be “Allah’s will” and following custom, the bodies, along with any evidence, were hastily buried before sundown. Over time Doctor Microbia had become a somewhat dubious fixture in the Tangier scene along with the other human oddities and detritus that washed up with the tides. He also moonlighted as a veterinarian on the side and volunteered at the English Society for the Protection of Animals, in the hopes of somewhat rehabilitating his somewhat uncertain standing. All in all, the past scandal which had tainted his reputation for a time, his unknown origins, and his reemergence as a man of medicine gave Doctor Microbia what was perhaps most coveted among the expatriate community, the respected status of bona-fide Tangerino.
Doctor Microbia ordered a café au lait and a glass of water. It was with a sense of almost gleeful anticipation that Mr. Garland waited to see what would happen next, even though he knew precisely what to expect. The waiter came back with the café au lait and water and turned on his heels and left. Doctor Microbia took a sip of the coffee and set it down, then picked up the glass of water and held it up to the light and squinted at it through his glasses. “Mucho microbia,” he said, shaking his head disdainfully. “Mucho microbe.”
Mr. Garland smiled and went back to reading his paper. But not for long.
“What’s new in the world, Mr. Garland?”
“Not much,” said Mr. Garland without looking up. “The usual cavalcade of horrors and absurdity.”
“Would you say that there was more evil or more good at play?”
“Well, judging by what I’ve read so far, I’d say it was about fifty-fifty.”
“Ah, that’s good to hear.”
“Why’s that?” Mr. Garland said, looking up from the paper. “Wouldn’t it be nice if for once there wasn’t any bad news?”
“Oh no, that would be terrible, a sure sign that something was appallingly wrong.”
“How do figure that?”
“The equilibrium of the world is based in part on the balance of good and evil. You can’t have one without the other.”
“I see,” said Mr. Garland, returning his attention to the paper. It was too early in the day for such philosophical musings. But it seemed as though Doctor Microbia was just getting warmed up.
“I just finished reading The Lord of the Flies,” Doctor Microbia said, leaning back in his chair. “Hadn’t read it in years and thought I’d see how it held up now.”
“I haven’t read it again since it first came out in the 50s. A solid piece of writing, if I remember correctly. Perhaps the symbolism was a bit heavy-handed.”
“Exactly. Jack as the Id, Ralph as the Ego and Piggy as the Superego; it’s just too easy, too black and white. And anyway, why should Ralph be seen as the embodiment of good, when all he wants to do is get everyone rescued from the island and returned to society, the very same society that conditioned them into helpless robots in the first place?”
“Given the choice between remaining on the island living like savages and returning to society, I think Ralph’s efforts can be seen in a positive light.”
“That’s part of the problem right there. Most people’s interpretation of good and evil is just way too simplistic, much too shallow. Look at the bullfight for example.”
Mr. Garland didn’t want to think about bullfights, he just wanted to read his newspaper in peace, but he didn’t want to seem impolite. Begrudgingly he set down the paper and took a sip of the Fundador and then looked up at Doctor Microbia. The Doctor continued; “For some the bullfight might appear as some kind of allegory of good versus evil. But which of the participants are good and which are evil? Is the bull good or evil? Is the matador good or evil? And what about the audience?”
Doctor Microbia’s unanswered question hung ominously in the air and Mr. Garland waited patiently for the answer, which was obviously forthcoming.
“It’s the audience that is the embodiment of true evil, creating the need for such a bloody barbarian spectacle, goading the other participants and condoning the bloodshed and murder. The bull and the matador are just pawns in the game, the greater game of manipulation that society is constantly playing.”
Mr. Garland glanced down at the Herald Tribune, wishing he could continue reading it. But it wasn’t to be. He looked back up at the doctor and saw that the damp film on his forehead had been replaced by beads of sweat. Suddenly Mr. Garland felt hungry. The smell of kebabs grilling down the street was making his stomach growl. A hamburger! Yes, I’d like a hamburger, he realized. There was only one legitimate purveyor of hamburgers in Tangier and that was Eric’s Hamburgers. Tucked into an arcade-like side street off the boulevard and open 24 hours a day, Eric’s had a pair of open-air counters each with a half-dozen bar stools. Mr. Garland’s favorite specialty was Eric’s Lamb-burger, smothered in onions, on a roll and covered with French fries.
Mr. Garland finished his espresso and the Fundador and folded his paper. “Well, Doctor,” he said, getting to his feet. “This particular pawn is about to make a move.” He threw down a few dirham notes on the table, saying, “It’s on me.”
“No, no,” Doctor Micropbia protested.
“Yes, I insist. Our conversation has been most thought provoking. Have a good day.”
Mr. Garland turned and started walking towards Eric’s. As he walked he looked back over his shoulder and saw Farid sitting on the curb surrounded by two policemen and several onlookers. One of them he recognized as Kazim, the old sorcerer he knew from the Café Triangle. Kazim had his hand on Farid’s shoulder and seemed to be speaking to him. As Mr. Garland was watching, Kazim looked up and caught his eye. Since Mr. Garland was half a block away by then, the eye contact startled him and he felt a slight shiver. Mr. Garland was well aware of the native belief in the “evil eye” and so consciously made the “mano fica,” or fig-in-hand, as a gesture of protection. He looked away quickly and began walking faster.
By the time he got to Eric’s he was slightly out of breath. The grill-cook with the Eric’s T-shirt and the jauntily placed sailor’s cap greeted him and Mr. Garland hastily placed his order and sat down on one of the stools just across from the big grill. He was panting and perspiring and still somewhat puzzled by the scene with Farid back at the café, as well as his conversation with Doctor Microbia.
Sitting at the other counter was a young tourist couple, who were being pestered by a particularly persistent beggar kid. The kid was only eight or nine, with close-cropped hair and a dribble of snot under his nose. He was wearing a faded black T-shirt and greasy jeans out of which two dirt-encrusted bare feet protruded. The T-shirt had a cartoon graphic of two buzzards looking at each other. The caption below read, “If I don’t eat soon, I’m going to kill something.” The kid was silent but kept gesturing with his open hand and an expression of irreconcilable pathos. The tourist couple was trying to ignore the kid, and the kid moved in closer and tugged gently at the sleeve of the man’s shirt. The cook said something in Arabic but the kid ignored him. The two tourists had both ordered Eggburgers, another Eric’s specialty, and they watched as the cook cracked two eggs into a pair of metal rings on the grill which formed the eggs into two perfectly round hamburger-sized fried eggs which he then deftly flipped onto the top of two sizzling hamburger patties with the flick of a spatula. Again the cook said something to the beggar kid and again he was ignored. The cook reached over and picked up an egg and raised his arm, but the kid was already running down the street, so that the hurled egg cracked and spattered on the pavement at his side as he ran, turning to smile and laugh before disappearing around the corner.
The ground lamb and onions were sizzling on the grill and Mr. Garland had just taken a sip of a Fanta Orange when he felt someone’s presence behind him. He turned and there stood Just-call-me-Ishmael.
“Good morning, Mr. Garland.”
“Good morning, Just-call-me-Ishmael.”
“’A lamb-burger for breakfast gives a man the strength of a hundred camels in the courtyard,’ to misappropriate the Nchaioui proverb once used by Paul Bowles.”
“Yes, I was quite hungry, and one of those fake, fluffy air-filled Moroccan croissants would not have done the job. And you?”
“Just passing by to see if there might be a familiar face here. I’m a bit short on funds and was wondering if perhaps you could spot me fifty dirhams or so until I’m flush again.”
Without any further comment, Mr. Garland produced his wallet and fished out a green 50-dirham note and gave it to Just-call-me-Ishmael.
“Much obliged. How’s the menagerie?”
“All fit and frisky.”
“Wonderful. Well, I must be moving along. You should stop by the Café Triangle again someday and we can play a few hands of poker.”
“Well, my animals keep me pretty busy. But perhaps one of these days I’ll stop by.”
“Great. Have a good day. And thanks.”
Mr. Garland smiled and nodded and watched Just-call-me-Ishmael walk back down toward the boulevard. When he turned back toward the counter his lamb-burger was sitting on a sheet of waxed paper in a plastic basket. He picked up the sandwich, hesitated, then placed it back in the basket. A cold current was coursing up his spine and he felt a slight sense of dread. Should he go back to check on Farid and see if he would be able to drive him home later? The thought of asking Farid about the centipedes was not appealing. And right now he was ravenous. He looked down at his food and grabbed it with both hands, taking a huge bite of the lamb-burger. A few bites later and he had consumed the entire sandwich. As he chewed the meat juices ran down his chin and onto his khaki blazer and white shirt. Goddammit, he thought, and picked up the counter table-wipe and used the rag to dab at the juice stains.
After paying, Mr. Garland got up and headed for the American Bar which was a few blocks away. When he arrived at the entrance, he was glad to escape the raucous clamor of Tangier streets and enter the quiet velvety darkness of the bar. As his eyes adjusted he saw there were only a couple of Moroccans in the place, seated on stools, drinking beer and eating tapas. Mr. Garland sat down at a table in a far corner and asked the waiter for a bottle of gin and a glass. He needed a drink to calm his nerves and his worries about Farid, the cold eye he’d received from Kazim, and especially the well-being of his exotic animals. There had been complaints about the noise and the smell from several neighbors including Aicha. The stories he had heard about her made him concerned for himself as well as for the safety of his menagerie.
Meanwhile, Farid had been taken by the police to the hospital at Beni Makada for observation. He continued to insist there were large black centipedes crawling around inside his taxi and refused to go near it. The police though skeptical were superstitious and called another taxi driver to remove the car. When the man arrived and heard the story he carefully looked through the car, under the seats, in the trunk, and even under the hood. Finding nothing, he got in and drove Farid’s taxi to a vacant lot near the port and parked it.
The ghosts of Burroughs and Dean were now sitting on a tipped-over obelisk surrounded by thick green foliage and watching Moustapha as he went about his work, which now consisted of remedying the damage incurred by the uprooting of the several datura plants the night before. The ghost of Walter Harris was still watching all this from a safe distance, seated on his own tombstone along with a few cemetery cats. As Burroughs and Dean watched Moustapha they were reminiscing about the “good old days” of Tangier’s legendary and notorious splendor, when it was still an International Zone and alive with intrigue, conspiracy, espionage, trickery, and gossip, peopled with colorful characters more eccentric than any writer could imagine, with its lively social scene and parties and the bars that the expatriate community used to frequent, such as Jay Haselwood’s famous Parade Bar, Brion Gysin’s 1001 Nights, the Atlas Hotel Bar, the Viking Bar, The Ranch Bar, Scott’s, the Gospel Disco, Guitta’s, not to mention Dean’s. Several other cats had gathered at the feet of Burroughs and Dean, listening with awe to the various tales of incredible, unbelievable and just plain ridiculous human behavior.
As Burroughs and Dean were talking they both became aware of another ghostly presence and turned to see Brunhilde Reinhart, the neo-fauvist German painter who had lived and worked and died in Tangier, approaching from the direction of her own grave. Brunhilde was born in Berlin in 1945, to a family of artists and dancers whose radical bohemian lifestyle was always at odds with the totalitarian regime of the German Democratic Republic. Already as a teenager Brunhilde was determined to accomplish two things; to become a painter and to escape East Germany for once and for all. When she was 18 she learned about a group of people who were planning to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin via a new tunnel that crossed under the wall near the Bernauer Strasse. On the evening of their escape, Brunhilde was instructed to meet with the others in the basement of an old bakery in the Schönholzer Strasse. Brunhilde had only a suitcase with some clothes and her personal belongings, and a portfolio containing the best examples or her work. She was leaving her parents and family behind, completely determined to make it on her own, even if she wasn’t sure exactly how. When it was her turn to enter the tunnel, she was told she could only take one item with her. That meant either the suitcase or her portfolio. Without a moment’s hesitation, she threw the suitcase aside, clutched the portfolio to her chest, and descended the wooden ladder into the dark, dank depths of the tunnel.
She spent a few weeks at her uncle’s in West Berlin, then started hitchhiking south, in order to put as much distance as possible between her and cold, gray Germany, with Tangier being her final destination, a place where she imagined endless Mediterranean sun and vivid North African colors. After a harrowing journey with countless interruptions that lasted almost a year, all of which she had noted carefully in her journal and hoped to rewrite as a book someday, she finally arrived in Tangier. By way of the English-speaking expatriate community, Brunhilde managed to find herself a job as a secretary and personal assistant for an aging Austrian writer who lived alone in a sprawling villa on the Old Mountain. In her spare time, she turned the unused barn and stables into a studio and began painting. A complete autodidact, Brunhilde’s first paintings were heavily derivative of Henri Matisse, André Derain and Raoul Dufy, filled with arresting compositions, bright colors and distorted perspectives, but she soon developed a highly idiosyncratic style of her own. Her first exhibition was in the Gallimard Agency bookshop on the Boulevard Pasteur, along with some other local artists including the Moroccan painter, Ahmed Yacoubi. Through Yacoubi, Brunhilde met Paul and Jane Bowles and her contacts among the expatriate community of artists, writers and intellectuals increased exponentially. Soon she was having solo shows, not only in Tangier, but in other cities in Morocco, Spain, France, the USA and elsewhere. Her wealth increased with her fame and soon Brunhilde quit working for the writer and moved into a large villa of her own. There she worked and entertained and lived quite comfortably, eventually meeting and falling in love with Ravi Kahn, the virtuoso Indian sitar player. They lived together happily for many years until one evening while Ravi was away on tour, someone broke into their villa and murdered Brunhilde, stealing several paintings as well as her many black Moleskine notebooks, in which she’d been writing her journals since the day she left Berlin. The crime was never solved and remains one of the many grisly mysteries of Tangier lore.
Brunhilde came walking through the graves and tombstones decked out in one of her typical long dresses and flamboyant floppy-brimmed hats, and loads of cheap jewelry.
“That’s fantastic!” she said. “I heard you two talking, waxing nostalgic about the old Tangier, and I thought ‘My God, but that sounds like William Burroughs and Joseph Dean.’ and lo and behold, it is! What a wonderful surprise!”
“Likewise,” said Dean. “It’s been ages. But you still look positively radiant.”
“Oh Dean, you old charmer.”
“Ah, Brunhilde,” said Burroughs. “What an unexpected pleasure. You were always one of my favorite painters, and an important influence as well. After settling down in Lawrence, Kansas, I started getting into painting again, and often I thought about the great paintings of yours I’d seen and admired here in Tangier. And from what I heard, you became quite successful. I remember seeing some of your paintings going for several hundred thousand dollars at a Christie’s auction not long after your death.”
“Yes, like most artists, dying was the best thing I ever did for my career. Too bad I wasn’t around to enjoy the material wealth.”
Dean raised his arms in a gesture of dismissal. “What good would material wealth do us now? Our greatest capital is the fact that we don’t need any.”
From the direction of the front gate of the cemetery, there came the sound of a car pulling up and parking. The three of them looked and saw a young man in paint-spattered overalls climbing out of a small Renault van. He opened the back doors of the van and lifted out a large object wrapped in old newspapers. Moustapha met him as he came through the gate and took the parcel from him and signed a bill and the young man got back in the van and left. Moustapha walked over to Dean’s grave and leaned the parcel against a nearby tombstone. Zora jumped down from her perch on top of the cane cuttings and old dead flowers and Moustapha piled all the refuse into a wheelbarrow until Dean’s grave was completely exposed again. He unwrapped the parcel and Burroughs and Dean and Brunhilde saw the papier-mâché replicas of Dean’s two-piece tombstone.
“What the fuck?” Burroughs said as the three of them watched.
Moustapha placed the two pieces of the papier-mâché tombstone in the slightly sunken space where the original pieces of marble had lain. They fit perfectly in place. Moustapha then adjusted the surrounding grass and dirt in such a way that for the uninitiated it appeared as though the original two-piece marble tombstone had been lying there untouched for years.
“Well I’ll be…” said Burroughs.
“Does he really think he’ll get away with that?” asked Dean.
“What a marvelous idea!” exclaimed Brunhilde.
Moustapha got to his feet and looked down at his work admiringly. He breathed a long sigh of relief as Zora moved in an infinite figure-8 in and out and around his legs, purring loudly.
(c) 2014 By The Authors
FRANCIS POOLE first visited Morocco in 1973 and 1975 and was eventually hired to teach English at the American School of Tangier in 1979. During this time he met and befriended Paul Bowles, in whose apartment he also met Mohamed Mrabet, Mohamed Temsamani, Mohamed Choukri, Gavin Lambert, Claude Thomas, Rodrigo Rey Rosa, and others. During Poole’s three-year stay in Tangier he wrote poetry and edited BLADES, a small magazine of experimental writing to which Paul Bowles contributed several items, including the first poem he ever wrote as a young child. After other teaching stints in Evora and Lisbon, Portugal, Poole eventually returned to the USA, where he became a film archivist at the University of Delaware, which had a substantial Paul Bowles collection. Poole was then able to negotiate the acquisition of a substantial amount of Bowles’s papers, notebooks, letters, and books, which greatly expanded the University of Delaware’s collection. Poole last spoke with Bowles in September, 1999, two months before his death. The outcome of that conversation was the last interview with Paul Bowles, which appeared in Five Points. Poole has published several collections of prose and poetry, including Everybody Comes to Dean’s; Dean’s Bar, Tangier, (Poporo Press, 2012), Snakeskin Raincoat (Poporo Press, 2013), and with Kevin Lacey he co-edited Mirrors on the Maghrib: Critical Reflections on Paul and Jane Bowles and Other American Writers in Morocco (Caravan Books, 1996.) His essay on Hollywood’s depiction of the Moroccan bandit, Moulay Ahmed al-Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion, was published in The Arab-African and Islamic Worlds: Interdisciplinary Studies, and an essay on William Burroughs and the Beats was published in International Quarterly. Other writings have appeared in the Village Voice, Exquisite Corpse, Black Moon, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Bukowski Review, Chiron Review, Lost and Found Times, New York Quarterly, Pearl, Poema Convidado, Poetry East, Rolling Stone, Shattered Wig Review and elsewhere. Recently he collaborated with Mark Terrill on two limited edition chapbooks of poetry illustrated with collages by John Digby, The Spleen of Madrid and A Pair of Darts (both Feral Press, 2012). Poole lives with his wife in Newark, Delaware.
MARK TERRILL shipped out of San Francisco as a merchant seaman to the Far East and beyond, and was a participant in a writing workshop with Paul Bowles at the American School of Tangier, Morocco, in 1982, resulting in a long-lasting friendship and many return visits to Tangier over the years. After extensive travels and stays in Europe, Terrill settled in Hamburg, Germany, in 1984, where he’s worked as a shipyard welder, road manager for rock bands, cook and postal worker. He is the author of Here to Learn; Remembering Paul Bowles (Green Bean Press, 2002) Bread & Fish (The Figures, 2002), The United Colors of Death (Pathwise Press, 2003), The Salvador-Dalai-Lama Express, (Main Street Rag, 2009), Laughing Butcher Berlin Blues (Poetry Salzburg, 2010) and 22 other books and chapbooks of poetry, prose and translations. Other writings and translations have appeared in over 700 literary journals and anthologies worldwide, including City Lights Review, Cahiers d’Art, Bombay Gin, Denver Quarterly, Fourteen Hills, Skanky Possum, Gargoyle, Rattle, Zen Monster, Talisman, Jacket, Partisan Review and elsewhere. In 2009 he was invited to guest-edit a special German Poetry issue of the Atlanta Review, which included his translations of Günter Grass, Peter Handke, Nicolas Born and many others. Together with the poet Cralan Kelder, Terrill co-edited the poetry journal Full Metal Poem. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, his own work has been translated into German, French and Portuguese, and he’s given readings in various venues in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Prague and Hamburg. Recent publications include a chapbook of his translations of the poetry of Jörg Fauser, An Evening in Europe (Toad Press, 2011), and a full-length collection of his translations of the poetry of Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, An Unchanging Blue, Selected Poems 1962-1975 (Parlor Press / Free Verse Editions, 2011). Currently he lives on the grounds of a former boatyard near Hamburg with his wife and a large brood of cats.