puppy aeneid

meeting and deciding the outcome with their swords


turnus ran to the city walls through the broken ranks
(where the soil was most drenched with blood)



hearing the name of turnus, aeneas left the walls
and exultant with delight clashed her weapons fiercely

vast as old apennine
himself when he roars through the glittering holm-oaks


they both dashed quickly forward
the earth groaned
they redoubled their intense
sword-strokes, chance and skill mingled together


turnus leapt forward thinking herself safe, rose to the full height
of her body with uplifted sword, and struck



[but the attack fails; turnus’ sword breaks against aeneas’ mighty armor]


turnus ran madly this way and that over the plain, winding
aimless circles here and there



aeneas, no less, though her knees (slowed at times
by the arrow wound) failed her and denied her speed,
pursued and pressed her anxious enemy hotly, foot to foot



aeneas pressed on, brandishing her great spear like a tree,
and, angered at heart, she cried out in this way:
‘why now yet more delay? why do you still retreat, turnus?
we must compete hand to hand with fierce weapons, not by running



like a black hurricane she flew on
bearing dire destruction, and
passed through the center of the thigh





end intermission


great turnus sank, her knee bent beneath her, under the blow.
She lowered her eyes in submission and stretched out her right hand:
‘I have earned this, I ask no mercy’ she said,
‘seize your chance.’


aeneas, blazing with fury, and terrible in her anger,
buried her sword deep
and then turnus’s limbs grew slack


#433rds Day 11

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 11

instabanana 11 1 instabanana 11 2

Little Miss Spider Muffet

An idiot day, mostly, noir with deep shadows and Pepi curled into my butt, but! Progress! The mental judo it takes to get oneself to do a thing. Sometimes the lovely book-miracles happen. Today in the tub, it was Jane Tompkins on Westerns. Not my book and I chose it at random, but the first page I opened to! Truth opens in the bathtub heat!

“Westerns pay practically no attention to women’s experience. Nor could they. When women wrote about the West, the stories they told did not look anything like what we know as the Western. Their experience as well as their dreams had another shape entirely, as scholars like Annette Kolodny have recently begun to show.

Now the question is, Why should this deauthorization of women have occurred?

Forget the corner mildew. It’s the gospel of Jesus’ wife, exhumed! (Not a forgery, they think. The inclusion of a single woman is probably not a forgery. And Jesus might be a fish, but Stanley Fish isn’t Jesus.) Hooray! Hip hip.

It is 1.6 inches by 3.1 inches, that gospel is. We haven’t lost all sense of proportion. Still, many congratulations to Karen King, who is brilliant, even if she didn’t think the title “Jesus wife” would be inflammatory. She said, back in 2012, that if the fragment was proved not to be a forgery, it would be “cherry on the cake.” Cherries on cakes is new to me. The expression, I thought, was icing.

First course: Sara Lee strawberry cheesecake. (I chose it over the cherry.) Second: avocado on a tuffet of greens. When it comes to articles of faith, I do not believe in dessert putting a lien on dinner. Pudding first, meal last and lots of salt and lemon.

The day was mostly muscles aquiver with pain, but a few vigorous elbowings later, some fe fi fo fumming, and they’re cello strings now instead of screaming violins. Today’s headache was sponsored by Key and Peele, whose Continental Breakfast sketch helped ratchet my neck a few clicks loose.

The Pepper-Spray Cop got $38,000 for his emotional distress. Hard to be a meme. Two rappers fight over their bitches on Instagram but one might have been hacked. Robin Williams walks around looking angry. Craig Ferguson might lose his job. It’s all to do with faces, isn’t it: the detail with which we look at one and the story we’re willing to see.

#433rds Day 10

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 10

instabanana 10 2 instabanana day 10 1

programmed to receive

Our handyman likes to call the toilet “the commode,” and it makes me happy every time he does it. He lies a lot: about when he’s coming back, about how much things cost, about being sick. (Heart attack one week, cancer another–he doesn’t do things by halves. Says he’s jaded, says he drinks 16 V8s a day.)

I’m talking in present-tense even though it’s been months since he’s visited. The bathroom is done and I miss him a little every time I look at the uneven plane of the floor.

I miss him enough, despite not liking him much, that I decided it meant I needed people. If I’m lonely—and I’m not sure that’s what this is—go to the library stacks to work around other bodies. So I did. It was perfect. Then a young man sat down at my table in a nostalgic mood. He was playing “Hotel California” on his iPhone, loud enough that I could hear its tinny strains through his headphones. By the fifth replay the air had become a Tiffany-twisted hellscape of wheedled beats.

Luckily the library’s bathroom is nicely architected. Solid, five stalls. Anteroom with a cushioned bench. Full-length mirror. Soap. Bathrooms are like fax machines in that technology should, by any reasonable definition of progress, have evolved beyond them, but nothing has replaced their almost unhackable concreteness. Their longevity is Victorian. It’s queenly. They’re better at what they do than headphones, and the few high-tech improvements we’ve attempted—circulating plastic on seats, automatic flushes, hand dryers–only mar a perfect thing. They’re singular and virtuosic, saxophones in the orchestra of rooms.

When I returned, the young man was packing his things to go. I could have stayed—the window light was beautiful, the stacks were full, some Fanny Burney letters were tempting me—but enmity is a point of connection, however marginal. We left together.

#433rds Day 9

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 9

instabanana 9 1 instabanana 9 2


A nut and bot walk into a bar. The nut says, “hey, yew,” and the bot turns into an iron chicken. I slept for all but three hours today–the only exon in a day of junk DNA. Sugar hours, underwater mindjuice with tedious neverending storylines. I pried my eyes up with showers, a swanky belt, a tiny castle university, but I was Jonah and the jaws kept snapping shut. A nut and a bot walk into a bar. The barkeep is Mark Twain, who thinks he’s in an Austen novel because everyone in the bar is a Presbyterian. He tells the nut and bot that her characters are detestable. The bot asks him to tell them a story with a likable protagonist, so he tells them Sleeping Beauty. The nut’s into her cups by the time Twain finishes. She says, over her fifth white Russian, that she’d do a better job cutting through the thicket than the bot. They bot says don’t bet on it. Mark Twain offers to judge the contest. The Presbyterians rise up and kill Twain dead.

#433rds Day 8

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 8

instabanana day 8 tiles instabanana day 8


The model plane has skinny-man wings. They wouldn’t lift. If it were a man, its shirt would be squalid, dumpy as Eve Harrington’s hat. No guns there, maybe a feeble cropdust. I miss fraternizing with women who sew with bone. There’s nothing like beading, honing your sparkle, threading the tidy slight.

#433rds Day 7

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 7

instagram day 7 1 instagram day 7 2


A new study suggests our brains conform to certain identical patterns of activity when we watch movies. It’s a cuff of a fact, starched independent of hand or sleeve.

Oscar Pistorius wept in court today and in photos you can see the veins of his straining neck as he tells Reeva’s parents how he feels. The theater of his vomit has garnered a lot of attention, but I’ve been doting on the truth value of his veins. (It’s ok! I’ve been invited to consider the pormenores of his body. He feels vulnerable without his legs. He has trouble sleeping.)

Pepita barfed today. Ashamed, she pulled her paws in.

No studies yet on brain patterns when we watch trials. A judicial, magnetic paisley, whorls of sameness they try to pin down into prints. Court fabricates consensus. It weaves bizarre propositions: premeditation is putting your legs on. Fear is legless.

The court adjourns so Oscar can sleep. Someone suggests  they amputate his arms. Justice weird as ozone, ambient, hole, toxic, turns blood into pounds, usurps free radicals: what discount if he liquefies into tears and vomit, turns his guilt into gruel?

The longest axon in the body runs from spine to toe. Our legs—when all our brains line up—are always last to know.

#433rds Day 6

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 6

instagram day 6 1 instagram day 6 2

focus stacking

Back in the cycle of slime. Flash! Oh love, I’ve been avoidant. I’ve watched flash videos, completed flash courses, read about bouncing light off walls. Marooned myself on a guilt fort with a flash moat. Think Castle Crystalskull. When you fret about a mote of dust in a dead wasp’s eye, you know you’ve got problems. Glass, glass, all you see is glass. Try to look through. Try to stabilize. Read medicinally: the lucid novelistic profiles of gold miners. They do not help. The words thread and you feel their gentle vegetable draw but can’t meet their motion. You’re in a grabby mood. You want to have grown and written them.

But yours is a slippy-slow digest, a fleshy tube of work.

You’re bored with long exposures. Instantaneity’s the thing. Light’s what we want. You want so much to be a ray you’ve nearly done it: if you mounted yourself on a slide right now and looked under a microscope, you’d barely exist. Attention slips, lurches to the side. Your right temple feels like two raw wires joined and fritzing. Chase the lights and flash the underneck shadows! Mount. Panic. Sink. Bail. Ladle the errors out.

#433rds Day 5

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 5

instagram day 5 1 instagram day 5 2

the piano teacher

The wasp from this morning still isn’t dead, but I’ve discovered the perfect breakfast: it’s three beignets and a coffee.

Things weren’t good before it. I remembered, the way you do when you’re climbing out of sleep and fall off a cliff, that I still hadn’t answered her invitation. It was issued indirectly, to my mother, which makes it hearsay. I never got it, I can think, or pretend to think, but it’s this: Be a guest of honor. Play at our concert. (The answer is a no, a wretched no, but how do you say “I can’t” to someone to whom you have never been able to say “no”, or “I have forgotten why we fought”, or “my life became sloppy without you”.)

To breakfast! What a mess our car is. Of course the radio is playing Liszt. Of course it’s a child prodigy. I shut the radio off before I can hear his voice.

We find a space. I scuff around in the gravel pit next to it while Aaron wrangles the parking meter and I almost drown in the drowsy pleasure of scuffing. “That’s like your version of a Japanese garden,” Aaron says. A bit of gravel surrounding a half-dead tree. There are cigarettes in it. Of course, I think, because before breakfast I exude self-pity and think in absolutes: it’s the undiscipline that set in after her. Ten years of regimented practice, of bows and drills and trips to Japan. I think I was once good at raking perfect rows in clean white sand. I know I was once good at balancing on curbs.

Childhood is sitting on curbs waiting for things. Fifteen minutes for a table, the waitress says, and we sit obediently. I used to go the three blocks to Linda’s for my lessons walking on curbs, counting the steps between the sidewalk slabs.

Over breakfast I think of grenadine, of Shirley Temples drunk at the bars where—as a kid—I sometimes played.

After breakfast we passed three liquor bottles in a tidy row in the gutter. The gravel next to our space is less magical now: the man who lives in front of it is raining angry blows on his window.

We get in the car and drive home with perfect stomachs.

The wasp is still dying. The dog still wants to fight it. I want it to die so I can light it properly, take some close-up shots of its flawless spotted eyes. These are the only circumstances in which a person can really enjoy coffee—heaps of powdered sugar on the dough next to it, to cut and cut the taste.

#433rds Day 4

April 4

instagram day 4 1 instagram day 4 2


A blood gradient is what it sounds like: a Punnett square fading out towards one edge where the traits jog and skip generations like pixels printed apart. I’m getting divorced, the woman says. Everything in her café is red, and so is her hair—a purple red she has to keep redyeing. (I can’t wash it often, she says over a 2:00 Irish coffee [it’s been one of those weeks, she says]). She only has one daughter, aged six, who cries when she can’t decide what shoes to wear. I don’t understand it, the woman says. Her older two kids are boys. They’re easier. They just read. I nod as if I know this and compliment her skin. I never meant to run this place, she says. I just did the accounts. I don’t know quite what she means. We’ve met just as I’m becoming a regular and she’s becoming an owner. Neither of us is good at it yet. Her orchid hair clip is made out of the same material as a wetsuit, she explains, and the fuchsia veins are painted in. Blood doesn’t bite paper as hard—it’s how we read zoo captions over the apes without seeing our alleles, unbathed.