The Exiled Writer

[the last piece of the series born in the wild west of south texas. not so wild actually: well protected in the bosom of a loving family.

a series of observations strung together like the glass beads that fill the beach ware emporiums around here. fed by your comments on previous pieces of this series and by what ever happened and was said around me. such a different way of working from home, i enjoyed it muchly. this is the place where birds come to stay through the winter that i’m going back to in berlin.

this ditty is for michelle who generously let me use her laptop.]

Three Suggestions for Writers Exiled to Texas

Tourette. He wonders if the billboard yelling “drink – drive – go to jail” is an incitement for a young Kerouac. The roads are broken bones of baked Earth and oil. Every time the writer’s car heads for a hole he tenses up but he forgets that this isn’t just a vehicle, it’s a way of life on wagon wheels. Whoever drives one of these crates enters a cliché like a holodeck. How to keep the tension when everyone’s so damned relaxed? He wants to shout “don’t mess with me, fuckhead!” at the next person but of course he doesn’t do it, his class doesn’t allow it. When he blasphemes, his vocabulary resigns achingly as if he had  Alzheimer’s. His personal idea of paradise: swearing from dusk till dawn without washing his mouth out. Suggestion: make an ordinary friend.

Xanadu. The cirrus clouds above are high-strung nervous horses. An osprey has made the impossible imaginable: he’s married to the bridge, the love of his life. Whenever the writer comes home, the bird sits on the railing, keeping an eye out for someone weaker. Nature here is predatory behind a veil of sunny smiles. The mosquito doesn’t actually like the salt water of the laguna. Hidden in a gazillion eggs it awaits the rain, for months if necessary. When it arrives the insects breed in puddles and exterminators traverse the neighborhood at night spelling death in itty-bitty fog letters. Jellyfish is transparent, not so its motivation to sting. The jellyfish even has a soldier caste called man-o-war with a characteristic purple color attractive especially to unsuspecting children. Suggestion: life’s a rowdy riddle in the lone star state.

Blunderbuss. Everybody here is a person from Porlock. The writer wears a blue headdress as a scarf around his neck because of his throat ache that he thinks was brought on by the incessant air conditioning. Down here, the European is an unclassified  species and he doesn’t feel that he’s got any substance worth contributing. He is used to looking at America from the comfort of his green screen. “We don’t have hot tea”, says the waitress and when he asks for “no ice, please”, she shrugs and brings lukewarm tea. He takes note of her wilful walk and her coral-colored eyes. The writer is a literary tourist – actually: he’s just a tourist stuffing himself with sunshine, dining out on false memories. Brand names that at home consort easily with his mental image of the world seem drily ridiculous in this place. Suggestion: when it’s time to leave, laugh. When it’s time to laugh, leave.

[Translated to German: Tourette; Xanadu, Blunderbuss. ]

© 2010 Marcus Speh. All rights reserved.

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