Steve’s cooking scallops for Tracy.
He’ll actually use a little too much cream
but the scallops won’t resist too much.
Steve’s cooking scallops for Tracy.
Everything bar the cooking’s almost ready.
He’s about to undress and step into the shower.
Tracy’s slipping out of Darlington.
She doesn’t know about the scallops,
she’s not sure about her level of resistance.
Steve’s scrubbing himself in the shower.
It’s true he’s put on a little weight
but who wants to sleep with a will-o’-the-wisp?
Steve’s cooking scallops for Tracy,
he needs to shave and apply some Eau Sauvage.
A man with scallops is a man who shaves.
Tracy’s driving along the motorway.
She’s bought herself a nice little dress.
She’s never in her life eaten a scallop.
Ever since an octopus raised itself
above the water and threw its tentacles
around the church bell and heaved it
this way and that way in order to tell us
that corsairs were coming to plunder
we have continued to bless the octopus.
That hasn’t stopped us from eating it.
After all eating is a kind of blessing
and the priest who hasn’t quite managed
to get the sand out of his shoes and
who comes from good peasant stock
throws on a green-braided jacket
and treks down to the gathered boats.
In truth he’d rather be tucking into
a plate of clams or a magnificent chop
than fooling around with an octopus
but he’s got his psalter and he’s learnt
a few lines from the poet Sbarbaro.
Water’s sprinkled and there are chants
And the octopus raises itself from
Under the sea and wraps its tentacles
around the poet-priest and pulls him
down to the weeds where psalters slip
and jackets bloom. There’s a sunlight
on the surface of the water: the priest
is cuttlefish and the priest is bone.
And she used to write poetry, oddball stuff, it didn’t rhyme or anything and it certainly didn’t make any sense and they gave her electro-shock therapy and she went crazy, maybe she was already crazy, she just went crazier,
I guess, and even lovelier. It brought the freckles out, the crazed girl with freckles. Have you had electric shock therapy? No, I say -not yet. My advice, says Frank, is not to have it. It didn’t do Haley any good and, as far as I know, she never wrote another word just a blank page for ever, a blank page for the whole of life, Frank says. I used to watch her sometimes, she’d pick up this pen of hers and write on that page, as if she owned it – that was before they plugged her in – she was good, I mean good with words, they just came out like she had a secret supply that no one else could get to.
And she made weird noises when we were making out, really weird. I guess it comes with the territory, Frank says. The weird noises, you mean? He nods. Do you make weird noises ? he asks. I do sometimes. That’s ok, he says, I’m fairly liberal when it comes down to it .The stewardess comes with pretzels, cookies and wet towels. High in the American sky, in a place that’s nowhere.I kind of like it: my private pretzel paradise .
You know, said Frank, I can ride bulls from one end of America to the other but I couldn’t do fuck all with a blank page. To be honest, it’d scare the shit out of me. If I were in a Kansas Motel alone with some smart arse blank page I might even go and shoot somebody. Well, I say hesitantly, looking at the battered cowboy, the blank page can be rather scary but I don’t think you can compare it with a buck off.
He puts up a hand. Listen, did you tell me your name? I think you did but I’ve forgotten it – anyway I’ve broken every damn bone in my body but I know you’re suffering, you’ve broken those bones that no one else can see. Come on man, admit it, it’s in your face, it’s in your dumb questions . And you know what, I respect you for that – we are both broken, broken differently, I guess, broken in different ways, broken men on a plane that’s being flown by a broken Vietnam vet who reads Walt Whitman in a log cabin full of peacock shit in the middle of some gloomy transcendental forest. Thank you I say, eating another pretzel (they’re so good!) And then we look out of the window, that’s what it’s for, it’s mostly cloud, and more cloud.
The boat was beating across the bay,
we had our backs to Vesuvius,
the wind smacked our faces.
Naples was an enormous packet of cigarettes
you could smoke till you conked out:
the cigarettes were never going to run out
and nor was the coffee, the drugs,
the prostitutes, the locked churches,
the scooters, the rice cakes, the evil eye,
the boys called Gennaro, the funiculars,
the shrines to Madonna, the shrines to Maradona, the bullet holes, the heat,
the permanent state of crucifixion.
Anyone could be crucified two thousand years ago but to be crucified now,
to be crucified in Napoli — lift me up!