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Franz Kafka


“Pretty jump of a clown over a chair into the emptiness of the wings.” And the applause dies away. If it cannot be done there’s the chimney-sweep’s wife and a bicycle. My head on my desk, arms out akimbo. Like that, a detail, a trifle.

It cannot be done, but it must. Climbing the stairs in the thickness of night. Perhaps a machine, perhaps foreign countries will manage. We’ll go hunting with nothing to eat. Yes we are tired, without “we.”

Sit by the fountain, walk through the pass. The snow will be blinding, but that clattering sound and the notecards, leading us through the wet streets. Leaven. Almost. Fill the forms.

If we grab on right here, bony grip to the skirt stiff and black beneath the table. Walser, Rilke and Celan passed this way, at the same time and such distance, furtively, how could I see them, arm in am with my chums, fists clenched in her robes, all the pieces remain in my hands.

See me steal to the entrance, all the shadings of grey, grey-black, the shallows and shadows, an edifice surely, would someone tell me how or hand over the pass that is owed me, paid so many times. Perhaps the train, or joining the children racing the lone gravel road like scattered alphabets. I’ve begun.


Forehead hot and freezing, the sheets stained and torn through, the blood and phlegm of the stylus. “The unhappiness one must suffer when one interrupts oneself in a task that can never succeed except all at once.” The unicycle fares poorly in such small quarters. I grip the black steel, cold cylinder, will not bend, stooped, but not bend,

shrewd shrewd here, he laughed, tucked grave-bundle in decrepit doorway darkened alley to strike out – strike out! Assaulting frontiers, pick-axing ice, clawing my way, I tell you, scraping and straining this muddy sluice, wooden shackles,

brain cavity, sticked limbs and gaunt torso, to strive – “I will write in spite of everything, absolutely; it is my struggle for self-preservation,” this cage without key without color, without –

“ writer’s life actually does depend upon his desk;

if he is to avoid going mad, really he should never leave his desk,

he must cling to it like grim death”

Rest, F., K., rest.

N Filbert 2012

Samuel Beckett

January the 13th, 2012

(being a Friday as it happens)

The Joy of Beckett

 Samuel Beckett most assuredly qualifies as residing in the topmost echelon of literary humans for me. After all, his name is tattooed over the veins of the wrist connecting my right hand – a traditional life blood place on my write arm. But my devotion and/or adulation and adherence to him is often challenged and questioned by those nearest to me.

Today, a most propitious day for Becketting, as I’m sure many consider his dialogues and characters “unlucky,” I have read again his works “Imagination Dead Imagine” and “Enough,” noting the following in my personal journal:

for whatever reasons, Beckett always induces me to work all the harder, and moreso even, to always go on..

How might I explain this to someone? The hopefulness that enervates me in the existence of his words?

For marriage, for parenting, for writing, for life?

-the senselessness of going on                     – hopelessness of awaiting termination

-repetition and circularities of our minds, bodies, behaviors and habits

-our ill-suitedness to our desires, wishes, attempts and beliefs

-minimal advances we are able to make in our years of life                    -never enough, often too much

-unlimited limitation                    -erosion                          -illusion of choice / experience happening to us

and so on…

somehow Beckett’s blear always aggregates in me as a kind of, I can think of no more appropriate term, a kind of “joy.” Perhaps, and this is an important, essential “perhaps,” all that bleak exposure of rat-race, mousewheel existence seemingly inherent to us, whatever we go about doing, wheels-spinning life,

perhaps that is just IT – that it is just what it is, just what it appears to be from a dramatic undramatic distance – human beings being human and then no more?

Which somehow contains its own excitement for me somehow – an illusion of clarity and bravery – that we are meant (a term of nonsense here, simply an empty adjective of habit) to be human – to live a relatively brief while and then die, doing whatever it is we do, whatever it is. With an inexplicable exigency. Can otherwise NOT be doing it, be human, be.

Therefore…we do.

And why not believe we enjoy it?

By all means then,

go on


For what it’s worth. An attempt. Try again, fail again, try again, fail better? I’ll keep trying. See?

p.s. I’m working on a series of monologue/dialogues under the rubric “The Beckett Dialogues” – results may be popping up soon

N Filbert 1/13/12

"The Museum of Eterna's Novel (The First Good Novel)"

F. Forever Fragmenting Fernandez

Thus begins the tale. It begins like this. Chasing the tale. First this, well, no, not that, first was this, actually before you know that you ought to know _____, and in order for that to make sense it’s important that you are aware of…

Which leads to the before of this, begets that, beget this, begets…

Meaning to tell you the tale, the essential absolutely necessary words of life, what it is, what it means, what it’s about, what it’s for – every answer lies in the story I will tell.

But first you must understand that in order to know the life-giving, life-saving narrative of terms you must familiarize yourself with so-and-so and he-or-she, with a multitude of dictionaries and studies, follow all the news, hear all the voices, see all the sights and have felt everything there is to feel.

Then you will need to know how all those things and nothings came about, where they’re going, why. Who said so. And then how those whos came around, where they came from and what they intended to be and do. In order to be able to manage that, first you should read this and this and live awhile in ancient Greece. Once you’ve learned Urdu and Yiddish you will be able to begin grasping the background for an aspect of storyline that will play out significantly, without which other layers of the story won’t be comprehensible.

So to do that, you’ll first need to gain an aptitude in fields of physics and geometry. The history of astronomy will also be essential to the foreword related to the prologue that will begin to set the stage for the development of many elements of a good part of the plot.

But you’ll want humor. Much of the tale your life depends on requires mastering riddles and rhymes. Of course human history is rife with jokers and gathering every nuance to receive the cumulative message will involve much effort and attention on your part. And without the requisite passion and romance whole strata of the answering myth will go unnoticed, thereby ruining the effectiveness of your other costly inquiries.

If you get that far, it’s imperative that you are proficient in mystical psychologies, the interpretation of signs and omens. Politics of usury. Tea leaves don’t read themselves. Calf livers, fish organs, and starry starry skies are only the beginning. This might take awhile, but I swear it will be worth your strain and wait. Which will necessitate years of practice. Beyond which the stage will almost be set. Next we’ll need to be reminded of all the things that slipped by the wayside in our focusing. Navigating the ephemera and detritus will enable one to start pursuing characters that will be determinative to our fate.

At which point, we can open up the information that will unlock the next stage in preparing for listening. All this assimilation and rehearsal leads to the secrets leading to the stories that will lead to the ever-pressing truth. Keep going, the outcome will be worth the work. There is no price too large for the kernel at the conclusion. But there is much much much to be done and gone over before we can get there. For instance…

N Filbert 2011

Selected Stories

Robert Walser

Just a simple walk, a stroll really.

Not speaking or greeting. An amble.

There was a certain light on the lake. It put me in mind of Winter.

A huddled child, bundled up in coat, hat, gloves and scarf, trundled past like a penguin. He must have carried thoughts to some purpose. Perhaps little sparking desires.

Trees here and there, a few leaves holding fast. This is how those memories are, as time and age, work and cares batter away at our bodies and minds, so much is lost, is stripped away, or grows new, each time different. But some leaves hold fast to the tree the whole Winter through, they waver and tremble, but this is what catches our eye – ah yes, that, old so-and-so, or a happening seared into our tired minds, a specific terror or love, highlighted again in the absence of so much.

Sturdy benches. So much has passed through them, many have left marks. The cumulative weight of the sitters-climbers-sleepers would shatter and compress them to dust. The world is like this, buoying such great heaviness in the passing. They are silent now and emptied, giving their bench-burden to the earth.

A young lady passes, a student perhaps, unremarkable but for her colorfully knitted cap identifying the newness of her eyes. The yellows, purples and greens needled in to tell of hope, there are things left to do and to be, and the bodies and minds exist for their doing. She darts an ambiguous smile, indicating a solidarity with another lone walker in the cold, and a difference – nervousness of circumstance, programmable fear. I let her catch my breath and take it away for awhile – I see it shushing from the sides of her bustling graceful movements – streaming behind and right off of her, gathering again like a heavy frost on my woolen overcoat.

And there, my bitter fingers, curling and fisting as if to preserve some warmth, some blood for talking with myself about this, later, with a pencil or a pen.

N Filbert 2011


As usual nothing superfluous: in memoriam: Arkadii Dragomoshchenko

(click to read)






Severn Spoon


there is talk of archaeology

in relation to knowing

it may be

that we dig out

and uncover

what we feel certain of

given good tools

and great care

plus plenty of funds

we may even find something


I prefer geology

when speaking of your poems

a study of rocks

lines and layers

of deposits and sediment

fossils and precious jewels

and millions of veins

formed over time


like eons

so that your images

hold the distance of stars

burn from the core through the mantle

and erupt

and your words appear on the surface

right where the messages are

N Filbert 2012

Blood Dusk

after a long 40-year day, the bright sun started, finally, yet too early, always too early, even for lovers of the dark, toward decline…

it is not difficult to recognize, graininess infiltrating the air, colors deepening, muting, gradually disassembling themselves toward a clot, a tangled bruise, night’s cancelling blot

to name it is not as easy

an anticipation and a dwindling away, a foretaste and therefore promisory, an oncoming, and therefore omen, call it eve

a deepening, a thickening and darkling more and more the hues cross out and vanish, movement by the moment, significant, value’s weight incremental, like drops of blood diffusing, red water.

It approaches, signalling end

It proceeds, receding

N Filbert 2012

One thought on “Traces

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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