January 22nd, 2006



In Xanadu did Kublai Khan
a stately pleasure-dome decree,
where Alph, the sacred river, ran
through caverns measureless to man
down to a sunless sea,
so twice five miles of fertile ground
with walls and towers were girdled round.
and there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree.
And here were forests as ancient as the hills,
enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But O! That deep romantic chasm which slanted,
down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover.
A savage place! As holy and enchanted
as a'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
by woman wailing for her demon lover.
In from that chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
as if this Earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
a mighty fountain momently was forced,
amid whose swift half-intermitted burst,
huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail,
and 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever,
it flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion,
through wood and dale the sacred river ran.
Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man,
and sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean.
And 'mid this tumult Kublai heard from afar
ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
floated midway on the waves
Where was heard the mingled measure
from the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device
a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice.
A damsel with a dulcimer
in a vision once I saw.
It was an Abyssinian maid,
and on her dulcimer she played,
singing of mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
her symphony and song.
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
that with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air!
Thy sunny dome! Those caves of ice!
and all who heard should see them there!
and all should cry, Beware! Beware!
his flashing eyes! his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
and close your eyes with holy dread!
for he on honey-dew hath fed,
and drunk the milk of Paradise.


A Night Drive

We were driving in the rain, on our way back from having dinner. The Muse had the passenger's side window cracked, so she could ash her clove cigarette. I forbid her from smoking in the car. Tom Waits creaked from the stereo, "With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips... she went and took that California trip."

"If you decided to kill me," the Muse said, apropos of nothing, "how would you go about it?"

"Well, that's a rather random thing to ask," I replied. I downshifted to take an easy curve in the road.

"Would you get in close? Put your hands around my throat and crush me, pop your thumbs in there nice and tight?" I glanced at her as she took a drag from her cigarette. She regarded me, and blew the smoke out of the side of her mouth, toward the window. "No, wet work isn't really your style. Of course, neither is taking me out with a rifle from a hundred yards, either. If you knew anyone who'd do it, you'd probably contract me out. Keep yourself distant and your hands clean."

"There's every possibility," I said, "that I might just as well steer this car into a concrete abutment at sixty miles an hour, and take us both out. I mean, I couldn't very well go on without you, and it's not like you could go on without me."

"Dunno. I'm resilient."

"I'm the Leopold to your Loeb, baby. The Sturm to your Drang. The Tommy Lee to your Pam."

She snorted. "I've seen the video, buddy. You're no Tommy Lee."

"Let's just keep that information between you and me, okay? Let the rest of the free world think that I've got a summer sausage between my legs. Besides, you're no Pam Anderson, either."

"Thank God," the Muse said.

"Well... yes, that's true. That would be a fairly hideous fate, I should think. Although I could use you as a flotation device in the event of a water landing."

The Muse grabbed her breasts and gave them a bounce. "I think you'd manage quite well in any case."

I glanced away from the wet road. "Think you can hold off groping yourself until we get home? You can do it all you'd like when I'm not trying to drive."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?"


"Pig," she said. She tossed her cigarette out into the street, then rolled up the window. "No more groping for you this evening."


She nodded. "Oh yes, I'm terrible. A harsh mistress."

"We'd have to be sleeping together for me to call you my mistress, you know."

"Whatever. Like you don't constantly fantasize about me as it is."


She patted my knee. "It's cute. I like being the object of someone's lust. Don't ever stop, or I'll be severely disappointed."

"I'll be sure to keep up my onanistic activities."

"You're such a sweetie. I'll have to grope myself again for you later as a reward."

I hummed. "Muse, I think I've decided to let you live."

"I knew you would. Such is the power of the boobs."

"I kneel before them."

"Baby," she said, "everyone does."
  • Current Music
    Tom Waits - Hold On
Grant-Lee Phillips

Not So Much a Jerk

Something stolen from the archives of shannonsays, who posted this excerpt from a Steve Martin interview from last year.

BLVR: But it seems like in both books, you’re presenting a philosophy of relationships wherein they’re very fluid. The message is that they’re inevitably fleeting, which strikes me as a pretty antiromantic stance.

SM: Well, I don’t know how to answer that. Because, first, so what?. . .

BLVR: I guess what I mean is in both cases you seem to be suggesting that the purpose of a relationship is to make us more of what we need to become in order to have the next relationship. They’re building blocks.

SM: There’s a similarity in both stories that I never recognized. They’re about relationships that prepare and lead you into another, where the neurotic elements of the previous relationship are fixed.

BLVR: Do you believe that personally?

SM: Yeah. But I don’t mean like it’s a perfect match. Or that you meet one person and then the next one is perfect. Sometimes it takes ten people. I have friends who’ve been married for thirty years and they’re in love.

BLVR: Do you think it’s a matter of chance or is there something about an individual’s brain chemistry that hard-wires him or her to need a certain number of relationships before finding a good match?

SM: I think some people are just set up to go, “Hey, I love you and here we are and we’re together and it’s great.” I do think that. And it probably gets less fixed as you move toward the big cities. In a big city, you’re being introduced to new things all the time. In small towns, you meet who you meet. In a small town, there may be eight appropriate people.