27 January 2013

Amman part 2 (uptown) [for JC]

Burger Kings, Diary Queens, 1950s Americana right? Mcdonalds, KFCs, Hardee’s, only useful markers. Inside they smell like they should. Filthy plastic play areas, ball pools,

trees in pavement squares, abruptly ending streets and pavements, edges everywhere, cabs, policemen littering, diesel fumes. Zara woman, we have a Mango now and we’re getting a M&S!

You’d like it here, you should live here, it would be easier for you to straighten your hair here.

She’s a doctor, he’s a dentist, she’s an architect, he’s an engineer.

Mercedes, BMWs, giant four wheel drives, a leap to get out, a stretch to get in. Girls dressed like their mums dressed like their daughters, just like everywhere else. Starbucks, even a Coffee Republic. Mall, mall, mall, mall, mall, mall, mall, mall, mall. Anchor store, Gymboree, stray cats, bedouins, brand new ultra luxe three bedroom apartments, occasional goats,

definite ghosts, candle-lit at home altars to our ancestors, not a day goes by that I don't...

beggar woman tapping at your car window, beggar girl complimenting your tiny dog, beggar man selling light up Santa hats, walking through the lines between cars stuck in constant traffic, selling gum, toys, or just holding out a hand, tapping at your window. I think of Catherine every time, Lockwood dragging her arm back and forth across the broken window. Sometimes you give, sometimes you look away, but you always always feel bad and explain the problem again and again but it doesn’t go away. Green light, drive off, primitive accumulation,

half finished sky scrapers stuck that way for years, embarrassing attempts,

calls to prayer, calls to prayer, sometimes sung sometimes automated, calls to prayer, calls to dinner, call your cousin, come and eat: white cheese, beans, rice, yoghurt, lemons, chocolate, lentil soup, pastries (tiny, amazing), wannabe brasseries, misspelled menus, burgers, falafel,

American educated, Canadian educated, British educated,

sophisticated, open minded but: fuck the gays, and fuck the chinks and no one marries a slut and that top doesn’t match what were you thinking? Let me fix your eyebrows, why don’t you fix your nose? You should wear heels. Eat eat eat! Why aren’t you eating? Why isn’t she eating?

Turkish soap operas from six years ago exported from Egypt, no more Egyptian soaps, no more Egyptian anything. No more anything, sit and watch TV, count your blessings: at least we have each other.

17 January 2013

from Robert Walser's Institute Benjamenta

...if you aren’t allowed to do something, you do it twice as much somewhere else. Nothing’s more insipid than an indifferent, quick, cheap bit of permission. I like earning everything, experiencing everything, and a laugh, for example, also needs to be thoroughly experienced. When inside me I’m bursting with laughter, when I hardly know what to do with all this hissing gunpowder, then I know what laughing is, then I laughed most laughishly, then I have a complete idea of what was shaking me. So I must firmly suppose and keep it as my strong conviction that rules do gild existence, or at least they silver it, in a word, they make it delectable. For certainly it’s the same with almost all other things and pleasures as it is with the forbidden delectable laugh. Not being allowed to cry, for example, well, that makes crying larger. Doing without love, yes, that means loving. It I oughtn’t to love, I love ten times as much. Everything that’s forbidden lives a hundred times over; thus, if something is supposed to be dead, its life is all the livelier. As in small things, so in big ones. Nicely put, in everyday words, but in everyday things the true truths are found. I’m gabbling somewhat again, aren’t I? I admit that I’m gabbling, but the lines have got to be filled with something. Forbidden fruits, how delectable, how delectable they are!

8 January 2013


I wrote something. Short and not very sweet. You know what to do...

By the by, this story will be featured in Monster Emporium Press' forthcoming illustrated collection of short stories about animals. Watch this space!

6 January 2013

Amman part 1 (downtown)

Tourists love spices in piles, 20 chickens in a cage, 10 rabbits and 4 tortoises stuffed together, a wall of teas, a goat’s head,

organs shiny and carefully laid out – asking for directions and the butcher pulling his hand out of an animal and pointing the way, his finger wet from some insides, glinting in the sun,

diesel fumes, cigarettes, piles of rubbish in holes in the street, every hole is a bin, there are holes everywhere and hardly any bins,

fresh juice, struggling to read in Arabic, so many tiny twittering birds in cages, so many twittering birds in so many twittering trees, strange white dried intestinal blowfish-like linings of things,

piles and piles and piles of fruit, makeshift roof to block the sun, grocers all singing their wares, more beautiful than an English market – though those calls have their charms, here they are practically singing, they are responding to each other, seller to seller to seller, each behind his (it is always his) piles of cucumbers tomatoes potatoes carrots avocados mint parsley rocket coriander, piled impossibly high, some clatter to the floor and no one cares, even here sometimes people can afford not to care about some escaped smushed tomatoes, they hear each other and they join in, they pick up on the rhythms, the beats and silences, the tones, inflections and words, I stand and listen for a long time: nothing songs of vegetables, how can this sound so good? and everything smells unreal as in so real, as in muddy and wet and fresh and delicious, I can’t resist and buy huge bunches of mint leaves, tiny coins in exchange, I feel happy and guilty at once,

the organs, I can't get them out of my head, every single part of the animal, skinned to its full potential, I’m disgusted and impressed, so dark red, so shiny, my nail polish matches in a sick gorgeous way, slippery livers and kidneys and brains and faces and unidentifiable flesh tubes, I wouldn’t even know what to write on a list, slippery flesh tube x3, offal scares me,

discount fashions on every dusty street corner, I rifle and sift and imagine the profits, I am ugly like that, in London this would go for £20! vintage, authentic, American,

oil for your hair, oil for your skin, oil for your food, oil for cooking, oil for cleansing your wounds, sealing your sores, heating your house, driving your car, dipping your bread in – tiny bottles, magic and adorable, bottles, vats, tanks,

olives, tangerines, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, sage, tea, tiny chamomile flowers of unknowable prettiness, coffee, thyme, sesame seeds, ginger,

juice, spit, snot – in the cab door a still wet stranger’s tissue, I have to touch it to close the door, my hand becomes enemy, potentially infinite infection, germ plethora, I hold my hand at arm’s length all the way home and wash it repeatedly until it is safe again, safe from glowing infection,

carpets, red, green, white – these are the nationalistic ones, pink, purple, yellow – these are the ones I want, standard speckled stone tiles lining certain areas, exactly the kind I remember,

delicious smells, young men running across insane streets carrying metal trays piled high with hot white pittas and glasses of sweet black tea, I want to stop one and grab one and tear it open and give half away and let the steam warm my hands and eat it up while it’s hot and perfect,

cat lounging on a tin roof under a picture of the smiling king, throwing itself on its back and soaking up the sun, it doesn’t need to care about anything, perfect round here for scavengers,

cheap nasty thrush-giving sex lingerie, hilariously next to 80s mannequins in hijab, under your hijab you can wear this sexy sexy for your husband...

breathe cough breathe cough breathe cough cough cough home.

4 January 2013