Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 7
Spring, 2012

Featured painting, ©2003 by Lynn Schirmer : Egg.

Featured Excerpt

New Works

Donald O'Donovan

Triptych Plus Two
The Lohengrin Castle Chronicles

Part 1

Starting from Liverpool and Sebastopol
"Are you afraid of nothing, Mistress Kimilya?" "There is but one such," replied the fiery-eyed dominatrix: "A fourteen-inch jelly-rubber strap-on manufactured in Mogadishu." "Besides that, I mean." These were the words that Hjaaroldsen heard in a dream as he slumbered in a Kalamazoo coin laundry in October 1856. But now the dream had fled. "Do I wake or sleep?" he cried, blowing a kiss to a Gila monster as his train, starting from Longbow or Ludlow or Bendbow, rattled across the great salt flats of La Tierra Sin Nombre, the Land Without a Name. "We are headed," he wrote in his journal, "for the stately Pleasure Dome of the Great Khan from whose mouth the milk of Paradise flows, or so it is written in the Schrolls of Hide-and-Seek." Now hear the words of the Great Khan: Gray foggy trees bleated in a crowded men's room in Liverpool as Michelangelo's nephew's son's sister's plunging white thighs divided night from day during a snowstorm in Venice, an event later christened "Farquhar's Folly" by Harrelson in the popular novel The Idylls of Idiocy (critics called it a tour de farce), a hefty called it a tour de farce), a hefty tome duly annotated by Kalamazoo cover girl Annette or Annjanette Plantagenet (née von Richtofen) during a secret tryst with a bronzed Buddha in her palazzo on the Grand Canal where she penned the popular historical romance The Annals of Imbecility in collaboration with former Hohenzollern hit man Dmitri A. Veletnikov (he sometimes sold rancid rhubarb pies to Russian roustabouts), fourth husband of the thrice-virginal twice-married Alma Delia Mortadella (née LeFontaine) and part-time Vicar of the Fifth Reformed Church of Ritual Cannibalism. "Ah, the gray foggy trees of Liverpool and Sebastapol!" exclaimed Young Lochinvar as a Norwegian rat gnawed at his anal sphincter. "The acorns and the mung beans! The leisurely breakfasts of Kalamata olives and kidney pie! The buttermilk biscuits! The carnival of lights that once was Venice! My dear demented stepsister Miriam from Westminster who lost five toes to leprosy! Her husband Ngowdi, a one-armed Egyptian dwarf who lived out his tragic life in the rubbish collectors quarter of Cairo! The carefree days in Brest-Litovsk! The sizzling sausages! The culebrita and the chorizo!" But frisky though his mood was, the frowsty odor of the microbe armadas remained in his mind and try as he would he could not forget them. Then, while shopping for hot water in Hogsmouth, he got news that pewter-helmeted ant armies had ridden roughshod over the ill defended termite towns perched warily on the frog-legged banks of the Upper Nile, and consequently on a Sauterne Day morning late one October afternoon in early July, after the peasants of bombed-out bumfucked Egdon Heath had breakfasted on hog hunks and dog rump, billions of cicadas tunneled up from the bowels of the earth and climbed to the tops of the trees to madly sing and wing and bling and die all in a heap at the foot of the tree, "I don't care a fig," exclaimed Mad Maid Marian. "For I espouse the philosophy of the tsetse fly." "Mish mash and pish pash," muttered the mighty Achilles as he was swept out to sea in the arms of a typhoon. "You'll always be my troll queen." Later as the sun was sinking like a pork chop into the Indian Ocean Hjaarellson saw—or thought he saw—the microbe armadas approaching, and they were flying a black flag. "They won't be taking any prisoners, sir," he whispered in Princess Kimilya's delicate shell-like ear.

The coming of the microbe armadas
Dormouse Day, celebrated in pennywise pork chop circles worldwide, probably originated in the militaristic seed cultures of the early Indus Valley which, long before Hannibal's minions marched headlong into the sea, had already aligned themselves against the savage ant armies that specialized in raiding poorly defended termite towns along the Upper Nile Valley. Or annual Dormouse Day may have been part and parcel of the characteristically austere bohemian charcuterie of late Neolithic or early Ordovician Europe, about which the German philosopher August Steppenfinger (he had a special interest in bolloxy boys) declared as a weasel gnawed or seemed to gnaw at his anal aqueduct, "An unimagined wife is not worth licking." Steppenfinger (he was convicted in 1497 of selling worthless weasels to wanton women in the brothels of Mogadishu) was firmly convinced that microbe armadas, invisible to the human eye, were in fact vast colonial organisms whose oviducts constantly spewed entropic embolisms into the rich protein soup that puddles of an eve in hollow stumps in troll-haunted forests and that a weird, unearthly music could be produced by stroking their eyelids with an Ostrich feather from the Ruhr Valley (this was never proved, but the opinion was promptly seconded by the War College in Wickerstaff). "Enough of that!" cried the sooty-eyed Mistress Kimilya. But the Lion-maned One was impatient. "I foresee a time when our lips shall have known the centipede's kiss," he snarled as he swept the panther-lithe Kimilya into his brawny arms. "Let us merge our jellies while yet we may." But the thrice-virginal dominatrix would have none of it. "I care not a fig for this meat charade," she murmured, her voice a silky ribbon of ambergris that flowed from the exquisite white throat of this spirited English wood thrush, "I take me now to the domain of the tsetse fly, and there shall I sequester myself for all time, or at least until daffodils bloom on the grassy plains of your deltoids." Reluctantly stalwart Odysseus released his grip on the merry maid as several lovely white robins with purple pinfeathers flew rapidly out of her mouth. "Secure the dummies," someone whispered passionately in the Likuba dialect of the Bobangi language, and the coldly handsome Hjaarelsen or Haroldson, as some were wont to call him, wrote (or imagined that he wrote): "Sporadic contractions of extinct volcanoes spattered moondust on the pointed pewter helmets of the ant armies and microbe armadas, while a swordsman (possibly a Lapp) sank slowly into a typhus-ridden sinkhole as he smeared his Melba toast with galactic gel." His words were not well received, however. "I was born on a cool October morning in late September," spoke the wily Odysseus, "as Maman was breakfasting on chroizo and chopped liver in a charming little bistro five furlongs and a fiefdom past the Jornada del Muerto and its antecedant arrondissements." Harjoldsen held his ground, his right hand resting on his dagger while the slender aristocratic fingers of his left toyed idly with Mistress Kimilya's swollen nipples. "Your mother reminds me of pond lilies," he whispered in Mandarin Chinese.

Return of The Paw
On the seventh Sunday of the sixth month the wily Odysseus and the mighty Achilles repaired to the ever-popular Boar's Head Tavern where they quaffed huge tankards of ale and talked in their native Greek with a barkeep who presented them with an alarming bit of news. "Comrades, the Paw has returned to the Territory." "The Paw! The Paw, you say? Are you sure? You mean He passed through the Zone?" "He had to Sahib. There is no other way to the Territory but through the Zone." "Then there's no time to lose. Gentlefolk, you can't beat the Paw but you can bluff Him. What we need a show of force." "A human sacrifice?" murmured the Mad Maid Marian. "A tethered goat? Is that all I am to you?" Hjaarladesen's hand went to the hilt of his dagger, but before the mighty Achilles could answer a great roar was heard outside on the verandah where the dimpled smiling Kimilya was hurrying with great foaming mugs of beer. "The Paw!" the comely mädchen shrieked, twisting her silky blonde braids as a dark shadow fell across her form, "Mein Gott! Help me someone! It's the Paw!" But the heroes, bivouacked on far-flung windswept bumfucked Hempstead heath, were deep in a game of mumblety-peg. "I cannot condone the excellent foppery of the Tudor princes," Haroldson declared, with a stern glance at the wily Odysseus and a dancing dwarf in whose right hand a cheerful robin had laid its single baby blue egg. "There is no room at the Inn for such goings on," Mistress Kimilya wrote rapidly on a soiled pizza with her husband's lipstick. "Alas, the Ogre is upon us!" "Her voice," Heraldson later wrote in his journal, "seemed to come from some dark potato cellar beneath the cobbled streets of medieval Paris where rats scamper and tweeter and things with eyes on stalks breed in pools of black water." Still later, after the medics had left, the friends surveyed the wreckage and the carnage and all concurred that it was indeed the work of the Paw. "The Paw has pounced!" Hjaarlesen wrote on his stepdaughter Gretchen's girdle. "The Paw has done His doom on us, and the Paw must pay!" "And pay He will or my name is not Achilles," spoke the wily Odysseus. "I should like to bury Him in duck guck!" Princess Kimilya hissed with a brave smile and an effervescent pinging-up from her warm silky thighs of acrobatic bacteria. Now young Lochinvar's eyes flashed dangerously, and his right hand went to the hilt of his sword. "I, Lochinvar of the Lake, being of sound mind, do hereby pledge to vanquish the Paw! Paw whose name is anathema! Paw whose vulture soul hides the sun from our eyes! Paw who lacerates our flesh! Paw who shreds our livers, Paw whose talons pierce the gutters of our hearts! Paw who strips the meat from our bones! Paw the destroyer of dreams! All the evils of the world are gathered in Thee, oh Paw, but beware the hand of man!" And to his comrades, tossing his golden curls, holding his sword on high: "I shall ride a great silvery horse to Banbury Cross and Jenny shall have no master until the Beast is neatly speared upon my lance. Great Zeus, smile on a poor sailor. Make my sword the might of thy right hand and my honor the might of thy left." "I will ride in the name of that quest," cried Sir Gawain, cantering forward on his spirited pony. "Can I get you a macadamia nut cocktail?"

This ravenous hunger
"I've heard wolves in fluffy pillowcases howling across the Dordogne, I've seen Memphis in June and I've dunked corn fritters in cheap kerosene on a rainy night in Georgia. I know how the duck walks, gentlefolk." Young Lochinvar picked up a copy of A Buffoon Beats a Drum Slowly, a torrid account of Hjaarlson's imaginary life in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. "I foresee a time," the Lion-maned prince muttered into his beard, "when even the extinct Ruhr Valley Ostrich will be able to peek into the kitchen and see what the cook is doing." Haarljoldsen put down his pen and dipped a hog hunk in horseradish. His mind felt like four thousand miles of borax flats broiling in the midday sun. "The Jornada del Muerto," he whispered hoarsely, "a burning desert from which no man, once having entered, has ever emerged alive," and in his heart he wondered, "Shall I take to wife a scorpion or a Gila monster?" But in deep in December he remembered Mistress Kimilya's warm silky thighs that had throttled him and coddled him when he and the dimpled dominatrix were one. He remembered the orchids that bloomed at night in the fierce domain of the tsetse fly, and the sweet lilting voice of extinct aardvark, and the Oracle who rattled his clamshells and tiptoed on jaguar feet, a skeleton shaking hands. "Your destiny is a fortunate one, Captain. You shall see your own face in the starry heavens, for you shall marry Eostre, Goddess of the Dawn. And on the day that the Lion lies down with the Landlord, you shall become a god." "Do not speak to me in riddles while eating fried hamster," Achilles is reported to have muttered into his beard, for it was the fair Kimilya he loved and not Eostre. "A scintillating sitz bath would be just the thing at this juncture," remarked Eldred the Unconscious, a basketbally youth of some seventy-seven summers (he was the third husband of Countess Christina Orlovska, who had once been the sex-toy of Polish stevedores in the brothels of Dubai). Haroldson watched Mistress Kimilya blow a kiss to Pliny the Elder as the latter embarked on a journey to the Hanseatic city of Danzig. Young Lochinvar's anger was piqued. "This is the excellent foppery of the world!" he cried. "My heart was your hamlet, but your rough cattle trampled my hopes and my dreams. Why did you fly away? I soar like the vulture, my love. My beak longs for your pink flesh. I shall not hurt you. My sword is sweet like a baby's breath. But this hunger . . . this ravenous hunger...."

Part 2

Starting from Kalamazoo
In the crowded men's room of Kalamazoo's most upscale 24-hour coin laundry the shade of Pliny the Elder hung like a harbinger of doom while gray foggy trees bleated in Liverpool and Sebastopol—Harrelson thought—and as an effervescence such as he had never known began play like a blue flame around his plunging white thighs a voice that seemed to come from somewhere inside the bronze skull of an 18th Century Buddha sculpted by the nephew of Michelangelo's self-obsessed sister's husband during a snowstorm in Venice (an event later known as Napoleon's Folly) spoke (or seemed to speak) the words: "Those tiny black objects your mother steadfastly maintained were rat droppings were in fact Kalamata olives." Haarljoldsen put down his pen and dipped a hog hunk in duck guck. "The turnip is an excellent fruit," he mused, quite unaware that Countess Christina Orlovska's fishy white fingers were caressing the dolomites and stalactites of his middle brain. An hour passed, then two. "Shall I marry a cobra or a piranha?" This was the question Haroldssen put to Young Lochinvar, Eighth Earl of Devilshire, Thane of Cawdor and alleged cat's-paw of the Tudor princes, as the two fierce and sagacious warriors played mumblety-peg on a precipice overlooking the dismal castle keep of Elagabalus, Seventh Earl of Slopshire (dead of dropsy in December), erstwhile aide to the Comte de Guiche (foiled by fisherfolk in February), sixth husband of Anjanette Plantagenet, of whom Hjaarlison (nibbled by Nibelungs since November) wrote on his sister Miriam's warm silky thighs: "A fine fat broth of a girl, mother of many, admired by few, known by none, spurned by some and feared by all, she was the fifth wife of the Mighty Achilles and the sixth syphilitic spouse of the Third Earl of Devilshire (enthroned as Ant Emperor in October)." Both Spartacus and Elagabalus (they shared a liking for bolloxy boys) had corresponded with Haroldson since the early hours of the Ming Dynasty, and it was their advice he sought as he tiptoed on padded jaguar paws into a murky domain where black orchids bloomed at night in troll-haunted forests and crepusculent frogs rattled clamshells and listened to the voice of the extinct aardvark: "Hear ye the words of the extinct Ant Emperor Elagabalus! Bid him enter your bedchamber! Coddle Him between your fellaheen thighs! Darling of drones and queens, who can frame his awful symmetry? Mighty in war, flaxen in peace, first with the tarts of the countryside, in what furnace of night was he formed? Play him like an accordion, beat him like a drum, feel his fingers in your spleen. We shall not soon see his like on burned down bombed out back-scuttled bumfucked Hempstead Heath!" And so they repaired to Lohengrin Castle for hog hunks aplenty and great heroic steins of foaming fassbier.

Donald O'Donovan, author of the picaresque autobiographical novels Night Train and Tarantula Woman, was born in Cooperstown, New York. A teenage runaway, he rode freights and hitchhiked across America, served in the US Army with the 82nd Airborne Division, lived in Mexico, and worked at more than 200 occupations including long distance truck driver, undertaker and roller skate repairman. His newest novel, Highway, was published in November 2011.