Tuesday, January 08, 2008


was a bellwether day for me. (First aside: it’s a word I’ve always wanted to use, & this is probably my first opportunity to use it in an unforced context. But I always thought it was “bellweather”, until I checked that I had its meaning correct & discovered it comes from the name given to the lead sheep in a flock, the one that has a bell around its neck, the one the others follow.)

I was going to play around with its component parts. The weather — still muggy, & the first day in a while we’ve had the aircons on — & bell, because yesterday was the day I would have been going back to work if I hadn’t retired, & so, in a sense, it was the bell ringing for the last lap, the last leg of the journey. (Second aside: despite that, I don’t feel I’m on my last legs, though they creak a bit & my left kneecap, my patella — another word I’ve always wanted to use — clicks when I walk so I sound like a deathwatch beetle when I approach.)

Anyway, it felt strange yesterday. There was a silence around me; not really a silence since there was noise but perhaps more of an atmosphere, like being underwater in a divingbell or something. (Third aside: if I had no shame I’d use bathysphere, because it’s another word........)

Whatever it was it was tangible. I managed to pierce its skin by focusing on getting one of my current tasks done, putting together the print editions of issue seven of Otoliths. (Fourth aside: the two parts look fucking great!)

The day was further brightened by the arrival of the postman. Actually, the postman & the parcelman. (Fifth aside; this is a small town. Because the parcelman, a driver for one of the courier companies here, also delivers stuff to (where I used to) work, he thinks I’m an old friend & calls me by my first name. &, since it’s a small town, he just leaves any parcels on the front porch. &, since it’s a small town, nobody steals them.)

The postman brought me Sheila Murphy’s New Year poemcard — eat yr heart out, Hallmark — In the Year 2008 which took five days to get from the U.S. to Australia, & then another five days to reach me from wherever it was re-sorted here. As I often say, where we live is actually beyond the edges of the Earth. (Sixth aside: since Eileen is also on Sheila’s mailing list, you can read the poem here.)

The parcelman brought me my eagerly-awaited contributor’s copy of the Nick Piombino-edited OCHO #14. Lulu went overboard on their packaging for this one. Starting from the inside: the book inside a soft polypropylene (?) open-sided “envelope” which was then shrinkwrapped to a much larger piece of cardboard which fitted snugly into what I can only describe as a pizza box that could probably have contained all the previous copies of OCHO as well. (Seventh aside: you can read Ron Silliman’s review of the issue here.)


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