Skip to main content


ISSUE:  Spring 1992

Betsy Nelson of Arlington, Va. , sued Irving’s Sports Store of nearby Falls Church after security personnel there falsely accused her of shoplifting a basketball. Nelson, 33, was nine months pregant.

—as reported in National Lampoon’s “True Facts”

Still, it’s best to check. The sly, diversionwise practitioners
 of contraband
are legion: no grimed particrumb of swag escapes
 consideration, no
nook of concealment. “A mouthful of wadd
is a day’s wage,” went the wisdom in the Borrowdale
being graphite, “also called kish or kellow or black-cowke
 this specific
British version being singularly pure to such degree, the
 miners entered
by a trap-door, stripped, changed clothes, and after six
 subterranean hours
reversed this process “under the wary superintendence of
 the steward, who
is armed with loaded blunderbusses,” often his underling
up “suspiciously-carriaged bumholes.” Plus, the saint in
 the story

Jeanine tells, whose cadaver its proprietary Church refused
 to parse
as separate relics; when some Princess asked a special,
 solo, confessional
few minutes in its chamber, she was granted this request;
 so now
we’ll leave her, as she wished it, in that candleflicker

The story that concerns us is an infant stitched inside the
ribcage of a dog; the widened rectal hole let enough of his
pushbolt of oxygen in and out. But what if he wailed, even
through the sluggish veils of sucked wine? Yes, or what if
 simple random malice
slipped an image of toying around with the dead dog into
 the bored heads
of those slow-wit S.S. border guards? It worked, though;

in fact he slipped as readily through the Jew-check at this
 station, as he
slipped the day before between the antipodally-widened
of his mother: no less universes-exchanging a matter of
 inches. They
go o-mouthed so assuredly that first time at the nipple
 (even “helpless,”
as we see and need to see them, they’re so smoothly
that it’s clear the first, the matrix, of our tasks is smuggling:
the way the thimblebrain inside a newborn tern’s skull is a
 3-D star chart
fired, in the egg, with the astronomical chandelier that
 takes it,
weeks old only, from northern Greenland winging to the
 South Pole. We
arrive here, primed in passage-blood, already possessing
 the lore we later

call religious mythology, spiritual aspiration, yes and the
of our possum-hole fears, not to mention the tasseled satin
and muscle-tee of our chemical-written agenda of sexual
 beckoning: all of it,
in us so it is us, from a Somewhere where the bossed plush
 of the night sky
and the circuitry of nerve-ends touch, a page of
 instructional text
en face with a page of its illustration. This is poetry-
however. Our story is here in this room, in plain suburban
1991: two sides of a family gather. The mohel lifts his little
slicer-of-a-tool, then gives his ritual sufficient flick to the
a bris, a bunch of cousins and much chablis, and a

telling the tale he was told, of his long hour in the
of a slaughtered dog, when he was this old. What are we
but these stories we unspool? A life is stories the way a
 pencil is
70 miles. Pencil. . . I’m back to those wretches clucking a
of Borrowdale writing-lead under their tongues, a pretty
on the market. Or here: she’s regally departing down the
 ornate ranks
of priestly observation, nodding dutifully to each damn
 clerk, then through
the gate, and dashing from the shadows where I’ve stashed
 her, falling
crazily at the feet of her friends, and ekeing out, in its coat
 of her spit
—gnarled as a radish, the color of verdigris—the big toe of
 a saint.

Albert Goldbarth


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading