Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Category: Writing

Descriptions of Strangers

For a few years now I’ve meant to have a side project where I describe strangers in more or less literary ways. This month, for some reason, I started doing that and I shall quote here the first three (and so far the only three) descriptions of strangers.

Just observed a lady ring the hotel reception-style bell at a train station bakery over and over, the bakery looking strangely empty. I peered over the counter, no bodies. Just junk space architecture; abandoned place in the middle of a crowded station bristling with purchase, consumption and destination.

Eventually a baker arrived from stage right, wearing a service worker plastered-on smile and tilting her head back unnaturally like a mannequin, ready to take the lady’s order, teeming with rage or frustration at something the lady could not and cannot know.

It was enough to have me break out into prose.

hotel reception-style bell

On the train north this morning: a woman in a salmon cardigan, black parka moulted around her body in her seat. Straight hair reaching past her shoulders. It’s been maybe three months since she blonded it last and the effect is a gradient.

Baby with a big red pacifier and sleepy eyes sits in her lap, in an exoskeleton of dark blue with pale pink patterning.

The mother is holding her phone, casing cracked like a refrozen pond, at eye-level for the little one while she herself stares absent-mindedly out the window, having barely snow-dappled landscape drifting by for entertainment

exoskeleton

The corner of the square with the hostile blue lights shining. Crime reduction lights, like from under a flying saucer stunning us into deference. He was shouting into a mobile phone. Face barely visible under the hood of the black parka, with the blue contours from the landing lights.

He held his phone away from his face and greeted me, asked if I needed any help, which is how they ask to sell me drugs now.

I told him I was good and he nodded, put the phone back to the side of his face and walked into the light.

crime reduction lights

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22-nov-2017

I’m only allowed
to say that I love you in
dependent clauses.

Untitled

I cannot promise you I’ll write about this
I cannot promise you I won’t

Nettle

Found a nettle growing under a bridge. Start of summer, I was out looking for shards of your heart between the cobblestones.

A single nettle. Tall, even gangly. Like someone had dropped a needle there and walked away. Sat on my haunches by it, feet pointing at Chimère St. and Byson across the canal. Reached out a hand as if picking a flower for a lover, gloveless. Held it between thumb and forefinger and anticipated the sting, brushing it up and down my underarms over the area where your tattoo goes. Expecting, in vain, the skin to react at all.

Another Villanelle

It’s fair to say I know a thing or two
about the art of leaving something good.
However, I would like to stay with you.

I may not be deserving, sweet, or true
but with me you’d be unmisunderstood.
It’s fair to say I know a thing or two

about the bitten hand. And I may woo —
I too have stooped to doing what I could,
however I would like, to stay with you.

It won’t redeem my soul, that benthic blue
ifreet, for never knowing what it should.
It’s fair to say. I know a thing or two

about the wish economy though, too;
I’ll spend the night that I saved up. I would,
however, I would. Like, to stay with you

is sweeter than a world-engirdled view.
So of this hollowness, pariahhood,
it’s fair to say I know a thing or two.
However, I would like to stay with you.

~

Another exercise in making the same words mean different things. With the help of Richard Kirby on the refrain.

Abscission

A haiku for the wrong season.

~

If you need somewhere
safe to come down, I wrote my
address in your phone.

Augury

One day a stray walked onto the set in the middle of a scene, distracting the actresses. It was unclear how it could have got there, as no-one had seen it before it stalked into frame. We kept the film rolling, though. We got distracted – the director too, despite his reputation. That’s how it looked for a split-second. But he stayed himself. Maybe for headlines, maybe he’s just like that. He gutted the dog right there with a knife that he apparently carries on his person at all times, spilling the entrails like vague futures all over the plastic carpet.

Two of Them

You left your pills on the counter like
you meant to take them.

Interview with Yours Truly

Dear All,

Reckoning editor Michael J. DeLuca interviewed me about bees, and also about that story I wrote for Reckoning 1. In case you’re wondering, who’s that mysterious figure behind the mask? you should click the following link to enlighten yourself: reckoning.press/johannes-punkt-interview-the-bumblebee-makers-kiss/

Over on the site, you will also find the story to read so that you can know what we’re talking about. As I said back in December, when Reckoning 1 came out and you had to pay money to read it, I’m really very proud of this story. I hope you will like the story and the interview. I say things like “The bees are still here, being shipped about in big trucks all over your continent, dying, surviving, amnesiac and medicated” and “lofty basement mimeograph pipe dreams” in the interview, if that’s any carrot.

08-feb-2017

The brightness of the music: she was almost blinded
while playing the flute, absent-minded.

Rob Mitchelmore (of jamesjoycewaskorean.com) and I wrote a poem. I furnished him with the punchline and he delivered the context, proving once again that even sophisticated-seeming poetry is just dirty jokes all the way down. I’m amazed at the result and very proud of our creation, and I hope you’re proud of us too.