In The Balance of Things
By viceversa & Daniel Abelman
Published: October 30, 2007
Updated: September 5, 2010

In The Balance of Things


I am Rosen  Jeliazkov, Poet Laureate of Bulgaria. Of late, the denizens of the Bureau of Kultura are calling upon me less and less for my services and I fear they pocket my meagre Central Funding Committee allowance. This is a convenient blessing in disguise perhaps, as I have been stricken with writer’s block this last while. Strained for inspiration, I plagia-pirated my last commission from Russian poetry. Employing both counterfeit courage and a ‘bad Russian’ accent, I declaimed with much bravado (a veritable Lermontov) and prayed the vodka would not wear off until they had had me shot. Strangely, all seemed to take pleasure in my efforts and the Minister himself besprinkled congratulations: praising my personal sacrifice in the battle for the expansion of the Bulgar –Kultura. The Philistine.
 
Still being in government employ and enjoying temporary ministerial favour, I have much time to play with and reap the benefits of privileged passwords and access codes others aren’t privy to. This led to my uncovering the swampiest of sagas – yet of such graceful pathos it overflowed my heart and piqued my poet’s intellect. I refer to the Anna Karenina ‘skandal’ that screamed from the front pages of the Sofia Telegraf broadsheet a few years ago. In these docketed email documents below lingers incandescent love and trembling desire and passion. All packed away in the Bureau of Prisons’ records.
 
Herewith I paste the correspondence between the two most delectable villainessas . Maybe one day, chronic plaigariser that I am, I may transmute their lexical agonies into stanzas of my own. Nobody knows what the future holds.
 

 

                                                              ***
 
Dearest Anna,
 
I hope you haven’t forgotten me. You remember when the only handsome part of me was taken away? Ugly me with the redeeming, seaweedgreen eyes –  daggerstabbed and debeautified forever. I wrote to you, astral compositions on spectral notepads when I was paper and pen-less in Solitary. You helped me, your ethereal essence tele-corresponding through my madness which remained undimmed by smuggled soma. Good news and bad. Dreams of the past have returned. Not the hypnogogic dream delights of a Sofia afternoon we once nearly shared. But others, bad others.
 
Outweighing the bad is the golden good. The ‘The Flying Rudyard Family’ lives! Taking flight after many years – a dozen since the big accident that broke us apart.  The Manager has finally agreed to my proposition: I open a circus school in this demented place. No livestock, no trapeze, and no clowns; it will have one act. We shall walk the high-wire! From rooftop to rooftop, way above the courtyard.  All will gape from below and cheer when it’s over. And they’ll doubtless return for the second performance – hoping, as they all do, to see us plummet.  I hope to disappoint.
 
I wonder if, from this resident gaggle of steelybitchettes, I can find any girls willing to really take a traipse on the wild side? Annushka, it’s a cinch with balancing poles and all, but I shall free-walk. Only the wire and myself. Give them and myself a thrill.
 
Tomorrow I post a registration form in the dining-hall. I’m aiming for a grand total of ten girls  Two to walk with me and the rest to come to grips with  technical matters - gathering the prerequisites, music and costumes and balancing poles and anchors and… and… But now I must see a man about a steel-cable, my worthy contribution to the effort.
 
If all goes well I’ll write to you soon with an account of what we’ve accomplished.
 
Your old friend
Rudi

                                                                     ***
 
rudi
 
i had stored your memory in a cobwebbed attic many months ago: my heart is too splintered to withstand another fractured episode. as soon as i clicked your letter, i instantly remembered that i'd forgotten you. even though you flickered thro my dreams - raven hair & swirling skirts – the reality of you had been paused.  cerebrally, at least. as for my emotioscape... there’s a time & a place but now is the wrong/wrong combination.
 
angels chorused & the sun winked at me from pellucid skies when i clicked on an email from a certain:
rudirudyard@hotmail.com  this flat 2d holy rectangle reached out & touched me as i heard the voice that whispers to me in my dreams. 
 
so much time has elapsed... i will have to enmesh you in questions. doubtless, you’ve been interrogated & counterinterrogated & reinterrogated & recounterinterrogated ad nauseum.  i also recollect that sultry, sulky Indian summer in Sofia all those heartbeats ago. you had beckoned me & i hastily packed.  i kissed a few goodbyes & goodriddances & boarded a train which chuffchuffed me along tracks until i reached my destination. which wasn’t a geo map mark - but you. i planned to sink into your flesh & suck the words from your mouth.
 
arrived. disembarked. a gaping gap between the train & the platform. tottering in my most elegant ladytiptoe shoes, i had to take care not to plummet onto the tracks.  

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i fluttered along to the café stolichnaya. late. the taxi driver had waltzed around all the alleyways before he delivered me to our rendezvous. as soon as i entered, i sensed you ... fleurs de mal. a rustling of skirts & hissing sighs of muted bulgarian, female shrieks counterpointed by authoritarian grunts & i saw the posterior of the most divine lady-essence being hustled out of heartbreak café by two  men in camouflage.
 
i never saw your face, but my eyes imbibed your silken mane & voluminous skirts did not conceal your ripe peach rotundity. i hailed you in russian  (bulgarian is so vulgarian, a bastardised, country bumpkin version of the great slav langue). you turned your head, but the guards yanked it back. 

i knew it was you because i was singeing with sparks. & so it was to you i spoke that afternoon away, in our fuggy, limp-sandwiched locale in sofia. i supped your abandoned crème de menthe, hoping a few globulettes of your spittle had snaked their way into the glass. i sucked at your sobraniye butt, kissed with your crimsonlipped mouth &, hoisting up my anchor of decency, sailed away on stormy seas of fantasy. an aluminium serviette stand bore your fingerprint. i held a trembling finger up to it for minutes... hours... days... a lifetime, while i inscribed a poem to you & to me & to us & to our usness &, alas, to our uslessness.
 
tell me how you are surviving. i made a chain of fon calls but those moustachiod bulgar authorities claim you don’t exist. you are now, apparently, only a number. & i must see your face.
 
you have visited me in my dreams. what about yours? you hint at cauchemars. write to me. pour out your inner inks. if you’re afraid, whisper in cryptotongue.

yours... truly,

anna

                                                                     ***
Annushka
 
Yes, our meeting was damned. Oh you would have toasted the crème de mented of my eyes. Liquid-green sipped down... seeing your inner-essence. But I am not the Rudi you remember. I ride the ghost train of the day I was changed. The day it happened.

Yester-eve’s dreams: Thoughts gurgled and streamed with the water, prickly and warm. A dull ache in the lower belly... my mittleshmeltz… soon to be premenstrual. The tips of my milk-melons so touch-tender to the silk of my lingerie, grazing my nipples and hardening them with pain as they bump out and make me wince with every move. Almost as excruciating as when he had suckled his lust from them and left them dangling in rawness. Sister love, the double incest of self-thought embracing self-love. Whispering caresses lured me far deeper than the invasion of his missile strikes.
 
This is the gist of my frustration. I feel you can hear my thoughts, my telepathic-twin sister. Forgive my perversions.

Last night was not dream-scaped. I tossed and turned on my horsehair pancake mattress. Intoxicated with anticipation and excitement of pending tasks – planning and plotting, scheming and devising.
 
The windows, blanketed against fresh air and nocturnal lighting, kept me insulated in darkness, so I wrote my ‘acquisition list’ in my head. If you can bear the tedium, sweetAnnaK, I shall pencil them right here. You are to be my insurance policy in case I forget. After all, lives are at stake.
 
 The list:
ƒÞ      Low-wire for practice
ƒÞ      High-wire for performances
ƒÞ      2 steel barrels/drums for wire tension (Big Papa once showed me how to improvise when a cable-ratchet is unobtainable.)
ƒÞ      3 balancing poles (Ivan, the Maintenance Manager of this place will deliver the goods. We have delivered our services to him on more than one occasion, and poles are poles – his: decidedly short. Ours: plastic one-half inch rigid plumbing pipe in standard 4 metre lengths. I’ll fill them with sand to provide extra weight).
ƒÞ      Additional hardware – cable-anchors, etc. This is going to demand some on-site improvisation. Ivan again? Plenty of solid bars around to attach things to.
ƒÞ      Costumes. Some of the gals are slick seamstresses..
ƒÞ      Footwear. I used to walk barefoot a long time ago. Initially it’s hell on the soles. I have got so thin my bones stick out and the lightweight I’ve become will make it sufferable. But the other gals will have to be suitably shod. Somehow.
 
Registration closed after lunch. Fourteen names, all seeking moments of high glory. There was one surprise: applicant no. 13 – Tzveta. She’s not one of the gals – she’s the Manageressa Warden. Perfect high-wire material. Tall and lithe, a professional gymnast before height betrayed her. Being in charge of ‘sports activities’ has kept her fit. And she has perfect balance.
 
Last Sunday she beat me in our ongoing handstand competition. We were on the basketball court surrounded by side-bets. The rules are simple: whoever stands on their hands the longest wins. I redeemed myself and recouped the losses in the chin-bar challenge. Manageressa Tzveta managed 234.  I surpassed her tally by some and did the last ten one-handed. If truth be told, I’m not sure how many ‘chin-ups’ I’m capable of. 
 
Once, when we were wintering in Leipzig, Tiny Mama and Big Papa signed on for an aerial-routine in the town hall. Papa was the ‘catcher’ and he strained his wrist in the warm-up. Mama insisted on going on with the show – as ever, money was tight. Out she went, small as she was, and, grabbing the swing bar, the tiny woman began to do chin-ups… counting as she went. The town burghers began to boo and gave her the ‘colonial-clap’, tapping out their disappointment. The un-rhythmic percussion did not phase Mama one bit. On she chinned and on she counted. When she reached two hundred and fifty, the burghers settled down. At six hundred there was a dead silence in the hall only broken by Mama’s rhythmic tally. Sweat trickled from her body, sizzling under the limelight. Eight hundred was the turning point. At eight hundred the crowd began counting with her. Nine hundred… one thousand… then she hung from the bar still as could be. Again silence. She began: one, two, three - from the beginning. Coins peppered the stage as the cheering audience showed their appreciation. She did the last ten one handed. Later she confessed she was not quite sure how many ‘chin-ups’ she was ultimately capable of.

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I am to get together with my new ‘family’. I will lay down the law and make some promises. 
 
Your dear friend,
 Rudi.
 
Ps – a poem would be nicer than nice.
Pps – I’ll be brave and send a picture soon. You will no longer love me. 

                                                               ***
rudushka
 
i forgot to mention: when you were being frogmarched down the street... your touch was so nearly mine. i sprang from my chair, upsetting the crème de menthe and ashtray, & bounded towards the door. i wanted to rescue you from those villainous henchmen. wrench their wrenches away from you & enwrap you in my envelopes & we would have both lived happily ever after, don’t you think? however, a serving wench blocked my way with a malodorous mop, hissing streams of invective. i couldn’t decipher her words but the glint of terror in her eyes was enough to prevent me from following you. her soiled apron obscured you as i heard your stilettos morsecoding the pavement... fainter and fainter until even they became invisible.
 
like you, i also have a list. i noticed longlong ago that you had this ‘habit’ of evading questions. ducking & diving & wiggling away from their pointed fingers. dearest tovarishch,, i’m not interrogating you. i feel time is running out for me/for you/for us & it’s imperative for a piece  of my mind that i have a little information about you:
 
do you feel i have betrayed you?
why did they take you away?
where are you now?
high-security or low?
how long is your sentence?
do you really love me?
why?
what do you eat for supper?
how can you communicate with me?
are your emails censored?
what is your favourite colour?
are you safe?
what happened in your shower dream?
do you share a cell?
what was your crime?
what’s your favourite song?
are you guilty?
can you see me?
feel me?
do you hear birdsong?
where is your husband?
can you see the sky?
 
you visit me in my dreams also. most mornings i wake up (alone) in a tangle of sheets & candlewick. you’re such a gentle creature i cannot envisage the crimes you’ve purportedly committed. of course, i would love to see your ‘real’ picture, although i can already see you. i trace your profile with my fingertips & inhale you. why did you say i’ll no longer love you? impossible: you are eau de beauté. i know your face better than my own, as i rarely glance into mirrors, but i see you every time i close my eyes. every blink. your image is etched on my retinae. so – be brave & send me your portrait. i, too, am plucking up the courage... a poem for you (don’t mock me, it’s pried from my heart):


fingertips
 
flex-stretched out fingertips
trans-
versing
deserts of ages and amnesia-
cal desic-
cated love
tempting to translate
my untouchable
essence
censering sparks of
unquenchable desire.
brandished as magic wands
which
promise the promise
of unlocked boxes.
your fingertips lullabied my
go-away-i’m-not-here
fear of prox...
proxi...
proximity
& they beckoned my inflamed
imagoscape
deepdeeper into your domain
where
our muted secrets twisted in
erotic carousel
shamelessly
virginal & vertiginously
plucked naked
before my unveiled
eyes
which now
clamp shut
in the glare of
blindlessness.
 
you’re being metaphorical when you write about walking the highwire tightrope? is the list a code for something i, in my opaqueness, cannot grasp? is the ‘tall and lithe’ Tzveta, champion handstanderessa, significant to you? does she know about me? i have nobody - no body to caress... i sacrificed my libido on the altar of unobtainable love, prefering celibacy to parody. when he deigns to invade me with his pumping penis-parts, i close my eyes & drift away to more temperate climes.
 
                                                            ***

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Annushka

This is a self-portrait. I hope I haven’t been overly generous or vain, but it is a good likeness.
 
How silly of me: I ‘copied’ the opposite-me from a mirror-reflection and the pierced-and-patched eye is my right one and not the left as depicted. See how thin I have got?
 
Please do not hate me… this is how I have been discarded.

illustration1

                                                                ***
 
Rudochka

you either have a hideous sense of humour or you’re a useless painter. why do you taunt me? that warped visage is not you. is this really how you see yourself? if this is the case, you need... i would say ‘help’ but it sounds patronising. you need to be whisked away from that prison where the only mirrors are upside-down convexed reflections from aluminium spoons. i refuse to believe fate has reduced you to such a... i can’t go on. tears puddle the keyboard, i risk electrocution. you have upset me deeply & as your lifelong  twin comrade of love i demand an explanation. are you trying to ‘test’ me? why?

                                                                ***

Annushka

You don’t love me for my looks – why do you now hate me for them? Indeed, reality presents a warped perspective, but it is I: Your Radushka. No test and no tears. In the beginning, I too cried. Dark tears – streaking black dye from the sodden material of an eye-patch. Best divest yourself of my notched image.  A half-empty or a half-full cup of beauty? Dizzy-dang, Girl - drink straight from the elixir bottle and leave our imagineoscapes to float true. 

                                                                  ***

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Silent Anna

No lovewords flutter into my inbox. Why the silence? You poor Melankholik-Poetessa-Maxima with a retinal image of me when you blink? ‘Tis nought of what I have for you: your picture painted on the inside of my eye-patch. You are fused into my every vista.
 
Asked and answered:

'do you feel I have betrayed you?' The angels of god have played backgammon with my body parts. Gabriel Angel of Mercy, on my right, has blind-sided me and Archangel Mikhail, on my left, has cast me to the dogs. The universe has betrayed me. The only one true to me has been myself. If you are part of me, you are not parcel to my betrayal.

'why did they take you away?' I was a bad girl and my weapon was too sharp.

'where are you now?' Stara Zagora Prison, turn left at Sofia. Bounce along for half an hour and when you fall into a pot-hole too deep to climb out of – you’ve arrived.

'high-security or low?' Mediumish. Prison is prison is prison. As far as they go, I give this demented place 2 stars  

'how long is your sentence?' Life ‘til death.

'do you really love me?' Like my life – ’til death.

'why?' I don’t so much mind dying alone. It’s the living alone that gets to me. 

'what do you eat for supper?' Leftovers. 

'how can you communicate with me?' Everyone works. Everyone’s designated posts according to her capabilities and I labour in the prison bakery, a viable concern which provides fresh cakes and pastries to the surrounding area. My job is to crack eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. I must have done a million by now. The manager is a civilian in fake Armani suit. Of late we have come to an agreement: an ‘understudy’ does my job while I crack his eggs, keeping his testosterone level at an acceptable gauge. My remuneration:  access to the computer in his office. Yes, he begs to enter me but he, a minor pervert, can be taken care of with a ‘flick’or two. Circumstances oblige so do not think badly of me. I always purge my teeth thoroughly at night.  

'are your emails censored?' No. Not unless they torture the password out of me.

'what is your favourite colour?' Cat-eye green

'are you safe?' With My Patrooshka at hand I’m safe.

'what happened in your shower dream?' Ooo, my sweet thing, I’m all of a quiver. It’s too intimate to entrust to words. One day, if we ever meet, I’ll tell you. Or, maybe, if the stars are right, I’ll show not tell. Needless to say, I awoke in a delicious state of pulsating agony.

'do you share a cell?' I’m one of six, or the ‘other’ from a half-dozen…all bitchettes. Rough tough  arch-shoplifters. 

'what was your crime?' One of passion - castration.  

'what’s your favourite song?[” ]' You make me cry.

'are you guilty?' Of course not.

'can you see me?' Yes.

'feel me?' Ditto.

'do you hear the birdsong?' A murder of crows cawing – high up in an elm tree.

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'where is your husband?' Fak-him! 

'can you see the sky?' I see the same waxing and waning of the moon as you do, my lunar-love.

'is the ‘tall and lithe’ Tzveta, champion handstanderessa, significant to you?' No, but she’s an integral part of my planning and plotting.  Don’t be jealous, my dearest one.
 
In fact I’m off to see that particular manageressa about a rope. Let’s hope she doesn’t hang me with it.

Write to me, I implore you. I don’t know how to interpret your silence.

                                                             ***

rudi
 
despite the shock of that ugly ‘portrait’, i cannot banish you from my thoughts. ergo no choice but to xyz you. however: i know you don’t resemble that portrait beast. it’s how the bastards have made you view yourself. i simply have to gaze into your eyes (note the plural) & you’ll see your plundered beauty reflected in mine.

i have visions of you languishing in a dungeon, shackled & manacled, locks sprung open only for you to be abused by the baker man. is anyone breathing over your shoulder now, proofreading this? are your cellmates cruel to you? you’re such a brittle soul & i know by bitter experience how daily pummeling can pulverise one’s inner essence. sticks & stones they break our bones & words will also hurt us.

i will visit you. I will bring a magic parcel packed with everything you desire. is your prison ‘inspected’? does it satisfy basic sanitary requirements? i keep seeing cockroaches scuttling over your body. i can smell the stench of cabbage kasha & papiroski. I can’t banish these gruelling images from my mind.

yours, annochka

                                                             ***
 
Here it is depicted, empty of life. A grey cement-ary filled with lifeless souls waltzing to the stinking fizz-rot of pheremonal carcasses. Our lunar assignations all run  concurrently, cycles indicative of SheMales sharing close quarters. Only the rank latrines stuffed with bloodied rags can bring fetid solitude from the tension raised by a party of premenstrual bichettes. Hi-jacked with oestrogen, the inmates are perilously geared up to de-eye any misconstrued glance in a wrong direction with talon-fangs.
 
In all its glory:  Stara Zagora Prison, Stara Zagora 6000, Bulgaria.

illustration2


                                                                ***

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rudi rudochka rudushki

forgive me my silence. i’ve been bi/tri/quadro/quinto-sected these past few days by the clan. this comprises of two people: my husband the alpha-male, my husband the crim businessman, my husband the sniveling little brat, my mother-in-law the criticising bitch, my mother-in-law the martyred borsht stirrer & my mother-in-law the doting mamasha of my husband. how they scavenge upon me & expect me, by default, to function like the well-oiled machine i am not. i’ve evolved this physical hatred for the kitchen & take recompense in clashing of cutlery against crockery. i have to stop myself from upending the dresser in a carthartic cascade of smithereens on the quarry tiles. as close to climax i would ever get these days.
 
do I ever get thanks? no. a few grunts from time to time. he & his mamasha only acknowledge my presence if i do ‘wrong’: & so i keep myself safely invisible, silently performing endless chores. i’m a ghost, flitting through the house, folding sheets, ironing shirts, flapping duster but i sense no achievement. i’m a museum curator - keeper of the tomb. 

your Stara Zagora prison pic has a chagallesque innocuousness. doubtless, it reflects reality as murkily as your ‘portrait’. it hardly seems like a prison at all: couldn’t you shin up the elm tree & jump down to freedom on the other side of the walls? the 3 birds – are they those cawing crows? could they constitute a murder? i shudder to think of you huddled in that cell of premenstrual lezbianki  tainting your purity. it pains me to think you have to whore yourself in order to write to me. am i worth this sacrifice? does he grind his manroot into your inner passages or is he satisfied with suckling?

your only value to me is as a likeminded parallel being who’s uncorrupted by ransacking hands of others. the only fingertips which could ever trace your patterns and navigate your curves are mine. you’re my twin & i ache if you get hurt. what can be done to stop this madness? is it our fate to be men’s playthings?
 
have you procreated? i can’t imagine you as a mother. did your mr. squirt his sperm into your eggs before you hacked off his..? i’m intrigued: which bits did you sever? does he still live? and what was your implement? so many questions – i wish we could talk to each other. you must have endured years & years of conjugal atrocities before you were driven into this corner. i know all about corners.
 
remember our one meeting on the trolleybus on the outskirts of moskva? all those years ago. i was – supposed to be – so beautiful then. now? (needless to say, mirrors are my greatest enemies). i was compressed in the heaving mass, the stench of perspiring astrakhan furs & armpits & avoski shopping bags... i used to dread those trolleybus rides. crammed into the cab, not enough room for a cockroach to scuttle between us. then. the trolleybus jolted. passengers got off and on & i was propelled into your arms. our orbs squelched, by circumstance, against each other, and it felt... yours were riper & more pendulous than mine. i sank into the comfort of cushions. 
 
i wanted to remain close to you, my womanlove. it took me 3 stops until i mustered the courage to look into your eyes. their emerald flame still flickers through me & this is why i’m so upset re your sick portrait joke. eye patch, indeed! you’re purposefully trying to extinguish my desire for you. well, let me tell you, dearist, it will take a lot more than a grotesque caricature sketch.
 
i’m reactivating my rectroactive excitement & mustn’t let any signs show. he is returning soon & i’ll be inspected for any signs of spiritual awol. writing to you is the only sublimation i have in these austere times. but that trolleybus ride was half a lifetime away. it no longer exists. why did you get off at lenin library? & why did you slip out of my sight (i tried to follow you)?

my beauty has been scratched out with this avalanche of years & my figure: pah! is as if some evil spirit has blown his fetid breath into my orifices and now i’m consequently & ineradicably inflated. you wouldn’t even deign to look at me if we were random travellers in a railway waiting room.
 
i doubt a timeless beauty such as yours could ever fade. send real pixels, if you have any. i don’t have any of me: he impounded them, but i’m sure i could somehow get a foto taken. if you want to see me. you never say. you only seem to talk about yourself & your circus act.
 
i wish we could both escape. maybe my windows don’t have bars but the situation has enough barbed wires and lookout posts to keep me prisoner for life.

                                                                ***

Anna
 
Time is limited so forgive if I miss answering some of your questions. Manager BakerMan is becoming more insistent in his demands. I’ve sworn a solemn oath never again to be impaled by a ManBeast and have adhered to this to this very day. He-Husband was the last to invade; and in answer to your question 'does he still live?': he screamed until blood loss made him flounder in unconsciousness until he his heart stopped pumping. 

What a merciless ‘rammer’ he was. Equipped with spastic libido, bashingly bulimic with fists for hors d’oeuvres, the ‘implement’ his main course and a: “I love you” for dessert. You also asked: ‘what was your implement?’…

But first, 'do you dream?'  I dream: hunting out my ‘in the lap of the Gods’ diaphragm, slicing a hole through the durex middle – wide enough for an engorged malething to slip by. Super-gluing a phalanx of razor-blades around the spring-rim of the circular sperm-shield -  the internal edge. I gaze with pride on my handiwork:  the outer edge still sheathed by the vestiges of the durex. To all intents and purposes – an improvised shark’s jaw. I experiment with a cucumber – it slid throughwith ease, passing the outer edge, penetrating. But, on attempting extraction, the internal razor edges clamped down… ouch!… shredded salad on his menu for supper.

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Anticipating… I insert it carefully into place… and, saving myself a pummeling this one last time, I bait him with words and soft-lips and tongues that take him around the world in the hold of a tramp-steamer; he arches, grunts and rams.  

Snatch-snipping dentatae vaginae, the deepdark collective phobia of his kind. The look of horror when he realises something is terribly wrong.  I squeeze my love-muscles with all my might and pull back. He starts screaming. A 2nd squeeze is easier, for I believe it’s a spasming orgasm – my first ever from a manthing – that helps to sever our connection ad infintum.

He bleeds to death as I hold a little part of him close to me in the afterglow.

It’s only an erotic dream… 

'what was your implement?' Cousin Blaga’s husband, Basque Jack’s wedding present to me: a superbly balanced TinkerBlade he’d laboriously filed and filed and filed and honed down some more, wrought from the toughest steel. I named her My Patrooshka. Cousin Blaga wasn’t really my cousin and her husband was about as Basque-Spaniard as you or me. Come to think of it, his name wasn’t Jack, but rather Emmanuel from Rumanian Gypsy Hungarian stock who, after pitching his carnival tent between the Bearded Lady and a duo of Exotic Dancers, took to demonstrating unnerving knife-throwing skills for next to nothing, selling his forged-in-Taiwan Home-Honed TinkerKnives , painted carbon black to imitate hardened steel, for a few stotinki more and the real patrooshkas for a lot, lot more. To confound the matter: Cousin Blaga was the Bearded Lady and Cousin Blaga doesn’t have a beard.

'which bits did you sever?' Only his prod. I wanted nothing else from him – not even his family jewels.

'couldn’t you shin up the elm tree & jump down to freedom on the other side of the walls?' A picture can tell a thousand words, my sweet optimistic TwinThing, but the scratching I sent did not include the armed guard on the corner of the roof closest to Big-Elm. The Managers are arguably obtuse, but idiotki-kretini  they are not. They reek of peasant cunning.

ButButBut, exciting it is: the new reformed Rudyards had their first gathering – a family of nine under the giant elm. The only post concrete-pouring residue of beautiful life left in this demented place. The gals say when Big-Elm groans in the wind, it’s the spirits of the dead calling us… a new family tree?
 
Not all registrants have passed the minimal qualifying round. I scratched a line with my Patrooshka on the cement floor. Each candidate had to walk along the mark - forwards, then backwards. More of a ‘sobriety test’ than anything else. Understand, Annushka, there is no relying on drunks or druggies when the only thing between you and terra firma consists of a cushion of air stuffed with the concentration quotient of a fellow wire-walker.
 
They were full of questions.
 
Margarita: “What’s she doing here?” - ‘She’ being Manageressa Tzveta.


“She’s here because she can navigate a line on the floor, upside-down - on her hands.”

Margarita: “I hate her!” (Last week Manageressa Tzveta called Margarita a ‘Basketball-Khooliganka’ and unceremoniously evicted her from the squad. Little Margarita had smuggled gonorrhoea into Australia and in turn smuggled out her basketball bible through the Sydney docks from whence she was deported. Always ready for some ‘good sport’, our international prostitootka played ‘Australian Rules’ basketball, the poor thing. Ended up with a backpack full of stories and a blade slash disfiguring her sweet brow. Scarred for life.)
 
“This is your lucky day, Margarita. Circus accidents happen,  especially on the high-wire.”
 
I have laid down the rules:
 
ƒÞ      The head of the Family is the boss. That’s me, and on all matters my word is final. I know, Annushka, you’re not naive enough to believe the ‘ringmaster’ with his frock-coat, top hat and cracking whip, is the one who runs the show.
ƒÞ      The high-walkers are not in anyway superior to others. The accomplishments of any single member reflect on the Family as a whole. There are no stars in a Circus Family.
 
I made two promises:
 
Every member of the Family would learn how to walk the low practice-wire. I don’t think I’m taking too much upon myself. Equipped with a balancing pole and ten minutes of instruction time, I can teach almost anyone to trot along a wire. Free-walking takes a bit more practice. Free-walking without grabbing air takes a lot. I described the act, explaining how I’d eventually select two members to accompany me on the high-wire.

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My second promise:
 
With no practice high-wire, there won’t be any dry-runs or dress rehearsals. The low-wire will be strung up high on the day of the actual performance. I laid it on the line. When the time comes, when the moment of truth grabs their guts, clutches their bowels and rises up to clamp at their throats, if the two selected gals (if they accept the challenge)    do not take that step of faith out onto the wire, it will be the last thing they’ll ‘not do’. That was my second promise, Annushka, for to take that first-time walk, way-way up there with no one to hold your hand - alone, just your self and your spirit, is vertiginously scary. 
 
Each Circus Family has a banner, flown when they perform. And so, to promote family unity, to meld the bunch of bandettes, I proposed our next project should be SUCH. Providing a sheet and colour-markers, I left them to it. My only stipulation was that they include our family maxim: - [translation] “Everyone eventually falls – that’s why they fill the tent”. It sounds much better in the original Bulgarian.
 
We now have a new banner and our family has been reduced to eight. Margarita has been evicted. Suffice to say banners and family life are not for her, the poor thing.

illustration3

                                                                        ***
 

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rudushka

your ‘erotic’ dream disconcerts: how can your labyrinths ever conjure up such sad, sadistic atrocities? answer: the beast you were forced to marry desecrated your body & poisoned your mind. you shouldn’t be incarcerated for your lifesaving Patrooshka slash. if you hadn’t taken that action, he would have rammed his prodweopan into weeping holes for decades & decades. perhaps, on the off chance, i could track down sympathetic sister ears (preferably an advokat) in some ‘civilised’ animal-loving country where the garbage gets taken away on the same day/time every week...

it’s odd how we both ended up with monster beasts. i’m almost too frightened to elaborate: he has access to my computa & reads my every syllable. this is why i cc & del. all he sees in my files – i hope – are recipes & housemaking hints like ‘how to make prestigious curtains’ & a few poetry websites i visit – lame, innocuous stanzas about recipes & curtains & such gush. i’ve hidden our correspondence in a system of chinese boxes, each with a password. because if he ever found this out it would be finita la comedia.

he’s corroded with jealousy; i’m not allowed to leave the house without escort. he turns livid with paranoia if he perceives me glancing at muscular torsos on his plasma screen.  on a daily basis, i get interrogated - randomised wordstrings with no correct answer. his is a cyclical condition. for a few weeks, he seems tranquil – although if you look closely, you can detect smoke curling from his ears... but then – bang! for no apparent reason, he flips. bellows, rampages. he’s possessed with the urge to possess. the last time this happened  he’d convinced himself i’d ‘fucked’  the window cleaner:  i’d spied him on his ladder, opened the window & wooed the lusty cleaner through the bars & into the conjugal bed. he even sniffed the sheets, the sad, pathetic man, checked the pillowcases for alien hairs.

however -  if i deny his accusations: bash! ‘stop lying, bitch!’ if i ‘admit’: he momentarily calms, but my ‘betrayal’  is archived in his list of marital crimes & cranked out at dark moments as part of his ever-growing inventory. in such cases, i simply remain silent. words cannot be beaten out of me. i refuse to play his games. he hasn’t resorted to the hot iron/cigarette butt technique yet... but i wouldn’t put it past him. he has a certain steely glint in his eye & his kgb training must have taught him a few techniques.

when he’s reduced me to a bruised, abused, quivering, snivelling jelly, he scoops me up, oh so lovingly, lays me on the bed & tells me he’s going to ‘love me better’. he croons his fetid-breath whispers of madness into my ear & wiggles his slimy tongue in my mouth. strobed torture in slow motion...

enough about him. i wish him dead. nauseous even writing about it & i’m scared. so scared. he’d kill me if he read this. maybe i’m a neurotic, enacting my deathwish? all i know is his hisness is welling up inside me: it has reached a critical mass. i can’t persevere: before you appeared on my screen, i was contemplating the repertoire of methods. overdose; defenestration; hanging; artery slashing. these terrifying thoughts have halted. maybe you have saved my life.

the high wire act sounds interesting. is it really real or a gemstone of your nocturnal, cellbound imagination?

we are stumbling... stumbling along the tightrope of hope. don’t look down.

                                                                           ***
My DarlingAnnuka,

'a gemstone of your nocturnal cellbound imagination?' Of all the issues you raise, only the offspring question causes pain. ‘Pro-phylactic and Anti- prolific’ has been my mantra – I would give him nothing. The fruit of his dribbled penis-pus loin-issue? – Never! Long empty nights, masking-dark. You can’t see me, but I can see you, finger-trace your beauty… Now is the time for my questions. Will you have a baby with me? Who will carry our sweet lovechild - will it be you or me?  I know! We shall both get our bellies stretched and our extended belly-buttons will nudge and tickle when we love-look each other in the eyes… mmmmm. They will be a fraternal ‘twin’-pair from the same father-donor. SoSoSo, will you share a turkey-baster with me, my sweetthing? To what lengths are you willing to go - to be reunited with your Rudochka Rudushki? … How silly all this? – I must be in love.

Sleep with your door unlocked. I come…
Do I need your permission to enter?
 
Planning and love-plotting,
Never ever look down.

                                                                           ***

sweetest sisterthing

so sorry i caused you pain re the baby question. broody rudi? but who could be the father-donor? i also have no babies: gestation takes 9 months, as we all know, but mr pummelmann couldn’t keep his fists off me for such a protracted period & so i suffered... ejections.

our offspring would be twins... the powersurge of dreams. maybe it would be less painful to stick to the ‘facts’, rudochka?

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my inner doors are always unlocked for you, darling being. only you know my passwords.

my outer doors are guarded by the gargoyle. he doesn’t let me leave the house. ever. even the windows on the ground, 1st  & 2nd floors are barred, so terrified is he of my self-abduction.

we are so near (nearer than you think) & yet so.........

kisses & enwrapments
                                                                     ***

Annochka my love-essence

This morning the neophyte Rudyards graduated circus boot-camp and our retinue marked the occasion with a ceremony under Big-Elm. I solicited a challenge.
 
I had to select two others to fill the act. One is to be Manageressa Tzveta – for all the reasons, one being the fact that she is a Manageressa. I need her protektzia. The second choice was up to the gals themselves. I launched Patrooshka up into the tree. With a ‘thwock’, she impaled herself on an upper branch, camouflaged in foliage.

And the challenge: “Whosoever is the first to bring home my Patrooshka - she will be the team’s number two.”
It’s a mighty climb up Big-Elm and coo-ing for Patrooshka on arrival is not going to finish the job. Searching her out would prove a dizzying experience. At the risk of sounding louche: whoever eventually plucks the prize will have balls to her credit.
By evening the act was full. And a surprise ending to the day it was, too. For it was none other than the banned Margarita Prostitootka who returned Patrooshka to me. The gutsy-girlsey begged and threatened and cried and held me to my word before I finally acquiesced. We came to an agreement that did not include adopting an equestrian extravaganza into our circus act.  High up in Big-Elm, while taking in the vast 360 degree vista, Margarita had spotted a herd of grazing ponies. She’s worked with ponies before, not only in the back street night-clubs of Sydney and BarrungoWunngo, New South Wales, and claims she can ride like the devil.

She’s too perfect for the job at hand
Love-planning and plotting

Only to yearn
Your ClingWrapRudi

                                                                      ***

dear rudi

you are infiltrating my soul. i carry you within me & talk to you, silently. my health suffers from the happysadhappysad realer-than-real unreality of our connections. why does my heart jump out of my chest when i encounter what is no more than electronic blips on this manmade screen?

i cannot eat or sleep. doctor quack prescribed me an arsenal of tablets for what he euphemistically calls ‘nervous conditions’. i have to keep myself strong in order to evade he-beast yet these medicines suck away all my energy. i’m eroding into an empty shell.

sorry. i can’t have my hopes inflamed by your words only to be extinguished at the click of a switch. i’ll wait for you to be released – if i survive – as i can’t bear to be so near to you & yet...

we’ll be old women by then, desicated babushki sapped of love & desire. what cruel tricks life plays on us.

as a parting gift – all i can give you are words, arrangements of letters. for you, my 1 & only love.

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keystrokes

fingertips caressing keystrokes
taptaptap morsecodes of love
dying, crying flames are stoked
and leaden feelings soar above

taptaptap morsecodes of love
panting phantom of the screen
my leaden feelings soar above
i gaze in eyes I’ve never seen

panting phantom of the screen
i dance with chance and date with fate
i gaze in eyes I’ve never seen
no high no low no wide no wait

i dance with chance and date with fate
this thumpumpumping heart a clue
no high no low no wide no wait
unravelling the words of you

this thumpumpumping heart a clue
frissons of electric friction
unravelling the words of you
cascading into caged addiction

frissons of electric friction
inbox-outbox-inbox-out
cascading into caged addiction
fuelled by hope but singed with doubt

inbox-outbox-inbox-out
dry butterflies a’flutter, yearning
fuelled by hope but singed with doubt
my silted sex once more is burning

dry butterflies a’flutter, yearning
demised desire begins to seep
my silted sex once more is burning
reside in me and rut me deep

demised desire begins to seep
finding host, I am connected
reside in me and rut me deep
my netted veins pulsate, neglected

finding host, I am connected
dying, crying flames are stoked
my netted veins pulsate, neglected
fingertips caressing keystrokes 


yours forever,

anna

                                                                              ***

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My darling Anna

Don’t despair, sladenkaya. You always said I’m a magic-woman. Keep your computa a’whirring and you’re in for a surprise. Be patient – it’s all planned.

We’re nearer to real-embracing and smootchey-wootching than you think. Believe me.

I know Managaressa Tzveta suspects.

I must be quick as I write, as it may incriminate. But I’m committed: for what has slithered down a rope cannot be retrieved by re-considerations.  Two days: and they still think Margarita’s hiding from my revengeful wrath; that she has spirited herself away in some hidey-hole. This cannot go on forever. Soon it will dawn on them that she’s escaped. Yes, she is well gone; down a rope and carried away on the back of a rustled pony, hauling both My Patrooshka and a letter. Act on this letter. Otherwise our love shall be as spilt seed trapped inside a spent galosha floating in the toilet-pan of a whore-stop.  

The Flying Rudyards have been busybusybusy. You can’t stretch a high-wire and fool around for a bit and expect the audience to be happy, so we worked on a ‘2 man’ and a ‘3 man’ routine – Managaressa Tzveta, Margarita  and myself. It had come along nicely. And the big day was upon us. The evening before was spent whispering long words to Margarita. Into the night, in the closeness under a blanket we lay body-to-body, tiptoes and noses touching, to gaze into each others’ eyes, dark as it was. We held each other and she sobbed when I caressed the beautiful scar on her forehead. As the light of the east drove back the darkness, I soul suckle-kissed her goodbye for the last time as we lay taut in our embrace waiting for the inevitable countdown:

10............ We stretched the wire from rooftop to rooftop.

9...............Managaressa Tzveta repositioned the spotlights so a projected halo would light up the intrepid funambulists.

8................I sharpened My Patrooshka for her journey, and I called:

7.................‘Time’.

6.................I sent up a prayer.

5................Tzveta walked out onto the wire. She had put her trust in me - and passed the test.

4.................She paused at the middle and waited for Margarita to make her planned entrance from the opposite rooftop.

3.................I let her wait some more – timing was all-important. Then:

2.................I walked out towards her, in Margarita’s stead, and hissed: “Fak that MargaritaBitch – she’s chickened out on us. She’s dead meat!”.

1.................We went into the ‘2 man’ routine…

0...................ESCAPE! With spotlights and eyes upon us, Margarita slid down the rope and the side of the outer wall… on her way.


I changed the linens and made up Margarita’s empty bed.

I have achieved my heart’s desire and have orchestrated your rescue from that ManHusbandBeast. We will be together soon, my love. Believe me.

Only to reconnect........

Yours forever,

Rudi.

                                                                  ***

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Newspaper Article from the Sofia Telegraf

Friday 10 March, 2001 Anna Karenina, 33, was sentenced to life imprisonment by Judge Ivan Karushkov for aiding and abetting in the mutilation of her husband’s, Volen Karenin 68, genitalia. On passing down sentence in a case that has shocked the whole of Bulgaria, Karushkov concluded: ‘Mrs Karenina is guilty beyond a shadow of doubt of an evil crime against her husband. She had planned it in cold blood, acting as accomplice with a woman attacker who is undoubtedly her lesbian lover. Mr Karenin will never be a man in the complete sense again. Mrs Karenina’s pleas of domestic ‘torture’ and ‘rape of the mind and body’ do not serve as mitigating circumstances in this case.’
 
On 7 October 2005, 2000 a woman gained access to the Karenin household on Hristo Smirnenski Street, Sofia, by scaling to the third storey and climbing through an open window. The woman stormed into the bedroom where Mr Karenin slept. He said: ‘she was a continuation of a nightmare’.  By Mr Karenin’s account she was a ‘whirling harpy of a woman, dressed in black rags from head to toe.’ The woman possessed ‘unnatural’ strength as she exposed Mr Karenin’s genitalia and hacked off his testicles and most of his penis. Mr Karenin also claims the woman screamed: ‘this is what you get for fucking around with my friends’, hence the suspicion that Mrs Karenina was enjoying a lesbian relationship with the woman. Despite exhaustive interrogation, both by prosecutors and court psychiatrists, Mrs Karenina refuses to divulge any information which would lead to the woman’s arrest. The only clue the police have is a distinguishing livid scar defacing the mystery woman’s forehead.
 
The trial has caught the attention of the media and, after 6 months of hearings and appeals, Mrs Karenina faced sentencing. Mrs Karenina seems to have become a cult figure in Bulgaria. Crowds cheered and threw flowers at her as she was led to the police van. Mrs Karenina was taken to Stara Zagora Prison. She will have no right to parole. 
 
 

THE END

8100 + words

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