from Spleen, 2


One minute in the life of the world is going by. Paint it as it is. —Cezanne


An old man in a classic bum suit and slouch hat sitting on the ledge outside the bank, legs and arms crossed at the same desultory angle, low around ankles and wrists. His wife also in shabby attire fixes the buttons on his vest, yanking at his lapels. He endures this serenely and takes advantage of her proximity to pull the lip of her purse open with his index finger and lean over, peaking inside


It is entirely conceivable that life’s splendor lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come. This is the essence of magic, which does not create, but summons. —Kafka


Writing is only an expedient, as for someone who is writing his will shortly before he hangs himself—an expedient that may well last a lifetime
. —Kafka


The corona of fine white hairs on the concave planes of her face as she stood in the subway train holding the rail impassively


What if people started to call me and said they were sorry to see me go, and wish me luck, although I hadn’t told anyone I was leaving. And I was forced to accept these well-wishings and wait patiently for more information, to find out where I was going. And then one day my mother called me and said, “We’re so glad you’ve decided to come home.” But I didn’t recognize her voice and it wasn’t my mother.


“Whaddaya mean, they found her in a ravine?”


A car pulls up to the Ferry Building. A woman gets out, slowly walks around the end of it to the driver’s side, her hands in the pockets of her long leather coat. Then a man gets out, puts his arms around the woman and kisses her fiercely, incongruously somehow, because she seems much more mature, if not older, as though she were his aunt or mother. Then very quickly she gets into the driver’s side of the car and closes the door


I think she’s probably more embarrassed than hurt, the girl said of the waitress who’d fallen and spilled her tray, sending glasses and dishes scattering everywhere. And then the girl, catching sight of herself in the long mirror along the back wall, smoothed the side of her hair with her left hand and gazed absently at herself


At last she stretched and said So to the guests, in such a way that it was clear she was saying goodnight. And as if by some prearranged signal, they both began rustling around in their chairs, thrusting arms into coat sleeves

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2 Responses to from Spleen, 2

  1. Steve Berry says:

    These are really very engaging David. No pushing or over-reaching. They feel artless, which I’m sure they’re not, like a snapshot taken on a crappy camera, at a defining angle, and with sublime light. The Cezanne and Kafka quotes add a sort of intellectual context to the exercise of reading, which I liked.

    Certain moments stand out best–

    the woman tugging at the mans lapel
    him looking in the purse with one finger, serene
    the leap from the comment about the waitress to the seemingly unrelated (yet not) moment of the mirror
    the 11.02 one altogether has a breathy in-transition quality to it altogether

    Is most of Spleen like this? I assumed something different, as they don’t feel very “spleenish”. 🙂

  2. dhadbawnik says:


    great to hear from you, and thanks. we should be in touch. i’m anxious to hear what you’ve been up to. thanks for the comments. i’m working on retyping and editing all this stuff for a new edition (the original was published by skanky possum some years back). you’re right — spleen is a terrible title. doesn’t fit at all. it was a neat idea but i never much liked it. if you think of something better, please let me know. i was thinking ‘field work.’…

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