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Daniel Grandbois

4 Conversation Pieces
from the forthcoming Unlucky Lucky Tales
(Texas Tech University Press, 2012)
Artwork by Fidel Sclavo

Unlucky Lucky Tales, Daniel Grandbois, Fidel Sclavo

Alices

W.B. Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole” in Conversation with Seamus Heaney’s “The Spirit Level”

 

A kiss for a kiss. The collarbone of a hare. We sensed the tunnels coming up. Limbs shook, and we were swept from treetops, down in through holes, leaving clean spots where our heads had been. A lack of breath and smell of dung, and then dumped with the refuse into the world.

For all the delighted eye now sees, as if looking out of some old picture book, the holy creatures of the hills are gone, and women laugh, or are timid or wild.

Through thin white bone, pierced by a pin, issues an old blanched thing that wobbles on its feet, not accustomed to history, or the smell of mint.

Bald heads forgetful, planted on our knees, pop-eyes and big cheeks nearly burst, under a dawn that looks down, biding its time.

 

King

Czeslaw Milosz’s “Bobo’s Metamorphosis” in Conversation with Tadeusz Rozewicz’s “New Poems”

 

Falling, I caught the curtain beneath a broad viburnum leaf, king of earth, air, water, and slid down, howling ahh! ahh!, as the air unfurled its intricate spirals.

In the mountain, feeding on acorns, beetles, crumbs, I walked those halls of paintings, my torchlight lifting the curtain between a doe, birthing her freckled fawn, and a group of women, looking in their mirrors.

Winter came as it does. Roots grafted to granite. Nose running wildly, I buttoned my dressing gown and walked through a wall of snow, remembering there were streets and houses where we came from, while overhead, flocks of ducks froze in midair.

My ashes were put in a can under a bistro counter. Don’t trouble your head over it. Wash it down with schnapps. Descendants already born will dance their dances.

 

Garden Weasel

L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in Conversation with Gregory Macguire’s “Wicked”

 

After receiving the dose, her body bent like a gardener’s, and her arms wheeled of their own accord. “I always did like flowers,” she said, ripping up more and more of the weeds that choked the big scarlet daisies.

They were all greatly pleased to see the drug in action. With such ingenious pharmaceuticals, their whole race could be afforded untold freedom from weeding.

“I am sure I don’t want to kill anybody,” said one, less than sure of the whole endeavor. “How long before the effects wear off?”

Her arms slowed down, and she fell to sleep on the ground. Small as they were compared to her, they managed to get her onto a cart and roll her to where she could breathe fresh air again.

Heaps of plum-colored clouds greeted her as she came to and made her want to shiver with revulsion and purr at the same time.

Hidden from her sight, the one apologized to her before joining the others.
“I’m not a bit surprised,” she replied, appearing to pull words from the back of her throat.

The next time they made her arms wheel, she spied him beneath a daisy, snatched him up along with a weed stalk, removed four pins from her hair and mounted him to a tree.

“An unfortunate side effect,” said the others, taking notes.

“Taste of his own medicine,” she said later, coming to once again.

 

Mistake

James Thurber’s “Many Moons” in Conversation with Norman Lindsay’s “The Magic Pudding”

 

They got the information from a rooster. He stood on his head, then his wingtips, and then his feet again. He walked in a circle, then a square. “You must do something,” he proclaimed, waving his wings majestically.

“Well spoken,” they said, shoving him in a sack to keep him quiet.

The rooster flew into a rage. “Settle down,” said the one holding the sack. “You’re disturbing my gravy.” It was true. They had only just eaten, and his gravy was sloshing. He wrapped the cord around the rooster’s neck and gave it three long pulls and a short. “We must do something,” he repeated emphatically on the last pull.

“If you ask my opinion,” said the other on consulting a string of paper, fished from his breast pocket like a magician’s scarf. “There aren’t that many birds left.”

“187,796,132,” crowed the rooster, still breathing.

“I can’t hear you!” The man shook the sack.

“These are treacherous sentiments,” warned the other.

They set off along the road.

Growing uneasy, the second man insisted on inspecting everyone they met.

“Might as well talk to a carrot,” summarized the first after each inspection was complete. “We’ve gone too far,” he said solemnly, the sack in his hands suddenly still.

“Don’t say that,” said the other.

“Bringing you a present in this bag,” they told the hen, standing at the rooster’s gate. “If we caused any harm, it was a mistake.” They laid the sack at her feet.

The moon was pasted in the sky. The willows were less than mellow. They looked up and down the road. “We must do something.”

 

Unlucky Lucky Tales, Daniel Grandbois, Fidel Sclavo

 

 

 

Daniel Grandbois is the award-winning author of the story collection "Unlucky Lucky Days" (BOA Editions, 2008); the art novel "The Hermaphrodite: An Hallucinated Memoir" (Green Integer, 2010), illustrated Alfredo Benavidez Bedoya; and "Unlucky Lucky Tales," (forthcoming from Texas Tech University Press, 2012), illustrated by Fidel Sclavo. His work appears in many journals and anthologies, including Conjunctions, Boulevard, Mississippi Review, and Fiction. As well, he plays in three of the pioneering bands of The Denver Sound: Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Tarantella, and Munly. Contact author.

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