Feigning a Fine Fettle


The Spanish Capture of St. Kitts - Don Fadrique de Toledo, 1629

The Spanish Capture of St. Kitts by Don Fadrique de Toledo in 1629 – Felix Castelo, 1634

The sun beams upon the forgetful memory

Of an indolent island, lost, facing a warm sea,

The days as long and languid as the years


Stretched out. And boys play among the glossed wood

Plantations, aromatic of sugar, bananas, spice, sweat,

And human fear that wafts and billows loose shirt tails,


White as sheets or even sails, rocking tales dreaming over time

And waves to a boy who sits in a preternaturally quiet study,

Idly tracing the embossed figures fighting and dancing


Automatic Response

Automat - Edward Hopper, 1927

Automat – Edward Hopper, 1927

Fan blades parcel apocalyptic light

Within a band, floating in the dark,

Sending sonorous waves of minced night

In a rapid, rhythmic electronic glower-

A buzzing sound sizzling solipsistic-

Metronomic, monolithic, monotone.


She’s solitary, party of one-

Closed-cropped expression,

Clipped, tight-lipped tongue.

Tile and steel, stainless reflection

Of the gulfing glass chasm reaching to caress

Compressed shoulders that shudder, breathing.


On the Cusp

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1558

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus – Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1558

This is the smoky dark of fervid alms and seedy recitations: hats are low

slung frames that shade the barley, that shake the quivering jowls

of stubbed shadows [cigarettes dance in bouncing constellations


that flash moons in the tobacco haze] – and pastoral earth

hugs the ocean against a grey sky and shepherds keep watch

from the hills [they look to the light of the sun frozen in its ascent,



The Appian Way, John Linton Chapman, 1869

The Appian Way – John Linton Chapman, 1869

Begin at the intersection of all ways,

the crux of the world – all partings

are merely the divergence of a cross.

Roads lead on to roads or, not taken,

lead on to roads not withheld anyway,

and one may choose to go, crossing


Til Death Does Depart

Marie held him tenderly, sweat dripping off her nose, shuddering, sharing his breath.

The French have a phrase, la petite mort. It means “the little death.” People use it to describe an orgasm.

He looked up at her, unfocused, shock written on his features. She was smiling beatifically, her eyes poring forth into his, glimmering his soul at the bottom of a pool, fading fast, deeper and deeper.



The Empire turned in on herself when winter came early — turned to huddle over her hearth and tend the coals, to pull the thin blanket of providence tighter about her shriveling form. If the Empire were a lady, then surely these far-flung provinces were her extremities. The frostbite was evident, even as the gloves were pulled on.


The Saint Stalls the Scum

The Saint was like a jewel in the mud, like a shaft of sun cutting through sheets of rain, like a dab of flower in a field of weeds, like a shiny copper bit in a turd. He was like a fair number of other poorly conceived similes, but Farred wasn’t a bard and the scene unfolding in front of him wasn’t worthy of song.


Savior and Destructor

There is life and death, beginning and end, salvation and destruction, and they can all, on occasion, align and blur on the whim of chance. The two greatest people in history never met, but they did, on such a whim, unwittingly share in existence, as he gasped and wheezed in his final hour and she wailed and cried out in her first. Though it cannot be disputed that one saved the world and that the other destroyed it, it is far from clear who played which role.


“The First Cut,” excerpt from The Handbook for Information Extraction, 3rd Edition

The first cut is not always the deepest. In fact, it almost certainly never is. The deeper cuts come later and the deepest of all at the end. Examination of “advanced stage cuts” will come in due course.

Glossary Term!

Cut – a general term to describe any method of extraction; used in this sense, not necessarily the literal “cut” of a knife

As all extractors well know, information extraction is a formalized progression. Though the subject, extractor, information, and cuts may change, the steps that prove most efficient are linear and immutable. The previous chapter covered anticipation, concluding that it rarely offers valuable information on its own. The next step after anticipation is the so-called “first cut.”


Godfather Death

Mender Brighton pretended to examine the dying man on the bed — he had to make a show of it. The man’s breathing was a wet gurgle and his face was covered with sores. Stage 2 Plague. Brighton could save the man, but he would not. Could not. His datapad told him as much.


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