If you haven’t read Din Mutha’s latest (excellent) post, go back and do so now, otherwise my post will make no sense at all to you.

Ah, smuttling. I never knew it had a name. And a request to smuttle, my day is perfect now.

So I walked to my bookshelves and pulled a few books down, not exactly at random, but I knew these books would have my smuttles marked with either a playing card, a sticky note, bent page corners and (God forgive me) passages underlined in ink and with notes in the margin.

Starting with the poetry, first a little “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot. I like this poem more and more the older I get. Prof. Camp assured me that I would, though I didn’t believe him at the time. I came around to Eliot, like many, through the musical “Cats”, which got me to reading “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, which led me, in time, back to Prufrock. The line that I find myself repeating, rolling it in my mouth like a delicious olive is:

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.”

I just like the way it feels to say this.


My second poetic smuttle is from “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. This line reminds me of the Our Salon bunch:

…angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection

to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night…”


The last smuttle of the poetry section is entirely the fault of Man Talk Now, who got me to reading Nizar Qabbani, the Syrian poet and diplomat. MTN wrote in his OS blog about being sent a mysterious postcard with an excerpt from one of Qabbani’s poems written in Arabic, maybe he’ll repost it here.


Because I love you

the New Year greets us

with the stride of a king

and because of that love

I carry a special permit from God

to wander among the myriad stars.”

 Qabbani blesses lovers with special privileges, to wander among the myriad stars, to give each other a gift of the moon and breaking dawn. Reading his poetry should be done as you would eat fine chocolate; in very small bites and slowly.


The next bunch of smuttles is from a selection of my favorite books. I am a literature magpie. Not indiscriminate, exactly, but willing to try new things to read and I read a lot.

One of the first science fiction authors I was exposed to is Ray Bradbury. He’s not “scientific” enough for a lot of hardcore scifi readers, but he was most definitely a master story teller and the world is an emptier place without his magic.

I first read “The Martian Chronicles” in 7th grade. It must have been 1977. The particular section of the book, August 2002: A Night Meeting has stayed with me ever since:

“Thomás raised his hand and thought Hello! Automatically but did not move his lips for this was a Martian…his weapon had alway been his smile. He did not carry a gun. And he did not feel the need of one now.”

It was my introduction to the idea of a parallel universe.



The next choice is from William Faulkner’s masterpiece, “The Sound and The Fury”. I came to Faulkner via Tennesee Williams and P.G. Wodehouse. He is another one of those authors only to be taken in small but regular amounts.

My favorite lines form TS & TF are in the first chapter, when we meet Caddy”

Caddy was walking. Then she was running, her book-satchel swinging and jouncing behind her.

Hello, Benjy.” Caddy said. She openend the gate and came in and stooped down. Caddy smelled like leaves. “Did you come to meet me.” she said. “Did you come to meet Caddy. What did you let him get his hands so cold for, Versh.

I told him to keep them in his pockets.” Versh said. “Holding on to that ahun gate.”

Did you come to meet Caddy,” she said, rubbing my hands. “What is it. What are you trying to tell Caddy.” Caddy smelled like trees and like when she says we were asleep.

With no physical description whatsoever, you know what Caddy’s about and what she looks like. This is where I’ve set the bar for my own writing.

From the musical cadence of the language of the deep South, the next smuttle shifts to the elision of bad side of Dublin, Barrytown.



In his novel, “The Comittments”, the first book of his Barrytown trilogy Roddy Doyle introduces us to the amazing Rabitte family. There are a lot of Rabittes, their surname a joke not lost on this lapsed Catholic, but Jimmy takes center stage in “The Comittments” (also a film with a mondo soundtrack). Jimmy’s getting a band together. He advertises with varying success but finally he’s got all the band assembled in the community center. They want to know what kind of music they’re supposed to play. Jimmy tells them this:

-Where are yis from? (He answered the question himself)-Dublin. (He asked another one.) – Wha’ part o’Dublin? Barrytown. Wha’ class is yis? Workin’ class. Are yis proud of it? Yeah, yis are. (Then a practical question.) – Who buys the most records? The workin’ class. Are yis with me? (Not really.) – Your music should be abou’ where you’re from an the sort o’ people yeh come from- Say it once, say it loud, I’m black an’ I’m proud.

They looked at him.

–James Brown. Did yis know—never mind. He sang tha’. An’ he made a fuckin’ bomb.”

I really like the next section better, but if you’re not from Europe, it’ll come over as racist out of context, so just read the story. It will be worth it.


And it is time to leave you with a final smuttle. Back to the deep South again, but something more modern. From Rebecca Wells’s “The Divine Secrets Of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”:

Sidda reconsiders her feelings for her mother, her boyfriend and about her past and concludes:

“I have been missing the point. The point is not knowing another person or learning to love another person. The point is simply this: how tender can we bear to be? What good manners can we show as we welcome ourselves and others into our hearts.”

Thanks Din Mutha for giving me the excuse to smuttle.


* Crossposted from my primary blog:

** All images found at Google


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