Alistair Ian Blyth

from Card Catalogue



Such lexical conflations as ‘Besançon’ are typical of scattered thought, hypnogogic states, waking dreams, fever delirium. Vox dysenterica* jabbers in seething, granular darkness. Sentences disjoin, disjointed words fracture into syllables, syllables throng the foetid air with chitinous chirring. The microbial potency of cabbage soup replicates itself, inflaming mucous membranes, stewing intestinal fluids, flushing life-giving substance from the body in a torrent of noisome sludge. Entombed, writhing, I descend ever deeper, through the Seven Subterranean Gates and on through ‘the Black Land’. Shadows coalesce, solidify, sprout agile members, strip flesh from bone in the darkness, skewer meat to roast over the black flames. I salvage a fragment of myself, upon which, weeping, inconsolable, I toil to imprint the word typhilis, or perhaps choleroid, but the keys of the typewriter buckle against rubbery, marbled flesh. Now only my head remains, forgotten in a filthy, black corner; it watches, while, over a period of countless centuries, my bones and offal are boiled down to tallow in the great black cauldrons.

*  ‘The voice of dysentery.’ Obmanschi told me that he had almost died of dysentery during his second imprisonment, but that the respite provided by his grudging admission to the prison hospital in a state of delirium had saved him from death by inanition and the exhaustion of forced labour—Translator’ note.