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Under the magnolia trees burgeoning with tightly folded flower I lie, reading Angela Carter's novel Nights at the Circus aloud. Each new chapter confirms that, yes, it is entirely sensical that I would proceed from Francesca Lia Block to this raucous dame of baroque alienation and agile storytelling, tho' more seems at stake here.

Around me swirls and swells the sounds of a sunny afternoon lolling in the park. The rumbling of a lazy serpentine train; the thighs of dozens of Speedo-clad sunbathers, spreading drowsily; tots crying war as dynasties rise and fall on cigarette-speckled sand; frisbees flung and glistening above the clover-entangled grass; lovers whispering tight and willingly bound within their own luxurious world; the pissing of young transients against spiky palms.

These are the sounds that would distract me, even as I savor raunchy, voluptuous, provocatively stringed syllables. In my mouth they roll, like malted chocolate spheres before the melting, like glass marbles that warm as a fetish would with much familiar ardor.

Later a motorcycle cop guns across the park, disturbing the peace as he vigilantly maintains the legal version of peace, evicting the band of indigents that have set up colorful camp on the grassy knoll beyond me. There he perches, nodding, "Enjoy the afternoon, Ma'am," like some Lone Ranger who has corralled the undesirables, clearing the land for taxpayers everywhere.


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