French Kismet

The old world is shaking as I read; concrete bricks set behind the Seine’s sunbathing victims who flash and carry on, topless, as the tourist boats pass under the bridges, receiving rainbow showers from the punctured antipodes of gargoyle and stone. There are scalpel fights and genetic tangles. Each historical layer of city fits slash-and-burn atop the next, pushes against subterranean pressure tanks with an amalgamated ferment oozing for decades in the gut of the Parisian soul. A statue of Napoleon with undescended testes spurts a translucent grey fish stock in the lead-lined aqueducts of sewer beasts and liquid nitrate. Nike of Samothrace laces up her air sneakers and drops a load of gleaming shit on the floor of the Louvre. Syphilis boys jump down from their hidden tree-forts, giggling with the numb laughter of broken condoms and useless dental dams. They paratroop from the lips of tired monuments behind a sky made crimson green with the methane of their farts. Before they can strike, they shiver and shake and fall to the splitting ground like tiny wedges disappearing into the broken soil. They are no match for the AIDS virus. Algerian death squads and the mind control commandos from French Equatorial Africa brandish weapons of mass insurrection, spaying a silicon film over all telephone booths, monuments, rivers, orphans, and chocolate croissants. “Everything can just slide on inĊ ” they say, before the puzzle-piece cement compresses into useless dust.

Each outrageous palace, lining every single city block, decorated with the bone and horn of previous generations, rips its hooks in a simultaneous orgasm-orchestrated on a global timetable from everywhere all at once. I stumble outside the Hotel de Ville, a drunkard lost in the confusion of images, a symbolist poet set crooked on the absinthe pathway. An old woman braces my back with the arch of her stomach, the snap of her arm, and I take her down with me, joyously, to the face of the pavement and the cracking skeleton of infirmity. Across town and river, an illuminated carrier pigeon smacks into the Eiffel Tower, the world’s largest radio antennae with bright Citroen blaze down its side, and its body, my body, are both smothered and protected, the result of the hybrid miracle no longer impossible in this strange world of jelly and pus.

Davis Schneiderman is a multimedia artist and author of Multifesto: A Henri d' Mescan Reader (Spuyten Duyvil 2006), as well as co-author of the novel Abecedarium (Chiasmus Press, forthcoming) and co-editor of the collections Retaking the Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization (Pluto 2004) and The Exquisite Corpse: Creativity, Collaboration, and the World's Most Popular Parlor Game (Nebraska, forthcoming). His creative work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and accepted by numerous publications including Fiction International, The Chicago Tribune, The Iowa Review Web, Exquisite Corpse, 3rd Bed, Other Voices, The Little Magazine, Gargoyle, and Happy. Dr. Schneiderman is Chair of American Studies and an Assistant Professor of English at Lake Forest College, a board member for NOW: A Festival of Innovative Writing and Art, and a contributor to NOW WHAT: a collective blog of alternative prose writers and publishers. Know more about him and his work at He gets his regular mail at Box K11, Lake Forest College 555 North Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045-2399, and his email at Inquiries for advance copies of his Multifesto: A Henri d'Mescan Reader may be made at,, and