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Unread 01-20-2019, 05:16 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,894
Default 3 Myths

Three Myths of his Passing

Some say he never really lived
in a basement, but a sun-filled penthouse astride
a cliff-top tower block, that he raised giant nets
to keep the seagulls out, that his basement
was merely a literary device, or that it was real
and there he kept his writing desk, visited
on occasion, entered through a secret tunnel,
grew bored, left it empty.

Others say that he tied seagulls together, flew off
across the Channel, jubilant beneath his shrieking cloud,
until the gulls turned against him, dropped him
halfway on an over-sized rock, that he built a hut
out of guano, survived on molluscs
and slow-moving insects, spent his days floating
at the island’s edges, alternately praising the sea
and cursing the solitude he had carried with him.

Still others say he never left, that he dug a basement
beneath his basement and mouldered on
in hiding until his expiration date, that he was found
buried beneath of a hillock of seagull feathers
and greyed paper, that each sheet was inscribed
with slant rhymes and anagrams
of the word ‘basement’, and that he cheated
even at this.

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-20-2019 at 05:45 PM.
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Unread 01-20-2019, 08:29 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,572

Well, I just think this is superb. Why we have poems.

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Unread 01-21-2019, 01:21 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is online now
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,815

Three myths. Four scenarios. Hmmm.
Arriba! Such a joy to see him back in some way, shape and form.
Or perhaps this is a eulogy...
Iíve always seen him as a survivor (a victim, too). I can easily envision all these scenarios. Except the last which is clearly a smokescreen : )

What is new is the comical portrayal of a persona I never associated with levity or humor of any kind. It is heartening to see/hear.
But the first and final lines are painful, almost unbearably sad. It's a poignantly beautiful piece e of writing that only deepens the basement world of the man who refuses to be identified.

Sorry, this is not a critique so much as it is a reaction. Perhaps more of a critique later...
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Unread 01-21-2019, 02:35 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 2,075

The return of basement guy! Actually, it occurs to me that there is a William Kotzwinkle vibe to him. Remember William Kotzwinkle? I wonder if I'm remembering him correctly.

Are these all echoes of other myths? I only recognise the original of the second one. Unless the first one is Batman / Bruce Wayne.

I think "astride" doesn't seem quite tight - "atop"instead?

Is this the last in the sequence? It would be a resonant ending. In fact you've created quite a resonant figure, Matt. Or quite a resonant figure: Matt. I'm not sure.

And now I'm trying to think of anagrams of basement.


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Unread 01-22-2019, 03:33 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,522

Hi Matt,

I see the three as different reader-reactions to the 'real person' behind the 'basement-guy' poems. You. You? Well, there's the rub. In the first, the reader doubts that the writer is really as tragic and lonely a figure as he portrays himself. How can he be? It's a construct. A place in his imagination he can visit, but it isn't his reality, surely? In the second, he is 'real' but escapes his depression, at least partially. And in the third he sinks further into it.

I really like this, as I've liked most of this whole project. You've written a series of poems that are both meta and self-mythologising and somehow made that both funny and genuinely moving and not at all insufferable haha. Well done!
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Unread 01-22-2019, 05:28 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,894

John, Jim, David and Mark,

Thanks for reading and commenting. I wrote this because I realised I hadn't written about the basement guy for a long while and wondered what might have happened to him.


Thank you! That's nice to read.


Thanks. I do see some humour in pretty much all the basement poems, though it's often very dark and mixed in with misery. I'm pleased you're pleased to see him back. I've grown quite fond of him.


Thanks. I wasn't trying to echo existing myths. Though no doubt I borrowed something in the man carried away by seagulls (James and Giant Peach maybe?). I don't know William Kotzwinkle's books. Any book in particular? Apparently he wrote the book of the screenplay of ET, though I'm guessing that's not the one you have in mind.

I do think "astride" is right in it's sense of "extending across", as in the penthouse covers the whole top floor. But in the sense of "with one foot on either side", I agree, that would be odd. I'll think about it though.

Anagrams of basement? "Beast Men" is one. Also "Best Amen". Ah, and "Me absent".


Thank you. I like your reading of this. "not at all insufferable" will go on the front cover, in the unlikely event I get it together to assemble these and someone wants to publish them

Thanks again all,

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Unread 01-27-2019, 06:49 AM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Halcott, New York
Posts: 8,853

This is really great, Matt.

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Unread 01-27-2019, 12:41 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,997

Matt, I'm slow to get to this one. I wasn't able to do it last week due to illness. I like it. It's really good. It's smooth to read but jagged enough to cause me to wonder what it means or to want to reread. Congratulations.

My only tiny nit is the beginning of the fourth line of the second stanza. "halfway" sort of hangs there and I don't see it's necessary. Does it matter he was dropped off halfway across the Channel? It could easily be cut and the line would make more sense.

That's my only nit. I've enjoyed this.

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Unread 01-28-2019, 01:23 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: NY, USA
Posts: 4,251

I like this, but I will need to reread it more times to comment. To some extent it reminded me of Kafka's myths, e.g., this or this.
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Unread 01-28-2019, 02:09 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 2,075

Matt, re William Kotzwinkle, I think I was thinking of The Fan Man, although I remember enjoying Doctor Rat too.
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