Michael Karl (Ritchie)

Kafka Duende

 

Simply cut along the lines, glue to flash cards, and reshuffle:

 

 

K. cannot countenance
the weeping on the phone. 

He is trying not to cause
pain to anyone. 

But his father will not visit.
The disease is too contagious.

 

 

K. feels responsible, even though he canít know
what his choices will lead to. 

He stands at attention before the fireplace,
ashamed, squashing a bug beneath his shoe. 

He finds himself agreeing with his father.
Accident and chance make good business.

 

 

On his calling card, the emblem of jackdaws
sticks out from the umbrella stand. 

He is taken unawares by the serving girl
who knows what she wants. 

K. doubles into multiple K.ís Ė
marriage would make him a father.

 

 

K. has discovered his true punishment
was to have agreed to be punished. 

So K. chooses to be disobedient
in order to beg forgiveness from his father. 

But his father is too important to speak
and prefers a manly pipe.

 

 

Wouldnít it have been nice
to have someone to talk to, 

someone who likes the same things
K. does: guilt, doubt, and suffering, 

toys of the future, made
from piles of gold teeth and hair.

 

 

K. opens the book and begins to chant.
All the vowels have been removed. 

He takes some comfort
when things come full circle. 

Even if the father dies,
there will still be the memory of the father.

 

 

K. has been circumcised
just like his father. 

This ought to have brought them
closer together. 

Instead, it imposed a distance.
They are both men now.

 

 

Of course there is a real castle
hidden under the snow. 

The servantís entrance is to the back.
The higher up, K. notices, the less the air. 

Worse than heavenís silence, he feels,
is the indifference of a father.

 


K. names a large bug
after his dead brother. 

K. understands why
his father stopped caring. 

Easier to love the one who didnít live
than the runt of the litter who did.

 

 

K. takes himself much too seriously.
Bankruptcy and success meet in the middle. 

No matter how far he tries to get away,
his father keeps getting closer. 

K. halves the distance so often,
he wears gloves to the autopsy.

 

 

Sometimes the dreams seem stronger
than the world around him. 

Who are the voices on the phone?
Who gives him permission to sleep here? 

His father has sent messengers
to garrote K. in the courtyard.

 

 

Is all of nature like this, K. wonders,
this loneliness writing should cure? 

He has seen so many mutilated bodies
at the factory, he finds them funny. 

He would like to share their stories
but his father detests morbidity.

 

 

The ones who suffer and die
never collect on the insurance. 

A child spins by, a mad top.
K. marvels at the happiness. 

Whenever his father comes home,
K. turns the light out within himself.

 

 

K. has found the perfect woman.
She can never make up her mind. 

He would like to fill her with his father,
but she is too strong for that. 

She enjoys watching the panthers
in the zoo at feeding time.

 

 

Where is the mother in all this?
She guards the entrance to his father. 

The letter K. wrote to him
smolders in the fireplace. 

She would appreciate
a little peace in the family.

 

 

K. makes everything so complicated.
He cannot decide between two sisters. 

Both would like K. to stop worrying
about kissing them, and he does. 

Such engagements can only break up.
He still needs his fatherís approval.

 

 

K. is still living with his parents.
He cannot bring himself to leave home. 

He keeps fading in and out
although there are no black marks on the paper. 

The only words his father ever said
were, ďWhy canít you keep quiet like your mother?Ē

 

 

K. studies a workmanís mangled arm.
The machines can be hard. 

K. must be as hard as machines
in order to please his father. 

Machines are the law now, K. thinks.
The guilt is having been born.

 

 

The problem with words is once they escape,
people change what they mean. 

There is no cure for this disease
that writing has become. 

Just like his father, K. wants
all the manuscripts burned.

 

 

K. no longer writes about himself
or anyone else, not even things. 

It would be criminal to love the sanatorium,
but art thrives on endless equivocation. 

He fears that any child he engenders
will be his dead father.

 

 

Itís time that K. finally made
a decision for himself. 

He cannot, because his
is the art of endless equivocation. 

K. would like to marry his father
who always played mother at home.

 

 

K. would like a different father.
He begins interviewing applicants. 

He likes the one with the black patch
and wooden leg. 

K. longs to be kidnapped,
another immigrant to Amerika.

 

 

 

 

 

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