Thoughts on Europe’s totally obscure death spa.

I’ve been spending way too much time on compiling a family tree, because it’s an endlessly fascinating exercise, at least when you have a family as complex and weird as mine. Right now I’m discussing with one of my 32nd great-grandmothers, namely Conchenn Ingen Cellaig Cualain de Leinster, no doubt a delightful Irish lass and I wish I could spell her name in Irish, about the odd choice she and hundreds of others I’ve run cross in this exercise, have made. All of them, spread over almost a thousand years, have chosen to go to a town called Y in the Somme department of the Picardy region in France to die. If you’re going to believe the records, which is a stretch in itself.

In any case, there really is such a place. You can Google Earth it. Y is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France. Here’s its Google page: “The name is pronounced like the letter E in English. It bears the shortest place name in France, and one of the shortest in the world. The inhabitants [all 86 of them at the latest census] call themselves Ypsilonien(ne)s.”

So I’ve been forced to wonder how this breathtakingly obscure spot got to be a champion death spa among Europe’s cognoscenti, especially the women. Here are some of my thoughts.

The name translates to “There” in English. So when the kids ask “Are we there yet?” you know the answer will always be “no.” Why? (or Y?) because when you get There it turns into Here, so Y would have to change to Ici. Maybe that’s the secret of its attraction: You can never get there, so you don’t die. Is it a zombie haven hiding under the blandest possible rural obscurity?

Great Poems Admit It and Change Everything by Rumi Define and narrow me, you starve yourself of yourself. Nail me down in a box of cold words, that box is your coffin. I do not know who I am. I am in astounded lucid confusion. I am not a Christian, I am not a Jew, I am not a Zoroastrian, And I am not even a Muslim. I do not belong to the land, or to any known or unknown sea. Nature cannot own or claim me, nor can heaven, Nor can India, China, Bulgaria, My birthplace is placelessness, My sign to have and give no sign. You say you see my mouth, ears, eyes, nose - they are not mine. I am the life of life. I am that cat, this stone, no one. I have thrown duality away like an old dishrag, I see and know all times and worlds, As one, one, always one. So what do I have to do to get you to admit who is speaking? Admit it and change everything! This is your own voice echoing off the walls of God.
Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush. Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.

Near misses by Laura Kasischke

The truck that swerved to miss the stroller in which I slept.

My mother turning from the laundry basket just in time to see me open the third-story window to call to the cat.

In the car, on ice, something spinning and made of history snatched me back from the guardrail and set me down between two gentle trees. And that time I thought to look both ways on the one-way street.

And when the doorbell rang, and I didn’t answer, and just before I slipped one night into a drunken dream, I remembered to blow out the candle burning on the table beside me.

It’s a miracle, I tell you, this middle-aged woman scanning the cans on the grocery store shelf. Hidden in the works of a mysterious clock are her many deaths, and yet the whole world is piled up before her on a banquet table again today. The timer, broken. The sunset smeared across the horizon in the girlish cursive of the ocean, Forever, For You.

And still she can offer only her body as proof:

The way it moves a little slower every day. And the cells, ticking away. A crow pecking at a sweater. The last hour waiting patiently on a tray for her somewhere in the future. The spoon slipping quietly into the beautiful soup.


Dear Tiara by Sean Thomas Dougherty

I dreamed I was a mannequin in the pawnshop window of your conjectures.

I dreamed I was a chant in the mouth of a monk, saffron-robed syllables in the religion of You.

I dreamed I was a lament to hear the deep sorrow places of your lungs.

I dreamed I was your bad instincts.

I dreamed I was a hummingbird sipping from the tulip of your ear.

I dreamed I was your ex-boyfriend stored in the basement with your old baggage.

I dreamed I was a jukebox where every song sang your name.

I dreamed I was in an elevator, rising in the air shaft of your misgivings.

I dreamed I was a library fine, I’ve checked you out too long so many times.

I dreamed you were a lake and I was a little fish leaping through the thin reeds of your throaty humming.

I must’ve dreamed I was a nail, because I woke beside you still hammered.

I dreamed I was a tooth to fill the absences of your old age.

I dreamed I was a Christmas cactus, blooming in the desert of my stupidity.

I dreamed I was a saint’s hair-shirt, sewn with the thread of your saliva.

I dreamed I was an All Night Movie Theater, showing the flickering black reel of my nights before I met you.

I must’ve dreamed I was gravity, I’ve fallen for you so damn hard.



In a Beautiful Country by Kevin Prufer

A good way to fall in love is to turn off the headlights and drive very fast down dark roads.

Another way to fall in love is to say they are only mints and swallow them with a strong drink.

Then it is autumn in the body. Your hands are cold. Then it is winter and we are still at war.

The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear about how we live in a beautiful country. Snow sifts from the clouds

into your drink. It doesn’t matter about the war. A good way to fall in love is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,

then down you’ll fall through lovely mists as a body might fall early one morning from a high window into love. Love,

the broken glass. Love, the scissors and the water basin. A good way to fall is with a rope to catch you.

A good way is with something to drink to help you march forward. The gold-haired girl says, Don’t worry

about the armies, says, We live in a time full of love. You’re thinking about this too much. Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.


Dark Matter by Jack Myers

I’ve lived my life as if I were my wife packing for a trip—I’ll need this and that and I can’t possibly do without that! But now I’m about what can be done without. I just need a thin valise. There’s no place on earth where I can’t unpack in a flash down to a final spark of consciousness. No place where I can’t enter the joyless rapture of almost remembering I’ll need this and I’ll need that, hoping to weigh less than silence, lighter than light.


Try this—close / your eyes. No, wait, when—if—we see each other / again the first thing we should do is close our eyes—no, / first we should tie our hands to something / solid—bedpost, doorknob—otherwise they (wild birds) / might startle us / awake. Are we forgetting something? What about that / warehouse, the one beside the airport, that room / of black boxes, a man in each box? I hear / if you bring this one into the light he will not stop / crying, if you show this one a photo of his son / his eyes go dead. Turn up / the heat, turn up the song. First thing we should do / if we see each other again is to make / a cage of our bodies—inside we can place / whatever still shines.
— forgetting something by Nick Flynn



Scarecrow on Fire by Dean Young

Everything is brushed away, off the sleeve, off the overcoat, huge ensembles of assertions just jars of buttons spilled, recurring nightmare of straw on fire, you the scarecrow, the scare, the crow, totems gone, rubies flawed, flamingo in hyena’s jaws, noble and lascivious mouth of the gods hovering then gone, gone the glances, gone moths, cities of crystal become cities of mud, centurion and emperor dust, the flower girl, some of it rises, proof? some of it explodes, vein in the brain, seed pod poof, maybe something will grow, another predicament of bittersweet, dreamfluff milkweed, declarations of aerosols, vows just sprays of spit fast evaporate, all of it pulverized as it hits the seawall, all of it falling snow on water, flash of flying fish, breach and blow and sinking, far below creatures of luminous jelly constellated and darting and baiting each other like last thoughts before sleep, last neural sparks coalescing as a face in the dark, who was she? never enough time to know.


Fix Congress

Subject: Congressional Reform Act of 2011

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

I’m (actually somebody else sent this to me) asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

  1. Term Limits. 12 years only, one of the possible options below… A. Two Six-year Senate terms B. Six Two-year House terms C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms.

  2. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

  3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

  4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

  5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

  6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

  7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

  8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12 (or 13. Or whatever.) The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. So they have become a self-appointed aristocracy instead of…just citizens. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.


The News from M— by Lytton Smith

Here, where you all are, language is an accessory

to bodies lying in the street, prone in government rooms,

bloated in the waterways. Or language is an accessory

to the refutation of bodies lying etc. This too will pass

as search vessels in the delta pass for smuggling operations

bringing illicit food to refugees being autocued for media

appearances. What commerce would you with us all. What

coverage can you offer for coastal breach, aid refusal,

for the taut sinews and caught breath of seated uprisen monks.


Me, I’m prickly goo.

And yoo?

Prickles & Goo: Alan Watts Trey Parker Matt Stone South Park (by theuniverseas)