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As Told By Her - Poems For Review - Nairaland

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As Told By Her by Cayon(f): 1:55am On Jan 04, 2009
A story about my "crazy" friend who moved to London. She said "it was all for love?"  Hmm.


It was a cold September night in London night when Saskia and Gregg found the Foundry.  It was their second night in London and they were to stay there forever. 

Gregg, a Political Scientist, had just finished his PhD in Political Science and had been appointed to teach at LSE. 

Saskia, eight years younger than Gregg, used to work as a trader at Wall St. Until the mortgage crisis happened.  A few months before she got laid-off, Gregg had already asked her if she would move with him to London.  She, of course, said yes.

Saskia is very much in love with Gregg.  In fact, she thought it impossible to even spend one day without him. 

They met at Columbia University.  Gregg was a PhD student then and Saskia, an undergraduate.  They were both very committed to other people until they crossed paths.  From the day they met, they were inseparable.  They are obsessed with each other’s bodies as much as with the thought of being in love with one another.  Needless to say, the two are very much in love with the idea of sex and the act itself. 

Saskia and Gregg would always remind each other of how great their lovemaking is and of how this great lovemaking of theirs made it impossible for them to separate. Or how their great lovemaking made it possible for them to arrange their lives in such a manner that is difficult for others to disrupt.  To Gregg and Saskia, there are only the others and themselves.

The Foundry.  

Saskia spotted it first.  They were both walking around town in an aimless fashion.  They were newcomers, never knowing where to go or what to expect.  They were both hoping that some semblance of Manhattan would fall on their laps on one of these aimless walks they’ve planned to do, on their first nights in London. 

“Look, look at that place,” exclaimed Saskia. 

‘There are two guys wearing suits, two has-been-looking artists, and a milkmaid!’

Gregg g smiled.

The Foundry reminded them of Max Fish right away.  It is unlike any other bar that they’ve been to in London.  It is well lit inside.  On one corner is a grand piano. Next to it, a microphone stand.  On another corner, an installation of what looks like old IBM monitors.  Strewn all around are chairs and sofas of all kinds of shapes and sizes.  The walls are decorated with graffiti and art works.  The tables too are all covered with graffiti of various names, profanities, random words, drawings of joysticks, balls, and vaginas, all scribbled and drawn all over.     

Inside The Foundry is a cornucopia of urban tribes, artists, trannies, dealers, milkmaids, musicians, and old hags. 

“Just like the kind of people that hangs-out at Max Fish.” said Gregg.

The place also reminded them of a coffee shop at Avenue A with derelicts and derelict chairs and futons.   

‘That place served good coffee but looked like a squat for crack heads.‘ Saskia said.


‘Yes, please.’

Gregg motioned to the bartender.  The bartender wasn’t very friendly, unlike those at Max Fish but they didn’t care.  They were going to make this new bar they found into their very own Max Fish in London. 

“In time, he’ll be nice to us.  They’ll all be nice and they’ll know our names, and they’ll give us free beers and whiskeys.”

“Yeah, lets see,” said Gregg.

While they wait for their beers, a woman across the room is yelling epitaphs along with a guy who’s playing the piano.   The woman is old, gray haired, and fat. 

“She looks like one of those bag ladies we see in New York”, Saskia said.

“Yeah, but at least she’s reading her own poem.”

‘How do you know its hers?’

‘Well its crappy and she looks like crap.’

They both chuckled. 

They were surveying the room while waiting for their beers when Saskia noticed an old man standing unusually close to them.  He is leering towards her in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.  She remembered that she saw him eye her from a distance a little while ago before they approached the bar.  She thought that he seemed curious about Gregg and her. 

She always thought that people are curious about them.  Because obviously, they were Americans.  Or Americanized.  And most Londoners hate Americans.  She’s leery about peoples’ stares.

She dismissed this thought right away when she saw the old man’s gaze shift quickly down to her legs and back up to her breasts. 

Saskia is wearing a very short denim skirt that showed off her slender legs.  Her top was of a textile that’s made to show what was inside rather than to cover and hide.

“He is clearly interested in my tits. What a weirdo,” she told Gregg.

‘Shhh. He’ll hear you.’

The woman across the room is still yelling her masterpiece out loud.  The piano player kept on a banging rhythm that was annoying to both Gregg and Saskia.  They chose to sit at the communal table near the piano and resumed surveying and feeling out the place they’ve just found. The Foundry.

‘I’m going to smoke outside,  Saskia told Gregg.
She’s clearly become restless listening to the loud woman and the banging tune that was still playing on the background.

A few minutes later, Saskia went back in.  This time she found Gregg chatting with the old man. 

“That creepy  maniac,” she thought to herself.

She said hello to the old man.  He took a look at her and smiled. 
Gregg and him were in a middle of a conversation now.  She was silent for a few minutes, trying to make out what was being said between the two.  She couldn’t.  Gregg seems happy and eager to chat with the old man.  It turned out that the old man had just read a poem for everyone.  He is a writer.

‘I’m sorry I missed your reading.  What was it about?” asked Saskia.

‘It’s about a murderer.  Do you know X?’ replied the old man. 
He had an accent.  Scottish.

‘X is a famous serial killer who killed people and mummified them.  He was a very lonely man you see.  He killed all these people and turned them into mummies so he could have nice chats and dinners with them in front of his fireplace every night. He loved them all.’  The old man laughed after telling them this. Both Gregg and Saskia held their hands on their faces in horror. 

The story was scary.  What was even more frightening to both was the way the old man laughed after rendering the story.  He seems to take pleasure in telling this tale.  Saskia looked at the old man not knowing what to make out of the incident.  She glanced at him again and replayed that image of him laughing.  “He looks a bit like Hannibal Lecter, like Anthony Hopkins,” she thought to herself.   In fact, that’s exactly how the old man looks like.  He is about the same age, size, and height as the Hannibal Lecter.  His eyes are like the actor’s.  When he smiles, wrinkles come up near the edges of his glassy eyes. And his teeth, they were absolute white and shiny. 

‘I’m a writer myself,’ Saskia told the old man.

‘Really. And what do you write?’

‘I’m writing about our old neighborhood in Brooklyn. The one we left.  We just moved here. It’s our second day and I already miss my friends and Brooklyn.”
Re: As Told By Her by Cayon(f): 4:37am On Jan 04, 2009

Gregg rounded up his suitcases.  He doesn’t want to linger around in his apartment any longer.  He’s stayed long enough after Saskia left him two years ago.  To Gregg, he’s suffered from loneliness long enough to live there by himself.  He’d always hoped that she’d come back one day and so he’d stayed there longer than he should.  He couldn’t bear waiting for her any longer.  He is moving.  Today, he’s giving up.

She left him a note before leaving saying that she’d fallen in love with another man, that she decided to move out without telling him because it would be easier for the both of them, that he shouldn’t look for her, and that she is very sorry.  She also said that she loves him.  Gregg wasn’t able to recover from this. Against her wishes, he looked for her.  He called up all her friends.  Do they know where she is?  He called her mother, the only relative he knew she had.  She told him that she receives letters from her once in a while but that Saskia wouldn’t conceal her whereabouts.

He went to all her hang-outs in New York.  He went to all the places that she is likely to be found in London as well.  He asked all the people they knew.  But to no avail. She doesn’t want to be found.   He walks to their bedroom, or what used to be their bedroom for one last look.  He wants to see it one more time. To have another whiff of it.  He went inside and breathed in the Saskia that lived there.  Even if she'd only spent no less than a year in the flat, he sniffed what he can still of her.

Saskia disappeared completely. Gregg is convinced that she did not intend to leave him.  It’s vanity in his part maybe, but no, she would not leave him without any explanations whatsoever.  He believes that she disappeared because she was forced to.  On the other hand, it is also true that he is very much aware of the fact that he fears to acknowledge the possibility that Saskia's disappearance was of her own will.  That she doesn’t love him anymore and she left because she wanted to and had to.  To Gregg, these conjectures will have to stay as conjectures, for if he were to acknowledge these as facts, he was sure that he would reach the point of no return.  He would go insane.

He went to the police to report her disappearance. They dismissed him as a forlorn lover who’s forever in denial.  He was left behind, that’s all.  Nothing bad happened to her.  Move on, is what he should do. 

Gregg steps further in the bedroom to look at the mess that's now left.  Papers, newspapers, old books.  He comes across a folder with coffee stains.  It’s Saskia’s. Inside is what looks like a manuscript.  Saskia wanted to be a writer.  She’d always wanted to be a writer.  She had been writing in New York on her spare time.  She was excited to come with him to London because here, she said, she’d be able to write about Bushwick.  The front page read, “The Dolphin.”
He smiled for he remembers the many nights they’ve spent drinking, chatting, and laughing there. They both loved the Dolphin.  When they moved to their new place, they were happy to find out that they live just around the corner from it.  It’s a cross between their two favorite bars in New York, Max Fish and Union Pool
Re: As Told By Her by Cayon(f): 4:41am On Jan 04, 2009
Saskia, the old writer, and him were having a drink at the Dolphin one night.  The conversation was lively until Saskia asked to be excused.  She wanted to smoke and proceeded to go to the garden. Gregg, for some reason, engaged the writer into a conversation that he later on regretted.  He told the writer about Saskia and how she wanted to be an actress.  He couldn’t quite remember why the exchange swerved to that topic but he had told the writer more information than necessary. He feels responsible for losing Saskia to the writer. 

He could only sigh at the remembrance.
Re: As Told By Her by Cayon(f): 11:05pm On Jan 04, 2009
The Dolphin

The phone rang,   Saskia raced to pick up the phone . She missed the call, grabbed the phone and redialed the writer’s number. Could we meet? She asked him. Hello. Saskia, is that you, was his question knowing full well it was her.  Yes, I  want to hear that poem I missed. Could you meet me, she asked with desperation.  Sure, where? The Dolphin.  At Mare St.  I live very near there.  Saskia replied.  London streets have the most unusual names, she thought to herself.  She always considered Mare St. an odd name for a street.  It reminded her of the word nightmare.

Saskia guzzled her beer. Her palms were wet. Or was it the beer that was sweating?  She wasn’t sure.  She was patient but anxious.  The writer was late.  Its already four thirty and Gregg was about to come home in an hour.  She was no longer sure why she had phoned the writer and felt guilty at what she had planned to do and at what she might do.  When the writer finally showed up, it was a little after four thirty.  He was wearing an old suit.  He didn’t look scraggly this time.  He looked every bit like Hannibal Lecter.  Saskia crossed her legs, smiled, and waved at him.

The Dolphin at Mare St. isn’t like The Foundry.  It is an old pub lined with very dark wood.  It is dark inside.  Across from the bar is a pool table.  Nobody’s playing pool that day. There was no music coming from the jukebox either. It was too early, even for regulars.  Saskia was sitting at one of the booths.  She was wearing the same a pretty dress.  The writer approached her. She stood up, smiled and extended her hand to him.  I brought some of my works.  You said you badly wanted to read them. Read this one. I love this passage I wrote.  This is about a  couple. Saskia began to read.

The girl in the story is considerably younger than the man.  They fall in love.  The story is melodramatic, obscene and lurid.  Saskia dismissed the plot as good enough B movie material.  But the prose amazed her. It was beautiful, erotic, and sensual. She thought that the story was believable and the characters, solid.  The lovers’ passion was infinite and portrayed in a truthful manner.  Even the desecration seemed justifiable.  It is justified, she thought.

Will you write something for me? If I ask you for a paragraph, right this moment, what would you write about? She asked the writer.  I would write about us, the writer quipped after a long pause, like a politician, in the process of concocting calculating answers to nondescript questions.  It would be about a writer who meets a very beautiful young woman, he added half jokingly. Is that all you’ll write about me? That I’m beautiful?

The writer upon hearing this question felt a bit uneasy.  He was afraid that he might have offended her.  Was she confronting him?  Did she not like his description of the girl in the story; his description of her.  Or maybe she needed reassurance He smiled inside.  To him, she was indeed very transparent.  He prided himself for being a good judge of character.  He was a writer after all.  His life’s work was about people.  He studied and observed many of them.  His pages were full of case by case studies of mothers, drunkards, addicts, psychopaths, , fathers, daughters,, housewives, husbands, and all others known to human.  He knew them well.  Like “God”, he saw through them all.  He knew what they were, who they were, what they did, and what they didn’t want others to know.  He knew who she was.

I don’t know dear.  I don’t know a lot about you just yet. I have a feeling, however, that this paragraph will turn into a lengthy novel, he said. Will you really write something for me? She asked him again like a child. You must tell no one and you must be faithful to the words, if I indeed write for you. I will start with a paragraph, like you suggested. Give it to you to read.  And send you another paragraph next time…and then another one. Until the whole lot of them becomes a chapter, I promise, the writer told her, giving his words the careful impression of mystery (or danger?).

His words stirred her as if he had chanted magic. The romance of it all, she thought, after feeling bewitched by the writer’s promise. He glanced at her and knew perfectly well what she was thinking.  Before they said their goodbyes, the writer had on him a look of content, like that of a frog who had just gulped down a mouthful of flies.
Re: As Told By Her by Cayon(f): 11:23pm On Jan 04, 2009
Gregg was on his way to BBC studios. Many years later and Saskia was still on his mind. His interview was slated around four. His novel sold over a million copies. It was going to be made into a movie.

What was the inspiration for this novel? The interviewer asked. Gregg, you are a political scientist, is that right? How did these characters come to you, especially the hero of your book? This vicious necromancer who tortured his lover, the young woman, to death? It was written with such vividness. The sex scenes, the mutilations, her murder, how he got rid of the body. Also, you did such a brilliant psychological study of their relationship: her being almost his slave succumbing to all his wiles without question. It’s all very graphic, detailed, chilling. It’s very real. I was reading the novel and I thought to myself, what a sick guy! Only the real murderer could conceive and write such a novel. What imagination you have! And here I am sitting next to you and let me say this without offending you, but you’re the last person whom I’d imagine would write this book. How were you able to make this character, this monster, come alive in these pages? Who were you thinking of?’

Gregg wasn’t listening anymore. He has drifted off somewhere. ‘Thinking still about Saskia.
Where is she now? Is she listening to this? He loves her so.

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