the detective 2: diegetic mozart


A detective, his client, the mystery of what lies beyond the quotidian sea, and a marginally relevant precedent.

The sunlight hurts my eyes,
I’m unaccustomed to the lack of walls,
and I miss the certainties
my office prison offered me.

My client gives me glasses, dark,
and thoughtfully plasters zinc cream
on my nose,
but the world is not as I expected.

Around me, tidy squares of rubble stretch
into the distance, to where the Sydney
skyline used to be.

It’s been replaced by swirls of sandy smoke
rising to serrated cilia in the maws
of giant clam shells, spinning up above.

I hear the westerly wind carrying Köchel 626
in gentle swell and fade,
and turn to my client,
my eyebrows asking a silent question.

Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention. The planet’s been
invaded by the bivalves, mineralized alien life
that dines on concrete and brickwork.
They dissolve it with acidic emissions,
if I’m reading my lines correctly.
By good fortune, structures like your office,
made of corrugated cardboard, glued and taped,
don’t interest them.

I decide a mild rebuke is called for.

Such details might appear insignificant,
but they could be vital to the case.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?

She offers me a breath mint.

Their vaporous emissions are deadly
to the flowers and the fauns, to humans.
I’m not sure anyone’s survived,
apart from you and I.

I nod. Good to know, good to know.

Dying is one of my to-dos,
but I’ve never really found the time.

Inside my head, a small but fashionable
assistant google suggests
the safety of my cardboard office.

I have a preference not to ride in Dante’s elevator
descending to ephemeral flames (coal-fired)
in the subterrain, while the credits roll.
Is that on the cards?

My client shrugs. Not for me to know.

We set off, and perhaps
I should have inquired about our destination—
why we were travelling westward,
away from the sea,

or whether corrugated cardboard
meets building codes,

or which she found more plausible:
spinning clams or flying saucers.

But such questions would only lead to answers.

to continue


  • the return of the bivalves; this time they mean business.
  • the Allegretto from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is ahead by nose from Mozart’s Requiem in my list of favorite apocalypse soundtracks.
  • Google Assistant: I don’t have one, but they’re probably great.
  • Dante’s Inferno (1320 or so)
  • the movie Angel Heart (1987)

bivalves in the clouds, part above

reflections in the mirror dancing
My poem “Later Magical Tourism” will appear in the Winter 2017 Issue of Mirror Dance, with winter possibly meaning summer. Mirror Dance is a quarterly magazine of fantasy fiction, poetry, and art, with issues available free on-line. Continues →

37 thoughts on “the detective 2: diegetic mozart

  1. You’re doing a fine job of keeping this narrative on the go, i hope you keep them coming. Some good humour in here & the unexpected turns like

    and thoughtfully plasters zinc cream
    on my nose,
    but the world is not as I expected.


    Dying is one of my to-dos,
    but I’ve never really found the time.

    is brilliant. i feel that the narrative style is giving you focus, there are quite a few more memorable lines appearing, more to sort of cling to, if that makes sense. Whereas your usual poems are something of a release, allowing you to really mine your imagination, here you seem to give something more concrete, while still being humourous & imaginative. It’s smashing stuff, particle accelerator ‘smashing’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Daniel. I hope they keep coming too. What you say makes perfect sense, although I hadn’t thought about it, instead I’ve been struggling with the looming end-of-year. I actually wanted to get ahead this week because time will be in short supply, but failed dismally (for the same reason) and wound up in last minute mode.

      I suppose in essence, it’s a question of how much freedom is skillful, as it often is in poetry and life. My short fiction fell by the wayside this year, and I kind of miss it, so the grounded narrative style is enjoyable, even though it’s restrictive: One has to have a vague idea where it’s going (in theory at least 😜); especially because it’s scifi, I find the exposition more of a challenge than fiction; and dialogue can be a complication (unfortunately WordPress has added to that one).

      I really appreciate the subatomic CERN feedback, so yeah, more stories. 😃 I’ll do my best, as long as a black hole doesn’t suddenly appear and draw me into its event horizon. 🌑

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oy. She offers me a breath mint! (Right b4 the vaporous emissions… haha ) “If I’m reading my lines correctly.” Boy, ain’t that the truth. And relegating death to a to-do list sure cuts it down to size! That last line really got me. It went from whimsical spinning clams to a suckerpunch of profundity. Bravissimo!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, BG. Even though I was running late with this (and that can make writing feel like work), I did have some fun. I find breath mints aren’t that great sometimes: you just get peppermint garlic. 😃 With reading lines, knowing you’re doing it has to be a step in the right direction.

      They say asking the right question is what matters, and Pablo Picasso said something like, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” Anyway I have to avoid spoilers, or I would if I had any idea where The Detective was going. 😃 And thanks again for the feedback, it’s what keeps me writing …


    • Glad you liked it and thanks for the feedback. 😃 The artwork was a real panic because I had something yesterday, decided I didn’t like it, scrapped it and had to do something else. I use a computer program I wrote to do my artwork: VEE, the visual evolution engine. She can be a bit uncooperative at times. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes to everything but must comment on the movie Angel Heart. Saw it first, liked it, then read the book, surprised that it wasn’t in New Orleans. Amazing how Hjortsberg could turn New York into a voodoo-ier place than the place of fame. You kinda have that way with your writing, making technology a true horror story. Looking forward to your continuation! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Clarissa. 🙏 Glad you commented on Angel Heart, an outstanding movie (I haven’t read the book). Just guessing, but given that it’s a mystery with suspense and reveals, maybe New York worked better precisely because it isn’t the obvious place. If that makes any sense.

      I have to admit that my longish short story about the bivalves has horror that I wouldn’t put on the web. (Quickly searches Amazon because he’s a clown who doesn’t remember the names of his stories.) It’s called “Danta in Black,” and it appeared in “Time Travel Tales.” Last year. 😜

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a time travel fan so placed it on my amazon wish list and will check periodically to see if it appears in the Prime library. Funny that you don’t remember the names of stories. I’m like that with my poems. Someone will say they liked a particular poem and I’ll desperately try to remember if they’ve mistaken me for someone else or what. Then I find and read it and think, Hmmm, did I write that! 😀 I think some of us are crazed by life, work, creativity, and social media obligations. But it’s better than staring at the tube…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hope you enjoy it. When I looked yesterday, it might have been free here in Australia, but I didn’t pay close attention. There were a lot of offers because Amazon just opened up locally, shipping from Melbourne.

          I like your explanation, Clarissa, I’m going with it. My own thoughts about myself tend to be a little harsher… 😃

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you pace around thinking or do you sit down and start writing? Impromptu or planned? When I paint, it’s spontaneous for the most part. Just wondering. You always have a few lines that are just so perfect, so true or in this case funny. I love the to do list. That one is just classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, and glad you enjoyed. Funny you should ask. The short answer is “as it comes” with a bit of editing (usually pruning). Sometimes I start something at the keyboard then go and do whatever else, like paint the cat or water the triffids, 😜 and the rest just pops into my head.

      Now, because I’m a trifle geeky, 🤓 I’m trying something new. I have speech-to-text on a computer with a Bluetooth earpiece and mic, and I dictate while I’m painting the triffids or watering the cat, or just wandering, or even reading. I like it, it feels different, less constrained, more natural, and it’s faster.


  5. Giant spinning clams and flying saucers could be one and the same, no? I chuckled at this: “Dying is one of my to-dos,
    but I’ve never really found the time.” I wonder where the detective and his client are going … no, no, don’t tell me. I wouldn’t want to ask questions that lead to answers. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Magarisa. Yes, definitely. I suspect the early flying saucer UFO sightings were probably clams, and the cigar-shaped UFO’s were mussels. If a few shrimp-shaped lights moving at high speed were spotted, we could have extraterrestrial spaghetti marinara. 😄

      Besides, I can’t answer questions because of spoilers. Hahaha, as if I have any idea what’s going to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha, I would follow them at a safe distance.

      Have to admit, the city skyline is impressive. I’m ambivalent about what it represents though. Still, I guess through the ages it’s been the powerful who’ve funded the arts of every stripe. I’m hoping for a wealthy benefactor. 😜

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, sure, not too close. I get the feeling they’re up to something.

        It’s one of the grandest skylines I’ve seen. Lots of gold go into each line, I’m sure. I’m happy enough to be an admirer. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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