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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 4, December 2013

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Ken Jones
Ceredigion, Wales


Fear Eats the Soul

Along the rows of semi-Ds
another dreary day
comes cranking up

Lonely, lonely. Despite my fond husband, and the ardent lovers who have come and gone. Nothing lonelier than a lonely marriage.

A frosty “good morning”
from him and from me
then each of us pats the cat

It’s that saintliness of Arnold, my husband. His quiet, unrumpled reality. His unyielding kindliness. He’s just left to catch the 7.10 to some passion-free zone in the Civil Service. Even his knowledge of the female anatomy is so precise that, on the rare occasions when “intimacy occurs,” it’s a technical achievement not an act of love. The only time I have seen him moved is by his beloved 1950s M.G. Midget sports car.

With a slightly oiled rag
he caresses
her twin carburettors

But Arnold has his uses. He can come up with a delicious boeuf bourguignon, for example. And, anyway, if I left him whom would I have to blame?

Now in my early fifties, still I pull the men. There’s a magic thrill in artful seduction, isn’t there? Especially in igniting the upright married ones.

Take Roger. Mutual erotic hunger at first sight. But always I insist on taking it easy and spicing it up with some romantic fripperies. And after the orgasmic scream, what next? With Roger it was the blues, his husky voice, his lazy piano. My own Jelly Roll. But it couldn’t last, of course.

I begin to notice
how neatly now
he folds his clothes

After each was gone—for egoisme à deux is never enough—there was always the consolation of the souvenirs they left me—in music, literature, art, whatever. Thus a few wistful blue notes on my piano can recall a disembodied Roger. By the time I’m old I’ll be left with enough to upholster my neediness—Bruckner to Brassons, among a crowd of ghosts. But now, my hungry body, my insatiable heart . . .

On my dressing mirror
scrawled in angry lipstick
“I fuck, therefore I am”


Author’s Notes:

“Fear Eats the Soul”—title of an award winning 1974 film by Rainer Maria Fassbinder, and, I believe, an Arabic proverb.

“Jelly Roll” refers to Jelly Roll Morton, a pioneering jazz pianist.

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