A Visit to the Hometown, the City of Sadness

Here I put together several pieces of the series “The City of Sadness”, reworked and united, with some add.  Enjoy. 

A voice is shouting in the street, louder than the newspaper sellers and the peddlers; is he perhaps a preacher, a visionary? No one pays attention to him: «Beyond the orange ball, there is a place where no one would ever want to be, and where echoes of pain and terror, incomprehension and annoyance reverberate.   
That place is called home by many, and, patriots by force, they pretend to love it.
Beyond the orange ball, there’s an innocuous and indifferent blue dot, no one would choose to visit. There, you are alone in company, sad in joy, still and dull in struggle and movement.        
Its green seas, blue skies, yellow moons, and rainy mountains, do not distract you from your nothingness, so persistent; and each one is worth only the pitch darkness of the little he can be used for, not one breath more.
Beyond the orange ball in front of the black curtain of the universe, there is a world of selfish individuals that are not sufficient for themselves, instincts and imposition, and everyone hates it, but they are forced to cherish it.»

Here I am, on a warm March afternoon, where, as always, it rains heavily with the sun and lackluster, thick water pours down from the sky; the noise washes the cobwebs deep into the basements of the minds of people who are laughing and flaunting happiness, wrapped in strict drapes of black condolences; this is Tristopolis, in the middle of nowhere.

In the days of the dead, the third weekend of each month of equinox, the parade, the flea market, a visit to the Lodge, it is traditional to have  breakfast in the luxurious Merletti bar, in a corner of the town square bordered with columns. The famous work of local bakery is “bones of grandpa”, weak and spongy like the original of the elderly osteoporotic, soft, and with their characteristic flavor of stale cadaveric amaretto. They are served to thousands, along with the “nightmare cappuccino”, drowning in a maelstrom of sour cream and murderous coffee vertigo.

What shrieks! Everyone is talking about how to increase the deaths of others, motivate to suicide, make sure that everyone abuses more alcohol, smokes more, are exposed to radiation, pollution, but especially to overdose on narcotics. They hope a lack of attention will trigger the explosion of a gas cylinder, or a boiler, or a big conflagration starting with a lit cigarette in bed, or maybe a collapse… or even simply a deadly traffic or home accident, mundane and clumsy: “as hilarious as it is effective”, says the generality of the population that enjoy other people’s tragedies. There is a serious problem, not so much of overcrowding, as of life tout-court … there’s too much life, everywhere!

Everyone chats about the same things in small towns, fashion, the fates of other people, loops and garrote are all the rage here, the fallbeil is preferable to the guillotine; ah, the good old cleaver! Hand-made works, you know, are the best; their incomparable charm … as with raviolis, right? … It is in those small imperfections … a bit higher, a bit down the neck, not cut all the same like industrial products.

Strange: the population nearest to the most global concept of all, death, sided firmly against globalization… they say.

The fruits and flowers of evil grow up turgid and lush here, violet and bitter, covered by toxic waste of copper water, plated by pessimism as dark and tenacious as old chicory, more bitter than unripe lemons. Artichoke-colored thoughts and dark bluish green words bloom, poisonous as snakes of the desert; each vegetable has its thorns of slander, and a dark and rough avocado skin, but stinging as fig milk, and inside, each one finds a dried up hazel heart as wrinkled, stunted and toxic as the almond of a peach pit, and equally tender and palatable.        
Forgetfulness of the bite at the emaciated daily table leads to the Acheron of stagnation. The psychopomp is in charge of leading the sleeper in the Inferno every night; Tristiferion greets each compline bell, arriving at dusk with a cry that pierces the most deeply rooted anxieties of the ego, tearing it apart; then, perching, it covers the city with its huge wings, and drags it into restless and sweaty dreams, pushy remorse for facts that have been forgotten, but are hard and sclerotic as old subcutaneous cysts. Nothing ever changes here. Ah! Home!

The ladies lean with their black purses on the laces of the round marble table, flaunt pearl necklaces, black pearls as well, for those who can afford them, the nineteenth-century jewelry and cameos. They comment, with their puckered mouths in powdered faces filled with Botox and sutures, on all the new hateful births. The black cat looks at them, irritated.

During the Days of the Dead, the bells ring in mourning all day, it’s holyday! And many are inspired to pass away, it is true, but with the body count… no one is ever happy! Least of all the gravediggers. Too few deaths! People should die more! One is born only for that after all! So? Be brave, then!      
«Is it possible that people can be so vile?» 
«What will it take to put a gun in your mouth and blow out your brains!?»      
«It takes only a moment!» And yet, so selfish, only a few actually do it!  
«We should sell more weapons, as they do in the New World», a well dressed gentleman says, he is stretched and tanned like an old brown loafer. «Good idea!» says another, out of sheer flattery, judging by his tone.

It is young people who should fix it! They are the engine of the world and, with it, of death, which is the pillar of existence, and they are the most guilty of being born! They all agree on this. 
People are not a singularity in becoming, but two different people, depending on age; once you’ve crossed the threshold of old age, you’re another person! Period!
Those who are getting on in age are attached to life, no matter how miserable it is, and has always been, and want revenge over persisting existence in it, and for not rebelling!

The liberalization of murder is always proposed, but there are too many who are resistant. Death is a delicate concept, with distinctive ethical implications, some say. Others just use the holophrastic “bah!” in response to scruples “for pussies”.

I finish the bad cappuccino, apparently without kicking the bucket, and I wander aimlessly; on the promenade, I go looking for the scarce news.

I see that the photographic exhibition “Dear, dear, dear departed” has already been inaugurated, it is useful to highlight the loving conditions in which those who, after a life spent of being completely ignored, undertake the commendable way “selfkilling” (ugly, but popular, word borrowed from the German -or in general by Nordic- “Selbstmord”, considered more elegant and sophisticated than the autochthonous of Latin origins and composed of Caedes). “It’s never too late” they say, in this case, to go from being annoying, to being lamented.
This is new! Unoriginal, but new! They have instituted the day of the “Defunct of the Year” wreaths and honors, with a value of a thousand crowns (complete with mourners, etc.) to the youngest corpse deliberately killed “by his own hand” …  “Within this week only”, says the poster.       
There is also the “Distracted Extinction”, which awards the person who most unwittingly “found” a way to give himself “eternal peace”; He will never know, after all, that he is a winner. Well deserved! Collective suicide: awards for “small team”, and “large team”. Right!   
On local radio, the popular show is “Missing Body”. On the beach, there is even the beauty contest “Miss Mortal Remains”.

The city museum is rich in fossils and skeletons, this is the first city in the world for the discovery of the necropolis and ancient tombs, and the one with the largest ossuary in the middle of nowhere. Everybody knows! But nobody misses the occasion to repeat it. 
With each stroke of the shovel, bones are unearthed, old bones, less old bones, fossils of dinosaurs, trilobites, or femurs, shoulder blades, collarbones, skulls of who knows what, and so on, enough to fill immense rooms of paleontology, as big as industrial sheds.

There will be time to visit the Museum of Morbid Anatomy and Pathology later, or maybe I will choose another museum, although I am particularly interested in that one. Maybe it is not be the biggest and most comprehensive in the world, but still contains valuable anatomical waxes by Zummo, my favorite, Stradivari violins and violas, conjoined twins’ skeletons, jars of deformed bodies, hilarious freaks, cruel as never some of them, xylophones, rare diseases that will make you die laughing (they guarantee), a large photo gallery of monsters and horrors of the Great War, lizard men, bizarre stories of suffering and deaths, extremely rare and unusual lives, even two reproductions of the “anatomical machines” by Raimondo di Sangro, the Prince of Sansevero, complete with a fetus.
Alternatively, there is the local production of precious majolica urns, painted with the distinctive and delicate sage green shade on anthracite and ecru, which gives much luster and fame to the city’s art. Even here, an exposition!

Not to mention the taxidermy! An art widely practiced in the area, especially with the Accipitriformes, symbol of a city in which not just the culinary artists boast of being able to fill all things with straw or other stuffing … yes, including olives. Visitors are always amazed.

The Curia has donated his relics to the people (exposed as being at the taxpayers’ expense, of course!): putrid water, rotten blood, pieces of rotten saint skin, eyes, old buttons, a cross and sandals of rotten ascetic, both in wood, nutshells, cloth wires, mucus, various furnishings, tarished silvers, gizmos from stylites that should help in the practice of hesychasm, and even ancient tools of persuasion and redemption with metal screws, rusty and, unfortunately, no longer functioning. Many turn up and pronounce skepticism over such abandoned items with the usual holophrastic “bah!”. Little economic value, perhaps? But a great  devotional one! And the tourists are thrilled! They especially love the fillings, though.

There is a urgent need of genuinely new ideas, however. The plot of the patronal celebrations has gone on like this for quite a while now. Centuries! Millennia?
At the Office for the Increase of Extinct, Missing and Dead People, the  atmosphere is not cheerful this month, is never cheerful, in fact. Not only is the situation not improving over an endless series of quarters, but there is a record decline in deaths reported again. There is discussion about the territory, enhancing the cemetery of the new stadium … «All those crosses, wasted!» The “bah” once again abounds.

No way! At the opening of the celebrations, the mayor is, nevertheless, triumphant, he thinks positive! He takes off his mortician’s top hat, pitching a bit with his greasy face and psychagogue lost eyes, decides to take matters in hand, giving, as usual, a good chatter. The problem is once again the young! Of course! Too much enthusiasm, too much reckless joy. Yes, they take drugs! They drink! But they resist! They do not crack! The bastards! They don’t kill themselves!

But those are the usual complaints and good intentions, the optimistic political jargon, everything goes on as usual. Everything goes on well, after all, in the City of Sadness, proudly the center of nothing from… before Rome, it is said, the “Eternal City”, the “Kaput Immundi”. A very ancient and exclusive town, which boasts stunning ancestral traditions.

For example there is a club in the city, very famous and unique, it is the Club of Sadness, and you must visit it the day of the patron … provided you have been accepted as members, it is clear! Here all are, though.

Nobody wants to be part of it, you know? It is united by grief, and its members are admitted only if they have the fifth quarter of the nobility of sadness. It is a very exclusive club, adorned only by the old and exhausted nobility of exquisitely highborn trumps of o-rank-gutan and dissatisfied (delusional) lineage.  It counts many members in town, since this breed of awkward aristocrats of noble failure and high heaviness has been established, and wearily reproduced, more here than anywhere else.

Their guts are the best fourth of their nobility , and the most distinctive one, the only noble one: the colon, gall bladder, stomach, lungs, kidneys, liver … Every offal and tripe must be filled, soaked in black sadness, the blue blooded ink of grudge used for parchments of insult and challenge, and corrosive yellow bile, the golden serum of envy. Or you will not be admitted.

The most valuable part of this very select high dung humanoid society, are the bronchi. Oh yes! Just a few, in fact, are permeated by sadness to the top of the bronchial tubes, until it reaches all the way up to the trachea, so it can be expectorated directly into the outer world. Where the bloody words of those sour sirs are coughed, such lurid lardy gentlemen gently embroidering, with petals of their mental tuberculosis, their lacy handkerchief with contempt, or their latrine portraits, or they vomit on the floor the exquisite musical pools of their repetitive blasphemy.

There is a very popular club in town, it is the Club of Sadness, and you do not choose to be part of it: you have to! It is the club that chooses its members, with a rare postcard invitation put into the letterbox of your life before the rising of the sun, as imperative as a Prussian call to arms, you cannot avoid it: you open it, it intimates you its will, and you can already hear the whistle of the train departing for your extermination camp of day by day tedium.

You do not play cards in the club, or billiards in the lodge. Nor do you entertain pleasant conversations between one smoked cigar and the next, nor are acute considerations full of spirit formulated, as in all other clubs in the world, only complaint is allowed. All the time, at every opportunity, at the table, at the bar, in the hall of mirrors, in line at the red death velvet wardrobe, behind the scenes in their black draped tragic theater, at the top of the stage, between the boards and the spotlights, the cables and winches, or below stage, down in the pit of the prompter, the dim light of its one wire bulb glowing of boredom, you must complain. No one is on stage, ever.

Even the dance floor of the ballroom is always deserted. The walls that surround it, however, are filled with gentlemen in plain clothes, some with a thin and small soul, some with their feeble and pusillanimous glance aimed at the ground, heads perhaps decorated by an undertaker’s top hat, the most affluent ones, or the leash of an abandoned puppy, the poorer and impoverished ones. Jokes are forbidden! Smoking, impatiently you wait in vain, your turn for a dance that will never happen.

There is a club in town, and it is very well known, is the Club of Sadness, do you know it? Everyone frequents it, the whole city is talking about it, they whisper or shout, are polite or provoke scandal, but nobody changes the subject.

In this club, it is strictly forbidden to display inappropriate behavior, it is forbidden to love, friendship is forbidden, affection is banned, and so is having sexual relationships without deceit. It is forbidden to be crystal clear and sincere; it is highly recommended, however, to be turbid and oblique, hostile behind the back, in the absence. Gentlemen! Gentlemen! It is the club of the crème de la crème, the truffle smell of the cream of human sewage! The Gota of the dumpster! There is disgust in its purest form!

The nobles of the sadness, it is known, are cowards liars, like all the others! At their galas, they meet only fellow travelers, treacherous and clumsy, impatient and feverish, or with a deceptively good natured appearance, packed like third class, full of emigrants, but on a luxurious Orient Express of anguish. Oh no, never friends! It is forbidden to love, you cannot fall into unseemly, old fashioned and naive vulgarity, you are just killing time together in order not to be condemned to perennial loneliness.

Severity! The offenses are all crimes in the Club of Sadness, and every crime is as serious as a murder is in the outside world, to be punished by death, imposed by bankrupt judges, pompous and arrogant like a wrestler who, with ostentatious calm, places his things in the overhead compartment on a flight to Caracas, showing you with unconcealed arrogance that he will not use violence against you, but he could. Incapable of an honorable suicide, they decide to kill others to punish themselves.

Illegal loves are split in two with the cleaver of ridicule, stripped naked and proven wrong! Nobody believes certain candor, for goodness sake! Think evil, you’ll do just fine in life! After being perverted and despised, lovers are thrown into the sea from the bridge of the derelict battleship of yore, stranded in the dark silt of starvation. The old glory, now sunk by firecrackers of the long lost time spent for nothing, when we sailed the seas from the port of endless evenings of lies, smoking, firing guns with bullets of 90 Proof caliber bottles.

There is a very popular club in town, it is the Club of Sadness, and you cannot resign!

If you leave it, its members, as sadistic as mangy pygmies enraged by blasphemy toward their savage gods of terror and nightmare, will chase you by air and sea, by land and to hell; they will find and kill you. Do not mess with them! Hunting dwarfs, like spring-wound automatons, fed with the poor rice bowl of sarcasm, dressed with the dark oil of hatred. A curare dart will stick you in the neck one day, spat from their ritual blowgun of cowardice, perhaps while you’re bending to consult the thick encyclopedia of nonsense, filled in over the centuries by the most pompous members of the Club.

Or a barking twin-engine will bombard you and your happiness to rubble,wherever you may be. With all of your loved ones, you will perish between bursts and explosions of laughter and falsehoods. No prisoners! Even children will not be spared! Miserable men! There are no limits to their resources, their brutal inventiveness, which can be used, and often are, just to whine and bore, despise and blame. As it is forbidden to rejoice, it is absolutely forbidden to build without then destroying everything after, go, without coming back, absolve instead of condemning.

You cannot betray the bastard members of the renowned and exclusive Club of Sadness, in the city of Sadness, the country of Sadness, you cannot turn your back on its nightmarishly retarded, childish artists, her pale nineteenth-century ladies bored by marriage, or the solitary tanned revolutionaries in sweaters, and witches, and the Frankenstein’s monsters devoted to obsessive insults, the blasphemous vampires, and short and hairy werewolves who furiously watch so that no one can ever pass the night to see a sunrise.

You should receive a fatal blow if you dare…they will break your bones if you dare… if you dare to be less unhappy and dissatisfied than them! One foot tall people acting like giants. How dare you?

Prostrate, before the inane dwarfs! You ugly…! Gloom on you! Shame on you! Die evil pig!

There is a club in town that is very well known, you do not want to join it? You cannot! It’s the frivolous and exclusive Club of Sadness, and you cannot leave it. Or you will be hated and persecuted forever.

To not go and pay homage to the other members with a respectful, but never repaid salute, would be a snub, but the parade is about to begin! You cannot miss it! The barber emphasizes with a smile much like his scintillating efficiency razor. Ubi maior

The inhabitants of this city of corpses are so proud of it! As for how distrustful, miserable, of course, lazy and narrow minded, dark and gloomy they can be, no doubt, but they are pleased if you visit their mortal land and praise the parade. It is, understandably, a source of pride for the natives, as many of them snuffed it in this place so young, and still reside here, without respite or change from what could be called “forever”; some attachment is inevitable.

Now, on top of the parade, there has been a return from the Capital of a sensational collection of antique jewelry, found in forgotten graves of a fierce, little known Viking population, says the barber with his razor-like voice. Interesting!

Strange legends, and some terror, surrounds the discovery, enigmatic secrets passed down in rhyme, nocturnal excavations by the pale glow of a cold moon in January, the wolf howls, and the ground, hardened by the cold, does not break easily under the shovel, but is necessary to insist even at the cost of chilblains. Horrifying screams of ghosts, pneumonia and tormented deaths, then wealth and suicides, thefts and foolishness, creepy tales of events that were spread to protect, for a time,  a cursed treasure of gold and glass paste, accumulated from many battles by old One Eyed and Kings.

Magnificent! Visit it! «We will become famous throughout the world!» said the gelatin faced Mayor, enveloped by the traditional Latin toga for Conferences at the City Council: «Look all the hatred and blood that those gems exude!»
There are many others, according to the legend, the slicking barber repeats, lost in burial mounds up in the mountains, now unknown, who knows where, guarded by ghosts and witches, sibyls, and restless spirits of decimated Roman legionnaires. A prince reigned not far from here. He had dared to challenge the bishops, and lost, and with him the treasure has been lost, as well. So it’s been said.

«Blood is tasty, you know. It is the tastier drink for men, and especially women», the wise coiffeur glosses «And better yet, for her, if it is the blood of a lover’s friend», he remarks wittily. In the City of Sadness, this bitter truth is declaimed as a proverb, because every lover practices betrayal. Gold and blood are the colors of the City, and that treasure is blessed by both. Is it heresy to say so?

Bells chime obsessive death knells, everywhere, in every district, canton, bloc, Soviet like buildings. There is more to see, the collection of Episcopal copes is in the cathedral, and is worth a visit! But it’s too much! The side that won the war is showing off their drapes and banners, then polluting the air with the preferred incense, and filling it with the sounds they like the most. That’s why you fight and you win: to do what you want!

The mournful procession is blessed by the apostolic delegate and His Gray Eminence himself. People take the opportunity to collect signatures against apostasy, sell cotton candy, torture the last heretics in the streets throughout the day, into the evening, when they begin the official libations.   
To the children, or the “young morituri”, as they are called, are given whistles shaped like a Pulcinella,  from the far away Kingdom of the South. In these days, people are open to what is stranger, and to visitors. On the other hand, there are so many prestigious guests from all over the world, as well as live worldwide television coverage (it is said, but it is not true).

The city is draped in black banners bearing the gold and scarlet insignia, waving lazily in the light breeze that comes from the sea in March, and which brought, as recently as yesterday, it seems, rats and fleas of the plague.

The barber, with a razor blade in his pocket and mustache wax ready on the granite shelf, rubs his hands with finishing cream, and makes good business for once; he speaks cordially with tourists there for the event, who start the conversation, as it is fitting: «Your town is very beautiful, is it not?!»      
«Superb!», he says, «Magnificent, the most beautiful in the world.»          
It is not, but you do not contradict the already dead host, who does not know to be dead.

And with hands big like feathers, but delicate as shovels, here he adjusts the aspect of the polite Neapolitan gentleman, impeccable in his white linen suit.
«Jupiter!» he exclaims, suddenly noticing, with big teeth exposed in the window for a few seconds, the traffic on the decumanus, then hastily shoves the man along: «Hurry, sir, hurry up, or you will lose the first part of the show! It is the most beautiful! Like everything else!» the barber says, concerned in his patriotic pride.

I should have been next, but I decide to leave! The shopkeeper is bound by his own praises and eulogies; he is a bit annoyed over losing a customer, but he must understand, and he even stretches a hesitant smile. Yes, it would be a shame to arrive late! You do not always get to see all four skeletal apocalyptic horses in the stony gray downtown. Here they are! Leaden caparisoned, with eyes of flame and nervous steps, they blow smoke and fire from their nostrils, eaten by worms, the teeth are working a verdigris and mold snaffle bit. What beautiful harnesses! All trendy, original from Medieval times, and extremely oxidized.

«Look at the man holding the skull above his head!», he is a penitent. «How long can he resist like that?» 
«He can resist forever!» True citizens answer, proud of their place, and almost a bit offended by the insinuation that a native would give up. Another one carries a huge vertical banner which flaps in the wind, he gathers pace, is dragged forward and seems to stumble, it gives a powerful snap. «Look, he did not fall!» 
«How is it possible?» many ask. Pride swells the chest of the genuine citizens. The next man, with an immense effort, drags a tombstone attached to a phantom chain, beautiful. Beautiful!

Everyone likes the blood of those who scourge themselves, splashing over the first rows of the audience, bringing large “Ooooh!” of enjoyment. People laugh and mark a cross with it on the forehead for good luck; those who cannot do so are a bit disappointed.  
The black smoke of the torches and the fires is inhaled by children, their parents pretend to throw them in the bonfires, the mothers laugh. The little children are crying in despair, they have real fear, and do not want to die yet. They do not even want the inevitable and traditional necrosis of local brains.

There are also dukes, counts, bishops accounts, viscounts, earls bishops, in all the various heraldic combinations. Many noble visitors come from abroad to take part in the gala: there is even a descendant of Cyprus’ Caimacam, an insolent young man, also already a corpse, violent and brutal. To follow in the sedan, here go the Hospodars of Moldova, throwing quite stale comfits to the people.
The Greek Fanariots discuss among themselves, their beards barely move while they talk, cautious, wrapped in gilded cloths, their mouths cannot be seen, covered as they are by hair; and here are the Phoenician ancestry curapalati, in pure gold robes and silk, sumptuous. Gorgeous!

The principles of modern day Romania, covered in their scarlet and death crimson armor, collect the ovation they deserve for defending Christianity for centuries. They are surrounded by the beautiful and experienced prostitutes of Basra, what eyes! Here they are, casting furtive and hypnotic glances at the fierce Aleman and Italic soldiers of fortune, to excite them; violent and lecherous. They look like centaurs, the soldiers; they abduct girls and breed them along the way with their powerful and always erected members, under the astonished gaze of cuckolded, fearful and submissive husbands or parents. It is part of the folklore, nothing can be done to prevent it! Plus, they follow the great peacemaker Charles, Dauphin of France, in person, don’t you see the golden blue Lily? Sumptuous! Presumptuous!
Prostitutes, however, are not for the common people, but only for the noble orgy. «You will have to work tonight, little bitches!» (Such comments are common among the horny crowd of outcasts).

Also attending in person this year, the great Archon Bertold Fessenschtein and Schfarzenfercher, fierce and relentless impaler, he came with his seneschals and landgraves of Thuringia, Hesse and Saxony. Conversing with him, ironically, is the one who is traditionally referred to as the Devil’s adviser in person, Count Armand-Sosthenes de la Rochefoucauld Doudeauville, a skilled statesman, famous poisoner, and leading expert of Gregorian chants, wearing silk stockings and black shoes decorated with gold and diamond buckles, gems winking from his elaborately embroidered puffy sleeves, delicate lace at the cuffs. The black dressed Master of the local chapel, green with envy, lowers his head as a sign of respect, right there in front of everyone, without being noticed at all. A humiliating scene!

Even Ezzelino the III from Romano, a hardened rapist, who is shaking the family banner with passion and lust, then Obizzo the II of Este, a real animal, along with the famous pederast and serial killer Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, Baron de Rais, with his magnificent blue beard, all condescended to leave their graves. They are very welcome by the Mayor in his dark frock coat, who, at the first opportunity, greets them warmly, covering their hand with both of his, as slimy as ever, despite the passage of time. He can smile convincingly despite knowing they are murderers. There is even the youngest son of King Haacon, the great ring-crusher of Norway, with his faithful Riksdrots.

Here, what is granted to anyone is based on wealth and prestige; social differences exist only because of wealth, so faults and crimes are ignored in certain cases, but punished very severely in others; that’s how a healthy and happy society is preserved, certainly not by trampling the natural human propensities for murder, robbery, rape, or pandering.    
Be poor is the worst of sins, while wealth cleanses them all. Just pretend not to know, and they all will seem to be amiable and smiling, nice people. And in fact, here is the procession of criminals, all poor or impoverished noblemen and finished in ruins, often, and in greater sin, for a repugnant principle. One name? Giovan Battista from Montesecco. Too bad for them! Some will be executed before dinner, to offer something for the enjoyment of the common people, who remember past wrongdoings to forget and ignore present. The people will drink modest wine and eat ribs during the torture, it is assured.

On a white elephant, the Effendi plays chess with the Contestable Cupbearer of Milan, who loses yet another game. The beast is massive! Look! It is the only one still alive, they say. And what a fright! It bears a spooky and ghostly pallor even in all its huge, vigorous solid flesh.        
With a deafening tremendous trumpeting, it shakes the entire procession; you can no longer hear a clarion. The entranced audience applauds the indifferent beast. It is completely covered with stones and gems, lapis lazuli, jade, jasper, turquoise, amethyst, topaz, it is a show like no other. Absolutely all the spectators emit deep groans of admiration; the other nobles are a bit annoyed by so much pomp, however. It is not polite to show off this much! Especially as much as those guys from Armenia with their Nakharar, followed by a hundred virgins and the terrible squad of athletes and wrestlers, oily and brawny. The wives are licking their lips with desire, while their husbands are red with shame.

The unknown Spanish hidalgo, a conquistador with a morion, and the British explorer with the pith helmet are alone; they recount their travel experiences, trying to outdo each other, while munching some almonds and drinking brandy. Toasting, they are observed from the crowd in a swoon. It is impossible to say which of them is more sustained and presumptuous, who has the most detestable mustache and movements, but there is a competition going on between them. They hate each other.       
They laugh and tease one other, with sharp, well disguised malice. It is not clear what language they use, maybe each one his own, but even they are bothered by the glitz of the mastodon of the Turkish delegation, the splendor of the ones of Cilicia and the Armenians, not to mention many others who they cannot see from their vantage point, but it makes them look bad.   
Maybe they weigh whether or not to accept the prostitutes offered by these savages, or if it would be more appropriate to consider them an insult. Why not! Come on! They should use them! I say.

Children for the desires of the priests must be provided for a time; patient merchants of a Persian Marzban are instructed to bargain, sparingly, with the poorest families for the purchases.

The city is burning, is celebrating; the population is already drunk by early afternoon. I cannot imagine how it will be after dinner! The nobles will eat and copulate, everybody has fun, they kiss, they stab, they bite, they drink, they sweat. They are all dead, so they can do what they like!

The Emperor of China did not come in person, of course, but he was kind enough to send many gifts, along with six of his most zealous and senior officials. You see them conversing with the bishop; they watched the torture of heretics in the streets, and they seemed to be coarse and vulgar to their eyes; they could offer their knowledge of anatomy and resistance to pain, to their hosts, if deemed appropriate. It is not! If the Chinese believe the host’s culture is cheap and vulgar, in return, they are considered wild and perverse; there is no dialogue. Veto to lingchi!

The last of the gifts from the far East, however, everybody likes it! It is the fireworks show. The citizens are impatient, prancing; they already run here and there to look for the best places to watch it. «How wonderful!» many say, but I am not among them.

I slip away to a side street and try to isolate myself a bit, the jumble of the crowd and the glitz have overwhelmed me. It would not be a bad idea to do some shopping now. There will be less people at the flea market of sadness, too bad that I barely have a penny left on me.

Many novelties in this first month of spring, where, as always, it rains heavily with the sun and lackluster and thick water pours down from the sky; the noise washes the cobwebs into the basements of the minds of people, laughing and flaunting happiness, wrapped in strict drapes of black condolences.

Many novelties, starting from the décor. The mourning drapes are magnificent, chrysanthemums lined the square, thriving and lush; huge wreaths on every corner.

Skull and bone lamps, scapula chandeliers miraculously resistant to the heart’s rain, burning a yellow oil, a thick and aromatic lard, with a dull disgusting smell. Flexible, the skeletons danced on the windowsills of the Municipal “Palace of Our Dead People”, in a surreal fluorescent opalescence. It is black darkness here!

Among the marble and travertine, shacks are selling their goods, you know what they are selling only when you’re close to them, and enter into their cone of light. From the outside, it always seems distant and unattainable, enveloped in total dismaying darkness. Traders shout out their offerings, but about them too, from the outside, you hear as if from a great distance, muffled. “Death rattles, beautiful death rattles! Ladies and gentlemen; beautiful death rattles! Twenty cents apiece”. Condolences were so fresh, vivid, they still move!

Consternation and despair go like hot cakes! «Rueful, gentlemen, rueful! You will be rueful like you have never been before! Rueful, gentlemen, rueful! Buy our prostration, it comes from beyond the Alps!»

At one corner, a cast iron stove is on, a small old lady on a swing is drinking soup from a mess dented tin. She sells epitaphs and necrologies, funeral inscriptions, obits and obituaries; they were piled in bulk, such as used books, on a bier with an open coffin on top and edged with laces. Some were very beautiful, antique paper, parchment, others plasticized, some of them decrepit, others modern and ugly.

Leafing among them, let’s try our luck! I examine some, picking them up casually from the catafalque. You never know, maybe you’ll find some uncommon one:


A classic!


How much time!







S = k log W – Ludwig Boltzmann.

Eh! Science!

HIC CINERA UBIQUE NOMEN. – Napoleon Bonaparte.

A little too much into the mainstream and the common protocol until now, I already know them all …


Always fun!


I do not know German.


This, however, everybody knows!


Oh! Look who it is! Philip Ottonieri! That is awesome! I am tempted to buy it …


We could not miss Wilde!

Reading is no longer so fashionable as it used to be; opiates are preferred, fumes and vapors, even the incense sells in great quantity, but all organic stuff, for goodness sake! A dense and thick fog rises from one of the better graded and rich stalls, you can try the merchandise before you buy it, black lotus, black lotus of the Styx, nepenthe or water of Lethe, Oriental opium. No one smiles, no one speaks, the skeletons dance on the balustrades, my head is spinning. I left the cone of light. I do not feel any good! I tumble and soon get up again. I do not feel anything!

Later on, a sturdy handlebar mustachioed gentleman, elegant, but rocky like an old wrestling fighter, one of those who lifts metal balls to workout, sitting on a old bicycle, sells sophisticated liquors and macaroons, sweets and almonds, cassis and marzipans. Hum, such a delicate commerce for someone like him! I do not know if the phrase pops out of my mouth, or it remains stuck just in my thoughts; he slips me a sweet pill between my teeth, authoritarian, but still nice in its own way. It is walnut! It tastes like the dead though.
The fact is that we are close to the mummy and bandages kiosk, ointments give off a bestial, pungent stench; resin, gauze, rugs, and shady men, eastern-like and bony, all with a big nose, are fumbling with a boiler full of a liquid that bubbles like pitch, with noisy bubbles. I cannot help but think that I could get severely burned if I end up in it. I’m leaving, but mostly for the stench.

We’re coming out a bit from the crowd; from a huge tent that takes up most of the area of the Dead People’s Square you can hear a neigh. It is selling black cabs, lamps, lights, candles, decorations, and accessories for horses, saddle-cloths, finishes, reins. Look at the plumes! Beautiful objects, made with expensive materials. Inside the tent there is also a pair of enormous black horses. One, with a powerful kick destroys a candlestick, a solid gold candelabrum judging by the face and the desperation of the merchant.

I do fear animals and horses, they kick and bite as well. I step away.

Here we are! Silver frames, a wide selection of postmortem photographs. On one corner, a vigorous old man with a clean-shaven skull, waits, reading a newspaper, to be consulted in order to make some money with one click for the burial recess. Not the kind of stuff for me, I never liked photography! On display, probably for decorative purposes, placed between blood-red curtains, there is a daguerreotype. Accessories for photography. An open coffin for test shots.

Stained glass windows for graves!   
Pyres! Huge funeral pyres assembled at home by local woodsmen.
Shovels and digging tools. A little shabby stall, this one!

Now this one is rather beautiful, elegant, instead: Italian tailoring top quality “by Guarnelli, Naples”. Top hats and coat tails, suits for undertakers and for the deceased and, if necessary, for the most demanding  family members of the deceased; “Supplier of the Royal House”. Ass kissers! Only men’s fashion, however. For the ladies there is another stand later on: “The Elegant Funeral. Gorgeous dresses for the classy funeral”.

It’s full of crows, crows everywhere in the square. Look what shit! And what annoying sounds! It’s just that people have the silly mania of launching the rest of the pastries in friable wafer to the ground, there is no more inviting birdseed …with almonds inside.

Here’s what I was looking for, the music stand! Finally! I am looking for a first edition of … but no! They only have requiems! I ask but … there is no hope. If I am interested in… there is some Gregorian chant. I am not interested! Remixed? Much worse! Obituaries read by the great tragedian actor Karmelomale … No! No!

There she is! All these problems to get a damn degree in embalming and thanatopraxis! Of all the people I could have met, just she is here … damn! She puts me in a bad mood. I need a very bitter coffee. Black Italian coffee.
The closer place to this side of the square is renowned for its coffee, is just between the forensic medicine exhibition, and the taxidermy exposition. I drink it … it tastes sandy, apparently it is dust. I start coughing, I smoke too much, that’s it! As soon as I go out I see the words: “Smoking kills, smoke!” I light a cigarette! And I cough even worse.

I would like to distract myself with the spectacle of pathologists, but damn, that’s her again! As I turn around I see her! And is was from the times of the Lyceum I did not see her. She looks like dressed for a funeral, and she is watching, with the unintelligent expression women have here, objects in the nearby kiosk: “Coffin, sarcophagi, graves, cinerary urns”.

I can’t stop looking at her! So beautiful! Maybe someone died in the family? She seems very interested in a luxurious coffin. Well, the money is not missing there! Maybe it’s just to go shopping that she is there.

Well! Here we go, I knew it! Languor! I feel such a strange nostalgia, I wish I could paint with words those feelings about when I was young even better than a painter could do with his brush.   

I still remember it all so suspiciously well, and now I would relive and revive the past, find a way to describe love through my sentences. Ah yes, those were the years, the years of love, the sweet, sweet years of sad and ungrateful high school love, now gone forever.

I wish I could say I was in love just with one of my classmates, but they were all, or so many of them, so beautiful, so young, as beautiful as a total eclipse! I never could decide myself. There were Anna, and Vanessa, beautiful. Clare, so delicate and pale, Arianna, Barbara, Valeria, Francesca and many others. I loved them all.

They were all haughty, usually belonging to the high class society, and all of them died very young, adolescent at the most, as it is agreed that is appropriate to happen in good families. They lived in the most luxurious tombs of the town, or even in large mausoleums, or in the ancient catacombs of the undertown. Anna’s father had them built, such a wealthy dis-respectful businessman, and the others were daughters of lawyers, camerlengos and chamberlains. Only one of them was of humble origins, and lived in an old loft, a place still nice here in the ghostly city of Sadness, dark, gloomy, dreary and fashionable. I know, she invited me once, together with the all class, for the typical deathday with classmates.

What skeletons, guys! Just remembering them, I shake and shudder again with passion and lust, those bones, lean and sinuous, femurs a kilometer long, thrilling bodies. At the time, I do not know what I would have given to have the chance to penetrate them… but what am I saying? It would have been enough just to worship them for hours! They were rotten! Rotten to the core! Completely decomposed inside, matured properly and decaying as just a few others in the whole ghostly City of Sadness.

I remember the livor mortis, the bluish skin that glowed under the neon of the autopsy room in the school, it was unparalleled! They seemed to have died recently. They used small trick at the time, they did not even dye their hair. I still meet them occasionally, and the time has passed, we all have changed, perhaps now they use some stronger necrocosmetics, but they always seem, however, always seem to be fresh corpses, they are mummified in a workmanlike manner. Shy, yet, I look at them, I whisper to myself: “You are always beautiful, Goddess!”

It was usual at the time to decorate themselves with rotten seaweed, as if they had died at the sea, become dirty with slime and saltiness, and stained the morgue tunic with brackish regurgitations. As I said, I was not yet dead at that time, and that’s the reason why I wasn’t considered at all by them. I was also very timid and thoughtful. I was thinking too much, acting too little, and I was considered unfit and an outcast, but full of desires, nonetheless.

Occasionally, one of the outcasts had the blessing of being able to attend them, but in secret; it must have been wonderful to have the chance to touch them, and smell them up close. Sometimes, one my friends –also only half dead at the time, in a coma- was able to hang out with some of those cadaverous goddesses. I envied them; and all of them died soon after! And as usual, they started to disappear from our lives, not speak to us anymore, they considered themselves better than me.

It took me a while to die, so I had a lot of time to ask myself what it would be like to be near them, and to have the privilege to inhale that smell of ammonia that I could perceive from a distance. I was aroused just by the thought of their strong stench of NH3, dripping from the inner thigh, the vaginal pouch was full of it, and also the rotten placenta of cleaved abortions, bloody clotted ovulations not completely expelled for years. They were all wonderful, I would have kissed and licked all that for hours in adoration and in front of a pagan altar of lust.

The girls of the ghostly City of Sadness, it must be said, are all, or almost all, very good looking, the average of beauty is very high; but furthermore, in all my classmates the neuronal necrosis was always perfect and permanent, not a single thought was flickering in those motionless skulls and still synapses. Those flat brains, well decomposed, were all equally physically and morally corrupted and rotten; rotting to the depths of that legendary area of ​​the body which is traditionally labeled as “soul”.

But in my school, not only the immediate abiotic phenomena were perfect, but, a real rarity, even the consecutive ones were wonderfully evident: people were cold, hard, chill and totally dehydrated and dried as Scandinavian stockfish, smelling like Icelandic kæstur hákarl. “Blessed be the degradation of adenosine triphosphate, and blessed be all the chemical bridges between muscular proteins!” I often repeated to myself almost as a form of exorcist mantra after having studied enough chemistry of decomposition.

Vanessa was the most athletic one, her rigor mortis was like marble, especially in the ass! Slender, she had not shortened sarcomeres due to her muscle contraction. Barbara had a light brown tinge hypostases, caused by potassium chlorate, which was envied by all others. That marvelous lividity! Claire’s pallor was as delicate and soft as warm butter, she was so rotten than if touched, her arms would have fallen on the ground, the rest of the meat would have become detached and flaked into my hands. Oh, I would have eaten her, so strongly I desired her! Valeria was particularly macerated and rancid, she was the “alternative one” of the  school: solitary, dark, a precursor of the emos, she died by suicide, hanging herself with the laces of her Converse, she was so thin. She felt an evident contempt for us all. Federica was wealthy and promiscuous, more perverse and cynical than the others, she died by a toxic overdose, while Francesca was always playing with the feelings of the still living ones, she was so wonderfully cruel!

All the others were trying to imitate them, but they were just not as equally rotten inside. In fact, nobody else was as rotten as they were, and there was nothing to do about it! All the others had, yes, they had ebony teeth, an hazy and muddy attitude. They roamed about haughtily as it is typical of the town, ignoring and not looking at you with their mustard yellow and black bleeding eyes; some were puffy and brown, others were strangled with fishing line, or perforated by a blade, pierced by a sword, or their neck was broken and the head was hanging to one side, due to a car accident, but no one equaled that golden elite in the City of Sadness. In no other school were there such young beauties, and death in such abundance.

No one dared to address them, but sometimes, someone fearfully sneaked into the bathroom and captured a snapshot, a x radius, or one spectrogram, of their rotting bodies. Then we went running to the boiler room to share the stolen swag between us, a sooty and peaty society of loosers, and we masturbated fiercely side by side, confessing to each other our innermost desires, the craziest and wildest resolutions: embraces and necrophilia in the cemetery, prohibited kamasutra in the public morgue, sadism and postmortem tortures.

When those beauties appeared again, like dancing one meter from the floor slabs, sinuously the shreds of linen were swaying in the pre summer breeze, the chubby nerds soaped and foamed with rage, being not able to compete; their autolysis and the self digestion devoured them internally, they swelled and blew up from the gas of inflated and deformed bellies, ugly and dark rot. We, the males, in an outpouring of desire, remained silent and dull, the tongue in our mouth trembled speechless.

At the time, we were all too shy, and if one of them did lay her danger-sea-green eyes on us morituri, maybe just when we were about to declaim in public, stunted and awkward, some passages of some famous Greek tragedy, or the Divine Comedy, the typical access of somatization would have gripped us restlessly, nausea would have choked us for the smell of putrescine, cadaverine and the amine, and we would have ended up vomiting profusely in front of everyone. It was hopeless, we would have spewed abundant jets of vomit, virulently, loudly. Everyone laughed then, publicly humiliating us!

The intransigent professor of literature and necrosis, with his graying skin the texture of parchment, his teeth visible up to the molars, and the skull still adorned with a few ruffled and horrible white hairs and age spots, would have gone crazy with anger. The aged corpses did not understand our needs and generational diversity, but they took pleasure in erecting a communicative barrier to us, like that dusty old bookworm mummy. We gritted our teeth and forced a smile to keep from puking again, pretending to be indifferent to the unburiable charm of feminine death.

Often we were punished, made to sit back in the farthest pews, but for us it was an occasion to admire them from the back, our longed-for and unobtainable companions, while they were busy in hopeless study, immersed as they were in their full brain dead concentration; here and there a silkworm peeped coquettishly from their small cerulean ears, hair was always well encrusted with salt or mud, blood clots under broken fingernails, cuts, always perfectly marked, where drawn by scarlet or black crusts of blood. Every detail was perfect! The moss and mildew stains spread on slender hanged necks and rotting shoulders, and nothing was left to chance, not even the black and blue spots on their back, appearing from behind bra straps, yellow bruising, fake or real, and done with the purpose of being even more beautiful.

Hidden from the gaze of the blind and sour morthematics teacher, whose empty but alert sockets were full of cobwebs, or from the thanatology teacher, the Reverend, a sacred and deconstructivist philosopher, the most severe and elderly of all with his two hundred years of teaching experience, the girls decorated the nails of their hands and feet, scraping some smuggled ground form the cemetery, which was sold right in the school by the most rootless and enterprising of the dead pushers. Then sometimes, in the spring, we purposely dropped a pencil on the ground, in order to bend down and look closely at their nun’s sandals and the result of the decoration. We could not find another system to get close to them, we were never invited to the funeral celebrations in the chapel, where they were naked in Satanic rituals.

Adorable scars adorned the face of those beauties, I still remember every stitch, the cuts made on the operating table traversing, with the sophisticated art of a laboratory, the abundant necklines, carved as a Y, of Claire and Anna. An accurate and expensive medical-surgical procedure that only the wealthy can afford even today. The pathologist had also made excellent work of Federica, who mostly shone for her beautiful natural acidification of tissues, indeed.

But to me, the most vivid and coveted, to be frank, is one memory in particular: how delightfully the shotgun had cauterized the skin of Vanessa’s neck, making it just as charming as miraculous imperfections can do.

Before anatomical pathology of classical Greek classes, or philosophy of death Latin lessons, I dipped my pen in the inkwell and traced love letters with squid ink. Letters that were never delivered, because they would have disliked them. “I am a poet, I am a poet” I cried inside of me, in vain: “I am still alive, yes, naive, yes, poor and goodhearted, but I am a poet! Does this not mean anything to you? Scornful and icy beauties of precious sarcophagus!”

No! Damn bitches! It counted for nothing, as nothing matters now! Now I know it, how indifferent is death in the city of Sadness; we are all dead now, for some time, and as you know, we’re all equal at last, and nobody loves anybody anymore.

Remembrances always sadden me! She always makes me sad! And here she comes again! But I’m not complaining. That’s ok! With time you come to not only accept, but also to love the sorrows of rejection, the loneliness. I love to be nothing now, as close to nothing as possible, as a spectator; sometimes I do not even feel like I exist. But, existence is not my kind of stuff! Yet she still upsets me a little, I must be frank. What can do I do?

I have half a mind to approach the “sand coffee” waitress; I could take her to the silent film, or to the Chinese shadow puppets. We could have a glass of “Lacrima”, just for a bit of company, what the heck! There are beautiful flowers for wreaths, gladiolus, black roses and chrysanthemums. Carpe diem! I buy a beautiful chrysanthemum and invite her to go some place. Old Fashioned! “The Old School approach” is not fashionable anymore, too stylish for those coarse jackasses: she says “no”!

The willow wood pendulum clock of the coffee shop strikes six. People are sipping tea and shattering pastries, with greedy thirty-two cylinder jaws, a white cat looks irritated.
Enough! Now I feel too alive and aroused, totally out of place here; it is better if I start jogging toward the avenue of cypresses. The evening party… I do not feel willing to participate anymore; all those people, vulgarity… in fact, I never liked it; I prefer to relax and recover my blissful indifference with a quiet and lonely walk to the Botanical Garden and its interesting and prestigious Poison Plants Greenhouse. It is always such a placid and peaceful place, dark and silent; and after sunset until dusk, when it is already silent also in light, it is the best time to enjoy it.

In a sense, it is like a cruel lesson of history: some vegetables, with their active ingredients, have had decisive roles in shaping it. Just think about the impact of the strychnos nux-vomica from which strychnine is extract, if only for the extermination of pesky rodents; or even better the hemlock, or conium maculatum, which, with its good coniine, heroically tried to deliver us from other rats, those of bad philosophy, pretentious and fatuous. It acted as neurotoxic alkaloid, on neuromuscular synapses of an horny pedantic old man like Socrates; a useless warning to everyone else of that despicable kind.

From the common castor descends also the celebrated oil used as a diuretic in pharmacology, and in Italian politics during Fascism; the digitalis purpurea, my favorite, would bring to the cemetery, in 1329, Can Grande the I of the Scala, lord of Verona and patron of Dante, to whom the poet devoted that crazy monument of absurdity which is the Paradise. In the greenhouse, you can admire the sinister beauty of the atropa nightshade, the most famous plant of good old pharmacopoeia, or one can be seduced by the apparent innocence of the vegetal belonging to the datura family, metel, or nox metella with flowers that scream their presence as a tubes of the devil, the inoxia, beloved by Indian shamans, and the thorn apple, with its hallucinogenic alkaloid, scopolamine and atropine.
And there is also the famous ranunculus sceleratus, mostly notable for the beautiful Greek-Latin etymology of “evil frog”, or perhaps “infest frog”, talking about botany, and known for its unfortunate effect on those who ingest large quantities of it. They are forced from cramps to that convulsive laugh said “sardonic”, that can even appear still on the corpse; a facial expression with gritted teeth, that is also typical of poisoning by tetanus. It is from there that hath been generated then the specific reference to that form of hateful sarcasm with embittered and evil traits.     
Maybe a bit of opium from papaver somniferum would not hurt me, it could help me to be at peace for the rest of the night. You can buy it there, indeed, it is recommended to do it! There’s the vending machine with everything you may need: mescaline, marijuana, cocaine … they are all there!

As soon as I get in, a big pine cone hits me on the head. What pain! Not a good day, indeed!         
I’m going back home! Come on! Surely I will not visit the Club.
Private mourning tonight! I will slip under the tombstone, with a beautiful marble slab on the head, alone in my graveyard, and that’s it … Sleep is the brother of Death! Who does not die is seen again, we say!

Yes, we will see again! Sure. Like today, when at the end, I did my duty, because everyone knows you cannot help but pay your tribute to the patron saint of the City of Sadness if you were born, maybe in that day or march, at the deep darkness of a mild evening, when it rains heavily with the sun, and lackluster and thick water pours down from the sky; the  noise washes the cobwebs into the basements of the minds of people, laughing and flaunting happiness, segregated in that place where nobody would like to be, and where echoes of pain and terror, incomprehension and annoyance resound.        
That place is called home by many, and, patriots by force, they pretend to love it.
It is a blue place with an innocuous and indifferent look, which no one would choose to visit. There, you are alone in company, sad in joy, still and dull in struggle and movement. Its green seas, blue skies, yellow moons, and rainy mountains, do not distract you from your nothingness, so persistent; and each one is worth only the pitch darkness of the little can be used for, not one breath more.
This place, beyond the orange ball, in front of the black curtain of the universe, is a world of selfish individuals that are not sufficient for themselves, instincts and imposition, and everyone hates it, but they are forced to cherish it.

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