Spr/Sum 04



The best performances will be the later performances: the environment (indoors) will take on an odour of char. (Perhaps soot to be sprinkled?). Pitch-black, at pre-curtain, is ideal (put velvet covers over EXIT signs, for example—the show is unsafe anyway). The ukulele begins and it is drunken. This could last for an hour or longer, or: for as little as one or two minutes. Four attendants (or as many as are required) walk the aisles and “puff” the smell of burning oil, preferably using wooden bellows attached to small kerosene-burning lanterns. The neon (yellowish blue) illuminates: HELL. The light is strong enough to make out a “life-sized” shack. A body of water before it. Ukulele and the imperfect wall of glass separates objects from their conventional shape-identities. They are now drunk, depressed, and completely anxious. The neon: HLEH etc.

The ukulele is devastated with crackling. The attendants may choose to illustrate this by burning plastic/cellophane etc. Furies are common-looking, attired in contemporary clothes. Their non-descript fashion is meant to contrast with the flame-explosions around, and in, the life-sized shack. Certainly and soon—a ball of flame. This burning may last over an hour.

Passing paper around with the message is a form of anxiety. Some, as an example, may fear burn my hair off. The manuscripts, in this case, do not trust each other. Everyone is “suddenly” artistic and troubled.

For each symmetry there is a fire. Now three shacks burn, making duplications in the real-life sea (body of water). One hand-made protagonist (puppet head) must convey the inevitability of self-distrust/self-certainty about this dread: “he always knew already.” Even furies cannot swim, it is up to the attendants to—in the end—really push.


          Act 1

Ukulele Black-out
: [italics] coincidences and delusions.
               Dollarton shack [fire.
Stage (behind a vast sheet of {imperfect mescal} glass

          Act 2

Ukulele crackling
Furies enjoying=the being on fire part
Shack alight/ablaze/agog

          Act 3

—>even non-writers now know
     paper burns {freak out

          Act 4

Three Furies
Three shacks on fire
Tequila worm with pathetic human face
Pushed out to sea

Suggested Text for Sur-titles:

fire poet
instant cinema fire night
hands of Orlac --- poet’s throat
the dark’s spinnets
losing eyebrows keeping venereal diseases
however long it takes to fire glass into a mescal bottle using burning shacks as kiln
a vulture sitting in a British Columbian washbasin
the hand-written letter/the burning castle
a hideous pariah dog
live shellfish and toothpicks
HELL fish
Vigil’s lighter
Virgil’s lamp
this quadrant runs for my life
hell is down here
thou, whom I loved
the story of opera: three houses on fire
they were vultures
the fires of his
a man who cannot sing but will ukulele and row a lot
disclose to us what a shade is
gods, cruel gods
who is this mortal?
the street of the land of fire
man pursued by house fires
easy lightening
a thousand griefs, threatening shades
Virgil fever
police being the opposite of tennis clothes
manuscript albatross: pages are survivors
thus rose-heads rasp into torches


Jake Kennedy's poems, prose works, and visuals have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of literary journals including Combo, Queen Street Quarterly, Chain, Hunger Magazine, and The Diagram. For his manuscript, Hazard, which explores some of the more uncanny biographical details of a number of artists and writers, Kennedy has received a Works-in-Progress grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

Excerpted in Tarpaulin Sky: "Sitwell" considers the 6 ft tall Dame's terrifying encounters with a "bone doctor" in her youth; "Lowry" reflects upon Malcolm Lowry's rather disturbing experiences with house-fires and manuscripts.

You can email Jake at jakekennedy@sympatico.ca