Tuesday, January 13, 2015


The snail: mere presence of life in a small wet clot. The snail: moist pair of lips without face or voice to trouble its progress.

I love the snail, but will it ever love me back?

It will not, it cannot.

On the humid island where I live the snails I see are the size and weight of walnuts, but more precious. They wend their way at a snail’s pace up and down moss-grown cement embankments. At excruciating slowness they harry the smooth stone walls of overfunded government redoubts.

May they finally dissolve the Hai-Ji-Hui in their delicate mucous caress.

That snails never get more than two meters from the ground I consider a great virtue. To hell with eagles on their rocky crags. They sit up there with Leni Riefenstahl. To hell with all that flies above and surveys, in pixellated high-definition.

O, I will shoot it from the sky.

The poets whose words take flight are not my poets. Flying things are too many now. Already when white sails began to scud over seas, raking in empires, flight grew suspect.

And look--before you can blink that bigot Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic back to Europe.

You can have your Nabokov with his girly lepidopteral perversions. The artist as marzipan-scented fart, it’s not for me sorry. I’ll stay here with my Russell Edson, my Dostoyevksy, my steady poetic of slugs.

In fact the snail is the sexiest of creatures. Is this maybe because it will never love me back?

What is the snail’s experience of time? Can you get yourself into a snail’s head? What is it to have no before and after, no night or day, but only the cool (immobile time) and the less cool (mobile time)?

I sit near the snail, lean toward it, my nose just inches from its own eyeless face--and the snail doesn’t even know, it can’t, that I am here.

I blow a puff of breath on it: its soft antennae retract; that is all.

Though we now share the same space, one cubic meter of dank air, still the snail and I exist in utterly different dimensions.

If the snail could doubt, it would have every reason to doubt my existence. And yours too.

Snail A: “There are huge beings of vastly superior intelligence that move about around us, sometimes stepping on us wantonly, most times just ignoring us.”

Snail B: “Enough of your silly nonsense. You don’t have a shred of evidence. There’s only the cool, the less cool, and the occasional accident.”

Snail C: “You're too confident, B. Actually these huge beings may exist or they may not. We can’t know for sure.”

Snail B: “Pshaw! It’s nonsense.”

Snail A: “It’s not nonsense. They exist. And I believe there is one of them, one of these beings, that even loves us.”

Yes, this discourse is hardly likely. I don’t care. Weirdos like me, who sit by the Hai-Ji-Hui before work, who watch the women walk by with their faces in iPhones--weirdos like me can well imagine such snail talk as this.

Eric Mader

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