Sunday, September 8, 2013

Presenting Ellyn Maybe

Girl…poet belongs in 1960’s...folksinger…very Nouvelle Wave
Guy…part Edward G. Robinson…loves noir…pulp novels…secretly musicals
Gargoyle…smart, funny, nice and extremely hip to music

The first two characters live in a tiny Midwestern town where they 

meet at Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues Café
at the open mic hootenanny night.
The girl performs some Dylan poetry from Tarantula and the guy 

sings Desolation Row.
Bob Dylan is a huge life raft in their metaphoric desert, so they quickly

 decide to write a musical about the
characters in Dylan’s songs.

They love being different. At the very same time, it’s something

 that’s caused emotional bruises and skinned
knees since they were kids.
Loneliness, precociousness, chance.

They decide to play pin the tail with a map and whatever country,

 town or continent they land on, they’ll go.
While blindfolded listening to spinning, whirling, dervish songs, she

suddenly reached with her thumbtack
wand and decided their not so simple twist of fate.

He says, hey doll, where for art we headed?
She says, smiling and jumping up and down, we’re going to 

Prague.
He says, wow!

They are both ecstatic she picked some place further than

Chattanooga or Dallas or Alabama or even Alaska.
She was grateful she was wearing heels that day so she 

propelled the thumbtack into Central Europe.
In flats, she would have picked Michigan or some M place. 

She had that knowledge.

She knew Allen Ginsberg had been the King of May in Prague. 

She knew he had been kicked out too. That’s
what she wanted. To be Queen and then to be returned to herself.

She related to Kafka, of course, like every Jewish outsider who 

grew up on Woody Allen films and gefilte fish.
She felt she’d know Prague on sight like Salvador Dali some night 

got in her eyes and the things she’d
see…the melting Astronomical Clock, the Vlatava with its lions 

and circuses underwater.

She saw illuminated manuscripts on her tongue when she

 brushed her teeth. On every tooth she saw a saga,
a hymn, something from some other time. She saw the library 

burning at Alexandria every night. She felt the
books march into her like a squadron of drowned soldiers 

asking to be saved.

She reads all the time. Never sleeping. She was the one who

 would remember. The books traipsed into her
room like she was some call girl. At all hours, she’d have 

Dostoyevsky showing up with a roulette wheel. She
had Madame Bovary wet with oceans knocking in the middle

 of the night. She saw a room full of bugs as
evidence that Kafka had slept there.

She saw the crazy ink, the melancholy topography of many 

scribes.
Suddenly the girl woke up. She had a slightly sweaty forehead. 

She told the guy I had this vivid dream, but
somehow I forgot it. I was reading or was I being read to?

When they got to Prague, it was so beautiful. The theaters 

looked like cakes…gold icing, murals, horses,
everything. She never knew there could be so many kinds of

cobblestones.

She had tried to learn Czech before coming to Prague. The 

first word she learned was slunce meaning "sun."
The language came intricate and quick out of the speakers’ 

mouths. Everywhere she went, she felt people
were talking of philosophers, musicians, and alchemy. Many 

were only making a bit of small talk, but she
imagined she was missing out not knowing.

On the other hand, she had spent so many years in America 

knowing exactly what people were saying. This
was not necessarily an advantage. All the words with rough 

edges, all the endless talk about reality TV, all the
eternal chatter like contemplation was nefarious or something.

The Charles Bridge was beautiful, but she didn’t feel compelled

to linger there like others. It was the side
street architecture she felt deep in her marrow. It wasn’t just

 the various styles of architecture alone, but the
sculpture, painting, sgraffito, ornamentation and most of all the

people in their stone state. They were their
own Prague…a nation of gargoyles. At night you could hear their 

speeches, their music, their litany of
witness.

Others looked like angels. Some held up balconies, their

Veronas, the lovely soliloquies of this magical and
haunted city. Sometimes they held their bodies a certain way,

practically leaning into eternity.

One day she was singing all kinds of songs as she walked in 

the night. She felt safe enough to enjoy the way
past twilight hours on certain streets. There she would sing

and sing. Tangled Up In Blue, Love Is A 4 Letter
Word
, and Adelaide’s Lament.

Suddenly someone said Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Frank Loesser. 

She looked around and nobody seemed
to be talking to her or even looking her way. But she looked up 

and smiling at her was a gargoyle wearing a t-
shirt with a picture of Starry Starry Night.

He winked, that’s Van Gogh and a little bit Don McLean.
This was seriously unusual for anyone to get her references, 

let alone a gargoyle.
She sang more songs, he knew all the lyrics too.
It was as though he was waiting for her to come to Prague

 and walk down this street.
He looked more human than gargoyle like he had just jumped 

into the building for her benefit, but he looked
like he had been restored.

He told her how he had once been a composer, a painter,

a poet, a baker, but a few credits short to be a
candlestick maker. He was one of the Renaissance people
alive during the Renaissance who nobody
remembers anymore. He was in Shakespeare’s shadow.

If not him, then somebody else. Shadows drove
him crazy…now he cast his own.

She listened to his psychology unfold and told him that the 

guy she came with walked into a hospoda and
walked out with a girlfriend and now he was history, so to speak,
and here they had come all this way to write a musical about 

the characters in Bob Dylan’s songs.

She started to ask him if he had any time.

She caught herself. He said, look, I don’t want a pity gig just 

cause I’ve been on this building since 1348. I
was here before this building was. The building is here 

because of me. I used to live in a tree, it can always
be done, but sometimes this takes a toll after 100 years or so. 

Suddenly he started to talk about directors and
playwrights and penguins and where the peanut butter and 

jelly sandwich was invented and he pulled a
dictionary from his rib.

She was awed by his mystery. His head, which was not bigger 

or smaller than other heads, was full of
this…while others it seemed were full of that.


copyright 2006 Ellyn Maybe

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