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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Our National Treasure, Hugh Fox



Hugh Fox , writer, poet, editor and archeologist, has been described as 'the Paul Bunyan of American Letters, part myth, part monster and, myself-as subject, a magnificent non-stop story-teller' (Bill Ryan, The Unborn Book). Born in Chicago in 1932, he has written an astonishing 105 books, 85 of which have been published. While an undergraduate, he dropped out of medical school to concentrate on the humanities and gained a PhD in American Literature from the University of Illinois. Amongst many distinguished posts, he has held that of Fulbright Professor of American Studies and Literature at the universities of Hermosillo (Mexico), Caracas(Peru) and Florianopolis (Brazil). Hugh has edited a number of respected journals, including the International

Quarterly of Experimental Poetry, the Western World Review and the North American Review. His recent publications include Defiance (Higganum press 2007), Finalemente/Finally (Solo press 2007), Rediscovering America (World Audience 2008), The Collected Poems (World Audience 2008), Ice House, and The Thirteen Keys to Talmud (Crossing Chaos 2009).




CHIPS

 

 by Hugh Fox



1.

 

Jazz festival in Olde Towne. He tells her “Look at all the old brick buildings, the river, the old bridge, fifty shops, two hundred people, you could write a novel called The Original Dream about the beginnings of American cities, les centres/ centers, the sanity of being close to the rivers, lakes, sea.....”


They go into Momma Bear’s Restaurant, Dizzie O’Rourke on piano, a stage behind them in the middle of the street, somewhere between Rachmaninoff and Gershwin’s American in Paris, coffee, chocolate muffins, usually there’s no one there, today it’s full, this couple next to them, in their fifties, a baby boy, an all-in-pink eightish daughter, a Mr. Exec about five, but there’s something not quite right about them, he feels. Resentment, pissoffedness, damnation in the woman’s face, the guy hardly there at all, no talk, looking at the ceiling/nowhere. When the sandwiches come the little girl wants chips.


“I want potato chips, I really want potato chips, more than anything else.”


Mom gets demonic.


“There are no chips with this order. No chips. You’re not getting any chips.”


The girl turns around and looks over at the counter where there are three different kinds of chips hanging by the cash register.

 

                                            

2.

    

“Look, there are chips!”


“Forget it!” the mom almost screams, almost drowning out the piano outside, the girl accepts her fate and eats her sandwich.

 
He gets up (time to leave anyhow), goes and buys (one buck) a bag of barbecue chips and brings them over to the table. He’s just seen his face in the washroom mirror, Mr. Angry-Pissed-Off-Long-White-Haired-1950’s-Chicago.
    
She turns gleamingly angelic and her mother, for the first time during her whole time in the restaurant, doesn’t just glow but bursts out in First Communion/Graduation -from- Grammar- School- sparkles.
    

“Oh, so many thanks.”

 

Even Mr. Edge of Suicide/Amnesia smiles appreciatively and reaches up and shakes his hand as he  walks out the door, his wife waiting outside all expectantly.


“What happened? I was expecting.....”

   
Smiling. Everyone smiling as the jazz pianist moves on with his combo of Petrushka and Miles Davis.


They pass by the art gallery, Banyon Arts, whatever Banyon is.


“Let’s take a look in here,” she suggests.


3.

    

Cince de Mayo time for Veinte Cinco de Decembro, the whole mood of the place contagious, screaming BUY, BUY, BUY, TRY, TRY, TRY. Try it on! Try on what? The unhampered, unpremeditated, eternal Now.

 
“Ah, you’re back with your Mr. Almost-Convincing English accent...”


“I remember you, but it’s been a while.  You’re Liverpuddlian, right?”


“From Liverpool, if you please, nothing to do with puddles. You make it sound like goblintown and it’s really quite civilized, and, furthermore, my accent is pure Oxonian. Worked at. You’re from an Irish Catholic background, right? Well, I’m Catholic too, but a bit more toned down. Or I should say I WAS Catholic, but....”


“And I WAS too, but on Friday nights these days you can always find me at the local Schul...”


“Synagogue?”


“You were supposed to say ‘Schul? School?,'” then turning to his wife, “We must buy something here. I must buy something for you, your choice.”


She’s all confused. Money problems. Supporting his ex-wife and youngest son (now 27), two houses, and they live so luxuriously, yearly trips to Brazil, steak-houses, the best plays, clothes, concerts, having come from a huge family of

 

4.

 

nine brothers and sisters in Brazil, her helping them out most of the time, Domine Non Sum Dignus, Lord I am not Worthy, but at the same time now she was a sixty year old U.S. citizen M.D. a huge salary and the best cosmetic surgeon in the world (her colleagues and boss always told her)....


“Buy! I mean it!”


Very authoritarian. The Liverpuddlian winks and smiles and she suddenly gets all intensely exploratory, the Polish, Italian, English, Czech, Mexican pottery, all kinds of footstools and comfy wooden sit-down-and-snooze chairs, pillows, foods, clohes, and all the paintings, all LOCAL, that’s what the sign read. Matisse-ish, Dali-ish, Klee-ish, Kandinsky-ish...you name it, it was all there.


Fifteen minutes, twenty-three minutes, and finally she grabs this one small painting of a hill and a sun setting behind it. Oils all in long strings sticking out of the surface.


“Very original!” he says, although he hates it.


Fifty bucks.


He credit-cards it.


Throws kisses to the Liverpuddlian as they leave and she throws kisses back. It’s all almost Brazilian-familial for a moment.


And when they get home and she hangs it up in her bedroom just above the light-switch, as you walk out.....even he likes it.....it’s a sign that says Até Logo, au-revoir, wiedersehen...have a good one.