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Think about it



Larger-scale resources for experimental writing

The Electronic Poetry Center is an important site for information on postwar experimental poetry from the 'States. Perhaps the oldest poetry web online, the EPC is maintained by Loss Glazier with the assistance of volunteers from UB's Poetics Program.

Kenny Goldsmith's UBUWEB is an invaluable resource for alternative poetries, as well as a site of ongoing experimentation with new electronic distribution media. To know it is to live it.

Directed by Steve McCaffery, The North American Centre for Interdisciplinary Poetics is a web-based forum for experimental interdisciplinary work art and writing.

Flux your muscles.


Christopher W. Alexander and Linda Russo, eds.

Last Updated: 15 April 2005

Celeste & Sirius
Kathleen Fraser


The setting is Celeste's studio, painting easel positioned backstage, holding a large piece of empty white posterboard, with funky stand next to easel holding several coffee tins filled with brushes and drawing pencils and a bright blue, wide-tip magic marker. A table (or wooden chair) is positioned front stage, facing towards opposite side, holding a small bunch of tulips stuck in a jar; two hats hang from a hat-rack.


SIRIUS: [Tapping shoulder of Celeste, whose back is turned towards her easel, her ears covered with headphones to which she listens as she paints. After no response, he taps again . . .]

Celeste? Celeste . . . [ She takes off her head-phones and looks at him blankly]
Did you notice that the tulips have begun to droop inside their clear plastic jar, even though you pinned and wrapped and skewered them to make them stay up in the water?

CELESTE: [Coming slowly out of her interior focus . . .]
You mean, a bit like a sandwich, with too many things piled inside it to distract you?

SIRIUS: Well, not exactly . . . more like distraction being top-heavy. You know, drooping with possibility?

CELESTE: Ah . . . you mean, not as beautiful as that pure moment when the perpendicular meets the horizontal. Light and dark pencilled from square to square? [Craning her neck, hand above eyebrows] From here, the tulips are only half-legible, almost resembling us . . .

SIRIUS: [Affectionately teasing her]
Assembling "Us," again . . .

CELESTE: Well, it does seem as if one person's script is always trying to move another person around . . . or keep you from moving. [Walking back over to the easel] I need to make a statement here: This is my canvas because it's empty. These are my newly sharpened pencils and my tubes of paint.

SIRIUS: You mean they're yours because I can see them on the table next to where you're standing, or because you just pointed them out?

CELESTE: They're mine because I need to stand in a room with a brush or pencil in my hand and feel the paint or the line coming out of me. Did you notice, just as you were talking, how everything changed color, like something with no name for it breaking through you as you were about to throw out the tulips?

SIRIUS: If you're talking about the purpose of a life, then probably we should put on our hats before continuing. [He looks over at the hatstand, holding their two hats]

CELESTE: Because each hat stands in for a part of the mind?

SIRIUS: I think you mean a part of the brain, don't you? [Walks to hatstand, takes his hat and offers it to Celeste] Here's my fedora. Want to borrow it? [Celeste makes a face, declining his offer] Well then, how about your old sun hat? [He hands her the floppy-brimmed straw hat, with a ribbon tied around its crown] We could put them on in unison . . . and turn on some music. [They both put on their hats and he dances her around as "Chorus of Us" enters, backstage]

CHORUS OF US: [3 individuals walking across back of stage in identical attire, sing triumphantly] "We are Us, yes we are. We are Us . . ."

CELESTE: I've been trying to send you a legible message typed on my old-style standard, with slightly blurred letters spilling out over the paper inserted between the typewriter's rubber rollers.

SIRIUS: Sounds a bit effortful . . . but I think I see your hand - it could be the Left hand or the Right, right? Perhaps it's reaching into a frayed pocket . . . the lining is about to go through. [He stops to consider and admire his newly coined image, and then continues]

So, here's a thought, as real as your old typewriter. It's going to be alright. We already have a list of words to hold the letters together in a recognizable pattern.

CELESTE: [ Sceptically . . . ]
Well, we have the history of the Rosetta Stone, too. But what is it, in us, before the words pin us down? I want to find it in the paint or the rope - something we don't understand yet. That would make it better. Then we could both know what we're talking about . . . or, at least, what I'm not talking about.

SIRIUS: Could "it" be my frayed pocket?

CELESTE: It could be the pocket, before anyone's used it enough to wear it out.
[She walks over to the "canvas" propped on the easel and, while speaking, starts drawing a large blue rectangle - meant to represent a pocket - with a wide-nib magic-marker taken from the can. She speaks somewhat slowly as she's drawing]

The pocket will be of unsized natural linen, with an upper-case PKT in its center, as if hand-embroidered by an Italian tailor . . . Now we are living in a different layer of time . . . [This last, said rather dreamily]

SIRIUS: [Relieved]
Agreed. Then we'll call the painting "Nostalgia"?

CELESTE: . . . more than that . . . Whenever I paint a picture, it's called at least six things before it's finished. This one, for example, is: "emergency," "curator," "brain tumor," "beautiful corpse," "Shangri-La," "and, now, the envelope."

SIRIUS: I hesitate to tell you this, Celeste, but I think you're going down the wrong road - more like a few wrong roads . . . in fact, I think you're splitting apart at the seams.

CELESTE: I suppose you mean that I seem to be unraveling? But seeming may be my very important emergency.

SIRIUS: You're not the only one who's urgent. I unpack my dog mask often enough - with its long nose adrift - and fit it just over my ears as I move along on all fours through water overflowing and rising around my ankles.

CELESTE: You mean that dog is You, going forward?

SIRIUS: [Happy to claim his identity]
You got it. Me, in the water, so to speak. I've been looking at what you're painting and carrying my words between my teeth to rescue you into my perfectly transparent bubble . . .

CELESTE: . . . words rising out of your little plastic bubble-stick with its ring at the end?

SIRIUS: That's the way the bubble-stuff comes . . . inside the jar, available over the counter. It makes me happy to make others happy . . . well, as long as I know them. Know what they're up to.

CELESTE: Their heads seem to turn in unison - as if choreographed - noting each time a new bubble rises and breaks. [Wistfully] We could all have jars and stand at the corner in front of the store and blow our bubbles . . . and stop this worrying. And if a dog swam by, I would know it was You, on your way.

SIRIUS: [Now less certain, and hoping to change the subject, he puts his hands on her shoulders and speaks to her earnestly]
Let me try a different way of putting it, Celeste . . . or, to rephrase it: Here's my plan.

CHORUS OF US: [Enters back of stage, with water-wings-or children's plastic or rubber flotation devices-strapped to their shoulders. Each has a card pinned to his/her front, which reads in large letters: HERE'S MY PLAN.]

CELESTE: My plan is to enter the room carrying a tray with a selection of words, each one inside a long-stemmed wine glass, diverting your attention with my perfectly made-up features.

SIRIUS: Words? Such as what? [Anticipating, possibly, some innuendo]

CELESTE: Such as words . . . you know, the ones different people like to say [She puts on her head-phones and speaks each word slowly, considering it and preceding it with the word "equals"]
labile=intervention=opacity=dishwasher=discourse=pasta=thermometric bomb=Top Dog.

CHORUS OF US: [Re-enters with Dog masks, and parades across back-stage]
Bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

SIRIUS: A particularly odd kind of music, Celeste . . .

CELESTE: Here, try my headphones . . .
[She passes them to him]

[Lights down]

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