Tess of the Baskervilles: A Literary Mash-Up

The novel opens with a mini mystery– Philip Marlowe and Colonel Kurtz speculate on the owner of an alligator wallet left in their office by an unknown visitor. Wowing Kurtz with his extraordinary common sense, Marlowe opens the wallet and looks at the drivers license to discover that the wallet belongs to DH Lawrence, which provides a convenient entree into the history of British pornography.

Entering the office and opening a laptop, Lawrence plays for Marlowe and Kurtz an 18 1/2 minute porno film that features an unknown actor portraying Richard Nixon. Playing the role of Rosemary Woods in the film is the tragically beautiful porn star Tess Baskervilles, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace four years ago.

Lawrence maintains the film was shot within the last year because the director has carelessly left on the bedside table an anachronistic copy of Hillary Clinton’s recently published memoir Hard Choices. Slowing down and stopping the action, Lawrence zooms in to Tess’s right ear, which because of a childhood dog attack, has a jagged lobe. “See, it is she,” he stiltedly says. Oddly enough, throughout the film the only stitch of clothing the actress wears in one red Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star hightop.

Agreeing to take the case, Marlowe and Kurtz quickly discover that Charles G Koch and David H Koch, the billionaire Republican political operatives, were the producers of the film and the screenplay was written by Peggy Noonan, the first Bush’s head speechwriter, the author of the famous “ten-thousand points of light” slogan and the less famous line “Oh, Dickie, lick me,” from the Nixon/Woods porno vehicle starring Baskervilles and the mystery actor portraying Nixon.

Once in Washington, DC, where the film was shot, Kurtz discovers a state of emergency as someone has released scores of filthy pigeons in Battery Kemble Park. Kurtz meets potential suspects of the release in the park, two aides of Senator Ted Cruz, and decapitates them, placing their heads on stakes to demonstrate that he is “beyond their petty, lying morality.”

A series of mysteries transpire in rapid fire succession. Condoleezza Rice is seen skulking around the grounds of 3067 Whitehaven St NW, the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton; Kurtz spies a lonely figure keeping watch on the Clinton mansion; and after being threatened with blackmail by Marlowe, Robert Koch reveals that the porn film was directed by David Mamet.

Doing his best to unravel these threads of the mystery, Kurtz dispatches a camera drone to discover the lonely figure is none other than Marlowe himself.

Marlowe has discovered through his observations a mysterious woman being secreted in and out of the Clinton’s house, whom he suspects is none other than Lady Gaga, nee Tess Baskervilles. The Kochs, Cruzes, Mamets, and Noonans have only been pawns in the Clintons’ machinations — both Bill and Hillary have been Tess’s lovers, and unknown to the right-wingers, it was Slick Willie himself disguised by his eerily accurate Nixon make-up who played Rosemary Woods’s lover in the 18 1/2 minute porno film.

In a dramatic final scene, Kurtz and Watson use the Obama’s dog Sunny to track down Tess/Gaga using the scent of the sister shoe of the red Converse sneaker worn in the film.

Despite state-of-the-art burglar alarms and secret service agents, Marlowe and Kurtz gain entrance into the Clintons’ house where they discover Tess Baskerville/Gaga in bed with Condoleezza Rice.

They snap photos and threaten to sell them to the tabloids unless Condoleezza apologizes for her role in the Iraq debacle, which she hesitantly does by admitting “mistakes were made.” They then confront the Clintons who are upstairs scrutinizing poll data. Bill and Hillary brush off the two detectives maintaining the whole fiasco was a vast rightwing conspiracy and rattle off the names Koch, Mamet, Cruz, Noonan to prove their point.

Back in LA, Marlowe ties up a few loose ends with DH Lawrence while Kurtz writes a high-strung novelization of the porno film, an account that throbs with eloquence.


If you enjoyed this write-up, be on the lookout for the next exciting product from Mash-up Lit, The Hound of the D’Urbervilles.

Good Night Moon with Trigger Warning

Good Night Moon with Trigger Warning

I had not heard of a “trigger warning” until I read the New York Times article of 17 May 2014, but I must say the phenomenon doesn’t surprise me because twice in six years as an English Department chair, I have had parents complain about required reading, not because of graphic sex or violence, but because children might find the dénouements of A Hand Maid’s Tale (rising seniors) and Of Mice and Men (rising 8th graders) depressing. “Why,” the mother of the senior whined, “with so many uplifting books out there, do you have to choose such a depressing one?”

In my email I patiently explained that “unlike most movies, great literature provides students with a realistic portrait of the world and endows them with the vicarious experience that comes with experiencing the struggles, triumphs, and, yes, defeats of its characters.” Or, in other words, life is a bitch, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. We all die, almost all of us unpleasantly, our last breaths rattling out as our bodies spew the contents of our bladders and colons in a Dantean horror blast of shit and piss, so experiencing these bummer experiences secondhand might provide us with a wee bit of inoculation.

By the way, the previous sentence should have, according to many college students across the country, been preceded by a trigger warning in case a reader had witnessed a loved one’s dying and suffer from reading the sentence post traumatic stress. A warning like this: “If you have ever witnessed the cessation of life, please don’t read the following sentence because it graphically describes said cessation.”

Students at several universities are demanding that professors attach trigger warnings to their syllabi to protect the hypersensitive from abstract re-exposure to rape, suicide, violence, foul language, misogyny, drug overdoses, traffic accidents, flat tires, unpleasant smelling locker rooms, Barry Manilow concerts . . .

The first five of the above catalogue suggest that we might have to bid adieu to Mr. Faulkner, not to mention Master Will himself. The Times article actually begins with a Rutgers’ student’s complaint that The Great Gatsby needs a warning because “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence.”

Plus, Tom cries like a baby when he sees a box of dog biscuits.

Rousseau’s The Dream

Rousseau's The Dream

Naked, reclining on a couch,
comfortable, self-satisfied,

braids, two tentacles
hanging in high humidity.

The surrounding flora as lush
as green as innocence.

Blue lotuses thrive on dry land,
the moon a mint in a pale jade smudge of sky.

But one of the lions is crouching and looking alarmed
at our intrusion into her world.

The other cocks her head to the lilt of the piper’s song:
tall and tanned and young and lovely –

Wait, is that the piper’s cousin hanging from the vine,
half a chromosome once removed?

The Fall is spreading out in concentric circles:
a beak plucks its first worm, the elephant raises its trunk,

the suddenly shy snake slinks away to brood,
the lions’ stomachs are beginning to growl.

The Darwinian dance is commencing;
It’s time we slowly took our leave.

Axis Mundi

Mooyo Neimar: Entering the Navel of the World

One: Womb

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump,
floating here for millennia,
seems like forever,
one-cell two-cell ameoba-minnow frog
reptillian brain stem
lungs, lobes,
Amniotic Sea.
now dreaming,
sucking a thumb,
cramped, safe,
thump thump.

Two: Birth

into searing fluorescent light.
The cold
unmuffled scorch
of your own highpitched screaming.

Dialectics, man.
You can’t travel
in outer space.
The twin orbed goddess
is cradling you, cooooooooooooooing,
too la loo ra loo ral . . .

Three: School

See Dick run. Run, Dick, run.


The owl and the pussy cat went to sea [. . .]
I tink I taw a puddy tat.


We loved with a love that was more than a love.

tink a tank a
tunk a tunk tunk.

Four: Adventure

You, the cartoon mouse,
comfy and safe,
peering from a cave,

across a distant fluorescent galaxy
of linoleum
geometric patterns
pantheistic patterns receding into infinity.

The smell of food, the smell of blood

boom boom boom boom

the thumping of a bass!

Five: Stepping Out

Sighing like a train,
passing through a thicket,
evening’s misty monocle.

Holmes’s hat, a hound’s tooth,
footprints in the mole-tunneled mush:
mold – musk – rotting humus.

Over your shoulder
the fading village lights
blinking – sinking – no more –

* * *

It’s getting near dark – follow the prints,
the staggering Prince,
What if [he (the bastard)] tempt you

toward the flood [. . .]
or the dreadful summit of a cliff [. . .]
beetl[ing] o’er his base [. . .]

What if? Think. Placenta,
playpen, pup tent.
Too la loo la rhy.

* * *

Siren’s song, scratchy recording,
fly me to the moon.
that’s one small step

The lake, like a moat,
two oars, a boat, flat bottomed,
wooden, warped.

Gliding through the mist, an owl’s
desolate four notes,
lakewater lapping, lisping, yes!

Six: Jonah *

Swallowed up!
fright of fall, diminishing scream, right
flailing, tumbling, per second
per second, cartwheeling, and
black reek,

clinging to flotsam
luce muto.

Walk this way ?


Oui, da. si si

O, C., CC Ryder

Going like mad [,] and yes[,]

I said yes I will yes.  And there was a stair,


I walked 



Seven: The Axial Age

Demographics, man,
the cloak of invisibility,
you can travel in outer space,

diving into the dark,
driving like a bat,
exploiting the mazes of Old Milwaukee,

your own heart thumping,
flipflopped foot stomping the accelerator,
“Quark, erg, quark, erg, quark, erg,”

Boom – out go the lights.
The spinning stops.
Thunderous silence.

* * *

Up through the attic door
you enter the Bardo,
skipping the Pythagorean,

skirting the Druidic sacrifice,
ambiguous moans, the panting,
the rasp of ripping silk.

Dimly aware of the ecstatic static electricity,
flipflopped, through the portal
of the seven sacred vowels, you pass,

ignoring the Good News,
dismissing desert deprivation,
avoiding eye contact w/ warrior and virgin.

* * *

The rotary motion of samsara ceases.
Matter doesn’t matter.
Form is


all pervading


Eight: Glimpsing the Goddesses *

An open door
at the top of the stairs.
Safe and sound,

you enter the deepest
chamber of all the temple
all the tea in China

There is a velvet couch,
two sacred serpents
entwined like lianas.

* * *

too la loo ra loo ral
knitting up the raveled sleeve of care
twin orbs, sun and moon,

too la loo melting into perfect crystaline unconsciousness
la ral

* * *
For six days you sleep
then arise

not you
not I
not we

thump thump
thump thump

Nine: Going Home **

Exhausted ogres with denture breath and walkers,
witches in wheelchairs,
dragons flattened like frogs.

A tip of the hat
Daisy, Daisy
not a cloud in the sky.

The boogie man’s
diabetic, his
feet swaddled in gauze.

The big bad po-please-man,
porcupine buzzcut, obese,
blowing bubbles on a park bench.

The unforgiving nun,
now near ninety or so,
suffering a sponge bath.

Look, Jonathan Edwards
bowing to you
as you whistle a tune:

O Daisy, Daisy,
I’m half crazy
too la loo la loo

Ten : Again, the Threshold *

The lake, a mirror,
the sky, a mirror,
Mirror, mirror [. . . ]

A sail, a skiff,
glitter of sun rays
The receding temple

as unsubstantial
as the coast of Connemara
wrapped in mist.

Too la loo la loo ral
Too la loo la lye

The sun climbing,
the cove
coming into view.

No cliffs here – just a
path of pine straw
in the forest.

No big bad wolves or
gingerbread houses.
Or fathers’ ghosts.

Thump thump
goes the heart.
Thump thump
goes the earth.
Thump thump
go the drums.

Eleven Two Brains, Two Worlds

But you and I’ve, we’ve been through that,
like this, like this and that,

like the reptilian: the Inquisitions, the jihads,
like man, like been there, like done that.

Like the neo cortex: Sanskrit, Pali, Linear B,
algebra, calculus.

like the motion of twin orbs,
like the valley of the shadow

as if silence is whispering something
there, in the silence, some thing


no here
no here, right here, right now. Now!

Twelve: OM

Advice to Method Actors Playing Charles Bukowski

Drew Friedman's Portrait of Charles Bukowski

Portrait of Charles Bukowski by Drew Friedman


Click the grey arrow above for sound.

Advice to Method Actors Playing Charles Bukowski

First, you gotta plow and pit your face
so infants in strollers burst bawling
when they see you on the sidewalk pacing,
stopping, grabbing your pen, scrawling
lines that stagger like drunks across
a coaster lifted from some shit hole joint
in East L.A. You gotta, of course, toss
down at least a fifth of rotgut and do a couple of joints
before noon. Feel the hurt her repulsion brings
when you notice the cute salesgirl wince.
Whine about the wine, the tattered wings
of that heartbreaking filly Pegasus.
Think Milton’s Satan in a methadone clinic,
self-destructive, self-loathing, sardonic.

~Wesley Moore