Saturday, December 17, 2011

Intro to Disgrace (in K. Vonnegut style)

All this happened, more or less. I did sleep with someone half my age, who could have been my daughter. I did get fired from my job and did move to the countryside. My daughter was raped by three men. Her neighbours did pretend that they didn’t notice a thing.

When I can’t sleep at night I wonder if my daughter wonders if I am any different from those men who raped her. You need to know that I am different. Those men were full of hatred when they did what they did. I was full of love when I did what I did, or at least ’love’ is the word I could find in the Encyclopaedia Britannica that is the closest to what I felt. I still have my doubts though, but who hasn’t.

My daughter doesn’t talk much to me anymore. I don’t talk much to her either. It’s difficult to tell if it’s the pity or the relief that stops me talking to her. Then again, we still jolly well behave.

I live with my daughter in a place that would be God’s anus if God had a digestive system. God beyond doubt doesn’t have a digestive system, but had he had one, I would be living right at the end of it, with a red neon sign above my head, that would say: EXIT. You can’t get any further from here without stepping into outer space.

I’m not here because I like to be here. I’m here because I don’t have any other choice. I don’t have any other choice because I have difficulties with controlling the strongest drive mammals have on this planet, that requires them to match their genitals with the genitals of other mammals, regardless their age. If God had genitals (which he beyond doubt doesn’t) he wouldn’t ask us to control ours either.


My body is laying on the bed and Mark’s body is laying on my body. The two bodies are moving slowly, rhythmically. We could not possibly be closer to each other than we are now, and we couldn’t be more separate. I feel his warm, wine coloured breath on my face and his sweat tickles my skin. We are pretending and we both know it. I want to stroke Mark’s face and tell him that we don’t have to, but I don’t.
Our bodies are laying on the bed next to each other. Something uncomfortable is coming and maybe I could prevent it. I could say something comforting. I could ask him a question about how his day went or cuddle up to him and hug him. Our bodies are laying next to each other with the appropriate distance between them, with a distance that is right and suffocating in its rightness. I sense that Mark is looking at me, my closed eyelids serve as shields.
’You know,’ he says. ’You know.’
I know but I don’t let him know that I know.
I sense his cold hand on my shoulder for a second.
‘Hanna?’ he asks, ‘Are you up?’
Mmm. I say.
I hear him sighing. I open my eyes, and turn my head in his direction. He is looking at me in the dark. I look back at the ceiling.
The bed is slightly and rhythmically moving under me again, Mark is scratching himself. I want to ask him to stop scratching himself.
‘You know, Hanna,’ he says, ‘you know I was thinking about you, just now, and, and as I was thinking, all of a sudden I realized what you are. You are an inflatable doll.‘
I sit up in the dark. I guess he’s right.
‘That’s what your function is. That is what you are. So shouldn’t I treat you accordingly? Do you have any arguments why shouldn’t I?
I push the blanket off me.
’Of course you don’t have any. Because you are an inflatable doll.’
I stand up and I walk out of the bedroom. I walk through the dark living room, its darkness and silence is comforting, the cold floor makes my bare feet ache. I open the door of the toilet. The King is sitting on the toilet, his elbows are on his knees, his chin is in his palms, his crown is balancing insecurely on the top of his bald, shiny head. He wakes up as I switch on the light. He stands up slowly, like and old man, lets me take his place, and pats my shoulder before leaving. I sit down on the toilet and smile at him. He smiles back at me sleepily and closes the door behind him

In the restaurant

- I only have one question. It’s my birthday and you said you were gonna…. coz it’s my birthday. So one question. Help me understand it, ok? I need to… I need to understand. Will you help me understand it? Will you? Say that you will. God damn it.

- I will.

- What?

- I said I would. I will.

- What made you who you are? I want to know. I want to know what happened to you that made you… who you are.

- Mark, please.

- No, no, no, no, no ’please’, tonight. There is no ’please’ tonight, all right? Today is my day, you said so, you said that today was my day, ok? Did you say it or did you not say it? So stop saying ’please’. You said that you would do anything I asked from you today. You said that didn’t you?

- Yeah, I said that.

- There we go. There we go. So, I want you to tell me what happened to you that.. the thing that fucked you up.


- You’re not gonna tell me. I knew it. You’re not gonna tell me anything. You’re just gonna, you’re just gonna sit there in silence until I lose all my dignity and shut up. You’re just gonna do that. Coz you always do that. That’s what you do.

- That’s not what I do.

- Yeah, that’s what you do. Coz you’re evil. Aren’t you evil. Answer me, will you?

- I am not evil.

- It’s my day. It’s my goddamn birthday. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. I’m so happy, Hanna, I’m so happy. Look at me. Look at me how happy I am. Waiter! Waiter! Come here, please! Look at us we’re so happy.

- Mark…

- What? What’s wrong? I said please. Didn’t I say please? Didn’t I? I was a good boy. Waiter! Please, bring another bottle of champagne. We’re celebrating.

- Yes, sir. Anything else? Desert maybe?

- No. No desert maybe.

- For the lady?

- Don’t ask her. She’s not a lady. She’s a robot. A robowoman. Ro-bo-wo-man. She can’t speak poor thing.

- No, thank you. Hanna says. – I’m fine.

The waiter takes notes and leaves. The couple from the neighbouring table is staring at them.

- What are you looking at? She is really not a woman. She doesn’t have hair on her body. And she’s not getting old. She’s from another planet.

- Mark, stop this. – says Hanna.

- OK, I’ll stop. I’ll stop if you help me understand. I want clarity. (…) I’m so tired Hanna. I’m, I’m so tired. I wanna go home.

- You wanna go home?

- No. You gotta talk to me. Coz it’s my fuckin’ birthday. And then we’ll go home.

- OK.

- OK?

- OK.

- Did you say OK? Did you just say OK?

- Yeah, I said OK.

- So you’re gonna… what are you doing?

- What?

- Are you smiling?

- I’m not smiling.

- Yes you’re smiling. You’re laughing at me.

- I’m not laughing at you. I’m just nervous, OK? I’m sorry. I have to laugh when I’m nervous, you know that I have to laugh when I’m nervous.

- Fuck your nervousness. Fuck it. Let’s go home. I wanna sleep.

Friday, December 16, 2011

One syllable writing - afternoon in a park

I lie down in front of her, on the grass.
“Do you think we’ll go to hell, for what we did?”, she asks. She laughs.
I look up. The tree branch makes a shape on the sky which makes me think of a hand. My gran’s hand, as she helped me get up from a fall.
Pink blooms stick out from the hand. They speak of spring and life and light. I reach out, to touch her face. Her cheek and ear and nose. I trace out her lips. They are soft. Red. I can’t breathe – for a bit.
I say, “No, I don’t think so. It felt too good.”
Her hand finds mine, moves it back to her lips, to be met with a kiss.
A leaf falls.
The sky up there looks down. The sun shines through the branch. The pink buds bloom. I smile.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


¡ La reine de Saba !
La reine du samedi soir.
Ma reine, cette fin de semaine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RECTIFIED CALIGRAMMES , (Exercise chez Monica 12.10.2011)


Your schedule palpitates
but you heart






What´s the point for a tightrope walker to have an umbrella

when he´s falling so quickly

as the rain



-"In a coach sits an engineer. He´s designing a long train full of empty minded people"
- Where did you get this ?
- Well, I found it on my i pod while coming home in the subway...


Breast hurts because it is not yet
or it has been.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


La spéculation est le miroir de ton calcul

¡ Oh belle ,

qui traverse la ville

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Talking Sheep

Leia carried her enormous rucksack off the bus, a bit disappointed there was no handsome country side guy willing to help her. Her map said Mr. Pritzgenschtall’s farm was only 200 metres away. It would have been a small effort for Mr. Pritzgenschtall to pick her up from the bus station. Not very gentlemen, these farmer men.
Hans Pritzgenschtall took a last look at the living room: a vase of freshly-picked flowers on the table, the calendar on the right month, everything seemed in order. Would this Leia girl know that he was a single farmer? (He figured he would introduce himself as single, not divorced. But then he realised he still had some pictures of his ex-wife in the hall and decided it would probably better to be honest anyway.)
Hans was in love as soon as he opened the door. Immediately he fell some hundred kilos heavier, thinking of how he would try to hide this childish love for an entire month from this beautiful female specimen. Would she dance salsa? It was the new thing he had dared to learn and apparently this was hot "in town".
So, tell me about your, er, PrD., Hans asked.
- PhD? Leia smiled.
- Uh yes, tell me what it is about! If you think I can understand it, of course. Haha.
- Oh it’s very simple. I am finding out how sheep talk to each other.
- Well, that’s something I know about! You’ve come to the right place! I can tell you they say a lot of bèèèèèèèh and BAAAAH! 
(Hans did not know why he had to scream out that last sound at such a loud tone. It made him feel embarrassed about himself.)
- Yeah, they do say that, but actually by doing so they tell each other a lot more than we think! When they say bèèèh, they for example mean: You’re pooping in my area. Whereas béééh means: You’re hot.
Hans looked at Leia with big eyes, even though his eyes were small. How could this girl presume all this, while most likely it’s the first time in her life she is staying at a farm? He should know about this much better than her! But then, this girl had this very high degree, so he did not feel he could get into a debate about this.
So instead he asked carefully: how did you get all this wisdom?
- I will show you, Leia said. If you show me your sheep, I will do some translation for you.
As they headed off to the field, Hans started to feel a little anxious. What if his sheep would talk negatively about him? They have been able to do this their entire lives without ever getting caught for it. And beside Bertha and Hans and Stine and his parents several years ago they had not seen many people. What would their impression of him be? Hopefully it would not be too embarrassing; he would certainly not want Leia to know.
So they sat down on a rock, near the sheep, and the sheep remained silent. They probably could tell Leia understood Sheep and remind silent on purpose, Hans figured. But how would they be able to tell?  
Then one sheep made a bèh! sound. It was very short.   
Leia said it meant: who is that creature? 
It’s what sheep always say when they encounter something new that they do not like, she explained. 
It took a long time before a bigger sheep answered bèèèèèèèèèèh, which was supposed to mean: oh you wussy, why should you care. Go eat grass in that corner.
Hans asked Leia: aren’t you insulted? They are not very friendly about you. Before Leia could answer, suddenly al the sheep started yelling multiple kinds of BEEEHHHHHHs with different intonations and in varying volumes, and Leia looked both fascinated and worried at the same time. 
Yes, well.. She fell silent, which did not seem to be something that happened to her very often. It is quite shocking indeed, she murmured. 
Leia really looked a little pale.
Maybe we can go back to the house for a while, is that OK for you?
- Sure, Hans said.
- I’m really sorry, Leia said. I’ve never heard sheep going crazy like that before. It was really, well, I guess I shouldn’t tell you.
If Hans were honest with himself, he felt quite relieved. He did not dare to ask what exactly had shocked Leia, because it would be indiscreet, and because deep down he did not want to know himself. This evening, and he smiled by the thought of it, he would teach Leia how to dance salsa in his living room. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tax Return

  I have never liked filling the forms for the tax return. I remember the first time, when it was new and exciting, so many years ago. I also remember that feeling being substituted by an incredible boredom and the notion that I would never manage to do it by myself.
  That is the exact feeling that I'm having right now.
  I look at the stack of papers that I have in front of me and the delicious idea of suicide briefly crosses my mind.
  "Would you like some Doritos and a glass of wine, dear?", my wife knows me better than myself. In any other occasion I would have said yes without even letting her finish the sentence.
  "Yes. No. Whatever. Later. I love you.", I say instead, and immediatly feel like an idiot.
  "O.K. Love you too.", she is the best woman in the world.
  I look out of the window, where the sun is shining, kids are playing and couples are holding hands and saying nonsenses to each other. Except this is Belgium and the sky is concrete grey. And except for the fact that from my window I only see a big, dirty, ugly building.
  The mind is an awesome thing.
  There is a box where I have to write my income from last year. I consider throwing some random numbers at it, but instead I shout over my shoulder.
  "This is torture! Do you know where my pay sheets are?!"
  "Under the blue folder to your right!", the voice of Layla is like music to my ears, so I have to repeat the question.
  "Blue folder! To your right!"
  "Thanks, love!"
  There is a blue folder to my right, and the papers are underneath it.
  I have to add all the numbers together, though, and my basic math skills have abandoned me. Memories of exams pass through my mind. I can feel the fear in my lips again.
  Thank god for calculators, the inventor should have been made World Hero or something.
  I write the numbers and the box accepts its defeat.
  The kitchen is paradise right now. I take a mouthful of Doritos and wash them down with some wine. I kiss my wife and I suggest watching a movie. To her, I am transparent. She knows what I have in mind. She takes me by the hand and leads me to the bedroom.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy vegetables

When he arrived to the supermarket, Uncle George went directly to the cold department, for he knew himself as a very efficient and straightforward person and valued himself for owning these noble characteristics. It was a Friday evening, and Uncle George was in charge of buying something that would serve at the main course of the dinner party. In the cold department all the meat and frozen food were stored. But for his bitter surprise, it was very cold in the cold department. He hadn’t felt this cold in years. He felt so cold that it activated the fight or flight response in his brain. Fight or flight or freeze. From these options, flight was clearly the right response. So he opened the freezer that was next to him, took out the first thing that his hand could grab and left the cold department.
It was only at the cashier where he noticed what he actually bought. He noticed it at exactly the same moment when the lady in white with tattooed eyebrows asked him:
‘Would you like anything else, Sir?’
It was a straightforward question. Firm but just. If he wanted something else, this was the moment to say so.
Uncle George looked in the basket in front of him. What he saw was an Iglo bag of carrots and peas laying in it. The carrots and the peas were mixed. The mixture was called ’Happy Vegetables.’
Uncle George looked back at the lady and her tattooed eyebrows.
‘No,’ he said resolutely.
There was an explanation on the bag that clarified why the product was called Happy Vegetables. Uncle George noticed this when he was already sitting in his car, observing his pray, trying to figure out what could be done out of it for dinner. The mixture was called happy vegetables, because Beta Carotin helped the brain produce opiate and opiate made people feel happy. On the bag, Uncle Iglo explained that if children ate happy vegetables every day, a kind penguin would take them to Happy Vegetable Country. So, all in all, it was clearly a good buy.
However, Uncle George was not sure if Uncle Iglo’s reasoning would convince his wife too that he made the right choice. But going back to the supermarket was not an option. The lady at the cashier already asked him if he wanted something else and he said no. Going back would have been admitting publicly that he was a weak character. Someone, who didn’t know what he wanted.
So Uncle George started the engine, and drove home listening to evergreens in the radio, with the bag of Happy Vegetables on the passenger seat.
Aunt Alexandra was already waiting for him in the kitchen. She had just finished preparing the potato salad. Uncle George stood behind her, covered her eyes with his right palm, and put the bag of Happy Vegetables on the table in front of her. Aunt Alexandra got slightly aroused by this sudden blindfolding, and pushed her buttocks close to her husband crotch. Uncle George stepped one step backwards automatically, which made it clear that he had no erotic intentions. This movement left both of them standing in an unnatural posture. It also left Aunt Alexandra somewhat irritated.
’I got something very special for tonight,’ Uncle George said.
’What is it?’ Aunt Alexandra asked. She forced herself to smile despite her irritation. She smiled because she knew that it was smiling that good natured people did when they were offered a gift, even when they were slightly irritated. Aunt Alexandra thought of herself as a very good natured person.
’Something special for tonight’s dinner.’ Uncle George lowered his hand.
Aunt Alexandra looked at the vegetables and didn’t say anything. She didn’t say anything because her mind was blank. This often happened to her when she was about to say something particularly offensive. It was a defence mechanism of her brain that kept her marriage alive in the last ten years. It was a common defence mechanism among the brains of people who thought of themselves as good natured persons. Over the time it made these people embittered, but Aunt Alexandra had another defence mechanism to cover her embitterment. Aunt Alexandra’s brain was a perfect matrix of hundreds of defence mechanisms.
’They are happy vegetables’. Uncle George whispered.
Aunt Alexandra nodded.
’We can make a ratatouille out of them.’ Uncle George said.
‘A ratatouille.’ Aunt Alexandra repeated. Repetition was another defence mechanism that helped her win time when her reptilian brain was urging her to bite the person nearby.
’A happy ratatouille.’ Uncle George said.
’A happy ratatouille.’ Aunt Alexandra repeated.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



Love each other
as you love your liver.

So I did ,
and drank the vodka
in a single shot.
Cul sec.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The comedian, who was secretly fat

Andrej, the secretly fat comedian was standing at the train station with his wife, Veronika. They were waiting for the train that was going to take Veronika to the city where her sister gave birth recently.

Not even Veronika knew that Andrej was fat. Andrej kept his weight carefully in secret since 2008 when he got fat as a result of a period of binge eating, which was the result of a period of intense performance anxieties. The spouses didn’t see each other naked since their son was born seven years ago.

Veronika didn’t suspect that her husband was fat, but she knew that Andrej was keeping something in secret from her. She thought that her husband had a lover, the liberated, communist wife of the local orchestra’s blind conductor. Veronika had an old-fashioned view on men, which allowed her to accept the suspected adultery. According to this view men were like infantile porks, who couldn’t help themselves when it came to food or genitals. However, Veronika didn’t wish to be confronted with the truth, because that would have put her in the unpleasant position where one has to take a position, and Veronika didn’t like to take positions, in fear of regretting them later.

‘You can go home now,’ Veronika said. ‘I will get on the train.’

She kissed Andrej’s soft, big, cold face, first on the left cheek and then on the right. Then Andrej kissed her soft, cold cheeks back. All their cheeks were kissed now.

'Don’t forget to clean his nose in the evening.' – Veronika said.

She meant the nose of their son, Levin.

'I will not forget to clean his nose in the evening.' Andrej said seriously.

In his private life he was always serious. After fifteen years of being a comedian, he was truly sick of joking. When a friend told a joke at the dinner table, he wanted to cry. He compared his situation to the gynaecologist’s who, after a long day at work, has to look at his wife’s vagina.

'It’s important for hygiene.' Veronika said. 'The nose needs to be clean.'

'I agree.' – Andrej said and he meant it.

'Bye now!'

Veronika climbed the stairs of the train, but then she heard her husband shouting after her, so she turned back.

This was what Andrej shouted after her:


Veronika waited.

Andrej stepped closer and continued shouting: ‘I forgot to tell you something!’

‘You don’t need to shout Andrej. I hear you well.’

‘I have to tell you something Veronika.’ Andrej said. He was sweating. Not only he was sweating: he was breathing heavily too.

‘So tell it!’

‘Veronika,’ Andrej said, ‘I’m fat.’

And at the moment he said it, he regretted it. He never told his dirty secret to anyone, hoping that eventually he would lose weight and leave his fatness - as a bad dream - behind. But now he said it and it felt that the spoken words made his fatness real, irreversible; that they validated and enforced a fat existence from now on, forever. How he wished he could go back in time.

Veronika felt relieved. She was worried for a second that Andrej would reveal his affair with the communist, and she would need to take a position.

‘You’re joking,’ she said.

‘Yes,’ Andrej said and nodded vigorously. ‘I was joking.’

Veronika never heard her husband making a joke before. She was never interested in humour or comedy so she never went to see Andrej’s show in the theatre.

‘Ha Ha,’ Veronika said. As far as she knew, this was the appropriate thing to say when someone made a joke.

‘Ha Ha,’ said Andrej too.

Veronika tapped her thigh uncertainly. This was what people did in movies when they laughed.

‘Ha Ha.’ she said again. For a second, she thought about adding: Hilarious!. Then she decided not to. She only said: ‘Bye now!’, and stepped in the darkness of the carriage.

Andrej sighed deeply. He adjusted his corsette and waved goodbye.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One Day I Wrote - Our creative writing workshop!

One day you want to write a story. One day you will write a book. One day you will become a famous writer. Sounds like daydreaming? Not necessarily:

Write for One Day at our creative writing workshop!

When: 2 July, 10.00 - 17.30 h

Where: The Hub Brussels
37 rue du Prince Royal, (Porte de Namur metro)

Costs: 10€ including sandwich lunch and creative cocktail

Register: by sending an email to:

What to bring along: paper & pen, a book (for a book swap), and your magnificent creative mood.

During the day we will work on character, conflict & climax, with the goal to have a full short story and a cocktail at the end!

We are also happy to announce the London-based author Oliver Harris is crossing the channel to tell us what it is like to get your book published. He will be joining the workshop to talk about anything a writer with aspirations to publish comes across.
Read a review of his book here.

You can also find us on Facebook.

Click on "read more" to find the rest of the programme!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Barbecue Man

They called him The Barbecue Man. Barbecue was his flavour; when pizza was ordered, he asked for barbecue; when he went to McDonald's, it was a McBarbecue he ate. He had a stash of barbecue sauce bottles in his house that he replenished quite often.

That one day, they were at a bar watching a football game. Everyone was having a pint of Jupiler, but for him. He didn't like beer. Well, he did, but only that very dark kind of beer. It reminded him of spare ribs with barbecue sauce.
His childhood had been hard.

Anyway, they were watching that football match and he was having that spare rib flavoured beer when the referee signalled half-time. And then, there it was. The new ad from Pringles®.
Apparently, the mad scientists that develop new flavours for the not-a-potato-snack company had synthetized the essence of the barbecue taste and so the new Pringles® Barbecue arrived to the market.

The Barbecue Man opened his eyes wide in disbelief. Finally, the field of not-potato-snacks opened to his tastebuds! Years of envy of other people when they popped open a can were over! Their satisfied smiles when they had a cheese-with-onion wave-shaped mouthful would be his!

They saw him leaving his beer on the table, getting his coat and rushing to the door, and they followed him. He looked like a lioness hunting, eyes and ears open, nose sniffing for a prey.

The shop's was the only light on in the alley. Inside, a pakistani man was reading the newspaper while listening to the news on the radio and watching a BBC News program on a muted TV.
He jolted in surprise when The Barbecue Man slammed the door open. And he was followed by a crowd.

The Barbecue Man looked with his red eyes to the shopkeeper and said:
- Pringles®. Barbecue.

The shopkeeper gave him the can and The Barbecue Man looked eagerly at it while he payed. Then he popped it open and pulled the lid out. A barbecue smell flooded the shop. The Barbecue Man took a single Pringle® from the can. He handled it like it was a newborn child. Then, slowly, almost reverently, he bit into it.

It tasted like egg.