Red Silver Bronze

W14 Dalí and the Colossus

The Colossus painted the Surrealist. In 1931, the world unconsciously incorporated Dalí in to its history. All his paintings were authentic forgeries, delivered over time. He constructed a history for himself, since he had no memory.

For years Dalí would look for perspective as the Colossus produced art for him. He turned to science, the newspaper, and cinema; he signed papers and paintings. One of these was the likeness of the Colossus, not seen before. Ashlar base, hammered bronze, support of drapery.

Exploration brought Dalí to a domain where one time-piece after an other was hanging from walls or fused to the ground. From there to Rhodes, third century BC, where he left the painting with an architect.

The statue was made, destroyed, sold in ruins, fell from memory to dream. Centuries later, the Colossus painted the Surrealist.1

W15–16 The Maker of Tides

Satisfied there was nothing of danger, she relented to the line’s pull, hopping from her sky deep perch. Down and up she went to meet the surface. A grave mistake. The catchers took her, blinded her, stuffed her in a tent of curiosities to wander till she drowned of grief.

It was the Maker of Tides for which they fished, they wished to own her shapely silver. So they came to catch her on a line of ringing silver thread, for silver and silver adhere. See, because of them, the sky is an empty face. Pocked with stars, missing its first eye (the sun being second).

Yet these waters have not forgot the image they caress each night since a time before the first dawn. The old orb’s last glimmer still swims here in this mere lake. I am the keeper to this obscure shrine. Watch the twice-reflected light cavort in the dim regions. My forebears found it here alone, skimming the waves, ghosting through the deep. You know it lives there. You know you wish to claim it, for all you tell yourself it’s other things that brought you here. Don’t be caught by your own catching.

Hear the first catcher’s last words: When she rises, water streaming from her lips and eyes, while your boat settles to the bottom of a marsh newly drained of its covering, then you know fear.

If you lower your head beside the gleam, so the water laps against your ear, you hear the specter declaim against the thieves:

Asa. Ene. Odo. They who pass this place will forever know your names. For the shape of your greed unfolds in the craft of your thought and forms a bleak new world where it lies. How will you explain why the night is now too dark for raptures and silent wars? One generation will worship your brazen feat, but future vandals will seek your graves and set the night ringing with curses instead of silver. This is what you bought. This is what you wrought.2

W17 Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?

I can’t take credit for this perfect title, which comes from a book by Andrew Lawler. I already mentioned my past year’s project to uncover the secret histories of a few banal things in the modern world. Of them all (some were in fact quite dull), this book was a real pleasure to read—personable, well-paced, and committed to crossing the world.

Chickens weren’t always ubiquitous. They come from Southeast Asia, domesticated from what we’ve come to call red jungle fowl. This wild bird still stalks the forests and mountain villages there. Apparently it’s a striking sight, dark with deep, shimmering colors.

Nearby in Bali and the Philippines, roosters are still prized for cockfights. Sometimes these are sacred, sometimes riotous; sometimes legal, sometimes not.

The red comb atop the rooster’s head may have inspired Persian kings to create the familiar design of the crown. You know, the gold circlet with pointy teeth. In emojiese, 👑.

In Zoroastrianism and the Abrahamic religions, roosters were heroes. They announced the coming of light and raised people from sleep to meet the day. Across history, they’ve been objects of sacrifice and divination for numerous cultures.

Chickens sparked revolution in West Africa and sailed with Polynesian wayfinders over the Pacific.

Royalty, rituals, revolution. That’s what you order with every six-piece box of crispy nuggets. Try this book. You’ll never see (taste) chicken the same way again.


1. This was written from the featured Wikipedia article on 16 March 2022, called “The Colossus of Rhodes (Dalí).” I challenged myself to use only the 1394 words in the main text of the article to write this (much shorter) story.

2. Thanks to Amal El-Mohtar for this exercise, and to Lisel Mueller for her poem “Moon Fishing.” The first sentence is taken from an arbitrary point in my latest manuscript, and it then veers off in a whole new direction inspired by the poem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *