Alex - the Serial Bombmaker
Friday, October 26, 2018
|Rusty & Alex, Mexico City, 1956|
In 1956 when I was 14 I built bombs, big bombs.
friend David Harris at the American School in Mexico City and I liked to make
large explosions. There was a drugstore on Avenida Madero, downtown, called el
Elefante where we bought kilos of potassium chlorate and sulphur. We began our
bomb making with potassium nitrate but quickly found that potassium chlorate
gave a bigger bang. At first we tried to mimic gunpowder and added ground coal
to our mixture.
The way we exploded our divices, was to use large tin cans
inside larger tin cans (packed with pebbles to make it tight) where we would insert a long electrical wire that at the end had
a strand of a steel wool filament. After burying the can in my mother’s rose
garden we connected the wire to a large 6 volt battery. The 6 volts were enough to make the filament glow.
That first explosion blew one of my mother’s rose bushes up
into the air. We had buried our can under the bush. I was given a whipping with a Filipino slipper called a chinela. But
a few weeks later when the rose (which my mother re-planted) bloomed nicely I
remember that she smiled at me.
But David Harris, who was smarter than I was in chemistry,
told me that there was a better formula for our explosive that simply combined
the potassioum chlorate with aluminum powder. Aluminum powder was sold in what
in Mexico are special hardware stores called tlapalerías. The aluminum powder
was usually mixed (we purchased it on its own) with a solvent (perhaps linseed
oil) and used to paint metal so that it would not rust.
We made a very large bomb with his combination of aluminum
powder and the potassium chlorate but moved our operations to a nearby empty
lot. The explosion was deafening and the crater about ten feet in diameter. Perhaps because we lived in a residential district (Lomas de Chapultepec) the police never showed up.
We were delighted and built a few more of these bombs until
we became bored.
Weeks later David Harris arrived with a vile in hand and
riding on roller skates.
Alex, “This is nitro-glycerine.” We were both disappointed
when our aluminum bomb did not set off the vile. David told me that perhaps he had made a mistake in the combination of chemicals and that he would try it again.
A week later my mother and I moved to Nueva Rosita, Coahuila
and I lost contact with David Harris.
Through these many years I have been attempting to find him
but to no avail.
If you were coming in the fall, I'd brush the summer by
Thursday, October 25, 2018
|Acer (found on the street) October 25 2018|
In the last few weeks I have been writing blogs in
Spanish my native (materno in
Spanish) language. Some of my followers (or at least the decidedly vocal ones)
have objected to this. Since returning from our trip to Buenos Aires in
September I have felt nostalgia for that place. I must remind anybody reading
this that the absolute necessity for having nostalgia is to not be in the place
you have nostalgia for. I have been answering an inner voice to write and think in Spanish.
Imagine then that after a quick search on the net and in
my books in Spanish I have located three poems about fall from two Mexican
poets (Homero Aridjis & Octavio Paz) and by Argentine Julio Cortázar. The fourth poem (yes! In English) is
by Emily Dickinson.
Having left Buenos Aires at the start of a South American
spring and arrived to a warmish Vancouver fall but today, wet and cool I find
it most interesting that Dickinson’s poem about love injects a Southern
Hemisphere aspect to what she writes by mentioning the person she loves and
expects to see might mean that Dickinson might ignore (I’d brush the summer by)
the coming spring and summer as her lover’s spring would coincide with
Lovely, as that poem addresses my present confusion
between my Buenos Aires spring and my Vancouver fall.
|Rosa 'Duchess of Portland' & Rosa 'Abraham Darby' October 25 2018|
Otoño – Octavio Paz
En llamas, en otoños incendiados,
veces mi corazón,
solo. El viento lo despierta,
centro y lo suspende
que sonríe para nadie:
presencia, un cuerpo,
rompe los muros
nacer las formas embriagadas,
un son, un giro, un ala apenas;
delicadas y sombrías,
que sueñan labios,
que sueñan pájaros...
que no se sabe y dice «nunca»
cae del cielo,
mi Dios y mi adversario.
que las puertas de tu ciudad
con estatutos inviolables
acojan como habitante
vida que en ti se desenvuelve
que la lluvia de silencio
me impregnaré de ti
que sea humo en tu voz
sobre mis hombros tu futuro
llegue el otoño
descubriré al rostro de los hombres
en tus vasos alimenticios
nutrirse de esperanza
de otoño – Julio Cortázar
bóveda de la tarde cada pájaro es un punto del
Asombra a veces que el fervor del tiempo
sin cuerpo vuelva, ya sin motivo vuelva;
belleza, tan breve en su violento amor
guarde un eco en el descenso de la noche.
qué más que estarse con los brazos caídos,
corazón amontonado y ese sabor de polvo
que fue rosa o camino.
El vuelo excede el ala.
humildad, saber que esto que resta
ganado a la sombra por obra de silencio;
rama en la mano, que la lágrima oscura
son heredad, el hombre con su historia,
la lámpara que alumbra.
If you were coming in the fall - Emily Dickinson
IF you were coming in the fall,
I ’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.
If I could see you in a year, 5
I ’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.
If only centuries delayed,
I ’d count them on my hand, 10
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.
If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I ’d toss it yonder like a rind, 15
And taste eternity.
But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,