EDGAR AND CHARLES
A play in one act by Béa Aaronson
IN A TRAIN COMPARTMENT,
DURING THE NIGHT,
IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE,
TWO GENTLEMEN DRESSED IN 19TH CENTURY CLOTHES,
FACING ONE ANOTHER….
CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, A FRENCH POET,
AND EDGAR ALLAN POE, AN AMERICAN POET,
BOTH REJECTED BY THE BOURGEOIS SOCIETY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES.
BAUDELAIRE TRANSLATED POE’S WORKS AND MADE HIM FAMOUS IN FRANCE. HE HAD FOUND A SOUL MATE…
It’s a long journey…
A very long journey…
Do you know where you’re going?
Do you want to know where you’re going?
He takes a sip from his silver liquor bottle
I have my own. He takes a sip from his liquor.
Death is my mate.
I drown myself in her voluptuous poisons…
I smoke her too. He takes an opium pipe from his pocket and inhales a few puffs.
Who are you?
I am you alter ego, dear lost soul. I am your raven…
Still thinking about the destination of the journey
Anywhere…anywhere out of this world!
This is where I want to go.
I too long for a place where I could be myself…
Time, nothingness, pain, sickness, wounds,
I know them all,
they gnaw at me like whores sucking my blood on a mattress of needles…
Yes…..anywhere out of this world…
“Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet undaunted, on this desert land enchanted”
“Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore
A troop of echoes”
We are the troopers…dear friend
We walk in a forest of symbols…
Perfumes, sounds, colors echo one another
Dear Synesthesia…A balm on my hurting heart…
A few caresses…here…there…
Life…just an echo…
Baudelaire is itching everywhere…
He scratches his hands, his face, his body…
“I scratch my wound in front of a mirror…”
Will you be my mirror?
I am the mirror…
I do not want to heal, I explode like a cancer….
carrying within myself “the bloody apparel of destruction”
I accept hell to escape from the irremediable despair of my life
My life is already hell.
Ghastly horror of this mundane, insipid, arrogant, superficial world in which I am forced to err like a derisory weakling… I thirst for the void…
For the final flight
A raven would save me…
“I dwelt along in a world of moan
And my soul was a stagnant tide”
No… Not stagnant…
You move, you live in your words…
They live in you.
No. Not stagnant.
Your dreams save you as mine save me.
We are the sea, the waves, the sky, the stars.
We are like these harbors, which promise a journey, aways, always away, away from here,
away from now, away from the tormenting ugliness of this world which slurps the misery of others like one swallows a cordial.
I love you Charles.
I love you Edgar.
My fears are your fears.
I know. But these fears make us who we are. They urge us to write the truth, in its plural essence…
And give the hypocrites what they deserve…
Plutocrats with a shallow veneer of culture, badly digested at that!
I hate the bourgeois, their cloned esthetics,
sprayed with the cosmetics of conspicuous consumption… Nothing ever changes. They force upon us their despicable greed and ostentatious tasteless fat selves.
Progress! They say…
“We shall die from too much progress…”
I curse the bourgeois…
Their earnest self-righteousness…
Their belching songs of material well-being.
They despise me…I despise them.
They tried to kill me.
But I will kill myself first…
And my words will kill them.
I write to forget… And to remember.
I write to give my life an illusion of mercy…
Isn’t it strange, the both of us, here, in this train, in the middle of the night… In the middle of nowhere, longing for an anywhere… Inventing an end to our stories…
There is no end, Edgar… No end…
It always goes on… There is no beginning either… (how easy that was…!)
A star of black light… I am sucked in…
An extraordinary experience…
Like your stories….
It is woman, a cunt of black light, which engulfs me… Obsesses me…
“Woman… a fountain… a shrine….”
…An altar on which I am dismembered…
“Oh, dear God, give me the strength to look at myself without disgust…”
Satan! Throw me a few bones to dance and I’ll write you a poem.
I’ll write you stories to shake your blood…
Looking at himself and touching his body
I hurt everywhere. My head is beating like a storm…
I bleed like a fountain of red, each pore of my skin… An inkwell…
I will die in my own blood,
I will drown in my words…
Do you want to die with me?
In order to live forever…
I made you famous once, in my country, which is not yours, I took your words and made them mine … You shone…
Your genius at long last recognized…
Do you want to die with me tonight?
Isn’t it what we are doing now?
Dying….. (Ah Nietzsche! You pulled my strings!)
The clock is a vampire…
Dying for what we believe in…
Our fight against injustice, against lies and abuses, our fight for love, our longing to be loved…
Our fight against the sterile minds of bankers,
against flower arrangements and potted souls…
There is no justice for the poor… For the poets…
No justice in the books, in the courts of law,
there is no justice…
It will always be the gallows for us…
There is no justice… But ours!
Still in the train compartment, dark all around, two lights shine on Baudelaire and Poe. They look at one another in silence. A music of scratched steel and sonorous metals (which I have recorded) provides a background of infernal emotional content.
“Mimes in the form of God on high
Mutter and mumble low”
“That motley drama- Oh be sure
It shall not be forgot”
“And over each quivering form
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm”
Your haunted palaces speak to me.
They show me the treacherous night of remembrance
Oh, how I love you and your dark beauty
Your exquisite nature so undecided
“thinking what this ominous bird of yore
What this grim, ungainly, gaunt, ghastly and ominous bird of yore”
Your ghoul-haunted visions
Shut up in your sepulchers…
Will we flicker to heaven?
Only our eyes
I confess I dream of an un-extinguishable sun
Is it hope…?
There is no hope. Not for us.
Only mirrors, shadows and disillusions.
I shall sanctify your fire so sweetly scintillating.
And what will you say, poor solitary soul,
What will you say to my heart?
Once, only once, we shall drink the nectar of this full-orbed moon
And then expire, multiplied in our words
“Those crystalline celestial spheres…”
Where heaven and hell make love
Divided against one another
Divided against ourselves
My dear soul
Like an electric fire in the glare of night…
We multiply to conquer all fears…
I was just a festering fetus to you…
You never believed in me…
Yet, how I loved to touch your dresses, to burry my head in the scented lace of your days…you never understood me…
Silence, the metallic grinding music becomes louder
Yes Charles, I want to die…
Now… With you… Through you…
This is the journey…
A very long journey…
In this train to nowhere which is everywhere
We shall find peace, freedom….
At long last
No more pain
No more sores to pierce, no more wounds to scratch
The music becomes almost unbearable, loud, strident and sharp.
Poe and Baudelaire shout to one another
This is no farting storm!
This is deliverance!
A new world is being born…
God is a great Farter!