ULYSSES (1922) is a novel by James Joyce which documents the entire day of Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904.
12/01/09 | Novel


by a Titular Collaborative

JUNE 16, 1904

I couldn’t make out the sea, but it was out there. I could hear it. What did I want to see the sea for I was not a tourist. Only a schmuck would jump into the sea to save some other schmuck. The sea was starting to get on my nerves. It was like a dog barking late at night that just keeps going on and on. It was really getting on my nerves, it was begging for a bullet between the eyes.

The schmuck lived in some kind of castle. I leaned against the cold stone. The piece warmed in my hand. Yes, killing is easy, finding the victim is hard.

Lucky for Joe he was on time. He was a small man with rat’s eyes. I was drinking a whiskey, without water and ice. He was drinking some thick tar. The foam circled his lips. His teeth were rotten. I wished he would keep his mouth closed. I thought about buying him a straw. I also thought about knocking out those teeth. “Call me Ishmael,” he said. “I’ll call you Joe,” I said.

I watched the light creep upon the darkness. Soon I would be in the light. I felt myself getting bored. Hurry up, I thought. I squeezed the handle of the piece and readjusted my aim. One slug between the eyes, that’s how the morning would welcome him. Only a schmuck would risk his life for another schmuck caught in the sea. I would have let the donkeyhead drown. Sunlight caught the sea. It was the color of snot.


JUNE 16, 1904

We were poking around the woods, irritated, and dangerous. I tried to carry my gun like the others, on my shoulder, under my arm, but mostly I waved it around, swatting bugs. I thought about what a nice conversation piece it would make when we headed back into town later. The others drifted apart. I was my own company. I set the rifle on the ground and looked at a leaf for fifteen minutes. It had veins. The veins flickered, tiny pulses. A gun shot went off. The leaf and I flinched. When I settled I realized the leaf was laughing at me because I had flinched. The leaf was barely moving, but its veins grinned. Somewhere in the direction of the gun shots I heard hoots and cheers. I bent over to pick up the gun. I felt the leaf still laughing at me. A dog barked. The leaf whispered, “Shoot it.” I looked in the direction of the barks and blindly pointed my rifle at the leaf. When the others came running they asked if I had gotten anything. I shrugged and pointed my gun above the tree line.


JUNE 16, 1904

I slept in the tree house that day, until I could taste the honey on the fence posts. We counted each other in planks of wood and rope-knots, as the hair on our chests braided into moss.

She leaned in through the opening and drooled laughter. She was red and she was night. She was the flytraps, she was the dirty thing we kept locked in our private safes. It was a little skinny, it was a little rough, but in the afternoons when the cicadas get angry and the lawnmowers scream, it does its job.

That evening I looked through the only window and watched a man build a dam. He blocked off the water, but the water spilled into the fields and his crops drowned one by one. The man watched his plants struggle in the water and laughed.

She looked through the door and rolled pennies across the floor.


JUNE 16, 1904

It was fucking late. As in early. One of those crack-crick nights. The bar was low and large as the world, beastly dead. Blake lipped a flash about Oxycontin: a sconce-kept lawn as multi-corporation eye-gouge, and the nacho-nander possibility of STD transmission through fingering a newspaper. It was real. So real, corpuscle burst in front of me, that Blake himself drew forth froth like a library gloryhole and offered Oxycontin. The pill was beige like a job.

“Let’s split the dream on this crow and fucking fly” were his exact words. I’m too old for all the new language but my mind went: Dream—time release coating. Crow—the actual pill. Fucking fly—we are about to fucking fly.

Paul said, “Don’t, that shit will show you the nights of your days.” Mark said, “Well…”

I could see if I didn’t, Mark would swoop in like a raptured soul. Also I was down with Blake. His words just sent me wandering for my seventh Rolling Rock. It was a hipster bar, young women with subterranean cleavage, eyeglasses of countneck clams. Vegans lunatick. Three ladies in Iron Maiden T-shirts. Tight and drawing near. No doubt. In the end, I would make love tonight.

Her car a dusty Prelude, with a tiny spare and a windshield cobwebbed in glistening glass. We drove to the house she was sitting. Rich fucks. Drank their wine outdoors, alongside a Koi pond. Inside lithographs of Russian sitting rooms. Victorians sipping coffee, violins. We did the medicine cabinet thing. Lorcets down the hatch like threadbare delight.

“Can I cum here?” I asked, a lifetime later, touching a finger between her breasts, and she looked away at the wall and said, “Fine.”

A myth I can’t unravel, or want to own. Or just what happened.


JUNE 16, 1904

What they had begun to use to build the people with was mud and polyp, slick and sneeze. They issued new names from pages of a fat black catalog written and rewritten, then erased: then writ again with numbers from a generator ate with moth. A blond machine intoned the population into legions in the streets. The emptied homes, some stuffed with squatters, fit fat with scab and wire, rinds of light, the gas oil neck-deep in living rooms and dens. What flesh they could still stroke, mushed through the windows, became pasted as a second ceiling on the sky: a ceiling with the picture of a body on it, the mother body, her torso removed of limb & hair, the chest flesh translucent, stuffed with organs. Her neck cauterized into a hole, with which the pummeled, runny body scraped a hole straight through the ceiling & the sky. Behind the sky the second sky. Behind the second sky the night.