They found the Dead Father standing in a wood, slaying | Donald Barthelme

They found the Dead Father standing in a wood, slaying. First he slew a snowshoe rabbit cleaving it in twain with a single blow and then he slew a spiny anteater and then he slew two rusty numbats and then whirling the great blade round and round his head he slew a wallaby and a lemur and a trio of ouakaris and a spider monkey and a common squid. Then moving up and down the green path in his rage he dispatched a macaque and a gibbon and fourscore innocent chinchillas who had been standing idly by watching the great slaughter. Then he rested standing with the point of his sword stuck in the earth and his two hands folded upon the hilt. Then he again as if taken by a fit set about the bloody work slaying a prairie dog and a beaver and a gopher and a dingo and a honey badger and an otter and a house cat and a tapir and a piglet. Then his anger grew and he called for a brand of even greater weight and length which was brought him by a metaphorically present gillie and seizing it with his two fine-formed and noble hands he raised it above his head, and every living thing within his reach trembled and every dead thing within his reach remembered how it got that way, and the very trees of the wood did seem to shrink and step away. Then the Dead Father slew a warthog and a spotted fawn and a trusting sheep and a young goat and a marmoset and two greyhounds and a draghound. Then, kicking viciously with his noble and shapely foot at the piles of the slain, raw and sticky corpses drenching the earth in blood on every side, he cleared a path to a group of staring pelicans slicing the soft white thin necks of them from the bodies in the wink of an eye. Then he slew a cassowary and a flamingo and a grebe and a heron and a bittern and a pair of ducks and a shouting peacock and a dancing crane and a bustard and a lily-trotter and, wiping the sacred sweat from his brow with one ermine-trimmed sleeve, slew a wood pigeon and a cockatoo and a tawny owl and a snowy owl and a magpie and three jackdaws and a crow and a jay and a dove. Then he called for wine. A silver flagon was brought him and he downed the whole of it in one draught looking the while out of the corner of his ruby eye at a small iguana melted in terror against the limb of a tree. Then he tossed the silver flagon into the arms of a supposititious cupbearer sousing the cupbearer’s hypothetical white tunic with the red of the (possible) wine and split the iguana into two halves with the point of his sword as easily as one skilled in the mystery fillets a fish. Then the Dead Father resumed his sword work in earnest slaying diverse small animals of every kind, so that the heaps mounted steaming to the right and to the left of him with each passionate step. A toad escaped.

From Donald Barthelme’s novel The Dead Father.

1 thought on “They found the Dead Father standing in a wood, slaying | Donald Barthelme”

  1. Wow. I don’t know if I can “like” this, but damn, it is powerful. I’m familiar with the writer…that he writes and I may have (I’ll have to venture.), read a book of his or one of his Brother’s…but. Yikes. Yeah. This is an impact!!

    Like

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