Eight Paragraphs Involving an Ouroboros

literary form Paragraphs
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The ouroboros of course, again, rearing his head around his ass, circling, hoop-hopping his way past, rolling along like a lone and half-flat bicycle tire. The children have a stick. Jenny the child has a stick. If we are to be precise, the children are encircling Jenny, one of their number, who is holding a thin stick in her thin hand, who is breaking the plane of the space between the ouroboros and himself. She lifts him thus, twirls the little myth about her head, and flings. An ouroboros projectile, describing his airborne arc, landing as a ring round the neck of an elderly woman, one Janet Germaine, who, in turn, returns the unwanted ouroboros with an equal toss, again over the schoolground fence, right back onto the child Jenny’s stick. The child Jenny pokes viciously. She stabs right through the unfortunate ouroboros. She makes him holed around his hole, wholly holy, a porous ouroboros. He slinks off spilling guts.

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The ouroboros of course, again, rolling down a mountain, bouncing. He flops to a stop by the library, sidles up to the reference section. The ouroboros is looking for a proper name. You can’t just go by a species designation. Not when you’re going to appear on TV. Then you need a first name and a last name, a name like Dick Cavett or Dick van Dyke or Dick Clark. The ouroboros is going to be announcing a stock car race. He needed a good and proper name. Morris Ouroboros. Maurice Clark. Bernard Hopkins. Stanley.

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The ouroboros of course, again, with his whole family, snuggling in rings, an ourobori set of Russian dolls, a genial clump of concentric circles. The largest ouroboros makes the outer ring and other ourobori snuggle inside. They look like a target. The oldest ouroboros is in the center, nearly self-consumed, loving the warmth of surrounding bodies. The youngest has barely a swallowed tail. In the middle our ouroboros is telling a joke: Knock Knock. Who’s there? Knock Knock. Who’s There? Knock Knock…

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The ouroboros of course, again, all patched up from his Jenny run-in, lounging in a reclining beach chair, the kind with the sticky plastic straps stretched across a cheap metal frame. The ouroboros needs his rest. The punctures mixed up the digesting parts and the parts being digested. So it is to be punched through when you’ve already got layers. Or does an ouroboros have layers really? Does he digest himself and get mixed up inside? And when he makes it to the stomach, what then? With what does he digest then? We mustn’t think the ouroboros as a layer cake. He is more like a mobius strip or a suicide machine. Now he is sunning and unconcerned with the logic of his nature. He is reading a picture magazine. The girls nearby have undone the top straps of their bikinis to tan evenly while they lie prone.

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The ouroboros, of course, again, beside the heavyset ex-racer and serving as the so-called color man. He knows a thing or two about circling, but very little about cars. It’s ok – his partner can call the action. The ouroboros tells stories about the drivers, their families, the times they proposed to their soot-stained sweethearts in the pit crew. The ouroboros has his audience in tears. The trials he describes! The long nights and absent fathers and bouts of disease! His partner in the broadcast booth can barely keep announcing. He’s mostly just bawling, along with the engineers and the producers, the statisticians and the catering staff. A tear-slick an inch thick sloshes on the booth floor by the races end. Red eyes and damp shoes all around, and the ouroboros glides out merrily into the stands.

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The ouroboros of course, again, singing Wagner. The song of the ouroboros is a great mystery, as his mouth is always occupied, but sing he does, and the song is always lovely. He is wearing a braided blonde wig and pretending to be a Valkyrie. In this production, the ouroboros plays all the parts, twisting himself into the shapes of the heroes and villains of the cycle. In the pit below, the orchestra reaches the final note and the audience bursts into a warm round of applause.

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The ouroboros, of course, again, as ever, eternally returning to himself. That is, he’s back on that cream leather divan, Schwartzbaum’s analysis couch, in the dimmest part of the good doctor’s office. In the corner opposite sits Schwartzbaum – mute, analyzing, listening as the ouroboros goes on. Schwartzbaum is nodding, jotting notes. The ouroboros can’t stop thinking about the child Jenny, the pureness of her violence. She’d heard the race broadcast and sent apology flowers, a bouquet of long-stemmed roses, still dewy and fresh-cut. He’d pricked himself on a thorn. What might it mean? As a child himself, the ouroboros had been attacked by a dog in his mother’s garden. In his adolescence he’d been aroused by a pit viper. Schwartzbaum sniffed significantly and the ouroboros continued.

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The ouroboros of course, again, but this time something’s amiss. Rather than his head swallowing his tail, his tail seems to swallow his head. That is, he’s gone face-first into his evacuating end. He’s disappeared the wrong way into himself, exploring his inner depths. There’s a miner’s light strapped to his forehead…

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The Author

Ben Segal is the authors of 78 Stories (No Record Press) and co-editor of the anthology The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature (Lit Pub Books). His chapbooks Science Fiction Pornography and Weather Days were published by Publishing Genius and Mud Luscious Press, respectively, and his work has appeared in various publications including Tin House, Tarpaulin Sky, Gigantic, and The Collagist. He currently lives in San Diego, CA and has been a visiting scholar in Philadelphia, a visiting writer in Finland, and an ordinary visitor in many other places.

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