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Black Lamb


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Archive for the 'Lossius' Category


How Boys' Own, Blyton, and Biggles brought me up

June 1st, 2016


Wany years ago, when I was a shy Anglo-Norwegian lad in rural Victoria, Australia, I’d retreat from the heat, or snuggle into cold nights by the fire, with a trove of battered old books. We lived in a ramshackle wooden house with windows full of cobwebs — we never swiped cobwebs because the spiders would eat the flies. Our dark and peeling walls were held up with crayon drawings in every room. The floorboards had a few holes, and we had to worry about the occasional reptile that might come in under the kitchen. I remember one, a venomous, four-foot tiger snake, his tail visible under the kitchen cupboard. We lured him outside with a saucer of milk and Mum chopped his head off with a shovel.

We had no money and no television. Instead, Mum got us books from the local Church of England Opportunity Shop. I remember many of them: an encyclopaedia from 1905 or thereabouts; a little red book called Every Fact a Boy Should Know, from which I memorized the length of rivers, the height of mountains, and how to write the Greek alphabet; The Children’s Book of Famous Lives, in which stineguyreadingSocrates drank his cup of hemlock, Sir Francis Drake singed the king of Spain’s beard, and Florence Nightingale was kind to soldiers. I read about the heroes of Greek mythology, stories of Baldur and Loki and Odin, sea yarns like The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk and Olaf the Sea Bird by Major Charles Young. I had several thick Boys Own Annuals from an empire that had withered away several decades before my time. I possessed a pile of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five adventure stories and a scuffed brick of books by the prolific author Captain W.E. Johns, concerning the adventures of Captain James Bigglesworth of the Royal Air Force. I had an old atlas to consult, in which the dominions of the British Empire draped like a crimson mantle across the shoulders, waist and loins of Terra Firma. Red China was yellow, Africa was a patchwork of colonial colors, Soviet Russia was grey, and Nazi Germany was an enormous bloated brown tick engorged on the blood of Central Europe.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Black Lamb Review of Books, Books and Authors, Lossius | Link to this Entry

The hunt for Dorian

August 1st, 2013


I’m up at six, an hour before dawn on a grey Melbourne day, cold and dark and not yet winter. I make a strong coffee, then roll a thin cigarette and huddle on the balcony, puffing a dismal little cloud over the city.

I get up, go to the kitchen, and play a bit of Bach and Rameau on Dorian. I’m clumsy and sausage-fingered after so many years away from the keys. Who, or what, is Dorian, might you ask? Let me gather myself and pull together some recent notes about the reasons why, the search, and how I found him.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Lossius | Link to this Entry

Tyranny and the box

March 1st, 2006


The other day I watched the film Good Night and Good Luck. In the opening scene Edward R. Murrow, the famous World War II correspondent and television journalist, stands at a podium to accept an award from his peers. The film then flashes back a few years to the time of the McCarthy hearings, and Murrow’s current affairs program exposing McCarthy, or more to the point, where he allowed McCarthy to expose himself. At the time CBS was under commercial and political pressure to toe the sponsors’ line.

The film is about a brief few years, a simpler time when truth seekers had a voice within a new medium, and when the forces that nourished and opposed them at the same time were easier to distinguish. But at the beginning of the film, at the podium accepting his award, Murrow laments the rot that has set in already. I am astounded, as he is speaking in 1958, soon after the beginning of the television age.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Lossius | Link to this Entry

First and last Christmas

December 1st, 2004


Silent wooded hills surround our valley of fields and farm buildings in Maridalen, the Vale of Mary, a few miles above Oslo. Near where the road divides and hems each forested slope sit the ruined remains of an ancient church abandoned after the Black Death: a thick stone wall lanced with Romanesque apertures and outlines of rubble. In the summertime the site rests on a mound above a waving meadow of gold at the northern tip of the lake, but now most of cottageinsnow.jpgit lies buried in snow. A mile farther up, past the new school and the old wooden church, a few dozen brightly painted houses huddle under the hills above the western branch of the road. Below that several farms divide the long bowl of the valley. Through it the river winds south under its winter ceiling of ice.

The seasons express themselves intensely here. Halfway through spring, masses of tiny violet and white flowers push themselves up through gobs and rivulets of sunny slush. Summer is for bike riding and berry hunting in the forest; tiny strawberries, then red currants, blueberries and hazelnuts. Days are long and yellow as the grass. We go to bed with the sun still up, heavy curtains drawn against the blue.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Christmas Issue, Lossius | Link to this Entry

The woman bore

December 1st, 2004


The woman bore her last child alone
through a cold crowing village wind
her breasts swelled into a barricade
against the oracle the soft voice
behind the bronze grille in the wooden box
and then weary of labor and the smell of blood
shielding the child from earth soaked in dreams
she watched his body tremble itself away
heard his little lungs shuffle him
toward the westernmost gate

Cradled in the shadow
of mortared stones
chalk smeared with sweat
crumbling pink stucco
dust wraps her face
with pale powdery lines

She no longer strains to hear the feathery voice
the rickety hearse wheels squeak at each turn
he is no longer with you
he has gone away from you
gone up to heaven
we all cry in our turn
save us from the dust
he is no longer with me
she has gone away from me
prayer becomes a ritual pinched dry by the wind

But our tears are living water
and every sunny mote of dust might be an angel
singing highly beyond our sight
inside God’s enameled heart
within his torso of gilded wood
below the skin of rosy gold
the arc of steaming frankincense portends
a paradise a heaven of sweet faces
roses lace cloud hierarchies
marble tables million-armed cherubim
rocking fields of souls in cradles

The dust under her feet spills over the coffin
as it sways and sinks into the earth
the resinous crust crumbles away from her eyes
God is as timeless as the vision of a statue
and Time is as godless as hot sand in the wind
what will save us from the dust
dust is as true as a box of holy wafers is
protect me from the dust

— Jacumé, September 1990 •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Christmas Issue, Lossius | Link to this Entry

Author profile

December 1st, 2002

Lorentz Lossius has been writing poetry, prose and music for years, and for the past three has been scribbling for Black Lamb. A native of Trondheim, Norway, he is currently watering his roots back in Oslo, after having gone full circle over forty years through Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States. His Black Lamb column was called Walkabout and is now called Wondering Gentile.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Lossius | Link to this Entry


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