‘Thunder King Sprinkler at Dawn’ by Jeebs Finzach (Summer 1932)

Thunder King sprinkler at dawn
One foot tippled
T’other sawn

Antonio shifted in the out
Skillet spit, phono-
graph’s pho-

Rare wind from the south

Thunder King on the horizon.

Jeebs Finzach (summer 1932)

Notes by Tark Mackintosh

‘Thunder King Sprinkler’ The infamous Model-C Thunder King sprinkler was under the charge of John Selmer Dix, M.A. at the ‘Ferdinand Island’ writers colony in Florida. John Selmer would dick around with that thing all day, setting it up to spray the lawns, trees, hedges, and barefoot hordes of self-termed poets that had squatted in the driveway and porch.

tippled To sip and imbibe. John Selmer would sit on the porch and watch as chaos reigned in the pre-dawn.

sawn / logs Synecdoche or intentional Cubism. Jeebs captures the pandemonium of the moment when the sprinkler is turned on. You can almost hear the belly laughter of John Selmer from the side of the house.

Antonio Fat Tony Bodega-Palabra was part of the inner circle of Los Decepcionadas and, although he shared the coveted guest bedroom with his friend f. f. francés, was bossed ruthlessly by Gulliver S. Gulliver and his biographer-lawyer John Selmer Dix, M.A. ‘He would get them coffee and donuts and clean their boots with his old shirts,’ shrugged his sister Maria de la Encarnación. ‘They treated him like a dog, but then so did we all.’

out / building Euphemism for out / house. With 150 squatters living on the Island (a small bungalow on the outskirts of Miami) in 1932, there was always a long line of people waiting to use the facilities, and tempers would flare.

Skillet … / neme Gulliver preferred his eggs over-easy, John Selmer Dix, M.A. scrambled on toast. ‘No salt or sugar is allowed on the Island, because they are afraid the squatters are going to bumrush the house,’ f. f. francés scribbled in his prose diary (Vol. XXIV).

Plowed Ploughed.

Rare wind From the out / building.

Thunder King on the horizon Not the threat of sprinklers in the dawn per se, but rather Jeebs’ own presentiment of trouble, and violent upshot. Ferdinand Island would burn to the ground that spring.

Photo by Mani Sankar on Unsplash