Monday, December 26, 2011

action with no context

action with no context:
i see myself breaking free
but i can't do it.
there it is! my goal!
i see it there in the distance
but how do i get there/
i usually plan...
but this time i cant...
i want to act..to do SOMEthing
but if i do...but if i do
it will have no context within my life
within my rut..
ooh it will have the deeper context to me
but that is a secret
so the action itself
in the doing
will make its own context.
long ago, my brother in law's wife
went to new orleans..just went..
the act had no context
well none that those close to her could see
but THEY weren't really close, were they
the ones REALLY close knew...
but the others invented, manufactured, wove
a context for her actions...
and THAT became a self fulfilling prophecy
are we ready?
is anyone brave enough?
to act as their heart leads
and let those others weave all they want
damn them! they don't KNOW!
they think they do..but
if i cant even take the first step
i will never get anywhere
unless i listen to my guardian spirit
who whispers that all will come to pass
if only i am patient..
the future cannot be forced or manipulated
so i relax...and wait...
that is my context

Thursday, October 27, 2011

ἔκβασις

day one of my fall adventure log..it will be a short adventure but one that i want to enjoy. in the past i always hurried to the place that i wanted to go but now i want to savor the journey. the destination is only a part of the whole. going forth, abiding, return, like those who went into the great deserts of the Thebiad or much later (and more appealing to me), those who went into the Northern Thebiad~the primeval forests of the land now called Russia. why did they go? to seek divinity..to know themselves..or to just get away from the familiar .

i am ready, almost. got a map, instructions, and a few clothes. but it is amazing how many sundries i think i need...nail clippers, powder, razor, comb, deodorant...the list grows even as i struggle to fill it. only two books (as i wont count the kindle app as books) Cry to Heaven by Anne rice i want to finish..it has taken me to the wonderful worlds of pre-Gluck opera and the unfamiliar yet exciting world of the castrati, the pop stars of the 1730s & 40s. funny how i forget about civilization in the 1700s because as an American, my focus is on the log cabins of my pioneers and not the great opera seria of G.F. Handel that they left behind them. a special thank you to the dear one who told me about this book...

also going along is Rabbit, run by John Updike. my mind used to get lost in the past and want to dwell there always. now i care about the present, how did we get here? why do we act the way we do? Updike is the great chronicler of the average man in America in the second half of the 20th century...he has an amazing cryptic style that makes you re-read every paragraph to tease out the meat. and yes i know it is vacation but i cant be without my books. picture a 16 year old gawky boy struggling through 30th street station in Philadelphia with a big case and duffel weighted like rocks...

anyway, it is almost time to go. will check and doublecheck my list..have i got everything. geez i am such a worrier. but i do have a confidence now that i didnt have before, so i am ready to go forth and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the shadowgirl


where is the shadowgirl?
i know she's there
i feel her presence
with every fiber
of my being
but, being a shadow
she gets lost
in the darkness
and i lose sight of her
i should know
she is still there
a part of all that is
but it does scare me
just a little
until i see again
the now familiar outline
of her soul

Friday, September 16, 2011

the garden of their dreams (collaboration)

ready to meet, ripe
in their fullness of time
coming together naturally
they look upon their garden.
holding shy hands
they venture in.
together at long last
and in that moment
their sun did shine
their flowers stood tall
and their love bloomed

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

aetherialae daemonis transubstantiatio

"the embodiment of a spirit of the pure air"

dis-embodied voice of a half-remembered child
I struggle at times to put you all together
somewhere you are a solid, embodied woman
but here you are a whisper and a dream.

don't forsake me, my gentle, passionate spirit!
someday i will find a way
to fully conjure your flesh

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cubiculum IV - Hurricane

don't worry...
I keep some of you
deep within me
stocked-up supplies
a surplus to get me through

when it's "lights out"
and I'm alone in the dark
I won't be afraid
I'll be strong
for in my lone candle
I feel the warmth
of you beside me

Cubiculum III

coffee coffee
shit!
i'm not good company today
leave it alone...can't you see?
swirl away people
back to your holes
i don't want you today
*sigh*
well...most of you...
maybe just one
damn! where are you?
(Yes. I know well where.
There's no need to answer)
I can feel your presence
and it's good..soothing...
relaxing...exciting...
oh. I don't know...
let's just go!

amazing this!
how it all emerged
blossoming, thriving:
childhood to youth
to full maturity
and still room to grow--
where? I don't know
I hesitate to see
but I dream clearly
goals and details do emerge
they cannot be held back...
but for now
let's just walk
in our garden

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cubiculum II

tongue pulse golden dream awash
featherflow
gentle stronger life encompass
the earth... the focus
where it all comes together
now at last alone along
co-joined:
adored hider and beloved invisible one
they are as one as space allows
space we find we found ~ establish't...
pre-claimed and now forever ours

amen!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cubiculum I

where does the time go?
oft, anyhow...
places small are found
to crawl in
intertwine & rest
after fierce play.

i think we see
it comes to this:
in any moments,
at any time,
the prince & princess
are true!

amen!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a day off (DADA collaboration)

hulala wod enoo
lala moo tink
evor phuc
lala mala...
wod mala...
mmmu sala
clomp e'dray!
evor alla...
mmmu may!!
:)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

red brick townhouse

i'd like
to live
in town
someday...

a red brick townhouse,
far away~

to walk to theater,
shop and store...
coffee houses
for poetry
and more~

to have no lawn
but a public park;
to hear the horns
and the dogs that bark~

i think
perhaps
i will
someday...

but until then
my thoughts will play!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Koteka--abo Oyinbo: (ogun orixa+freyja shipping)

nets of naija
entangle me:
being an object
is now my fate?
but here i am
a special THING~
royal regalia
the "yellow gourd."
my curiosity
brought me here
to you, great one.
and you took me
to be your bride.
but now i see
i must be trained:
golden hair
and pink skin
do not kneel well
or hold burnt umber
with lissome lips
without experience (!).
i will be special
i will have value
(so you say)
for you are a god
as well as king~
creative fire!
a burning god
that i must cool,
sheath to a morsel
fit for a goddess...
northern ice
for tropical fire!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Ten years after...

He stumbled across the campus toward the line of robed and hatted graduates, still cursing under his breath the fact that he had to come back in the spring to get his diploma. Why couldn't they have given it to him in December when he finished! He didn't know these people, they weren't in his class. They only stared at him as he tried to find his place at the head of the M's.

God! This was long and he was bored. Well he never likes sitting too long, or standing too long if there was nothing for him to do. So many other things he could be doing..like..like... But he couldn't think of any. And those five rum-n-cokes weren't helping either. At last...the line up for the diplomas. He kept it together pretty well, till he saw the celebrity guest speaker. John Houseman was a special favorite for his work in The Paper Chase, both movie and TV series. "Tdhey come in hrere wid a SKULL full of MOOSH..and go out thienking like a Law-yer..hehe..ha.." He stumbled, gave Mr Houseman a wink, then collected his cum laude diploma in Ancient and Medieval History and Literature. As useless as a used tissue now, he thought....

No one was here to see him graduate..that was part of the problem. Everyone else had family and friends to share the moment, but no not him. Nobody gave a damn. Dad was dead, Mom was drunk or stoned, and the kind people who had raised him had put him out the summer he turned 18 with a slap on the back and a "good luck there, kid!" Oo...he had tried to fit in places..any place really but it never worked out. He got disgusted with the worst and self-sabotaged the best. It was his way, after all.

At the core of it all was her. No, it wasn't her fault, even he at his worst knew that. It was the fact that she had been taken from him and he could do nothing..nothing! What a fool of a protector he had been. He couldn't save her even though he had...had... Aah, he could not think about it, it was a black hole on his soul that could never be repaired. He had tried to find her. Even braving the two hour drive to Bethlehem as soon as he got his licence. But the less said about that the better. Gone to California was all he had learned. California! Might as well be Timbuktu or Outer Mongolia. He could never find her now, and even if he could, he was no longer the person she had known. He was a lonely, angry young man with no prospects and no friends. Nobody would want him; nobody would need him. He was beyond the pale of salvation this time.

When it was all over he tore off the gown and left it in the trash. In the lot, after a great struggle he found his car. Wait! Someone...no, two people were following him. What did they want! leave me alone dammit! But the words somehow didn't come. he unlocked the door, but he still felt their eyes right on him. All right...fine then! he turned to let them have it, both barrels of his ten years of pent up frustration and inadequacy. But what he saw amazed him beyond his dreams! A slender blonde woman stared at him with the bluest of eyes, reading and judging his very soul it seemed. And she did not turn away! The girl, about nine or ten he supposed tossed her brown hair and blinked her happy brown eyes as she pulled away and did a little dance in the lot. He could not speak..what could he say? The woman smiled and said at last. "Hello Sammy, ...this is our daughter."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Birthday Eve

Far back in the days between the advent of Elvis and the sad day when Marilyn left us, Ma and Pa sat in their one room shack behind Quinn's Market. With Jack Paar on the small b&w, Pa slept off his bender while Ma fretted nervously. Ooh Pa did work in the shoe factory and this place was better than the West Gettysburg Inn (where Ma had been mistaken for one of the "working girls" and Pa had pulled his knife and...oo that's more of a springtime story). But Ma was nine months along now, and as the good book says: 'the days were accomplished when she should be delivered." Ah, what to do!! Pa dint have his license cause of the DUIs and hunting out of season dint endear him to the local police (he was part indin after all!!) Oo..the Plan!! Ma dragged herself up and went next door but one to Clyde's home. he said he'd drive them and he did take Pa to work most every day. But now he was dead drunk on the floor! Humph! Well the first thing that Pa's sis had taught Ma about managing menfolks is how to get them sobered up for the 'portant things in life, like work, suppers at the fire house, and when Oliver B. Green's Tent Revival came to town. So Ma made a pot of black coffee and poured it in Clyde. His wife heard the commotion and came out to help. "C'mon ya dam fool, Suzie's havin the baby!" So off they went, Clyde to get the '47 Ford Truck on the road and Ma to drag Pa out of his confy chair (the very chair where only three years later Pa would...aah but that's more of a new years' eve story). Anyhoo, they were all tumbled in and off down the road to Chambersburg Hospital they went, arriving some time after midnight. Pa and Clyde got in the door with Ma's help, then sank into two plastic chairs, where they snored and drooled. Ma went back with the nurse to the delivery room, where they met the doctor. About quarter past three the doctor came out, covered in blood to tell Pa that he was now the father of a baby boy. And Ma said he shall be called Sam since Pa calls everyone he dont know 'Sam'. "Honestly," she told her son years later, "whatever I would have called you your Pa would have called you Sam."

Monday, June 6, 2011

our number

john dee, alchemyst
to the first queen elizabeth
said we all have an angel--
a divine guardian,
and each angel has a number.
ah! if we could only
know those numbers!
then we could contact
any person, any where...
well now we know them.
all those numbers--
but the angels are forgotten.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The last of the old playground

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving (1997), I stood on the hill behind Pastor B--'s house, near the TV tower. Form this vantage point, I could see most all of Elizabethtown, from Groff Avenue to the new Foxbury development, and far out past route 283. When I was a boy at the Childrens' Home, this view was obscured by the forest, but no longer. I felt as if I were in a calm, untroubled place, far away from the day to day worries of life. how I wished I could stay here forever, observing, but not participating....with no more close, entangling concerns.

Then, suddenly, from far below, my son Brendan called to me, saying, "Come down here, Daddy. Let's follow these tracks!" I looked down upon the old playground behind the S-- Homes. There I saw huge piles of earth, like mountains striving to reach up to me on the heights. And there were many tracks, made by the backhoes and bulldozers, going in all directions. I did not want to go down, but for Brendan's sake I did. We followed many tracks, and looked for treasures which might be hidden in the mud. So many children had played and had fun in this place.... There was no pleasant view down here, just a rocky, muddy waste land. Soon we found that the tracks went nowhere, and the mountains, which seemed so solid from a distance, would not hold our weight. How I longed for my former place on the hill.

Finally, I accepted that we had to leave this place. I called to Brendan, but he was far away. Knowing that I would better be able to find him if I were on the hill, I began my ascent alone. At last, after a steep climb, I had returned to my place, and my all-inclusive view was restored. I saw Brendan in the distance. When I called to him, he came running, a happy child running free over that space as others had in their time. He wanted to climb up as soon as possible to be with me and share what he had seen. Together then, we talked and looked out over where we had been exploring, then far out over the roof tops of Elizabethtown.

Our Playground, c.1950-1997, R.I.P.

Definitions

What if things, both concrete and abstract, were defined not by what they are, but by how they become? Becoming...coming-to-be and passing-away are phases of most all things within the cosmos. Being and becoming are the same because time does not stand still. A concept or thing can not be pinned down by a definition that captures in in only one moment of it's existence. A true definition must encompass all of the defined's becoming, and thus is impossible for us who are within the cosmos to fully comprehend.

The Power of Words

Words create the "land beyond nature," i.e. the meta-physical realm. In the ancient world a war was fought for the sole title to the land beyond nature. The importance of this war to its participants was this:

(AXIOM): In the land beyond nature all thought forms expressible in words are at base level of equal value due to their existence alone.

However, in order to uphold a social order in the natural world, the land beyond nature must seem to be monolithic,. i.e. holding to a certain set of acceptable principles upon which the social order is constructed. All who oppose these principles must be condemned as infidels or heretics because they, by their mere existence, attack the very foundation of society. Few indeed have broken through to this fundamental axiom....

Today, however, we have Gaga...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

untangle

i'm not ready for this
it's too stressful
too wide open
too outside the box.
i need to get back in!
i shouldn't have come out...

things are all tangled,
all muddled up--
there are too many people...
one on one is best:
but we are all bound in bunches,
tangled up like potato vines.

two can create a moment
but can they sustain it?
i do keep hoping
maybe this time
it will be different
and i will know
that at last i have found
the one who can untangle

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the other garden

i only feel free to play
in somebody else's garden.
i dislike my own
it's full of weeds--
an overgrown meadow
best left for rabbits.

out here i'm happy
i can explore--
no time to think deeply
when you are running free
dancing in the rain
taking shelter under a tree.

i'm tired of thinking deeply
i want to be free--
so i will stay
in this other garden
as long as i can

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

the wind

you come to me like a whisper in the wind
but sometimes i want something more tangible
3D--
here with me:
to laugh with,
and poke with a finger
(instead of a mouse click)

but continents are wide
mountains tall
rivers strong and deep.
perhaps we could meet half-way--
on the plains of Dakotah?

but you have already been there
and i have barely moved
out of this cloistered land
lo these many years...

so the burden of travel is on you
and until then
i suppose i must be happy
with the wind

Friday, May 20, 2011

the many-colored land

living in a cave so long
cold and damp i shivered.
sunshine?--not for me!

why was that?
we can get used to most any thing--
but should we?
how then to wake up?

the best way, i think
is to do a good deed,
to lift up a fellow wanderer.
o! then the sun shines!
warm light floods the soul!

and if we are lucky
(and i was!)
entrance may be gained
to the many-colored land.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Owl's Secret -- afterthoughts

One day, after a nice lunch, my friend Blake said to me. "Hey! Why don't you write a story about this owl." So I did, or rather tried too. For The Owl's Secret is more of an emotional impact statement than a story. Me processing the impact of a dear friend sharing parts of her life's story. Sadly not many people have even been able to get through it...one, maybe two... Sorry about that... But I will say that it is one of the deepest and most heart-felt pieces that I have ever written. I cannot yet read part 09 without crying.

For as long as I can remember, I have used my stories to process, to deal with life. Sitting on the swing-set and staring at the cracks in the asphalt..seeing not urban decay, but tiny rivers and kingdoms. Looking up to see the zeppelin descending to make me a part of its crew.... All that I took in from books and movies was, and still is, packaged and put on shelves in my mind to be used in processing the emotional content of whoever and whatever life brings my way. Sometimes only a page of notes written and cast aside in a few moments....sometimes a whole vast world elaborated over decades...

Anyway, if you are reading this, then I hope that you have read The Owl's Secret in it's entirety. At the end we find the key to the magic...a power which connects the two main characters in the present day, projecting them back in time to re-make the past as they would have it be. She found the book first, but did not tell him because she did not want to hurt his pride. She attempted a few spells, like invisibility and headache-removal, but the one we do not see is this: after she was taken, she wished her true self to go and be safe in a place where he would be able to find her. Which of course he did.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Owl's Secret -- part 10

Christmas was the other social high point of school life at Donegal Academy. And there was always so much work to do. Around Thanksgiving, Mrs Rosso had conferred with Mr Johan about one serious matter. Both had agreed that, during the holiday season, Little Sammy must be kept as busy as possible. So, in addition to cleaning his room, the responsibility of his schoolwork, and his monthly detail, he would also assist in decorating the Great Hall.

Today, this moody, brown haired, bespsctacled boy was hanging garland with red ribbons on the Grand Stair-case. Little hidden tacks were stuck just under the railing to hold it fast. The end was to be secured around the railing-post topped by an owl clutching a book. As he wound out the end of the garland, Sammy reached up to brace himself by holding on to the top of the wooden book. He felt the carven binding cords against his palm as he stretched to complete the task.

Being alone is one thing, but being lonely is something else altogether. Sammy had enjoyed being alone until he met the one person in all the world who seemed to have the key to unlock him. Now she was gone and her absence left a big empty place in his heart. As he pulled himself up, this dark shadow of loneliness continues its awful work in twisting his deep sadness into anger.

Then a most amazing thing happened: the wooden book broke away from the owl. Oh no! He had damaged one of the school's well-known treasures! But when he looked up, that clever owl was still holding his book! Then what did he have in his hand? he went to sit down in one of the overstuffed chairs to examine it.

A sky blue book, about three inches by five, an inch or more thick, with gold edged pages lay in his lap. But how had he gotten it? Where had it come from? "I wish I knew more about this," he said to no one in particular, thinking out loud because he once had someone there to hear him.

A strange soft light began to fill the room, emanating from the owl atop the railing post. Sammy stood up, as out of the light a form was taking shape before him. At first he thought he might have passed out and Mr. Johan was coming to help him, but as the figure drew closer, he saw that it looked uncommomly like -- Santa Claus!!

"Who..who are you?" asked the boy, preparing to run at the first opportunity.

"You have the book, don't you know?"

"No--I didn't mean to..I mean I don't want the book."

"But you have taken it. And still you don't recognize me, after all I have done to protect you."

"Then you are a guardian? And this book is...is..."

"Magic...yes. Magic for you to use as you...aah, but I see you have already made your choice."

"What do you mean? I didn't..."

"Now you realize, of course, that such a wish will use all of the magic at once. Most people who find the book use the power more selfishly of course. But what you want can be done."

'Wait! I still don't know what you mean."

"And you realize that you are making a choice for another person. That can be tricky, and may not produce the results that you desire."

"But I didn't choose anything!"

"Your heart has made the choice. When you see the light, speak the words that will come to you. I wish you good luck, and do not forget that this will use all of the magic. I won't be able to help you again after this... " and his voice faded away.

He was gone. In fact, everything was gone, all except a doorframe. Sammy walked slowly toward it, and as he approached, a strong feeling grew within him that all of his loved ones were just there, on the other side. If he passed through, he could see them again! Be with them...

But he couldn't do it. He had to stay here...she needed him. Suddenly all was enveloped in a warm blue fog. He stood on a little hill -- the sun rose behind him with enough strength to clear away all the shadows and darkness. The words came to him: ALL RETURN -- RESET.

He felt his body pulled back through time--his life flower rapidly backwards as he re-experienced it. He saw himself being seen--as others saw him. But he could not speak or change anything.

Finally, Sammy fell out the other end and was..was nowhere. But all around him he felt that everything was alive and that he was a part of it--he was it! Overwhelming his senses were all the living voices of the sky, the earth, and under the earth, as contained within the sphere of all time, past, present, and future.

With one blink he stood again at the cross-road where they had first met. Was this that very day? Why here? And if this were that day, would she even remember him? Would they--would she have to re-live everything all over again? He ran ahead to the apple tree. He saw the blonde haired girl almost asleep under it. And then. as he stepped on a twig, she got up, dropped the little sky-blue book with gold edged pages that she had been reading, and said, "Sammy! I've been waiting for you!"

The Owl's Secret -- part 09

After these events, the summer passed quickly at Donegal Academy, with adventures and discoveries too numerous to mention here. And as summer blended seamlessly into autumn, regular classes began, leaving little time for anything more than weekend walks, if there was no rain.

In late October, as Hallloween approached, Sammy began to have strange, terrifying dreams. At first he could not remember them, but as the days progressed, some details drew sharply into focus. Storms...darkness...a mausoleum..an abandoned car, and an overwhelming atmosphere of cruelty. But life in the daylight went on, following its usual collection of routines, so he tried not to think too much about it. He did mention he dreams to Colleen at the movies on a Friday night. She had rubbed his temples and chanted, "Good-dreams-good-dreams." But even this magic, strong as it was, did not work.

One day, in early November, Sammy took refuge in the Great Hall to read The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard by Arthur Conan Doyle. He had one hour before his next class and how better to spend it (since she was in class) than with a dashing hero of Napoleonic times.

As he began the story "How the Brigadier came to the Castle of Gloom," a familiar voice startled him back into the real world. It was Sue, and she looked quite upset.

"Sammy...Sammy, I have to tell you something," her voice quavered and almost broke. Sammy dropped the book to give her his full attention. "It's Colleen...o Sammy, I wish I didn't have to tell you this..." She put her hands on his shoulders. "Colleen is gone--her mother took her last night. I'm so sorry..." She gave him a quick hug and ran out through the door to the girls' dormitory.

Around midnight, when everybody else was asleep, Sammy crouched on the floor behind a huge roll-top desk just outside the headmaster's office. A fierce determination had seized him, pulling him up beyond the fear of rules or consequences. he let his fertile mind form a plan and let his body carry it through. In this matter nothing was going to stop him.

First he had to find out where her mother lived. That would be on file here in the office. The he needed money for the train to Harrisburg. From there he could take the bus to...

Ah! Somebody was there at the door! Sammy turned off the flashlight and crouched down, making himself as small as possible. Who was it?

"Hey!," said a deep, yet friendly voice. It was Mr. Johan, the housemaster of the boys' dormitory. He was a well loved character, known to be lenient and easy going, because in his day he had been a 'lifer' at the Academy.

"Sammy," he continued. "I know it's you. I know why you are here and I believe I can guess what you're trying to do." He paused, and the boy could hear only the labored breath of an old man struggling to say the right thing.

"Sammy...some things in life are just too powerful for us to do anything about. As much as we want to try. As much as we..." he paused, choking back a memory of his own.

"I will leave this door open. I want you to go back to bed now. That will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to do...I know."

The boy collapsed against the side of the desk and began to cry. The flashlight slipped from his grasp and rolled across the thread-bare carpet, becoming lost in the darkness.

The Owl's Secret --part 08

They were alone in the semidarkness of Sue's cubby. As there was no room to stand without bumping their heads on the rafters, Colleen and Sammy silently arranged the pillows and spread the blanket. Instinctively they helped each other and shared all that they had. Neither of them knew what to say, so they just lay there, side by side in silence. Their fingers touched under the blanket, and they began to hold hands.

"I'm sorry, Sammy," said Colleen at last as she let go of his hand and turned on her side to face him.

He reached out to her, finding her shoulder, then trailing his fingers up to her cheek. The corner of her eye was damp with tears. "Don't be sorry," he said. His hand left her cheek and moved down to her waist. As they pulled closer together under the blanket, the pillows shifted and settled again.

"I'm glad we're here together," she whispered, touching her forehead to his, and drawing him in closer, thinking of what Sue had told her. This might be the last time they would be together. Having shared so much in such a short time, the thought of separation seemed like the end of the world. She had to tell him something.

"Sammy," she whispered to his cheek.

"Yes?"

"There is...well there may be a time when I have to go away. I don't want to--not one bit! But I--but we can't control some things in life. There is..." And she struggled for a way to explain it to him. He looked into her blue eyes and waited, realizing how difficult this was for her.

"Sammy, there is some magic that is just too powerful for us to stop. Black magic that comes out of darkness. you are a pure and gentle soul--a knight serving your princess..." At last the words flowed out of her heart and she could open herself to him.

it was after 3 a.m. when Sue returned from her mission. She quietly slid the dresser aside and then opened the tiny door, pushing up slightly so the hinges wouldn't squeek. What she saw made her smile,the giggle (something she had not done in a great while), thes shake her head and even think of finding her camera. pushing the door closed, she coughed and stamped her foot. Yawns, stretches and other amusing sounds came wafting out into the room.

"Good Morning." said Sue. "First things first! Colleen--no! That's your answer. So stop worrying. And Sammy--you better get going so that they find you in your own bed at morning bell. I'll give you some time to say your goodbyes, but not too long, ok?"

Sue went out into the hall. She paced, tapped her boot on the linoleum floor, and reached for her lighter. But it was too much for her. There was something she just had to know. So back in she went--it was her room after all. Colleen stood wrapped in the quilted blanket, while Sammy sat on the edge of the bed putting on his shoes. they were talking, but Sue could not hear. She came around the side and placed her hands on Colleen's cheeks. Leaning in close, she stared deeply into her eyes. The younger girl blushed and pulled away.

"Ha..haa, oh this is GOOD,' laughed Sue, sitting down on the bed beside Sammy. She slapped him on the back, then looked closely at the blanket. "Oo, don't worry. I won't tell.....But this is soo good! Ha! No..I promice I wont tell. Hurry back to your room now, Sammy! And Colleen, you better go wash my blanket!"

The Owl's Secret -- part 07

This could possible be the worst thing she had ever done. On the same day that she had told him...o, she dared not even think about it. And even if she could, Colleen knew that there was nothing that could shop her from leaving. Sammy was so very smart in some things, but with other matters he was incredibly naive. And in spite of all that had happened to him, he still loved his parents--how could he ever understand what had been done to her? Above all, Colleen loved and treasured his innocence. That at least had to be protected. She could never tell him--he must never know.

"Hey, girl! Where do you think you're going?" It was Sue and...and... Colleen looked up, right into Sammy's brown eyes. She sensed that he wasn't mad, but what was he exactly? Normally he was uncommonly easy to read; if ever anyone lacked a poker face, it was him. But this expression--this vibe--was new. He was looking at her in the same way that he looked at the wooden owl.

Neither one of them would speak. It was one of those times when their heart's feelings were so strong that any word would just fall flat. Sue looked at Sammy, then at Colleen. What was up with these two? She slapped her thigh and broke the empasse.

"Ok, you two. Here's what's going to happen. Right now we're going up to my room. You can hide in my cubby. I will find out what's going on."

Colleen dropped the heavy green duffel bag, ready to object. but the scrapy rasp of wings against the window screen in the stairwell cut her off. Sammy picked up her burden as Sue guided the girl gently but firmly up to the third floor.

In her room, Sue shoved aside the standard issue dresser to reveal a small door in the wall. "Ok then, Sammy," said the older girl, "You get some pillows and a blanket--not the blue one--and take them in here. Oh--I don't know--make a little nest. Yes! A little love-nest. Ha ha! Yes! And while you are doing that, my girl here and I will have a little chat. Well! What are you waiting for?"

As Sue pulled Colleen down the hall, Sammy unlatched the little door. A dry, musty smell tainted with the odor of cigarettes and scented candles wafted out into the room. Sue was a 'lifer,' meaning that she had been sent to Donegal Academy as soon as she could walk. 'Lifers' knew everything, did everything, and helped the 'part-timers,' like Sammy, who had been admitted at the advanced age of seven, to cope with life at the school. But only if they chose to do so. Luckily, Sue had liked Colleen fron the start, and regarded little Sammy with a mild amusement. She knew that her brother teased him relentlessly, so she was willing to balance the scales on her family's name by helping him--this time.

Sammy pushed the duffel bag through the little door, followed by a nice quilted blanket and several of Sue's many pillows. he still did not know quite what to think, but in his heart he felt he could trust Sue, and , in spite of recent events, his faith in Colleen remained unbroken. She had to have a good reason to act this way, and he trusted her judgement. All he could do now was settle into his temporary home and wait.

The two girls soon returned. Once again, Sue had to take charge of the situation. "Ok." she spoke with all the authority she could muster. "I willl go and find out what's up. You two stay in here. Sammy, I will tell my brother to cover for you at curfew--if they even bother to check tonight." Sue sighed again, wondering why had she become so invested in this? "Well then! No objections? In you go then, girl."

Colleen squeezed into the nest. As she turned around, Sue looked directly into her eyes and smiled a wicked smile, forcing a blush out of the nervous girl that seemed oddly inappropriate under the circumstances. Sammy took no notice of this, or if he did, could make no logical sense of it.

Sue pushed the cubby door to, but did not latch it. Then she heaved the dresser back into its place. "Ok, I'm off then." she whsipered, "Be good in there you two."

The Owl's Secret -- part 06

The mature, self-contained girl wearing an embroidered denim jacket, tossed her dark brown hair and lit a Pal Mal cigarette. Nobody who cared could see this brazen act of insubordination occurring right on the steps of the red-brick girls' dormitory, just west of the commons. Sue coughed, sighed, then looked up to see little Sammy striding purposefully toward her. "Heh," she laughed, and prepared to ignore him.

He saw her as well. To him ,she was the guardian of the forbidden gate, as boys were not allowed near the girls' residence. But tonight was different. He went right up to her, a young knight facing yet another of his many fears--the tough, scary older girl.

Sue continued to ignore him, so he had to make the first move. But how to play it? How to make the scene? If he did it wrong, she wouldn't help him. Time was of the essence, so Sammy finished his inner struggle and stepped forward into the porchligh.

"Hey, Sue."

"Hey."

"Nice night."

"Yeh."

Good!, he thought. She was engaging him at least. Recognizing that he existed was a positive step. He decided to strike.

"Sue?"

"Hmm?"

"Have you seen Colleen?"

"Who?"

"Colleen."

"Oh....yeh."

"Sue! This is important! Something is wrong! I-I need to know if you will help me."

"Wrong? Heh! Something is always wrong...uh...Sammy is it? Little Sammy..."

"Sue! This is..."

"...Important...yeh..I heard you. look, little Sammy, you aren't suppose to be here, ok? Go play or go to bed or something."

"Sue--do you like Colleen?"

The older girl coughed and crushed the filterless cigarette out in the bannister. Then she glanced accross the commons toward the Great Hall. It was strange, and she would deny it later, but in the fading light of the day she was sure she saw an owl--a big owl--looking out he window at her.

"Yeh..I like Colleen. So what? Hey--you like her too, don't you! Ha! So that is what this is about!"

Sammy opened his mouth but Sue was too quick for him. She grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the door.

"Come on then, Little Sammy! You're in luck! I feel generous tonight. Let's go find your precious Colleen."

And with that. this unlikely pair vanished behind the forbidden door.


The Owl's Secret -- part 05

The Spring Reception, held each June in the Great Hall, was one of the two social high points of Donegal Academy. Trustees mingled with graduates, teachers and returning alumni. Parents were invited too, and some even came, if they could schedule it. But for most students, it was a time to stay out of the way and sneak off to secret indulgences, as discipline lapsed proportionally to the number of outsiders present on the grounds.

Colleen and Sammy stood to the side of the throng, making their obligatory appearance in the Great Hall. She held his arm, steadying him, as his leg still ached from an accident earlier that day. He stared intently at the wooden owl atop the railing post.

"Don't worry, Sammy," she whispered in his ear, 'I have used a bit of magic to make us invisible."

While his mind wandered from owls to alchemy, Colleen scanned the faces in the room. By old habit she took careful note of the exits as well. A crowded room was a high stress area for both of them. Usually she was the stronger one, but for some reason this evening, she felt weak and vulnerable.

Then her eyes fixed on one person accross the room, a lady speaking to the headmaster. An ancient fear gripped her--could it be? Why was SHE here? Why? So that was it, then. it was all over, her pleasant life in this paradise. She was to be cast out..no, dragged away to...to hell again. The nearset exit was ten feet away. She would be there in seconds. A plan took shape in her head.

Ah! In her fear, she had forgotten about Sammy. Hesitation! She had a long talk with him that afternoon on the ridge. She told him not to worry, that they would be friends forever and that she would never leave him. But now SHE was here! SHE would ruin eveything! It was all over. Colleen bent down to kiss his head and smooth down his unruly hair. Then she pulled away and disappeared out the door.

It took Sammy a while to realize that something was wrong. He was aware that Colleen had left him, but his spirit was much stronger now than it had been that afternoon. Why, she had probably gone to get a snack or to the bathroom. It was all right. She would be back soon.

But after ten minuites, he began to worry. Not the soul-crushing worry he had endured in the past, but a serious, inquisitive concentration. Time to look at the facts. Sammy took a deep breath and swallowed hard. Something in the room had disturbed her, but what specifically? He had no clue. Inadvertantly, his eyes found the wooden owl--and he let out a gasp! The head had moved! The owl was now looking out the door to his left, toward the path which led across the commons to the dormitories.

Without hesitation, Sammy cut through the crowd to the door. The sun was almost at rest, and some students wandered in the twilight. But he did not wander, he made right for the girls' dormitory.


Friday, May 13, 2011

The Owl's Secret -- part 04

The smell of fresh cut grass mingled with that of cow pies drifting up fron the hollow. Sammy, on the ridge, had pulled out the old Ingersoll pocket-watch at least a dozen times. Late...late...but only by a few minutes. People were late all the time. Even he had been late for breakfast that very morning.

The nervous boy paced and circled in a shady spot near the side of the road. His left arm twitched as he raised it to rub his forehead. Yes...yes..people were late all the time...but what if this time was different? Ah! His mind burst out in all directions at once, throwing together potential possibilities. She could have been grounded for some minor offence. She could have forgotten their meeting--no that wasn't possible! O! She could have been hit by a car on the way! He looked around wildly--what should he do? He had to find her--NOW! But if he left this spot and she did come, that would hurt her deeply. But...what if she had left him! Left him like all the others...

Suddenly, the world around him vanished. A toddler, deep within his memory, broke away from his mother and ran down the street toward the man he knew had to be his lost father... A four year old sat crying on the stairs, begging his mother not to leave him... A seven year old stood stiffly beside his grandfather's coffin, trying to be a 'little soldier'... And, from the not too distant past, a boy lingered outside the door of his grandmother's apartment, unaware that she had been dead for days... Any one or two of these events would be a lot for a child to deal with, but the combination of all four at once was overwhelming.

His brain was on fire. His chest ached. Sammy clutched at his purple Vikings jersey and gasped, "Darn it!...all of them...leave me...all of them!" He collapsed in a heap on the ground, his right hand smashing a rotten apple at the same time as a sharp twig stabbed up into his thigh. Fresh, pure blood flowed out, making a dark stain on his patched and faded jeans.

"Now..now..," he sobbed. "Now SHE has left me....she promised....she promised...why?..."

Then a voice, a special voice like a spring breeze, but nonetheless a human voice struggled to reach him. The cry of an owl, unusual in the day time, cut a path through the fog in his mind so that the voice could get through. He lifted his tear-stained face and wiped his cheek with a soggy hand.

"Sammy! Sammy, what's wrong?"

She dropped her bag in the grass and ran to him, helping him up. He flinched as he tried to stand, so she held him close, wiping his face with her fingers. She looked him over and saw the blood...

"Oh! Come over here to the bench. Let me help you. What happened?"

Together they made their way back to the road. He plunked down onto the green slats of the wayside bench, thoroughly ashamed of himself for being such a coward and a fool. he couldn't tell her what had happened..he just couldn't.


The Owl's Secret -- part 03

He lead her back through the over-filled stacks to his special place. At the west end of the library was his alcove, where two heavy oak chairs faced each other accross an ancient table worn smooth by the sleeves of several generations of students. The standing oval window was framed by dusty peach curtains trimmed with tattered gold fringe. The smell of old paper and lilac hung heavy in the warm still air. This was one of Sammy's holy places--a place that he was now willing to share.

As he searched for the Daily Register of 1831, Colleen looked around, running her slender fingers over the dark, ornate wood-work of the chairs, the window frame, and the book cases. Swirls, rosettes, loops, and even tiny figures of what could only be described as animals all waited there. Who could ever have the time and patience to do all this detailed work, she wondered, to take such care with items that most people would only glance at and move on. As Sammy flipped through the fragile pages, she tugged gently on the curtains and looked out over the grounds. Her mind wandered off to visit the freindly cows on a nearby farm.

The past tended to come to life and absorb all of Sammy's attention. People just like him--like them--had lived and studied here. What were they like? What were their hopes and dreams? And, most important of all: did their dreams ever come true. Strangely, Sammy worried about things like that. Ah! Focus.... Why did that owl have a book? Here it was: "May 28th, 1831--Dedication of the Grand Stair-case made possible by the generous donation of..." Yes, yes, he already knew that...

"Did you find anything, Sammy?"

"Oh..well..almost..."he stammered. it still took him by surprise that someone else was nearby. In the past he had always come here alone, always done most everything alone. he didn't realize how much he had minded that until recently.

"Aah! Here we are!," he excalimed, as she hopped up onto the table becide the book. 'Due payment being made to the Swabian Christian Rosenkreutz, wood-worker, for his wond'rous presentment of the forme of an owle."

"So that's his name?"

"Yes...hey! hold on..." Sammy got up and ran to a shelf, seizing a copy of Alchemists Through the Ages. "Here..wait..."

"What? What is it?"

"Look at this!"

He lay the book squarely on top of the Daily Register. Colleen twisted around to that side and looked. There on the page that Sammy had opened was a picture of 'Christian Rosenkreutz--master alchemyst of the 15th century.'

"See...," exclaimed the disappointed boy, "It couldn't have been him."

"So, what does this mean?"

"Mean! Well..." Sammy looked at the floor, wishing that he could crawl under the table. "It means that...that..."

"Oh, it's all right!" She jumped off the table and gave him a big hug from behind.

He gently touched her hands as they crossed on his chest. "Oh well, dead end..." She knew he was quite distressed, so she pressed the full length of her body against him. He relaxed at her touch and turned to look out the window.

Just then the bell rang for supper.


The Owl's Secret -- part 02

Donegal Academy had been founded in the 1820s, and had grown steadily and haphazardly since then. Fortunately most of its donors were full of worldly pride and wished to be remembered forever. For our immediate stiuation, this meant that Sammy could just loook on the name plate beneath the owl to see who had donated it. With that information in hand, they could proceed to the library.

"Hmm," said Colleen, smiling. "May 28th--that's an interesting day."

"Really? Why's that?"

"Because it's a special day."

"Yes, " replied Sammy as he ambled along with a curious half-limp developed upon a jump off the swing set last evening. "It's: May 28, 1831--'Grand Stair and Owle Carving donated by Featherwell Q. Fussygig, Esq.' So all we have to do is..."

"Hmph!," she stomped right in front of him, stopping the boy dead in his tracks. Her nose leaned in, scarsely within a milimeter of his. "May 28th! Remember that date, Sammy."

"Yes, of course I will."

"I am serious!"

"Well, I can't forget it now! Come on, let's go to the library." He put his hands on her shoulders, ready to spin her around. Then he stopped. Something had occurred to him---"Colleen?"

"Yes." She hummed, coccking her head to regard him with a mild amusement.

"Is that your... birthday?"

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" She broke away from his grasp, dancing and skipping around him. "How DID you ever find out?"

He blushed--secretly glad to have made her happy by guessing correctly. "You gave me enough hints!," he said quickly, as he tagged her shoulder and ran off down the hall.


The Owl's Secret--part 01

Far out in the deeps of time, beyond the shores of living memory, a young, unnaturally gifted wood-carver traded his homeland in the Black forests of Swabia for the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. Some space of time was allotted in his earthly wanderings for him to carve his master's piece: an owl on the railing post of the Main staircase at the Great Hall of Donegal Academy. Apart from a ledger record and a day journal notation, he then vanished from history.


Many years later. a brown haired, bespectacled boy stared deeply into the eyes of that same wooden owl. Why, he wished to know, was the owl clutching a book? Owls were wise, of course, everyone knew that. But why this book, a thick volume about three inches by five. he ran his finger gently over the binding cords visible on the spine.

So intent was his concentration that he did not notice the one sneaking up on him. She was one year older, a little taller, and, though he hated to admit it, more athletic and coordinated. This time, while he thought of books and owls, she silently leaned in close around his right shoulder. Her blonde hair tried to tickle his ear, but to no avail. At last she planted a cold, moist cream soda kiss right in the middle of his cheek.

"Aah!," he jumped. "Hey..what...."

"You don't want me to kiss you. then?"

"Yes...well...of course I do! But your lips were so cold!"

"And I was trying to warm them up."

"Ok," he looked at the floor. "Just warn me first, ok? I nearly jumped out of my skin just now."

She giggled as she found her way to one of the large, overstuffed chairs that ringed the Great Hall. "So what do we do now," she asked, using a tone that at once teased and encouraged her now serious companion. Since meeting in the orchard some weeks ago, the two had become inseperable, embarking on an endless summer of exploring all kinds of things, from books and trees to owls with books, and even the raw sweetness of first love. Though he had been painfully shy, she had drawn him out, and step by step they were creating a world together, their own space apart from the world that had treated them with confusion and cruelty.

"Let's go to the library," he said at last. "I have got to find out more about this owl."

"So you like the owl, do you?," she asked, more than a little curious herself, but not quite knowing where to start.

"Well...why does he have a book? That particular book, I mean. We must find out who carved him."

She got up, linked her hands behind her back, and twirled once or twice untill she was there again leaning over his shoulder. This time her hair did tickle his ear, so he reflexively swatted it away. She dodged his hand, catching it in mid-swing. "Let's go to the library, then."


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

repetition

from the bench
under the cedar
where today
spring is too warm
summer becons
but things are not grown
it's still premature
too soon for this
yet as always
i jump ahead
reaching the same conclusions
over and over
assuming things are
as i wish them to be
i cling until cast aside
or dragged at a distance
like a mouse
caught by a cat
who does not wish
to eat it

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bird Spirit Dance (a collaboration)

I close my eyes in the field
Gentle breezes lul my head
As I drift away into darkness
The sound of her wings calls my name.
Awakening from pleasant warmth,
I see her friendly wave
As she floats upon the wind,
"Hello, friend..." "Hello," I reply.
She laughs, "Why are you here?
Go to bed sweet friend!
Dream and fly forward
Upon warm winds
Seeking green fields
And this dear friend
Reaching your hand.
Close your eyes and be free."

Friday, May 6, 2011

There is a place

There is a place
We made together
Just for us
Warm and safe
Set back in time
To make our wish
And there connect
Two damaged souls
In bonds of healing
Peaceful warmth
Now flows forward
Down to us
So far apart
Yet deeply mingled
Grown together
Daily drawing
Deeper strength
From that place
We made together

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Preserves

The jars were in the basement;
Did we even know they were there?
Why were they preserved?
Was it fear? Was it cruelty?
Perhaps...
But it was love that filled them,
Love that kept them safe!

Let's clear away all the junk,
All the stuff we crammed down there.
I know there will be good things inside:

Not every person can sit on the floor with a child;
Not every person can save their first kiss for thirty seven years.

Monday, May 2, 2011

To R from S

I had a scare just recently
I didn't know what to do
So I went to see a friend
Who was both kind and true.

She listened to my scattered thoughts
And helped me settle down.
Often a new perspective
Will help reverse a frown.

One thing she said rang true to me
I took it straight to heart
Departing and feeling better
Because of her gentle art.

Nothing but time it cost her
But it meant the world to me
I know where to stand now
And I can clearly see.

So if you can but listen
When someone seeks you out
The gift that you may give them
Is what it's all about.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Music from then to now

When I was growing up in the 70s, I listened to Casey Kasem American Top 40 every weekend. This left me with an enduring love of classic rock as well as a treasure trove of lyric phrases to apply to everyday life. However the teachings of 70s lyrics are not a good foundation upon which to base one's views of life and relationships. The Simpsons are much better for that...^^ I liked disco too, but what made the most impression on me was when I first heard the Sex Pistols at my friend Terry's house. It was one of those now THAT is MUSIC moments for me, which in fairness also happened with Violent Femmes in college and with Wagner's Ring and Meistersingers (yes, I like opera too!) After college, I fell out of the music scene, clinging to my oldies stations through the late 80s and 90s, so I missed the Nirvana era. Thanks to Youtube I am now able to catch up and enjoy the 90s and the 60s music which was not a part of my experience. Some 50s is ok. I do like Hank, Hank Jr and even Hank III (yes, Hank III !--check him out!!). I went into a bluegrass phase, and still can be brought to tears by those hymns and sad songs about separation and loss. When Linda Ronstadt went all 40s it was very disappointing. She was best in country with the Stone Poneys and early solo albums. The first album I owned was "The Worst of Jefferson Airplane." Love Ziggy Stardust too!! Anyway, I experienced a contemporary music renaissance in the new century. Gave up my oldies station for more contemporary sounds. Starting with Michele Branch, and traveling to Pink, No Doubt, and now to Gaga, Katy Perry and even Nicki Minaj, I see that there is always something good just around the corner..oh...Ke$ha too, what the heck! At the annual eDance show in Hershey, I not only get to see very talented local dancers, but also I am exposed to new music. Last year it was "Telephone"..how did i miss THAT! There is so much that I didn't mention too. Moral of the story is: Don't stay stuck in your own music era or category! Change the station sometimes and see what's out there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Silvanus

Tell me. tell me, good Silvanus,
What the fauns are bringing in;
Perhaps it is that we should join them,
And with that the song begin.
Dancing, dancing in the forest,
'Ere the morning stars were made;
Piping, piping comes the music,
Here ye now before it fade.
Were you there in early morning,
'Ere the shining dew was spread?
Were you there when man awakened?
Will you live to see him dead?
Yes, Silvanus, I am coming,
Wait you just a moment here;
I will join you when I'm ready,
There is one I would be near.
Eros daemon has compelled me,
Onward, upward through the sky!
Now I rest, for I am weary;
Let me drink or I will die.
Many things that you can tell me,
Many things I want to know.
You will lead and I will follow,
Take me where I want to go.
We will leave the frozen city,
Take the trail to forest land;
I am sad no one will join us,
Yet tis good you don't command.
Yes, I know it, none can follow,
Save them that desire to go;
You can only point in silence,
And to us your vintage show.
I will sit with you in silence,
Under starry moon-lit sky.
There it shall be in the morning
Fauns will find us where we lie.
They will come with feast and music;
We will dance around a ring:
Then we all shall sit together,
Have a cup of wine and sing!
We will talk of buried treasure,
Elf and daemon, fire and sword.
Then we all shall call together
To the shining heaven-lords.
And perhaps they'll come and join us
Lead us to their hidden land.
There we all will live together,
Nourished by Her loving hand.
Come, Silvanus, we must hurry,
Or we'll miss the feast today!
They only come when they are ready.
When that is, I cannot say.

29 November 1979 (found in a draft of a letter to Barb Black)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Within safe borders

Just for a moment, let us peek through the broken window of an abandoned farm building on a warm muggy summer afternoon. There in the woods, out of sight of the road, two young people have set up what could only be described as the palace of the kingdom of their dreams. If we look closely, we can see a slender girl in a powder blue sun dress, wearing a simply woven garland of meadow flowers. She wags her finger in mock seriousness at a pale brown haired young man, who appears to share her love of freckles. He is wearing a painted Wehrmacht helmet, and has a cardboard imperial eagle pinned awkwardly to his dark green polo shirt. Suddenly, he drops to his knees and clasps his hands together as if in prayer. The girl pivots gracefully to pick up what looks like a hockey stick, and taps him gently on the left shoulder. He pauses to adjust his thick, smudged glasses, then looks up at her with a radiant, heart-melting smile. What is going on here? The girl is a princess, not yet a queen. The boy is at the beginning of his journey as a knight. As he stands and they move together towards the door, she hands him what appears to be a blue M&M... Let us leave them for now in their dreams, as they prepare for adventures within the safe borders of their kingdom.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Note

This particular evening, when everyone else was watching TV or playing board games, Sammy sat alone in the study hall. Behind him on the wall was a famous picture of Napoleon's cavalry charging at Waterloo. The brave men did not yet know that disaster lay just ahead of them--an unseen sunken road. He liked this painting because of the dashing uniforms, but also because it reminded him of a harsh reality of life. Those who went happily running forward almost always ended up in the ditch.

Open before him on the long brown study table was the C-D volume of the World Book Encyclopedia. Just to the right lay the Doré illustrated Harvard Classics edition of Dante's Divine Commedy. In the encyclopedia, Sammy studied the map of Dante's world, which included hell, purgatory, and paradise. From time to time he cross referenced the map with the illustrations in the book, because the poem itself was a little beyond him. In this activity, Sammy felt like any world explorer. What he saw and experienced in his mind was equal to any traveller in the so called real world.

He loved to work out puzzles, whether of cardboard cut-out or the word games in the daily paper. But most of all he enjoyed puzzle from life, or mysteries as he called them. This evening, the mystery that he focused on was: where was his beloved grandfather? He just knew that with the facts in hand, he could work it out logically. A strange new confidence filled him ever since last Sunday when he had returned from his walk. The other boys hadn't noticed any change, but Mrs. Rosso did. "Why, I think little Sammy might be in love, " she sighed to herself, quickly adding, "I had better keep an eye on that."

Sammy began to work through the facts as he knew them. His grandfather had been a Christian, so he would not have been cast into hell. But he had never been a church-goer, so that ruled out a direct trip to paradise. Ah! That left purgatory! Sammy paged through the illustrations of prugatory as he read the descriptions of its various levels. The only question now was on which one of these would his grandfather be?

After twenty minutes of intense study, he slumped back in the chair with a sigh. It was , after all, a dificult task for one so young. And was everyone in purgatory really naked? It would be very embarrassing to se his grandfather that way, though he had seen his grandmother many times when he had helped her bathe. He shuddered as the memory clouded his mind...there was something just too wierd about that. Naked bodies! Why wouldn't God want people to keep their clothes on? He felt most protected in his clothing and his "gear" after all.

Then Sammy remembered the note in his pocket. Somehow, she had found him that afternoon as he poked among the thin stand of trees down the hill toward the bus stop. She had put her finger to her lips and quickly approached him to pass the note. Her eyes said it all: "Sorry, can't stay." And just as quickly, she was gone. Sammy hadn't yet found the courage to open the note, but he was confident that he would read it before bed-time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ostara Moon

on any night
when the veil
between the now
and times long past
becomes so thin
that we may conjure
in the moonlight
selves long past
to stand before us
once again--
let us be kind
and understand
they did their best
with what they had.
let them run free
in the heaven
of their choosing

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

At the Cross-roads

His memory~~~

Little Sammy...that is what his grandmother and everyone else called him. Today he stared at the brown, drab, metal-framed bed, where he had carefully laid out his 'gear'--a German helmet from the Paoli Army/Navy Store, a cardboard breast-plate, and a broken hockey stick studded with beads. Sammy lifted the stick--no, it was a sword, his sword! Suddenly changing his mind, he threw it back onto the bed. Turning quickly, he grabbed a canvas satchel, stuffed his well-worn copy of The Return of the King inside, and made his way downstairs.

He really wanted to avoid people. It was a game he played in his head each weekend. If he could make it through the woods, past the orchard, and down to the Great Hall, then he 'won.' If he didn't make it...well, then he was 'killed in battle." What did that really mean, though? He never thought about that, especially since they had found his grandmother in her apartment...

The path was familiar: out from the Boy's Home, a huge granite building dating from the 1920s, and up through the woods, following trails blazed by several generations of orphaned boys. Under some of these trees he had placed 'gods' that he had carved out of bits of broken fence salvaged from a construction site. To invoke their protection, he only had to nod briefly in their general direction.

The road then curved around to the west. As usual on a Sunday, it was empty of traffic. If he had been wearing his 'gear,' Sammy would have been in the woods, walking parallel to the road, striking down the 'jaggers' and 'May apples' in his path. Further back in the woods was an old saw mill, where he sometimes stopped to read or have a snack. Today he went straight on, past the abandoned reservoir and several homes--normal people-houses, not granite monoliths.

When he reached the Fruit Market, Sammy had choices. Most weekends he just continued left, down the valley to the Grand Hall. But sometimes he took the right-hand path to the Cemetery  One way that he never took lay straight ahead on to the west, off the grounds.

And was today to be any different? He had no 'gear'--not even his sword. His grandmother, who had been his anchor in this world was gone. What should he do? Well, why not go forward! Why not, indeed! Sammy--feeling little no longer--ran along the road, through the cross-roads, passing a barrier long established in his mind. Briefly he felt happy beyond his imaginings---briefly he could forget!


Then, he stopped dead in his tracks. Somebody was there! Under an apple tree--blonde hair--a girl reading a book. If he continued, she would see him and he would 'lose' his game. He turned quickly to flee back the way he had come. Crack! He stepped on a dry branch. What to do? What to do? Should he run?

Then a voice--a pleasant warm welcoming voice, came drifting over the smell of apples and summer sunlight, "Sammy...Sammy, is that you?"


Her memory~~


The sound in the chapel was so clear and soft today...I was still
humming on my way back to the girls home to pack my stuff for a warm
day among the animals and trees. I quickly went to the kitchen and
found what I needed in the well stocked kitchen. Ran up the 3 flights
to my room,  grabbed a sweater and threw off my dress shoes for some
sandals. What book today?...."little woman", I can be Joe with her
brave self,
    out the back door past the kitchen, past the tennis court, up the
little forest towards my destination...the road was warm so I stayed
to the trees, I know a lot of the other kids will be swimming today. I
love being with them, but today I feel a little bit of the old
feelings, the fear my mother gave me, like something might happen to
ruin all I have here. I usually like being alone when I have that old
fear. I feel safer that way... I take time to slow down taking in the
beauty of this place,  I feel the sun wash away the fear and dance
along the road....singing easy..."my cup runneth over with love"
I imagine the older folks smiling at me either love my spirit, or
think I'm a little crazy...just past the hospital now. I reach into my
pocket and take out the small bag of M&M's, I remember making sure
they were all blue, then only as they melt in my mouth can I fly
towards the trees...over the road, past the farm stand and on to my
happy cows. I love to watch them with there young, such peaceful
creatures.
The trees are full and shady, I fall upon the road and walk deep into
them so I am less seen from the road.
My sweater over my shoulder I rest back and begin to read.... "Jo.
It's so boyish!" "That's why I do it.""I detest rude, unladylike
girls!"...I was just dozing off, book falling in my lap, when I heard
it...
     SNAP...the sound of a branch under foot, but who's foot?
Ooo It's Sammy...I always thought he seemed so sweet. not at all pushy
like the other boys...I call to him "Sammy...Sammy, is that you?"
I drop my book and sweater as I stand to greet him, I see I caught him
by surprise, I smile to let him know it's ok. I love his helmet and
armor....I always envisioned myself as a lost princess...and somehow
he looked like the one to find me and save me, remind me I am worthy
and special, like any good princess lost. I walk toward him, I see his
hesitation, but my invitation to join me for lunch seems to warm him.
We walk silently to the tree I left my things under. We are invisible
again among the trees. He and I share my bag, enough for us both as
we eat cheese apples, pickles and crackers....He tells me of his quest
to be unseen, I tell him of my singing along the road, we confess a
charm has been cast, I feel like he is now safe for me, so I tell him
of my M&M's...smiling he laughs and we sit for a long time sharing
stories.
I feel so close now to Sammy. I want to be closer...it is so warm out,
can I be brave, I want to be. So I do it, I lean in and kiss him
feeling his warm mouth. Sweet lips pressed gently against my own...am
I dreaming? Is this real?
We stand, look into each others eyes and I ask him to promise to keep
my secrets, I promise to be his lookout as he tries his "game" to be
unseen, secret words are passed, we smile at each other glad to have a
comrade.
I hug him close to me feeling the pressure of my budding breast
against his chestplate...I kiss him deeper, feeling at once his own
passion...I open my mouth to his, we are young and explore the power
of a kiss.
Sweet Sam...how I never knew he was the one. I laugh at the sweetness
of his kiss and dance among the trees, my summer dress flowing around
me....peace in the orchard...
Offering him my M&M's we get ready to sail towards the forest...my
friend, my love....my trust. hold my heart it is fragile...but ready
to be shared. I will be your lookout and always love you for who you
are. Shield and helmet ready to protect....

Friday, March 11, 2011

as i stand waiting

as i stand waiting waiting at the window wonder watching westward as the slowly setting sun leads my soul in darkness down along at last to those deep down down to silent spirits waiting waiting for the warm red ichor running fast too fast it seeps down down to raise the shadow shades of lives now lost to them along at last a loss so full and wrenching wrecking mending mournful years at last not lost no waiting waiting comes at last the one who at the edge of center stands the heart once healing loss alone he comes no waiting now my eyes are met by dim and dusty shade of aeons melting past away to then at last appear before me as my father...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordstream II

Over in my place the place where i have been put there has now been time for thought and time to process the stream of life that flows through and around and beyond past me into the shadowed future but here now my thoughts conspire to examine all the more than i can see and jump they do from star to star around the cosmos galaxy universe membrane dimensional field as they attempt to process all potential phenomena in that which does exist or exists not yet or existed once but now so long forgotten and lost that i begin to seek the energy more and more to reach the full potential of what must be so up and up we soar again to follow the ancient metaphor of the religious ones the seekers who have in the past defied the bonds of their kin and place to see beyond the all and tear through the membrane the walls of night the very bonds of physical reality that pretend to tie us here to place and time but then upreaching at last i come to the marvel world of light and life the phos and zoe of those gnostic minds who saw before to all of this yet could not say in a distinctive way that could not be mocked by those in power but now o yes i have arrives to claim the strength to feel the light of wonder love and true untruth that lies beyond for all who seek it there in that place which is no place where all began so long ago to form through its energy then released to brightly expand and show the all which we can only see in shadow form just now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wordstream I

Well aloft aloft i float suddenly as if my weight has fallen all away and at last along the way of life i can soar free of all earthly dross and societal constraints imposed on me by gods and ancestors so long age that most have forgotten how they ever came to be but they are o yes they are and they are here with us every day as we walk in the mud and the rain ahh now yes not today for me because i have escaped for this brief moment and soared up to the lofty heavens where only the gods have been allowed to dwell along with the holy ones of earth that we humans have elevated but why o why just those and why not others for to limit is to control and for my brief moment i do so want to feel the freedom of the weightless clouds and look as i choose down to see those dear friends i cherish and say to them come, o please come along with me to the golden gates of this paradise eden wonder space, a magic circle where we can all meet as spirits who are truly able to commune with one another and freely give the empathetic love and life support that we all so feel the lack of in our daily lives upon the surface of that often cold, wet and dark planet out of which our bodies formed to live but a brief span of life and then to plunge away into what o what we cannot say for sure but our hope remains as the substance of our dream that we will then at last be able to float freely on the wonderous places that our imagination shows us.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII--first thoughts

For me there are three key factors in a game, characters, plot, and world. Any one of these by itself can grab my interest and pull me along. Gameplay is there in the background, and sometimes it even prevents me from finishing (yes, I'm looking at YOU, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood!!), but it is not my thing. I need an interesting plot that I can get involved with and want to learn more about (is Ultimecia REALLY future-Rinoa?). Or a beautiful and complex world, full of life and history. Or, and this is the clincher, characters that I care about. I draw them, I chibify them, I ship them, I write myself into the plot. Yes, I will do anything to finish a game for characters that I love (FF II, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, Xenogears, Disgaea 2, Legend of Dragoon, &c...yes there have been a few^^).

Final Fantasy XIII had me interested from the time that the trailers started appearing at Japanese game shows. The world looked future-y but not too outer-spacey (that's where Xenosaga lost me). I began to look for character designs online, recognizing as I did some familiar FF archetypes. And at last the days were accomplished when the game was delivered unto me. Hmmm, ok, here we go!! Yes, well the screen type is so small. Should I buy that 64" plasma screen TV that I have been reinforcing my wall for? No, not yet. *sigh* I can squint. And my son is having the same problem with Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland. Ok here we go again! Right onandonandon through a cattle chute. My, but this game is LINEAR! Will I ever get to wander anywhere except back and forth (without hair whips, TG). Anyway, the landscape is detailed, but does not seem alive. I have escaped the crystal lake, but a glance ahead in the guidebook shows me nothing but more cattle chutes!!

I am getting a grasp on the gameplay, so I don't think that will be too much of a problem. As long as there is a way for me to get super strong at some point, I will be ok. And, i do find that I am starting to care about the characters. All of them except for Snow. Mr. I'm-a-hero can take a hike, as far as I'm concerned. And, he's like 2 feet taller than anyone else on the planet. Light, Sazh, and Vanille are going to carry this game for me, I think. Light is the Cloud, the Squall of this game, the troubled loner driven by an inner code too strict for any person to live up to. Vanille is the Selphie/Rikku, the cheerful wanderer, full of life and enthusiasm. Sazh (Szah?) is my favorite; he is capable and kind, adapting quickly and willing to help others, as long as they do the minimum of acknowledging his existence. These three are the ones I am counting on to pull me through this game. I understand the plot a little better now, but it is probably best not to go into that, unless you want to play the game. All I can hope for now, is that the world gets a little more beautiful. And I am already shipping Sazh x Light.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ending to a story I wanted to write...

There was no time to think. "Go, NOW!," roared the elderly dwarf, as he staggered against the elfcarven walls of the ruined crypt. Rin just stared at him, she could not move from the spot she had chosen to die. How had this happened? The ogres were closing in, and would soon overwhelm their small party. Then, somebody grabbed her arm, nearly tearing it out of its socket. She turned her head. It was Keta the warrior, Keta the strong elven princess, who had endured so much abuse from the ogres, and from her own people. Now, Keta pulled her down the hall. Rin stumbled after, down the damp passage to the core, the goal of their quest. This was the place that her teacher has spoken of, the first home of the elves. In the distance, she heard Gehrhelm give the throttling cry of the dwarf clan that had cast him out. Raz was there too. He would know what to do; he was sarcastic and rude, but always had a plan. Rin lost sight of them. They were in the core, a round room full of shadowed carvings of lives long past. "Here it is," shouted Keta, adding earnestly, "do it!" But do what? Rin did not know what she was supposed to do, her teacher had never told her. He hid much about the past, about the magic that cursed her. Oh Goddess! What was she supposed to do? Keta stared at her, "What are you waiting for! They can't hold them for long! Rin!" The girl gasped, then looked up at Keta. On the journey, Rin had grown to love Keta with all her heart. The elf had become her mother, sister, and friend...all the relationships she had never been able to have in her short life. How could she fail her now. Shouts and growls grew closer in the passage. Raz and Gehrhelm were probably... Aah! She could not think about it! Rin suddenly stood up and faced the center of the chamber. There she saw the dead Arcus, the heart of the elven city. Once it had throbbed with magic, wild uncontrolable magic. Like that which resided within her...her curse... Rin knew what she had to do. As Keta fought the ogres as they swarmed into the chamber, Rin hurled the magic out of her heart. It streamed across the distance to the Arcus, then fanned out, flooding the chamber, burning the ogres to ashes. Keta will live, thought Rin, she is an elf...my love...my....

A great distance away, in an ivy covered tower by the sea, an old mage slumped in his favorite chair. He gently touched the burn marks caused by Rin when she had struggled to control the elven magic he had placed in her to save her life. Now he knew...he knew that borrowed life had served a good purpose, had given back to the elves what had been theirs. It was all that could have been done, wasn't it? Yet still he cried for the loss of his most troublesome pupil.

Gate and Tower

It's true the tower stands strong,
But sometimes it's stubbornly wrong.
The gate, if open wide,
Lets all take shelter inside.
The tower does not want all.
Yet the gate cannot cease its call.
With every space full inside,
The tower collapsed and died.
The gate now left alone
Let our a chilling moan;
To be alone was not
The future she had sought.
The hill with rubble strewn,
Beneath a frowning moon;
The people all dispersed,
The land around them cursed--
"Come to me, my friend;
The tower must rise again!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Disobedient feet

Another week was almost finished, another week the same as the last, and perhaps the same as the week to come. Something of life had been lost, but what--and when? When had I last felt really alive, like there was a vast horizon opening up before me? Now I feel…well…stretched like an elastic band connected back to…. when? Darn! I can't even tell anymore. Even the seasons seem to drag by more slowly, lingering without any significant signposts to look forward to or to fear.

In the bank on payday, I saw too many people. Why were they all here? I took my place in line behind a man. He wore a company work shirt with the sleeves cut off, showing his well-defined muscles. He was more than a full head taller than me, with broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist. While we waited, he glanced around and fidgeted as if he wished to be anywhere but here. I laughed silently at his predicament. He did seem out of place.

Then, quite unexpectedly, he turned around to face me, and said, "It's really crowded in here today." My eyes were immediately drawn up to meet his, which now had focused with all their intensity and passion for life upon me. "Y-yes," I replied, flustered and unable to escape, "It's usually not this bad." Then, just as abruptly, he turned back around.

Ah! I blushed. I looked at the floor. What had just happened? He…he was younger than me, certainly. He probably worked outdoors--in construction or something? Maybe a carpenter? His skin was a beautiful deep chocolate brown. His hair was very short--cut for the summer. I would never normally meet anyone like him in the office. Wait! Why was I even thinking about this? I shook my head vigorously to clear away all thoughts of him--a person whom I would never see again anyway.

He had finished his business at the counter and was ready to depart. I looked over to take him in one last time. This day would be a pleasant but fading memory in future years. Our eyes met, and he smiled. "Heh! Are you hungry?" "Y-yes," I stammered self-consciously. "Well I'm going over to McDonalds. I'll buy you a meal if you meet me there. If not--well--Heh! --No sweat, ok?' And he was gone.

After finishing at the bank, my car took me right over to McDonalds. And there he was, looking me over with a huge grin. I looked away with embarrassment. What was I doing here? Was this even safe? "Heh! I knew you'd come," he laughed, "get over here."

My feet moved me over to a place beside him. When our turn in line came up, he ever so gently pushed me forward to place my order. "We're together," he announced solemnly, as if it were an eternal truth.

Later, as we sat facing each other in the booth, he asked about my job and my interests. We chatted about the weather, his work--it was construction--and the price of gas. Then, when we had finished came the moment I had been dreading. He asked for my number.

"But you know," I said politely grasping the french-fried air for an excuse, "I'm almost four--well I'm a little--just a little--older that you, and--"

"So what's your point? Do you want to see me again or don't you?"

He made me wait and think about him a whole week before he called to ask me out. Now, here I am in my bedroom, almost ready. I have struggled into some new skinny jeans and a carefully selected purple paisley Daisy Fuentes twisted-knot top, finishing up with my favorite black leather tall shaft boots. Now, some light make-up and perfume to finish--all for him. He will be here soon, and I have decided to get into his car and travel wherever he will take me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Protean Amoeba

starting in responses
to things all around
we congeal together
as a new amoeba
which someone calls "us"--
with parent-given identity
forming a nucleus.
but the elements,
the shaped bits--
those responses
are still there
forming and reforming
combining and recombining
until some shock
or some epiphany
gives us permission
to congeal anew
our own amoeba
our special chosen
self evolution
changing and shifting
within the landmarks
of those primal responses
which linger--preverbal--
forever within us

Friday, January 28, 2011

Protean Harajuku Barbie

i do now know
what to call
these different bits
coming together
combining and recombining.

i am different people
at different times
in different scenes.

it feels so true
that in my mind
i am protean.

but...is it a lie
to be so many?
or ultimate truth?

nicki minaj.
we see her---
but who is she?
onika maraj?
or cookie?
or harajuku barbie?
or roman?
or martha?
or rrrrrosa?
or niki teresa--the healer?
all of them?--
hmmm, yes,
i think so.

never being
always becoming
recombining the elements,
alter egos, personas...
whatever we call them.

"you are posessed!"
shouts the past.
but we are us,
true us,
in multiform wonder.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dionysus to the maiden Beroe

(from Nonnos' Dionysiaca XLII.396-406. it is a wierd, wonderful poem written about AD 500, and surviving in one unique MS copied in the 13th Century. W.H.D. Rouse has done this translation)

what worthy gifts
will Earthshker bring?
saltwater as bridegift?
sealskins, breathing
the filthy stink
of the deep?
do not accept them!
i will provide bacchants
to wait upon you
in your bridechamber,
satyrs for chamberlains.
accept my bridegift:
my grapevintages!
and if you desire
a wild spear also,
o daughter of Adonis:
i give you my Thyrsis
for your lance,
-away with Triden's tooth!
flee, my dear
from the ugly noise
of the neversilent sea!
flee the madness
of Poseidon's dangerous love!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Asuka's Three Arrows











as Soryu Langley
this hommelette
Japanese and German
bless'd by gods
with biting wit
and lithesome form
has seen the mirror
fused the fragments
and fled the forest.



now she stands
near green ocean
under blue sky
outside a cave
aglow with vitality.


just above
the mass of hair
red and tangl'd
Aphrodite's son
shoots three arrows:
one to Zeus
wellmuscled thunderer
one to Poseidon
wielder of Tridens
one to Hades
brooding in darkness.


as each is struck
they come, and see:
glancing eyes
glistening shoulders
swell of breast
curve of waist
mincing feet--
all of which
now may be
theirs to win
if they dare!


MeAsuka sigh--
arching back
smiling like him
who drew to near
in crafted form
the brilliant sun
losing his wings
falling to earth
in blazing ruin.















Thursday, January 6, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado

This past year, I have been reading some works that high school English class had all but ruined for me. Great Expectations is really a good book (sorry, Mrs. Sutphin, I'm sure you tried your best, but our minds were not fully formed and weighted down with ennui). And...Edgar Allan Poe! He just didn't take with me the first time, but the fact that Baudelaire translated him (in the 1840s!) has lead me back to try again. I picked up a complete tales & poems at Borders for $8, poured myself a half-mug of sherry, and settled down in my library.

The Cask of Amontillado got my attention right away. I'm sure we had to read this in school, it's a see-he's-cool-guy-if-he-writes-this story. The narrator tells us about a little thing he did 50 years ago (yawn)...no, it's that he took his revenge on an adversary by walling him up alive in his basement. Now this story really spoke to me. No, not because I am an angel of vengeance with a long enemies list (I'm really not). It resonated psychologically with some of the things I have been thinking and blogging about. If you want a good analysis, then go here: http://rmmla.wsu.edu/ereview/58.2/articles/baraban.asp
I am giving what I saw in this story, I make no claim to great literary interpretation.

The two characters, Montresor and Fortunato, interact throughout the story. When I first read it years ago, I sympathized with the narrator, Montresor. He has endured the wrong and taken action. But now I see them in a different light. Amontillado is a psychodrama, a duel between two competing aspects of a single personality. Montresor is the serious one, judgemental, religious, hierarchical minded, a calculating, humorless stay-at-home. In Freaks & Geeks terms, he is Lindsay Weir the mathlete. In Hongloumeng, he is Jia Baoyu the Confucian student who passed the National Examinations. Fortunato is the jester, curious, arrogant, spontaneous...lead by his emotions and his pride. Lindsay Weir the freak, Baoyu in the garden, on his way to becoming a wandering Taoist monk. Yes, I know I am stretching Poe's characterizations a bit, but these connections just jumped out at me. Montresor could not endure the Fortunato part of himself, so he buried it deep inside him. Will Lindsay repress her freak side to become a tool of the establishment? Would Baoyu have stayed to be a government functionary like his father? Montresor overcomes Fortunato and lives his adult life through (50 years) without him.

To live in this world we must somehow come to terms with it, and the world perfers the Montresors to the Fortunatos. My Fortunato side is an important part of my identity, yet day after day I must be the Montresor and suppress Fortunato. At least I have not walled him up in an inaccessable place. I write, draw, sing loudly to Lady Gaga (when I am alone in the car^^), visit my favorite tree, let my imagination flow freely (sometimes). But I do not float so far away that I cannot sit in my office becide the morgue and do my work.

So, thank you for a great story, Mr. Poe! (Even if I have twisted it somewhat...) I am sorry that it took me over 30 years to get back to you, and I look forward to reading more!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bildungsroman

There have been three excellent coming of age TV series that were cancelled after one season: My So Called Life, Freaks & Geeks, and My Life As Liz. No--wait! Liz has been renewed for a second season. Now we will be able to find out what come after, like reading Remarque's The Road Back (or Marchwitza's Storm over the Ruhr) after All Quiet on the Western Front. But not like that show Jen Love Hewett was in after Party of Five.

In Freaks & Geeks, Lindsay Weir comes of age. The process begins when illusions are shattered, and ends with the quintessential Baby Boomer choice: establishment and conformity or fringe and freedom. This is displayed in our national discourse with great drama in the presidential election process. But let's not go there. Lindsay's version of the choice is between going to college to be a part of the top 1% or heading off in a van to follow the Grateful Dead tour. We all want to get in the van, but somehow conformity envelopes us.

Jia Baoyu, in the Hongloumeng, manages to choose both. He fulfils his obligation to his family by fathering a son and by passing the national examinations in such a way they he gains the attention of the Son of Heaven himself. But right after that, he vanishes in the 18th century Chinese equivalent of following the Grateful Dead: by becoming a wandering monk.

Can we choose both? Perhaps to do this is to fall between two stools, and we end up with neither. Or there other choices that we cannot see? Other mental and cultural spaces to be discovered and explored? As we get more and more wrap'd up in our electronic hibernaculum, will it even be possible to reach the fringe and find freedom?