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Thursday
Sep202018

Literary Agent Orange

Rip my heart out. Build the tension with cinematic pace. Then en masse in a dramatic climax they escape the clutches of the evil manipulators. In the falling action they join a safe community women’s shelter based on healing, recovery, regaining personal strength, dignity, self-respect, empowerment.

         They learn new job skills like cutting and selling ice.

         They learn how to weave. They discover their life needle leads a story thread. They take control of their life.

         They form love killer groups and hunt down men and women who betrayed them. The women kill them with love and compassion. The denouement is their brutal REVENGE. Best served cold. Calm, detached and honest. Short fast and deadly.

 

         BUT, said agent alliterated, I’m pretty. I’m pretty busy reading obscure vague query letters and synopses filled with vowels, consonants, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, tough love, mysteries and dime store romance, not to mention salacious graphic comics.

         Get to the verb. Get to the action. Establish a scene. Paint a voice. Develop characters, narrative, structure, plot, thematic unity, setting and multiple marketing platforms from recycled manuscripts. Pulp. Keep me turning the page.

Make the characters want something even if it’s a drink of water in the middle of the Gobi. Everyone needs water. Leo can tell you about the value of water in the Gobi.

         You mean, said Ice Girl, writing is like standing on the edge staring into an abyss called civilization with Leo, a courageous noble savage cannibal wearing an alarm clock around their neck committing sewer side with absolute free will above shimmering blue pools of incandescent liquid molecular frozen particles with brave stone cold clarity immobilized at heights of illusionary immaculate freedom seeing their immortality, their deepest fear in ROOM 101 alongside brave OTHERS unflinching in their love, compassion and goodness, this infinite potential?

Destiny in eternity? Where all points end at infinity? Where eternity plays with time? Before jumping they yell, People think art is easy. Tell them it’s like jumping off a 12 story building every day. JUMP!

         Yes, said the agent. I know it can be heart breaking. You develop your wings after jumping.

         You don’t know the meaning of heartbreak said Ice Girl. I’ve buried more people than you’ve published. Once I witnessed an old man wearing a rainbow knit cap write Eternity on a paper napkin in Planet Paradise, a coffee joint in Eugene, Oregon.

He torched Eternity with a match. His tired traveling blazing eyes watched Eternity burn to a cinder. Black and white ash and dust fluttered from his fingers. He mumbled incoherent incantations about fate’s joke, meaningless life, existential choices, irony and consequences. Something like that, said the agent with vague ineptness. Life is a chess game of experiences we get to play.

         The burning seer burned his inner light. He walked into a world trailing ash, feeling wind in his heart. Sun burned his retinas. Tides of time in the long now ebbed and receded where the event horizon blurred his cognitive facilities.

He lapsed into a stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence talking to shadows, ghosts and shamans. He approached the point of universal consciousness with mind-at-large where fiction memory dream and imagination are the same thing. He confronted the endless abyss. He jumped. He saved himself, said Ice Girl.

         Go on, said agent. The publishing world is a crapshoot. A casino. After expanding the narrative give me mythical evil, cold blooded sadistic mega maniacs, corrupt politicians, civil servants, millions of poorly paid laconic Asian teachers, nurses, doctors and financially motivated international bankers and politicians practicing fraud, sexual harassment and NGO graft under the auspices of organized crime.

Saturday
Sep152018

Finch's Cage

In Sapa, Vietnam I discovered a side street and thick cold java at a run-down Internet cafe. I sat outside.

Finch had a yellow chest, red beak and brown feathers. It was outside a plate glass door. It’d escaped from its small yet safe bamboo cage in the main room.

Someone, perhaps the young mother worried about her wailing infant or her brother worried about dying of boredom or her old mother worried about dying alone had left the cage open.

Finch sang, “Where’s my home? What is this beautiful world?”

Finch hugged the ground. It looked at green trees waving across the street. It saw a deep blue sky. It inhaled clear, clean mountain air. It heard birds singing in trees but didn’t understand them. Their songs were about nesting, exploring, flying, clouds, trees, sky, rain, warm sun, rivers, bark, worms, snails, and melodies of freedom.

I wondered if Finch would fly away. I hoped so however I knew it was afraid to go. Perhaps it lacked real flying experience, the kind where you lift off fast beating your wings to get up and get going to escape the weight of gravity or memories filled with attitudes, beliefs, values and fear pulling you down.

Free, you turn and glide, relax and soar.

Finch being conditioned to the caged world of bamboo with a perch, food and water looked and listened to the world.

Finch retreated from the possibility of free flight and pecked at loose seeds in a narrow crevice below the door. It smelled the dark stale room where the cage hung on a wire. It pecked under the frame. It wanted someone to rescue it.

It sang, “Help! Let me in. I want to come home. I’ve been outside and I’ve seen enough. It’s a big scary place. I promise I’ll never try to escape again. I was curious, that’s all. I’ve seen enough. Let me in.” 

Finch was amazing in it’s beauty. Yellow, red, brown and bright eyed in its aloneness. 

An old woman opened the door. She trapped Finch in a purple cloth and returned Finch to its cage. She closed the bamboo door and snapped the latch shut.

“Did you learn your lesson little bird?” she said.

Finch sat on its perch, enjoyed a long cool drink of water and sang, “Thank you. Now I am truly happy.” 

The old woman didn’t understand this language.

Muttering under her breath about inconvenience she shuffled down a long dark hallway to a kitchen where she killed a chicken for lunch.

 

Mandalay

Wednesday
Sep122018

Mommy's Meltdown

“Mommy I saw you screaming and yelling at the man in the high chair. Why?”

“Yes, my darling shining star of fairness and gender equality. I was feeling unhappy, angry and cheated by life and if that wasn't enough I was playing like shit. The other girl was playing better then me.”

“Oh mommy, did you need a time out?”

“I needed more than a time out. I needed coaching from my box.”

“You mean like cereal from a box?”

“Kind of. It's a human signal thing when your coach in the box moves their hands close together meaning go to the net.”

“I've seen you go to the Internet. After you had a meltdown millions of sad, angry people went to the net to express their feelings and opinions. Most were about the mean old man in the high chair, tennis rules and something called double standards.”

“That's write honey bunny. Millions of my fans including 23,990 in the stands expressed their anger and vitriolic bitterness at the cruel tragic reality. I was going down in flames created by my inability to let it go, get focused and back in the match. I was facing elimination, loss, shame, and character assignation. I felt betrayed by the system.”

“Is that why you smashed your racquet mommy?”

“It's part of the reason, sweet. I knew I’d lose the match to a better player. She served better than me. She returned serve better than me. She moved better than me. I broke my racquet to show the world I am a strong woman.”

“The man in the high chair was calm mommy.”

“Don't be fooled my dear. He's a liar and a thief.”

“What did he steal?”

“He stole a point from me. He stole a game from me. He gave the other player my game. It wasn't fair. My actions had consequences and it wasn't fair.”

“No one said life is supposed to be fair mommy.”

“You can say that again darling. Anger and no self control is very expensive.”

“What happened to the other girl?”

“She ignored the crowd's psychotic behavior, took deep breaths, focused on her game and played one point at a time. She closed it out with Zen precision.”

“She handled the situation well didn't she mommy?”

“She had the right attitude. I was just another tennis player to her. She was cool to the end.”

“You displayed good emotional intelligence on the stage mommy. You hugged the girl and told the crowd to stop booing.”

“It's about self R-E-S-P-E-C-T and respecting others.”

“Life is a hard teacher, mommy. If you don't learn the lesson you have to repeat it.”

“It's not about tennis. It's about character. Tennis begins with love. Now get out of your high chair. I'm late for my anger management class.”

(The writer has twenty years experience as a certified tennis teacher/coach. He worked as a linesman and chair umpire for the Irish Tennis Federation Inter-Zonal Davis Cup matches.)

Saturday
Sep082018

Patriots Act Out

War on terror experts discussed global strategies in a play with many acts.

A play on (s)words.

Some acts were hard to follow let alone comprehend. Reviews would be mixed when it ran off Broadway flagging down a Berber slave caravan inside an air-conditioned nightmare looking for a Caravanserai along Route 66.

“What’s the name of the first act?” asked a playwright.

“Patriot,” said General Consensus.

“How does The Patriot Act sound?” said the scribe, a former loan shark and energy consultant.

“I like it, I really like it,” said Asscroft a general Attorney. He was a neo-conservative hard-nosed right wing crazy religious fanatic from the State of Misery. “It has teeth with wide ranging constitutional subversive powers, perfectly timed for our agenda. Let’s push it down the legislator’s throats.”

“Does that mean the gag rule will be in effect?” cracked a comedian on welfare.

“Sure does. Anyone who so much as expresses concern about this constitutional urinary tract act will be blacklisted, hounded, ridiculed, ostracized, and labeled unpatriotic. They will never work again in this great beautiful free country. This is the home of the scared and enslaved. We will revoke their voting rights and cancel their citizenship. I’ve had it up to here with this liberal democratic crap. Our culture is to kill. Take no prisoners. Abuse the hell out of the detainees. Tell the peace makers and tree huggers to take a hike through old growth forests,” Attorney added with a smirk.

“Let there be no doubt about our honorable intentions. We are on a holy mission from God. Our destiny is to install democrazy in the Middle Eats,” said chef Boy R. Dumbed Down Dee, “whether they like it or not. They’ll eat what we give them or starve. This is an al’ carte blanche military menu.”

“Should we continue bombing?” queried an intelligence asset in deep cover. Plame as day.

It was days, weeks, months and centuries after angels sang 9/11.

English hawks warbled about taking the campaign into winter. They needed hawk food. As predators they knew the terrain, the sweet sound of wings whistling through clouds with laser- guided precision. Their talons were sharpened by their inherent power and Manifest Destiny. They were ready, willing, and able to establish and sustain new economic empires. They’d raped, pillaged and plundered old world civilizations and would not be deterred in their greed for power and influence.

They had the perspective and experience of establishing colonies and global power under the crown, under the gun, establishing The Rule of Law. They were experts at economic terrorism and exploiting natural resources using cheap labor.

“Yes, absolutely,” said another intelligence agent, an N.O.C. disguised as a Spanish cleaning woman with Gypsy blood.

Nonofficial cover was their nom de plume allowing them to work for foreign proprietary front companies while spying. Fronts were numerous: airlines, travel agencies, banks - world currencies and blood - military tribunals and civilian courts, oil and gas companies, construction firms, cafes, telecommunications, land, sea, and air shipping firms, brothels, juke joints, casinos, tailors, clip joints, beauty salons, crematoriums, and mortuaries.

The downside was being left out in the cold if their cover was revealed to compliant sheep citizens and transparent independent muckraking media. They’d be left blowing in the wind. A hard rain would fall. Everyone in the food and information chain was expendable.

A buttoned down butler brought them a mandate for an appetizer and they dug into their personal caves of hunger. They had all the Neolithic tools at their disposal. The garbage disposal clogged and someone called for maintenance.

“Maintenance!” demanded a shrill counter intuitive pro-active and very demanding defensive individual named Bumsfeld with lipstick on his collar from a one-night stand. “Get up here on the triple and bring your torch. Stuff happens. It’s the unknowable knowable.”

“Sorry sir,” said Maintenance, “stuff happens and my torch is down for maintenance, if you get my drift.”

“Drift, draft, fore and aft,” said a divorced right wing conservative senator up for erection. He washed his hands of the whole affair in dirty water. Finished, he threw the baby out with the bath water into the world’s endless suffering where 17,000 children died every day from starvation and economic terrorism.

Where 4,000 and then send some more American soldiers named Casualty in Iraq slept their dream of dreams in black body bags.

Agents returned to deep cover operations funneling arms, explosives and communication gear, maps and cyanide capsules to homeless, nameless volunteers.

A woman in black with an ear for dialogue mopped stairs and pavement along the narrow Rue Castanets. Finished, she dumped the water into the gutter watching it flow to the ocean, evaporate into clouds and rain flowers.

“This is no time to be surrounding ourselves with incompetents. Find someone who knows the lay of the land,” said a junior fellow named Full Bright on a scholarship. He unrolled a parchment for all the knights to see.

“Now see here,” countered Deli, “what it’ll be gents?”

“Make mine ham on rye,” said El Salvadore from the divan where he fondled his Dali. She was in no mood for this intentional violation of her writes.

“You know I don’t eat meat,” she said.

“Yes my dearest,” said Salvadore, “I’m well aware of your passion for fruit. You are my passion fruit, my darling. We’ll see what they have in the queen’s pantry. Perhaps a nice juicy banana?”

“Yes,” sighed Dali dearest, “peel it down for me. I am a bed rabbit. Elementary my sweet.”

“Yes, darling, he who wants to enjoy a fine fruit must sacrifice its peel. Let’s turn the lights down low and make whoopee.”

Salvador turned to his friend. “What do you make of this Pablo?”

“Hmm,” Pablo said, “it’s fairly abstract standing alone. It needs definition, stronger emphasis, a wider range of implicit specific graphic detail.”

“I agree,” said Salvadore, “perhaps broken orange melting time machines. Dashing surrealistic nature enveloping warriors disappearing into exile, fighting real and imaginary foes is called for.”

“Yes, a nice touch, that,” said Pablo. “Many are called few are chosen. We may consider this, my dear colleague, an experiment, an expanded vision. An extension of a red or blue period.”

“Well put dear comrade speaking of the blues. Less is more.”

“Agreed,” said Pablo, “let’s not put in anything extra or take anything extra out.”

“Such a novel concept,” said Don Q., an eavesdropping unemployed literary agent sitting on a nag and wearing a battered bedpan for a helmet.

“Excellent,” said Salvadore. “My friend Cervantes said the exact words to his companion Pancho. One rode an ass into history. Shall we have a go then?”

“Yes,” said Pablo. “Be my guest. Let’s take a line for a walk with Klee.”

“It’s glee Pablo. Joy. Such a silver tongue you have. Have you thought of a name for your new work my wise friend?” asked Dali.

"Guernica comes to mind,” Pablo said.

“How appropriate,” Dali replied, stroking his exquisite mustache. “It will become a classic. It will connect the wild subconscious and rationality. It’ll make you famous, old boy.”

Picasso’s Guernica commemorated the small Basque village of 10,000 in northern Spain.

It was market day on Monday, April 27, 1937. In the afternoon waves of planes from the Condor Legion, Heinkel 51s and Junker 52s piloted by Germans blasted Guernica. Survivors found 1,660 corpses and 890 wounded people in the rubble.

“Be that as it may,” Pablo replied. “Art historians and critics will have their say hey kid. It will shock supporters of social realism and propaganda art in France and Spain.”

“How did you do it?” Dali queried.

“From May 1st to June 4th in 1937 I made forty-five drawings on blue or black paper. I incorporated the bull, the horse, classic bullfighting figures, and the lantern from my 1935 Minotauromachy. I used the weeping Dora Maar because she has always been a woman who weeps. Guernica is a bereavement letter saying everything we love is going to die. And that is why everything we love is embodied in something unforgettably beautiful, like the emotion of a final farewell.”

“I still think your vision aspires to greater heights,” said Dali. “Your work contains fantasies meeting the objective violence of history.”

“You are too kind my dear Dali. People are talking about your work. Your intentional dreams, so strangely manifested, in the way you have masterfully allowed your subconscious free rein on the canvas. Most amazing, your Persistence of Memory.”

“You are too generous Pablo. I merely reflect the ongoing crisis in society, the surreal absurd nightmare, with, shall we say, a twisted rather sordid but truthful elusive creative beast we must acknowledge to allow our perverse authenticity freedom wherever it leads us.”

“So true my friend, for we are only the conduit of the magic,” said Pablo. “We paint what we see with our innermost senses, born by authentic inner visions.”

“We are the mysteries speaking through the mysteries,” said Salvadore.

“We are ceaselessly redrafting the short story we call our life,” said a scribe.

 Weaving A Life (V3) 

Monday
Sep032018

Duende

She had duende, a fundamentally untranslatable Spanish word, literally meaning possessing spirit.

It signified a charisma manifested by certain performers—flamenco dancers, bullfighters, elves, seers, weavers—overwhelming their audience with the feeling they were in the presence of a mystical power.

The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca produced the best brief description of duende: “Years ago, during a flamenco dance contest in Jerez, an old woman of eighty, competing against beautiful women and young girls with waists as supple as water, carried off the prize by simply raising her arms, throwing back her head, and stamping the platform with a single blow of her heel; but in that gathering of muses and angels, of beautiful forms and lovely smiles, the dying duende triumphed as it had to, dragging the rusted blades of its wings along the ground.”

+

Little Wing followed a tribal trail from Cadiz to Grazalema, named Lacilbula by the Romans where, after weaving morning pages she returned to the Rio Guadalete River below the pueblo flowing from the Sierras to Cadiz.

The battle of Guadalete was fought on July 19, 711 when 7,000 Yemenis and Berbers led by Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated the Visgoth King Roderic.

Rio needed cleaning. Thick autumn yellow, green and brown leaves trapped between rocks clogged river sections. Liquid backed up to mountains beneath fast gray storm clouds.

Using her walking stick, she clamored down a slippery slope and worked her way up the Rio clearing sticks, leaves and stones blocking the flow. There were green maple, silver aspen, brown oak leaves. Old black water logged decayed colors danced with fresh green and orange pigments.

She was the unimpeded flow. A child playing near water and rocks in her dream world.

Serene sweet water music.

Rocks, stepping stones.

Small pools and meditation zones. She felt peaceful.

Bird music darted up the canyon.

She cleared leaves past twilight, staggered up the muddy incline and faced the Rio in silent gratitude. She performed healing chants next to a bare Aspen tree.

She passed a crying Virgin Mary statue illuminated by melting red candles in a rocky crevice behind a locked gate.

Mary’s blood flowed over jagged gray dolomite stones flecked with green moss.

Little Wing collected a hemoglobin sample for weaving, crossed a stone bridge and returned home. She lit candles, started a fire, and relaxed in her chair enjoying a deep breath before bleeding words to dye loom fabric.

The loom was her instrument of transformation.

Wool was the hair of the sacrificial beast which women by a long and cultured tribal process, transformed into clothing.

Weaving skirts the sacred and the violent.

Her power at the loom was derided, dreaded and illuminating.

Transformed giving birth to symbolic language with new positive ends. Duende.

 A Century is Nothing

Mekong Blue - Women's Development Center, Stung Treng, Cambodia