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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
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The Language Company The Language Company
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Shit Detector in Turkey (48% said no thanks)

One Sunday evening Lucky walked along a narrow Bursa street in Turkey.

Kurdish mothers in headscarves extended thick manicured necks beyond balconies observing street life. Women swept, mopped, stirred apartment dust, shaking molecules out over blood stained escarpments.

They married newly consecrated relatives during fifty-minute encounter sessions designed to use the target language in the context of remembering. The thrill of remembering old memories overlaid with new linguistic impressions.

Learning is easy. Remembering is difficult.


The president plays his hand.

Glorious grand immediate silent ivory piano keys waited for inspiration’s fingers. Feeling, tension, point, counterpoint, hammer strings, resonance, and chromatic silence paused with reflection and flight. Symbols of forgotten strumpets playing music between notes wailed solitary notes across an abyss.

Creased faces ironed brilliant red roses petals. Faces embedded themselves between pages in a worn black unlined notebook.

Two shy Turkish women with beautiful faces and humongous rear end collisions eating lonely tears in a tomato based culture buried ancestors.

Water exploded off pools as happy hour birds heard homo-sapiens shift erotic labia gears after assembling French cars at a Bursa eco-friendly green internal combustion plant.           

“Welcome to Earth. Hello babies.”
            “Were you punished for being a dreamer?”
            “No. I was fortunate my family understood my nature. They respected my need for solitary time.”
            “I see,” said a blind beggar.
            “Wipe your glasses with what you know.”
            “I was born to be a poet like a bird is born to be a musician.”
            “Sing high, sing low, sweet chariot.”
            “Fascinating. We learned to say fascinating in finishing school instead of bullshit.”
            “You have a built-in shit detector.”
            “Ain’t that the fucking truth? Everyone needs a shit detector here in Turkey."

Truth is a value-based meaning factor. Can you create believable fiction-memory?”

Lucky passed his double identity twin theory below the surface of appearances at Ozmanhomogenized Gazi metro station. Two gravediggers wearing long black overcoats carried umbrella projectiles. Stepping into unknown futures they stabbed cement in cadence.

Green Metro cars slid into the station. Lucky sat across from a boy, 10, his mother and father. His father’s hands were hard calloused. They were simple working people from Van in the east. The boy smiled, fascinated by whirling prisms of light flashing past windows.

His father pulled up his son’s shirt. On his chest were two plastic suction cups and a small machine the size of a deck of cards. Ace high. A heart monitor measured his beats, his life rhythm, and his regularity. His father checked the display, saw the cups were secure and dropped the shirt.

“It is a machine for my son. It helps him,” he said with tired eyes. “We got it at Hospital A. Doctors said it was essential for his life.”

After the shirt covered his chest the boy and Lucky smiled, cupping their hands around eyes scanning the universe. They were explorers with magnifying glasses.

He’s a happy kid. Not afraid of a thing. We should all be so fortunate. Especially all the tired Turkish adults streaming their life tales, “Oh pity me. I am so, so tired.”

Talk to the kid. He’ll tell you how tired really feels.

Echoes of digger umbrella projectiles on stone faded near young lovers huddled on benches, a beggar crash landed on tarmac, head scarfed wrapped women with sacred scared eyes, children on curious adventures and wide eyed echoes along green tracks leading into dark tunnels disappearing into a wilderness of snow blanketed forests where two black shawled women negotiated muddy paths through foliage waiting for spring to thaw out relationships with nature.

Rabbits running in the ditch The Season of the Witch.

Living breathing biped accidents craved a place to happen with clarity insight and precision. Pearl letters played out on a fragile necklace of water bead molecules in an instant in eternity.

Time is a strung-out pimp looking for salvation, a fix an exit.

The Language Company

Playing a Turkish lament in Trabzon.


The Dark Years

It was curious seeing the Cambodian barber open on the last day of Khmer New Year.

The small southern river town of Kampot was dead quiet. Merchants and families slept in shuttered shops behind metal gray accordion sheets. A tropical afternoon sun beat down. White cumulus clouds billowed in the east.

The barber had a white haired customer. He’d fought against Thailand, Vietnam and Khmer Rouge. He didn’t talk about it. He survived. That was his conversation. His legacy.

He sat in a solid steel chair staring at his reflection. He saw a thin serene brown face and wavy white hair. A long mole bristling white hair resembling an inverted Buddhist pagoda hung from the left side of his chin.

The mole saved him from Khmer Rouge executioners. They were superstitious peasants and said he was the Devil, an evil spirit. They’d let him go.


They conversed in French. The gaunt barber had lived here all his life. The Devil survived four years of genocide by hiding his family in nearby mountains and jungles where the French constructed and abandoned a post office, hotel and casino. They called them The Dark Years.

No one talked about The Dark Years.

The old man closed his eyes. The barber trimmed with hand clippers. Snip, snip, snip. White hair fluttered to the floor meeting piles of black hair. Electric trimmers with frayed wires collected dust on a narrow wooden table under a fractured mirror. A holiday television program featuring Apsara dancers blared from a box on a bamboo table inside the long narrow room.

After trimming top, sides and neck hairs he adjusted the chair easing him back. The barber extracted a thin razor blade from a small piece of paper. He severed both ends into a soda can clinking metal fragments.

He opened a wooden handled straight razor and clicked the blade in. He sprayed water mist around the man’s head. Moisture refracted rainbow light prisms. Whispering the outside edge of an ear lobe angling the man’s head with his left hand he trimmed microscopic hairs.

The razor rasped temple to temple across the scalp line. He was quick, silent and efficient. Smooth hands touched head and face fast light and artistic. The blade followed the line of the nose, curled and danced across skin below closed eyes. He wiped the blade on a white towel lying on the man’s chest. He shaved lower sideburns.

He returned the man to a sitting position. The man smiled at his reflection. The barber snapped a towel across thin shoulders scattering dead cells.

The man eased out of the chair as they chatted. He removed a roll of money hidden at his waist. He handed peeled notes to the barber. Merci. Au’voir.

He shuffled into white heat. His son waited for him on a motorcycle. He tried to swing his right leg over the rear seat. Feeling off balance he hesitated. His left hand reached for a shoulder. His frail contorted useless right arm dangled in space.

The executioners had broken the Devil’s arm. They taught the Devil a lesson in compassion and forgiveness and power and control. Before giving him freedom they wanted to hear the Devil scream for mercy. They wanted to hear his pain echo through The Dark Years.



Waves erase footprints. Sleeping dogs cur into sand.
The beach orchestra builds its daily tempo.
A young Italian woman unfolds a blue towel on sand.

She lies face down. Pushing up with her arms she assumes a yoga posture eyes straight ahead on a blue green sea. Her spine weaves vertebrae like a wave.

Calm and focused.

Visitors stagger from beds, walk foam, eat, stare at waves evolving from a flat lined horizon holding green island hideouts. People plan to sit or go.

Yes go.
Go for a walk, a swim, adventure.

Discover reality below the surface of appearances.
Dive deeper than unconscious.

Nail girls protected by large floppy hats seeking cuticles needing trim canvass sand sun lovers.
String theory bracelet girls traverse grains of the universe. Boys ply sunglasses for a bright future.

A girl balancing a bamboo platter of pineapples, mangoes, bananas, paring knife, plastic bags and sharp sticks prowls sand from dawn to dusk.

People watch people watching people. It's the thing - look without understanding.

A narrow blue and white boat arrives on sand. A boy throws out a rusty anchor.
Backpackers from islands unload kilos of memories, dreams and reflections.

Boatman throws five large empty water bottles toward land grab.

Mid-day sun shimmers above shaded tables as massage clients

smothered with oil feel muscled women knead bronze
skin tone epidermis as children laugh, run and play in surf
near extreme serious a-dolts and retirees wondering
how they ended up in paradise removed from frozen Europe
hearing dulcimer hammers at a nearby five-story cement project.

Swimmers plunge into H2O covering 70% of Earth.

Couples embrace cold drinks behind mirrored sunglasses.
Fat white Russians slobber UV 30 on skin and drink cold beer.
99.9 % of beach people stare at phones. Ocean waves goodbye.

Strangers accustomed to cement pavement feel sand
Danger. Watch your step. Cautious sensation.

Babel languages whisper a Sappho wind singing iambic pentameter odes with save face time.
Spit in the ocean.
Restless orange diamond light crashes into sunset.
Red sun, white waves, blue sky, green islands. Floating world.

Silver waves lap shore.
White crescent moon hangs by a thread.
Stars sing with their light. I am twinkling.
Create your sandcastle.
Rinse and repeat.



Moon Ghosts 

The Andalusia moon would be full tomorrow.

Mad as hell caged hunting dogs howled high anxiety on western Sierra mountains with an excellent view of a white bone marble spinning through sky inside clouds of pleasure and pain as rolling valleys dreamed of planting and harvest.

Spanish men in sturdy boots carried tools of time’s labor through fields below the rising moon. When full they would not go to the fields, the river, the forests or the mountains after dusk. They owned the day and spirits controlled night. They respected magic.

Dogs bayed and howled through sunset into dusk of rising orange clouds as the moon rose through the either.

The men passed the cemetario on their way to the harvest. It was quiet there. The small church door was open, it’s scared thick and heavily bolted brown wood a thick piece of old resistance. The alter decoration was a simple Virgin Mary crying blood. The altar cloth was changed daily by a woman in black doing her duty saying her life’s penance through intention and devotion.

A forcestero, a person from outside the pueblo, a stranger with a camera passed her and she thought she recognized his shadow.

”A ghost. Yes, that’s all it was, a figment of a soul visiting friends.”                                 

She blessed herself twice with bird-winged fingers watching men walk to their land. It was the end of a warm winter day and the sun had disappeared with Egyptian vultures in heaven. She locked the black gate leading to a series of crypts.

The stranger was here yesterday doing his reconnaissance. Today he worked inside the second metal gate, inside the sanctuary, inside the crypt area. Four walls held the departed. Engraved stones revealed names, dates, places, memories, children, and adults back to 1896. He made images under the green smoky eyes of a Siamese cat on a red tiled roof.

Workers had left their crypt construction bricks, cleaning solution, black buckets and rags in empty crevices. Rectangles waited for ornate boxes. Boxes made in a casket factory miles and lives away. Caskets with handles for hands. Brown and black religiously lined caskets with satin pillows. Pillows softer than language mumbled through tears of the living seeing everything before trembling eyes with hearts beating like drums.

After church services in the village of 2,300 caskets were dispatched in long black cars with wreaths of infinite sweet smelling floral varieties to the black gate and carried on shoulders of strong men past the open church door, a palm tree and through a black gate on rusty hinges and slid into an empty domain.              

The cold gray cement cavities had brick ceilings. The forcestero stared inside an empty space. It was long. It was empty and it was cold. It stretched to eternity.

He stepped out of death's shadow. He heard men in fields using their tools on hard winter ground. They were above the ground. “Any day above ground is a good day,” a ghost whispered.

He listened and went to work.

In fast fading light he imaged interments with names and flowers, passages of memory in love and sadness, chiseled history and their connection to pueblo life. He focused down cavities and shells of rectangular rows of empty passages. They were invisible stories waiting to be told. Waiting for air to carry them to listening faithful. They were silent stories, silent night of the pious silent with collective breathing. 

“The rest is silence,” said Shakespeare.

The woman turned away from men and their shadows bent over fields moving rocks toward dreams and fence plans, pruning dead growth from olive trees along a river and saw the ghost working among shadows of the dead.

Her husband was there. She held his final whisper in her silent heart. “I almost wish it were true.”

She was the silent moon above her bone white memory, a spirit guide serving spirits. She joined the moon.

When he finished his work the forcestero flew away from the cemetario, river stones and fields where men worked their trust, his vapor rising to the moon.            

Their spirit energies manifested their destiny with the moon as dogs howled below them.

 A Century is Nothing


Live the dream

"We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe."

- Upanishad