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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
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Amazon Associate

World Voices Festival


150 writers from 45 countries are gathering in NY this week at the World Voices Festival of International Literature sponsored by PEN.

This year's theme is "Home & Away." Writers will be reading, discussing and engaging on various global issues; climate change, the war in Iraq, torture and ongoing international refugee crisis.

“You don’t that often see writers being sought out when there are matters of great moment to discuss,” said Salman Rushdie, the novelist, former president of PEN American Center and chairman of the World Voices festival. “And I think that’s a loss.”

A link to the NYT story by Motoko Rich is included.


World Voices


A case of democrazy


-Look, said Little Nino. -I found a radio! Batteries not included.
Children scrambled through debris pawing soil looking for energy cells. Emergency air raid sirens went off and everyone scrambled into bombed out buildings, seeking shelter.

-Hey, check this out, said a hungry refugee. -I found a case of Democrazy. The Republican label says it spreads easily.
-Is it crunchy or plain?
-How do I know? It’s just plain old Democrazy.

-Maybe it’s like that old rancid freedom sauce. Let’s give it a try.
They opened the box, took out a jar, unscrewed the top, grabbed sharp knives, broke bread and slathered on Democrazy.

-Wow! This is yummy.
-Yeah, well I got some stuck in my throat. It tastes like sand.
-It’s protein.
Tribal members collected their Democrazy.
-We need more energy, someone cried. -We need music, news, entertainment, a weather forecast, a story with a happy ending. We need to know what’s happened.

-Need a clue? Take a look around you, said a person with an elementary education. Towers, Iraqi villages and Afghan mountains smoldered on the immediate horizon.
-It looks desperate, said one.
-Eye, it does, said another. -It’s always darker before the dawn.

Sirens stopped and they emerged from one darkness into another darkness.
-We need shelter, said a family gathering rushes from the world bank. Third world immigrants and internally displaced people pounded rocks and carried them on their backs toward unknown futures.
They sang, “Give me shelter. Shelter from the storm.”

Waves of bombers and attack helicopters circled overhead like vultures.


drill glasses.jpg


Human stains


Here's an excerpt and link from Paulo Coelho's latest book, The Witch of Portobello, reviewed on The Guardian.

On Envy and ethics: For the scientist Dr. William M Shelton, envy is a reaction provoked by losers, who seek to evade reality by hiding behind a crusade seeking to reinstate "moral values", "noble ideas" and "social justice".

"The situation becomes dangerous when the school system begins to develop in the student the conditioning for despising all those who manage to be successful, always attributing any success to corruption, manipulation and moral degradation. As the pursuit of success is something inherent to the human condition, the students end up in a schizophrenic process of hating exactly that which would lead them to happiness, thereby increasing the anxiety crises, and reducing the capacity to innovate and improve society."

On Wrath, from the Verba Seniorum (The Word of the Ancients): Two wise men who lived in the same chapel in the Sahara desert, were talking one day. "Let's fight so that we don't become disassociated from the human being, or we will end up not understanding properly the passions that torture him", said one.

"I don't know how to begin a fight," said the other.

"Well, we will do the following: I am putting this brick here in the middle, and you say to me: it's mine. I will answer: no, this brick is mine. Then we will begin arguing and we will end up fighting".

And so they did. One said that the brick was his. The other argued, saying it was not. "Don't let's waste time over this, keep this brick," said the first. "Your idea for a fight was not very good. When we perceive that we have an immortal soul, it is impossible to fight over things".


welding torch, bamboo.jpg

Human stains


Empty hands


Now a steady heavy rain, voices become muted, refined, elegant and peaceful.
The rain has removed their edge where words dance, committing heinous crimes inside the imagination of lovers waiting in the long lonely sad misfortune of falling water.

Moisture is a blessing for farmers huddled under brown and yellow ponchos planting rice in geometric rows.

Shallow water stalks the reeds, finished products steam from cauldrons stabbed with steel and wooden spatulas as students crave their empty bowls but farmers don't know them, see them or begin to imagine ravished desperate eaters with heads bowed over chipped white rice bowls, not in thanks or gratitude but in an eating frenzy - never to be satisfied hunger - muttering with their mouths full - spitting words.

The farmers are happy today. Planting. Walking along thin brown dikes inspecting their little precious kingdom - comfortable in pouring rain music bouncing off the surface, sliding down leaves, green feathers.

A twilight heavy mist is collecting itself with deep clouds, rolling over mountains, along valleys, streams, rivers into the sparse empty layered fields where silent men and women huddle ankle deep in muddy water planting rice shoots one by one until they become invisible.





incense burner
grey hair
deep set eyes

black plastic sandals
torn orange cotton pants
remembering stone streets
exactly then

Monk painting wnuclear 20..jpg

steep narrow passages
broken withered flower stems
violet bees collecting pollen
evidence of moral dilemmas

candle wax and ashes

empty hands
hold everything