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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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Ice girl in Banlung Ice girl in Banlung
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Finch's Cage Finch's Cage
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Finch's Cage - Podcast

A couple of years ago in Sapa, Vietnam he sat down.

He saw a Finch.

He wrote a short story about it.

He recorded it in The Middle Kingdom.

Please refrain from operating dangerous machines while listening.


Flower's Hands

“What do you recall during the one-hour full body massage with blind Flower at Seeing Hands?”

”Her hands were all. Her hands were water, air, earth and fire. Soft gentle sensations. Learning, sensing, feeling her physical sense. Engaging her senses. Touch was her essence. She knew all the pressure points.”

“Soft, medium or hard," Flower asked.

During her therapeutic touch and go he discovered ideas and structure and form and literary vulgarity. He slowed down inside the labyrinth.

A writer is a dwarf, invisible and must survive.

Flower whispered, “I don’t like sleeping alone. It’s boring.”

It’s easy to remember loving Flower’s soft, deep real tactile sensations. She knew how to please a stranger’s skin. She lived in the middle way. Her middle way was breathing and awareness. Her middle way was acceptance and loving kindness. Wisdom, patience and gratitude. Non-attachment.

“Eat the world with your blind eyes,” she said.

“Yes my Flower, yes.”

“Dead or blind, there’s no difference," Flower said. “People who cause you difficulties, you should think of them as very valuable teachers because they provide you with the opportunity to develop patience.”




Khmer new year april 14-16

On Khmer New Year’s day, a bitter mother at a guesthouse wearing blue cotton floral teddy bear pajamas decorates the family altar with cans and bottles of soft drinks, coconuts, durian, perfume, two crystal glasses of milk, yellow candles, red candy, bread, rice, oranges, apples, water, incense, photos of dead relatives, cockroaches, howling vicious fucking canines, balloons, clouds, condoms, clones and clowns. She has a terrible temper.       

“Wake up idiot!” she yells at her infantile hubby.

She is one among millions of sad angry neglected women.

She turns on the Idiot Box. LOUD. Her daughters, 4, and 6, are entranced by the visual Apsara circus. They never read books. This is weird because their father was a bookseller in the capital for six years. What happened to literature, what happened to paper, books, education, and critical thinking wonders Ice Girl.

Now he sleeps alone with Boring, having performed his sexual duty, rents out rooms and roars around the forgotten river town on a souped up 125cc noise machine alleviating suffering, spinning his loss, his intellectual wheels, pretending to be important, stirring up dust.

It’s rare to see anyone in Cambodia reading anything on paper, unless it’s a directive from unaccountable government command and control centers sustaining their economic dominance perpetuating 20 years of passive hopelessness. Or forged land paper deals screwing illiterate peasants. So it goes.

Survivors read empty streets on swivel necks. Survivors read rice. Survivors read (empty) bowls. Survivors read money. Survivors read blank faces in rear view bike mirrors. Survivors fall in love with their reflection pretending it is real. Hello Beauty.

Beauty is the mother of Death.

Leo and Ice Girl turned a page away from morning, away from scattered grains of rice in a broken bamboo basket feeding wild crows.

They are blacker than shadowed faces hiding inside deep dark structures watching the road. Always watching. They stare with hard eyes, said Ice Girl. Their eyes live in the present dancing over flat countryside covering lost forgotten patient rice paddies waiting for a drop of water nourishing green rice, or watching palm groves, coconut, banana trees surrounding thatched bamboo stilt homes as naked children harvest dream kites.

They watch. They never close blind eyes. They watch for invaders from Thailand, America, Vietnam. They wait watching for wives, husbands, children, strangers, soldiers, amputees, and Apsara dancers. Their blind eyes are always switched ON always ready to observe minute cosmic details and subtle movement across miles of land mined flat horizon country penetrating thick green sweet foliage.

Their eyes dance with waiting. Waiting caresses eyes as lovers do: close, feeling fluttering lids, retinas trembling with visual sensory information, data, sensing rational coherent mysteries. Eyes cultivate patience, an essential visual nutrient.

Watching without seeing is their Zen. Living in perpetual darkness they have a small immense critical survival responsibility. They stare far away with telescopic floodlight acuity. This consistent hard eyed vision burns up 85% of their daily energy. The remaining 15% is used for procreation, eating, and speaking.

Eyes practice the eternal art of being silent. They watch past another person during a conversation. They watch each other’s back. They face watching beyond wild where everything unknown matters infinitely. Everything here happens simultaneously.

One anxious dreaded moment in their short sweet life recognizes fear.

Fear is disguised as indecision and loss and ignorance. 

Ice Girl in Banlung


Gwendolyn MacEwen 

Let me make this perfectly clear.
I have never written anything because it is a Poem.
This is a mistake you always make about me,
A dangerous mistake. I promise you
I am not writing this because it is a Poem.

You suspect this is a posture or an act
I am sorry to tell you it is not an act.

You actually think I care if this
Poem gets off the ground or not. Well
I don't care if this poem gets off the ground or not
And neither should you.
All I have ever cared about
And all you should ever care about
Is what happens when you lift your eyes from this page.

Do not think for one minute it is the Poem that matters.
It is not the Poem that matters.
You can shove the Poem.
What matters is what is out there in the large dark
and in the long light,

 - Gwendolyn MacEwen


Rimbaud's magic

"My turn now. The story of one of my insanities.

What I liked were: absurd paintings, pictures over doorways, stage sets, carnival backdrops, billboards, bright-colored prints, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books full of misspellings, the kind of novels our grandmothers read, fairy tales, little children's books, old operas, silly old songs, the naive rhythms of country rimes.

I dreamed of Crusades, voyages of discovery that nobody had heard of, republics without histories, religious wars stamped out, revolutions in morals, movements of races and continents; I used to believe in every kind of magic.

I invented colors for the vowels. A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green. I made rules for the form and movement of every consonant, and I boasted of inventing, with rhythms from within me, a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And I alone would be its translator.

I began it as an investigation. I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still."
 - Arthur Rimbaud