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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
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.50)

The Language Company The Language Company
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)

Subject to Change Subject to Change
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)

Ice girl in Banlung Ice girl in Banlung
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)

Finch's Cage Finch's Cage
ratings: 2 (avg rating 3.50)

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the world is a village

Your village in Northeast Laos thrives near rivers and pine-mountains.

You plant it.

You nurture it.

You harvest it.

You eat it.

You carry it.

Every day starts at 4:00 a.m.

You put food into a wicker basket, heave it onto your back and either walk to town or ride with other villagers in the back of a small tractor or truck, belching diesel. Perhaps a tuk-tuk overflowing with soil smells, green life talkers. Maybe on a motorcycle as chilly winds blast your face.

It feels good to be alive.

Get there early. Spread your treasures out on a rice sack near the curb. Cold winds refresh the street. Say hello to friends. Broken dawn breaks over eastern mountains shrouded in fast clouds. Mothers and daughters arrange labors of love.

Women arrive and unload bags of corn, dead civet cats, onions, greens, bamboo shoots, apples, and language. They grow rice, ginger, beans, peanuts, peppers, bananas, squash, sugar cane, corn, papaya, cucumber, and sweet potato.

They only leave villages to sell to townies.

A smiling old man crouched on the corner wearing a green army pith helmet from a forgotten war sells bells and musical iron instruments for oxen and water buffalo.

An ancient shaman woman bundled against morning cold displays roots, herbs and small bundles of natural remedies. People trust her innate knowledge.

Her dialect and wisdom is older than memory.


good at two things

“Mind yourself,” Z said in cursive Latin as she and Lucky exploring diverse civilizations cradled a bamboo candle on their quest for an illuminated translation.

One morning while walking to the Bursa Metro he received a rose from a kind Kurdish woman who tended a small grocery below a quadrant of grey cookie-cutter Soviet apartment blocks filled with crying children and sad adults devoured emotional immaturity content in a guilt-based context between a physical object and a precise concept.

“We are good at doing two things,” sang a Turkish man swirling a silver spoon in his tea...'around and around we go and where we stop nobody knows, tinkle, tinkle little star how I wonder where you are, way down in the glass so low with processed sugar’...sitting and singing, here we go.”

“I thought you said reading and writing,” said Rita, the anarchist writer of Ice Girl in Banlung and H20 seller in Ratanakiri. To make ends meet on weekends her family of eleven rented her out to a NGO scam at an artificial orphanage.

Buy her beware.

Rita knew what was what.

“According to UNICEF, there has been a 65% rise in the number of orphanages since 2005. There are more than 300 and yet, only 21 of those are run by the state.”

“Say more,” said Lucky.

“UNICEF estimates that 72% of the 12,000 children in Cambodian orphanages have at least one living parent or close relative. Desperate poverty makes it easy to persuade uneducated families that their kids will be better off in an orphanage.”

Her Banlung machine world roared, reversed, revered and resounded with operatic overtones. Chugging down the street, antiquated ¼ ton trucks recycled from catastrophic invasions, wars, death, suffering, bombings, and genocide carried 1.7 million people dying from forced labor, starvation and execution illuminated by historical footnotes.

Ghosts said we are nothing but historical history. Memory agreed. Voices blended with billowing black diesel exhaust and forgotten cultural memory in swirling red dust.

Two barefoot mendicants walked past Rita. One content in a simple white cotton cloth shirt and pants. A red and white-checkered kroma scarf knotted his head. He carried their possessions in three white rice bags suspended on a bamboo pole balanced on a bony shoulder. A tall gaunt man followed his trail of tears.

Man #1. These bags are heavy. I am tired of carrying them. You carry them. Bags and pole crashed on red dirt.

Startled birds flew. A brown river changed course. A woman stopped sweeping dust.

A rich man getting out of a black SUV smiled at prosperity.

A young boy fondling his fantasy without objection paused.

A prone passive girl suffering from eternal hunger in a plywood room waiting for fake love and an easy ten bucks blinked.

An infant dying of malnutrition cried in its sleep.

A mother begging for fake medicine at a health clinic holding her child shifted hip weight.

A monk in a pagoda turned a page of Sanskrit.

An ice girl massaged cold reality with her sharp edge of truth.

The man walked over to a large water cistern. He splashed his weathered face. He drank deep. His friend stooped over, adjusted bamboo through twine, hoisting bamboo and bags onto his bony shoulder. Where are we going? Muttering to his feet wearing red dust, one said down this endless road.

The Wild West town bigger than a village welcomed smaller. The dexterity and fortitude of millions shuffled along in a flip-flop sandal world filled with joy, opportunity, risk, chance, fate, and destiny.

They devoured French pastries and flavored yoghurt.

Ambiguity, contradictions and paradoxes assumed the inevitable. Assumptions and expectations wearing Blue Zircon saw harlequins.

A boy downstream near Angkor Wat sawed crystals of clarity in his tropical kingdom. He saw but didn’t see standing tall in a blue hyperventilated dump truck holding a rusty trusty bladed saw. Blocks of ice disguised as solidified water were longer than the Mekong feeding Son Le Tap Lake.

He unwrapped blocks. He sawed. He tapped a musical hammer at precise points defining worlds of experience into melting scientific sections. His co-worker loaded condensation on thin shoulders carrying melting weight to a bamboo shack. He dumped ice into an orange plastic box. A smiling woman frying bananas over kindling gave him monetary notes, Thank you for the cold.

Carver carved. Tap-tap-tap.

Rita opened a big orange plastic box. She picked up a chunk of ice in her left hand, cradling it in a blue cloth slamming a hammer on ice. It cracked. Fissures of released refracted pressure, jagged lines and imperfect beautiful white lightning spread deep inside ice. Holding global warming in her left hand she smashed it with all her power and strength fragmenting ice, floe chips and elemental particles.

A sharp piece of frozen ice pierced Lucky’s left eye. The sensation of pain was minimal, immediate and directly cushioned by the delicious cold feeling of ice melting through a retina, cones, rods, a pupil, nerve endings, frontal lobe, cerebral tissue, and layers of perception altering his visual organic sensation as ice light transmitted new electric signals from rerouted optic nerves to the cerebral cortex following a path of synapses. 

Enhanced visual acuity reflected everything. The stimulant was all. The world is made of water seeing crystals shimmering in ice mirror kaleidoscopes. Illusions of truth, pleasure, pain and drama danced. Long jagged beautiful sparkling universes emitted glowing crystal rivers. Everything he saw, heard, touched, tasted and felt was ice.

Sibylline language.

She dropped the block of ice into the box. Collecting chips in a glass, she added fresh thick brown coffee, sweet condensed milk extract, a straw and a spoon. She handed it to him. Here, you look tired and thirsty, I am, thanks, I’ve been walking all day. It’s delicious. You’re welcome.

She assaulted ice with a hammer shattering fragments to refresh java, coconut and sugar cane juice. Ice blocks melted latent potential. She bagged a block of ice and handed it to a cycle man. He gave her crumbled Real notes.

An old woman in pajamas sweeping dust heard ice weep, “Hope is the greatest evil. Her daughter whispered, “Evil doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.”

History, war, violence and predatory politicians screwed Cambodians, said Rita handing Zeynep, Leo, Lucky cold impermanence.

“Reading and writing is for idiots,” a Turkish man said to his attachment’s delight. “I am proficient at eating and fighting. I’ve been killing people for 4,000 years little thing. Nobody knows who the king is.”

Z said: I am a camera. Close my aperture to f/8 or f/11 for depth of field. I am a snow leopard in hot sun on Himalayan ice. I am a human mirror reflecting mud and meadows of reality. I am Winter Hawk winging free. I am resilient Bamboo.

I am love - a blind whore with a mental disease and no sense of humor. Love is in the air. Run for cover. I am Patience, your great teacher.

I am mindfulness.

I am breath.

I inhale life and exhale death in a random universe.

I am blood red ink drawing in dust and unloading words for a book called TLC to be explored, experimented and abandoned.

Wearing a burgundy pashmina shawl from Lhasa before the Chinese invaded in 1959 with Re-Education propaganda/publicity machines of terror, fear, suffering and death I smell like fresh Anatolian laundry in a gentle spring breeze.

Ice Girl in Banlung

The Language Company


Burma Commander

In Shan State, Burma once upon a time there was along running insurgency- people fighting and dying for territory, freedom, opium, jade, and blood red rubies - golden triangle profit.

A shiny green army pick up truck pulled up at the New Sign Moon Bakery in Lashio.

A soldier in green jumped out and opened the door. The fat wife got out – black hair decorated with blue sapphires in a white and silver long dress, designer purse, serious face.

Six soldiers exited the back of the truck. They were on a mission to liberate cakes, cookies, sweets from a glass shrine.

The short commander wore a camouflage jacket with depressed green pants and black shiny shoes. He had epaulets on his shoulder.

His sharp black eyes stared at a stranger sitting at an outdoor table bleeding ink.

Zero expression. His buried eyes were recessed emptiness. His camo boonie hat at a rakish angle was decorated with a golden military symbol of happiness, compassion and love.

His life climbed steps into a New Son. Her husband uttered quick syllables to number two.

Number two wore military bearing without a care in the world. He barked into a walkie-talkie.

A military policeman guarded the front of the truck. Soldiers stood around smoking as motorcycles loaded with fresh strawberries streamed goodbye.

She exited followed by a salesgirl trundling bags of roles and buns. A soldier put them in the truck. She spoke to her husband knowing words were unnecessary. He followed her to the market. Soldiers marched behind singing, I love a parade.

Years later they returned with bags of strawberries, apples and bananas. They loaded everything into the truck.

Someone called the commander. He pulled a walkie-talkie from his belt. He opened his mouth. Perfect white teeth. If you knew words. He smiled.

A soldier open the door for his life. She got in. He got in took off his party hat and slicked his hair. The military police whistled traffic.

They drove into a dream come true.

Real–not true

True–not real


playful way

meditate on the process of your death

every breath has meaning

mental representation

illustrating NO FEAR in a class

of doctors and nurses

they save lao children

language chunk




outside lao kids' hospital

thin vociferous tongues

wag letters

caligraphy senses

voices sniff garbage

smoke dances from grilled meat

h'mong man from 

distant landscape vegetation

eats with startled fish eyes

net man braids

white filament threads