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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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Subject to Change Subject to Change
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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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El Carnicero 

Big black hungry Spanish flies buzzed and fought around fresh red meat dripping warm blood into dust dancing along the devil’s whiplash.

A mangy cur dog rolled over in shade, ribs scraping grounded dust, begging for water.

A drop in the ocean, where it’s all H2O no matter how deep you dive. Waves washed shores singing stones.

Sausages retained a sharpness inextricably swaying like dancers in choreography. Tired, frayed strings bent under dead meat weight mass, substance, context.

Remembering the Spanish Civil War, Manuel the butcher stared through a jagged broken glass window. His facemask spoke a weary solemn stillness quiet lying fury.

His silent words were exaltations, evaluations, a surcharge, a value added tax in an empty stomach for services rendered by reinforcements riding hard through Basque valleys listening for waves of German bombers over Guernica 1936.

Beleaguered men inside stone shepherd huts trapped in desolate Pyrenees mountains stood spinning, surrounded by empty canteens, bread crusts, discarded family heirlooms, spent shell casings, and decomposing bodies relishing solitude.

He’s required to remember old Fascist propaganda spreading information.

He is El Carnicero, one who slaughters.

In order to put food on the table and provide for his family after peace was declared with celebrations of music, church services, baptisms, wine, street dancing and tear streaked burials, economics forced him to slaughter his remaining beast of burden.

His bull was his calling card, vision, hope, dream and village identity. Dictators, thieves and Fascists had stolen everything else. Dignity, integrity and self-respect survived.

Destiny arrived minus sympathy, sentiment or condolences. Shaded from a brutal sun he sharpened his axe, honing steel across a grindstone. New edges were sharpened with passionate ambivalence.

Laughter’s axe was ready.

He walked into a red clay ring surrounded by a white clapboard fence. The bull stood in the far corner.

He held out his hands lined with pulse-rivers. The bull emerged from shade. Manuel collected reins. In the animal’s eyes he saw memory reflected in his soul. Sighing, he clapped his hands twice, bowing to the bull as a Shinto priest pays his respects to Bishamonten, the Kami god of benevolent authority.

He asked for forgiveness, this act of fate, raised his laughing axe and brought it down hard and fast on the bull’s neck. The bull froze, slumping, straining to escape steel carving tough weathered skin, muscles, tendons, sinew, arteries, veins, snapping final bones.

Front legs folded, rear legs buckled. The carcass shuddered. A final breath exploded red dust.

He clapped his hands, severed the head and dragged everything through dust to his shop. He hung the severed head in his broken window.

For Sale.”

His wife served portions to family and neighbors. They consumed his life’s work, toasting his wise sacrifice for the greater good. Sharing is caring.

I am an accomplice to death. I could have stopped it. No. This is a lie. Truth lies. Truth hides in the mystery of interpretation. I couldn’t prevent death. I tried to speak and save the bull. Words. I was afraid. Language strangled me. My voice was dust. I was five.

He was my father.

Which is greater, real pain or pain’s premonition I wondered as Manuel’s silver blade melted reflections into diamonds of glittering light. The quick and dead burned. Manual and death danced inside my childhood, inside time’s compressed memory where rivers of stained glass mosaic memory melted. I took ownership of laughter’s axe.

Mirror reflections retained red river blood and sweat dancing on Manuel’s temple. Blood and sweat congealed in red dust creating tributaries and oceans in Spanish heat one swift irrevocable summer.

The world is a strong sense of Guerencia, a Spanish term for homeland, “a place, like a bull facing death in the ring, where you feel comfortable dying.”

Surviving along the Mediterranean meant controlling trade routes in slaves, salt, textiles, gold, silver, copper, limestone, turquoise, red granite, alabaster, bananas, sugar cane, cotton, sorghum, ivory, timber and purple dye.

Land and sea trade routes flowed with cuneiform, hieroglyphics, Phoenician alphabets, Mandarin, Meso-American, Runic and Indus script, coins, wooden tally sticks recording the number of animals killed, religions, amber, animals, royal purple clothing, grains, horses, incense, olive oil, silk, spices, tin, wine, tortoise shells and slaves.


Witnessing everything from a small Spanish village at the edge of the sea I seized cold-blooded mercenary opportunities. I evolved through determination, persistence and perseverance. Trial and error danced with cause and effect hearing The Art Of The Fugue by Bach.

Thin calm detached hungry dancing spirit fingers hummed down a necklace of threaded skeleton bone beads of catastrophic karmic actions near contemplative Gomchen mystic Tantric hermits north of Sera monastery in Tibet. Monks sat chanting and praying in sight of Chomolungma, the Mother Goddess.

Butchers, the untouchables, flayed corpses before smashing bones for vultures to reincarnate a spirit in a sky burial.

Frozen earth informed archeologists there would be no work here with their soft brushes.

I absorbed Tibetan dialects by swallowing bone dust. Transmissions of spirit energies, renewal and transformation evolved with joy, beauty and gratitude.

I sat meditating, breathing, digging, absorbing creation stories, illusions between what was and what is.

Realizing amazing journeys I discovered childlike laughter, curiosity and joy.

You are either innocent or mad.

Flip a coin. Magic nature opened my third eye to see what will be. Mirrors are free of dust and illusions. I dissolved.

The day after tomorrow belongs to me.

The Gomchen taught me how to meditate on the process of death. It centers a person fast. First thing in the morning, shapes my motivation with clarity.

“What is the motivation behind my desire to acquire _______ and the things that come with it?”

Motivation and its effects were determined by reading The Roots of Wisdom by Ming.

“Mountains and rivers and earth are already nothing but dust.

Man, of course, is but dust within dust.

“Bodies made of blood and muscle will surely return to bubble and shadows.

If the highest wisdom is not obtained, there will be no heart of understanding.

All is vanity.

“One ought to live a life of peace and quietude.

What’s the point of unrelenting pursuit of external things?”

El Carnicero, archeologists and I cherish our illuminated rolling stoned spirit energies.

Our choice is simple.

Sit or move. 

Weaving A Life (V1)


Cadiz, Spain

“Once upon a time,” said Nino one bright future day as the tribe rolled along, “and such a strange time it was, the gravity of thinking played music in a new century. There was a Spanish man with a hammer. At 9 a.m. on an overcast Cadiz morning he began chipping away at unexplored caverns. The Alio modo Fugue a 2 Clavier by Bach drifted in the background.

“He was building an extension on a roof where housing was scarce and straight up. The only split-level ranch duplexes with multiple garages in sight were American reruns on old battered televisions. He hammered stone below The Sheltering Sky.

"It was over 100 degrees. His hands bled. Blood seeped through an old Moorish roof splattering into a room where a writer lived in exile with a blind prophet. Hemoglobin landed on a keyboard. On the B. He let it dry. He treasured sudden rare immediate insights. Drops fell and congealed.”

“Fascinating,” said Omar turning a page. “And then?”

“Down below in deep morning shadows Rosario swept her front stoop on Benito Perez Galdos. Her white apron was clean and starched. She swept away yesterday’s accumulated debris and the mist of pedestrians coming and going. Old shit, dog urine and dust received her mop’s holy water. Their accumulated real and imaginary sins littered Galdos, heading for the gutter.”

“Let me guess,” said Omar picking up the thread, “church bells pealed eternal melancholy songs of hope and redemption across from the Castelilo de Santa Catalina, the main citadel of Cadiz built in 1598.”

“Exactly,” Nino said. “Inside tight white oval corridors, an exhibition of black and white photographs depicted Nicaraguan people fishing, polling canoes through jungles, chopping down forests, sitting for the camera, living and laughing.

"One room held beautiful black handmade fans in tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca. Considered the greatest poet and playwright of 20th century Spain, he was assassinated by members of the Escuadra Negra (Black Squadron) a Franco death squad in August 1936 for his left-wing sympathies and homosexuality. He belonged to the Generation of 1927 with Dali and Bunuel identifying with the marginalized Gitanos and woman chained to conventional social expectations in Andalucía.

"He wrote about entrapment, liberation, passion and repression. A long red scarf lay draped over a single rattan chair. Invisible wires held black fans decorated with peacock feathers and rainbow colors suspended in silence. Outside a dark window Atlantic waves smashed ramparts.”

Nino inhaled. Omar sacrificed an orange skin to enjoy the fruit.

Weaving A Life, Volume 1


Children's Conference

“We are not here for a long time. We are here for a good time,” laughed Meaning, a twelve-year old survivor wearing a ragged Beware of Land Mines skull and crossbones t-shirt and prosthesis leg scampering a random life pattern across fields near a stilted bamboo home in Cambodia.

“Are you with us?” pleaded a landmine child survivor removing shrapnel with an old rusty saw after stepping in heavy invisible shit, “or are you against us?”

She’s been turned out and turned down faster than a housekeeper ironing imported Egyptian threaded 400-count linen. No lye.

The thermostat of her short sweet life seeks more wattage. She faces a severe energy shortage if she doesn’t find food.

She’s one of 26,000 men women and children maimed or killed every year by land mines from forgotten conflicts. Reports from the killing fields indicate 110 million land mines lie buried in 68 countries.

It costs $3.00 to bury a landmine.

It costs $300-$900 to remove a mine. It will cost $33 billion to remove them.

It will take 1,100 years.

Governments spend $200-$300 million a year to detect and remove 10,000 mines. Cambodia, Angola, Afghanistan and Laos are the most heavily mined countries in the world.

40% of all land in Cambodia and 90% in Angola go unused because of land mines. One in 236 Cambodians is an amputee.


Expanding her awareness of mankind’s genetic stupidity, Lucky showed Zeynep a Laos map illustrating Never-Never Land.

Lao Please Don’t Rush is the most heavily bombed country in history.

25% of villages in Laos are contaminated with UXO.

Upwards of 30% of the bombs dropped on Laos failed to detonate.        

80 million unexploded bombs remain in Laos.

More than half of the UXO victims are children.


Meaning hears children crying as doctors struggle to remove metal from her skin. She cannot raise her hands to cover her ears. Perpetual crying penetrates her heart. Tears of blood soak her skin.

The technical mine that took her right leg away one fateful day as she played near village rice paddies expanded outward at 7,000 meters per second. Ball bearings shredded everything around her heart-mind.

It may have been an American made M16A1, shallow curved with a 60-degree fan shaped pattern. The lethal range was 328 feet. Or maybe it was a plastic Russian PMN-2 disguised as a toy. She never saw it coming after stepping on the pressure plate.

Fortunately or unfortunately she didn’t die of shock and blood loss. A stranger stopped the bleeding, checked her pulse and injected her with 200cc of morphine. Strangers in a strange land carried morphine.


Cut the heavy deep and real shit, said a female Banlung shaman.

Fear is a tough sell unless it’s done well, well done, marinated, broiled, stir-fried, over easy, or scrambled.

Fear is blissful ignorance.

Meanwhile, the 1st International Beggar Conference convened in Toothpick, a wasteland near Bright Hope - a rusting rustic dream of exploratory ways and means with scientific cause and effect and logical rational certainty.

It was chaired by a distinguished group of Cambodian orphans.

NGO Fascists rented 12,000 orphans out to fake humanitarian organizations. Abandoned youth pleaded with ill-informed rich donors for marketing and branding money to feed international guilt and shame.

“Let’s eat,” said a fat banker moments before his yacht hit an iceberg in 2008.

“What you don’t see is fascinating,” said Zeynep, “like roots below the surface of appearances.”

“We have so much ice and they have so little,” said an Icelandic chess player attacking Death.

“Everyone comes to me. My patience is infinite,” said Death. “I make only one move and it’s always the correct one.”

Beggars, landmine victims, genocide survivors and sick and tired dehydrated dying starving neglected humans from 195 countries convened in sequestered committee rooms filled with suits, scholars, academics, UN personnel, CIA analysts, NGO profit motivated scam reps, IMF bankers and plastic ornamental steering mechanisms.

“We agree to disagree,” said Rich Suit.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” said Wage Slave.

Orphans, beggars and children spoke about slave labor, hunger, exploitation, corruption, human trafficking, corrupt police states and the terrorism of economic poverty.

“Bad luck,” said a rich slave. “That’s a you problem, not a my problem.”

Children addressing global media held press conferences focusing jaundiced eyes on lenses, recorders and bleeding pens. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. Sound bites sang starvation’s misery.

If it bleeds it leads.

Incoming! Bleeding hearts ran for cover.

Orphan motions for adjudication, arbitration, fairness, equality and equity were tabled for further deliberation and discussion nowadays.

The average monthly wage was $37 in a Bangladesh clothing factory.

350,000 Cambodian women making $61/month stitched garments for Korean export companies.

Give someone a sewing machine and with a little luck they’ll feed their family.

Let’s Eat.

Weaving A Life, Volume 1


Chimaera - Ice Girl

Chapter 25. (The Beginning)

Dawn light greeted green jungles along Heart of Darkness. A Banlung mother sawed ice into manageable chunks as glistening elements dripped moisture into dust.

  Women swept red dust in front of wooden doors up and down a red road.

  Four-foot long blocks of ice were loaded on antique battered black and red motorcycles driven by delivery boys wearing baseball caps with glittering golden stars.

  Ice lives and dies every morning. Sun makes ice cry.

After school the mother’s daughter saws ice using a rusty serrated blade rescued from a genocide ordeal.

  What are you doing? Leo asked.

  Rita smiled. I am a seller pronounced with confidence.

  She opened an orange box. She picked up a chunk of white ice in her left hand, cradling it inside a blue cloth. She slammed a hammer on ice. It cracked.

Fissures of released refracted pressure, jagged lines, imperfect beautiful white lightning spread deep inside ice. She held global warming in her left hand. She smashed it with all her power and strength fragmenting ice, floe chips and elemental particles.

  A piece of cold sharp ice pierced Leo’s left eye. The sensation of pain was minimal, immediate and 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 tissue, altering his visual organic sense as ice light transmitted new electric signals from rerouted optic nerves to the cerebral cortex following a path of synapses. 

  Leo’s enhanced visual acuity reflected everything. The stimulant was all. The world is made of ice, he reflected, seeing crystals shimmering in ice mirror kaleidoscopes.

Illusions of truth, suffering and drama danced. Long jagged beautiful sparkling universes emitted glowing crystal rivers. The world is ice. Everything he saw, heard, touched, tasted and felt was ice.

  A sibylline language of clarity.

  She dropped the small block of ice back in 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 Leo.

  Here, you look tired and thirsty. 

  I am. Thanks. I’ve been walking all day. It’s delicious.

  She bagged a block of ice and handed it to a cycle man. He handed her crumbled Real notes.

  She sawed in oppressive heat.

  You are a good seller, said Leo.

  Yes, I am, she said. I greet the buyer and sell. I cut. I bag. I talk. I sell. Ice is moving. What’s your name? Where are you going?

  My name is Leo. I am walking down this red dusty road. See where it takes me. One life, no plan, many adventures. What’s your name?

  Chimaera, she said, handing him diamonds.

  The road is a river, she said. Like a human’s life it doesn’t know why it is born until it reaches the end. 

  This is the day of my dreams.

Ice Girl in Banlung


Literary Agent Orange - Ice Girl

Chapter 24.

On Khmer New Year’s Day a bitter mother at a Kampot 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 Rita, the 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 twenty 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 their morning pages 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 observing 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 talking louder.

  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.

  What is the difference between watching and seeing, asked Ice Girl, expanding passive and active verb signifiers.

  Real eyes realize real lies, said Leo.

  Survivors read the sky for rain. Survivors read mad dogs yapping, growling, fighting and fucking in the middle of empty black streets without electricity.

  Screaming, yelling male adolescents and old survivors read kick boxers fighting each other on national television every Saturday/Sunday afternoon at 2. It’s standing room only.




  Killing as Entertainment. I love this, said Death. They are really into it. Power. Reminds me of millions shouting their anger at killing fields.

  Violence never changes, only the players, said Leo.

  It’s their latent repressed anger gene, said Ice Girl. Denial will kill you and anger is expensive.

  Women meditate.

  Boy men scream at televisions.

  Survivors Waiting For Godot squeezing pores read a face in a motorbike mirror. They haven’t seen the play. They are the players.

  No one shows up, nothing happens.

  Hungry girls wait for Freedom at night.

  Destiny rested as noon heat reflected improbable anxieties. A bored working girl washed her blue underwear in a lazy brown river. Water’s exhilaration introduced her to a cloud. Thunder clapped. White lighting flashed. Tears flooded a red road.

 Children wearing red and white Santa caps dragged expectant Banlung mothers toward dusty chrome plated market display cases.

  This one! This one!

  In primary schools Khmer children learn a story about survival skills, said Ice Girl.

  Once upon a time there was a hungry rabbit.

  It saw a woman coming with a basket of vegetables on her head.

  The rabbit thought, I will play dead and see what happens.

  The woman stopped when she saw the rabbit.

  She said, “A dead rabbit. Meat. We will eat good tonight.”

  She picked up the rabbit, put it her basket and continued walking.

  The rabbit ate all the vegetables and ran away.

  What a clever rabbit.

  The woman went home. “We are going to eat good tonight,” she said to her family. “I found a rabbit.”

  Everyone was happy. She put down her basket. “O my.”

 I see, said Leo. Will you please share your story about the literary agent?

  Ok, said Ice Girl. The working title is:


Geological Sub-Strata Section


  The protagonist is a literary agent dying of thirst.

  The beginning needs work, said a visually challenged agent at Blind Lead The Blind Agency.

 Ok, said Ice Girl, I’m working on it, thinking, She doesn’t know shit. She wants to make her glorious 15%. Actually I don’t have an agent. I am secret agent B-8. An agent of prescient psychic abilities.

 Not true, said the agent. You make your own truth from embroidered lies. I know everything and can say nothing about beginnings, sustaining a story, plot, narrative flow and full character development. Make me cry. Give me emotional honesty so I feel for the protagonist. Grab me by the throat in the first clear short sentence. Make me pay attention.

Give me a sharp emotional marketing hook hanging above a marketing platform in sleazy cheap plywood Asian brothel where evil greedy men and women controllers threaten and violently abuse orphaned sex slave girls. Where they buy them or steal them from poor families in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, use them, abuse them and discard them. On the mean old street.

  They are a commodity like rice.

  Rich men buy virgins for $5,000 a pop. Open my legs. Plow the fertile soil between my legs. Open my feeble, nonchalant and passive innocent broken heart-mind. Throw in some Asian culture like wailing Chinese opera, ballet, The Art of the Fugue by Bach and weeping Apsara dancers on laterite Angkor ruins from the 8th century. Show me how superstitious men believe fucking a virgin gives them super strength enabling them to leap over tall virgins with a single organismic shudder. Give me a small organic boom-boom death in eight seconds.

 Ice Girl listened. The agent droned on. She was a Predator drone at 18,000 feet or a GRIM REAPER at 17,500 feet zeroing in for the kill sale.

 Unemployed internally displaced literary agents reading manuscripts huddled around a fire in a cave filled with 26,000 year-old Paleolithic paintings. They witnessed bison, deer, archers, and time-combs. Slashing red and black fish were trapped in black cages. Fingerprints whorled hunting stories.

  Big mama agent said: I need to feel the female pain, their sense of hopelessness, their loss of being abandoned for eternity. Through their painful memory fear and sheer terror I need to feel comprehend and identify with their anguish inside vulnerable skin. Dig into their skin, their brain, and their heart. Show me terrible, tragic and flawed the lost road of innocence by the Cambodian con artist. She had good intentions.

  Through their desperation with poor economic fate, choices, intention, karma, motivation, growth and action allow them to develop courage and truth. Their arc shows how they adapt, adjust and evolve in a Darwinian sense to a higher form of consciousness.

 Mindfulness free of fear, anger and ego.

Their quest for personal empowerment, self-esteem, dignity and freedom from tyranny, exploitation and slavery will appeal to readers. Awareness of the human condition. Volunteered salivating slavery. Get it in writing, ha, ha, ha.

 She reiterated required mainstream literary criteria for Ice Girl. Show how they support each other in their collective communal misery sharing tissues. Show how they maintain a strong sense of self-esteem and personal identity after being abandoned, battered, raped, whipped, starved, screwed and chained in cold rooms for five years to break their spirit. It’s called seasoning. If you want to train a wild animal you need to break their spirit.

 Sounds like a global educational conspiracy to beat, de-story, traumatize and obliterate any and all creative spirit out of children for twelve deadly years. Dead before adulthood, thought Ice Girl.

 Call the gravedigger. He's never out of work.

  Agent diatribe: Structure the tedious narrative from A to Z engaging my senses in their broken, shattered narratives illustrating truth, pain and anguish, sorrow, showing how love, fate, and chance manifests through silence, cunning and exile with passion and dire consequences leading to redemption and a happy, sad or what have you end. Give me the drama.

Give me the living dead girls, the VICTIMS in life’s cruel unrelenting heart breaking drama, with dead eyes lying flat on their back their legs wide open staring at plywood walls filled with torn glossy images of smiling feminine coiffured hair salon advertising myths as strange wild men fuck them 24/7 crushing their emotional life. Structure their tragic consequences trusting a manipulative greedy mama-san running the business under the protection and tacit consent of local police. She gives the police a free fucking discount or goes to jail. Yes, create a colorful mind map of their personal and collective journey. Show me. Don’t tell me about their tragic love and tragic passion and tragic suffering. Make sadistic things happen to them. Rip my heart out. Build the tension with cinematic pace. Then, in a dramatic climax en masse 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.

  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.

 Ice girl asked: You mean it’s like standing on a dark edge staring into an abyss called civilization with a courageous noble savage cannibal king named Leo wearing an alarm clock around his 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? Where all points end at infinity? Where eternity plays with time? Before jumping over the abyss Leo yells, People think art is easy! Just tell them it’s like jumping off a 12 story building every day. JUMP!

 Yes, said the agent. It has to 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 eternal 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 ineptness. Life is a chess game of experiences we get to play.

 The burning seer found his inner light, said Ice Girl. He walked into a world trailing ash, feeling wind in his heart. Sun burned his retinas. Time tides 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 and memory and dream and imagination are the same exact thing. He confronted the endless abyss. He jumped. He saved himself.

 Really, said agent. The publishing world is a crapshoot. A casino. After expanding the narrative working the brothel angle 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 charities.

  Give me gloom and doom global financial collapse with character arc de triumph and a fairy tale happy ending with revolutionary caviar and champagne. Establish a narrative flow line where heroes or heroines conquer their unconscious fears, demons and symbolic metaphorical archetypes.

 Keep it simple. Woman meets man. Woman faces obstacles: ice, money, sex, love, compromising her values, morals, ethics, principles, publishing her story etc.

 Woman loses man. Woman sells more ice, gets more money, fucks man out of loneliness during a 5-year courtship, (he will save me) discovers blind love exchanging one form of volunteered slavery for another. Man promises her BIG money.

She gets engaged accepting with resignation that sex business is money business. She keeps writing. She sends her story out. She becomes an independent author/publisher after multiple orgasms and form rejections from blind agents. The independent woman gets her man. She introduces man to her poor family and 11 siblings. Family demands $5k as a minimum down payment. She is a valuable child bearing resource.

  They give their daughter an engagement t-shirt.

 My body is a work of art. It’s for sale and it ain’t cheap.

 Man facing family greed suffers an internal crisis of fear, uncertainty and doubt. He agrees. He goes to the crossroads at midnight. He sells his soul to the d-evil. If you want to play you have to pay.

  Man pays for family engagement party. Man pays local officials for marriage approval documents. Man pays local shaman for blessing. Man pays for her eleven sibling’s education. They are excited to learn how to read. Man pays for a water pump. Man pays for solar panels. Man pays for her grandparent’s medicine. Man pays for rice seeds, rabbits, vegetables, for eternity.

  Parents give expensive village party impressing everyone how rich and popular they are with gleaming scheming status. Mother coerces daughter to produce many children and propitiate their poverty cycle. Give us someone to love. Someone who will work, breed and get slaughtered. Someone to take care of us. Someone to bury us.

  Feed us incense, said dead relative ghosts.

 Agent: That’s a mouthful of pay. Write about a heroine on a quest. Give me twisted international investment fund managers manipulating Goldilocks, NGOs skimming 70% off the top in Cambodia or Laos with exorbitant administrative costs, an orphan with no motivation but survival, profit and greed and tons of CORPORATE monopoly play money.

Give me heartbreak, emotional tragedy, drastic home foreclosures, forged land ownership papers, jealousy, revenge, pride, and make sure pride is filled with glimmering prominence. It brings people down, crashing empires, resolving conflicts.

Give me disabled unemployed (15%) homeless angry Iraq and Afghanistan USA war veterans and their struggles with PTSS, divorce, authenticity, domestic famine, The System and revenge, a central motivating factor, best served cold. Give me imaginary borders in a crazy fucked up world. Crossing borders is a transcendental act of courage.

 Ascertain the intention before the motivation, said Ice Girl.

  The agent climbed a literary mountain. If there’s no literary mountain, she said, the publishing road would be flat, straight and short.

 Give me a new paragraph with short dirty realism, said lit agent. Give me a classic Greek drama in three acts. Give me romance and treason, deception, intrigue and mayhem. Humans are the only animals that can scheme and deceive.

  Give me short simple sentences.

 Give me a life sentence with no chance for parole. Give me 1.7 million Khmers on death row tormented by ghosts. Give multiple characters fear, forgiveness, shock and awe. Like Orwell give me some unpleasant facts about a condemned man, on his way to the gallows, stepping around a puddle of water. Give me his gesture, his feeling, this quick generous insight into the human condition. Strap me into my literary electric chair living in a kingdom with twenty-four virgins. Virgins strike for equality. Give me a lethal literary injection. Drip by drip. Yes, give me a metaphor of mind numbing, fumbling, bumbling heart drama, intrigue and chaos. Entropy. Find the big metaphor, my dear ice girl.

 Give me REVENGE, served cold, which is how and why war started. The why factor. Give me a dumb downed version of primordial Faust. Give me humans selling their soul or young virgin brothel bodies to the d-evil to achieve their nefarious ends. Give me a heart-wrenching tale of abandonment, loss, misery and redemption. Tie in faint hope, a great EVIL and the last thing that dies with gravity and arc. Allow your characters to explore their feelings, thoughts, reactions and growth with total comprehension and the unpleasant scientific fact that the universe is 3.5 billion years old and approaching TOTAL COMPLEXITY.

 Some refer to TOTAL COMPLEXITY as God. You may want to move this fact to the very brutal yet incomplete satisfying conclusion, said the agent. This means the LONG NOW or 20,000 years of human evolution is speeding up. Period. It’s becoming more random and chaotic. There’s a huge mind-at-large difference between complicated and complex.

 If you can write in God’s voice, it may sell. Many have tried, few are chosen. God has a huge slush pile.

 Earth, this is God. I have someone who’s interested in the property and I want you OUT by the end of the month. How’s that?

 Imagine an accelerated space program as humans escape Earth, said Ice Girl. Only the very rich can afford a shuttle seat. So it goes. Everyone fends for himself or herself. Noble savages are free to do anything, rape, plunder, take a vacation, build an ark, move into abandoned slum mansions, print money, form armies, buy and sell bananas and have unprotected sex with strangers. A doomsday scenario plus or minus friend links, likes, tags, share buttons, categories, electronic social networks and technological wiz gadgets.

  Do not give me punctuation marks like parenthesis, said the agent. They stop me cold.

 Punctuation is a nail.

 Give me thesis, coma and commas. Rational certainty. How about quotation marks, asked Ice Girl. Periodically. Or, just capitalize the first letter when a character speaks. That’ll work. Have you read The Stone Raft, or The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, or Blindness, said Ice Girl.

 No, I only read the first five pages of everything that lands on my desk. I’ve got a slush pile higher than Everest. Tons of garbage lies near the summit. Talk about mountains of trash, water bottles, equipment, frozen bodies and rejected manuscripts. Dreams diehard.

  They’re by a Portuguese writer named Jose Saramago, said Ice Girl. He wrote about the human condition. How people feel isolated and struggle with their need for community and individuality. He addresses their need to find meaning and dignity outside political and economic structures.

  Facoinating. That’s all well and good, said agent. Mainstream readers do not want a slow paced, intelligent memoir, novel or non-linear esoteric eclectic threaded saga. They like stories with Swedish journalists, oligarchies, and smart crazy tattooed misfit computer hackers. Remember her t-shirt? The Apocalypse was yesterday. Today we have a problem.

 A reasonable personification of mystery. Add sex by a smart Vietnamese woman. Readers want dreams, fantasy, magical realism, desperate heavy deep real situations, romance and delicious date rape recipes filled with evil hope illustrated by language animals like pigs and talking monkeys living on an Animal Farm in Comabodia.

 Some pigs are more equal than others. Oink.

 How about talking chickens in Cambodia and Vietnam, rendered Ice Girl. Chickens with beautiful faces. Innocent, naive, dirt-poor chickens.

  If you must. Sex sells. Can they read? No. Can they write a synopsis? No. They fuck for a living. Yes, well I sell manuscripts for a living. Same-same but different.

  I prostitute myself for money, status, recognition, leverage and publishing eyeballs not vaginas and erect phallus symbols. The average reader here in Amnesia has an 8th grade education. Reading paper is declining. Newspapers are history. Weep. They line birdcages and wrap fish. Read the fine print, go digital. The average human worldview is limited to electronic mass media entertainment bullshit. Make me laugh. Ha, ha, ha. I am a cynical realist with the attention span of an infant. Many are too poor to pay attention. Their lives are, is, was, were a constant struggle for food and clean water.

One billion humans do not have access to clean water. Billions are illiterate. 17,000 children die of starvation every single day. Write about that unpleasant fact, dear Ice Girl.

 Literate types want something to read while sitting stranded in a foreign airport when an Icelandic Norse goddess volcano explodes creating a huge swirling cloud of ash complicating their horribly mundane and superficial lives with anxiety. Pass me some Xanax please. Stupid humans feel anxiety as a subterranean level of FEAR. Intelligent people grow doubts. Stupid people grow confidence.

Travel isn’t fun. It’s an adventure.

Many humans love living in the past filled with regret. It’s very comfortable. Why me? They absorb static or moving pictures to escape their terminally bored condition. They feel the need to experience virtual reality on cell phones devolving into soft machine material. Dying is a grim comic business. It’s messy. It’s more expensive than anger.

  I see, said Ice Girl. I’ll ask an animist gravedigger about plot development. Humans suffer from monkey mind. They regret genocides and fear their hopeless future. Not me! Why me? The ego monkey mind loves the CIRCUS, the daily entertainment. It wears them down making them lethargic, depressed, suicidal, and lazy.

  Lazy people never kill themselves.

  They die of boredom. Checkmate, said Death.

  Fate and Death conversed.

  I’m a funny thing, said Fate.

  Yes you are, said Death.

Ice Girl: Here’s how it works. Mindful people respect the monkey mind. They are present and grounded in the long now. They are patient, understanding, tolerant and kind. They are mindful. Others don’t read because they don’t know how or are lazy to learn anything true about themselves, the human condition or paradigm shifts in an amazing world. Mindfulness perceives their meager microscopic self is nothing more than pure energy. Who’s dragging around this bag of bones? Atoms. We are pure light. It’s all about energy, frequency and vibration. Others are not cosmologically or ontologically or evolutionarily engaged in how the world works on a sub-atomic level.

  Lit agent: Sure. They want fast food and a remote to operate their 46-inch plaza screen with 500 channels. They want to read simple stories with simple characters, a hero and a quest. They want happy endings like orgasms. KISS. Experiment with dirty realism. Just give me the surface. Be a witness. Throw in some absurd human activities. Don’t write about what you know.

Write about what you don’t know you need to know. Write to find out.

Write to discover a new universe, a new skin, a new lover, an old idea with shiny tin foiled packaging, like a love sock named OK#1 condom. Write about a decisive moment, like the guy who steps around a puddle on his way to Burmese gallows.

The Savage Detectives is about poets searching for a lost Chilean poet in Europe, another piece of work to consider. Don’t take it too seriously. Everyone dies in the end, one more microscopic essential unpleasant fact about publishing. My tedious job is to accept or reject manuscripts. In the food chain I market it to a publisher. Publishers have editors who read the work. Editors leave or die laughing. New editors read the work. Maybe the first editor worked with us. Maybe a new editor thinks it’s garbage needing a major rewrite, revisions, tax deductions and electromagnetic fluctuations. If so, a narrative HOOK leaves the author in the brothel-publishing graveyard, got it?

  Yes, said Ice Girl. Does that mean or imply you’re really a publishing prostitute with no ethics, morals or higher principles?

  It’s all about money honey, said agent XYZ and eyeballs. Everything has a price, a user and exchange value with utility infielders shagging hot grounders up the middle in the world market game of ideas, weapons, drugs, sex and OK love socks. Don’t give me any philosophical arguments.

  You’ve been very helpful, said Ice Girl. Now let an omniscient illiterate invisible scripter tale the show.

  It’s all yours. I have one question, said lick clit lit agent. How long have you been here?

  All fucking day, said Ice Girl, breaking the ice. Here’s your ticket to the greatest freak show on Earth. You have a front row seat.

 You are a fluke of the universe, said Leo. Take advantage of it. Thanks, said Ice girl. Just doing my work.

 Ice Girl in Banlung