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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Branch Out

My Planet is asking for images of trees.

Explore a floating mangrove forest. Before 9 July. 

I will never see
A poem as lovely 
As a tree.


memory 5, 2

this is memory 5. let's see what we don't know through a turkish lens. light and angle. a woman waiting at sophia for someone she's dreamed of in a future arranged marriage, a boy at a sewing machine, an old man walking, a shaft of light on a carpet, yellow pipes and a white cloud at a metro stop, a door surrounded by stone, arches, a halloween ghost. 

this is memory 2. a mudanya baker with his art, a fisherman repairing a net, empty oilve cans, shoes and yellow wall, pans waiting for burnishing, farm tools. life is simple in turkey. 


The sky is Falling 

On an edge of planet Earth spinning in a galaxy,

Countries adjusted advertising concepts of insecurity.

They sold Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, Adventure and Surprise.

Consumers washed it down with a super-sized sugared sixteen-ounce big gulps.

Populations accepted multiple real and imaginary nightmares of unknown caloric proportions.

The sky is falling. Love is in the air. Run for cover.



The Children's Hospital in Siem Reap has 22 beds in one room. They are full. They are filled with infants and children wearing air hoses in their nose. They suffer from pneumonia and tuberculosis. This is common in Cambodia. A parent holds a tiny hand.

I.C.U. has five beds. They are full.

400 mothers cradling kids wait to see a nurse. The nurse can dispense five medicines. Cheap generic pain killers.

Life is a pain killer.

Two drugs are generic placeboes. The mothers are happy to get SOMETHING, anything. They have no knowledge about medicine.

One effective pill prescribed by a doctor costs $1.00. Parents need to buy 15. 

$15.00 is a fortune. Out of the question. Parents accept cheap ineffective drugs.

Parents need a miracle.

How much does a miracle cost?


My life now

An old friend of mine is coming to visit, my mother said one day, She’s bringing her son. She lived here during the war met a G.I. and had a baby. She was lucky. Luckier than us. She got out. She took her son to New York when he was two. This is his first visit back to his country. 

His country. Mrs. Lin and her son Michael came for lunch. He was tall and handsome with long black hair. He was smooth and charming. 

I work for a huge computer company in America, he boasted. Big man, small village. His mother had a large house in the village. He asked me out. We started dating. I did all the translating, all the necessary things. Michael played the big man, the rich Viet-American.

Local people resented his attitude, his lack of language. He had no humility.

I lived at home and my mother started in on me. Michael’s a good man. He could be your future, she said.

Maybe yes, maybe no. I had doubts. I still loved Robert. It was a typical mother conspiracy, his and mine.  Working on us. His mother was mean, vindictive.  

Finally one night we were both drunk and slept in his mother’s house. The next morning his mother gave us the silent treatment. Michael set her straight. Don’t fuck with us. We want breakfast, he said. She served us.

We slept late and partied all night. We were hot. He was a big, hungry animal and my body was his. He took me in every position and I loved it. Women want fucking, security and cash.

After six fast months he said, Move in with me. He told my mother and she said ok. Every little boy always asks for permission. I needed a man and Michael needed a woman.

My son and I moved in. My mother accepted the reality. 

His mother treated me like a slave. Her spoiled boy could do no wrong. She hated me. He was an accident of her fraudulent passion. Nothing changed. She was mean, violent and alone. I put up with it for the sake of hoping the relationship would work out. People either want control or approval.

I played her game for awhile.


Marco's Future

Early one morning Orphan and Elf jumped on the local Vomit Comet bus from a rural village to Quanzhou.

They rolled through green Fujian foothills and lush farmland. Men worked oxen in rice paddies. Woman lugged baskets of greens and califlower to market. Children burned plastic trash along the road. Half-finished new rising middle class brick construction projects littered the landscape. The bus stopped. People crowded on. 

45 minutes later they reached the town. Maybe it was a city or a large village. The bus station was packed with peasants, sellers, noodle slurpers, and hustlers among grateful masses. 

They walked through a maze of alleys into the old heart. The heart is a lonely hunter. 

On a sidewalk a man hacked at a fawn selling fresh cuts. People scrambled to buy fresh meat. A woman pedaled past selling yellow carnations. A boy ran pulling a kite. A girl fed her sister. Women scrubbed clothes. An old man smoked in shadows.

At a venerable tea house made of bamboo in a shaded garden surrounded by jasmine they met Marco Polo.

I am on my way West along the Silk Road, he said. I don't know it yet but I will meet Kubliai Khan and stay with him for 3 incredible years. Maybe around 1271. We will play chess together. He will show me his plans to conquer the known world.

Orphan said, Such a grand adventure. We come here every weekend to explore and meet fascinating people and world travelers like you.

Elf said, Yes, and we know a Chinese fortune teller at a pagoda. He's excellent.

May I meet him, asked Marco. Sure, said Elf, Let's go.

They traveled through twisted, convoluted mazes and discovered an enormous pagoda. Red, yellow, golden roofs curved into blue sky. Five-clawed yellow dragons holding white pearls curled corners. Men, woman and children burned incense, mumbling prayers. Red cloth covered Buddha statue faces. Not ready to see. 

There he is, Orphan said, pointing at Confucius behind a table.

Marco introduced himself, What is my future.

Confucius asked Marco questions about his birth date, place, and family lineage. He opened a big brown book with faded yellow pages. He ran a bony finger down lines. He spoke in tongues, Among other adventures you will be imprisoned in Italy. You will tell your stories to another prisoner. You will be famous.

I only told half of what I saw, said Marco, smiling, scrawling notes. Elf made an image for historians.