Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Birth of Dialectic

the primordial condition of Dasein
is to lose oneself in others


his green eyes

her love
her angst
her desire

in reward
she offers
a nipple

he latches
and sucks
with greedy

he is her object

an entity
she produced

he is a blank
to paint

a surface
to reflect
her maternal light

like sunshine
off the moon

Monday, December 14, 2009

Desire among the Snails

the snail desires
the greenest leaf
of the reddest rose
of the backyard garden

however at dawn
he turns right
rather than left
and slides south
rather than north

until he reaches
the shadowed park
across the street
where he nibbles
light green leaves
of yellow peonies

no longer hungry
he sleeps
within the bed
of the rich loam
of the well-cared
for public garden

and dreams
of the greenest leaf
of the reddest rose

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Toward an Alchemy of Hearing

I see the snail seeing

but I cannot hear its seeing

to understand
I dance the dance
of the shaman

I rattle the gourd
I chant in tongues

the snail-sight

logos ploughs up
primordial words

being reveals

and we recite
and sing
the songs
of history

Monday, December 07, 2009

Rho Equals Mass over Volume

I could not abandon
the snail on the glass
or its image

I answered their demands

but now I seek a reprieve


their one soul
deepens widens
and reddens
like a peach

the subject
informs the object
and the object
nourishes the soul

weight mass
swell within
the reflection

it is an event
within the finite
a moment of the infinite

they have become real
and material

they exist as an entity
within time
for our observation

they exist independent
of me

Friday, December 04, 2009

Idealismus, Emerson, and the Primordial Word

Emerson, in his essay "The Poet" said: "Language is a fossil poetry." The poet's role is to dig deep into the rock and "re-attach things to nature."

Robert D. Richardson in his new book--First We Read Then We Write--tells us that Emerson's method of archaeology devolves from first choosing the word and then constructing the sentence. In choosing the word, "a writer needs to get in as close as possible to the thing itself."

Emerson insisted that "words do not exist as things themselves, but stand for things which are finally more real than words." (Richardson 49)

This belief, of course, is a form of idealism; an idealism that flows from Plato through the German Idealists to Emerson.

In idealism ideas alone are real; man thinks the world; man is the center and nature is a form of dream or spirit of man. Emerson wrote: "the Universe is the externalization of the soul." When the poet writes he/she creates soul which gives birth to Nature.

My idea of the primordial word arises from my reading of Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger; however, of late, I have begun to see the skeleton of idealismus supporting their work and recognize it as fertile ground for my inquiry. Consequently, I am now studying the poet idealists to understand their thinking on the machination of the primordial word. The primordial word is a word that has become dead but through its use in its simplest form in a new way will somehow attach it to the original meaning. A dead word brought alive sometimes falls upon fertile soil (an ideal reader) and grows.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Alchemy of the Non-Ego

while reading Fichte

what does nature
promise the subjective
eye at the end

only earth gray
with desiccation

sour air
tarnished black

blazing fire
scorching being

and water
as thick
and turgid
as treacle

Foolish Snail

the snail that slides
across beveled glass
never suspected
the other

the object
of its gaze
was a reflection

instead it reflects
that the splendid
is a better snail

a luckier one

that dwells
in an alternate
of such sinister
that each being

dines on tasty leaves

brandishes brave
shell of pink coral

and slogs
on sweet slime
that shines
as it smooths
the roughest

Friday, November 20, 2009

Madness and Pretty Poetry

A few months ago, I posted a poem entitled "Pretty Poetry," which is my rejection of formal, academic poetry.

Several weeks after that posting, I was having a discussion with my poet friend, SarahA O'Leary, about writing under the spell of inspiration versus writing poetry in a concrete, academic way, in the way we studied poetry and read poetry. We both conceded that we were unimpressed with our pretty poetry, with our conscious poetry making; instead, we both like the poetry that comes from a certain madness, a fever of the brain that overwhelms us.

Recently, I was re-reading Plato's Phaedrus and I discovered this passage, which seems (aikos) to sum it up: "If anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet by acquiring expert knowledge of the subject without the Muses' madness, he will fail, and his self-controlled verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds." (245 a)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quaternity in the Works of Dan Abnett

He is bounden to beleue in ye trinite. And ye felowe beleueth in a quaternitie: Sir Thomas More

Dan Abnett's "Blood Pact" is the twelfth novel in his Gaunt's Ghost series and, in my mind, his most intimate investigation into the psyche of Gaunt. For the nervous, superstitious, conspiratorial among you, let's add another "Double Eagle," to make the series contain thirteen.

So there are thirteen novels in the series to date. However, Mr. Abnett tends to write quaternities with a single over-arching arc, so that brings us to two completed quaternities, a trilogy, and two extras--"Blood Pact," and "Double Eagle." Of these two, one is hors série--"Double Eagle"--and the other, "Blood Pact" is the beginning of a new quarternity.

The last quaternity began with the novel,"Traitor General" and ended with "Only in Death." In "Traitor General" an Imperial General, who is condemned to death, is captured (rescued)by the Chaos equivalent of the Imperial Guard--the Blood Pact--and taken to the planet Gereon. Gaunt and a select team travel to Gereon to assassinate the general.

Gereon is one of Abnett's greatest creations. It is here that Abnett begins to show what happens to a planet that is conquered by Chaos. Of course, we have seen the images of conquered planets before through the battles but we have not seen the day-to-day existence of those who live under the rule of Chaos before nor have we seen the chain of command of Chaos or its administrative echelons to the degree that we now do.

In "Traitor General,' Abnett begins a descent into detail and world-building that he carries through to the last book in the quaternity--"Only in Death." The third quaternity now called the "The Lost," contains some of Abnett's best writing. Not only does he envision several remarkable worlds but he creates languages and cultures in way that would make Ursula K. LeGuin smile. He also begins to transform Gaunt.

To be true to the Aristotelian verities Gaunt must grow and change. In that Abnett has an almost limitless space in which to develop his story arc, the changes are slow. At book eleven, we reach the tale-tell sign of conversion--blindness. Book eleven is the pivot; the book of changes. The story must change and in "Blood Pact" it does.

"Blood Pact" is a different type of book than the others. Of course, it contains all the usual suspects; however, it is smaller in scope. This novel begins two years after the horrendous battles on Jago. The Ghosts are on Balhaut, an important location for Gaunt. This is where it all began, where things went bad for Gaunt. In fact, the people of Balhaut celebrate the bravery of the "dead" hero Gaunt. So, in effect, Gaunt is a ghost of sorts. Abnett is telling us that before "Blood Pact" Gaunt was a ghost, lost in the campaigns and blind to his greater role. Now, in this new quaternity, things are changing; Gaunt can see again; and, as is usually the case, in this most literary of tropes, Gaunt can see what other men cannot. He has a second sight. He sees the future and he sees into others.

The plot of "Blood Pact," revolves around a "pheguth," a traitor, just as "Traitor General" revolved around a "pheguth." This time, however, the "pheguth" is a member of the Blood Pact, and unlike Sturm, the traitor general, Mabbon is a good man or at least that is what we are told.

A Blood Pact unit, along with a warp witch, is sent to Balhaut, like Gaunt was sent to Gereon, to assassinate the pheguth. So the plot focuses on a battle between a small specialized force of Chaos assassins and Gaunt. Because the battle field is small and intimate, the novel feels different; and it is different in some fundamental ways. It does not have the sweeping battles of "The Lost Quaternity;" however, it does set the ground for the next arc and it continues to enflesh the series with new themes and revealed characteristics of the major characters. It also foreshadows the death of several characters and points to a Gaunt reborn with an enhanced reputation among his commanders.

The series has always been dialectical: good versus evil; light verses dark; twins--Rawne verses Gaunt; Blood Pact versus Ghosts--and Chaos versus Order. However, Abnett is the most material of the Black Library writer; he does not go easily into the horrible wastes of the warp. However, with Blood Pact he seems to be saying--all right--there is something supernatural out there and now I see it. With Maggs and his visions of the old Hagg and Gaunt's pre-conscious sight, Abnett is leaving his material universe and stepping over into the world of Chaos. Is he tainted or is he able to mediate between the forces of good and evil? And, of course, there is always that ultimate question: what is the good?

So, in conclusion, "Blood Pact," is an intimate transitional novel, focusing on Gaunt, his past, and his present. It also further develops the character and humanity of the forces of Chaos and through this enfleshment ennobles them to an extent not seen before in Abnett's work. This ennoblement then deepens the themes and enriches the texts that have preceded the novel. For instance, when we read "Double Eagle," and we read of the dog fights between the Blood Pact pilots and the Imperial pilots, we can now imagine them as corrupt but human, both brave and ruthless.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Idealismus in the Life of the Snail

the snail on the mirror
cannot say what the other
is nor can it explain
its presence in the glass

it can say though
what the other seems
to be and from that
it can spin a phantasy
around this other
snail's life

from the myth
we imagine
another world
where real snails
crawl beneath
fallen leaves
on the solid
ground of His garden
of ideal forms
and bodiless souls

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Manifest Destiny of the First Man

he squatted on muscled haunch
on a western beach
where eastern waves
thundered and shuttered
against graying stone
and glassy granite

his destiny now manifest
at this horizon
he turned toward her
and filled her and his land
with others of his kind
stolid trekkers moving west

"Cave Gossip" is, as they say, alive

The publishers have just called to say that "Cave Gossip" has gone live; that is, it is in book form. Watch for it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

For Discussion Purposes Only or an Analysis of Thymos (θυμός) through the Socratic Method

the primal cry of the snail on the mirror
can be reduced to the wish of I want to be seen

is the ur-text of its desire self-inflicted
or is this distress encoded in the shimmering
silver of the snail's slime
or the widening whorl of its shell

in comparison another whine concomitant
with the first is I have been seen

so what do they mean these two cries
one of shame another of desire
the first a prayer of un-concealment
the second a fear of revelation

what sires these contradictory impulses
these diverse wishes of desire

Monday, November 02, 2009

Ens Creatum

being created


becomes a subject
of the creator

but creation
is without proof

except the created
is a creature
of that legal postulate
the thing
speaks for itself

so being being
is the only proof
of its created-ness

it does not reveal
the creator
nor speak its name
nor describe its being

it only speaks
of an other

which is fantasy
in itself
being spoken

and the only clue
is that image
in the mirror

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Return of van Kahnweiler

In the story, "Digem 1.0," that I submitted to Lauren Beukes' "Moxyland" contest I created a Mephistopheles-like antagonist, which I liked very much. In "Digem 1.0," he is flogging drug-ladened cigarettes in Cape Town, South Africa. (You can read "Digem 1.0" on the Moxyland page at In a new story, "The Wall," he is representing an Anglo-American multi-national corporation in moving the Vatican City to La Ciudad, Mexico. Here is the "The Wall."

The Wall

The Spring Dragon 6, a SUV hybrid designed in Wolfsburg and manufactured specially for the Mexican Federal Police in Shenzhen, China, sped through the Sonora desert at dusk.

Colonel Calypso, snuggled deep into the black leather rear seats, reading dispatches from La Ciudad, glanced up to catch a last glint of the sun and then barked at his driver and aide-de-camp, Sergeant Cantu. “Osvaldo, slow down, you’re going to hit a pot hole and break a wheel shaft.”

“Sí,” snapped Cantu through gritted teeth. “This road is a bruja, Colonel.”

“If it bothers you, send another text message to El Presidente but please use your own sim card this time.”

Cantu laughed and Calypso joined in. The two had been together for ten years, every since the border riots of 2019, and they shared a sarcastic, fatalistic humor.

“How much further, Osvaldo?” asked Calypso, pushing his miniature laptop aside and running his fingers through his thick black hair.

Cantu ordered the SUV’s computer: “Calculate estimated time of arrival.”

The computer replied in the voice of Selma Hayek, a famous Mexican actress of the twentieth century: “ETA at load-down terminal 616—Sonoran Sector--in three hours.”

“That is if you don’t break an axle or turn us over,” added Calypso.

As the sun set finally in a crimson sliver and shadows extending from the Sonora Mountains stretched across the desert, Calypso turned on a reading light and returned to his electronic dispatches.

A few minutes later the computer warned that a spy drone had locked onto their coordinates; Calypso, leaned forward, placed his elbows on the back of the front seat, and ordered the computer to determine the make and model of the drone.

The computer purred: “Reaper 66, manufactured in Quebec 2028, an Anglo-American Alliance signal.”

“Damn it, why do they continually break the rules. Cantu, alert command in La Ciudad that a Reaper is targeting road traffic rather than maintaining the twenty mile no-fly rule.”

Calypso adjusted in his seat to better see the Reaper; he hoped to God it was not on a search and destroy of human contraband. Those blasted machines, he thought, couldn’t tell one Mexican from another.

“Computer, activate the commercial/humanitarian code and beam our info-numerical to that blasted machine.”

A few seconds after Selma Hayek transmitted the code the Reaper dipped its left wing, turned sharply, and disappeared into the gray haze emanating from the hive city Heroica Nogales.

Twenty minutes later, Cantu announced: “I can see the lights of the first tent city, Colonel.”

“Slow down and prepare yourself.” Calypso unsnapped his holster and removed his forty-five caliber Springfield XD compact automatic, manufactured in the Dakota province in 2024, and held it securely in his lap with the safety off.

On the edge of the tent city, barefooted children ran toward the Spring Dragon, screaming, laughing, and begging for a handout. A large wooden cross marked the entrance to the refugee camp and someone had sprayed a message in reflective paint on la Cruz: “Jesus Saves.”

“Electrify,” barked Calypso and the outside of the vehicle shimmered blue, as Selma Hayek sang out to the children—“Warning, Warning, Electrical Field; high voltage. Please step back; please step back.”

The children stopped and backed away from them, as Cantu maneuvered through the tent city that, in some places, completely covered the two-lane macadam road that ran through the walls encircling the Hive City.

Elevated adverts, lining the road, blinked infomercials, as buskers, prostitutes, and hawkers screamed out their talents and wares. One neon tag caught Calypso’s attention: “people are consuming machines; disassemble the machine.” Beneath the sign, a young girl, fourteen or fifteen, wearing a black dress, waved at them and leered. A Digem cigarette smoldered on her lower lip.

Calypso sighed and remembered that the ad hoc tent city grew up around the Heroica Nogales just five years ago and continued to expand ever since. He could not imagine what the people thought they were doing or what they hoped to achieve by camping out on the doorsteps of Nogales; did they hope, he asked himself, that some prophet would shout the walls down and they could cross into the promised land of the Anglo-American Alliance. Didn’t they know that products cross borders; not people.

Eventually they reached the first fence surrounding the Hive City; it was a barbed-wire contraption manned by a squad of regular soldiers. A corporal in stained green fatigues shuffled toward the vehicle and Cantu ordered the electrical charge off, as he lowered his window. The Sonora heat radiated into the cabin and the corporal smiled as the cold air of the air conditioning hit him in the face. He scratched the stubble of his black curly beard and belched: “Papers please?”

Cantu handed him a smart card with their travel code and orders embedded. The man slipped the card into a flat palm-size computer hanging on his belt and then touched the ear bead in his left ear. He nodded when he received the clearance code and waved at one of his men to open the gate. As Cantu pulled away, the man half-heartedly saluted Calypso, who grunted his disgust and ignored the salute.

A mile later, they crossed a narrow stone bridge over a dried stream bed littered with cola cans, garbage bags, dilapidated furniture, and stopped at a reinforced steel gate. Automatic Gatling guns adorned the parapets like gargoyles and a Captain, wearing mufti, emerged from a guard house and followed by two uniformed men, carrying Austrian MK-36 (2017) sub-machine guns, crisply saluted Calypso.

The men waited patiently on each side of the vehicle as two German shepherds sniffed the undercarriage and urinated on the Japanese reinforced steel-belted tires. When the dogs moved away, the Captain signaled some unseen operator and the gate opened onto a wider, better maintained macadam road, lined with colorful stucco houses and tents. People milled around the streets and shops, blocking their way, and Calypso, frustrated at the continued delay, said: “Turn on the siren.”

The people slowly made way for the SUV and they drove another two miles to the third wall and the entrance to the elevated hive city—Heroica Nogales.

The last fence was a forty-foot high obsidian barrier and Cantu stopped the SUV in front of its stainless steel gate. No guards were visible; just a mechanical box on an iron rod, into which Cantu inserted the smart card. The gates opened and they entered the Hive City, the city that the politicos and nacros alike referred to as Emerald City.

A Policía Federal, a PF, dressed in black fatigues and wearing a balaclava to disguise his identity waved them through the gate and pointed them to the left, toward the entrance of an underground car park. Calypso knew the rules: no vehicles from this point forward and no weapons. He slipped the safety on and holstered his automatic, as Cantu parked the vehicle in a VIP parking slot on the ninth level of the underground.

An electric cart soon arrived, driven by a woman in a skin-tight black uniform. “Colonel,” she said, “Ensign Bolaño, I am to drive you and your aide to the heli-pad for transport to load-terminal 616.”

Calypso nodded, opened the hatch of the SUV and unlocked a safe welded into its frame; he removed a stainless steel attaché case and stowed his automatic. He snapped his fingers and pointed at the safe; Cantu handed him his pistol and holster and then took a seat next to the Ensign on the electrical cart. Calypso locked the SUV and climbed into the back seat.

Cantu fell asleep instantly and Calypso said very little as Bolaño maneuvered through the bee-hive interstices of the underground.

In approximately twenty minutes she delivered them to an elevator tube dedicated exclusively to the heli-port on the roof of the hive-city. As Calypso stepped out of the electric car, Bolaño said: “I will be here when you return, Colonel.”

He coughed and punched Cantu to wake him up. “Sergeant, we are here.”

Cantu rubbed his eyes, straightened his beret, and mumbled: “Yes, Colonel.”

They took the elevator tube up through seventy-five levels of the hive city. With their ears popping, they stepped out onto the steel and plastic heli-port, where a PF, identical to the one that waved them into the car park, waited for them. In the distance a black French Sikorsky turbo idled.

A tall blond man, wearing a black suit, white shirt, and leather tie, approached them. He was so tall he bent almost double to avoid the Sikorsky’s prop, as he extended a meaty fist and said in English: “Van Kahnweiler, colonel, glad to meet you.” Before Calypso could answer, the man put his arm around Calypso’s shoulder and guided him toward the helicopter. “If you don’t mind colonel, we are on a very tight schedule.”

Calypso hesitated and said: “I’m in no hurry.” The man turned and a grimace of anger flashed across his face. Calypso ignored the man’s obvious ire and continued: “Because of your no-fly rules I just drove all the way from La Ciudad. It took us almost two days. In the past, these quarterly meetings to discuss operations of the load-terminal are fairly leisurely. I expect to shower, shave, eat, and sleep. I am in no hurry, Mr. van Kahnweiler.” The man smiled a crooked grin and said: “I know colonel but today is different; today is your lucky day. Today you have won the lottery. Now please come with me, we are late.”

Even though the man was smiling, his pale blue eyes bore down on him and Calypso sensed imminent or potential violence. Cantu, also, was alert to the threat and Calypso saw him crouching, ready to spring. Calypso sighed, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Lead on Kahnweiler.”

“You may call me Ruik, colonel,” the man said, as he moved toward the waiting helicopter.

Load-terminal 616 was technically in Mexico; however, under United Nations Treaty 16543 (2021), the area fell under United Nations Jurisdiction and control. As a quid pro quo for that control the Anglo-American Alliance assumed all responsibility for the financing and security of the facility, as well as control of all roads and rails entering or leaving. In addition, because of or perhaps as a result of the riots of 2019, the United Nations passed Resolution 72666-b3 (2020), which mandated that a corridor extending twenty miles south of the North America-Mexico trade barrier, known as the Border Wall or the Great Wall, would be a no-fly zone and the Anglo-American Alliance would regulate all flights coming from Mexico, Central America, and South America.

They took their seats and the Sikorsky took off, circled the apex of the Hive City, and then followed the Great Wall, heading toward the load-terminal. Calypso enjoyed flying and he used this rare opportunity to scan the virtually empty space north of the wall.

As they neared the mammoth terminal, he saw a McDonnell-Douglas 2020 turbo dirigible docked at the terminal. Calypso had only seen one of the huge ships once or twice before and he felt a child-like sense of wonder at the sight of the solar-powered airship. This particular model he remembered could carry up to seven hundred passengers and travel an unlimited range at a speed of 300 kph. This ship displayed the symbol of the salamander, the logo of the multi-national defense and construction company, Argent Noir, also known simply as The Company, and the city of its origin--Quebec City.

As soon as the Sikorsky set down on the pad, van Kahweiler was out and leading Calypso and Cantu toward the dirigible. The dirigible’s size dwarfed anything Calypso had ever seen before and he willingly trailed after Kahnweiler. They soon reached the ramp leading to the cupola, where a blond woman in black fatigues greeted them. The shoulder patch on her left arm was a yellow background with the Anglo-American insignia—three stacked red “As” forming what appeared to be either a pyramid or an oil derrick, crisscrossed with fasces, a bundle of rods, which identified her as a member of the Black opts unit, simply known as Special Forces or SF.

“Welcome aboard colonel,” she said. “Please follow me to the dining room; they are waiting for you.”

As they worked their way through the labyrinthine design of the ship another SF officer appeared and said: “Sir, we have made arrangements for your sergeant to join our non-commissioned officers for lunch in the mess on the second level.”
Cantu frowned but Calypso waved him away; his presence would not help if the Anglos decided to kill them on the ship. They were both unarmed and outnumbered.
The blonde led him to a wooden door marked “executive dining room” and knocked. A voice called out to enter and the door opened.

The wood-paneled room housed a long dining table, where four places were set with crystal and fine china. The three men sitting at the table rose to greet Calypso.

Father Rebollendo walked toward Calypso with both arms extended and Calypso stopped, startled by the appearance of his philosophy professor from Loyola University.

“Father, what the hell are you doing here with these people?”

Rebollendo stopped, smiled wryly and said: “I am doing the lord’s work, Roberto, and I hope to persuade you to do the same.”

The other two men joined Rebollendo and the priest introduced them: “Roberto, let me introduce Bishop Britton of Toronto and Colonel Max Schilling of the SF.
Calypso shook each of their hands.

“Please join us for lunch, Colonel,” said Britton. “We have some interesting news and a proposition for you and your brother, El Presidente.”

“Ah,” thought Calypso. “That was it; they want something from my brother and they are prepared to bribe or threaten me to get to Alfonso.”

Van Kahnweiler entered the room and joined them at the table. As soon as he sat down, the Priest cleared his throat, smiled, and said: “Listen, Roberto, I am not going to beat around the bush with you. We are here because we want something from El Presidente but it is not what you think. It is a great opportunity for Mexico and the west.” He paused and cleared his throat; his eyes were sparkling with excitement. The Holy Father has decided to leave Rome and create a new Vatican City in La Ciudad.”

Calypso coughed and reached for a crystal goblet of mineral water. “What?” he stuttered.

The priest continued: “The Holy Father no longer sees Europe as safe. The EU is either atheist or Muslim. All of the Church’s growth is coming from either Africa or Central and South America. He feels it’s time to move and he wants to relocate to Mexico.”

Calypso thought for a moment and asked: “Why come to me? There are plenty of priests in La Ciudad; thousands in fact who could intercede with my brother.”

Van Kahnweiler interrupted and said: “The Holy Father has granted my company the contract to negotiate, finance, and build the new Vatican City; consequently, we want to grease the wheels before we start.”

“What makes you think we would let the Company into Mexico?” asked Calypso.

“Brother, what makes you think we aren’t there now?”

The muscles in Calypso’s jaw fluttered and tensed; he wanted to lash out at the pompous Kahnweiler but he knew the SF would be all over him before he reached the man. Instead, he said, “I doubt that we will be interested but I will convey your message to my brother. But I have to be honest; I will do everything in my power to prevent the Company from entering Mexico. Let the Holy Father come. The people will dance in the streets but the Anglo-American Alliance and the Company can stay away.”

Van Kahnweiler’s eyes blinked and Calypso imagined he saw a serpentine skull buried beneath the man’s chalk white skin.

Schilling stood and said abruptly: “All right, Colonel; I think we understand your position. Thank you for coming. I know you have your quarterly meeting and we do not want to detain you.”

The door opened and a SF officer escorted him from the dirigible. Cantu waited for him on the roof, next to the idling Sikorsky.

Cantu asked: “What happened? They threw me out before I finished my soup.”

Calypso took off his beret and ran his fingers through his hair. “I will tell you once we get out of here. Let’s finalize the monthly audit and head home. We are not wanted here, my friend.”

Two days later, they left the Hive City and drove south. Seventy-five miles south of Heroica Nogales, they stopped at a taberna perched precariously on the side of a hill above a dried river bed. They parked the SUV and walked up a winding trail to the tavern and took a seat outside, underneath a wooden lattice covered with flowering vines. Bees buzzed from flower to flower as a young Indian woman with long black hair that cascaded down her back served cervezas and posole.

Cantu wiped his mouth and asked: “What are you going to do?”

Calypso scratched his leg and patted his pistol nervously: “I am going to let my brother decide but I am also going to encourage him to establish another link to the Vatican.”

Cantu nodded and turned back to his posole.

Besides the buzzing of the bees and Cantu’s slurps, Calypso heard the faint hum of a drone. “Osvaldo, do you hear that?”

The sergeant stopped eating and listened. “It’s a drone outside the no-fly zone.”

“Jesus,” said Calypso standing up and surveying the ground. A gully ran away from the taberna, etched roughly in the soil by runoff from the hill.

“Take cover in the gully there,” said Calypso through gritted teeth.

The Reaper came in slow and level, passed over the taberna three times, and then turned north toward the border.

As soon it disappeared on the horizon, Calypso dusted himself off and trudged back up the hill to his table. The young woman emerged from the kitchen with two cold beers and placed them on their table. Her hand shook and Calypso reached out to touch her. She smiled and said: “They have never come so close before; those bastards and their machines.”

Calypso rubbed his face with his right hand before taking a swig of the cold beer. It crossed his mind that the reaper was a warning from the Anglos, a warning to him and his brother.

The woman stood with one hand on her hip near Calypso, gazing off toward the north. Calypso sensed she was afraid and she sought protection or solace from his uniform or from him. He didn’t know.

“So you see them flying in this area a lot?” asked the colonel.

“Not so often and not so low. This was like a threat.”

Calypso nodded in understanding. He felt the threat and associated it with the man van Kahnweiler.

Cantu pulled out his chair, grabbed his beer, and quickly swallowed half of its contents.

“So Colonel, what do you think?”

Calypso sipped his beer to buy a few seconds, while he gathered his thoughts. “I think the Anglos are warning me to cooperate.” He scratched his chin and asked the young woman: “Señorita, what if the Pope moved the Vatican City to La Ciudad; what would you think?”

The woman, surprised, turned toward him, and asked: “The Pope here in Mexico?” Her eyes sparkled and she continued: “I would say God has blessed us finally for our fidelity.” She crossed herself and asked: “Is this so, Señor?”

He waved his hand vaguely and answered: “It is a possibility.”

“Could we have another cerveza?” asked Cantu, handing the empty bottle to the young woman, who smiled and returned to the kitchen.

“Why are they coming, Osvaldo? They have everything? I don’t understand.”

Cantu pulled on his ear and brushed away a fly. “It is the shark theory.”

Calypso leaned forward and smiled. “You surprise me Osvaldo. I think you have hit upon something important. Capitalism must continue to move and expand. Failure to move produces a crisis; we have millions of potential consumers and an emerging market on their border. They shut their doors on us twenty years ago but failed to see the dynamic effect our people had upon their economy. Now they want us back but not there on the other side of the wall; they want us here. They want to absorb us.”

“So what will you tell your brother?”

He placed his hand flat on the wooden table, as if in surrender.

“What do you say to a shark?” he asked as the woman placed another cold beer before him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Holly Martins Betrays Harry Lime in Vienna

shine your light
on now

and snare
the moment

before it flees
fox-like into tomorrow

or burrows
into the dank dark
hummus of yesterday

outside your bright sphere
shadows wait

assassins all

they queue up
and plead prayers
of love

they raise
extinguished torches
as clubs
of unconscious

and goosestep
down damp cobblestones
as zithers play

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sea-Snails now Served

My second book of poetry--Sea-Snails on a Black Chow's Tongue or, a Castaway's Poems in a Bottle--is now available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It follows the themes of my first collection, "Petroglyphs." I wrote a little vignette to describe its scope and themes. Here it is:

Paul at the Brasserie Lipp

Paul arrived at Brasserie Lipp around 18:30, about thirty minutes before his agreed meeting with Günter.

As the maître d' seated him in one of the banquettes in the entrance, cold rain drizzled down on the gray sidewalks, driving the tourists back to their hotels. He smiled wryly because he didn't like tourists, especially American tourists; their congregating in front of the café to soak up the remaining DNA of the lost generation somehow offended him.

Paul was not immune to the allure of past writers' haunts nor absorbing their DNA. That was why he was at the Lipp rather than some more modest café in his neighborhood. Perhaps that was the real reason why he looked down on the tourists huddling beneath the awning, rain dripping off their noses, waiting for a table that the haughty maître'd may or may not grant them, because he knew he was not much different from them. The only difference, he rationalized, was that he had published a handful of poems in Germany. Somehow that legitimized him, whereas these others were simply that-the others.

As he waited for Günter, he extracted a moleskin notebook from the inside pocket of his tweed jacket and a Pelikan fountain pen he bought in a shop in the center of Frankfurt. He was working on something he believed might be important: a metaphysical conceit he thought of while reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. He summarized the conceit easily and succinctly: poetry is a message in a bottle, cast into the sea by the poet, to float alone and find its own fate.

Of course, like every conceit, he built upon it and refined it. He even imagined writing a whole series of poems about a shipwrecked and his struggle to live within the confines of a deserted island.

In fact, this morning while shaving he thought of a corollary image, which he thought opened up a new avenue of philosophical development, an avenue which he wanted to discuss with Günter. Suppose a young, idealistic shipwreck throws a bottle into the sea and then, over the years, forgets about it. He goes about his work on the island, doing everything he can to survive. Years later, he is walking on the beach at dusk, when he sees a glint in the sand. He hurries to it and digs it out with his staff. He uncovers a blue-green glass bottle. He examines it and discovers its mouth is sealed with beeswax; he peels the seal back with his long yellow nails and extracts a piece of rolled bark. On the bark he reads a message in smoky charcoal: "I sailed on the HMS Manifest Destiny in 1952. The ship sank in the China Sea; all hands were lost except me. Shipwrecked."

The man is startled. He pities the poor man, who, so many years ago, became shipwrecked at the same time as he. A man just like him cast a message into the world, but unfortunately, his message landed on another deserted island. He wonders if he still lives, and then it dawns on him that he is the shipwrecked. With this realization, his hope crumbles and he begins to sob; tears stream down his face. He is alone and the message in the bottle has "unconcealed" his condition in the world. He is a shipwrecked on a deserted island. The sea surrounds him and marks his boundaries. The sky forms his roof and he is mortal, fated to die alone. The help he waited for will not come. With the truth now revealed, he returns to his life on the island, where he dwells.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eden is an Economic Futurity

an Eden
that never was

will be
our destiny

imagined worlds
paint paysage
upon earth and moon

from memory
of our economic

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pretty Poetry

exists outside
the circle
of being

pretty poetry
in strait-
doesn't speak

I lean
toward clean
bleached white
by a far star

spread wide
over the desert

where gnawed
stains sand

its cracked

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Dream and an Imagined Conversation

Paul didn’t sleep well; he had had a dream that disturbed him. In fact, this was the first dream he had ever had of a talking animal. He had heard of such dreams before but he had never experienced one, although once he had dreamed of a wolf that walked up-right like a man. But the wolf never spoke to him; the horse last night spoke.

Although the dream frightened him; in some sense, he was proud of himself and embraced the dream as a breakthrough. He had studied the surrealists for many years and even tried to imitate them but he had never really achieved anything remotely surrealistic. His work was very cerebral but this dream, this dream about a talking horse, was something worthy of Buñuel or Dalí and he wondered if something within his unconscious mind was revealing itself. But if that were true, then what did a talking horse mean?

He knew the first question Günter would ask when he told him about the dream:"what did the horse say?" And here was the odd thing; he could not remember. He knew the horse spoke to him and that its voice was soothing and articulate but he could not for the life of him remember one word the animal said.

“Then tell me about the dream” will be Günter’s response to my inability to remember.

Here, too, I am a bit confused because although the dream is vague and the images banal I was infected with a sense of the noumenal. At first, I am walking on a street, leading the horse; and, then, inexplicably, the horse is down and sick. I am comforting it, whispering kind words to the beast, and brushing its coat. The horse is leaning into the brush seemingly enjoying the attention and I am brushing and talking. Suddenly, the horse lifts its head and turns to me and begins to talk. I am shocked and fall back. That is it; that’s the dream.

“Not much of a dream” Günter will say. “But it is not the images that are important,” I will respond; “it is the emotion. I was upset when the horse lay down; I was happy to care for the horse; I took pride in its rich black coat; and I was startled and afraid when it talked.”

“Ah,” Günter will say. “The best poetry and literature is where the author tries to convey an emotion. The most successful literature is where that emotion is conveyed. So an emotion or emotions were conveyed but I don’t think that was the purpose of the dream.”

I will scratch my head but I suspect Günter is right. The revelation is one of communication. However, the result is repression. For some reason I do not want to hear the unconscious speak or to understand that thing that the horse represents. Remember Günter will say “that which interferes with the work is repression.”

"So what am I to do," I will ask and Günter will answer as he always does. "Ask the horse to repeat himself. Call him back and talk to him. That is what Jung did and what you should do." He will pause and puff on his pipe and say, "I predict this horse will appear in your poems and prose until you know what he wants. Remember there is a wolf in every novel you ever wrote and there are bears in John Irving's work and toads, dogs, and snails in mine."

"Yes," I will say, as I imagine the horse and our next conversation.

Friday, October 02, 2009


I have just attached a link to the latest version of my fantasy novel "Okeanus." Check it out below.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Myth of Capital

the earth
twins itself
into him

he splits
into him
and her

brother and father
sister and mother

in an inscripted
they spring two
then four
then sixteen

twinning ad infinitum

each marked
by tribal tattoos

until the schizoid
is born
as alone
as a painted egg

a castaway
in its solitude

sterile and clone-able

it consumes virtually

Ego on the Cusp of Dark

with a compass
she perforates
a perfect plane

with pencil
she circumscribes
a circumference
and strikes
a spark

that illuminates
the circle

darkness without
brightness within

she builds
a fire
out of myth
and fable
fantasy and faith

until flames
and ashes cool

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Drowning in Lethe 1535

purple and violet waves
swallow a single sailor

who silently sinks
to the shelter of the shell

far beneath the surging surf
sharks and rays

the unconscious
the unnamed
the unremembered

until the flaccid
egg splits
and its albuminous
and swirls
into the spread
of sea spray

that rains
upon the shadowed
of New Spain

Haiku Drei

from frail fantasy
her rough rope of perfumed hair
moistens sunny skin

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mask contra Mask

the body
without organs
wears its masks
like the egg
at Easter
its paint

to mask
the symbolic

but who among us
can explain a symbol
or explicate
a text

so in the end
our calculating


mask contra mask

over satin skies

and smelling
of ozone
and orange

Sea-Snails on a Black Chow's Tongue

My second collection of poetry, "Sea-Snails on a Black Chow's Tongue," just received editor's choice at iuniverse. It joins "Vogel and the White Bull" and "Petroglyphs" as an editor's choice recipient. The book should be available around Christmas time.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fat Men Texting

busy fat men
and sense

what would
if your myths
away like dew

no Hamlet
no Oedipus
Zeus or Wotan

no cross
no burning

would your fat
and leave
bones for lions
to gnaw
on the yellow veldt

and what
of the little boy
would he play
beneath the stairs
and dance
on hardwood floors

on a summer's day

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Easter Dying Eggs

the body with no organs

like an egg
at Easter

without dye

then mother
and boils
a full dozen

that we paint
with green
and yellow
pink and blue

we hide them
in tall grasses
with snails
and wild rabbits

until found
they live
untamed lives

without ideas

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Language Logistics

Like Luther
we learn
to speak

to ourselves
and to gods

through logos

our producing

invents feathered

like bright berries
on burning bushes

in the snail's


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Anxiety of Angst

To protect
we cross
our fingers
and cross
our heart

we say
a hail Mary
we cover
our head
with the pillow

we turn
on a light
or knock
on wood

it is all a net
to break our fall
or a shield
to deflect the blow

magic feathers
chicken bones
goat's blood

savings account

Saturday, August 29, 2009

REAL : Regarding Arts & Letters

Dr. Butterworth-McDermott notified me last night that Stephen F. Austin State University's prestigious journal--REAL : Regarding Arts & Letters--has accepted two of my poems--"Quebec 1608" and "August 13, 1961"--for publication.

I wrote these two poems while on a hiking trip on Vancouver Island this summer and they mark a Swinburnian/Heidegger-like shift in my poetic consciousness.

Thank you, Dr. Butterworth-McDermott.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Editor's Choice for "Cave Gossip"

I was just notified that I have received the editor's choice designation at iuniverse for the third time for my novel, "Cave Gossip." I want to thank my editors at iuniverse and especially George Nedeff for their invaluable help in producing the books.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

While reading "Moxyland," Lauren Beukes' dystopian fantasy, published by Angry Robot, I kept asking myself, where are the "parents," the serious people who will take charge and protect these four dysfunctional children; and, therein, I think, lies the rub or at least the theme of the work. The four protagonists, who tell the story in alternating first person segments, are children without supervision in the literal and figurative sense; they are orphans, cut off, without father and mother.

Oh, don't misunderstand me, they have supervision all right, in spades, dealt to them electronically by some disembodied corporation that employs them as consumer fodder; however, in truth they are castaways in a world where the "virtual" and the "real" have converged and melded. They are children, like those of Golding's "Lord of the Flies," left to their own devices or the vagaries of fate within a virtual universe controlled by an unseen hand.

In thinking about the book over the last week, I have concluded that "Moxyland" can be read as a prequel to "Brave New World" or "1984." High praise indeed, I whisper, and yet I think the work deserves it. In that regard, I would not place the book in the science fiction section of my local Borders; instead, I would set it near Huxley and Orwell or maybe next to Sartre's "Nausea" or Camus' "The Plague."

Are you crazy, you might ask. Have you lost your mind? I don't think so but if you insist it is science fiction, then I must conclude that the book is really a book of ideas like John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" or Harry Harrison's "Make Room Make Room." Nevertheless, even here I have trouble, because Beukes' book is more grounded in the here and now and consequently does not amaze as much as Brunner and Harrison; but, instead, warns and points at a near future, almost on our doorstep, that we should take heed of (even though we might be helpless to stop it).

In a nutshell, "Moxyland" involves four protagonists, who tell their stories in the first person. They live in Capetown, South Africa, approximately ten years from today; and, although apartheid is not mentioned, its effects seem obvious.

The protagonists are: Kendra, a young photographer; Tendeka, an activist and would-be terrorist; Lerato, a corporate employee and computer programmer; and Toby, a rich kid, working on his master degree in literature at the local University. Each one is connected to the virtual world and tangentially to each other. However, each one is disconnected from family and friends. Instead, they inhabit the virtual universe, where avatars could hide a fourteen year old or a corporate boss.

As I said above, they are orphans in both literal and literary sense. For instance, Toby's mother cuts off his stipend and he is forced to make money as a "gonzo" reporter; Lerato is an aids baby, raised in an orphanage as a ward of a multi-national corporation.

Beukes sets the four off on a collision course, which ends in disaster for some of the participants.

One of the most telling images in the book is a self-portrait done by Kendra. It is a photograph of herself. Because she uses old, analog equipment and antiquated film stock, the image is black--not blank, black. An interesting image, especially, when the author tells the story in the first person. Here the "cogito" fails; the "I" of the persona refuses to reflect the vision of the constructed other. In other words, no images come to the viewer to instruct or inform the viewer. Isn't that a bit like the avatar of the other in a computer game?

In that regard, another major theme of the novel is the way that the virtual is bleeding into the real. Toby plays various games in which, through his first-person-narration we are not sure if he is in a game or in life. The reader has difficulty determining what is real and what is not and eventually so does Toby.

As the virtual seeps in and absorbs the real, human beings become consuming fodder and living advertisements for certain global products. Within this context, the orphan, un-weaned from the real mother, continues to imbibe the corporate milk, which results in addiction and infantilism.

As I said at the beginning I think "Moxyland" can be read as a prequel to "1984" or "Brave New World." If we project the story line into the future and I think the book invites it; either, a fascistic Big Brother will arise, probably a virtual one, like the Wizard of Oz, or an unseen manipulative hand will continue to control and manipulate as in the Huxley novel.

In conclusion, the novel is a book of ideas; well written, edgy, and prescient.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

C v.N

in shell
the snail
sees not

of cracked
and knows

silver slime
with sun
and tells

to us
who think

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


the nesting

as a seed

that fell
into a seam

and grew
so rational

that its unreasonable
origin now seems

a gnostic dream.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Defensible Knowledge

what god
worships you

does it shield you
from the darkness

does it evolve
and grow

what language
does it utter

when the wind
rustles the needles

of the ponderosa

Knowledgeable Defense

what shield
from darkness

dare you
drop it

and call
the creatures
that corpse

of nothingness

that enwraps you

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


we descend
father and son
to the center

our iron picks
sparking rock
as we strike
red rock

our blushing


and we
are one

at last

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Infinite Bees

what do
I do
when doing

no honey


you say

one bee
an infinite


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chapter One- Cave Gossip

Karl met Hélène in a café on a Saturday afternoon.

He had been visiting bookstores in and around the Sorbonne and in the mid-afternoon he stopped at a café on the Boulevard St. Germain. He ordered a glass of pinot noir and slowly sipped it, while perusing the books he had purchased: Ernst Jünger’s journal written during the Second World War and the Germans’ occupation of Paris and Georg Heinrich Löwe’s strange book about his imprisonment in a POW camp in Stalin’s Russia. Germans who were also Francophiles fascinated Wisent and the mysterious Löwe, whom he had known most of his life, still had the ability to mystify and entertain him.

These books emphasized a period of history that he, as a German and as a European, wasn’t particularly proud of. Many times when he was walking on the streets of the Left Bank, visiting bookstores or attending films, he would imagine those same streets fifty years before. In 1992, he was thirty-two years old and his mother was fifty-five. She was born in 1937 and was five years old in 1942. In 1942, his grandfather, the man with whom he lived after his father left his mother when he was twelve, was fighting in Russia. In 1992, most of these people still lived. Yet, the events of fifty years ago seemed mythical and ancient to him. As he poured over these books, trying to understand the mind of the generation that had preceded him, he realized he didn’t feel free to sit down with his grandfather and ask him to explain why Germany went to war against Europe and why he had felt the need and duty to go to war. Wisent assumed his grandfather would respond with some short canned answer about his duty as a German citizen. But Wisent agreed with Sartre. There are no accidents. A man who takes up arms and goes to war goes because he has made a decision to go to war. Therefore, the war was his grandfather’s war as much as it was Hitler’s. Jünger and Löwe, too, decided to make the war against France their war no matter how they may later view or try to describe it in their journals.

He noticed Hélène as she approached the café. It was approximately 5:30 p.m. and he had just ordered a second glass of wine. Her walk was what attracted him. It was not a natural walk; instead, it was a stylized movement, like an elaborate dance step. He knew she was aware of what she was doing. Her hair was thick, a rich golden-brown, like honey, cut short on the sides and back, but curly and thick on the top. Like a shaved poodle, thought Wisent, realizing this was not flattering but also suspecting she had chosen the cut, like the walk, for the effect it would produce.

Her eyes were blue, her facial features small and delicate, and her skin clear and translucent like so many French women who spend hours on their complexion. She was tall and slim with narrow hips, small breasts the size of his fist, and slender legs. On that day, she wore a pale silk dress, no hose and flat shoes. Her only jewelry was a pair of silver earrings molded in the form of an Egyptian scarab or dung beetle.

She sat at the table next to him, choosing a seat facing him, rather than taking the other, which would have turned her back to him. Wisent screwed up enough courage to look at her again, but, to his surprise and chagrin, she turned away. He thought she was planning to move on because he noticed she had drained her glass of Coca Cola and was now bent forward, fishing in her purse, in a movement that obviously signaled her preparation for escape. However, instead of retreating from the field, she pulled out a lipstick and compact and slowly and sensually applied the lipstick on her large lower lip before turning toward him. He was transfixed watching the simple gesture. When she turned, he said, “May I join you in a drink?”

She finished her lips and put her lipstick and compact away and said, “Oui.”

He moved to her table and shook her hand.

“Je m’appele Karl.”


Friday, July 10, 2009

Prologue to "Cave Gossip"

The sun settled on the ridge of the western mountains, casting a red sheen across the manicured yard of the sixteenth century chateau, located near Avignon in the south of France.

Karl Wisent, a young German, lying on a chaise longue facing the pool, moved his finger slowly over the Greek text of Plutarch’s Life of Alexander and whispered each word out loud, as a woman in her mid-thirties with long black hair braided down her slim back emerged from the house. She wore a white one-piece bathing suit and carried a large red towel draped over her right shoulder.

As she passed the reading boy, she ran her long tanned fingers through his thick auburn hair and whispered: “Quit reading and take a swim. You need some exercise, mon petit.”

The boy looked up, his eyes glassy from reading, and answered: “Mutter, did you know that Alexander’s mother worshipped the god Dionysius and that Alexander was the son of a god?”

She laughed, dropped her towel onto another red-wood chaise longue, stood on her tip-toes, pulled at the bottom of her suit and, then, dived head-first into the pool. Water splashed the stones of the patio and the boy jumped up to protect his book. “Mutter, bitte,” he squealed ineffectually.

She swam to the edge of the pool and laughed. “You and your books,” she said with a pout. She sank beneath the surface and then emerged in a rush before continuing: “Karl, put the book away and come in for a swim. Your grandmother is expecting quite a crowd tonight so we need to swim and change for dinner.”

He reluctantly trudged to a table near the kitchen door, put his book down, pulled off his shirt and kicked off his sandals, and ran to the edge of the pool. He hesitated for a split moment and then dived in next to his mother, splashing her with water. She fell back startled and then growled playfully and ducked his head beneath the surface.

Later, at dinner, Karl sat between Max Simon, a writer from Munich and close friend of his grandmother, and Laetitia Le Brayon, a painter from Arles. He raised his sun-burned shoulders as he struggled to cut up the roasted chicken on his plate. He preferred to tear the meat from the bones with his hands but he knew both his mother and grandmother would not approve so he continued to hack away at the dry meat with his knife.

Max Simon held his wine glass in both hands and leaned forward and asked Laetitia: “So when does the great Löwe arrive?” She swallowed and answered: “Martine said he was expected for dinner but of course he is not here.”

Karl said with a mouth full of chicken: “I read his book on South American butterflies.”

Laetitia answered, “ah bon?” Karl looked up to see her eyes sparkling at him and he knew she was making fun of him in some way so he concentrated on his chicken and tried to make himself invisible. She, however, decided to pull him back into the conversation and asked: “So how old are you?”

“Twelve,” he mumbled with his mouth full.

She sipped her wine and formed another question: “Where do you go to school?”

He swallowed and blushed. “I attend the Waldorf School in Berlin.”

“Waldorf,” she asked with a pout, “like the salad?”

He grimaced and answered: “No, like Rudolf Steiner. He created the schools. You do know who Rudolf Steiner is, don’t you?”

She shrugged and took another sip of her wine.

“He wrote a book on bees. You should read it.”

Max Simon nudged her and she turned back toward the man. Karl sighed with relief and stared down at his chicken.

After dinner the guests scattered around the lawn and the pool, drinking pernod on ice and chatting. Karl was the only child at the dinner and he wandered listlessly about the yard, listening to the conversations, until he decided to go upstairs to the library and read.

He entered the chateau through the kitchen door. In the hot kitchen several local ladies washed dishes, while one woman sliced up various fruit tarts for dessert. They called out to him and he waved, as he hurried through to the hall to the back stairs. Just outside the kitchen, a tall middle-aged man, wearing white slacks and a white tennis shirt, sat on the wooden steps and sipped a cognac.

“Hello,” he said in French, as he moved to the side to let Karl pass.

“Hello,” Karl replied as he climbed the stairs.

“Where are you off to?” the man asked and Karl stopped, cleared his throat, and answered: “To the library to read.”

“There’s a library up there?” he asked, standing and turning toward Karl.
“It’s my grandfather’s,” replied Karl.

The man started up the stairs, saying in a bright voice: “I love libraries.”
As they climbed, the man said: “I am Georg and you must be Karl.”

Karl nodded and stepped onto the landing in front of the library door. “So what are you reading,” asked the man and Karl curtly answered: “Life of Alexander, by Plutarch.”

“Excellent book,” said the man, pushing past Karl into the room. “It’s full of lies.”

The man walked to the center of the room and surveyed the shelves of leather bound books. “Magnificent,” he said. “Look at the ceiling. They don’t do work like this anymore.“ Karl looked up at the ceiling. He had spent every summer of his life in the Chateau but he rarely glanced at the images painted there.

“You know the story don’t you?”

Karl shook his head to indicate he wasn’t sure.

“It’s the myth of Diana the huntress and her admirer Actaeon. See there is Actaeon in the bushes spying on the bathing Diana, Diana the huntress.”

Karl stared at the painting and decided to look up the myth. The man threw himself in a leather chair near the open window. The fading sun illuminated his white blond hair and sharp features.

Not knowing what to say about the ceiling painting, Karl walked to the window and looked down on the garden and the people scattered around the grounds. Moths fluttered around the lamps as people paired off and disappeared into the creeping twilight.

The man stood up and joined him at the window. “Dusk is my favorite time of the day,” he said.

Karl spied his mother, holding hands with a French poet by the name of Jean-Luc Garrel, near a hedge north of the pool. She stopped and lifted her face for the poet to kiss. Georg said: “That’s your mother with Garrel, isn’t it?”

Karl felt embarrassed and angry. He said: “Salope.”

The man sipped his cognac and then dropped into one of the leather chairs near the window. “Why don’t you sit down, Karl? We can read or talk if you like?”

The boy glared at the man and then fell onto a leather love seat. Lowe pushed his thick blond hair off his forehead and said; “Let me tell you a story about a ghost I saw when I was a child.”

With the word, “ghost,” Karl felt his scalp tingling and asked: “Who are you, really?”

The man leaned forward, holding his cognac snifter in two hands, and said: “Georg Löwe.”

“The writer?” the boy asked.

The man nodded and then leaned back in the chair. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”

The boy nodded and the man looked up at the ceiling, cleared his throat, and said: “Where to start? Ah, I know.” He looked over at Karl and winked and then spoke in a flat monotone. Karl closed his eyes, stretched out on the love seat, and relaxed.
The man leaned back in his chair and smiled. Cicadas buzzed in the bushes and a woman laughed in the distance. The man scratched his left ear and began his story: “Some time prior to my birth, my mother and my paternal grandmother became devoted to one another. It was an unexpected alliance; nevertheless, my grandmother loved my mother as she would a daughter and the two became fast friends. We spent a great deal of time at my grandparents’ home in Freiburg, especially when my father was away on one of his trips, which seemed to me to be most of the time. My mother was very lonely and my grandmother’s affection was welcomed by both of us.

“My earliest memories involve attending the church where my grandfather was pastor. We would sit in the family pew and listen to my grandfather preach his sermons. I usually sat between my grandmother and my mother and draw, although they didn’t like me to. Eventually, around the age of five or six, they refused to let me entertain myself by drawing my pictures and made me sit up straight and listen. Instead of listening, of course, I daydreamed and created all types of fantastical worlds during those hours in the church.

“In addition to being very religious, my grandmother was also superstitious. She believed in the power of magic and she possessed all types of amulets that she either wore or carried to protect her from evil spirits and, even though she believed the world was populated with demons, she had a pleasant personality and good sense of humor. She also believed the dead were still with us and that it was possible to communicate with the spirit world. Sometimes when my father was away on business, my grandmother would organize a séance at our house. She and a close friend, Frau di Muralto, would organize an evening devoted to card and palm readings and a séance. My mother was particularly impressed by these evenings and she was a believer in the cards. I remember that Frau di Muralto had a beautiful deck of medieval Tarot cards and she would take a place in the corner of the drawing room and shuffle her deck over and over again. There were usually six to eight ladies at my mother’s dinners when my father was away and, because my mother and grandmother were easy going, they usually allowed the two domestic workers of the house, Frau Miller and Signorita Josephina, to stand at the edge of the room and listen to Frau di Muralto read the cards. Once I was old enough to know what was going on, I usually tried to find a place to hide in the room, usually behind the couch near the fireplace. It was a safe and warm spot to hide and I could see most of the ladies who were sipping tea or coffee and listening intently to Frau di Muralto as she discussed the meaning of the cards.”

The man paused and sipped his cognac and Karl opened his right eye, like a crocodile, to see why the man had stopped. As the man resumed his story, Karl closed his eye.

“Frau di Muralto, on one of her visits, called to me to come and sit next to her while she was shuffling the cards. I approached her carefully because I was somewhat frightened of her. I felt she could see not only into my soul but also into my future. I was not the most obedient boy. I always had some scam or trick in operation, usually in an attempt to scare up a few small coins to buy candy or toy soldiers, which I was addicted to at the time. As I drew closer to her, I smelled an odd odor. I later learned it was menthol, a smell that emanated from an ointment she used to soothe her aching joints and muscles.

“At the time, I was probably five or six and Frau di Muralto was in her forties. She had dark black hair, black eyes, and an ample bosom. I remember that because she was always pulling me toward her and pressing my face against her chest.

“My grandmother told me that Frau di Muralto was from Venezia and I could tell from her odd manner of speaking that she spoke differently than us. Some people accused her of speaking ‘bird German’ or a strange Swiss dialect that we did not understand, but I have come to believe she spoke German with a Venetian accent and that her love of the occult arts sprang from her heritage. I believe our cultural heritage lives on in us and Frau di Muralto had a touch of the oriental about her and the magic of Venice.

“Anyway, she turned the card over and showed me a multi-colored medieval illustration, to which I was immediately attracted. I had never seen anything like those cards, and I cannot express the numinous feeling I felt as I gazed upon the major arcana. Each card seemed to spring some lever in my mind, opening up all types of associations and producing new and intriguing images. I felt the cards were sacred and they were speaking to me, calling me to read them, to handle them in a reverent, almost sensual fashion.”

Without opening his eyes, Karl asked in a soft whisper: “What does numinous mean?”

“Ah,” said Lowe, “it means something that creates in you a feeling of the spiritual. Do you understand?”

“Not really,” said Karl, opening his eyes.

“Have you ever stood on a mountain top and watched the sun rise or listened to Bach and felt a tingling in the roots of your hair?”

“I felt that once at Christmas Mass in Berlin.”

“That’s it. That is a numinous feeling.”

The boy stretched out and closed his eyes, while the man sipped his cognac. They let the silence of the room settle upon them before the man continued. Finally, Löwe resumed his story.

“Later, after dinner, and after I was put to bed by Signorita Josephina, I returned to the drawing room, entering silently through a side door, to take my usual place behind the couch next to the fire. The ladies did not notice me because they had all taken seats at the large round table in the center of the room.

“As Frau Miller turned the gas lamps down and Frau di Muralto prepared herself for the séance, I noticed the housemaids slipping into the room. Counting me, there were twelve women there.

“With the lights down low, the six women at the round table joined hands and the room became very quiet as Frau di Muralto closed her eyes and rocked gently back and forth. Soon the only sound I could hear was the whoosh of the oil-burning lamps, the tick of the great clock, and errant sounds from the coal burning in the grate.

“It was so calm in the room that I almost fell asleep. In fact, I think that I did begin to doze off, when suddenly, I heard a sound like a crack of wood; it was the sound trees make in the winter when they expand from the cold and break.”

The man paused and Karl opened his eyes. Once the man saw he had the boy’s attention he continued.

“Frau di Muralto asked in a low voice, ‘Is there anyone there?’ There was no answer, but suddenly, I felt the warmth draining out of the room. Where it had been cozy and snug a few minutes before, it was now becoming frigid.

“I could see the cold beginning to affect everyone in the room, including the working women of the house who had bunched together to keep warm and who crossed their arms. Fraulein Wise who was quite thin seemed to be especially suffering from the cold and I imagined or heard her teeth chattering.

“The temperature continued to drop and I noticed my breath as I exhaled. My nose felt icy.

“Frau di Muralto said in a louder voice, ‘I know you’re there. Announce yourself.’ With that pronouncement a plaster bust of a Napoleonic general fell from the bookshelf and shattered on the parquet floor and all of the women jumped, whereupon Frau di Muralto told them to calm down because the spirit would not hurt them. It was then I saw the creature; it was not a man, but a man-like creature, a cross between a monkey and man, and it was sitting on the bookcase, high above the women looking down upon them with a curious expression on its face. The creature had long arms, a leathery, hairless tail and the face of a monkey. It was studying the women in a way I interpreted as curiosity. Every time Frau di Muralto called out, it would turn its simian head toward her, but it was obvious that the creature did not understand her or that she saw him. Eventually, the creature became aware of my stare and it slid down the bookcase, crawling across the floor toward me. As it approached I smelled an acidic odor and I began to shiver just as Fraulein Wise was shivering. He seemed to be fascinated by my awareness of him and like a great cat stalking his prey, he lowered his body as he crawled toward me.”

Karl sat up and opened his eyes.

The man now addressed him and lifted his voice. “I wanted to cry out for help, but I seemed unable to speak, then Frau di Muralto shouted in a voice not her own, ‘Leave him! Leave him now!’ The creature, as if on cue, turned his head to look over his shoulder at Frau di Muralto, and in one bound, jumped first to the bookcase and then through the wall. As he disappeared, another apparition appeared, a woman dressed in a long, white dress that left her fair arms and breasts exposed. Her long hair was pulled up upon her head and held in place by an arrangement of small white flowers. She walked about the room examining each one of the women and stopped at my mother where she bent forward and kissed her upon the lips. As they kissed, I heard my mother emit a low moan and I noted as the woman lifted her head that there was a gentle smile upon her face. I could not take my eyes off of her. As she turned toward me and smiled, I recognized her as the woman with the red lion on the Tarot card called Strength.

Karl’s eyes widened and he took in a deep breath.

“As she stood next to the table, a cloud of mist began to fill the room seeping in from underneath the doors, raising the temperature, turning the frigid air damp. Suddenly, a great bird flew from the wall, a white owl, which landed upon the woman’s arm, as the mist continued to flow into the drawing room obscuring my view of the woman.

“Frau di Muralto called out, ‘She is gone, but another comes. Wait! Wait!’ She paused and then cried out in a man’s voice: ‘I am here.’

“From the mists, a man wearing long robes stepped into the room. He had long blond hair and tattoos on his face. He carried a tall staff and his robes were multi-colored. A white pony followed him and the two stood next to the table. I thought I heard the sound of pipes in the distance.

“Frau di Muralto asked, ‘Do you see him? He says he comes to see his descendants, to touch their heads and to bless them. Do you see him and his pony? He is here.’

“No one answered, but the sound of the pipes grew louder and I felt a great tingling sensation at the top of my head and I felt my body shivering uncontrollably. My mother began to cry and, then, she spoke in a strange language, a guttural sound, and fell forward onto the table. I, too, seemed to pass out for a moment and when I awoke, the lights were on and the women were talking and bustling about the room. They had moved my mother to my father’s leather chair and someone had poured a small glass of cognac for her.

“Once I recovered, I crawled from my hiding place and slipped through the side door, escaping to my room, where I hid under the covers.”

“How old were you when this happened?” asked Karl.

“Maybe eight or nine.”

“Did you ever talk about what you saw with anyone?”

“Yes. I talked with Frau di Muralto. I thought she would understand.”

“Did she understand?”

“I told her about the images or visions that I had and that I thought the woman was from the Tarot. She showed me Number 8, the card of Strength and we talked about the meaning of the card.”

“Did anyone else see the spirits?”

“Not that I know. Frau di Muralto felt them and she channeled their voices, but she did not see them.”

“Has it happened again?”

“Not in the same way. Instead, what happens is I have a thought or a vision while writing or meditating and, then, later, I discover evidence that what I saw or felt really happened.”

Karl leaned back and looked at the window. He was replaying the story in his head.

The man stood up suddenly, yawned, and stretched: “It was nice meeting you Karl and I hope you, too, see a ghost or at least a monkey. I need to speak to your grandmother before I leave.”

After the man disappeared down the stairs, the boy sat quietly and listened to the sounds of the guests in the garden. He had forgotten about his mother and Garrel and, instead, imagined the room filled with ghosts.

A bat fluttered outside of the window as the moon rose and illuminated the garden with yellow light. Karl yawned and snuggled into the soft leather chair. Just as he felt himself falling asleep he remembered his mother’s hand in Garrel’s and a cuckoo sounded in the woods.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Writer's League of Texas, Rick Klaw, Monkeybrain Books, Texas Writers, and Austin

A week or so ago I attended the Writer's League of Texas Agents Conference in Austin. I have been a member of the League for many years but I live in Dallas, so I very rarely show up at their meetings. I am not sure why I am a member; I guess I just like to say I am a Texas writer.

I grew up in Texas and being a Texas writer meant something special to me. I suppose it still does, but many Texas writers these days are more than regional writers. They live in Texas but they are widely known. For instance, Elmer Kelton, Chris Roberson and Joe Lansdale are Texas writers but they are read widely and the label--regional writer--does not apply. Michael Moorcock, one of my favorite writers, lives in Texas but no one in his right mind would label him a Texas writer, even though he did write "Tales from the Texas Woods." The only thing that might connect it to Texas is a mythic tale involving The Masked Buckaroo, who tracks an albino Apache known as El Lobo Blanco. Does that sound familiar? Interestedly enough, Chris Roberson in his forthcoming novel "The Book of Secrets" also has a similar western tale, which seems to connect to the regional root system of all Texans.

Nevertheless, I drove down to Austin on a Thursday afternoon to attend the latest conference. This was my third time to attend the Writers Conference and like the times before I was armed with a new book.

The first time I went to Austin to attend an agent conference, I was flogging "Vogel and the White Bull." The time after that I pushed my novel "Cave Gossip." This time I was trying to sell my first fantasy novel--"Okeanus." However, this time, things were different. In the past, I traveled to Austin full of hope and anxiety. I believed that fate would intervene and I would find the right agent for my books. This time I was different: I truly didn't care if I found an agent or not. You see I am approaching sixty and I have learned a thing or two. Some people say I have given up; others say I am cynical. However, now I see the whole thing as a process. I came to this conclusion about a year ago and as a result I returned to my roots as a writer. Not my Texas roots but my core values roots, as it were.

In the seventies I taught composition and rhetoric at a couple of universities. I spent three years at Stephen F. Austin State University and another three at Missouri State University (in those days it was known as Southwest Missouri State University). During that time I wrote poetry, short stories, and articles, and had some success. I wrote because I had to and wanted to. For some reason in the nineties I began to try to hit the long ball. As a result, I wrote a series of novels, with little or no success. I think what has changed for me over the last year or so is that I have stopped trying to hit a home run. I am working now on my technique; I am writing short stories and poems and trying to establish my voice. As I said to my friend Iain McDonald, a young adult writer from the Woodlands, I don't intend writing a query lesson for a long time to come.

So you ask, why was I driving down to Austin with a 150 word pitch in my briefcase? The answer is that I did pretty well in the Amazon/Penguin Breakthrough Novel contest in the spring; well enough, that is, to have gotten a really nasty review from Publisher's Weekly. I mean, I had never gotten a professional type review before, except for my poetry. Here was something I could pitch. At the very least I might make it to first base. So off I go to Austin with my pitch but with my new Zen-like attitude. To prove I am relaxed and a new man, I stay at a hotel well away from the conference; I eat Mexican food on Congress and drink margaritas; I drive over to Book People and browse for several hours, and then cross over to Waterloos. I am living the Austin writer's life.

On Saturday, when the main events start, I am still relaxed. I meet Iain McDonald in one of the topic rooms and have a good discussion about YA writing and I watch Michael Murphy of Max & Co work the conference. I conclude that this guy has to be the hardest working man in the business. I chat with Julie Schroecke about presentation techniques and I have lunch with Fort Worth fantasy writer, Robert Leonard, and we talk about Tolkien-type fantasy verses my favorite type of writing-- American pulp of the forties and fifties.

I am fortunate to meet Jonathan Lyons and Scott Hoffman, two agents I really admire. I follow their blogs and writings on publishing and I was impressed they were there in Austin at the Sheraton on a hot June day.

Nevertheless as the conference wanes, I am still maintaining my calm, old man attitude, and then it happens: I attend "Beyond the Strip: Inside the World of Comics & Graphic Novels" presentation. Suddenly I am a kid again, filled with the ardor and passion I always have had for writing.

I attended this presentation because of Rick Klaw. I am a fan of his work and it is through him I discovered Joe Lansdale, writer in residence in Nacogdoches. So during the ninety minute session with Rick Klaw, Tony Salvaggio, and Alan Porter, I was transported back to the east Texas pea-patch where I read comics under a cottonwood tree on hot summer days in the fifties. When I left I was vibrating with energy and anxious to get home and start writing. I was also armed with some suggested reading, which I quickly picked up, as I headed back to Dallas.

Rick Klaw's book, "Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century" is published by Chris Roberson's press--Monkeybrain Books. In that book Rick said something, which I am going to have to paraphrase because I can't remember where he said it, but it goes something like this--"Joe Lansdale and Michael Moorcock are mine." I understand this sentiment because certain writers are mine, too, and the Writers League of Texas Agents Conference reminded me of that fact. Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, Chris Roberson are mine, just as writing in Texas is mine.

All in all I would say it was a profitable time in Austin and no I didn't sell "Okeanus" and I don't really care. I am writing and that is what matters.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beginning of "Mittilagart," sequel to Okeanus

“What time is it, Jørg?”

Schütze Jørg Mortesson turned over onto his back and raised his arm just enough to catch a glint of blue light from the burning building a hundred meters to the north.

“Five minutes before midnight. Now be quiet or the Ivans will hear us.”

“What day is it?” asked Erik Wallender.

Mortesson grunted and said, “You know it is the 22nd.”

“How do I know that?”

“Because I told you an hour ago that it was April 22, 1945.”

“Is it the Führer’s birthday?”

“That was two days ago; don’t you remember? They gave us Schnapps.”

Wallender turned away and shrugged.

Mortesson scratched the thick stubble of his red beard. Lice hopped around his dirt encrusted finger nail and he sighed. “Erik, do you want to make it home to Stockholm?”

Mortesson waited as Wallender thought the question over. “I’m not sure. How will they treat us now that the Germans have lost the war?”

A shot rang out and Mortesson calculated it came from one of the government buildings to the east. The Ivans were tightening the rope and he could feel it scratching his neck. He swallowed and then answered, “They will probably hang us but you don’t have to worry about that, Erik.”

“Why is that, Jørg?”

Mortesson laughed and then spat onto the bare ground where a few feeble blades of grass struggled to survive. “Because, my dear Erik, the Ivans are going to cut our throats first.”

There was a cough and then the lieutenant called out from his slit trench south of their hole: “shut up over there.” In answer a Russian machine gun sprayed the brick wall that formed the northern line of the Nordland Division’s defenses on the edge of the Tiergarten, south of the river Spree. Mortesson pressed his body against the damp soil and held onto his helmet. Bursts of machine fire continued for several seconds and then stopped.

Mortesson crawled to an opening in the wall and peered out across the wide avenue that bordered the Tiergarten on the north. Several new fires had broken out in the building across the way and he could see silhouettes of Russian soldiers running in the ruins.

“Erik, prepare yourself. They are coming.”

Mortesson picked up his Mauser and entrenching tool and moved to a bit of raised earth that he used as a firing stand. Suddenly, he stopped because the usually vociferous Wallender was silent. “Christ,” he muttered as he quickly crawled back to their hole.

Wallender lay face down in a puddle of blood.

Mortesson rubbed his chin with his left hand and nervously spat again onto the ground. Shivering from exhaustion, fear, and pity, he checked to see if Erik lived. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he closed his friend’s eyes with his right hand and then slowly relieved him of his ammunition, grenades, canteen, three cigarettes, and a bar of chocolate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Eye of the Mage

a gray mage
with one blue eye
spins within
the image

no matter
the gray-ness
of the mage
or the blue-ness
of the eye

in our age
of sin
the image

because mindless
talk tells
that silence

Monday, June 15, 2009

Death Visits Kilgore on Sunday

surrounds us

interrupts us
from our rounds

in nests

it flies
in our face

surprising us
even though

we knew
it was there


and for ever

Friday, June 05, 2009

-∞ space in self

in time

from right
to left

we turn
toward home

our advance
into self

a minor mirror
of nature's

and negative

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Review Of Steve Parker's "Rebel Winter"

I rarely cry. It is usually at the end of a war movie where a person has given his or her life for the good of the squad and bagpipes are playing. Like at the end of "Gunga Din" or "Wee Willie Winkie," or even "Saving Private Ryan," although there were sadly no pipes.

While reading Steve Parker's first military science fiction novel, Rebel Winter, I found myself tearing up several times. Each time a well-drawn character sacrifices himself for the unit or a group of men die in a burning Chimera or a beloved colonel runs pell-mell into a mass of orks I felt a tear rolling down my cheek. Consequently, I have to say early in this review that the writing is damn good, the characters are well-drawn, the battle scenes are intense, and Parker's knowledge of Warhammer 40,000 fluff is dead-on accurate.

The novel involves a regiment of Vostroyan Firstborn fighting both rebels and orks on the ice-crusted planet Danik's World. The Vostroyans are similar to Russian Cossacks and their culture is tribal and militaristic. According to their laws, every firstborn son of every household serves in the Vostroyan regiments. Vostroyan soldiers and officers maintain an archaic appearance and their history can be traced back to the Horus Heresy. They pass their weapons down from firstborn to firstborn and are usually worth more than the guardsmen who carry them. They serve ten-year terms but most re-enlist because their persona is based on their identification with the regiment and the company in the regiment in which they serve.

In Rebel Winter Parker plays with the Vostroyan "fluff." First, the Vostroyan leadership is picked from the nobility. Our protagonist Captain Grigorius Sebastev is not a noble; instead, he is a sergeant, elevated to leadership on the battlefield. Second, Vostroyans pick the first-born son to serve the Emperor; Stavin, another important character, possesses a secret, which haunts him: he is a second-born son. Third, the Vostroyans are a close-knit tribal unit. The Commissar of Fifth Company is not a Vostroyan but from Delta Radhima. He is dark and tall and obviously a foil for the short and stocky Sebastev.

Parker begins the novel with a framing device: Captain Sebastev is on trial in the Exedra Udiciarum Seddisvarr for some unspecified crime. The story, then, is a remembering rather than an unfolding. In my opinion, a framing device is a two-edged sword. It either creates suspense by engaging the reader with the question: why is this man on trial, or it dissipates suspense because the reader knows the protagonist will survive. In this novel, the framing device accomplishes three things: one, it is simply a sketch and does not explain who any of the bizarre characters in the courtroom are; therefore, it creates an element of suspense and expectation; two, it begs the question of why this captain is on trial; and, three, at the end of the novel it provides the springboard for a sequel (which I suspect is its primary purpose).

Once, we enter the "remembering," we are plunged head-first into the action. The Vostroyans are fighting a battle of attrition against both rebels and orks. Here is where Parker shines. The battle scenes are brutal and beautifully constructed. Very rarely is an author able to manipulate a squad, let alone a company, and Parker does it well and efficiently. Something else that he does well is to describe the strategic elements of a battle. I particularly appreciate the map at the beginning of the book. By referring to it during the reading I was able to see and understand both the strategic and tactical decisions made by the combatants.

In conclusion, I found the novel a brilliant first effort. I enjoyed the mixture of pathos and bravura in the characters and when I say characters I mean many characters, each one is well-drawn and memorable. I have two minor criticisms though: one, the framing device distracts from the strength of the plot and, two, in an attempt to fully handle his "company" of characters, Mr. Parker switches point of view several times, which I found disturbed the smooth progression of the narrative. In that regard,I prefer either a single or at most a double point of view.

As a final word, I would recommend this novel to both Warhammer fans and military science fiction readers. I think Steve Parker now shares the stage with other great militray science-fiction writers like Dan Abnett, Andy Remic, Paul Kearney, Chris Roberson, and Steven Pressfield.

I am looking forward to reviewing his latest novel--Gunheads.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wolfgirls Dance under June's Moon

Caesar nominates
the lion month

its blonde
rays retain
the sun's
within a jar
with beeswax

it contains
oyster beds
marinated in Mexican

groves of palms
spitting purple dates

and their astral
love preserved
during the white nights
of die Deutsche Zeit

but finally
it is time
to spike the seal
and shuck
the shells

he refrains
from flight

and howls
beneath June's
green moon

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


aten is god
of the sun

the son
of big mind
outside the tent

in his heavenly
the sense
that oneness
exceeds many

clowns divide
the circle
twice squared
and their gods

a panoply

while without
the circle
and the tide

Polytheism during the Time of Akhenaten

the stars
and shine
on the maker
of the mannered
and pyramids

gods of bronze
silver and gold
with stone
a plural
of imbued
natural rock
and made fabric

god-ness in single-ness
outside the outer

both relinquishes
and supports

Circus Arrives in Munich in Oktober

the ring
beneath canvas
in tiny cars
and ladies
with big whips
to perform

big mind

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Short Review of Dan Abnett's "Traitor General"

In 1967, Alistair MacLean published "Where Eagles Dare." The book was made into a film with Richard Burton and a young Clint Eastwood in 1968. The plot involves an elite force of British and American Commandos who go behind enemy lines to rescue a United States general captured while enroute to Crete to meet with Russian counterparts. The story is replete with secrets and betrayals plus wholesale mayhem.

As a young man in 1968, I was enamored with the film and even today I will happily re-watch it. What does this have to do with "Traitor General," you may ask? Just this, the plot of the Maclean Book and Abnett's book have the same plot. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. The two works may have the same skeleton but Abnett makes the material definitely his own.

In "Traitor General" Gaunt and twelve of his "Ghosts" drop onto a planet controlled by the enemy. This planet, Gereon, an agri-planet within the Sabbat system is brilliantly and I would say beautifully rendered through Abnett's almost perfect prose. In addition, Abnett looks behind the curtain and begins to develop the Chaos world. In a recent interview, Abnett shows that he has been contemplating the workings of the forces of Chaos carefully. He has puzzled out the irrefutable conclusion that in order to function, it (the Chaos worlds)needs organizations, bureaucracies, and technologies. In this novel he illustrates the working of the world and the mind of the people trapped there and living there.

I cannot praise this novel enough for its execution and its depth. Abnett creates believable characters throughout. It doesn't matter if the character is a Ghost, a Chaos Space Marine, or a partisan; they are all roundly and soundly developed.

Finally, no one writes about the mechanical and technical aspects of modern war better than Abnett. I could smell the oil on the barrel of the las-guns while I was reading the novel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seven Steps in Sense Sequence plus Two

we have
the primal word
and magic numbers
but do not forget
the sense of color

Wittgenstein and Goethe
knew its worth
and the cabalists
its symbol

expect now
both number
and color
when we do
what we do

to make
or un-make
poetry of
nine levels
three squared

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reading John Dee in the Bath

the primal word
to expansion

emotional flutters
within my ear

a buzzing
of silk wings

and muttering
of a gibbering ghost

a précis of
John Dee

to the next
perhaps Bes

therefore Lull
lull me
into an alphabetical

count ten
on my fingers
and label them
B to K

A Sunday Fight Ends Now


we have

the memory
of the not now

the next now
is not yet now
and maybe
never will be

our now
until there is no now

a point
as the final


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tiny Bats

hang like green grapes
beneath Congress Street Bridge

at dusk
they drop

gulp air
and jettison

their numbers
paint the sky

they spread
like treacle
through ebony

on Bollingen Island
fox bats
fall free
under ebon

at dusk
they eat
with simian hands

at dawn they sleep

in sour wind