Archives for the month of: September, 2006

Lesley A. Cottle

“My pictures are all drawn with pencil crayon and depict ‘inner landscapes’. They tend to reflect my own spiritual journey and inspiration has come from various religious sources including the Baha’i Writings.”


This site is jointly produced and maintained by James Herbert and The Vision Factory. All art is copyright of the respective artist.


Bill and I walked down to Wild Oats, a half an hour walk and met Jamie a friend and a Jazz musician, and just great guy. It got hot, but I did it. Bill out of energy too. Met a fellow reading book on Redneck Blacks and White Liberals, and chatted. Conversation went on to deeper historical matters of race, and then to Russia. He lived in Norway or somewhere as student; speaks Russian; has son who graduates
from West Point this year. His wife must be Chinese as the son is Chinese-African-American. His son speaks Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Not sure of latter. This guy plays a Russian instrument and is in amateur orchestra that practices up at the McKinley schoolin Pasadena on Monday nights-he and his wife live in San Marino; he gave me his card and told me to call someone and get on the list of happenings. I did. I also promised to “gift” him my book. Then he met Bill and Jamie, and he and Jamie talked musicians. He had met Dizzy Gillespie. Great fun; interesting!

Man in Space

by Billy Collins

All you have to do is listen to the way a man
sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people
and notice how intent he is on making his point
even though her lower lip is beginning to quiver,
and you will know why the women in science
fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own
are not pictured making a salad or reading a magazine
when the men from earth arrive in their rocket,
why they re always standing in a semicircle
with their arms folded, their bare legs set apart,
their breasts protected by hard metal disks.

From The Art of Drowning, Billy Collins

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light—
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
But that is because you have forgotten
The perfect simplicity of being one
And the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
By drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
Watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
Against the side of my tree house,
And my bicycle never leaned against the garage
As it does today,
All the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
As I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
Time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
There was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

p. 49 – The Art of Drowning, Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate

I had a pug dog who died; I love this

Where did that dog
that used to be here go?
I thought about him
once again tonight
before I went to bed.
–Shimaki Akahiko

from the Hopi Elders 2001 via email to esther from friend in Ohio

To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal, least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the world struggle from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Share this

Seeing Syriana
Esther Bradley-DeTally (1/04/2006)

I write poetry which speaks of white skin color privilege, of seeing underwear ads, with handsome white, thirty-somethings, trim in their Hanes, pornographic in their Victoria’s Secret. Sometimes I attempt a math-impaired Haiku; how do you Haiku frustration, absence, a feeling of Gargoyles 24, Unicorns 0. It was the film that did it. “Syriana,” a word or words manufactured like Xerox, or Aluminium, Ltd., or Pepsi moment did it. Syriana, a friend said, “means a carved-out territory, made up of whatever lands are useful to the dominant powers that need oil.”

Long story short, the film is brave, profound, staggering in its mirror of global duplicity. Some how the bad guys seem in charge, and urgency screams at us to look. Memory’s soft song, “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you know, do you know,” ribbons around my brain as my cilia pushes sounds and concepts on a direct route into my heart.

I write of daily moments: the turn of a wrist, hairs caught in a watch band, a tired dark hand clinging to a subway strap; two years of dirt on the homeless lady at California and Lake; conversation at Peets’ sitting at round glossy wooden tables, our laughter vaulting towards Peets high ceiling; moments; shattered and reassembled.

Peace seems like an illusive dancing creature these days, tossed about like an old crouton, nicely mentioned on street corners, politically correct on placards and bumper stickers. Attaining this peace seems like the sound of blossoms falling on rippled water.

If writing verse is “like throwing rose petals down the Grand Canyon,” – at least that’s what the guy who wrote Archie and Mehitabel said; what is working for justice, seeing naked structures of greed, as the guys in the back halls cavort along vortexes of greed for today and tomorrow’s oil? Danger, implosion ahead, standing on the edge of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Scene II in the years 2000 and on. Y2K had nothing on this.

And yet, a voice, voices of those who know of the coming of the Advent of Divine Justice, the witnessing of the spontaneous spawning of ordinary groups coming together for global oneness; unity, begins to be heard. Like a sliver of the moon, this force for a society promised by poets and seers and prophets of old and a prisoner named Baha’u’llah, this curved small ray of moonlight in the darkened sky with no sounds, not even of sounds of blossoms falling, is pointing towards the future; suggesting solutions.

Time will reveal the fullness of moons; our shift away from the shaking frame of a beleaguered mankind; it’s an old jail, and we have to leave; a new race of man will struggle towards its destined spiritual maturity, a webbing of clusters of ordinary people, helping one another; preferring others instead of a self; all in start relief against night’s darkness of greed and hatred. The blossoms seem noiseless but startling white as th

Road Kill -ESTHER wrote this a year or so ago

Visualize the earth from that first soul-gasping view of outer space. See its perfect roundness; large, solid, resplendent in this first virginal glimpse. A planet before it goes to dancing school; adolescent, self-conscious, thinking only it exists. Imagine the earth’s surprise; did I say the Earth’s surprise? Imagine you, the observer’s surprise, as your eyes widen, your corrugated inner views fall away like old siding: we are not the only ones.

Visualize, if you will, a full moon, illuminating this gut-soothingly yours planet. Wait, blocks appear to be circumambulating the earth’s rim. Like gargantuan sow bugs in deliberate plod, they move. Your eyes narrow, as these steel carriers, like expanded versions of high school lockers move; in a relentless grind, gouging the planet’s surface. They grunt and suck as you stand riveted.

Visualize silhouettes which you now recognize as Humvees. Another light appears, like a distant point, the size of an eraser on a pencil, building in intensity. This light folds over the Humvees, casts a splash of light on to the Earth’s inky blue covering. Then the light hovers, wiggles, and finally stills. A hot revulsion fills you as the light reveals a place, a city, a twisted, rotted, bombed out, dusty, carcasses-on-the- street, children crying without limbs, homes, parents city. Baghdad. The light reveals Baghdad. You witness unimaginable horror. You awaken.

Today’s Review From Washington Post Book World

The Mission Song by John le Carre

Read today’s review in HTML at:

Tell us what you think! Give us your two (or ten) cents about today’s
review by posting a comment on the blog.

The Interpreter
A review by Philip Caputo

I don’t know what accounts for the longevity of so many contemporary
American and European writers, in terms of both lifespans and
productivity. Not too long ago, short lives were common in the
literary world. Today, the likes of Saul Bellow, pounding the
keys almost to the moment of his death at 89, or Philip Roth,
who arguably has done his best work after becoming eligible for
Medicare, or Gunter Grass, making headlines with his new memoir
at 78, are the rule.

I am reminded of a comment Thomas McGuane made a few years ago:
With so many authors living so long, a writer nowadays can remain
a young writer well into middle age. Sixty is the new 40.

Now comes The Mission Song , the 20th novel by Britain’s John
le Carré, who turns 75 this year and shows no signs of fatigue.
His prose is as lovely and expressive as ever; his ear for dialogue
remains wonderfully acute. Each of the characters in The Mission
Song speaks with a distinctive voice, so that the usual interjections
of “so-and-so said” seem almost superfluous.

An ear for speech is the genius of le Carré’s protagonist, Bruno
Salvador, an interpreter fluent in English, French, Swahili and
several other African languages such as Kinyarwanda (the native
tongue of Rwanda) and Shi (spoken in the eastern Congo).

Salvo, as he’s known to his friends (some of whom later become
his enemies), came to this linguistic mastery early in life. Born
in the eastern Congo, the orphaned love-child of an Irish Catholic
missionary priest and a Congolese woman whom he never knew, he
attended a secret school where the sons of errant priests were
sent for higher education. There, his mentor and erstwhile lover,
Brother Michael, inspired him to train as a professional interpreter
in the tribal languages he’d absorbed from childhood.

Eventually, he arrived in England and gained British citizenship.
The mixed-race foreigner furthered his integration into British
society by marrying a white celebrity journalist, Penelope. The
marriage has gone sour when the novel opens, and Salvo enters
into an adulterous affair with Hannah, a Congolese nurse at a
London Hospital. The love story, deftly handled, serves as a subplot
to an intricate thriller.

Salvo is a star in his unusual profession and vain about his abilities.
He relishes the fact that he is “the one person in the room nobody
can do without.” Early in the story, which he narrates, he tells
us that there is a world of difference between a mere translator,
who can get by with mediocre language skills and a good dictionary,
and a top interpreter. Hired by large corporations, law firms
and hospitals, he also works part-time for the British Secret
Service in a London basement known as “The Chat Room.” It looks
like a boiler-room operation, but those people in cubicles wearing
headsets are interpreters eavesdropping on sensitive telephone
conversations all over the world.

In establishing his main character’s backstory, le Carré’s pacing
is neither overly leisured nor mechanically efficient. The tale
gets moving when the Chat Room supervisor assigns Salvo to act
as a simultaneous translator at a hush-hush meeting between Congolese
warlords and a shadowy syndicate of Western financiers. As naive
as he is vain, ardent to serve queen and country, Salvo accepts.
From then on, with the hooked reader in tow, he plunges into familiar
le Carré territory, a world of conspiracies, treachery and deceit.

For all that, The Mission Song has a comic, light-hearted touch.
At the same time, it has the moral seriousness of le Carré’s other
novel of Africa, The Constant Gardener. As in that tale about
the machinations of big pharmaceutical companies in Kenya, the
villain here is a multinational corporation. Indeed, with the
extinction of the Soviet Union, global capitalism seems to be
fueling le Carré’s literary energies. The chess matches between
George Smiley, his Cold War spymaster, and Smiley’s Soviet adversary,
Karla, have been replaced by confused, asymmetrical warfare between
somewhat hapless individuals such as Justin Quayle, the British
diplomat in The Constant Gardener, and corporate giants that know
no boundaries, moral or geographical.

A less worldly writer, or one with more left-wing axes to grind,
would be tempted to portray these global titans as the sole authors
of Africa’s endless tragedy. Le Carré avoids that trap and presents
African autocrats for the corrupt kleptomaniacs many of them are.
Salvo and Hannah excepted, nobody in this book has clean hands,
but some hands are dirtier than others.

Africa has become “hot” in recent years, and I don’t mean the
climate. It’s a must-stop on the itineraries of Western celebrities
from Bono to Madonna to Bill Clinton. Plagued by AIDS and malaria,
ruled by vicious tyrants, wracked by civil wars and genocide,
it is the irresistible magnet for aid agencies and missionaries,
for whom it remains the “dark continent” in need of their salvation.
It also remains what it’s been since the colonial era: the place
where foreign business interests (chiefly Western but increasingly
Chinese as well) can make lots of money and extract natural resources.

The Syndicate in The Mission Song combines both the impulse to
save and the urge to plunder. Salvo, his African conscience stirred
through his affair with Hannah, suffers from a bit of savior complex
himself. The Syndicate’s purported mission — to democratize his
native country while making it a safer place to do business, thus
bringing freedom and prosperity to all — sings its siren song
to him.

None of the action takes place in Africa. The setting is confined
to London and a nameless island in the British channel. There,
the Syndicate’s representatives confer with two warlords and the
son of a rich Congolese entrepreneur, Honoré Amour-Joyeuse, who
goes by the nickname of Haj. The purpose of this exercise is to
get the Africans to sign a contract pledging support to the Syndicate’s
scheme, its centerpiece being the installation in the eastern
Congo of a government led by an aging, charismatic messiah called
the Mwangaza. Granted exclusive rights to the region’s vital minerals,
the Syndicate will ensure that its profits are equitably distributed
to the people.

If this sounds fishy to you, it should, and therein lies the novel’s
only major flaw. The key that winds the spring that drives the
story is Salvo’s naiveté. Le Carré skillfully draws an idealistic
character less than half his age, but the reader may find, as
I did, Salvo’s gullibility difficult to accept. Almost from the
moment he’s given the mission, you sense that something is dreadfully
wrong and wonder why Salvo doesn’t, too.

Consequently, his awakening, when in the course of his interpretive
work he hears things not intended for his ears, seems a bit contrived,
his disillusionment a little too predictable. Things don’t end
well for Salvo either, and I was left with the feeling that he
allowed himself to be bamboozled.

Nevertheless, the vividness of le Carré’s characterizations —
Haj is marvelous and almost upstages Salvo — and his adroit navigation
of a plot with more twists and turns than the mountain segment
of the Tour de France compensate for this shortcoming.

The Mission Song is a minor work compared with le Carré’s big
Cold War novels, but his skepticism, compassion and sense of moral
outrage are as much in evidence here as in A Perfect Spy or The
Honorable Schoolboy. To categorize him, as many do, as a “spy”
novelist is to do him a disservice; he uses the world of cloak-and-dagger
much as Conrad used the sea — to explore the dark places in human
nature. Philip Caputo is the author of, most recently, Acts of

Read the review online at:

What Terrorists Want, by Louise Richardson, is a book about understanding the enemy, containing the threat, which is the blurb put over the title of this red and back with white letters book cover. The author grew up in Ireland, had a background that produced many a terrorist, and has spent her professional life trying to understand them. Now, Richardson is a professor of government at Harvard, has taught courses on international relations and American foreign policy. Finally her students talked her into teaching about terrorism, to a limited size class of 15. 130 students signed up. “As always happens when teaching smart students, you learn as much as they do.” Needless to say, her classes and teaching expanded to this new level.

“After September 11 an entirely new breed of terrorism expert emerged. The priority of these experts was countererroism policy and American power. they were very knowledgeable about….” (p xix) She suggests knowing one’s enemies and that “We must prove them wrong.”

Okay from here on I am going to distill just a few points as I sit in nightclothes, hair thatched, half touched coffee beside me (one cup).

What is terrorism? “Terroism simply means deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes. If an act does not involve violence of the threat of violence, Richardson writes it is not terrorism. A third point she writes is the point of terrorism is not to defeat the enemy but to send a message, and that finally the act and its victim(s) usually have symbolic significance.

The point that interested me is her 5th point which is controversial and is, “terrorism is the act of substate groups, not states, and lastly (I hope) the victim of the violence and the audience the terrorists are trying to reach are not the same.” (p. 8)

I then flip to page 263 to What is to be done-chapter; after all, we are interested in solutions, and you the reader, can delve in any manner through the book.

6 rules for counteracting terrorism

1. Have a defensible and achievable goal
2. Live by your principles (sound familiar)
3. Know your enemy
4. Separate the Terrorists from Their Comunities
5. Engage others in countering terrorists with you
6. Have patience and keep your perspective

She then speaks to “where are we know”? and “what is to come”?-

I am not usually so academic first thing in morning.

Another good book, by Thomas Friedman, Lordy, i hope i am getting this right The World is Flat, tremendous and prodigious but readable, in clumps for me; I haven’t read the whole thing.

Yours, girl reporter on a grey and cloudy morning where the birds tweep, I recoup from a bit of a stay in the hospital and where I have high hopes for humankind,


Subject: Baha’i Writings — Warring For Our Tombs

…..How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth! …….. How terrible it is that men, who are of the higher kingdom, can descend to slaying and bringing misery to their fellow-beings, for the possession of a tract of land! The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man’s home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, > the abode of the decaying bodies of men.

Abdu’l-Baha Paris Talk p. 28

Hi, Carolyn Strickler gave me this card last night.It says “Take 2 flies and feel better.” She’s one of the gang at South Lake Italian Kitchen where we hang out, and Donna, its owner and lover of humankind par excellence has been bringing us dinner the last few days; Carolyn also created a US postage stamp; not real, but it’s a cartoon of a round face guy in long or tall cowboy hat! i love the frog stuff. life is busy; not writing yet; reading wonderful quotes; just wanted to publish this picture and say how much i loved everyone in my life.

from an email i received this morning!

We know the effects of war are bad. So let us try, as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in any case make the experiment.
(Baha’i Scriptures)

Hi, am back from 10 days at Kaiser Hospital; cut to the quick, it means, mechanical valve has quirks, all controllable by meds, and also, that the knowledge, service and love given by doctors, staff and all and my friends and cronies, too numerous to mention, incredible. Also met some soul stirring people; am home, weak, but happy.

Below is stuff sent to me by the writing teacher I revere, Jack Grapes

“Collective Writers of the Method Tango:

Sorry I’m a little late getting out the Fall schedule.
I’ll do the info part first, and the boring stuff last, since most people
I’ve found don’t read emails past the 5th line.
Oooooooops! this is the 5th line.

Well, if you’re not interested in the Fall Schedule for Advanced Class
Tango, you can stop reading now.
But For those of you who have persevered to this point, here’s the
schedule for the Fall.

Regular Beginning Deep Voice Method Writing Class starts Tuesday Sept 26th.
This class is full (maybe I could squeeze one more in).
If you were going to mention it to a friend, now’s the time.


Wednesday Morning Roundup begins October 4th, 9 am to 12 noon.
(two spots left)

Wednesday Late Afternoon/Evening Big Bang Singularity begins October
4th, starting at 4pm and going until the cows come home. Come anytime,
leave anytime, check guns at the door. This class is full. Sorry.

Thursday Afternoon 1pm to 4pm Juggular Syncopation starts October 5th.

Thursday Afternoon 4pm to 7pm Alligator Cummerbund starts Octber 5th.

Monday Night class starts October 9th, 5pm to 10pm. Same drill as
Wednesday evening, come anytime, leave anytime, check guns at the
door. Only one spot left in this class.

What about the Editing classes. These are not
process classes. No exercises. You bring work in a week ahead of time, and the class
has a week to read it and make red marks all over it and discuss it in
class the following week, with the goal being to make the specific
poem or piece of prose polished and ready to be published.

There’s only one spot left in the Monday
afternoon editing class which starts Oct 2nd, 3pm to 5pm.

There’s only one opening left in the Thursday Night Editing Class
which starts October 5th, Thursday evening, 7pm to 10pm.

Okay, that’s it. You can stop reading now.
I have to go boxing.
An ex-professional boxer beats me up for 5 rounds.
It’s the most fun I’ve had since Brenda Goldfarb kissed me in biology
lab while we were dissecting a frog.
Anyone want to join me sometime? It’s fun.
You put on the gloves, step into the ring, and kill your mother,
or your father, or both. Who needs therapy when the sweet science

Hope you’ve had a great summer and have geared up for the stretch run
to the holidays and beyond. I’m reading a book on the History of
Language, but it’s written in an ancient tongue so I can’t understand
a word of it. Also reading several books about the Thirty Years War
(including Wedgewood’s classic account), which–you guessed it!–lasted
more than thirty years. Hollywood is older than you thought. I have a
picture in my mind of a bunch of Austrian/German/French/Spanish/Danish
generals (the war had numerous combatants all over Europe)
sitting around in 1652 after the last battle saying, “Vel, ve can’t call it
the Thirty-Four Years Var, it von’t zell!” 1618 to 1648, just in case
you’re interested. Peace of Westphalia sent everyone packing. If
anyone ever asks you what was the Defenestration of Prague, the answer
is, that was when they threw the guy out the window, starting the
Thirty Years War, which really lasted 34 years. It was
the last war fought for religious reasons. After that, it was all
about nations fighting each other, not religions. Seems like we’re
coming full circle, though. As we are wont, to recall Santayana’s
famous dictum, to do. (“Those who forget history are doomed to repeat

I’m also reading Richard Jones’ latest book of poetry. It’s exquisite.
APROPOS OF NOTHING. You can get it from Copper Canyon Press. I’m
swooning, it’s so good.

I’m also struggling to read Albert Camus’ THE STRANGER in French.
Bears no relationship to Billy Joel’s song “The Stranger.” There are
paragraphs in there that are pure poetry. But you know, you can find
poetry anywhere, even in a recipe for chicken soup. So Melville starts
Moby Dick with “Call me Ishmael.” Three unforgettable words. POetry.
For me, the greatest lines of poetry
are pretty simple, no more than three words. How’s this for a line of
poetry, no more than three words:
I’m reading a recipe for chicken soup that was published in a book that’s
about 100 years old. It’s an old Jewish recipe book. The first line of
the recipe is this:

“Get a chicken.”

I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time.

After a long bout of laughter, I knew I’d read something profound, if
you really think about it. We all have our recipes for what we want to
do, the book we want to write, the poem we want to make, the symphony
we want to compose. We all forget the first thing. We’re so intent on
doing it sometimes, that we forgot the most important thing of all.

Get a chicken.

So here’s much love and best wishes I’m sending to you today, a
Sunday morning in September, clear skies, crisp light, zippy-de-do-da
leaves detaching themselves from tree brances with delectable daring-do.
A September morning in which my son Josh is practicing Rachmaninoff’s
“Prélude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No.2” in the living room. A September
morning when my dog sits at my feet here by the computer, dreaming of
chasing other dogs over the green hills of South Carolina. Me? I gotta
get back to work on my book on Method Writing. And my other book on
the history of modern poetries that nobody’s gonna read (who the hell
is going to read a 1400 page book on the history of modern poetries
from Homer to the present day? but I’m in love with the writing of it,
so I press on). Me? I gotta get a chicken.

All best,


The painting is what I would think of future human being, man, generically,

The artist is Alice Thaggard, and this painting is called “Eye of Delight”.

The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”)
Watched tv tonight re terrorists; some of it was corroborated by books i’ve read at library; scary and only one point of view; and then i came across this quote; we don’t grow when we blindly imitate, but society is slow to change and so we adjust to wars, skermishes like frogs sitting in water which gradually heats us to death;
oh dear! just came from Interfaith gathering; good; intense, but good; too tired to talk.

Writing Soup

By Esther Bradley-DeTally

(for Donna with regard to writing and all our archetypal Stews)

I am confused and bewildered
as I sit in a house
whose furniture sprawls
like forgotten toys from GoodWill and
whose books give off a musty smell which eclipse
blonde blue-eyed, strong white-toothed actresses
who are slim and young and who can write.

My eyes travel down to a patchy wood floor
My guts, no longer tensile, stick together
like an old sandwich
pressed too hard by the grill

I feel as if I am in a stew or soup
Jack is the cook
But he isn’t the cook; he is the Chef
With a Capital C

I feel as if I am in a stew or soup
Jack is the cook
But he isn’t the cook; he is the Chef
with a Capital C

He seems hot and fussy as if
he’s cooked soup for a long time
he stirs some long leggy carrots recently
shorn of their leafy green tops
He pokes sprawling “Hi I’m fresh from the farm”
tomatoes into a plankton shape
and he flicks hot juice at the parsnips
who turn into ciphers.

None of us move because
we feel like bumpy vegetables
I feel like a turnip, a rather purplish solid
turnip from New England
as I tilt from the Cook

He takes a two pronged fork and
prods the parsnips and carrots again
Then he spears a medium sized white potato which
grows soft and splits and sort of crumbles

A zucchini leans into my purple side, but
I feel contained and don’t want to go near
The Chef or the fork
I want to simmer and bob when
a chunky, juice dripping piece of beef
floats to the center and waits for the Chef
who lifts up the beef with a slatted wooden spoon
admiring its contours its bursting juices

He dips the beef back into the soup where
all the vegetables seem to get caught up
in the juice’s circular movement as
the water around me gets browner and
Chunks of flattened red tomatos float by and
miss his hand which spears and hauls me up
dripping with the soup’s flavors

He puts me on the slatted spoon and turns
me over slowly, reflectively
I am still a turnip, but I have become
softer, more yellow-orange on the inside
ready to slough off some purple edges
I get put down again near the beef and tomatoes
I move closer to the carrots and the parsnips
We all mix with the broth

from John Amir-Abbassi,
September 9, 2006

Gratitude streams forth from hands
Words sprinkled across a page
Love flowing across a bridge

God and I
Side to side
At times close
At times far
But always connected

Through hands
Needful and Indebted

My Master, I bow to you
I dance to the song that you compose
I move to the tempo that you orchestrate

Do with me what you will
In this dance, I do not lead

Here’s something from Thomas Merton

Identify Me

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can determine the identity of any person.”

Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

Carmel, once pictured in my book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, sitting next to Puggy who had his tongue hanging out of his mouth and looked frustrated because he was dressed up as a bride, and she sat next to him with her tongue out, is now grown up and her hands and possibly legs are featured. She is a model for henna tattooing, and she goes to Kent State-great modeling job for a student; you go girl!

…If the learned and worldly-wise men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship and love, every understanding heart would apprehend the meaning of true liberty, and discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure.

Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 162

Good morning Morning Glories;

From time to time, I am putting quotes up that I find vital and also am scanning a good fiction writing book and am definitely putting that on this blog (Tyler are you
listening). The day begins. I am a bit subdued but busy; Johnnie coming at 10.30 to help set up this blog.

Hugs for now,


The guy with the ice cream cone next to the dog who is bronzed, but looks like he could eat the cone anyway, is coming over tomorrow to help me figure out how to spiff up my blog and get websites in their in one spot; always recommending something of interest. Quiet night; the temperature dropped; crickets not as noisy; no skunk smells, I stayed home, Bill went out to Baha’i Feast; Watched part of Dateline about the kids whose father’s had died; and here they were 4-5 years later. Heartrending some of it; meanwhile rhetoric flies re war.

by Esther Bradley-DeTally-(wrote this a year ago)

Elizabeth Vargas bids goodbye
From the news -wait
How is Peter Jennings?
But now I know

Of his kind heart, his last days
His frailty, and what of his regrets
about those last cigarettes?

9/11 – my fingers
probe memory’s silt,
Braille the reality of those days,
find terror’s dullard cousin

Our earth stood still on 9/11.
Together in cylindrical need
We lurched towards one another,
a oneness prayer,
no words or syllables or sounds

We united until the politicians
Like Crows from New Jersey,
fat cigars hanging from their mouths,
carped, scavenged
and hawked
their way up ladders of
avarice and greed.

“The necks of men are stretched out
in malice,”*
Crows cavorted long back halls
of politically elite, and
power’s salacious divide

Language used for
dark reptilian thoughts
Separate: the enemy,
The other

The Crows, did I say crows?
I meant Boys, Boys at play
Like Gargoyles in a game
Crocodiles shopping for dental twine.
*Baha’i Writings

Still a lot to be grateful for; gotta crash!

I love putting images on this blog! I still am awaiting a friend’s help as I want to also put on this blog helpful websites, of which I think will be: Baha’i International Website, Jack Grapes Writing Class Website, Little Angels Pug Rescue in Pasadena, Powell’s bookstore in Portland; be still my heart!

I walked the Rose Bowl this morning with new friend from Trinidad; and it’s great to return to getting up early and heading out to walk 3 miles. It’s been 100 or so these days, and we walk the early mornings. i find pressure on my sternum increases, and I think “oops- heat, whatever,” and will check with my cardiologist maybe in October. Women can’t read heart discomfort as well. It’s not as clearly defined. However, i only feel this pressure when i walk up the slight incline at the Rosebowl; after a mile or more, i hit my stride when we walk down a bit. I stayed up too late last night fooling around with posting pics. Okay, i’ll find a good quote and insert it here, and then be off for the day; desk littered high: Am teaching a Ruhi Course; or faciliting it this afternoon; more about that later; going to Baha’i Feast tonight; have the Writings prepared; Amelia has put music on her IPOD; have about 6 library books piled up; one is Gail Godwin the Making of a Wreitr; one is Flatland, Friedman, the others; and then my miscellaneous stuff; i have a bumper sticker to my right which is upside down, but it says Wage Peace, and I have a greeting card in front of me from Margaret which shows a pug on a leopard skin pillow infront of a huge tasseled, looks Islamic type throne of a hat, and the dog has two palm trees in green and white striped conainers like bookends to either side; he’s a he; i kow it; Every dog has its day” is the slogan and i howled when receiving it; you have to be a pug devotee to understand this; my calendar says “don’t feed the Pug,” and I think it’s owner too; it has a caption,Round Mound of Hound and to the left, Kevin, wonderful Kevin who has graduated from Cal Tech was down this weekend and gave us something, a print from El Salvador, which is art produced on a father, vivid colors, greens, reds for red tiled roofs; little white houses, dirt streets; incredible.

“Know that you are where you are
not by chance but by the design
of your Creator,
for your development
and for the development
of those around you.”

‘Abdu’l Baha
Son of Baha’u’llah, Prophet Founder of Baha’i Faith

It is 11 p.m. and am learning to do pictures; thus have 2 Obey the Pug pics; time to call it a day; fantastic Fireside. Jim Nelson spoke – brilliant; too all encompassing to repeat; incredible, walk tomorrow; met man who taught post modernism and we talked books at Peets; talked to Jessica today; had first day in first grade; liked it!

September 6, 2006 – wrote short story last night, basic question of why was the dog wet and huffing and puffing, which I forgot to tend to – so much for completeness; Walked the Rose Bowl today; chatted about affluent happenings of some, and in my mind’s eye thought of those who struggle. Am figuring out this blog; and i almost approach it as I do the DMV line when renewing my license, i.e., with trepidation, but hey yea, it’s just a new thing; “aint no big thang, just a chicken on a strang,” via Nick my son; below is an interesting quote from Pearl Buck:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him…a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create–so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange unknown inward urgency, he is not really alive unless he is crating.

Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

Relief coursed through me when i read that; i remember being at a point where my dendrites were hanging out and the Virgo in me was hissing back; and lo and behold, the quote came in; so i offer it for others.

talked to attorney i had worked for 100 years ago; we still hold each other in our minds and feel well being; he knew me before Nick was 5; and I worked for him at Rutan & Tucker, and he was selling his rubber canoe. I had precious little money, but bought it off him, and it was blue and orange and we lived on Balboa Island in a little apartment upstairs; which I called “My Robinson Caruso House without Robinson Caruso,” and that canoe was terrific fun that summer; except when Nick didn’t want to carry it back; But we all rolled around the sand laughing at our escapades. Seems symbolic, no matter how rough the times can be, seek a joyous moment.
okay, ta ta for now

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyberspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

right now, i have had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night, and I don’t think i should try to be a giant eagle physically, so I must think about this blog and i will be inputting poetry, prose, wonderful quotes, book recommendation; thoughts from one person’s perspective of life on the planet; i haven’t filled in my all about you, well, i did, but couldn’t save it properly. Have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when! Am reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer; just saw Jessica, our granddaughter at an early socer practice; she’s almost 7-going into first grade and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.