Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hezbollah: an ideology of hatred

Hezbollah openly and aggressively preaches hatred towards all Jews, and it is publicly committed to the destruction of Israel and all Jews in Israel. Parallel to this hatred, most Middle Eastern countries promote hatred towards Jews and Israel in their schools, media, and from their mosques, while suppressing positive images of Jews and Israel.

By contrast, Israel has been hailed, even by the UN, for its educational system that promotes respect and equality for all people. The same is true of its legal and political systems. For any moral country, open incitement of hate and incitement of acts of racial/religious violence must be deemed criminal. The disproportions between Israel and the rest of the Middle East in this regard are so extreme that there is simply no scale to measure it.

Hezbollah's ideology of hatred is based on the deep-seated hatred embedded in Islam for Judaism (and all other religions, for that matter). Since 2001 I have been compiling news reports from high profile media, primarily AP and Reuters, documenting hatred in the Muslim world. I have over 45 pages of direct quotes from Muslims of all stripes, expressing their unrestrained and unself-conscious bigotry towards Jews, Christians, and America. Consider these few examples:

10/28/05: by Ali Akbar Dareini, AP, “Iran Leader Reiterates Anti-Israel Stance
Tehran, Iran -Iran's ultraconservative president joined more than a million demonstrators who flooded the streets of the capital and other major cities Friday to back his call for the destruction of the Jewish state. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood fast behind his assertion that Israel should be wiped off the map and repeated the call during the nationwide protests Friday, the Muslim day of prayer.
7/13/04: no author cited, AP, “Ayatollah: U.S. Supports Iraq Insurgency”
Tehran, Iran - Iran's supreme leader on Tuesday accused U.S. and Israeli agents, not Muslims, of responsibility for the wave of beheadings and kidnappings in Iraq, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
11/9/04, Simon Wiesenthal Center, “Holland must Act Now to Stop Extremism”
The brutal killing last week of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh who was stabbed to death in Amsterdam while cycling to work shocked the world. Moreover, a five-page letter pinned to Van Gogh's body with a knife included antisemitic rhetoric reminiscent of Nazi propaganda and threats against Amsterdam's Jewish Mayor Job Cohen and other Jewish personalities.
12/6/02: by Alaa Shahine, AP, “Saudi Minister: Jews Behind 9/11 Attacks
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - The Saudi police minister has claimed Jews were behind the Sept. 11 attacks because they have benefited from subsequent criticism of Islam and Arabs, according to media reports. Interior Minister Prince Nayef made the remarks in the Arabic-language Kuwaiti daily Assyasah last month.
7/21/06: Reuters, no by-line, “Security men block big Cairo protest against Israel”
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef told Reuters: "Today we are supporting the Palestinian, Lebanese and Iraqi resistance and every resistance against Zionist, American and European arrogance.” “Al-Azhar's message to the world is Death to the Zionist entity" read one of the large banners strung across an archway in the marble courtyard of the mosque. "Nasrallah, our friend, hit and destroy Tel Aviv," the protesters chanted.
5/25/06: By Andrew Hammond, Reuters, “Saudi textbooks still preach hatred: report
Schoolbooks say that "Christians and Jews are the enemies of the believers" and that students should not "befriend," "respect" or "show loyalty to" non-believers, the report said, citing Arabic passages.
12/22/05: by Salah Nasrawi, AP, “Egypt Opposition Leader Denies Holocaust
Cairo, Egypt - The leader of Egypt's main Islamic opposition group said Thursday the Holocaust was a "myth," and he slammed Western governments for criticizing disclaimers of the Jewish genocide. The comments by Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Mahdi Akef [were] made on the heels of his group's strong showing in Egyptian parliamentary elections.
5/13/05: Palestinian Authority TV:
“The day will come when we will rule the United States, the day will come when we will rule Britain, we will rule the whole world [and all will live in peace and comfort under our rule] except the Jews. The Jews will not live in peace and comfort under our rule. Treachery will keep being their nature throughout history. The day will come when the whole world will rid itself of the Jews.”

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Disproportionate Use of Force

Israel is now engaged in a war with Hezbollah, a war that will be known as “the war of the captives.” The Israeli response to the killing of 3 soldiers and kidnaping of 2 others from Israeli soil is criticized for being disproportionate. “Disproportionate” is a term describing a state of unbalance and inequality between two entities or forces. So let us look at the unbalances and inequalities here.

1. The first and primary disproportion is the unrestrained and shameless hatred expressed by Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Syria and untold numbers of millions of Arabs and Iranians for Israel. Unrestrained and shameless hatred with the expressed desire and the utter lack of conscience necessary to commit genocide against the Jews of Israel.

2. The second disproportion is Hezbollah’s status as an illegal militia that has usurped a place within a country too weak to dismantle it and jail its leaders.

3. The third disproportion is Hezbollah’s unconscionable and illegal use of human shields to protect its terrorists, their leaders, weapons, and equipment.

4. And finally, the fourth disproportion is population: 160+ million Arabs and Iranians confronting 5 million Jewish Israelis.

Those people and governments demanding “proportion” from Israel, don’t want to look at the context of extreme disproportion in the Middle east, a disproportion overwhelmingly balanced against Israel and its right to exist in peace, security, and with equality to all other nations.

In the following days I will expand on each of these points.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Silens, you sperets!

Moving forward to Bouk 5 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, we move into the strangely modern world of the medieval French lovers, Heloise and Abelard. I’ll assume you know their story, but if you don’t, you can find a summary on Wikipedia, and elsewhere. Here, years after their separation, Heloise is abbess of the Paraclete convent. The setting is late at night, and Heloise struggles with her undiminished sense of loss.

Make Me Aggen Yur Hor

In the abbessez chappel the gargoyelz gather.

How mennee tiemz hav thaer howlz ekkoed;
The aer kut appart with peersing glaerz?
"Silens, yu sperets! Iz thare nun amung yu
"Kan tern yur attent tu a singel sors?"

In the chappel the gargoyelz join narrellee handz.

The wide-eyd, the glowwering, the spietfull wunz
With kroukked grinz and leering eyz,
Beerded, goet-hornd, elf-eerd, and toothless
Thay join and begin tu chant and tu sirkel.

In the chappel a gargoyel leeps owt at the abbess.

Wide-eyd and glowwering, she yanks bak her hand,
But the brash little demen gliedz up agenst her
And wisperz in her eer, "Will you withhoeld yur luv
"Frum me, yur oenlee, yur beluvved Abballar?"

In the abbessez hart, led ternz tu goeld.

Him huze prezzens wuz eerevokablee remuevd;
Huze orgazmek tuch had bin seeld frum her thots,
Az annuther Eden had also bin forbidden;
Thoze flaming sordz lifted and her pashen broke forth.

In the abbessez chappel the chanting groez feverd.

The gargoyelz now ar awl wield with deziyer
For the abbess, thaer luvver, the unfrokt Helloweez.
"Empress," thay showt, "Dans for yur proffets!
"Goddess! Spred owt yur hevvenz for us!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A charmer ov snaeks sits on the grownd

This poem is part of Bouk 4 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. It is the story of the Byzantine emperor and empress, Justinian and Theodora. Here we see a portrait of the 20-something Justinian, one of a 3 part series.

Fewcher Immij, After Immij, I.
Basket, Koebra, Man in a Heep

A charmer ov snaeks sits on the grownd
Repeeting a littannee ov mannakkayen praerz.
Arownd him sum chieldz hav stopt tu stare,
And a number ov shopperz, distrakted frum thaer bizness,
Kureyuslee woch hiz okkult powwer.
Befor him, in a basket, a koebra haz rizzen
And swayz tu the rithemz ov hiz praerz.

Now the snake sinks, slolee sinks in a koil,
Like a dying fiyer, and refuzez tu rize.
The majjishen uzez evree inkantaten
But nuthing inspiyerz the beest frum torper.

The shopperz drift frum the impotent man.
The yung boyz retern tu rowdee play --
     Fiting with stiks and tossing littel stoenz --
Wen an aerent stone flyz intu the basket.

Awaken, the koebra leeps frum hiz koil,
And choozez a viktem, a neerby boy.
Fureyus it dessendz, az a karrij roellz by.

Justinneyan iz in that karrij.
He seez the jagged lietning, the koebra;
He seez the viktem, unnawware,
And grabz him! yanking him intu the koech.
He showts tu the driver, "Awway!"

Then he louks aggen:
     "Wut iz this? A filthee erchin!
     "I hav meerlee prolongd its trubbelz!
          He thrusts the chield frum hiz kar,
Disgusted, and the boy tumbelz tu the stoenz.

But during that reeflex ov kiendness, the snake
Haz bin klubd and its charmer iz being stoend
By the krowd, and alreddee liez in a heep.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Mosk iz Krumbel

The Mosk iz Krumbel

In the west and akross Ewroep the kry rizez up
Tu expel the Muzlim and ban him by law.
And in the Indeya eest and the Farther Eest
Thay raez arm aggenst the Islommek kursader,
The aeraggent invader, tu drive hem owt.
In the north, in Russ, thay kursh the Muzlim vois
And the sik jehodder in hiz suwasside hate.
In the Afrekken sowth, in the lawless plase,
The Muzlim owtpoests ar under seej;
Duss and fammen nerrish thaer kreed.

In the hart uv Arabeya and the bowwelz uv Eron
Thay kling tu the mith that the werld will fall
Tu Islom; thay saten thaer Seel with poizen.
Thaer hart and bowwelz kry owt for wor.
Drunken, thay vommit thaer furee; thay fowl
Themsellz and kry owt for strenger dreenk.
Dellereyus, thay stagger over the breenk.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Musings on a Non-linear Narrative Poetics

Here's a little thought that amused me as I wrote it; part of an on-going poetics entitled "Musings on a Non-linear Narrative Poetry."

Sometimes I start with the poem's title, and, try as I might, the poem seems to go its own way. What emerges is something very different than what I wanted or expected. For the reader, such a title might seem to be a road marker on the wrong road! Still, I often keep it, because it was the place from which I thought I was beginning my journey. Therefore, the connection, while not direct or linear, is important.

In a similar manner, we may begin a journey from a place we don't know so well, or perhaps from a place we don't know as well as we thought we knew it. We keep asking, "is this the right road?" Or we keep asking, "how can I find the right road?" All the while we are taking pictures of the landscape and of each other, but it's important to remember our doubts, our lostness, our wonder, even if that's not the essential purpose of our travels. It is as if we thought we were heading north from Caesaria to go to Rome, yet somehow we ended up in Yavneh outside of Jerusalem. We look around startled, and maybe think, "hey, this isn't where I thought I was going, but it's an interesting place to be." Or maybe we're just disgusted that things turned out so poorly. That night, or a decade later, we look at the pictures we took on the road, and remember our remarkable, or pitiful, “Journey to Rome.”

A journey, which, don't forget, is really a metaphor for writing poetry.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Opening Bouk 4 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Elmallah, the angel of God laments at the transformations he must lead Ertha thru...

Elmallahz Lamment
               A lament in the ancient form

O I hav bin an Aenjel.
"I led my flok well.
"O I wuz wuns a Messijjer.
"My path wuz strait.

"Lamment for me hu touk a wife!
"Let yur thots swerl,
"O bruther hu held my ring.
"Lamment for me hu luvd my wife,
"Wun nite and a thowzend niets.
"O seez, o sands, lamment for me!

"Lamment for me hu krost the see!
"Let yur hart pittee,
"O fother hu gave me kurrij.
"Lamment for me hu left hiz wife,
"Wun day, and a thowzend dayz.
"O Aenjelz, O pepel, lamment for me!

"I lept frum land
"And sed the praerz.
"I went tu Ertha in her nakedness.

"I lept aggen, Uddoni Ekhud*,
               * Transliteration of Hebrew: "The Lord is One,"
"And kawld Ertha frum the edj ov land.
"But now she iz plunjd in the wotter
"And her lips and kerressez ar remoovd frum me!

"Hu am I tu bring such aengwish?
"Hu am I tu test her faeth?
"Hu am I tu brake her idelz
"And kut the tiez tu her chieldhood wayz?

"This iz the werk ov the Aenjel ov Gode.
"It iz I hu maeks the land lamment!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Here’s a colorful excerpt from Bouk 3 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. Concerning my spelling (stevespell) be careful to note differences in spellings, like “dekreez” and “dekrees” as they represent differences in pronunciation. But of course, in stevespell, the borders between words are intended to be fuzzy, and highly superimposed. I am less concerned with historical etymologies than with the tangential etymologies created by what a word looks and sounds like, and by its contextual shadows.

Innonna Prepaerz Herself an Idel

Ritten the storee
Ov my huzbandz demize,
Him hu klaemd immorten knowen
And iz ded and awl hiz tablets ar krak.
     Like powder, like poizen
     Thay blo in the wind,
     And men breeth it
     And choke blud.
Him! Hu wuns made grate dekreez.
Now the pepel ar bent
     With the wate, like oxxen
And awl the land sufferz grate dekrees.

Oenlee this tu tel: wen,
     In my armz he lay
     And he wuz enlarjd,
     Awl the annallogz ov my luv
     Swam in hiz vaenz, awl the goedz
     Shot forth taelz frum thaer mowthz.
     Then I knu wut luv wuz!

Monday, July 17, 2006

     Here's something unusual: a poem in norm- spell!! As an anthem to Israel it falls on the edge of, or even outside of my normal poetry. (My "normal" poetry?? Hmmm...) Anyway, the poem was energized by a remarkable article in Arthur Green's anthology "Jewish Spirituality from the 16th C. Revival to the Present." The article I refer to is "Spiritual and Anti-Spiritual Trends in Zionism" by Ehud Luz. Beyond that, I'm also thinking, given the hatred facing Israel these days, of the "Song of the Partisans" by Hirsh Glik. Different circumstances, surely, but isn't *this* also a time to be writing partisan songs??!!!
     This poem was published online at Eshel: Kumah's Journal of Neo-Zionist Thought, [].

Anthem to the Modern Khaluetzim*
               * Hebrew for “pioneers”
               Dedicated to Ehud Luz

Remember what you're doing, and where you've come from,
You who have made a home on holy ground.
Yours is the era of prophecy's return!
Don't you know you are each Heads of Thousands,
The new Sanhedrin, creating sacred time,
While the nations stand back, disbelieving and confused.
Their time is marked by hours on a face,
Their days by distant and faint calls to prayer.
But every one of you is Priestess and Prophet
Absorbed in the Divine Moment that others only read of.
You are the authors of the newest book of Torah,
Creating it with your biceps and with your other worldly hearing.

     You in the yeshivahs, it is for you to learn:
     There is more to this Earth than your soiled vision of it.
     And you without a rabbi, for you to learn:
     There is more to Heaven than your cloudy vision of it.
     And you on the right, it is for you to learn:
     There is more safety in compassion than in any conquering.
     And you on the left, for you to learn:
     There is more peace in strength than in any treaty.

Why despair that the way is so dangerous and troubled?
Then it would not take giants like you to smooth it.
Remember the Priestess, Rahel, who prophesied:
     “You, Ya'akov, is it impossible to roll
     “The stone away from the mouth of the well?”
And Brenner with a chisel, who carved in stone:
     “You must increase realism and holiness in the world.”

You, khaluetzim, you holy Zion makers
You are the messianic builders of the way.
And as you are arising the nations descend,
Grown smaller in their emptiness and self-despising.
They raise their voices and their pagan souls are heard:
     They are cursing you as their way of cursing God!

You, Israel, you already are rolling
The stone away from the mouth of the well.
The water is sweet and so are your blessings!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bouk 3 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming is a re-writing of a lesser known Sumerian myth – Inana’s descent into the underworld to revive her husband Dumuzi. Her descent parallel’s Elmallah’s descent into human life. The excerpt below is an interlude, in which the perspective has changed from Inana’s and Dumuzi’s to that of the invading barbarians.

The Areyan Kame Down Like a Woolf On the Foeld

We ar the woolvz
Kum down frum the mowntenz.
We ar the men
Hu kareed off yur goedz.

We kame tu devower
The goddess, the hor,
Innonna, the wun huze legz ar spred,
Innonna-Ishtar hu enlivenz the werldz.

Her we kame tu pozzess, tu maree.
Her we plaest uppon the throne.
Her we kareed uppon owr shoelderz.
Innonna, the hor,
The muther divvine.

We loukt up tu Innonna,
     We hu wer lost,
     Hu wer livving in a waest,
Tu her hu iz Wilfull
     Az the liyon
     Az the ass;
Huze miend pennatraets
     Like the wind
     Like the flud;
We saw how unlike she wuz tu us
And koud not take owr eyz frum her boddee.

We saw how unlike she wuz tu us
And we ternd owr harts tu konker.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Stepping away from my historical review, to a poem addressing current events...

Volkeree, Retern!

"O volkeree vois, retern tu me!
"O vois ov the muskee Ertha, retern.
"O vois prowd, o vois unrepenten,
"O volkeree vois, retern tu me."

"Rize up frum owwer unknoen ansest, arrize;
"Kwik ov sharp ejjez, sord and nife;
"Lowd in the charjing ov horsez hoovz.
"Pord like hot oyl, harts karvd in ise."

"Frons, prepare! Ittalya, prepare!
"Shvaden, Espanya, Osterland, prepare!
"Sereya and Libnon, Yemmen, Irron,
"Yu paganz, obesens tu yur volkeree soel!"

"Prepare wuns aggen the infernel offerringz:
"Blud ov oeld ramz, blud ov the kidz;
"Brake the wingz ov the lark and the duv;
"Konsume the Preesthoud with fiyer and klub."

"Hael the unavversiteez, thaer breeden ov hate.
"Hiel the Fillistinneyanz and thaer chield sakraffise."
"Hael the brownshirt and kaffeya waring yewth,
"And hiel the iyatollaz showting 'deth tu em Jewz!'

     In Yerueshalliyimz sinnaggogz the Sajez ar bent
     Over parchmen skroelz, rekording theze events.
     Behiend them, soft chanting, the salmz ov sorro
     And the salmz tu redeemen, the vois ov Yisroyel:

          "6 dekkade sins the paganz ov Ewrope broke owt
          "On the land, a wor aggenst the Preesthoud ov God.
          "The ruwen, thaer shame thay hav kleen forgot,
          "And aggen thay revert tu thaer pagan hart."

          "Unna Uddoniy, hoesheya nuh.
          "Unna Uddoniy, hoesheya nuh.
          "Unna Uddoniy, hutsleekha nuh.
          "Unna Uddoniy, hutsleekha nuh.*"
               * Please God, redeem now.
               Please God, bring success now.
               From Psalm 118

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Continuing with excerpts from The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming.
So Elmallah, a messenger from higher worlds, descends to Ertha. Boy meets girl. Bouk 1 is their first night together. But remember, we’re not talking human time here. Below is the beginning of Bouk 2, and Elmallah is reeling from two new experiences: sex and death...

...Befor owr ferst nite had ended
And Sol had reternd with its glowwer
Tu owr eyz, and its seer
Tu dry up owr remaning pashen;
Befor my deziyer had bin sated,
Deziyer ov wun hu wuz nevver with wouman,
Ov wun hu had nevver felt the fors ov owr Lor
Shudder like a snake devowering an owlet,
Like an owlet being devowerd;
Ov wun hu had nevver befor seen deth.

Befor I had seen the endz ov my luv
And the fewcher chaenjez that I wuz impregnen,
I left Erthaz pallas
Tu pray tu owr Lor
And wen I reternd she wuz gon.

I wil not sing ov separaten.
No, not ov sorro eether!
Let me tel yu how I luvd her,
Tel yu how it wuz between us.
In this way, perhaps, I kan sho yu
Wy it wuz I kame here....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I have produced a number of small illuminated manuscripts of my poetry. Here is a rough sketch and a more finished drawing for the cover of a series of poems named Elegies in Nance.

Moving forward in time from In the Harvest ov Nations, in the mid-80's I began the poem that ultimately took on the name The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. It is composed in 6 books. The first three are narrative in a fairly classic sense of a continuous story. The excerpt below is from early in Bouk 1.

...In the rizing Sol
Her feecherz touk shape:
     Dark hare kurrelling
     Over her sholderz
     Az she skwatted
     Beside the remnants ov a fiyer.
     Her dert-streekt armz
     Klaspt arrownd her neez.
     The hare between her legz,
          (Thare ware my gaze kontinnewlee ternd).
     She woching my eyz,
     Her expressen kalm, unchaenjing....

...But arrownd her klay silluwet:
     A korrona, like the Sol in eeklips....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Part 2 of a Docent's tour of my poetry.

From 1982 to 1986 I worked on a long mythic poem that remains largely unexcavated from my notebooks. It morphed into The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, a poem in six books. This is a historical poem, in a manner of speaking. It is the story of a Divine Messenger (Elmallah) who is sent to Ertha to spiritualize her. Each book is a particular historical moment. Book 1 is Elmallah's first impression. Book 2 is a prehistoric panorama. In Book 3 Elmallah takes the form of Dumuzi, of Sumerian myth. He is the husband/worshipper of the goddess Innana. I have rewritten that myth, holding closely to the original narrative, but giving it a new intention. Book 4 is set in Constantinople, as a retelling of the story of Justinian and Theodora, rulers of Byzantium at its pinnacle. From my extended stays in Istanbul I gleaned the detailed backdrops for many of the scenes in this book. In Book 5 I move to medieval France and the remarkable story of Heloise and Abalard. It is a very cinematographic retelling of their history, the penultimate scene in Elmallah's awakening of Ertha. Finally Book 6 is set in the Shoah (the Holocaust). A female "disciple" of Kalonimus Kalman, the great sage and rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto, escapes from the nazi death grip to carry a Torah scroll to Palestine. This book is still incomplete and must be read in its rough copy version (a formidable task, I daresay). And this brings us to the current state of Elmallah's awakening of the human Soul. This long poem is a richly textured and visual historical-spiritual journey. I have reread it many times, and yet it still astonishes me. I often wonder if I was the author, or merely the stenographer.

With Ammung the Ruwenz ov the Tempel, I Herd... my poetry takes on, not just a Jewish flavor, but a devotedly Jewish voice. It is a collection of gleanings from the corners of fields that have been planted and harvested by my many teachers. In these times, the sages harvest in such abundance, that even gleaners like me come away with visionary wisdom. You will hear the songs and prayers and revelations of a profound Jewish renewal that is reshaping the world, in spite of everything. These poems have no overt narrative connecting them as a single story. The narrative instead stands as backdrop: the Shoah (Holocaust), the restoration of Israel, and the Divine subtext that drives all history.

In 1972 I had a moment of clarity and wrote, "What is spirit to the flesh is flesh to the spirit." I didn't understand that aphorism until ten years later, after watching my perspective move in a slow sweep from the physical and linear towards the spiritual and analogic. Another 25 years later, and now I see that this movement has become the defining feature of my poetic development. My focal point has moved progressively to more rarified levels of consciousness. In the Harvest ov Nations is grounded in a personal and psychological perspective. I wrote The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming over a 15+ year period. I began it more or less on the same plane as Harvest, with a fairly linear and continuous narrative. But by Book 3, the Innana story, the narrative began to fragment, as the focal point oscillated between the human and transmigrant (a phrase I'm coining here to convey a very literal transpersonal state). That became the dominant mode for the rest of Elmallahz Kumming. With the poem Ammung the Ruwenz ov the Tempel, I Herd... physical reality faded into a metaphor for higher states, including the transmigrant and the Prophetic (in which one approaches the Divine Imperative). In the poem I am currently composing (which is not yet available to read), the dream state is the closest I come to the physical world.
A docent’s tour of my poetry, Part 1
I sent the following out to a few friends in Dec, 2002, so imagine it’s a cold winter night...
Deer Wunz,

Writing has a certain archaeological component to it. If you're like me -- somewhere between a caveman and a computer nerd -- insisting on partaking of the sensuality of writing, you always face the archaeological task of recovering your writings from notebooks (or the occasional paper napkin, scrap of paper, or inside of some book cover). The historical ages are piling up over my recent writing, and alas, I have withheld from you the deep pleasures of piecing together my shards and broken words.

In consideration of that, I thought you might like to read this retrospective, really a little help file for the uninitiated who wander into my website. It might provide a context for the strange things that I occasionally intrude you with (I doubt you'll find that usage in the OED). So, settle back with your sauterne or your port, and a fire crackling in the old wood stove, and mosey down a crooked path.

May the new year bring you all the good things you hope for, and none of the troubled things you hope for.

Where to begin with my writing?

The texts available on my website,, span over 25 years of writing. They document the long evolution of my thinking. I would guess that the earlier pieces are more accessible than the later poetry, since my poetry was visioned step by step, with each succeeding piece built on earlier concepts and explorations.

Ottoman Beachcombings is a prose work, easy to read. It is a travelogue of my live adventures, beginning in the former Yugoslavia, and proceeding around the eastern Mediterranean. Mostly, it describes scenes far from the beaten tourist paths, at a time (the early 1980's) when travel in this region was safe, easy, and cheap. I was in high spirits on this five month trip, and my tales are told with wide eyes and many a grin.

The only other prose writing in the Shivvetee Reading Room is a slightly more challenging piece. My wife and I spent two months in Turkey in 1977. She was doing groundwork for her graduate degree in Islamic Art History, and I was her mostly-fearless travel guide, and occasional nemesis. In 1977 Turkey was still off the edge of the world for most Western travelers. Like the Bible-belt of the US, the interior of Turkey was, and is, deeply devout, but of course, it is Muslim, not Christian. I had never really come across religious fundamentalism before, so what I found in Turkey was fascinating, but hard to understand. My story, A Pilgrimmage to Mecca is an attempt to explore the issues of faith, experience, and scepticism, without committing to any position. It is written in a style I would liken to Gerard de Nerval's: lush and personal. I have deeply religious friends who have criticized the piece for falling clearly to the sceptic's side. Other friends, who are rationalists, have criticized it for falling clearly to the religious side. From that I have concluded that I have done my job well. I believe it's a memorable story.

For the fearless, my poetry is meant to take you on a journey that will reshape your world-view. It is not light reading, but I certainly hope it is not oppressive or ponderous either. My early teachers and guides were Shelley, Blake, Milton, Nietzsche, and the Prophetic Writings of the Hebrew Bible. I have learned from, and loved Greek and Sumerian literature, and Dante, as well. Further down the road I found new life and awe in the writings of Chaim Bialik, John Neihardt and Fred Turner. As for Pound and Eliot, may they rot in oblivion.

In the Harvest ov Nations is a narrative poem in three books, about a nuclear war and the building of a new society. Book One is named Old Wirld; Book Two is Passij; and Book Three is Nu Wirld. As you can see from these subtitles, I have already embarked on my journey of transforming English (for more on that subject, see my little essay, "Wy I Rite So Funnee"). I confess with some happiness, that upon preparing this poem for the Shivvetee Reading Room, I reread it for the first time in many years, and it brought me great pleasure and amazement. I hope it does the same for you.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Here are 2 excerpts from Book 3 of In the Harvest ov Nations, panoramas of the Nu Wirld, its beauty and resurgent life. They will be the last excerpts from this poem, at least for a while. My next posts will be from a poem in 6 books, The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming.

Book 3: Nu Wirld

Our fothers lernd Erthas trust, and our muthers
Her lov az thay made assent tu the Mouth.
This outcast tribe, wunse straggling and motly,
Strode with purpos thru the chartless wood.

Wen thay reechd the Mouth ov the Serpent, thair mines
Swum in the dizzying hites and the vista
Ov sno-peekd mountens and steep verdent vallys
And pristene stillness. Thay forgot Old Wirld.

Thus the Life that we kno so well
Began. A lifetime ago Shaliyim
Waz dreem; and now thoze pryor ajes
Ar all forgot, save the Terrer and Oath.

Immajjin a forrest ware no sound iz herd
But human sounds; no birds twittering,
No small creeturs russling, no crickets chirping,
No mating calls; mankine so feerd.

Immajjin the rugged and deseptiv terrain,
The tangel and brambel and impassabel marsh,
The cleff-trails that fall off a thouzend feet,
Or the ded-end canyens and passes. Then compare.

We now liv neer Eldern, we liv with Hope
Tho our lives ar tennuous and our labers hard.
In Erthas compassion, at peese with all creeturs,
In expansiv spases, our Life iz glad.

Book 3: Nu Wirld, excerpt 2

Further on, Diahmels Clan strew out
Like a handfull ov seed az our famly crossd
Thair rejens, pennetrating deeper the verjen
Lands, our wife, our muther, our childe.

We kno thair lands, thair mines in Erthas
Mines, by the underground houses, dug
In north fasing slopes, with that wall tilted
And projekting tu abzorb the rays ov Sol.

Ammathist, mettallek sheening sheets
Ov glass glint in the terrassd contors
Ov the slopes, dazzelling the travveler. Thay gather
Thair glass ware sands wer melted by the Fire.

Wen our parents first discovverd thoze endless
Foothills, yung goats frollickd, hares
And rens teemd, feerless ov mankine.
The innosent vallys dident care ov our past.

Years and ajes befor, a killer,
A rapist stalkd in Ertha, in boddys
And mines littel difrent than ours. Now the beest
Lay qwyet and the forgivving land lay open.
Continuing from my first post, this is an excerpt from Book 2 of In the Harvest ov Nations. One of the survivors of a nuclear war, now wandering with a "tribe" of other survivors, tells this story of a misadventure of his. It is written in a Black-bluesy dialect, as a traditional ballad.

Book 2: Passaj

Way down in the vally, wut did I see?
But an old time sitty lookin down at me.
An thare waz bildings tall az mountens,
Houzes strung like hills
An nobuddy wokkin in that plase
But a debbel lookin for thrills.
    An nobuddy wokkin in that plase
    But a debbel lookin for thrills.

Me, I started runnin thru allys and avvenus
Throwin rocks and swarin an belloin like a moos.
I waz lookin for gold and jewwels
An sum hunny tu lay her down.
How did a raskal fool az me
Evver escape from that town?
    How did a raskal fool az me
    Evver escape from that town?

Then the debbel wisperd: "Yur my man!" he sed.
I figgurd he'd give me powwers, or maybe take my hed!
My hart, she waz a-thumpin,
But that boy, he dissappeerd
An the plase waz filld with peepel,
An me, I held thair Spere!
    The plase waz filld with peepel
    An I held the only Spere!

Why did a fool raskal get that awfull Spere?
Wichevver way Ide poin it, crowds would shout: "Not heer!"
I thru it down in anger,
And all them fantems fell.
My hart thumd loud az a drumbeat
Az I hytaild outa hell.
    Yeah, my hart bangd loud az a drumbeet
    Az I beet it outa hell.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I guess I'll begin with some writing from ancient days, the early 80's, actually. This is the opening scene of a long narrative poem entitled In the Harvest of Nations. It will give you a taste of the early phases of my ongoing experiments with language, as well as one of my primary themes, personal transformation.

Book 1: Old Wirld

So! Three jenneratens hav shed thair Life
And Ertha ar frutefull and our Lord ar omniprezent
And now our Mater, whu hold us in her buzzems
Giv us strenth and sines and poten Knowen
Tu rekord the Wirlds ending and a nu Beginning.

We whu stammer in fase ov cold oblivvion,
Whu trembel contrite at edj ov extinktion,
Whu adhere tu nu Commands in holyest gladness,
Huze Law iz our Faters, incompletely understood
But givven tu our elders, a mersyfull exchanj for Life.

My fothers, fothers, fother stood az witness
Tu blinding Lite and oblitteraten ov cultur;
Tu the unconditional end ov childes misdirected,
Ov erring and evel ways that assended unrestraind,
Swiftly and inevvitably stricken from this Sakred Home.

Befor this time ov Life from ignorense awaked,
Befor our Boddys held the propper ballense
And Life seemd not directed tord Perfecten Knowen
But rather swayd in tides ov annima emoten,
Then Erthas Wume like furnas burnd in birth throes....

...Inspire yur childes, Fater ov fothers! O Mater
Nurtur yur dellikat wuns with compassionat gidense,
That this Book rekord the end ov wirlds and Beginning
Ov we whu dwell in rugged mountens, and vallys
Steep and fertil and safe from khaos and despair. Diktate!