(The Science of Eating)

giselle 101415a



A second - resize 300xs we lay down my poor convalescent Magge onto a soft bed in the Monastery Infirmary we hear a bell ring thrice.  The young Acolyte Quattuor speaks, saying, ~ It is time to eat! ~

        The senior Acolyte Tredecim amends on behalf of Quattuor, Duae, and Sedecim, saying, ~ It is time to dine.  Your Highness, if you please to follow us. ~

        I am lead across the courtyard toward the largest structure of the Monastery.  Tredecim speaks, saying, ~ This Monastery was once the garrison of a Roman Legion.  This structure was the residence of the Roman General. ~

        We enter the dining hall.  Four long tables are arranged in a great cross.  On one side of the shaft of this great cross Our Guard stands facing the Ladies~In~Waiting who stand across the table on the other side.  Farther up beyond them, at the arms of the great cross stand twelve of the thirteen Incorruptibles, six at each arm, facing me.  At the apex of the great cross is an eating place reserved with a crown of woven roses, but no one stands there.  I am to be seated at the nearby base of this great cross, as the Royal Foundation.  Hovering in a halo about us all are the young Acolytes.

        The Thirteenth Monk speaks ceremoniously, saying, ~ Your Highness and Beloved Guests, I am the Servant Brother Timothée.  Our Servant Brother Benoît has been chosen to fast for this meal and to pray throughout in the name of Humanité. ~

        I point before me to the far apex of the great cross of tables, saying ~ Is that Brother Benoît’s vacant setting across from me? ~

               Servant Brother Timothée speaks in reply, saying, ~ Your Highness, that seat is always reserved for The Savior.  And one of us thirteen fasts at every meal, so there is no need for our thirteenth setting, ever.  Please, all, be seated. ~

          I am amused that we all dine together.  I know the minds of my Wedding Entourage and they too wonder why there are not mounds of food placed upon our tables, only chalices of water.

          But the young Acolytes are busy conveying to each of us a plank of bread with a slice of fowl upon it that is bathed in a golden liquid and accompanied by herbs.  There is a small ladle and a small trident placed beside each of us.  My eyes are ebullient with this artful vision framed in bread.  The aroma entices my nose like a perfume.

          Alaire of Our Guard gazes into his chalice of water, saying, ~ When does this change to wine? ~

          Lothaire of Our Guard attempts to pluck with his fingers the slice of fowl, saying, ~ Do we fast along with Brother Benoît? ~

          Devereux of Our Guard looks to his comrades and mutters, saying, ~ Is this fowl or is this what the fowl shits? ~

          The Ladies~in~Waiting suppress their giggling.  All the Monks lower their eyes silently except Servant Brother Timothée whose expression to me says, ~ What can I expect from savage children? ~

          Chagrined I rise and glare at Etienne the Captain of Our Guard, saying, ~ Do your men prefer a trough, Captain? ~

          A Monk rises at the heated words, saying, ~ Your Highness, I am Servant Brother Affranchi.  I am responsible for the nourishment here.  There are several varied servings to follow in sequence for this repast.  It is surely unlike the dining to which you are accustomed.

          I hear but ignore as Lothaire of Our Guard whispers, saying, ~ Does he mean the dining where actual sustenance is presented? ~

          Servant Brother Affranchi continues, saying, ~ I was rude not to preface this meal with my Science De Gueule, the science of eating. ~

          Servant Brother Timothée smiles with the other Monks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi insists that this is a matter of philosophy. ~

          I reply quickly, gesturing and saying, ~ Thus far, against this vision and against this aroma I cannot dispute.  Please continue, Servant Brother Affranchi. ~

          And so, in deep and serious countenance, Servant Brother Affranchi decants for us rules governing sauces and spices and philosophizes on the aesthetics of nourishment.  I find myself enchanted with these subtleties.

          Etienne the Captain of Our Guard notices my trance and speaks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi speaks with grandiloquence as if he describes the government of a kingdom. ~

          I reply to Etienne, saying, ~ And he has given to me, a Daughter of the Undisputed King of France, food for thought. ~






<for previous chapters, search “whisper” on my blog>

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139O0272C Beauty on the Shore 30x40



        Ah, yes, hello. Miss Duman? I am very pleased to meet you, Miss Duman. “Jiniri”? Oh, of course, certainly. “Jiniri”, that is a lovely name. Jiniri, I am “Sahel”.

        Jiniri, you say you are Arabian. You say your father was a scholar of Arabian mythology. He used to tell you when you were a child that he named you Jiniri because the Jinn themselves appeared to him and your mother, holding you as a baby. Yes, the Jinn, I know. There are three sapient creations of God: the Angels, the Humans, and the Jinn. But only Humans and Jinn have free will to disobey God. Shayṭān, Satan was not a “fallen angel”. Satan was a Jinn according to the Qur’an. And your father and your mother would tell you that this Jinn begged them to raise you. A charming story to tell a little girl, yes.

        My father was a watchmaker in Tehran. When I was a young child I used to think that my father was creating time, actually creating time. He let me believe that. You can see that in my heart I am a poet, not a business man.

        Jiniri, you insist to me that you are a refugee? An exile?

        Oh, how darkly beautiful you are, as precious oiled wood of color and scent, walnut skin, starless-night hair, veiled honey-golden eyes that dance for my head, yet, if I can keep my head, I can notice… the fractured galaxies in your eyes. The smokeless scorching fire.

        Oh, nothing, I am listening, go ahead, I apologize.

        Jiniri, you are telling me that you used to be a reporter for Al Arabiya television?

        Are you serious? Amazing. That is amazing!

        You insist you were forced to leave after reporting that the Arab countries had all failed miserably to offer either democracy or economic well-being?

        I am sorry. I do not mean to pry. But just how did you come to work in the United States in this special-needs day-care center?

        Really? How, how… prophetic, if that is the word. You had done a series of reports for Al Arabiya television about physical and mental disabilities in the Middle East.

        Yes, you never see people with disabilities there. Yes, that is heart-breaking. It is true. To this day, physical and mental disabilities are viewed as stigmas there. But do you see hope?

        Oh, my God, you don’t say. One in 160 children is diagnosed with autism in Saudi Arabia alone? You were the only one reporting about autism centers around the Middle East and the young lives affected by the disorder?

        Where do I work? My hands work in the store of my cousin, Mehdi, the store called Party City. In my heart I am a poet, as I have said, and… Yes, I said “Party City”. Costumes, party hosting, like that. I must tell you that sometimes I can make extra money as a clown at children’s parties. In fact, in my Sufism religious studies… What? Yes, I do make some small money writing poetry, yes. No, I am not practical, no, I am surely not. My wife was practical. That is why she left me. She left me because of me, yes, because I am not practical. No, she did not leave because of our little twin daughters here, Sufia and Suja.

        When my wife and I were told that Sufia and Suja are autistic, well, you can imagine. My poor wife, Ziba, she could not imagine that it was not a curse put upon us. I prefer to believe that Sufia and Suja are pure and they cannot look at this world so they stare together into the next world beyond. If I can think of it that way it is really quite extraordinary. And practical.

        Ziba left them with me, yes, she left them, she left us.

        Jiniri, you now say “hi” to Sufia and Suja. You now turn your head to get them to look directly at you but their gazes slide away as if you are merely a fleeting mirage to them.

        Yes, that can be unsettling. No matter how you position yourself it seems like they are not looking at you but looking at something beyond you.

        Jiniri, you now watch Sufia and Suja wander off together toward the toy piano. Sufia sits on the carpet in front of the toy piano and she begins to finger an achingly beautiful harmony, of unearthly tonality, yet alive, organic. Suja begins to sing an accompanying melody, using words that she appears to invent.

        I agree. It is amazing. Yes, this is why I prefer to believe that Sufia and Suja are pure and they just cannot acknowledge this world, and so they yearn together into the next world beyond. Together. They are like waves chasing a shore.

        I don’t want to leave but I must go to work.

        Jiniri, I must be going to work but it was very nice to meet you. I will be back here by six o’clock to pick-up Sufia and Suja. I want to say to you, welcome here. I mean, to this country. I am sure that things will go your way.

        Shades of doubt, shapes of hope, I pray that it may be my way also.

        My insides have liquefied with sorrow from the end of my marriage. I have liquefied inside like a fly full of spider’s venom. I have become a toxic flux of anger and that is what inflates my form. If not for my cousin Mehdi’s weekly Sufism study group I do not imagine what would have happened to me by now, I just don’t.

        At work I write a poem to you, Jiniri:


You become the blood of my heart.

Shades of doubt, shapes of hope,

You might be the angel of my death

Yet I embrace you.







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(Tail 1)


        Xing is a Fire Monkey.

        In his cave upon the Earth,

Xing reads the Oracle Bones

He divines by fire.

        Xing has inscribed the symbols of his question

into an Oracle Bone.

        Into the pits of his inscriptions

on the Oracle Bone

Xing touches drops of molten gold.

        The Oracle Bone cracks repeatedly

from the intense heat.

        Xing the Fire Monkey studies the pattern

of the cracks

formed upon the Oracle Bone.

        The patterns create pictograms. He pronounces

the pictograms as they inspire him.

        Xing’s pronouncements verify

a terrible divination.

        A young girl human will destroy

the order of Heaven.

        At this time in Heaven there are many gods.

Yet humans struggle in a harsh world


beset with Monsters.

        Heaven itself is beset with Demons.

Xing is the commander

of the Zodiac Army

which defends Heaven against


        Xing has taken pity on humans before.

He himself has given them fire

to accompany them.

Yet, if a human is going to destroy

the order of Heaven,

what can hold the world together?

        Xing prepares the next Oracle Bone

for his next question

He suddenly hears a scream from without his cave.

        He arises and faces the entrance of his cave.

A young girl dashes inside into the darkness

crying for help to no one she can see.

        Behind the young girl Xing sees a Monster

lurching in pursuit.

Xing barks at the Monster, “Yāo Guài!

You dare to enter my cave?!”

        Yāo Guài the Monster halts and growls at Xing.

Yāo Guài curses, “Gāisǐ de nǐ (shit, damn it), Xing.

You want to eat the human yourself! She is mine!

I have pursued her all this way up from

her stinking village.”

        Xing bares his teeth, growling back,

“And if I want to eat her I shall and

if you are lucky

I might thank you for bringing me a gift.”

Xing’s eyes began to glow red.

        Yāo Guài the Monster is silent.

Then he spits foully.

He turns and lumbers

back down the mountainside.

        Xing turns to the young girl.

She now stands against the far wall of the cave.

She holds aloft one of his Oracle Bones

and shakes it menacingly, saying,

“Before you eat me you will eat this sharp bone!”

        Xing laughs

and then he realizes

the young girl holds aloft

the Oracle Bone which confirmed the divination

of the fall of Heaven.

        Xing then says politely,

“I am Xing (‘Star’).

What is the name of this young girl who holds the

fate of Heaven in her fist?”

        The young girl studies Xing suspiciously.

Then she says bravely, “I am Yu (‘Jade’) and

my village is coming for me!”

        Xing has wisdom and he says,

“You are a worthless orphan and

no one will come for you.

Perhaps they gave you to Yāo Guài the Monster

as an offering.”

        The eyes of Yu turn red with tears

but she does not shed them.

She shows her clenched teeth and growls,

“I am Yu.

My survival is my worth. I don’t need

village or Heaven!”

        Xing laughs, “Who is without village or Heaven?

Yāo Guài the Monster?

But even Yāo Guài the Monster preys on villages

and prays to Heaven.

What does that make of Yu?”

        Yu appears to go into a trance and

She recites

the words that a man in her village had spoken

to her,

a man who was kind

to her,

a man named Kong Fu Zi,

The wise have likened Yu (Jade) to virtue.

For them, its polish and brilliancy represent

the whole of purity;

its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent

the sureness of intelligence;

its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp,

represent justice;

the pure and prolonged sound,

which it gives forth when one strikes it,

represents music.

Its color

represents loyalty;

its interior flaws, always showing themselves

through the transparency,

call to mind sincerity;

its iridescent brightness

represents heaven;

its admirable substance,

born of mountain and of water,

represents the earth.”

        Xing the Fire Monkey then grins with mischief,

“Yu has a very exalted opinion

of herself

for a ‘worthless orphan girl’,

do you agree?”

Yu retorts boldly,

“I have never known a Star (‘Xing’)

that lives in a cave.”







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