“Death is nothing at all … Nothing is past, nothing is lost

One brief moment and all will be as it was before

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”

 – English theologian Henry Scott Holland


        I am Judice.  It is a golden morning.  The upper-desert breeze is cool on my face and it whispers in my ear.  I hear a bird singing.  I take a deep breath.  Sitting so still is hard.  But I can see why those hairy guru weirdos like it.  You can see things you never noticed.  The desert is so delicate and sharp.

        Here he comes.  At this distance he looks like a bouncing ball!  He is golden with shades of grey like the morning desert all around him.  How funny.  He’s bouncing on all fours like a cartoon coyote.  He’s glancing left and right like he’s saying good morning to other desert critters.  He’s still coming towards us.  I hear the bird singing.

        Jacey told my mom and dad that coyote skins are going for about $30.  This coyote is young, big and healthy.  He should be worth even more.

        The coyote suddenly stops and seems to be staring in our direction.

        Coyotes are very keen on noise and movement and they have great noses.


        I hold my breath.  I hear the bird singing and it sounds too loud.  But the coyote decides to continue in our general direction at an angle far to our right.  I bite my lip to keep from snickering because he is so funny as he bounces on all fours, la-dee-dah.  But I keep my eye and my rifle as one and the same.

        Jacey blows softly on a little closed-reed coyote caller, making a sound like a jackrabbit in distress.  We all keep rabbits to eat.  I remember how surprised I was when I found out they scream.

        The coyote stops again and stares in our direction.  He is face-on towards me.

        “Now,” whispers Jacey, the word barely rising above the cool desert breeze in my ear.

        My rifle sounds like a door slamming in that peaceful desert.  I smell a sweet savor.  I see a mist of blood burst from the coyote’s right shoulder under his chin.  He drops on his side and rolls onto his back.  It isn’t like in the movies.  No dramatic staggering.  It’s like he was snatched down by the earth to witness the sky.  His head rolls from side to side in slow motion.  I suddenly imagine that I can hear him thinking, “Oh, my God, what happened to me?”

        There are several reasons for hunting coyote.  If you enjoy hunting it allows off-season hunts… they are a nuisance in some areas

        Coyotes seem to become more active right before a storm front moves in.

        Jacey hugs my shoulders and kisses my chin as we get up and go over to the coyote, “I love you, Judice.  Jesus loves you.”

        The Christian Harvest Outdoor Ministries offers fully guided hunts in a delightful Christian atmosphere.

        Jacey is the Student Ministry Team Leader.  Jacey would have to be impressed with this kill.  I really like her.  This has done it, I can tell.  She was saved at the age of ten, but I want Jacey to like me as more than just another Self-Confrontation Disciple.  I want to be special.  This coyote showed her I can do it.

God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

        Jacey is looking down at the coyote’s final volitions.  The cool desert breeze pets the coyote’s fur.  It is a fine kill.  The coyote’s fur is truly golden with shades of grey.  And Jacey never looked so beautiful.  The golden morning, the sweet silence, the perfect kill: This moment is so perfect for us.  I just want to kiss her skin.

        I embrace Jacey and she pretends to be startled.  I kiss her chin.  I try to kiss her mouth.  She pretends to push away.  I hold her dearly.

        Jacey cries, “Stop it, Judice!  What are you thinking?”

        Jacey struggles backwards, staring wide-eyed into my face.

        Jacey cries, “For God’s sake, what is wrong with you?  For the love of Jesus, are you a God damned lesbian?  Leave me ALONE!” and Jacey forcefully renounces my embrace.  Her face is now red-veined meat contorted in revulsion.

        I cry, “Jacey, what?  You don’t hate me!  We love each other!  You said so!” but Jacey covers her mouth with both hands and whips her head side to side, denying me.  Denying everything I offer her.  Everything.

        What have I done?  “Oh, God,” I gag as fall to my knees.  Why are you forsaking me, Jacey?  I am crying, “Why are you doing this, Jacey?!”  Oh, God, oh, God, here comes pain.  Such pain!  I am crying.  I am going to vomit.

        Jacey is slowly backing up, abandoning me.  Jacey doesn’t care.  I hiss breathlessly in pain, “Don’t you care at all?”

        I pick-up my rifle, rising onto one knee, “If I can’t have you…”, now what am I going to do?!  I scream, “What am I supposed to do?!”

        I aim the rifle at her, the barrel is shaking, my eyes are burning.  Jacey raises her hands and clasps them in front of her face as she backs up.  Suddenly, she falls down backwards and then turns over and scrabbles away on her hands and knees screaming, “Help me, Jesus!”

        I glance down at the coyote as he gazes so peacefully into eternity.  I turn my rifle, taking the muzzle with my left hand and I hold it into my right eye pressing it against the skin of my closed eyelid.

        With my right thumb on the trigger I vow my final volition, “ ”






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04 daddy's doll house - crop1



        I am Melissa.

        I am this many years old.

        Today is Daddy’s Day.

        I made my Daddy this doll house just for him.

        My Daddy is sad.

        My Mommy is at the hopstable.

        Daddy says that Mommy is talking with the Angels.

        Daddy says Mommy might go to live with them.

        I don’t want Mommy to go live with the Angels.

        I asked Daddy if the Angels can live with us.

        My Daddy cried.

        He said an Angel already lives with us and he kissed me.

        But I made Daddy’s Doll House so the Angels can live in it.

        Then they can talk to Mommy every day.

        My Mommy and my Daddy used to play with my doll house on my bed with me.

        Now just my Daddy plays with me.

        But he doesn’t play very long.

        My Daddy gets tired and he sleeps on the floor right there by my bed.

        When it is dark I hear my Daddy whisper to the Angels.

        He says, “Please.  Please.”

        I don’t hear the Angels.

        See Daddy’s Doll House?

        This is the Mommy and she is up in the room where we can’t go and she can talk to the Angels.

        This is the Daddy and he is in the kitchen.

        This is me.

        This Daddy is making me cereal.

        He is talking on his phone.

        The Grandma wants to come.

        This Grandma is the Mommy’s Mommy.

        The Daddy says he won’t go to work until the Mommy is finished talking to the Angels.

        Then the Grandpa says he is coming too.

        The Grandma wants to talk to me.

        She just says, Melissa, Melissa.

        So I just say, “I am making a house for the Angels so Mommy can stay here.”

        But she is crying and she just says, Melissa, Melissa.

        This Daddy is so sad.

        He misses the Mommy.

        He is down on the floor and he is looking.

        And now he says, Where is God?

        He can’t find the God.

        Get up, sad Daddy.

        This Grandma tells him, God is not in the dust.

        Do you want to play, too?

        You can be the God, OK?

        You can say, I am right here, sad Daddy, OK?


        My Daddy is shouting.

        He is talking on his phone.

        Grandma is shouting.

        Grandpa is shouting.

        My Daddy is leaving!

        Wait, Daddy, wait!

        My Grandma is calling me to come, hurry.

        I need to go now.

        Bye, Jesus.






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08 twilight in paris - crop1


          By the April of this year Anno Domini 937 it has already been a long season of drought unpromising to the village of Paris.  The Seine River has disavowed the Island of the Village, which is the archaic appellation of the Île de la Cité, and now it travels furtively past in veins of sandy banks.

          Twilight has come for this day ending.  Sister Alyssa emerges from the Couvent du Vaisseau Saint convent, crossing from that tomb of angels on toward the tumult of men.  The nascent evening cooking fires are redeeming the pungent exhale of the village.  Sister Alyssa walks carefully and gently as if balancing herself traversing that village of Paris and then she passes on down toward the desolation of the Seine River.

          She touches the crucifix of lead suspended upon the hide strip around her neck.  Sister Alyssa wears the habit of un-dyed lamb’s wool.  She carries a small sack woven of rough cloth.  Turning in the twilight she looks back toward the convent.  Seeing no one, Sister Alyssa removes her coif to free her roughly shorn hair and then turns her face away from the convent once again.  She now steps with intent toward the block of marble uncovered by the receding Seine near the edge of one small channel.

          This block of marble is the remains of a Roman altar, as she has deduced during the previous evening pursuant the few archaic Latin figures exposed and eroding, “Romulus et Remus.”  She seats herself upon those pagan remains and gazes upstream toward the forests of the Langres plateau, the dark womb of the Seine River.

          Sister Alyssa is petite but her mind is grande.  Flowing back to her youthful decision to become a nun, she remembers the suppliant men.  She could never have given her mind in slavery to any such rough husband.  But by that inability she was then left with only one other destiny in her humble and poor life: she married the Church to have protection and some solace.  But the Church has proven to be a rough husband.  Within the convent is the hierarchy ruled by women from the wealthy families.  And the knowledge provided is carefully sieved by the Church hierarchy.  It has become a distasteful diet to Sister Alyssa.

          She places the rough cloth sack upon her lap and unfolds it.  Thereupon are a small loaf of bread and a portion of roasted lamb tongue.  It is because of the drought that the villagers are sacrificing their starving livestock in an ongoing pyrrhic festival and donating portions to the convent.

          Sister Alyssa pinches a piece of the bread and purses her mouth and thinks without thinking, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  She peals a strip of lamb tongue, “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.”

          Chewing the lamb tongue, Sister Alyssa finally thinks, “I thirst”.  She arises, turning to set her repast upon the ruined altar.  She then approaches the water.  She lowers herself to both knees and bows onto her hands, closing her eyes for to sip, thinking, “The living water,” as her dangling crucifix dips unnoticed into the gentle vortex.

          Still on her hands and knees she slowly opens her eyes and contentedly raises her head, when suddenly she utters, “But what is that?”, having spied a four-legged silhouette far up the sandy shore.  She thinks without thinking, “A dog joins me.”

          Out of the approaching silhouette now emerge two liquid yellow eyes that fix upon her.  Sister Alyssa sits back stricken by a bolt of fear and clutches her damp dangling crucifix.

          It is a black wolf.

          Sister Alyssa’s mind observes through a frost of fear that the black wolf is thin and its coat is disheveled with hunger and thirst.  It has followed the river down from the forest in desperation.

          The relentless stare of those yellow eyes is suddenly averted and the wolf turns toward the water and bows to lap greedily at the water.  His long fangs gleam under his curling lip.  Sister Alyssa thaws her fear enough to rise cautiously and she steps backwards toward the exposed ruins of the pagan altar.  She realizes now that she is clutching her dangling crucifix with one hand and a river stone with the other and her lips are fluttering in prayer.

          The wolf has slaked the thirst but not the hunger and he lifts his head back toward Sister Alyssa.  His lutescent gaze presses into her eyes as he approaches.  She believes that she actually can feel his animal desires.  With another jolt of fear she has the sensation of, of…surrender!  Her mind is crying out for panic but she stands.  She releases the river stone and then feels behind herself for the roasted lamb tongue.  Touching upon the lamb’s tongue her fingers embrace it and her arm casts it toward the black wolf.

          The wolf reacts with a frighteningly sanguinary skill and captures the lamb’s tongue in its jaws.  With three chomps he has swallowed the offering.  Sister Alyssa imagines that she can feel that carnivorous lust, hot, wet and like a dagger penetrating her own flesh.  She wanes faint.

          But the wolf abruptly turns back to the darkness up the river and departs.  Sister Alyssa cannot see the motion of his silhouette any longer when suddenly the candles of those two yellow eyes alight back toward her one last time.  After that she can no longer feel his presence at all.  She closes her eyes as her fear shudders away.

          Sister Alyssa replaces her coif and returns through the living darkness, proceeding up the bank toward her convent.  A man’s voice calls to her and she turns.  It is the young Reynard, on sentry duty for the Paris marshalcy.  Sister Alyssa sees him as lofty and sinewy for a moment before she sacrifices forbidden perceptions.

          Reynard speaks, “Sister, it is not safe to be down at the river in darkness.”

          Alyssa answers, “Yes.  You have told me before, jeune homme,” and she smiles.

          Reynard smiles briefly and then puts back his professional façade of gravity, sternly saying, “Even a nun is not safe, Alyssa… Sister Alyssa.”

          Alyssa juts her chin in mock defiance, “Sinner, do you not believe that the Lord will protect me?”

          Reynard responds, “Sister Alyssa, I believe that we must carry Providence upon our own shoulders.  But I am not much of a theologian…”

          Sister Alyssa laughs involuntarily and touches Reynard’s elbow, “God’s Witness, Ma Dame Berthildis says the same of me.”

          Reynard nods, “I shall accompany you to the parvis of Couvent du Vaisseau Saint.”

          They walk slower than necessary together and Sister Alyssa thinks of the suppliant young men she once deflected.  Arriving at the convent Reynard bows to her and then he continues jauntily on his patrol of the village.

          Entering the candlelit parvis Sister Alyssa is startled to encounter Sister Superior Ma Dame Berthildis. Sister Alyssa bows and then trembles with an unrealized guilt.

          Ma Dame Berthildis narrows her eyes, “Where have you been this evening, Sister Alyssa?  And why are you blushing?”

          Sister Alyssa speaks quickly, “Ma Dame Berthildis, I took my supper near the river so that I might pray for an end to this terrible drought.  And a walk in the evening air can be invigorating.”

          Ma Dame Berthildis says ominously, “Many things out in that sinful world can be invigorating, Sister Alyssa.  Do not be concerned with appeasing your flesh.  As for this drought, it is certainly God’s judgment upon Paris.  Therefore be certain that you pray instead for your Compréhension, my dear, dear Sister Alyssa.  And in so doing, ma novice impudent, leave to me and the other Sister Superiors the salvation of Paris.  Sister Alyssa, know this also: I have been watching you.”

          Sister Alyssa asks defensively, “Ma Dame Berthildis, what do you mean?”

          Ma Dame Berthildis replies, “Why should you fear my watching you?”

          Sister Alyssa qualifies, “Ma Dame Berthildis, no, it is not that I fear… I mean…”

          Ma Dame Berthildis says with finality, “Sister Alyssa, you will not be the first wayward young nun I have cast back to her true desires.  Compréhension, my dear, dear Sister Alyssa, Compréhension, yes?”

          Sister Alyssa bows very deeply, saying, “Ma Dame Berthildis, I assure you it shall be as you wish, I mean as God wishes … but of course as you wish as well…”

          Ma Dame Berthildis says with exasperation, “Good night, Sister Alyssa.”

          And yet that same night upon her hard bed Sister Alyssa helplessly makes a vow to go to the pagan altar again upon the very next evening twilight.

          And so it comes to be that she does this as if enchanted, retracing her steps and manners, assuring herself that she is unobserved in this profane rendezvous, telling herself again and again that only a fool wishing to dance with death would fain conjure a resurrection of the evening before, you foolish relapsing nun, and yet she does carry her communion of bread and meat.

          Sister Alyssa seats herself again upon the ruined pagan altar.  She listens for any sound above the furtive river, she impales the darkness with her eyes, and with her fingers shaking she uncovers her bread and roasted tongue of lamb.  Thus she begins her twilight communion.

          After a while Sister Alyssa whispers to herself, “Nothing good will come of this,” and at that moment she thinks she sees a ripple in the far darkness.

          At the crepuscular threshold suddenly two yellow eyes ignite and Sister Alyssa gasps unintentionally.  The black wolf is approaching her.  She becomes fearful and flushed at the same time with vertiginous bewilderment, moaning softly, “What have I done?” then calling out in the face of the approaching beast, “What have I done!?”

          But the black wolf halts instead and sits on his haunches merely a matter of steps away, his gaze unbroken into Sister Alyssa’s eyes.  With trembling hands Sister Alyssa tosses the lamb’s tongue toward the beast and again the offering appears drawn into the agile jaws of the black wolf.  He chomps three times with clashing teeth and he swallows.  Yet the black wolf remains near as he was, with untamed patience.

          Sister Alyssa is exhaling rapidly as she breaks the loaf of bread in half and tosses one ragged fragment to the black wolf.  He receives it mid-air and gnashes it repeatedly until he takes a final swallow.

          Sister Alyssa then holds her breath as she holds out the other half of the bread toward the black wolf.  The black wolf slowly arises and takes a few steps, stops, and then stretches out his muzzle to gently grasp the remaining offering from the upheld palm of Sister Alyssa.

          Sister Alyssa exhales, feeling close to tears of relief, when abruptly the black wolf bares his terrible fangs and rumbles his chest with a chilling growl.  Sister Alyssa cries out at once, almost tumbling backwards, and then realizes that the black wolf is staring over her shoulder toward the slope of the Island of the Village.  She quickly stands, snaps her head around in that direction, sees nothing, and then turns her face back to the black wolf.  Sister Alyssa now realizes that she is breathing rapidly through her mouth.

          The black wolf blinks several times and licks his fangs but he is calmly returning to his haunches.

          Sister Alyssa sits down again upon the ruined altar and dares to extend her bare hand toward the black wolf.  The black wolf hesitates, turns his head to one side, and then leans toward Sister Alyssa and miraculously merely licks her hand with a gentle intensity as if she is his pup.  Sister Alyssa is suddenly giddy.  She gently touches his muzzle and strokes it slowly.  It is not unpleasant.  The black wolf closes his eyes but there is a soft growl from his belly.  Sister Alyssa closes her eyes.

          With a shock Sister Alyssa opens her eyes and the black wolf is not to be seen though she scours the darkness.  She hurriedly replaces her coif and bustles up the slope back toward the night fires of Paris.  Those lights have never seemed so harmonious with the stars above.  Yet Sister Alyssa herself burns with a peculiar shame.

          Arriving at the top of the slope Sister Alyssa looks up and is startled by the sudden confrontation by Ma Dame Berthildis.  Behind Ma Dame Berthildis is a menacing regiment of the Paris marshalcy.

          Ma Dame Berthildis cries unto the sudden inability of Sister Alyssa to act, “Capture her!  She is a witch!  I swear and attest that I have witnessed her sorcery!”

          Sister Alyssa is roughly seized and cries, “Ma Dame Berthildis, you have misconstrued me!”

          Ma Dame Berthildis cries, “She confesses!  So, you damned witch, we have caught you in a perverse consortium with that demon!  So much is explained!  I knew you were vexing but I did not know that you are evil!  So evil!  Know this, you foul witch: I shall open the mouth of Hell for you!  You are going to burn!”

          The deputy leader of the Paris marshalcy says, “Ma Dame Berthildis, I doubted you and would not believe your words and so you must forgive me!  I am horrified at what my eyes have seen this night!”

          Ma Dame Berthildis cries, “We must put an end to this demonic bargain immediately!”

          The surrounding members of the marshalcy shout acquiescence.  But Sister Alyssa then descries young Reynard, his eyes wide and his teeth clenched, and she cries, “Help me!”

          Ma Dame Berthildis contorts at Sister Alyssa with vicious hatred chanting, “Burn!  Burn!  BURN!”

          Sister Alyssa cries, “I have done nothing but befriend a wild animal!  He was weak and starving!  Is he too not one of God’s creatures!?”

          Ma Dame Berthildis asks in reply, “Witch, do you offer your veiled bestiality as a venal acquittal for blasphemy?!”

          Sister Alyssa now hears her Reynard’s voice cry out along with all the surrounding members of the marshalcy, “Burn!  Burn!  Burn!”

          She plunges into despair.

          Sister Alyssa’s wrists are then roughly bound together with a hide leash and she is yanked forward by the assigned deputy Reynard himself, who holds the leash over his shoulder, himself sickened by her alleged betrayal and newly fearful for his own alleged soul.  Sister Alyssa begins to plead, over and over, louder and louder as this godlessly cruel fate inundates her mind with Compréhension.

          Then like a stroke of lightning from dark heavens above the terrifying black wolf pounces upon Reynard, landing onto his shoulders, toppling Reynard forward while tearing out his throat in one mass of gore.  The black wolf then leaps backwards in a snarling rage, dancing in a deadly perimeter around Sister Alyssa.  The distress sends the marshalcy stumbling hindward, leaving Ma Dame Berthildis exposed, alone and in the grip of the most unholy horror, unable to command her fleeing mind, unable to summon a scream!

          The black wolf astonishingly arises onto his hind legs and balances unsteadily, his slavering jaws holding inches from the face of Ma Dame Berthildis.  Her mind has gone.  The black wolf lunges, taking her entire neck into his mouth and with a violent series of shakes severs her head from her collapsing body.  That severed head spews blood and rolls with opened eyes toward the rallying marshalcy.  And so the regiment finally collapses as they all whirl about and hurtle away shrieking into the streets of the village of Paris.

          The black wolf subsides to four legs and now turns slowly to Sister Alyssa.  Blood still drips from his fangs.  She has no will.  She has only eyes with which to witness.

          But the black wolf bows to take the loose end of her hide leash into his mouth tenderly and then he leads Sister Alyssa down the slope of the Island of the Village, into the sandy banks, toward the pagan altar and beyond into the darkness along the river, upstream into the unseen forest.

          Comes the sound of distant thunder as the wind swiftly smells of rain.






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09 walk the yard - crop1



          Hesutu was a man of the Native American Indian Miwok tribe.  Hesutu was known as “Mike” by those who had not lived in these lands 50,000 years.  Hesutu had killed a rival in a bar fight.  Hesutu now stood and faced his first day of Life Without Parole.  He began to walk in the exercise yard.  The gangs of white, black, and brown inmates had his scent already.

          A year ago Hesutu and his rival Honon had argued in the Molimo bar about the disputed Tribal Election to decide power over the Miwok Gold Resort and Casino.

          Honon, whose name means “bear”, pounded the bar, asking Hesutu, “Who then is rightfully Miwok?”

          Hesutu, whose name means “yellow jacket nest rising out of the ground”, replied bitterly, “You have expelled dozens of my friends from the tribe, saying they had never been Miwok but you and your followers do not care who is rightfully Miwok!  It is just that you do not want to share Casino profits with so many others!”

          Honon finished his drink and turned to Hesutu, “You call me a liar?”

          Honon’s entourage rose menacingly from their tables.  Hesutu’s friends rose in kind.

          Honon challenged, “Do you end this ‘mediation’, Hesutu?”

          Hesutu stood three feet away from Honon.  Hesutu could have ended the dispute by taking two steps and embracing Honon.  But Honon had his hand on his hunting knife and Hesutu’s mind was a hornet’s nest.  Hesutu clenched his beer bottle and shattered it in Honon’s face.  Honon, stunned, drew his knife and slashed at Hesutu, and both groups charged each other and began to fight.  Hesutu thrust the broken beer bottle into Honon’s wrist and Honon screamed, opening his palm as if to offer Hesutu the knife.  In a self-righteous fury, Hesutu took the knife and plunged it into Honon’s chest.

          Because it was a case of murder, the trial was held by Federal Court under the Major Crimes Act and not by Tribal Council.  Hesutu received Life Without Parole because he was judged to have created the deadly situation and knew his action was likely to result in death.

          The violent disputes continued among the Tribe.

          Hesutu was startled from his bitter reverie as he walked the yard.  An arm had been thrown around his shoulder.  But it was another Native American, an old man.

          The old man was grim but his voice was gentle, “Son, I am Cheveyo, ‘Spirit Warrior’, but these others call me Pastor Chevy.  I am not a pastor.  You must understand me quickly.  The white, black, and brown gangs are danger to us.  But no one will touch a devout Christian here.  You must join us.  You will learn quickly.  However, the gangs will test your knowledge and if you are just hiding without knowledge you will be alone and fair game for their cruelty.  I will teach you everything quickly.  Request to go to the chapel as soon as you can.  I will be there.”

          Hesutu blinked at this onslaught of revelation, “How…?  Why…?”

          Cheveyo pointed quickly above without looking, “I saw your Spirit Bird circling over you.  He has gone to the oak tree there beyond the fence,” and Cheveyo pointed quickly again, “He is waiting for you.  He told me to help you,” Cheveyo winked without smiling.

          Hesutu could only say to Cheveyo, “I am called ‘Mike’, but my name is Hesutu.”

          Cheveyo pointed and said cryptically as he walked away, “Your name is Hesutu, but you are the White Crow.”

          Hesutu turned and gazed at the distant oak tree and there he discerned a white bird in the foliage.

          Hesutu was soon granted permission to attend the prison chapel services.  As soon as he entered, Hesutu liked this room that was so softly colored by the stained glass partitions.  He was struck suddenly that up front, oddly, in the peaceful center was a bloodied warrior hanging, with arms outstretched, upon a cross.

          The services were supervised by Pastor Wesley, who said to Hesutu, “Welcome to wisdom, Mike,” then Pastor Wesley turned to Cheveyo and said, “Thank you, as always, Chris”.  Cheveyo winked surreptitiously at Hesutu.

          There were always several others attending the services, white, black, and brown.  There were also three other Native Americans at various times.  Hesutu, with Chevoyo’s constant interpretation, learned about the ancient tribes called Hebrews.

          Hesutu memorized the Spirit Fathers, “Avraham, Yitzchak, Jaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Eliyahu…”

          Hesutu learned mostly about the Great Spirit Warrior, “Yeshua…,” but Hesutu had trouble understanding how his bloody defeat and disgrace upon that wooden cross was a cause for joy.

          Pastor Wesley patiently and happily tried to explain, “True joy is something deeper, quieter, more lasting, than this fleeting, exciting, deceptive thing which we call enjoyment or pleasure. It is that peace of the soul, that contentment of heart, that deep enduring satisfaction which comes to us only because of Yeshua.”

          Cheveyo helped, “Hesutu, Yeshua chose death because the Great Spirit made a bargain with him, promising that when he died all his people could choose to live in peace.  He was the Great Spirit Warrior and he died like a hero going home.”

          Pastor Wesley was accepting, “Well, if that helps…”

          Hesutu dutifully memorized everything so that he could repeat it and not die at the hands of the prison gangs like a rabbit.

          One day as he walked the exercise yard, Hesutu began to feel agitated.  There was lightning in his stomach.  Hesutu could no longer stand the sensation and he felt like he had to run.  He began to jog around the yard weaving between the clots of gang members.

          “What the fuck is up, Tonto?” growled one inmate.

          “Hey, fucker, where’s the warpath?” taunted another inmate as he tried to trip Hesutu.

          Hesutu jogged faster and faster, around and around.  The guards in the towers became nervous.  A loudspeaker commanded, “No running in the yard.”

          Hesutu suddenly saw the White Crow alight upon the barbed wire atop the towering chain-link fence at the other end of the yard.  Hesutu was not thinking, he just knew, and he dashed for the other end of the yard as fast as he could run.  He then impulsively held his arms outstretched.  When he hit the fence he began to claw his way up to the White Crow crying, “Tupi! (Pull me up!)”.  There was now uproar in the yard.  A siren wailed.

          The lightning left his stomach and it pulled Hesutu into the sky.

          Hesutu came to himself again, blinking, but he was at the Molimo bar and Honon was asking him, “Who then is rightfully Miwok?

          Hesutu was hearing himself say, “You have expelled dozens of my friends from the tribe, saying they had never been Miwok but you and your followers do not care who is rightfully Miwok!  It is just that you do not want to share Casino profits with so many others!”

          Honon finished his drink and turned to Hesutu, “You call me a liar?”

          Honon had his hand on his hunting knife.  Honon challenged, “Do you end this ‘mediation’, Hesutu?”

          Hesutu’s mind was a hornet’s nest, but this time his watching Spirit was calm and knew what to do without thinking.

          Hesutu stood three feet away from Honon.  Hesutu, still holding his beer bottle, stretched out his arms and took the two steps, one yard, toward Honan to embrace him, saying, “I love you, my brother,” but Honon was alarmed and he drew his knife and thrust it up into Hesutu’s side.

          The sound of the world stopped.  Both feuding factions in the bar froze.  Hesutu turned and stumbled out the door without a word.  He made it a few more yards and then he collapsed onto his back.  In a brilliant painless awareness he saw above himself upon the highest tree branch the White Crow.

          From that highest tree branch Hesutu was then looking down at himself and watching all the brothers of his Tribe gather around together as Hesutu died inside a peaceful smile.






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 11 lamba rising - crop1



          “Listen carefully,” he said, “this won’t be easy for you to hear.”

          Young Lamba raised her eyes to her father, Dagar.

          Dagar choked, “Allah willing, you are to die for your blasphemy.”

          And yet even now Lamba could not refuse the divine revelation binding her; binding her like the hide straps on her legs.

          The angel had appeared to Lamba as she gathered fire wood on the steep hillside above her village.  The angel was like an eagle and it shone a light upon her.  Lamba fell backwards and she then felt the wind of its voice speaking in her language, “Lamba, Oh Beloved, do not be afraid.  I am Ariael.  I bring to you a new Commandment.  Tell the women of your tribe that they are no longer a field for their men to plough.  Tell the women that they are not the enemies of men.  Tell the women that they are no longer worth one-half of a man; they are of equal worth in the eyes of Allah.  And, Beloved Lamba, tell the women they shall not go to Hell with their unrighteous husbands.”

          And then Ariael had whirred away into the heavens.  Lamba arose in fear and wonder.  She stumbled down the steep hill considering all that had been revealed to her.  When she arrived in her village she had immediately opened her mouth and had begun to speak the new Commandment to all of the women.  The woman had listened in astonishment at her words and had begun to whisper among themselves, some heads nodding, one head shaking.

          The men soon found out what was being said among the women.  One of the women had betrayed Lamba to them.  The men immediately went together before Lamba’s father Dagar, their Warlord, and demanded that Lamba be tried for blasphemy by the Tribal Court.  The Elders of the village sat in judgment.

          Dagar pleaded with Lamba, “You do not recant.  You do not ask the Elders for forgiveness.”

          Lamba’s punishment was unanimously agreed upon: death by crucifixion.  And as an extra measure she was to be crucified by the women of the village as a cautionary lesson for all of them.

          The women had to watch together as Lamba was beaten by the men of the village for three days.  Lamba’s father Dagar hid his face in his tent and wept with shame.  On the third day Dagar was called out by the Elders to beat Lamba.  When Dagar saw his daughter’s face it was as if knives struck his eyes.  He bled tears of fire.

          Lamba was able to raise her head to him and with all her soul she smiled into his eyes, “Do not be afraid, Father.  I forgive you,” and she closed her eyes and lowered her head unto his shame.  Dagar struck Lamba where his blows would hurt Lamba the least and the Elders turned a blind eye out of their respect for their Warlord.

          At last Lamba was stripped of her clothing by the men who each tore a handful from her and threw it into a fire.  Her naked bruised and soiled body was laid down upon the cross made of sacred Deodar Cedar.  In the center of the village the women bound Lamba to the cross and their tears stained the wood.

          Lamba spoke comfort to each of the women as they wept, saying, “I have come to this willingly.  I am chosen of Ariael.  You have no guilt.”

          The women raised up the cross with Lamba bound upon it.

          For three nights and three days the women of the village were to be forced to watch Lamba suffer.  If she would not die by the sundown of the third day she was to be stoned to death by the women.

          Though Lamba was suffering she spoke down unto the women, saying “Those who believe in that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter, these depend on guidance from their Lord.  As for the Disbelievers, in their hearts is a disease that sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering.”

          The women watched, prayed, and listened all night and all the next day as Lamba grew delirious and alternately quoted from the Quran as it had been taught to her, spoke in tongues, and then recited the new Commandment, as the men called out insults and tried to interrupt her soft voice as she blasphemed.   Dagar was obliged to cast at least a half-hearted epithet.

          The women of the village listened all the harder.

          On sundown of that second day Ariael suddenly appeared from the heavens above Lamba’s feverish head and shone a light upon her.  The women fell back with a gasp from their hearts.  The men hollered to each other in fear.  Lamba rolled her head back and said to Ariael, “Why have you forsaken me?”

          Ariael hovered and with a lamenting voice cried, “Lamba, Lamba, Oh, God, Lamba, I am so sorry, you must believe me: this was not the plan!”



          Ariael fluttered up and down as if studying Lamba’s broken body, shouting in a distorted, weeping voice, “No, no, no.  I’m going to save you, Lamba! I will save you!”


          Dagar had grabbed his long rifle and now raised it at the flitting Ariael.  It would be like shooting an eagle.



          Dagar fired his long rifle.  The bullet struck Ariael and ricocheted down into Lamba’s side.  She gasped and her chin dropped to her chest.  Ariael spiraled around Lamba’s head, faster and faster.


          [GOD FORGIVE ME, LAMBA…]

          Suddenly Ariael burst into a halo of blinding phosphorescent light over Lamba’s head as the self-destruction mechanism activated.  White hot embers of liquid metal rained upon the men and the women of the village.  Dagar shielded his face with his hand and it was burned.  He saw then Lamba and he fell to his knees wailing.

          Lamba’s entire body was rising to the heavens in white flame.






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13 dust and dreams - crop1



I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dream

Nikos Kazantzakis from The Saviors of God (1927)


I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.

The epitaph of Nikos Kazantzakis (18 February 1883 – 26 October 1957)



          Your eyes are blossoming in darkness like flowers hungry for light.  I am no longer your light.

          “Hey, Old Pal, Where am I?  Am I dead?  I remember closing my eyes in my own bed.  My children are with me.  My son the teacher is saying, ‘We love you, Dad.  It’s OK to let go’.  What does he mean?  My daughter the nurse is saying, ‘You have Alzheimer’s disease, Dad.’  My son the TV news producer is coming to town with Logan my grandson to see me soon.  What a great little kid.  Logan is going to be an athlete someday.  I hear my daughter say, ‘Dad will deteriorate in sharp steps.  One day he will be helplessly bed-ridden and then he will just dream like Mom did.  Remember how Mom talked to her dead sister as if Shirley was right there with her?  At least Dad will be able to die at home the way Mom did.’”

          Your wife, Jeanie… She is the blood of sea captains.

          “My wife, Jeanie…  Do you know how lucky I am to find her?  She is with my friend George on a double-date.  I just keep looking over at her.  It works out OK.  George is gay, you know?  You kids are really lucky to have a mother like that.  What a mind.  I’m just a guy from Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  Who could have ever told me that she’d end up with me?”

          I am the voice of your thousand ancestors.

          “Hey, Old Pal, Jeanie and her dad are listening to the Bates College football games on the radio.  They are listening on the day I score three touchdowns.  I come to Jeanie’s house for that first date and her father knows who I am!”

          I am your oldest friend.

          “Our football team is all veterans of World War II.  Bill was shot down over Germany and survived.  Norm was in France where he would cross into enemy lines and kill them in their sleep.  Arrow manned a machine gun on a dead tank in Salerno and saved his squad.  You can imagine what animals these guys are on the football field.  I am fast, that’s all.  Fast like my grandson little Logan is going to be and a better athlete than I am”

          I am the desires of your thousand descendants.

          “Our coach is ‘Ducky’ Pond from Yale.  I met him when I was boxing in the Navy but he doesn’t remember who I am.  I wish Logan could meet him.”

          I ask you not to die.

          “I am a pilot in the Navy.  Losses in the Pacific campaigns are not as great as feared so they are slowing down our graduation and sending us to colleges in different Southern states for more classes.

          Listen only to me.

          “I love to fly.  But I am lost, separated from my squadron.  I am diving down to that train station to read the city name.  I am young and cocky.  I execute a perfect landing back at the base.  There is a red light on the tower.  They want to see me.  A Marine is in my face threatening to wash me out.  I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.  I think it was a perfect landing.  Maybe he has the wrong guy.  I am not asking.”

          Everything you see is yourself echoing.

          “I am just a kid picking tobacco for extra money for our family of eleven kids.  Father is a mechanic but he drinks.  On Father’s payday Mother marches with all us kids like ducklings down to the bar to confiscate Father’s money.”

          Hope for nothing.

          “My brothers and sisters want me to come to town with them to see my first moving picture show.  I see the movie posters lining the wall inside and I am thinking that ten cents is too much to pay to look at a bunch of posters.  My big brother Donald explains it to me and he laughs at me.  The movie is a Gene Autry picture show The Singing Cowboy.  I love it.”

          Fear nothing.

          “My friend Kenny is cleaning his shoes with gasoline and he catches on fire.  He dies.  My friend Arlen drowns diving into the Connecticut River and I watch from the bridge as they are pulling him out.”

          You are free.

          “Old Pal?  Old Pal, where are you?  I am sowing Jeanie’s cremated remains onto our favorite mountain meadow.  I find a slender bone from Jeanie’s finger.  I touch my face with it.  Who is touching my face with it?”

          You know.  You are now Old Pal.



          “Time out, guys!  Hey, Logan!”

          What does your coach want now?

          “Logan!  Your father is here.”

          Uh-oh.  You never see your dad at your practices.  He sleeps days and works nights producing the news.  Yeah, fuck is right.  The only good news is no news.

          “Logan, get over there!  Your Grandfather passed away.  You’re going home for the funeral.”



“Old Pal” is from Pagoo, my favorite book as a child






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18 anna sybilla - crop1



          Once upon a time in Sweden on a farm there lived two young sisters named Anna and Sybilla.  They were identical twins.  Anna and Sybilla were jealous of each other and they bickered about anything and everything.

          Sybilla said, “You are taking too much time in the mirror!”

          Anna said, “I wanted to wear a green dress today!”

          Sybilla said, “You took the bowl of porridge that I wanted!”

          Anna said, “You only like Staffan because he likes me!”

          Underneath the floorboards of their farmhouse lived the Elf named Torgny.  Torgny was the impish protector of the farmer’s land, wife, and children.  The bickering of Anna and Sybilla was unsettling to Torgny.

          Sybilla said, “Stop playing your accordion; I am reading!”

          Anna retorted, “Of course, you must keep reading; Teacher says I read so much better.”

          Sybilla countered, “Teacher says I am the best runner.”

          Anna taunted, “That’s because you have to run after all the boys!”

          Sybilla stung back, “Well at least I don’t have to run after Staffan, now do I?”

          Their mother could not comprehend their resentment of each other, “Why can’t each of you be happy with what you have?  Why do you worry that the other might get something better?”

          Anna and Sybilla pointed, each a reflection of the other, and said in unison, “She started it.”

          Mother held both sides of her face as if it would crack in two.

          Just then came a knock on their front door.  It was Staffan, “Did you hear?” he said breathlessly, “They have picked The Queen of Lights.  It is you, Anna!”

          Anna glanced at Sybilla to verify jealous defeat on her sister’s face.

          Staffan continued, “And you, Sybilla, you have been chosen as one of her handmaidens…”

          Sybilla clenched her fists and pouted but Staffan did not notice as he continued, “…and I have been chosen as a Star Boy!  I can’t wait to tell the others.  I get to wear a hat decorated with stars.”

          “It’s only a paper hat,” muttered Sybilla but Staffan did not hear her.

          Staffan turned to leave just as Anna and Sybilla’s father came to the door, “Hello, sir!” Staffan beamed.  “A very good day to all!”

          Father smiled as Staffan danced aside and departed running.  Father said, “Yes, I agree that it is a very good day.”  Father hugged Mother, “It is cold but dry.  The barn is full of grain and warm for the cows this night.”

          “You are just in time.  Supper is ready,” said Mother, “Come along, girls, hurry and wash so Father can enjoy supper while it is hot.  You can tell him the good news then.”

          At the supper table Father was still in a very good mood, “We have had very good luck this year.  We should all give thanks to our benefactor: Torgny!”

          Torgny was listening under the kitchen floorboards.

          Anna reported dutifully, “Sybilla said that The Old Beliefs are silly.”

          Sybilla said pointedly, “So did you, Anna.”

          Anna quickly changed the subject, “Guess what, Father?  I have been chosen as this year’s Queen of Lights!”

          “Oh, my goodness, more good luck.”

          “And guess what else, Father?  Sybilla has been chosen as one of my handmaidens.”  Anna looked toward Sybilla with condescending graciousness.

          “Oh, my goodness,” Father said, “That is wonderful news.  Both of my lovely daughters will be in the procession together.  That is wonderful, isn’t it?” Father nodded to Mother who was eyeing her daughters warily.

          Sybilla said to Anna, “Yes, it will wonderful to watch you trying to balance the Crown of Candles on your swollen head while you try to lead the procession without tripping on your own foot and falling down.”

          Anna glared at Sybilla.  Father spoke up, “Oh, my goodness, now Sybilla, you don’t mean that, do you?”

          “Oh, yes I do.  And…,” Sybilla turned to Anna, “I’ll be marching right behind you holding hands with Staffan.”

          Mother wasn’t quick enough.  Anna threw her biscuit at Sybilla.  Sybilla dashed her milk into Anna’s face.  Anna shrieked.

          Mother flew behind them both, “Enough!  That is it for you both!  No supper for either of you!”  Mother took Anna and Sybilla by the ears and dragged them into their bedroom, “It is nearly Christmas and you act this way?!”  Neither sister dared to protest.

          Father lowered his eyes and shook his head slowly, “What is to become of my girls, my lovely daughters?”

          When supper was nearly finished Father lifted his chin toward Anna and Sybilla’s uneaten supper and said to Mother, “Maybe we should offer their suppers to Torgny tonight.  Maybe he can give us just a little more luck for the sake of our daughters?”

          Torgny was listening underneath the kitchen floorboards and he licked his lips thinking about all that food.

          Before Mother and Father went to bed that night they placed Anna and Sybilla’s supper bowls on the fireplace mantle.  Father intoned so that his daughters could hear, “Oh, Torgny, we hope you enjoy this wonderful food.  And, oh, my goodness, we hope that you can help us with our silly daughters.”

          Mother smiled wryly, “I don’t know if that is such a bargain.  We may have to invite him to eat with us every meal.”

          Soon, when the farmhouse had grown very quiet Sybilla, who was not sleeping, said softly to Anna, “I am hungry.  Can we agree that we are both hungry since we had no supper?”

          “Yes.  Why?”

          Sybilla sat up in their bed and whispered, “You heard Mother and Father say that they were going to give our suppers to Torgny?  Well, what a waste.  I’m terribly hungry now.  They’ll probably give that food to the pigs in the morning before we even rise and then they’ll tell us that Torgny ate it, like they always do.”

          Anna whispered back, “I know what you are going to say.  I will do it if you will do it with me.”

          Sybilla nodded, “Good.  What a good joke to play on Mother and Father.  We will pretend that we don’t know anything.”

          Anna added, “We can say in the morning how hungry we still are and how sorry we are and look sad.”

          So Anna and Sybilla tip-toed to the fireplace mantle and ate their suppers that were still warm.  They returned to their bedroom and lay side-by-side without squabbling for once.

          Torgny was furious when he found that the bowls left for him were empty.  He quickly figured out what had happened and he looked toward the girl’s bedroom.  Curling his lip he said, “So you want to play with Torgny?”

          Sybilla awoke first in the morning.  When she tried to get up out of their bed on her side she was restrained and quickly hissed at Anna, “Let me go!  Why are you holding me?”

          Anna then awoke and as usual she tried to be the first one out of their bed, but she too was restrained.  “Stop it, Sybilla!”

          Finally they both pulled the blanket off of themselves and they screamed and screamed.  There was only one body there and it had the head of Anna and the head of Sybilla!  They thrashed in panic upon the bed.  Mother and Father heard their screams and ran into the bedroom.  Mother toppled against Father and nearly fainted, but Father knew right away what had happened and he said, “Torgny!”

          Father held his wife and called to his daughters, “Stop screaming!  Be still!  It is Torgny.  You ate the gift of food we promised him, didn’t you?”

          Finally the weight of reality held Anna and Sybilla still.  Anna’s head was on the right side and she could feel only the right arm and the right leg.  Sybilla’s head was on the left side and she could feel only the left arm and the left leg.

          “We have to move together!” cried Anna.  She and Sybilla concentrated and finally pushed themselves upright on the bed.  They concentrated and slowly moved both legs to dangle over the bedside.  Mother held her hands over her mouth and stared in horror.

          Father understood and said to Anna and Sybilla, “You must now work together.”  He said to Mother, “What a sly prank to answer our prayers.  We must all bear Torgny’s judgment and please him and hope that someday he will forgive our daughters.”

          So Mother and Father began to call the enchanted creature Anna Sybilla.  One person, two names.  Their daughters could only accept their fate and make the best of their punishment.  Very soon the whole village knew of the magic spell and everyone was in awe of Anna Sybilla.

          Both sisters learned to help each other to comb their hair.

          They both learned to agree on the dress to wear.

          They both learned to agree on what to eat.

          Anna taught Sybilla how to play the accordion.  They both became a sensitive musician.

          Anna helped Sybilla with her reading.  They both became a very good reader.

          Sybilla taught Anna to run and together they ran like a deer.

          They together charmed Staffan and all the other boys who now fought to carry Anna Sybilla’s books to and from school.

          They together helped Mother and they learned how to cook.  As an excuse to cook, Anna Sybilla began to prepare meals as a gift to Torgny, breakfast, lunch, and supper.

          Father was so very pleased and proud.

          One morning Anna Sybilla awoke and they were again two separate sisters.

          Anna said, “The Old Beliefs are wise beliefs, Sybilla.”

          Torgny was underneath their bedroom floorboards and he smiled and nodded as he anticipated his breakfast.  Mother and Father who were looking in on their daughters now wept with joy.

          Sybilla gave Anna a great hug.  They both whispered tearfully together.

          “I miss you.”






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