She bathed in the bay of bitterness. An islet of granite rock, covered with barnacles, sea snails, sea-eggs and tiny crabs that scurried all over it, stood at the entrance of the bay, indifferent to the wind, indifferent to the waves that prostrated themselves at its feet and the clouds that wept copious tears of remorse. She compared the rock to her father. Silent all these years, unyielding, unforgiving. But he was dying now, of cancer, and before he died she hoped to transform this rock into flesh, free its soul from the hardness of its core, and give it voice to sing her name once again.
All these years her mother had stood by her. Her mother was her rock against the onslaught of the wave of scandal and the wind of shame. After the birth of her son, her mother took her and the child down to the bay and baptized them under the breaking waves in the shadow of an albatross that soared overhead on extended wings. It was a secular baptism, a rite of passage to a different idea of herself. She was a mother now, a woman now, innocent no more; she was no longer an adolescent girl, green and tantalizing. Her spirit had risen and become one with the albatross. She soared like a song, like a seagull. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, Grenada
Fisherman Reuven (2)
The following is a sequel to the story “Fisherman Reuven” written by Joe Jaffe and published on Szirine in 2004. Read them separately for a literary delight, together for literary theater!
Beneath my house in the ancient Port of Jaffa, there is a great barrel-vaulted room in which Reuven the fisherman lived and worked. He was a colorful character, wise and knowledgeable, though I doubt if he could read. We were neighbors for more than twenty years, and during that time we developed a tangled love-hate relationship.
I supplied him with electricity from an outlet on my balcony. He needed it, so he said, to provide a small light for mending his nets at night. But he abused my generosity and connected up a refrigerator, heater and a cooker, thereby overloading the circuit. There were endless arguments over the electricity, and there were periods during which I took punitive action and disconnected it altogether.
In hindsight I know that this was unfair, because Reuven provided me with a regular supply of fresh fish and seafood. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, Israel, Mediterranean
London is in a darkness. The smog has come down again. People huddled against the cold, collars up, mood as low as their bootstraps.
This isn’t Merry Old England. It’s a depressed area, a no-go zone. Even the attractions don’t hold much attraction any more.
Look at the London Eye, turning a nagging doubt.
At the turn of the century The Eye was better than a nod and a wink. It was seen as brash and exciting. A real jewel to the Pearly Kings and Queens. But four years on, it’s half empty – and those that are brave enough to pay their tenner to go on it don’t look like they’re having fun.
They just look vulnerable. Duck-shoots suspended in mid-air. Read more of this article »
Posted in Op-Ed, United Kingdom
On November 2nd, 2004, the entire world mourned the death of one of the greatest of Arab leaders. Entire nations watched with stricken grief the funeral of a man who I believe was one of the most remarkable and impressive leaders of our time. A man called by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell “a friend and a strong example of generosity, wisdom, drive and forgiveness”. He is the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan.
A good part of Sheikh Zayed’s eighty-six years were spent in the service of his country; the United Arab Emirates. Born in 1918, Sheikh Zayed grew up during a time when all of the states along the Trucial Coast (now known as the Arabian Gulf) were under the United Kingdom’s suzerainty meaning that the United Kingdom controlled the countries’ international affairs yet allowed it a certain independence in domestic rule. The local Arab leaders signed the treaty with Britain in 1853 with the aim of providing their coast with the protection of the British military and preventing pirates from staging attacks on British ships.
Nevertheless, the region remained undeveloped, without a single modern school anywhere and an economy that depended for the most part on fishing and trade. The only schooling of any kind that Sheikh Zayed himself received was in the basic principles of Islam from the local Islamic preacher who taught him the Qur’an, and the ways of the lenient yet fair hand of the Prophet Mohammed as a leader of the Muslim people, which greatly impressed the young Sheikh Zayed. He took to following in the footsteps of the Prophet and became an avid learner. His thirst for knowledge sent him into the desert to learn the traditional survival skills of the Bedouin tribesmen. I am quite certain it was during those years of growing into manhood that the late leader came to understand about human existence, the important need for natural resources, the natives and the land. Read more of this article »
Posted in Op-Ed, United Arab Emirates
My recollection of Saint Patrick’s Day as a boy growing up in Dublin is that, being a “holy day” and therefore one upon which all commercial and civil establishments except the public establishments (pubs) were closed, it was a brief respite from the remorseless tedium and relentless brutality of school life.
And apart from the day being like a Sunday with its grim concomitant of best behavior and attendance at Mass, the only real evidence of it being Saint Patrick’s Day (abbreviated to “Patrick’s Day” or even “Paddy’s Day” by those irreverent Irish who disdainfully wished to expunge its devotional origins) was scant: a few scraps of wilting green weed in the lapels of the patriotic and righteous, invariably “worn” alongside the Fainne (a gold ring pin signifying that the wearer is an Irish speaker although in practice probably has ‘command’ of only a few scattered phrases) and the Pioneer (sic) heart shaped badge (indicating non-consumption of alcohol).
The appearance of this formidably declarative panoply of allegiance was usually the preserve of clergymen, civil servants and the implacably upright. Cynics speculated or even noticed that, as the day wore on, the tired sprig of green sadly slipped its moorings and fell to the street to be trodden on by a crunching boot although the Fainne might remain where it was provided no one took it as an invitation to say anything more than ‘Dia Dhuit’ (which although the Gaelic equivalent of ‘Hello’ literally means ‘May God be with you’, the standard reply being ‘Dia agus Muire aghuit’: ‘May God and Our Lady be with you’). The problematic Pioneer badge, however, was sometimes discreetly hidden on the inside of the lapel as the invitation to a pint or ten of stout became something no sane man could refuse. Hypocrisy may only be worn on your sleeve. Read more of this article »
Posted in Ireland, Op-Ed
Detention-life was tasteless and all detainees felt lonely in this small world, especially once there was no handwork to do. The materials we normally used for our work hadn’t arrived and no one knew how to kill their time. So it was that one morning in March 2002, some of us were playing cards, while others read some outdated newspapers and magazines.
With a few of the more intellectual inmates, I talked about an incident that had happened at Linshui airport in Hainan province one year ago. A Chinese warplane and an American plane had crashed into each other. One of the inmates had worked at the airport as an air force mechanic two decades ago.
Suddenly people started shouting. They’d seen a mouse and immediately began trying to seize it. A few minutes later the mouse was caught and then was hung downward by a string on the steel line, which we ordinarily used to hang our damp clothing to dry. It still struggled, squeaking floundering tones, “ji, ji, ji.”
“I’ll beat you dead! Beat you dead! The police beat me as brutally as I’ll beat you,” one young man yelled waving a short plastic stick in his distorted hand.
Others started yelling and the mouse soon died from the savage beating by detainees, who found revenge in their rage at the way they had been treated themselves. The inmates began talking noisily about police torture previously undergone by them. Read more of this article »
Posted in China, Fiction
You are far away
Amid all the splendors of Sakura
And murmurs of colossal Spring;
Merging hopes in azurine sky
With the vast unseen meadows.
I can hear the whispers
Touching Toronto skyline
Saving last dews at the gates of dawn. Read more of this article »
Posted in Japan, Poetry
I’m out on the sidewalk in front of the Turkish vegetable market in the Susannenstrasse in Hamburg, bending over for a closer look at a crate of figs. It’s mid-January, late afternoon, cold and gray. In another hour it will be dark. The figs are green and purple and coated with a fine gray fuzz. It’s the fine gray fuzz that has my attention, conveying as it does a climate much more benign than Hamburg, Germany, now deep in the throes of winter. The fuzz looks incredibly soft and fragile, summery and gentle, and above all, transitory. It’s more like a state of mind than a state of being.
Being. That’s what I’m thinking about as I go inside to pay for the eggplants, shitake mushrooms, red chilies and figs that I’ve chosen. Being as a context in which everything is located, be it forever or even for a while. The young Turkish girl at the cash register is beautiful. Beautiful enough to be a model, or a movie star, or a pop star. But she’s just the cashier in a Turkish vegetable market where I happen to be shopping and that makes her all the more beautiful.
Beauty and fig-fuzz. That’s what I’m thinking about as I step outside and turn up the Susannenstrasse, flipping up my collar against an icy wind that must be blowing down the Elbe from somewhere in the frosty northeast. Beauty and fig-fuzz. Two concepts√É¬≥one abstract, one concrete√É¬≥but both ultimately finite. And it’s the finite that’s doomed to disappear, while the infinite neither comes nor goes. Read more of this article »
Posted in Germany, Poetry
Like grandma’s quilt-
patches of colors on the
Smell of toasted leaves
at my backyard-
Talking to his self
on his dining table-
squirrel. Read more of this article »
Posted in Philippines, Poetry
Bolt the door
Disconnect the doorbell
Cut the phone & modem line
Nail the letterbox shut
Blackout the windows
Detach the antennae
The Bin 2.
Great view of trees
clouds above valley
Chin up= advice Read more of this article »
Posted in Poetry, Seychelles