Prologue: A Doctor’s Note – EXCERPT

The following is the prologue of A Diamond for Her, my new novel releasing March 23. This is written from the perspective of the story’s narrator, Dr. Charles “Shoeshine” Henry. The novel is available for preorder in Kindle format from Amazon and in paperback through any local or online bookstore including Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, Walmart, Amazon, Books-a-Million and many more. Or ask for it at your local independent bookstore! Enjoy and thanks.


Prologue: A Doctor’s Note

How’s a sane person to understand this game of baseball? The fantastical underpinnings of which are haphazardly stitched together with a dash of lore and a pinch of childish chutzpah. The game is ruled by mechanics, not time, and when the mechanism of the cosmic baseball world clicks into place, the preposterous becomes the stuff of legends, the improbable becomes the mundane, and the ridiculous becomes the inevitable. Oh, what a smidgen of faith will accomplish!

I hope to illustrate the phantasmal nature of the national pastime by recounting the stories of my all-time favorite baseball team—the Winasook Iron Horses, the stalwart franchise of the Allegheny Independent League from 1921 to 1954, when Jasper Eltrane fired the final Iron Horse pitch in Rochelle Stadium.

These stories are not meant to be clever or manipulative, only simple illustrations of the wonder of baseball and the awe of life. If, perhaps, they are more feeling than science—and I pray this will be the case—accept them as they are, for I have not encountered anything in this life that can stir the passions of unsubstantiated, illegitimate logic more than baseball.

I myself am not a baseball player. I’m a semi-retired medical doctor, a lover of stories, and a fan of the greatest game ever invented. I’ve heard it said (or maybe I said it) that if the Greek gods played a modern sport, it most definitely would have been baseball. A team sport that emphasizes individual achievement. A round ball and a round bat played on a diamond with a starting point and ending point of home. Bases used to demonstrate increments of achievement for both players and wannabe young boys exploring the virtues of the opposite sex. A pace of play that encourages conversation, poetry, grand schemes, miracles, and mythology. A history interwoven around a people and their triumphs and failures.

There is much that could be said about the grand scale of baseball, from the towering steel stadiums which changed the landscapes of a hundred American cities, to the scandals that rocked people’s faith in the franchise, to a young determined man named Jackie Robinson, who defied the wrong side of history with the courage to force others to acknowledge his humanity; to the beloved Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, who gave his life to the humanitarian cause. There’s much that could be spoken about baseball from the macro view of the major leagues, but my purpose is different.
I want to simply tell the stories, remarkable in their own right, of one independent franchise that epitomized what it means to be American — and human. Some of the stories I witnessed myself, from my many appearances at Rochelle Stadium over the years. Others were told to me. The most intimate details of the Iron Horses’ entire historical record came from an extraordinary interview with owner Raymond Blythe as he was on his death bed in October of 1971.

I had told Raymond Blythe many times over the years that I had wanted to document the history of the Iron Horses. I had always put it off for a variety of reasons, chiefly my medical practice. But that all changed one day when I was summoned to the hospital during his waning hours. He wanted to tell me his stories, most of which I did not know. While I can attest to the veracity of everything in this book, he told me some things I hesitated to believe. But his insistence and his mortality forced me to include them here as well—the mythology—the insane ramblings of a man who could sell his mother her own apple pie recipe. And yet, in the years that have passed since the bedside encounter, I have given more credence to his stories, and even in some regards consider them part of the historical record. And why not? Baseball didn’t merely form from a boyish imagination or, God forbid, that ghastly rounders game hailed by the British. The poetic lore of Mighty Casey, the prodigious swing of the Sultan of Swat, or the stocky soft hands of the Flying Dutchman cannot be explained by the acknowledged arrangement between two teams to follow a set of rules regarding a ball and bat. Such mundane explanations could never adequately describe what I witnessed that day in 1949 when Archibald Showalter fouled off ninety-five pitches. Nor does it explain what Raymond Blythe found in Iowa on a trip in 1954.

There is a beauty and a poetry and, yes, a mythology which goes much deeper into the universe which necessitates this game. While today’s millionaire players may alienate a generation of fans by their grandiose egos and self-promotion, they cannot degrade a game which has defined our nation. We have become a better people for what we have learned between the lines of the diamond: reward for hard work, compassionate cooperation, fierce independence, and faith in the mystical realms of the unseen.

Finally, a brief note about the storytelling itself. I sometimes recount these stories from my own point of view, but do indulge me from time to time as I try to develop my own literary skills by distancing myself from my foreknowledge of an event in order to tell a proper story in third-person narration. I feel rather sneaky attempting this, but baseball is rife with such messiness—the ghastly DH experiment its greatest example—so perhaps it will work.

All the best,

Charles “Shoeshine” Henry, M.D.
Winasook, Pennsylvania
June 1985

Moses the Singer EXCERPT 2: Second Beginning

As I stated in my previous post: Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning, my new novel releasing July 1 is at first told from two perspectives. First by a group of talented teen musicians (Excerpt 1) and second by Musa “Moses” Marbun. When the two stories converge, everything changes.

In this excerpt, we get to see the tragedy that occurred which brings Musa to the island of Penang.

CHAPTER 2 of MOSES THE SINGER:

Twenty-Eight Years Before Any of Them Were Born

He stood five-foot-two from the top of his forehead with his chin held high—short enough to lean against the side of the boat without any of his wiry hairs sticking over the edge. Twenty people crowded in a space that would have made ten sardines uncomfortable. A man’s elbow wedged into the side of his neck. A woman holding a crying infant straddled across half his lap on the opposite side. He shifted his legs in constant motion to ward off fatigue from the two others who had come to rest on his bony legs by no will of their own. The boat rocked on the waves, causing many episodes of voluminous vomiting from the souls trapped under the harsh moon of midnight. He wished for pitch blackness, so he couldn’t see their expressions. But the moonlight played its cruel tricks and exposed the true emotions of the weary travelers.
He moved his neck away from the elbow of a man as the woman on his other side couldn’t hold it any longer and threw up across his face. He lifted his arm out of the human traps surrounding him and shimmied it high enough to wipe the vomit from around his mouth. But it didn’t prevent the taste from seeping into his lips. He did all he could to stop himself from joining the grotesque scene. He closed his eyes and waited. What he waited for wasn’t important. What could be worse?


Seven hours. His body cramped in several locations. He had fallen asleep for a time, which coincided with the infant’s lungs finally exhausting themselves to such a degree that the child itself fell asleep. So did the mother. So did he.
A loud voice stirred him from his restless slumber. He glimpsed over the edge of the boat at a few flickering lights in the distance. They had neared the shore. But the two men at the helm argued. Violent words. Panic amongst the cowered passengers ensued. He pulsed upward for a second look, and that’s when he heard the engine approaching.
“You’re in violation of our sovereign waters.”
Lights flashed. An alarm sounded. Additional claims of rights and ownership echoed from the approaching boat, which prompted a first person to jump into the water. Someone screamed. A large shot trailed across the sky. The entire boat shifted back with the men at the helm yelling for everyone to stay down. But no one listened. A rising sensation. A quick shift. Bodies tumbled on top of each other. The side of the boat lifted into the air, expelling body upon body into the dark waters until it was complete. The boat capsized and trapped many under its turned-over belly. Darkness encompassed him as he sank. He looked once at the faint glimpses of skin and bones falling below him. He gasped and hit his head on the edge of the boat, ripping open the side of his cheek. It would have been easier not to fight it anymore—to glide slowly into the deep.
But the light had not yet faded, not at the young age of twenty-two, so he dove under the edge and around three bodies next to him, reaching upward towards the light and the chaos above. He broke through the surface into the air and flailed his arms and pumped his chest for breath once more.
“Help,” he cried in his native Batak language. No one heard him over the roar of the engine and the panicked voices of the few remaining on the surface. The loudspeaker continued to announce its presence.
“Help,” he called again.
He had never swum in his life, so he clung his fingers to the edge of the turned-over boat and waited.
They grabbed him and plopped him over the side of the railing and onto the deck as he panted for air and laid flat on his back. Blood dripped down his left cheek, and a drenched shredded rag clung to his body like the initial layer of mummified cloth. No one spoke to him or even looked at him. He rested in the open space on the deck of the ship and noticed three others on his right as weary as himself. The rest had vanished into the place that no one imagines. Gone. He looked straight into the sky. A flag with a crescent moon, a sun, and red and white stripes fluttered above him. He mumbled a few words and closed his eyes.


They brought them ashore and placed them in a vacant room with cement walls and a fluorescent light illuminating a wooden door. They didn’t bother searching him for identification. He had no possessions on him other than the ragged clothing—thin cut-offs for pants with nothing underneath—a ripped shirt that showed a large burn scar across his chest. He wasn’t only short, but also thin, gaunt. His ribs revealed themselves on each side. The blood had ceased to drip from his dark-skinned cheek. He asked for water, but no one paid attention to him or the three others. The room had no windows. The stale air hung thick and humid like a second layer of wet clothes. Nothing dried, so he sat in the dampness and waited.
Hours passed. They put all four of them in the back of a truck—open air yet caged in with wire-netting on all sides of the frame. His clothes had dried, but he hadn’t been given anything to eat or drink for hours. His pasty mouth clicked when he moved it. Nobody talked. The seventeen missing souls did the talking for them.
Dawn broke through the dark-grey shroud of night as they cruised along a modern divided highway. After an hour, they exited and weaved through the early morning traffic until they stopped in front of a detention center. They separated him from the others and placed him in a blank room, stripped him of his rags, and gave him a light blue cotton pullover shirt with matching pants. They spoke, but not to him. The words swirled around him like a strong wind that turned his head in every direction and left him nothing but confused. One man grabbed his arm and placed his right fingers one at a time on an ink pad and blotted his prints on a square cardboard stock. They spoke again, but he gazed in silence into the wall. One took him by the shoulders and pushed him into a molded plastic chair and left him alone. Again. And he waited.
Thirty minutes passed when a man in a blue decorated uniform, with a badge hanging off his left side, entered with a woman, also wearing a suit. She wore a hijab over her head. She spoke words he could understand, and he glanced at her and provided the answer to her question.
“Musa. I am Musa Marbun.”


Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning

Moses the Singer, my brand new YA novel set to release on July 1, has two beginnings. The first part of the novel is told from two different point of views. First, there’s the story of four talented teen musicians as they plan to win their school’s talent show. The second part is about Musa “Moses” Marbun, a destitute and country-less old man living a meager and marginalized existence on the island of Penang. Then the stories merge.

I’d like to share both beginnings with you. The novel will be available in Kindle and paperback starting July 1. Kindle pre-orders are being taken now!

EXCERPT 1 – CHAPTER 1 YOU SUCK – In this chapter, you get to meet the bantering Will & Sanchez who have been playing music together for years.

The patio door whipped open and startled the two teens sitting on upside-down white paint buckets—papers with lyrics and chords strewn on top of a plastic table in front of them.
“Enough. Please. Will, you’re killing me.”
The teen lowered the six-string into his lap. Behind him, two yellow palms towered in ceramic pots.
“I’m just trying to get this song down.”
Will’s father tapped his clenched fist on the glass door. “Isn’t it obvious? That song is not going down, and if it does, it’s going to be regurgitated back up.”
“All right, Dad. Jeez.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get some sleep.”
Sanchez, at Will’s left holding his fretless bass, glanced over at Will’s father. “Will the killer. That’s what I call him.”
“Shut up,” snapped Will.
“You’re killing this song. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.”
“Boy, you two are really supportive.” Will stood up and hit his knee on the side of the table, knocking several pages onto the patio stone.
“Why don’t you guys wrap it up, okay?” shouted the perturbed father.
“All right. But did you hear my singing?”
“Who couldn’t hear your singing?”
“Sanchez thinks we need another singer.”
Sanchez waved his hands in the air and blurted the honest truth as clearly as humanly possible. “Dude, you suck.”
“Why is everyone attacking me?” Will threw his left arm into the air, his right still grasping the neck of the guitar.
“Because it’s 2 A.M. and your screeching is keeping all the night critters from their work. And my nighttime work is sawing logs so I can do actual work in the morning. That’s what I do. I work to support your garage band habits.”
“But Dad … just listen to one thing.”
Sanchez along with Will’s dad lowered their heads in synchronous agony.
“Come on, just give me a second.”
Will returned to the upside-down paint bucket, lowered his hands on the fretboard, and plucked out a series of notes clear and melodic—a beautiful sonic moment, until his mouth opened and inserted a strand of battle-weary notes which had been ripped to shreds by the Muse—the sage protector of all melodic harmony.
Sanchez put his hands over his ears and mumbled, “It’s been like this all evening.” He put down his bass and snapped open his case.
Will’s dad stepped a foot out onto the patio. “Will, listen to me.” Will stopped playing, which allowed the creatures in the neighborhood to catch their breath. “You’re a terrific guitar player. Really, I’m amazed at what you can do. But you’ve got a disease, and you need to admit it.”
“A disease?”
“Yes, it’s called the Kerry Livgren syndrome.”
“There’s a name for this?” inquired Sanchez, clasping the buckles on his case close.
“Kerry Livgren. Master composer, guitar player, musician extraordinaire of the classic rock band Kansas?”
Both boys stared into the blank night with confused looks.
“You know, ‘Dust in the Wind,’ ‘Carry on Wayward Son’?”
“Dad, do you have a point?”
“Yes, Kerry Livgren was a musical wizard, but he couldn’t sing a lick. Or as Sanchez stated so eloquently, his voice sucked!”
“What are you trying to say?”
Will’s dad used his left index finger to point at the place between his eyebrows several times. He seemed to be rubbing out the rough edges of his stress-induced midnight headache.
“You need to find a new singer.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling him for a year,” chimed Sanchez.
“But—”
“And go to bed. Do the latter, first.”
“I’ll catch you later, Will. Good night, Mr. Jennings.”
“Good night, Sanchez,” offered Will’s dad. Will, guitar in hand, walked past his dad standing in the sliding glass doorway. “Good night, Will.”
“I’m still a little angry at you,” moaned the guitar player.
“The sheep over my bed feel the same way. I guess we’re even.”

My Play This Weekend in Penang: Grade Semantics

My play “Grade Semantics” hits the stage this weekend as part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Penang, Malaysia.

grade semanticsPenang

 

This is a play that I’ve produced twice myself, and it’s a hit — especially with students and teachers. I’ve even had a HS counselor tell me after watching it that the farcical aspects of the play very much played out as true in those fun one-on-one chats with students.

Here an excerpt from the play. Enjoy!
STUDENT: That’s it. I’m going to tell the principal.
MR. S.: What are you going to tell the principal?
STUDENT: I’m going to inform the principal about your discriminatory grading practices.
MR. S.: I do not have discriminatory grading practices!
STUDENT: So, you are saying that everyone in your classes get the same grade?
MR. S.: No, of course not.
STUDENT: Just as I suspected. You look over the tests, and you discriminate. You say ‘that test goes into the good pile’ and ‘that test goes into the bad grade pile’ where all of mine always end up.
MR. S. Because—
STUDENT: You always have reasons, don’t you? Because. Because. Because. Because you don’t like words that start with the letter B.
MR. S.: That’s ridiculous.
STUDENT: This is anything but ridiculous. Let me ask you a question, Mr. S. Do you think bad grades will affect my future?
MR. S.: Yes, I absolutely think that’s true.
STUDENT: Ah, ha! Caught you! You are purposefully affecting my future.
MR. S.: That’s not what I said.
STUDENT: My bad grades might misrepresent who I am to the Ivy League schools. I might not get into Harvard because of your discrimination. Employers are going to look down upon me because of my bad grades. My future earnings are in jeopardy because of your grade discrimination. We are living in an age when grades just separate people into the achievers and the non-achievers. The passing and the failing. I thought we as a society were beyond this type of blatant discrimination, holding people back because of word that starts with B. But apparently, in some corners of education, there are still the vestiges of entrenched systemic discrimination. I thought you were better than that, Mr. S. I thought you were woke to the realities of the modern world. I’m ashamed to be your student and I do not under any circumstance acknowledge the authority of your grades over my life. I am, from this moment on, grade-free.

 

A Vigil for a Starry Night

Merry Christmas, everyone.

A VIGIL FOR A STARRY NIGHT

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”

christmas-tree-on-snow-wallpaper-wide

EXCERPT – A Thrilling Adventure -Trilogy book 1 FREE limited time only!

FREE on KINDLE – November 15-19 – FREE on AMAZON

Midwest Book Review calls it “A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.”

BOOK 1 – A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – in this excerpt the Manhattan businessman Francis Frick finds himself in a jeep with some Khmer Rouge revolutionaries in 1976 Cambodia. The only problem is, it’s 2018! But when they stop to deal with some deserters, Frick can’t stand idly by anymore.

Three soldiers and the driver jumped in the jeep, and it pulled out of the small encampment without anyone saying a word to anyone or without anyone wearing a black hood. The flat Cambodian countryside lay still in the early morning hours. The jeep buzzed through the rural setting without passing any other vehicles. Even the endless, newly-harvested rice fields looked eerily dormant and different from the day before. The first hour of the drive proved uneventful. The soldiers ignored Frick, the hero negotiator, as their heads pounded from vicious hangovers. As the jeep bounced around a sharp bend, Frick could see five or six people walking on the road about one hundred yards ahead of them. They looked back and hunched their bodies forward, sliding quickly out of sight over the embankment.
“Hey, did you see that?” asked the driver.
“The people?” asked Frick.
“Yes.” The driver tilted his head towards the back seat and yelled instructions for the three soldiers in the back seat to catch them.
The jeep skidded to an abrupt stop, and everyone piled out, Frick included. As he reached the edge of the embankment, he could see six people huddled against the mud rim, looking up at them. One of them stood and started running across the barren rice field. A soldier raised his rifle and shot the deserter in the back, dropping him to the ground with a hollow thud. Frick shook and looked around, frantic to understand.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
Two of the other soldiers slid down the bank and started yelling at the people, but for the first time, Frick couldn’t understand—not a word. He watched as the two soldiers pinned the remaining five individuals against the bank with the point of their rifles. The huddled group cried in anguish as the soldiers scolded them. As Frick moved closer, he could see who they were: an old man, two women, and a small girl. One of the women held a baby in her arms. They cried and pleaded. The elderly man dropped to his knees and put out his hands in a gesture of submission and mercy. A Khmer soldier whacked him in the head with the butt of his rifle, and the old man fell limp to the ground. The women screamed, and the small girl hid behind the leg of her mother.
“Stop it!” said Frick. “What are you doing?”
The driver stood beside Frick and looked at him strangely. The driver said something, but Frick couldn’t understand. The second soldier walked up to the woman and slapped her across the face, yelling at her in harsh tones.
“Stop it!” yelled Frick.
The soldier grabbed the arm of the little girl and dragged her up the embankment. The girl collapsed in fear, as she screamed and reached out for her mother, but the soldier paid no attention and continued pulling her over the crest of the bank.

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EXCERPT – A Time-Travel Adventure -Trilogy book 1 FREE limited time only!

FREE on KINDLE – November 15-19 – FREE on AMAZON

Midwest Book Review calls it “A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.”

BOOK 1 – A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – in this excerpt the Manhattan businessman finds himself on a train in Romania in 1989 – nearly thirty years in the past – and he’s being delightfully tormented by Bee, the strange flying figure in a white dress.

Frick lunged forward and tried to swat Bee with his hand, but with a simple tilt of the head, she whisked inches away from her attacker. It delighted her so. Frick sat down in his surliness and puffed a few vacant words Bee’s way like a petulant child might mock his mother. The other two men sitting in the front of the car turned in a queer manner and glanced with disapproval at Frick’s unruly behavior. Frick didn’t like being stared at, much less being scorned, so he cast his eyes upon them with his typical tempestuousness.
“What are you looking at?”
The two turned immediately. Frick smirked, but the goofy grin soon faded as a strange realization came upon him. “Bee, did I say that in English?”
“Did it sound like English to you?”
“No.”
“Well, words that don’t sound like English rarely are English.”
“You mean they could understand me?”
“Everyone understands that uniform. What’s not to understand?”
“What do you mean, this uniform?”
“Well, it’s time for me to go. Goodbye, Francis.”
“No, wait,” said Frick, leaning forward and motioning for her to stay.
“Do you think I’m your friend?” she asked. “I just hit you in the face with a pomegranate. Two in fact. I hope you learned your lesson.”
“It wasn’t the first time you hit me in the face with a pomegranate.”
Bee laughed. “Oh, you are right, aren’t you? When you were lying in bed.”
“Don’t forget about the coconut.”
Bee let out an especially high-squealed snicker. “Tropical delight.”
“Bee, sit still for a second. I have a question for you. I’m in Romania.”
“So am I,” said Bee. “And that’s not a question.”
“Why?”
“I came to see you.”
“No, why am I here? And is this real?” Frick pulled out the train ticket and held it up to her. “Look. It says December 1989. Is it 1989? But it’s certainly not December. It’s summer. I was in the hay field. I saw Ash, and he tells me to put this on.” He pointed down at his uniform. “And then I meet Ulrich. And …”
The train pulled into a small station. Out the window, a pole with a lone bulb dangled from a metal arch, illuminating a small round area at its base. Snow flurries whisked in all directions above the white, barren ground. He stood and bent over to get a closer look, pressing his forehead against the glass. Several people, bundled in winter coats, scurried along towards the small platform near the front of the train.
“I have never known it to snow in the summer,” said Bee.
“Maybe I’m insane.”
“Indubitably.”

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Magnificent – Lyrics without a Melody

I enjoy writing lyrics. I started this when I was in Ireland, and I finished it up (at least for now) just this evening.  Who’s going to put it to music? What’s it about? Picture a boy who walks through the jungle two hours one way to attend a small village schoolhouse. Certainly, it’s a true story.

Magnificent
lyrics by Mark W Sasse
1
Calloused hands of only twelve,
Dining on scraps and banana rows
Too many mouths, and not enough time,
but he smiles and laughs through his daily throes
Magnificent.
2
Tire tread sandals, half torn to shreds
from the rugged path he’s learned by heart,
three days a week if time to spare
he walks the mountain path to learn his part
Magnificent.
chorus
And the modern world nods its head
at the glitz and glamour and vapid threads,
That saturate our well-lived lives while he walks the jungle trail
magnificent
3
He’s late of course, ‘n has no books,
But eyes peer round at the blackboard lesson
language and numbers elude his grasp
he’ll fail his exams with or without this session
cause he’s one day closer and two hours farther from …
magnificent
chorus
And the modern world nods its head
at the glitz and glamour and vapid threads,
That saturate our well-lived lives while he walks the jungle trail
magnificent
bridge
The distance is not the problem cause he has the strength,
and time is not the issue cause he has all day
it’s not the humble school house without materials
it’s not government promises which always feel betrayed
it’s not the the blanket statement from ignorant city folks
Or his uncle who thinks it’s silly he gets nothing for his walks
It’s not the village children who have a head start
or nature which pounds his every inch when monsoon season stalks
The problem issue lies much deeper
Hidden in the human condition,
a failure to recognize that which truly is …
magnificent
4
The jungle trail welcomes the math
two trees multiplied by twelve ants,
a glorious quorum of learning begins
a history re-imagined by a small boy’s pant,
reborn each day by two hours of walking towards …
magnificent
chorus
And the modern world nods its head

at the glitz and glamour and vapid threads,
That saturate our well-lived lives while he walks the jungle trail
magnificent

What will become of you … book?

(Just a few simple thoughts of what will happen to the books I mailed out to winners of my Goodreads’ giveaway.)

I packed and sealed you in a cardboard box,

Love and time and tears and patience constructed the story between your covers,

I post you to a new destination,

but what will become of you, my book?

A cardboard box inside a mail box waiting for a hand to pull it out.

A look of curiosity will strike the face first, “What is this?”

She’ll read the label and remember the giveaway.  A slight smile settles on her face, but is it a foretaste of what is to come?

What will happen when she opens the package?

Will she laugh with delight and marvel at the colorful tones of the cover?

Will he fan the pages over his face to take the new book for its first ride?

Will it sit on the kitchen counter throughout the day for all family members to flip through to see the new edition?

Will it end up on a nightstand for some pre-snooze reading and will the pages awaken the weary-eyed heart, keeping her up until the wee hours of dawn trying to decipher  the motives of mean Mr. Frick from Manhattan?

I sent you off in good faith. Hoping to share a little joy, a jaunt of adventure to help one escape the mundane qualities of another Monday.

I hope laughter comes and excitement builds. I hope frustration mounts when book one climaxes. Perhaps it even falls off the bed as she mutters “Ahhh, what’s going to happen? When does book two come out?”

Will a helping hand hold out the book and offer it to a friend, “You should read this. I never heard of this author, but I really enjoyed it. The second book is coming out soon.”

Can one book’s lifespan become two or multiply to more?

You have much potential, sitting inside a cardboard box, riding in the back of a postal truck. Limitless in hope.

Or

will

it …

be thrown on a book shelf, sandwiched between 75 Recipes from Tuscany and an unread Louis L’amour?

What will become of you, my book?

 

Merry Christmas: A Vigil for a Starry Night

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”

PERSON: This child is born.