Some Summer Poetry

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I took a day to relax in the backyard last week. Impressions of what I saw and how it processed through my mind burst into these poems. I’m planning on doing a second poetry book in the future, but I don’t have a working title yet.  I added a link to Just Her Poetry below if you are inspired to read poetry this summer. I know I am.

SILENT HEAT OF SUMMER

The sun blares down on the landscape

The trees and plants welcome its energy

Growth has exploded…

Only slowed by the lack of moisture

Sprinklers offer a welcome drink to the thirsty strawberries

While the roses burst out in blooms

Tomatoes redden, kale offers their leaves,

Pumpkins bloom into bulbs that will be ready for fall

It’s the season of peaceful progression.

While people cool off in lakes, rivers, or air conditioning.

The forest is wrapped in a hue of hushed harmony…

As the animals shelter from the temperatures

Only the buzz of the bees can be heard

While the whimsical winds wander.

It is a serene moment to just be

As I embrace the silent heat of summer.

FENCE

We put up a fence…

Trying to keep out our worries.

Safety behind a wall we are assured.

Yet, it’s only a few feet that life can climb

Where birds can scour the landscape

Where squirrels chirp their annoyance

Where bugs find a home

Bears can knock it down

Mountain lions can climb over it

And foxes go under leaving a way for the skunks.

The fence can hold a dog in…most of the time

The cats mock the dog from the other side.

It doesn’t repel burglars or fires

Floods will flow right through this barrier

Winds can tear it apart

While snow and rain gnaw on it

Tree roots push it out of their way

Weeds float carefully over.

Still, we keep building them

To protect our belongings and family

From the terrifying world beyond our property lines.

They give us the illusion of power…

In a world spinning out of our control.

 

JUST HER POETRY Amazon link


UPDATES:
The August Newsletter will come out this week. Watch for it in your email if subscribed!

Watch for a special edition blog this week.

Embrace your inner child by reading a good book this summer! D.L. Finn

August Book Reviews! @rjkrzak @Sandra_Cox @stacitroilo, #RWISA Authors: @BeemWeeks @bernardfoong @dlfinnauthor @gmplano @healthmn1 @rijanjks @HowellWave @KIngallsAuthor @LauraLibricz @boom_lyn @startrailsIV @_MarlenaSmith_ @MAAdlerWrites @MichelleAbbott4 @NonnieJules @rhanidchae @fredsdiary1981 @jhawker69 @pursoot @WendyJayneScott @YvetteMCalleiro

WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Anthology, Vol 1

by Nonnie Jules & members of RWISA

“Watch RWISA Write” is written by the members of Rave Writers – Int’l Society of Authors which is a division of Rave Reviews Book Club. It’s a fantastic collection of work that varies from fiction, poetry, history, reality, and of course, it’s well written. I couldn’t pick just one great piece of work because they were all good. Each author provided an entertaining read with the paranormal, karma, humor, drama, and thought-provoking insights. A great book and no matter what your mood, you can find something to read. I highly recommend this anthology!


 

The Scout: Dark Crossings

by D.L. Cross

Having read and loved “The Gate” by Ms. Cross, I was excited to see a sci-fi short story based on that world. Sent out to scout the aliens, J finds them. His character had so much depth that I felt his discomfort of being alone when J was used to functioning in a group.  J’s commitment to his duty and what he found was fascinating and complicated. This well-written quick read can be a stand-alone. I highly recommend it!


 

ThunderTree

by S Cox

This is the second western romance I’ve read by Ms. Cox. I loved “SilverHills” and had high expectations for this story. I was not disappointed and found it hard to put down.  Ben avoided all attachments except for his eagle. But on his way to Mexico, he rescues Kate and ends up at her family’s ranch as a hand. He only agrees to stay a month but starts to find himself caring about this family and the ranch. The characters had my heart immediately. Kate’s strength and Ben’s honesty was a good blend, and I started rooting for them right away. Kate’s Uncle John T was a man of principles that ran his ranch and house fairly, while Kate’s friendship with Sarah was endearing. I appreciated Ben and his eagle’s connection. There was plenty of action with cattle rustlers and Kate’s friend was in a bad situation. The descriptions were stunning and put me right on this Texas ranch. I highly recommend this if you love a good western romance!


 

The Kurdish Connection

by Randall Krzak

I don’t usually pick middle-east military stories, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. What I found was a very detailed history of the Kurds that included Turkey, Syria, and Iraqi. Many POVs gave a complete picture of all the sides, which I appreciated, but it was a lot to keep track of, too. Getting into the heads of the Kurds in the characters Ismet, Dersim, and Hawre to see their side of things was fascinating and what I liked best in the story. When the Kurds found the twenty-year-old chemical weapons and their decision what to do next made sense–from their perspective and history. Then a secret special operative team was sent into three countries to find these weapons before they were used. I was happy with the conclusion of the book. It was an interesting and sometimes eye-opening read, that gave a lot of information to the reader.


Embrace your inner child by reading a great story this summer! D. L. Finn

“Fallout” Pre-Order by Harmony Kent @harmony_kent

I’m excited to have author, Harmony Kent, here today to celebrate her new soon to be released book, “Fallout.” I’ve pre-ordered my copy.

FALLOUT Book Cover

Hi, everyone. Harmony here. Many thanks to Denise for hosting me today. I have a new book on pre-order called FALLOUT, which is a post-apocalyptic dystopia. This novel started out life by playing a little game. I sat and closed my eyes and imagined an empty room … in that room, a vial appeared. A dull orange plastic thing covered in scratches. It sloshed when I shook it. From that tiny beginning, the world of Exxon 1 and its deadly virus was born.

Who’s stalking Priya and Kaleb?

Could it be an infected? …

Someone even more sinister?

Fallout Blurb

   

WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 

The year is 3040.

 

The location is Exxon 1, part of a six-planet system in settled space.

 

Determined to avoid the mistakes of old Earth, the surviving humans avoided democracy and opted, instead, for a non-elective totalitarian system.

 

The new way worked well, until now.

 

A crazy, despotic president releases a nano-virus on the population.

 

No one was ready for the fallout. It came anyway.

 

In this post-apocalyptic world, can you stay safe?

 

Excerpt

 

This night brought utter blackness, with not a single hint of red from the moons. A ferocious dust storm earlier in the afternoon had left the skies thick and full and unbreathable. Priya laboured to get air through her filter mask, unused to its suffocating bulk and the effort required to breathe through it.

Anyone interested in following their trail would have an easy time of it, for they left vivid footprints in the dust that lay thick on the ground. Every once in a while, she had to use her sleeve to wipe her visor clean so that she could see her way forward.

The heavy particles blanketed the world and brought a preternatural quiet, much like when it snowed. You could lay in bed and know that white surrounded you without even looking out of the window. You only had to listen.

A couple of times, from the corner of her eye, Priya had caught a glimpse of a fleeting shadow. Too small for another raptor. Too quick to catch. And obscured by the tree cover and poor visibility in the aftermath of the storm.

The hairs on her neck prickled, and goosebumps ran up and down her arms and spine. The trail of prints bothered her. As did the blanketing effect of the dust. That flitting shadow could be someone or merely a figment of her imagination.

For Denise Banner

FALLOUT Pre-order Link

 

 

Author Photo Harmony

Author Bio

 After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

 

Links

 

Website

Story Empire (co-authored)

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

River Monsters by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #RRBC

I’m very excited to welcome fellow #RRBC member, Mark Bierman author of Vanished!  He’s sharing a true story based on his friend’s experience.

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River Monsters

“Left is death.” These are the guide’s last words to us, before the mighty Ottawa is halved by the stone island with cliffs that rise fifteen feet on all sides. I cling to the handles of my glorified flutter board, known as a riverboard, in river-junkie lingo. My legs kick furiously against the freight-train current, a byproduct of tons of H2o that seems of a will to push me towards the promised waterfall of death. I’m winning! The nose of my personal craft is pointed to the right.

Something slams into me from behind and I turn my head, expecting a rogue wave, or perhaps a muskie. It’s neither. The blur of a blue helmet and a yellow-life jacket, speeds past. The rider, a good friend, offers no apology for knocking me off course. He’s not being intentionally rude, just too engaged in ‘flight’ mode, unaware that he’s just condemned me.

The cottage-sized rapids brew a storm of terror as the island passes to my right and I’m suddenly alone. Cresting a wave, I search frantically for my killer, but instead of a waterfall, the remnants of an ancient concrete structure appear downstream, then disappear as I careen down the back of the liquid leviathan into a trough deeper than Jacob’s Well.

Dam! I scream in silence as I dare not open my mouth and drown. I recall our guide, Harley, or Holly, as we’d mistakenly called him during the introductions, warning us in his thick New Zealand accent that the only way to retrieve a body is to call the authorities and have them close off the hydro-electric dam located miles upstream. I’m yanked from the depths and treated to a blinding facial slap, yet behind my eyelids I visualize my only salvation, the island.

I order the last drop from spent adrenal glands for a final push towards stone razors that offer way too close of a shave. My vision clears briefly before repeatedly being assaulted by the eye-wash station from Hell. I cut across the animated hills and valleys in a Herculean feat to reach the only spot on the jagged cliff that won’t eviscerate my corpse, a small cavern dug by eons of hungry waves.

I cannot escape. The mighty Ottawa is bent on sending me to the bottom as it shoves my board violently under the cavern roof. I’m pinned beneath, unable to breath, my life jacket is nothing more than a morbid and ironic fashion accessory. My will to survive overrides the deadly circumstance and my burning legs push against the walls. I’m free, but manage to gulp a mere ounce of oxygen, before I’m squished into the same hole, like a garlic in a press.

Holly! I beg internally. Where are you? Are you too busy flirting with those women on the rafts? Put away your playboy ways, for a moment, and do your job! But Holly doesn’t come. My thoughts settle on my wife and children, whom I’ll never see again. Thankfully, I’m an insurance broker in a soon to be past life, and the Life is paid up. I push off again and surface.

“Just swim towards me, mate.” Harley yells.

I open my mouth to shout an objection to this oversimplified strategy and drink a gallon of Canadian history.

Harley seems nonplussed. “Swim, just swim, mate.”

I shake my head and sink once more, but the company, even one so useless, spurs me into immediate action. I break the surface but this time, my flippers and one hand have found purchase on a less deadly piece of the island.

Harley realizes the fallibility of his plan and swims to me, grabbing the handle of my board and ordering a “hang on.”

Harley may be preoccupied with the extracurricular, but he has the strength of a tugboat, swimming against the river giants, with me in tow. We round the island and reach the bank. My friends are there and I give the offender a cold stare.

Normally a man of sound mind, he realizes his transgression and offers numerous apologies.

Harley smiles and waves his hand dismissively. He shakes his head and chuckles. “There was never any danger. We’ve already passed the waterfall a few miles ago. Don’t you remember when I had everyone get into the raft? We went through the White Monster, that’s where the danger zone was.”

Safe? No danger! I wanted to beat this man with my flippers. “What about the manmade death trap, the old dam?”

His eyes took on a look of incredulity, as if I spent my days on a board, instead of riding a desk. “All you had to do was stick to the middle of the river. You would have sailed past it all and joined us at the end of the island. You see, never any danger.”

My hand reaches for a flipper, but I think better of it. The day is almost over, the biggest rapids supposedly conquered. I’ll cool my temper with a cold beer on the patio later, as I vow never to stick a toe in these waters again.


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About the Author:

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

​Drawing on his many experiences as a private investigator and later a Correctional Officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create his stories and characters

Links:

Purchase links for his book Vanished:

 

 

 

 

 

More July Book Reviews @WordDreams @rhanidchae @rijanjks @WendyJayneScott @BetteAStevens @bakeandwrite

I was going to wait and post these as August Book Reviews, but there are so many I thought it might be better to post now. I will do an August Book Review in a couple of weeks.  Several of these reviews are for short stories, along with historical fiction, poetry, and prehistory fiction. All suited for summertime reading.

As usual, I only post 4-5 stars reviews of indie books I’ve read.

 

 

While the Bombs Fell

by Robbie CheadleElsie Hancy Eaton

“While the Bombs Fell” is told through the eyes of a young girl in England during WWII. From food rations to bombs falling, it was a fascinating look into war from a child’s eyes. It was written much like a journal or someone retelling their memories—which it was. I was drawn into what it would be like to live through this period via Elise’s descriptions. Between supplementing their food with a garden, going into the bomb shelter during raids, or the children finding ways to entertain themselves, I felt like I understood what she went through. I loved the addition of recipes at the end. This is a great peek into what it was like to survive in wartime, especially for children.


My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons

by Bette A. Stevens

“My Maine” is a fantastic collection of nature haiku. Going through the seasons, I would I’d found my favorite one, but I hadn’t because they were all good. It was impressive with the limited wordage of the poems that so much information came across. The pictures added more depth to the words, and I enjoyed learning some new details along the way. This is an excellent blend of poetry, photographs, and facts about Maine. If you love nature and poetry, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend this!


Survival of the Fittest (the Crossroads Trilogy Book 1) 
by Jacqui Murray

I’ve never read a novel set 850,000 years ago. The details and obvious research were amazing, as was the story. Xhosa is a strong female in times when males rule the tribes. I loved her character and how she looked at the world through her senses, instinct, and duty. It repulsed me when they ate their kill without cooking it, but I had to remember they didn’t have control of fire yet. Ms. Murray takes the reader deep into that period, where I could easily imagine how it might have been living then. I was rooting for Xhosa and her tribe as they tried to survive other tribe’s attacks and nature. I loved the relationships that developed as they met up with others fleeing the same situation. I’m completely hooked on this moment in history and storyline. I will definitely read the rest of this series and highly recommend it.


Slimmer: A Contemporary Romance

by Wendy Jayne

I could relate to the main character, Pippa, trying to lose weight for an upcoming event. Determined to fit into a smaller dress, Pippa wanted to impress the man she had a crush on since she was a teenager. Her struggle and attempts were amusing. Satisfied with the outcome and Pippa’s conclusions,  I appreciated this short story!


A Soldier’s Children

by Jan Sikes

I loved this short story about two young girls abandoned by their mother while their father was away at war and declared MIA.  Jennifer, at fourteen years old, takes over the care of herself and her younger sister. This was so well-written I was feeling a lot of emotions reading it including anger at the mother to cheering Jennifer on. All the small details brought it to life for me. If you love heart-warming stories, this is a must read!


Jewel

by Jan Sikes

Jewel, her sister, and mother lived in poverty. Her mother became sick and couldn’t take care of her girls. The mother found new situations for them both to give them a better chance of a better life. Jewel took everything in stride thrown at her. This short story had a fairy tale quality to it with an adult subject. I enjoyed the theme of a young girl who came from nothing and found her place in the world.


 

Visitors: Short Story Mystery

by WJ Scott

Two brothers are sent to live with Aunt Sally because their mother is sick. I loved how Brodie took care of his little brother Tom on the journey there with their aunt. When they arrive, the town appears to be hiding something which made me very curious. The place felt so real and strange at the same time.  I enjoyed the boys trying to find the secret with the aide of their aunt’s dog. The reason surprised me and made this an exciting and highly recommended short read!

 


Voodoo or Destiny: You Decide

by Jan Sikes

Two friends are drinking away Claire’s pain. All in good fun, Claire and Jade make a Voodoo doll resembling the husband who just left Claire for another woman. Ms. Sikes wrote this in a fashion that felt authentic to me. There was a woman betrayed and heartbroken with a friend trying to cheer her up. I could easily imagine sitting with these two women, making a doll to work through all the bad feelings with an unexpected outcome. This short story was a quick read, but a complete story that I thoroughly enjoyed—and highly recommend!


Megamax

by Rhani D’Chae

This short story takes us to a future I hope doesn’t happen but feels very real. Prisoner Maxwell Drake is a part of the fighting ring in the Seattle prison. The fights are brutal, bloody, and controlled by the warden for profit. It immediately drew me into the story, including the predicament of being forced to do something Maxwell didn’t want to and the consequences of refusing. I want to know more about this world and Maxwell and can’t wait for the novel! I recommend this story that takes the reader into an action-filled glimpse of what could be.


 

UPDATES

There will be no blog post next Sunday. August 4th. There’s a family wedding and my son is coming down for a visit. (Plus, I have my weekly older grandkid stay, and it’s fair time, too). So, I will enjoy these happy celebrations and devote my full focus to family and fun. I will be back August 11th or the last weekend of summer before school starts here. Whew!

Embrace your inner child this summer by reading a great story! D. L. Finn

Fifty years ago…one small step

 

Fifty years ago a young girl watched with fascination, on the state of the art 19 inch TV, when a man walked on the moon. She thought it was a fantastic birthday present. She still believes that years later:) Here’s a poem from “No Fairy Tale” honoring that day when man imprinted his presences on that glowing globe and a young girl’s imagination soared.

MOONWALK: JULY 20, 1969

The night loved me.

It was mutual.

The stars,

The quiet,

The crickets,

The moon—especially the moon.

Hours passed

In perfect silence,

Eyes staring

As the huge

Parental face

Stared back,

Its familiar glow

So far away.

All things were possible,

And just as impossible.

So, no surprise on my seventh birthday

When I watched and heard,

“That’s one small step for man,

One giant leap for mankind.”

The astronaut Neil Armstrong,

The spaceship Eagle,

The Sea of Tranquility

Were my gift.

I’m positive

That gentle, glowing face,

Swelling each month

So I can see its full magnificence,

Hasn’t forgotten me

Or the day

When man first encroached

On the moon and our innocence.

The moon still watches me,

And sometimes

I remember to look.


Embrace your inner child by moon gazing this summer! D.L. Finn

It’s #RRBC PAY IT FORWARD Day #PIF–Randall Krzak @rjkrzak

Today is #RRBC Pay It Forward Day. I choose author, Randall Krzak as my PIF from my “Twitter Support Team” list! I haven’t read any of his books, so I purchased the “Kurdish Connection.” It is now my current read.

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The Kurdish Connection 

KURDISH SCAVENGERS UNCOVER A CACHE OF NERVE GAS IN IRAQ AND OFFER THEM TO KURDISH FIGHTERS IN TURKEY. THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS BEDLAM ALPHA TEAM MUST SECURE THE WEAPONS BEFORE THEY CAN BE USED.

In their daily struggle for survival, Iraqi Kurdish scavengers uncover a cache of chemical weapons. They offer the weapons to Kurdish rebels in Turkey and Syria to assist in their quest to free an imprisoned leader and create a unified homeland. After receiving a tip from an unlikely source, the newly formed Special Operations Bedlam team is called to arms. Can the team recover the weapons before it’s too late?


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Dangerous Alliance

United Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.

Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound, but inaction emboldens Al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.

Bedlam Bravo team leader Colonel Trevor Franklin (Ret.) leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but at what cost?


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About Randall Krzak

Welcome!

I’m a U.S. Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending thirty years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. My residency abroad qualifies me to build rich worlds in my action-adventure novels and short stories. Familiar with customs, laws, and social norms, I promote these to create authentic characters and scenery.

My first novel, The Kurdish Connection, was published in 2017, and the sequel, Dangerous Alliance, was released in November 2018. Both placed in the 2018 Global Thriller Book Awards sponsored by Chanticleer International Book Awards, with The Kurdish Connection finishing as a semi-finalist and Dangerous Alliance being selected as one of seven first in category winners. I recently signed a contract for the third novel in the series, Carnage in Singapore. Work on my fourth novel in the series, Ultimate Escalation, is underway, as is the first book in a new series, A Cartel’s Revenge.

I also penned A Dangerous Occupation, a winning entry in the August 2016 Wild Sound Writing and Film Festival Review short story category.

I hold a general Master in Business Administration (MBA) and a MBA with an emphasis in Strategic Focus, both from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. My wife, Sylvia, six cats, and I currently reside in Dunfermline, Scotland. I’m originally from Michigan, while Sylvia is a proud Scot.

In addition to writing, I enjoy hiking, reading, candle making, pyrography, and sightseeing.

Randall’s Links:
 

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA–Bernard Foong @bernardfoong

Watch Write Showcase Tour

Vignettes Parisian

BERNARD FOONG PIC

By Bernard Foong

Vignettes Parisian is a collection of four short stories about the Author’s past and present experiences in the French City of Love and Romance, commonly known as Paris.

 

Christian Dior Couturier Du Reve

It is impossible not to have a close encounter with fashion when I am in Paris. Even if I had to wait in the freezing cold for an hour and a half to enter the Christian Dior Couturier Du Reve (Christian Dior Couturier of Dreams) exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts). My husband, Walter, and I were the lucky few who arrived early before the museum opened its doors. The late arrivals were banished to the back of the queue for a five hours wait before admission was granted.

This spectacular exhibition was worth the wait. Not only were the lives, times, and accomplishments of Christian Dior, one of the great French couturier and his successors well documented, the exquisite fashions and well-thought-out displays were equally impressive.

Since my first visit in 1966 to the French capital of romance, luxury, and fashion, my love for Paris has never waned. Before I left sunny Maui, I had designed and made a haute couture gold, silver, and black embossed velvet fleur-de-lis patterned coat to wear during my recent holiday in France. It was at this exhibition that I received compliments for my one-of-a-kind creation.

A stranger approached me at the exhibition to buy the coat off my back because he loved what I wore. Perhaps I should be the next designer to take over the reins for this resplendent Maison – The House of Dior. After all, I am a knowledgeable and seasoned fashion designer who knows every aspect of the international fashion industry.

Shopping In Paris (Then & Now)

I am one of those blessed individuals with a pair of discerning eyes and can detect items I wish to purchase in cramped spaces on my crazy shopping sprees. It was in such a circumstance that Walter and I found ourselves in the middle of the crowded shopping Avenue, des Champs Elysées.

A sole of my shoe had divorced itself from the body of my long-lasting suedes and left me to hobble around Paris like a circus clown with flapping feet. I had to take immediate action to remedy this unanticipated situation before the remainder of my footwear disintegrated onto the wet and soggy ground, while my beloved, sniggered at my fashion malfunction.

I remembered an amusing incident that happened in 1969 at this boulevard. Back then, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed fashion student. Accompanying Moi was Count Mario, an accomplished Vogue fashion photographer, Andy, my model-looking lover and Valet, and Sammy, a flamboyant young fashionista. The four of us were shopping at the avenue, that drizzly day.

To elongate his petite stature beneath his wide bell-bottom jeans, Sammy wore a pair of eight inches high platform shoes. He also donned a fitted denim jacket over a sassy body-hugging bodysuit. To complete his eccentric ensemble, his dyed cornflower yellow, emerald, and turquoise hair flowed behind him like an exotic mane as our quartet floated down the street.

Eyes turned in our direction as we trotted around Paris in style. Before I realized what had transpired, Sammy was flat on the pavement. Colorful socks bounced around him like raptured pom-poms. The lad had stuffed pairs of rolled-up socks inside his footwear so he could fit his tiny feet into the platforms. He had stumbled on the wet and slippery sidewalk.

Mario, wasted no time whipping out his camera to capture this unanticipated fashion faux pas, while Andy and I looked on in shock.

As if modeling for a Vogue fashion shoot, the quick-witted Sam posed this way and that on the wet thoroughfare while the photographer clicked away at the gaffe. A pedestrian circle had formed in the middle of Avenue des Champs Elysées to witness this “fashion happening.” Advertently, our friend had transformed an embarrassing situation into a photo-opt as the applauding crowd showered the boy with accolades. By the time Sammy got on his feet, he had saved his face with poise and grace.

 

The Magical Power of The Written Word

“Why are there beds located at different corners of the bookstore?” I asked Monsieur Mercier, an assistant at the Shakespeare & Company bookshop.

“The beds are available for writers to stay a night in Paris for free,” the man responded before he resumed, “ Are you a writer? Do you intend to stay the night?”

Surprised by the man’s inquiries, I evinced, “I am a writer. But no thank you to the lodging offer.”

“What genre of books do you write, Monsieur?” Mercier queried.

“I’m an autobiographer,” I replied. “Because of its controversial and provocative contents, my books are often classified under the Erotica genre.”

The bookseller questioned, “What are the titles of your books, and what is the author’s name?”

“A HAREM BOY’S SAGA; A MEMOIR BY YOUNG. It’s a five-book series,” I declared.

“I believe we have your books in the store. Are the titles: INITIATION, UNBRIDLED, DEBAUCHERY, TURPITUDE, and METANOIA?” he promulgated.

I nodded, delighted by his information.

The Frenchman led me through a series of narrow pathways covered with volumes and pamphlets of the written word. When he finally extracted five volumes of my autobiography from a shelf, my heart nearly leaped out of my chest.

“I read the series. What a compelling teenage life you’ve led. I wish my school had a secret fraternity program like yours,” the teller quipped smilingly.

He recommenced, “Our store is a focal point of English literature in Paris. Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Richard Wright are frequent visitors. We also host literary activities, like poetry readings, writers’ meetings, book readings, writing festivals, literature festivals, photography workshops, writing groups, and Sunday tea.

“Ms. Sylvia Whitman, the owner, might invite you for a book reading at our store.”

“That will be splendid. Unfortunately, my husband and I are in Paris for a short period. Maybe we can arrange a book reading and signing session when we are in Paris again,” I proposed.

Monsieur Mercier and I had exchanged contact information before I left the Shakespeare & Company bookshop. Hopefully, during my next visit to Paree, I will get to meet Madam Sylvia Whitman with a book reading and signing gig in place.

 

S.O.W. and R.E.A.P.

Over the years, I have been asked by many, “Why do you love Paris so much?” My reply is always the same – S.O.W.

Although the Parisian cityscape has changed over the years, these three alphabets continue to shadow my existence whenever I am in or out of Paris. S.O.W. is also a reason Walter and I chose France as our home away from home.

In the autumn of 1966, when the Simorgh (one of my Arab patriarch’s private jet) touched down in Charles de Gaulle airport, I had contracted the romance bug. Back then, the ebullient Moi, an inquisitive teenager with a quest for adventure, was whisked to the Paris Ritz Carlton in a luxurious Bentley by my host, Prince P. I had fallen head-over-heels in love and in awe with both the prince, Andy, my then chaperone and Valet, and Paris, the city of romance. That was before our entourage visited the haute couture fashion Houses of Chanel, Dior, Ungaro, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Patou, and the fancy eateries, such as Café de Flore, La Belle Époque, Maxim’s, and last but by no means least, Le Folies Bergers. Back then, these infamous Parisian establishments were places to go, to see and be seen. Nowadays, they are tourist attractions.

Through the subsequent years, I had accompanied many princes, princesses, sheiks, sheikas, and their aristocratic Arabian entourages to the French capital. Most significantly, this city of love and romance had taught me the art of Seduction (S), Originality (O), and Wit (W). Some may say that wittiness is a congenital trait, but I purport it as a learned art of human relationships. Whatever definition one chooses to use, I had returned to this electrifying metropolis of S.O.W.; where I had sown many a wild oat. Now, with my beloved husband in tow, I’m here to R.E.A.P. its rewards.

“What the hell is R.E.A.P.?” you ask.

I will explain:

R – Romance continues to exist in this alluring Capital of Love; even amid an influx of foreign refugees and political upheavals. Another series of stories, I will narrate another time.

E – Elegance in this sordid city of high culture is a trait Walter and I find irresistibly seductive.

A – Authenticity is historicity in this Center of Romance. And I am not referring to the faux reproduction of the Las Vegas ‘Paris’ in Nevada, United States of America.

P – Paris equals Sophistication, Originality, Wit, Romance, Elegance, and Authenticity. But last and by no means least, this French capital is where Perfection reigns supreme.

PARIS – Mon Paree!

 

Bernard Foong (aka Young)


 

 

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Burning Out in Tokyo

ron-yates

 

By Ronald E. Yates

 

Clayton Brandt stood just behind the glass doors of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry building waiting for a let-up in the storm that pummeled the hot Tokyo pavement. Wisps of vapor rose into the air as the rain hit the warm ground.

 

He searched the eight-lane boulevard in front of the MITI building for an empty taxi. He knew it could be a long wait before an empty cab came down Sakurada-Dori. Thousands of bureaucrats glutted Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district, and whenever it rained, it seemed like all of them wanted a taxi.

 

“Son of a bitch!” he said, his words echoing through the lobby. Two middle-aged Japanese bureaucrats standing nearby looked over at the tall foreigner. They understood that English phrase.

 

Clayton grinned. “Ame-ga futte imasu,” he said.

 

The two men looked at one another and then back at Clayton as if to say: “Yes, we can see it is raining. But is that any excuse for such a rude public outburst?”

 

Clayton sighed, opened his umbrella, and stepped out into the downpour. He turned right and hurried through the governmental heartland of Japan, maneuvering his 6-foot, 3-inch frame through the crowded sidewalk glutted with black and gray umbrellas. Sometimes the edge of an umbrella held by a much shorter Japanese man or woman slashed at his throat or slapped against his face. Whenever it rained, and the umbrellas came out, Clayton always felt Gulliveresque—like a giant trapped in a forest of undulating toadstools.

 

He looked up at the leaden April sky. The rain had drenched Tokyo for the past four days, covering the ground with a pink and white patina of delicate sakura blossoms. A slow rumble of thunder curled between the squat granite structures of Kasumigaseki. Clayton looked at his watch. It was four-thirty and the evening traffic was already crawling. He had hoped to get his story written and filed by six o’clock, but the briefing about Japan’s angry reaction to Washington’s decision to bar the U.S. government’s purchase of Japanese supercomputers had taken longer than usual.

 

The sky rumbled again, and bolts of lightning streaked overhead. A taxi pulled up outside the Ministry of Health and Welfare and was disgorging three Japanese bureaucrats in dark blue suits. Clayton closed his umbrella and dashed for the cab splashing through rivulets of water as he ran. The three men had barely climbed out before Clayton bolted past them and into the rear seat. He gave the driver his destination, closed his eyes, and rested his head on the seat back as the taxi inched its way back into the gridlock.

 

Every so often, his eyes opened just long enough to take in the somber Tokyo landscape. The perpetually gray skies of Tokyo didn’t do his already sepulchral spirit any good. In fact, very little seemed to buoy his disposition these days. He couldn’t help it. He felt depressed and probably a bit too sorry for himself. A few hours before the MITI briefing, he had suffered through another of those telephone “chats” with Max, the foreign editor of Global News Service in London about expenses and the need to cut back on costs.

 

“O.K., O.K. Max,” Clayton had sighed bleakly into the phone. “I get the picture.”

 

The exchange ended with Max suggesting that Clayton not be such a “cowboy.” A “cowboy?” Why? Just because he was from Oxford, Kansas and not Oxford, England? It wasn’t easy working for a bunch of Brits when you sounded more like Garth Brooks than Sir Laurence Olivier. But he knew what Max meant.

 

Clayton was an iconoclast in a profession that increasingly rewarded conformity rather than individualism. Newspapers today all looked alike, loaded with the same predictable stories about the same predictable events. It was rubber-stamp journalism practiced by rubber-stamp editors who worked for rubber-stamp publishers who worked for boards of directors who wanted twenty percent operating profit margins above all else—quality journalism be damned.

 

He went over the notes he had hurriedly scribbled during the MITI briefing, searching for the lead of his story. His pen scratched heavy lines under the words “ill-conceived” and “studying our response.” Then he stuffed the notebook back into his bag.

 

“It’s over,” Clayton thought to himself as he watched the snarl of cars and trucks crawl along Uchibori-Dori through Kokyo-Gaien, the large plaza that fronted the walled Imperial Palace. It was as if today he had been forced finally to confront the inevitable mortality of his professional career; or at least of his particular brand of journalism. He was writing the same boring stories over and over again. Where was the challenge? The sense of accomplishment?

 

Clayton exhaled and gazed out the taxi window at the striated, ashen facades of drenched buildings. They reminded him of the mascara-smudged faces of women weeping at a rainy graveside.

 

He closed his eyes and nudged his mind away from the depressing Tokyo landscape. Soon it was obediently shuffling through old images of another, more beguiling Asia. It was an Asia of genial evenings spent beneath traveler palms; of graceful, colonial-era hotels in Singapore and Malaysia with their chalky plaster facades and their broad verandahs peppered with rattan settees and peacock chairs; of slowly turning teakwood paddle fans that moved the heavy night air with just enough authority to create a light breeze, but not enough to obliterate the sweet scent of evening jasmine. THAT was the Asia he missed; the Orient of the past.

 

Yes, it was ending. Clayton could feel it. It had been a good run . . . A good career. But now the journey was ending, like a train that had roared through the night and was now pulling into its last station. How many times had he almost gotten off only to be lured back on by the promise of what lay ahead at the next stop? How many times had he been disappointed by that decision? How many times had he been rewarded? At first, the rewards outweighed the disappointments, but in recent years, as he had grown older, the regrets seemed to have gained a definite edge.

 

For one thing, the passengers kept changing. And the conductors. And the engineers. But what did he expect? Wasn’t that the way the world worked? What was it that Tennyson had written: “The old order changeth, yielding place to new?”

 

Clayton shuddered. Was he the old order? Should he be yielding? Was he burned out?

 

Maybe he was becoming the old order, Clayton thought. But he wasn’t burned out just yet. And if there was any yielding to do, he wanted it on his own terms. The trouble was, the gulf of time between his past glories and the imminence of the callow, computer savvy handlers in the home office who controlled his destiny was becoming almost unbridgeable.

 

Most of his career predated cell phones and computers. For the computer literates at Global, his life’s work might as well be stored on some remote database. As it was, he existed only in yellowing newspaper clips, aging telexes, and letters of commendation that were kept in his personal file back in London. And nobody bothered to look at that stuff anymore.

 

It made no difference, Clayton thought. In the mutable, evanescent province that modern journalism had become, it was ancient history. Hell, HE was ancient history. He was like a piece of old journalistic parchment—readable, but, unlike a computer, much less utilitarian.

 

What Clayton needed was another journalistic rush . . . A story he could get hold of and play like a newly discovered Mozart piano concerto. He needed something . . . Not to satisfy the yuppies back at Global, but to give him a reason to get back on the train and to leave the station again.

 

The taxi slewed to a stop like a wooden bathhouse sandal skidding along a wet tile floor. Clayton looked up. They were in front of the Kawabata Building.

 

“Kawabata Biru, desu,” the driver announced.

 

Clayton fumbled in his pocket, handed the driver a one thousand yen note, and waited for his change. Then he bolted through the swirling Tokyo rain and put his shoulder against the massive glass and steel doors of the Kawabata Building. Unlike most of Tokyo’s modern structures, the Kawabata Building didn’t have sleek automatic glass doors that hissed serpent-like and opened automatically at the approach of a human being. It was a pre-war relic—an architectural throw-back with cracked marble floors and a fading art deco interior that had somehow survived the allied bombings.

 

The building’s deteriorating facade, which was the color of dead autumn leaves, seemed to glower at the world—like the rumpled brow of an angry old man. But the tumble-down building had an undeniable individuality in a country that too often prized sameness, and that was the reason Clayton liked it and had refused an offer to move into one of the new glass and steel “smart buildings” that soared over Tokyo’s Otemachi district.

 

He paused to talk for a moment with the old woman who operated the small grocery and newsstand tucked away in the corner of the lobby. From his many conversations with her, Clayton had learned that the old woman had operated her little concession since 1938 and knew the building’s history better than anybody.

 

She smiled as Clayton’s towering frame bent toward her in one of those peculiar half bows that Japanese make when they are in a hurry. Japanese could do it with a certain grace; but not Clayton. When this big foreigner bowed, he always looked like he was on the verge of crashing to the ground like a gingko tree struck by lightning. Nevertheless, she liked this gaijin. Ordinarily, she merely tolerated foreigners, but this one had a solitary charm. He was big, but not threatening; assertive, but not arrogant.

 

“So, Oba-san, Genki datta?” Clayton asked, combining the Japanese honorific for “grandmother” with the less formal interrogative for “how are you?”

 

“Genki-yo,” the old woman replied. Clayton picked up a package of Pocky chocolates and placed a one hundred yen coin in the old woman’s hand.

 

“Sayonara,” Clayton said as he turned and scuttled toward the bank of elevators.

 

“Sonna ni hatarakanai ho ga ii desu!” the old woman called after him.

 

Clayton smiled and nodded over his shoulder. The old woman was right. He was working too hard, and where was it getting him? Back on a train to oblivion?

 

“Oh, get over it,” Clayton thought as the elevator door closed. “You’ve got a story to write. Feel sorry for yourself AFTER you make your friggin’ deadline! Besides, what else do you know how to do, you old hack! Burning out is not an option.”

 

The End


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NATURE SPEAKS

karen pic

By Karen Ingalls

Why did my life spiral into darkness in a second? One minute I am married to my soulmate, a mother to a beautiful daughter, and owner of a successful bookstore. My friends asked me, “How do you have the perfect life? It is so easy for you.” They were right. I had the perfect life.

My husband was an engineer, and I opened a bookstore naming it Mile High Books offering old and new books, coffee or tea. Leather chairs and couches provided comfort to the patrons. Classical music played in the background. I loved going to my store enjoying the smell of books, coffee, and leather.

We had our first and only child, Lynn who also loved classical music and dreamed of being a ballet dancer.

One Saturday morning, my life changed forever. I had awakened with a migraine headache, which was intolerable. It was best if I stayed in a dark, quiet room until the medication relieved the blinding pain.

My husband, Miles volunteered to run the bookstore that fateful day. “Lynn and I can manage the bookstore today. You stay home and take care of the headache.” He leaned over and kissed me. “I love you,” were the last words I would hear him say.

I curled up, closed my eyes, and waited for the pain to go away.

A pounding on the front door and the continuous ringing of the bell awakened me. “This had better be important,” I muttered while staggering down the stairs. Two police officers with grim looks were standing on the porch. I collapsed when the words, fire, death, husband, daughter floated around my confused mind.

My once perfect life was unbearable with the memories of it everywhere. I sold everything, bought a second-hand Volkswagen Beetle, and drove west with just the clothes on my back and a photograph of Miles, Lynn and me. I didn’t know where I was going, but I didn’t care.

 

The small cabin in the foothills of Costa Mesa, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean was my new residence. It was not a home. It was a place to sleep, eat and try to escape from my past.

The land was arid with brush, oak trees, scattered thistle weeds, and clay soil. Every evening, I walked down a short path from the cabin to a flattened area where I sat under a large oak tree and watched the sun dip into the ocean. One day at dusk, I leaned against the tree, closed my eyes and dreamed that Miles arms were around me while we watched Lynn ballet dance on a large stage. I could hear the music of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

When I awoke there were two limbs embracing me, and leaves and acorns were swirling around creating Tchaikovsky’s music. “Am I still dreaming?” The bark of the trunk and the limbs was rough and uncomfortable. I squirmed and pulled at the limbs. “What is happening? This is crazy.” I yelled for someone to help me, but the only words I heard were not human.

Ginny, you are a strong woman. Use your strength to get through this storm in your life. 

I pulled the limbs off, jumped up, and looked around expecting to see someone nearby. “Is anyone here?” I yelled again. Everything was quiet. A full moon radiated light around me.

Staring at the tree, I brushed my clothes, scratched my head, and said, “That was quite a dream, but how did those limbs wrap around me?” I shook my head trying to clear the confusion. “It was a beautiful dream of Miles and Lynn. I miss them so much.” With the sleeve of my sweater I wiped the tears. “I’ve got to get hold of myself. I’m losing my mind.”

The voice said. That was not a dream. I am here to help you.

“Oh, my God, I am going crazy. Trees don’t talk.”

Ginny, you are not going crazy. All trees talk, but humans do not listen. Do you remember your friend, Meredith who told you she talks to trees?

I nodded. “How do you…?”

I saw a friendly face of a kind, elderly man etched in the trunk. Every flora and fauna communes with humans, but they are too busy or unbelieving to listen and learn from us. 

I fell to my knees, grabbed a handful of soil, and watched it slowly stream out of my clenched fist. “This was my life. Time was going by with no troubles.” I opened my fist and let the soil out in one burst. “Then everything changed. My life was never the same. It is now an empty hand.” I sobbed and my whole body shook.

You are strong. Your faith is like my roots: stretching wide and going deep. 

The limbs stretched out, wrapped around my shoulders and leaned me against the trunk. Miles and Lynn are speaking to you through me.

Then I heard them say, We love you and will always be with you. Follow your heart.

The limbs were gentle and comforting. The rough bark was now smooth. My tears dried up, and I drifted into a deep and peaceful sleep.

The warm and bright rays of the morning sun radiated through the tree’s canopy bringing warmth to my body nestled against the oak tree. Standing up, I stretched and looked out at the blue waters of the Pacific marveling at its majesty and beauty. I smiled as the words follow your heart floated around. “Wow! That was quite a dream.”

I walked a few steps on the path back towards the cabin. I stopped and looked back at the oak tree. “It might have all been a dream, but thank you.”

A thistle plant with its purple flower in full bloom was further up the path. I stopped. “You are beautiful, but your spikes are sharp.”

The spikes turned inward. Do not let fear hold you back.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. “Now I hear a flower talking to me. I am going crazy.”

The thistle plant swayed back and forth though there was no breeze. It bent forward bringing its flower near my hands. Touch me and accept my gift of peace.

I placed my hand on the purple flower and a deep sense of serenity swept over me. For the first time since the deaths of my family I was at peace. I whispered “Thank you.”

A short distance from the cabin porch, I saw the white silken top of a trapdoor spider’s home. I did not remember seeing it before and bent down to get a closer look. The trapdoor opened and a dark spider poked his head out. I stumbled as I tried to jump back.

The spider was small and ugly with fine hairs covering its dark brown body. He was frightening to look at, but his kind words put me at ease. You have walked by many doors, but you didn’t open them. 

“What is going on? I am hallucinating with all these voices in my head.”

You are not hallucinating. Your family is talking to you through the oak tree, the thistle and me. The spider moved back into his home and closed the trapdoor.

 

For days I paced around the cabin, reliving each moment and the words about strength, peace, and opportunities. I prayed and cried. I read about mysticism and nature.

One morning, I awoke and saw Miles and Lynn standing beside my bed. We will always be with you in your heart. Let nature continue to teach you.

 

The magnificent oak tree taught how to be strong of body, mind, and heart. Staying healthy and opening my arms to others became my ways of living.

I found beauty in my life and other people after removing my thorns of bitterness and self-pity.

My cabin was a trap shutting out people until I opened its doors and made it a home and retreat center. I added rooms for guests to stay and classrooms for teaching.

I called my new endeavor Nature Speaks, helping people to commune with and learn from all aspects of nature. When people open their hearts and minds to nature there are opportunities for a richer life.


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We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Karen Ingalls RWISA Author Page