YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

September 1999

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
Production Editor: Pedro Sena
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Martin Zurla; Rita Stilli; Milan Georges Djordjevitch; Michael Collings

ISSN 1480-6401



         I heard the wind whispering again


         For C.C.
         See me
         House broken
         Just now


         L A D Y   B U G
         Fire Ants 
         Bitter Rain
         B A N G,   B A N G ?
         C A L C U L A T I O N S

         The Power of  Destiny

         Miss De Milo's Fat Shoulders
         Mrs. Einstein
         tulips must be hindus
         The Curious People    

         Smart Thing To Do
         Against My Will
         White Picket Fence
         Overdoing It
         Getting Quite Good At It
         Change Your Clothes
         Breaking Their Heart

      J.E. MARKS
         FOG at SEA



  I heard the wind whispering again
   those old spoken words
   I heard so long ago when I was young
   free yourself
   open the inner eyes
   there is still hope
   for us dreamers and poets
   soon you will see flowers
   in your waking life
   and you will know that inside the inside
   there is a hidden place of escape from this human craziness
   but this dream
   is taking form
   leaking through to our world
   from the inside
   we remind ourself
   this dream of freedom
   not everything around is so real
   there is something more real
   busy thoughts create busy reality
   dreams are messages
   reminders of the soul
   and things like this tend to build themselves up
   more and more people holding hands
   weaving the unseen web
   awareness is growing within
   and things will be the way they'll be
   there's no need to worry about it
   the more people seek it
   the more people find it
   truth, freedom, love, happiness, nature
   this is for you my friends
   I know you knew this all along
   I just had to clear up the steams from my windows
   we're on the right path
   it is unseen
   but our inner eyes can see it
   flowers, lights
   blending colors and butterflies
   they came back into my life!
   ILSH-EYAL I heard the wind whispering again
   those old spoken words
   I heard so long ago when I was young
   free yourself
   open the inner eyes
   there is still hope
   for us dreamers and poets
   soon you will see flowers
   in your waking life
   and you will know that inside the inside
   there is a hidden place of escape from this human craziness
   but this dream
   is taking form
   leaking through to our world
   from the inside
   we remind ourself
   this dream of freedom
   not everything around is so real
   there is something more real
   busy thoughts create busy reality
   dreams are messages
   reminders of the soul
   and things like this tend to build themselves up
   more and more people holding hands
   weaving the unseen web
   awareness is growing within
   and things will be the way they'll be
   there's no need to worry about it
   the more people seek it
   the more people find it
   truth, freedom, love, happiness, nature
   this is for you my friends
   I know you knew this all along
   I just had to clear up the steams from my windows
   we're on the right path
   it is unseen
   but our inner eyes can see it
   flowers, lights
   blending colors and butterflies
   they came back into my life!

   For C.C.
   You are lost innocence fresh faced
   my struggling adonis lost in his own pale flesh
   when im not attracted to this pure unpolluted spirit it makes me feel
   corrupting and dirty
   you give me hope and anger at the same time that
   innocence insists on surviving in this mean and unnatural world
   I like being jaded until you forced a new approach that I am too far
      gone to return to.
   I need this shell
   why are you here forcing issues long decided on
   holding up light to my vain and twisted side
   why does your brand new spirit mock my wise and solid ground
   stop asking questions
   I don't want the pain that comes with trust and blind love
   all the lessons of my life have taught me of another beast and yet
   with all your torments reaching farther than anything I have seen you
      are wiser
   I cannot rise to it

JENNY WRIGHT Pennance ~~~~~~~~ You are the peace and love I stopped believing in your are the pure, the ego-less passion and attraction I no longer seek you are my love at first sight, endless breathing and you weaken my angry heart when I am near you that it should be you you make me look deeper, hoping for any last traces of romance thrashing to believe that all that I have learned of jaded love is a lie without knowing it and for a moment I want to spew bold and innocent statements of love that are told to me but never felt. That it should be you I the hard and solid one cracked and crumbled by the smile that is not for me but is patiently granted in my direction I the one who has lost innocence would trade everything at a word is left with aching stomach and tired soul wishing That it should be you I am all that you wish for the one who sees the pain you hide from misguided fans sitting at your table who instinctively like breathing, knows everything, needed to fix and yet I am the one torn and unable to speak of it, broken and spiraling in my own creation while you speak I am left to listen I sit among your misguided where is the irony laying between us, where is the justice that it should be you
JENNY WRIGHT See me ~~~~~~ See me, I am here your construct does hurt and I am tired of explaining how long shall we go through these lines of pointless dialogue and exits I cannot help what you think your seeing. I am simply surviving and your getting in the way I didn't say that or think it and you need to take back everything, now or I will fight back and bite off everything you are if you don't stop and see me
JENNY WRIGHT House broken ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Last night I dreamt of a van full of big angry woman and myself driving around murdering men putting out their garbage while house-coated woman with broken faces looked on with much rejoicing we threw them to the ground mercilessly struck and kicked while they begged for their children, with each shot we grew more potent and purposeful while house-coated women with broken faces looked on there was no stopping us no end to the unrelenting violence that swelled filled us up with each shot to the face and groin, there was screaming and pleadings but we were without ears we had only voices while house-coated women with broken faces looked on we all stood astride towering over broken bones with war cries and flaunting nature and nurture asking not for forgiveness, nor mercy and we did not bring flowers while house-coated women with broken faces looked on
JENNY WRIGHT Self ~~~~ Stop betraying me, when I work so hard at being whole listen and believe my words, they are not for not I can't fight what you tear away at you are insistent, random and alive you rise to the surface leaving me a mess of duplicity and pain raw, silly and pathetic with faces laughing, fingers pointing you, want me to cross over and you know, I can I need a break now, those times when you rest your tentacles where I am convinced of happiness, strength and free those glorious moments of self please, I need one now
JENNY WRIGHT Untitled ~~~~~~~~ Funny this sharing where in fact did it come from some sense of blood ties and rites, only the pride and ritual you savour come on my tails, leaching I was left a child in a tiny house of girls who knew nothing other than motherhood would declare there pathetic lives honourable you who carries only the eyes arrived and stole all my glory in a fleeting image, the past disappears nice trick, if you have the fortitude But you see, I paid the full ticket price while your simply shrouded yourself in privilege given but not earned of a blood son who could validate everything your not I hand over no forgiveness to someone who was too surface unable to see I was the one who wiped his pale face while=20 you vomited everything
JENNY WRIGHT Just now ~~~~~~~~ I can't see today everything is blurred no tableaus, of beauty or inspiration before me I can't hear today words are unforgiven mean or weak no sweet laughter, turn of phrase or music to please me I can't speak today no one understands words twist, fall in the air unspoken I can't be pleased today boredom and unsympathetic waste fills me up I don't care nor understand nor want to There is no room for me today I am lost unfamiliar in my world uncomfortable and irritable and separate I can't breathe today I can't make sense today I can't today
JOHN HOWETH MEMORY IS DEATH'S DREAM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Life waits only for death. In bargain basement sleep petit death is practiced each night; each morning surprises with imperfect continuity. Some nights more than others close on dreamless death; those nights after sex and sexless bedtimes when dream upon dream on unfired synapses die undreamed, those nights when screams echo through the blind black velvety bilge of alleys hidden in the silent mind then too death is encountered as an old friend who passes partially recognized but unhailed without remorse and thought in later privacy perhaps over cleansing rituals we remember a face like the mirrored one, or a stranger who becomes less estranged in that moment. "No," we say, then continue our lifelessness. After breakfast rush has solidified into unspoken separations, perfunctory partings, the necessary getaway cars of insistence and long earning days alone among coworkers it creeps back to say "I was there; I was with you then." No and no again, we persistently resist the dream. In the silly insecurity of saying "goodbye" on the phone lovers practice death ((when one says to the other, don't hang up on me just let me go) or (when I am without you there is the moment of most perfect death)). It is a matinee movie children have watched and found wanting, pouring complaints onto the bright sidewalks of uncurious adults. It is as if we grow unalive over time, murder ourselves with petty inconveniences, butcher the excitement of heavy breath, hold it in until we collapse, gasping for fresh air. That's the only real option: love as suicide. Otherwise life waits only for death.
JOHN HOWETH JOURNAL ENTRIES REGARDING THE SOUL OF MYRIAM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Her father shrugged well I told him the wells had run dry; nothing could be done. Graciously, he invited me to stay the night with him, to dine and rest before my journey home. His daughter wears a veil. She introduced herself. I'm not adverse to being 'nice'-- have even tried it once or twice; but, with men I always seem to gain by offerings of cruelty and pain. Violence, not culture, is what they want beyond the pleasantries of nine to five. It seems somehow to make them feel alive. She came with me to make the bed and stayed to fan me while I slept through a season hot and wet. It is now midnight in Jamalabad. The crickets sing from a small pond in a full-moon well-lit hidden garden where my lover strolls. Morning in Dallas; flight arrived late. On the plane I did not sleep; I read passages from books-- a parting gift she'd given me. The mind, she said, is a sexual organ unknown to the West. Behind the veil, the mind will build a temple and an erotic pleasure zone. The eyes and brain see not. Bullet holes on her veranda remind me that lust and greed also shape our world. We are alike though far apart. I've a black cat tattoo she inked then cut into my sweating flesh. She has my love.
JOHN HOWETH FIN DE SIECLE POETRY GAMES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The batter drops his bat He steals first base The pitcher dribbles out to third He sinks a three-point shot The linesmen in the outfield swim Their hockey pucks get wet There is no structure to a poem As every day's another game That writes itself at whim (A diary, a journal, autobiography Are all the very same) We checkmate with each dart As long as it emotes some And lines are capitalized to start. It's all just child's rhyme And out-of-doors nostalgia Passed off as art.
ANNE BRYANT-HAMON L A D Y B U G ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (A Wee Morsel Of Nonsense) With Homage To Edward Lear Lady bug dangles her delicate feet, hanging on edge by the tips of her toes, dancing her digits to Beethoven's beat while gorging herself on the leaf of a rose. Over and under, the aphids they go just for a peek at her red petticoat, towing and rowing through chlorophyll's glow on the miniature stern of their pea green boat. Lady bug blushes to see such a sight, this parade of wee, morsel-sized, tiny, green men watching her feast on the garden's delight, so she hides just beneath a wild rose blossom's stem. "Lady bug, lady bug, feminine one, come out and lie in the beautiful sun." shouted Sir Edward, the aphid's fine king, "Come through the garden, to you we will sing." "Lady bug, lady bug, why do you hide?, jump on our raft and we'll give you a ride, climb up into our wee vessel of love, we'll take you sailing on oceans made of: all of the liquid we've pressed from the leaves of the finest white roses that hang from the eaves." Lady bug turned, gave a smile and a sigh, doubting that she could resist such a guy!
ANNE BRYANT-HAMON Fire Ants ~~~~~~~~~ Observe the power of the fire ants: like dynamite held in an atom bomb, the queen has mounds of heat and in her dance she scorches like the sun among the throng of busy workers. She lies far below the light and lives to lay a zillion eggs in fertile soil her belly starts to grow soon giving birth to tiny grubby pegs. Her subjects live to feed her. They survive on fervor bred in darkest Africa Their journey on a ship in '25 brought hell to towns across America. Beware their bite, it gives a mighty sting. They don't eat much - for this, we all should sing!
ANNE BRYANT-HAMON Bitter Rain ~~~~~~~~~~~ My childhood's patio was not the haven that it could have been, demurred by elements of grief and covered with a thin veneer of greedy-love, (not near enough) to plant its gentle seed in time now rather vague, and fading fast so fast - and yet I try to rhyme while toddling, dawdling through my youth and reminiscing scraps of fear how can I be so candid here? And what's the use of trudging near these fatal flaws and warped designs, the tragedies without a name, the pointless years, such reasoned tears these memories wrapped in bitter rain?
ANNE BRYANT-HAMON B A N G, B A N G ? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bayer's URANOMETRIA was the first map of the stars (a sky atlas), which illustrated Centaurus (Centaur), the Wolf, and Southern Cross known as the Crux. Our Universe has rippled since the BANG, suspending galaxies with strands of stars to light the way where hallowed angels hang until implosion bends the will of Mars. Perhaps infinity may be explained by cycles that reverse and then repeat, collapsing, rising. . . nothing lost or gained, celestial heart now rested and replete. So what's the Matter in this world we see? The BANG will heal within eternity.
C A L C U L A T I O N S ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ EvE ate the apple of the Trig, a noma tree, then knew the letters in her name were two instead of three. Substantial calculations grew into exponential matter in which nothing from the heart will ever do. She arched toward the serpent's head to weave three rings that bind his collar of identity. And were it plus or minus by just a few degrees, the angle of mankind might have been deducted in simplicity, no allegories, long sad stories, or obituaries zeroed in on sweeping statements, no half-dead, weeping loved ones running over mindless queries in a symmetry of woes. So many like to say "it's all Eve's fault!", the problem of this falling down to earth. No perfect fruit can satiate equations made of words like "who bit whom?" Perhaps someday we shall revolve full circle instead of paralleling axioms for infinity.
FARZANA MOON The Power of Destiny ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cast of Characters: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto: Pakistan's President Nusrat Bhutto: His wife Benazir Bhutto: Their daughter Murtaza Bhutto: Their son Salima: Their household servant Houris: Nymphs of the Paradise Zia-ul-Haq: A general in Bhutto's army Soldiers Scene: A fairly large bedroom in President's Bhutto's house. The bedroom is sumptuously furnished with a wall-to-wall Persian carpet. Tapestried chairs, Chagtai paintings and damask drapes, all in hues of blue and maroon, complement the oriental decor. One sidetable on the right side of the bed holds a teacup and a glass of water under the shade of a camel-skin lamp. The other bedside table is cluttered with magazines beside a crystal lamp and a transistor radio. Across from the bed is a marble hearth, its mantel laden with portraits, Ormulu clock and obsidain vases. To the right of the fireplace is a white door leading into an attached bathroom. Left of the fireplace is a set of double doors swathed in white lace. The east wall with rectangular windows is cradling a couple of chairs in rose and ivory. A matching set of chairs is also gracing the hearth on either side. The unfurnished area between the bed and the hearth is brightened by a layer of rugs in rosettes and medallions. The ceiling fan is whirling quietly and ominously. When the curtain rises, Benazir Bhutto is seen sleeping on the bed. A soft halo of light reveals her form swathed in satiny sheets. The illumined scene on the stage is right beside the windows where three houris lay lolling against the crimson pillows. A simulated stream flows tranquilly at their feet. President Bhutto rushes close to the illuminated scene like a raging ghost. He is bare-foot. His silk robe over his pajamas is tied loosely at his waist. His throat is bruised and bleeding. All three houris are startled to their feet. This ghost of President Bhutto, oblivious of the pure maidens, begins to pace by the little stream. His hands are clutching his throat as if he is trying to unloosen some noose over his wounds. All three houris fill their tumblers from the stream below. The water in one tumbler turns to milk. In the other, to honey. And yet, in another one to ruby-red wine. Bhutto groans and laments inaudibly. Still pacing, still oblivious to the houris. His eyes are shooting flames of rage and torment. Houri 1: (Holding the tumbler to Bhutto) Drink this milk, it will heal your wounds. (Murmuring to herself) Another president from Pakistan...straight from the gallows! Bhutto: (To himself) Death! Silence! (His gaze alights on the houris) I am dead...dead? Is this life? Houri 11: Here, sip this honey. The milk in her glass will heal only the wounds. But what of the agony of the soul? Have the bigots won again? Do zealots and cutthroats still wear the laurels of victory? Houri 111: (Edging closer to Bhutto) No, the honey in her glass will lick the joy out of your life, dry! You must drink this wine. Slowly, very slowly. Only the wine heals, as well as kills. Heals the wounds. Kills the pain. Bathes the soul in rivulets of ecstasy. Zia? Your favorite general? Your vile murderer? He will never taste the sweetness of this wine. Will never enter heaven. Even the earthly comforts would offer him no refuge. He would be blown to pieces, in the air. Like chaff...like chaff! Bhutto: (Heedless and murmuring) Is this paradise? Have I left the hell behind? {One sacrosanct voice from nowhere rumbles down.} Voice: A description of the garden promised to the righteous. Therein are rivers of water which corrupts not. And rivers of milk of which taste changes not. And rivers of wine, a delight to those who drink, and the rivers of clarified honey... {Suddenly, Benazir screams. The entire bedroom is dissolved into complete darkness. The bright scene with the ghost of Bhutto and the houris vanishes, much like Benazir's own nightmare. Nusrat Bhutto floats into the bedroom. She flicks on both the lamps, shaking her daughter frantically. Benazir: (Whimpering) Mamma, mamma. Nusrat: (To herself) Another nightmare? (Smoothing her daughter's hair) Hush, Benazir. Hush, babe. My child, my princess. Don't cry, you will wake up your papa. He finally went off to sleep, two in the morning...worked till midnight. Kept me awake too, half the night, with his pacing...thinking aloud. Fears, doubts, politics...what not? Now, go back to sleep. Sweet dreams, love... {A volley of thunder and lightning outdoors, and both mother and daughter cling to each other. Benzir is weeping and shuddering. Lights fade, flicker and return in a faint glow.} Nusrat: Blast this weather! Everytime there is thunder, the lights go off? Benazir: Mamma! Oh, this dream, the worst ever? Papa, houris? He...he was bleeding? Murdered? In heaven? The rivers of wine, milk, honey! Papa's favorite general...Zia...he...he killed him... killed papa... Nusrat: (Holding her daughter in one comforting embrace) Hush, love. Hush, my princess. Didn't I say, you will wake up your papa by your crying and raving? That was just a dream...a nightmare, for sure? The infection in your ear...yes, that's it, since then you have been having these nightmares. Let me get your medicine? Benazir: (Protesting) No, Mamma, no! My ear is not hurting, I need no... {Bhutto strolls into the room dreamily. He halts at the foot of the bed, his gaze searching her daughter's eyes.} Bhutto: Can a man ever rest in his own home? What is this heartrending drama in the middle of the night? The mists of dream-reality? What is all this crying and sobbing, Benazir? Are you ill, my princess? {Benazir doesn't answer. Nusrat hobbles down to her feet, turning to her husband.} Nusrat: Just a bad dream, Bhutto! You know, how she has been having such dreams, lately? Bhutto: A bad dream! Life's own parable? (Seats himself on the bed, slipping his arm around her daughter's waist) Murtaza is sleeping in the room next to yours, my dear. Your own dear, dear brother? Your weeping would awaken him, and then he would be in a vicious mood. You know that, don't you? Benazir: (Chokingly) Papa, Papa! {Nusrat sails toward the hearth, and lowers herself into a chair, sinking deeper down its cushiony depths.} Bhutto: Dreams, my princess, have no reality. They are as illusive as Truth itself? (Heaves himself down to his feet, and begins to pace) Now, go back to sleep, my sweet. Let your papa rest, before he confronts the clamoring generals in the morning. The buffoons and the marionettes? The malefic puppets of the Muslim League, who never tire of reciting incendiary slogans? (Halts before his wife) Look, your mamma is already sleeping. {Nusrat's eyes are shot open. Her lips move to form speech, but no sound issues forth from them. Bhutto resumes his pacing, absently. Benazir, protests feebly.} Benazir: Papa, I can't sleep! I won't sleep, I am afraid. You don't know how afraid...I fear I will have the same dream, again? Bhutto: (Pacing and murmuring) Dreams, dreams, dreams! Why not reveries...illusions? Some mighty untruth? Some mirage unapproachable? Something as inconceivable as untruth? Benazir: (Impatiently) Papa! I am afraid, Papa! You don't understand? My dream! In my dream...Zia murdered...murdered you! Bhutto: (With one snort of a mirth) Murder! General Zia, my child, if you must gather the grains of politics, is the army chief of staff in my secret Federal Security Force. He is loyal to me as any wise friend, now that I happen to be the president of Pakistan? I myself chose him as my private general over ten more senior generals. And he is indebted to me, for life! {Benazir's gaze follows her dad mutely, while Nusrat opines aloud.} Nusrat: In evil times, Bhutto, betrayal comes from friends, not from foes! Judas was the most beloved of Jesus and he... Bhutto: (His mirth loud and hysterical) I am no Messiah, my dear lady, and Pakistan has no Cross to crucify its impoverished leader? Besides, in civilized times such as these, men do not murder the so-called illustrious men as me, they only resort to assassination. Euphemisms, my dear, we must take refuge in euphemisms. Yet, who would be tempted to risk assassination? Assassination of the president of such a small country, where the insurgents brandish only the weapons of zeal, not of cruelty? Nusrat: (Feverishly) All the calumnies against you, Bhutto? All those vile rumors? The canards floating all the way from Islamabad to Lahore? And into the very heart of Kashmir? That...that your supporters rigged the elections? Such atrocious lies? That, that Nawab Kasuri was murdered...did they say assassinated...euphemisms, you tell me...by your own orders? Could that be farther from truth? I too am frightened, Bhutto, maybe, much more than our son, daughter and family! Don't you have the power to stop these lies...this madness? Bhutto: (Poetically and deliriously) Man has no power, my sweet lady, only destiny does! Yes, destiny has absolute power! We are driven toward the bosom of Destiny like the magnets attracted to steel. Groping, stumbling and foundering, we all hurl ourselves toward this Essence Unknown. Yes, with souls bruised and with hearts bleeding, we can't help but be snared by its designs, without wit and with no thought of peril lying in our wake! {Nusrat sinks deeper into her chair, and closes her eyes. Benazir, seeking her dad's attention with a look of agog and despair.} Benazir: Papa, you are talking in riddles, Papa? You never talked like this before? I don't understand...don't understand. When you won your first election by a popular vote, Papa, didn't you promise 'food, shelter, clothing' to all in Pakistan...didn't you? And now after you have won your second election, those promises are still not fulfilled? Still, some people are poor and homeless in our country, isn't that true, Papa? You have forgotten your promise...tell me, it's not so, Papa? Bhutto: Even gods forget their promises, dear child...even gods do--break their promises! And I...just a mere mortal? Weak and vulnerable? How can I keep...much less bear the burden of sanctified promises? The Chosen people of God! wandering in the ocean of this wilderness! This world? Inside the labyrinths of the past, the present, the future? Still searching for a promised land? We are all perpetual exiles, all of us, all men! Inveterate soldiers, each one of us? Warring seers! Saints and martyrs! Suffering incessant agonies! Living ceaseless torments...for what? Hope! All claiming Jerusalem as their home, the paradise on this earth? Poor as our country is, my princess, with rich coffers brimming to the full for the privileged few, no one goes hungry here. No one, Benazir, no one! Remember this...no one, not even a rat! {Several bolts of thunder invade this room, and plunge it into utter darkness. When the lights return; Benazir, seated couchant against her pillow, is resting in utter immobility. Her look is glazed, and fixed to the houris, visible to her alone. Bhutto is still pacing. Nusrat, seated by the hearth, is oblivious to all. Her eyes are closed. Houris are tearing the veils off the faces of some pious women, who are caught motionless. Dazed and stunned.} Houri 1: (Quoting from the Hadith) Umar used to say to the Prophet, 'let your wives be veiled', but Allah's apostle did not do so. Houri 11: (With another quote from the Hadith) Umar bin Al-Khattab used to say to Allah's apostle, 'let your wives be veiled', but he did not do so. Houri 111: (With yet another quote) O people of the Scriptures! do not exceed the limits in your religion. And enough is Allah As a Disposer of affairs. Benazir: (Screaming) Papa...look...Mamma, look... {Nusrat is jolted to awakening. Her look mute and appealing, as she watches her daughter. Bhutto stops in his act of pacing, following her daughters gaze with a vague, puzzled intensity. Neither he, nor his wife can see or hear the houris.} Bhutto: Look at what, Love? Stop staring into vacancy, there is nothing there? Benazir: Papa, Papa! Look...houris...veils... Bhutto: (Reeling toward the bed against the weight of his own strident mirth) Houris, my princess, where? One has to pay the ransom of life to see even one? {Bhutto's gaze returns to the spot pointed out by her daughter. His feet themselves lure him in that direction. Striding past the houris, he is staying close to the window. He stands there, peering out into the darkness. Another rumbling thunder, and complete darkness. When the lights return, houris have vanished. Nusrat murmurs to herself.} Nusrat: Night madness! This awful thunder and lightning? Let's all go to bed. My heart is sinking. Breaking...breaking with fright. Bhutto: (Whirling on his feet, and flying to her daughter's bedside) Your education at Oxford...and Harvard, has been fruitless, it seems? You are living in dreams, my princess, conjuring up reveries? Nightmarish whims of the psyche? You were not dreaming, were you? You are wide awake, no doubt about it? You are courting illusions, my love, are you not? What is this insensible blathering, about houris, I must ask? That ear infection...let me look. (Bends over to look inside her ear) Yes, a little red, if not swollen. You must return to London...for treatment, I mean, if not for further education? You are a refined, intelligent girl, no one can deny that. But what sanity is there in rambling... Benazir: (Interrupting desperately) Papa! I did see houris! Real as life. (Pointing toward the spot) over there! They were tearing veils off the faces of women? Papa! (Laughs hysterically) In London...in America, people think that Muslim women have to wear a veil? That, in Pakistan, all women walk around looking like shuttlecocks in white shrouds, or wearing black veils, as if in mourning! Why is this false impression so prevalent, Papa? Women don't wear veils in Pakistan...maybe a few, in rural areas or villages, do they? Why do they wear veils, if so, Papa, why? Has Islam something to do with it? Do Muslims really believe that women ought to wear veils? I don't understand...don't understand! Nusrat: (Easing herself slowly and plodding toward the bed) This is madness...sheer madness! Why are we talking like this? Like some demented heathens...and in the middle of the night too? (Lowers herself on the edge of the bed) You need rest, my dear. Time to sleep and rest. Everything will be clear in the morning. (Is back on her feet again, in the act of pacing) Bhutto, dear, let's go to bed. How dark it is outside? This ominous night? Madness...madness all? Bhutto: No, my lady, no. It's not night, but dawn! With fresh omens, if you care to believe in omens? (Stands at the window with his back towards the ladies) Our daughter is intelligent! And I must...must respect her intelligence. Dawn is the best of all times to undress theology. (Muezzin's call for prayer follows at his heels as he returns to the bed, finding refuge there beside his daughter) My princess! I don't know where this belief, I mean about veiling, comes from? No one knows, I mean, in Islam? Maybe, from the very fire of dreams inside the hearts of the bigots and the zealots? Male chauvinists, who wish to rule the world with the rod of tyranny and wickedness? Ignorance is another name to what they call Belief. If they only knew that veiling was a pagan custom, they would burn such veils as piously as keeping their piety kindled, concerning Islamic veils. They would let their women run naked too, on the streets, just to defy the pagan influence? During the lifetime of the Prophet, pagan women used to wear veils, only the rich ones, to flaunt their status of royalty and family pride. Prophet Muhammed wished equality, so he forbade Muslim women to wear veils. The truth lies ensconed in Hadith, but no one dares question the mullahs, who think they are blessed with some sort of divine knowledge within them? And who recite Quran in Arabic, much like the parrots? Without understanding a single word, or any message thereof? Benazir: Arabic! Is that a sacred language, Papa? What is this fever about Islamization in Pakistan? Urdu medium schools, all education in Urdu? Urdu, Urdu everywhere? What has the language to do with the religion? Is Urdu sacred too? Did Allah command all Muslims to speak Urdu, to read Urdu, to translate each written word in Urdu? Or, is this command custom-made by the illiterate mullahs to beguile us Pakistanis? Bhutto: (Laughing opiately) You ought to be a politician, my princess? Politics runs in your very blood, if not rebellion? And as to the language being sacred, there is no sanctity in words but in thoughts. Pure thoughts speak not corruption, but sing the hymns of silence. Absorbing noble ideas from the womb of knowledge, where there are no barriers between languages, but the clear oceans of Wisdom, Perception, Understanding. Urdu is our national language, and we must cultivate it with pride. But to shun and abolish English, I agree, is to court unlearning. With advanced technology such as it is, and knowledge breeding like the locusts, our scribes have to labor day and night to translate mountains of information from one alien tongue to another foreign language like Urdu? With limited time and knowledge multiplying, their works would be rendered obsolete even before the birth of one translated word? (Smiling) If you ever covet the leadership of Pakistan, my princess, make sure that mullahs don't force you to cover your head, while the heedless teenagers flutter bare-headed? Benazir: Mullahs, Papa! (Smiling) Why not a maulvi or maulana? Isn't mullah an epithet? Bhutto: Now, that's more like my daughter. You should smile more often. Radiant! Bright and beautiful! Yes, that's how your papa likes it. As to the mullahs...yes, an epithet...sort of. Mullahs are uneducated...learning the Quran by rote. Maulvis or maulanas, they are, so-called, educated, in the scriptures and doctrines of Islam. And if they understand such theology, they become scholars. If not, they become fanatics. Bigots and zealots all. Nusrat: (Still pacing) Now that you have instructed your daughter in politics, theology--Islamization, let's get some rest. Bhutto: (Unheeding his wife and gazing into his daughter's eyes) I have this wild wish! A wish newly born? I want to enlist you in PPP (Pakistan People's Party). Fight for your rights, my dear, for women's rights. Aspire to become the leader of this country. You would be the greatest Prime Minister Pakistan ever had! Benazir: Papa! Nusrat: (Laughing derisively) Prime Minister, indeed! A woman Prime Minister--of Pakistan? You are surely dreaming, Bhutto! Dreaming and wishing? Dreams and wishes are merely jests, I say! Mad, cruel jests! Insane, meaningless jests, I should say. Muslims! Muslim men would not ever endure even the thought of any woman becoming a Prime Minister! Murtaza, yes, but Benazir...not a chance in a million years even! Benazir: Mamma, please! Stop pacing, Mamma, or I would scream? Nusrat: (Pausing in her act of pacing) I am not a ghost in one of your dreams, my dear? Though I may look like one right now, that is? (Drifts back to her seat somnambulantly). Bhutto: (Laughing) Murtaza is a poet. As blind to politics as a bat to light! Nusrat: (Murmuring) We should all rest now...snatch some sleep if we can! It's still dark out there. Bleak and gloomy. Oh, how my heart is thundering? Benazir: (Capriciously) Let's have breakfast in my room, Mamma? I rarely get a chance to talk with you, both, I mean...together, that is. Papa is so very busy! And when do I get a chance to see you? All those parties, meetings, charities! Well, could we have breakfast here, Mamma, please, just this once? Nusrat: (Wearily) Breakfast, my princess? When mullahs are calling the faithful to prayer? (Laughing suddenly) Oh, Bhutto, do you think that half the people in our country are on their knees right now, praying faithfully? Bhutto: Of course, dear Nusrat, and then going out, robbing and stealing! Blaspheming too! Especially, the businessmen, cheating their patrons most blatantly. Not to mention their plotting, scheming minds churning full-speed behind the scenes. And the bribes floating like quicksilver into the pockets of the pious, God-fearing Muslims? Muslims! who have tainted the name of Islam with their own brilliant, monstrous lies. (Vehemently) Jihad, Greed, Intolerance! Murderers and cutthroats! Bigots all! Jihad means not war, but holiness in living! Peace and fortitude. Compassion and tolerance. Feeding the poor...loving all, that is Jihad! Isn't it written in Hadith: Jihad literally means struggle and perseverance? Struggle in life, toward good! Perseverance, in fighting the evil in one's own soul! And what does Islam teach? 'Do not dispute (with each other) lest you become cowards and your kingdom and strength depart. Treat the people with ease and don't be hard on them. Give them glad tidings and don't fill them with aversion. And love each other, and don't differ. He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully. My Mercy overpowers my anger, says Allah.' (Hugging his breast) See, this infidel Bhutto, as maligned by the opposition, knows his Hadith... and Quran! Nusrat: Oh, my heart is breaking! I have never felt like this before, Bhutto, never? I feel, as if a great tragedy is lurking behind...over your...over our very heads. How you befriend Zia...that bigot and that insufferable fool, is beyond me? He makes show of his false piety. Makes sure that people see him when he is on his knees, praying five times a day, his heart uttering no prayer but falsehood. He is the one who maligned you, Bhutto, and you don't see it? He is in league with the opposition. I hear, he is brewing discord among all the parties... to gain power. That pious Zia of yours? Always praying, always plotting, always watching? Can you not see, dear Bhutto? East Pakistan was already lost to us even before you got elected? Now, now Zia is scheming...scheming to wage war with India? Zia is ambitious, and you don't know about his secret ambitions, do you? If he ever gained power, all the women in Pakistan would be slammed shut behind the four walls in their own homes. Praying dutifully at the altars of their husbands or their lords, whoever they might be? See, Bhutto, I am aware of the underground politics, while you are busy placating avaricious fools on the surface! And our foes, rather traitors, are comfortably lodged under their prayer rugs. Can't you see? Can't you see? Bhutto: (Absently) I only see canards, my lady, rumors floating around! Nothing, but rumors! Zia's piety lies not in being a devout Muslim...which I believe he is or professes to be, but in his loyalty toward me...to me. All devout Muslims are on the verge of becoming zealots, now or later, it depends. Only the time could tell? And only the prudent ones would escape the brand of bigotry. Only the few numbered ones...if they cultivate the love for knowledge where tolerance and understanding open the gates to wisdom. I do believe, though, that Zia is both humble and prudent. I am also aware, yes, about the intrigues flowing underground, Nusrat, of course? Especially, about the conniving, plotting idiots who love to wage war on India? But Zia is blameless, Nusrat, believe me. Do not pay any attention to all the rumors, Nusrat, please. Rumors kill wisdom, and breed stupidity. Governments are not erected on the foundations of rumors, but need the solid bricks of valor, courage, perseverance. If it was in my power, Nusrat, I would forbid even the thought of war... with India or with any other neighboring country! Could we live amenably then, and become prosperous? Just like Canada and America, two good neighbors side-by-side? How could Pakistan afford to embroil itself in wars, when the wars of unrest, confusion and uncertainty are wreaking havoc inside the hearts of the rich and poor alike? {Nusrat has dozed off, it seems, her head tilted to one side against the back of the chair. Benazir is seeking Bhutto's attention by tapping him gently on the shoulders.} Benazir: Papa! Why don't we fight poverty, first? Then, bribery? Then, corruption? Bigotry, last? No, bigotry, first? No, poverty, foremost? (Abandons her head on the pillow) Bhutto: Poverty is a disease, my child! An incurable and contagious disease. Would it be possible to fight sloth, plague, calamity? Probably not! To fight lesser evils? If only the poor were willing to challenge the bigotry of the rich? Confronting the zeal of the rich with their own weapons of pride and honor? They could break the false daggers of Islam by the sheer virtue of their own need to survive and challenge. Could they, or rather, would they? If they would, they could melt the bullets of zeal inside the purity of their own noble, suffering hearts, dissolving all evils. Poverty, bribery, bigotry, all? Are they not the children of God, feeding their poor, little souls with... {Benazir had long ceased to heed. Her eyes are glazed and shining. Bhutto sits there ramrod under some paroxysm of delirium. Houris have returned to the stage with the enactment of first scene. Bhutto still bruised and bleeding. This time Zia is there, seated on a prayer rug, genuflected. Houris watch him aghast and chilled. In unison, they murmur.} Houris: How can this murderer, this man despised of all Muslims, dare come near the gates of heaven? Dare offer prayers? Dare expect mercy from Allah? {Another voice thunders from above.} Voice: My Mercy overpowers my Anger. {One frenzied scream escapes Benazir's lips. Nusrat leaps to her feet. Bhutto, startled, holds her daughter into his arms.} Bhutto: Now, princess, what is it? What I have been saying? Have I frightened you? Benazir: Nooooo...Pa--papa...loook! (Making a feeble gesture and sobbing hysterically) Zia is prostrating, look, on the rug...look... Pa...Zia...ooooover...th... Nusrat: (Rushing toward the bed, alert and apprehensive) What? Where? You are pointing at that accursed spot again? There is nothing there... {Thunder and lightning. Darkness. The scene with houris, Bhutto and Zia-ul-Haq vanishes. Lights return.} Bhutto: You are ill, princess! Ill and distraught. Rest, my love, rest in papa's arms. Having nightmares while awake? Courting dreams while sleeping? Why are you frightened thus, love? What frightens you? {Nusrat plods back to her former seat, opiate and puzzled.} Benazir: Pa...Papa! I am afraid...of death. Of...of, your dying. Of anyone dying? (Sobbing) Death frightens me. I saw Zia...Zia killed you, Pa...I saw! Are you...are you not afraid of death...Papa? Bhutto: (Holding her closer to him) Hush, princess, hush. Your papa is not going to die...not for a long, long time. (To himself) Life is one half of a great big puzzle. Seeking the other half in death? {Murtaza storms into the room. His night-shirt is unbuttoned half way from neck to the waist, and his gaze wild and searching.} Murtaza: I thought I had been dreaming? Laughter and madness? Sobbing and weeping? Thunder and lightning and insane noises? And here, all that comes alive as real? And right here in my big sister's room, too? Papa! Mamma! Is Benazir ill? Nusrat: (Commanding) Go back to your bed, Murtaza. Your sister, she is not ill, just visited by a few bad dreams! Murtaza: A bad dream! {A volley of mirth escapes Murtaza's lips, as he flings himself on the bed. Benazir squeezed between two men on either side. Bhutto glowers at his son, who is trying to smother his mirth with a pillow pressed against his face.} Bhutto: Stop laughing, you giddy colt! And button your shirt. Have you sold your manners on the streets of London? First tell me, what's so funny about dreams? Nusrat: (Murmuring, with her eyes closed) Madness...madness all! Murtaza: (Fumbling for the buttons on his shirt, and trying his best to control his mirth) Nothing, Papa, nothing! It's just that? I thought...you and mamma...are somehow, a part of Benazir's dreams? Well, I dream too! But my dreams...they are mostly bizarre, rather hilarious. Real happy, really sublime, I should say. I will cheer her up, Papa, I will, let me? (Snatches Benazir's hand into his own) Bhutto: (Getting down from the bed and beginning to pace) Since when have you learnt the art of cheering? Murtaza: (Heedless, and squeezing Benazir's hand mercilessly) How happy is London, Benazir, just think, just think about THAT. Songs, parties, light-hearted fun and gaiety! And pretty, adorable...well, never mind? Have you heard Elvis, his old songs, I mean? More popular than ever...especially, after his death! That King of the West? The golden god of America? Oh, well, his hair is not gold but black. He is white as a lamb though, and ferocious as a lion! And how he shakes his body? How his legs move...to the wild rhythm in Rock-n-Roll? Have you ever felt those wild tremors of raags on tabla, that's how... Benazir: Cease your blathering, Murtaza! (Snatching her hand away) Besides, you are hurting my hand. We are in Pakistan, Murtaza, and you don't even know what's happening over here? Murtaza: (Loud and sarcastic) Pakistan gives me the nightmares! Bhutto: (Commenting without ceasing to pace) Nightmares? You heathen! {Murtaza sprawls flat on the bed. Laughing and tossing a pillow behind his back. He cups his head in his hands, his elbows sticking out. Benazir leans her head against the headboard. Watching her brother intently and amusedly. Murtaza, encouraged by her sister's smile, begins poetically.} Murtaza: We are all pagan, at heart, I mean. Loving pagan customs, living pagan customs. Molding and remolding pagan customs to suit our Belief, Culture, Religion! Weaving holiness inside the bruised knots of greed, honor, mendacity! What do the Pakistanis want, if one may ask? Wars, riots, anarchy? Why do they look so morbid and distrustful? Does anyone in Pakistan laugh anymore, in this land of plenty? Have they tossed their wit and manners to the winds? What do they want...really, truly want? Food, money, security! No, want gold! Gold and more gold! Even the poorest girl on the street can't help but flaunt her gold possession. Gold bangles glittering on her arms upto her elbows! Gold chains, gold earrings, gold bracelets! There is so much gold in Pakistan that if we melted it all, we could erect pyramids, much like the pyramids of Egypt! A Wonder of Gold in Pakistan, imagine that? Or a gold Taj Mahal? We could fetch Niagara Falls here if we wanted, and its falls spilling gold, not water? Gold, gold is the answer! Gold for everyone? Pakistanis don't want exquisite things in life. No beautiful monuments in marble for them. The splendor of the Moghuls is forgotten. The wisdom of the past holds no interest to them. Even the modern luxuries of the West tempt then not! The glory of time in change, progress, productivity escape their notice. (Springing up and hugging his knees) I know the real cause of suffering here, yes, I do. Pride and inertia! Greed and corruption! All, every little maggot here, infected with the fever of prayers false and inconceivable. All such maggots, offending even God with their false prayers, invoking His Anger, not Mercy! Their zeal alone slamming their eyes shut. Provoking God's wrath to such mighty fire that He lowers down raging commands to blow out each blazing light in this country with the bolts of thunder and lightning. Who wants to live in this country unloved by the gods? Pardon me, God! Allah, I mean. {Bhutto halts in his act of pacing. Watching his son bemused and unseeing, as if trying to paint this stranger inside the book of his memory. Nusrat sinks further back into her seat. Her voice the echo of regret as her gaze wanders from one to the other with a gentle impatience.} Nusrat: Pakistan is your home, dear Murtaza! Never you forget that? This is the gratitude we get when we send our children abroad? For what, did we say, dear Bhutto, for a better education? {Bhutto begins to pace again, as if puzzled by his own lapse of memory or thoughts. Murtaza bounces back to his former position. Hugging his knees and rocking back and forth.} Murtaza: Mamma, London is my home! Home is where there is happiness. And joy and warmth and sunshine? Benazir: (With a sudden burst of sarcasm and mischief) Sunshine? More so, the fogs and the mists. Rain and gloom, more suitable to your dear London. Even the colorful umbrellas can't dispel the gray moods of visitors on the Piccadilly Circus! {Nusrat's eyelids droop shut. Bhutto is lost in the jungle of his own quiet pacing. Murtaza sticks his nose under his sister's chin.} Murtaza: Metaphorically speaking, my big sister, metaphorically speaking! But how could you understand when you don't even know what metaphor is? My own sister, with no grain of intelligence, not hard o believe! Even the fogs and mists are better than the hot, searing sunshine over here, roasting one to Cajun cuisine? Benazir: (Dunking her brother's head into a ball of pillow) How very patriotic we are, Murtaza! Murtaza: (Bouncing up on his feet with the alacrity of a gymnast) Patriotic! Patriotic, you say? I can prove how patriotic I am. I am! and that's the absolute truth. I know the whole national anthem by heart, you want to hear? {Bhutto halts in his pacing once again. Nusrat open her eyes, amusedly. Benazir lips are forming words, but no sound issues from them. Murtaza hastens to sing before anyone can stop him.} Murtaza: Paksar zamin shadbad Kishware haseen shadbad Toonshane azme aalishan Arze Pakistan Paksar zamin ka nizam Qoowatee akhoowatee awam Quom mulk saltanat Painda tabinda bad Shad bad manzalee murad Saii ho Khudia zuljalal Translation: The land most pure, live and bloom The garden most glorious, live and bloom May your name in glory shine My homeland Pakistan One noble emblem with all its purity Is its strength, Brotherhood for All Empire, country, home for everyone Live long, love everlastingly May your hopes blossom in promises most true Mercy of God, your shadow, with holy light to imbrue Murtaza: How shameful, dear sister, what irreverence? Don't you know you are to stand when a national anthem is sung? Every blasted party in London, I sing our national anthem, and make everyone stand still too! Bhutto: (Trooping closer toward the bed) Stop this buffoonery, Murtaza! Get down from the bed, this instant. Go to your room. Benazir: Papa! {Nusrat begins to laugh, trying her utmost to stifle her mirth. Murtaza lands on the carpet in one quick leap. Obediently, he faces his father. His look bold, yet contrite.} Murtaza: Sorry, Papa! I will go, Papa, go to my room and sleep, if you will too. And mamma, too? How can I sleep when I hear your pacing, pacing, next to my room? And Benazir screaming! And mamma laughing! And those awful bolts of thunder? How can one sleep in the symphony of such frightful notes? I even thought I heard a cat miaowing? {Benazir looks startled. Her face flushed and her eyes flashing. Nusrat gets to her feet, succeeding in stifling her mirth.} Nusrat: Let's all go to bed. Benazir: (Distractedly) What about breakfast, Mamma? Bhutto: No breakfast, until I deal with this prig of a son! Did I hear it right, Murtaza, that you want to live in London? {Nusrat slumps back into her former seat. Benazir's gaze is riveted to the bathroom door, but she forces her eyes shut. Murtaza lowers his head, murmuring.} Murtaza: Yes, Papa. Bhutto: Suppose, son, just suppose? If I die...a sudden death, I mean? And you in London? And your mother, your sisters and the whole horde of relatives here in Pakistan? Would you still choose to stay in London? Nusrat: (Distressfully) Bhutto! Benazir: (Opiately) Papa! Bhutto: Answer me, son, say something? Don't stand there mute? Where is your wit...the poetry in your thoughts? Murtaza: (Incoherently) I...you...Papa...that's absurd! Bhutto: (Vehemently) Absurd, Murtaza, absurd, you say? Absurdity is the cloak we all wear when confronted by fears, doubts, uncertainties, isn't it? Hope! dissolving into the valley of despair, as you would say in one of your rare, sentimental moods? Have you any idea what's happening here in this country of ours? Murtaza: (Wretchedly) No, sir. I just got here the night before last. {Murtaza straggles away toward the window, sinking into one of the chairs dejectedly. Bhutto follows him somnambulantly.} Bhutto: Uncivilized times, my son, uncivilized times! No news escapes the tides of the Third World countries, is that it, into the bright shores of London? If you want to learn, you have to wade through the waves of times turbulent and unpredictable! (Begins to pace) You don't have to read the entire Pakistan Times, clamoring always, to know the sanctified lies, son! Only, the bold, impudent headlines. Bhutto accused of rigging the elections? Bhutto conspiring with the Soviet Union to herald socialism into Pakistan? While Bhutto, defenseless me, all that he has done is to pilfer pittance from the bulging pockets of the rich! And what for, to feed the poor. By nationalizing the swollen assets of the rich in banks, mills, factories? But all the vile accusations, I cannot even begin to recount. What the calumnious headlines don't deign to reveal is that Bhutto has splintered the power of the wealthiest of the landlords. Their pride and greed are singed, and they are still smarting under the lashes of nationalization. My folly, son! Yes, my unpardonable folly. I ended the martial law. Changed the constitution for a parliamentary system of government which welcomes the concept of direct, popular elections. The biggest folly of mine is that I granted all citizens the Freedom of Speech. Vice dubbed as virtue, this freedom of speech! What do you think of this, my son, this, my folly? Murtaza: (Thoughtfully) In Pakistan, Papa, Freedom of Speech, means, riots and anarchy! Since Independence, Pakistanis are accustomed to the rod of the Army. Swallowing discipline with utmost obedience, as all know. Freedom of any kind pollutes their lungs, it's a fact, and they can't breathe sense without being choked on their own sensibility. Bhutto: (Laughing) That's clever, Murtaza! And I thought you were blind to politics. But I guess, you are just a poet...a dull poet. A witless heathen! (Resumes his pacing) Murtaza: No poet, Papa! Not even a heathen, just dull and witless! Bhutto: (Deliriously) Massive demonstrations, day after day? Mullas pelting the government with base accusations! Politicians flinging insults at PPP! Mobs rallying on the streets against...well? Do you know what all this means, son? (Leans over the back of his son's chair abruptly) How long it has been since Pakistan came into existence? How long, when it was freed? Liberated from the shackles of so-called British Raj? Thirty, long, brief years? Muhammed Ali Jinnah, Father of our nation? Dying, while still fighting for the rights of the Kashmiris! Liaquat Ali Khan succeeding, later becoming the victim of a foul assassination. Then Ayub Khan, imposing martial law to keep order, and Yahya Khan doing the same! Cyclones and devastation in East Pakistan. Its secession, agony and reprieve both. Democracy verses martial law, how many times? How many years of martial law, since Independence, do you know? Murtaza: (Doubtfully) Fifteen years, I suppose. Bhutto: (Amused and delighted) Right! Half its infancy crushed under the weight of military rule, that's our Pakistan. (Smiling to himself in an act of pacing) This is the nation of bigots, schemers and hypocrites. And I the biggest hypocrite of them all! Imagine that! Just to save my neck, I outlawed gambling, and made both sale and purchase of alcohol illegal, for Muslims, for Muslims? (Laughing) Once during an argument, I insulted one maulana by calling him, a potato. And he looked like one too! Murtaza: (Mirthfully) A potato, Papa! {Benazir sits up, her look startled. Her eyes darting from one to the other, and settling on the bathroom door in some sort of fright. Nusrat's eyes are shot open too. Her look is puzzled as she watches both her son and husband. Bhutto ruminates aloud, oblivious to his son's mirth.} Bhutto: Yes, a potato. Round and bellicose. He was opposed to assigning the post of a professorship to one qualified man; simply, because he was a Christian. Though I had refreshed his memory as to what our Father of Nation had said: Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state--to be ruled by moulvis with a divine mission... Parsis, Hindus and Christians...will enjoy the same rights as any other citizen. But all this seems such a long time ago, though it has been as recent as a couple of months. Eons, I suppose? Raw, fresh fears and doubts and uncertainties? Benazir's fears! Why do they sound so familiar, just like my own? (Stands by the window, peering out into the darkness) Do you know, Murtaza, what your sister dreamed? Has been dreaming? Is frightened out of her wits by dreams, nightmares? She has been dreaming of death, of her papa's death? Bhutto murdered by Zia, her fantastic dream of this very night! Benazir: Papa! Murtaza: Papa, what are you saying? Nusrat: Bhutto, her nightmares are not all black as death. Houris and... {A loud scream from the bathroom envelops all in a mantle of silence. Bhutto whirls on his feet, then stands inert. Nusrat clasps her hands in her lap with knuckles grown white. Benazir's eyes are riveted to the door, unblinkingly. Murtaza flounces toward the bathroom in a sudden fit of buoyancy. Murtaza: Houris are screaming for freedom--of speech! (Bangs on the door) Open up, open the door! {The door is thrown open. One servant girl, in utter stupefaction emerges forth. One sleek, black cat darts straight toward the bed. Finding refuge in Benazir's arms, and purring sweetly. Benazir fondles the cat's ears, avoiding all eyes fixed on her in stark naked disbelief.} Benazir: (Murmuring to the cat) Sable, poor Sable! Salima: (Nursing her arm) The cat attacked... Nusrat: (Leaping to her feet. Outrage shining in her eyes) Salima! Bhutto: (His eyes shining in a blaze of rage and reprimand) How dare you, Salima? Benazir: (Pleading suddenly) Papa! Mamma! It's all my fault! Salima is blameless. {Bhutto edges closer toward the bed, holding a dagger of threat in his eyes. As he approaches closer, curiosity and indulgence replace the daggers of rage and threat in his eyes. Nusrat shrinks away at the mere sight of the cat in her daughter's arms. She plods toward the window and stands there with her back toward all. Murtaza stands there bemused, ogling the young girl with a mute intensity. Salima stands there flushed and confused. Benazir attempts an incoherent appeal.} Benazir: All my fault, Papa...I found this stray cat in London. Mamma hates cats...I had to keep her hidden. It has been kept in the servant's quarters since...well, tonight, I was frightened. I am the one who told Salima to bring the cat...it could sleep in the tub...Salima could watch...then, I forgot... Bhutto: (Fondling the cat and whispering to it with a tender reproof) So, you made our daughter lie to us? Benazir: (Protesting) Papa! Do you want to hold her, Papa? (Bhutto claims the cat, smiling to himself. Murtaza saunters close to Salima. Mischief and adoration shining in his eyes. Nusrat keeps peering out into the darkness.} Bhutto: (Hugging the cat to himself) Soft as velvet. Nusrat: (Murmuring aloud) Still so dark. Oh, darkness, darkness all! (Swings around abruptly) Let's have breakfast, anyway. Get it over with...with this night! Start the day clean and fresh. Dissolving all blackness out of yesterdays? (Turning to her son) Murtaza, go, summon Ahmed. Or better yet, tell him to fetch our breakfast. Murtaza: (Languorously) Mamma! Salima is best suited to deliver such summons. (Plods toward the bed, murmuring to himself) I, myself, prefer the luxury of the bed. And breakfast...in bed! Benazir: A miracle! Breakfast in bed! Nusrat: (Impatiently, to Salima) Now, don't just stand there sulking. Go, help Ahmed fix the breakfast. And bring several pots of tea, I can drink by the gallons! Bhutto: (Abandoning the cat into his daughter's arms and turning to Salima, abruptly) Wait, eavesdropper, wait! Fetch my cigars from my room, first. {Salima exits in haste and confusion.} Bhutto: (To Nusrat) The time-clock in my lungs is bleating for Cuban cigars. It must be the hand of dawn stretching toward morning. (Fixes his gaze to the Ormulu clock on the mantel) Nusrat: You shouldn't smoke cigars, Bhutto! You will die of lung cancer. Bhutto: Cancer of the soul! It fetches death much more swiftly than any ailment of the body and flesh. Cancer of the soul, festering rapidly against the shadow of death? Nusrat: Don't...don't talk of death, Bhutto! My heart is sinking. Bhutto: (Capriciously) Take heart, my dear, life is much more frightful than death. Considering, it lives in darkness, groping for the lamp of Light? (Hugging himself and laughing) Yet, life is wonderful. And my soul will always cling to life, as long as I have you and... {Salima's scream is heard loud and clear from the room beyond, followed by stark silence. Bhutto, compelled by a sudden impulse, clasps Nusrat into his arms. One convulsion of a shiver slithers down Benazir body, as she sinks deeper into her bed. Murtaza flounces down from the bed, puzzled. Salima returns, carrying a box of Cuban cigars. Terror is shining in her eyes, as her startled gaze wanders from one to the other. She holds the sandalwood box to Bhutto, her hands trembling.} Bhutto: (Pouncing on Salima) Are you trained in screaming, child? What made you cry out loud, for God's sake? (Snatches the box from her hand) Salima: (Flustered) Sir...I...I? I thought, I saw...soldiers... in your...but no one...no one. Bhutto: (Impatiently) Ghosts everywhere! Is our home haunted by ghosts tonight? Run along, child, fetch our breakfast quickly. {Salima flies out of the room, as if followed by some invisible demons.} Murtaza: (Flinging himself upon the bed) Much ado about nothing? {Bhutto lights his cigar, puffing on it furiously. Blinded by a cloud of smoke, he gropes his way toward the bed, murmuring to himself.} Bhutto: Why is my heart sinking too? Yet and yet again...have never felt like this before? (Lowers himself on the bed thoughtlessly) {Nusrat sinks into her former seat by the fireplace. She seems oblivious to all. Her look glazed and fixed vacantly to the window with no chink of light forthcoming. Bhutto, sitting couchant on the bed, strokes the cat gently. His eyes meet Benazir's searching gaze.} Bhutto: Are we all possessed by phantoms of the night this night, my dear? Ghosts and dreams? Houris and nightmares? Strange spirits roaming wild in our minds and hearts? Wondrous and fleeting! (Puffs furiously on his cigar) Now that the cat is out of the box, and the ghosts are retired, and the breakfast is sizzling on its way time to absolve your nightmares for good, don't you think? Yes, for you, my dear, I have mapped out a great itinerary, all in my head. For now, a couple of hours of sleep. In the morning, consultation with Dr. Rashid. Afternoon, you must fly to London. In one day, you must be checked and banished, for your own good, if only your ears could be unclogged of that nightmarish infection? Benazir: (Laughing) Papa! I promise... Bhutto: Promise, not to sleep? Benazir: (Protesting) Promise, not to have nightmares! Nusrat: (As if startled to awakening) Your nightmares, my princess, need the comfort of one remedy alone. Marriage! I have the lucky groom in mind, already. Asif Zardari. A young, handsome man. An excellent polo-player. The son of a wealthy businessman. Of Baluch family, a very rich and illustrious family. His father is such a powerful landlord of Sind, that he could afford to own Pakistan with a revenue of one quarterly crop alone! Benazir: (Mischievously) Mamma! I was hoping to marry a prince or a man-god? Not any dull, mortal man like...what? Such an atrocious name, Asif, imagine that? Nusrat: (Flashing a vicious look at the cat and her daughter) Princes are mortal too, my princess! And quite poor, most of them? Benazir: (Evasively) You are looking at Sable, as if you are going to kill her? Why do you hate cats, Mamma, why? Nusrat: (Vehemently) Cats, little vixens, are they not? Sneaky, insincere! Loving places, not people? Besides, they have never been associated with fetching fortunes, but bad luck? Bhutto: (Laughing and stubbing out his cigar into the empty cup) You don't believe in that, Nusrat, do you? All that jargon of luck and ill fate? Superstition. Superstition is poison to the soul as bigotry is to the mind. Nusrat: (Heedlessly) Laugh as you will, Bhutto, but you must admit you have spoiled your own daughter. Already, she is guilty of telling lies...that ugly cat! She can get away with murder, as far you are concerned. Too much liberty, and indulgence. All those wild ideas in her head. When I was her age I was already married. In fact, a mother of two! What whims and ideas she has? If you don't stop indulging her, Bhutto, she would die a spinster. Wedded only to her dreams? Benazir: Mamma! Bhutto: Some prince will revive her to the delights of youth and beauty, I am sure. Joy and love are hers as long as she is my princess. Nusrat: (Heedlessly again) Where's our breakfast? What's taking so long? {Bhutto lights another cigar from the sandalwood box, puffing on it greedily. Nusrat begins to pace.} Benazir: Mamma, and you accuse me of impatience? Quite often, that is. Only a few minutes since Salima charged off...you frightened her, didn't you? Thirty minutes to boil your tubs of tea, and another thirty to fix omelets. If the cook is boiling eggs; hope, he doesn't boil in the same water for tea, to save time? Nusrat: (Absently) I am so thirsty. Oh, how thirsty, can't tell how much? {Nusrat plods toward the bedside table, but one fierce miaow from cat, and she flees toward the window. She stands there with her back towards all, Benazir watching her amusedly. Benazir's eyes are kindled to mirth and mischief.} Benazir: You are just afraid of cats, Mamma, why don't you admit? You don't hate them, do you? But you fear them, am I right, Mamma, say so? Why don't you come and get this glass of water? You said you are thirsty, didn't you? Sable won't hurt you, I promise. Nusrat: (Whirling on her feet, her eyes flashing) Murtaza, get mamma that glass of water. Murtaza: (Drowsily) Mamma! {Bhutto, snatching the glass from the sidetable, carries it to his wife under some spell of haste and thoughtfulness. Nusrat claims the glass of water, and drains it thirstily. Closes her eyes, holding out the empty glass and murmuring.} Nusrat: Thank you. I am still thirsty. Bhutto: Your ocean-thirst could be quenched only with tea...gallons and gallons of it. {Bhutto straggles back to the sidetable with empty glass in one hand, and the cigar smoldering in his mouth. Leaning over the bed, he tickles Murtaza in the ribs, laughing to himself.} Bhutto: Where is breakfast, Murtaza? Better fetch it yourself, you sloth-ball, or we will all go hungry? Tell the cooks to hurry. Murtaza: (Opiately) Papa. Bhutto: (Seating himself on the edge of the bed) Well, my princess! Only you and I are awake? What do you fancy, your choice? Poetry or politics? Benazir: (Eagerly) Poetry, Papa! Bhutto: Omar Khayyam? Benazir: Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Bhutto: My mind is bled white with worries. Can't recall any of his! Do you? Benazir: You asked too quick, Papa! No. Bhutto: Well, then make your own? Benazir: Rumi, then? Bhutto: Why not Ghalib? Benazir: Oh, Papa! Could you? Could you recite some? Bhutto: (Reciting happily) Passion feels confined Even in the heart... The sea's restless surge Absorbed in a pearl. Benazir: More, Papa, more! Bhutto: No more, princess, no more! Ghalib is not my forte'. I love Iqbal. You must study the works of Iqbal. He is the philosopher-poet of the East. Yes, Muhammed Iqbal, the John Milton of the seventeenth century! (Recites one of Iqbal's couplet) If a Muslim is without faith, he is a slave to destiny Endowed with faith, he becomes the destiny of God. Benazir: Philosopher-poet, Papa! How dull? Bhutto: More profound than your beloved Faiz Ahmed Faiz! Must be dull, your own favorite poet...you can't even recall one line of his poesy? Benazir: Can you, Papa? Bhutto: I can refresh your memory with one, yes, my besotted princess. (Recites) Ah, those fortunate people Who considered their life work to be love And those who were in love with work I kept busy all my life I made some love, I did some work Work kept interfering with love Love got in the way of work At last I got sick of it all And left both half-finished. Benazir: Oh, how sweet, Papa! Bhutto: Profound, I should say. Let's hear some from you? Benazir: I am thinking of Rumi's... Bhutto: Rumi is divine. Divine cannot be thought, but felt! {Both father and daughter drift into silence. Nusrat gets to her feet, gliding toward the window somnambulantly. She peers out into the opal haze of the dark clouds, murmuring to herself.} Nusrat: Dawn will never come. The day, as black as the night! Benazir: Papa. Bhutto: (Without meeting her gaze) Yes, princess. Benazir: My heart is sinking, Papa! Bhutto: (Slipping out of the bed abruptly, and standing there thoughtfully) Why, my dear? From hunger, is that it? Benazir: No, Papa! Bhutto: My heart too is sink... {A sudden commotion, followed by hurried footsteps. Zia and two soldiers storm into the bedroom. Zia salutes stiffly, his expression taut and arrogant. The two soldiers salute in unison, and then stand there like the pillars of salt. Zia is impeccably attired in a military uniform, his gaze stern and commanding. Silence cuts through the room like a naked blade, as a wave of shock envelops all. Nusrat is the first one to splinter this silence. She reels back from the window, reaching for her chair in daze and swoon. Benazir is numb with fright, her dark eyes sparkling. Bhutto thunders in a fit of rage and disbelief.} Bhutto: What impudence, Zia? How dare you impinge on my privacy? You were not summoned, were you? Zia: (Tonelessly) The judiciary committee has summons for you, sir! (Nervously) You are to be arrested on the charges of fraud, murder, bribery. {Sable jumps from the bed, and dashes straight toward the bathroom. Zia and the soldiers, friends turned foes, stand there wafting threat and challenge. Murtaza is startled to his feet, his look dazed and stultified. He rubs his eyes as if dissolving the vision of some ugly dream. Bhutto lunges forward, his fists drawn. Before he could reach Zia, the two soldiers pounce on him, making him captive with his hands drawn behind his back. Two more soldiers appear, while Bhutto's eyes rain expletives at Zia.} Bhutto: (Struggling) You, foul viper. A most vile renegade. Filthy traitor. Who dared issue such order? Zia: (To the soldiers) Take this ex-president away, and clamp him into prison. {Bhutto is trying to free himself from the iron grips of the soldiers. Zia saunters toward the bedside table, switching on the radio. Loud and clear, a news-bulletin from the radio falls into the room like molten lava. Bhutto is dragged away, his voice ominous and ricocheting.} Bhutto: Perdition is your final abode, Zia! Perdition and damnation, and the fires of hell! You hated viper... {Zia, captive Bhutto and the soldiers exit. Radio itself seems charged with excitement in delivering the news of coup-de-mien. The voice on the radio ebbing and spluttering.} News: Martial-law is imposed in Pakistan by the command of general Zia-ul-Haq. The soldiers are pouring in on the streets right this minute, to impose law and order as a precaution against riot and sedition. Groups consisting of more than five are not permitted on the streets and... Benazir: (Hysterically) Papa, papa! What are they going to do to him. Mamma, why don't you do something? Murtaza, where are they taking papa? They are going to kill...papa? Zia...is going to murder...papa! {Benazir flounces down from her bed in an act of following her father. Murtaza is quick to turn the radio off, catching his sister into his arms before she could flee. He pleads with her awkwardly.} Murtaza: You are raving, Benazir. Calm down. No one is going to hurt papa? Benazir: (Wrenching herself free) Papa! They are going to kill him. Why don't you go after papa, Murtaza, why are you standing here? Bring papa back, Murtaza. I want my papa, where have they taken him? {Benazir attempts a wild dash toward the door, but Murtaza catches her in his arms once again. Nusrat, unnoticed by them, is drawn toward the window, peering out with utmost absorption. Murtaza is leading Benazir toward the bed, whispering soothingly.} Murtaza: Don't be a fool, Benazir, think calmly. We all have to think. Nusrat: (To herself) Darkness! Wild, hungry beasts, all around. The soldiers are surrounding our home, this world! Murtaza, where have they taken your papa? Where is Bhutto? Benazir: Papa, papa. {Murtaza tucks his sister under the satiny covers, and she closes her eyes, murmuring to herself. Then he attends his mother, lowering her gently into one chair. Without a word, he plods back to the bed, finding refuge in its comfort, and pressing his temples to still their throbbing.} Nusrat: (Feebly) Murtaza, what's happening? Where's your papa? Go, see...bring him back and... {One rumble of a loud thunder, and the rain beats the windowpanes. The entire room is plunged in darkness, as the lights go off When the lights return, both Nusrat and Benazir have dozed off. Murtaza is sitting couchant on the bed. His eyes are kindled to a shining blaze, ominous and unflickering. Houris have returned, much in conformity with the first scene. The ghost of Bhutto is pacing, his throat slit and bleeding. His eyes are spewing sparks and flames. Low moans escape is lips, while he continues to pace. Some agony indescribable, which he can't even voice.} Houri 1: Bhutto, why do you lament so? Was life so dear, to you? Bhutto: I do not lament life, but perfidy and injustice. And tyranny, in life, in life. Zia murdered me. What a farce? No trial, but execution. Is that the Order in life? Or should one accept it as a boon, to welcome death? Houri 11: There is no injustice in life! No evil, no tyranny either. Certainly not perfidy? Only perfection! Perfection, tainted with the soot of Ignorance. One imperfection indeed, if it is to be perceived by mortal intellect? Bhutto: Have you ever lived with the base, insufferable vermins whom we call men and who have the power to invade the earth down below with their lying, cheating tongues alone? Where are the heavens? Crushed between hell and pandemonium? Lumped solid inside the everlasting purgatory on earth, in life, in life? Houri 111: Life is pure, and death sublime. Both live, both love, both breathe the breath of life and death. Both yearning to mate with the shadow of darkness. Both seething with the purity of Light. Both radiating joy. Both creating Illusions. Both, seeking Truth! Yes, both, away from the valley of Ignorance. Bhutto: (Uttering one loud groan) Stupidity, not ignorance, is the cause of evil in life, isn't it? Stupidity, the vilest of all vices! Stupidity, in living? In believing, what, goodness in life? Thoughts most corrupt, groveling forever, inside the mire of damnation? Thoughts, carving wounds! Very deep, very painful wounds? Those mental wounds? They fester not, yet incurable and unhealing. Eternal and multiplying. Agonies of the soul! Tragedies vast and bewildering. Hopes, dreams? One serpentine mirage in the jungle of nowhere... {Thunder and lightning. Silence and darkness. Light and immobility. Nusrat and Benazir are sleeping. Murtaza still couchant on the bed, mute and stunned. Zia storms back into the room, holding out a large sheet before him while reading aloud.} Zia: All of you, yes, you all are under arrest. No one, and I... {Benazir wakes up screaming. Murtaza leaps to his feet. Benazir scrambles past her brother, her hands reaching for Zia's throat. She pounds Zia's chest with clenched fists, protesting hysterically.} Benazir: Where is my papa? What have you done to him? I will kill you! Where is papa...papa... {Murtaza struggles to restrain his sister. Nusrat is murmuring Bhutto's name, as if sleep-walking. Sable emerges from the bathroom in a fury, attacking Zia's legs. Murtaza's hands clamp around Zia's throat, while his choked rage lashes at the traitor.} Murtaza: You, murderer! You will die a dog's death by my bare hands. {Murtaza's hands fall limp to his sides, as Bhutto returns with the speed of a hurricane. With his fists clenched, he strikes one violent blow on Zia's quivering jaw. Zia staggers, falling on his face with a terrible groan.} Bhutto: You filthy vermin! You base insect! Foulness and corruption are molded in each fibre of your soul. What foul breath from this heap of... {Soldiers materialize with chains and handcuffs. Bhutto is hauled away shackled. Zia stumbles to his feet.} Benazir: Papa, papa... Murtaza: (pouncing wildly) Murderer...murderer... The Curtain
J. KEVIN WOLFE Cannibals ~~~~~~~~~ I was standing at the gates of Hell A vegetarian shook the iron from inside and with a horrid face, "Cannibals, we're all Cannibals" he sighed In his zeal he'd killed a hunter Satan, like remorse itself, had said "I give you Hell", spat upon his hand and pressed it hard to his head Had relieved him of his ignorance A third-eye-sight of all that lives Carrots have such simple souls over which dominion man God gives Now the orange is cute and cuddly since Satan chanted unto him "Bird, beast, rutabeg, rice: eating: is death: is sacrifice" He now: forever starving (yet appetite dim) But he can't sever a cabbage's head for now to him it seems animal And his stomach grumbles in a dirge: "Cannibals, we're all cannibals."
J. KEVIN WOLFE Miss De Milo's Fat Shoulders ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My acrophobic heart fell but somehow leapt the crevasse of my throat at first glimpse of her delicate shoulders these perfect bones under an exactness of skin shoulders which with a feather God himself chiseled and could not have left to apprentices. At that moment she made Venus seem unworthy of sculpting The guile less fact of her smile that had never been tugged by a fleshly thought made her shoulders nymphbare. And all I could offer her were my worst emotions: jealousy of the sun that warmed them the distance of summer. I doubt a prudish thought was ever unfilthy and found myself wanting a sweater to cover them just so I could see it slip to reveal the subtle skin that could not be mimicked in smoothness of any stone Helen's face sent Troy to sea but leering historians forgot her mundane shoulders
J. KEVIN WOLFE Mrs. Einstein ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Why is it" said Mrs. Einstein "that a man can hear the silent hum of the universe and know what's making it knock...yet he can't hear a word I'm saying" "Huh?" said Albert contemplating an expanse of space and forgetting to wind his watch.
J. KEVIN WOLFE tulips must be hindus ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ tulips must be hindus (sprout blossom drop-petals die) they reincarnate in spring (sp out b os om. d o - a s die) they are clumsy with their petals ( p out b oss ro pet ie) so careless with precious colors ( s lo p pe as I )
J. KEVIN WOLFE The Curious People ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Life is a brilliant red in Beijing. It is communism It is blood It is everywhere and too thick to notice My mundane was unique so they stole half written postcards to see the strange letters and they leaped into photos to see what boring scenes I found interesting. 60 miles sprawled with tenements 30 million existences of sameness and me who made the comrades curious I stopped and l looked at a nonexistent spot on the sidewalk A throng solidified instantly Switching glances between me and the spotless I stared at screamed whispers moved in tiny waves of absurd and serious The disbelievers gathered like an anti-Fatima as I bent to pick up a closely examined nothing Without letting on a smile or looking in a single face I walked away through a parting sea of people carefully holding air between my fingers as if it were an emperor's ring I became "the man who glances" They waved to me they followed me I was an expected circus that had come to entertain the billion.
JANET KUYPERS Smart Thing To Do ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 28, 1999 There are so many things I have wanted So many things I have wanted from you There are so many things That have scared me Are we being safe Is this the smart thing to do And maybe the smart thing to do Is to just avoid you And get it over with And maybe the smart thing to do Is to get my arm around your neck And drag your sorry ass to me Because I have wanted you at my lips And I have wanted that for a while And there is only so much I can do To stop myself from staying away from you And maybe the smart thing to do Is to just sit here Until you come to me And when you get here Well, it is MINE, now, And that is when I let it all go The way I want it to be It is at moments like this When I want just about everything from you And I want to wrap my legs around you And I want to push you into me And I want to push your life into me And for just a few moments I want to feel nothing else than this ME thing, And this YOU thing, And I keep thinking about this US thing And that "just a moment" thing is lasting a lifetime And for once, that does not scare me And that makes me want So much more with you And so much more from you And Hell, I do not know How this poem ends I guess it is called life And I will not be able to finish this Until my life is over And Hell, I will not be writing then You know Just know that I want you And that I will want you And that can last for now And that it will last a lifetime
JANET KUYPERS Against My Will ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ August 10, 1999 There have been so many times Where I have been raped Not that some man Some quote unquote man Had physically held me down Has forced himself inside me Against my will That way is just to obvious Not the "someone tried To beat me up" thing Because that is old news If you have done the research I have If you have gone through what I have If you have lived the life that I have Because You know I should be above this I should be a fominist With a capital fucking f* I guess with that in mind I should not mind the cat calls Or the whistles Or the fact that the word "woman" Is the word "man" With a couple of letterstacked on Like we're an extension of them Or the fact that men First look at me By looking at my breats And not my eyes I should be aware That a woman with power Instills fear And a woman with power in a company Can still be demoted And that outside of the company She can still be down-played And demoted I can handle the jokes About being blond Or being duumb Or being both I can hear the line Always said insultingly That we have to be irrational Because we are so damn emotional I mean How can you trust something That bleeds for five days every month And doesn't die? Fine If they want to brush off Everything that makes us strong Fine If they say we can not hold a job Fine We will just depend on you for money And work on our OWN jobs On our OWN time And stash enough away for our OWN little nest-egg How much money are you boys going to have when it comes to the end? How much of a life are you boys going to have when it comes to the end? How much happiness?
JANET KUYPERS White Picket Fence ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 28, 1999 White picket fence that is what I wanted did I expect to almost lose my life did I expect to find the right guy at every corner turn did I expect to be alone and feel alone did I expect to live life this way I wanted a dog and at another point in my life I was sure it was a cat I wanted now I will settle for the fish tank just drop some food into the damn aquarium and leave it at that what am i supposed to do who am i supposed to be what am i supposed to get am i even supposed to get anything? where do I learn all of these characters from where do I learn all of these roles from I think we all know the answers to these questions if we care to think about it consciously
JANET KUYPERS Overdoing It ~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 16, 1999 Oh, what am i supposed to wear I need to look just perfect for you I need to look just perfect for me I have to make sure everything is right I don't know what the right impression is supposed to be there are so many things that I am unsure of now and all I know is that I want everything to be right and I don't know how to get that point across to you without looking like well, without looking like I am overdoing it
JANET KUYPERS Getting Quite Good At It ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 16, 1999 I'm getting quite good at the roles I have had to play in my life I have had to put so many faces on that I am beginning to look like a clown I am beginning to feel like a clown and I am beginning to wonder if anyone notices Someone told me once that they could not lie, that they were terrible at it and I looked them in the eye and told them that I had gone through a lot in my life and that a lot of things have hurt me in my life and I told them about how someone had hurt me and it still surt and I almost cried while I told them this and they felt sorry for me and I told them, that what I just told them that it was all a lie it is not like I am a liar no, i'm telling you, i'm not a liar, I was just trying to prove a point no, i swear, i'm not a liar I told them that so they would know when it is possible to cover up the truth and get away with it and when that becomes a part of your repritoire well, when you get to that part you can get quite good at doing whatever you want that whole lying thing it's just that simple
JANET KUYPERS Change Your Clothes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 16, 1999 What am I supposed to wear so that I fit in to the right role There is always a role to be played with you I've played so many roles I'm getting quite good at it, actually I've played so many roles for the likes of you I have dressed like a school marm to impress your parents so they don't think we fuck I have worn a business suit and the skirt always seemed a little short because I am so damned tall but either way, I would look professional when playing that fucking female card for all it is worth and showing off my legs I have gone to a different bar every night and I have dressed like a whore I get the button-down shirt buttoned always too low I wear the ripped shorts ripped shorts intentionally ripped too short Jesus, I've even worn simple dresses with wide skirts and those pricks think I'm sexy wearing something like a wide skirt which doesn't show any of my curves and they like me in it brcause the skirt is wide enough that they can crawl into it and I don't even want to know what they want to do with me in that position while they are under that dress you're a fuck, you're a flower you have the mania, you have the power you have the right, girl all you have to do is change your roles and change your clothes
JANET KUYPERS Breaking Their Heart ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 6, 1999 "A close friend announces and important decision - a career change, a sudden move across the country, a sudden engagement. You know this is a terrible mistake. How do you tell them without breaking their heart?" Who has a heart that is broken sometimes and what does it take to break a heart just to master one change in life well, you have to be a master at that skill and that whole "juggling different issues" thing, it is next to impossible i've been through a lot lately and some of it was bad and some of it was worse and in the process i've lost my job, i've lost my car, i've lost my home come to think of it, for the most part i lost my freedom, i've almost lost my life and some of that could be terrible, i'll give you that and some of it can be refreshing if you decide to look at things that way because with all that can happen you can be liberated bt it all who has a heart that is broken sometimes and what does it take to break a heart


   FOG at SEA
   A light mist in the air, an autumnal sway,
   celtic, crossed and re-crossed, we're on our way.
   A watery calvary. We stare into the blemished
   air. Today we dead coagulate - 
   our dying words still
   on our cracked lips. All unreplete are we.
   Our vanishing life unfixed, unbridgeable now
   we grew old and fall away. Ebb, flow, neap, tide,
   taken at the full we were. Our child's eyes, stay
   with us now, no pearl as deep, as precious, as this
   Wrapped around ourselves we were making-do,
   as the decades leapt. Careering
   we chased chimeras. Unceasingly, till now.
   Things of no consequence
   entrapped us quite, till now.
   No time or place would do.
   Till now.


A New Age: The Centipede Network Of Artists, Poets, & Writers
An Informational Journey Into A Creative Echonet [9310]
(C) CopyRight "I Write, Therefore, I Develop" By Paul Lauda

       Come one, come all! Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established 
       just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A 
       place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and 
       learn from all.  A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. 
       Even a chance to be published in a magazine.

       The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. 
       Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such 
       an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon 
       started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin 
       Board Systems.

       We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a
       specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking.
       Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets
       are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a
       writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer
       can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since 
       the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means 
       that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative 
       user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created.

       Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede

  Ygdrasil is committed to making literature available, and uses the
  Internet as the main distribution channel. On the Net you can find all
  of Ygdrasil including the magazines and collections. You can find
  Ygdrasil on the Internet at: 

    * WEB: http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken/ 

    * FTP: ftp://ftp.synapse.net/~kgerken/

    * USENET: releases announced in rec.arts.poems, alt.zines and

    * EMAIL: send email to kgerken@synapse.net and tell us what version 
         and method you'd like. We have two versions, an uncompressed 
         7-bit universal ASCII and an 8-bit MS-DOS lineart-enchanced 
         version.  These can be sent plaintext, uuencoded, or as a 


  . REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings

  . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken
  . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken
  . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken
  . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken
  . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken
  . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken 
  . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken

  . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp

  . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy
  . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy

  . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena
  . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena
  . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena
  . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena

  . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn

  All books are on disk and cost $10.00 each. Checks should be made out to
  the respective authors and orders will be forwarded by Ygdrasil Press.
  YGDRASIL MAGAZINE may also be ordered from the same address: $5.00 an
  issue to cover disk and mailing costs, also specify computer type (IBM
  or Mac), as well as disk size and density. Allow 2 weeks for delivery.
  Note that YGDRASIL MAGAZINE is free when downloaded from Ygdrasil's 
  World-Wide Web site at http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.


  All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
  these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995,
  1996, 1997 & 1998 by Klaus J. Gerken.

  The official version of this magazine is available on Ygdrasil's 
  World-Wide Web site http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.  No other 
  version shall be deemed "authorized" unless downloaded from there. 
  Distribution is allowed and encouraged as long as the issue is unchanged.

  All checks should be made out to: YGDRASIL PRESS


    * Klaus Gerken, Chief Editor - for general messages and ASCII text
    submissions. Use Klaus' address for commentary on Ygdrasil and its
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