INTRODUCTION WARD KELLEY QUITE GODLIKE OR ALIEN CONTENTS ALEX SAGER INVOCATION POEM FOR A SPECIES THAT HAS PROGRESSED BEYOND THE BOUNDS OF HISTORY REFLECTIONS ON FREE ACTION CARNIVAL MIKE SCHNEIDEMANN FOOL'S GOLD A GHOST STORY CLAYTON A. COUCH Wyrmhole Flickering off-kilter verse polarity Reading You exfoliation POST SCRIPTUM COREY DROVER THE SLAYING
WARD KELLEY QUITE GODLIKE OR ALIEN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From the lowest step of society to the highest rung, there is but a slight difference in intelligence, if you are a god viewing this, or an occupant of a different galaxy; but the breadth of intellect remains so slim, amongst us poor humans, that for some of us to put on airs is really quite absurd, to gods, that is, or aliens. I've often observed how the very smartest of us have no, or few, intellectual airs, and are just as Interested, and listen as closely, to janitors as to scientists, and in this they are quite godlike or alien.
ALEX SAGER INVOCATION ~~~~~~~~~~ Build a mythology With wooden screws Erect a totality Of many hues, Stain the panes, Paint the pews. Invoke the name Of ash-soaked lust Forge your way Through rust-stained dusk, Stamp your path Across clammy crusts. Drown your faith In mystery, Sip the wrath Of travesty Ingest the blood Of mythology.
ALEX SAGER POEM FOR A SPECIES THAT HAS PROGRESSED BEYOND THE BOUNDS OF HISTORY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ futures do not whelm so much as swirl the spiral of days (warped bent frail) debris in eddies flux the state of ripples, dragging, bubbling and pulling the funnel and flow of lethal torrents... an oil puddle of infinite extension to puddle a path: rainbow stains heady fumes mild rapids that slick the mast transitions and ends chasms, fissures jetties shifting beneath knobby feet currents of acrid fluid approaching insidious streams squiggling eddies whirling into a maelstrom a vortex of sable tar... (the stone lungs of the soiled sky buoys the stapled stars) a warped wrinkle reflects the silver fluid the swollen rainbows weeds flaring chromatic the half-mad loon the blinking barge passes through the air (the pulp of a glistening lemon) traverses the monuments the sprawl the heights futures are motions within a sun-starched rind
ALEX SAGER REFLECTIONS ON FREE ACTION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1 I will turn my eyeballs inward, glue my orifices shut And make my bed on an ice-box's steel floor Until the colors, smells, sensations, sounds Become brighter, sharper and Unbearably clean: Everything more pungent, bitter-sweet Until the numbness burns with meaning. In the stasis beneath my eyelid’s veins, I shall be absolute: My concrete roots will shoot towards the core To clutch the fiery center with titanic claws. From the flat pin-prick of sensation Nothing shall draw me out. 2 The bottomless leap over hook-toothed maws The breathless instant stretched into Lurching fast-forward trembling, Tumbling, rolling, twisting to stand... Fluency like that would combust. The chalky groan of metamorphosis merging Would churn your synapses burnt-honey brown. But that moment between all possibility Would collapse the world like thunder Framed by the ear’s blinded drum.
ALEX SAGER CARNIVAL ~~~~~~~~ lines on a child's face etched with a felt-tipped pen burn like fresh tattoos
MIKE SCHNEIDEMANN FOOL'S GOLD ~~~~~~~~~~~ I'd been waiting by a deserted bus stop, at the entrance of yet another settlement that dotted the landscape. The road wound its silent way north between valleys and low hills, all fresh with the new spring weather. There were anemones and poppies everywhere and little traffic because this was ostensibly the Jewish day of rest, all things having been created equal. The usual spate of more spirited holiday mongers had not risen from their slumber. Yesterday I had quit my own home in the center of the country to visit the series of Arab villages to northwards. Some were linked to the conservative belt that spread into neighbouring Jordan. Some were Christian and socialistically inclined; a chain extending from Nazareth to Lebanon. For some time, my mission had been to track down the traditions and anecdotes that were half buried everywhere. I do this regularly on weekends, an adventurous pastime. Those with a more fertile imagination might settle for writing fiction. I had considered as an aside, formulating a philosophy of the road; surely a modern concept. Why the intellectual restlessness? From the moment I leap out of bed in the morning until the late hour that I rest my head on the pillow, I am torn by two cultures. It is a rich and divisive state of being; a boon and a curse. Anyway hiking around the country, one needs to learn patience and needs consider how to fill in the time while waiting. Early on I had become painfully aware that while life had made me an adept thinker, thinking had not taught me much about living. At this point I might add that I was a teacher by trade and vocation. The soft purr of a streamlined tourist bus bearing up over th shoulder of the road aroused me from my reverie. I signaled frantically and to my surprise it stopped. The driver was surly. "I thought you were an acquaintance I was expecting to meet today." He addressed me in Hebrew. "What are you doing around these parts? Where do you come from?" I reckoned I'd just address the last question. "I come from Faradiso." "And what are you doing so far from your Eden?" "I'm searching the villages for culture." "Well isn't that a coincidence. We're ransacking the country for the same sort of thing" Then he reverted to English and addressed the crowd behind him. He seemed very much in the helm. "This isn't the friend I was expecting but let him be our guest for a while. He is also searching; something that has become a national pastime." "National pastime is the wrong label," I snapped. "I am a man of two cultures." "International then;" I heard him say as I wended my way between the rows of seats, finally seating myself beside a bronze, skinny girl who looked familiar. The morning wore on. We passed Meggido, the biblical sight of Armageddon. The driver's voice boomed through his microphone; "The great Allenby had thundered down with his cavalry around about here, to rout the Turks, back in World War 1." "Other things have happened here too," I murmured. While the bus lurched onwards, I crouched in the sweating seat, undressing the ladies with a lecher's eye. The other men sat frozen in their poses. The little girl next to me was staring at me constantly. I wondered where she hailed from. Her hair shone like olives and was pressed back in a maidenly fashion. Then she dared address me. "You know Maya. I'm sure I've seen you by the ivy covered wall." There was a wall once, mauve with morning glory. Suddenly I recognised her. I saw some of my own past reflected in the wells of her young irises, smiling amidst a host of brothers and sisters. I too had a sister once but that was a long time ago. I only said, "Oh yes, Maya! She was my mother; God rest her soul." Her eyes filled generously with tears then spilled down her cheeks. I was sorry; sorrier than I had been for a long time. "She was a very old lady;" I said. "She wanted to go." Mercifully, the bus was pulling up to a halt. One kindly lady approached me. "Do we really have something in common? We'd be glad if you stayed with us, the rest of the day." She leaned forward. "Frankly my dear, half the people here give me the creeps." "Thank you for your warm words," I countered. Suddenly I felt fated to be there. The young girl who had made me feel like a Tartar, tugged at my sleeve. "They're looking for places to dig; I've seen their equipment. Are they looking for precious stones in old burial grounds?" "I wouldn't be knowing;" but I knew what she meant. The locals often see archaeologists as gravediggers. On the other hand some of these precious ladies hardly resembled archaeologists. "They are determined to find something." "And what are you doing here among them?" "I prepare their tea breaks and meals, when they let me but I still have a bad feeling about them." She looked at me with child-like confusion. "Some of them might be feeling that way about me. Maybe I have a case full of explosives. How do they know it is not just songs and sheet-music?" I knew that Europeans were very polite which could work to their disadvantage. She hugged her stomach. The bus had pulled over to the side of the road. The doors had swished open and the crowd was already tumbling out. Most seemed to know where they were and what they wanted. We stood alongside a vacant field with a copse of eucalyptus trees in the distance; a relic of British occupation in Mandate times. Above and beyond them in a screen of hills was Nazareth and on the east in another range was the Moslem town of Jenin. Before us spread the Gilboa heights where the Philistines had fought the Israelites and kings had died. It had been immortalised in David's lyrics and indeed I felt privileged just being there. There was history everywhere. Christ had come this way as had Elijah before him but the crowd seemed more preoccupied by the ground around us. It was a field of mown hay split by a ravine that I knew betrayed the presence of an underground well. Maybe they were all simply water diviners for the government? Water was the most precious commodity in the Middle East. I visualised some of the ladies around me and rejected the idea. A ruddy-faced man was staring at me curiously while he twirled his moustaches. I felt that these strangers had descended from another era. "We want to mark out the field for an archaeological dig," he deigned to tell me. "Are you familiar with this spot," I asked him coldly? "A little; I was stationed near here, once. Our camp was on the former Jordan, Israel border. There use to be an old airfield there, between two Arab villages." "If memory serves me, those barracks have become home to a family of Bedouin." "Are you from these parts. You seem to know a lot?" "No more than the driver who could have told you the same thing." His tones became clipped. "If I recall, the desks and stools at the little school were exactly like those bolted to the floor in my old school in Northern England. They were thick, dark and heavy. It was said that Churchill once engraved his immortal name on one, such desk and so made history of the place." Why did I feel this man was simply trying to throw dust in my eyes? "Some of the elders remember the British. One old graybeard boasted some English phrases like; "Hurry-up, hurry-up, you bloody bastards." The Englishman winced then smiled at me indulgently. "Now what are we going to look for under the stubble of this field," I persisted? "You should know better than us that the whole damned country is one big archaeological site." "I can't imagine that there is much here except scraps from the '48 War like the odd, rusty hand-grenade. Now that copse over there might be of interest." "And why so?" The burly driver had strolled over inquisitively. "Behind those trees, there's the skeleton of what was once a large army camp," I grinned. "Really?" "You know that! It was bombed almost out of existence by the Jordanians in the '67 War. Didn't they move most of the equipment into El Afule." I mischievously used the Arabic name for the town. "I can see that something of the camp still remains." The driver stepped back and stumbled. "You seem very knowledgeable. Whoever talks of El Afule?" "You know what I mean. Afula is an abortive little agricultural center that even the Israelis want to return to Jordan if they'll take it." "What nonsense! Afula is the gateway to the North." "It might have been when the English used their trains to reach Damascus." "Are you trying to be funny?" "Maybe. Why do I get the feeling that you are keeping me with you, just to keep your eye on me." "I am a suspicious person and you are a guest in our group so behave like one." "How long have you driven them around the country on some wild goose chase?" He looked around uncomfortably. "What does it matter to you," he asked in Hebrew then backed away into the crowd. The little girl tugged at my sleeve. "See; they're up to no good. They're looking for something that's not theirs." "Is that something new in the world?" I smiled at her as if we shared a secret. Anyway she seemed to be the only natural friend I had for that day. It was apparently decided that we rest for a while. The day was getting hot. My young confident busied herself making something between a breakfast and a lunch. Briefly, my misgivings were overcome by a sense of wellbeing. Some of the men had gathered around the driver, a fair distance from us. They seemed to be poring over scraps of paper and sometimes they raised their voices excitedly. The ladies looked on patiently. It then occurred to me that we were waiting for someone. Why was I uneasy again? Did they want to involve themselves in some rogue 'dig' without authorized permission? I felt indignant. Amateurs, in this treasure trove called the State of Israel had done so much damage of the past. Someone began preparing coffee over a growling Bunsen burner. This volunteer seemed to know what he was doing. He boiled up the black brew, ritualistically, seven times. I knew that he came from the area. "Who are you;" I asked in Arabic. "My name is Mubadeh Hussein," he answered in accents born and nurtured on the East Bank of the Jordan. "Really! Are you perhaps related to..." His reply was in English as if to attract the attention of the others. "My father was an uncle of the late, Sheik Abdullah whom of course you know became the first king of Jordan." I'd had enough stunning surprises for one day. The little, bronze girl stared at him. "So, you're not a true Palestinian," she breathed as if to imply; "What are you so haughty about?" The conversation was dissipated by another emotional outburst from the men. One of them, a German, judging by his accents and an Englishman had become embroiled in an argument with the driver. We became curious. Relationships between everyone seemed unnecessarily strained and strange. The quieter folk might have been here on some kind of pilgrimage but even they were suspect. Everyone was mutually involved in something "I say that we needn't go right into the Jenin hills," the German was saying. "Why not? Caves are the logical place." "The old airfield on the former border is far enough," insisted the German. Why were they all so unpleasant, I wondered. "You can hope that is wrong," the Englishman had retorted. "The Israelis in their usual, heavy-handed way, have bombed all signs and indications, out of existence. They use the field for bombing practice and to intimidate the local population." "You can't afford to say that," said the Israeli driver hotly. "The only good you English did for the country was to introduce eucalyptus trees to help drain the swamps and the eucalyptus came as a gift from Australia." "And you have uprooted half of them, since the founding of the State." The Englishman turned to one of the Germans with a cold smile. "You say you have found something useful in Istanbul?" "Bought not found and at great cost. Please take this into account. Why am I talking to you? Who are you to interrogate me like this?" "We have been here before you came and after you left with your tails between the proverbial legs. That gives us the right to --." "A pox on both your houses; to also speak proverbially," said the Israeli spiritedly. "We live here now." I noticed that the Jordanian had edged forward and was glowering darkly. "Have you personally been here before," asked the Englishman in a milder manner. "I would really like to know what are your connections here?" "Do I have to answer that," retorted the German. "Please yourself. As for Istanbul, everything that has come from there, has proved to be phony." "Who said I bought it in Istanbul? Actually I came across it by accident when I was buying carpets in a little village in Anatolia." "Oh! I didn't know they made good carpets in Anatolia." "When I want your advice on the matter, I'll ask for it." "Please do. You'll find me more obliging than you think even though our forbears beat the hell out of you, twice over." Even some of the ladies were startled at the ensuing, heavy pause; then with icy reserve, the German said; "I do have connections here. My grandfather came here after the First Great War, to build a memorial for fallen, German soldiers. It was close to your former Jenin airstrip." "Very noble; and where is your memorial now? It doesn't exist." "Torn down, probably by the likes of you." "Probably but I suspect it never did exist. Nevertheless you made a bloody mess of the area. You've ruined everything for us. Worse still, your compatriots never came up with anything." "Do you know what he's raving about? Somebody enlighten me please. All I know is that you British, in your arrogance, harassed us out of existence." "And quite rightly so. You people wore the label of colonial occupier without ever taking responsibility for anyone but your own kind." I felt distinctly disturbed. I hated people who used the falsehoods of history to arouse negative emotions and strife. It is an age-old game. To me, it was irrelevant who had historical claim to this Holy Land. The Jews were here and I had to embrace their culture in spite of them. I loved their language, in spite of them. "He is really overstepping the mark," the German was saying. "Gentlemen," the driver smirked. "Why are we bickering? Your mission should be something of a pilgrimage not a squabble. We are not living in the time of the crusades." The Jordanian drew alongside me. He appeared very nervous. "You're all hypocrites. As Sheik Abdullah was my relative, I am here with the purest motives. My claims are the truest." "Like all your relatives on both sides of the Jordan, you are out of touch and way behind the times," sneered the Israeli. "You will see that my rights are the only rights here." He suddenly pointed to me. "And this man will ratify it for us all." For the first time I realised that I had been chosen to perform a function here. "How is this so," the Jordanian hissed? "You will see in good time but now, if I am not mistaken, the man has arrived who will help move things forward." We all turned towards a dusty, old pick-up truck moving across the hay-strewn field. Everyone looked expectantly. Only the bronze girl and myself were bemused. Out stepped a hefty man. His commanding features were ornate with gold incisors punctuated by two missing front teeth. He had a handlebar moustache and on his chest which was covered with coarse hair, rested a large, gold cross. He often fingered this when he talked. "My name is Fouad Shedadeh and my family has lived in Nazareth for generations." He looked about him. "You must be Uzi," he addressed the driver. "I imagine we are all here, according to the list of invitations. Need I remind you that we all share a common heritage and a common loss." What he said next left me guessing if he was psychic or supremely presumptive. "I hope quarreling hasn't got in the way of enjoying each other's company. I'm sure when you go your separate ways, you will never deliberately see each other again meanwhile let us not cry about the unfairness of life. It's not supposed to be fair." Now he was fingering his moustaches. I suspected that when he was earnestly attempting to impose truth on us he touched his moustache but when an untruth was in the offing he clasped his cross. I being something of a sensualist, body language is a serious criterion in my psychological understanding of human nature. "Take my own, home town. I have watched it change from being the last, great Christian Arab city and is not a city defined as being any town to be graced with a cathedral; to just another Israeli cluster of suburbs." He paused to raise a huge palm in the face of the Israeli driver. "Let us not forget how we brought you decent sewage and better education," Uzi growled; "Or perhaps man does not live by such things alone." "To which we are eternally grateful. I personally feel no sorrow or regret. However all men who cling to something, invite sorrow." He paused while there was a general shuffling. "Anyway, you didn't come all this way to hear my home-spun preaching. Let me just add that when someone threatens to take the possessions of the most God-fearing soul, both thief and victim turn equally savage." He paused to stroke his cross. "There I go again; forgive me." "Oh it's not true," one lady breathed. " I cannot believe that." "And what are you doing here, Madame, if I may ask? You needn't have travelled all this distance to confront God. Indeed you might find that he has abandoned you here. Perhaps we are all standing on God-forsaken soil." He said this last with a relish. "Now slow down," said Uzi. "Ah! We have a righteous man among us." "Let's not drag God into this. This has nothing to do with God." "Let our new found friend talk," said Mubadeh Hussein. "Do I hear a kindred spirit," asked Fouad Shedadeh, "a sympathetic soul. Who of the two of you will give me the most trouble?" "Let me say simply," said Uzi; " That I am here to represent the State of Israel." "Nothing is ever simple where human beings are concerned. Nonetheless, God bless the State of Israel. It has been good to me. In Mandate times, my family was a bunch of peasant farmers. They eked out a subsistence way of life and thanked the Turks, the Germans and the British for it. Then the Jews came and with their inherent sense of fairness and in spite of all those hundreds of thousands that they chased away to rot in refugee camps; I became a rich building contractor and powerful land owner." "There you are and all because you didn't run away." "Suffice it to say that the building trade is the one occupation we Arabs still control." The Jordanian gave them both a hideous grin. Shedadeh winked at Uzi and for the first time I saw the driver look uncomfortable. "I have bought or I control land everywhere. I own more land than you or your family will ever have." Shedadeh seemed determined to add to the Israeli's discomfort. "Most of the area that interests you all is probably in my possession and that is one of the reasons why I am here. Anyway, I don’t begrudge any of you, your interest here. You have all come a long way, in pursuit of a legend. I like that. What nobler way can one devote one's energies? I want to help you all although I fear that only one person will succeed. Only one of you will be blessed by fate. May he or she be the most deserving." "Do you know what he's talking about," asked my young friend. "No but it's exciting isn't it?" "They all talk in riddles but I think they are simply grave-digging robbers." She had caught Fouad Shedadeh's attention. He wiped his moustache with thumb and index finger. "We will only be robbing old ghosts of things that they no longer need but thank you for your opinion." A murmur from the crowd hinted at impatience. "I promise that before the day is through, someone here will score richly and everyone else, hopefully will be free from the burning drive that brought them so far. Of course, even the winner must pay a price. I will demand something for my services and it will cost dearly." "Beware Mr. Shedadeh; don't promise us something, you can't deliver," said the Englishman. "No you beware! You have all made a contract; a pact if you like. You will all be held responsible materially for delivering the goods to one lucky person. It's going to cost you all. I have promised you only a deliverance from the hard desire that brought you here. I can promise you a final freedom from that. Just think, no more sleepless nights and the days of routine won't seem so endless but right now let us retreat from this terrible heat. You must be less used to it than I am. I know a fine restaurant in the Gilboa hills which serves food you probably haven't tasted before; Arab food and ironically it's not far from our ultimate goal. There we can conduct our final business and plan of action. I would gladly invite you all to my home and show you real Arab hospitality but it's not practically feasible." There was something so blunt and yet so perceptive about this man. It seemed he couldn’t help being cryptic about anything. His manner was assured and yet his eyes darted furtively everywhere. Now his gaze fell on Mubadeh. "I think I recognise you from somewhere. What are you doing here?" "I'm here like everyone else; ready to stake my claim." "You look like another Hussein, My God!" "Yes, I should hope so," sneered Mubadeh. "King Abdullah was my uncle." "Whatever; I will hold good on my promises, even to you but if it is you that wins, you will pay the price, more so than anyone else." "I owe nobody, anything. I only want what is owing to me." "Just remember that you will get nothing without me. Believe me, I am the key to your prize." He turned to the crowd. "You might not yet understand it but we all have something in common." "Does that include our Israeli guide,” asked the Englishman and laughed like a neighing horse at what he thought was a huge joke. "I mean he's human like the rest of us; driven by the same desires. Uzi are you with us or against us?" Again he laughed as if tickled by some private joke. "I'd say that some of us are more selfish than others," retorted the incorrigible Israeli. "It's not just that we have a common goal. We have common streak in us. We are all gamblers," Shedadeh seized the center stage again. "I as much as any of you, however in this matter I hold the joker. I have already touched part of the prize" It seemed that our new, irrepressible leader, when he wasn't resorting to rhetoric, loved to be mystifying. "Why have you chosen Mubadeh from the rest besides the fact that he is a brother Arab," asked Uzi? "Let us not forget that he belongs to the Bedouin tribe and I am cursed to be a Palestinian albeit a Christian," warned Shedadeh; "But perceptive nevertheless! The truth is and he himself might not know it, that we go back a long way." "Don't we all?" "Maybe but our relationship is too close for comfort. My grandfather lost all his wealth to Sheik Abdullah Hussein, the first king of Jordan. He lost everything he held dear, in a card game. Perhaps deep down, all men are gamblers. How else can we make fools of our fates or at least attempt to master them?" My head was spinning as we all repaired to the bus. Suddenly our new guide, Fouad Shedadeh singled me out. "You, come with me in my car." He was fumbling his cross again. I hesitated. "When I said we were all gamblers here, I lied. I knew you didn't fit in with the rest." "Why not," I asked indignantly. "How do I stand out?" He smiled indulgently. "You're not grasping like the rest of them and of course you have nothing to lose." He pointed to the little Yemenite girl. "She can come with us too." "I'm not sure that I want to," she said but entered the car anyway. As we raced along the highway, turning east towards Jenin, I asked; "What have you to do with their mission; whatever it is?" "It is something I have inherited. I am the way to somebody's success and even that might not happen in the not too near future." "I am tired of all this secrecy. Why have you not turned me away if I am so obviously not in the scheme of things?" "Oh but you are!" Then he said something I had heard once before, that day. "You will bear witness to the events of the day. You must surely have realised that some days are more fateful than most others. Perhaps it will be you who finally releases a truth to an unsuspecting world; even an unappreciative world. Either way, that will be your reward and as I know human nature, I am glad you are here." "Then do me a favour," I persisted; "And clarify some of the mystery." "No! First you must satisfy some of my curiosity. What are you doing here? What do you do?" "I go to unlikely places, looking for scraps of our almost lost culture. All this I hope to strap together in the form of a hefty volume although I know that the world is already filled with too many books." "Bravo! Nothing would please me more than to lead you, today, to your pot of gold. It may prove to be your legend of legends." "I knew it," said my little bronze friend. "They're all after gold. What else would they want to dig for?" "What a worldly-wise girl! But she has not gained any wisdom from the Holy Land around her." Shedadeh leaned towards her. "When did you arrive in this country on the steel wings of that giant bird?" "I was only four." "And you don't yet believe in Terra Sancta?" "My parents believe in the New Jerusalem but they are very old." Shedadeh guffawed. "Maybe she too will learn something today. We three are here to bear witness. Maybe that's the Arabs' role in history. Aside from the holy scribes, we are only here to observe the world changing around us." "Tell us about the gold," she said impatiently. "So you are smitten too. Well, it's out there somewhere; what's left of it." "Tell us about it. You are the only person that seems to know." The gleam in his eye matched her own. He spoke in a forced whisper. "After the retreat of the Turks, back in 1918, my great aunt found a crate of gold coins and believe me, coins in those days were solid gold. They were in an abandoned mule cart. In his authoritarian way, my grandfather confiscated it but fate revenged my great aunt, God bless her. My grandfather lost it all to King Abdullah of Jordan. I don't yet know if our hotheaded young Bedouin understood what I was saying. He might be innocent but as the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children, if the gold rolls into his lap, he will pay dearly for it. Meanwhile every one of our guests today feels and thinks that they have a stake to claim. That is why they are here. We cannot blame them for ruthlessness or greed. Gold has a magic about it and who can resist it." "Will someone be rewarded as you have promised," she asked. "Ultimately it is not in my hands but if you find it, my little one, you will owe me nothing. That I can promise you." "I don't believe anyone will find it," she said firmly. "I hope someone does, just to rid the world of a curse. I have hinted to all and sundry that it was possible. You see, I am as much in the dark as anyone else but in the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king; as the saying goes. Anyway I was instrumental in bringing these people together. It was I who made contact with them though it took what seemed like a lifetime and by my grandfather's blood I am taking the gamble of my life." "You love to make everything a life and death affair," I couldn't help remarking. "Put it this way; no one will take kindly to it if nothing happens. If the facts handed down to us are not empty rumours then there should be three more crates of gold." We turned off the Afula-Jenin highway and headed into the Gilboa range, passing another sleepy, Arab village. I wondered as if by habit, what traditions were nestling there. The bus was close behind us. It was late afternoon when we finally settled down to a hot meal in that remotely situated restaurant. I imagine that rarely did food taste so satisfying to any of us and our host waited patiently till the coffee had been served. A strong cup of coffee symbolises well being in the MiddleEast. Then with his flare for the theatrical, Mr. Shedadeh began to outline the rules. "As in any gamble with fate or luck, not every player is a winner. I hope everyone will be wise enough to gain something, at least some knowledge of his or her desires. Who was it who said that to know one's desires is to know oneself? It seems there is little trust among you but you will all have to trust me." He bared his yellow teeth in a smile. "Now to business. Everyone here has a map with them; pieces of paper most of which will prove totally useless; except perhaps one and I have the good fortune to be able to recognise the authentic one because, by my grandfather’s soul, I might just know the exact location referred to in that map. To this end, I have spent my life buying up land everywhere as much as our government would allow. To be more accurate I have leased it for ninety-nine years because that is the tenuous way Jews do things.” He laughed in a coarse manner. "Why are you laughing," someone asked? "Come on let's not take ourselves too seriously. You might not like my style but you have to respect my position and of course I don't really expect you to fathom the Arab’s logic but this is what reigns in the Middle East." "What happens if our gold does lie buried on your land?" "I will help you find it. You must trust me;" He fingered his cross. "You have little choice and you will pay me a heavy price for my services." "It sounds like a hefty forfeit." "Ah; we have a legal man amongst us. I shall simply demand the money that my grandfather lost to King Abdullah. On this I am uncompromising so don't let greed stand in your way. Now are we all agreed on what I say?" There was a long pause then a murmur of assent. "Does anyone here not agree to my rules?" Silence ensued. "Then a contract has been made. I will call up each person to present his map until the real one shows itself "What if you fool us with a phony and throw us off course?" "Then the authentic one remains hidden with its owner and nothing is gained." "There must be a catch somewhere," said the Englishman. "Trust should be the easiest thing to come by in a man's nature, not the hardest." "Tell me Mr. Shedadeh, where did you learn such fine English?" "My parents thrust me into the best private school in Israel; a worthy institution run by missionaries." "How did you get into such a place," the Englishman sneered. "My father gave refuge to the headmaster during the '48 War. Moslem fanatics and the British administration, for whatever reason hounded the poor man. I don't know how much I mastered the language but I think I became more Anglo Saxon than the English and they have never thanked me for it. Sometimes I think I'm just a chameleon." The Englishman pursed his lips. "Now can we enter into a partnership? Before you express your reservations let me ask how many of you have searched till exhaustion for the exact location. Believe me, I am your best bet and remember I depend on you too. I have no map. Very simply you must all surrender your pieces of paper and hope that I can recognise the right one. And now here is something you don't know; I have elected a judge from among us; an impartial witness." Before he could even indicate who it was, all eyes turned on me as if my presence there had been preordained. I blushed to my chagrin and my young friend blushed too. This acted as a catalyst, Resignedly, one of the Germans approached the head of the table and laid down his map followed by his compatriots with some of theirs. The Englishmen followed suit. Indeed some of the maps were very ornate works of art. Everyone picked up on the momentum. For what seemed like an eternity, Fouad Shedadeh pored over the pieces of paper or parchment like an oracle. Finally he said; "It's none of these!" It seemed that everyone would rush forward to seize his property but the Israeli contractor from Nazareth raised his arms in supplication. "Where is the trust you promised to invest in me? I have before me twelve pieces of paper and I know that I had invited thirteen guests. One of you has withheld his map. One of you has broken the rules, a not uncommon occurrence in the Middle East." As if by instinct his eyes turned towards the your Bedouin from Jordan. "Come my young cousin. I would have automatically have called you up first." "Oh; I cannot sell myself to this charade. I owe you nothing." "When you joined us here at this meal, you agreed to play by the rules." "What is the matter with you my brother? Haven't we already lost so much to strangers; our land, our souls; everything?" "Not everything, my dear boy. We can still retain our pride." "And it seems that our pride is up for auction too. Oh! Your attitude is treacherous and you are as blind as the rest of them." These sharp rejoinders were mouthed in Arabic and the crowd could only look on bemused but suddenly Shedadeh resorted to English. He looked very angry. "Be careful, you are hinting that I am a traitor. More likely you are a fool." Mubadeh cast one last epithet in Arabic: "You are a lackey of usurpers. You have compromised yourself beyond all limits and perhaps you bleed your brothers too." I gasped and wondered what explosion would ensue but Shedadeh only began twirling his moustaches and I felt a strange sympathy for him. "You poor boy, why do I feel such patience in the face of your anger?" "Because you know I speak the truth." He too had reverted to English. "You speak half truths and they are worse than lies. May you spend your miserable life searching until your map lies in shreds in your hands." "So be it," he retorted with a set expression on his young face. Did I see a rippling twitch in his cheeks? Shedadey adopted a paternal air. "It is not too late. I can still help you. Let me help you find the right location or else your mission will be as a curse on your head." "And what is the price for this humanitarian impulse of yours?" "I simply demand the money that my grandfather lost to King Abdullah. On this, I am uncompromising. Don't let vanity or greed or stupidity stand in your way." His voice softened. "Come, my young cousin. You are above all that." Slowly Mubadeh raised his pack onto the table. We were all mesmerised. He began rummaging inside, his fingers trembling. The Germans approached him as if desirous of helping him in the search. He looked up; sweat bejeweled his brow. "I, -I can't find it. Believe me. I can't remember where I might have put it." "Why should we believe you,” one of the Germans said with an icy smile. The young Jordanian thrust his pack at them with a helpless look. They seized it. Now the Israeli driver rose from his seat. "Don't bother looking. If he had it in there he would never have handed the pack to you." They turned on the Jordanian as if to wrest his clothes off him. "Oh leave him alone," Uzi persisted. "I took it; robbed him, if you like." Everyone gasped. "And it's not with me now. It is already in the safe hands of the Israeli Government; it's rightful owner. Nobody really noticed a visit we had from a government official early on today. I had been anxiously waiting for him right from the outset of our jaunt across the country." He suddenly looked at me. "I must admit that when I saw you outside that Arab village, I mistook you for him. But he caught up with us in the field near Meggido and we rifled Mubadeh's pack, so carelessly left inside the bus while he was making his infernal pots of coffee." It took only seconds before pandemonium broke loose. It seemed that the table would be overturned in a useless gesture from the crowd. Mubadeh was visibly seething but was held back, strangely enough by one of the Germans and the Englishman. Uzi remained unperturbed. "You dare sit among us and not play by the rules," snapped Shedadeh "Come on Fouad. Everyone in the Middle East makes his or her own rules. It's called survival. As far as I am concerned, I won the prize because my motives were unselfish." Fouad Shedadeh stared wonderingly at our Israeli driver cum guide. "But how did you know which map was the right one?" "Because Mubadeh's map had Sheik Abdullah's seal on it and I learned from documents in the archives, closed to most people that your grandfather didn't only lose his fortune when he'd said he had lost everything. He had meant that he'd also lost a scrap of paper stashed inside that crate of coins. Mubadeh had the good fortune to retrieve the empty crate and by chance he found the map." "It's true; it's true," Mubadeh wept. "As curator of Sheik Abdullah's private museum, I found the empty box and the map was folded inside the metal lining that served to strengthen the old olive wood. The map of course traced the location to the other three cases." "You must understand, Mubadeh that this is State property," said Uzi softly. "I still reckon that you will never find the exact spot of the buried gold, without my help," growled Shedadeh. "Possibly and it is on your land," Uzi conceded. " I suppose it is too much to expect you to assist the Government of Israel. You will, of course be well rewarded." "The Government of Israel can never reward me enough." Uzi gave him a wan smile. "Never mind, the people of Israel are patient. In the end, they will find the gold even if it takes another generation." My Epilogue. When my head hit the pillow late that night, I slept the slumber of the just, but when I awoke in the early hours of the morning I heard an echoing refrain; Fool's Gold; Fool's Gold; Fool's Gold. I recalled my dream fresh with detail but as unreal as the events of the day before and my dream begged to be penned down in its entire colour. So I wrote; Fool's Gold. ~~~~~~~~~~~ The roots of the earth lie buried in mown hay, Gleaming among tithes refracted in the sky. The riches of the field wind a serpentine way Where angels brandished swords and God cast his die. Gleaming among tithes refracted in the sky, Gilboa throws its slopes as it rises from the plain. Man once panned for gold amidst the wadi's ply, Weaving history's rubble. It all proves the same. Man once panned for gold amidst the wadi's ply. He only found base dross buried in the sands of time. While his days fanned forth in a shadowless sky David's harp and wind instruments echoed their refrain. Where angels brandished swords and God cast his die, Man gained awareness as he went his weary, earthly way. Night and day took their turn, spilling from the sky To envelop our desires as they welled from our play. Kibbutz Yizre'el, D.N. Yizre'el 1935, Israel.
MIKE SCHNEIDEMANN A GHOST STORY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was an ideal house for a haunting; Panes shattered from paint-peeling frames; Tell-tale shards bleeding the bushes In the sunlight and in the moon-bright breezes; Making fire of the cracked earth. I used to tiptoe through the knotted grasses; God fearing and excited. Two windows remained intact, proud behind grimy masks, They turned on the world and now in my mind; Blinked eyes reflecting sunlight, shadow and a moonlight That blurred and stirred memories in a tangle of feelings; A swampland of desires and panic. My youth was rarely green As I remember it. It was a solid mansion Furnished anciently; split by a footfall echoing corridor. But it was my battered dilapidation that kindled ghosts As draughts crossed the threshold, creaked up the staircase To waft around the rafters. I always fled back Through a banging back door into a sun-bright backyard Where weeds entwined like the garden of my thoughts. I took a girl there once, to this, my haunting place And we giggled together as if for the first time. Some straddle their girls over gently rolling lawns; If only in their dreams. My youth was not a forested park. So we crossed the threshold like those uninvited currents But breathing more warmth than mischief. Her scent left me breathless as it sprayed the gloom Like sunbeams and for once my house was not haunted; Only filled with spirits and the shades of recall. Impetuously we succumbed to desire; on trust. I touched her with unbearable expectation before She tore through the back, flapping door Into the light shattered shards all of a green tangle; And the cracked earth yawned, to engulf her slim ankle. Only my laugh pursued her, unfettered but we had felt Mutual fear; I, no longer alone in my haunting ground.
CLAYTON A. COUCH Wyrmhole Flickering ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yes, this is another world you see, but dampened inside, your brain is the lack of perception necessary for simple tasks to take place here in this blue light, and the paint of the colors we use to show these scenes are not believed or perhaps unearthed where you arose. Now, recognize that under this blue sun shining down upon a pit of caves and dwellings amid acidic pools of transient liquid sleeps a reptile god that won't awake with mere rapping against a skull at night. Say this prayer before smelling the scent of fear that slithers inside from desert air. A jungle of intimate gestures in the temple carries you always to our loving home world, but crossings of native knowledge keep your brain frozen on Earth when it should be here with us, not alone amid human angels and folks without sense enough to realize that the cross is ending no sooner than a snap of the fingers, and under this scaley foot my patience has reached its end with your kind. No less than a thousand years have passed since I last saw the comet pierce the sky, the sky that once granted you sight into the hole where I call out, waiting for more than your share of killing and cuts. It's terror that calls you back, but answers are not coming from this mouth or eye. Remember the river and a pyramidal frequency that brought dragons from the star, once upon a history lesson. For certainty evaded your language in that age, compelling your fathers and mothers to make beyond themselves a sex of war and discipline; this is how it began and how it will end without the scales I carry and the seething enemy I keep. Final visit is without question an insult to the lair, and the cosmic egg shatters at slightest breath from Earth. Take away the empty words that compel me to talk to you, simian fools, for silence is golden where I land, visiting sharp scapes only imagined by maths and maticians of habit on the moon of equals and plus.
CLAYTON A. COUCH off-kilter ~~~~~~~~~~ "According to this nonlinear view of history, as we spiral into the extreme crisis created by the eco-crisis, the collective unconscious will be put under increasing pressure from the global collapse of our industrialized civilization." Christopher M. Bache; Dark Night, Early Dawn Change stations somewhere up ahead (for now is the broadcast to begin again), and realign these thoughts to something less than clockwork. The soil sings warning to us all, but the sound of the world is more than most can hear without breaking drums or instruments of perception: feeling birth is a constant struggle, and perhaps, not one that's worth the apparent effort, but suicide is illegal in most states, so the news says. My drug is sleep, as it's the simplest to cure. When the night hits, you can always darken your thoughts down to the barest of blacknesses and feel the tired lack just course right into that heart, and you know what? The buzz is great and side effects wear off just as quick as you could want, if you want. It's the waking to all that the sun shows that's the severe allergic problem.
CLAYTON A. COUCH verse polarity ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ dream cosmology beliefs aren't simple; gods sometimes play dice. central nervousness: humans hang from trees. shambala reborn, and once city words its truths, appearances split apart landscapes buried underneath mantle. wings unfurl with vessels of fire. Earth is a swollen gall with a dragon soon to leave the core.
CLAYTON A. COUCH Reading You ~~~~~~~~~~~ Bullets of rain Paragliders batter the windows in the blue sky in my apartment bedroom, over the lake at Hallstatt, and I am sitting here and you are there, reading your letter staring up over and over into the Austrian Alps. in pasty gray light, I'd like to believe trying to dream I can hold this image of your life, on the screen in my head. but the dampness After seven years, has leaked however, this once-clear into my cold brain. memory ages inside; When thunder booms I can barely over the city's streets, hear your voice, the fern that hangs remember your face. from a hook Storm fades away, in the ceiling your words are blurring, quivers. and I need to stop reading.
CLAYTON A. COUCH exfoliation ~~~~~~~~~~~ rain engine cold drops spatter mud, clouds roiling and life simply arises atmosphere from mess of creation here, mystery to prey upon the mass current overhead of malleable otherness chills woodland that is disguised as meat. sanctuary, and hidden moon pulls at pile of ceremonial therefore religion sinks stones cast downward into its own carelessly without remorse or thought by faith-ridden to the wild dream preserves urban refugees inside its congregations: wanting escape telepathy is one anti-christ. from concrete and metal and digital decay and radioactive cast across galaxy cracks in planet, at random (theory evolved but construction seed, headless of presence), beneath salted slow mechanized spores Earth continues distort and alter mantle, without halt. rid our sphere of life.
COREY DROVER THE SLAYING ~~~~~~~~~~~ When Sarven lifts his blade so high the eagles hang their heads to pray for Flax died by his hand this day without so much as a goodbye A life taken, love gone astray Three lives forever gone awry The duel in question goes as so Rooted in love, ending in hate likened to lions at the gate equally curious like snow in june, not to desecrate, the beauty of such has a glow When a woman comes between two brothers, possession has the lass Rivalry nothing can surpass Induce the flames of hatred new She caught the eye of both alas a painful end was overdue Mother cannot advise her boys She's been gone ever since the war Only each other, one rapport but now conflict from female poise arises to brace oneself for the love two have for one destroys Flax had received the lotus kiss while Sarven observed from the side Wicked intentions with hurt pride He struck, black love is now abyss He, heart aching, had to decide who was responsible for this "Why?" cried Flax, not knowing the deal "This should not be, just look within" Sarven's patience was razor thin having a wound that will not heal clouded the mind with vision's sin She left to let them be surreal Words exchanged ending with sword drawn the sun blurring the cold harangue from brother to one left to hang Love's phantom rose from this poor pawn then an aria of death sang Dear Flax's inner light was gone Confronted with brutality of killing his own flesh and blood his spirit razed emotions flood and disbelief's reality Moments later, death in the mud as we now have duality Sarven and Flax, both flames have ceased Together in death they exist over love they couldn't resist It conquered them both like a beast Now life rolls away with the mist Now neither can enjoy the feast
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
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. 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 prohibited. YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2001 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 COMMENTS * Klaus Gerken, Chief Editor - for general messages and ASCII text submissions. Use Klaus' address for commentary on Ygdrasil and its contents: firstname.lastname@example.org * Pedro Sena, Production Editor - for submissions of anything that's not plain ASCII text (ie. archives, GIFs, wordprocessored files, etc) in any standard DOS, Mac or Unix format, commentary on Ygdrasil's format, distribution, usability and access: email@example.com We'd love to hear from you! Or mailed with a self addressed stamped envelope, to: