Saturday, October 1, 2011

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

October 2011

Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)

Still having some triple digit weather in this part of Texas, and everyone is talking about Fall and football, the King of sports for Texas schools and colleges. For instance, check out how many professional football players came from this state, some straight out of High School and into the NFL.

But not to play down Baseball, just as the playoffs start and the World Series will soon follow, guess which team the cooking editor is rooting for to win.

We welcome Gerard Meister(Thinking Out Loud) back from the Summer as he adds a humorous note no doubt gleaned from his travels. Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) updates us on higher learning and the China perspective, and John I. Blair has dedicated his column (Always Looking) to birdwatching this issue. Leo C Helmer (Cookin' With Leo) chose yours truly to share a breakfast menu which though the titles of the recipes say Sunrise, is just as good for brunch. LC Van Savage (Consider This) apprises us of "Sid's Story."

Mattie Lennon (Irish Eyes) fills us in on a famous Irish author and includes some excerpts of his writing. Eric Shackle (Eric Shackle's Column) discusses "Proud Dynasties in US, UK and Oz" and in a separate article lauds the careers of two of the world's oldest columnists as they choose to retire.

Our poets stepped up to the plate with 19 poetic compositions, not counting the one included in Blair's column. He has six for October: "Wild Gourds," "Neighborhood," "Much To My Surprise," "Memory Tree," "Marigold," and a promise "For a Dead Friend." June Hogue's email to us was so poignant, a tone poem actually, and beautifully stated, so we are including it, "Like Walking in the Sandhills." Joanne Sprott submitted "Pier Fishing," and "Ghosts on the Water," our only mention of ghosts for this Halloween month.

Bruce Clifford, our song writing poet sent "That's Where I Am," "One True Love," and "For You to Forget Me." A friend of Bruce's is our newest poetess: Wendy Shepard-Kaplan who also composes song lyrics, offers "You Never Will" for this issue. M. Jay Mansfield aka FireEagle has six: "Drowning Inside," "I Will Stand," "It Bubbles Up," "Outcast," "Tourniquet," and "Wrapped in Darkness."

Our serial storywriting friend Mark Crocker, ends book one of the "Rabbo Tales" with Part B of Chapter 12: "The Last of a Race." He plans to begin sharing book two soon.

Enjoy the refreshing contents and we'll see you in November.

Click on Mary E. Adair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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Wild Gourds

By John I. Blair

On the unkempt, sandy lot
Behind my Aunt Bill’s house
Uncle Ora built his metal shop
Of tile and cement blocks.

A pair of sash hung windows
Around a simple door
Lit the front, provided entry,
Gave its roughness symmetry.

A shot from 1922
Shows Ora in the doorway,
Young, in ragged overalls,
Brown as a berry, strong as steel.

I have another taken yesterday,
Worn masonry,
Boarded openings,
Cracks along the roofline.

Ora’s gone since 1949,
Missed by his daughter and his sons,
Missed by those alive today
Who never knew him,

Missed in some mute wise
By the locked building that survives,
By the wild gourds that grow there yet
On vines beside its walls.

©2011 John I. Blair

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

Proud Dynasties in US, UK and Oz

Down the centuries, Britain has recorded its royals by name, followed by Roman numerals. Henry and George are easy winners, scoring eight each. Henry VIII had more wives than George VIII.

Now we notice a similar trend in the US, where one guy boasts the proud name of Griffith Rutherford Harsh V.

He's the wayward son of neurosurgeon Griffith Rutherford Harsh IV and prominent business executive Margaret Cushing "Meg" Whitman, who hopes to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California.

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is the real name of the American film actor and director Tom Cruise. His father was Thomas Cruise Mapother III. His great-grandfather, Thomas Cruise O'Mara, was adopted by a Welsh immigrant named Mapother, and renamed Thomas Cruise Mapother.

Confusingly, one of Cruise's cousins, William Reibert Mapother, another American actor who is known by that name.

William Clinton is another dynastic name, harking back to William de Clinton, first Earl of Huntingdon (1304–1354). An English nobleman,William Henry Clinton (1769–1846), was a British general from a prominent military family; who served in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

Former US president William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III. His father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., was a traveling salesman who died in an automobile accident three months before Bill was born. Four years later his mother married Roger Clinton, Sr. Although he assumed use of his stepfather's surname, it was not until Billy (as he was known then) was 14 that he formally adopted the surname Clinton.

Stephen Hess wrote about US dynasties in the Washington Post two years ago. "American public life is saturated with them", he said. "Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons. Powerful individuals connected to one another by blood or by marriage who, deservedly or not, take on that most paradoxical of American labels: dynasty."

Another American, George Herbert Walker IV (born April 1969) is Chairman and CEO of Neuberger Berman.

The male children within a single nuclear family are not numbered sequentially, as all members of the larger family are part of the same numbering system. For example, the sons of Prince Heinrich LXVII Reuss of Schleiz were, in order, Heinrich V, Heinrich VIII, Heinrich XI, Heinrich XIV, and Heinrich XVI

In the UK, Tom Green told Yahoo Answers: 'I have the same name as both my grandfather and my (now deceased) great grandfather. I have a different name to my father. Does this still make me Thomas Green III?"

The "best answer": "Generally, no. However, there are specific circumstances where it would. e.g., Queen Elizabeth II was born centuries after Queen Elizabeth I. But, for us commoners, it needs to be in successive generations. So, your grandfather would have been the II (second), but you are not the III (third)."

In Australia, we have a famous family, descendants of William Wentworth, whose great-grandson William Wentworth IV was a member of Parliament 1949-77.

An ABC radio feature in 2003 described William Wentworth I in these terms: "Our greatest colonial dynasty was founded by 'the bastard son of a highway robber by a convict whore': WC Wentworth, the father of colonial self-government and an explorer of the Blue Mountains. But his birthright was hidden by his own family, using its fortune over generations to remake itself into a pillar of the establishment. Today, the money and ancestral estate are gone, the family yet to shake off its maverick legacy."


Posted Sunday, 25 September 2011 by Eric Shackle at 17:01 from Sydney, Australia to his
Nimble Nonagenarians blog.

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Much To My Surprise

By John I. Blair

Much to my surprise
I find life inside this aging brain
Not at all what I’d expected.

In my juicy, eager youth
I pursued the truth,
Preferred it plain.

Now I’d gladly settle
For a fair approximation,
A surmise.

I thought wisdom came with years,
Not just doubts, fears,
Pain, tears.

©2011 John I. Blair

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


By John I. Blair

For decades three I’ve nested here . . .
At half a mile the name of every street I know,
Closer the name of every householder
And closer yet of every dog and cat.
Along the walks my feet anticipate
Each crooked concrete slab they touch,
My hands each rough-barked tree.
I listen for the seasons’ music:
Toads in moist springtime,
Locusts in the summer heat,
Autumn geese crying high in the sky
And juncos peeping on frosty winter afternoons.
In my nose the choking smell of charcoal smoke
Means the couple on the west are feeding guests;
Happy splashing and children’s shouts?
The family on the east are in their pool.
Northward across the way
The single man runs daily with his dog;
And south of me the widowed woman may sit quietly,
Reading on her patio in the twilight
While sunbeams stream through the oak branches.
This is my neighborhood;
This is the groundwork of my life.

©2002 John I. Blair

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I Will Stand

By M. Jay Mansfield

Once the tired has robbed the passions strength
and all the gifts have grown dull with age
I still would go to any length
For ever does the love still rage

When the touches aren't frequent friends
and we wonder where it went
Still what I would do for you knows no ends
this calm now is worth what we spent

I pray that touches always remain
and passion stays close at hand
But if they drift away, I'll maintain
A love for you that still will stand

©9-24-2011 MJMansfield

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For A Dead Friend

By John I. Blair

These memories of you
Will not walk away from me
Just because you’re gone.

So long as I recall the hours
And days we shared
And find you in the thought,
That long will you continue
Living in my mind
And also in the minds
Of all I share you with,
Ad infinitum.

This is the trust we humans bear
For those who live inside us still.

We keep the continuity of our kind
Within our neurons,
These memories we have,
All intertwined, an endless web,
A vine of being, lacing across time.

©2002 John I. Blair

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Pier Fishing

By Joanne Sprott

It never stops—the wind rushing,
constantly roaring past my ears.
They never cease—the waves breaking,
committing suicide on the sand.

Birds tack into the wind, suspended,
hovering still-lifes pinned against the sky.
Why don’t they just go the easy way?
There’s water in three directions.

In the slower currents beneath the surface,
fishes hide from hooks laid to pull them
into the rush of wind and crush of wave
where the gasp of death awaits.

The pier and I are all that stand still,
baiting, waiting, baiting, waiting,
while the shining earth glitters and rolls
Under poles and line and feet.

We wait for that rush of adrenalin
from the battle of hands against fins,
until silver scales break the water, and--
our eyes meet, just as he lets go.

Water and wind rush by, hour by hour,
until the jerk, the hook tearing flesh,
and on the pier she flops, silver scales
and fearful eye shining in the sun.

I put her in a bucket to stop her gasping;
she turns restlessly in her new cage.
so delicate, so beautiful, so strong,
but she’ll be shark bait on the next cast.

And we think we stand above it all, so still.
but it never stops--the cycle of birth, hunger,
and death, the death that preserves the next life.
It never stops—life rushing to its final shore.

May 2007

©2007 Joanne Sprott

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By M. Jay Mansfield

Put a tourniquet on my brain….stop my bleeding thoughts
Stop the throbbing embolism of doubts…
Tie off these arterial movements…
Don’t let this filth drain into the system…
Sear the edges so no one has to see…

A flashing light in the distance warning of impending failure
A creaking wheel as the gears continue to grind
A rough hum of the machinery connected to this fixture…
A soft sirens wail in the distance signaling the keepers…

Tie off these hateful thoughts of freedom bleeding out
Staunch these flowing wounds with alcohol soaked rags
Bind these crazy ideas and clean them with doubt
Let them be clouded with the clot of disbelief

Run these veins as full of antiseptic as you can
Calm the animal with all the drugs that can warp its fragile state
Fill what’s left of the vessel with all the fears of man
Brutally hack away at all the things that might make it desperate

Slice at the social blackness that appears as truth
Tear away each streaming line of individuality
Clean the poor cad with our medias horrible soot
Protect him with an iron suit built of all mans frailty

©10/15/10 MJMansfield

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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

LC's Take: Sid's story

    No one is sure where the idiom “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (words, harsh words, criticisms) will never hurt me” comes from. It seems to have been born in the late 1800s although no one knows for sure. Parents and grandparents have sung it to kids who’d been taunted or teased or mocked by other kids in the mistaken idea it’ll make them feel better, or stronger, or something. But it doesn’t. Both activities hurt; but batterings from sticks and stones can heal; names, words, criticisms wound forever because they hurt our hearts, minds and souls.
    Sidney suffered that kind of treatment by her husband for many years. She was being abused, and the weapon her husband Tom was using was not a stick or a stone or even his fists; it was his words. Her husband, who was in the medical profession, was beating her slowly to death just by use of his words. They hurt, and the pain simply never went away.
    Born in Indiana six decades ago, Sidney grew up, graduated from Indiana University, received her Masters in Education, and all the while she sort of hoped to eventually meet a great man, to have a happy home, kids, all the American dream things. It wasn’t her only goal. Sid had other plans and dreams, but a great family life was in the mix.
    “I remember meeting Tom,” says Sid. “We were freshmen in college in Ft. Wayne Indiana. He was so nice. I thought he was very sweet. We didn’t start to date for a couple of years because we were in different schools, but eventually ended up in the same town and school, so then began dating.
    “He was just plain wonderful,” says Sid. “So kind. A sweet man. I thought I was so lucky.” After they were married she would be willing to put Tom through dental school. Six years total it would be, so he could specialize in children’s dentistry.
    They married. Beautiful wedding. Both families liked each other. Niagara Falls honeymoon. Happiness. Perfection.
    Until day 5 of their marriage. “It was the first incident of my husband’s odd remarks. He told me that men have egos and that I should be very careful of his. I remember thinking that women had egos too, but oh well, maybe it wasn’t a big deal, maybe this is what newlyweds did or said, and we’d learn from each other.”
    And so Sid taught school for a few years, Kindergarten, first and second grades, and she loved it. She was happy.
    The second incident didn’t come for another year or so. “We got into an argument about going to a friend’s wedding. It wasn’t the argument so much; it was how he used his words. I felt dismissed and that was the issue, not the argument. I thought ‘OK, that’s odd, but we’re young and married and we’ll work on it.’ I talked with Tom about it and he blew it off, never apologized. And as the incidents of his verbal attacks became closer and closer together and I’d try to discuss them with him, he would never apologize. He would never try to resolve this. I was always wrong, always. He would deliberately ignore what I was saying. In fact during our 35 years together, he apologized only once, even when he saw how his words were battering me. He began to do it more often, and I began to feel more and more beaten down. I knew he knew and I knew he enjoyed it.
    “I began to understand that I was a product of the current culture. I had been taught, along with other women my age that it was up to women to make their husbands happy. It didn’t matter to my husband if I was happy, just if he was.”
    By now they were living in Montana. Sid was working for her husband. He took verbal shots at her in front of employees, or friends, but Tom was clever and the remarks about Sid were just “funny” enough so that everyone could laugh them off. Sid understood that if she took a stand, stood up against him for this behavior, she would be labeled a shrew and that he’d get worse at these verbal attacks. She learned to keep silent.
    When they were alone she tried to speak with her husband about these incidents. She told him that each time he did that, it was like a brick was placed between them and she tried to explain that a brick wall would be growing higher and higher, finally too high for her to climb over. No reaction. But once, he’d hurt her verbally so badly she lost it and began to beat on her husband, kicking him, screaming and crying. This time he reacted. He actually apologized and told her he’d never do it again, but just in case he did, for her to remind him. He actually wept! Sid was relieved. Perhaps the nightmare was ending.
    It all quickly began again. The next time he verbally attacked her, she reminded him as he’d asked her to, but he became angry. The abuse just got worse. And then far worse. Tom was beating his wife to pieces with his mouth, he was clearly enjoying himself and had no intention of stopping. Sid was sinking deeper and deeper into a hole where she lived alone.
    But Sid was beginning to watch her husband, and slowly, she saw a pattern. The remarks were no longer funny, they were now cruel and he only said them when they were alone, no witnesses. No one ever heard him shout, for example, “I told you to get brand X hairdryer and you brought home the wrong one!” Sid would answer “Yes, but they were out of that kind so I got…” “I don’t care what you got. Get back in the car and get the hairdryer I told you to get,” and Sid would understand there was no room for argument, so she’d go and find the right hairdryer, and if she took too long to bring it home, he’d shout at her for that, too. She could not win.
    Predictably, Tom became more abusive. This kind of abuse, you see, begins slowly at first and as soon as the abuser knows you’re his, you are trapped, chained for life. It then escalates, the incidents coming closer together, the good times happening less and less, the bad times coming faster and his becoming more and yet more abusive.
    Sid tried to talk about this to others, but no one would believe her because all they saw was this wonderful, beloved dentist who worked so well with kids and was so endlessly kind to everyone, all the time. She tried a psychiatrist, but it was not a good fit and the doctor didn’t seem to get what Sid was trying to explain.
    But something was hatching in Sid. Slowly, before she even knew it was happening. “I’d think about going to visit my mother for six months and never returning, and it would be dishonest of me to say that I didn’t dream about pushing Tom off a cliff if we were hiking. Something. Anything. I was feeling so trapped, useless, helpless.”
    Besides controlling the TV remote, for example, he controlled when Sid slept, what she ate, when she could talk on the phone; he controlled every aspect of her life. If arguments started, Tom forbad Sid to talk. He’d point a finger in her face. “Stop talking!!” he’d shout, “I said STOP TALKING!!!” And so she did. Sid’s voice began to falter, hesitate; even today it’s strained and very weak.
    “After our youngest left for college, there was no longer a buffer in the home, and the abuse became intolerable.”
    But quite suddenly there was a slight shift in Sid’s life. Was she aware of it? Perhaps not at first, but it was happening. Sid was in a bookstore on Valentine’s Day in 2002 and she happened on a book that would profoundly change her life. The name of it was “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” by Patricia Evans and it was about, yes, the verbally abusive spouse.
    “I know readers of this article will be wondering why I hadn’t clued into this before. I had, on some vague level. I just had never seen it in print, and when I did, the words leapt off the page and grabbed me. Remember now, this book was written before Oprah opened the topic or before ‘nice’ women spoke of such ‘hidden’ things. It was all still a dark secret, but that book showed me a sudden light.
    “I had to get the book home from the store, but I couldn’t use a credit card. Tom would find out. I couldn’t write a check because he’d see the canceled check. I frantically dug through my purse to see if I had enough cash. I did! I then scanned all the cashiers to make sure none of them were parents of my husband’s patients. I paid and sneaked the book into my house.
    “Among the first words I read were ‘verbal abusers never, ever change. Nothing the recipient can say or do will make the abuser stop. Something dramatic has to happen to the abusers to make them quit.’ Up until then I had always thought ‘I’m smart. I can fix this when I figure out the right solution.’ I kept reading, and reading, and gradually began to realize it was time for me to get out of this marriage. The book told me that people who are being verbally abused mostly don’t even know that the abuse has a name. The abuse is like being a frog alone in a pot of water over a flame. The water keeps getting hotter and hotter until finally the water is so hot, and the frog is so weak it cannot get out of the pot. Not ever.
    “This remarkable book taught me that Tom would not change, that if there were to be changes, they had to come from me. My heart raced. Suddenly, a dark curtain was lifting. I knew I had to do something. Tom never would. Finally what was happening to me had a name: verbal abuse. I knew I had to leave. I had to get out of this marriage. At that point, I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when, I just knew that in order for me to survive, I had to get away from the abuse.
    “But before that could happen, we were going on a business trip to Ireland. I had purchased the author’s sequel book on abuse and wanted to read it while on that trip. I could not let my husband see me reading this book as we traveled, so I went through every paperback we owned until I found one the exact same size of my new book, exchanged the covers on the 2 books, and went to Ireland, reading this life-saving book every inch of the way right under Tom’s nose. The abuse in Ireland continued of course, but the hot, hurtful words fell short because I was beginning to understand, to be aware. Tom never knew. I read and I learned. And, I began to plan.
    “It was 2002. We came back from Ireland and my mind was full of plans, scary plans, wonderful plans. I wasn’t about to tell Tom that I wanted out of our marriage as I was still very afraid of his violent temper, the temper he never let anyone see except me, of course. Besides, whenever I had tried talking to him about his behavior, he was unbelievably good at making himself sound like the innocent victim and making me sound like the perpetrator.
    “I got myself a Post Office box at a package mailing business and a storage unit. I selected a storage company that was hidden from public view, so I could go there unseen. I got my own credit card using our shared credit history. I was getting stronger. Was there a how-to book out there for me to follow? No. It was OJT, On the Job Training. It was amazing how things began to change for me, how ideas presented themselves out of the blue!
    I xeroxed all of our financial records and put them back into the files without my husband knowing. I was afraid he’d try to hide money and ultimately he DID try to hide money. I bought a bed, sheets, blankets, and put them into storage. I bought dishes and kitchen items on sale. I emptied out the contents of boxes in our basement, the kind we all have with items we don’t use anymore. I replaced the contents with small things I’d need in the future. I kept the boxes positioned just as they were in our basement, complete with the labels showing the previous contents. Nothing could look amiss. I was amazed at how clever I’d suddenly become! I could do all this undetected because I was in charge of the office money, Tom in charge of the home money. Did I feel guilty? Never. I spent very little. Could I have left everything behind just to get away from this awful life? Yes, I was prepared to do that. But I didn’t have to. At first I didn’t even know I was entitled to anything if I left the marriage.
    “I’m aware I had financial advantages allowing me to escape from my own private hell and that so many readers of this article don't. So many people everywhere don’t. I would encourage those people to find a way to get out---it takes a lot of courage I know-- but now there are shelters throughout the USA that are staffed with people who can help, advise and protect. Please find a way. There is one, I promise.
    “While I was making my preparations, I could tell no one what I was doing. I couldn’t chance that Tom would find out. Only three people knew: my friend Sally, my counselor, and my attorney. I couldn’t even tell the small music group to which I belonged. I certainly did not tell our son and daughter as that would’ve been an unfair burden on them. Our son was an adult living in another state and our daughter was a senior in college in yet another state. It would have been selfish of me to tell them and then expect them to keep it a secret.
    “Miraculously, one day Tom announced that he was soon going on a hiking trip in Peru for 12 days. That became my goal date. I had to have everything ready by then. I was excited, and frightened. There was no looking back now!
    “The day came when I drove Tom to the airport for his hiking trip. Then I went home and changed my car insurance and health insurance into my own name. I spent most of those 12 days making sure my bookkeeping job for his office was square and that it was completely transferred and understood by someone in the accountant’s office. I never told them why I was transferring everything to them. I also wrote the next set of paychecks so Tom wouldn’t have to deal with payroll for a while. Even though Tom was now out of the country and couldn’t find out what I was doing, I still told no one. It was important to me that Tom shouldn’t have to return home to a town full of rumors. I decided that he could spin the story any way he wanted it heard; he still had to continue living in Billings. I didn’t. And besides, who would believe me anyway? No one.
    “After Tom was out of the country, I arranged for a moving truck to come and take just my things from the house - no furniture - and the things I’d hidden in the storage unit. I also took my kids' important keepsakes to make sure their belongings were safe. I’d seen what had happened to stuff that was in his way for too long.
    “At last September 19, 2002 arrived, my ‘Freedom and Peace Day.’ Tom was to come home from his trip. Every space in my small car was filled, under the seats, side to side, and clear to the top. What didn’t fit into my car was placed in storage with the moving company. They would store it until I had a home.
    “In spite of all that had happened with my husband, I felt that Tom deserved the respect of our 35 years together to be told in person that I was leaving him. My friend Sally and I hid my car at a motel where Tom couldn’t find it, I then drove to the airport in his truck. Sally would hide in the bushes between our 2 homes with her cell phone ready to dial 911 if needed. It wasn’t. On the way to the airport I practiced my speech to him which I’d deliver when we got to our driveway. I was steady in my resolve.
    “When we got home to our driveway, he noticed my car was missing and asked me three times where it was. I mumbled. I stopped the truck and got out, got myself positioned near the bushes, faced my husband, said the well-rehearsed, ‘I am leaving you and there’s not a chance that I’m ever coming back.’ I stepped into the bushes, met up with Sally, and we sprinted up the sidewalk to where she had hidden her car. We drove off to where my car was hidden, and I disappeared from Tom’s life forever.
    “I gave up everything in Montana I cherished. I had wanted to keep our marriage together until after our daughter’s college graduation in the spring, but my chance to escape was now. But to where? Maine. Why Maine? I had never even been to New England. But Maine was it. It seemed to call to me and I was ready to answer!
    “Sticks and stones may hurt, yes, but those kinds of wounds are visible, and can usually heal. Tom’s words were never visible to others, but I would heal from them and I now knew they would never hurt me again. Tom taught me a lot. I learned how to lie, but I also learned to be resourceful. And mostly I learned to be resilient. I owe him that. I slept in the motel that night, met with my lawyer in the morning, moved to another town in Montana to hide for a few weeks to get legal things done. I wanted to keep my married name as it was my children’s name, but my own middle name was easier to spell and pronounce, so I had them legally switched. I didn’t make Tom sell our house and move out. I was not trying to hurt him, only to make me safe. I wanted him to have as much normalcy as possible under the circumstances. As it turned out, he found my replacement before the divorce was even final on our 35 year marriage.
    “Many times women react to my story by saying, ‘Well, if he had been my husband, I sure wouldn’t have let him get away with that behavior.’ But they don’t understand. The more I stood up for myself over the years, the more violent his abuse became: it was less painful to just give in. The price was just too high.
“It was time to go. I got into my car, pointed it east, and drove to Maine. When I crossed the Piscataqua River and saw the sign: ‘Maine The way life should be,’ I knew I was home.”
Email LC at
See her on “incredibleMAINE”
on Saturdays at 10:30 AM on MPBN.
Click on LC Van Savage for bio.


By John I. Blair

Behold the
Its blooms so
Still in cold
When, I’m told,
They can be
Polled and sold
(Save the old
Or those that
Lolled in the
Muddy mold).
©2002 John I. Blair
Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Memory Tree

By John I. Blair

A tree wears its heart
On its sleeve
Far more than any human lover
For all its vital juices
Pass just beneath the surface
From the taproot to the crown.

So when I walk across my garden
To greet the sturdy pin oak
I planted more than twenty years ago
After giving salutation
(Using words a tree might know)
I touch its trunk, its bark.

Though I’ve never felt a pulse,
The thought is there
That an entity dimensional
I can only sense by feeling
Exists, and it is
Feeling me as well.

If trees have memories
It may recall the day I bought it,
Young and supple, in a plastic pot;
It may recall the hour I labored
To dig an ample hole,
Fertilize the base, fill round it,

Tamp it down and give a drink;
But likely it’s forgot.
I think trees remember storms,
Wind, rain and blazing heat;
Remember nesting birds,
Cheeky squirrels, snow.

But still I visit often, touch,
Talk, stand there in a wishful hope
That someday years away
It will remember me.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Wrapped in Darkness

By M. Jay Mansfield

Wave after wave breaking upon my mind
each soft whisper of days gone by
angels of memories and pictures of you
appear as sparkles in the back of my eyes
the warmth of a thousand long dead hugs
creeping sweetly through my soul
The loves that pump me up like no drug
in complete darkness I grin in the mirror

I close my eyes and I see it all
I shut down my simple minds confusion
I answer the gods weak calls
I let the memories explode into me

Wrapped in the extreme brightness of the night
stroking each long gone strand
Caught in its soft beautiful might
fighting to make sure it doesn't release me

©9-16-2011 MJMansfield

Click on M. Jay Mansfield for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


    “On the 28th of April I shook my feathers, made ready my mind, washed and cleaned my body till I had the salt rubbed out of my skin, and with the sea-tan gone from my face and the look of the city swell upon me, I set out for the Depot in Phoenix Park, myself and my friend beside me.”

    Muiris O ‘Suilleabháin’s account of his arrival at Garda Headquarters.

    It was a Tuesday morning in 1927. According to Garda records, “ . . . he joined as member 7561 - Maurice Sullivan with a height of 5 feet 10 ¾ inches. His occupation was Fisherman and he was recommended by “An Seabhac” ( Padraig O ‘Siochfhradha, another Kerryman.)
    On 15th March he had left his native Blaskets not having up to then ever been “ . . .beyond Dingle to the east” He had left behind pipe-smoking women, matchmaking, weddings in Ballyferriter, the Ventry races and “pictures of Springfield” on the walls.
    Muiris O ‘Suilleabháin was born on the Great Blasket island on Friday 19th February 1904 into an Irish-speaking community. His mother died when he was “only half a year old” and he was reared, in an orphanage, in Dingle and returned to the Great Blasket in 1911. He was enrolled in the Blasket National School on Tuesday 22nd August 1911. Poet, Micheal O ‘Suilleabhain was his great-grandfather and Tomas O Criomthain was his uncle. One commentator wrote of Muiris that he, “ saw things through the eyes of a poet . . .” and had “The poets ability to concentrate his focus and to avoid generalised descriptions.” While an island woman described him as, “Great sport and a nice rogue . . .a breaker of hearts among the girls who were mad about him.” Linguist, scholar (and later Professor of Greek), George Derwent Thomson visited the Blaskets first on 27th August 1923 attracted by the way of life and to learn Irish and ended that first visit on September 30th. The Englishman struck up a friendship with Muiris who, (having been reared on the mainland) was now bi-lingual.) Thompson, who was only a year older than O ‘ Suilleabháin, had almost complete fluency of the Irish language within a few weeks. He urged Muiris to join the police force of the Irish State (the Garda Síochána) and later to write.
    While stationed, as a Garda, in Indreabhán, in the Conemara Gaeltacht he wrote Fiche Bliain ag Fás (and the translation Twenty Years A-Growing), were published in 1933. Thomson edited and assembled the memoir, and arranged for its translation into English with the help of Moya Llewelyn Davies. The translation is true to the rhythm of the Irish language. “The month of Samhain is the time when there does be a rush for pollock in the island.”
    “Musha, the killing of the castle on you if you haven’t a noisy windpipe and it is no lie for the man who first called you Junie of the Scroggle . . .”It is too much of the pipe you have had. Throw up, and nothing will be on you.”
    Fiche Bliain ag Fas was published by Talbot Press where “An Seabhac” was reader. Sean O’ Faoláin described it as “ . . . the first piece of literature in Irish since . . .the eighteenth century.” It became a bestseller in Ireland and the USA and was translated into German.
    The work gave a detailed account of island life from the inside. A childhood and adolescence spent in the most westerly point in Europe is vividly described. Every nuance of the storyteller and the most minute detail of a day mackerel-fishing was recorded in the mind of the young Muiris. From the midnight visit of a matchmaker to the pattern of a wild bird’s egg, it’s all there. The reader is brought on a journey from 1908 when Muiris was four-year old to his time as a Garda in Conemara. It was written for his, “ . . . own pleasure and the entertainment of his friends, without any thought of a wider public.”

    1908 when Muiris was four-year old to his time as a Garda in Conemara.

    About the school in Dingle he says, “The schoolmistress teaching us was a woman who was as grey as a badger with two tusks of teeth hanging down over her lip, and if she wasn’t cross, it isn’t day yet.”
    In July 1911 his father collected him and brought him home to the island. The teacher tried to dissuade the father, Shaun. “In the first place he will lose his English, and so he will be a fool when he grows up a stripling, if he lives so long”.
    Muiris absorbed the stories and lore of the island. He shares with the reader stories of old islanders and tales of those who had returned from their travels.
    When one man from Duinquin, who was visiting the Blasket, was asked about his travels in America and England he said, “It is many a savage dog and a bad housewife the likes of me come across.”
    And in 1914, a man back from Dingle with a newspaper, predicted, “The two sides of the world are likely to burst against each other any moment.”
    We are given a vivid account of a ship that went aground off the Blaskets during the First World War. The Quebra going between New York and Britain was carrying a valuable cargo. Muiris describes the “marvelous sight” of, “the sea covered by boxes and barrels of every description.”
    It seems that almost every islander built a store beside their house to keep the salvage and some sold part of it to people on the mainland. There were rows between neighbours about the dividing of the spoils. “By God” one old man was heard to say, “war is good.”
    Muiris resigned from An Garda Siochana on 05th July 1934. He didn’t relish the idea of prosecuting his neighbours under the Noxious Weed Act or for having no light on their bike or as George Thomson said, “The task of enforcing the law was not congenial to him.” He was married on 10th July 1934 to Cáit Ni Chatháin a Conemara woman, built a house in Carraroe and hoped to make his living from writing.

    Remains of Carraroe house

    He would appear to have been somewhat of a loner. He wrote “I believe it is in solitude that every machine and work of ingenuity was created.” He refers many times, in his writings to the solitary man, “Many a thought comes to the man who goes alone, a thing which is not possible for the man who is fond of company.”
    He translated Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and wrote a sequel to Fiche Bliain ag Fas titled Fiche Bliain Faoi Bláth. He didn’t find a publisher for either and went on to write articles for the Irish Press and several periodicals.
    Some people partially blamed E.M. Forster for the lack of publishers’ interest in Fiche Bliain Faoi Blath. In his introduction to Fiche Bliain as Fas Forster described it as, “ . . . an account of Neolithic civilization from the inside.”
    He rejoined An Garda Siochana on Tuesday 14 Feb 1950. After a couple of days “refresher course” at Garda Headquarters he was stationed for a short time at Oughterard. He was transferred to Galway on 21st June and on 25th June, while swimming at a place called “Lovers’ Strand” near Salthill he was drowned. He left a widow and two children. Eoghan (who went on the become an Abbey actor) and Máirin.
    It is, I suppose, ironic that the Atlantic ocean that he loved was to take his life. That great body of water which, in his own words, “ . . .beat without ceasing from end to end of the year and from generation to generation in and out of the coves where the seals make their homes to generation against the wrinkled rocks which stand above the waves and wash.”
    The final resting place of the man who always claimed that he “wasn’t an Irishman but a Blasket Islander” is in a cemetery near Carraroe.

Click on Mattie Lennon for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online

Below: Muiris O‘Suilleabháin with English novelist E.M. Forster, shortly after the publication of Fiche Bliain ag Fas

World's Two Oldest Columnists Call It a Day

By Eric Shackle

The world's two oldest columnists have both just thrown away their quills, or stopped tapping their computer keyboards. In the US, Margaret Caldwell (104) has quit writing for the Desert Valley Times, and in Ireland, James Kelly (100) has written his last column for The Irish News.

"Everyone misses Margaret's column, but she felt she was repeating herself,and didn't have anything new to offer," says David Bly, editor of the Desert Valley Times, in Mesquite, Nevada.

"Her health is poor, but she's still alert and full of laughs.

"She leaves on a high note: her column has been awarded first place in non-staff columns by the Nevada Press Association. This is the second time she was won that award."

Earlier this year, The Irish News published this tribute to its veteran columnist:

Centurion columnist retires

The oldest newspaper columnist in the world, James Kelly, has written his final column, at the grand age of 100.

Mr Kelly joined The Irish News in 1928 and on Saturday he celebrated his birthday and the end of his time at the paper at a party with friends and family. He has written about Northern Ireland's major issues for the past 82 years, covering everything from the opening of Stormont in 1932 to the introduction of Home Rule, 40 years later.

After his long and distinguished career with The Irish News, the west Belfast man said he knew it was time to step down from his column.

Here's a story I wrote about Margaret Caldwell two years ago, when she was a feisty 102. It was published by the South Korean newszine OhmyNewsInternational:

Margaret Caldwell, 1940s pin-up girl and friend of famous film stars, now 102 years old, is the world's oldest newspaper columnist. She lives in Nevada, but never visits Vegas.

"I think the slogan 'What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas' is totally wrong," she told OhmyNews. "It denotes the wrong kind of reputation for Las Vegas. What happens in Las Vegas should be in the public domain as far as I am concerned."

Margaret writes a weekly column for the Desert Valley Times in Mesquite, Nevada, owned by Gannett Co., Inc. which publishes 85 daily newspapers, including the national newspaper USA TODAY (circulation 2,284,219), and nearly 900 non-daily publications

David Bly, editor and general manager of the Desert Valley Times, says "I interviewed Margaret as a centenarian, and was so taken with her wit and sharpness I asked her to write a weekly column, which she has been doing faithfully ever since under the title, 'Memoirs of a Crone,' which was her choice of titles.

"She simply writes about her life, and our readers are very fond of her... She still has a way with words."

Margaret Caldwell in 2009, pic by Todd.

OhmyNews interviewed Margaret by email. Here is the Q and A:

When and where was your first writing published?

    My first writing was published in 1980 by Warner Books, a novel called "Born To The Sun." I have written another book which is a sequel called "I Married A Genius", which I am presently attempting to sell.

Which newspapers or magazines have published your work?

    I wrote for the Chicago Tribune during World War II as Administrator for Women's Activities Civil Defense and now here in Mesquite for the Desert Valley Times.

How many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren do you have, and where do they live?

    I only have one child, a daughter, who lives with me here in Mesquite. [Her 76-year-old daughter, Patrisha, posts Margaret's columns for her.]

When and why did you move to Nevada?

    I moved to Nevada to be with my daughter and son-in-law, now deceased, in 1997. They lived in Las Vegas and I lived with them for several years.

Do you ever visit Las Vegas and play the slots? Have you written about gambling?

    I do not visit Las Vegas. I don't care for gambling and am not a gambler. However, if I do want to throw away some money, there are three casinos in Mesquite where I can go. I do, sometimes, like to go to the casino for a buffet, but that is all.

Do you agree with the slogan "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas"?

    I think the slogan is totally wrong. It denotes the wrong kind of reputation for Las Vegas. What happens in Las Vegas should be in the public domain as far as I am concerned.

What are your favorite subjects in your columns?

    The only things I write about in my columns are my life experiences and my thoughts on what is going on right now. I have had a long life and met a lot of people, famous or not, and have had a lot of experiences.

Do you receive much feedback?

    I have received some postcards and letters but not many. However, my daughter and I are constantly getting verbal feedback from people in this town whenever we go out.

One of those people is Barb King, who praised Margaret's and daughter Patrisha's performances in a New Year's Eve stage show a few weeks ago.

"In this play she [Margaret] was Miss Patience, and what a wonderful job she did re-creating a sweet, prim and proper school marm who had once been engaged to the sheriff.," Barb wrote. "Margaret continues to amaze everyone who meets her, with her wonderful humor and fabulous abilities with story-telling."

Margaret's columns cover a wide variety of subjects, ranging from "My First Kiss" to her latest column, "Hard times again - when will we ever learn?."

She wrote "My First Kiss" last year, when she was only 101. Here's a copy:

    When I was young, about nine years old, there was a preacher who came to our country schoolhouse to preach.
    Mama, who was very religious, always went to hear him and took me along. He almost always brought his granddaughter who was my age. On one occasion Mama gave me permission to return with them to Ackley, a small town about 15 miles away.
    I couldn't believe my eyes when we were served dinner by the wife. The preacher got a serving of a very savory roast, the rest of us half of a boiled potato, no butter, just salt, and no dessert, while he had apple pie.
    I was hungry when I went to bed with his granddaughter and hungrier after being served a small bowl of gummy oatmeal for breakfast. It was at that time I began to make decisions. I took my paper bag of possessions and, after telling the minister's wife where I was going, I left.
    I went to Grandma Johnson, who was raising my dead sister's little boy, my nephew Lyle, who is, at this time, 80 some years old and living in Yuma, Arizona. Grandma Johnson opened her arms. The rest of the week was pure joy. We went to a dance at the little town hall. Grandpa took me to the dance and then said, "You know the way home. See you later," and left.
    One of the neighbors had a boy of about 11 who danced with me and later walked me back to Grandma Johnson's house. He was so polite. He opened the gate in the back yard fence and walked me up to the house.
    I was thrilled and tongue-tied. We stood at the door staring at each other, when he suddenly grabbed and kissed me, turned and ran like the hounds of hell were after him.
    I forgot to worry about getting back home; the preacher would have to take me. Gee whiz, he really kissed me! What was his name again? I couldn't remember. The kiss on my cheek still tingled.

You can see five photos of Margaret at different stages of life posted on MySpace.

And here's an edited copy of this remarkable woman's autobiography:

I was born on Feb. 1, 1907, in the backwoods of Minnesota on a homestead, 25 miles from Backus, which now has a population of 2,500 people, the year before Henry Ford came out with his first Model T Ford.

I have seen the history of the 20th century; watched the boys leave for war -- World War I, that is, as well as World War II, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraq. I remember the 1918-1919 flu epidemic.

Any 100 year old has done a lot of living. I think I have packed more into my lifetime than most.

I have:

    • lived all over the country, from California to New York City to Richmond, Virginia,
    • seen the first rocket go off at White Sands, New Mexico,
    • visited Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, among other places,
    • counted movie stars such as Lillian Roth, Marie Dressler, Peggy Ann Garner, Elizabeth Taylor and Wallace Beery as friends,
    • started the Virginia Cerebral Palsy Association and spoken at the Virginia Health Conference on Crippled Children,
    • worked as Authorization Manager for Lord and Taylor in New York City,
    • made a commercial for McDonald's,
    • met Grant Woods, Albert Einstein, Bill Pachner, Gustav Rehberger, Leonard Goldenson, founder of ABC, among others,
    • published a successful novel and written another for the Eldred (my maiden name) family.

I am presently completing another novel about a marriage made in heaven or hell, as the case may be.

Posted by Eric Shackle at 20:06
Friday, 2 September 2011

Click on Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

You Never Will

By Wendy Shepard-Kalan

I gave my heart to you I felt the pull,
I'm in the past cause you never will
I carry you with me I see you in my head,
So much has happened to a love you think is dead.
Things I see, hope and wish for
What did you say, what did I do...
In your head we are no more.
Silent inside screaming for you.
Silent inside screaming for youuu

I found an old note, you said forever
All the beautiful things signed x's and o's
Now it's never
Yet my love still grows

Silent inside screaming for you
Silent inside screaming for youuu

I gave my heart to you I felt the pull,
I'm in the past cause you never willlll

You never willllll

©9/28/11 Wendy Shepard-Kalan

Click on Wendy Shepard-Kalan for bio and list of other works published by
Pencil Stubs Online.


By M. Jay Mansfield

I would rather sit here by myself
Lost in my solitude
Than join your masses
And watch your fake attitudes

A lone beautiful death
Instead of your mass spiritual suicide
No huddled self worshiping mass
I'd rather turn my back and go inside

Call me the outcast
The one left behind
I would rather be shunned
Than one of your kind

I may sleep in an old worn bed
my face dirty from my mothers grace
But although stained my soul is clean
And I'll still smile when I'm dead

I am your outcast
The one that is not worthy
The heretic, the cad
wrapped in truth beautifully dirty

©9-18-2011 MJMansfield

Click on M. Jay Mansfield for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

Mary’s Weekend Breakfast

Although I do most of the cooking around here, on Sunday morning Mary usually takes over and puts her own ideas to work and does her own thing. Well that’s great because by Sunday I get up late and I usually run out of ideas. Not that bacon and eggs or sausage and eggs are new ideas, but when I do them sometimes they are. Do so try to make such uninteresting items the interest of the moment. But doing that 6 days a week tends to make you run out of ideas. But on Sunday Mary goes to it and makes something very special and here is one of her weekend specials. My Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother nor Aztec Annie never bother her. I suppose they figure she knows more than they do anyway. Maybe so but in any event Sunday Breakfasts ala Mary are the best of the week.

Weekend Sunrise

Sunrise Quiche - Crust

    3 Corn Tortilla’s 6”
    1 wedge or square of left over Cornbread, may be jalapeno or green chile cornbread
    ½ stick of Butter

Sunrise Quiche – Filling

    1 or two strips Bacon
    3 extra lg or 4 lg eggs
    3 to 4 oz Swiss Cheese
    1 oz Mozzarella w/jalapeno String Cheese
    2 cups loosely torn Romaine Lettuce
    3 Tbpns Half and Half
    1 Tablespoon canned or fresh diced tomatoes, drained
    Garnish: 1 heaping Tablespoon Sour Cream

Serves two to four.

For Crust:

In food processor, add the 3 tortilla’s torn into 8th’s or smaller, pulse on high ‘til crumbed, add cold butter and pulse ‘til loose dough begins to come together. Press into 11” pie plate thinly and up the sides. (Set processor bowl aside, no need to wash before doing the filling.) Crumble the cold cornbread and press into the butter-tortilla mixture and up the sides to form a crust. Bake at 400º's ‘til edges begin to firm, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, lower heat to 350º, and let crust cool slightly.

For Filling:

While crust is baking, put bacon strips in microwave on bacon cooker with paper towel on top, or microwave safe plate with paper towel below and on top of strips, for 2 minutes, adding another minute if slices are not crispy looking. Meanwhile, in same processor bowl, add Cubed cheeses and process ‘til finely shredded, in crumbs actually, then crumble and add in the cooked, cooled bacon and pulse ‘til crumbed. Add the torn Romaine to mixture in processor and pulse ‘til also in a crumb state, not ‘til wet.

Place all the cheese, bacon, romaine blend into pie shell, sprinkling to the edges in even layer.

In same processor bowl, (no need to wash) add eggs and half and half, and run on low ‘til blended. Pour carefully over the cheese mixture in shell. Place tomatoes in a narrow ring on top of mixture about 1/3 of distance from center to edges. (This is your ‘sun’ ring.) Bake 25 to 30 minutes in 350º oven until puffed and edges of crust are browned gently.

Remove from oven and serve with a dollop of Sour Cream (your ‘sun’) in center of Tomato ring. Cut in wedges and enjoy with your Sunrise Drink.

Sunrise Drink:

  • 2 jiggers Tequilla
  • 2 jiggers Jose Cuervo™ Margarita Mix
  • 4 jiggers Chardonnay Wine
  • 2 tsps Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • 7-Up or Canada Dry
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnishes: Thin Lime slices, maraschino cherries

Use 2 lg or 4 reg margarita glasses.

Split the liquid mixture between the glasses, with a couple ice cubes in each, add 7-Up or Canada Dry to fill. Garnish with a cherry and lime slice per glass. Top edges of glasses may be wet then dipped in sugar crystals if desired, before filling. Lavender sugar flakes are nice.

Ya’all Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

Click on Leocthasme for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Thinking Out Loud

By Gerard Meister

I was wondering the other day if our high unemployment rate is due to the airlines no longer serving free food or even snacks. After all, this was a large industry that no longer exists, much like what happened to harness makers when the automobile took over for the horses

Okay, so some of the harness makers became shoemakers, but what happened to the rest? No one really knows, but such is not the case with the airline food planners, cooks, mavens, what have you? And no, there was no need for the displaced cooks, etc at the fast food emporiums. Say what you want about McDonalds or KFC or Subway, the food is delicious and quite reasonable. Yet, my investigators couldn’t find a single airline food person working at a fast food outlet.

Remarkable, but it’s really no surprise where 98.3% of the airline’s cooks and planners wound up and no, they are not collecting unemployment. Don’t give up, just think where can you get all the tasteless, expensive food you would ever want?” Why at the airport, of course! Makes sense when you think of it

Click on Gerard Meister for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Always Looking –

By John I. Blair

For The Birds

Most of my life I’ve been a birdwatcher.

At first it was through eyes virtually blinded by ignorance. I could barely tell the difference between a robin and a redbird. Nonetheless I knew how much I loved watching the redbirds – cardinals – hop to pick up seeds, watching robins stalk earthworms and pull them patiently from their burrows. How much I loved listening to the robins sing their springtime triplets from the television antennas on every house in our block, to the cardinals tink-tinking through piles of scattered autumn leaves.


As I grew a bit older I greatly enjoyed taking drives through the countryside with my Dad, or with my Uncle Ralph in his rattling old farm truck, looking for hawks and crows, and for crows chasing hawks (and owls), learning lore about what they hunted, how they affected rural lives. I found that both Uncle Ralph and Dad knew a lot about birds, things they’d learned growing up in the country, from their own parents, grandparents, uncles (and aunts). And that both were open to coping with revelations that some of what they’d learned as boys was not necessarily correct. I still remember the day my Uncle Ralph told me he’d changed from being ready to shoot all the hawks and owls he could to believing they needed to be protected because they got so much of their food by hunting and eating rats and mice. (See pic of Cooper's Hawk at bottom of column.)

And Dad (who was, after all, a college graduate) started reading books about birds so he could give better talks to the Scout groups he worked with, learning along the way far more than he’d ever known from oral folklore. Stuff about why birds migrated, where they went, and how that was important to other parts of human life. About where they nested, and how humans could help them find nesting sites by building bird boxes.

By the time I was twelve I’d built (with Dad’s able assistance) a couple of wren boxes, and seen birds raise nestlings in them. I’d hand fed, then successfully released, a juvenile bluejay, rescued when its parents died. Now that’s involvement!

The hassles of adolescence and college years distracted me from doing much birdwatching for a long time; but then I had the joy of teaching my New York bred wife, then my son, some of the stuff I’d been blessed with by Dad and Uncle Ralph. We bonded over birds.

For several decades now my wife and I have maintained a bird sanctuary in our urban yard. No pesticides; a supply of fresh water; bins of nourishing birdseed kept filled 12 months of the year, rain or shine, summer or snowfall. Many generations of finches and cardinals and doves have been raised on the strength of the provender we put out. I think of them as “our birds,” rather species centrically. They may just as well think of us as “their people.”

All through the day, every day, all we have to do is look out the kitchen window, or the patio door, and see dozens, sometimes scores, of birds, feeding, drinking, sunning themselves, flying about, mating, even nesting, sharing their lives with us without stint.

Some years ago I posted a poem here in Pencil Stubs which talks about what this experience can mean.

Birdfeeder Karma

Take care before
You hang a birdfeeder
Imagining how mellow it will seem
To see your feathered friends
Clinging to its sides
Or hopping all around
On the ground beneath.

Unless you aspire to be
Dispassionate, objective,
A self-distancing observer
Of these non-human species,
You will soon discover
You have linked with other lives
And are a part, in no small way,
Of their existence.

And when one winter day
You find small bones, a skull,
A pair of ragged feathers
Half-hid beneath the leaves
Where last summer
Sparrows hotly chirped
And bluejays jeered,
The tiny pain you feel
Is the gift you gave yourself.

©2003 John I. Blair

Birds continually offer all of us an extraordinary, precious opportunity to watch, up close, other species living out their lives, and even to (very carefully, and only with sufficient knowledge about how to do it without harming them) interact with their lives. Almost all other types of animals rightly shun humans; birds just go on with business. These little dinosaurs (for that’s what science tells us they are) adapt with ease to a world created by us humans. They’ve been here many millions of years longer than us, after all. If you aren’t already in love with watching them, give it a try. One word of advice – with gulls and pigeons, don’t park your car too close, and wear a hat.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Below: Cooper's Hawk

It Bubbles Up

By M. Jay Mansfield

slowly bubbling up
so insidious it crawls
taking over every bit of my being
I tremble and shake
My eyes flash
my teeth draw blood in my own lips
and those that think they know me cringe in fear
and those that truly know me tremble with me
For it is pure passion
Love and will from my center
Bubbling up to wash me away
And to carry who ever is willing to hold onto me to another place
A wave of violent proportions
A wave of pure crimson
From deep inside
Through me
From the very groins of mother earth and father sun
Waves of passion that could surely crush you if you let it
Or roll over you in a beautiful procession
it is a passion that goes past the core of my soul
Tying the souls of my lover to me and the goddess
Natures full beautiful fury
Where scratches and battles and blood and spit
And soothing pools of comfort and caring are all one
where fabric is ripped
and hearts mended
passion from the depths
exploding through us in a glorious ride
the price is so much and yet the ride is free
Open up
grab on
and Love with me
©9-26-2011 MJMansfield
Click on M. Jay Mansfield for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Ghosts on the Water

By Joanne Sprott

Ghosts of grandfathers
curling like smoke over the grill,
long gone it is to rust and ruin.

I remember the charcoal smell
of that perfect patty, still.

Vapors of tasseled hammocks
creaking on old hooks,
now they're buried in tree growth.

I remember the swing
of being toes in the air, still.

Shafts of arrows long ago
thumping into target bales.
straw and fletches have gone to earth.

I remember the glory
of aiming true and releasing, still.

Shades of old garden ladies
cocking straw hats toward the sun,
their proud pansies are gone to seed.

I remember the life
Of soil on my fingers, still.

Moonbeams of swimmers
gliding through water,
now they're just ripples of wind.

I remember the cold
of that first brave dive, still.

Wraiths of child laughter
echoing in a piney breeze,
now lost to work and parenthood.

I remember jumping free
on those pine beds, still.

Only the shreds of memories remain,
of merry meetings and farewell sighs,
and the light of the ghosts on the water.

©2003 Joanne Sprott

Click on Joanne Sprott for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


By Thomas F. O'Neill

The Value of Higher Learning

Working as a teacher in Suzhou, China I have seen firsthand the value of acquiring a higher education. Education has raised the standard of living for millions in China because there are over 365 million people that have a middle class income. That is more than the entire population of America and the standard of living here will continue to rise due to the growing educational opportunities.

A half century ago the average high school graduate in America could find a job and achieve a middle class income. A person seeking employment today with just a high school diploma will most likely earn less than the average college graduate. Good employment opportunities will be harder to find for those lacking a degree especially in today’s world. With high unemployment many in America are struggling to find decent paying jobs and the number of underemployed is growing as well.

A College degree shows potential employers that you possess critical thinking skills and that you value your education. There are many that question whether the high cost involved in earning that degree is worth the time and effort. Those same people will argue that there are many job seekers with degrees who can’t find work in their field.

The people who enter the job market passing up an opportunity to go to college are most likely shortchanging their future for the here and now. Some choose to return to school in later years but find that it is harder to earn a college degree with the added responsibilities that come with raising a family.

There are a growing number of adults returning to school though in order to better themselves by earning a degree. They understand that it is their only option for better employment.

Within the past twenty years or so education not only raised the standard of living in China it also had a profound impact on China’s growing economy. The economy here is on fast forward and its growing exponentially with no sign of slowing down. This is also adding to the higher standard of living in China due to higher wages being spurred by the rising job market.

More students in China are also traveling abroad to continue their education not because education is so much better outside of China but rather they understand the value of experiencing other cultures.

Some of my students have commented in my cultural diversity class that learning new languages is not enough to get by in our global economy. You also have to understand the cultures of those countries you want to do business with through international commerce. In order to be successful in business you have to understand the cultural preferences of the corporate buyers on the global market. That is just one of the reasons why China is so open to the cultural exchange programs of various nations.

Throughout history many conflicts among nations have occurred due to lack of cultural understanding. An Educated society though can help its citizenry overcome negative preconceived notions and negative stereotypes that have led to national conflicts in the past.

Many cultural exchange students who traveled abroad experienced firsthand how their negative perceptions of foreigners changed to positive experiences. This occurred when foreign students simply interacted with one another while studying abroad.

There are many cultural exchange programs sponsored by American and foreign Universities. They are helping students from all over the world come to a greater understanding of the various cultures that make up the human race. When we gain a deeper understanding of other cultures we in turn gain a deeper understanding of our own culture. That knowledge is truly valuable because when properly applied it can resolve conflicts.

The appreciation of a country’s art, food, literature, and music, is also part of the cultural experience. China is influenced by western music, western artifacts, classical literature from the west, and American fast food. American movies are hugely popular as well and they have had a profound impact on China’s perception of America. When the Chinese come to the U.S. the first thing they realize is America is not like what they see in the movies.

In America and in China College students are gaining a clearer understanding that by placing themselves in the service of others they gain a stronger sense of self-worth. Volunteerism lends itself towards boundless opportunities. Utilizing the students’ skills, knowledge, and education not only enhance the community but it also opens countless doors towards enhancing the student’s own well being. Upon graduation it shows potential employers that they take civic responsibility and pride in their community.

In America many college educated individuals may not land those high paying jobs fresh out of college but many will turn to non-governmental service jobs. They will gain a sense of civic responsibility and work experience that is vital for landing jobs with higher pay.

Statistics show that educated individuals are more likely to vote and get involved in the political process. College graduates fresh out of school are also more likely to work for community agencies helping the less fortunate better themselves.

A college education can also lead to a life of continued learning and an appreciation of the opportunities that come with that learning. Many adults return to school for higher degrees or to simply take courses for self-enrichment to learn new skills or pursue hobbies and interests. Self-enrichment cannot be financially quantified though especially when that education is achieved throughout one’s lifetime.

A child’s education is vital for America’s future and our national well being. Adults must do all that can be done to encourage the youth of America to continue their learning and to put their education to good use.

When students of mine get accepted to foreign Universities they feel as if they achieved something of extraordinary value. In reality they have because a great education cannot be monetarily quantified it can only be freely shared through ones character of achievement.

I tell my students that the true worth of a person is not measured through ones salary or what they spent on earning their degrees. A person’s true worth is measured by how well they spend their lives in the service of others. What we freely give to others determines the true worth of our character because what we give to our communities we in turn give to ourselves.

The fool will strive for the material possessions they do not have but wish to gain. The wise on the other hand will develop what they already possess within themselves. Education can be the means to developing the skills and knowledge that is needed in developing our true potential.

Always with love from Suzhou, China,
Thomas F O’Neill

    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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Drowning Inside

By M. Jay Mansfield

I wear these goggles
out here in the wasteland
not to keep water out
but to keep tears in

I keep my pains silent and personal
I’m drowning on the inside
drowning on the inside
With a quick smile I make it all marginal

I must be strong too much depends on it
They all look at me, already trying to prop me up
Oh how they would wail if they knew the depth
So I smile to protect them from themselves, is that corrupt?

I wrap my face not to keep dust out but to keep the sobs in
oh those precious moments when I am truly alone
When I can collapse and I can cry furiously with abandon
Those precious moments when I understand mortalities humor

I wear these masks not to scare you but to hide my own horror
I can’t bear to look in the mirror anymore
I would not force you to see me either
what a shameful existence for the truth bearer

I wear my snorkel not to bring in air
But to make sure I don’t pollute your ocean with my pain
as I lay in it’s waters wishing I had the nerve to go under
I know as you do tomorrow I will return and everything will be the same

©9-17-2011 MJMansfield

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Like Walking in the Sandhills

By June Hogue

It was 5 weeks ago today at 1:17 a.m. that Royce died.
I cannot believe this much time has elapsed
and I am just now coming to grips with it.
I am beginning to clear the cobwebs out of my mind
and to think more clearly.
It all seems like a distant dream
from which I am just now awakening…
except for the fact that I cannot go to the nursing home
and see him each day.
I am now able to get back to the business of taking care of business…
but the ache in my heart remains.
Sometimes I am so bombarded with the memories of the past 4 years
that the tears pour like rain--
the memory of those 4 years of suffering that Royce had had to endure ---
he did not deserve that!
A better man never walked the face of the earth…
he was loving and kind to everyone,
honest to the core and devoted to his family and to his church….
why did he have to suffer so???
That is the first question I am going to ask God when I get to Heaven!
But at least now I can recognize where I am in the present—
I know that my life has changed forever
and there is so much work that I must do.…
I look at what all has to be done and see
that I am making progress on taking care of it…
but it is slow going…
like walking in the sandhills again.
You bog down if you try to run…
I cannot seem to comprehend what has happened in the past 5 weeks---
where was I?
The days all faded together and time stood still
while my heart searched for Royce—
constantly denying that I was living anything more than a bad dream
from which I would surely wake up…
and finally I have awakened to realize
that the dream was simply God’s sheltering arms
that kept me anesthetized through that surgical removal of my other half…
my Soul Mate.
He has promised that I will be re-joined to him when my call comes.
I am listening, God….I am listening.
Please be patient with me!
Show me what I must do and lend me the strength to get it done…
I am too weak to do it alone but if You will help me,
I will try my best to listen and follow Your bidding
until I hear Your call…
”Come Home, Child…Come Home.”
©9-29-11 June Hogue
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That's Where I Am

Everybody has a story to tell
But in this one she told me to go hell
That's where I am

Everybody has had to live with a broken heart
But this time it has torn my world apart
That's where I am

I guess you've heard it all before
So this should be no surprise
I guess you knew this had to be
Another faulty sunrise

Now my eyes are tired
My mind is weak
All I ever want to do
Is dream and sleep

I'm not really sure what's keeping me alive
One day I will find what's on the other side

Everybody has a story to tell
But in this one she told me to go hell
That's where I am
It must have been her plan

I guess you've heard it all before
So this should be no surprise
I guess you knew this had to be
Another faulty sunrise
Blame it on me
Or blame it on geography
©9/9/11 Bruce Clifford
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One True Love

No matter what comes our way
It doesn't matter it's all the same
I'll tell you one thing that's very true
For many reasons I'm in love with you

You are the bright spot on a cloudy day
You are my angel I can't let get away
You are my hopes and dreams, I thank heaven above
You are destiny, you're my one true love

I am here to hold you and never let you go
I will never make you jealous or hurt you so
And should you ever cry I will wipe your tears away

I love you so much and through all of these years
I loved you through the dark days when you took away my tears
You are my hopes and dreams, I thank heaven above
You are destiny, you're my one true love

No matter what comes our way
I will never stray
I will tell you something I always knew
I will always be so in love with you

©9/20/11 Bruce Clifford
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For You To Forget Me

Do you miss me since I've been gone
Do you remember how we used to get along
Do you dream at night of memories we once shared
Do you hold them tight as if you really cared

So you left me hanging by a thread
You don't even listen to what we once said
And you don't respect me and you made it so clear
For you to forget me was the one thing I feared

Do you remember how it all began
Do you ever think about the things we didn't understand
Do you sleep at night with all the memories we shared
Do you still hold them tight as if you really cared

So you left me hanging by a thread
You've never listened to anything we said
You don't give a damn and you made it so clear
For you to forget me was the one thing I feared

So you left me twisting in the wind
You've never got beyond the will to win
You don't give us a second thought and you hold nothing near
For you to forget me was the one thing I feared

I've had enough of this life
It never mattered to you what was wrong or right
No matter what I try
This time I really mean goodbye

©9/8/11 Bruce Clifford
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Rabbo Tales-Chapter 12-Part B

By Mark Crocker

The Last of a Race

Previously: Rabbo hopped up the pathway to the house and hopped in. Athena was closing the living room door as Rabbo hopped up to her.
Athena was all sweaty and flushed as she looked down at Rabbo.
“Bastet wants to talk to Merwyn or you” said Rabbo.
Athena looked at the door and then at Rabbo. “Dad is kind of busy working with Helena”
“Oh is that what you call it” Bastet’s voice said as it drifted faintly into both Rabbo and Athena’s minds.
Athena blushed and looked at Rabbo who was looking up at her wriggling his nose as the odor that was coming off of her.
    “I better bathe” said Athena.
    “Yes you had” answered Bastet with a faint snicker in her voice.

    At dinner Helena sat very close to Merwyn but she kept looking over at Athena and giggling like a little girl.
    “So explain to me again and slowly this time what Bastet told you” said Merwyn to Athena as Helena poured more wine into her goblet and Merwyn’s goblet.
    “She explained in detail that Helena’s grand mother was a willing experiment a Sirian human cross and that they tried for ten years before she got it right. The idea is that once it was done she could use me to have children. But she was not planning on a daughter and that daughter having a daughter and so on. But with Helena being her grand child and you having her this afternoon it’s possible that she could have a son that is if she is fertile at the moment. And if that is the case and I have a girl we could cross them and have the Sirian race reborn”?
    “We will just have to make sure that Ra does not find out as if he does he will be after Bastet”
    Helena leaned into Merwyn. “My lord Zeus I would be very willing to have your child”.
    Helena turned and smiled at Athena. “When I was fourteen summers my grand mother took me to the island of Lesbos. I went there for a ritual and I so enjoyed myself. You would like it there”.
    “I would” said Athena raising an eye brow.
    “It was the ritual of deflowering. Woman only go there for that ritual” stated Helena.
    Athena laughed “so that explains were you were very willing”.
    Merwyn went so red that Athena and Helena started to laugh hard.
    Helena stood up and walked drunkenly over to Athena and sat in her lap. “Yes and I so enjoyed it. Never thought of doing it that way before”
    She turned back and looked at Merwyn and winked.
    Helena hiccupped and then looked around. “It feels like we are being watched”
    Merwyn nodded to Rabbo.
    Rabbo slipped out of his body and saw a glowing ball sitting on the counter watching them.
    The glowing ball had two other glowing balls faintly in the center. As Rabbo looked at the glowing ball it moved closer and seemed to come to rest on Athena’s shoulders.
    Rabbo thought a moment and remembered that the glowing colors where the aura colors of Bastet so he opened his eyes.
    “It's just Bastet” said Rabbo.
    Then Rabbo remembered that he had seen the same double glow in Athena that afternoon when she was making butter.
    “Merwyn Bastet is having two babies” asked Rabbo.
    “Yes that’s right” answered Merwyn.
    “It's just I noticed that Athena has a double glow around her tummy this morning” Rabbo turned to Athena. “Could you stand up so Merwyn can see?”
    Helena slipped off Athena’s lap so that Athena could stand up.
    Athena stood up turned side ways and closed her eyes so that she could show her aura to Merwyn and so that Helena could see the glow too.
    And there it was a faint double glow of two life forms in the early stages of development.
    “Twins” said Merwyn.
    Helena stood with her mouth wide open as she looked at the glowing Athena. She reached out and gentle in awe touched Athena’s tummy.
    Suddenly Helena’s eyes rolled back and she fell to the floor her mouth started to move “Bring Bastet to me with her mind chained. We will use Hermes as the bait once he arrives from Thira. Now get going and be ready”
    Athena and Merwyn both moved to Helena’s side and held her while she thrashed around in the throws of her vision.
    Rabbo sat bolt upright and then closed his eyes. He could still see the aura of Bastet but it was already moving away from the house.
    Rabbo followed Bastet mile after mile until he was far out over the sea. And still she did not stop.
    Rabbo had almost reached the end of his ability when he saw Bastet head down to a beach with a huge red stone house with wide windows and a huge door.
    He could see many people moving around and lots of boats on the shore. He spotted Bastet’s ship tied to a wharf. He moved down towards the huge house and just as he slowed and was wondering if he could somehow get in Bastet bespoke him on the private mode.
    “What’s so important that you had to follow me” asked Bastet.
    “Ra is coming after you. I don’t know how many but he is using Hermes as bait” said Rabbo feeling his mind weaken.
    Sudden Rabbo felt Bastet reach out and hold him in place. “How do you know this?”
    “Helena saw it even now she is speaking as if her voice is that of Ra” said Rabbo.
    “Return to Merwyn Athena and Helena and tell them I will hail them once I am ready.”

    Rabbo weakly opened his eyes and looked at Merwyn and Athena.
    Helena was sitting in a chair with a blanket around her shaking as if she was very cold. She held a goblet of wine to her lips that was steaming.
    “Drink it” said Athena “the warm wine will help”
    “I hate it when that happens” said Helena “that’s why they wanted me to be a priestess. The fact that I see visions and hear voices and that sometimes they speak though me”
    “Merwyn Bastet is going to hail you” said Rabbo weakly.
    Merwyn turned and looked at Rabbo and nodded then turned back to Helena.
    “That was brave of you” said Athena. “Traveling all that way on your own and following her. You must have been close to your limit”
    “Yes I was at my limit” said Rabbo weakly.
    Merwyn suddenly grabbed Helena’s goblet as her back arched and again she thrashed around wildly with her mouth working “Hermes you have three days to sail there. She will be weakened due to being pregnant. I will have fifteen people there that will pin her mind and chain her abilities so that she can’t hurt you. Yes she won’t be able to hurt you. Why are you scared! Yes I know what she did to you. Remember I healed you and put you back together. Now set sail and be there in three days.”
    Helena opened her eyes and looked around weakly. Her skin was sweaty and sticky so Athena helped her up and took her upstairs to the bathroom.
    Merwyn turned to Rabbo and looked at him. “That was brave of you to chase after Bastet to warn her. But it would have been better if you had waited so that you could of told her that she has three days to get out of there. But still good job” smiled Merwyn.
    “Merwyn Athena Rabbo. What’s going on” said Bastet’s voice.
    “Ra is moving against you. His force will be there in three days I suggest you be out of there in two days” said Merwyn.
    “I am already having my people packing and we can be out of here in one and half days. I can make my ship invisible but that will weaken me” said Bastet.
    Merwyn thought for a moment. “Tell me how you teleported yourself I might be able to come to you and help”.
    “Dad no” screamed Athena’s voice in Rabbo and Merwyn’s head.
    “Bastet needs one of us there and as you can’t go I will have to go” said Merwyn very matter of fact tone in his voice.
    Bastet switched to Merwyn's private mode and explained how she had teleported herself to visit Athena and Merwyn.
    Rabbo sat watching Merwyn for a while and every so often Merwyn would nod to himself.
    Athena came down stairs and walked up to Merwyn.
    “Rabbo stay with Athena” said Merwyn on Rabbo’s private mode. Then suddenly it looked as if Merwyn was nothing more than a huge white ball of light and they the center of the ball turned black and spread out until the whole white ball was black.
    The ball of black light looked like a hole fading into nothing and suddenly there was a loud ear splitting pop and Merwyn was gone.
    Athena stood with her mouth open and for what seemed like ever she just stood there hardly breathing. Then she started to shake and she sat down on the floor next to Rabbo.
    “Athena I am at Bastet’s” said Merwyn’s voice.
    Athena started to breath again and she stopped shaking.
    “You ever do something that stupid again I will kill you” screamed Athena in Rabbo’s head.

    For the next day and half Athena and Rabbo took it in turns to watch the coast line for Hermes and the others that Ra had sent north to chain Bastet’s mind.
    They had spotted Hermes’s ship off the coast of Crete sailing with full sail and making good headway.
    They had also watched as Merwyn loaded Bastet’s ship using his psychokinesis. And then they watched as Merwyn helped Bastet’s ship sail fast against the wind away from the shore and away from where Crete was.
    Bastet’s followers and friends had also loaded up their boats and were heading down the coast with the idea to make it to an island that was close to both main lands. From there they would again follow the coast around until they came to the same area that Merwyn and Athena lived in and set up a village of there own.

    Hermes stepped down onto the shore a few miles from Bastet’s huge temple complex. He could feel the sand under his feet. He took a deep breath and started to walk towards where he knew she lived.
    It was too quiet for what he was use to and had the feeling that Bastet was waiting for him to move closer before she attacked. Or maybe she had finally decided to give into him and that they could be bond mates.
    “I am not scared” he told himself trying to still the fear that was building inside of him.
    “You reek of fear” said Ra’s voice in his head.
    “Can you see her” he asked Ra.
    “No the house and temple is still heavily shielded. I can’t break though as much as I try” said Ra. “now remember Hermes get her outside of the shielded area and we can chain her mind”.
    “Are you sure they can over power her”.
    “We tried it on Nut and it worked with only ten. The fifteen I have on hand including Nut will be able to chain her mind without a problem all you have to do is get her out of the shielded area. That’s all” said Ra.
    The walk toward the temple and Bastet’s house seemed to Hermes to take forever but at last he could see her house and the shimmering of the shields that covered her house and temple.
    And there she was in lion form sitting on the steps looking at him licking her lion face lips as if she was ready to eat him.
    “Darling I will submit to you in love. I won’t dominate you I promise” said Hermes hailing her on the general telepathic mode.
    “I know Hermes” said Bastet her voice sounding different almost as if coming from far away. “Drop your shields to show me your love and come closer”.
    “I will drop my shields my love but come here to me on the beach” said Hermes.
    Hermes dropped his shields and saw Bastet get up and walk down the steps in lion form towards him.
    She came to the edge of the shielded area and sat down looking at him. “Step closer and I will forgive you”.
    “Don’t step closer, Hermes” said Ra “you will be in the way as we mind chain her”.
    “Come to me, my beloved” said Hermes.
    “I forgive you, my Hermes, and I will come closer out from under the shields to show you my love” said Bastet.
    And with that the lion got up and stepped out of the shielded area.
    Hermes felt the minds of fifteen people rush around him and by him. Then suddenly he heard the warning too late.
    “It’s a real lion”!
    Then he felt pain in his throat and body as the teeth of the lion sank into him. He could feel the razor sharp claws digging into his flesh as the grip on his throat tightened and tightened. Then there nothing. Only the feeling of falling forever downward and downward into a deep dark pit without light and only pain. Then he heard laughter from Bastet.
    “She won’t kill you. And your mind will be trapped in the world of darkness bound forever in the pain of those you hurt. Murder, rapist, liar, traitor. If Merwyn had known what you were he would never have shown you the kindness he did by rescuing you” Bastet’s voice laughed at him trapped as he was. “Beside your disgusting life form we need your genes so that our race does not die out. I will harvest your genes as a farmer harvest grains from the fields. And with no more care than a fisherman has for the fish he harvests. Did Ra tell you the truth about our home world and what it has become? No? It’s all burnt up as our sun dies. Your beloved house and home, millenniums of your family history that you loved so much was for nothing. All now trapped with you in the dirt and filth that you became when you lied and raped and murdered and became a traitor.
    Oh yes Merwyn knows that it was you that trapped his army in that mountain pass. Merwyn who forgave you knowing full well that you had sold him and his army to the followers of Toner. You who by selling Merwyn killed over twenty thousand of his soldiers and friends. Each solider he knew by name. And lastly that you who it was that injected his most beloved Isis with the illness that killed her, My sister, and now I will have my vengeance as decreed in the code that you so loved. I trap you and bind you in darkness. May those that you raped and killed and sold to death now bind you forever in the pain that you made their after life. And all their pain transfers to you so that they can rest and sleep in peace until they are free to be reborn. You, Hermes, murderer liar rapist traitor are now bound in their pain forever. Never to be free to be reborn free of the pain you created for all those that you have harmed”.
    “I did what I had to, to live” cried out Hermes knowing that he was trapped and that even Ra could not help him. So neatly had Bastet trapped him.
    “You are trapped forever you scum and that is your answer” said Bastet as she started the rite of binding Hermes’s mind. “I bind Hermes the traitor the murder the rapist the lair. I bind your mind to the dark pit for all time to come. May he be locked with the tortured souls of those he is responsible for? The countless children, the countless women and the countless men that he killed by word deed action and inaction. I bind you in the pit of pain. May you forever hear their cries of pain as you killed them? You Hermes are bound and judges by them. So it will be”.
    And then the voices started in Hermes’s head asking him why she had to die and then why he had to die and so it went. Each new voice asking the same question demanding that he answer. Yet not giving him that chance to answer before the next voice asked.
“Are you done?” asked Merwyn to Bastet.
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