"When truth and compassion part ways, follow compassion." ~ anonymous


Here and gone

Our time in Europe is again coming to an end. I'm not complaining. August to mid-December is a good a run but other than family, which I am very much looking forward to seeing, there just isn't much else drawing me back to the U.S. these days. When Bush was President, I wrote a lot about him here but with Trump? What can I say? America has been hijacked by fascists. I love that the Dems took 40 seats in the mid-terms but it's just a start. This rot is deep but we will cut it out. That I trust.

“There are only a few notes. Just variations on a theme.” ― John Lennon   RIP 38 years


Why midnight?

Naples, Italy

Every night at midnight assholes in our neighborhood let off with a barrage of fireworks. Why? WTF? The first night I joked that it must be a cover for the Camorra but it's not funny anymore. Is it some religious celebration? What?! Come on. Fireworks are bullshit. Even the seagulls complain about them. OK. Finally they're done. G'night.


Blue bucket

Naples, Italy

Why take the stairs when you have a blue bucket? Daily life in an old world.


The old man in Évora

Évora, Portugal

Bone Chapel, Évora
"Where are you going
in such a hurry traveler"

Capela dos Ossos

One of the last things we did before leaving Portugal was visit Évora, a city that's been continuously occupied for more than 5,000 years. Neolithic tribes, Celts, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors all passed through Évora, some staying centuries before being swept away by war or the changing of the age. You might think with all the different rulers, cultures, identities, and religions that have come and gone, and Évora's 15th century Golden Age being long past, it would be an empty husk but no. Évora today is considered one of the most livable places in Portugal and, because it maintains the integrity of the past within its historic center, it is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Swami & Juan Carlos in Évora
Swami & Juan Carlos
Évora town square
under the waxing moon
We got there early and spent the day doing our usual slow crawl, me photographing everything—medieval byways, the cathedral, paintings, gargoyles, bell towers, most of the 5000 skeletons in the Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel), Roman ruins, and random other details along the way. We found a friendly vegetarian restaurant for lunch and at twilight, under a waxing moon, sat on a bench in the town square to people watch while waiting for our train. Just after dark, an elderly gentleman wearing a dark topcoat and carrying an umbrella hooked over his arm emerged from a covered walkway along the square's edge. At our bench, he stopped, turned and, with a pleasant smile, bowed slightly looking back and forth into our eyes then slowly, and very deliberately, wished us boa noite and smiled when we wished him boa noite in return. Then, with a nod and a smile, he turned and slowly moved on. This, above all, is what I will remember of Évora.


Nowhere people

Lisbon, Portugal

Black cat reflections
Who are you?
“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 
For the last five weeks, and until yesterday, we stayed in a small flat on the top floor of a four story building near the top of one of Lisbon's many hills. Our flat was a comfortable place on a mostly quiet street with lots of light and a lovely view of the old city and from there we moled up and down through the narrow, twisting cobblestone streets looking for a neighborhood where we might like to live as we are planning to return next spring and establish residency. It's not that we want to live in Lisbon full time, or renounce our US citizenship, it's just that we are both, by nature, wanderers and Lisbon is a good place from which to wander. As a friend from London who is in Lisbon doing the same thing put it, "There are somewhere people and there are nowhere people. We are nowhere people."


A morning in November

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon morning and a fog white sky, 2018
Morning from the balcony
Woke up today to a white fog sky, the barking of a small dog somewhere nearby, and the sound of a foghorn on the river.


Video clips of Trump inciting violence

These clips in no way document "all the times" Trump has called for violence
but they are a good example of how flagrant his lies are so for the record . . .

Postdate note:
President Twat's endless distractions are his way of controlling the conversation. It's time to stop engaging.


Paris, France

"Art is never finished. Only abandoned."
- Leonardo Da Vinci

Following up on a post I did in August,
Dying Slave
Michelangelo - The Louvre

here are some photos I took of Michelangelo's slaves at the Louvre.

Rebellious Slave
Michelangelo - The Louvre

It was late in the day, the light was gloomy and the photos are too dark but, as the mood suits the grim subject matter, I posted them as is. Better photos here, if you're interested.

Rebellious Slave
Michelangelo - The Louvre

The work was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1505 as part of a 16 figure series called Prisoners.

Rebellious Slave
- The Louvre

They were meant to adorn his free-standing, three-level tomb along with 20+ other larger-than-life figures, also to be done by Michelangelo.

Dying Slave
Michelangelo - The Louvre

Unfortunately for us all, the project was repeatedly scaled down over the years. Most of the work was never even begun although four other unfinished pieces in this same series are on exhibit at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy. 

Unfinished detail - Dying Slave
Michelangelo - The Louvre

Michelangelo believed that the figure is trapped within the stone and his job was to liberate it. Seeing them with that in mind, however "undone", they are all very moving.

Tomb of Pope Julius II
source: Web Gallery of Art

In spite of being repeatedly downsized, the Pope's tomb is still very grand. It includes Moses whom Michelangelo considered his most lifelike creation. As the story goes, upon its completion he struck the right knee commanding, "now speak!". There is a scar on the knee thought to be the mark of Michelangelo's hammer.


Beyond the Pale

Ireland, starting out - five weeks - 3000 miles

We came upon this spectacular work by Caravaggio in Dublin. Of course my photo in no way conveys its perfection. I leave this here as a note in the sand. Should you find yourself in Dublin, see it.

The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio
National Gallery of Ireland

After five days in Dublin, known in medieval times as The Pale, we rented a car and began this crazy, month long drive beyond The Pale.

Tiny Ireland is barely the size of the US state of Indiana
photo source: bleemo.com

I fell immediately under the spell of the emerald isle.

One of Ireland's 10 gazillion
such enchanted passageways

Our first base was south, in Kilkenny. It's about an hour and a half from Dublin on the main road but it took us all day . . .

because we drove the single lane back roads . . .

and stopped a lot along the way.

Centre for Peace and Reconciliation,
Glencree, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Swami & Juan Carlos
loved the dark wood.

Graveyard in Glendalough
dating back to the 10th century

Grove in Glendalough

Medieval chapel in Glendalough

We also listened to a lot of music along the way including "I Dream a Highway" by Gillian Welch which proved to be almost too much.

Later M. Lee mentioned that during the drive he'd never felt so depressed in his entire life.


History Lesson for 300.000 Years

My poem History Lesson was recently accepted for inclusion in a one-of publication titled 300.000 (Year of Us) A Poetry Anthology. I suppose you could say it was a natural fit. Description of the publication below.

300.000 (Years of Us), A Poetry Anthology

Our origins are not that well known though not totally obscure. Yet, recent discoveries in Morocco have pushed our ancestry from 200.000 years ago to over 300.000. Yes, we've been that long on Earth, and yet, this is a flea's leap compared to all the living and non-living things that were there before us, some of which still are, others we have more or less slowly but thoroughly wiped out or disfigured for the rest of time. You can also refer to Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction (especially its introduction) or Yuval Noah Harari's A Brief History of Humankind. Are we doomed? I am a pessimistic person and my own personal answer is yes. That's why I want to publish this anthology as a mark, a sign, a trace of our - yours and mine - passage on this planet. Think about petroglyphs, cave arts, artifacts, all the traces we have left here and there, all around the planet. Instead of chemicals, microscopic plastic particles, soda cans, gas jerrycans, used solar cells, full of silica, that no one knows how to recycle efficiently, smartphone parts, laptop bits and pieces... why not leave a book of poetry that will probably get lost in nothingness as many other books or objects before it, but that some descendants of the human race, or one of its creations (a mobile, self-conscious, artificial intelligence) or an alien civilization might stumble upon in, let's say, another 300.000 years; who knows?



Edinburgh - Queens and Guillotines

We're in Edinburgh for the week. Small as it is, this city holds some important pieces of the puzzle like Mary, Queen of Scots who ruled Scotland from 1542 to 1567.

Standing in her private supper chamber in the tower of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Mary and her tragic reign became disturbingly real. One March evening in 1566 she was dining there with friends including David Rizzio, her private secretary, when her husband Lord Darnley suddenly entered the room, sat beside her and slipped his arm around her back. Then Lord Ruthven, dressed in full armor, entered and announced to the Queen that Rizzio had offended her honor and should come with him. Understanding the situation, Mary ordered Lord Ruthven to leave. The rest, as they say, is history. A screaming Rizzio was dragged into the larger adjoining chamber, stabbed 56 times and tossed down the stairs. His body was buried soon after in an unmarked grave.

By William Allan - Guildhall Art Gallery, Public Domain, Link

Knowing she was the real target of the conspiracy, the Queen skillfully persuaded 21-year-old Darnley to abandon his alliance with the Lords. To insure succession of the monarchy to her unborn child, she needed him at the birth to confirm the child was his. Two days after Rizzio's murder, they escaped the palace together through an underground passage. Nine days later, Mary re-entered the city accompanied by three to five thousand troops and moved into the fortress of Edinburgh Castle to prepare for the birth of her son. Her enemies fled to England, everyone that is, but Lord Darnley. He stayed in Edinburgh and, over the next few months, seemed close to reconciling with Mary but many cross-currents moved below the surface. Eleven months after Rizzio's murder, the lodge where he was staying exploded. Darnley didn't die in the explosion. He and his valet were found dead in the orchard. Both appeared to have been strangled to death. Two and a half months after Darnley's death the Queen married the Earl of Bothwell, the man accused and acquitted of Darnley's murder. However, the intrigue and power games did not end there. A year later the Queen was forced to abdicate her throne to her infant son and flee to England where she remained prisoner of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I until her beheading 20 years later.

The National Museum of Scotland held another crossroads of dusty history and bloody reality for it was there we met The Maiden, Edinburgh's guillotine. We were strolling around, looking at medieval and renaissance artifacts . . . armor, swords, coin hoards, skeletons, carvings and the like when we came upon The Maiden. It stood apart from the rest of the collection like a forlorn and naked wraith trapped in the light of day. It was real like nothing else in the museum and so terribly out time and place. Looking up at it I felt like I was being sucked into a treacherous undertow. But back to the history part.

The Maiden
The Maiden
Public beheadings were so frequent during Mary's reign that in 1563 the official executioner's sword had worn out, forcing the city to rent one. It was then that James Douglas, the 4th Earl of Morton, suggested the city purchase The Maiden. The city magistrates liked the idea and the guillotine became Edinburgh's new official means of decapitation.

More than 150 people were publicly executed on The Maiden between 1564 and 1710. It even played a part in the drama surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots. James Douglas, the 4th Earl of Morton, the man who introduced the guillotine to the city, was (falsely?) convicted of participating in Lord Darnley's murder. Of course he denied it all, "art and part", but was executed anyway on 2 June 1581. Such is the way when leaders enjoy absolute, unchecked power. Douglas's corpse remained on the scaffold until being buried the next day in an unmarked grave. His head however, as a lesson for all, remained on a spike outside St Giles Cathedral for eighteen months.

Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarchs in Scotland and, by tradition, Queen Elizabeth II spends one week there every year in the spring.


Night brings the fox

 This morning I lamented I hadn't seen a fox in London . . .

photo by asha
Nearly transparent fox

 but this evening there he was

photo by asha
graceful as a cat

checking out the neighborhood for scraps and rats.

photo by asha
Obviously his mum taught him
to look both ways before crossing.

For me, of course, it was love at first sight
followed by a series of blurry photos.

photo by asha
My street. My night.

A quick stop to mark perhaps the neighbor cat's poo?

photo by asha
Into the night

Then off into the night . . .


London but no foxes but a cat

I'm still waiting to see a fox or four in the backyard. M. Lee saw a mom and three juveniles when he was here in the spring so it's only fair but, so far, no foxes for me. The only critters who have graced the backyard of this airbnb is one American squirrel who eats the rose hips and the next door cat who drops by to poop.


Unfinished pieces

Went to the Louvre today. My favorite pieces were two unfinished sculptures of slaves abandoned by Michelangelo, beautiful work but a grim topic for sure.


Toledo for daggers

We're now launched on a 5.5 month stay in Europe. For the first three weeks my daughter and her family will be with us. Last week we stayed at an airbnb in Madrid. From there are three World Heritage sites within an hour of the city by train so it's an excellent base. Never mind the temperature hovered around 105° the entire time, the hottest in the city's recorded history, we visited a thousand year-old castle, 800 year-old cathedrals, 2000 year-old Roman walls, roads, and shrines stuffed with saints bones and the skulls of long dead Catholic Cardinals however, the big event was visiting Fabrica Zamorano, the shop of Mariano Zamorano, master sword smith of Toledo.

Mariano Zamorano - Master swordsmith of Toledo
For just under $1000, Clark bought four daggers,
gifts for his two daughters, his wife, and one for himself.

Now we're in good old London where it's about 40° cooler and raining.


Don't mess with the press - 4th of July - America

Journalism Matters - Front page news - 4th of July
Front page - Medford Mail Tribune - July 4, 2018

What is it about
that the Party of Trump doesn't like?

Oh yeah.
That's right . . .
the part about

I am 3 - Welcome to America
Demonstration against the ICE incarceration of
1000s of refugee children being ripped from their
parent's arms who are now lost in internment camps
throughout America.
Medford, Oregon, USA - 06.30.2018

Don't be silent.


Donate what you can of your
time, energy, talent, and resources
including cold, hard cash.

Call your representatives.

We can do together
what we can not do alone . . .


this compromised, neo-fascist President
and his spineless, neo-fascist Republican Party
from continuing to undermine our Democracy.

Jon Stewart Is Ready To Negotiate With Donald Trump


Summer Solstice 2018

Thunder and rain all night and now a cloudy, humid morning. It's almost feels tropical but this is Portland Oregon so I'm not counting on seeing a blue sky today on this, the official beginning of Summer now duly noted.

With over 2500 children currently imprisoned in internment camps by Trump and the Republicans and no end in sight, just fuckwad's useless magic marker scrawl on yet another impotent "executive order", I feel hypocritical and sad even mentioning summer as it calls to mind childhood and the golden days of summer but it is the beginning of summer so somehow make it count for good.


Common ground in the Era of Trump & Republican child internment camps and baby jails

In this darkest moment of Republican children internment camps, this twitter post from Steve Schmidt is a must read. If Republican baby jails isn't a wake up call and turning point, America is doomed.

Steve Schmidt
29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump. It is corrupt, indecent and immoral. With the exception of a few Governors like Baker, Hogan and Kasich it is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders. This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history. It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated. Our country is in trouble. Our politics are badly broken.

The first step to a season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities. I do not say this as an advocate of a progressive agenda. I say it as someone who retains belief in DEMOCRACY and decency. On Ronald Reagan’s grave are these words. “ I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” He would be ashamed of McConnell and Ryan and all the rest while this corrupt government establishes internment camps for babies. Everyone of these complicit leaders will carry this shame through history. There legacies will be ones of well earned ignominy. They have disgraced their country and brought dishonor to the Party of Lincoln.

I have spent much of my life working in GOP politics. I have always believed that both parties were two of the most important institutions to the advancement of human freedom and dignity in the history of the world. Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values. This Independent voter will be aligned with the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies. That party is the Democratic Party.


The crashing sky

Finally . . . 19:30 GMT (7:30 PM) . . .  and I have managed to crawl out from under the crashing sky of America one more time.

Seems I get sucked into that shit show at least once a day . . . 

... US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III claiming he's doing "god's work" ripping children from their parent's arms at the border ... and Trump pretending Democrats are making them do it.

...Trump saluting North Korean generals and praising murderous dictator Kim Jung Un as a "pretty smart cookie" with a "very good personality"...

... lies swarming from his mouth are like great gray clouds of terminates rising from the foundation of a rotting house.

It's exhausting.

Puppets at the window
Through the glass

The South should just secede from the Union, erect a wall around itself and be done with it. They could have all the guns they crave ... machine guns, cannons, bazookas, ground to air missiles, bombs, whatever ... replace science class with bible study, deport anyone with skin darker than a peanut and worship Trump as the divine messenger they know him to be.

But I did go for a bike ride today. That helped. We're in Portland, Oregon at the moment. We rode down to the Sellwood bridge and along the way discovered the Portland Puppet Museum. That was a bright spot in the day. Swami would love it. Closest people to his friends at Artist's House in Bangkok.



Tombstone storie - girl of stone
The girl who waits and watches

I got back on Wednesday after three weeks in Oregon visiting family. We unloaded the car and then I put a few peanuts out in the Bird Park. Good old Maggie, the 7 o'clock magpie. She showed up almost immediately. I love that bird. She's always appears with the 24 hours after I get home, even if I've been gone for months.

Tombstone stories - William Moore, murdered
William Moore
Murdered between
the 9th & 14th of Dec. 1900

The next day Minerva the crow and her magpie partner appeared and, as I was watching them, it occurred to me that Minerva's companion doesn't have a name which is odd because they've been coming to the Bird Park together for years. He should have a name by now. For two days I couldn't come up with a thing then this afternoon, while strolling through the local graveyard, it came to me . . . Kafka, Kafka the magpie.

Au revoir

Henri, Le Chat Noir has retired. I weep.


Henri's first video, 2006



The word "do" entered our language sometime before 900 CE and although it's only two letters long it is incredibly nuanced. Whatever did we do before we got do?


There Is No White Jesus | Famalam

I doubt many in Trump's evangelical base realize that Jesus was a black man in the middle east . . .


Rest in peace, Sudan. I am so sorry.

Sudan, the last northern white rhino has died. His death leaves only two females of his subspecies alive in the world, his daughter and granddaughter and they are too inbred to conceive.

RIP Sudan :-(

Poachers and the black market animal horn trade is responsible for this pending extinction. And why? Because there is still a market for rhino horn on the bullshit folk or traditional Asian "medicine" market. Horns are believed to give a sexually impaired man big stiffies. It's a lie. Traditional "medicine" so-called doctors and herbalists add Viagra to the mix and sell the compound to fools and now the northern white rhino has paid the ultimate price. For this same reason, elephants are in line to go extinct as well as all the other horned animals in the world.

I just can not comprehend why we have not yet internationally stopped this criminal, immoral, unethical, cruel, deceptive trade. Oh, that's right! Unscrupulous shit-heel politicians are making money on it. The situation has reached such a critical juncture I seriously entertain the idea that idea that dealers and poachers should be sentenced to death and buyers should receive massive fines and serious jail time. Oh, and maybe give shit-heel politicians some or all of the penalties too. There's an idea.

Last moments of Sudan's life

Rest in peace, Sudan. Words cannot convey how sorry I am for what my species as done to yours.

Bird ways

Quail really don't mind body contact. In fact, bumping, cuddling and squeezing in is a major part of life in the covey. If two quail are drinking wing to wing at the water bowl, a third one would just as well squeeze in between them than find an open spot. Same when they are grazing seed under the butterfly bushes. They cluster and continually bump into each other and, except when they are chest bumping and chasing each other in dizzying circles, they act like one big soft gray feathery body sharing a single mind.

Nobody else who comes to the Bird Park does this. The magpie swoop and dive each other in a semi-congenial fashion, the lordly crows and ravens have the breakfast table to themselves, the little birds either battle or ignore each other all together, and the starlings gobble like they are competing for scraps in a madhouse. Only the mourning doves and pigeons eat together without boast or incident.


In like a lion

The little birds are eating as fast they can and the quail just arrived. Soon snow will cover everything and everyone will have to wait out the night tucked as best they can out of the wind. "In like a lion, out like a lamb" mother always said of March but who can be sure anymore? At least the hawk hasn't made an appearance yet this evening.


Stable genius

For your viewing pleasure, here is a short clip of the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau and Russian and alt.right America's favorite "Stable Genius" Donald J. Trump discussing "things".