The world

The world was crashing
around our ears—
or was it the Anthropocene
beginning to
photo credit: asha
like a century plant,
in its time—
petals of a new,
the age of man.


Graven neck

Graven neck

Got some of the stitches out today. The rest come out next Wednesday. And yes. The biopsy was positive for Myoepithelial carcinoma again. This time they increased the margins by a lot. I'll have a CAT scan in a few months to see if there's anything left. That is all.


Harbor watch for the predominately inattentive

It looks like a small city at sea, 17 smoke gray stacks against the flat horizon, and the deep voice of a fog horn taunting me with intriguing blasts. This particular freighter has been parked at the mouth of the Tagus since I got up this morning. It must be waiting for a dock to open. Generally the ships just chug by.

I keep binoculars nearby, always hoping for a glimpse of arrivals and departures. I don't have a camera these days otherwise maybe I might catch an interesting photo now and then. As you see, at this distance, my poor phone can't make much sense of things.

M.'s position is that I've never learned any of the cameras I've had so why waste the money. Ok. He's partly right. I haven't studied the technical side of photography but I do have a decent eye, plus it's something of a meditation for me and, as someone with acute ADHD-PI (PI being "predominately inattentive") I can use all the help I can use and I can use photography because it shows me how to focus exactly on what's in front of me then rewards me with a photo to see if, in fact, I did. If you're not ADHD that probably doesn't make much sense.


Radioactive again

I'm typing this single-handed and breakfast with the other. In a few minutes I begin a six hour fast before this afternoon's CAT scan. Afterwards I will be radioactive for a few hours. Creepy.

Another lump has appeared on the back of my neck which must be removed. Most likely it's the same cancer removed last summer, the Myoepithelial carcinoma. We'll know definitely, one way or the other, after it's removed and biopsied. Today's scan will tell us whether or not it's anywhere else.


Submissions update

In January I submitted material to four different publications . . . Rattle, StepAway Magazine, Agni, and Almanac for the Anthropocene: A Compendium of Solarpunk Futures. So far, two have replied . . .  Agni and StepAway. Agni was a rejection but with a personal note encouraging me to submit again. StepAway, a London based online publication, accepted the piece I submitted and the editor included a very nice note. The poem, Afterimage, will be in issue 31. A cool extra about StepAway is that they notify authors of successful submissions within 28 days. The wait to hear back about a submission can drag on for months, sometimes years, so much apprecited.

Rattle is still "in-progress" which is more common. I got their auto-reply immediately but, so far, it's been 41 days and have heard nothing else. Their average reply time is 119 days so it's still very much within their parameters. One thing I like about Rattle is they are writer friendly. While they don't accept work that's been previously published in print or online, they don't consider self-publishing to blogs, message boards, or social media as publication. Most magazines still cling to the tyranical opinion that posting something on your blog renders it unacceptable. Publishers are nothing without something to publish yet they demand fealty from the writer as though they are some medieval Lord land owner or King. My poetry blog gets about 200 visits a month and most of those are probably bots and crawlers so WTF!

As for Almanac for the Anthropocene: A Compendium of Solarpunk Futures, that is a one-time publication by Wagner & Wieland. They describe a solarpunk as someone who "imagines new futures in the shadow of and in opposition to environmental collapse, then works to create those futures". I haven't heard anything back from them yet, and may not. They're not soliciting poetry but I sent them one I wrote about the Anthropocene anyway. Submissions are closed . . . "unless you have a recipe/blueprint/direct action–basically, anything except essays. If you have something that might work, please feel free to contact us until March 15th".

Tuesday with questions

I am coming to terms with the possibility that Trump's so-called "luck" (aka fix) may not run out. As the dim bulb son of a pimp he was born with a trust fund for a diaper and grew up to become a money laundering racketeer somewhat centrally located in the international web of sleaze-bag politicians, two-bit dictators, crooked banks, hired killers, media whores, spineless sycophants, fascists, racists, professional criminals, conniving psychopaths, zealots, morons, and reckless fucktards of every persuasion, and corporate-protected billionaires dedicated to plundering the planet until the last possible moment, and all looking for a mound to fly their flag. 

This asshole may just ride his bloody rainbow straight to the grave but I comfort myself with the idea that his spawn will not be so lucky. Don Jr? Jarad and Ivanka? Eric? Lara? Barron and Ivanka? Who are they as the eco-system collapses? They are baggage. Yesterday's news. Leeches. Big Don dies and who gives a fuck about the "Trump brand"? Really, who gives a fuck about the "Trump brand" now? 

What happens when their criminal network falters, as countries increasingly struggle with economic uncertainty, increasing numbers of climate refugees, as sea surge increases, as drought, plagues, and wildfires become more common and intense? What will they do? Will they still be flying around the globe on the American taxpayers dollar like they are now, cutting lucrative deals for the Trump Organization?

What will any of us do?



Molly, Swami, and Juan Carlos
 M. Lee finally officially became a Portuguese resident today. It shouldn't have taken so long but we happened to apply for our visas in San Francisco last June just when the Consulate was changing systems. Our paperwork got lost in the shuffle for awhile. They were especially slow issuing my visa so my appointment at SEF isn't until next month.

We've been traveling for a long time and have always kept half an eye on where might be a good place to move, to make a base outside the US. In 2015 we settled on Bangkok but it's so polluted there that M. got a terrible lung infection and nearly died. After that, we made our way back to Europe but didn't get serious about Portugal until 2017. That's when we decided it could be the place, and by extension the EU. A lot of questions had to be answered, problems resolved, and a lot of changes to deal with. It's been more like changing lives than just moving somewhere and today is a long awaited plateau along the way. Well, not exactly. I'm not there yet. We'll see if SEF accepts my application. If they do, it's one more thing we can check off the list. After that it will still another five years until we can actually apply for Portuguese citizenship but this is a milestone. Between now and then, we'll have to learn Portuguese, which I'm not looking forward to, but it will be a good mental exercise to become at least transactionally literate.


Magha Purnima and song of the Rock Dove

The sea is rough this morning, agitated by last night's full moon, the first supermoon of 2020. As I write this, I can hear the wave's hoarse roar although the beach is a 20 minute walk. During calm weather it's too far to hear the surf but the full moon, especially a supermoon, creates its own kind of magnetic storm . . . bloating physical bodies, agitating emotions and churning the seas. I've read that even the earth itself swells during full moons. Supermoons, being closest to earth, have the strongest effect.

Supermoons have various names around the world. Most reflect the culture and people's experience of the season rather than the moon itself. It's the Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Magha Puja Moon, Mahamuni Pagoda Festival Moon, Chinese Lantern Festival Moon and end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, Full Moon of Tu B’Shevat, Magha Purnima Moon and so on. The term Supermoon is the most recent addition to the list. American astronomer Richard Nolle, a writer for Dell Horoscope, coined it in 1979. It has since become something of a photography contest.

I was up before the sun this morning so the moon was just above the western horizon still agitating the Atlantic ocean on Portugal's west coast. It has since set and the sea is quieter now although the rock dove still continues its simple, rhythmic three note song from a near by tree, the local version of the same sweet song rock doves have been singing on earth every day for millennia . . . doot do do — doot do do — doot do do. 


Merle and the Mystic Lamb

Ghent alter piece, St. Bavo's Cathedral Ghent

Last week, after a three-year restoration, the centerpiece of Jan Van Eyck's enormous 15th century, 12 panel masterpiece, ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’, returned to the alter at St Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, its home for the last nearly 600 years and people are freaking out about it. As one Twitter user writes, “The lamb of the Ghent Altarpiece was a mistake and whoever painted over it was right to do so.” Yes, the eyes are stunning. This is not the proverbial sacrificial lamb about to get his baby throat sliced open in yet another heartbreaking slaughter of innocence.

Memes abound

In a Guardian op-ed, Jonathan Jones thanks people for their insight then adds, "but I doubt Jan van Eyck ever made a mistake in his life. He was miles ahead of any Italian Renaissance artist, including Leonardo da Vinci" adding that Van Eyck's Lamb, "announces the Renaissance." Indeed.

Dad brought home a big surprise

Now, of course, the Mystic Lamb has His own Twitter account packed with juicy quotes befitting the gaze of the Lamb and memes abound which brings me to what is the real point of this post, introducing Merle (aka Merlin). 

Merle, my new granddoggo and skateboard champion
(actually he hated it)

When we saw Merlin at the shelter, cone and all, the very first thing I thought of was the Mystic Lamb, this before the restoration was unveiled. There is an uncanny likeness with and without the new eyes. So, here's the deal, if Van Eyck's Lamb still freaks you out, think of Merle, sweet as can be, rescued from the mean streets of California who now has three brothers, a loving Dad and home.

Merle and the Mystic Lamb


More good news

Submitting to more publications this year than last wasn't a New Year's resolution but the fact that I just did send work to two more journals does land in my good news column. That makes three submissions so far this year . . .  one to Rattle, one to StepAway Magazine, and the third to AGNI. The piece to AGNI has been languishing around here for some time. I haven't know what to do with it. It reads like the opening of a novel but it isn't. It's more like a word sketch of a moment in time.

We back in Portugal now. It's easier here. Winter helps. Also no travel plans at the moment although M. is brewing some up.


Nature's little gardeners

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!!!

And why not? Squirrels are the Johnny Appleseeds of forest regeneration. They bury nuts and seeds everywhere and about 30% of them sprout. According to Environment Canada, "squirrels play a vital role when it comes to sustaining and expanding plant communities and ecosystems in forest regeneration". And they not only reseed forests but they plant fungi, vegetables, fruits, and flowers etc. I've read that one grey squirrel plants as many trees every year as needed to provide oxygen to 28-40 people. That's more trees than I've planted in a life time.

And if all these reasons aren't enough to toss some peanuts out for your neighborhood squirrel today (and everyday) Mental Floss has compiled 15 reasons to appreciate squirrels. Buy perhaps the very best reason of all to appreciate squirrels . . . they're really cute and delightful to watch.


Three window shots

San Francisco Bay
from the plane

Five days ago we began our return slog to Portugal with a one week layover in London, where we are at the moment.

Molly in the sky
Molly came with me this time, in my backpack. About 10 hours into the flight, the steward noticed her—gasp—then said, Oh my god! I thought it was a real dog! I assured him, she is.

from the bus last night
with reflections

We're creatures of habit so we're staying in a tiny flat near Finsbury Park again. There are grocery stores plus Turkish and Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurants near by, so we're set. Monday we head back to Portugal.


Good news

After writing such a grim New Years day and decade post I felt obliged to end by promising good news next. Within a few hours Roy, one of the two people who read this blog with any regularity, demanded I deliver. Damn. Thanks, Roy—but— fair is fair. I did promise.

Ok. Here's one thing. I wrote a poem yesterday and plan to submit it to Rattle before their mid-month deadline. I will report on how that goes.

Please post your good news in the comment section, if you have any. Now that Trumpty Dumpty has started a war with Iran I'd appreciate all the good news I can get.


Greetings from the first day of the 2020s

Happy new year and first day of the 2020s. One hundred years ago today, the notorious decade known as the Roaring Twenties began. Ten years later, beginning with the crash of the American stock market, the world economy began its collapse. This century we are facing the eminent collapse of our planet's entire ecosystem by the end of the decade.

New Year Cafe
image adapted from work by: Martynas Pavilonis

And by the way, don't blame bats, rats and rest of the animal kingdoms. The blame for climate collapse rests squarely the leaders of the developed countries—America, China, Europe, and Russia. These governments, controlled in the background by billionaire businessmen, pointblank refuse to make the changes necessary to stave off the the worst of it. If they don't change, we are doomed to the worst case scenario. And I throw the both-sides corporate media into the mix for refusing to report the scientific facts head on—with the possible exception of the UK's BBC. At least they have publicly made a strong commitment to tell the truth.

Grim? Yeah. But there is still a lot to love and celebrate as we spiral around the event horizon and we must. Next up . . . some good news.

Rewinding time

Happy New Year. That is all.



Foggy morning
Crow conversations
I try to join in
But end up coughing


Midwinter's eve

Sunday, December 22 at 04:19 UTC, is the exact moment of winter solstice this year in the Northern Hemisphere. Adjusted to my local time this means the winter solstice is tonight, Saturday night, at 20:19 UTC (8:19 PM PST). This longest night of the year is my favorite winter celebration. I see this moment of suspension before the North Pole begins turning again towards the sun, is a moment of quiet amidst the ever-grinding gears of time. It is a time to rest, reflect and re-calibrate before beginning the next cycle.

But already it is past time. This solstice offers a stark view of where we are and where we're doing to the planet we live on. Now, either we change or be changed forever.


Street art in Rome and counsel from the I Ching

"Gentle words are worthless if spoken with trepidation."

Street art in Rome
Street art in Rome
"This is a time of connection with another or others -- not just an alliance, but a melding of parts into a new whole."

These are excerpts from the I Ching reading I did this morning. I shall do my best to keep them in mind today.

The photo I took last December. I'm not sure of the meaning of the hand gesture. It may be the classic Greek orator's call for silence. In any case, I do think this odd, hooded fellow emerging from a pool of water in the sidewalk and today's counsel go well together. I also like they both came to me in December a year apart.

This detail is from huge wall panel of street art in this style is a mere 0.43 km from the Lupercale Shrine. According to legend, the Lupercale Shrine is the sacred place where "a she-wolf nursed Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome and where the city itself was born".

Sailors take warning
then on with the morning


Granada check-in

I'm writing this from Granada (Spain) and can see the Alhambra (castle complex) from where I'm sitting. Like nearly all the historic sites in Europe, it was built, rebuilt, deconstructed, reconstructed, destroyed, remodeled, updated and expanded upon for centuries, then abandoned.

The Moors ruled from the Alhambra for 500 years and Spanish kings another several centuries after that but the site itself is much older, dating back to Roman times. It's the Moorish influence I find most interesting. Today it's a tourist trap that is, yes, worth seeing anyway.


Poor Barkie

She lives behind walls. Does she ever leave the compound? Does she ever see her own kind or does she only hear them passing or from afar? During the day she is mostly quiet but when night comes she begins barking at the dark. They are inside and oblivious ... eating and socializing. Do they ever glance down at her through the window? Are they are all deaf, even the children, or is her voice and her life nothing to them, no more than background movement like wind in the trees or passing cars ... something to be ignored?

About 20:00 hours she starts barking in her oddly deep voice. By 22:00 she is barking in earnest. Every night without exception she looks into the hedge wall, which is about 14 feet or 4 meters high, and barkbarkbarkbarkbarks then, still barking, walks to the other side of the compound and barkbarkbarkbarkbarks into the hedge wall there then back barkbarkbarkbarkbarking and forth barkbarkbarkbarkbarking, sometimes stopping to barkbarkbarkbarkbark in the middle facing our bedroom window, barkbarkbarkbarkbark...barkbarkbarkbarkbarking back and forth barkbarkbark...barkbarkbarking...barely pausing until at least 02:00 hours and then gradually barkbarkbark slows bark bark down bark ... bark until early dawn.

I don't hate her. I feel very sorry for her. It's her indifferent humans I resent. She is prisoner of their selfishness ... their twisted sense of what ... security, prestige, paranoia? He conducts some kind of isolation therapy in his pool in the summer. People come. He gives them an inflatable wet suit complete with isolation head gear and a breathing apparatus then, as they float on their backs in the middle of his pool, he stands beside them probably crooning some kind of relaxation meditation but, at night, his freaked out, lonely, desperate little dog barkbarkbarks and he offers no comfort at all. He's an asshole and his wife is an asshole and their children will likely grow up to be heartless assholes just like them.

When I complain to my Portuguese friends they just laugh. "Ah Portugal. This is just that way it is." Fuck that. It's animal abuse. It's anti-social. It's fucking stupid. When we first got here I thought I'd never sleep again. Now even I sleep but, for me, it will never be "ah Portugal". I don't see animals as tools and food. I respect them as sentient beings, non-human persons as so many do today. My friends tell me I can report the noise that, if enough people complain, perhaps the town will do something about it. I haven't done that yet but this story is not over.