Author is a retired attorney having practiced for 35 years in Illinois who now lives in Texas and started writing stories about a year and a half ago.
Book Review: The Couple Next Door
This novel is the debut novel of Shari Lapena. It is a contemporary mystery thriller dealing with the kidnapping of a couple’s baby daughter that keeps you enthralled from the start to the unusual finish. It’s another one of these books that you just can’t put down.
The story starts with the parents attending a dinner party at the couple’s next door neighbor’s townhouse. The protagonist's babysitter cancels before the party but the parents decide to go to anyway and take a monitor with them to keep track of their baby who they leave at home. Their townhouse and the neighbor’s are adjoining. Though the baby is in the house alone, the couple convinces themselves that they are close enough and everything will be fine because every half hour they take turns running home to check on and feed the child. And they can hear the child on the monitor if the child starts crying or fussing. Well obviously all this goes wrong and the baby disappears sometime around midnight after a evening of heavy drinking.
The detective handling the case is polite but relentless. He pursues each and every lead no matter how trivial it is to its ultimate logical conclusion. The parents are his prime suspects. The detective discovers things about both the mother and father that lead him to a number of possible theories. The prime one being that one of them killed the baby. All of his theories are probable and are continually brought up and readjusted as the facts unfold. Both parents had too much to drink that night. The husband might be having an affair with his neighbor. The mother has a history of past and present mental problems. The father has financial problems. The father doesn’t get along with the father in law. There is some but not much physical evidence. A neighbor sees something. The couple next door knows something but doesn’t tell. They have their reasons. The author does a good job of setting this all out. We hang on every word. Just one more clue and this will be solved we think. But no the suspense continues.
The other major players in this drama are the wife’s parents. They are the concerned grandparents of their only grandchild. They are millions of dollars wealthy. They put up the ransom money when finally the ransom demand is made.
The parents are lead to believe that all they have to do is pay the money to get their daughter back. So they follow the instructions of the kidnapper and don’t tell the police. You knew that one was coming. And of course the dealings with the kidnapper get all fouled up. The first attempt fails. Someone is murdered. A second ransom demand is made. Plans are made again without involving the police and all this time the strife between the father and father in law increases as does the strife between the parents, the grandparents and the detective. The wife becomes more distrustful of her husband. The marriage falls apart. Everyone lies to everyone about everything, except the detective who straightforwardly plows onward. Nothing gets accomplished except the prolonging of the case and their agony.
As to the couple next door, they figure in at the start and are neatly fitted into the ending but the focus of the story is on the couple themselves and not the couple next door. In fact as to the couple next door the focus is really on just one of them, the other one just happens to be married to that individual. For that reason I believe that the book's title is misleading and would have been more aptly named ‘The Couple Themselves’ since the whole book is really about the parents and the way they deal with each other, the kidnapping, the detective and the in laws. Nevertheless this takes nothing away from the thrill of the story or the beauty of the way it’s all woven together.
A little over a hundred pages from the end I thought I figured out ‘who done it.’ But as I read further I began to doubt myself and thus credit the author for keeping me dangling.
The book is written in everyday language. It has no extra flowery words or elaborate prose to fill the pages. Every word is to the point and necessary. Every word, sentence and paragraph moves the story along. The timeline is straightforward. There are no flashbacks or two stories going on at once like some books do. It drives to a conclusion. Needless to say it has a happy ending as to the baby but a twisted ending as to one of the parents.
When I saw this book at the library I didn’t of course recognize the author but since it said that the author was a former attorney, there are so many of them today, I decided to take a chance and give a fellow former lawyer a break. There’s nothing lawyerly about this book. It’s straight up mystery. But what really drew my attention to it was that on the back of the cover there were half a dozen blurb review sentences of praise all from well known contemporary best selling authors, one of which happens to have the same last name as me, though no relation. Read it. Enjoy it. It’s a well crafted mystery.
Naushena is primarily a poet but she also writes personal essays occasionally. Her work depicts sensitivity and awareness towards her surrounding. She has been published in Five Poetry, Scarlet Leaf Review, Mothers Always Write, Mamalode, Boston Literary Magazine, EXPOUND and is forthcoming in few others.
Are You Suffering from Spoonerism?
I am. You know, when I first read this word I thought it had something to do with ‘spoons’. I don’t know why (you might call me crazy) I even envisaged a collection of different kinds of spoons. But I was wrong.
Does it ever happen to you that while during a discourse you inadvertently say something contrary to what you intend? It has happened to me a couple of times. You and I are suffering from Spoonerism. Although this dis-ease of mine is pretty old yet I recently realized that I have entered the final stage which is incurable so thought to share with you so that at least you can help yourself.
Spoonerism means ‘accidental mispronunciation.’ It is a verbal error when the speaker transposes the initial sounds of two or more words. For instance, instead of I missed him you utter ‘I hissed him.’ W.A Spooner (1844-1930) was an English scholar in the 20th century who was famous to make such verbal errors in conversation. This word is named after him. This accidental slip of tongue has a humorous effect (I know embarrassing effect too)
I have committed many spoonerisms. Once while talking to my maid, instead of saying ‘This mug is chipped’ I said,
‘This chip is mugged.’ It sounded as if there was a Microsoft chip which was mugged for it contained some classified data. How interestingly the complete meaning of the text changes. My washing line is on the rooftop of my house. One day it was cloudy so as soon as my maid arrived I said to her,
“Go upstairs and take your clothes off.”
She was gob smacked. Just imagine by just saying your instead of the, the connotation became risible. Then few months back, I wanted some information and since my son was on the net, I told him to ‘goggle’ it! No wonder he refused to comply and gave me a meaning look saying,
‘Mom, I can’t goggle, its Google.’
It’s not that I am illiterate. In fact, I am an educated teacher and a poet, but why I utter these errors I fail to understand. It just happen involuntarily.
You feel relieved when you learn that someone else is like you, right? Once my family and I were at a wedding. We had another family sitting round the table having dinner. The mother picked up a piece of chicken and said to her child,
‘Shall I put some kitchen in your plate?’
Whoa! I was pleasantly surprised that I was not the only one. My family exchanged smiles but of course for courtesy sake, we pretended as if we didn’t hear. But I have lately realized that this spoonerism of mine has progressed to certain stages as a child succeeds to higher grades. From juxtaposition of initial sounds I have moved on to words! For instance, I occasionally say to my children, ‘Put the stove on the pot’ and they quip that if they do so the pot would be smashed to smithereens. Few months back, a publisher had shown interest in a poem of mine which I had submitted to him. Feeling thrilled, I started my email like this;
‘Thank you for your interest in my pie’ then suddenly I came back to my senses. I was over-excited. Thank God those were written words or he must’ve thought what a clumsy writer I was. Can you send a pie via an email? May be in future. Thankfully, I corrected myself or else… You obviously know what an iphone is but have you ever heard of an ‘A phone’? Well, let me introduce myself to you.
Then I realized that I entered the third perhaps the final stage; not only changing words but the ENTIRE subject. But I am not to be fully blamed for it. I was in my nursery class. One of the toddlers had accidently passed stool and we teachers went on sniffing around to catch the suspect as there was a blob of potty on the carpet and the stench had permeated the classroom. After a hard time of snooping about we succeeded. We got the child and the classroom cleaned. One of the children had brought in his football so at home time, I held it up high and asked the kids aloud,
‘Whose potty is this?’
Can you beat that? how ludicrous! Thank God only my co-teacher heard that and understood that the potty scenario had really gone to my head affecting my sense of sight too.
Generally, parents don’t forget their child’s birthday (fathers may forget the age though) I have never forgotten any special day of my children and have always done something special but last year what I did, no parent must’ve done. I can bet that! Last December I woke up early in the morning to greet my eldest son on his birthday. While presenting him his birthday card I hugged him saying,
‘Happy New Year!’
He instantly corrected me saying,
‘Mom, it’s not New Year yet.’
What an embarrassment! How could I be so foolish? We both laughed but the words had slipped from my mouth. You can put arrows back in its quiver but words once spoken, can’t go back into your mouth. If only there was a Delete button. Now I try my best to think hard before I slip, I mean speak. If you too have rampant verbal errors, no need to feel ashamed of yourself as long as they are amusing. After all, to err is human and our mouths cannot be corked.
writer, poet, artist, illustrator
Russian born Lyubov Talimonova was an award-winning artist, illustrator and writer.
She was recognised by the Russian art critics as a member of the Russian School of Cosmism, while European critics related her work to the Art of Vision and Imagination. Her paintings are held in museums and private collections in Russia, Ukraine, France, Poland, England, USA, Ireland, Korea, China.
Lyubov’s pictures and stories were inspired by a sense of wonder and a deep love and reverence for life. In her search to understand the Cosmos, her art explored the enduring power of myth and legend and the ancient mysteries of pyramid and megalith.
However, her bright, joyful paintings, each one a rich symphony of colour and light, belied the artist’s personal difficulties: from the age of two Lyubov had a severe form of insulin-dependent diabetes and was constantly fighting that difficult illness and it’s complications. But she refused to let any of that get her down. Lyubov deeply appreciated every day of her life, and wasted not a minute: writing, painting or reading every time she was well enough to do so. She has triumphed over adversity.
Her pictures were first exhibited in 1992 and since then she has had more then thirty exhibitions in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Germany, China, Italy. From 1992 to 1993 three of Lyubov’s pictures were taken onto the space station MIR by a group of Russian and French astronauts. The paintings bear their autographs together with the stamp of the station MIR. One of those paintings was taken into the open space.
In 1994 Lyubov was invited to exhibit in the Kremlin as part of the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the birth of the world’s first cosmonaut, Yuriy Gagarin. In the same year she exhibited at the 10th International Congress of Cosmonauts, where she was awarded a Diploma in recognition of her work in developing the ideas of the Russian School of Cosmism.
Lyubov has written and illustrated books for children and adults. Over 500,000 copies have been published in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and England. One of her books “Holding the Ancient World in My Hands” was recognized by The Society of Bibliophiles (Moscow) as the best book of the year 1992. She has also illustrated the stories of the 19th century German writer W. Hauff and the book by M. Morozova “Keeper of the Secret.”
From 1994 onwards, Lyubov lived in England, continuing her creative work in this country, although the foundation of her art was back home, in Russia.
Last eleven years of her life L.Talimonova spent working on a new book “Prince of the Marshland”, yet another philosophical, life-asserting story. The book was published in the UK in August 2011.
Lyubov Talimonova was a member of the British Society of Authors and a member of Society for Art of Imagination.
The Stars that Shine by Day
“Narin and Taris have a girl!”
“What did Moran the soothsayer have to say about her?”
“They still haven’t gone to the house on the hill. But they intend to.”
“Let’s go with Narin and Taris and listen to what the wise Moran says about the child.”
“Moran, Moran. Can you hear us? A new child is born. A girl for Narin and Taris. What will you tell us about her fate? Can you hear us? Hey! Wake up Moran! We have brought great news. And the parents have brought the new child. Moran, come and look!”
“Was she born today? How strange.”
“What is strange?”
“The fact that tonight a new star has appeared in the sky; a silver star.”
“Did you say a silver star? Now that is a wonderful name for our little girl. Silver star – Ariane. Taris, what do you think, is it a nice name?”
“It is a fine name, but does it suit our child? Let’s ask Moran.”
“Silver Ariane. Let it be so.”
“But wise Moran, you have not yet seen this new child. Lay down your books, put aside your crystal ball, and tell us the fate of the star.”
“So, give me little Ari. Come now, why do you cry so much? Lie peacefully little one, and let Moran look in the old book.”
“Hmm, very interesting. It is not worth crying, little Ari. Things will be wonderful for you, although your life will not always be easy. From birth the sky has endowed you with an unusual gift: it has given you a living soul, an all-seeing gaze and great goodness. With such qualities it will sometimes be difficult for you in our world - I know from my own experience. But an interest in life and learning will soothe all pain. Your happiness will be special. Believe me, for this reason it is worth living.
The years passed. How many is not important. The age of a person should never be measured in years. Even in old age it is possible to be a child. And sometimes, from what appear to be children, it is possible to hear such things that you would only expect from a person who has lived a long life. A long and not altogether easy life…
And so the years flew by.
“Dear Moran, do you see that bright star over there?”
“A star?! During the day?! What do you mean, Ariane?”
“It’s a star and it’s shining during the day, Moran. Surely you can see it: it’s also shining for you.”
“That may be so… But you have been sitting here since morning and looking at the sky. Go for a walk, Ari. Go down to the village and see your friends.”
“But you know I have no friends.”
“Then find some.”
“You can’t go looking for friends – it has to happen of its own accord. And I don’t want just anyone. I’m more interested in looking at the sky and talking with you.”
“You are interested in old Moran?”
“Of course. You are very clever, you know a lot about everything: about the world, the sky, the stars, and people. You know many legends. Your stories are wonderful.”
“All this is true, but…”
“I know what you’ll say now. If you are tired of teaching me I’ll go to the river, into the fields. I’ll go up the hill to the stones…”
“Sit down, sit down. Old Moran will never tire of little Ari. And you and I shall go to the hill together, but later.”
“And we’ll fly!”
“Of course. Don’t you fly whenever you stand on top of the hill? The wind blows in your face, you close your eyes and the stones start to dance an ancient dance. Then you rise up and fly like a bird. Isn’t that right?”
“Yes that is true. It is wonderful to be able to fly. I am familiar with this. Perhaps it is your greatest happiness Ariane?”
“Happiness? Do other people not know such happiness, dear Moran? Do other people not fly?”
“Some could. But they often look at their feet rather than into the sky to find their star. Others see the stars as merely grains of sand floating in the sea. There are many people, like stars in the sky, and every one of them is different. Each is looking for their own thing in this world. Most often they find exactly what they were looking for.”
“Dear Moran, sometimes I feel that what I’m looking for in this world is different to what other people look for. I often don’t understand them.”
“You do not understand? That is strange.”
“No, I understand what people do. But why? I would act differently.”
“Always act how you want. If your actions are good and not bad, of course.”
“That is what I do. But why do they hurt me so often? Why do they laugh when I talk about my flights over the hills?”
“Do not listen to such people, little Ari.”
“I don’t listen to them. Let them laugh. I fly and will always fly. Isn’t that true Moran?”
“That is true Ari. But do not let such people upset you, it is not worth it.”
“I can’t be hurt or angry for very long. But you know that I’m happy with everything. Sometimes my soul is restless, that’s all… But however much you beg me, I’ll not go down into the village to look for friends.”
“I shall say no more. We should prepare for our journey.”
“Will you tell me a new story about the ancient fallen stones and their inscriptions?”
“Then I’m ready. Let’s go.”
“So we shall. And what have you found in these old stones? It is true that one can sit comfortably and rest on them.”
“Surely you know, dear Moran, that they are dancing and singing stones?”
“You have made this up.”
“I haven’t made anything up. You remember when we were last in the hills, how wonderful the night was?”
“Yes, yes. But what of it?”
“When the all the stars had appeared in the sky and it was the middle of the night, the stones suddenly began to move.”
“It was just the wind, Ariane.”
“No, Moran, no. The stones moved to a kind of magical music.”
“Music? It was just the rustling of the grass in the wind.”
“Then the standing stones suddenly flared up and began to radiate a soft pale bluish light.”
“It was just the Milky Way lighting up in the sky. There are many stars and so it becomes bright.”
“No, it was the stones greeting the sky and the Milky Way itself. And please don’t pretend, dear Moran. You have seen and heard all this yourself…”
“That may be so, but how do you know it?”
“It is more a feeling that I have. Do you understand? I can’t explain it any other way.”
“I understand you.”
“That’s good. Look, we are there already.”
“You see the inscriptions on the fallen stone?”
“Yes, there is still something visible. But no-one knows what it is. Even I, the soothsayer Moran.”
“Moran, has it ever crossed your mind that…”
“What, little Ariane?”
“Last time I stood in this place I saw, as if in a dream or like a mirage, the way things used to be. I saw whole stones untouched by time. Everything else was as it is now, only the grass was higher. I saw myself, or rather my reflection in the past. I was wearing different clothes. I was standing near the stone with the inscriptions – only they were more like pictures of the starry sky. Then – I remember it well – the inscriptions said something to me about my life. But I don’t remember what they said. Everything is obscured by fog, it has all disappeared. You are always surprised that I like this place so much. I don’t know why. Sometimes I feel that it was connected with me. But this was long ago. I don’t remember now.”
“Some day you will remember, and everything will fall into place. Do not worry about that which you do not know today, because you cannot know what will be tomorrow. But tomorrow, I think, will be good. Do you believe me?”
“Yes, I believe you. But now let us fly. IT IS ALREADY TIME.”
Translated by David Parfitt
The Legend of the Milky Way
Long ago, at the edge of the world, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, lived the Selurts. They were a fine people, tall and handsome. The Selurts studied the night sky: they calculated eclipses of the Sun and Moon, followed the phases of the Moon, compiled a calendar, and built megaliths.*
The Selurts never fought; they did not even know the meaning of war. Their life flowed peacefully and quietly. But then one day a proud eagle brought bad news that a hostile tribe was advancing on the Selurts. The Selurts understood the language of birds, and the eagle told them that the tribe were heavily armed. There was nothing left for the Selurts to do but gather their things and leave for the mountains or scatter to the islands. They abandoned their native lands, leaving behind megaliths and a great deal of knowledge encoded in symbols and drawings.
And so the Selurts left, and on their lands the hostile tribe settled. The population of the tribe grew rapidly and the land soon became too small for them. The warriors assembled and decided to drive the kind Selurts from the mountains and islands.
The warriors encircled the mountains and then climbed right up to the Selurts’ highest village. But imagine their surprise when they found it deserted. Where could the people have gone? Down the mountains? Impossible, they would have been noticed. Perhaps the Selurts had climbed higher still? The warriors climbed to the very peak of the mountain but found nobody there either. Where could the Selurts have climbed from the summit of the mountain? Only up into the sky… The warriors looked up, and across the sky they saw a shining path made from sand, pearls and tears.
The Selurts were inhabitants of the coast, and so when they had left for the mountains they had taken sand and pearls with them. Now, leaving for the cosmos, they had dropped the sand, pearls… and tears.
No-one knows where the Selurts went, but behind them on Earth they left megaliths; and across the sky – the Milky Way, a path of sand, pearls and tears.
Translated by David Parfitt
(Constellation of Libra)
In the hills there was a village. It was called the village with the Green Stone. And sure enough, in the centre of the village stood a big green stone. People considered the stone to be magic as it helped good people but would not let evil people near it. If a person came to the stone for advice or with dreams of good things, then all their dreams would come true. People often gathered around the green stone. They believed that the presence of the stone made it impossible to deceive or tell lies. If there was a festival in the village then it would take place around the magic stone.
In the village lived two brothers, Unas and Ruad. Their parents had died and left the brothers a large pot of gold and precious stones, as well as many wise books. Both Unas and Ruad wanted the pot of gold: they thought it was better than having a large library.
A year passed, then two, and the brothers still could not divide up the inheritance. Then the villagers decided to gather around the green stone and ask its advice on how to settle the brothers’ dispute.
And so one morning all the villagers assembled around the stone and began to ask it for help.
Suddenly the big stone began to shake and a door appeared from somewhere. The door burst open and out of the stone came a young woman carrying a pair of scales. She went up to the people, took the pot of gold and placed it in one cup of the scales. Then she took a single page from one of the wise books and placed it in the other cup. Everyone froze with amazement as one page of the book, yellow with age, outweighed the pot of gold and precious stones.
Without a word, the young woman went into the stone door and disappeared. And the scales that she had left on the ground suddenly began to rise up into the sky. And there they stayed, shining in the heavens, as the constellation known as the Scales.
Whenever people look up to the sky they see the Scales, where a page of an ancient book outweighs a pot of gold to remind the people of true values.
And the brothers, Unas and Ruad, settled their differences. They divided all the gold and precious stones among the villagers, but kept all the books, and looked after them as the most valuable possession in the world.
Translated by David Parfitt
The Sun rose and lit up the whole world with his rays Everything on Earth was tinted with his bright colours: things that were dark and black at night became yellow, green, blue, red, white and brown. Everything in the world began to shine and grow warm, even the bleak and barren mountains.
On a small hill there lived a stone. The stone was neither large nor small, but could be seen on the side of the hill. At night the stone was grey and by day it was dark brown.
Near this stone lived a Shadow. She was a very ordinary Shadow – grey during the day and totally invisible at night. And like every Shadow she was terribly shy: as soon as a cloud appeared in the sky that was slightly bigger than usual the Shadow froze with fear. She was very unhappy with being like this, and especially with her greyness. “The Sun makes everything bright, beautiful and happy. White clouds float across the blue sky while birds sing in the trees. The lake is also blue and golden fish play in it. Even on the brown stones there are lizards sitting and resting. It is only me that misses out on the Sun’s rays. When the Sun lights up the whole world I still remain grey and drab. The brighter the Sun the darker I become. So what use am I to anyone?” thought the unhappy Shadow.
And meanwhile the cheery Sun was directly overhead. The Shadow looked glumly at the Sun, grew even darker, and with a sigh took refuge under the stone. And there she sat for several hours in boredom. When the tired Sun finally began to dip towards the Earth, the Shadow peeped out from under her stone and began to gaze sadly at the world around her.
Then from somewhere a delicate little butterfly appeared. The wind had carried her from far away and so she had decided to settle down somewhere and rest. The butterfly landed on the stone and said unhappily: “Oh, how hot it is! It has scorched my little feet!” The butterfly flapped her multicoloured wings and settled lower down in the shade. Straightening her wings, she settled more comfortably and said: “Ah, how nice to rest in the cool shade after a long hot day!” At first the Shadow froze with amazement, but then she clasped her hands in delight and proudly stretched right out across the side of the hill.
Translated by David Parfitt
Danae is a custodian of beauty,
Danae is a symbol of the island,
a symbol of the country.
People bring Danae flowers,
As to a symbol of beauty.
Who are you? Where have you come from?
Maybe Danae has descended from heaven.
Nobody will ever tell us.
Only the wind of memory will bring along
a vision of the hoary past,
And I will see Danae.
She is stepping from behind the rocks,
And treading along the edge of the precipice
As a symbol of eternal kindness,
Three magic signs are sparkling on her crown.
The moon appears from behind the mountains
To adorn Danae's amber veil
With millions of lights.
She will freeze in the moonshine
To hail her children.
Danae is a custodian of beauty, kindness
Danae is a symbol of moon islands.
But the islands have forgotten her,
The rocks cast a gloomy shadow on Danae.. .
Her triumph is
But a dream dispelled.
Behold: there is nothing left.
The crumbled rocks will never talk.
The river that mirrored Danae
On the day of triumph
The old time has gone by.
On the edge between Earth and Heaven
By Lyubov Talimonova
On the edge between Earth and Heaven,
During changing times,
Life was granted by Heaven
To the poor Soul of mine.
Nearing is the change of an era,
Tempers are rising fast.
The wild flower of nature
Has been sown amongst us.
Stars are shedding tears,
Years are flying by,
People are killing people
At this fast, highly technical time.
Some live in wealth,
Destitute rules elsewhere,
World has abandoned love,
Just animosity is left there.
Madness continues for long,
And, there seems no end in sight,
But clouds are stood at horizon,
And, promising thunder at night.
Nearing is the change of an era,
Roaring of changes is heard.
Joy and anticipation
Is felt by the Soul of mine.
The New is now near.
The Old is leaving soon.
World will be washed by tears,
And the dawn of light will ensure!
Translated by Nina Leonard
Patrick A. Howell is an award winning veteran of the financial services industry.
While attending the University of California at Berkeley, Patrick A. Howell co-founded Diatribe, “a people of color news collective”. He also contributed poetry to the campus’ African American Literary Journal and campus paper, the Daily Cal. Subsequently, he served as West Coast Contributing Editor to the Quarterly Black Review, interviewing literary luminaries as Ishmael Reed and Michael Datcher. Later, he co-coined the term, Global International African Arts Movement (Global I Aam) which was used prominently in keynotes at the 2014 Harlem Book Fair by it’s founder and Malaika Adero.
His blogs and essays have recently been published in MyBrowBaby, The Goodmen Project, Opportunist Magazine, Quarterly Black Book Review, XO Jane and equities.com. His short stories will appear in forthcoming issues of Foliate Oak, the Mandala Journal and Killen's Journal.
The Africans in America, They Speak English
What happens when we are no longer “here”, amongst the living? Where does our knowing, being and consciousness go? The Africans in America, the English They Speak explores these questions in a cosmic meditation, an awakened contemplation and story of beginning and coming into being. Inspire by Afro-futurism, artwork is from by Rajni Perera (http://www.rajniperera.com) and Khnemet Ankheti, an acclaimed artist and Facebook blogger, whose work originally inspired the work.
The Africans in America, Where They Speak English
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”
I keep forgetting she wrote that when I am over there - Her.
It wasn’t long after I had passed away and I was meditating upon the best way to do it the next time around. Nothing specific- just the long vacuum bowing of interstellar and solar sounds, the clanging silence of the universes in echoes, memories removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday living; at rest, finally, in the faint galactic trumpeting of creation somewhere over the horizon. My consciousness several hundred thousand years old now, around several thousand others, waiting to be born again, achieve their mission to bring us collectively closer to the light… or become the light.
So sad, amazing, funny and crazy how so many of us remember only a part of the divine mission when we are there. We grumble, “I’m dedicated to piety and humility” or “If He ever puts me in that position again, I’ll kill…” or “She has an obligation to do what it is I am asking” blah, blah, blah- but we forget the mission and the incredible power with which we are born. So much noise and confusion when the edicts are so clear but we’re all just a hot mess when we get down there, where the light and energy build into mass, into density of being where the emotions are ours to do with as we please. We develop our own agendas, our own philosophies, mostly small and fleeting. The light though, that remains permanent, rising every day to remind us of priceless gift of existing and the promises made.
I suppose we have all failed spectacularly so many times before. But each time we refined our struggle, or some element of it, remembering enlightenment and the power of spiritual purposing. We forgot each time, that our greatest grace, our singular greatest power is simply to be. That’s when it all comes back to us, when we are still and let the mission and purposing discover us. But the thing about this America is it is a radioactive microwave of unnatural chemical activity, got us all hopping and hipping without any real planting, without taking time to consider, ponder, be… still.
We forget, each time, that the greatest grace of the race, our singular greatest power is simply to be. Yes, yes, yes… that saying in the bible, the central edict of all purposing, “Be still and know I am God” or, inversely stated, “To Thyself Be True”. The beginning of all true knowledge is knowledge of self, respect for God. We forget to let our big thick pink and purple lips move exactly in sway to the dictates of our hearts unperturbed- hold no thing back. We forget to grow our large kinky hair out and let those nappy antennas, unfurl and spring coiled to receive the vitamin D transmissions from His Majesty Solar – we dampen our receptacles with contaminants and chemicals. We can’t receive the daily message, subliminal. We forget the natural - berries and fruits, vegetables and trees that are the inverse functioning of our being; that complement our meaning. We forget to love endlessly and simply, without restriction, nary fear nor complicated care. We forget time in and time out to simply enjoy the little miracle of life- we get caught up in the infinitesimal experiences of politics (made up things down there) and other social stratifications, the poverty of insecurities, trapped in little meanings, little wanderings, the conflation, exaggeration, definitions and distractions made up by little tiny beings, broken up brittle beings, with little else to do other than encircle us mind, body and soul with broken brittle shards of their so-called power. We become fragmented in our being, fragmented in our mind, fragmented in our love of one another. We forget, distracted, there are zero limitations on our abilities to affect our dreams, and carry out the missions for which we are born.
On one of my stays, I remember once watching, hypnotized, this gorgeous mother feeding her perfect baby- the brown baby’s head was affixed to the mother’s bosom (it was Her without my even knowing- without Her announcement - She’s so funny like that) like a koala bear, suckling from the areola, like a blowfish, with pleasure and for nourishment, all at once. The act looked beautiful if you are not some sort of pervert which most of us were by that time, involved in all of the sordid broken doings they got us doing down there, so –called marketing for purposes of re-purposing natural energies and organic passions. But the mother woman who saw me ogling hypnotized said in a very human manner, “Take a picture darling, it’ll last longer and you can share it with your friends and tell them the story of how a woman, with two perfectly brown supple breasts and perky nipples, said to you: I don’t understanding the debate over breast feeding in public? You’re baby is hungry, you feed him! Hotep! It’s function over form. The porn is in your mind- sex and human being commoditized”, she shrugged proudly, innocently and with knowing all at once. So, I asked her if I could take a shot with my smart phone and she smiled mischievously, she shrugged the same shrug and said, “Sure! Why not? Lips and below so I have plausible deniability. I want to see every shot you take.” She posed herself, arched her back, pouted, looked directly into the lens, furrowed her brows, slowed her movements down, smiled closed mouthed, smiled gentle with lips revealing a perfect set of teeth and tickled the little one under his chin so he would also, even in the dreams he was having about other things on the other side of reality. And I posted to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with a caption of what she had said to me. All of the women who are my online friends liked and hearted ad nausea. Like! Smiley Face. Heart. Like, like, like!!! Then I began to feel guilty for what I had done to my brethren, my man kind – a regular Judah Iscariot. But, and I didn’t say this, sperm burrowing into the egg is borrowing from a creation event too. It’s like a star show orbiting a planet, creating – imploding, exploding, manifesting- fascinating. The power of the universe is within us all – we .
And that’s when I had my Ah-Ha! Epiphany, my moment of clarity for everything I had taken for granted the last time, I was at the greatest show in the universe on the planet earth… the live animation sequence that is our existence for which we chose just showing, wondering, wandering and forgetting faster than remembering and experiencing over and over and over again with differing emotional resonance… and sometimes remembering too much altogether, refusing to accept the truth about the 7 billion humans walking the earth austere in clothing, acting ordinary – how irresponsible, how silly of our race of beings to become so small. Where did we get this direction? Infection of our minds? If our God is a mighty God and we are made in God’s image, then mustn’t we be mighty too? Human but mighty too? When did we become so afraid of our power and start living the straight jacket casket lives demanded by the politics of the little small ones? 7 billion walking strong on the planet in the light of day, pretending night time never happened – pretending creation is just fucking.
We never, our black bodies formed by the nebulas, walk down the beaming bright corroders of yellow light with green, red and blue windows into the other galaxies, completely owning the glory and endless freedom that can come with functioning form in this reality. Well, some of us do, that’s for sure, a few, a handful of us who have decided ‘Ima’ be who I be!’ But we never as a group of spiritual beings take that walkway completely willingly from nothingness into cosmic being- we allow the illusion to persist that we are just simply “people”.
We might humbly- or in some schemes rail against the authority of the small ones and come into a certain reason. We might study the Torah, the King James Bible and the Holy Koran to fathom unearthly mysteries- but we don’t dare examine the physical evidence that is the cosmos to understand we are galactic cosmic beings marshalling existence. Spirituality is the existence of our heavenly beings which directs our being on the planet. ‘Yes’ and infinite possibilities surrounding us on all parameters, geometric configurations of hallways with oblong, circular shapings.
So, the next time that so-called gatekeeper summons me from the line of our ancestors in celestial rest and orchestral composure (I now know She is the one, the other part of me, unknown), I’m going to remember all of this – this is my plan anyhow- and I’m not going to act surprised but I’m not going to be book fooled twice either by this disguise- all humble, ‘washing feet’ so to speak- I don’t dare speak imprudently but my master, Spirit Being of the Cosmos, She will know when she sees my eyes that I know. And when she sings, revealing herself, with the celestial voices of choirs, ‘What will you be this time around son? How do you want to play it?’ I’ll say it loud, sing it proud – for the whole universe, galaxy after galaxy to hear my proclamation, “Magnificent Sister Elegant - African! I am African! And when she directs me with her inner energies at the continent like she’s going to send my memories and equip them with endless curiosity and passions and gifts and talents- I’ll point with my power to the Americas and I’ll say- there again, please. ‘As one of the the Africans in America where they speak English forgetting.'
I See Now- Acryl-Gouache and Gelpens on Cotton Rag Paperby Rajni Perera http://www.rajniperera.com/
And when she stops her flow, looking at me woke, I will clarify ‘Make my mind remember, quickly, the English we spoke but also, please, let my spirit fashion the Adinkra, Amharic and tribal rhythms of Djembe that contained within its syllables, soft and hard beats, the ancient knowledge of our kingdoms. I need that analogue as context before I get to the Americas. I need the rhythms of the ancient powers to fashion power and implement.”
“Well, look at you – be you then!” She’ll say to me then, “So, War then?” And I’ll say “No, no, no more! No more so called Civil Wars, Civil Rights. Silver, no. Gold, done. No more battling with others, battling within, battling ourselves. No! We are the gold – marriage of sun power with the material, melanin is the gold converter for our black bodies. Our paths are only silver, gold and if need really be, copper.” I’ll say – Total Teamwork, Reverence, Respect, Excellency, Intergalactic Integrity, Loving Leadership. We stand, we breath, we seek to enforce the Peace walking this plane of reality and my voice will suddenly be that voice of a million more – energies, heavenly beings, million consciousness collapsing into my own.
WAR2, mixed media on Mylar, 2014. From the Series Afrika Galaktika by Rajni Perera
So it will be as I realize I am passing through that rich ebony keeper to be born again on the highest level. Yes, I’ll respect my mother and father, our ancient agreement, give honor to my ancestors, call out the many names of my Supreme Benevolent Creator of this here realm – the place of knowing, being and accepting without knowing – I’ll speak it with unmistakable love and clarity and maintain the semblance of my might and innocence- not be godlike but to serve god. I’ll ask for those distinct African facial features of broad nose, large brown eyes that not only see but truly discern, ears that not only hear but truly listen, hands that not only feel but mold and manifest, a mind that tabulates, calculates but has the ongoing communications, the open reception to mystery, the marvelous mayhem that is our universe organizing and reorganizing, with our heavens and is responsive to supreme intelligence. I’ll be obedient, reverent this time.
And so my voice will suddenly be that voice of a million more – energies, heavenly beings, a million consciousnesses collapsing into my single being. I’ll be a receptacle. I’ll be a servant. I will not be afraid to love with abandon, with openness. Intelligence. So, I will realized I am passing though that rich ebony keeper to be born again on the highest level grounds of the dream- the dream come alive. The time of men will cease within the period of a thousand years and the time of the Supremes, magical beings, conscientious and intergalactically aware will be once more just as when we walked the continent as bare foot Majestics in one great spirit.
‘Madame Mouselle’ I’ll create music and sing in sheer delight, passion, and mayhem- I’ll employ the wind, lightening and rain percussion of feet on those dusty grounds of red clay dirt… I’ll woo her with my rhythm and sunshine song, just as David and Solomon before. Yes, I’ll let the music pour from my electric soul into her eternal cathedral, the glorious space I need to be inspired, to be more and we will become one experience once more- one finding, singular celebration, knowing. She’ll know then that the only power we need to accomplish our mission is that of remembering, knowing and loving. Hoping, Believing. So, she might ask, “You want to know everything this time around- hey baby?
I’ll humbly beseech, “Yes. Absolutely, we need to remember who we are Supreme Beauty.” And because our souls are merged, she too will also remember the many times I was lost or scared and my brother was standing there and couldn’t even reach his hand out to me – he just couldn’t remember – that we were fashioned from one holy soul body spiritually, a spirit black with light, shadows, epiphanies, mystery, arcane knowings and unending melodies. He was caught up in the politics of a man made moment. He was man when he should have been part and parcel, component of the collective of God. And sister, will be her king’s empress.
No more- no more not remembering I’ll finally plead- though with elegance and dignity she’ll realize through her, manifesting, dancing, gyrating, creating – loving gently but coarsely sometimes, offsetting many moods and polarities with my own. Perhaps, she’ll scream the siren scream realizing that all the veils are falling and the masks are cracking. We will be exposed once to one another without pretention. “When you speak to me”,
Spy- Acryl-Gouache and Gelpens on Cotton Rag Paper
by Rajni Perera http://www.rajniperera.com/
I’ll intimate in a sacred tone, one that gives birth to meaning, double entendre and radical resolute beginnings, speaking quietly and lyrically in a singing voice, with a steady rhythm, “Take your mask off and when you lie to me, do it authentically. And when you love me, do it remembering I am you and you are me- that I am your king and you are my majesty.” The illusions of time, dissension, polarities, failure… all of the so called negative realities we create without intention, just by letting go of our divine purposes… all of them done. Finito- bang! Until we climax in momentary ascension into real collective being, separate no more. Nothingness, bliss. Am. The Great I Am. The rivers will stop cascading, and even our blood will come to a standstill, hearts looking to hibernate within one another. Perhaps, she’ll hug me warm, tenderly, pull me close to her bosom and let me weep without worry, without shame – my tears soaking her bosom- She will not be the same. She will kiss my face. She will ask me how She needs to change?
She will whisper, ‘I love you’. And because she says this to me, I’ll remind her- WE are the creators my divine love, God and creatures, the dream and reality, blessed and damned, authority and controlled, everything and no thing – we are in this together and I will never leave your being, we cannot exist without one another. We’ll be entwined then, within our one bosom, lips locked and our lions kissing wet, the stardust and inter planetary collisions of creations within our minds, a union of epiphanies and visions, of empires, spiraling freeways to galaxies; within our hearts and spirits, blood pumping, remembering, transmitting from the heavens and eternities. She’ll listen to my voice dripping hypnotic with clarity and certainty, and realize therein the million voices, the cosmos and intentions, firm. We’ll create a better tomorrow today. We’ll fall asleep peacefully manifesting.
And the next morning, I’ll be off again, to be born again once more within our creation, to begin myself again as one amongst billions, experiencing human, but this time remembering, not forgetting where I came from, the act of creating myself will be one of pure intention. It will be me practicing and perfecting love with the two beings whom I select as my parents , all of the ancestors who came before me and their wild sacrifices rooted in the reality and fact of the Divine dreams; the Supremes and Majestic Majesties harvesting daily, annually and by the millennium as miracle as they stand outside themselves and their man made societies, so that we all feel the abundance of blessings; so that we remember that we all came from nothing into everything and we will be a family, a tribe so close knit in proximity so as to make the atoms on a molecule blush. No more cluster, no random off-beat circus rants and raves, silly irrationalities. We. Will. Be. Melody.
Of course my heart will seek her, my queen, but if I cannot find the beauty who gives birth to me, the one who gives rise to all of my fantasies and let’s me dream endlessly and is so tender with me, perhaps I’ll give those energies to a daughter who will know she commands her Daddy?
Now, I am hearing the nervous chatter, the jungle jangling of silver utensils against a tray. I sense the onset of time. I feel the anxious energy, the love energy, the union of a man and a woman who have come together to create me with gentle love and clear purposing, the intention of becoming one, mirroring my activities on the other side of the galaxies. I feel the know everything precision of a doctor who knows nothing as he prepares an arcane ritual for my arrival. So, now is the awakening – it’s time to walk down that corridor of light being and become physical. Of manifesting where the lights beam bright yellow, bursting red and blue, hypnotic green- I’ll travel the pathways of abundant consciousness to the one divined for me – the one I have selected where the black bodies of our Supreme Beings have laid waiting in imagination, out of necessity, from nothing to everything, accessorizing with various assortment of memory, history, tribal identity, talent.
No, I guess- no more need to remember, I’ll agree with my loving beauty. We simply are. The melanin, a marker. We now are. When the high pitched ping that is the means by which my singular consciousness travels to a new being, a fresh beginning and that pitch becomes the scream of elation, terror, pleasure and pain, the sacred vows never uttered of fidelity, responsibility and legacy. I’ll recognized the sound of my scream, I’ll know this time though.
The birth of myself as a new baby will be accompanied by nebula within the dark bowels of mystery shifting. A galactic being towering and She, the gatekeeper, my other, my one true keeper, my coupling, with camouflage, my being with her divine immaculate darkness. The ebony mahogany onyx being will cover my rising until we are ready for the showing on this side of reality in the society of men. We will cover modern history with our cosmic acrobatics, and far too cool dispositions.
And my spiritual presence will grow as large as a cosmic eternity replete with mono syllabic words, double entendre, meaning gifted within ordinary happenings, doubling as metaphors anchored by unfathomable beginnings , new realities. Listen, know – no more doubting, let go. We are cosmic. Black man and black woman. No ending. None. What do I mean by that? I am talking about what we do in our spirituality coupled with our reality, the conjoining. Two sets of heights and lows, melodies and rhythms for a singular Divinity- the us that we be. Patience, providence, passion, participation - that’s what I mean. So, I mean my spiritual towering, the ordinary being coupled with our galactic ambitions, materialized. But first I must born myself- we must be born- unto parents who have mirrored and born me on the other side of reality. I must awaken, humbly, an infant knowing, a little black baby boy with eyes all too knowing. Oh! Our little black baby boys and girls. This is the soul of the world, the seeds of continuous tomorrows seeped in knowing, mystery, unveilings and impossibilities manifesting.
The birth of me as me- Nabulus as human being, spiritual projection materializing on the other side, the blue and green planet with all of the human happenings, the drop of drama in a galaxy of density. We are the imaginings living. Hydrogen, helium, stardust, the matter of our intentions- never settle for half measures. Remember King General So called Marcus Garvey syllabus on our ceilings, our heavens: “God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and eternity our measurement. “ Bliss. Endless possibilities manifesting.
The Rememory of Her as the magnificent queen Toni Morrison, spelling it out so lyrically, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives. Recall Her as Queen Madame Moselle Maya Angelous and those wise chanted illuminations, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Yes, yes, limitations implemented with the intention of controlling for the purposes of making so much smaller than we all are, trapping us within the dream.
Here are some more truths before I am done with birthing – we downgraded into humble babies from universal expressions of majesty and galaxies. Humans... we struggle in this lifetime as warriors, those of us who don’t take the bait and rise, we become the kings we all are. But before we were born, we were gods. Now- we are awaken. So, having trouble stomaching that 2016 is 1968? No more beginnings, only endings this time around. rLOVEuon until it’s done.
And those are my last words – a spirit waiting to be born into a little brown baby… eyes wide open... just waiting…waiting.
Artwork by Rajni Perera
Artwork by Khnemet Ankheti
I write short stories and screenplays mostly in the horror genre. Several of my short stories have been published including one about a Kumiho (Korean Werefox). I regularly blog about writing, the horror genre and reviews at https://www.facebook.com/davidjenkinswriter
Review of Weird Ales- short story collection edited by Theresa Darwin
This book features eleven short stories on weird ales and pubs and is probably the best anthology I have ever read. I enjoy less than two thirds of the stories in most anthologies I read as I feel the same theme gets repetitive, predictable and some stories fail to grab me anyway. But not this collection. I never realised there is so much to write about on the theme and apart from two stories featuring Cthulhu these were all completely original. I would happily read eight of the eleven stories which were all surprising, sinister and compact. Before talking about my favourites I would just like to reiterate the uniqueness of the plots- A magazine hack searches for a classic punk singer in a strange bar filled with fairies, an alcoholic becomes obsessed with a poisonous but enlightening drink and a businessman wants to sell a new beer in his nightclubs despite the misgivings of the beer club. These were just some of the stories I felt were good but not great. As for my favourites.
In ‘Hoary Protuberance Loves Craft’ we have an exciting young drinker as a narrator so I found it realistic both with its slang and viewpoint ‘after listening to the old man drivel on I felt I deserved another of his shots’. The old fashioned man slowly tells the young clubber why he feels so bad and you can sense the dread building but the clubber just keeps drinking. When the horror starts in the last five pages its well described from Cthulhu to the transformation of the young clubber. This story had a simple moral don’t take free drinks of strangers but the writing style was so enjoyable it transcended the simple story idea. In ‘Belly Buster’ again the first person narrative is realistic but more humorous this time with Bob declaring ‘I’m what you call out of shape- well I suppose a barrel is a shape’. Bob tells the story of how he killed a cat with the beer he was testing after not following the serving suggestion. The success of the author Hayley Orgill in this story is making you feel completely in Bob’s shoes as he realises his mistake, tries to get rid of the cat and then decides what to do with the last bottles of Belly Buster. ‘The Funeral’ is not a full on horror or fantasy story like the others it’s an emotional story of a young man who has just lost his wife. Everyone can relate to losing someone and that’s what makes this story so good. The idea that a drink can make you reconnect with your dead loved ones is again such a simple idea. However the strange circumstances Nathan gets the drink and the relief we feel that the drink didn’t kill him but help him sees his wife again is such an emotional rollercoaster that the simplicity doesn’t matter.
Overall, I would strongly recommend this book to drinkers and non-drinkers alike as it features many intriguing tales on a rather narrow subject- pubs and booze. The narrative style of many pieces are different as are the plots, making this my favourite short story collection.
Clemencio Montecillo Bascar was a former Professor and Vice President for Corporate Affairs of the Western Mindanao State University. He is a recepient of various local, regional, and national awards in songwriting, playwriting, poetry, and public service. Several of his poems had been published in international literary magazines and journals such as, Foliate Oak , BRICKrhetoric, About Place, Torrid Literature, Mused-theBellaOnline Lietrary Review, and The Voices Project. He had written and published by the Western Mindanao State University two books of poetry, namely; "Fragments of the Eucharist" and "Riots of Convictions." In the Philippines, some of his poems appeared in the such magazines as Women's, MOD, and Chick.
At present, he writes a column in the Zamboanga Today daily newspaper and resides at 659 Gemini Street, Tumaga, Zamboanga City, Philippines. He is married to the former Miss Melinda Climaco dela Cruz and blest with three children, Jane, Lynnette, and Timothy James.
SPAIN, USA, AND THE SULTANATES
The two big questions that have remained unanswered and unexplained for more than a century now, are:
(1) WAS THE CESSION OF THE SULTANATES OF SULU AND MAGUINDANAO TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE DECEMBER 10, 1898 TREATY OF PARIS BY SPAIN AS PARTS OF ITS COLONY, THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, LAWFUL AND VALID?
(2) WAS THE OCCUPATION OR INVASION OF MINDANAO AND SULU BY THE AMERICAN FORCES STARTING MAY 19, 1899 BASED ON THE DECEMBER 10, 1898 TREATY OF PARIS LEGAL FROM THE STANDPOINTS OF THE LAWS OF WAR, THE LAW OF NATIONS, THE CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TREATIES, AND THE 1787 US CONSTITUTION?
The full and honest- to- goodness answers and explanations as to the legal validity of the sale and cession of Mindanao and Sulu by Spain to the United States, to my mind, will be of great help in bringing about the final resolution to the Mindanao Conflict and eventually extinguish the flames of the armed struggle for self-determination waged by the liberation fronts.
Pursuant to the principle of equality, the Law of Nations mandates that all states irrespective of size and power should be treated with the same degree of respect and dignity. By virtue of the rights naturally conferred upon nations and their corresponding obligations to one another for their welfare and security, they are supposed to be as independent and free and should be left to the "peaceable enjoyment of liberty" which belongs to them by nature. (Source : Law of Nations, a work of Political Philosophy by Emmerich de Vattel published in 1758 and adopted as a foundational element of the 1787 US Constitution)
At present the local government of Jolo commemorates the founding of the Sultanate of Sulu every 17th day of November based of the most recent discovery of historical document which authentically marked its establisment on November 17, 1405 with Sayeed Abu Bakr as its first Sultan about 45 years ealier than what was chronicled by historians.
The Sultanate of Maguindanao based on some historical accounts, was established toward the end of the 16th Century by Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuan which attained greatest expansion, power. and influence during reign of the "Unconquerable Sultan Kudarat, " who made it a confederacy and virtually ruled the entire island of Mindanao.
As nations and states duly recognized internatIonally as de facto and de jure, the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao existed much earlier than the Spanish East Indies which included Las Islas Filipinas organized in 1571 with Miguel Lopez de Legaspi as its First Governor-General, the First Philippine Republic established by Gen. Emilio F. Agiuinaldo on June 23, 1898, and the Federal System of Government of the United States based on its 1787 Constitution.
These two ancient political institutions like other legitimate governments of the world , had forged treaties of friendship, trade, commerce, and peace with other sovereign countries until the Spaniards attempted to subjugate, colonize, Christianize, and place them under the Crown of Spain as what they had done to the islands of Luzon and the Visayas as early as March 16, 1521. Unfortunately, the Spaniards, as affirmed by renowned historians, authors and even top US political and military officials, mesirably failed in their more than three hundred years of expeditionary campaigns.
Then on April 25, 1898, the United States declared war with Spain reportedly on account of the bombing of the the 2nd Class USS batttleship, Maine which was blown apart on February 15 of that same year while anchored in the middle of Havana harvor causing a total death of 260 of the estimated 400 crew on board.
The Spanish-American war culminated in the capitulation of the City of Manila after a "Mock War" was staged with the assistance of the Belgian Consul, Eduoard C. Andre paving the way for the final peace negotiations in Paris for the surrender and turnover of the Philippine Islands by Spain to the United States in Article III of the December 10, Treaty of Paris which surreptitiously also included in the technical description of the territorial limits of the ceded colony only by latitudes and longitudes, Mindanao and Sulu, which were not colonial possessions of Spain by conquest according to historians.
At this juncture, I consider it of utmost importance to emphasize the fact that the war that was authorized by the American Congress was exclusively against Spain and all its colonies. THe Philippine Islands being a colony of Spain was of course, covered by this declaration of war for which reason the Battle of Manila Bay of May 1 and the Mock War for the capitualtion of the City of Manila on August 13, 1898 took place,respectively despite the fact that Spain and the United States already signed a day before (August 12, 1898) a Peace Protocol ending all hostilities between these two warring countries. In both battles, the American forces emerged as the victor.( One real war, and one mock war which in today's military parlance is popularly known as war game or military exercise. }
No other battle or military encounter between the American and Spanish forces was ever recorded anywhere else in the Philippines most particularly in MIndanao and Sulu because at this time the Spanish colonial forces were already either routed, overrun. and beleaguered by the Sultanate forces or were withdrawing from the moroland which could be validly considered or construed as the full recovery of the respective domains of the Sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu based on the Law of Conquest.
This withdrawal of all Spanish colonial forces from Mindanao and Sulu as ordered by higher authorities in Madrid as early as January 1899, was the factual basis for historians and authors to conclude that the Spaniards never succeeded in their countless attempts at conquest of these two Sultanates . It is worth stressing that this event came to pass before the American forces sneakily landed in Jolo at two o'clock dawn of May 19,1899 to rescue the beleaguered Spaniards in the fort of Jolo who were already scheduled to be surrendered to the Sultan as what was done to the Spanish garrison in Siasi. This surprise intrusion of the American forces into the realm of the Sultanate of Sulu started the US occupation of two sovereign states without Congressional authority or official declaration of war explicitly required by the 1787 US Constitution like what the American Legislature did in the case of the Spanish-American War.
Another military event that has never been properly explained and understood up this point of our political history , was the Filipino-American war which was declared by Emilio F. Aguinaldo, the President of the First Philippine Republic on February 4, 1899 largely because of his opposition to the transfer of sovereignty of Spain over the Philippine Islands to the United States in the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris. The first shot which triggered the outbreak of Filipino-American War was fired by Private William Walter Grayson, a member of the First Nebraskan Volunteer Infantry at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of Febraury 4, 1899 and ended with the capture of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo by the American forces led by Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston on March 23, 1901 at Palanan, Isabela Province. General Aguinaldo and his revolutionary army fought heroically two wars; against the Philippine Spanish Colonial Government and against the United States of America; in both wars the United States was the victor; in both wars, unluckily Aguinaldo was a failure.
Now, it's time to shift our discussion to the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao in the context of the Filipino-American and the Spanish- American wars. Absolutely, these two Sultanates had nothing to do with any of these two wars. While it is indisputably true that the Sultanates were engaged in a defensive war against Spain for more than three hundred years and remained unconquered, they never had any involvement either covertly or overtly in the Spanish-American or the Filipino American war. The Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao by their own bravery and resolve, amazingly and incredibly succeeded in defending their independence and sovereignty from all attempts of subjugation and colonization by Spain up to the American regime.
The other diplomatic, military, and political acts committed by the Americans from May 19, 1899 to July 4, 1946 leading to final incorporation of Mindanao and Sulu into the Republic of the Philippines, are vast and fertile grounds for serious historical examination, research, or inquiry.
Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Guwahatian Magazine (India), The Galway Review (Ireland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), The Osprey Review (Wales), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey) and other magazines. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs
An Urban Legend Confirmed
It was nearly midnight and I was driving home after a long day when I realized there was no cat food in the house and I would be facing the same trio of feral cats bright and early at the back door that I face every morning, hungrier than ever.
The cats are fond of my wife but I’m the one who feeds them because I get up so early. So I stopped at the all-night mega-grocery store and headed for the pet food section.
Not a can of cat food in sight.
I asked the night manager, “What happened? Did you have a sale?”
“No, not at all. This happens every time we get near the end of the month,” he said.
"Old folks buy the cat food. Most of them come in late at night because they’re embarrassed. It’s my shift so I get to know a lot of them.
"They run out of money waiting for next month’s check to come. They buy cans of cat food and make their own version of tuna casserole.
"One elderly lady offered to sell me her recipe for five bucks. I wish now I had bought it. She needed the money,”
I had heard for decades that old folks eat cat food when they run out of money but I thought it was an urban legend. Now, at least in this store, not located in a poor neighborhood, that urban legend has been confirmed as fact.
I asked the manager for a favor.
“The next time you see that lady, tell her you have someone who wants to buy her recipe for twenty bucks. Here’s the money. Here’s my number. Call me and I’ll come and get it and give you an extra ten for your trouble.
"I know a couple of folks I want to give it to. One of them will be the next president of the United States and this might make a nice entree at the Inauguration banquet. Both candidates are senior citizens but I bet neither has ever sat down to a meal like this.”
He laughed a bit but said he’d do it. I hope he does.