Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I've been at this a long time. Not only do I know where all the bodies are buried I usually have a pretty good idea who dug the holes. Today I took a time out and stayed home and wandered. There's a restlessness in me at the moment that has less to do with lack of anticipation and more to do with the swirls of change that perfume the spring air.

Across the streets, moms and dads pick up little boys who have been at practice. Lacrosse. Lacrosse! Had a snow storm here on April 15th. Watched the snow blow, whirl and dance around the rooftops and skyscrape of the downtown in The 'Kan EWA . Less than a week before Easter. It's spring but people in the neighborhood still walk in parkas and wool mittens and fleece hats. I just waved to a guy down on the sidewalk and he waved back and bellowed BRING ON SUMMER. Huge devilish grin...

I tell the story, lots, about the milkman who got up at 3 am for 37 years, delivered milk and was home by 11. Then taught himself, over a 37 year period, how to paint and now produces the most utterly stunning canvases of ghostly spectacles, people and chickens. He's the rave of the art world here and a luminary in my life. I have two of his pieces and I think about him everyday. I have never met him. I don't believe I need to.

I still have to explain to people about my thoughts on productivity, work product and inspiration. I still work and collaborate with some of this world's smartest people. Their ideas and the work we do together still race like colorful neon tubing though my thoughts and prayers and end up in my heart and my gut where I keep them so I can get to them when I need to. I search the faces at charitable benefits now for unlined, ungray smiles for the newspaper. It is a surprise to see the color of spring become a neutral palette this year and see these newly neutral hues populate my life.

Sunny comes by and with no hesitation, crawls up into my lap. Such honey. Such sublimity. Such dazzling, unneutral light. I let her play in the fire and we chat about what makes a good Easter gift. She's full of great ideas and insight. It's very cold but she's calm and easy in a t shirt and jeans. Bobby comes by on his way to the hockey game and is scared because Sunny waves a stick in the air that has a smoking, glowing end. The fire roars orange and gold now.

It becomes unnaturally quiet as the last kid is picked up and the people and families of my neighborhood go into their houses to eat dinner together. It's like the entire world here has paused and crystallized and is holding the pose for me to capture, record and keep for always with the weak, thin light of spring standing by as I shiver in the cold evening air.

Change is warming up in the bullpen. No doubt about it.

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All right, all right, all right. They brought me up short. But if we'd been thinking about it, we'd have all seen that coming. After a long, delicious nap, I zipped up my down vest, jammed my fur hat back onto my head and headed out into the Berlin evening, the night air snapping and cold around me, the sky dull with the snow that's coming tomorrow. I walked down the Friedrichstrasse and ended up at Checkpoint Charlie, or rather, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. This was the border crossing, the legal one, between the east and the west. The actual guard shack stands in the street still, but is now flanked by the ubiquitous McDonald's. Ah, the burdens of freedom. It is a magnificent museum, if it smells of something unidentifiable but undeniably rank. But maybe that's all part of it, helping to make this museum so real, so visceral, so authentic. They have the stories and exhibits of of the cars, suitcases, and surfboards (!) that people used to smuggle themselves to freedom. They have one huge room dedicated to the memory and honor of Ronald Reagan, who they give huge credit and have gained huge inspiration from. They have the stories of the people who died trying to cross and the testament of the outrage and frustration of the people on both sides of the wall; it is well done, under funded, and a statement that cannot be answered with anything but a prayer. And they have art.

First, as you climbed the stairway to the second level, they have an entire gallery of children's' art, commenting on barbed wire. There's kids playing in barbed wire; playing soccer in barbed wire; chickens and barbed wire; flowers, barbed wire; symbolistic renditions of a Germany tied up with barbed wire. All out of the mouths of babes…

Then, those rascals, the Germans have an entire floor dedicated to Picasso's mega, uber statement about war and fascism, Guernica. I remember vividly the first time I saw the real one, the huge mural named for Picasso's hometown in Spain, and ached and ached for Coeur d'Alene, my own sacred Guernica, my hometown. And the Germans chose to discuss it here, as their feelings about the war and the wall, tumbled out of them and, judging from my walk earlier today, continue to dribble out of them now. How do you get over this in one generation? How do you get over a war in one generation? When I was growing up the 1960s, my father talked vividly about the Fire of 1910 that ravaged North Idaho and he wasn't even alive at that time. But he grew up hearing about it and the legend entered his heart. And so it is with these people, my Germans, the terror and heartbreak of the Wall and the war live in them still and even though they have and have always had Siemens, Schering, Agfa and AEG, and now have BMW, Daimler and the Vatican, they have to figure out life without the wall and who and what they are as a country and it simply is not that easy. The terror and pain were acute and in my opinion, still exist quietly in plenty of neighborhoods here today. My heart is with them. Germany and the Germans went through so much in the twentieth century.

And they make me laugh. I have laughed long and hard today. They have the funniest, most cunning, most clever souvenirs of any country I have ever been in. And they make me concerned: out of 10 people smoking here, 9.3 of them are women. You'll see a mother and daughter smoking, while dad stands by with his hands in his pockets. Good luck on those ovaries, girls. For a country that practically had the World Cup sewed up, there is a remarkable lack of futbol frenzy; they can't even tell me the name of that Turkish kid, 19 years old he is, that scored the most goals in the Cup this year that plays for the German National Team. We got a lotta Turks here, they say, with a polite smile. And everything you hear about the hot wine? completely true. It is phenomenal. As is the sauerkraut, which is creamy, and the roasted nuts. Tomorrow I'm going in for chocolate.

So my discovery continues; I am proud to be an American but I'm proud too, that before we were American, we were German. We know how to work hard, how to stay faithful and wait for things to change and how to laugh. I don't know if I was filling my own order personally if I could ask for a better combination.

On Location
Berlin, Germany
So I'm in the Motherland. My great great grandmother lived here and had 5 boys; didn't want them going off to fight the Czar so she made her husband emigrate to America. Nebraska. Kept all five of her boys alive to live long and happy lives. She was one tough looking girl, too. Like most of the German women I've seen this weekend. And the men! DO NOT presume that ladies would exit an elevator first; even if they were standing by the door. If you're a lady on an elevator, you stand back and let the men in the back come forward and exit proudly. There exists, still today, a strong and valued reason why my great great grandmother knew exactly what she was talking about.

I'm staying in Mitte, in Berlin, which in the 1970s the world knew as East Berlin. Now it's this poshy neighborhood, confirming the worst fears of someone I knew once, who said that Berlin is becoming gentrified beyond a feeble recognition of itself, just like Soho in New York did. I am so glad I came. There exists, in every neighborhood in this town, a statement as to the new, old Berlin. Reunification, that is. But somehow, each arch, building, monument, sculpture and signatory construction falls short of making the definitive comment on what it was like to have the east part of town suddenly taken from the community and, in a stunning reversal, not only taken but used as a prisoner of war in an ongoing battle that may have only been settled in the late 1980s. I cannot think of any American town that would cope well with that.

Part of the way Berlin haunts you is the there is not much left of its palpable history. Oh sure, there's the bridal path from the winter palace to the summer palace, over there in Charlottenburg. Heck, there's even the Charlottenburg Castle. But in the place of the glorious, phenomenal, centuries -old- buildings and neighborhoods in London, Milan, Paris and Istanbul, stand post war modern stark installations where people work, play, eat, and buy what they want and need in this life. Everything here was bombed; everything was destroyed. So the Germans rebuilt, re-imagined, entire neighborhoods and sections of this town. Fold in the new reincarnation of the old Berlin and you have, solidly, a work in progress whose master plan still resides in the heads and hearts the electorate. In other words, nobody really knows for sure. They're still thinking it through. There is no flow and glide to this city; even the demarcation, the wall put up by the Russians, follows incredibly irregular lines and grids through neighborhoods, rivers, woods, parks, industrial areas, retail and service neighborhoods. You just don't know. You just can't get a feel.

Another thing that's sad and haunting for me is the art. There is very little classical art and architecture in the public domain left here in Berlin; and the art that does remain is stodgy; solidly unimaginative and stubbornly unyielding. The best art here is the graffiti, except for the art that the artists of the world came and made on the remaining section of the Wall; it's section by section; spectacular; exciting; none of it German. How do you have a town without its own art, now and then?

But Berlin remains. Stubborn, solid, stodgy. Angela Merkel and the foreign minister came out hard yesterday in defense of the euro. Told the EU that they have to man up and protect the currency; the idea of EU bonds will only prolong the drama. The contemporary Germans are people who have lived through sacrifice and heartbreak;and they know how they got there. They do not intend to go there again. I'm reminded of what Henry VIII did to his people; taxed them to death to pay for any one of a number of pissing matches with his countrymen, his allies and his enemies. I'm no Doris Kearns Goodwin but it seems to me that Germany has had it with being right, and righteous, too. Elizabeth the I, Henry's daughter, reigned over one of the most prosperous eras in the entire history of England and surely, post-war Germany mirrors that success and prosperity these days. The trains stations are marvels; the airports, while quite institutional, are models of efficiency. Somebody, somehow, had to pay for all these new buildings, even if they are nothing special but instead, seriously functional. All of the menial jobs are held by immigrants--people with brown skins and dark eyes. That tells me there's enough going on here for people to leave their homes and families because it's a better life here.

So from this seat in the stadium, it looks like Germany has regained everything it lost in a century of wars and political miscalculations. But I'd love to see their national consciousness sprout around their capital city; I'd love to see their hope, not just their resolution, and I'd love to see their heart, not just their ambition. More than a beer glass; more than exceptional engineering, Germany's got to be something more, something else. I can't wait to find it.

On Assignment
East Berlin, Germany

Sunday, December 05, 2010

So it's Advent again. The feast day of St. Nicholas is tomorrow, that originator of the secret gift. That rascal. One thing that came up in our family during the latest recession is another discussion of meaningful gifts; last year we decided to make playlists of our favorite music for each other; we burned them and then wrapped them up for each other. We spent all of Christmas Day listening to each other's music and laughing at the similarities and the contrasts. It was just lovely.

And so playlists became a new tradition with a family that loves and craves its traditions. God help me if I change the menu on the eves and the days of our celebration to a substantial deviation or if I forget to lay ribbon-wrapped tissue paper packages of pajamas and books for these adult children that now have to make the journey of the Magi to be at home for Christmas under the Christmas tree; a tradition that so far, they trust to my judgment. And I do like to change the Christmas tree up and have it be what I'm thinking and feeling about that year. Does anything ever stay the same?

So our playlist production is in high swing; it's super secret. I think you can get a clearer insight into how Google plans to smoke Microsoft next than to sneak a peek at the playlists being written. I'm feeling a certain humiliation and sheepishness because my playlist is a phat and bulky 24-songs long. I just can't choose any closer! They are so gonna dine out on me...

I had a bit of an epiphany this week when I checked back into last year's playlists and found that some of my selections this year were actually on my children's playlists last year. Clearly, they are informing my choices. And so the role reversal that we seem to be so deeply entrenched in these days continues. It's a wonderful time of year and a wonderful time of life. If you let it be...

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I'm waiting for the car to pick me up to go to Mexico City and it all comes back to me in brief glimpses and flashes. What I remember most is the kindness and generosity of the people and the smile in their eyes. The people here embrace any who come in celebration and respect for the dead and will feed you, kiss you and fill you with their faith and love. Quite a testimony to an enlightened and value-driven society.

Our guide Pablo tells me that he expects certainly that in fifty years the celebrations will still be alive; the children trailed their grandmothers in and out of the graveyards and reverently and obediently fulfilled their parts in the family and community liturgies in play, hauling marigolds and candles and fruit and festooning the graves with loving care. And then fiestaed and celebrated with each other with delight and to the delight of all bystanders. Pablo remarked that the thing that will certainly be differentgoing forward is how the people celebrating the La Dias de los Muertos will look. The long braids streaked in silver and gray and wrapped and woven in brightly colored ribbons will vanish, along with the nubby long lengths of fabric that sheath both the men and the women from the cold. Replaced by manufactured shirts and blouses with buttonholes and collars and LA Rams windbreakers with pockets holding cellphones, the faithful will remain and replenish but will forever look different. I feel so humbled to have been able to see this on this year and I will remember it always. Pablo also told me the graveyard celebrations observed deep in the hills outside Oaxaca that we witnessed are not done in Oaxaca because Oaxaca was Spanish-occupied. The first thing the Spanish did was abolish native celebrations such as Las Dias de Los Muertos as they were inconsistent with the catechism of the Catholic Church. These indigenous celebrations exist in communities today because the Spanish never made it up to the hill country to occupy the villages; because as they say, there was no (gold) up those tunnels. Such serendipity…

Yesterday we went to the livestock market outside of town. Drove up to hundreds of sheep, goats, pigs,mules, donkeys, horses, steers and bulls being led to market. We milled about with everyone buying and selling and the aroma of manure, mud and lunch bubbling away in the huge pots being tended by the women with the long braids filled the air. Unmistakably extraordinary and unmistakably divina. Walked up and down streets of art galleries last evening and mingled in the incredibly rich, incredibly dynamic local arts community and saw everything that we've been seeing all week reproduced in hip and cutting edge mediums. The art here is magnificent. Again: extraordinary. divina. And it's ALL art.

And so I pack it up to take with me as I head home. I have many commitments and responsibilities waiting for me and I'll get right back to work immediately; but I want so badly to keep this past week for always. Santo Domingo. Monte Alban. Mitla. St. Augustin. The marigolds, mescal. The chocolate! The candle-light, the prayers, the eyes that follow you as you walk. I simply don't know if my heart is big enough to hold the exquisite texture and quality of it all. Because now I have gone among las gallendas di corazon and I am small; I am so very small…

On Assignment
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca MEXICO
November 1, 2010
Day of The Dead
This morning I got up at 3 am to ride into the hills outside Oaxaca to witness the celebration that is the Day of theDead. You can't really describe this phenomenon--you can only accurately call it a phenomenon--because it is so pure, so intimate, so deeply spiritual it is without bounds and simply not capable of being quantified nor qualified.

We bounced around and over very bumpy,muddy, rutted roads, crossed a bridge and kept going. We bounced and jostled around some more in the sharp black air and some more then, and suddenly, came to a stop. Although we had mounted a fairly arduous journey with strategic preparation to be at the graveyard of this Zapotecan community for sunrise, we arrived at our destination with practically no preamble or introduction. Certainly no ramp up as we stepped in the black air and beheld a sea, a literal sea, of shining,laughing faces lit by a million candles and cuddled by clouds upon clouds upon clouds of orange marigolds and pink cocks comb. It was purely subjective as to whether we still were in this world or the next.
The band played joyous, rollicking music and people tended their dearly departed spirits with pure adoration and utter conviction in the pitch black of night . They sat and visited with each other; prayed; sang; danced; drank the mescal; laughed and waved at the white-skinned light-eyed visitors with expensive cameras sporting wide, fat lenses. Little children ran, played, chased and shouted to each other amid and amongthe dead of the night just before the sun came back; teenagers flirted slyly with each other under the watchful eyes of their grandmothers and their fathers and mothers chatted and laughed with passersby and visitors. It occurred to me again and again that the American Christian community that bemoans, grieves and wails death is quite possibly among the most uncivilized and primitive societies of all time.

Last evening we went over to Xoxocatlan to be with that community as they hauled in wheelbarrows full of supplies and lovingly tended the graves,
lighting candles, arranging flowers and making full preparations to venerate, celebrate and visit with their deceased. It was magic, but only the magic that comes with pure liturgy, pure devotion and bedrock faith. As the sun went down and the candles came up, I experienced an illumination that I doubt I'll
experience again. And then, this morning, again with practically no warning, the sun came up over the graveyard at Atzompa and suddenly it was all over. Band stopped playing and packed their equipment in vans, grandmothers trailing grandsons bearing chairs trudged out the gates for home and the marigolds were deadheaded and shredded on the graves.

The Night Magic is gone and the sun beats down in the courtyard now, flooding it with brilliant white light. But I have the memory of these people and their hearts locked securely
away in my own heart, for those dark days and dark nights when my own dearly beloved are so, so, so very far away…

On Assignment
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca MEXICO
October 31, 2010 Dias de los Muertos

The people gather for a 5 day weekend in celebration of their family and friends that have gone to the next world. They serve you a steaming hot bowl of thick, foamy chocolate that is by far, the best chocolate I have ever tasted. They bake faces of women into the loaves of bread. They each will probably have a shrine at home that will include marigolds, cocks comb, loquats, bananas, papaya, peanuts, oranges and limes; mescal; coca cola; candles and the little smiling skeletons, katrinas, dolls dressed up to resemble the deceased's life on this earth. Everyone smiles and is joyful; it is a time of great festival in honor of this life and the next and of being together.

Yesterday in Santo Domingo, homebase for chastity, poverty and obedience, I saw a man stop and fold his hands in prayer at the gigantic altar of Guadalupe. Then he did the most extraordinary thing: he produced a vivid pink rose, unique among the dozens of red roses that abound here in Oaxaca, and proceeded to bath his face and neck with this pink rose. Then he held the rose over the altar and crushed the rose with one hand, separating the petals from their stem, letting the fragrant pink tears fall in offering to our Lady at her shrine in the most beautiful baroque church in all of Mexico. Pure unapologetic adoration.

Knelt in the very front row of Santo Domingo last evening about 5, when all of a sudden the lights came on, men in silk suits came down the aisle, followed very shortly by bridesmaids. I waited for someone to ask me to leave or sit in the back o f the church, but no one did. So I had front row seats at dusk for the wedding of a petite, beautiful Zapotec princess and her spectacularly handsome new husband. Apparently, it didn't seem inappropriate to anyone but me that I became gathered up with these people on this very special day in their lives and I was practically overcome with honor, delight and fascination. I was more than a bit troubled by the music that played as she walked to the altar to stand with her parents and her best girlfriends and sisters before the priest to give her wedding vows: Lohengrin! Here Comes The Bride! Her dress and those of the wedding party could have been worn by any bride in any Catholic church in the US: her colors were shades of magenta, violet pink and rose and her mother wore rust-colored garnet. With their burnished brown faces and black eyes and hair, you can imagine what a sight they were with the extraordinary main alter of Santo Domingo as background.

Later, I waited in the square outside the church for their triumphant recessional to their new life as man and wife; a dozen and a half dancers of the Oaxaca folkloric troop waited with me, brilliant in their lime, orange, purple, red, blue, pink, and yellow skirts. Their hair was pulled back and long black yarn braids, woven with brightly-hued ribbons hung down their back. They had big baskets of flowers that they, omigod, hoisted onto their heads and then, began to twirl and dance in a mad tornado, their nimble feet nipping in and out and back again into the lace hems of their petticoats. The bride and groom stood in the gigantic doorway of the church, delightfully reviewing this spectacle in pure rapture. And when it could not be any more graphic, any more sensual, any more surreal, any more unbelievable, everything changed. In a big way. From out of nowhere appeared gigantic, enormous bride and groom caricatures who began to dance and veer awkwardly among the dancers. The crowd roared their approval and delight and at the end of another frenetic whirlwind of smiles, braids, skirts, flowers and color, color, color, called raucously for besos! besos! besos! The two nuptial giants obliged and clumsily tilted toward each in devilish pecks. It was sheer magic.

The crowed dispersed then and walked among the beautifully adorned skulls on display, much like the people do for the floats of the Rose Parade in Pasadena. They'll be a parade tonight, with these gorgeous skulls being danced up and down the streets of Oaxaca on the shoulders of the jubilant Mexicans, who do not fear death and are not afraid of the dead, or even of the living. Not even the white-skinned living!

I realize only this morning that it's is quite possible that it is I who has gone to the next world…

On Assignment
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca MEXICO

Friday, November 12, 2010

October 30, 2010
The marigolds came out today. They are holy flowers here in Mexico and the doorways, shrines, altars and all things celebration sprouted marigolds today in heaps and armfuls as the world's foremost Dias de los Muertos observance kicked off. It is such a time of joy and celebration for the people here in Oaxaca and my personal joy and sense of celebration has been rekindled just being among them. Tonight after dark I walked the streets as a bride risen from the grave, a katrina. The Mexicans loved it, blowing besos and bringing their children around. The men laughed and laughed and laughed; the women stopped to talk, telling me my mask, applied by me with MAC eyeshadow by the light of a hotel room bathroom, was well done. It was a bit awkward for us all when it came out I was American. No one knew! I waved good night saying Este noche es Mexicano….

Tomorrow night we go to the graveyard to be with the families as the children come back to visit. They come first you know, because they are little and nimble and can run fast to escape the confines of the next world much better than the adults, who will come on Monday night.

Everyone is so excited to see each other again…

On Assignment
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca MEXICO

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I left in the dark, scurrying down the streets of Oaxaca with the other faithful in search of peace and contemplation at sunrise. I passed the doorways of the banks with la revolucion graffiti tagging their broad lintels; young adults gathered in the middle of the streets around scaffolding and tables stacked up for some purpose related to the upcoming Holy Days I suppose; I wondered, as usual, as they eyed me warily, about the wisdom of setting out for a destination whose location nor path was certain. Many times I have chided myself in the darkness of mornings just like this one; but the soft, gauzy air of early morning seduces me and whispers in my ear, so sweetly, what's the worsssst that can happen? So I push on. But then, right at the very end of block 5, it all unfolds and snaps open right at my toes, exploding without warning nor omen, and opens up as high as my neck can stretch with such a jerk, that I involuntarily gasp. Santo Domingo. Just like the desk clerk said. I can hear the priest intoning the
opening prayers and I shake my head as I run up the steps: once again, about as far away from home
as you can get, I am saved by the loving arms of the Holy Roman Church. I pick up my pace and enter, bowing my head and folding my hands, so everyone will know this
white-skinned green-eyed gringo
comes in peace. Actually looking for redemption. I march
right down front, because I can, and slip into an open spot, sinking to my knees and beginning, Hail Mary, my Dear Friend, I'm here again.SaveMe.
Help Me. She comes to me then,
with rest and understanding and

the readings begin. Then, the
priest, white and Irish, speaks the words of the New Testament.
I had no idea the Irish could speak spot-on Spanish. I listen to it all, the cadence cueing me when my vocabulary fails and soon the kiss of peace fills the

air. The people around me are not afraid of me nor resentful
that I share their special moment in the day. The deacon offers me the Body of Christ, as it's done all over the world, and once again, I am calmed and humbled to know that I am loved
and that I belong. I am grateful. But sad and puzzled at the gorgeous art of
magnificent church: all white fathers. Only one native-skinned saint among the bunch, off in a corner. If Rome expected me to raise my black-eyed children in a house where we looked to the Great White Fathers for all things, I'm afraid there'd be more than just a pequeno la revolucion in my soul.

Like the Italians know everything.

On Assignment
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca MEXICO

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Indian Parrot

There was a merchant setting out for India.

He asked each male and female servant
what they wanted to be brought as a gift.

Each told him a different exotic object:
A piece of silk, a brass figurine,
a pearl necklace.

Then he asked his beautiful caged parrot,
the one with such a lovely voice,
and she said,
"When you see the Indian parrots,
describe my cage. Say that I need guidance
here in my separation from them. Ask how
our friendship can continue with me so confined
and them flying about freely in the meadow mist.

Tell them that I remember well our mornings
moving together from tree to tree.

They them to drink one cup of ecstatic wine
in honor of me here in the dregs of my life.

Tell them that the sound of their quarreling
high in the trees would be sweeter
to hear than any music. "

This parrot is in the spirit-bird of all of us,
that part that wants to return to freedom,
and is the freedom. What she wants
from India is herself!

So this parrot gave her message to the merchant,
and when he reached India, he saw a field
full of parrots. He stopped
and called out what she had told him.

One of the nearest parrots shivered
and stiffened and fell down dead.

The merchant said, "This one is surely kin
to my parrot. I shouldn't have spoken."

He finished his trading and returned home
with the presents for his workers.

When he got to the parrot, she demanded her gift.
"What happened when you told my story
to the Indian parrots?"

"I'm afraid to say."
"Master, you must!"

"When I spoke your complaint to the field
of chattering parrots, it broke
one of their hearts.

She must have been a close companion,
or a relative, for when she heard about you
she grew quiet and trembled, and died."

As the caged parrot heard this, she herself
quivered and sank to the cage floor.

This merchant was a good man.
He grieved deeply for his parrot, murmuring
distracted phrases, self-contradictory--
cold, then loving--clear, then
murky with symbolism.

A drowning man reaches for anything!
The Friend loves this flailing about
better than any lying still.

The One who lives inside existence
stays constantly in motion,
and whatever you do, that king
watches through the window.

When the merchant threw the "dead" parrot
out of the cage, it spread its wings
and glided to a nearby tree!

The merchant suddenly understood the mystery.
"Sweet singer, what was in the message
that taught you this trick?"

"She told me that is was the charm
of my voice that kept me caged.
Give it up, and be released!"

The parrot told the merchant one or two more
spiritual truths. Then a tender goodbye.

"God protect you," said the merchant
"as you go on your new way.
I hope to follow you!"

~ Rumi I 1814-1833, 1845-1848

Give up your charm to keep yourself in motion and your spirit-bird winging its way to freedom. Drink the ecstatic wine. Don't be self-contradictory. I love you tonight and always.

The 'Kan EWA