Saturday, August 30, 2014


Dawn. Coyote wakes
and stumbles forth into
the day, clutching
his usual, confused
bundle of images
and words from half-
forgotten dreams, now
fugitive places his mind
wandered into uninvited
while  he slept. Arriving
back here, in the physical
world, he breathes back
into the body he was
born with. Rather, no,
not that body, no,
the new one; but, no,
again, not new, rather
the old one, the body
that the passing years
have kindly spared him,
the one to which he now
wakes with astonishment
each day.  Good day,
Coyote, he tells himself;
And, Coyote, good day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



I know of things,
says Tortoise, that
I cannot do because
of certain physical
conditions. I cannot,
for example, lope
across the desert
floor with Coyote’s
ease and grace.
Instead, I plod. Nor
can I sit back
on my haunches,
gazing up into
the night sky, like
Coyote, nor bay
like he does at
the moon. Still,
I do not kill. And
I have not observed
Coyote draw his
outer extremities
back into his shell
as I do, retreating
into that silent,
dark serenity
in which I never
fail to hear the vast,
mysterious and
endless music
of the universe
that lies within.

Monday, August 25, 2014



Perplexed, he stops,
gazes this way
and that. Vast
stretches reach out
everywhere, in all
directions, unfamiliar.
Even Coyote’s famous
inner compass
is awry. He is
lost. He paws at
the ground, sniffs
at the air, pricks
up his ears for
a trace of sound.
Nothing. Clouds
gather, even
his shadow is
erased. Fear
rises, soon a sense
of growing panic
in the belly. Then
he remembers: un-
certainty is the only
certainty; remembers,
breathe; remembers,
when lost, create
a path to anywhere,
no matter where,
and take it. This
is the adventure.

THE QUESTION (with acknowledgment to Ken McLeod)

Who is this
Coyote, Coyote
asks? He has
no answer.
Tortoise asks,
when you say
“Coyote,” who
exactly do you
see? He says,
first, he thinks
to see the image
of who he imagines
himself to be.
Then, actually,
come to think
of it, he sees
nothing. Still,
the question
continues to echo
in his mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2014



The Earth and I,
says Tortoise, have
an intimate relationship.
I live with her
like a lover, belly
to belly, night and
day.  She never fails
to support me.  She
nurtures the eggs
I spawn, produces
the greens I eat.
She even recycles
the droppings I leave.
What a marvelous
mother is this Earth
that humans so
callously mistreat.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I’ve been a fan of Alan Furst ever since receiving a copy of The Foreign Correspondent as a birthday present from my son.  I wrote a review in The Buddha Dairies and, checking back in the archives, I see that it was in August, 2007.  I’ve read a couple more since then, and have enjoyed them. 

Now I've just finished reading his latest, Midnight in Europe—another birthday gift.  Furst is a master at recreating the scene in pre-World War II Europe.  From bright caf├ęs to sultry brothels and bleak hotel rooms, from rumbling trains to—in this case—rusty tubs fighting roaring seas, he creates a compelling world populated by diplomats and spies, dangerous enchantresses and jaded aristocrats, all on the make in one way or another, all engaged in the battle for survival in a world that is rapidly falling apart.  War is at hand, inevitable.  Every effort to forestall it, futile.

This time it’s the Spanish civil war that rages to the south, while most of the action takes place in Paris and points east.  Can the Republic be saved by its ragtag army of republicans and communists?  Or will Franco prevail, abetted by the superior air power of his Nazi collaborators?  We know the end of this story, of course, but in the meantime there’s plenty of skullduggery to enjoy, as the clouds spread from Spain to cover the entire continent.  The venom of National Socialism seeps everywhere; in Germany it’s out there in the open; in other countries it spreads its poison less overtly, under cover of darkness and in secrecy…

Okay, I had a good time with this book, but I was disappointed by the ending.  In part, because I knew how it would all turn out.  But then, I know the end to all Furst’s novels.  I was, so to speak, there.  I know the history.  The Nazis achieve spectacular and frightening victories… provisionally; only to be creamed in the long run by the good guys.  But I found it frustrating that this particular story ended not with a bang but a whimper—an anticlimax that undermined all the suspense that gripped the reader along the way  Having feared at times for his life, I was saddened by the ultimate, inevitable failure of our Spanish hero to pull back his country from the brink.  He had worked so hard and at such risk to save it. 

And in the end, of course… well, I mustn’t tell it, must I, and spoil other people’s fun?  But at least we all know already who won the Spanish civil war.  Looking now to the Middle East, looking to Ukraine, looking out at the world at large and the ignorance, cruelty and violence of those who vie for power, can we help but wonder: who will win the next one?