The Back to School Aisle in the Grocery Store

back toschoolSliding from the fancy roadster with the light-colored leather seats, I  dash into the shop, careless of the time of day and season of the year.

Like a panther lurking,  feelings gnaw, snap sharply with strong teeth, the pain spreads quickly from my heart  to each unsuspecting nerve within my body.

I enjoy again your tiny hand, so gentle, soft and trusting within mine;  fingernails, not quite clean, ice cream stains still tracing  near happiness.

Your lively eyes, wide with wonder, perceive the judgment  you must make tonight for times of  rain and snow, through golden days of autumn til the springtime gives you release again to summer.

Which color shall you choose, the rainbow of spring or the child’s bold primary colors? No prince or princess engages you. But shall you choose some other player to consort with  at meals?  Or, shall some mix or shape, and stain and form, instead,  foster your gentle and precocious imaginings?

With intensity,  you deliberate; like a diplomat  commencing  peace negotiations.  I honor your  bravery and intelligence:  the belief, still living, in a perfect choice.

Again,  the softness of  your hand disarms me.  More  exquisite, smooth and tender  in my memory, no doubt, than ever truly known. And the sweetness of your scent, unwashed after a full day of summer play: chlorine and french fries, sand and dirt,  sweat and river water.  Lingering, the smell of morning toothpaste and jelly from the sandwich that I made; your friends at play, their evening soap, and your brother’s brand new sneakers. And the dog.  All of you trotting just behind her  late this afternoon.

Rather,  a physical blow to the powerful tear of memory.

(Is this just the in-between time?  The days when you have gone into the world and we are all adventuring? Will other days inhabit time with other life and visions?)

Satisfaction and fulfilment.  Clarity: my existence has a meaning when your existence is such perfection.  Perhaps, not truly generosity. Perhaps only covetous love celebrates dispensing someone else’s need…

Tears,behind the eyes, closed throat perceive the absence of the little hand.

Clatter of a shopping cart and the moment fades.

The store chills.  Evening recedes.  I  purchase and resume my solitary journey home.

Somewhere on a Mountaintop….

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASomewhere on a mountaintop …. dawning caresses awareness; the nearly flawless skin about her eyes lurches;   her silken limbs emerge – brocade and silks, so softly set aside.

On the terrace, the chill has not absconded.  She lifts her shawl, steps out to the abundant morning; beyond, sierra silhouetted against the breaking day, blue enveloping.

The breeze is piquant with juniper, pine ,musk, and sage, and the trace of dew lingering. Collecting into a cloud of steam, above the translucent coffee pot, morning air  steeps her soul with satisfaction, and with a twinge of sadness: her eye contains the image of migrant men in the open truck far down below on the rocky road ascending to a farm somewhere out of view.


Somewhere on a mountaintop….she accompanies her flock to accept the day as it arrives upon the chilled and rocky slope above her whitewashed cottage on the hillside so distant now and barely seen.

Stillness, then the silence snapped by the crack of  sheepdogs barking, the sharp calls echo through the hills, the herd replying. A melody of hooves and brays and barks and bleats and birds and morning.

She settles in a meadow for her meal, the thermos steaming. Her swollen hands,red and knobbed and rough, grasp the teacup clumsily, and are warmed.  Sunshine gathers strength as does the smile that lingers behind flagging eyes that surveil the rock and  field and sky and perceive majesty.


Somewhere on a mountaintop….  she  no longer knows if it is night or  it is day.


Cacophony. Dissonance. Tumult. Noise. Horror, Wails. Moans. Groans. Torment. And worst: Silence.

 Her eyes, unsighted  now, are parched; tears remain her burden. Fouled air. Ruthless heat. Implacable hunger. These cower in the face of fear. Pulverized sand and dirt cling to her skin, climb down her throat. Her thoughts emerge from blackness to watch again helplessly as he is stolen from her life ,his own extinguished. 

Words amass and seem to mean something about survival …

window on the world

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That portal, appraising a refuge from that insistent insomnia which followed the  uncommon and lingering cold of that Pennsylvania winter, made too dark by death and distance and recurrent themes of global iniquity, offered succor and satisfaction.

That sanctuary improbably contains entire unseen worlds: icy rivers, fragrant fields, ancient towers; long-lost seasons, war battered villagers, sun-kissed nordic children; human depravity; graceful forgiveness; unconditional love.

MHZ Woldwide , MHZ Networks Worldwide.or might easily become an addiction.

U.S. television never tantalized in this way.  The “comedy,” too mean, or cheap, or base, rarely spawns a smile.  The fantastical or blood-drenched drama fails to engage.

Is the “small screen”  in truth a magnifier of  larger culture?

I see in most US made television too omnipresent toilet humor and flesh bared for the sake of it.  No longer, if ever it was,  art or narrative, or even excitement, but seeming  as a naughty child announcing his own defiant and dubious accomplishment. Rarely does the screen reflect the economic truth that is our life and will be our videographic legacy.  Rather, fabulous images permeate: pristine interiors; not  a single unwashed dish awaits the harried mother on her return from work.  Poverty, so rarely seen, is never seen true: one can never see the broken glass  in the subway or the detritus in the alley or the smells of urine, blood, rotted food and sex  emanating from the darkened halls of the tenement where the brave and perfectly coiffed FBI agent with his shiny gun snakes through with such grit and virile vigor.

Too much physical beauty: the highest of the high-end of  runway fashions painted onto idealized forms of starving actors who exhibit bodies turned out by gyms or film editing tricks to emphasise the muscles on anorexic female forms.  Anachronistic:  emphasize the female form in costume above historical accuracy.  Inappropriate: what matter if no lawyer, doctor would truly wear such fashion in the hum drum halls of her profession? Product placement:  Whether cable or subscription or the network: the means to market to the masses(the car, computer or refrigerator in the scene) must never be forsaken!

Sex and violence.  Violent sex. Cannibalism and cult criminality.  Such themes sell, apparently.  Heterosexual, the predominant cultural fantasy but increasingly same-sex relationships are scripted into shows, much as “racial quotas” are often witnessed.  The marketing of violence and male sexual fantasy is the persistent  “sell.” Infrequent now, tenderness on the small screen.  Rather, sexual encounters as violently “passionate” encounters, virtual rape fantasies.  Not that the small screen lacks for the portrayal of actual rape encounters; whole series dedicated to sex crimes.

The Anglo-American television drama produces more than its share of the misogynist serial rapist murderer, frequently ritual misogynistic rapist/murderer.

It tires. Saddens.  Disheartens. More than rarely, it disgusts.

The discovery of  MHZ:  a cornucopia of  European vision.  Perhaps, it sparkles brightly in proportion to its novelty.  Possibly.  Or, it offers a genuine thread to untangle worlds unknown.

The mind awakes to the varied patterns of language; attending not merely the sound of the tongue but the eyes, the face, the gestures and body movement of the language as well.  Communication in each country emerges uniquely. In drama, in comedy, the actor engages her entire self.

Landscapes incorporate the narrative.  The thrilling North Sea cliffs  tell a different tale than the Palermo seascape, the mood of the autobahn is different from that of the fifth arrondissement.

Food and celebration are conveyed so clearly in modern Swedish Solstice celebrations but vivid too are postwar Danish Christmas rituals, spare and sincere. A  family dinner in 1950’s Milan creates a different feeling than the urban family meal in a Parisian restaurant.

There is pleasure in the private discovery of the cultural codes and conventions one might learn from the unfolding presentations.

Many regions value food more highly than US television producers.  Care is taken to demonstrate cuisine,  kitchen tools and cooking methods of a period, of a city or a country.  Restaurants and kitchens, dining rooms and patios emanate ambiance so bright as one watches the smells, almost the tastes come alive, one’s palate is tempted with the wines richly described and correctly poured on screen.

Styles of living through the years evolve so dramatically, yet change not at all.  When marketing products or perfection is not the story, dust can accumulate on the mahogany furnishings beneath the open Roman window and  water stains on the tile under the soggy boots of a Berlin winter.  The casual elegance of a Parisian Sunday brunch in an over furnished 1930’s apartment arrests our attention.  People live with wine bottles on the table from last night’s meal and newspapers still being read in the internet age. The viewer is permitted a more realistic, if not a true view, of how wealth distorts lifestyle through the decades whether in northern continental urban Europe  largely residing in apartments, or the Scandinavian and the Mediterranean whose lives,  rich and poor, may have some backdrop of the sea.

Together, these tales tease to discover the values which bind the culture.  When the father who has been grievously wronged embraces his child with forgiveness , is it the omnipresence of the Catholic Church in Italy which allows him to do so?  But would an Irishman do the same?  Or is this generosity something unique to the Italian landscape, sun-baked and steeped in the sweet aromas of the Mediterranean?

Most striking, History is a character in  so many of the dramas.  Most especially, World War II is kept an actor of our time.  The war as action, the war as precedent, the war as motivation.  The man as hero, the child as orphan, the woman as love child.  Often without a direct mention, it is ever clear that the  historical created the dramatic conflict of the moment, the precise events of history,  the reality lived: these people and events  inhabit the stories which unfold on that small screen.

As an American watching  a world in which the characters of the twenty-first century appear deeply connected to the events of  seventy-five or one hundred years ago, I feel a void.  One could argue our culture is more free, unburdened by the past.  One could also suggest we are less prepared to craft a future.

That portal, still a haven for restless nights, filled with the fireflies and the lightening of  these overheated summer days, too filled with replays of unending global conflict, enlightens and directs an understanding which feels a salve for the burdens of the day.





late stage summer



This, the sluggish time of summer, bemusing in the trace of recent splendour: verdant, periwinkle ,Titian, beryl and gold,  beguiles ambition, seduces passion, as if extravagance and spectacle were spent.

An endeavor to evoke, in these late and steamy days, faded landscapes ablaze and  eloquent once more –

The air cooled and the countryside crackling with fierce shades of color; an intense and earnest conversation, engaging, addictive.