Paint Words

Marteena’s poem: Marteena is a character in my novel, CYBELE, who wrestles with her need to protect herself and protect her love for Anthony.

Paint words are like paintbrushes
You have to give them the paint
The color, the texture, the strokes,
The vision.

Paint words are what I’m using now
To say some visions are too elusive
For colors, textures, strokes,

But here’s a place for me to stand
And here’s a shape for you to take
And we’ll meet somewhere between
The spaces

Like a poem:
because love needs its consolations.


Struggling Spring

Spring is struggling here in the northeastern U.S. There are buds fighting against the frigid air and 50 mph wind gusts, and hardy blooms fighting to hang on for dear life. Some seasons in our life linger too long. Or maybe they only seem that way.

But hope is constant, in nature and in ourselves. Waiting for new life is part of the natural order. Waiting for joy renewed is part of the spiritual order. The Giver of life and love has so ordained it.

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Writing Jimmer

One of the characters in Cybele that I had the most fun writing is Jimmer. She’s radiantly beautiful and seems to float through her life with her own special brand of humorous fatalism. If I were to choose flowers that best represented her, it would be clouds of hardy tulips growing in unexpected places.

Married off at an early age, Jimmer is more or less resigned to a relationship that she had no part in arranging. She struggles to balance her understanding of what’s expected of her by custom and tradition with her own brand of quirky philosophy and independence. At the same time she’s determined to make the best of what she has, and that includes her fierce loyalty to her friends.

Marteena finds in her friendship with Jimmer a corresponding strength and resolve that helps her sort through the mysterious circumstances of her ex-husband’s murder. Though Marteena doesn’t quite understand Jimmer’s attitude towards her own marriage, she recognizes her friend’s hidden depths and her ability to adapt to her circumstances.

That we should have friends who are unlike us is to our credit. Only then can we learn to see through eyes not our own and grow in wisdom enough to shoulder burdens other than our own. And only in such ways are truths shared that count for eternity.

Avram’s Tea

Avram is a character in my mystery novel, Cybele. A Hassidic Jew, Avram’s parents’ background from eastern Europe has made him at once eager to extend an olive branch to a hostile world and bold to fight for the downtrodden, in his case Corinth’s inner city youth.

When my first-person heroine, Marteena, an Indian immigrant, wanders into his bookshop, the first thing that happens is that he offers her a steaming cup of tea. The tea is his olive branch. Not only in establishing a harmonious rapport but also in creating a kind of holy space, a sanctuary, an oasis of peace.

Marteena is in the middle of a threatening, chaotic situation, chased by a cult worshipping an ancient mother goddess (Cybele). Sanctuary in the form of a bookshop offering not only answers to puzzling questions she’s investigating but also a homely old man with a charitable inclination and a kettle of fragrant tea is more than desirable.

Like an olive branch offering solace, it gives her a temporary reprieve from her internal and external unrest. We could all do with an Avram in our lives. Wise counselor. Steadfast friend. Or we could become one.

Fairy Tale Fight

Apparently there are those who want to ban fairy tales. Not sure I particularly care to understand the psychosis behind this deviant urge if it’s not simply a peevish one. Maybe they just got up on the wrong side of the bed.

But for those that are serious about this fight, fairy tales are a threat to their literalist interpretation of every imaginative enterprise. Literalists want us to lose the language of metaphor and the romance of symbols. But when we do that, we also lose the power of imagination to conceive something better than our flawed selves and the ambition to overcome those flaws in ourselves and in our world.

I consider certain genres like romance as fairy tales for young adults as well as adults. Reality tells us love is corrupt. Romance novels shows us what uncorrupted love looks like so we’ll aspire to “true love” and not settle for anything less.

Now what’s wrong with that?

Camera Live

Since she was four, she’s been in front of a camera, and it never let her down, capturing something of the sparkling magic that the naked eye could miss. Her accidental drowning in Dubai, far from her native shores, sent the camera-hungry Indian media spinning into shock. What emerged from their unscripted ramblings was half-fiction, half-speculation, and unworthy of the woman whose life lived on-screen and off-screen was loved by so many millions.

“I am always grateful for what I’ve got,” she once said. ”God has been kind to me.”

Sreedevi Boney Kapoor Ayyapan: may you rest in peace. (1963-2018)

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Light floods through. In here. Empty rooms. Empty visions? Not at all. A room can be cluttered like a soul, barring the light from entering. Oppressive darkness. A lack of vision.

Sometimes, there’s just enough light through the shadows that you can see the bars that keep you walled in. But you move on with “life,” to more clutter, the light murkier, your vision cloudy.

Sometimes I can see just enough to see the dust motes like heavy grey snow falling on me.

I wonder if I could to see clearly, would I be grey too?


(This short story was written originally as part of a larger composition but found to be better as a stand-alone.)

It was the twelfth year of the reign of Suri and the time of the festival of renewal was at its height. Already the monsoon-laden clouds were rolling in from the east and the winds spoke of the magic of the old gods who rode the storms across the mountain ranges of the Indian Ghats to cleanse and water the waiting earth. Their goodwill was propitiated by the blood of the king or Samorin, every twelfth year, as the Aryan overlords who called themselves priests watched with complacent irony. The cyclical death of the Samorin meant that their own power never diminished and each new Samorin had to curry their favor to solidify his control.

But the old gods were being replaced.

Continue reading “Betrayal”