Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Addresses are given to us to conceal our whereabouts

— Saki (H.M. Munro)
First you take a right after the vegetable seller's kiosk.
   The blue one.
Then you'll pass the school painted green
   by the way before the T-junction
Turn right, you'll find him
   just after the big mango tree on the left
If you get to the gold house with the black gate,
   you'll know you've gone too far

You can't miss him, his prose style is inimitable
There's no artifice, he's the genuine article
Elliptical, yet full of quips and surreal turns
When you read him, you feel as if you're with a friend

Deceptively deployed and unadorned,
   the language is unassuming
Yet, on a sentence by sentence basis,
   his writing is simply sparkling
But even with the arcane plots,
   his characters come out fully fleshed
Still, don't ignore those few hints in the dialog,
   he might be pulling your leg

M.C. Escher stairs

Addresses, a playlist

soundtrack for this note. The titles tell a tale of unanswered questions, lose yourself in the music (spotify version)
See also: Finding your way in a country without street addresses and newfangled addresses

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Writing log: January 31, 2022

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Ode to the Word Nuisant

Harmful, for though it made for the perfect rhyme
Its impact was marred by that red, squiggly underline
I checked, not only in that web browser,
But also in countless other word processors
The word is nary to be found in most dictionaries!
I'll admit a strong case of disbelief
For even in the authoritative one from Oxford,
I came to find it marked obsolete

Hurtful that such a perfectly good word
Would fall into this state of disrepair
So that future editors of my prose
Would be confronted by supposed linguistic error
An intimation of lack of care or poor grammar
Inattention and pretension in equal measure

Nuisant, as a word, it doesn't get much press
Forever prone to replacement by auto-suggest
Yet its plain meaning isn't hard to decipher
An apt weapon in the hands of a writer
And so it behooves me to take a stand
In favor of the adjectival nuisance
And pen a minor ode in its defense
This is plainly a nuisant development

"Harmful, hurtful; of the nature of a nuisance"

Oakland Container Port 124

Word, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version) File under: , , , , , , ,

Writing log: January 29, 2022

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Close Contact

A state of grace, a rarefied connection
Revealed belatedly the identity of your companion
Retrospectively located through track and trace
A fellow traveler similarly internally displaced

A fleeting encounter, side looks and glances
The human marketplace of second chances
Leading to a stolen moment of solidarity
A stare, recognition, and then complicity

Your lot in life, still, you were startled by the realization
Strange bedfellows you were, normally masked in alienation
Sporting badges of ambivalence, angst and dismay
And now to find a comfort suite in social interplay

A conversation that seemed as if it would never end
The joys of discovering you've made a new friend
Such are the pleasures of proximity, the virtue of presence
And the ease with which you share a comfortable silence

Floral Arrangement by Wiz - 1998

Closer, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version)

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: January 29, 2022

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Quality of Numbness

Please ensure that you're in the right tasting environment
Pleasant conditions are preferable for maximum enjoyment
Open yourself up to the experience of bearing witness
Dress casually to appreciate the quality of numbness

Sight evaluation is the first order of business
You'll learn how to describe the ingredients of catharsis
Start with a top view,
   examine the density saturation of the substance
Stare closely for a few seconds
   to imbue the essence of the absence

Then, visual inspection from a side angle,
   observe the color of shock
The oblique viewpoint will gather up all signs of discomfort
Over time, you'll recognize the shades
   that are said to be characteristic
The burden of the shadows can overwhelm,
   the way they move is mystic

Sip slowly, don't swallow unease as your liquid companion
Taste for yourself the astringency of alienation
Mature vintages will often leave you numb in contemplation
A result, it is said, of the intense period of fermentation

Savor the aromas of regret, the heavy burden of loss
Let the waves of disbelief wash over you, do not resist
Caution, take heed of spontaneous outbursts of cynicism
A rout of the soul often dampens one's initial enthusiasm

Scents are next on the agenda,
   but be mindful of your surroundings
With unbounded grief, you're apt to wallow in nostalgia
   and its misgivings
Try not to miss the cues,
   musty glasses are a sure sign of resignation
There is no simple formula,
   doubt can be balanced by complete immersion

Swirling around the tongue,
   you'll discover the flavor that lingers
It's much like a social disease
   this sense of communal numbness
After a taste of deficiency,
   you may find satisfaction ever elusive
Off kilter, the quality of numbness ensures a satisfying finish


Numb, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note (spotify version)
See previously: Rhythm of Loss and The Laws of Grief

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: January 22, 2022

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Dancing in the Dark (The Heart of Darkness Playlist)

I give you a playlist fit for Joseph Conrad and his inspired creation: Kurtz. Musical relief for the darkness and an entry in the Comfort Suite. The liner notes were written 15 years ago for the heart of darkness. Thankfully, these days the songs are mostly available for streaming (youtube, spotify).

Heart of Darkness, A Playlist

Miles Davis Sorcerer

See previously: Heart of Darkness

I nominate this note for the Things Fall Apart series under the banner of The Comfort Suite.

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Writing log. Concept: June 30, 2007

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Operation Urgent Fury

Truck bombings
Bad optics

In a foreign land
French and American marines

Contingency plans
Swift change of the narrative
Operation Urgent Fury

Small island, little scrutiny
Marxist Bishop, revolutionaries
"Visit America before America visits you"

Structural adjustments
Our sphere of influence
Washington consensus

Destabilization strategy
Of brutal leftist thugs
A base for aggression

Scripts readied
Protection of the free world
Prime time address

Rollback of influence
Strategic vision of democracy
Liberation, security in our hemisphere

This is a dangerous situation
The threat posed to our nationals
For their safety is paramount

We decided on preventive action
Moving forward to restore freedom
And bring about regime change

Rapid troop deployment
Our special forces
Armed intervention

Simply responding to an appeal
A formal request for aid
This morning's invasion

After Grenada, 1983

maroon lives tribute to maurice bishop and grenadian freedom fighters

Soundtrack for this note

gil scott-heron ronald reagan and john wayne - b movie

See also: Excellent Discussions

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Writing log: September 4, 2022

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Staffing Shortages

Staffing shortages in a covidious time
Supply chain snafus, empty shelves and long lines
Rising positivity rates were how we bore witness
For our streets were paved with discarded rapid tests

Inboxes flooded with statements
   explaining the difficult decisions
Structural adjustments:
   "We make every effort to minimize disruption"
"The increase in cases
   created an impact on essential services around the country"
"Our staffing levels are being affected
   by those who are either sick or in self-quarantine"

While sirens were testaments to the ebb and flow of capacity
Partners in health bemoaned the limited testing availability
We were living in an interminable era of incalculable loss
Even as we asked the obvious, what paradise have we lost?

covid risk december 22 2021

Staffing Shortage, a playlist

soundtrack for this note (spotify version)

After Omicron BA.1

This internal displacement is part of a series: In a covidious time

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Writing log: January 16, 2022

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Playground Education

They pantomimed the firing squad
Reenacting the march of the bedraggled and confused
The older boys had grabbed sticks
   and descended on a group of us
They lined us up roughly, laughing and barking orders
Repeating phrases they'd heard from their parents
And the dawn broadcast
"We'll finish them..."

They set up a few paces out,
   on the edge of the playground.
"Line up.
Take your marks.

Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow.
Six shots.

Then the recriminations:
"You. You didn't die properly.
   You. The General. You didn't slump.
Let's do it again."

More laughter.
Scenarios were contemplated for the next round.
"Let the blood flow..."

There must have been something in your look
   that gave them temporary pause
For even as you had kept a brave face,
   you couldn't break out a smile
Appalled frankly. You recognized a wrong,
   something beyond the pale
The comment escaped your mouth, you couldn't help it
"That was someone's daddy."

A brief pause, but then the conversation resumed
Mocking tones infused their frenzied acting
You detached yourself from the game
Dusted yourself
And walked off
You didn't look back

digable planets

Playground Games, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version) ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried


See also: The Wages of Thermidor and June 4th

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Writing log. January 4, 2022

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

End-User Certificates

End-user certificates
Squalid bureaucracy

Did you ever wonder what was in those planes?

Contractual obligations
Roaring trade in ammunition

Did you ever worry about the company you keep?

Warlord clientele
Improvised identities

Did you think it would come to this?

Cult of corruption
Merchants of death

Did you see what they left in their wake?

Bulletproof warriors
Small boy units

Did you ever wonder about the price we all paid?

Cargo of weapons
Shipments from Belarus

Did you realize the tangled web they wove?

Profitable transactions
Collateral damage

Did it mean anything to you?

Neutral brokers
Two-sided networks

Did it really seem innocent?

Equal opportunity
Excess revenues

Did you ever wonder how they sleep at night?

International transfers
Dealers of deceit

Did you remember how it all started?

Final recipients
Embargo detours

Did the excuses really stand up?

Supply chain lubrication
Undesired buyers

Did you get everything that you wanted?

Victims everywhere
Blood and sin victorious

Did you ever wonder why these men are smiling?

Clean hands
Indelible ink

Did they leave a trace?

Rebel militia
Intractable conflicts

Do you ever wonder when this will end?

elmina castle 5

elmina castle view 3

After: Blood from Stones by Douglas Farah, Darwin's Nightmare and that pulp piece, Lord of War.

End-User Certificates, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note (spotify version)

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

See previously: Arms on Ghana Plane

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Writing log: January 1, 2022

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Tracking Package

Grainy video clip, Nest cam, low resolution
Slight angle from your front window, fishbowl vision
Poor lighting as befitted the early hour, 4 a.m.
After bringing in the new year, he was walking down the street
A double-take, a package at the door, who'd have thought it?

A brief check, took a look around, no one around to witness
But still, precaution, eyes darting, quick, pull up the hoodie
He shuffled in at an angle, eyes turned away
Made a beeline for the door, only a minor course correction
Then, grab and lift. Bulky, a little heavier than expected
What to call it? Booty or bounty? Practiced operator
He walked away furtively. Happy New Year, sucker.

A thief in the night, a liminal shadow, this interloper
Fittingly, in this covidious time, he was not a mask wearer
He duly seized the opportunity to perform the crime
Leaving only this digital trace, the notification
Discovered the next day. And the sense of violation

Grand larceny, you wonder: what was in the package?
Think. You rack your brain, did you order anything?
Stocking up for the lockdown, or was it a gift?
Amazon? UPS? Who even delivers on New Year's Eve?
Maybe your aunt sent a care package from your parents
She just returned from home and asked if you'd received it
That would be something else, what mortification
Oh well, to my nocturnal visitor, compliments of the season

snake at the door

Tracking Package, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version)

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: January 1, 2022

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Ghost Transcripts

Brief messages left behind by the dearly departed
Ephemera in times past, letters and scraps of paper
Of late, these new artifacts of the digital era
Faint traces, bylines, icons and avatars
Photos and videos, the color of memory
But also emails, logs, and chat transcripts
Voice mails that we remind ourselves to never delete

No, I want to hear that voice periodically
My brother imploring me to return his call
The chuckle, the slight hesitation
As if pondering the best approach
Before jumping in with the juicy morsel
That would whet your curiosity and impel you to respond
Then, without fail, the obligatory closing joke,
The lesson we learned early, always leave them wanting more

The voice is what I hold on to, its teasing inflection
And so I save the message every sixty days
And so I stay with this phone company
Despite the gaps in their coverage, and usurious rates
That customer satisfaction survey didn't have the option
For me to enter the real reason for my brand loyalty
Contra the telecom operator's retention policy
The textures of a life underwritten
The comfort of the ghost transcripts


Soundtrack for this note

Mostly the Voice by Gang Starr

See also: The Laws of Grief

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log. December 18, 2021

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Blue Sand

The headline was striking sixty odd years later
The dust was said to be returning to sender
Swirling dervishes on magic carpets, a blanket of fine particles
Radiation straight from the souk, the message in a bottle

A sixties affair held, not in Provence,
   but rather in the Sahara
Uncharted territory
   in what they then called French Algeria
A convenient location,
   just a few Berber nomads around at best
The fruits of settler colonialism,
   a prime spot for a nuclear test

A case of droit de seigneur, this was the desert after all
Proud of his entrée to the nuclear club was General de Gaulle
Still, it's not something that one could sweep under the rug,
   this thing
Indeed, the test rather embodied a literal carpet bombing

First, the sharp flash of the detonation
Then, later, shock waves and the almighty sound
The scientists marveled at the novel reaction
The blueish fire that preceded the mushroom cloud

Ground zero, the impact crater, the hole in the dunes
The military had assigned a codename: Gerboise Bleue
The desert rodent of Reggane would be baptized in blue
The blue of the tricolor harkened to Saint Martin de Tours

In the aftermath, as expected, came the fallout in all its forms
The uproar was swift,
   later tests would have to be moved underground
Expressions of surprise
   that radiation would drift west and south
Significant traces detected
   in Upper Volta, Ghana and even Senegal

Ballistic rockets launched primed for nuclear payloads
The initial fear was of fission and Strontium 90 isotopes
Decay was all, the main byproduct was rather Caesium
It is an ill wind that blows no good, this reckoning

We are all casualties in the torrid zone of this triangle of fire
That, in a new century, nature had decided to share the wealth
Donations of micro doses spreading irony across the land
A radioactive gift to posterity, a legacy of blue sand

After: Irony as Saharan dust returns radiation from French nuclear tests in the 1960s (March 1, 2021)

France, don't do it! Atomic bomb tests in Africa

Blue Sand, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version)
strontium 90 - future generations


The Wife's history of Atomic Junction dug up lots of interesting material. Here's a 1960 speech by by Tawia Adamafio denouncing French Nuclear Tests in the Sahara. See also a few more clippings from Ghanaian newspapers of the time.

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Writing log: December 16, 2021

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Action Items

Oh! I think I'm going to have to end this presentation now
I... I just got a message... It's on the news?... Oh wow
There's... there's an active shooter at my daughter's high school

What's that? Yes, yes, I have a number of action items
Look, I'll.. I'll schedule another teleconference
I have to go now. Rob can handle things. Um, Rob over to you

Mics unmuted. Gasps. Harrumphs.
   Worldwide expressions of sympathy
This is America.
This is the country's regular brand of insanity

Still, action items?
Who asked that? Poor form. Absurdity.
What is wrong with you, man?
Where is your humanity?

digable planets

Michigan High School Shooting: 3 Students Killed and Several Critically Injured

A 15-year-old sophomore was taken into custody with a semiautomatic handgun that was bought by his father four days before the fatal shooting.

Action Items, a playlist

A soundtrack for this lament (spotify version) ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log. Concept: November 30, 2021; December 12, 2021