Night Crow

Full moonlight
In lockdown
The temple doors shut
But oil lamps dancing
A Jackdaw sings
Too deep into the night
Crow, call again!
Hellfire on the streets
Far beyond what we can see
Over the smoke and moonlight
Past the Temple door
Crow, call again!

The Island of the Day After Tomorrow : A review

A friend of mine remarked that Italy hasn’t produced many great authors. I asked “What about Umberto Eco” he answered “I said great”


Eco is an author of formidable repute. His fascination with Semiotics and Medieval Scholastism often find their way into his novels. Sadly he’s not much of a novelist, a fact that not enough people seem to take notice of.


In the “Island of the day after tomorrow” Eco takes us through his fascination with Renaissance era theories that stood in for the yet undiscovered germ theory and how people figured out Meridians -which is about as tedious as you would expect.

The excuse he uses to subject readers to this tedium is unfortunately filled with great potential. A member of the Italy gentry who finds himself called to war, learns over the course of a siege that chivalry no longer entails the prestige it once did and that battle lines are not as clear cut as they were during the high Medieval era.

A young gentleman finding his way through France during the emergence of a new mercantile class, in the age of discovery and prosperity in Europe has everything it needs for a fascinating story and this is a surprisingly under examined setting in litrature.

Even more neglected is the early days of colonialism and the spice trade. There’s a wealth of material to build stories about Europeans first setting foot on distant and alien lands, struggling to understand or conquer them.


In this book however our young gentleman goes to a siege to do nothing interesting for most of it. This should have been an early warning sign but I foolishly decided to finish reading this book. He goes all the way to Australia and save for the few pages where the flora and fauna are described he finds himself in contest with his literal evil twin. I’m not even faulting the Euro-centrism it’s the lack of imagination we should object to.


Why make your story global if you’re never going to actually explore your setting? Young Roberto could have stayed in a library or could just have argued with a Jesuit while standing in front of a globe without us losing too much from the story. A few kangaroos and stuff birds really don’t make much of a difference.


In our post modernist epoch the author is dead and the novel no longer needs to tie itself to strict guidelines but why do readers have to put themselves through something so boring? With a little effort this 513 page sloth could have actually included battles, drama, romance, interesting charcters and not to mention interesting European and non European cultures. Unfortunately this novel is just wasted potential and a monumental lack of effort on the part of its author who does little to ever exert any control over the many ideas he introduces. The voice of the narrator only turns up occasionally to introduce worthless clarifications that bring to light the ignorance of the very characters the narrator has invented. While the story flounders the narrator only wants to share clever but uninteresting details.

A majority of the book is taken up by the main character lost at sea and the only thing the book does well is to convey how boring that experience must be. I would not recommend this book. I think the rather lovely cover art had more structure and artistic coherence than the story.

Siren Song

Under the shallow stream
On that vacant riverbed
I remember red seeds in the clay
Who spilled these rubies
Like the light on a starry night
Among the snails on the pebbles
Where snakes take to water
But fish do not swim
Upon that empty bank
My heart is trapped
Oh Village of my ancestors
Whose fables are still sung
When I am with my people
I am alone in elephant grass
Dusty breezes folding them
My family a rainstorm
But in the shaky soil
My heart is strung
In the shallow mirror of water
My reflection looks back
Though I live far away
In the rituals of this land
Ancestors are called
Around a bonfire in the night
I, a tree alone, in grassland
Over the mountains tall
Have heard a siren call

Birds Listening

I had a few minutes between sessions today so I thought I’d meditate. I’ve been trying to master the “no mind state” over the past few weeks but have never managed to get beyond a minute.

The no mind state is when you consciously don’t think of anything at all- not easy at all. I decided I cut off any and all images, before I could tackle my ever descriptive inner monologue. I reasoned my inner eye and inner tongue might be easier than my inner ear My office has an absurdly high amount of eagles and other birds that sorround it, so without any thought deciding it, I sat still, eyes closed, only repeating what the birds said in my mind.

Suddenly it was not the call of eagles flying like little Joves that caught me, but love birds and other tiny birds. I don’t know the names of most of those birds, but I know from observation that a majority of them are tiny, small enough to be behind a few leaves.

Yet their calls, suddenly, were so loud, with interspecies duels and distant cries dominating my world which was now only just a wall clock and their tweeting. One after the other they would sing a tweet, waiting to hear back, and without exception they did recive a response from their own kind or from some other kind of bird. Could they even understand each other?

I imagined the evening, without seeing it, wondering about my village, then my hometown, recalling the distant dogs barking, the still silence of evenings which the sun always seemed to dominate. It felt like the birds were always louds but I never heard them.