Monthly Archives: January 2013

Excerpt from “Selling Your Father’s Bones” by Brian Schofield ~~Colville Reservation~~

picture-SellingYourFathersBones-BrianSchofieldChief Joseph’s grave, fittingly, stands proud in a scene of despair. A small white obelisk sits in the far corner of the Nespelem cemetery on the Colville Reservation, surrounded by small bundles of gifts from Nez Perce visitors, and by less tasteful donations from foreign tourists who should never have passed through the graveyard’s gates. Because, as you look out from behind the chicken-wire fence, over the dry, rutted earth surrounding the chief’s memorial, its shallow undulations begin to make sense – this is a mass grave. Scores of unmarked burials recount the poverty and illness that ensnared the exiled Nez Perce during their early years in this dusty corner of Washington. Many, far too many, of the graves clearly hold infants. It’s a sickening sight and it’s impossible for an outsider to guess how it affects those who know that their ancestors dug these trenches.
Soy Redthunder knows. His lineage, on his father’s side, ‘runs right down through Joseph’, and his family had stayed in Colville ever since the Wallowa band had been dropped here in 1885. With his grey ponytail pulled back tight from his aviator shades, this barrel-chested and booming civic leader cut a combative figure as he crouched over a picnic table below the towering Grand Coulee Dam – and like most of the Colville Nez Perce his thoughts were never far from the conflict that brought his ancestors here. ‘Chief Joseph was sold out. That history is still drilled into us – he stayed in the Wallowa, and the bands from Lapwai, they signed the 1863 treaty, they received money, they received land, they received treaty rights, and they sold Joseph out.’
The divisions that the Reverend Henry Spaulding had brought to the Nez Perce, that the treaty negotiators had exploited, and that the events of 1877 had sanctified with blood, were far from healed: ‘Even today, when people talk about Nez Perce, they talk about treaty and non-treaty, Christian and non-Christian. Those are still the divides. And you can talk about reconciliation all you want – but that doesn’t change the fact that the non-treaty tribes are still getting the shaft. We’re an exiled people.’
In the early twentieth century these exiled Nez Perce, along with the other eleven Colombian tribes who’d been corralled onto the Colville Reservation, had suffered the same painful diminution as their relations back in Idaho. If anything, the band’s slow acceptance of the realities of farming worsened their poverty – but at least, as Yellow Wolf had recalled, they had their salmon, a bountiful supply from the main stem of the Columbia River as it wrapped around the south and east of their lands. All of the tribes on the Colville, some of which had been occupying this land for thousands of years, were salmon people, and the rituals, status and sustenance the annual migrations brought them defined their struggle for survival.
Work on the Grand Coulee Dam started in 1933. It was, and still is, the largest concrete structure in America. Its construction required a new city of almost four thousand people, the gleaming boomtown of Grand Coulee; a 21,000-acre lake of water was backed up behind the dam, irrigating an agricultural explosion; and if any dam won the Second World War it was Grand Coulee – it powered the construction of half of America’s warplanes.
It also didn’t have a fish ladder in it. A 1400-mile salmon run was entirely cut off, the largest of all the ruined migrations – and, just to make certain, a second, equally impassable, dam was put in downstream in 1953: the Chief Joseph Dam.
The Colville Reservation, completely ignored during the dam building, was shattered, its great wellspring of wealth and Indianness sunk without a trace. The psychological price was paid in alcoholism, suicide and family breakdown.


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Excerpt from “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo ~~Restaurant~~

picture-TheGodfather-PuzoThe three of them sat at the only round table, Sollozzo refusing a booth. There were only two other people in the restaurant. Michael wondered whether they were Sollozzo plants. But it didn’t matter. Before they could interfere it would be all over.
McCluskey asked with real interest, “Is the Italian food good here?”
Sollozzo reassured him. “Try the veal, it’s the finest in New York.” The solitary waiter had brought a bottle of wine to the table and uncorked it. He poured three glasses full. Surprisingly McCluskey did not drink. “I must be the only Irishman who don’t take the booze,” he said. “I seen too many good people get in trouble because of the booze.”
Sollozzo said placatingly to the captain, “I am going to talk Italian to Mike, not because I don’t trust you but because I can’t explain myself properly in English and I want to convince Mike that I mean well, that it’s to everybody’s advantage for us to come to an agreement tonight. Don’t be insulted by this, it’s not that I don’t trust you.”
Captain McCluskey gave them both an ironic grin. “Sure, you two go right ahead,” he said. “I’ll concentrate on my veal and spaghetti.”
Sollozzo began speaking to Michael in rapid Sicilian. He said, “You must understand that what happened between me and your father was strictly a business matter.” I have a great respect for Don Corleone and would beg for the opportunity to enter his service. But you must understand that your father is an old-fashioned man. He stands in the way of progress. The business I am in is the coming thing, the wave of the future, there are untold millions of dollars for everyone to make. But your father stands in the way because of certain unrealistic scruples. By doing this he imposes his will on men like myself. Yes, yes, I know, he says to me, ‘Go ahead, it’s your business,’ but we both know that is unrealistic. We must tread on each other’s corns. What he is really telling me is that I cannot operate my business. I am a man who respects himself and cannot let another man impose his will on me so what had to happen did happen. Let me say that I had the support, the silent support of all the New York Families. And the Tattaglia Family became my partners. If this quarrel continues, then the Corleone Family will stand alone against everyone. Perhaps if your father were well, it could be done. But the eldest son is not the man the Godfather is, no disrespect intended. And the Irish Consigliori, Hagen, is not the man Genco Abbandando was, God rest his soul. So I propose a peace, a truce. Let us cease all hostilities until your father is well again and can take part in these bargainings. The Tattaglia Family agrees, upon my persuasions and my indemnities, to forgo justice for their son Bruno. We will have peace. Meanwhile, I have to make a living and will do a little trading in my business. I do not ask your cooperation, but I ask you, the Corleone Family, not to interfere. These are my proposals. I assume you have the authority to agree, to make a deal.”
Michael said in Sicilian, “Tell me more about how you propose to start your business, exactly what part my Family has to play in it and what profit we can take from this business.”
“You want the whole proposition in detail then?” Sollozzo asked.
Michael said gravely, “Most important of all I must have sure guarantees that no more attempts will be made on my father’s life.”
Sollozzo raised his hand expressively. “What guarantees can I give you? I’m the hunted one. I’ve missed my chance. You think too highly of me, my friend. I am not that clever.”
Michael was sure now that the conference was only to gain a few days’ time. That Sollozzo would make another attempt to kill the Don. What was beautiful was that the Turk was underrating him as a punk kid. Michael felt that strange delicious chill filling his body. He made his face look distressed. Sollozzo asked sharply, “What is it?”
Michael said with an embarrassed air, “The wine went right to my bladder. I’ve been holding it in. Is it all right if I go to the bathroom.”
Sollozzo was searching his face intently with his dark eyes. He reached over and roughly thrust his hand in Michael’s crotch, under it and around, searching for a weapon. Michael looked offended. McCluskey said curtly, “I frisked him. I’ve frisked thousands of young punks. He’s clean.”
Sollozzo didn’t like it. For no reason at all he didn’t like it. He glanced at the man sitting at a table opposite them and raised his eyebrows toward the door of the bathroom. The man gave a slight nod that he had checked it, that there was nobody inside. Sollozzo said reluctantly, “Don’t take too long.” He had a marvellous antenna, he was nervous.
Michael got up and went into the bathroom. The urinal had a pink bar of soap in it secured by a wire net. He went into the booth. He really had to go, his bowels were loose. He did it very quickly, then reached behind the enamel water cabinet until his hand touched the small, blunt-nosed gun fastened with tape. He ripped the gun loose, remembering that Clemenza had said not to worry about leaving prints on the tape. He shoved the gun into his waistband and buttoned his jacket over it. He washed his hands and wet his hair. He wiped his prints off the faucet with his handkerchief. Then he left the toilet.
Sollozzo was sitting directly facing the door of the toilet, his dark eyes blazing with alertness. Michael gave a smile. “Now I can talk,” he said with a sigh of relief.
Captain McCluskey was eating the plate of veal and spaghetti that had arrived. The man on the far wall had been stiff with attention, now he too relaxed visibly.
Michael sat down again. He remembered Clemenza had told him not to do this, to come out of the toilet and blaze away. But either out of some warning instinct or sheer funk he had not done so. He had felt that if he had made one swift move he would have been cut down. Now he felt safe and he must have been scared because he was glad he was no longer standing on his legs. They had gone weak with trembling.
Sollozzo was leaning toward him. Michael, his belly covered by the table, unbuttoned his jacket and listened intently. He could not understand a word the man was saying. It was literally gibberish to him. His mind was so filled with pounding blood that no word registered. Underneath the table his right hand moved to the gun tucked into his waistband and he drew it free. At the moment the waiter came to take their order and Sollozzo turned his head to speak to the waiter. Michael thrust the table away from him with his left hand and his right hand shove the gun almost against Sollozzo’s head. The man’s coordination was so acute that he had already begun to fling himself away at Michael’s motion. But, Michael, younger, his reflexes sharper, pulled the trigger. The bullet caught Sollozzo squarely between his eye and his ear and when it exited on the other side blasted out a huge gout of blood and skull fragments onto the petrified waiter’s jacket. Instinctively Michael knew that one bullet was enough. Sollozzo had turned his head in that last moment and he had seen the light of life die in the man’s eyes as clearly as a candle goes out.
Only one second had gone by as Michael pivoted to bring the gun to bear on McCluskey. The police captain was staring at Sollozzo with phlegmatic surprise, as if this had nothing to do with him. He did not seem to be aware of his own danger. His veal-covered fork was suspended in his hand and his eyes were juts turning on Michael. And the expression on his face, in his eyes, held such confident outrage, as if now he expected Michael to surrender or to run away, that Michael smiled at him as he pulled the trigger. This shot was bad, not mortal. It caught McCluskey in his thick bull-like throat and he started to choke loudly as if he had swallowed too large a bite of the veal. Then the air seemed to fill with a fine mist of sprayed blood as he coughed it out of his shattered lungs. Very coolly, very deliberately, Michael fired the next shot through the top of his white-haired skull.
The air seemed to be full of pink mist. Michael swung toward the man sitting against the wall. This man had not made a move. He seemed paralyzed. Now he carefully showed his hands on top of the table and looked away. The waiter was staggering back toward the kitchen, an expression of horror on his face, staring at Michael in disbelief. Sollozzo was still in his chair, the side of his body propped up by the table. McCluskey, his heavy body pulling downward, had fallen off his chair onto the floor. Michael let the gun slip out of his hand so that it bounced off his body and made no noise. He saw that neither the man against the wall nor the waiter had noticed him dropping the gun. He strode the few steps toward the door and opened it.


Filed under Fiction, Literature

“Caught In The Crowd” released by Kate Miller-Heidke

There was a guy at my school when I was in high school
We’d ride side by side in the morning on our bicycles
Never even spoken or faced each other
But on the last hill we’d race each other

When we reached the racks we’d each go our own way
I wasn’t in his classes, I didn’t know his name
When we finally got to speak he just stared at his feet
And mumbled a sentence that ended with ‘James’

I was young and caught in the crowd
I didn’t know then what I know now
I was dumb, and I was proud
And I’m sorry
If I could go back do it again
I’d be someone you could call friend
Please please believe that I’m sorry

Well he was quite a big guy, kinda shy and quiet
When the kids called him weird he didn’t try to deny it
Every lunchtime he’d spend walking by himself
Round the boundary of the grounds til he heard the bell

Well one day I found him, joined him on his walk
We were silent for a while until we started to talk
I told him my family were fighting in court
He said his step-dad and him always fought

We talked about music, he was into punk
Told me all the bands that I liked were junk
I said I’d never heard the songs the sex pistols sang
I laughed back at him and then the bell rang

I was young and caught in the crowd
I didn’t know then what I know now
I was dumb, and I was proud
And I’m sorry
If I could go back do it again
I’d be someone you could call friend
Please please believe that I’m sorry

It was after school in the afternoon
The corridors were crowded as we came out of the rooms
Three guys I knew pushed him into the cement
Threw away his bag and said he had no friends

He yelled that he did and he looked around
Tried getting up but they pushed him on down
That’s when he saw me, called out my name
And I turned my back, and just walked away
Yeah I turned my back, and just walked away

I was young and caught in the crowd
I didn’t know then what I know now
I was dumb, and I was proud
And I’m sorry
If I could go back, do it again
I’d be someone you could call friend
Please please, believe that I’m sorry.


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“I Remember, I Remember” by Thomas Hood

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The violets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday, –
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy


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Excerpt from “Love for Lydia” by H.E. Bates ~~Summer~~

picture-LoveForLydia-BatesI sat there watching her for some time while she gently held my fingers. Her body, flat in the chair, was still heaving with excitement. She had grown up very rapidly since the first evening I had seen her in the black dinner dress. The girl I had taken skating, with the low waist, gawkily throwing all the angular body out of proportion, with the almost monolithic straightness of Juliana herself, was not there any longer. Flesh had begun to spread on her bones with the effect of making her seem much less tall. She was warmer, rounder, softer, lovely in a way of which there had been no hint on the days of her scrawny skating in the winter. Her mouth too was firmer. Its fleshiness and breadth were still there, but it was soft now without being loose and it revealed, even more than the rounding breasts, how quickly she had grown.
‘Dare we open the window?’ she said. ‘It’s so hot in here.’
‘I’ll open the back window,’ I said.
‘I’m stifled – let’s have some air.’ She let go my hand. ‘Why don’t you take off your shirt? The sweat’s pouring from you like water – ’
The back window looked out from a tiny landing where the stairs came up. I went through to open it. Through the small casement, as I threw it back, came the heat of July, clear and fierce, sweet with light undertones of hay still being turned in fields outside the park. I stood breathing it for a moment, listening to the beat of a hay-turner, undoing the front of my shirt so that air could cool my chest.
When I went back to her she had taken off her dress. She was sitting up in the long chair, unrolling her stockings. They peeled from her thighs like another skin, leaving the flesh wonderfully white and without blemishes.
She lay back in the chair. I touched her thighs with light tips of my fingers and began to say something about how much I had wanted to touch her and how –
‘I wondered if you ever would,’ she said. ‘If you ever wanted – ’
She was smiling a little, her lips parted. I could hear the hay-turner beating somewhere across the park. Then my heart started thundering again as it had done when Rollo had tried the keys in the lock.
‘Don’t be shy,’ she said. ‘I’m not shy – ’
She rolled her body sideways in the chair, tenderly and heavily, pulling me towards her with both hands. One of the straps of her slip fell from her shoulders and she let go of me for a moment to pull the other one down. Her skin had begun to mature with the waxen stiff whiteness that goes sometimes with deep black hair and it seemed to melt as I touched it with my hands.
‘Oh! darling – don’t stop loving me – ’ she said. ‘Don’t ever stop loving me – ’
I promised I would never stop loving her. ‘I promise I never will,’ I said. ‘Never. I promise I never will.’
Some time later she lay in a sort of day-dream, quieter, looking at the sky. The hay-turner spun softly across the hot afternoon. The scent of her hair had something strong and aromatic about it and I remember that too as I think of her suddenly sitting up in the chair and bending over me and saying a most curious thing to me:
‘Even if I’m bad to you?’ she said.
‘You won’t be bad to me.’
‘Even if I were bad to you – would you? – will you always?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘Do you want to go on like this – always? For ever and ever?’
‘For ever,’ I said.
‘I wonder if we shall,’ she said.
I stretched up my hands and put them against her body. Its roundness, I felt, was all mine; it was I, in a sense, who had made it grow up; I was quite sure it was I who had woken her.
‘Do you like my body?’ she said. ‘Did you think I’d grown like this? Is it the first time you’ve seen a girl?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
She laughed and said: ‘I’m growing up and it feels queer – it feels terribly queer – it goes pounding and pounding through me.’
She laughed again, lying with her mouth across my face, her voice warm with tenderness and rather hoarse, and I felt all summer spin together, through the sound of the hay-turner, the warmth of her voice and the heavy repeated turn of her body, into a deep and delicate wonder, into what was really for me a monstrously simple, monstrously complex web of happiness.

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Excerpt from “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy ~~Fire~~

picture-FarFromTheMaddingCrowd-Hardy-FireRound the corner of the largest stack, out of the direct rays of the fire, stood a pony, bearing a young woman on its back. By her side was another woman, on foot. These two seemed to keep at a distance from the fire, that the horse might not become restive.
“He’s a shepherd.” said the woman on foot. “Yes — he is. See how his crook shines as he beats the rick with it. And his smock-frock is burnt in two holes, I declare! A fine young shepherd he is too, ma’am.”
“Whose shepherd is he?” said the equestrian in a clear voice.
“Don’t know, ma’am.”
“Don’t any of the others know?”
“Nobody at all — I’ve asked ’em. Quite a stranger, they say.”
The young woman on the pony rode out from the shade and looked anxiously around.
“Do you think the barn is safe?” she said.
“D’ye think the barn is safe, Jan Coggan?” said the second woman, passing on the question to the nearest man in that direction.
“Safe -now — leastwise I think so. If this rick had gone the barn would have followed. ‘Tis- that bold shepherd up there that have done the most good — he sitting on the top o’ rick, whizzing his great long-arms about like a windmill.”
“He does work hard.” said the young woman on horseback, looking up at Gabriel through her thick woollen veil. “I wish he was shepherd here. Don’t any of you know his name.”
“Never heard the man’s name in my life, or seed his form afore.”
The fire began to get worsted, and Gabriel’s elevated position being no longer required of him, he made as if to descend.
“Maryann.” said the girl on horseback, “go to him as he comes down, and say that the farmer wishes to thank him for the great service he has done.”
Maryann stalked off towards the rick and met Oak at the foot of the ladder. She delivered her message.
“Where is your master the farmer?” asked Gabriel, kindling with the idea of getting employment that seemed to strike him now.
“‘Tisn’t a master; ’tis a mistress, shepherd.”
“A woman farmer?”
“Ay, ‘a b’lieve, and a rich one too!” said a by-stander. “Lately ‘a came here from a distance. Took on her uncle’s farm, who died suddenly. Used to measure his money in half-pint cups. They say now that she’ve business in every bank in Casterbridge, and thinks no more of playing pitch-and-toss sovereign than you and I, do pitch-halfpenny — not a bit in the world, shepherd.”
“That’s she, back there upon the pony.” said Mary- ann. “wi’ her face a-covered up in that black cloth with holes in it.”
Oak, his features smudged, grimy, and undiscoverable from the smoke and heat, his smock-frock burnt-into holes and dripping with water, the ash stem of his sheep- crook charred six inches shorter, advanced with the humility stern adversity had thrust upon him up to the slight female form in the saddle. He lifted his hat with respect, and not without gallantry: stepping close to her hanging feet he said in a hesitating voice, —
“Do you happen to want a shepherd, ma’am?”
She lifted the wool veil tied round her face, and looked all astonishment. Gabriel and his cold-hearted darling, Bathsheba Everdene, were face to face.
Bathsheba did not speak, and he mechanically repeated in an abashed and sad voice, —
“Do you want a shepherd, ma’am?”

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“Les Grande Marguerites” by Séraphine de Senlis


“Les Grande Marguerites” was painted around 1929 and is on display at the Musées de Senlis in France. The actual painting is nearly two metres in height.

Séraphine Louis, known as Séraphine de Senlis, was born in Arsy, France on 3 September 1864, and died in Villers-sous-Erquery, France on 11 December 1942, aged 78 years.

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