Child Saint

The Honest Courtesan

I find the fixation on Swedish climate hysteric Greta Thunberg fascinating; she resembles one of the “child saints” who often appear in cults and relatively young religions, and are held by the True Believers of that faith to be especially pure in their prophetic pronouncements from the deity or other metaphysical source.  Thunberg just parrots the same old apocalyptic “the world will end in 12 years” nonsense as other fanatics trying to hijack genuine concern for climate change to support their mad social engineering schemes, but her worshipers imagine that her complete lack of adult life experience and her scant knowledge of either meteorology or economics somehow makes the silly pronouncements more true when she repeats them (especially if she screams at adults while doing so).  And when sensible people (or even foolish ones who pretend climate change isn’t real because they find it inconvenient) correctly point out the…

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DONNA ELVIRA speaks (from THE DON JUAN TRIPTYCH) (by John Heath-Stubbs)

But once, in the market-place,
I peered between the curtains of my litter
And saw a gypsy-girl dancing among the crowd;
Flaunting like a flower her brown body, she fixed her eyes –
Eye of a gypsy, eye of a wolf –
Upon the man she wanted, and drew him forward,
Swaying her hips and arms, and her young breasts,
To the rhythm of castanets and clapping hands;
She seemed as ancient
As a goddess painted on a cave’s flat wall
In red and yellow ochre; and beckoned him –
A tall young mule-driver – to love as to destruction.
Then my blood cried that I was one with her,
And one with the shifting moon, and the harsh sea,
And the hungry grave, the last of all your lovers.

MAD GIRL’S LOVE SONG (A villanelle by Sylvia Plath)

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

MARKING TIME by April White (Review)

I am re-reading this story and enjoying it even more the second time than I did the first time – so am re-posting this review for any of you who didn’t see it first time round.

Saira Elian is a 17-year-old Californian girl whose English mother disappears while Saira, a solitary parkour free-runner and tagger (hope I got that right!), is out doing her thing in “the tunnels” somewhere under LA.  Faced with the Child Protection Services unless she can name a relative who will take responsibility for her, Saira reluctantly tells them about someone in England.

That someone was waiting for me when I stepped off the British Airways flight in London: Millicent Elian. I hadn’t seen my grandmother since I was three years old […] My mother couldn’t stand her. Not a big surprise given the way she was sizing me up, probably wondering if I was worth the effort. […]
“I see you got his height.” Millicent’s tone was not flattering.
“Hello, Millicent.” I knew I should be more polite and call her “Grandmother”, considering she just kept me out of foster care, but she hadn’t really earned the title.
“And his manners, too, obviously.”
“I wouldn’t know.”
[…]
“I have a car waiting.” Of course she did. Millicent’s fancy gray Rolls Royce waited at the curb outside the airport, and her fancy gray driver held the door open for us.
“Home, Jeeves,” she said with total authority.
“Jeeves? You’re joking.”
“I don’t joke.” Millicent’s expression didn’t change.
Jeeves caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and very slowly, he winked. It wasn’t much, that wink, but it was something.

It turns out that the Elians are a family of time-travellers, and Saira’s mother, who is normally gone for only what seems to be a couple of days is now being held against her will in Victorian London. And that, of course, is where half the story, and most of the adventure, takes place.

One aspect of the story that fascinated me was the love between Saira and a young man in Victorian times who had already known Saira in the future in her own time and fallen for her there – or should that be “then”? He, of course, doesn’t know about this yet, and she can’t tell him because the secret of how he came to be still a young man all those years later is just – well …

I’ll leave it to you to sort all this out when you read the book, and add only, by way of encouragement, that while the ingredients may not be entirely original (there’s Hogwarts here, and Ann Rice, and Jack the Ripper, and Time Travel) the resulting dish is something different from the usual run-of-the-mill YA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

CURRICULUM VITAE (by Alissa Leigh)

My education proper began
when my friend’s brother
strolled into the bedroom
wearing nothing but
a tumbler of whiskey

I was born in mid-winter.
A bird obscured the sun.
It was a public holiday:
rubbish stood uncollected
in the streets of the capital.
The soldiers sat smoking
around their mountain fires.
My mother wore red,
the doctors wore white,
my father came running.
My education proper began
when my friend’s brother
strolled into the bedroom
wearing nothing but
a tumbler of whiskey. I
kissed his knees and feet –
from then on, it was just one
mad success after another.
Prizes in math and ethnic
understanding. Not the first
in my year to wear a bra
but not the last, either. At
our graduation ceremony,
I recited Sappho’s poem
“Day in, day out I
hunger and struggle”
bringing tears to the eyes
of many. I believe I am
suitable for the position of
his majesty’s concubine
for several reasons. I
rarely speak: since I
left school I’ve spoken
on only two occasions:
once to reject an offer
of marriage, the second
to argue the matter with
my parents. I felt that
greater things awaited me.
It’s said the emperor likes
games of flight and capture.
If I may say so without
being thought immodest,
I’m an accomplished prey.

PARANOIA (by Michael Dennis Browne)

If you go to the zoo, be sure to take your passport

When you drive on the freeway, cars follow you.

Someone opens your mail, two hands
that come out of your shirt-sleeves.

Your dog looks at you, he does not like you.

At the driving test the cop is tired. He has sat up
all night, screening your dreams.

If you go to the zoo, be sure to take your passport.

Everywhere you go, the dog goes with you. Beautiful women
come up to you and ask for the dog’s telephone number.

You go to teach; everyone who passes you in the corridor
knows you never finished Tristram Shandy.
You are the assistant professor no one associates with.

At the yoga class you finally get
into the lotus position.
You are carried home.

When you close your eyes in meditation, all you see is breasts.

When you turn the refrigerator to defrost, the TV drips.

Across the street, the pigeons call softly to each other
like the FBI on a stakeout.

When you walk to the post office and see the flag at half-mast
you know you have died.

IF I WAS DEAD (by Carol Ann Duffy)

If I was dead,
and my bones adrift
like dropped oars
in the deep, turning earth;

or drowned,
and my skull
a listening shell
on the dark ocean bed;

if I was dead,
and my heart
soft mulch
for a red, red rose;

or burned,
and my body
a fistful of grit, thrown
in the face of the wind;

if I was dead,
and my eyes,
blind at the roots of flowers,
wept into nothing,

I swear your love
would raise me
out of my grave,
in my flesh and blood,

like Lazarus;
hungry for this,
and this, and this,
your living kiss.