Thursday, June 21, 2012

Create a Sustainable World

Travel delights and fascinates so many people, while sometimes I wonder what would happen if we were forced to stay in the same area all our lives and make do with what we could find locally, for the most part. Human beings are limited to the planet naturally, but we seem to have little idea however of the fragile nature of this environment. If we were limited to a smaller area perhaps we'd be more careful?

Some of us have wasted, (arguably) trillions of dollars on trying to find other planets with life or where we could live, instead of managing ideas and inventions so we live more creatively, safely and economically on this one, Earth.

Those notions appeared in my mind after regarding that poster above.

We all need to plant more trees.

The simplicity of that idea could put some people off, they like more glamour, more persuasion and definitely more of someone else's involvement, not them having to do something, no, no no.  Such people weary me.

Still, til the day I die I shall keep on propagating trees from seed and giving them away or selling them for very little and tending the rather lush rampant greenery of this property. The joy of a garden is in how it changes and the pleasure of simply being outside in the growing of the place, birds, butterflies, flowers, vegetables, trees, the occasional visiting cat and always a sense of something happening. A garden may not make many sudden movements but it is never entirely still.

People who have an apartment or are unable to manage a garden themselves could start a community garden, work in one occasionally, or become an activist to call for others to contribute more to a sustainable world. We need to manage the resources we have now to make them last, to keep regenerating and stay healthy.

Various links are below to sites which assist with these eco-sound ideas and more, such as monetary issues. I find myself rather worn down lately with the bleak winter weather here in New Zealand and also, a return to my other writing work which is emotionally demanding, then the isolation gets to me and I feel rather glum. This blog is therefore not as newsy or animated as it perhaps was when I travelled the Pacific and Am er i ca, but I shall keep on providing information about friendship, travel and trees herein.

Comments are welcome.  Thanks for reading.

The first video at least on this blog link below could be watched, it really clearly explains how money works and how we could change things to make the system work better for most instead of few, becomes clearer.

This link regards privatisation and easily explains the issues.

These are places to buy trees in countries where they are needed, so they are planted to make up for your carbon emissions. Please do your own research to find out what others think of these companies.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For all my Friends

Bromeliads - hot house - Tamaki Makaurau Auckland Wintergardens June 2012

Long ago when ewill took bold and would not let no, people tall well all over the whirl took up pens, pencils, keyboards and dictaphones with larkness they knew of themselves, to power and push words forth. So fine flew light and transmogrified ink.

Hold be to goodness grace existed and there appeared fine stories, poems and repartee.

Various such wordsmiths, such as they are ringing out strong sentences like metals forged and determined, or fine, found each other through deciphering codes of wit and there grew a stare garden. (Friendship may appear like a vessel, a frigate perhaps or cruiser but closeness is created of dirt, water, food, sunlight, rest and multifarious growings some of which intertwine or nudge). At the least they share their exhalations.

Oxygen.  Entertainment. Oddities.

'Hitch our blameless to a flagon and ride for the moon, hunees,' we cry across the wide world and into outer space. This is the proof of gooding, fleet it. Kiss every morning with clean thanks.

'Take bold of your language and make it moor,' we proclaimed while turning into sharpshooters of quick tots, (tequila or whiskey or jokes), then event managers and bats. Only onward possible ever was so, each our families and pages. Happily after ever with stories to match and a bonfire upon the hill of everything else, covered.

A tail of success hell fluffy on this cat lap of happiness. Yes?

Auckland War Memorial Museum and Domain grounds from the Wintergardens 14 June 2012


In Iowa my friend Julie took me to see this band, they're in the Iowa poem below this post and this is what they sound like -

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Bestest Better of Best Wishes to Bert and Julie in Iowa

My friends Julie and Bert in Iowa, U S A are to be married tomorrow, (their time, which is today, my time 9th June 2012). In New Zealand we see the sun first, so I am readying the day for them and making it as great and lovely and fine as possible for their nuptials and celebrations. Then I will send the day over there. 

Julie and I have this standing joke, we say I ready the seasons or the day or the night for her and send them over. Then this year, I brought the spring with me in person since I visited her just as blossom appeared on the trees and weather warmed up, in Iowa.

I wish I was there for their wedding, I send my best wishes instead.

This poem is the edited version of one already posted here. I spruced the writing up for them. We need to have everything as carefully prepared as possible, hey, it's a marriage, a shin-dig, a wonderful day of joy and togetherness.


Iowa where Everyone is

'nobody goes to Iowa' he said - grinning a charm to stay put
while on great fields spring trees pretty danced and greened
corn cut or scorched - pale yellow stalks short and scratchy
our green nakedness and Iowa's rolling fields could blend 

the plane from Seattle then Atlanta, (yes Ma'am) - a curved window

this and that messages we back and forthed coloured with years
Julie and I wore the same frilly cardigans an accident of sameness
proved we'd met in cyberspace then turned into shandies with fried fish
on a Friday in a Bettendorf tavern (and TV basketball)

Le Claire's main street high noon of tourist cars - on a Mississippi angle

in the Buffalo Bill Museum Julie recalled she copied the Gettysburg Address
yards of hard writing towards a story for our stubborn laughter
cases of guns and quilts beside indians and sharp-shooters framed
we escape pounding laundry on rocks to be Annie Oakley with her rifle

Buffalo Bill wrangled over 200 cowboys and indians - bang bang scuttling wallets

led to Davenport confectionery box houses with trees of squirrels
woodpecker knock knocked while I walked uphill from a deli sandwich
a green Victorian bed and breakfast where electronic love arrived
family of bluebirds on the vintage wardrobe and the clock blind

you and I writing about kidnaps and stealing each others moments

parked in the driveway by Bert's black American muscle car
he revved an overture behind the sleek red 70s with white upholstery 
hammered a geode for me - Iowa rock brain in my Cherokee medicine pouch
swapped stones to own each others land and o don't let go

ropes of sentences bridge our impossible everywhere

a sunset chair below plans in their wood-panel garage ceiling
into a fairy tale with a furious blonde child to tell us off
and Dana held her finger on the notebook line about alcohol
while the most handsome stetson man sang about journeys

and a woman sang her curtains off til everyone's windows cleared

I became a guidance counsellor to someone ransomed (such a liar)
and the band louder than the evening dark so we rode light home
Jo placed a spider beside me with every twirly-gig of beaded lovely
the gas station on the way a message to a soldier leaving town

large black letters above the logo where truth plays

Miguel and Veronica's swirl of children in their gingerbread house
cherry tree in blossom and violets studded the lawn with bravery
tequila with grapefruit soda and Spanish
clues to a test and talk turned into pictures

our waiter earlier studying quantum physics and my accent

but almost first of all they drove me to the Miss spread wide
my blessed mother I had to think then traipsed pale rocks to touch
three fingers into the drink while shouting about insurance companies
Mississippi rolling books through shimmer and deep

since we've got our arms here other full of each

'watch for the anvil-shaped cloud, it's just like that' Julie on another journey
when a tornado appears you have to leave the car
she'd been in two and you need to get out
and then underneath something like a bridge

all the 'things' she wanted to show me were people

on her brother's cleansing lawn a recently felled tree left a circle
(creosote in cedar makes it difficult to grow anything when they're gone)
and on his man-cave wall a silk Jim Morrison with black dog behind glass
files of music to discover what Hendrix sang about chaos

warm snow fell to cover me from words they'd clouded

and a circling eagle by Galesburg railway station sent me a vision of you
we'll protect each other with the nonsense of this careful
the artist said to me, 'good-bye an'you go and sing your song'
so here I am with my voice back

no one may take from me as if I were an abandoned shop/store dummy

my genius pretenders lit up a true woman with a wall
fine places we're going have protective signs
here now let us plant the trees then dance amongst them
singing of love and our beautiful

Kia ora, kia kaha, kia toa tatou katoa, arohanui nga hoa

A great life, all the best, may your skills be appreciated and well employed, and strength be with you while this great goodness is also for us all, love of community, family and each other, my friends.

Have a lovely wedding Julie and Bert, love Raewyn

If you ever feel like renewing your vows somewhere gorgeous over here, this is a short drive from my place - a couple of hours. *smiles*

Thursday, June 7, 2012

...Talk about Death, Money and Heart

My twelfth book and first ebook, a collection of short stories and short short stories called What we Talk about when we Talk about Death, Money and Heart, is available now on Amazon Kindle.

I believe those of you who've enjoyed this blog will also like my stories. Some are already published work from literary magazines and online ezines or they were broadcast on radio.

Please share this link with friends who also like good stories.  Thank-you so much for reading.

My ebook cover - photo of Verona Cafe, Karangahape Road by Geneva Alexander-Marsters

My publishing history is here -

Other links re my work are here -

Monday, June 4, 2012

Coming to Grief and Winning

'You must dream your way back into your life 
you haven't got forever.'
                                                      -  Richard Langston's poem, 3 June 2012 on National Radio.

'It's all fine in the end, and if it isn't then it's not the end.' 

                                                       - The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel

view from my front porch about six years ago (it hasn't changed much)

Living my days and nights in public, this blog feels rather like an idea I had yonks ago to even up the balance between people and animals, (to make it clear people are in many ways on an even keel with other life forms). I thought - if we keep animals in zoos, we should also have a human display. Build a house in the zoo, the entire front of it glass so the inhabitants can be clearly seen inside their 'cage', dining, lounging, cooking, working in a study or reading in their library, socialising when friends call in. Way before reality TV I dreamt this idea up and before the internet really took off. I imagined people would have to have bathroom and bedrooms private, but with some reality television scenarios that hasn't exactly happened so who knows what would pass in the human zoo, now?

A human zoo exhibit appeared to me to be an excellent way to give actors work, too. Unlike animals in the zoo, these people would require payment of some kind and also, an ability to behave 'naturally' in front of an audience. The 'family' could change every three months or so.

Now, countless people world-wide blog, skype, record youtube videos of every waking moment, allow reality TV shows to peer into their everyday and we see ourselves on screens world-wide, at times just living, but also somewhat often in situations deliberately set up to be contentious, difficult, strange or stressful. The zoo got bigger and did include us. It does.

Anything where I have to problem-solve or figure out what's going on a great deal of the time, I'm attracted to. I love a challenge.

Now I'm wrestling with the issue of adjusting to life back in this country, supposedly my home.

But I loved travelling the Pacfic Ocean and the Yoo Ess Aye so much I now think I'd like to travel all the time. I can see why people sell their house and buy one of those campervans, then drive for the rest of their days across the country, or through many nations, a truly new view every morning, a road rolling on before them eternally. The road is life, always moving and changing.

It would be so easy to do that.

Not a challenge.

A woman who recently moved here says New Zealanders are hard, (polite and friendly on the surface but underneath we're tough and rather scary). In the culture-shocked state where I've been attempting to piece back some normalcy for weeks, slowly re-adjusting, I can see what she means, especially in Auckland and with some people, (those particularly hard or unforgiving towards anyone perceived as different to the majority).  I hasten to say, most of my friends are not so combative or shielded, however a great many others certainly are that way, apparently. Their haughty disinterest and a kind of superior refusal to get too close to others, or a really sly, even cruel attitude where they want to take advantage of anyone seen as alone or vulnerable, comes about partly I think from years of struggling here, especially with the recent political hell inflicted upon us by the ignorant and greedy. Life in this city is nowadays rarely simple or lovely for the majority, so this hardness I notice around me is a survival mechanism at least in part, perhaps.

My challenge then is to live with my grief and to stay here anyway in this rather hostile country, as I see it at present.

Recently living in close proximity with so many people who were determined to get along and be kind, (the overwhelming atmosphere everywhere I went, while in five places across Am er ica from Hawaii, San Francisco, Seattle, Bettendorf in Iowa, Chicago then New York), then to suddenly arrive and live here again knowing about where I've just been and missing, loving the States, yet having to accept many people here will probably not be kind or co-operative, not now and not in future for some time, if ever?


In these over-whelming, even terrifying situations I usually take stock of what's on my side. I build hope for myself. Enormous amounts of hope-building have gone on throughout my life out of necessity, (I grew up with a great many strange occurrences and some hurt me deeply), so I'm reasonably adept at this activity.

Hope-building, if anyone would like to know, goes like this - list all the things known which are good and why, believe in everything written down on this list, completely. Take it all in like delicious food and drink, know the nutrition has obvious effects for the better. This is how to make life rewarding once more, even while it feels as if some kind of horror surgery is occurring, with almost all the goodness being extracted. It's combat, writing, at times.

Family and stories, friends and absurdities, great food and glugs of wine, pathways into gardens and streams of water, morning skies and evening mist, fresh garden greens and home-made bread, grand books and arty movies, stupendous people and excellent paintings, mountains and crows, embroidery thread and glass beads, ephemera and black ink pens, pizza and beer, conversations in warm rooms and long lunches with wily coots, jazz and blues, violins and open air, roses climbing over an archway and tulips in the middle of the road, jokes and fires, mended and blended, hugs and kisses, airmail letters and postcards, trips to far lands and coming home.

The above inspired by a poem Emma Neale wrote, featured on this wesbite -

Wonder, inspiration and amusement, in complex ways my family affect and divert me. Stunning people like my children, talented and intelligent with excellent social skills. My mother's persuasive story-telling and sense of humour so inspiring, along with her determination to make the best of any situation. Blind for many of her latter years and always challenged health-wise, Mum could make herself cheerful almost all the time, in any situation. Those who've passed away who supported my writing and art without question, on my side and so loving I can feel their presence even now. My Aunty Helen's family had me read that poem, '...I have only slipped away into the next room...' at her funeral service. Reassuring, even if I do miss her and my father, (her brother) terribly at times. They both gave me such courage and inspiration when others did not understand, they believed I'd succeed and told me so, their decency and intelligence are a part of me. I shall do my best and it shall be good no matter what. They're beside me, always and every time I celebrate another success it is partly their doing.

Friends, for whom I feel so thankful I give them time and things constantly to prove it. People who can be counted on, (even if only to be themselves) who do support me, who aren't afraid to criticise or be truthful, and who aren't off and away at the first hint they could have to give something, (like a toss or a compliment, or a hand). No one's perfect, but those friends are perfect for me, as the Grace Jones song kind of goes, (ha). Extraordinary people I've also grown to know in the arts are a constant source of wonder, inspiration and pleasure. Stunning, intriguing, wise personalities and talents. Sometimes I feel like I wander a fantastic tale written by a grand master of literature, my artistic life's so demanding and delightful. Conversations or correspondence with those talented, generous people exercise my mind and emotions in thorough, startling and helpful ways. I learn inevitably from these fine associations.

Sensual pleasures exist in abundance, too. Human beings need sensual pleasures for happiness, that's what we need the most of, some say. Clothes which feel good against my skin, and pleasure in wearing perfume and jewellery. Music and books and art and movies and dancing to refresh, invigorate and humble myself. Good, slow food, vegetables cooked carefully with herbs and natural flavourings, served with lovely wine and fresh water, a pleasure and life-affirming. My garden's abundantly green and flowery, birds constantly fly in, feed and perch, butterflies flutter about bright 'confetti' flowers by my window and feed on the pink, yellow and orange blooms' nectar, bees visit. This house smells good with incense and baking. It's only an hour or so to the Hauraki mineral hot springs at Miranda, one of my favourite places. Soak for hours, having driven through the lovely pastures of Clevedon, then wild bushland which leads to the gentle east coast, past glacial rock strewn beaches and the vari-coloured countryside with wildflowers, tussocky grasses and greenery reminiscent of Italy. Next whoosh by the bird sanctuary bordering a pale shell-strewn beach, to the steamy pools themselves. In some seasons, large grey herons flap in to perch on weeping willows in the grounds, and always more birds wheel and soar there than elsewhere. Rolling richly green hills border the hot pools and at night, the open countryside sky is often full of stars so I can lie on the water and spin slowly about like the heavens also, gazing into the deep blue scattered with sparkling points from too many light years away to ever count.

Work which I love is rarely far away. Writing can be done after all with a stick in the ground if necessary. I can at times write my way out of or into many situations. This creative act has a magical quality, especially after practising rigorously for decades with some fine, extraordinary assistance from colleagues. I can write myself into feeling happier, or into a plan to see someone so I build confidence and well-being again, or into a world of imagination where I live through characters who play out scenarios, who teach me what I need to know, they reveal or develop mysteries. Poetry writing a glimpse of the divine and it feels like the most in touch I ever feel, apart from when making love, with the entire world of beingness, the universe and everything. My tutoring is also a joy.

Many people who see the writerly life as attractive may attend classes or take up a pen, thinking there is a trick to it. I occasionally meet people who seem to believe they can write as well as someone who has done so for decades, may reach that standard with just following a few weeks' or months' writing course. The only way I know to be a good writer is to read far more than you ever write, and read well, while also writing an extraordinary amount, (much of which is discarded) then editing to the nth degree. (I agree with James George the novelist here, at least five edits of a novel are needed and I think this applies to any writing - essential. Yes, at least five. I rarely approach facebook like that however but I'm not claiming to be infallible). This blog took three days to write and about seven or eight edits, by the way, or maybe more (I stopped counting after five or six).

Reiterating what I'm thankful for has given me a sore arm, (so I'm off to have a break and do some anti-OOS exercises) but I feel better now.

Grief is a journey, and I'm a little further towards the place suggested to me by one of my fine friends, where it'll all be over and I'll be truly back here, readjusted, living at home once more and happy about it.

Meanwhile here's a story along similar lines, or about change anyway, which I wrote lately. The final piece in an ebook I'm putting onto Kindle, my first. The ebook features short stories at the start then some short short stories at the end. Cover design a .jpg at the end of this blog. My new ebook -
What we Talk about when we Talk about Death, Money and Heart

All comments welcome and thanks for reading.

Red and White, so Blue

'People like us, we wander the ruins of our lives and others too. And we attempt to make something good of them. Much of the time we fail.'
'So you were raised on soap operas,' he responded, flatly.
She laughed. 'Sounds like it.'
'I just wanted a drink.' He walked to the sideboard, opened a drawer. The wooden runners made a faint rubbing sound. He closed it again.
'But you almost never say what you really want.'
His eyes went dark and she looked away.
'Betty,' his voice so soft, she wasn't sure he'd called her the old nickname or if she'd just imagined it. But again, he spoke, 'Betty. Forget all that meta-crap. Just tell me the recipe for the best cocktail you've ever had. I'll make us one.'
'You'll make me something?' Her voice so high with disbelief she squeaked.
'One. Today we're going to win.'
For some reason then they looked at each other and held it, like some film director to the side of the room was telling them what to do for an effect. The story demanded this cliche, a frozen look of desire, then they could move on again, talking and walking around each other like half-wild creatures, looking for a way to be each alone and more sure of what could happen once more, wishing they didn't have to, wondering at the attraction they obviously shared.
Elizabeth wanted him to repeat her nickname. She could be somebody else then. They could play-act ordinary until it turned real, couldn't they? He'd be Sam and she'd be Betty, they'd drink a cocktail at dusk then eat a delicious dinner, the table laid with blue and white china.
Later, they'd lie in a bed tight as a drum with cotton sheets, then turn towards each other and kiss, skin on skin, the world falling apart with the bedclothes leaving only their passion to swim in and become, liquid. Made of fire and molten, they'd pour themselves into any shape they wished to cool together and change.
He moved towards her and she closed her eyes when his breath felt warm against her cheek.

'Just win. Let's do that,' he whispered.
She only needed to agree.

photograph of the Verona Cafe by Geneva Alexander-Marsters - book cover design by Raewyn Alexander
This collection of short stories and short short stories will be available in a week or so on Kindle as an ebook, (my first-ever).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wearing It

A few photographs of views and myself sit here in my computer, sent from a friend in San Francisco, but they are from a phone and extremely small so I can't post them on this blog. I'd intended to use them to prompt some writing. If I do try to post them bigger then the pictures look like this.

The original is of me outside City Lights Bookshop, where I spent a good hour or so looking round and enjoyed the sight of my own book on the shelves. A Bee Lover's Poetry Companion looked fine there.   I bought Adrienne Rich's book Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth, it's an excellent collection from a wonderful poet. (RIP)

Adam Gillitt was my host in California and we saw so much of San Francisco in a week, I still feel amazed by its beauty, diversity and joie de vivre. I stayed on Alameda Island in his fine house with aquariums, cats and humming birds. The individuality and wit of Alameda's inhabitants is clearly shown in the stunning range of extrovert and idiosyncratically-designed houses, each quite different to the next, often painted with bright colours or a range of tones so the property stands out, even next to another also deliberately styled to be as obvious as possible while at the same time, attractive or amusing.

I wish I could find some of the more colourful houses to post here, (such as photos stolen with my laptop), but flickr has a great many if you look on the snip url above the picture.

Anyway, it was from these highly individual, liberal households that the children who became hippies emerged. Free love, freedom of speech at Happenings and political meetings, the freedom to dress as people wished, (which often meant looser, brighter clothes and inevitably a kind of uniformity), longer hair for men and women, feminism, anti-racism, make love not war, tune in, drop out, look to Eastern philosophies for answers.... these slogans and ideas were once radical and startled the wider population.

Just like, perhaps the idea that we could have solar ovens and no need for fuel or electricity now, alarms and disturbs some people?

Human beings have a need to travel, adventure, change, discover and refresh, we may do this without leaving home too.

Products of our environment, to some extent we take on new ways and old habits by following examples or working to fit in with those around us. Now online, we're so many affected by this new limitless and info-rich environment. Someone recently spoke about the internet being like a sea, and we're mermaids (and mermen I suppose), swimming in a rich liquid world wide web, soaking it up. We may style ourselves as fantasy figures, we need not use our real names, we can reinvent ourselves daily, by the minute or the hour, we've never had the chance before as we have now on the world wide web to be so flexible and actively imaginative, to reveal our inner world and develop it so easily.

Literary friends I made online for the last 12 or so years, who showed me their country on my visit to Am er ica, we knew each other better perhaps than some people who've known each other only through face-to-face contact.

Security and distance perceived while using the internet creates a situation where intimacy and self-revelation may be more easily enjoyed, (without 'really' exposing our true selves, we imagine). People write and say things we would not otherwise express so readily. Writers too, I think are best qualified to express themselves through this medium with security, more adept if we're practised and/or talented at making sure tone, particular wording and so on are all applied in the best, most apt ways to get across what we want, while retaining some privacy and safety, meanwhile. Or we're reckless, wild adventurers, determined to make mistakes and learn more the usual way. Some set out to emphasise personas who provoke, titillate and shock, firing up reactions for some kind of emotional storm or catharsis. Power-plays are everywhere. The fairyland aspects of this medium also provide some entertainment, there are trolls who merely want to annoy and people in disguises, with who knows what agendas, photoshop may make anyone appear as lovely as a famous heroine or as handsome as a hero, then there are wicked websites and hidden viruses, they can crash the whole world of web wonder and make it disappear. Danger and startle-factor make the internet more attractive at times too, the absorption of the written word or other communication may depend on dramatic effects to be persuasive.

This wide open communication rev olu tion is occurring at the same time as we're also limited and repressed in various ways, more and more terribly every day.

I wonder now about someone in San Francisco's statement that there are televisions everywhere in Am er ica, in the back of the seats of taxis, in aeroplanes, in the foyers of restaurants, in bars, in every room of some houses, (and we may watch various things on our phones too of course). He said the televisions are there in such vast numbers, because they distract the people. 'Americ ans can't get into any deep conversations.'  He smiled while he told me this, a local San Francisco man with a job in middle management, I gathered.

I answered, 'Sure. No critical analysis of current affairs, no criticising new laws or the gove rnment, no plans made for demands to make changes to benefit people in far reaching ways, no arguments, no heated debates, nothing but people just getting along with each other wherever and as often as possible.' (Or something like that).  I didn't say it, but thought too that I'd hardly seen any in-depth news on local TV or heard any discussed from the wider world. Local news tended to be things far removed from politics or any issues which people needed to be involved in for long-term benefits, like education, health initiative and and eco-awareness.

So, I said that all the TVs stopped people from getting into any deep conversations. 

He smiled and nodded.

We sat on padded bench seats, waited for friends in the foyer of a restaurant and both then turned to the ubiquitous television set up high on the wall, to quietly watch it. I think sports were on. Our silence as stunning as any of those stylish, individual Alameda houses I saw locally, and as memorable. Even more so when I think my laptop was stolen at security check going through an airport, on my last stop there. All the photos I took which could've helped me remember my trip, except for a few on the movie camera and hopefully on my phone as well, (I still need to check that), are gone. Silence of a different kind, but the loss of those images are a way to keep me quiet, they could've prompted far more blog entries here, if I'd been able to post my photographs.

No point in lamenting for long over things I can do nothing about however, and there are so many terrible and annoying things to mess around with, if I didn't realise my bothering with them would result in little change, except more bad feeling on my part. Am er i ca possibly changed me a great deal in that regard. I've finally learnt what, 'choosing my battles' really means. I believe it's essential nevertheless to foster debate, dissent, discussion and so on wherever possible, those things are not unAme r ican, they're essential to the growth and health of any nation or group of people. The bookshop I was so delighted to visit, City Lights, recently displayed banners about just that issue.

Silence and superficial 'getting along' at all times can be a sign something is terribly wrong.

An abusive relationship may be one where someone controls another to a large degree, as if the other person is a puppet or a creature maybe, like a pet but not an animal allowed much time to itself, (to behave in the usual ways any living thing may do). Some abusers insist the people they are controlling appear happy and content whenever they're in public.

The perverted people who exert these controls are horribly insecure, they need power plays to feel they're alive, effective and strong. They need to release their own fear by making others fearful. Violent upbringings may create such behaviour. Strength is seen as making others scared. It is however a kind of weakness to behave in this manner.

People can become like objects in some twisted viewpoints. To be simplistic, some governments for instance may treat much of their population like battery hens, mere arms and legs created for working with as little food, leisure, clothing and housing as possible. They allow companies to treat workers in this manner. Others are treated like cosseted and rather ignorant blobs with the capability of consuming enormous amounts of stuff. I can only call it stuff, because it is treated like stuffing.

Enormous amounts of wadding is shoved into and around the lives of so many people, and the shiny or fresh, better-than-before comfort and convenience supposedly needs to be replaced every year or two, so great piles of old things, (too often barely used) are thrown away too. Objects with arms, legs and mouths, also with excess income, the blobs are fooled into thinking they're better than the mere arm-leg slave-type beings, who create the stuff to be pushed upon the others.  Blobs are better since they can keep this stuff. This makes them the winners.

The buffer of material wadge and whatnot also creates a visible barrier between people who have extra and those who have not. We signal each other constantly with what we wear, drive, live in, eat and so on, about who we are in the great plan of things and therefore who we are supposedly better to talk and associate with, and who we're better off without, supposedly. This is another way to create silence. Emphasising class groups or pushing the rich and the poor further and further apart, creates divisions in countless ways, in areas of health, communication, living conditions, education and more.

When a government seeks to control people in this way, they also can be called abusive then, surely? We need laws, certainly, we need to know what we may not do for safety reasons and to ensure the smooth-running of day-to-day life. We do not need to be kept as quiet as possible at all times however, and if we are silenced to a large degree even if only in subtle ways, then the places we live may suffer from lack of communication, (beyond relaying basic messages and ideas, along with messages which create division). Children for instance, need social interaction with many kinds of people in real life, face-to-face situations in order to develop and learn properly.

Here in New Zealand, we're outward-looking like most island nations. We need to seek trade from other lands, we often look elsewhere for inspiration, ideas, products and we require immigrants at times to replace those who have left these shores or passed away. Many people here will also gladly argue or debate about almost anything, we may talk with strangers willingly in many situations, there's an openness and determination to learn more which has improved our culture over and over.

On large areas like continents, people have more choices, travel is easier than from an island since there are overland options, there's not the same feeling of isolation. In one country there may be enormous variety. Sometimes a culture may appear so insular, they are perfectly enclosed, it is as if people believe they have everything they need where they are, there is nothing required from outside.  But this is almost always an illusion. Every country trades and has foreign relationships, but sometimes the population is not informed of this. Control of media can keep many people ignorant of their own situation, the big picture.

We wear where we live as if the culture itself creates a kind of special clothing, make-up and an atmosphere for us, there are manners, figures of speech, attitudes and beliefs all provided by our nation, our countryside, history, our neighbourhood, family and friends. We do not always realise what we've take on, to wear and live inside.

It is a mistake to think people in one place know it all, or that we never need an outside view, or that dissent and debate are out of place and it's better to just meekly go along with what those 'better' decide for us. No matter how powerful, lovely, clever or certain anyone or any group of people may appear or believe themselves to be, human beings in every culture nearly always need to keep an open mind and to welcome others in a good-hearted manner with their views. It is possible to listen to someone who disagrees with us, and see what they mean while holding opposing views in mind at the same time.  This is an excellent way to measure ideas against each other, to contrast them and to see what suits a particular situation or approach.

And of course, if we are too open-minded our brains fall out. - Lawrence Ferlinghetti( co-founder of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers).

Constantly risking Absurdity

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

                               -- Lawrence Ferlinghetti