Translate

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Home

When days away 
I do confess
I strive to love you less.
I expound on every reason
Reason can sustain
I tell myself “Refrain,
Think! Be sensible!
There is no blame
In common sense:
Indeed it has been said
Shut down that heart
Lead with your head”

And then you come 
And one word alone
Makes me yet again
Your welcome-home.

Manuela Cardiga

Thursday, 29 August 2013

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: Author April Emerson presents "The Righteous and the Wicked"

April Emerson's

The Righteous and theWicked

Book summary: 
"Small moments can seem insignificant until they change the course of a life forever. The sound of a bulldozer. A chance meeting at a gas station. A gust of wind through a chime. Benign events become something more when viewed through the lens of fate."

Emma Santori is a prisoner of tragic memories. Locked in a spiral of depression, she leads a desolate and empty life, trapped in her decrepit home. Rooted in routine, she’s numb and vacant. As a lonely Catholic school teacher, her only joy comes from her young students. One Saturday morning her isolation is infiltrated by a mysterious architect building a home beside hers.

That man is Eric Wilder and he’s keeping a secret—a secret that’s destroying his life. Filled with guilt and self-loathing he’s forced to move often. He chooses the small northeastern town of Pine Lake as his latest refuge and hopes to make a successful attempt at starting his life over. As always, he’s unable to make that happen.
That all changes when he meets Emma.
She finds herself drawn to Eric when she accidentally bumps into him, but Eric’s unfazed by their first meeting. When a gust of wind brings these two people together once again, Emma discovers Eric’s secret. She’s forced to battle between her Catholic faith and her desire for this stranger.
They’re attraction is intense and they soon discover they’re each lonely and longing for what the other has to offer. They begin a friendship, and as that friendship blossoms, Emma realizes her passion and lust for Eric are the remedy to her depression. Eric discovers his feelings for Emma are the only antidote to his secret burden.
They begin an erotic journey which leads these beautifully broken people to discover that love can be both righteous and wicked."


Link to excerpt: http://www.rwanycblogginginthebigapple.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-righteous-and-wicked-by-april.html

Link to my blog: http://aprilemerson.blogspot.com/?zx=80e3736767d45bcc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmersonWrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAprilEmerson

April Emerson
aprilemerson.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

PART 1: Sad Sam and Sly Strange - A Serial by Grant Harbison and Manuela Cardiga

In a wild and bitter land where no dreams were real, and no souls were whole, lived a man called Sad Sweet Sam. In that entire world his only affection was one - far from perfection- Sly Slither Sophocles Strange.

Now Strange was his name and stranger his game; but the strangeness was stranger when caught in the rain. Now Strange wasn’t called Sly for any reason at all; so many before him had heeded his call. To seek out lands which were fair and were new, where rain never fell and the sky was so blue. But Sam on the other hand, well he loved the rain but lived in fear that Strange´s strangeness would come back again and again, and the fruit of that strangeness would always be pain. Still, Sam could not refuse; his love for his friend left him open to abuse. Oh but Sam he was wise, he knew one true thing...Love we gift freely and should not regret the flowering of our hearts. Should another's heart be an unopened fist, still the love we feel is no less real. So in love, Sly's bait he would swallow: he chose to follow the unreeling strange thread, though- we may ask- to what end?

Following the strange thread filled Sam with dread. Though right or wrong, he had to go on. To lands that were fair, what treasures be there? He had to be brave, for the path may be grave. But with no pain, there's no gain, no sun without rain: the love of a friend should be to the end; sharing our sorrows and fears for tomorrow.

So, sweet and shy Sam followed Sly; and strange Sly followed the road ever west towards the slow waves of a shallow sea. Ask yourself, what would their discourse be? Huddled at night on that salty plain, the carcasses of dead eras strewn around them in the pallid light of the triple moon? Huddled around the meagre fire fed with bones; listening for the distant booming thunder of the far waves. Here in this white desert at last the rain has died.

About this at least, Sly has not lied... As they continued their journey under bright crimson skies, Sly told Sam tales of epochs gone by; when men had been slain by ogres and gorgons, who'd cut off their heads and rendered their organs; and how the souls of the men could be seen on the plain, headless, unsightly and searching in vain. Sly told more tales of secret sepulchres, where vile creatures slept and wakened at sunset. Sam listened closely and absorbed every word, recoiling in terror at what should be absurd.

As they crested the hillock they saw a maiden fair, skin so pale and soft and golden of hair.

“Bow before the Queen of Dead Hearts!” shouted her accompanying guard, “May I present fellow travelers, Miss Severina de Selvage.”

Sly and Sam bent themselves double, “we come in peace-we mean you no trouble”. As the words were spoken it began to rain, the dreaded monthly crimson rain, and Sam knew that Sly´s strangeness would begin again. He spoke whispered words to the guard, explained about Sly, how he began to change once the rain fell from the sky. The guard eyed him wearily, his suspicion quite strong. Sam knew for certain that it wouldn’t be long before Sly's body changed.

Sly convulsed and howled, twisted with rage. His body protracted, his skin turned bright green; the most hideous sight that any had seen. He opened his mouth and exposed yellow teeth, with razor sharp incisors that defied belief. He ran to the guard and twisted his head, chewed on his neck and left him for dead.

Severina de Selvage clapped her joy and her countenance beamed. This was her man, the man of her dreams!

Oh shattered was Sweet Sam, and frightened indeed, for his love for Sly; his sincere esteem had been ever for the good side - the wild man who dreamed. Now Severina was loving the monster inside, who killed, rendered and lusted; the very creature that could never be trusted. Sam shuddered and covered his eyes to block out the sickening sight, for Severina moved forward: her smile slow and ripe, she undid her bodice and proffered her flesh; the slender perfection no man had possessed.

Sly Strange slavered with lust: he gripped her and ripped open the dress. They tore at each other, not loving but striving - two fearsome things each one recognising in each other the fearsome reflection of souls whose sole intention was corruption, destruction, and ultimate fear.

Severina eyed Sam with sadistic delight. "Who is this creature, this peculiar young sprite?"

"His name is Sam," said Sly with a sneer, as the old Sly returned and the monster disappeared.

"Come, let us hurry," she said with distaste. "There's much to be seen, there's no time to waste. I know a place that will fulfill your desires, where the gentry are slaughtered and roasted on fires. This is a paradise for you and for me, where nubiles are plenty, just waits and see. The town is not far, it's called Devil's Mudd. We can eat rotten flesh and drink buckets of blood."

"Will there be food for young Sam, something instead?"

"He can have water and black gypsy bread."

Oh at these words, Sad Sam shivered with dread, for he knew the origin of that Gypsy bread: it was ground up from bones and baked on the fires, and a terrible stirrer of vicious desires. They said if you ate of it, and drank Devil's water...They said you would change, dream only of slaughter.

Sweet Sad Sam started to ponder leaving Sly to the Devil's daughter, but as he opened his mouth to speak, he saw the pleading look - his friend could not weep or beg for his attention - but his eyes above the sneering smile? Said: stay with me, please, just one more mile...


By Grant Harbison and Manuela Cardiga

The End

Regret shall not be
Your final gift to me:
I refuse that pain.

Keep you the shame
Of your sordid mind,
I will not reply in kind.

You may have played me for a fool,
You have not the power to make me cruel.


Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 26 August 2013

ON SHATTERING MIRRORS

I leave my loom of fancy dreams,
Run down the dizzy steps of schemes,
Throw down and shatter
The petty shelter of my Mirror.

I drop the blunted needle,
Take up a sword,
And in my left hand
Gleams a miséricorde.

I shall be no more a recluse:
I turn and face myself again,
Forgo the safety of these walls.
So what if I eventually fall?

I shall pay the price,
And count the cost quite small.
She died, though she lived not,
The Lady of Shalott.

Manuela Cardiga

The Mirror Cracked

The sense we have of our own worth must based on self-knowledge and acceptance of who and what we are.

The world holds up such seductive mirrors: we can quite fall in love with the image reflected from such shifting depths.

The seduction lies in the lies, of course: almost truths are what always works best. We do so long to believe!
But as layered and as subtly intricate as an image in a Venetian mirror, gazing too long into such flattering depths is poison to the intellect; and murders that most precious of all qualities: the ability to laugh at ourselves.

When that gilded mirror shatters - and it will - what remains is the clarity with which we see ourselves as we really are. That, and love of the people who see us just as clearly.

Manuela Cardiga

Sunday, 25 August 2013

ESSAY: Lady Truth

I have a friend called Truth.
Now that is a hard name to live up to.
Truth. Truth is difficult, painful, hard to bear, and rarely appreciated.

My friend is acquainted with all the hardships of truth. Life has strewn difficulties in her path, many difficulties and much pain. Some hard to even imagine bearing, and surviving. Yet my Lady Truth has not just survived, she has flourished.

She has shouldered bitter burdens and soldiered on, yet she has not become bitter. 
She is unassuming and modest, and selfless.

She has a buoyant joy in her, hard earned, and marvelous to see. She has been an inspiration to many and a good friend to me.
My friend is a teacher. She teaches disabled children IT skills, and clumsy adults how to dance. What I think she does not realize, is that her life is a living lesson. We can survive, we can overcome and still face tomorrow with a vibrant enthusiasm, an appetite for life and new challenges.
And a cha-cha-cha…

Whenever I feel sorry for myself, petulant and sulky, all I have to do is imagine what she’d say to me…
UP OFF YOUR BOTTOM! GET UP AND DANCE!

So now, boys and girls out there: I know times they be hard, I know sometimes just getting up and facing another day is enough to make you cringe.
I know it. 
Do I ever!!!!

So let’s try this:
Get up in the morning and do a Tango…
You know…One of those Tum-tum-tum-tum…turn and dip, sexy sneer around an imaginary rose…
I dare you to try it.
I promise you it helps.

God’s Truth!
And she never lies!

MATINS

I want the cool
Unshadows
Of pre dawn
Percolating through
To wake me from
Dreams of you
And find
The dream is true.
That I lie entangled,
Limbs entwined
Light and dark
Barely defined
In that sweet half light-
Seaweed drifting
On the gentle tugging tide
Of some slow Ocean
I want to shift in your
Half embrace, twist-
Not to be free,
But to rise up and
Trace the night’s dizzy
Journey once again
On the softened
Curves of your
Sleeping face.

Manuela Cardiga

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Patience and Patience Part 2

A Fate the older Patience taken some trouble avoiding all her life - even once turning her back on a man she’d actually felt something for - was now unceremoniously dumped on her lap.

Patience gazed down at the squirming thing. Pink, soft, stretching her limbs vigorously in some phantom struggle, little Patience fixed a fierce eye on old Patience. Admittedly, old Patience had a rather horrified expression; and her eccentric chic was a far cry from a soft motherly presence, but little Patience overreacted.

She did what she’d been doing from Day 1. She howled.
Wild screeches of passionate outrage issued from her mouth, anger vibrated every atom of her tiny body.
She kicked, she screamed, and she turned an alarming mottled purple.

Old Patience (we must find her another name…) - a woman addicted to self-reliance and efficiency- was overcome by helplessness. Hesitantly she took up little Patience, and holding her at arm’s-length, attempted to soothe her by making humming, clicking and kissing noises. These, of course, served only to inflame little Patience even further. In desperation, old Patience awkwardly cradled little Patience to her bosom.

And here, finally, something did soothe. Not old Patience’s admittedly large (and splendidly displayed) mammalian attributes, but a particularly large chunk of red amber she wore suspended on a fine chain nestled between her breasts. With admirable dexterity for a child her age, little Patience conveyed the pendant to her yowling mouth. She mumbled her toothless gums at it, managing at the same time to stick her fists in her mouth. Silenced, tiny body still hitching out indignant sobs, little Patience looked old Patience in the eye.

Her complexion was an unlovely shade, her dark eyes glossed with tears, and a copious flow of saliva dribbled out of the sides of her mouth and over the tiny fists, her expression was pugnacious and challenging.
And that was when old Patience fell – completely and irrevocably- in love.

Now love, as we well know solves absolutely no problems.
None. Nor does it make nappy-changing easier or baby crap smell better.  It does not inure you from the sudden wash of urine babies - who have only just emptied their thimble sized bladder - can suddenly produce just as you are about to wrap up the freshly-cleaned tushy in a nice clean nappy.

Nope. Poor Patience got it right in the eye. A sparkling fountain of pee suddenly erupted and hit her on the face. Poor Patience gasped, and little Patience produced her very first smile. The tone for their future relationship was thus set: with poor Patience striving to control the uncontrollable, and little Patience beatifically smiling as her poor guardian got it in the eye….

Before you pity poor Patience too much, let me tell you that the older Patience was once the youngest of three sisters: Prudence, Purity and, of course, Patience.

Three pretty old-fashioned names for three most contrary women. Now Mr. and Mrs. Ferraday, the long-suffering parents of the three, were sober God-fearing people who somehow produce a clutch of wildlings. Felicity Ferraday, Poor Patience’s only surviving aunt, sister to her Father, had once labeled them the Three Imps from Hell. Indeed, no three could be imagined as more imprudent, impure or impatient than the three Miss Ferraday.  Until one more Imp joined the family tree, that is. Miss Patience Ferraday-Nell.: our little Patience, henceforth to be know as the Imp.


Manuela Cardiga

ESSAY: Great Expectations

Happiness is not a big thing, made up of holidays and paradise islands. It is something you build every day, out of a morning kiss or a smile, or the just sharing an idea or a struggle; it is the small things that build happiness.

Small contentments, small victories, small expectations…
That’s what it is for me.

Making a meal, sharing it. Giving and sharing pleasure: cuddling on the couch watching a movie, holding hands because touching is so necessary.
Or a love note in a sock drawer.

Reality is work: but work is also a pleasure. Achieving something: the sense of accomplishment following hard work.

Paying bills is also a reality, yes.
So is a giggle and a joke, or a bottle of cheap wine because you can’t afford the other kind.

Know what I have done with my daughter this summer?
We have no money for holidays. So I packed a picnic and we dressed up, with our big hats, and took a table cloth and my best crystal glasses and we went to the Municipal Palace grounds. We lay out under these huge ancient trees near the river and spent the most peaceful day. We told each other stories, and we walked home happy. I sang opera on the way home, and she was so embarrassed…

Happiness is something you have to want.
It is liking your life, liking what you do with it, and who you are with.
It is liking who you have become; not financial security, or expensive holidays flying first class.
Happiness is celebrating small victories, crediting yourself for achievements, then looking for the next horizon.

This has been the happiest year of my life, even though it has been one of the hardest.
I have reached small dreams, and pulled larger ones closer.
I like where I'm going, I love my life.

So believe in yourself, please.
If where and what you are brings you contentment, that is wonderful.
Embrace it, accept it. Don’t judge your happiness by other people’s expectations.
Let yourself enjoy every single day, every small moment.

If where you are is not where you want to be?
Stop moaning and griping about it.
Reach out, grab that dream.
Do something about it.
Nothing is impossible. 
Believe me, you can do anything you set your mind to.

Please don’t stop believing, make a fairy tale out of what is at hand.
All you have to do is reach out.
Reach out your hand.

Manuela Cardiga

Friday, 23 August 2013

Patience and Patience Part1

Once upon a time there was a girl, a most impatient girl, cursed with the name of Patience.

What, you might ask, would prompt reasonable people to look down on a scarlet scrap of newborn rage, shaking clenched fists no bigger than a walnut at the world, tensing it’s tiny body in indignation; and name it Patience?

Easy. Inheritance.

That’s right. There was an Aunt Patience.
Rich, single, approaching old age and of very uncertain temper.
So the tiny Patience and the old Patience actually had a lot in common. Both were afflicted with unsuitable names; both were targets for manipulation by close relatives, and both were cursed with acuity of mind. They were also about to be drawn together in a singular adventure, designed by Fate to test their mettle, their endurance; and of course, their patience.

Malicious Fate took a hand in a big way. A rather cruel hand. The Bitch-Goddess Fate dealt little Patience a deathly blow. Her parents died.

She was just three months old, and would have been as uninteresting as any other milk-dribbling puddle of sweet baby-flesh: rosy, dimpled and deliciously scented with that special magical baby-scent designed by nature to drive adult humans into paroxysms of ecstasy - except for the rather disturbing, and precocious character traits she insisted on displaying with alarming ferocity: a temper.

And what a temper…The sweetly rounded face turned puce, the rose-bud mouth yawned wide into a toothless grimace of menace, and she yowled. Patience did not cry. A sound a demon from hell would have been proud to claim, was her trade-mark. She had the lung capacity of a Bel-canto Diva, and the persistence of a dung beetle.

So there she was. Three months old, and the only two people in the world that could have been expected to find her reasonably adorable were dead.

And that was when the old Patience got the whammie. The powers-that-be deposited little Patience squarely on her shrinking hands.

Now old Patience wasn’t actually that old. She was 59. An excellent age for a woman. Unencumbered by romantic expectations, blessed with reasonable wealth, she was used to happiness. She took it as a matter of course. Patience was happy, selfish, content, and intolerant of anything that might threaten the status quo of her divinely set up life.

So here, sudenly, was the end to joyful liberty...


Manuela Cardiga

ESSAY: Intuition



I’m a writer, which is an affliction or a condition, if you like; not a career choice.
So how do I write?

In complete contradiction to my meticulous planner’s nature, I just write.
I sit and the stories pour out. I don’t plan, write story-lines, character out-lines or do research. The stories just sit there waiting for an opportunity to leap out and cavort on my keyboard.
Just so you don’t think I’m some budding Jane Austen, or the new Dickens, let me confess:
I write funny, tongue-in-cheek, whimsical romances.

Only, sometimes things creep in. I’ll give you an example. I’m in the middle of a novel set in Tahiti called MANscapes. One day, half way through Chapter 8 this just pours out exactly as is:

“Are you French, Sylvine? You have such an unusual accent…”

Sylvine laughed, displaying small white teeth, clearly her own.
“That, my dearest Clara is not a question you should ask anyone outside that damn resort, and never here, at The Retreat.” She set down her cup “But, in this case, it is not a secret. I’m not French. I am Japanese, Ainu. I got the name from my first owner, Yves-Marie Devereux.” She giggled girlishly, “Poor man was a fool. A Hokkaido Madam sold me to him for a fortune, telling him I was an Ama. (I was useless to her, fought and spat like a cornered wolverine). So he brought me out here and sold me to John Benedict. To dive, for the pearls you see. Ama girls were famous for that. I, off course had never done any such thing. I could swim, yes, but diving for pearls…I’d learned a smattering of French on the voyage out. There I was, 15 years old, Benedict took me out to sea and told me to dive. He kept saying: perle, huîtres, plongée, plongée…He threw me into the water. I kept trying to climb back into the boat, and he kept pushing me off. I was terrified. He took me home that night and he raped me. The next day he took me back and tied a cord to my ankle. He showed me an oyster. He threw me off again and again. The next day he put a stone in my hands. I finally realized what he wanted me to do: dive, get oysters. So I did. I held that rock and followed it down. I had never held my breath that long, not even as a child playing games with my sisters, it hurt. After a while my throat burned, the air burned my lungs. I saw no oysters (later I realized; even if I had seen one, I couldn’t have pried it off without a knife). I gripped a piece of coral in my hand and turned up. It was so bright. A shimmering silver lid on the world, and that silver was bleeding out of me too, bubbles bursting from my mouth and nostrils. I followed them up, and out. That piece of coral saved me. He realized: if I could bring that up, I could bring up pearls. I dived every day, going deeper, staying longer. Once I found three pearls, and he kept me diving that day, until he had to haul me up on the cord and pump the water out of my lungs.”

“How did you…You were freed?”

“I dived for him for three years. One day I simply refused to board the boat. I was six months pregnant. He beat me on the quay, and a man interfered. He killed that man. The authorities arrested him. He was sent away in chains. I never learned what happened to him after that. All that was his: the boat and this house became mine.”

***

“Sylvine” just told me this story. So I checked her out.  I researched it: yes, the Ainu are Japan’s original denizens; they are indeed from the north of the Island of Hokkaido. The Ama did/do exist and were famous for diving naked for pearls. In apnea. Which I’ve never done. I cannot swim.

Offenders in the far reaches of French-administrated territories were shipped to France for trial, their belongings disposed of, and often never returned.

Is this story true? I have no idea. It could be. It’s not hard to believe a Frenchman heading for Tahiti could be talked into buying an Ainu girl, thinking she was an Ama. In those days, pearl-fishing in Tahiti was most profitable, difficult and dangerous. Could such a thing have happened? It could. On the savage edges of the world, even today, people are traded and abused, subject to unbelievable conditions.

So where did this story come from?

I realized that my books are peppered with these odd little snippets, “snap-shots” of lives.

I don’t know where they come from, but I love the feeling, I love the taste of my “connection”, of giving voice to these words. There is Sylvine, and Mrs. Bradford, and Serge and Fernando and many more “guest-stars”; stories that might be true, maybe they are.

In the middle of a very funny novel I co-authored about the Court of Louis XV called “Desire’s Detective”, suddenly in a plot twist I’d never planned, Louis XIV was in love with his grand-daughter in law Marie Adelaide of Savoy, and fathered a child by her. A dark splotch on a delightfully light-pink, bubbly story.

I researched. True enough, when Marie Adelaide died the Sun King was devastated, as never before, even though he’d lost his wife and his children, and his grand-children. On her death-bed Madame Maintenon declared Louis XIV had loved only two women in his life: his mother, and Marie Adelaide of Savoy.

Again, research verified my little “snippet” as a historical possibility.

Let’s use the scary word here: intuition.

Research verified my intuition.

I have no explanation for this. Except maybe, if you will forgive my writer’s vanity, I will quote from the prologue of another book, Jacaranda Dreams:

“I found a story. Or rather, it found me. Be careful, dear friends: do not wander the world with incautious ears. Stories and ghosts (are they not the same?) seek always a crack to pour themselves into, a mouth to utter them, sometimes unknowing; a hand to write or paint them and when they are done, leave you empty, bereft, discarded.”

I think we are all story tellers, we all hear music and voices, see magical realms.

The side of us that hears and dances to that strange music we call “intuitive” or “intuition”. We shy from it, flinch, are embarrassed to acknowledge it, least we be labelled as...odd.

I believe this is the side of us that connects us to each other, and to something larger, to an invisible complex world, a mystery.

I have no brilliant conclusion to offer, no explanation, no solution to the conundrum, no mystical “AHA!” only stories to tell, stories within stories.

That’s all.


Manuela Cardiga
SUNRISE

Day has not broken
Come back to bed

Give me one more token
Of desire - come lie on me 
Let me be the quiet warmth 
Enfolding you, 
Whisper sleepy words 
Cradled to my breasts 
Delve and burrow and sigh 
In my honeyed shadows 
Deep dancing to rest 
In me your ambition 
Made flesh

Day has not broken 
Come back to bed


Manuela Cardiga

LOVE AND POVERTY AS A SUBJECT FOR POETRY

A man said "Love and poverty go together" I wonder what he meant...

I wonder if he really meant "love and poetry go together"?
Or is poetry a form of poverty?
Poverty is lack.
Is poetry a lack of emotional restraint?
Oh that could start such a debate!

Do poets love more lavishly than the pragmatic?
So when love ends they are left quite destitute?

Do they tear their "clothes" to rags, leave themselves exposed?
So they are "poorly" defended against indifference;
left naked before the unkind and potentially ironic gaze of the beloved...

Manuela Cardiga

Lover's Truth

Every word ever writen
About love
Is a truth and a lie.
The only ones who know
Are lovers and they keep
The secret whispering
From mouth to mouth

Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 19 August 2013

Bliss

What a pretty thing is bliss
A petty trifle we might get
From a kiss
Or even a smile-
Some word will beguile
From our hearts
That one fragile moment
Of contented enchantment.

I take it - that bliss -
That one stolen kiss,
And thank you;
I twine it into my hair
Along with a sprig of jasmine
I steal from a branch
Overhanging a walled garden
I pass everyday.

I will take it with me
And I will spend this long day
Crowned with that bliss,
The fragile enchantment of
One tender kiss.

Manuela Cardiga

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Wakefuness

I rise and bind
The tinkling glass to my wrists
The silver chimes to my ankles
I comb the scented oil into my hair
Scarlet silk sways my hips
I lay cool lines of khol upon my lids
Lift my eyes to my cupped hands
My fingers trace the curves of heaven,
My arms open to embrace
The slow clap, and the ground
Caressing my bare soles.
All night whispers melt away,
There is only this-
This precise unthinking thing
Like a motion and a standing still
This sober drunkenness demanding stars.

I become this stillness
I whirl myself alight
Until something catches fire
Then fall unresisting
Into the silent blue

Weightless I sink
And watch
The silver exhalations
Slow rise
Expanding to fall
There is no sleep


Manuela Cardiga

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Love isn’t about time or how long you know someone. It’s about being with a person you can’t close yourself off from, even if you try. It’s about having the courage to stay open, to be naked, to be yourself completely with someone who’s doing the same with you.

From: Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables

Manuela Cardiga

ESSAY: The God-Particle Thingymmajig.

Hello again.


Fair warning here : I will be expounding at length and with great gusto on a subject I know nothing about, namely, the God-Particle Thingymmajig.

So from what I can gather from my limited exposure to the World News – I’m a working Mom who does overtime as a writer, illustrator and seamstress – they found a thingymmajig they called the God-Particle.

Surprise…

The World is in an uproar: the part that is not actually struggling for survival in the midst of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression is absolutely livid.
What they actually seem to be upset about is not the discovery.

They are not questioning the validity of the experiments, verifying base-line and things, or the cognitive process, or qualifications of the scientists.
Nope.

It’s the Name.
Naming is enormously powerful. Naming makes things real. A Rose by any other name would not smell as sweet…

Hysterical people all over the World are bashing at each over a name.
The God-Particle.

I like it.

They are screaming because they are not in the midst of child-rearing a viciously bright girl.
Two years ago, my daughter (then seven) came to me and asked: “Mom, why did the Universe begin?”
I smugly replied by unreeling the Big Bang Theory.

“Mom, I already know that story, I asked WHY, not how. Why did it happen? If everything was still, why did it start moving? And please don’t tell me it was God.”

Ok. Deep breath.
I’m a reasonably bright mature woman, I can deal with this…
So I did: I passed the hot potato.

I hunted up Stephen Hawking’s e-mail on the net, and we sent him a mail asking him WHY, and please don’t say it was God…

He didn’t answer.
Chicken.
Disappointed in you, Steve.
Showing the white feather. Sad, very sad.

If it was today, of course, I would have joyfully replied: “The God-Particle did it.”
That would have shut that precocious little minx up.

Seriously though, think about it.
We are not alone. We live in a Universe choc-full of sentient life. God-Particles, sub-atomic particles that react to having an audience, viruses that manipulate the hosts to further their reproductive ambitions…

Paranoid Guy in the corner table, relax, it’s not out to get you.

We have been looking for alien life in Outer Space. We should have looked inside.
Did any-one out there read a book (or see the movie) “Horton Hears a Who”? It’s all in there. Dr Seuss knew.

There are worlds within us, everywhere about us. We move in a mystery, and people argue about a name? Angels dance on pin-heads, there are voices in the dark, and we fight about a name?

We should be awed, enchanted and mostly, hopeful.
We are not alone. What our ancestors knew by intuition, and we have spent the last century trying to disprove with science is true: there is pattern and meaning in the movement of the stars.

The Universe is awake, aware and seething with life.
We should be humbled and exalted.
We were born not of a cosmic accident, but of an act of will, of love.
We are the ultimate outcome of the ambition of the Light.


Manuela Cardiga

Friday, 16 August 2013

Pinocchio or The Golem of Prague

Long, long ago, the Jews of Prague lived behind walls, in a city within a city in love with its own holiness. When night fell, the Gentiles would close the gates: the sin of heresy could not flee, nor the sanctity of the city be violated, and all was as it should be.

But one year a new fear came to visit: one that did not respect walls and gates and could not be locked out. A terrible plague came from the East, a terrible plague came to Prague.

People died and were thrown unmourned and unshriven into shallow graves, and in the great Cathedral the Bishop preached contrition and the confession of sins, penance; that God would hold his hand from their flesh, and turn away the Plague Angel.

And so they did. They wailed and wept, walked in sack-cloth and ashes, and tore their own flesh; but still the Plague spread like wildfire consuming life after life. Then did the eyes of the Righteous fall on the Ghetto where the quiet People moved with lowered heads. Low did they bow and move closer to walls for they knew that blame fell always on the strange and the strangers.

The Bishop said: “All in Prague, City of Faith, did confess, and surrender their pride to God, except the People.” So he sent to the Ghetto and called the Rabbi of the People to the great cathedral.

Now, the Rabbi was a small man: small in stature, and small amongst his People. He made shoes that did not quite fit, his tongue stumbled at prayers; he dreamed awake and stumbled even on the smallest stone. A small man and a stumbler, he came to the great place and stood small before the great man.

Tall was the Bishop, high in righteousness and pride; higher yet his miter and so was his wrath.
“Rabbi, your people must confess, and do acts of penance and contrition, that God may turn away his hand, and punish Prague no more.”

The Rabbi stumbled even in his courage, but he had to say: “no” for he knew his People would not countenance such a thing.

And the Bishop said “Go then, and on you falls the blood of The People, for I cannot hold back the tide of fear and rage of the Righteous. If you will not be sanctified in Holy Water, they will wash your sins away in blood.”

The Rabbi walked home to the walls and the great doors and saw they were a prison, but also a protection.
That very night the doors were left open, the night-guard stayed home, and crowds roamed the Ghetto and killed and raped at will.

The People came to the Rabbi, as he made his ill-fitting shoes and said: “Have you no wisdom? No power from The One that may protect us, His People?”  In their fear they had forgotten that the gift of God to the People was ever endurance.

So that night the Rabbi took down an ancient book that had belonged to a great scholar, a man of Istanbul,
and in it he found the summoning for a thing of power. He went to the places of burial of the unshriven dead and took up the mud and flesh upon them and this he mingled with the seed of his body, and called on unholy names, and there rose from the dirt a great shape like a child, with no face and no bones and no heart to love.

He called it by its name - Golem - and it followed the Rabbi, and when they entered the Ghetto they saw a group of men with torches and rage, breaking into a house of the People, and the thing with no face and no heart took them up and tore them apart like bread, and they died.

The Rabbi felt at that tearing and spilling of life a great pleasure: greater than in the flesh of his wife, than wine, than the spirit of God within him. For ten days and ten nights, the Golem and the Rabbi stood as gates to defend the People of the Ghetto of Prague, but as the plague-fires died, the Righteous looked away and no more came to die on the narrow ghetto streets.

A great hunger stirred the Rabbi then - the small stumbler, maker of ill-fitting shoes- and he took his Golem with no face and no heart and went into the city and reaped lives to feed his lust. Soon all the children of the City - Jews and Gentiles alike - were afraid to sleep, and stories of death filled the night and the elders of the People drew together and spoke to the Rabbi.

“Destroy this thing you have made, take back the piece of your soul ,or be cast out from the people of God”
But the Rabbi was enamored of the hunger and the desire and the power, and would not; and every hand was upon him, and he was cast out.

In the dark forests he wandered and fed on the small deaths of small things, his mouth foul with dirt and lust; he and his golem, with no face and no heart to love and soon they were one. He had become a dual thing with no face, and no heart, and a screaming soul, unwilling to surrender its power to gain the peace of death. He was too small a man to know that you cannot fight death with more death; you cannot raise a monster in your own flesh and hope to rest your soul in God. It is said that to this very day, he roams undying, feeding on small deaths, mumbling and stumbling in blind pain.

But I wil tell you another ending. I think he went into the desert, where there were no deaths to harvest, and the sun dried his mud flesh and the cleansing wind scoured him away to a shadow of his former self. Centuries has he travelled, and now he crawls with his twig hands; dragging himself home to Jerusalem.
He will look for an olive grove on a golden hill, and there he will plant - in his own flesh - a sapling of hope; all that is left of the Rabbi’s stumbling soul.


Manuela Cardiga

If you enjoyed this story, look for my new novel 

"MANscapes - Journey into Light"


TANGO WITH ROSE...

Sweet, my love, I’m listening to music…

A tango: Por una cabeza, Carlos Gardel.

Come over here. Do you like the Tango?
Not that silly acrobatic Hollywood posturing; the sensuous stuff, the real thing.
This is fucking to music with your clothes on: no rules, no choreographed steps.
Did you think this was just a dance? Oh but this is so much more. It's the stop-start teasing and the heat and the breathing carefully so you don’t scream.

It’s Tango. It stared in the brothels in Argentina, you know, a dance of seduction, and the men were supposed to get aroused...It was foreplay, and all that was left to do in private was culmination, but in a private tango, you don’t have to stop. It’s easy, really, you turn down the lights and the music takes you.

Would you like to dance with me? Now - or some other night.
I’m sly-stepping up to invite you: come do a phantom tango with me.
I stand here in the dim light: tall heels, black dress - a froth of chiffon, so light you can glimpse the shadow between my thighs; and the intricate lace cuffs of my black stockings flirt with your sight.
Come join me: step towards me, into the light,

Yes, like that, we step together; towards each other, barely touch, connected by intent and the music starts, and we follow it. Every pause, the slow cadence; each brush a teasing: it is all one long sensual game of teasing and you never kiss...ever. You let mouths brush each other, tongues lick, slide over lips; you approach and retreat with every beat. Heads together, we slow-breathe into each other’s half opened mouths. I slow-slide up the dress and bare my thighs.

Come closer - I retreat another step and you brush past. Come now, see if you can slither your fingers into me, as I slide past again... Tell me, do you like this dance? You have to do it eyes to eyes, and no kissing remember; breathing slow and controlled, and because it's a private dance, you can drag up the dress and slide your fingers inside

Do you think you can make me miss a beat? Lose my place? Oh but no! I will squirm on to your hand, engulf your fingers. Oh closer, see, I make it a step, slide my leg over your hip and it's still the dance. Place your hand on my waist, hold me up, let me arch back so I open wider to your touch

No kissing.... So do you like to tango? Now spin me round, so my back is to you pressed close and you feather your hands down from my breasts to caress the softness between my thighs. Another step, slip-slide and now…

Now the spin-out, you push me away. Reject me, make me slither closer; beg to stay in your arms. This is the Tango, so you relent, one more step, face to face. No kissing...and then, we end the games.

Push me to the wall, one more step,you thrust inside.
The tango is over, and we start the ride.

Manuela Cardiga

FACE-VALUE, NOT A PENNY MORE

I am faced
With sharp awareness:
I have no skills to contend
In this same arena
As such warriors
As I have seen.
I sense dimly
The motions behind veils,
Undercurrents
And tangled games.

Shall I admit
How it confounds me?
I have no skill,
And even less wit,
My way with words
Cannot compete
With a sharp-eyed
Pseudo-friend's intent,
Barbed with sly malice,
Oiled with despite.
Where once I believed
Dwelt kindness
And underneath
A sly enjoymen
At my pain at this deceit:
"Oh you are naive..."

So away from me, confusion.
I do not wish to see.
Let me be me; free
In my pretty narrow world
Of make-believe.

For me it is a done race:
You see, I ran for joy,
For the bright wind
Of sincerity in my face.
I cannot play this game
I will not run for pain.

So away from me
If you be spoilers,
What joy can there be?
For the foxes, the little foxes;
Spoiling tender vines,
Drawing from sweet grapes
Nothing but sour wine?


Manuela Cardiga

ESSAY: A story about a broken wing

I work at a Yacht Club and have the privilege of a sea view complete with wind-tossed palm trees and soaring seagulls.
I must confess to not being particularly fond of seagulls.
They are loud, vicious and unlovable: vermin with wings.
At least I always thought so.


My colleague Al thinks otherwise. She is a sensitive soul with sea-green eyes and a gruff attitude that hides a tender heart. Many years ago, long before I came to work with her, she rescued a seagull with a broken wing. She nursed her and fed her. It was a her, that seagull. Female. Vicious, loud, demanding. Al fed her three tins of cat-food a day.


Did I say it was a seagull? By the time I arrived on the scene it was a veritable Christmas Turkey.
She waddled on webbed feet to the window of our office, dragging that broken wing; and tapped demandingly for food three times a day. If the “service” was not fast enough, Madam would scream furiously. She’d screech anyway, and stare at whoever was feeding her with an imperious, scornful eye. I was not fond of her. She was not endearing.


One day, she did not come to tap on the window for breakfast, nor for lunch…
I’ll admit I was worried.


Al told me that the Princess - as she called that squint-winged demon - had a lover.
A lover?


Yep, a seagull lover- a dashing, debonair wind-pirate. This lover came every season, and for a few weeks, the Princess would not show up for feeding. She was dining on richer fare. Her love was plundering the depths and bringing her glittering silver fish, grooming her broken wing with a tender beak, standing with her against the sharp afternoon gusts to share a dazzling sunset.


And then - as is the way with seagulls -he would leave; and she, with her shattered wing, could not follow.
Her life was a cycle of love and longing.
He’d come, he’d go, she’s stay and she would mourn; but he always came back.
Always, season after season, there he would be.


For days after he left, she would squat at the edge of the quay, that long concrete tongue licking at the bay, and she mourned.
I swear she mourned.
She huddled there, a despondant bundle of feathers, watching the horizon.


Then she would pull herself together and be back to her old routine, banging on that picture-window, her mad eye summoning her slaves to feed her, quickly now!
And we did.


One day the Seagull Princess vanished for good, and Al was devastated.
We don’t know what happened to her, what mishap overtook her.
I like to think some sea-god blessed her, and she soared away with her love, whole-winged and hale.


I wonder: if seagulls can love like this, be loved like this; can we settle for less?
Can we accept, or live, a love a that does not touch our broken wings with tenderness?
Love that is not steadfast, that is not acceptance, love that does not transcend our flaws and painful limitations?


“Love is not love that alters, where it doth alteration find”
Do not settle for less, ever.
Demand a broken-winged love too.

Manuela Cardiga

THE ESSENTIAL SENSUAL EGO MASSAGE

Today let’s talk Beauty and Wellbeing: it’s so in vogue!
We are all running off to massages, saunas, soaking up essential oils, electric shock thingies and being pampered and pummeled into wonderful shapes.
We pay enormous amounts of attention (and money) to our breasts, legs, thighs and (sigh) bottoms.
But let me ask you a question: what are you doing for your ego?

Because unlike a sinewy butt, a thin ego is NOT good.
No, not at all. WE want big, fat, juicy, lusciously sensual egos, with lots of dimples.
We need to pamper our egos, feed them spiritual chocolate and cream éclairs with caramel ice-cream on the side. We want deep muscle massage on our egos, we want to adore ourselves…

So how should we do this?
I have a plan (I’m one of those irritating people who always has a plan, or an opinion; failing that I make a list).

Step one: Tell yourself how marvelous you are every single morning. Smile charmingly at yourself , blow kisses at your mirror. Flirt with yourself. See just how enormously sexy and seductive you are, you beauty!

Step two: Write yourself a love letter detailing how passionately in love you are with yourself and why.

Step three: Take lots of pictures of yourself with your cell-phone. Share the wealth…send them to all your admirers.

Step four: Don’t keep it a secret: smile at everyone you meet in the same way…flirty, mysteriously.

Step five: Hang out with people who agree with you.

Step six: Stop right there….Sing “I feel pretty” from West Side Story out LOUD!

Step seven: Fling open the window and throw your arms out wide. Scream: It’s a wonderful world cause I’m in it!

See?
Doesn’t that feel amazing?
Next time we will talk about “Modern Solutions to the Permanent Removal of Unsightly hair and Sundry Relatives”.

I just love myself…Don’t you?

Manuela Cardiga
RIDING THE CHANGES

Stormy weather seems to be the universal mood; in the world and in our hearts …

So we are all set on “taking up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing ending them”…
I would be first in the lists – sword in hand – but I saw something that made me rethink the “opposing” bit.


On Saturday there was a huge storm here, and the seagulls clustered on the pier trying to escape from the wind and the waves. The vicious wind tumbled them mercilessly about, and they sat and shivered miserably.
They aligned themselves as best they could to minimize the surface they offered to the razor storm, occasionally uttering plaintive and indignant squawks.

Now seagulls are curious things: they live off the sea, on the sea, without ever being of the sea.
They dart out over the waves, scoop up fish, and run; hardly getting ever their feet wet.
They scream like Masters, but they steal crumbs like petty thieves.

There is a cormorant here, who fishes off the quay. Long necked and sinuous, black as ink. Every day I see him dive right into the waves and rise out of the sea like a black angel dripping light, with struggling fish in his beak.

So on Saturday, the seagulls were on land, fearful and frantic; but the cormorant was in the sea.
He was riding those wild waves, rising and falling, tranquil because he knew the water was not moving.
It was being moved through.
There was no high, no low.
Only the sea on which he rested.

He knows because he lives not only from the sea, skimming a surface.
He dives in, he lives that moment of sudden silent silver ecstasy in which his wings move him through something other than air.
He becomes something else.
Something more.

He is a thing of the two worlds, and he knows that wind and fury cannot disturb the deep.
So the great wave comes and the water does not resist, the energy passes and the water remains.
Exactly where and as it was.
Serene.

So must we be.
Our changes must come from within, self-willed from our spirit’s Ocean.
Fear of the World’s wind and storms can ruffle our surface, yes, but we must choose.
Do we huddle in helpless fear, or ride the changes with serenity?
Are we prey to the wind to be tumbled, or do we trust in our own hearts?

Do not fear change, do not huddle in your ruffled feathers.
Rather than scoop crumbs from the sea, dive deep.
Welcome yourself to a new world.
We are not separate from anything: we are everything.

Embrace yourself, cradle your heart on the breast of that surging Ocean.
We were made to ride those changes and to rise – again and again – on splendid wings.


MC

Culinary Pleasures: Manuela’s Triple Deadly Sinfully Sultry Chocolate Truffles



I’m a food fetishist.
Some people love shoes, I love food.
Making it, inventing it.
Not eating it as such.

I love the slow sensuous rituals of creating something delicious and irresistible; the blending of aromas, colours and flavours. It feels wonderful, that whole process of creation.

I propose to take you travelling through tastes and scents and textures.
Some will seem odd, some you will love, others not so much.


Step outside the box, live a little.
I throw down the glove. Come with me, do the recipes. If you don’t fall in love with the magical alchemical world of cooking, I’ll eat my hat! (marinated in lime juice, cilantro, garlic and green chilies you can eat practically anything)

Let’s start with something easy, something most people love: Chocolate.
Dark, silky, sultry chocolate.


Manuela’s Triple Deadly Sinfully Sultry Chocolate Truffles

250g Cooking Chocolate – Noir, 75% pure for best results
1 Tin common or garden-variety Condensed Milk – If it will help your guilt, go low fat
2 Soup-spoons milk
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Ground Ginger
½ teaspoon Chillie Powder

½ Cup dark Cocoa Powder or if you feel exotic, very finely ground coffee.


***


Ready?
Lets begin: in a small saucepan melt the Cooking Chocolate in the 2 soup-spoons of milk, then add your Condensed Milk. With a wooden spoon slowly stir the Chocolate and the Condensed Milk together over a low heat. The mixture will slowly thicken. Stir constantly, with slow smooth movements.


When the spoon leaves a “trail” through which you glimpse the bottom of the sauce-pan – the chocolate should flow back slowly- remove from the heat and stir vigorously. The chocolate will acquire a lustrous gloss. Return it to the heat and (still stirring) add the spices. Blend carefully and set the Truffle mix out to cool in the refrigerator.

Once it is firm, oil your hands and scoop out small portions to roll into truffles between your palms.
Toss them in either the Cocoa powder or the ground coffee, or even do 50/50.
Set them out on small paper frills, and serve with caution…


***


These are delicious as an after-dinner treat with coffee or a liquor, or just because you feel like it.
This is a basic recipe, of course. You can add ground almonds, grated orange rind, cloves or even a dash of curry. Go mad, use your imagination, explore your senses, enjoy.

Remember, in all things, balance is the key to wisdom, only excess is harmful.

CROSS ROADS

I choose.
Every day starts anew.
My gift, my choice,
CROSS ROADS

So today I say:
This is the way,
The path I follow;
And who can say
Where I'll be tomorrow?

Here is a cross-roads,
An invitation to a new dance


Oh will you not take a chance?
Quick! That-a-away!
Will you not join me?
Or will you shy away?

When you flee from pain,
You hide from joy.
And even as I believe
You do but toy
With this odd choice
That I may be,
I choose to play,
I choose your path

For one more day.

And then tomorrow
Who can say?
I may choose
Another way.

Manuela Cardiga

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Ivan's Aromatic Apple Crumble


It’s time to get stuck into something hot and delicious you can scoop up straight from the oven, drench in whipped cream or ice-cream and eat it while it’s still steaming, so for those on a no gluten diet, here is my version of APPLE CRUMBLE!!!


Ivan’s Aromatic Apple Crumble

4 Apples, peeled cored and sliced
a hand-full of golden raisins (optional)
a handfull of pine-nuts or crushed almonds (optional)
Grated rind and Juice of one Orange
2 x 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 (very) large cup Quaker Oats
200g Butter or Cooking Margarine (softened)
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger (to make it snap!)


*** 


Set your oven to 270ºC.

Butter a deep oven-dish and lay out the apple slices in layers; each layer sprinkled with the sugar (the first 1/2 cup), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, the raisins, the nuts and the orange juice.

In a basin mix the Oats the other 1/2 cup of sugar and the grated orange rind.
Crumble together (that’s why it’s called Crumble, you sort of flake all the ingredints together with the butter, until you get a lovely mess that looks like sticky crumbs) with the butter until evenly mixed.
Lay the oats mix over the top of the apple mix and bake at 270ºC for about 35 minutes.

When the Crumble is golden brown and sizzling remove from the oven, the apple underneath should be tender and perfumed with spices.

***

Serve it hot, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream melting onto the crisp crunchy nutty oats; or if you like, whipped cream and pig out!

(if you REALLY want to keep to being good, try a spoonful of low-fat Greek-style yogurt instead of the ice-cream or the cream)

Enjoy!

STRINGING PEARLS

Too often have 
I stooped 
To scoop
Words of love 
Tumbled too easily 
From men’s mouths
Scooped up and found 
River pebbles round 
And bright with souring
Spittle.

No more.
For now have I found 
Courage to discard
Such trite offerings 
With unwounded heart
Having learned the difference
Weighed true treasure
Here within my palm 
The smooth sweet shimmer,
Enduring nacreous glow
Precious offerings
Of a deeper heart.

Manuela Cardiga
It is in victory, not in adversity that a man’s true character is revealed.

A man who strives towards a goal will discipline himself; pare down the excesses of his nature, exalt his virtues in an order to achieve what he desires. 
Thus is fickle caprice often mistaken for steadfastness, resolve, and sincerity.

But freely place in his hand what he so professes to desire, and all is revealed.
The value he places on the proffered prize will mirror exactly the true worth of the man.

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

An Erotic Story: THE SULTAN'S TALE


He sees her, through the stone-lace trellis, bathing her arms in the fountain and the water runs down, wetting her tunic; the thin muslin clings to her breasts.

He calls his eunuch: “Bring me the woman with the white arms,” and the eunuch says...

“But Master that one is not for you...years she has spent in the Garden of Pleasure and refuses all teachings. She will not please, she has refused to bed any. She has not been discarded for her father is the Grand-Vizier of Morocco, mightier than his own Emperor, and loves his daughter well. So she will languish and die in the Garden, but this rose will not be plucked.”

But the Sultan was even more inflamed by this tale, and ordered that she be bought to him that very night.

And so it was. The eunuchs bathed and plucked her and anointed her inner flesh, and wrapped her in translucent silvery silks and pearls and brought her to the chambers of the Sultan where he waited, seated in his private garden. It had been many years since he had felt such expectation, such desire. He was surfeit with pleasure, jaded by satisfaction; and here was a new thing.

He had plucked and fucked a thousand women and hundreds of boys, he had played the whore with rough skinned men; and yet sitting in his garden, he felt at last, a shiver of expectation as unknowable, unchartered territories opened up vistas to a new adventure.

The woman stood in the shadow of the columns where the eunuchs had deposited her, head high, eyes distant

"Do you know why you are here?" he asked

"Yes" she replied, "you are bored: bored with your women, your catamites, and mostly yourself.”

"Bored? I am a Sultan who commands 10.000 scimitars, wealth beyond counting is mine, I command, and am obeyed even unto death. Bored?"

And the woman laughed.
“All this you were born to. All this: and none of it of your own conquering. All your women, spreading their thighs open...is their honey for you? All the silky boys proffering round buttocks and welcome-holes, is it for you, or for your father’s name? Who has ever desired you, you and only you? When have you ever aroused desire?”

And a great anger filled the Sultan: a greater anger than any other and even as it rose in his belly like a wave of fire, it swelled his cock.

"Woman, are you a fool? I can kill you, or give you to my regiments as a plaything."

Again she laughed, a light sound like tinkling silver "So it is true...you bore even yourself! You do not desire me, you desire a new thing, a new self.”

"I desire your silence!"

“Then let me return to my silence. This night you will win no battles with me.” and she turned her back on him.

Such a thing he had never known. Never had he seen another’s back, spine straight, head erect. Always his subjects backed away respectfully or when backs were turned, the owner was always supine, arching up their rounded fundament for his plundering. This was rejection; worse, he sensed disdain in the shift of her flesh under the silks, and that disdain was salt in a hidden wound. Many were the nights he had heard moans and sighs and known them to be false coins, plunged himself into welcoming wetness and known it was mostly due to scented oils.

He rose and stepped towards her, spun her in her fine silks.

"You will show your Sultan respect, you will bow, you will submit."

"What worth is the submission of such a thing as I? I have lingered untouched in the Pleasure Gardens since the reign of your father so I am no longer young. I am a woman and so vanquishing me can bring no wealth of conquest or battle honours. What can you gain by this victory?"

"Your love" astounded, the Sultan heard the words: the voice was his, issuing from some odd place within him.

"Love?" she said, "Oh love...that..." she curved her mouth in a slow smile, "That coin is still in my purse, and unspent. Nor will I squander it on such cheap goods as you."

Then the Sultan's pain and rage knew no bounds and he laid harsh hands on her, and tore the silks, reaching through the rags for her tender flesh.

The woman moved, swift as shadows, she slid beneath his grappling fingers and was gone. His rage and his desire had never been greater: a woman clothed in moonlight and pearls fled before him. He striped his tunic, freed his hard cock trapped in his salwars, kicked off his slippers and pursued. He knew her words could not shield her from his violence, nor would her defiance long withstand the rending of her flesh; nor her high pride survive the humbling women get at the hands and cocks of ruthless men.

Still, she fled until finally he trapped her in a dark corner, between two divans and reached unkind hands to drag her up. Her flesh was soft, cool satin and his hooked fingers sank into her. He twisted his hand in her hair, thick and slightly coarse like his beloved mare's mane. Her lips trembled beneath wide startled eyes, and he raised his fingers to trace her mouth.  She bit him: sank sharp teeth into his sacred flesh and the great Sultan screamed like a girl.

He screamed a name, his eunuch's name and the summoned came running into the vaulted chamber to see his Sultan naked, grappling with a woman clothed in pearls, red blood tinting her lips and stripeing her chin.
He summoned Guards and they wedged her jaws open, freeing the Royal flesh.

"My Sultan, I will see her dead for this, even if war comes from Morocco, she shall die. I will send your doctor, and your favourite – Yasmin -to Comfort your manhood."

"Tie her, tie her to my bed. And remove yourself from my sight."

And so they spread her open on the scarlet silks, tying her arms, her ankles to the corners with satin cords, and as they made to tie a gag to her bloody mouth, he stopped them

"I wish for once, to hear honest sounds. Be they sighs of pleasure or screams of pain."

They obeyed in bewildered silence and bowed out, and suddenly it seemed to him, the falsest coin - their obsequious servile obedience. He turned to the woman. She was humbled indeed spread out on his bed, helpless, robbed of her defiance.

"Woman, here is yet another victory I did not win alone. You are right."

She was silent though her mouth was free. She had closed her eyes and lay still as death, shrunken somewhere inside herself, unmoving. Despite his rage and his desire, something moved in him. He took up a basin filed with rose water and sitting beside her, gently began wiping his own blood from her mouth; her cheeks, where the struggle had smeared it and noticed dark bruises rising like shadows on her luminous flesh.

He tenderly wiped at them, remembering how unblemished she had been in her splendid defiance and saw on her arms the tell-tale trail of his vicious grip. A great pity for her rose in him, yet his lust to break her was undiminished and his anger demanded he wrest from her her pride. Suddenly he saw slipping from her tight shut eyelids, drawing silver trails on her temples, tears. He bent and drank them, drank of her pain and found the salt more intoxicating than forbidden wine. He laid his mouth on hers and breathed - offering himself, waiting for the savage bite and there was none.

Only the tears: that was all. No ravening bite, no cutting words, just slow trailing tears and a soft hitching breath. So he took up the scented oils his concubines anointed him with when worshipping his flesh, and began his own ritual.

Thus he began, a supplicant tracing prayerful glyphs on her skin. Penitent lips he trailed over the welts and bruises of his rough handling. He laved her breasts with a worshipful tongue, filled the shallow cup of the scar of her birth with whispered desire.  There was no time, no sound but her soft breath, and the tender lapping of his tongue, the slippery hush of his hands on her skin. No reality but the trembling of her limbs, the slow rising of her hips against his questing fingers. The arching of her neck, the shamed turning away of her face from the revealing lamplight; all signalled victory to him.

A great shout of triumph wedged in his throat: and he lowered his mouth, between her parted thighs to taste her desire. He raised himself and pressed his lips, his cheeks smeared with her juices against hers.  He whispered into her mouth, slicked her taste from his tongue to hers, “Here is my own, my honey, for no other has it flowed, nor will it.”  He slipped down between her legs his cock, to nuzzle at her tight closed purse.

“My unspent coin for yours an even trade…” and waited, suspended, one endless moment until he felt her welcoming unfolding, drawing him home, and so died in and on each other the first of many deaths.

Manuela Cardiga

SUGGESTIVE BRUNCH: Huevos Rancheros

Buenos dias, gringos! Everyone LOVES an English Brunch, right?

Well, get ready, ‘cause here comes a Mexican Brunch! So get out your sombrero, and break out that Tequilla!
Olé!!!

For those lazy get-out-of-bed-late days, nothing like a spicy brunch… Wash it down with deliciously icy Mexican beer, then straight back to bed for SIESTA!

Huevos Rancheros


4 Eggs

2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

200g cubed Bacon

100g Sweet Corn

1 Green-pepper, diced – white pith and seeds discarded

400g Canned Red Beans

200ml Tomato Pulp

100g Grated Cheddar

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon powdered chocolate (unsweetend)

1 Jalapeno chillie or a teaspoon chillie powder

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt to taste

Dash of olive oil


—0—


Pre-heat your oven to 270ºC.

In a large skillet heat up the olive oil, throw in the bacon and sizzle it. Add the garlic, the salt ,the chillie and the spices, then the chopped tomatoes and the green-pepper. Stir it around a bit, you can add a dash of beer, if you like, then pour in the tomato pulp. When it thickens slightly add the red beans and the corn. Allow to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, then add the chocolate powder. Stir well, then pour out that wonderful aromatic mess of beans into an oven dish. With a spoon, hollow out little spaces and crack open an egg at a time into the mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar, and put it in the oven to grill for 15 minutes. The cheese should melt to a bubbly golden and the eggs underneath should still be runny.


—0—


Serve pipping hot with tortillas and plenty of cold beer or Sangria…

Adios, muchachos!





The Hagar and Sarah Consensus

I wrote this over a year ago Once again it is sadly relevant.

You must understand that what I am is a storyteller. That’s what I do. So to bring about change, I would tell a story. If you want to start a fire, or end a war, you tell a story.

So I want to tell you a story about two women. You see, all women have the same story, the same history, wherever they come from: the exact same story.

So let me tell you the story of Hagar and Sarah.


The Story of Hagar and Sarah

Listen my sisters for this is a story of women. Once upon a time in a harsh land a woman named Sarah lived a soft life. She was wed to the man Abraham and all the joy of love was hers, but her womb was closed. Year after year, as age advanced and beauty receded her desperation grew. She prayed to all gods, then to goddesses, and finally to One God, and still there was no child.

One night, as Sarah sat before her polished bronze mirror, turning her face that way and that, letting the golden shadows on the metal deceive her into a dream of youth and beauty, she saw her maiden Hagar folding heavy woolen cloths. She raised them high, and drew them to her chest, and Sarah saw fluid strength and youth in her gestures, in the smooth long muscles of her arms. Such had she been, and not so long ago. She called to her, drew her closer. She was comely and full fleshed and she would breed fine sons. So that night she spoke to her husband.

“The age of women has passed me by, and no sons did I give you, but take this handmaiden of mine and give her a son, and she will give him to me, thus will your seed be passed, and I shall mother him in love.”
Sarah called Hagar to her and said “Anoint yourself, go in unto the Master and lie with him, for tonight he will give you a son, and you will give that son to me.”

The slave Hagar obeyed, and the seed took, and soon all could see the blossoming of her flesh. All watched, but none more closely than Sarah; and as she watched, apace with the rising swell of Hagar’s belly so did her anger grow, poisoning her heart and clouding her mind.

Hagar was heavy, and the proud arc of her womb dropped low. Sarah called to her “Slave bring me water, wash my feet” and in her darkness she rejoiced to see the woman struggle with the heavy laver, stumbling and spilling water across her straining belly. Hagar knelt and leaned forward- with her wet robe drawn tight against her burgeoning flesh where in life nestled - to wash her mistress’ feet. Sarah looked down on her and pity and hatred fed and warred on each other within her. Then she saw, upon the arch of her foot a drop of milk that had fallen from her handmaid’s breast and a hideous thing tore her throat and blinded her eyes and she struck, splitting Hagar’s lips with her heavy bronze rings. A voice she did not know screamed “when you lay with him, when he spilt his milk on you to make that child, did it please you?”

Hagar lay twisted at her feet and raised up her face “Neither I nor your God desired this thing. Only you.”

“Did it please you!”

“Once, when I was new to you, you said all women were sisters. Did it please you , my sister?”

And Sarah’s rage was a storm, and servants came running to drag her away from the supine woman. That night, Hagar’s time came upon her and a son was born.  The servants came in unto Abraham as he supped, and threw themselves down at his feet.

 “Master, at last your House has a son” and Sarah heard this and her pain was greater than anything she could have imagined. She raised herself and drew finest linens from Egypt about her flesh, and sweet oils mingled on her cheeks, she lay cool lines of malachite and Kohl upon her lids and went in and lay with her husband.

That night the God blessed her and she conceived. When her flesh whispered changes, Sarah went to her husband Abraham and said “Sweetest of lovers, I am with child. Soon a true son will bless your hearth. Discard now the maid Hagar and her ill-begotten son least her presence sour the fruit of my womb”

And since sons are cheaply gotten for a man, a brief spasm and not a great travail where in their very life may be lost; Abraham had Hagar and her child cast out into the harsh land, and Sarah was pleased. Yet that night, as she lay curled up around the son in her belly, horror visited her sleep; and the child within her was also distressed, and would not lie still.

Hagar walked in the sun blindness with her son and no hope accosted her. Soon the bronze heat battered her down and she knelt with her son in her arms. “Are you there, God of my Mistress? Look on me, bless me or kill me, but save my child.” And her tears called up a spring from the dead earth and she drank. That night a drover came and found her and the child and took her into his household. She raised her son and the spring of Hagar’s Tears has never failed, nor did her line.

Sarah’s joy was like a spring rain, music and sweet growth and her husband loved her more and more. She grew round and young with the child within her, singing songs to her belly and caressing it with the secretive smile of a girl in love with love. And finally her time was upon her and her son was born. Never was a child more fair, or loved in a mother’s eyes. Sarah raised her son in the plenty, there in the shaded tents he lacked no water, nor food, nor anything that love and wealth could provide. And thus he grew.

But sons are born of Mothers, but disposed of by Fathers, and one day a voice called to Abraham: “Take your son and bring him to me on the mountain, that you may spill his blood to please me”. And since sons are cheaply gotten for a man, a brief spasm and not a great travail where in their very life may be lost; Abraham took his son to the mountain to meet God. And the God who had spared Hagar’s son, spared Sarah’s, and her line never failed.


Those that do not give birth spend soldiers with a lavish hand. The only way to stop war is to get the women to broker peace: the Hagar and Sarah Consensus. If we can get women to see that, you can forge a nation of sisters, an army of Mothers, from the shambles of an endless conflict. I believe that peace can only be made between Nations at war. The conflict in the Middle-East is not war, and will not end until Palestinians and Israelis acknowledge brotherhood, the People of Abram/Abraham. Both sides have become drunk on blood, addicted to hate. It empowers them. They scrabble to tear open and infect each others healing wounds at each opportunity. They spill blood, and beat outraged fists on their manly chests; and they love it. This is truth. They are addicted to the passion of righteousness. They will never stop. They will kill and die while there are men to push forward in front of guns.

Let us get Palestinian and Israeli women to negotiate a modus Vivendi: a way to live together. Palestine and Israel are divided, but these women are one nation of grieving fearful mothers. Those are the women you must bring: mothers, sisters, and the ones afraid to be mothers because they know their children will be fodder for hate. Women who know no war is holy that leaves behind broken lives.

Women must no longer allow the careless spilling of the blood of their wombs: they must refuse to offer up their sons to the guns. Men do not wash the rent flesh of beloved sons for burial. They don’t clutch at mementos in the night, they don’t watch children return with deadened eyes. They don’t want peace. They want victory and power, and that victory is paid for with their women’s pain. Women that are not consulted… Only in the last hundred years have some women won a say in how the world that is half theirs is run. A small fraction. Most have no say.

It is the line of Hagar, the line of Sarah that must share this land.

We are the fountain and the spring rain, we bring forth our children in pain, and fierce love. Are we to allow the fruits of our labor to be so cheaply held?

Hagar and Sarah who lost their sisterhood in rivalry, must join hands to save their children. No more must Abraham be permitted to discard the precious flesh we bring forth. We shall take back our children from the sons of Abraham, for sons are cheaply gotten for a man, a brief spasm and not a great travail where in their very life may be lost; we shall bring them to the mountain and in the sight of the God who loves children, and no more blood shall be spilt.
No more. 
We sisters will it.


Manuela Cardiga


Daddy's Girls

Women born daughters
Of extraordinary men
Bear a gift and a curse.
The gift is quite evident;
The curse - not so much.

So few men can hope
To match the depths
Or complexity,
Even fewer
Have a like sincerity.

So again and again
The promise falls short:
And that vague
Disappointment,
The not-quite-enough...
Is poison
To almost
Any love.

Manuela Cardiga

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

ESSAY: The Janus Doors

Let’s talk about doors.
People keep talking about closing doors, opening doors; but no one talks about the going through doors. The Romans considered crossing door-ways to be magical processes, hence the crossing with your right foot, carrying brides, sprinkling salt and things, bedecking door-jambs with herbs, etc. They even had a God for it. Guy called Janus.

The poor thing was bloody busy, let me tell you, and if being invoked every time some one traipsed in and out of a room wasn’t enough, they unloaded the New Year on the poor sucker. Not that he got much from all this labour. Oh no! Guys like Jupiter, with his thunderbolts, or that money-bags bitch Fortuna, or Mars with his prancing soldier-boys got all the attention and the big temples. Not to mention Venus! Sex always sells, and believe me, Venus was a big seller. She had loads of temples and eager followers frolicking about.

So what about Janus, I ask you? Janus got a month. That’s right. Janus got January. NOT parades, silken girls jiggling in the nude, or Virgins sworn to him; no returning conquerors burning incense on his altar in thanks for victories, no hordes of thankful accountants.

Janus got January and a few statues of a weirdo with two faces: one facing forward, one backward. Can you believe it? They had that poor Janus constantly looking down on his own bum. Is this gratitude? This was the Divinity that was invoked hundreds of times a day by each Roman. How many times do you cross doors? Move from room to another? From one phase of your life to the next? They went around muttering the poor sod’s name in vain ALL DAY!

Ah, but once a year, Janus came into his own…
That one day and night, the great Doorway leading from one Solar Year to the next was crossed. Then Janus ruled absolutely. Even the other Gods bowed down to him. On that day, humble Janus was the inheritor of the mighty Titan Chronos. He held the vicious sickle of Time in his hands. All must bow to him.  Still, Janus was a humble God (spending eternity gazing down on your own rear-end teaches you humility, not to mention compassion) and wielded his absolute power with a gentle hand.

On Janus-day, New-Years Day they got a golden chance for new beginnings and so can we.
We can look back with kindness on our own short-comings  (as poor Janus on his own derriere) and forward, ever forward into a new and dazzling horizon:  a clean slate. Janus takes that Sickle and cuts us some major slack.

“Go forth and start anew. Take from the past only that which makes you strong: only love, joy, good memories. Leave all else behind. See? Here I cut the ugly clinging tentacles of past mistakes and pain from your ankles and set you free! Dance in that New Year!”

Being pagan had its up side. Janus was a good guy. I’d take his advice if I were you I do. I also intend to render up a series of libations to poor neglected Janus, in Champagne, of course. For religious purposes only, I’m a VERY religious woman.

All Hail Janus!
May this New Year bring many fruitful crossings, may Janus bless your steps on your new beginnings and teach you to cast a kinder eye on past mistakes.

Happy New Year!

Stock in Trade

If you would love me,
Be sure it is in equal measure
For I am determined to be
The very soul of mercantile endeavor.

Here is all my passion, what will you trade?
What can you trade?
I will draw up a ledger, open a new page:
If I give full measure of tenderness
I in return will take no less. Cash please!
No promissory notes to be paid at a later date
And no IOU's for kisses, NONE.
No more will I give the deepest treasures
Of my heart on credit and then whine:
Such love I gave, and was never repaid!

Oh never again.
Think you generosity proves us better hearts?
It shows us fools with no Art
For who has ever valued what is offered
At a discount on easy payments?
Have we bargain-basement hearts?

No, we shall trade day by day:
Monday you love me little, and I shall do the same;
If on Tuesday my stock rises, so will yours apace
But tomorrow, oh tomorrow


That line winds out of sight
Tomorrow who can say?
I may give full measure, take your soul in trade,
Or I may erase the pain,
Tear the page
And start again.

Erotica: Threads in the Maze

Listen child, all true stories start this way:
Once upon a time we all lived in a forest with lions and tigers and bears. We waded in the wine-dark sea where kraken stirred, and still there were stars and gods to fear.

On the Island of Kos, the Witch-Queen bitterly summoned from the sanctuary of the Moon Goddess her daughter to send as tribute to the Island of Fear - from where Minos ruled over the Middle Sea.
And so it was the silk-sailed, slim-hulled boats tacked to the world’s wind and sailed to Crete carrying humility, perfumes, and gold; carnelian and coral, silks and finest linen; and one Princess.

The ceremony of power concluded: finery doled out to covetous hands, gold and treasures confined to darkness, and only one Princess remained to be disposed of.

They took her down beneath the city, to a great carven door made of gold and on that door a great golden Bull rode his burnished cock on a woman with avid eyes, surrounded by a writhing labyrinth of snakes. The light of the torches flickered and the figures panted and shifted, shimmering to motion.

They said to her: “Here ends your life. Go with dignity as is fitting for the Princess of Kos.”
Unbinding her hands, they left her before the great doors to make her peace with her Gods and choose the hour of her demise.

She had left her Mother’s house dressed in the joyous scarlet of the virgin-brides of Kos - linen spun finer than spider silk, and unbinding her hair, she drew from the edge of her dress a thread, pressed her hands to the great doors and opened to darkness. Ariadne - the Virgin of the Goddess,  Princess of Kos -drove upon the ground one long pin that had held up her night-black hair and wound around it the scarlet thread.
One long fine line, scarlet as blood, thin as hope unwinding behind her as she walked. Under her feet lay the dry bones of tribute: gaping denuded skulls lined the walls, smirking in the scant light of the torches.

Still, all death is not final; and she pressed on, the flaring scent of ferocity guiding her deeper into the maze.
Too soon she heard the slow slap of footsteps, the slow breath hissing in broad nostrils.

A presence in the darkness: the jet eyes and the broad horned expanse of the Holy Bull; and beneath, the shoulders, tapering man-flesh, and one more goring horn.

She bowed, clapping her hands in the sacred greeting.
“Great One, I submit this life to thee as is fitting.”

Heat and laughter flared from the Man-Bull “I have fucked and devoured great warriors, cowards, kings and queens, and none submit willingly at the end. None.”

“As you say.” She spread her hands, “I have made my peace, my pain you can devour, if you feed on such…thin milk as this.”

“What else is there?”

“Indeed, there is richer fare. There is fire, ecstasy in pain, yes…and these you know well. What else can there be for one such as you?”

“One such as I? Don’t anger me. Death is not the worse in this place.” 

“In Kos there is the Dance, the great Summer Solstice Dance of the Holy Bull, the conquering God trampling Spring, tossing the fertile Moon on the curve of his great horns…and the ultimate pleasure is in the culmination of that Dance.”

He laughed, shaking his great head “Do you wish to prolong your suffering? Do your dance…amuse me, and then I shall toss you on the curve of my great horn, and you will die and feed the fire, as all must”

The daughter of the Witch-Queen drew from her head three long black hairs and wove with skilled fingers. She let fall from her shoulders the scarlet rag of her bridal gown and drew it between her hands. All the light in that dark place glowed in her, on her incandescent moon breasts, flesh of the Goddess. The red rag, the black cord became a garland, a ceremonial offering – and so she danced. Sinuous curves she drew in the dark, the slapping of her feet her drum, the hastening of the Demi-God’s breath imparting new urgency to her slow unfolding. She wove around him, proffering the garland, then whirling away-skimming light fingers on his flesh then slipping past the groping hands with easy grace. The pursuit and the evasion, the twin offering of the garland and her flesh were one: an acceleration ending with a cry and her hands crowning, and crowning him: the bull horns entangled in the scarlet threads, the man-flesh bisected by a thousand skeins of deception, motionless.

“Now, now ends the Dance and so begins true ecstasy. Now shall you yield: submit and conquer; or fight and die.”

I don’t know how the story ends, or who said what to whom.
Maybe stories do not end, there are no straight lines, all things curve.

That is the truest thing I know.