Category Archives: Franklin Abbott

Dreams for Sale

The incomparable musical masters Milton Nascimento and James Taylor singing Nascimento’s "Vendedor de Sonhos" ("Vendor of Dreams").

Vendedor de sonhos
Tenho a profissão viajante
De caixeiro que traz na bagagem
Repertório de vida e canções
E de esperança
Mais teimoso que uma criança
Eu invado os quartos, as salas
As janelas e os corações
Frases eu invento
Elas voam sem rumo no vento
Procurando lugar e momento
Onde alguém também queira cantá-las
Vendo os meus sonhos
E em troca da fé ambulante
Quero ter no final da viagem
Um caminho de pedra feliz
Tantos anos contando a história
De amor ao lugar que nasci
Tantos anos cantando meu tempo
Minha gente de fé me sorri
Tantos anos de voz nas estradas
Tantos sonhos que eu já vivi

New Hindu Temple

20071016_swaminarayantemple2 A couple of weeks ago my friends Cal and Larry and I went to the new Hindu temple which is about a twenty minute drive from my house. 
It is the largest Hindu temple in North America 20071016_swaminarayanand is a marvel of intricately carved white marble.  The temple is dedicated to the 20071016_swaminarayantemple1Gujarati guru of the early 1800’s Swami Narayan. 
I had visited the new Swami Narayan temple outside of Delhi which is larger and made of red sandstone.
Swami Narayan taught peace among all creatures and was an ardent believer in vegetarianism.

Why We Pray

20070804_highpriestess WHY WE PRAY

if your luck goes bad
get a witch to give you
a bath
get a shaman to cook
your supper
get a high priestess
to do your hair
get a siren to sing you
a lullaby
all ritual is illogical
and impractical
but when it works
the absurd
the sublime

Franklin Abbott
1,2 August 2007
Stone Mountain

When I travel to see my friends Alejandro and Alex in central Venezuela it isn’t long before Alex
gives me a ritual cleansing bath.
Alex is a brujo, or witch, who works with nature spirits. I am bathed under the huge mamones tree in their back garden.
Alex concocts my bathing solutions from various ingredients as common as vinegar and as rare as an herb from some remote valley.
The process can take several hours and culminates when Alex draws magical designs in gunpowder around me and then ignites them.
Poof pow be gone! and whatever cosmic crud I had accumulated in my aura is dispersed.

For me the most sacred place in the home is the kitchen.
True magic can be made on the altar of the stove. The four elements of earth, air, fire and water all comingle and their alchemy produces the sweet and salty tastes we all swoon over.
The High Priestess is one of the archetypal figures of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Her power is the power of Great Mystery. In her spare time she rearranges the galaxies.
The Sirens were mythical beings who lured sailors to their doom with their ethereal haunting songs.
We use their name for the sounds made by ambulances and police cars.
We also bestow the title on those voices whose songs make us weak in the knees.



the Red Cross
won’t take
my blood
but mosquitoes
why are they
so hard
to kill
they orbit
so much
I rarely
when I do
it is an
old mosquito
about to be
sent to
assisted living
that gives
itself up
to my clap
in that rare
instant when
I win
a million more
are born
and I
begin again


Franklin Abbott
22 July 2007
Stone Mountain

The Red Cross will not accept blood from men who are or have ever been sexually active with other men, a point of controversy in the gay community.  Only female mosquitoes are blood suckers.  Males dine on flower nectar.

Mosquitoes do have flight patterns that confuse us.  They evolved long before we did.
In old Japan mosquitoes were thought to be Preta, souls of people whose misdeeds in former
lives reincarnated them as blood suckers.  Given the number of mosquitoes in my back yard alone
there must be lots of wicked humans in past generations. 

Buzzzzzz, here comes one now.

Fugu & Takafumi

20070718_fugu Takafumi
the only person
I know who ever
poisoning me
is my friend
I was his guest
at a fancy restaurant
in Osaka
when he ordered for us
the most expensive dish
on the menu
an appetizer
of fried fugu fish
without telling me
in my memory
he continues
with chop sticks
dips in soy sauce
takes the first
bite of heaven
and offers me
the next
Franklin Abbott
13 July 2007
Stone Mountain
My friend Takafumi, who now lives in San Francisco, recently visited me and we reminisced about the times I visited him in Japan.  He was a great host and showed me things like the exquisite Moss Temple in Kyoto that would have been nearly impossible for me to see on my own.  We laughed about the fugu experience.
Fugu or pufferfish are a delicacy in Japan and a foreigner or gaijin who consumes the fish is given increased respect.  That is because the fugu is highly poison in parts, 1250 times more deadly the cyanide.  It can take a decade to learn to filet the fish and fugu chefs have special licenses.  If they make a mistake removing the poisonous glands you can get very sick or worse the tetrodotoxin, a sodium channel blocker, paralyzes your muscles though you are fully conscious.  Victims of fugu poisoning are kept in their coffins for at least three days since some of them come back to life.  The most famous victim of fugu poisoning was the Kabuki actor and "living national treasure", Bando Mitsugoro VIII, who so loved the fugu that he ate four servings of the highly toxic liver and died as a consequence. 
Fugu is the only Japanese delicacy denied to the Emperor and his family.  Some say the fish "tastes like chicken" but to me it was more like the speckled trout my grandparents caught on the Bon Secour River when I was growing up.  The chefs try to leave a tiny bit of poison in to create a tingling sensation when the fish is eaten.  If the tingling turns to numbing they left a little too much in and it could be the beginning of the end.
Fugu fish are very aggressive with sharp teeth.  They are also very expensive, a serving of fugu can cost hundreds of dollars.  Long part of Japanese culture their testicles in sake are considered the supreme aphrodisiac.  They have been banned by the shoguns and the subject of art and poetry.
Below a woodcut a fugu and a Japanese amberjack by the famous woodcut artist of the 1800’s, Hiroshige.  And here is a a fugu haiku from the same period:
  I cannot see her tonight
   I have to give her up
   so I will eat fugu