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
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 becomes 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 will why are they so hard to kill they orbit earth differently so much I rarely catch them 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.
the only person I know who ever contemplated poisoning me is my friend Takafumi 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: