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January 29th, 2005

The War on Terror is a War on an Abstract Noun

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
Edmund Burke

Hi folks,

This year is the Silver Anniversary of Shaddap! Whilst November is the actual birthmonth that the song went to Number One in Australia, this whole year will be for celebrating. To kick things off, my friend Elia is producing a gala concert at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, on Friday March 4th, titled, La Joe Dolce Vita - A 25th year Anniversary of Shaddap You Face, with Steve Bastoni, John Barresi, Gabriel Rossi, Tanya Lossano, moi-meme, and other surprise guests TBA. I also plan to stay over for a second appearance at the Norton Street Festa, on Sunday March 6th. As part of the the year's celebration, I've included my own special recipe down below, Joey Dolce, that is guaranteed to shut somebody up. But I'm still seeking the elusive celebrity pastry chef to create the keystone: the special 25th anniversary dessert! I came very close to procuring Thomas Keller, of the awesome French Laundry, in California, for the task, but time restraints caused the wheel to fall off of that idea! Keller is one of my favourite chefs in the whole world. He invented the famous Coffee and A Cigarette, a tobacco-infused coffee custard with foie gras, to pacify food writer Anthony Boudrain who was his guest during one of his famous 20 course, 6 hour degustation menus. (Keller knew Boudrain needed to take his mandatory cigarette break during the meal so he created a special dish to give him a nicotine hit so he wouldn't have to leave the table!) I've written to Phillip Searle, from Vulcan's in the Blue Mountains, who would also be ideal for the task, but I understand he's kind of retired from shock and awe cuisine and is now living a more cloistered life baking bread in a 100 year old oven. He must have a good tan by now. (See more about Searle's work below in the recipe section.)

I receive about 20 newsletters a week. This helps me to select favourite articles to pass on to you. But if anyone wants to go directly to the sources and get on these newsletter lists directly, here is an excellent site where most of them are listed for you: WEBSITE

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Sorry Joe,
But the idiots who desecrated the Sydney Opera House deserve everything the court throws at them. Just may be their cause - but this sort of stunt makes a point and polarizes the public at the same time. Is it okay to do this sort of thing on the altar at the most important church in Sydney, or on the Parliament Buildings wherever you keep them (Canberra, yes?), or on Ayer's Rock? Sorry; graffiti is not "free speech"... These laddies should be very seriously censured; a year or two in the slammer might help. There are ways that protests should be made, and ways which are simply childish and brutish at the same time. Cheers,
Richard, Toronto, ON, Canada

(Note: Richard, Desecration is a strong word for painting some peaceful words on the Sydney Opera House sail. And prison? Mercy, brother. I personally thought the graffiti made the building look even more beautiful. Take a close look at it. Red against white. NO WAR What a fine thought to trumpet out over Sydney Harbour. (What else good is the Opera House for? Fat women wearing horns singing in German about death.) Dave Burgess and Will Saunder, the graffitists, should get Arts Council Funding to do it properly. I do agree that protest should be non-violent but I don't agree that graffiti isn't a valid expression of free speech. Neither would hundreds of thousands of kids probably spray painting your car at this very moment. But the work should have been done properly at night under cover of darkness, like professional graffiti artists. No moon. They should have employed a savvy street crew who understood how to do these things discreetly, just slipping away in the night, like Peace Ninjas. As far as graffiti in a church? Something like 'Jesus No Longer Resides Here: Please Forward Mail to Guantanamo Bay, ' might be nice. And Ayer's Rock? It's now known by its aboriginal name, Uluru, by the way, (Ayers Rock was named for the Premier of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers who was of non-indigenous persuasion they found out. Fooled everyone for awhile.). But I will personally paint NO WAR on the Rock myself the next time an Aboriginal tribe invades Iraq, so let me know.

Hey Joe,
My name is Jay, I just handed in a CD review (for Skratch Mag) on Peace Songs For A Better World and I can't stop listening to your beautiful song (Gift). I've started a homegrown internet indie-radio show and I'd like permission to play this song. - thanks

(Note: Jay, of course. I'm honoured and I also like your email address: @caffeine-headache.net.)

Dear Joe,
I enjoy reading your letters each week and definitely lean towards your politics!! However, I am concerned with your thoughts on cancer treatments.  I have been an oncology nurse for 15 years (and nursing for 30 years) and now specialise in palliative care.'Causes' of cancers are diverse, treatments of cancer complex and, yes, pharmaceutical companies  are private enterprise.  The vast majority of oncologists however , in my experience, are dedicated, caring people who are open to different modes of treatment.  They won't, however, lie to their patients and make false claims. Do you really think that if John Holt's methods worked that intelligent people educated for over 12 years in a profession aimed to cure and care wouldn't use his method . Don't forget also that people litigate if they are not given appropriate treatment.  Don't you also think that pharmaceutical companies or medical equipment manufacturers would jump on the band wagon to 'make a buck'. Former cancer 'victims' claiming 'cures ' from diets, meditation, etc often fail to mention the chemotherapy or surgery given to them by conventional medicine.  Again a healthy diet, meditation etc are wonderful, life enhancing habits to follow but they are not what cure cancer. There are many many different cancers - some cureable, some cause a chronic illness and some are rapidly progressive and cause death .  it is a complex aberration of normal cell growth and, therefore, treatments effect healthy cells and cause side effects.  Having a healthy immune system helps prevent cancer - but not always, sometimes it is just a poor choice of parents! Our society is a death denying society and, because we deny death, we deny people the opportunity to accept death with dignity.  Instead the 'victim' of cancer 'battles' and then 'looses' the battle, (making it sound like a George Bush speech) whilst their medical practitioners are described as 'giving up on them' . There is a dignity in accepting the inevitability of death - it helps you live your life in a fuller more meaningful way because you live each minute to the fullest ..making sure that the people you care for know you care for them, realising that the world is not just about  YOU, and so the acculmulation of wealth, the squandering of the world's resources are a much less important goal in life. My colleagues and I have 'been there' for many many dying patients and their families -  available the whole 24/24 sometimes witnessing suffering we are powerless to help even with the very best of medicine and only ONCE have I seen an alternative practitioner visiting a patient very near to the end of their life. Conservative medicine has many many shortcomings but, at least we have the integrity of honesty (even if sometimes we communicate it poorly) "Death is not failure, pain is not punishment, life is not a reward'. 

(Note: Marian, in my younger days, I used to be a full-time geriatric nurse at the Boston Mental Hospital and watched many of the people I took daily care of, and cared about deeply, gradually drift away. Many a morning I would come in to feed one of my longtime patients and find a tag on their toe. It sounds as if you think the alternative healing arts and conservative medicine are at odds with each other. Please examine THE GAWLER FOUNDATION here in Melbourne. Ian Gawler uses every medical discipline, alternative and conservative, to assist people. I suggest you also have a look at Patch Adams groundbreaking:



" As a stimulant to broaden the health care delivery dialogue, Gesundheit! Institute's mission is to build a hospital/healing community and provide care based on these principles:
* All the healing arts are welcome
* All patients are treated as friends
* There is no charge for health services
* No third party reimbursement is accepted
* The health care experience is infused with fun
* No malpractice insurance is carried by the Institute
* The health of the staff is valued equally with the health of the patients
* The health of an individual is nested in the health of family, community, society and the natural environment

To Love the Marigold
Hope and Imagination
by Susan Griffin

In Paris recently I went to see a small exhibit of photographs taken by Tina Modotti in the twenties and thirties in Mexico. Upstairs in the gallery, the harried mood of the Rue de Rennes rapidly peeled away. I was startled by the beauty of the images Modotti made and the impact of her life story. In one photograph, a line of Mexican men, mostly workers or peasants, stand staring at the camera. They have assembled at the headquarters of the Communist party in Mexico. One of them is holding a flag taken from the United States Army by the first Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The moment is a victory and you can see this in the men's faces. But the camera's eye also catches a tender quality of innocence and hope, an expression one so seldom sees any longer even on the faces of any but the youngest children.

One might say that life is so difficult now, or that there has been so much violence in this century that innocence is no longer possible. But this explanation is too easy. The lives of the men in this photograph were undoubtedly very difficult and violence was palpably present -- another series of newspaper photographs in this show depicts Tina Modotti as she is questioned by police just after her lover, a militant organizer, was assassinated. She was with him on the street when he was shot. He died in her arms. . . . Among those who would seek or want social change, despair is endemic now. A lack of hope that is tied to many kinds of powerlessness. Repeating patterns of suffering. Burgeoning philosophies of fear and hatred. Not to speak of the failure of dreams. Where once there were societies that served as models for a better future, grand plans, utopias, now there is distrust and dissatisfaction with any form of politics, a sense of powerlessness edging into nihilism.

Yet Modotti's beautiful images still speak in me. The eye of her camera is so fresh. A bunch of roses, encountered, almost as if caressed, come alive as if never before in the frame of her camera. And it's the same with a typewriter or a crowd standing under umbrellas in the rain, her vision original, allowing one to see the familiar again in a fuller dimension. Even in her photograph of the Mexican Communist Party, one sees a layer of existence beneath theory; a desire for a better life and for justice that is radiantly evident among those she photographed. Perhaps it's precisely now, as old systems of meaning perish, that new meanings can be revealed. In these years after the end of the Cold War, a time of the failure of old paradigms and systems of thought, perhaps hope lies less in the direction of grand theories than in the capacity to see, to look past old theories that may obscure understanding and even promise. To assume what the Buddhists call beginner's mind. And to see what exists freshly and without prejudice clears the path for seeing what might exist in the future, or what is possible. . . (article)

Spongebob is a Nancy Boy


SpongeBob, Evil Gay Heathen, How sad to be a right-wing Christian in a world full of homo cartoons and scary nipples
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

" . . .James Dobson, the cute little founder of the cute little ultraconservative rabidly Christian happily neo-homophobic Focus on the Family, actually stood up and proclaimed, to the media, to the world, with a straight face, with no sense of irony or shuddering humiliation or an overpowering sense that he was, in fact, contributing quite nicely to the overall violent oatmealy ignorance of the planet, came right out and announced that the wildly popular and much-loved SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon character is, actually and truly, probably gay. And therefore, of course, SpongeBob is a dire threat to all childrenkind and must be avoided at all costs lest the wee ones watch the cartoons and become overwhelmed with a mad desire to wax their chests and buy a new Miata and drink cocktails made with lemonade. More or less. And why? Why is the adorable yellow sea sponge suddenly considered to be contributing to the mental and spiritual and genital degradation of millions of innocent children? Because he's a hyperactive none-too-bright short-attention-spanned spazzball of lovable non-sequiturial nonsense who induces rabid devotion among children and gay men and straight adults alike? Why, no. Not quite. It's because the frantically animated sea creature is now appearing, alongside noted pagan cartoon perverts Barney the Dinosaur and Winnie-the-Pooh and the Rugrats and Bob the Builder, in a nonprofit video sent to 60,000 schools and designed to promote that vile demon called, ahem, tolerance. And diversity. (Our fair SpongeBob was singled out, by the way, because of his noted popularity with gay men, perhaps given his propensity for flamboyant exuberance and a love of show tunes and his very gayly named pet snail, Gary. Or something . . . )

March of the Wedding Vows (new song)

I wrote this little anthem a couple of days ago to help celebrate the occasion of gay and lesbian marriages. It is orchestrated and should be performed in the style of the Marche Pour La Ceremonie des Tures, by one of my favourite XVII century French baroque composers, Jean Baptiste Lully [whom I just found out was originally Giovanni Battista Lulli, Italian-born, who was taken to France as a child!) The march was inspired, in part, by working with Sydney choral director and composer, Stephen Taberner, last month. (lyics)

Elvis Wedding Vows

Or, if you are an Elvis Presley fan, here is another set of Wedding Vows you can use the next time you get married:

" Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to witness before family and friends the exchange of solemn vows between (first and last name) and (first name) "WHO LOVES YA, BABY?" (last name).

If there be any suspicious minds present in the audience doncha think it's time to speak now or never - their love won't wait.

(First and last name), repeat after me:

It only took one night to get stuck on you,
and now my wish came true, you big hunka hunka burnin' love!
I thought you were nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time,
but now I know you're my teddy bear
'cause tigers play too rough and lions ain't the kind you love enough.
So kiss me quick and love me tender for I can't help falling in love with you.

(First name) "WHO LOVES YA, BABY?" (last name), repeat after me:

It took a hard headed woman to make me king of the whole wide world.
I thought you were the devil in disguise but you turned out to be my puppet on a string.
I used to live in the hotel down the end of lonely street
but now it's viva las vegas 'cause I need your love tonight.

Please take this moment to exchange your gifts of love.

By the powers vested in me I now re-pronounce you "husband and femme" but remember, there is no return to sender. You may kiss your cousin. Please join me in welcoming Mr. AND Mrs. "WHO LOVES YA, BABY?" (last name). Folks, this has got me all shook up, so please love me tender. WEBSITE

Why I'm Willing to Defend Hussein
by Ramsey Clark
Attorney General, under President Lyndon B. Johnson

" Late last month, I traveled to Amman, Jordan, and met with the family and lawyers of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. I told them that I would help in his defense in any way I could. The news, when it found its way back to the United States, caused something of a stir. A few news reports were inquisitive--and some were skeptical--but most were simply dismissive or derogatory. "There goes Ramsey Clark again," they seemed to say. "Isn't it a shame? He used to be attorney general of the United States and now look at what he's doing." So let me explain why defending Saddam Hussein is in line with what I've stood for all my life and why I think it's the right thing to do now. . . "

Iraqis Can't Save Seed
By Bud Landry
According to Order 81, paragraph 66 -[B], issued by L. Paul Bremer [CFR], the people in Iraq are now prohibited from saving seeds and may only plant seeds for their food from from licensed, authorized U.S. distributors. (thanks to Param Berg) (article)

Film Recommendation

The Story of the Weeping Camel


Springtime in the Gobi Desert, South Mongolia. A family of nomadic shepherds assists with the births of their Bactrian camel herd. One of the camels has an excruciatingly difficult delivery, but with the help of the family, out comes a rare white calf. But the mother rejects the newborn, coldly refusing it her milk and her motherly love. The nomads sent their two young boys on a journey through the desert, in search of a musician. Finally a traditional violinist is summoned to the camp and a breathtaking ritual is performed. . .

I strongly recommend this film to every person I know who plays music. There is absolutely no musical soundtrack whatsoever in the film - until the very end. The camels actually shed tears during the ritual and magic happens. This film clearly shows, in an amazingly simple and physical way, one of the long forgotten purposes of music and the indispensable value to the community of the musician in a way not seen before. A good film for kids too. WEBSITE

Camel Facts

When the vast emptiness of the Gobi blocked Genghis Khan's path to China in the 12th century, the great warlord turned to a trusted ally-the Bactrian camel. Genghis has long since passed into legend, but this distinctive, two-humped beast remains an integral part of Mongolian life. The Bactrians' one-humped relatives, known as Arabian camels or dromedaries, are equally valuable in the searing desert regions of North Africa and Asia. Camels were domesticated some 3,500 years ago. Today only a very few wild camels survive-most of them Bactrians living in remote reaches of the Gobi.

In agricultural societies such as Mongolia, domesticated camels provide many of life's basic necessities. Camel hair is woven into clothing and blankets, dried camel droppings fuel fires, Mongolians consume camel milk and meat with relish, and people design shoes and saddles from camel hides.

Some desert people measure wealth by the number of camels a person owns. Such livestock might be considered medium-term investments, as the captive camel's life span is about 50 years.

Camels are powerful animals, able to easily carry humans and their wares. They stand about 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall at the hump and weigh 1600 to 1800 pounds (726 to 816 kilograms). Over a four-day period a camel can haul 375 to 600 pounds (170 to 270 kilograms) at rates of 29 miles (47 kilometers) a day and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) an hour. They have been clocked at over 40 miles (65 kilometers) an hour.

Well adapted to harsh climates, camels are famous for their ability to travel as many as 100 miles (161 kilometers) without water. They retain their body moisture efficiently, but they do not function without water. In fact, a thirsty camel can drink as many as 30 gallons (135 liters) of water in about 13 minutes.

Contrary to many an old tale, camels don't store all that water in their humps. The humps actually conserve up to 80 pounds (36 kilograms) of fat-allowing their hosts to survive when food is scarce. The humps shrink as fat is consumed for energy.

When food is available, camels don't discriminate. Their diet generally consists of whatever plants are growing nearby but might be supplemented by an unguarded pair of sandals. Like cows, camels regurgitate and rechew partially digested cud.

Global warming is 'twice as bad as previously thought'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor, The Independent

Global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British coast and turning the interior into an unrecognisable tropical landscape, the world's biggest study of climate change shows. Researchers from some of Britain's leading universities used computer modelling to predict that under the "worst-case" scenario, London would be under water and winters banished to history as average temperatures in the UK soar up to 20C higher than at present . . . Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said: "The danger zone is not something we're going to reach in the middle of the century; we're in it now." Each of the hottest 15 years on record have been since 1980. (article)

Python Swallows Bush!
By Laura Miller

Monty Python's Terry Jones talks about becoming a political writer, the decline of the British press and how Bush and Blair have erased the line between absurdity and horror.

Q. One of the strange manipulations of language you get into is that the war on terror is a war on an abstract noun.

   "  An abstract noun can't surrender; it can't do anything really. How do you know when you've won? When the noun gets kicked out of the Oxford English Dictionary? But that's a very useful tool for politicians, to declare an unwinnable war. They can keep it going as long as they like. They can decide when it's won. Now, you could say that we declared war against Fascism in World War II, but that was only a pseudonym for Nazi Germany. In this case, we have no idea who we're fighting. It's the first time, I think, that a major country has gone to war and not known who the enemy was. Who are they? We have no idea. " (interview)
Facts About Statues

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.

If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle.

If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
(thanks to Joy, Mexico City)

(Note: Why don't camels get statues?)

Jazz Funeral For Democracy
New Orleans, LA

As George Bush placed his left hand on a bible to perjure himself on the steps of our nation's capital, fifteen hundred mourners took to the streets of New Orleans in upbeat defiance in the Jazz Funeral for Democracy: "A Wake for Peace".


I came up with a simple way to solve world hunger and overpopulation with one idea. Make it legal for people eat each other. Think about it. (Of course, it might not be healthy to eat certain people. Smokers, Republicans etc could be genetically-challenging. Someone once told me that many pygmy tribes practised cannibalism for generations and perhaps that's why they were pygmies. Hmmmm . .? Maybe they started out taller and got smaller the more they ate. One can only speculate.)

In her book, Plenty, restaurateur Gay Bilson talks about her idea of making Amiable Juyce (blood sausage) out of her own blood, for the SEVENTH SYMPOSIUM OF AUSTRALIAN GASTRONOMY, consulting with pathologists and lawyers, instructed that she would have to tell everyone in advance what they were eating or risk being sued, following a gradual plan to collect about 3 litres of her own blood and then follow the basic blood sausage recipe pattern - but only one of the five cooks in her restaurant wanted anything to do with the idea, the taboo was so strong. She shelved the idea but, in retrospect, felt she should have gone ahead with it on her own.

" . . . And so to the climax: a banquet prepared by Gay Bilson and Janni Kyritsis and the staff of Berowra Waters Out, a macabre and grotesque meal which challenged our imaginations as much as our digestions, a meal in every way as memorable as the pseudo-funerary feast offered by Grimod de la Reynière almost two hundred years ago. It was not a dinner designed to gratify the senses, nor a demonstration of the cook's art and virtuosity, but rather represented an intellectual position (as did much of surrealist art), which deemed Death a necessary prerequisite to Life, and celebrated Life through Death. . " (article)

Gay Bilson goes on later to describe Sydney chef Phillip Searle's awesome ice cream creation at a banquet to raise funds for Aids research. Called Ball & Chain, it was ' . . .sculpted around a steel frame in a very large portable freezer, it took the form of a giant medieval spiked weapon designed to melt in the mouth instead of kill. The splendid object (weighing in at over 200 kilos) called for two thousand eggs, ninety litres of cream, forty-five litres of milk, and more than five hundred hours of work: it was carried down the length of an enormous rectangle of diners by twelve naked, clay-smeared men and women, accompanied by the Music for Ball & Chain, which percussionist Tony Buck had written especially for the occasion. The spikes on this instrument of war were made from biscuit cones filled with raspberry sorbet and vanilla ice-cream, and tipped in silver leaf. There were around two hundred and fifty of these, each about 25 centimetres long. After the ball's slow-motion, Crusade-like entrance, waiters broke away the cones and placed them on plates to become benign desserts." (from Plenty: Digressions on Food, by Gay Bilson, Penguin Lantern, Australia 2004).

All that was just to prepare you for this:


25th Silver Anniversary of Shaddap You Face Recipe No. 1

(Baby Kangaroo with Spaghetti alla Chitarra)

Australians eat the two animals on our National Crest. The emu and the kangaroo. We are the only country in the world that has this distinction. This is my quirky national dish for the 25th Anniversary of Shaddap, only theoretical at this stage, as finding a joey is pretty much impossible, due to cultural taboos. Yet, it isn't illegal. However, a couple of major Australian meat wholesalers laughed out loud when I put the idea to them. More than likely, the recipe would require a little tweaking in practice, but as it is based on the Portugese-Italian angolana and the Greek avgolemono, there's no reason why it shouldn't work splendidly. My recipe also comes with detailed instructions on how to build an authentic Italian Chitarra (guitar) for making the pasta:

1/2 cup olive oil
1 kg joey kangaroo, separated into small and manageable pieces.
2 cups finely shredded leek, white part
8 small indigenous yams, peeled and cut in half (approx. the size of new potatoes)
1 small emu egg (equivalent of three regular chicken eggs)
juice of 2-3 limes
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely shredded
sea salt and freshly ground mountain pepper berry
2-3 cups light kangaroo stock, made from roasted bones

The day before, separate the emu egg into yolk and white, cover and place in fridge. This will remove much of its strong flavour.
On the day of cooking, heat the oil in a pan and brown the joey kangaroo pieces, add the leeks and cook until they soften. Add a little salt and 2 cups stock. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer until the kangaroo is tender. Place the yams in the pan with the meat, cover and cook over low heat, until yams are ready, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Break the yolk and white of the emu egg into a bowl and beat until a little frothy. Add the lime juice, beating all the while, then add about a cup of the cooking liquid, beating gently and continuously. Stir the emu egg-lime mixture into the pot, stir, and cover leaving it to thicken for five minutes. The consistency should be somewhere between a soup and a sauce. Plate and sprinkle with the shredded kaffir leaf and ground mountain pepper berry, and serve with Pasta alla Chittara al dente.

(Note: I imagine this recipe will be tough for many of you to get your head around. We eat other young animals regularly such as calf's liver, spring lamb, baby goat, suckling pig etc, without getting all emotional about it. But for some reason, the joey still is like a member of the family. Like the pet dog or cat. Probably due to the Skippy television show. Of course, I am very aware of the protected species regulations regarding kangaroo hunting:
(See Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos
There are specific hunting guidelines when joeys have to be killed, by law, if the female kangaroo carrying them is shot. Therefore, in this case, they should be eaten rather than wasted. But I can understand if one's preference is cuddly little baby sheep.)


The Ponds
Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe
their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them --
the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch
only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?
I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided --
and that one wears an orange blight --
and this one is a glossy cheek
half nibbled away --
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.
Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled --
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking
into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing --
that the light is everything -- that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading.  And I do.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(House of Light)