So you can read my books

Sunday, September 25, 2011


“Among answers, I am the question,

Among scars, I am the fresh wound.
- Lisel Mueller {Night Song}

The Lakota in me murmured to go sit beside the snaking bayou outside my window. To simply be. So I did. The grass was soft, itchy.

The waters, turned brown by the poisons pumped into them by the nearby petro-chemical plants, bled by me. An eye-achingly white egret swept gracefully over the rippling currents.

Its search was a hopeless one : a search for life in the waters of slow death.

Leaves, the bright colors of strangled life, drifted upon my shoulders. Like a trick of my melancholy, a voice of winter dreams spoke to my ears.

“The Seasons of Man are much like the Seasons of the Year, GrandSon. Man begins in birth. He struggles. He creates. That which he creates dies … then he dies.”

I flicked my eyes to the left. The wavering form of the Turquoise Woman sat beside me, her haunted face terrible and beautiful beyond any singing of it.

She whispered on the cool winds of Autumn.

“Man’s words are dying, Roland. And without words, he is drying up within. His grasp of literature pries him out of his provincialism.

It makes him a witness of time and existence, pulling him out of himself to value the priceless gift of those who struggle beside him.”

I nodded. “I think I understand, GrandMother. We are falling under the tyranny of generalizations and catch-words, under the soul-numbing spell of color and sex from tiny TV screens.”

Estanatlehi’s nose wrinkled as she glared at the poisonous plumes from distant smoke-stacks.

“An air that kills

From yon far country blows.”

I shrugged. “A man must die somewhere, and this is where my dwindling circle of friends live.”

“But do they live? Can any who do not think beyond the drudgery of the obvious be said to live?”

Her lips twisted as if tasting the bitter dregs of civilization. “Rather than say a man is dishonest or cruel or unreliable, they insinuate that he is illegitimate or an offspring of a female dog.”

She sighed, “Hatred obscures all distinctions and most truths.”

The Turquoise Woman turned to me. “Like most writers you have a fresh seeing eye. You are as a stranger to your own life, perceiving value in what others see as nothing but the commonplace.”

“Few people read anymore, GrandMother. The giants of literature are fading into the mists of ignorance. You mention Faulkner, Steinbeck, or Descartes only to be met with glazed looks and frowns. Libraries are becoming a thing of the past.”

Looking at her features, fine yet otherworldly, I could believe long ago there had been a face that launched a thousand ships.

She whispered, “Man divides his books into those of worth which few read and ‘popular’ ones of which both those who write them and those who enjoy them are half ashamed.”

Estanatlehi’s grew wet, and a flurry of snowflakes swirled from her eyes.

“They hunch over their voice-boxes, typing words of gibberish, squeezing more of their empty lives into fewer and fewer characters and wonder why no one understands them.”

I reached out and held her cold, cold hand.

“I did not ask to be born. But I am here, now. Within me is the ability to feel compassion and the smallness to be arrogant. The end of The Way of the Seeing Eye and the Listening Ear may be upon us.”

I stroked her long, ghostly cheek. “It is but a storm. And storms are here for me to learn strength, to find it within myself to stand tall in them, and to hope.”

“Hope what, GrandSon?”

“That one more step will take us beyond where we were,

becoming stronger by the very act of taking it,

leading us to the light of the next sunrise and

the promise of a new day and a fresh blank page upon which to write good things.”



  1. Hi Roland .. I think there will be a dividing line between the educated, those that can read and those wanting to learn and then those that follow the crowd and then those that don't care at all ..

    I've been pleasantly surprised by some kids here of 18 .. who've all done incredibly well in school and have got into University (well qualified results too) .. and I did wonder what FB etc would do to them ..

    We are in interesting times - but I read when I was young .. but was never went to University or wanted to learn more ... now via my blog I'm catching up on years (many!) missed - so sometimes things turn out differently .. I bet no-one from my school years or later would think I'd be doing this - writing and educating myself.

    So I think the future will be interesting and not completely hopeless ... I'm going to Oxford soon to listen to a cousin (81) lecture .. and I'll take the opportunity of asking how they'll research projects in the future etc ..

    Thanks - loved the way you wrote about this .. cheers Hilary

  2. “They hunch over their voice-boxes, typing words of gibberish, squeezing more of their empty lives into fewer and fewer characters and wonder why no one understands them.”

    Very apt description of Twitter!

  3. My favorite thing is to haunt the bookshelves of libraries. I no longer have a library card (costs over $100 to get one if you don't live in town).

    My hope is that good authors are not in the past and children will addoringly gobble up their words and want more. And when they get older, interest will not fade.

  4. What succinct prose, clearly spelling out your frustrations of the murdered words and lack of reading true classics from the ages.

    Thankfully there are people like you who are knowledgeable to nth degree to educate the new generations. The future is in their hands ....

    I missed you during my blogfest.

  5. Oh, Roland. I read what you just commented on my recent post. I'm so sorry you've been ill, and with a dead modem too. But sometimes I think a crashed modem is a blessing, especially if it gives you more time to write, in your case, such wonderful prose. And I hope you're feeling and doing much better now!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  6. The Desert Rocks ;
    Thanks for agreeing about the hope. As long as there is breath in our bodies and light in our minds, there is hope.

    Hilary :
    Some of the most wise and most educated people I have met have been self-educated! You are continuing to grow mentally. I am proud of you. SO many die while they are yet alive. Have a great Sunday, Roland

    KarenG :
    Thanks for appreciating my thoughts on Twitter. John Locke (the eAuthor) would not approve, but then he used it like the insurance salesman he was, interested in gaining prospects not connecting with another kindred soul.

    Lorelei :
    Over a $100! And we here in the states get ours for free! And so few go here anymore. If my memory serves correctly, you cannot download KINDLE FOR PC either. As a booklover I hurt with you. May something great happen to you this week, Roland

    Michael :
    I was quite ill these past days. Still I thought of joining your blogfest. But my summer was spent in exile (still ongoing) from my oven apartment, trying to get someone, anyone, to read my books, and running rare blood to ill patients.

    Not material for any epic sagas by Homer, and that's for sure. As some of my old students would have wailed, "BOOOOOOORING!"

    Thanks for visiting and staying to chat. With my modem recently dead, I have been exiled from the internet as well. Merde! Have a great new week, Roland

  7. Ann :
    Thanks for writing back. I've missed you during my exile (still ongoing unless I am at work, dashing off a fast comment or post.) Great luck with ghost writing. It can be so difficult.

  8. Lets hope you're wrong about people not reading any more :) But I understand where you're coming from; I hear often enough the phrase "why read a story when you can watch it from your sofa". Makes me worry screenwriters will eventually be the only writers making money.

    I hope you feel better soon, and can eventually return to your apartment.

    Sounds like the book sales are not going too well, and I'm sorry to hear that. You worked so hard at publishing all your books, it must be frustrating. I worry about that too, with Scent coming out soon. What if no one buys the anthology? Or worse, skips right past my story in favor of more exciting writings . .

    But you're still out there promoting your books, and I'm sure your sales will pick up now that summer is over and people will be getting back from vacations and slowing down on outdoor activities. I think summer is hard on all book sales.

    Be well Roland.


  9. Donna :
    I am the only reader in my department at the blood center. People today watch. They do not read. A part of humanity will shrivel up if that continues.

    Thanks for the good thoughts about my books. Christmas will see many Kindles given as presents, so those new people will have to have something to read. Now, to get my books in the public eye! LOL. Roland

  10. Roland, your sense of frustration resonates with me deeply. It sounds trite, but I wonder where we are heading and where it will end. I often feel we're on the brink of an abyss, teetering, ready to fall. And, yet while mass blindness appears to have descended, I have more contact than ever before with interesting people around the world. Sue

  11. Sue :
    It is like the intro of another book no one reads anymore :

    "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

    We live at the CrossRoads. And it is unclear where the road we choose will lead, no matter how good our intentions.

    Ah, we all know where the Road of Good Intentions leads, right? :-)

  12. Beautifully said and painfully true. But, yes, there's still hope and good that comes from the "new era" as well.

  13. Nicole :
    Thanks for the kind words. As long as one soul continues towards the light, there will always be hope. Come back again, Roland

  14. This is why I was so pleased to participate in a literacy festival yesterday. All cities and towns should sponsor one.

  15. I loved this post, Roland. Just to let you know, I've featured it via a link at my page this week. Excellent writing on an often overlooked topic. ~ Nadja

  16. Nadja :
    Thank you so very much. You liking this post makes me feel as if I did not write in vain. Don't you sometimes feel as if you're playing to an empty cyber-house?

    Double thanks for featuring my post via a link on your blog. Have a lovely day. You made mine such, Roland

    Wendy :
    I'm so happy your literacy fair turned out as nice for you as it did, Roland