Novel excerpt from Jeff Rasley

The virus, the lockdown, the protests, the riots, and Donald Trump made me crazy

Nondescript shadowed human figure raising a fist in front of a burning building.
Jeff Rasley’s novel

Then the corona virus hit. When the mayor and governor issued their “Hoosier hunker-down” orders my feeling of isolation and alienation really spiked. The housekeeper and lawn-maintenance guy I hired couldn’t come to the house. I couldn’t go out to eat or even get a cup of coffee at the Starbucks on Illinois and 56th Street. I felt so lonely with nobody to talk to.

I started feeling irrationally irritable and had terrible mood swings. I threw the toaster down on the kitchen floor and then stomped on it. I was furious, because two pieces of toast burned. I probably set the timer on for too long, but I didn’t care whether it was my fault or the toaster’s. I just wanted to smash the damn thing. One time, I went outside through the front door and then went around back to survey the condition of the backyard lawn. I thought the backdoor into the screened-in porch was unlocked, but it wasn’t. Ordinarily, that would have been mildly irritating. I would have grunted and then walked back around the house to the front door. But I was so upset I started pulling on the handle of the screen door as hard as I could. When I couldn’t break the lock, I drove my fist through the screen and unlocked the door. I didn’t fix the screen. The hole in the screen is probably still there, a testament to my temper tantrum.

I sat in front of the TV hour after hour watching the news about how Trump was fucking up the government’s response to the spreading corona virus infection. Why didn’t he invoke the federal government’s power under the Defense Production Act as soon as the virus hit Washington State? All the experts knew how fast-spreading and dangerous this corona virus could be? Instead, he ignores the CDC’s advice and downplays the risk to the nation’s health. Not until mid April, when it’s way too late, does Trump finally use some of the government’s power under the DPA, and even then it’s a half-assed measure. Not enough testing, not enough ventilators, not enough PPE, not enough swabs.

The number of infections kept rising. By the end of March the US led the world in infections and deaths caused by the virus. What does Trump do? He refuses to wear a mask. He’s not going to look like a weakling. Testing? Overrated. It increases the number of infections. Why doesn’t the country have enough PPE and ventilators? Obama’s fault. The President is in charge, but if there’s any failure, it’s the fault of governors and mayors. He keeps repeating his mantra, “The situation is under control.” Pence’s team will whip the virus. Or was it Jared’s team? This virus isn’t as bad as the flu. America always wins. Doesn’t matter who or what the enemy is, we always triumph. We’re going to kill that little bug. Those people wearing masks are doing it to spite me, Donald J. Trump, the greatest President in history. “The situation is under control.”

But the deaths keep mounting. It surpasses annual deaths from auto accidents, 34,000. It surpasses US deaths in the Vietnam War, 58,000. It surpasses total deaths of US soldiers in World War I, 116,500, and it keeps going up.

What the fuck!? This is the United States of America! We’re supposed to have the best healthcare in the world, the best of everything. We’re Number One! Yeah, Trump made America great again. He said with him as President America would win so much we’d get tired of winning. Right on, man! We are Number One – in corona virus infections and deaths!

After spending all day switching back and forth among the cable news networks on TV, I’d turn off the television and get on my laptop and rant on Twitter about what an idiot the President was. That was my life during the lockdown.

When Trump started puffing hydroxychloroquine as a cure, I was sure he, or Jared and Ivanka, owned stock in a company that makes the drug. Why not? He’s tried to sell every product under the sun with his Trump brand. And then he muses about sticking a UV light down your gullet or drinking Clorox as a cure. Presidents aren’t supposed to muse about hair-brain schemes that will get some numbskull killed when he burns his throat with a tanning lamp or poisons himself with laundry bleach.

But there’s Trump on the tube again. He’s claiming victory over the virus. The jobs report is better than expected, so that proves the Trump-Pence team is winning. Hooray! The economy is already recovering. The CARES Act is working. He says America’s roaring back greater than ever. And by the way, Donald J. Trump has done more for African-Americans than any US president. Lincoln? All he did was free the slaves. Donald J. Trump gave ‘em all jobs.

So who ya gonna believe, the experts and scientists or Trump? I turn off the TV and open Twitter. What do I find? All these Trumpers are praising the President. “The situation is under control.” He’s saving us from the virus! He’s saving our jobs and the economy! Don’t believe those traitors in the media and that Dr. Fauci, who says things are getting worse. God chose The Donald for this moment. He has it under control.

I was cycling farther and farther down and I couldn’t stop it. It was as if Trump’s lies and crazy talk ripped off an old scab and it just kept bleeding. When the demonstrations started in Minneapolis after George Floyd was killed by that cop, that’s when something completely snapped in me and I really lost control.

I started losing track of what time it was, I mean, like, what year it was. Was Lyndon Johnson the President? I could hear my dad yelling to turn off the boob tube. But I couldn’t turn it off.

The talking heads on CNN are talking about the Kerner Commission Report. They keep saying the findings of the Kerner Report are still true today. Is it 1967? They say there are two Americas, one black and the other white. Black America is ripped off every which way, income, housing, job opportunity, education; the system is rigged against you, if you’re black. You can’t trust the police. They aren’t there to protect and serve, if you’re black. All these images of police beating or killing unarmed black people on my TV; faces scroll by, there’s Rodney King, Malice Wayne Green, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more to come.

Stuck alone in front of my TV every day seeing the street clashes between protesters and cops, and then shops going up in flames, stores and cop cars vandalized, looters busting out windows and jumping out of stores with stolen goods. I was losing my grounding in the present.

There he is on TV again! That big orange clown figure with that bloated face and ridiculous hair. He’s babbling about MAGA loves black people.

That’s it. I know what I have to do.

I dress in black. I pack the car. I don’t know how long it takes. I don’t know how many times I stop. I arrive in Washington D.C. What’s the date? A day or two before June first, I think.

I smell tear gas in the air. It draws me toward the White House. I walk in that direction. I’m dressed in black with a black bandana covering my face. There are lots of demonstrators around the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Some are fighting with cops in Lafayette Square across from the White House. People are shouting, chanting, screaming. Cops with shields and batons are fighting protesters.

Then it happens. It’s around six thirty. Secret Service agents, military police, Park Police, National Guardsmen, and Arlington County Police all in riot gear advance on the demonstrators in Lafayette Square. A Black Hawk helicopter swoops out of the sky and hovers fifteen feet above ground blasting gusts of wind that snap tree limbs and send volleys of dust and broken glass like shrapnel tearing through the crowd of protesters. People are screaming and running for cover in panic and confusion.

There wasn’t any violent activity going on, just chanting and singing, people waving signs. But the forces of The Man are advancing. They shoot smoke canisters. They’re pushing the crowd of people with their shields. Protesters trip over each other trying to back away. People on the ground are beaten with batons. Heads, elbows, and knees are bleeding in the street. Cops shoot pepper balls. Horses charge defenseless demonstrators and trample them underfoot. Everyone is forced out of the park into H Street. A few protesters throw water bottles, but no one fights back. The pigs keep advancing and beating helpless protesters holding up their arms to shield their heads from baton blows.

I jog around past the melee on H Street, south past the White House grounds skirting the fence along the west and south lawns, and then toward the statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback. Lafayette Square is deserted now. I run through the little park. I sneak across H Street. I’m at the opposite end of the street from where the security forces are still attacking, pushing, and pummeling the protesters. I hide behind a large oak tree on the southeast corner of St. John’s Church’s grounds.

I have a clear view of The Man as he walks up to the parish house of St. John’s Church. There’s a group of men with the Evil One. I know I should recognize them from TV. Is that little Billy Barr? No matter. My mind is buzzing too much to get a clear signal. Two blond women are in the group. One is The Daughter. Then, He steps away from the group. He’s carrying a book. Yes! It’s The Bible. He’s standing there holding The Book. The final signal!

An excerpt from Jeff Rasley’s latest book, Anarchist, Republican… Assassin

Memoir from Norman J. Olson

Sketch-like black and white painting of a young man reaching up to tend a roll of paper hooked up to a large machine.

my mom was a proof reader at Webb Publishing in St. Paul, Minnesota…  in February 1968, my older brother was killed in action in Vietnam…  he was just a year and a half older than me and we were very close…  I remember answering the door at my parents house and seeing the army officer and the minister standing there…  it was horrible and sent me into what I now realize must have been a pretty deep depression…  I would sleep 20 hours and then sometimes, instead of waking, I would go into what I called a “catatonic” state where I was awake and alert but my whole body was paralyzed and could not move…  my visual field was a like the screen of an old fashioned color tv with jagged lines of color moving across it and my brain seemed to be sizzling like a frying pan…  these spells were terrifying…  I was trying to attend the University of Minnesota as an art major, English minor, but I could not concentrate on my school work…  I would try and force myself to read and the pages of text would blur before my eyes…  I was basically at war with the faculty of the University Art Department (all abstract expressionists from New York – while I was trying to paint like Caspar David Friedrich)…  I was kind of a wreck…

in the summer of 1968, I needed a job and my mom told me they were hiring in the pressroom of the publishing company where she worked, Webbs…  so I went and applied…  it was a union job so, I could only work three months as a temp before I had to either quit or join the union…  so, I worked there off and on for the next four years, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes a bit longer, earning enough to keep me in school…  I was struggling with my classes…  but worked at Webbs during school holidays and sometimes even while school was in session…  whenever I worked it was night shifts, either 3 pm to 11 pm or 11 pm to 7 am… 

I had my first taste of the real factory world when I first walked into the pressroom… it was a huge open building filled with giant printing presses… the noise was incredible…  the presses roared and pounded…  the huge rotating drums of the presses were lubricated with what was called an oil mist… this mist would get hot and smoke…  so all of he hot bearings were smoking into the air…  also, there was a constant mist of ink from the huge ink rollers, which rotated at tremendous speed and sprayed a fine mist of oil based ink into the air…  there was a ventilation system but the air was always thick with oil smoke, ink and paper dust…

Colorful Cubist-like painting with a lady in a robe and a man sitting down as if in despair, and a crucifix in the background. Suffused with warm yellow and green light and some purple in the middle, and a gray rock in the upper right corner.

there were two kinds of printing presses, letterpresses and offset presses… I worked mostly on the letterpresses…  when I started, there were two letterpresses and several offset presses…  the letterpresses were situated next to each other…  the one I worked on most was called The Telephone Press…  The Telephone Press was yellow while the offset presses were green…  it was used exclusively for printing telephone books…  the press consisted of three parts…  at the back was the reel stand…  this was a steel structure about 15 feet tall…  there was an axle, maybe a foot thick and this axle had three arms sticking out on each side to hold the rolls of paper…  each roll of paper weighed approximately 1 ton…  the rolls were about 4 feet in diameter and 6 feet long…  when the reel stand was full, the three rolls could be rotated…  there were belts above the top roll that would spin the roll at a very high rate of speed…  the web of paper (called “the web”) came off the roll, went through some steel rollers of maybe six inches in diameter and then was fed into the printing unit through other steel rollers…

the printing unit consisted of two large drums, maybe a foot and a half in diameter and six feet long…  one of these cylinders had the printing plates with raised type and the other had “blankets” of heavy coated cardboard and rubber…  under the printing drum was an array of rubber ink rollers of various diameters that would pick up ink from a trough and spread it out so it would go evenly on the printing plates…  the web would go between the printing plates and the blanket drum and be printed with the pages of the telephone book… because it operated with a web of paper and the plates printed directly on the paper, this was called a web fed letterpress… 

from the printing cylinders, the web was fed through other large rollers about three stories up where it entered the folder…  there was a roller at the entrance of the folder which had sharpened discs that would slice the web into six smaller webs called “ribbons”…  the ribbons then went around a maze of rollers and were fed down into the actual folder cylinders which were two large drums that would crash together with a sharpened “knife” that would cut the paper into pieces about the size of two pages of a telephone book but six pages thick… and a gripper on the cylinder would then fold the cut piece onto another cylinder which would lay it on a belt…  what came on the belt was called a “signature”…  the folder slammed the two steel cylinders together with a huge bang bang bang noise that became a constant roar as the press was brought up to speed… the signatures were fed onto a table where the least senior person on the press crew, “the jogger,” would stand…  the signatures would be stood up on this table by a belt with another belt moving them forward…  a board the size of a telephone book page would be at the front of this moving cube of signatures and a maybe ten pound weight with a handle like a coffee mug, would keep the signatures from sprawling onto the table or the floor…

Thin person with short hair and long arms tending and adjusting paper on a rack of an industrial machine.

the person handling the signatures as they moved along the table was the jogger…  as the signatures or “books” as they were also called, moved along the table, the jogger would divide the books about three feet from the end to make a bundle, stick in a new bundle board and push that three foot bundle about three feet to the end of the table…  he would then quickly move the heavy weight back to the new bundle board while holding the other bundle up and operating a foot peddle lever that brought two hydraulic teeth up through holes in the table, then a handle that moved the teeth, compressing the three foot bundle into a two and a half foot bundle…  there was a space under the bundle where a wire with a prepared loop on one end would have been place after removing the last bundle…  the jogger would then wrap this wire around the bundle, run the wire through the loop  and wrap it around itself to secure the bundle…  then reverse the levers to put the teeth back down to make room for the next bundle to be pushed down the table…   the jogger would then pick up the bundle…  the bundle was like two and half feet of telephone books, so pretty heavy, and stack it on a pallet…  these would be stacked six layers high, so the jogger had to heave the bundle up for the top layers to make a neat stack… 

as soon as the jogger finished one bundle, another would be ready…  so the work was fast and heavy…  two men would be assigned to the crew as joggers and they would take turns bundling, half hour on half hour off…  some of the joggers were big strong guys who could throw the bundles up easily, even at the end of a shift…  others, like me, had to have a technique…  I would hoist the bundle up to shoulder height and then flip it up on the top of the stack… I especially remember two joggers I worked with…  one was a huge guy with a British accent who said he learned how to kill people with his bare hands in the British army…  he worked days as an adjunct at the University and said that he would offer female students good grades in exchange for sex…  he said that after they had sex with him, he would give them bad grades anyway…  I don’t know if any of that was true or not…  I know that sometimes in the middle of a midnight shift, when he was off, his wife would call the pressroom and say he told her he was working that night…  he one time gave us a demonstration, breaking a bundle board with a karate chop…  while he was a lot of fun and full of bullshit stories, he was kind of lazy and it was hard to get him to do his share of the work…  but man, I remember him tossing the bundles around like they were Kleenex boxes at the end of a long shift when my ass was dragging and I had all I could do to lift one more bundle…  another jogger I remember was a very preppy looking guy who was working three jobs and would fall asleep on his break so nobody could find him when it was his turn to bundle…  one annoyed coworker slipped some speed into his coffee one night…  I remember seeing this usually very slow and sleepy guy doing jumping jacks between bundles that night… so I asked what that was about and the other jogger told me…  when this guy found out, instead of being mad, he was delighted and started buying speed from one of the pressroom drug guys…  I guess he liked burning the candle at both ends…

in addition to the two joggers, there would also be one pressman, usually an older guy, and his assistant who was called the “oiler” and in the back, the person who put the rolls on the press and spliced the old rolls onto the new rolls who was called the “tension man” because he was responsible for the tension of the web…  when the rolls were almost wound down, the tension man would operate a lever that rotated the rolls so the old roll, which was now only like six inches in diameter, was at about waist height and the new roll was above it almost but not quite touching the web…  the tension man would have prepared a “pattern” on the new roll which involved tearing the paper on the roll into a vee shape and then pasting glue with a brush onto the middle and outside of the vee pattern leaving a space for the belts…  the paper was white or yellow and the glue was orange…    the pattern was held to the roll with tape that was moistened with water and was called “gum stock”…  the gum stock came from a small dispenser that the tension man would operate to get short strips of gum stock and stick those on the pattern in a certain way so the pattern could pull away without tearing the paper… 

Black and white drawing of a middle aged man sitting down and tending a spindle printing pages in a factory.

once the tension man had rotated the rolls so the spindle that was running out of paper was at waist height and the new roll was almost touching it, he would manually reach up and start the new roll spinning…  then he would slowly lower the belts onto the new roll that would get it spinning the same speed as the web, which was pretty fast…  the tension man would then lower a device into place that had a six foot long brush that he could operate to push the web of paper against the pattern on the new roll so the glue would grab onto the web and the paper would start coming off the new roll and then a six foot long knife would snap out and cut the old web which would flutter to the floor…  the tension man would then unwind any waste paper from the steel core that the roll was wrapped on, remove the core and hang a new roll, put on a new pattern and get ready for the next roll change…  the roll change was called a “paster”…  and the tension man was responsible for “making the paster” which meant that the press kept running at speed from one roll to the next…  if the tension man screwed up, he “blew the paster”…  the press was equipped with devices that would slam brakes on all of the huge steel cylinders if the web broke and the whole roaring machine would crash to a stop…  and the pressman would at the very least, give the tension man a dirty look…  I got a lot of those looks during the ten years or so I worked as a tension man…

when the web broke, the whole crew had to scramble up onto the press to feed the web through the rollers, through the printing units and into the folder…  if part of the web was still left, it could be patched with gum stock and so every person on the crew carried a sharp pocket knife to cut the web if need be…  I remember on guy who had a tattoo that said, “I was born to lose but I am out to win” who would cut the web with a shiny black handled switch blade…  once the press was “webbed up”, the joggers often got a break while the pressman would make minor adjustments to the printing plates or other parts of the machine…  there was a button that would start the press moving and every time you pushed the button a loud bell rang before the press started moving…  one had to be very careful around the press whenever it was moving because, of course, getting a finger in the printing cylinders or the folder would be the end of the finger and if the press was going fast, the end of the arm and probably the end of the worker… 

I worked off and on as a jogger from 1968 until 1972 when I decided to join the union and work full time at Webbs…  after about five years as a jogger, I was promoted to tension man…  I was very fast as a tension man (although I maybe blew a few too many pasters) and could get my rolls changed and patterns made in about ten minutes and it would take about a half hour for a roll to wind down, so I would get twenty minutes of free time for each roll…  I spent that time doing school work (by the early 1970s, I was in grad school as an English major), reading novels and drawing…  there was a stairway back in the corner behind the telephone press, a steel stairway that went up into some space that was never used as far as I knew…  under the stairway, I had a five gallon ink can with a bundle of shop rages for a chair and I would sit there and either do my school work, read or draw while my rolls wound down…  to my co-workers, I was the weird college guy, or the guy that made the “off the wall” drawings…  other workers used their time between rolls to talk or eat…  some read porno magazines (until the mid 1970s when a few women came to work in the pressroom) and more than a few would go out back into the “roll room” where the rolls of paper were stacked up to the ceiling or out on “the patio” which was the loading dock where freight cars full of paper were unloaded…  to smoke a joint… 

Office scene in a large old fashioned printing press. Machinery on the left rolling out and inking and drying rolls of paper and on the right, a figure seated at a desk fingering a box while two others behind him pull cords and move other machines. Gray concrete wall in the back.

smoking cigarettes was allowed in the pressroom and we all smoked through the whole shift…  the air was so thick with oil smoke and ink mist that I guess we mostly figured that the cigarettes would not make much difference…  early on in my years at Webbs, I asked the supervisor for hearing protection… which I learned was available even though nobody used it at that time…  by the time I left, it was mandatory and everybody used it, but many of the older guys were pretty deaf from the constant roar of the machines… by the time I left, the old Telephone Press had been moved and doubled in size…  many new presses had been added and the company had gone from a small, highly profitable family business to a small cog in a global publishing empire…  to out of business about ten years after I left… 

so, I learned to draw, not in my art classes, which had been pretty much a waste of time, but sitting on an ink can in the corner of a dirty dusty pressroom drawing with a ballpoint pen on telephone book cover stock…  which may account for some of the weirdness of my art…  I used to make up poetry while I was setting up my rolls and then write it down when I had a few free minutes…  all of those years, I worked nights…  at first, I was driving to River Falls every afternoon to attend grad school classes and then working from 11 pm to 7 am printing telephone books… not getting much sleep…  I dropped out of grad school in 1976 but continued reading, writing and making art…  I left Webbs to take a civil service job in 1988…  by then the presses had become more modern, bigger and faster and with smaller crews, so nobody got the kind of breaks that I had enjoyed on the old Telephone Press…  now, I am an old man, few even remember what a telephone book was, and I could probably not even life a bundle of telephone book signatures, much less wrestle a 2000 pound roll of paper onto the spindles of a reel stand…  some would say that working at that job all those years, I really pissed my life down a rat-hole…  well maybe so…  all I know is that for better or worse, I learned everything I know about making art sitting on an ink can, breathing paper dust, ink and oil smoke behind a huge yellow Wood-Hoe Telephone Directory Letterpress as night outside those dirty, ink stained walls turned to dawn… 

Poetry from Hongri Yuan, translated by Yuanbing Zhang

Older Asian gentleman standing on the sidewalk in a city park with trees and a red sculpture in the background. He's got a coat, black slacks and a scarf on.
Hongri Yuan

An Illusion in The Bright Mirror of Eternity And Other Peoms

By Chinese Poet Yuan Hongri

Translated by Yuanbing Zhang

An Illusion in The Bright Mirror of Eternity

Every day is an illusion in the bright mirror of eternity.

You see yourself from a teenager to an old man with gray hair,

as if you are a role in a play.

And the peace of mind makes you smell the fragrance of flowers from the Heavens.

You recall yourself in outer space with a smile–

that golden giant and fragrant light;

the huge number of palaces looks lofty, resplendent and majestic,

they rise and fall, like a sea of gold.

Billions of years are like the drops of nectar

crystal clear, sprinkle the music of intoxicated soul.








那黄金的巨人 芳香的光芒




晶莹剔透 洒下醉了灵魂的乐曲


Each Rock is A Potala Palace

The sunshine is mellow wine

and there are golden palaces inside the sun.

Where a giant is its master,

he told me that I was his shadow on the earth.

I will still be much greater, like a mountain

each rock is a Potala Palace.

And the epics I chanted came from billions of years ago,

there are huge number sweet homes beyond the Milky Way.

02.20 . 2020





他告诉我  我是他在人间的影子

我还会更加巨大 像一座山


而我吟唱的史诗 来自亿万年前

在银河系之外 有巨多甜蜜的家园


A Refreshing Breeze of the Dawn

I came from the outer space,

came from the giant city of the platinum.

My lines, words of the gem

twinkling with the future interstellar smiles,

made the wings of your soul to wake up from the dream

made you see yourself in outer space–

time was sweet as wine

the palaces of the heavens were as brilliant as the flowers of gem

the music was a refreshing breeze of dawn that brightened the soul.

12.21. 2019


我来自天外 来自那座白金巨城





时光甜美如酒  天国的宫殿




As If The Stars Smile and Shine to Each Other

I require new words

Black gem and Sapphire

To decipher the alien password

To open the mystery door of the soul base

Those people who ride the flying saucer

The blue blood runs in their body

On their planet

Every stone has a soul

Even the flowers and trees

like their brothers and sisters

Yet, they have no human emotions

The same as if the stars smile and shine at each other















Strings of The Light of Dawn

When I plucked strings of the light of dawn

A golden lightning burned a huge city

The undulating hills in distance twinkled the ruby smile

Vaguely there came acoustic resonance of the bell

from the centervault of heaven

Who have seen that the palace was towering outside the sky

The gods smiled with stately grace and raised their glass

Female celestials shed datura flowers flying all over the sky.

And a large ship approached from another galaxy

They came from a huge platinum city

Their ships were much faster than the speed of light

Ever visited the earth billions of years ago

They brought new technology

To make the steel have a wonderful spiritualism

Their eyes can perspect the heaven and the world

Heart is as bright as the sun

And body is as transparent as diamond





















Middle aged Asian man dressed in a black tee shirt and black jeans standing to the right of a field of grain.
Translator Yuanbing Zhang

Bio:Yuan Hongri (born 1962) is a renowned Chinese mystic, poet, and philosopher. His work has been published in the UK, USA, India, New Zealand, Canada, and Nigeria; his poems have appeared in Poet’s Espresso Review, Orbis, Tipton Poetry Journal, Harbinger Asylum, The Stray Branch, Pinyon Review, Taj Mahal Review, Madswirl, Shot Glass Journal, Amethyst Review, The Poetry Village, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. His best known works are Platinum City and Golden Giant. His works explore themes of prehistoric and future civilization.

Yuanbing Zhang (b. 1974), who is a Chinese poet and translator, works in a Middle School, Yanzhou District , Jining City, Shandong Province, China. He can be contacted through his email-

Address:No.18 middle school Yanzhou District ,Jining City, Shandong Province, China  Yuan Hongri

Phone:+86 15263747339

Federico Wardal’s tribute to Juliette Greco

The light comes on and on time: Juliette Gréco appears to everyone forever in all her magic by Federico Wardal

Image of a young white woman with her face turned towards the left. She's got dark hair and large eyebrows. Underneath her headshot words read The Song You Sang to Me.

On 23 September 2020 the spotlight on Juliette Gréco went out, but not the eternally lit spotlight of the legend Juliette Gréco.  She was the stage muse of the post World War II philosophical movement of existentialism and of the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.  

I had the privilege of meeting her in 1975 in Paris, during a break from Federico Fellini’s “Casanova” which was shooting at Cinecittà, in Rome.  Her makeup artist Christian (Italo Cirri from Florence) had spoken to her about me. As a teenager I was already known in the theater in Italy as I had played leading roles in the works of the most representative dramatists of existentialism: Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Luigi Pirandello. And I had in my repertoire poems by the poet Jacques Prevert and some songs composed by Jacques Brel, such as “La chanson des vieux amants.”

Italian man in the upper right corner with dark short hair and stage makeup and a gold shiny outfit, Juliette Greco album in the lower left corner.

Prevert and Brel both were in the repertoire of Juliette Gréco.  Gréco simply invited me to a bar in the Bohemian Montmartre.  The most important painters of the last century lived and worked in Montmartre, including Salvador Dalí, Renoir, Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Modigliani. Also other luminaries such as Langston Hughes, architect Le Corbusier and the last diva of the Belle Époque, the French American Josephine Baker. An ideal setting for an artistic meeting.  Juliette was already immensely famous.  

I arrived on time and Juliette was already there, beautiful, with her black Cleopatra hair style, her eyes highlighted by a long line of eyeliner. She was dressed in black, as she always appeared on stage, and with a brooch of shimmering black rhinestones on her right shoulder.  She greeted me with a simple and spontaneous smile.  We connected at first sight.  The meeting was not short and there was a second meeting the next day at the same bar. She promised me that she would personally bring me a song for me to sing in Italy.  Few divas are as kind and generous, especially towards a young, early career artist such as myself.  

Juliette Greco, a young white woman with lush eyebrows and short dark hair, sings into a microphone. She's dressed in black with her hands out in front of her.

The song was “La chanteuse a vingt ans” with lyrics about a singer who has an unmistakable smile like Gréco, with eyes highlighted by a long line of eyeliner and dressed in black. But, in the song, a young artist, who could have been me, gave the diva red roses, while in real life it was Greco who gave me an incredible gift.  

After more than 15 years had passed, I wrote a play about this encounter called “La chanteuse a vingt ans” and recorded a song of the same name.  Both the song and the theatrical performance, that I performed with the actress Viviana Polic, were a critical success in Italy, recognized by the press, TV and the public. I received special congratulations from French governmental cultural institutions.  

Juliette Greco singing, her eyes are half closed, she's dressed in black and her left hand is up facing her head.

Juliette was delighted.  I must say that ‘La chanteuse a vingt ans’ is a hymn to pure creativity.  Juliette began her career with Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises with Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, and Mel Ferrer.  Also she appeared with Orson Welles, David Wayne and other movie stars in the television series Belphegor, or Phantom of the Louvre, where she personified the ghost of the Louvre. This was a very popular success, in part because her enigmatic and mysterious presence associated with her very oriental face.  

But Gréco was her authentic immortal self during her concerts all over the world singing existentialism through the songs Si tu t’imagines, Sous le ciel de Paris’, ‘ Les feuilles mortes  ‘, ‘ Avec le temps’, ‘Chanson de vieux amants’, ‘ Les amantes d’un jour, where I think no listeners can resist having very strong existential emotions, even without knowing the sublime words.

Gréco, while she sometimes sang songs from Edith Piaf’s repertoire or those of a few other international stars, has never appeared on stage with any other artist. Gréco had her own large audience who wanted to see only her on stage.  Her way of singing was composed of pauses, gestures, looks, sudden changes of tone between the recited and sung, and by magical moments that speak, and will always speak, to the existence of all of us. Juliette Gréco also taught me that love is fully understood when it is lost ….

Essay and poem from Christopher Bernard

My Children

By Christopher Bernard

I have given my children the kindest gift I could possibly have found for them: the warm security of nonexistence. They will never suffer from disappointment, discouragement, frustration, from failed hope and betrayed love, from the brutality of humanity and the indifference of nature, from the cruel gods of reality. And they will never do evil in their turn—and now we know, without the faintest doubt, that the human species is the most evil of all species—indeed, it is the species through which evil came into the world.

My children, however, will never do the evil they would have been unable to resist had they lived. They will never lie or cheat, steal or offend, wound or kill. The world will not be destroyed from the satisfying of their appetites. No animal will be killed to satisfy one of their whims. No human being’s life will destroyed to satisfy their desire for revenge. They will not leave behind them a path of waste and destruction. They will not grow old or bitter. They will not see the destruction of much they have admired and loved. They will not see their friends and family die, and yet have to live on. They will not live fearing poverty, shame, failure, being found out. They will not fear old age, senility, death. They will not die.

I see their eyes glimmer in the shadows. Are they glimmering from tears? I cannot tell, and they are silent. Perhaps they are tears of sorrow, perhaps they are tears of gratefulness. Or perhaps they are my tears, as I reach my hand out toward them, half regretting my life’s single virtuous deed. But then, parents can be unforgivably selfish.


Christopher Bernard’s next book, a collection of poems called The Socialist’s Garden of Verses, will be published in the fall of 2020.

Inside the Locket Is the Face That Loves You

By Christopher Bernard

They started appearing here and there in the city

a few years ago.

Now there are many more.

Like ghosts made of candles in glass

and posies of daisies, peonies, poppies,

the height of a child’s knee.

Some cover half a sidewalk

like scattered baskets of roses

and flicker and stare with a dozen flames in the night,

but most are small, no wider than a bended knee.

Sometimes they include a photo, a drawing,

of the person who died there—

a young black man, an old black woman—

or only a scrawled name.

“We miss you, Darryl!”

“Jimmy: Luv U 4 Eva!”

You can almost hear Jimmy laugh

reading that,

or see Darryl’s cool eyes.

I stop at a woman’s:

among the few flowers and three lit candles

there is a small lace handkerchief,

kept from being blown away

by a heart-shaped locket on a thin chain.

Pedestrians in masks hurry uneasily by.

The traffic passes without incident.

A shred of cloud disperses into thin air.


Christopher Bernard’s latest book of poems, The Socialist’s Garden of Verses, will appear in the fall of 2020.

Essay from Ike Boat

Group of young people carrying bags of food on a partly cloudy day down a street by some multistory buildings.

Article-Blog: TNN Triple Donation

In this article-blog, I bring to your heart-yearning seizure, brain-reading leisure and soul-absorbing pleasure with regard to an eye-witness experience and personal involvement with the Timmy Nation Network – TNN a youth dominated non-governmental, non-profit organization with membership of Fifty (50) plus in the south-west city of Takoradi at the heart of the Western Region of Ghana, West Africa. The formation of TNN about a decade ago, commenced like a virtual playground of young energetic individuals from different ethnic as well as religious background then to an actual platform of fellows with ambitions to make realistic impact in the lives of many with the metropolis of domicile, thus around Sekondi Trotro Station – STS (Commercial Mini Bus) area of Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana, West Africa.

In retrospective reflections, the year 2015 marks my first ever encounter as solid participation with the TNN youthful crew-brand. Indeed, it’s a movement of individuals with heart of entrepreneurial spirit and generous heart always ready to support the less fortunate in the modern society. Of course, the flashback worth-while outreach donation-move took place at the Egyam Orphan Home, which is situated at Egyam, a place dominated by the Ahanta tribe in the Western Region of Ghana. Some of the products donated at then included bags of rice, loaves of bread, soft drinks, kids candies/toffees, both bottled and sachet mineral water and a couple of other provisions to the Egyam Orphan Home. Quite remarkably, the members who were part and parcel of the maiden donation outreach have traveled to various cities of countries around the globe.

Young man, standing, handing a bag of food to an older woman seated outside on the porch of a building. She's got a colorful yellow and orange skirt.

Fast forward to the present days and modern times, some weeks ago TNN crew led by its Founder, President and CEO in the personality of Mr. Timmy Amoako, an Entrepreneur and Small businesses owner, together with a host of other leading names and passionate as well as caring like-mind individuals donated sets of food items in bags to the old women whose lives have been highly affected by the lock-down and hardships of the fatal Corona Virus pandemic, thus the two notable coastal communities of New Takoradi and Anafo, Sekondi in the Western Region of Ghana. Well, whilst away at the perching-point habitat of Estate Top in Kasoa, Central Region of Ghana. I had virtual pictorial view of such significant move by the entire leadership and membership of Timmy Nation Network – TNN crew. In life, it quite obvious many of us go through personal challenges and difficulties which can affect our future plans it care is not taking every well. It crystal clear, some hardships of people may differ from person to person or place to place depending on the highness of its outlook in general or state of effect at stake. Well, this might be a revelational truth to those being victims of life in the face of natural disasters such as hurricane, cyclone, earth-quake, bush fires, flood and many others including past-times of Ebola, and even recent times of CoViD-19 pandemic. That means without people of giving hearts or willingness to offer helping and healing hands when it comes to compassion, many lives will pass away from the surface of the earth untimely. Of course, these make the works and efforts of Timmy Nation Network – TNN crew paramount to various communities locally as on regular basis seeks to connect with other philanthropic personalities and benevolent organizations globally.

Group of young people with bags of food walking by a run-down abandoned building. Cloudy day.

On Saturday,10th October,2020 around 4-am dawn-cast I embarked on irregular road trip which by divine care, safety and protection of God arrived at 9:50 am at a roadside alighting point, off the Liberation street, close to Kwame Nkrumah round-about and Asempa Hotel, then Embassy Hotel in Takoradi, Western Region of Ghana. Obviously, since some aspect of this Article-Blog #ArtiBlog is a mixed feeling of happenings, I hereby state that it’s unforgettable rainy-day inland trip to the birth-place, primarily due to booking certainty as a means of making this writing fair and balance to readers like yourself. To the Subject-Matter and focus of this publication, TNN group boarded mini-bus at 4:20 pm and packed the two big bags containing packages of food-stuffs and addition of nose-masks. Time-wise, at 4:40 pm we alighted and paid a courtesy call on the Assemblyman in the person of Honourable Abdul Baba Salami, in charge of Yensudo Electoral Area at Anafo suburban community within Sekondi, the sister city of Takoradi, Western Region of Ghana. We met him alongside his Unit Committee members namely Mr. Francis Quayson, Madam Esther Solomon and the Unit Committee Chairman, Mr. Ebenezer Obeng. After our purposeful interaction, he led us to do deliveries of the food-stuffs in bags of different colours, thus being our main motive of the outreach donation program. From house to house, door to door we reached out with compassionate hearts and helping hands of giving to the old women between the ages of 70 years and above. Indeed, those in dare need of support as relief to them due to adverse effect, coupled with the hardship conditions and circumstance of Corona Virus – CV pandemic. With oneness of heart, solid cooperation in togetherness and mutual conducts led by the TNN Founder, President and CEO in the person of Mr. Timmy Amoako, we walked ups and downs of hills, out and about the neighbourhood as well as backyard and background of mostly nucleated settlements in a bid to show relief-love to the old woman, mothers in this chosen poverty stricken community of Anafo at Sekondi in the Western Region of Ghana, West Africa. It’s exactly 6:50 pm when the entire giving outreach came to completion together with the hard-working supportive figures such as Mr. Leonardo Mensah, Mr. Prince Amartey Laryea, Mr. Nana Kofi Amoah,         Mr. Emmanuel Attabra, Mr. Mohammed Iddrisu, Mr. Benjamin Aidoo Mensah, Mr. Nana Kweku Ayeh and Mr. Collins Adjei Assabil. In fact, most of the listed names and even others not mentioned in this publication played a vital role, besides contributed as well participated immensely in ensuring the success of this outreach donation at the Anafo suburban community of Sekondi, Western Region of Ghana. However, without mincing words in any shadow of doubts, some TNN ladies of valour and substance also did remarkably well through-out this outreach donation endeavour, even some behind the scenes directives and counsels became so significant at the long run. Factually, for the urgency of Timmy Nation Network – TNN records, the lead Patron and Sponsor for this particular outreach donation was made possible by Madam Augustina Mensah and her Auntie in Germany.(Deutschland). At 7:10 pm, we boarded commercial mini-bus to Takoradi, where we climaxed the evening with a round-table meeting discourse and dinner celebration marking the TNN Founder’s birthday, at Han Palace Chinese Restaurant located exclusively at Beach Road in Takoradi, Western Region of Ghana, West Africa.

Young people in Ghana in tee shirts, sweaters and jeans and tennis shoes carrying bags of food and walking past buildings.

Beloved figure, as you complete reading this publication – If you’re Philanthropist, Benevolent and Generous personality, Donor, Entrepreneur or Business figure with heart of giving in same gesture to the human society. hence would like to Partner or be a Patron of TNN, then on behalf of Timmy Nation Network – TNN competent Executive Leaders and committed Board Members, we welcome you onboard. Please, feel free to join our Whats-App Group-Platform:    Better-Still, Send Email with Subject: Patron, Partner, and Donor Application to our man in charge of Communications, Media and Public Relations via:

On behalf of TNN Leadership, we are always ready to welcome your Fund Donation Support towards our next outreach programs, projects and educational initiative in Ghana and other parts of the globe.

Thanks For Reading.

                             TNN Triple DonationArticle-Blog Written By Ike Boat

                              For Synchronized Chaos International MagazineSCIM

Whats-App: +233267117700, Direct-Calls: +233552477676

Poetry from Michael Robinson

Middle aged Black man with a necklace and striped shirt, smiling, standing next to an older White woman in a blue dress in front of a pool and lounge area.
Michael Robinson (right) and fellow contributor Joan Beebe


Moments to pray in the light of night,

When the shadow of doubt no longer,

Linger in his heart in the daylight.

Daylight with all its violence and,

Destruction in the cities as fires burn,

People beaten by the police and jeeps,

Passing with their antennas blowing

It is all familiar the sounds of chaos

Without the dogs and water hoses in

1960s leading to 2020 nothing changed,

And it all is a circle of confusing.

Prayer in the midnight hour as the fan,

Continues to rotate above his head,

He sees the darkness of the daylight

In the light of the moon at midnight.



It all is a circle of life and death,

Of destruction and hopeless,

Generations after generations.

It circles like the smoke during,

The riots of 68 in Chocolate City,

There was nothing sweet about the,

Violence and the beatings like in the

Killing of Emmitt Till in 1955 and

The assassination of Martin Luther King,

In 68 when the fire storms came,

And the smoke circled around and

Around going into the night skies.


Emmett Till

Emmett have you found your peace?

As they murdered you in 55 for looking

At a white woman and speaking to her?

Have they planted flowers on your grave?

Or have they vandalized your memorial?

As the hate continues to flow in 2020.

Robes of discontent and hate are being,

Worn as they parade down the streets,

No longer worrying about Justice for

You and me as our dark skin is a threat,

To their way of life and they are fearful,

Of the truth that we are free to look. 


Seeing the Truth

It is midnight going into the wee hours,

Of the morning as he kneels by his bed,

Praying and praying not knowing his,

Way to solace in his life after 63 years,

Of life that his brought misery and pain,

Full circle of the pain of life as his,

Brothers are being killed one by one,

In the streets by those who protect and,

Serve not us as we are being dehumanized,

Leading us not to the land of freedom,

But rather to the land of eternal sleep.


Hopes that are Fading

His ancestors had hope as they prayed in the fields,

Picking cotton and being whipped and they song,

About their freedom of one day seeing God.

His generation does not see their scars on their,

Backs because they are not aware that they are.

Slaves in the 21st century as one by one they are,

Beating with the new cat’o nine tails.

No longer are they singing about seeing God,

In their life they only see that they are dying,

In the streets of cotton made of false truths,

As they stand of the corners looking into the abyss.

There are no songs inside of them looking for God.


Good Night My Love

As the fan rotates and the moon disappears,

With the coming of dawn comes into view,

He thinks of you and your love for him,

Thinking of the sweetness of your soul.

As he lay in the field of cotton alone,

Seeking to find you in his dreams,

He looks at the sunrise and he says,

One last prayer to God and closes his eyes.


Wind and Rain

When the wind blow and the rain fell,

His thoughts were on God in heaven,

No more did dying bring fear to him.

As the wind blow and the rain fell,

He knew that God loved him and,

He prayed his prayer that he knew,

In his heart from when he was a boy,

God would always hold him and protect,

Him when the wind blew, and the rain fell.