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Trapped On Partridge Island And Freed By A Cat

I allowed Paw, my cat/kitten

Black as all thunder

With one white mitten,

To walk, without cage or leash,

On this so-close to Spring day.

He’s gotta learn.

So, I was surprised when

He came dashing back,

Hooked a claw to my pant leg,

And pulled me forward.

I followed.

Down near the shore,

Close to the water.

Was a deer.

It had a hoof trapped

Between rocks.

Deer don’t swim over often,

And when they do,

They don’t stay.

But this doe,

In her way, young as Paw,

Was not going to leave.

Paw went up to her.

She didn’t struggle.

And, I swear to God

– Yes, Jehovah Himself –

That Paw started digging

Around the hoof.

Now, I would have had

Heavy second thoughts

Of helping,

If it had been a back leg.

One kick, and it would have been

Arse over teakettle for me.

But the deer tolerated Paw,

And Paw tolerated me,

And I got her free in a minute.

And away she ran.

And away she swam.

And I swear again to God

– Yes, Jehovah Himself –

Paw smiled.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2022 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report

DE BA. UEL

Shirley Eikhard Kept Far From the Madding Crowd – And Rightfully So

Years ago – perhaps a couple of decades – I asked Shirley Eikhard if she would consider being a collaborator with me, on setting some of my short stories to music and song.
I was that vague, both because I had no detailed plan, and because of the venue where I met her. We were on stage in a theatre, and I was a member of one of her song-writing workshops.
I knew how elusive Ms. Eikhard was (and remained), because I could find no way to contact her except through professional entities, wish is almost the kiss-of-death from the start. So, I took advantage of an opportunity offered.
I had my published book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”, plus an additional series of short stories, formed around theme and not plot. They are stories of ‘evocation’, and I felt Shirley Eikhard would be the perfect person to give them a look. I was then, and am now, in thrall and admiration of what she was able to do with words and music.
She was startled though, I think, not suspicious of my request. I had honed my proposal (not exactly a ‘pitch’) to about 90 seconds. I assumed not many would have approached with such a proposal (though I might be totally wrong). She did say something along the lines that she did not really do such things. I did apologize for approaching her in such a manner, and thanked her for her time. I also gave her a copy of the Elephant stories. She smiled and we shook hands.
Nothing further ever came of this, but I hope I wrote an evocative book inscription.

This is one of my favourite Shirley Eikhard songs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9VtXeRcLlw

History As It’s Known In The Writing World

While reading some literary site about Amazon,, I came across the fact that “Harriet Klausner, an esteemed Amazon reviewer who wrote more than 31,000 book reviews, died”. All power to her – that is quite a feat. However, I took more note of her last name, one I had not thought of for a long time.

In my tenure as an author in the world, I have had four or five agents. And I am currently looking anew. At the far beginning of my time, before I was published, I had the New York agent Bertha Klausner – at the start of my career and near the end of hers. She started her agency before I was born and was working two months before she died in 1998 at the age of 96.

Back in those over the transom days, one stuffed typed pages into an envelope, sent them off with return postage on another envelope, and waited up to three months for a reply. And when it came back, you sent it out again. One of my envelopes went to the Bertha Klausner Agency.

However, when it came back, it had other people’s manuscripts in it, and (to my memory)  little handwritten notes politely saying no. Mistakes happen even at revered agencies, so I sent it all back explaining what had happened. She replied, with neither apology or thanks, annoyed that mistakes do happen and adding, “Say, you must have something. Do you want to send it to me?” Which I did.

As I said, communications were through slow mails (slow on her side, as with literary agents to this day).  I assume she was initially, both being polite though seeing some promise in what I wrote.

But after a year or so she said – in effect – ‘thanks but no thanks’, and I sent things to other agents and eventually sold my first novel by, indeed, sending it directly to an editor in New York over the transom,.

I don’t think I knew that Bertha Klausner had such a stellar career until I looked her up. An agent for decades, she had famous names like Upton Sinclair, Israel J Singer, Eleanor Roosevelt and Fidel Castro. She even represented actor Basil Rathbone.

I imagine I would have become a lost tale.

Dale Estey

Once A Soldier, Always … My Father And Remembrance Day

My father, Bombardier Byron C Estey, Service Number G4094: Units: 1st Anti Tank Regiment: 90th Anti-Tank Battery, served in the Canadian Army for the entirety of the Second World War.

He was 31 when he signed up, and was a decade or more older than most of the soldiers he served with. At the end of the war, he was offered an instant promotion from Corporal to Sergeant Major. He declined. He had had enough.

He was with the 90th Anti-Tank Battery. He was the member of the crew who calculated the coordinates to aim the gun and destroy targets. He did this up through Sicily and Italy, except for those times when he grabbed his rifle to shoot at soldiers shooting at him.

I imagine I could write pages repeating the anecdotes he told – and maybe, some day, I will. He didn’t talk  much about the war and, when he did, I’d guess 80% of his stories were humorous. The other 20% were not.

I regret not discussing his war experiences more with him, but he did not encourage it. I once asked how close he got to the German soldiers. He said, close enough to kill them.

He hated Germans and Japanese all of his life. I understand that this is not the way of most soldiers. They mellow. They come to understand that soldiers on the other side were doing a job, just as they were. My father was not one of these. Those 20% of his stories explained his attitude to me.

He fought in – arguably – the most horrific and bloodiest battle in the war, the Battle of Ortona over Christmas week of 1943. He marched over piles of bodies, and crawled over piles of bodies. Such were the details he would tell. He didn’t speak of his feelings, or use words like “horror”.

On Remembrance Day he would march in the community parade. He rarely lingered for a meal or beer or camaraderie at The Legion. He did not seem affected by the memorial event, and did not talk any more or less about his experiences just because it was 11 November.

Because his tales were more funny than not, I’ll close on what might have been his last funny story.

At his death, the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to conduct a small ceremony at the funeral parlour. They requested that his medals be pinned to his chest. But, the medals could not be found. This was odd, because they were important to him, and he always wore them for the Remembrance Day parade.

It is excessive to say that the whole house was searched – but not by much. Drawers, shelves, boxes, closets, clothes, were repeatedly searched. Nothing. The Last Post was played over a Veteran with no medals.

Months later, when the house was being sold and possessions were being removed, his clothes were searched before being given away. In the side pocket of a jacket he never wore were the medals, all spiff and shiny.

He would have smiled at that.

Book Wins “It Made Me Think Youth Award” From Digitally Lit Youth Choice Awards [Edited]

My long-suffering Elephant (if one can be classed as long-suffering while having the ear of God) has one a “It Made Me Think” Award from The Digitally Lit Youth Choice Awards,  Canada 2022 . Blessed Be! say I.

The Elephant stories were a joy to write, but i really had to stop when The Elephant started asking God questions that the author could not answer,

Here is an interview and a reading from The Elephant Talks To God.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

Here is where The Elephant Talks To God can be purchased.

Here is the information about the Digitally Lit Youth Choice Awards

https://www.digitallylit.ca/post/digitally-lit-choice-awards-the-results-are-in

And here are two short sections from The Elephant Talks To God, perhaps more appreciated by youth.

The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.

     “More lucky than smart,” said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.

     “An elephant wades in water,” they would sagely say, “only if the mud hole is wide enough.”

     And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.

Here, the Elephant helps in A Death Procession.

The elephant stood patiently, as if he were a rooted tree, counterbalancing the support of the elephant on the other side. There would be little distance to cover now, and soon the dying beast would just stop, and that would be the time to ease the body onto the ground, and wait until all breathing ended.

     “I know you,” said the old, old elephant.

     “Yes.” The elephant was both surprised and glad. “You helped my mother when she was ill. You looked after me a long time. You were a nurse to both of us.”

     “That has been my job with many, many calves.” The dying animal continued to take her slow, precise steps. “And I’ve outlived even some of them.” She breathed with difficulty. “As I’ve outlived my own.” She gulped for air. “So very long ago, it now seems.”

     “Yes,” said the elephant tentatively. He had not been expecting any conversation.

     “But you were different,” she muttered.

     “Well – I …” The elephant was gratified that she would remember him from all the others.

     “You were foolish.” The old elephant snorted, and made a noise which might have been a cracked laugh. “There was no making sense of you. No keeping up to you. I’d tell your mum that I wondered if she was sick because she couldn’t deal with you.”

     “That can’t be true.” The elephant was peeved. ” I never meant for any of — “

     “No. You never meant harm.” The old elephant stopped moving and turned her head. “That’s the way you were even then. You didn’t take the time to let me finish what I was going to tell you.”

     “Sorry,” said the elephant.

     “Yes – that’s familiar.” This time she did manage a distinct grunt of laughter. “Your mum and I both laughed at your antics. And also laughed as the rest of the herd shook their heads in dismay.” The old elephant started walking again. “The things you wanted to do and to see – too much for any elephant. Too much for any life. You never knew your place.”

     “I never found my place,” corrected the elephant.

     “Yes. That’s familiar, too.” She tried to laugh again, but it turned into a coughing fit. “You always had to contradict whatever was said to you.”

     “It always seemed to me,” said the elephant stubbornly, “that I was always told just part of the story.”

     “Most of us only know part of the story. Most of us are content with that.” She slowly lifted her trunk and rubbed it against the elephant’s ear. “But that was never going to satisfy you – with more questions than there are monkeys in the trees – as you went out searching and pestering.”

~ Dale Estey

    

What The Tyranny Of An Occupying Government Really Means To Freedom

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in his lost diaries.  Here, as the learned Doktor of Laws from the big city, he has been asked to speak to the citizens of the small village of Zurau, where he is living with his sister.

He is talking about the end of the Empire that the townsfolk have been living under all their lives. The Empire, the Emperor, and the civilization they know, is soon to be swept away. Will their lives go with it?

Kafka speaks the truth, and Kafka avoids the truth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

15 January 1918

This war. They wanted my opinions about this endless war. These earnest, honest men, awaiting the words from the Herr Doktor of Prague.

I agreed only to answer questions – that way I could not be accused of fermenting treason. Even in these troubled times, the law allows a man to answer questions. Assuming that the law prevails.

The law was present in the form of the policeman, attending this questionable gathering while still in uniform. He doffed his hat as he shook my hand. I would rather have him in our midst, than lurking in the hall, taking notes. We have nothing to fear from him.

“Will the empire last?”

This was first from their lips. And they must have needed to hear the words, for even the Emperor must know that all is lost. The Old Order, having fallen into the hands of dull and witless men, must succumb. The complacency of the age must be purged – but that has not yet happened. That awaits the next generation – and the destruction will be furious. But I do not tell them this.

I am skillful in what I do not tell them, for the truth is beyond their power to persuade or control. (Their next questions would have been more difficult had I not curbed the truth further still.)

“What will happen to Zurau? What will happen to us?”

And they have every right to worry. To suspect. When a society crumbles, it is those at the bottom who get crushed. But I told them that Amerika seemed a just power – not bent on retribution.

I did not tell them that a victor can do as he wants.

And I told them that we live in a secondary part of a secondary empire – the powers of destruction will be concentrated on Vienna and Berlin.

I did not tell them that during the death of a snake, the spasms of the tail can be lethal.

And I told them something which could really be of help. I told them, in this coming year, to grow more food: fatten more beasts: prepare, preserve and put away. Fill their cellars and barns to bursting with food and fuel. Buy some things now, which they can use for barter later if the currency becomes worthless. Look after their families and lands. Look after each other.

16 January 1918

I did not tell them that war is the end result of injustice and arrogance, and that it is oftentimes necessary. I did not tell them that when the natural balance is upset by human action, the cost of righting it must be made in human payment. I did not tell them that a country where neighbour is cruel to neighbour is a country mean for war.

In February, Kafka Ponders The Role And Duties Of The Citizen

In real life, Kafka recorded the beginning of the First World War in his diary this way:

August 2, 1914: Germany has declared war on Russia. Went swimming in the afternoon.

That was it.

But, regardless of his lack of enthusiasm, Kafka believed in the duties of the citizen. He tried to join the army to fight. In fact, he tried to join a number of times. He was always refused because the government deemed his civil/government job was too important for him to relinquish.

But, near the end of the war, when Kafka was so sick he had lengthy periods of leave from his job to recuperate, the army came calling.  Kafka had to appear before authorities with medical proof of his illness.

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I ‘fill in’ one of his diary entries describing such a situation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

07 February 1918

              I find I must go to Prague at the end of next week. Such knowledge is proof that one should not open one’s mail. The Military yet again wishes to snare me, and I must once again prove that my hide is not worth the effort.

     There were time (very rare) when my father would despair. Not his usual anger at the general incompetence and perfidy of the world around him, but a resignation to the belief that things would never get any better.

     “If they want to drag me down,” he would say, “Then I may as well join them. I’ll go out into the street and let myself be swept away by the mob. I’ll become part of their common, grubby life, and let them wipe their boots on me.”

     That is much as I feel right now. Let the army take me, dress me in their uniform, point me toward the Americans, and have some cowboy shoot me. Going into battle could be no worse than going into Prague.

Leonard Cohen’s Birthday And A Trudeau Election In Canada

I take advantage of the fact that there was a federal election in Canada yesterday, featuring a Prime Minister Trudeau, and today is Leonard Cohen’s birthday. I present this excerpt from my novel, Fame’s Victim, when Cohen was still alive and attending the funeral of a former Prime Minister Trudeau.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from Fame’s Victim

ST is present-bound enough to be aware when the end of the funeral arrives. Vested clergy group at the front of the church and the RCMP poll bearers again emerge. To the mournful strains of the organ they begin to slow-march the coffin along the aisle. He has no desire to mill about to meet the family for he has never met any of them before. He only encountered Le Monsieur the one time, but it was obviously significant for the older man.

     This ceremony of death makes everyone equal, and ST takes his place comfortably among the hundreds of other mourners who begin to leave the Basilica. Their progress along the center aisle is orderly but slow and he has time to inspect the interior of the building. As he looks at statues and woodwork and stained glass, a hand taps him on the shoulder.

     “That’s one of my favourites.”

     ST turns to see Leonard Cohen nodding and pointing to the left. He follows the other man’s finger and eventually perceives a somber painting enlivened with splashes of mystic colour.

     “I see ecstasy.” Cohen’s voice is a low murmur.

     “So do I.” ST immediately understands what the quiet voice means. “It breaks out.”

     “The way death should be.” The poet glances at ST with a half smile. “Something to look forward to.”

     “I’ve never doubted that.”

     “Ah.” Cohen shrugs. “If Pierre could only speak to us now.”

     “Do you think it possible?”

     “No.” His eyes hold ST. “Not the way I mean, at any rate.”

     “The tongue stilled.”

     “Something I will regret.” He leans toward ST. “Do you have plans after the funeral?”

     “Not really.” ST keeps to a muted tone. “I thought I’d look around the city. I don’t leave until this evening.”

     “Then perhaps we could take a noontime stroll to a place of refreshment.”

     “I don’t want such public exposure.”

     “This is the Prime Minister’s day in Canada.  It is understood why you’re here, and you will be left alone.”

     They come out into the sunshine. Media attention is heavy, but it is directed elsewhere. ST is pleased to discover that his companion is adept at quickly moving through crowds. They descend the steps and start along the street, garnering glances but no intrusions. They turn a corner, cross another street, and traverse a Square that leads to a narrower street. ST notes it is Rue le Royer and the pedestrian traffic is slight.

     “A restaurant or an outdoor café?”

     “I’d like food and to be outside.” ST speeds up to keep pace. “But I’m not sure about a public display.”

     “There is a favourite place of mine. We will be left alone.”

     The street enchants ST, much as many of the ornate, narrow streets of Europe do. He can imagine himself standing on one of the small, door-sized balconies looking down as pedestrians, such as two, black clad men, scurry along below. In a few minutes they come into the direct sunshine of a broad avenue. They are on Place Jacques-Cartier, and it is ringed with cafés and restaurants. There are also hundreds of people milling about in the crisp October day.

     “There might be the occasional ‘hello’.” Cohen glances at ST. “Nothing more than a smile is required. Most of these people are on their lunch hour, intent on a bite and a glass.”

     “I’m certainly intent on a glass.”

     “That’s where we’re headed.” He doesn’t point but starts across the square. “There are many tables still free.”

     ST again keeps pace, walking beside the other man as they go up the hill. People do indeed notice them, but after an initial surprise comes a look of understanding. The day still belongs to Le Monsieur.

     The outdoor café has hanging baskets of flowers, many in robust bloom. The tables are of ornate wrought iron and have burgundy table clothes. The chairs appear to be actual wooden kitchen chairs.

     “Perhaps that corner.” ST points to the back.

     “But – non.” Cohen smiles as he grabs ST’s arm. “Here – at the front. We are to watch the street go by in all its tousled glory.”

     “Will they not be watching us?”

     “Give and take.” He begins to steer ST to a table. “We will be taking more than they.”

     A couple of the tables have wide umbrellas open over them. ST prefers one of these but instead is gently nudged to the street front. All of the other patrons do look as they walk among them, but although their eyes linger no one says anything. At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

     “We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

     “If they approach . . . “

     Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

     ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as he has seen in any public place.

     “The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

     “Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

     ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

     “What would you like to drink?”

     ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

     “Champagne.”

time?” Cohen glances at his watch.

     “Will they have something decent here?”

     “They will offer a selection.”

     With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

     “Any food?”

     “Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

     “They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

     “That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

     “Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

     “I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

     “Then we acknowledge?”

     “Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

     “Memory – the ghost at every table.”

     The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

     “They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

     “There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

     “In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

     “That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

     “It should be the news of the world.”

     The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

     “You can not share my déjà vu but trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

     ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

     “We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

     “By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

     “By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

     “With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

     Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

I’ve Been Around The Block A Number Of Times Yet I Still Seem Innocent (If Not Young)

I answered my phone this morning – too early for a Sunday –  and had a voice who (I’ll swear upon any religious tome) sounded like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, informing me that I was being contacted by a Survey/Research company.

The topic was the upcoming Federal election.


The company had a name I recognized, which has the reputation of being legit and reliable.


But there was that “Prime Minister voice”. Such a thing can not be random, and if it was random, then the outfit is inept.


So I was talking to a Robot.


The first three or so questions were about where I live. Now, I figure even a robot, if it already has my phone number, should know where I live. But I was willing to tap the numbers on the phone keyboard to let them figure out where I was. Had they asked my postal code, I would have balked.

I was then asked, if I wanted to have the process they go through to form their opinions, explained to me. I declined. In for a penny, in for a pound.


THEN, I was asked to tell them which party I was planning to vote for.

Gotta say, expecting to tell how a citizen votes is a violation of the rights of the citizen of that country. I was surprised. But I went through the “Press number if” list, so I could decline. There was no avenue given to decline.


Rude or not, I hung up on the Robot.

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