My World of Words

Such a maze

created by author with Bing Creator

My home is beside a harbor; I love it but always dreamt of having a stream running through my garden. So I created the stream in the image above. My inner world is like the image aboveI live in a very beautiful place in the UK. I returned there after years of being overseas. Apart from Ireland, and Nowra, in NSW, Australia, nowhere else compares. I miss the climate of southern California, and changing colors in canyons as the sun moved across the sky. Sadly, I hear that’s gone awry recently.

I started life in Germany, speaking German but also a little English too. My Dad is British, but not English. His passport says British because of where he was born. He is a mixture of Central European Jewry, his grandmother had escaped the pogroms in Ukraine with her children.

I spoke German fluently and my family moved to England with my Dad’s work. I was six. Then I had to learn to make sense of the English language.

Speaking English is one thing, writing it is quite another. You see, I was programmed to say things that I read in a logical way. I was puzzled by island. We used to read from the same book in class and take it in turns to read aloud while our class read silently. I was bewildered that our teacher never corrected those who said “Ireland” when the page said island. I finally whispered to a friend, who confirmed that yes, island was pronounced “Ireland”.

So, I don’t recall how I resolved that island is a land surrounded by water, but I certainly learned how ridiculous the spelling of English words is. Take could, should, and would. How does the L play any part in those words? Then look at cough, bough, bought, should. They are all pronounced differently, despite the common ou. Where is the sense? How can two coupled letters be pronounced so differently! What about the silent gh? Then there are soul and foul. Soldier and insure. Where is the sense in the spelling and pronunciation?

Then I grappled with the spelling of words that change with the past tense. Label becomes labelled, cup becomes cupped. I agree, it looks right, but that is because it is the rule. Except not every time. Just almost every time. There seems to be an exception to every rule in English. How do we have eat, eaten, and ate? Is there another verb with two past tenses, specifically the perfect past tense? Gotten is used in America but fell out of fashion in Britain long ago.

Recently, I saw an American use those whereto instead of whom. I wonder where they were educated.

It is not that I struggled; I don’t recall learning to read English. My first memory of reading it is sitting on the floor reading the back of whatever section of the newspaper my Dad happened to be reading. I read everything and anything. However, this did not help my pronunciation. I still say some words incorrectly today. I pronounce the O in front, whilst the English say “frunt”. I say Samsung with a German UThere is no equivalent in English unless you are a northerner. It does not rhyme with hung.

In truth, my English came very naturally and I rarely made spelling mistakes. I do now. Nor did I make grammatical errors. I knew that sentences never begin with and, also that and should not appear twice in one sentence. But should used with care, and cannot always be replaced with however.

Too, there are beautiful words like gallop, succinct, blossom, ditto, mellow, soft, pillow, and kiss.

Learning the art of using one instead of or we are simple to master. A writer doesn’t want to alienate the reader, or sound lofty. No, one signifies the world, as in One could watch him play tennis. It can also suggest another point of view; I love vanilla ice-cream, but one can choose other flavors.

Here, in order to be selected for further distribution, I must use American spelling. I hate it! I love colour not color, flavour not flavor. Additionally, I like organise not organize. Why did the English who sailed here allow such a massacre on spelling?

There are words I would like to ban, along with the attitude behind them. Words like hate, racism, war, argue, irritate, annoy, superior, inferior, segregate, reject, and any other word or attitude that implies aggression between humans. We are all human. We have more in common than that which divides us. As a former human rights worker, I dream of world with disparity, no war, no oppression, no hunger. I have won small accolades for my work. Bishop Tutu retweeted me, as did a few other prominent figures of peace. This work was done almost entirely in English.

English is derived from the Anglo-Saxons, who gave us Germanic vocabulary, then the French invaded us and added words. Also, Latin was visited upon us by the clergy in the Middle Ages. I had to do a year of Latin. It was very difficult but gave me the root meaning of so many words. English is a very rich language.

Good written English is a pleasure to read. It should flow, and render meaning without interference from adverbs and adjectives unless they are vital to describe an object or scene. I am a fan of the Oxford comma. It clarifies so much, and expels confusion.

So, here is my journey into the English language. I was first puzzled by it, but now am a qualified editorI love this language. I still enjoy using German, mostly now on Facebook and on the phone to my uncle.

This is dedicated to 

Dennett. May she smile.

Published in Write Under The Moon


Life Changes

A poem

Photo by Bob Osias on Unsplash

We have both changed, forgiven, held each other,
life changes with time passing.
We grow together, forgiving our faulty selves

Love is accepting of change, love does not change
life changes, and we bind ourselves closer,
love alters not when it finds alteration

We grow closer with less words, more touching
of hands in the darkness of night,

strength is lent through that touch

Life changes, we love each other still, twining
fingers together, soul to soul,
together we are stronger in changes of life

Published in The Lark



A poem

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Your beauty struck me in my heart
so tiny, sleeping in my arms,
thinking nothing would pull us apart

Your hair so fair, you cried so much
the only child with eyes of green
You found comfort in my hum and tender touch

You would watch bugs in the grass, always asking
curious and inquisitive, how you loved to learn

Every night at bedtime together we would sing

You learned to dance, with talent rare
standing out within a crowd
Your poise and grace caused many to stand and stare

A beautiful girl became a beautiful young woman
I watched with pride and humility
knowing that you have ability to take you far

Sweet girl child born to me, a priceless joy
you filled my life with remembering
so many moments
yet the whole

is more than I could ever dream

Published in The Lark


My illnesses

In the last two months, both my breathing and my neurological disease have grown worse. I find breathing is more effort, and I am short of breath more quickly. My lung capacity is decreasing.

The spasms on the left of my body increase in their strength. It brings almost unbearable pain, and weakens my spine further.

D. Woodhouse will be delighted to hear this. Such a malicious person rarely exists.


Sunset Journey

A poem

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Yellow globe straight ahead
As I climbed into my car

Orange ball less defined
As I rounded the bay

Glitter thrown on the water
By the sun’s dying rays

Descending sun in such splendor
Moments of glory that fade

Published in The Lark


Mist Like a Veil

A poem

photo from author

Hills across the water are shrouded in fine mist
it is raining over there
but appears like an antique veil
like my great-grandmother wore for her wedding

Masts of sailing boats loom in vivid reds and blues
the damp air hangs as if to dry
but there is stillness, no movement of air
pausing, I inhale the salt scent, the peace

All seems silently sleeping, like a spell cast
this is my soul food, this and woods
a warbler sings its song breaking the silence
with an enchanting song to woo his mate and nest

This water, sea, is my front garden, soothing,
nurturing my heart while it aches
for love and to love another, risk again

Hills across the water are shrouded in mist

The hush can be heard
in my inmost heart

Published in The Lark


Into The Woods

My favorite walk

photo by author last summer

When I feel a bit stressed or just have itchy feet, I love to go to the ancient woodland along the harbour.

Half the journey is getting there. I see birds, both waterbirds and the common or garden variety.

The scent of the harbor is the first awareness. The salt air refreshes the senses as if cleansing the palletThen wild orchids appear along with other plants and small shrubs. Buttercups, wild geraniums, flax, and blossom from brambles.

Then butterflies and bees and wasps make themselves visible, teasing as they alight and fly away, returning and repeating their dance of flight. Cyclists pass, it is all good natured, and time of day is passed with other walkers.

The reed beds come into sight. I see gulls actually diving for fish instead of eating dropped human food in the town. Swans and ducks glide through the apparent stillness.

Trees approach. I feel a relief, as if all my cares will be lifted by the boughs and leaves gently whisper their energy to me, softly, on the breeze. I go into the green embrace of ancient woods with gnarled trunks and thick roots. I wonder at the mycelium that created this wonder. Trees be. They are living and talking to each otherThey feed the needy ones and choose where a sapling will sprout.

The green is soothing. My soul finds nourishment. My eyes rest on twisted branches where moths restlook closely and maybe there is a bat. All is alive, even dying logs are teeming with life as beetles start the decaying process. I feel embraced and sheltered in the tunnels of green. Sounds of birds are music for the cathedral-like trees, majestic and strong.

Strange entanglements of wood and ferns and undergrowth. Sunlight is dappled through the canopy of green. It is peace and joy both at once. Uplifting but full of awe.

Gradually, I come out to meadow and must leave other paths unexplored until another day.

Published in Weeds and Flowers


My Fear Came True

A poem

Photo by Meghan Hessler on Unsplash

There had been a gap of years
now you wore spectacles, flecks of gray
at your temples, but still you

You spoke of shadows in your mind
the need for light.
 We reminisced
so much to laugh about, a friend indeed

I scanned the local paper each time
“Man found dead” fearing the fear
until last night, tracking through

I found your obituary, yet saw it not
thinking it was for your daughter
then comprehending for you both

You had been a man found dead
but you’re no statistic, not to me
You were a good friend, father, brother, son

Farewell is late, yet I recall you easily
the tangled years fade away, we laughed
I will always see you laughing, free from shade

Published in The Lark


The Change Between Us

A poem

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

How you loved me once
yet you knew nothing of love
the handfasting, cleaving

For our child, I had to eject you
breaking my heart to protect
now no one loves me to the end

You bully me still, yet I care
no thanks for needs met
ego is still your inner enemy

Published in The Lark


Your Kiss

A poem

Photo by Annette Sousa on Unsplash

Your mouth brushed mine as I slept
alert, at once, my eyes stay closed
not sure how I should respond
but your kiss seduced my senses
I was blinded to the future your lips posed

The tangling of lips and of tongue tips
sensations shooting all through me
faint taste of wine, yet it was you
intoxicating me with guile and lust

sense left me captive to your sensuality

Where that kiss led was dangerous for me
unseeing, I passively allowed treachery
our love was short-lived but the price
was long drawn out, with such malice
by the one who was left to feel jealous

Published in The Lark



A poem

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Sweat runs through her hair in droplets
Coursing downward from her face
Heat is sultry velvet to her skin
Touchable air, thick its stroke wets
Lungs feel emptied, breath sucked out

As she lies spent then gasps rising
To snatch what life she can
Into the frailness of her fram

She reaches for breath to draw in
Through the splutters, every rasp
Fills with oxygen once again then wait
Shallow fast lifts of her ribs
Until the next rising in gasps
To snatch what life she can

Published in The Lark


The Book That Divided The World

Causing death and untold suffering

Photo by Ryan Klaus on Unsplash

In the 1970’s, probably earlier, Asians began to migrate to Britain. They could do so easily, being from the former British Empire. They brought families or sent for them later, after they had a home and a job or a business.

The British called them Asians or, in the perjorative, Paks. Their children wanted to fit in and went to school and then university. Meanwhile, an Asian writer had a problem getting a book published as it was so controversial. Finally, The Satanic Verses was published in 1988. It was nominated for prizes and won some awards. Salman Rushdie, the author, made lots of money.

Life in Britain carried on for Asians, but fearing unrest, Rajiv Ghandi banned the import of the book in India and in 1989, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, declared a Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. A fatwa is an order to kill or murder.

The reaction was powerful because the book refers to verses in the Quaran to do with three Meccan “goddesses”. These references in the magical realty book are considered to be blasphemous as Islam is monotheist and that could not be tolerated by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Life for young Asians continued normally for a while, but when going home from university for term breaks they found their mothers were upset, so they went to mosques to learn more. For some, this simply deepened their faith in Islam while others became what we term “radicalized”. In Britain, we now call most Asians “Muslims” and other people of smaller religions are called by the name of that religion, but we don’t call white people “Christians” as most are not.

Over a period of time these radicalized Muslims gathered in secrecy and planned to punish the non-Islamic world for the insult made by Rushdie, and for the hedonistic lifestyle they believe we live. They learned how to fly aircraft and entered many countries legally for the purpose of terrorism.

The first we knew of this was the explosion in the PanAm flight that came down over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1989. But the most notorious act of terrorism was September 11, 2001 when aircraft were flown into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and another plane failed due to the heroism of passengers who overcame the terrorists, but perished with them in a crash into the fields of Pennsylvania.

President G. W. Bush foolishly called these attacks an act of war and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to acts of terrorism in Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Kenya, to name the worst affected. Tunisia had an attack too, although it is a Muslim country. Many European tourists go there. The London Underground had a train blown up in July 2005, while two buses were bombed simultaneously. On bridges, vehicles were driven into people on the sidewalk three times, a soldier was knifed and beheaded, and a bomb was detonated at a concert. A van with a bomb was driven into Glasgow airport, and France suffered much the same fate.

In all the acts of terrorism, many Muslims were killed too. But Salman Rushdie, in hiding, was untouched. However, people involved in the publication of his book have been killed.

It was last year when Rushdie was attacked while on a stage in New York, that I learned the history of the book he wrote, knowing it would upset many, many, people. I heard British Muslims tell how they decided not to fit in any longer, although many did not take up terrorism. I listened to facts I had not known as I was living overseas where news is less concentrated.

My own feelings are not important here. I have lost those I love in the acts of terrorism. I have to remember that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. But no one needed freedom from anything in this case. Just a Caliphate to rule.

The West is against censorship and very for freedom of speech. I am too, but I take responsibility for what I write. Salman Rushdie has not. I cannot excuse him, but neither can I condone the terrorism in so many countries, by bombs, aircraft, vans, and knives.

There are so many Muslim countries and emirs. But one Muslim in England insulted them knowingly and caused so much death. I have writer friends who say Rushdie is a great writer. I read “Midnight’s Children” and found it quite unspectacular. But mostly, in my writing community, we get on with writing. I am mainly a Poet, but prose writing and essays are increasingly in my repertoire. I love to write about nature.

This essay has been brewing for months but encountering an Afghan writer here on Medium has given more understanding of the Muslim way of thinking. I owe him a debt of gratitude. Thanks also to a Medium staff writer.

Please note that this is an overview, not a detailed study. For that you can use websites and books.

Thank you to BBC Radio 4 for interviews with Muslim men, discussions about censorship, and other incidental pieces of information.