secular prayer for dark times

 

Nations line up, bristling.

Everyday symbols imbued with treachery.

A new spring heralds years of destruction.

A sunflower field receives fallen angels.

Nine dashes mark isles of discord.

Lessons learned at great cost

forgotten or disregarded.

Oh, reckless race.

There is no wisdom in these times.

 

Young men in black

detonate themselves

in markets airports subways.

Young men in uniform

aim rockets bombs drones.

Hellfire. Predator.

From Gaza to the Hindu Kush,

from Dhaka to Dallas,

there is no love in these times.

 

We live in fear

and turn against our brothers.

Our lives diminished

as we point out the others.

Our priests are on trial,

and we are led by fools.

There is no path for these times.

 

Too many homes

imploded into rubble.

Too many children

washed up on the shore.

Too many on the roads

with fevered dreams,

garrotted by the past.

Too many futures foregone.

 

So let us read old books

of fantasy, love and caring,

of gardens moist with dew.

Let us rise against the black tide

of hatred and despair.

Let us build, create and heal.

That is the wisdom for these times.

 

Let us look into our hearts

and remove those scabs of fear.

Ungird your angry armour

lest you turn into what you fight.

There is more to unite us,

on our fragile blue planet,

than to place us apart.

That is the love for these times.

 

Let us link hands

with our brothers and sisters.

Show them our love,

listen to their pain,

share our bread.

For violence feeds off itself

until it is quenched by love.

That is the path for these times.

 

Start right now.

 

 

© Gilbert F. J. Van Hoeydonck

20 July 2016

perdition

One of the tricks I have learned from Leo Babauta of zen habits fame is the power of making a public commitment. Your project may still be in its infancy and you may doubt your ability to finish it, let alone deliver something astonishing, but you come out and saIMG_0497y I am going to do this. It is a scary move, one which places you on the opposite end of the scale from politicians, who seem to be always looking for wiggle room. But giving a public undertaking formally ‘outs’ the project as one of your important goals and can act as a powerful reminder to yourself and a catalyst to spur you into action on those doldrum days.

With that in mind I hereby announce that I have started planning my second novel. Its working title is Perdition; and it will be set in Flanders and France in the fourteenth century. Yes, I know, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

So wish me luck please, and keep checking back here for updates.

As for my first novel, I am still editing the second draft of Resilience. And I have a first reader working her way through the text. I had hoped that things would have progressed further, but that thought stems from impatience really. From a broader perspective, quality matters more than timing, and I am keen to hone the manuscript as much as I can.

emma donoghue’s room: terrific or terrifying?

2016-04-29 15.25.03This is a novel I dreaded reading. The story of a young woman imprisoned in a single room, told from the perspective of Jack, her five-year-old son, who was born into captivity and has never seen the outside world.

The person who recommended it to our book group had introduced the novel in terms of its philosophical implications, but I could only think of the depravity underpinning the plot. So, was I able to overcome my bias and finish the book? Continue reading

liane moriarty: the husband’s secret

2149157649_0534cb8ff7_z

Photo: Wolf Soul (2007) by Romel, under Creative Commons licence.

In the opening scene of The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty introduces Cecilia Fitzpatrick as “a school mum and part–time Tupperware consultant.” Happily married, mother of three, memories of her younger self stored in the attic in neatly labeled plastic containers, checking off tasks as she moves through the day. As readers we know that so much control and organisation constitutes hubris; it is rattling the cages of the gods of narration. Continue reading

fate and asparagus now available

AloisDelcon4What happened to Aloïs Delcon, my great-grandfather, on 10 September 1914, when German troops overran the Belgian village of Haacht?

As I grew up, my grandfather’s wartime stories became darker and more complex. One day he told me a story he had never even told his wife.

Little did I know at the time that his tale would continue to dog me with surprising insistence, and that moving to the other side of the world would bring me closer to my family’s history in an unforeseen way…

Continue reading

self-publishing: seven stellar starting guides

© jijomathaidesigners 2015

© jijomathaidesigners 2015

At the start of this year I decided to look into publishing some of my short stories. I signed up for Euan Mitchell’s Digital Makeover course provided by Writers Victoria at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre and started reading up on how to produce an e-book.

Now, half a year later, I am about to self-publish my second short story and I intend to go down the e-book path again when Resilience, my debut novel, is ready for publication.

The hardest parts about self-publishing are the writing and the marketing. The bit in the middle, creating and uploading an e-book, is quite enjoyable and relatively stress-free.

There is so much advice out there for anyone planning to create an e-book and I would like to share with you the books that I found particularly helpful.

Continue reading