Wednesday, April 10, 2013

North Korea, land of bad poetry

Story on Korea is below this installment of "Maddie's Gone"


Chapter 2

Maddie hears Julia’s voice

After Jim drove off, Julia set off on foot in search of her missing dog.
As she called out for Maddie and peered into yards up and down Catherine Street, Julia quietly cursed Jim for leaving the front door unlatched. She never wanted to see him again. She’d met him at a nightspot last month and they had clicked at first, but his lack of self-awareness and drive had worn on her. He was dressed presentably and seemed intelligent, but he was just this side of sleezy. Julia didn’t like the way he absently stared at other women when they were out. Nor had he ever offered to pick up an entire dinner or bar tab. In fact, Julia had paid their way several times. She had broke it off a couple of weeks ago and now he had entered her house uninvited. While she was asleep!
The only person outside who might have seen Maddie running loose was a middle-aged neighbor named Carol, who was now sitting on her porch just a few houses away. Julia didn’t like Carol. The woman had created havoc in the neighborhood, playing one homeowner against the other. She had even accused Billy, a kind young man with a wonderful wife, of peering into the windows of her bedroom after dark. Everyone knew the accusations were false, but her malicious claims had caused pain in the couple’s marriage. Carol also had gotten drunk during a Saturday afternoon garden party and taken her shirt off before loudly propositioning another neighbor’s husband.
Julia braced herself as she walked up to Carol’s gate.
"Have you seen my dog, Carol? She got out sometime last night and I'm trying to find her."
"It’s not my problem," the woman answered, looking on Julia with disdain."You should have kept your door locked. Not only would you still have your dog, that guy would not have been able to get into your house, as I see it."
Julia didn’t have time for this. She turned and walked away, calling out for Maddie. Carol went into her house and slammed the front door.
Making her way down Catherine to Duval Street, Julia turned right toward downtown. Maddie loved people and activity and Julia knew a lot of people will be checking out the shops and hitting the bars and restaurants on the main tourist street. On this quiet end of Duval, however, with its art galleries and residential homes, she'd see locals walking their dogs. A fellow dog owner, she knew, would have noticed Maddie if she came this way.
Her instincts were correct. A man smoking a cigar with a bulldog at the end of a leash headed down the sidewalk toward her. As she petted his dog, She asked him if he’d seen a Jack Russell terrier running loose.
"Nope, afraid I haven’t," he said, concerned. "I remember her, though; I’ve seen you walking her. If I see her I’ll hold onto her for you. I know what it’s like when they run off. This one always tries, but so far I’ve been lucky."
She asked other people as she made her way downtown, but no one had seen her. They entered her cell phone number into their devices and promised to call if they ran across Maddie. Some pet owners do that instinctively. Other people, she knew, don’t always pay that much attention. She asked people eating and chatting away the late morning at outdoor tables. She leaned into restaurants, asking patrons and waiters if they’d seen her dog. No one had.
Oddly, she kept seeing other Jack Russell terriers, which temporarily raised her hopes. A dead ringer for Maddie lay napping at the feet of a diner as its owner drank a mimosa and chatted across a table. Julia’s heart leaped but she quickly realized it wasn’t her. She saw another Maddie look-alike on a second-story hotel balcony just off Duval Street. And yet another one being let in the front door of a house by its owner. A Jack Russell sped past her, a passenger in a basket mounted on the rear of a scooter.
"Does everyone own a Jack Russell terrier in this town?" Julia muttered to herself.
She stopped on the Duval Street sidewalk and turned. Behind a pet store window, three Jack Russell terrier puppies climbed over each other to get Julia's attention. She smiled and put her hand to the glass. The puppies went crazy, yapping and pawing at the glass. Julia felt like crying. Having Jim in her bed had spooked her more than she thought. Maddie getting out was just the icing on the cake to Jim's invasion of her bed.
Julia saw the worry in her reflection in the pet store window. She didn’t like what she saw. She forced a smile, saw that in the reflection, then laughed.
She’d find Maddie, she told herself. The universe is not aligned against me.
She reached the sidewalks of lower Duval Street, crowded with families and children, retired couples enjoying the afternoon, and cruise ship passengers holding shopping bags of T-shirts, hand-made sandals and other items. The bars were full of people listening to live music and chatting. She left the bars and crowd behind as she walked up Caroline Street, where the large homes of Key West’s founding families had stood for more than 160 years.
She took a moment to stop on the quiet, shaded sidewalk abutting the large, landscaped properties.
Julia loved the broad, wooden porch that wound around the most magnificent of the homes. A short, decorative wrought-iron gate at the sidewalk opened to a walkway that curved through spider lily, sea oxeye daisy, railroad vine, and other ground cover to the home’s wide front steps. She admired the tall front door with egrets etched into its glass under the tall, covered porch. Julia gazed upward to take in the heights of the grand house. Royal palms, straight as redwoods, rose to the uppermost eaves.There were dormer windows way up there, and inside those there must be tiny bedrooms with slanted ceilings.
What would it be like to spend just one night in one of those upper rooms--to awaken at sunrise and look out those uppermost windows before the rest of the island stirred? Or to look down to see clopping horses pulling carriages full of families to church at St. Paul's Episcopal Church?
It was in homes like this one where the Currys, the Whiteheads, Simontons, the Singletons, and other industrious families of 1800s Key West raised their families, and held their garden parties to entertain their rich and cultured friends from around America.
Julia wondered if they took their shirts off and propositioned each other’s spouses, too. She giggled, then caught herself. Clear the mind, she said to herself, time to return to the task at hand.
She walked on, searching the residential neighborhoods off Caroline, Eaton, and Margaret streets. She called out, walking into alleys between the lanes; she walked around entire blocks. This was serious. This was the first time Maddie had not stuck around the neighborhood after getting out. She’d got loose twice in the four years since Julia moved to Key West and bought the house on Catherine Street, but in the first instance, Maddie had been found in a nearby yard; the second time, she’d returned to the house on her own in a matter of minutes.
The afternoon had grown hotter. Under the blazing sun and blue sky, columns of towering, thunder heads marched west over the Gulf of Mexico.
In a sudden burst of fear and frustration Julia yelled louder than ever for her lost dog.
"Maaadeeee! Come here, babeeeee!" "Maaadeeee! Come here, babeeeee!" At a house up the street, a lawn mower roared to life.
Julia looked at her watch. It was getting late. There was only a little daylight left. She headed across the island toward home, walking down Simonton Street instead of Duval. She continued yelling for Maddie and asking everyone she saw if they'd seen her lost dog.
At about the same time Julia kicked Jim out of the house, Maddie had exhausted herself jumping for the top of the cistern. She now stood in the chin-deep water, her coat soaked and water dripping from her chin. Her curly hair was wiry now, turned stiff from the dirty water. She shivered inside her watery trap, whining with fear. Yelping and barking didn’t seem to do any good, either. There was no one around to hear her. She turned her head this way and that, hoping to see some way out of the miserable hole. There was only the brick surface of the cistern’s interior and the circle of blue sky and occasional clouds above. All she could do was watch the sky and hope Julia’s face would appear above her.
There were sounds that reached Maddie, though. Maddie’s ears perked up each time a car honked in the street beyond the house. She heard car radios as cars drove past the house. She also heard the cooing of ring-necked doves and saw a pair fly through the sky above her. She heard electronic voices nearby, too, though she didn't know what it was.
The sun made the air inside the cistern unbearably hot. During the hours the sun shone overhead, the air inside the cistern became hot and stifling. She grew weak from the heat as the long afternoon progressed. She had drunk the rancid water around her legs, but relief still avoided her. When the sun finally moved out of view, Maddie sought the relative coolness of the shade growing on one side of the cistern. She began a new series of high-pitched alarm barks to see if it would bring Julia, or anyone, to rescue her. And so the afternoon wore on toward evening. She’d bark and whine. Then try for the top. Always the water held her down. Then she'd stand, panting, looking above for rescue. She began to sense the possibility of death.
Then, when the afternoon was very old, and her exhaustion forced her eyes closed, she thought she heard something ...
It was faint, on the farthest edge of her hearing. Someone was yelling. It sounded like ...
There it was again! Maddie stood on her hind legs, placing her paws on the cistern wall. Looking up, she listened for the sound again.
"Maaadeeee! Baaabeee! It was Julia! Maddie exploded in joy, barking as loud as she could, leaping as high as she could. Wild with relief, she jumped and barked, jumped and howled, her bark rising higher in desperation.When she reached the apex of her leap, she’d bark, hoping the sound would carry far enough. Julia was coming!
"Maddie! Where are you babeeee!"Pulling together all her strength, Maddie leaped like a nuclear-powered spring; this time nearly reaching the top in spite of the water pulling at her legs.
A lawn mower started up in the yard next door. Maddie didn’t know what the source of that sound was, but the noise was too much to overcome.Try as she might, her barks fell short. But she kept at it for a long time, stopping occasionally to stare at the opening above, expecting to see Julia’s face appear at any moment.
She barked long after the lawn mower stopped making its noise, but Maddie never heard Julia’s call again.
The sun began to set.
Hungry, exhausted from spending the last of her energy, Maddie looked for a place to lie down and rest. There was no such place. She could only stand in the water and look up at the circular twilight so high above her head.
"Maddie's Gone" is available at; and

North Korea, the land of bad poetry

I think it's fair to say that we all are pretty much sick of North Korea.
Three fat, male relatives--none of whom know how to get a decent haircut--have destroyed the lives of everyone in that trashed country. One dies and another mental case steps in and the Korean Central News Agency, the ruling family's private press release organization, still can't get its syntax correct. Every damn year at this time, as the United States and South Korea hold military exercises, North Korea's stupendously idiotic leader starts bloviating, posturing, and whining. This year is no different, except this commie, the grandson of Kim Il Sung, son of Kim Jong-Il, gets his chance to reveal his leadership style by painting a picture of nuclear war against America.
So we get another disgusting display of fat-headed, arrogant, posturing as North Korea's children roam the countryside in packs, looking for fish heads and leaves to eat. If there is a hell, and there is, it's north of the DMZ. If it weren't for the innocents, the generations of families serving in prison and work camps, if it weren't for the impossibility of separating the bad people from the good people in a hydrogen bomb blast, I'd say, let's just go for it, "Yet Another-Fat North Korean Guy."
What prevents us from just taking the guy out like we did Saddam? The Korean people, who are in fact human shields protecting the buffoons who make up the leadership, are the ones I care about. We use unmanned aircraft to whack Al-Queda leadership as well as American citizens on the run (coming soon) so why not start using the silent and unseen aircraft to decapitate the North Korean leadership? When searching for bin Laden, Pentagon targeters used his height to determine whether a subject in its sights was the instigator of the 9-11 attacks. Why not go after Korea's leadership by launching Predator missiles on civilians with bad haircuts?
When we take over North Korea, I suggest we hold classes on poetry, especially on what to call poems once they are written. Please, dear reader, read please following artcle story on latest trend in Juche poetry for masses of the Central Committee for the Destruction of the Cowardly Western Disease Carriers.
Look at the following poem titles, courtesy of the Korean Central News Agency. Remember, these were written after regular workers in the countryside burst into emotional honoring of Beloved Leader, dropping their rakes and bursting forth in poetic thrusts.

Pyongyang, April 3 (KCNA) -- A stage of poems and songs were given by members of the Democratic Women's Union of Korea at the Hall of Women on Wednesday to mark the 20th anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il's election as chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission.
Present there were Ro Song Sil, chairwoman of the Central Committee of the women's union, officials of relevant units and the women's union and union members in the city.
The performance began with poem "Two Decades of Victory and Glory". Put on the stage were such numbers as chorus "Glory to the General", serial songs "Our Satellite Lifted off to the Sky" and "At a Go", single reciting of poem "Eternal Sun of Songun Korea" and poem "Spring on Arms".
The performers praised the immortal feats Kim Jong Il performed by honorably defending the dignity and sovereignty of the nation under the uplifted banner of the great Songun and ushering in a new history of building a thriving nation on this land.
They also put on the stage quintets and choruses "Our Leader Beloved by People" and "Ardent Desire" which help look back on the fortune of being blessed with illustrious leaders generation after generation.
Put on the stage were chorus poem "Korean Women of Songun Make an Oath" and choruses "We Will Defend General Kim Jong Un at the Cost of Our Lives" and "Leader, Just Give Us Your Order".


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