Professional Human Being

Have soul, will travel.

“Standard” modernus

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Ilk the throne, some magnificent achievement,
at least a foot and perhaps long.
Feeling feeded to the brain, unneeded
Sighing, straining, singing low notes rough
This is my latest thought:
“Mum of gum
Sleek of slimper quimp
Slim to tucking’s fore
Score so luckfried nups”
Madness! Madness! Madness!
And the undeniable strength of it!
Flooding under a weakening box,
A failing system,
Two grains of guess
A dash of deft thoughtblades
And the membranes are slashed,
I spill on a bright tabletop,
Feeling familiar, remembering the
of it all

“Standard” modernus
Where I use to leaf my thoughts
Every autumn of a dream,
It’s an autumn of a world,
And whose-ever thought
I’ve ‘a grown green (it’s me, you see)
Ilking at a stone
Leave more than leaves,
Yea, the whole log,
Watered well.
Where have shinebones gone?
…Ilk the throne of blue water!
Gut its ironhold plastered wall!
Put it on the time machine
‘N push any button a-tall!

Standard modernus

“Standard” modernus

Originally uploaded by taoboy49


Written by Mark Christal

June 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

A Comment on the Meta-economical Situation Commentary

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… or metacommentary.

I don’t consider this a great poem in my modest oeuvre, but fun.  A simple conceit, if you will. I remember it was one of the poems I  read at my first open poetry reading, I believe at the Catholic Student Center in Austin, early ’70s.  It was then I met some of my first poet friends.  Jeff Woodruff in particular, said he like my poems, which was enough encouragement to get me going.

Written by Mark Christal

November 15, 2009 at 11:02 am

Posted in poetry

Tagged with , ,

A Comment on the Meta-economical Situation

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When Dow Jones announces
“Poetry—up 10”
a cash register jingles
jangles up my poems
like sawbucks
my button eyes flash 4 holes each,
twinkle on their sclerotic bone rims.
I, an orphan hobo under the ties
go to Wall Street chafing books
scratch my sig in crotch colophons
hundreds of times,
the readers sigh
and a mutter-blubbering fool
grins in reply,
“Jazz—up 6.2
Suicide down .5
Demonic Possession—up 3
Love up 7
And God is up in his heaven
Poetry—up 10
The Son of God down 2
If you invest in me, then I’ll invest in you.”

Written by Mark Christal

November 15, 2009 at 10:44 am

Ancho-Chipotle Vegan Enchiladas

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I learned how to make an awesome ancho enchilada sauce from scratch from the great musician/musicologist/chef D’Jalma Garnier, who got it from an authenic Mexican source.  It keeps morphing over the decades.  I started adding chipotle peppers to the mix, and now I have a vegan version.  You can roll anything in an enchilada, I suppose. I’m still looking for the ideal vegan stuffing, but the one in this week’s batch worked out well.  The recipe is good for about 2 dozen enchiladas.

First the Sauce

  • 5-6 ancho peppers, deseeded
  • 4 chipotle peppers, deseeded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs veggie base
  • salt to taste
  • 15-16 oz. can of tomato sauce

I prefer to use dried chipotle peppers, which I used to get bulk at Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin.  I haven’t found them here in the Greenbelt, Maryland area, so I use canned chipotles from the local Latin market.  The veggie base I used this time was very salty, so I didn’t need any additional salt.  With non-salty base, I would use up to a tsp of sea salt.

Put 16 oz. water in sauce pan and bring to boil.  Add veggie base, anchos, and chipotles. Simmer about 5 minutes, until peppers are soft.  Put chopped onion, garlic and the peppers with all the fluid in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Put contents back into sauce pan.  Add the can of tomato sauce. Use 6-8 oz. of water to swish out the tomato can and blender and add it to the sauce pan.  Simmer the sauce 20 minutes or more to cook onion and thicken.

Enchilada StuffingEnchilada sauce and stuffing

I continue to experiment with stuffing for vegan enchiladas.  No failures yet.  Asside from this batch, I have recently used black beans and tofu.  This batch used the following ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 jalepenos
  • 3 clove garlic
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 10 oz. frozen corn
  • 1 package seitan

Saute these ingredients in 1 tbs of olive oil.  Add about 10 oz of the enchilada sauce to the mix.

Rolling, Rolling, Rollingenchiladas2

In a greased pan, roll  heaping tablespoons of your stuffing into softened corn tortillas.  Getting the tortillas soft for this task has been its own challenge. I used to soften them up by heating briefly in simmering watered down sauce and oil, but the tortillas tend to fall apart if you heat them too long. This past year I discovered a great microwave tortilla warmer, La Tortilla Loca.  It is well worth the investment, as I use it several times a week.

After rolling all your tortillas (I got 22 out of this batch, in 2 pans), cover them with a generous layer of sauce.  You could cover them with shredded vegan cheese also, but I prefer not to.  Cook about 15-20 minutes in the oven at 325˚.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of them, I was ready to eat!

Written by Mark Christal

November 10, 2009 at 7:49 am

Tune Commentary

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I wrote this after driving around the Texas Hill Country in my old VW beetle.  Couldn’t get much on the old car radio, especially between towns.  The radio was old-school analog tuning, none of this every 5 MHz digital tuning scanning  you have today.  Getting a station to come in clearly took a deft hand, and even then the signal could be weak and full of static.

The title Tune could refer to a melody or be a verb for the act of tuning a musical instrument or tuning in a radio station.  Driving around in the Texas Hill Country in a ’69 Bug can feel like you are searching for something meaningful, too.  Tuning your mind in on a direction in life, perhaps?

Don’t take my commentaries on these poems as gospel.  At its best poetry should be open to multiple interpretations.  We poets give the readers credit to discover the meanings that move them, harmonizing with their thought and experience.  Read it, prick up your antenna, and tune in.

Written by Mark Christal

November 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Posted in poetry

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Tuning the radio with
good hands, gentle hands
guided by a drifting mind
unsure of which station
it wants to find.
Am I tuning in a station?
There are, after all,
so many on the air.
Or am I primarily tuning
out the static, which
buffets my eardrums
unmusically, without meaning,
and any clean program will do?
Searching, searching,
finding some soothing, promising music
polluted with much hiss and crackle.
I like that music, can I ignore interference,
live with it, just to get a notion
of the melody?
Or should I continue
tuning the radio with
good hands, gentle hands
till I find, untainted, pristine,
the music of the spheres.

Written by Mark Christal

November 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

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book coverThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba is the autobiography of a young Malawi boy who, through his own ingenious creativity and desire to improve the lives of his family and village, built a windmill to electrify his home from scrapyard finds, homemade tools,  and wood that he could acquire for almost nothing. William was able to accomplish this sophisticated piece of engineering with just a primary education and three physics books from a one-room library in his village.  With just a rudimentary knowledge of English, he was not able to read much of these texts, but he was able to decipher basic principles of electricity from diagrams in the books.  He would also ask everyone who owned anything electronic how the machines worked (no one knew) and conducted intuitive experiments on dismantled broken radios and tape players.  Though the story of the windmill deservedly gets a lot of play in the American press,  what impressed me about the book was the autobiographical story leading up to the budding inventor’s celebrated accomplishment.

William is still struggling with English, but his optimistic outlook is refreshingly clear in his recent interviews (see William’s Blog and his TED presentations).  His co-author, Bryan Mealer, a journalist, deserves credit for standing back and letting William’s voice come through.  The book then gives us Westerners an authentic view of the contemporary African experience.  We get to see the world thorough the culture and experience of a bright boy growing up in a poor farming family in rural Malawi.  The book is worth ten times its weight in anthropological theses.

The Malawi worldview that William reveals to us is one that mixes beliefs in magic, a third world economy viewed from ground level, a sense of government forces that blends tribal and corrupt rulers, and stories centered around community and family.  The details he presents are personal and vivid, his anecdotes mixed with humor and tragedy.

For me, the most powerful part of the book was his description of the 2002 famine and the dire steps his family and friends had to take to get through it.  After crop failure and mismanagement of stockpiles by corrupt government officials, William’s family faced the year with only two sacks of corn in their storeroom.  They used every resource possible to maintain a starvation diet, and William chronicles the struggle at each stage. Near the end of the famine year, his father had to sell off most of his projected tobacco harvest at cut-rate prices to buy small amounts of food at highly inflated prices.  Coming out of the famine, his family faced economic hardship and could not afford to pay to continue his education.

At the age of 14, William was keenly aware that education was key for any future advancement.  He endeavored to pursue his learning on his own.  The story of how he became inspired to build his “electric wind” and gained the attention of the world takes up the well-publicized remainder of the book.  I was impressed by the wisdom of his father to have faith in his eccentric son’s dream when everyone else in his family and village thought he was crazy.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read an inspiring, true-life story from out of Africa, which has far too many stories of starvation, disease, war, and corruption.  I believe it would make a wonderful book for teen readers, who will easily identify with William.  My sister, Kay, a recently retired middle school English teacher was always on the lookout for great books for her students.  Check this one out, Kay, I think it’s a winner!

Written by Mark Christal

November 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm