Tupelo 30/30 Project – Day 23 –Celebrating the Birth of a Lioness

The year is 2015. She turns 40 next month. Soon after, I turn 37. And, for this long, we have been best friends.

My sister is a warrior, a brave beautiful lioness. She is also a loyal daughter, and the mom of the sweetest, wildest and most untamable of cubs.

She is a healer of both body and soul, compassionate and attentive, even when all else in life fails to make sense.

Lately, she has been questioning her faith, but prefers not to talk about it. At all costs, she avoids worrying our parents.

Having lived through half her life, as she says, she wonders about what she has achieved. Let us recap, sis, shall we?


You have mastered the rare ability to love unconditionally those around you… and we are devoted to you for it.

Sly and svelte, you have come out of life’s battles victorious; surely scarred, but ever stronger and more stunning.

With grace and dignity, you have created order where entropy would have otherwise prevailed.

To me, you have been an exemplary fortress, a loyal and patient shoulder and ear, an inspiration for many verses.

You have raised a spirited amorous kitten… an angel who has bestowed upon us a collection of delightful memories.

You have kept a home for him every step of the way. As your world seemed to crumble, the walls of love and care around him have always withstood.

Now I see you worried and overworked, maybe lonely at times, frustrated with that which you cannot control… but this too shall pass.

You are a survivor and a champion… no matter how huge the obstacle, how rough the path, how hectic the days.

At your darkest hours, remember all that. Hold on to the lioness inside, to her enduring strength to hurt and hunt in the wilderness.

Remember, too, that sometimes she will need to roar and run free. She may even feel like scratching and biting every once in a while.

And she requires her own time and space to rejoice in nature, to yawn and nap… to purr, stretch out and lie lazily in the sun.

Sis, you are perfect… with all your feline imperfections. Happy birthday!


Tupelo 30/30 Project – Day 22 – Jubilee

there is excitement in the air
a speck of magic in the night
a touch of freshness in the heat
so light

as words break in to play and flirt
spelled out with joyous singing might
and those that linger unsaid out
of sight

wherever this may lead us
would you dare hon would you follow
spread your wings at dusk over the ocean like
there’s no tomorrow


do you feel your hands vibrating
our hearts are beating so fast
sensations spreading all over
at last

when the dancefloor begins to move
our rhythm is put to the test
freeing musicality at
its best

wherever this may lead us
would you dare hon would you follow
spread your wings at dusk over the ocean like
there’s no tomorrow


we must surrender to this beat
perform with gusto our own part
revel today with joy & at ease
be smart

a world in melodious motion
life’s such an exuberant art
to practice and slowly perfect
at heart

wherever this may lead us
would you dare hon would you follow
spread your wings at dusk over the ocean like
there’s no tomorrow


Tupelo 30/30 Project – Day 21 – logomaniacs

Poesia em Chines

must sometimes get real raw & apoplectic

today we don’t write to be apologetic
to be charming or polite
enough is enough hence we rhyme
scream and shout for a change in paradigm
we are here to make noise
for as long as it takes as loud as it gets
till you stop
to hear our voice

our poetry has purpose
it has wrath anguish awe
for humanity seems to have gone astray
on and on day after day tumbling down
this Cimmerian path

dearth of compassion inflicting the Earth

our poetry bleeds hope it abounds
in ecstasy sparkles with idiosyncrasy
when it becomes about
the power in small gestures
vivacious acts of solidarity
in nature’s dynamic balance
linking together such tenacious cat’s cradle

we are here to describe & reinvent
to protest & celebrate by translating
rebellious feelings into winged words
like the logomaniacs we are

will you
step out of your plutomania
& experiment “freeading”?

Tupelo 30/30 Project – Day 20 – La Ville de la Poésie

In honor of the annual International Poetry Festival in Trois-Rivières, Québec

Dans la Ville de la Poésie a Québec,
there is a magical portal that opens up
into a parallel universe of bards.
Its inhabitants breathe, drink, sweat & bleed
poetry every minute of every hour of
every day. The realm of Zénob vibrates
with stanzas. It thrives on bohemian heartbeats.
At the break of dawn, when the portal closes,
for a long few hours of quietude & renewal, I
can imagine those walls reciting, the chairs
falling to their sides in laughter, the bottles
of wine and whiskey brought to tears, the tables
enthusiastically applauding & asking
for more, eager to hear what is to follow.
Poetry returns night after night after night,
verse after rhyme after words enchantingly
combined, dans la belle Ville de la Poésie.


Eastlit April 2016 – Xiamen & other poems


With apologies for the delay, I’m delighted to announce the recent publication of five of my poems, four of which are from last August’s Tupelo 30/30 Project, in the beautiful Eastlit – a journal and website focused on creative writing, English literature and art specifically from or connected to East and South East Asia.

I’ve included a couple of samples here, but kindly invite you to go directly to the Eastlit webpage to read the full set of Xiamen & other poems, inspired by my life in this fun and exotic city.

Also, please have a look at the complete Eastlit April edition for some fantastic work from the region. The Eastlit May edition is also now out.



Musician with the flower



Tupelo 30/30 Project – Day 19 – My hydro fam

A tribute to all the wonderful people I’ve met over the last 10 years who are working on water to change the world.

These years…
they have changed us.
We’ve shared some triumphs.
Then again, a good amount of frustrations.
Heck, many have called us crazy!
Yet, we’ve made it here.
Together, and you know who you are,
we have come so far,
emerging from the shadows
exultant. Older now…
more mature, if just for the better part of a day;
perhaps more forgiving, in peace.
Our relationships,
forged out of a shared dream,
have turned into a decade long
unbreakable bond.

We’ve seen each other, time and again,
come and go,
onwards and upwards in our gipsy paths.
Goodbyes never become any easier;
helloes grow ever sweeter.

I’ve witnessed in awe as you’ve blossomed.
I miss those who’ve moved on to new adventures.
Year after year, we’ve laughed
at our white hair and wrinkles taking over;
and shared pictures of babies
who are now young ladies and gentlemen.
Since we’ve met,
some have brought new lives into this blue planet
we’ve fought so hard to protect.
Within or beyond our water world,
some have found true love,
or deep, uplifting kinship.
Others have found themselves caught up
in a dark web of surprises…
lives broken, cut short or forever changed
at too young an age.

I smile at the thought of seeing you again.
I feel the weight of knowing that,
in some cases, this may not happen…

But on this day, so many of us are here,
together again,
celebrating at last
hard-won milestones in our fluid journeys.
I’d like to think that the stir we’ve caused
the trouble we’ve made
all that clamor
have played, even if a mini part,
in boosting blue hope for better days to come.


South Korea, April 2015, receiving a WWF award with my fellow fighters

So I thank you,
with the light of one thousand stars,
for stepping into my life…
for carving, ever so subtly,
a VIP spot for you there;
for confiding in me stories and worries,
along with knowledge and wisdom
from your huge, enlightened brains;
such kind, heroic hearts.

Your presence here honors and delights me.
Please stay a tad while longer, at least for a ‘saídeira’*.
Then let’s go for a walk, let’s climb a mountain and
take a pick at what the next ten years
may have in store for us.

May the world’s freshwaters,
and the wealth of life they sustain,
show us the way,
as we go on building the world we want:
ever wet, whole, refreshing and free-flowing,
from the mountains to the sea.

*Brazilian expression for the last toast and drink of the evening, and with which my freshwater friends from all corners of the world are now familiar.

Tupelo 30/30 Project – Days 14-18 – Things children say

Dear readers,
Sincerest apologies for the long silence. The last two months have been out control busy (though wonderful on so many levels), with completing the Tupelo 30/30 Project; spending time with my family back home; readjusting to life in China and moving into a new apartment off campus; catching up with work, school and friends in Xiamen… and organizing a local poetry group for monthly readings, both in English and Chinese (more to follow on this).
So, in an attempt to redeem myself, I’m posting a longer poem today from the Tupelo 30/30 Project, which had originally been published in separate parts over the period of five days… hope you enjoy!

Things children say

Inspired by and adapted from various remarks made by my godson, originally in Portuguese, and collected by his mom, between the ages of 2 and 7

Lucas being Lucas, Pantanal

Lucas being Lucas, Pantanal

Part I. Philosophizing, poeticizing

“The world looks so small on google maps,
but we know it is so big.”

“There’s a tiny yellow fish
in the bottom of the ocean.
It looks like a radiant sun
twinkling under the water.”

“The full moon is
the daredevil of light.”

“One thing I hate in this world is when
hell comes into our head and then
we keep bugging the hell out of everybody.”

“How can the dogs be sleeping in still,
when being out here is such a thrill?”

On the two different companies contracted by his school to transport kids:
“They’re like Coke and Pepsi,
competing to see who gets more children.”

Mom: “How was your day at school?”
Lucas: “Great, I’m even sweating stones…
we played all kinds of games for disentangling bones.”

Part II. Fantasizing

“When peeing, we shouldn’t make too much noise,
because there’s a dragon castle nearby.
If the dragon wakes up, it comes into the living room to spit fire.
Then again, this should set off the alarm and
the police would come quickly to get rid of the dragon.”

“These days
Santa uses GPS to find our letters.”

“All this rain!
I think the angels pulled up the rain lever and went to sleep.”

“My friend at school brushed her doll’s hair so hard that the hair fell off.
Then again, the doll had belonged to her grandma.
It was already so old… about time it got bald.”

When asked how he knew a song playing on the radio:
“It was playing while the stork was carrying me here.”

When told that taxi drivers know all the best directions:
“Not in other planets, they don’t.”

Our soccer team has been playing so well.
“I wonder if all the players have taken a magical potion…
or maybe they made a wish upon a shooting star.”

Part III. Kiddy sweetness

when you go to heaven,
will you keep taking care of me?”

“You’ll never be alone,
I’m here… always.”

“Do you know why my heart beats?
Because I love you.”

“You’re my best moment in life!”

“It’s so nice to get a hug,
to be held closely tight…
any time, day or night.”

“My greatest Christmas present
is my family.”

“Good night!
See you all in my dreams.”

New Year’s Eve wishes:
“I wish everybody I love to be healthy,
and for God to watch lovingly over them.”

Going away with his grandparents for the weekend:
“Mom, beware of the bad guys,
be kind to your patients.”

Consoling a friend:
“Think about good things,
like the places and people
you love most.”

Part IV. Being cute and jolly

“You should brush your gums thoroughly…
it’s where the bacteria like to poop.”

“Great-grandma is so naughty:
just wants to lie in bed all day!”

“This noise coming out of my belly…
is the sound of my tummy eating my food.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll pick up the coins from the floor,
since I’m more ‘elastic’.”

Getting scolded:
“But why would you nickname me angel,
if I’m such a prankster?”

At the supermarket:
“Hmm, let’s go explore this place!”

Placing a golden sticker on my jacket:
“Here, this way your jacket
will look more luminous.”

Talking about his cousins:
“It’s good I’m not going there to play today.
They keep fighting each other and
it gives me a headache.”

In the car:
“I’d like to go check out that building.
In fact, I wanna see everywhere in Brazil.”

One day, first sentence upon waking up:
“Recycling is important.”

Playing video-games:
“This soundtrack is so much fun…
I feel like running around naked.”

Part V. Witty dialogues

From another room, Lucas coughs and says:
“Mom, I just coughed!”
She replies: “Yes, saw that.”
Then he goes: “Duh, mom, you didn’t see it, you heard it.”

Mom: “You look so serious and attentive…”
Lucas: “That’s because my tummy machine is working well and,
with these big ears of mine,
I’m listening to everything around me.”

Mom: “Your toys are set up so funny today.”
Lucas: “Of course, I use my imagination!”

Mom: “Does your little sister cry at night?”
Lucas: “Yep.”
Mom: “And can you hear her if you’re sleeping?”
Lucas: “Of course! Or do you think my ears malfunction at nighttime?”

Mom: “I had already told you not to do that.”
Lucas: “I know… it’s just that the first time you said it,
it didn’t really reach all the way into my head.”

Lucas: “I’d like to get a tattoo.”
Mom: “One day, perhaps.”
Lucas: “I’d like to get it one day today.”

Grandma: “If you don’t behave during tooth-brushing, I’ll take off running.”
Lucas: “But you gonna run with your injured knee? That should hurt!”

Lucas: “Let’s go play at the park.”
Mom: “But how, with your broken arm?”
Lucas: “Not to worry, I’ll put all my abilities to good use.”