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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #37

  • Section A: July 15, 2013
  • Section B: August 15, 2013
  • Section C: September 15, 2013
  • Section D: October 15, 2013
  • Section E: November 15, 2013
  • Section F: .................................................................. December 15, 2013

    Fair Oaks, CA


      There are lessons here
      if I care to listen.
      The heart of the world
      sings through the sounds
      of birch leaves slithering
      against each other
      twisting and turning
      jockeying for space
      as gentle breezes
      stir them up.

      The damp earth
      blanketed with low slung moss
      spotted with white
      flowered eyes
      touches my body
      sucks my soul deep
      into that darkness
      flowing under everything.
      What dark vein
      hides under my skin?

      Overhead, a vee of
      winged creatures
      calls their journey
      into life
      distance imagined
      beyond my sight.
      I long to escape
      to shout my song
      with heartfelt abandon
      call and response
      to anchor me home.

      The hum of life is here
      vibrations only felt
      among growing
      earthbound spirits,
      only heard in
      joyous songs of flight
      only absorbed by pores
      thirsty for more.
      There are lessons here
      if I care
      if I listen.

    Carol Lynn Mathew-Rogers

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Shorebirds gather and disperse.
      Congregations of gulls stand together
      on one knoll of the beach.
      One after another, a squadron of pelicans
      glides close to the water,
      then rises up the side of a bluff,
      using the slightest thermal
      to support their outspread wings.

      The gulls have no schedule,
      while waves roll up the low slope
      and slip back again, or so it seems to me.
      They behave like cousins,
      all with some family resemblance,
      but varied shapes of gray patches on wings
      or a dark stripe near the tail feathers,
      all bony webbed feet and yellow hooked beaks,
      a different story in each eye.

      I walk the shore, come across a gull's head,
      white boned with large circular eye sockets,
      intricate linkage of jaw and open beak
      that still seems to sing
      its shrill call over the sea.
      Only a bit of muscle and ligament remains,
      the basic form of its cranium a skeletal sculpture.

      Tucking it carefully into my pocket,
      I bring it home, soak the skull in clean water,
      wash away clinging sand and place a stone
      between the upper and lower mandibles,
      discover dignity beneath its familiar face.

    Laura Bayless

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      above us all
      a river passes
      the universe

      of thought
      and ideas

      as an artist
      I can only
      try to join its flow

      not to lecture
      or even judge

      just observe

      let it in

      and boldly
      take the ride

    Stephen Brown

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    Section E: .................................................................. November 15, 2013

    Monterey, CA

    A tribute to Don and Lou Mathews and their co-creation.


      I sit in front of a Sacred Space
      built to house the Spirit of Fire.
      Neatly placed within, quietly at rest
      lay three logs that are not burning.

      The Energy I sense is one of change,
      of moving on.
      I sit within this hallowed place.
      My final visit here with friends
      before the changing of the guard.

      I gaze at the space containing wood...... but no fire
      I think of a tradition......
      Of leaving a campfire pit prepared with wood,
      ready to light,
      A welcoming gesture for those next to come
      and experience the site.

      My focus returns to the three small logs
      in their restful state.
      One small piece of Monterey Pine
      supported by two Live Oak limbs.
      All of them offerings from trees
      also known as the "Standing Tall People,"
      sentient beings, who help nurture and shelter us all.

      I have a thought...... and then a vision
      for this Monterey Pine limb
      which has been offered to the Spirit of Fire,
      but does not burn.

      I ponder the possibility of exposing its inner beauty,
      A gift which might provide a different type of warmth,
      nurturing the spirit beyond this day's gift of fellowship,
      A tribute to this nurturing space......

      I contemplate the time it could take......
      but I do not decide......

      Three hours have passed,
      sharing complete, it's time to stand.
      I become a part of a sacred symbol.
      A circle of friends holding hands.
      I feel a different type of fire burning.

      After giving Don a final hug
      within the sanctuary of 8 Stratford Place
      I turn to leave...... but am drawn back
      by a calling from that pine limb,
      asking not to be left behind.

    [Carving from 8 Stratford Pl. Pine]

    Carved with loving care from the large pine in front of their house!

    Patrick Maiorana

    Carmel Valley, CA


      I hear watersong before I see it
             a few yards down a faded trail.
             Rocky riverbed offers harmonic intermission,
             delicate scent of stream over rouged moss.
                    Camber of creek over stone,
             living sculptures change tone
                           at the turn of my head.

      Midstream, an embedded boulder
             seems to float.
                    Wizened old man with toothless grin,
             cracked smile snakes across wide face.
                    Two sunken nostrils form a bony nose.
             Deep socket eyes, flirtatious
                    blossom of green behind his left ear.

      Downstream, white water
             bubbles leap and spit from pocks
                    in mercurial rapids.
             I post myself on a boulder
                    facing east. A mass
             of stone snags and baffles divert
                           but never possess the flow.

      Pine logs, fallen temples suspended
             across carbonated cascades,
                    expose severed rootips.
             One lush clump of rivergrass springs
                    from the stub of a cottonwood
             like ruffled plumage
                           on an exotic bird.

      I toss a stick sailboat
             on the surface,
                    watch it slip and frisk
             between cobblestone channels.
                    Arroyo willows form skylights,
             pavilions of green
                           over a woodland empire.

      Downstream water music
             murmurs through small ponds,
                    but here she babbles with the rocks. . .
             "what of next winter's rain,
                    menacing rumors of a larger dam,
                           the interior rumble of fault lines?"

      White butterflies dance in frivolous flight.
             I listen to melodies and undercurrents,
                    make photographs of granite forms,
             foam trapped in milky shallows.
                    Birds call from treetops,
             finespun blue dragonflies touch down
                    on speckled stones.

    Laura Bayless

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      The miles that he has walked
      since coming into this world
      have begun to show

      in his gait and choppy stride
      feet landing with care
      each directed by long past pains
      miles of balancing his sturdy body
      on back, ankles, and knees

      an entire legend
      as he walks away
      from his long time friend

      hopeful, expecting
      to meet again
      in the shop of the coffee seller
      for another morning of solving

      shuffling away
      to another day

    Written in chalk on a black board hanging in the coffee shop of Powell's Books Portland Oregon:

    "A book is made from a tree, it is an assemblage of flat flexible parts (still called "leaves") Imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years, across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you.

    Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together People, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another, books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic."
    — Attributed to Carl Sagan


      It could be about writing
      with a pen
      or maybe a feather

      cut from the end
      of a gulls wing tip

      to be able to dip
      into the dark ink
      to be drug across

      the mashed up trees
      or linen under ware

      leaving squiggle tracks
      on the surface
      like Carl Segan said
      on the black board
      in Powell's Books

      that year
      when we went to Portland
      in Oregon not Maine

    Stephen Brown

    Pacific Grove, CA


      "Begin," Lee says
      with a glint in her eye.
      "If you never begin,
      you'll be sad when you die."

      She often says,
      "Your words are clever,
      but this time move forward
      to serious endeavor."

      So I gathered my pen,
      said tata to my fear,
      said a prayer to the gods
      that my words would be clear.

      "We must mine for the vein
      that will lead us to gold."
      I thought to myself,
      "You must be bold."

      The clock ticked on
      as I looked for that vein
      Alas for my pride
      here was nothing to gain.

      I mused on some thoughts
      that were easy to think
      but my focus was lost
      so I gave way to a drink

      of water, you silly,
      and chips and some fruit
      and toast with raw honey
      that would help find the root

      But time is long past
      for expecting the muse
      so I'll lay down my pen
      and take a long snooze.

    Susan Sutherland

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    Section D: .................................................................. October 15, 2013

    Carmel, CA

    On my way to see my sister with a poem.

    [Charlotte Airport]


      Waking up here as the sun rised in the East,
      though I have been awake for hours. . .

      The contemplations always deepen.
      The mystery intensifies with the vastness of things.

      But we need the particulars as we fly over everything.

      To communicate the uniqueness of the momentary—
      the present momentous.
      The immediate locality of soul.

      Where do we place our very passions?
      How do we partake when are we held to them?

      As we find ourselves, you and I, just as we are, near and away,
      touching, yearning, resisting, living out our livings,
      dying into our dyings, dreaming lucid, deluded, occupied,
      preoccupied, transmuting—whatsoever
      the exact dances we will be dancing this day.

      I am at Charlotte International, flowing through it,
      with oatmeal and coffee and email and x-ray vision somehow.

    Since her freshman year of high school, my big sister Shirley has by many folks been known by the nickname of "Blossom." Her homeroom teacher told her one time, "Shirley, you just always blossom." Everyone else seemed to agree, and it stuck.

    I asked if she wanted me to read it right away or later on the phone. She said she wanted me to read it there with her, and I did so this morning. We cried together.

    She has hospice care at home and is surrounded by deeply loving family, friends, and her two pups with whom she is very close.


      While you were being made Sister—
      In secret—fashioned day by day

      Wisdom sang out—raising her voice
      From the fountain of the deep

      Before the established heavens
      And in front of the whole town—

      That you were her golden curled little girl
      Born rejoicing with delight a new morning

      Just a little lower than an angel—
      All simple and nice

                    * * *

      And then life came to require more truth
      Than you could bear at the time

      But you did anyway—more than any little girl
      Should be expected to know how to

      And that very truth can now be declared
      As it was given to you—

      That suffering produces endurance
      And endurance produces such a character

      As clear as a bell as it is to all of us who
      Feel together in fullness the blessings

      We feel flowing through you—blessings
      You have brought to each and all of us

      With the sure hope that does not disappoint us
      Because we know GOD'S love has been poured

      Into our hearts because we know it to be true
      How it was so long ago poured into you

                    You ARE always blossoming!

                    * * *

      How vast our praise of Thee
      O LORD


      Thy kingdom come
      Thy will be done

                    For ever and ever

      Right here right now
      Like little children we let go

                    And for ever
                    And ever and ever


                    Sister AMEN

                    And amen

    I have two other sisters younger than Shirley. I am the baby.
    (left to right, John, Sondra, Shirley, and Diana.)


    Returning to California now.

    John Dotson

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      About the knave.
      Standing at the door
      sword at ready
      to cut away
      life's frills.

      To slash the fat
      below the knee
      that last ounce
             from off the sky.

      Railing against
      that common tide

      holding us
                    in the center of the torrent.

    Stephen Brown

    Pacific Grove, CA

      Autumnal Equinox 2010
      A Triptych (Plus One)

      I play Solitaire.
      Look, a priestly Ace.
      A winning game, perhaps.
      But three Kings now—too many.
      Too much black.
      I seek Two's
      Cards flip fast.
      Nine of spades.
      Three of clubs.
      Five of hearts.
      I move cards, reveal a Deuce.
      Play the Three.
      A Jack for the Queen.
      A Queen for a King.
      It's not what you think, this Game.
      These Suits live and die, fight and love—
      Each hand a lifespan and a history.
      Defeat comes fast
      Or slow
      Or triumph rules the field of green.
      But I am the Goddess of their world
      The turning wheel,
      The alpha-omega of their fate.
      I play Solitaire.

      It matters not, these cards.
      Winning, losing
      Red, black
      The fuss and shuffles
      Ever shifting, moving
      Toward death or freedom.
      Away, Red Queen
      Begone Black Jack
      And mairzy doats and dozy doats
      And liddle lamzy divey. . .

      I don't care.

      The trade winds of the mind
      Fetch a handsome price for
      A Deuce on an Ace
      Leaving me free
      Of the chitter-chatter Choo-Choo
      As long as the Game plays on.
      That little monkey turns the cards
      Fiddling and fizzling
      While in sadhana-repose
      Calm awareness
      Grants me peace.
      Om shanti!
      Visions float through
      The stillness.
      Little Holy Grails
      Come and go
      And I wake up

      I play Solitaire.

    Barbara Rose Shuler

    Marina, CA


      What is it, hiding there in a mind corner?
      I know it isn't a memory,
      because I jettisoned those poisonous things
      long ago, refusing to let shadows
      stalk my forevers.
      So, not a memory.
      A promise, a thought, a floating whisper
      that I barely hear as it flees on the breeze?
      Something that I cannot pin down and catch,
      because to do so would burn and crush
      my emergent self?
      I have to stop and think.
      I cannot let a panic reaction carry me away
      into nothingness again.
      Oh. I forgot.
      The thing in a corner is not
      the malevolent ominous threat
      of lives past.
      I simply didn't recognize it
      because it is a thing
      so very unfamiliar to me still.
      After all, I am just starting
      To learn to reach for its silky light and promise,
      and label it by its proper name.
      It calls itself

    Olga Chandler

    Carmel Valley, CA


      In Sweet Offerings my feet
      refuse to stand still
      as I hear an old jukebox song
      coming from behind
      the glass front candy counters,
      Buddy Holly singing
      That'll be the Day,
      and then another shop entertains
      with piped-in rhythm and blues,
      where I realize I cannot NOT dance,
      cannot deny the drum beat,
      frivolous familiar tunes.

      I dance in the oddest places,
      feel only slightly embarrassed
                    or not at all,
      having somehow outgrown caring
      what strangers might consider
      as peculiar or improper.
      I will never be invited
      to dance the jive with the stars
      don't require a live band,
      take rhythm where I find it,
      rock and roll through life.

    Laura Bayless

    Carmel Valley, CA

      (After the diagnosis)

      The marquee reads
      "Fried Green Tomatoes"
      Sea-scented mist looms
      around us as my husband and I
      await the opening of the ticket window.

      I nestle into his large black leather jacked
      inhale the aroma of him, his clothing
      and the air dampened with the weight of the moment.

      Around us, this gray Sunday afternoon,
      teen-aged girls giggle their shyness
      young boys play tag without loosing their places
      in the order of this day.

      Others in line, tighten their woolen scarves,
      chat easily with each other.

      A certain quiet inhabits me
      Calmness desires presence
      as I gather memories for certain loneliness
      notice scattering squirrels seeking
      stored nourishment.

      We hear the ticket window open
      the line begins to move
      arm in arm we enter the dark theater
      ready to escape, for a while, into Technicolor.

    Illia Thompson

    Pacific Grove, CA


      Creative Edge is leaving 8 Stratford Place. I have been coming here for more than 20 years. I have been challenged to find and express my own creative spirit, which I have done through photography and the written word. The Creative Edge is moving to a new location.

      So what difference does a particular location make? I will still receive a warm hug of welcome from Don. I will continue to share an intimate space with long-time friends plus occasional new people. I will enjoy many forms of artistic expression and thoughtful discussions, and savor Lou's home baking. (I hope)

      However, certain important things will be different. As I have walked down to the house among the pines, I have entered a sanctuary, filled with light. From the sofa, I have looked out over trees, often as I squinted from the morning light that streamed into the living room. I have become familiar with the placement of art on the walls and in the case at the entrance. As I meditated with the group, I have heard the pop of the fire in the fireplace and the song of the water in the fountain. Some of these will be carried over to the new location, I am sure.

      But the ambiance will be different. We will have to share in making the new place a warm and inviting space for all.

      We will test our openness to change and our willingness to make familiar the new. We will bring with us our memories of Stratford Place, and of who we were during those many years we were privileged to meet here.

      Once again, I want to thank Don for these many years when he shared his home, his art, and his spirit with us. We have all been blessed by his generosity and leadership on our creative journey.

    Editor's note:
    The new location is at Forest Hill: 551 Gibson Ave, Cottage B-21, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

    Marilyn Beck

    San Jose, CA

      RED DOTS

      Across the flood plain, peopled
      By barrel cacti, dotted
      By wisps of smoke trees, softened
      With round mounds of bristle brush, carved
      By three deep gashes of dry creeks
      We see a thin yellow line
      Of a trail snaking up
      Into the saddle of the of mountain ridge
      You could not see the red dots
      Barely moving barely visible
      Only for perfect distance vision.

      Today I walk with a red shirt
      Up this trail, moving briskly
      Breathing hard, alive until
      I shrink in this stony expanse
      To become a red dot
      A mote invisible until
      A shaft of light makes it glow
      Adrift in a wisp of air
      For a brief moment.

    Franz Spickhoff

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    Section C: .................................................................. September 15, 2013

    Carmel, CA


      serpent spines coil up
      dawn transmutes through September
      new moon no reason

      alertness insinuates
      those greater slants impending


      what is fully present

      but never to be known
      never to be named

      weaves thoroughly through

      the tense places
      of this very Dawn

      with her arising

      rousing the dream citizens
      from their tours

      to take up with me again

      the architectonic twists
      and plots of

      the world proclaimed

      outside my window
      by one sweet warbler

      in song with a chorus of finches

      jay squawks crow caws
      and one guy frantically

      hammering to punctuate

      the Monday morning tide
      of transport


    John Dotson

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      TIME FOR A POEM???

      on this Friday called good
      my brain has stumbled
      into old age
      leaving the frantic passion of youth
      to stand at the edge of time
      searching back and forward
      to find the answer

      when there may not be one
      I no longer
      can pretend
      to know
      what cannot be known

      the spinning will not stop
      the wheel lumbers on
      the answer on the outer rim
      sails past into a fog
      hold the edge
      for one more night

      or so they say
      in all of the books that carry on

    Stephen Brown

    Berkeley, CA


      Left at 3:30 this afternoon, over the hills to the coast.
      Point Reyes, light and Douglas Fir, peregrine,
      Swainson's hawks, vultures over Arch Rock at sunset,
      and nearby, pelicans, fishing in the waves.

      By the creek, lucent, dark, feathers, pokes along the bank
      blue of midnight, a heron so close, surprised, takes flight
      west over the creek, into the trees.

      Through Bear Valley, an hour's walking east with the deer,
      out of the forest at moonrise. Thirteen miles home,
      September, at Summer's end.

    Larry Ruth

    Tucson, AZ


      Like a wave of the ocean breaking on a rock
      I break upon the alcohol consumed

      On the shore is a Cross
      With my own face on the Man
      The one called alcoholic and friend of sinners

      I resolve to be good enough for the Name
      As I drink my beer and jeer
      And the corrupt old rotten world
      Visited for the umpteenth incarnation
      Condemns Me yet again
      And who are my friends?


      (Monday, Labor Day)

      The Frozen Mango Chunks
      In cold rice milk
      The rice milk freezes to
                    the mango

      Let on to the drifts
      Of the Universe
      Dance, my Child, dance

      Alive to the One Life
      Dead to the One Death
      Brought to life as a Child


      In the Best of the West
      Wednesday Noon overcast August day
      I am alone in the Park

      Cicadas sound the Voice of the Eternal
      In the trees lining open grass fields

      Where the USA leads the best astray
      Into rehabs, jails, and psych wards
      Leaving society alone
      To indoctrinate the children
      And leave the rest in debt
      Perhaps rich enough to play golf
      Or raise horses and play at freedom
      In the great Imperial Room of Doom

      Oh, cicadas, play on
      The one lonely unlonesome Voice of the Eternal
      One so holy
      It is well hidden from the masses
      With credit card debt crevasses
      Riding to nowhere their gasoline engines

      The televisions play the Image of the Beast
      Souls numbed so to the slow Dead March
      Leading to the Tombs

      Even the cicadas stop
      In the vast unholy wasteland of Imperial lies

    Christopher Lovette

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    Section B: .................................................................. August 15, 2013

    Carmel, CA


      the true poets
      i know

      trust the rock

      and the rolling motion of


      that rushes up
      filling in

      what parts

      of any poem
      that must for

      ever be missing

    John Dotson

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    Here is a wax preparatory to casting in bronze. I think she is 'bout 6" tall—been haunting the hell out of me for years. She was made of an oil based clay and lived in my studio collecting dust until about a month ago, then she went to Monterey Sculpture Center and 400 bucks later she is a wax waiting for the next step. Not everything is poetry or drawing.

    [Wax for casting]

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      We start out on a wide gravel track
      not knowing how far the destination,
      how steep the ascent,
      or limit of our endurance.

      Coyote brush, blackened thistles,
      early blossoms of milk vetch
      border a dusty trail.
      Blue-eyed grass, rolling hillocks,
      two stark white egrets in the distance
      invite us to explore this indefinite frontier.

      Beyond gradual slopes
      we discover a lush ravine
      and narrow serpentine path,
      glimpse a gap in the foothills.
      Around the last curve a lone cypress
      frames a breathless fresco
      of low-crested waves
      at the edge of the ruffled sea.

      Fog on the horizon
      lies far out from the shoreline.
      Three gulls wing north
      over a series of coastal ridges.
      Bouquets of brilliant orange
      poppies daub a grassy knoll,
      all this a reward for which
      we dare to go another mile.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section A: .................................................................. July 15, 2013

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    This one is not titled but uses the date and time of its creation. Something that is one of the things that computers do if given a chance. I am not sure what I think about that but I also know that I sometimes have a difficult time coming up with titles.

      1/6/2013 7:00 AM

      morning thunder
      claims the day
      rising sun
      begins to play
      black to yellow
      once again
      circles stand
      beyond the edge

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      A clear morning carries
      the unanswered summons
      of a lone dove.

      On a trail above Fiscalini Ranch
      white constellations of wild strawberry
      bloom under a host of lofty pines.

      Knobby tree roots
      slow the already tentative pace
      of my woodland ramble.

      On an open knoll, sunlit treetops
      gleam, a rupture of gold
      against a still-tender sky.

      In the distance, ocean's surge
      gives voice to what can't be said
      on days like this.

      A burnish of cashmere dew
      overlays a meadow traversed
      by a double track path.

      Of two mindsets myself
      I pass under the arc of an oak limb,
      wander within reflective moods.

    Laura Bayless

    Tucson, AZ

      THE KEY

      The written law is not the law
      If you seek the true law
             in your heart
      First find your conscience
             then you will have the key

      (Based on invaluable actual experiences gained
      during my 3 week and two day road trip)

      The Outlaw came to town
             all drunk
      And hoisted in his sails

      His rations were meager
      The Posse on the prowl
      He took any job he could find

      The rabbits had eaten
      At the Preacher's garden
      Getting in through the holes in the fences

      The Outlaw mended fence
      At the Preacher's garden
      Until the rabbits
             looked on with dismay

      The Preacher paid
             hard cash for the work
      And the Outlaw fell
             asleep in the hay
      Worn out and tired out
             by the long day

    Christopher Lovette

    Monterey, CA

      AMY: A Character Sketch

      By not trusting us, by being secretive about the details of her life, she revealed far more of herself than she knew. She would have been appalled to know how much we saw of her—her fears bolted from her smile. Her sense of inadequacy sat as piles of wood chips on her shoulder. With each bit of creativity allowed out, a few chips fell from her shoulders, distractions to be brushed off her lap, kicked to the side to be swept up later, to be sorted into piles of proof of the terrible caustic gall she had to even try to be creative.

      She hinted at secrets dark, intriguing, and painful. Whether those secrets existed as facts, they truly existed as ideas and feelings, looming large and controlling. Yet her writing—her rhyming epic poem is full of life. It exudes a zest for the fun of life, a tongue-in-cheek look at her foibles and those of her daughter. Her writing makes us smile with a sense of bewildered awe, and we know that all is not as it seems on the surface, that pain can be muted by the challenge of creativity.

    Susan Sutherland

    Monterey, CA


      Under starlight and moon,
      We embrace once again.
      I rest in the hollow of your arm
      Listen to your heart.
      We scan the sky
      For failing stars.
      You've seen far more,
      Yet still I'm feeling blessed
      To share this coolness,
      Breathe this scented air,
      Listen to a lovelorn
      Cricket's serenade.
      I feet the full moon's
      Motherly embrace of love,
      Echoing our own.

    Shirley Tofte

    Thank you for your creative offerings!

    I invite readers to share their own creative works (poems, stories, images, comment, etc.) in Letter Box On Line (LBOL). I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.

    The Editor

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