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by Gregory Paul Latanick

Pray to the mountain, 

Pray to the sea 

Pray to the fishes, 

Pray to the tree 

The canyon split the mountains. The town sat in the canyon that split the mountains. The creek wound through the canyon and the town. Outside of town a few miles up the canyon was the monastery. The monastery relied on the town, and the town relied on the monastery. ● 

You’ve been studying and meditating during the day here for the last three months. I feel that you have a very clear picture of the duties of our life in the monastery. We would like to invite you to join us as a live-in initiate. We would be happy to have you. We ask, as you know, that you give us six months of service for your first time as a live in monk. Barring injury or sickness, of course. We understand if you feel along the way that you can’t complete the six months, but we strongly discourage our new monks leaving before their time. If you feel that six months is too long, please say so now. 

‘No, six months is fine.’ 

Okay. Our new monk ceremony is tonight. Well, you’ve met MONK. MONK’s unofficially in charge of all new monks. I’m officially who must look over new students, but with our burgeoning expansion and new endeavors I’ve been swamped, dealing with finances and other business ends of the monastery. I’d rather spend more time with you and others coming in for the first time, but, c'est la vie, so it goes. I’ve done my fair share for the daily operations of this place, it now calls me to other matters. I will nobly be of service where necessary. Now, I assume you’ve been made aware of all of your duties, our schedule, and the rules here? Good. There aren’t a lot of rules of course, but our schedule is strict, and the few rules we have are strict too. We assume a lot from our new students, that’s what the three month training period is for. You’ll be fine, I’m just going over the obvious. We are all just souls traveling from life to life on this mortal coil, our job now as monks is to learn what we were in order to prepare for the present and ready ourselves for what we will become. Come, let me show you your quarters and take you through the grounds again. You’ll have all of today to settle. Please join us for all of our meals. We can catch the end of breakfast after we get you situated. I’ll show you the bathrooms, et cetera. After breakfast we’ll stroll the grounds, most you’ve probably seen, with a few spots that you have not. Today is a day for hot spring use by monks, so I advise you to take advantage of them. No clothing allowed, of course, and they’re separated by sex. I suppose this is the best time to tell you, and I’m sure you already know, that sexual conduct here is strictly forbidden. Most rules here have some wiggle room, or if broken may be forgiven, but we seek to concentrate on other aspects of our humanity and our souls here. By removing the option of sexuality, we free our thoughts and bodies to a more selfless plane. We are of course very pro-sexual interaction, just not on these grounds. I myself had a beautiful partner I lived with for 20 years in town. My partner passed on to be reincarnated again a couple of years ago. We are very strict about this rule, especially with new students. Okay. Sorry for the heavy handedness, I am always sad when I have to enforce this rule and someone who is thriving is asked to leave, so I give all new people the same speech. It is the only rule that if broken carries immediate expulsion from the monastery. Well, you came at an interesting time. Harvest is nearly upon us, and there will be a celebration soon. We definitely need your help! There is plenty to do. 

The Lead Monk showed the neophyte Monk around the grounds in the cooling morning in the monastery up the canyon from the town. The autumn’s crispness hinted at the coming winter. The Monk was given robes and clothing, and would live in the shared dormitory for incoming monks. The dormitory also housed monks that lived in town and abroad that were staying for long weekends or short visits. The worldly possessions of the Monk were put in storage and paid a year in advance the week prior. 

After the co-ed dinner of vegetables from the garden, chicken from the yard, and rice dropped from the food distributor in town, the Monk joined the other monks who were taking advantage of the hot-spring evening. The hot springs were owned by the monastery and were maintained by the monks. They allowed 24 hour use of the hot springs for visitors in 12 hour increments. The 12 hour pass for visitors cost a nominal fee that changed as the market dictated. The monastery used to allow visitors to camp on their property, but there were too many instances of people drinking alcohol or wandering onto parts of the property that were allocated for monk use only. Tho the popular and beautiful springs were mostly used as a revenue stream for the monastery, Lead Monk always scheduled plenty of time for monk use. Prayer gatherings, holidays, and regular leisure intervals were always scheduled for the practitioners. 

The springs were ensconced next to the creek and the canyon’s west wall. The springs were fed by the hot geothermal activity ‘neath the earth, pumping water between 95 and 108 degrees fahrenheit. The pools themselves were man made, tho rustic with stone walls and pebbled bottoms. Each hot pool had a different temperature ranging from very warm to very hot. The cool pool was creek fed. When the springs were allocated for monk use, MONK or whomever was caretaking, would partition the springs with the sliding wood gate. The gate cut the spring grounds nearly in half crost their narrowest part. There were changing rooms on either end to accommodate the days when the sexes had to be separated. When partitioned with the gate, the cool pool was cut off from the south end of the grounds, so MONK or whomever was the caretaker would switch the sexes every other time when the springs were monk use only. Talking after dark was deeply discouraged, tho not a rule. 

The monks walked two by two or single file down the sparsely lit hollow of aspens and cottonwood. The hollowed trees bent in genuflected acquiescence to allow the monks passage. There was some talking and some silence. The cooling night felt cooler as the monks separated to their respective sides distinguished by sex. The evening turned cold. The cold air was felt by the monks cordoned off to their respective side split by the rolling wood gate and chosen by MONK or whomever was caretaking that day and disrobed in the now cold night. The monks exited the changing rooms and entered the hot pools. They sat and soaked, steam rose from the hot pools and hit the cold air and nearly turned to mist. The cold creek trickled. Some monks talked quietly, some monks did not. Some monks looked at the stars that shone in the clear autumn night. A large harvest moon peeked over the canyon’s peak and lit the dark springs. The Monk was content. 

The next morning the Monk was assigned duties after morning prayer with a new monk who was not as new as the Monk. The new monk who was not as new as the Monk was very meek. Meek Monk spoke softly. Duties were interspersed in between prayer and meditations. Service to the monastery and service to the community were important building blocks for the monks’ spiritual development and reflection. The Monk was assigned to the grounds crew during the week, helping with trash removal, post-meal cleaning, and other stuff. MONK was usually in charge of the grounds, and Cook Monk was usually in charge of the kitchen. The Monk took to her assigned duties quickly and settled into the flow of the monastery as the week and weeks went. The Monk meditated and prayed as the short fall turned to the long winter. Harvest went. MONK and Lead Monk and Cook Monk led the harvest party. The monks mingled and talked in the large domed prayer and meeting hall. Cook Monk played guitar. Some monks stood, some monks sat. By late September the yellowed aspens and cottonwoods and evergreen firs were greeted by brief, white flurries, and in mid October the monastery up the canyon from the town received its first big snowfall. The monks shoveled, with long underwear on under their long robes, covered with parkas, mittens, and warm hats. Their hot breaths clouded the cold air in the early mid-October morning, individual steam engines filled the air of the lanes, walks, and drives of the monastery with proof of their monk labor. The clouds cleared and the sun poked. Rays struck the snow crystals and glinted pinpricks of light off the dry snow. Metal struck gravel, pebble, and wood as the shovels plunged to the bottom of the glinting nocturnal delivery. The sun shone bright in the new blue sky as the arterial veins of the monastery were cleared. 

The harvest was a bumper crop. Cook monk was in charge of the harvest. The monks got the crops out of the ground just before the first big snow. The next weeks over the dwindling autumn saw the Monk’s duties change to snow removal and crop preparation. Each crop went somewhere different. Most were sold in town. Some were kept to help feed the monks and their visitors over the long winter. Each crop was prepared differently. Peeling, canning, trimming, washing. After morning prayer and meditation, then breakfast, the monks got to work. The crops helped pay the bills, and crop preparation was a rare time when monks of both sexes worked side by side. They canned and preserved together, and trimmed and cut together. ● 

The Monk settled into the life of the monastery, praying and meditating. The Monk thought about the past, and the decisions that led to becoming a monk, and the long studying, dedication, and life changes it took to get to the beautiful monastery. She was grateful. 

The snow fell and the monks fell into the rhythm of the long winter. Shovel, pray, meditate, shovel, clean, repair, shovel, pray. Every month, or at the most six weeks, hot-springs. MONK drove up from town nearly every day in an older Toyota RAV4. Some nights MONK would spend at the monastery. If there was too much snow and the roads were perilous, or if she just didn’t feel like it, she would stay in her small room at the monastery. Bed, bedside table, lamp, chair, short waist high cabinet, small bathroom with stand up shower. The monastery would often host traveling monks, speakers, teachers, and workshop leaders. MONK would offer up her room for a traveling host. MONK’s room was one of the only private rooms that had its own bathroom and shower. On those instances when her room was occupied and she didn’t feel like or couldn’t drive back to town to her house, she would stay in the dormitory with the new and incoming female monks. 

The long winter went. Snow fell nearly every day and the Monk was put in charge of snow removal, with MONK as a guide. Mornings were early and spent shoveling in the predawn cold light with the other neophyte monks. Their steam engines kicked into full gear in the very cold. Great mist clouds hung over their heads. Often the sky would clear until the afternoon, when the evening clouds arrived. The sun fell early behind the canyon walls, and by 4pm dusk began its descent crost the monastery. The short days and long nights were usually spent in solitude. After harvest until the holiday party in mid-January was a time of solitude, prayer, and meditation in the cold canyon. The dark hours were spent battling back the snow and filled with prayer and reflection. Smoke from chimneys coursed out of the buildings in the monastery. The cold was often severe, and could sometimes drop to -20 or -30 degrees below Fahrenheit, tho that was rare. Tho it was usually below freezing during the days and nights. When the bright sun was out in the cold blue sky it shone crisply crost the deep snows and the snow caught in the branches of the evergreens, tiered triangles of green and white and brown. When a black squirrel or black crow or other animal shook the branches the snowfall would catch the glint of the sharp sun, a trillion dancing crystals falling downward in the short day. The blue sky juxtaposed with the white ground and glinting dancing crystals and the green, white, and brown trees inhabited by black squirrels and black crows and other animals. The Monk prayed and meditated. Thoughts were allowed in, sometimes rapidly, like a television or radio channel turned quickly, the human mind antenna capturing the radio and television waves and deconstructing them in silent meditation. The rapid thoughts would slow, and in time would become much less rapid. Slow thoughts seeped. Memories, the past, the future, annoyances, fears, angers, joys alit crost the Monks consciousness. Some would come strong and the Monk would recognize them for what they were, then allow them to pass. The Monk saw a lot. The Monk’s past came to her often in the beginning, what she had left behind to become a monk in the beautiful monastery up the canyon from the town. The Monk began to let go of the past, and the regret. It was hard to face, and was done in increments. Each prayer, each meditation, each shovel of snow became a step away from that past life of immediate satiation. Remorse and guilt were faced. Bows to god and ablutions were accredited on the Monks recharging soul. The Monk wept alone, and the Monk laughed alone. The Monk was very happy to be a monk. 

The monastery shuddered ‘neath the cold and snow. Before the christian holidays the monastery was snowed in on a friday for a long weekend. The snow screamed crost the setting sun. The whipped wind piled the slanted snow in great heaps. The town plows were overworked and couldn’t make it up the canyon, and the old truck on the property used for maintenance and plowing wouldn’t start in the cold snap no matter how many times MONK messed with its motor. Lead Monk was not amused, and told the fire chief, who was also head of snow removal. 

What if someone up here were hurt?! Or sick? Do you think it’s Ok to strand dozens of people for 4 days? What do you have to say for yourself?! 

‘Uh, ma’am…’ 

Don’t ‘ma’am’ me, sir! Now tell me, what are you going to do about this? We are incredibly upset. You know what we do and provide for the town. I don’t care if the rich second home owners couldn’t get to their chalets for the weekend, you plow us first always. Do not ever strand us again! 

‘Yes, Ms. Lead Monk.’ 

It’s just Lead Monk, thank you. How are you going to make up for this slight? Should I send the monks to city hall and hold our prayers in the lobby until our voices are heard? This is an outrage! We’ve been an integral part of this canyon community for decades and you overlook us for a handful of high mountain chalets that probably won’t even be visited ‘til Christmas?! You have plenty of time to kowtow to your deep-pocketed overlords, dear sir. We have been and will remain a constant here, and we will not be slighted as such.

‘Yes, Lead Monk.’ 

Very well. Now, tell me how you will make this up to us. 

Lead Monk and the fire chief who was also head of snow removal in the canyon and town struck a deal. The Monk attended the yoga workshops held all week in the large wood-beamed domed prayer hall led by the visiting yogi monk. His lithe and trim physique belied his shock of longish gray hair. The yogi monk was well known in yogic and monkish circles, and his workshop was very popular. He often sold out large spaces in large cities, but always scheduled time to lead workshops in places like the monastery. Giving back and gratitude was a major focus of his practice, and he and Lead Monk had been friends since their time in school. It was always a welcome time when he led his yearly week-long workshop. It often coincided with the mid-January holiday party the monastery held for its monks, visitors, and friends of the monastery in the town down the canyon. The physicality of yogic prayer was a sometimes welcome break to the solitude of solitary meditations. The series this year was self love, cultivating forgiveness, and hip openers. The Monk did the hip and other stretches for the week, and as her hips opened the hours passed and the snow fell. The warm room contrasted the cold outside as she spent the week in the domed room with wood beams. She felt the intense tightness in her hips relax as she held long poses for deep stretches guided by the yogic monk with the shock of gray hair. 

‘Our hips hold a lot of stored and pent up emotions. If you feel an intensity at all this week please back out of the pose. This is not a competition, allow your body to lead you where it needs to go.’ 

The Monk did not back out of her poses, tho she felt incredible intensity. She was not competing. She was ready to begin the release of pent up emotion she stored deep in her body. She held her deep poses long in the warm room as the snow fell softly outside. The intensity was nearly overbearing as the emotion was released through her body on the floor of the domed room. She softly cried once so no one could hear her. The hours, days, and week passed as she spent her time on the floor beginning the release deep in her hips and body. She tried to remain present, but sometimes was lost in the cloud of thoughts and intense emotions that arose. She watched the light fade each day from the floor of the domed room. 

After the workshop the Monk was scheduled for kitchen duties. Chopping, cutting, peeling, prepping, cleaning. The Monk worked next to the quiet Cook Monk. The Monk saw Cook Monk without long robes for the first time. The Monk saw the tattoos that crost all of Cook Monk's arms. The Monk was surprised. The two monks mostly worked in silence. There was a lot of work to do for the evening's holiday festivities. The weekend would be rife with food, music, and nightly parties. After the week-long workshop and three months of snow, and with four more months of snow scheduled, the weekend holiday party was always a welcome respite at the monastery. The Sunday after was always scheduled as a full hot spring day and evening for monastery use only. Mid January was always the slowest time of year for the hot springs, right after the holidays. 

Bow to the medley 

Bough hold the leaf 

Bow of the ship, 

Sailing past reef 

Lead Monk and Cook Monk took turns playing the piano and guitar after dinner in the wooden beamed dome room where the yoga workshop had been held all week. Meek Monk almost danced. MONK was in a good mood. All of the other monks that came to the party talked and mingled. The lithe and trim yoga monk with gray hair was jovial. Beams of warm light flooded the cold night out of the domed building into the very dark. The monastery warmly protected these souls from the outside cold. After the party dimmed but before the night became too late, the monks that wanted walked down the hallowed path ‘neath the cathedraled trees. The monks huddled in their robes and hoods as they walked single file and two by two. The ice bound boughs bowed in reverence to their tree god as the bent monks shuffled down the boot stomped snow path. MONK led the charge, and cordoned the monks according to sex, then wheeled the wood gate. The monks disrobed and entered the hot pools in the freezing night, watched over by sharp stars and a cool, high, moon. Meek monk got into the hottest spring, and so did MONK. Most monks talked, tho quietly out of respect. When the night grew late the monks cleared, ready for bed. MONK asked the Monk for help shutting down the springs for the night. After all the monks were off the hot spring property MONK opened the wood slide gate and she and the Monk readied the property for the visitors expected the next morning. MONK and the Monk walked ‘neath the iced boughs back to the main buildings of the monastery. 

‘Oh no. I forgot to turn off the sauna. It can’t be left on all night. I’ll see you back at the dormitories, I’m staying up here tonight. The yogi monk is staying in my room so I’ll be staying with all of you,’ said MONK. 

‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll turn it off,’ said the Monk. 

‘Are you sure?’ 

‘Of course.’

‘Ok. I’ll wait up for you. If you’re not back in 20 minutes I’ll come find you.’

‘Thanks. I’ll be quick.’ 

The Monk turned and walked back to the springs. She turned the lights on and turned the sauna off. She turned the lights back off and headed down the path back to the monastery. She had only walked several yards when she heard a great, curdling screech tear through the fabric of the night. Like a chorus of screaming children, an ethereal banshee wail resonated close and echoed through the canyon. The scream began as an otherworldly afterthought and gained volume quickly, like a far off steam engine barreling past. The Monk was filled with fear. 

‘Oh my god, what is that?!’ 

The scream continued. The Monk ran down the slick boot stomped path ‘neath the bowed and hollowed ice. Her heart pace abated as she entered the warm dormitory, but still she shook. 

‘My god, did you hear that?’ 

‘No, what was it?’ asked MONK and the other concerned monks in the dormitory. 

‘It sounded like something dying. Or children screaming in the woods. But, this sounds crazy, like ghost children.’ 

MONK smiled. 

‘That’s one of the canyon's resident mountain lions. Their screams are spooky, right? I hear them sometimes when I’m up at the springs alone at night. It’s odd she’s out now and this close, tho. You shouldn’t really worry, they stay away from here, unlike the bears. However, if any of you hear one, it doesn’t hurt to go inside. They have attacked people in the area over the years, tho it is incredibly rare. You have a bigger chance of hurting yourself running down the slippery path than you do of a mountain lion attack!’ 

The Monk and MONK and the other monks got in their stacked beds. The Monk dreamt of a large lioness padding through crisp and deep snow. She walked the snowy canyon expertly and quietly, searching. She walked through the night through the deep snow, over the mostly frozen creek, ‘neath frozen and quiet trees lit by bright starred pinpricks. She searched patiently and tracked expertly, stopping at times to sniff the snow and air. Thickly furred and muscled and wide pawed. The feline did not feel the cold as she hunted deftly. Her padded paws softly crunched the snow. She would not find what she sought. Tonight she grew closer.

The snow fell and the monks prayed. 

The Monk enjoyed her duties as head of snow removal. She learned to plow when the old truck would start, and delineated duties to her fellow monks ably and fairly. March came in like a lion and the lion stayed. It promised to be a blustery and snowy spring. The Monk sometimes dreamt of the searching lioness. 

The Monk and Cook Monk prepared the evening's dinner, mostly in silence. They chopped the canned Jerusalem artichokes Cook Monk had canned during harvest. The Monk noticed Cook Monk’s unrobed tattoo arms again. 

‘I wasn’t always a monk,’ said Cook Monk. 

‘I used to party a lot,’ said the Monk. 

Cook Monk chopped. 

The Spring speaker was a fit older monk. Long white hair, close cropped white beard, tall, thin, darkly complected. Lead Monk had known him for a long time. She called him the fire and brimstone monk, his warning teachings did not change over the years. He spoke two nights over a weekend near the end of March. The wood beamed domed hall was opened to the public for a nominal fee, and monks and townspeople alike listened to his fervent teachings. 

‘...the time has come for monk interference to the present ideology. Now is not the time for prayerful acquiescence and humble sidestepping. We have long kowtowed to the regimes of empire, this one is becoming the worst we will have to face. The racist, gross, piggish, rage fueled administration that has usurped the power out of the hands of the people it was meant to serve has stained the consciousnesses of the inhabitants of this country, and this earth. We were lulled into complicity from the wonderful break we received from psychopathy the previous decade, and we will pay mightily for our complacency during those too recent halcyon times. A darkness has descended crost this land. 

For millennia we and those like us have sought to carry the candle through the darkness of this world. We have held onto the teachings of our prophets, and passed along knowledge, literature, art, and science. Our collective homes crost the earth have been places of learning and prayer. We are not always perfect, and sometimes we can be wrong or cruel, but our collective goal of furthering the light crost the sea of dark has been achieved. We have successfully carried the torch of truth and prayer. Globally, regardless of the religious path, we monks have carried our traditions given to us by our teachers and the innovations and advancements of every era we inhabit with us. As learning, teaching, and science spread from our halls, we monks have since devoted ourselves deeper with prayer and meditations. We are not necessary anymore to pass on the knowledge and sciences of our times. Our paths have led us inward. Internal work and reflection is a long standing and necessary part of the monks path. Our communion with our gods and souls is an integral part of the monk's journey. As we explore our past lives, we learn about who we were to further who we are and to prepare who we will be. The inner journey is beautiful and glorious, and this reflection into the deep pool of our souls is what often separates the monk from those that do not walk our paths. Are we above those that don’t join us in our ranks? Who choose not to walk the monk’s path? No, of course not. All of humankind's paths are rivulets in the great stream. Who are we to judge whose life is better? We are all spirit beings in a human experience, which is fraught with the travails of reality. 

This reality is shifting deeper into the darkness. Humankind has barely poked its head out of the mire when those that dug the pit wish to plunge us all back under fully. The scum has risen to the top and would stay there and ferment, choking the life out of the ocean of humankind. We monks have kowtowed to power for our entire existence. We bow to our gods first of course, but in order for our orders to thrive we must bow to the norms of the societies we inhabit. The regimes, kings, emperors, and other stupid little men of the basest of leanings have forever been a shadow cast crost our ranks. The whims of idiots and madmen have too long been the law of the lands. Here in America, we have rounded the sharp corners of despotism and monarchy. As part of our national pride we have usurped the kings of Europe, the Confederates that will divide us, the Stalin's and Hitler's and Hirohito's and Hussein's. Until recently. Now the disgusting caesars have returned, the madkings, the Leopolds. We have beat them back as part of our national heritage for over two centuries. Now they have infiltrated our halls of power with their narcissistic rage and bedeviled countenances. Never before has America faced as great a threat as its own poor leadership. These sick scum seek to undermine what we have done as a nation, and what we monks have done for centuries. The knowledge, innovation, prayer, learning and love that have poured from monasteries and America is now gravely threatened. We are but an oasis in a red sea whose shores are growing, whose waves are lapping. These scum would have us all eating from their trough of disease. 

They have no recourse in their disease. Their bloodlust knows no bounds. They have begun to shoot up their own kind in their cabalistic bloodletting rituals to slake their rage. They are the addicts of this time, and the streets run red with the blood of innocents through the red lands. The great American opioid epidemic has flooded to balm the wounds of the scars of rage that rip through these people and their culture of hate. Methamphetamines and oxycontins have become the new apple pie and baseball. They have drugs for their drug addictions now. Their addictive behavior knows no boundaries. Their video games, reality television, phone culture, drugs, and also guns, the very tools of hate and murder, have sunk their talons deep, causing deep cuts that bleed red crost this land. They hurt their children, they hurt their women, they hurt themselves. They seek to hurt us, and others like us, to extinguish the flame we have helped carry through these and other dark times. The very food they eat culled from the vast killing fields of agrarian waste is poisoning them. Weak, sick, fat, high on drugs, and inundated with reality television, they have ushered into power stupid and weak avatars of their rage, fuelers of their inanity, base pig scum. We must forgive these shallow souls, those who are too mired in the slough to lift their heads above the trough. We must forgive them fully, for who are we to judge another person’s path? Their leaders have abandoned and failed them, and so has their economy. The drugs and the rage and the christian wrong have swooped in where once stood able mayors and fertile factories. Evil is rarely born, but oft created by humankind's folly. We must forgive with our hearts those that bleed in the redlands. With love, we may seek to forgive, and we will succeed. Once we have let go our own hatred towards those that seek to bring us down, can we destroy them. In order to fight the mire that has descended crost this land, we must forgive it with love. Only then will we be victorious in our quest. 

It is not a time for quiet reflection. Yes, we must always be working on ourselves, on our souls. We must never give up the core teachings of a monk’s path. But with the inundation of slime into the society we inhabit, we must go unto the world and help break the delusion of grandeur. It is not time to meditate idly as the world is shredded to ribbons by the madmen helming the wheel. We monks must meet the enemy at the gates. We are all called to God's service. Let us serve.’ 

The townspeople and monks clapped at the exciting speech. The fire of the monk’s speech warmed the walk from the wood beamed dome hall to the kitchen and dining building down the newly snowy path. The townspeople were invited to eat the large meal Cook Monk had cooked and the Monk had helped prepare. The monks and townspeople sat. There were no seats left at the usual tables, so the Monk sat with Cook Monk, Lead Monk, MONK, and a few others at their usual table. The fire and brimstone monk was skipping dinner. He usually rested after his speeches. He asked Cook Monk to leave a plate for him, he’d get it himself later in the evening.

The monks ate and talked. 

It's the same speech he used when W. was elected. And, during the gulf war when I was a young monk he had a very similar variation. Back then some of the older monks said that his speech was similar to one during the Nixon and Vietnam years. 

‘He is right, tho. He may be using the same speech for forty years, but he’s finally right,’ said Cook Monk. 

It’s interesting that Hussein has made his list of despots. He was adamant about the US staying out of Middle Eastern affairs at the time.

‘Hindsight is the meat cleaver of the imagination,’ said MONK. 

Hmm, yes. Yes it is. 

After the delicious supper peppered with the delicious Jerusalem artichokes, the monks returned to their rooms or dormitories. MONK joined the newer monks in the dormitories. The monks climbed into their beds and some monks talked quietly for a time about the fire and brimstone speech, and other things. The monks settled to sleep. A few short minutes after all had grown quiet, a low toned trumpet bleated a short staccato rhythm in the monks dormitory. 

‘What was that?’ asked some of the monks. 

The trumpet’s notes grew louder and more soulful, tho the tune was short and the medley hard to grasp. 

‘Is someone playing the trumpet?’ asked some of the monks. 

‘I’m sorry. I tried not to,’ said the monk from where the trumpet sounds emanated. ‘Wait, what was that?’ asked the monks. 

‘I’m so sorry. I’m so embarrassed,’ said the trumpeter monk. 

Realization began to creep over the laying monks. 

‘Did that come from your butt?!’ asked MONK. 

‘It must have been something I ate,’ said the trumpeter. 

Giggles alit in the dark as the monks eyed first the trumpeter then MONK. 

‘How did you make it sound like that? We should start calling you Thelonious Monk, you’re a fabulous musician,’ said MONK. 

The monks laughed. 

‘Thelonious Monk played piano,’ said the Monk. 

‘Not tonight,’ said MONK.

The monks laughed some more, then quieted. Their quiet was broken shortly by cute and dainty noises. Pert, cute, feminine. 

‘Wait, that wasn’t me,’ said Thelonious Monk. 

‘No kidding,’ said the monks. ‘It didn’t sound like a wailing trumpet. That was the daintiest gas passing we have ever heard!’ 

The monks searched the room for the culprit. No monk would fess up. They heard the daintiness again from the bed where MONK was pretending to be asleep. 

‘MONK, is that you!?’ cried the incredulous monks. 

‘They’ve always been like that,’ said MONK. ‘They’re a holdover from a past life I suppose. I’ve beaten back all that girly nonsense over the life times, but I guess I still have a toehold on femininity.’ 

‘More like a butthold,’ said the monks. 

‘More like a farthold,’ said the Monk. 

The monks laughed. Their laughter was cut short when the slow stench of death seeped through the dormitory hall. Like an airborne plague it infected the monks quickly and fully, regardless of pillow or blanket placement over their infected noses and mouths. 

‘Oh dear god!’ cried the monks. 

‘Haha, yeah they may sound dainty but they pack a punch. If they don’t make you fall to your knees and pray to the gods I don’t know what will,’ said MONK. 

The monks giggled, then settled to sleep again. From far off on the edge of their collective consciousness, from a corner of the room they couldn’t quite see, the monks could hear a high keening noise. It sounded like it had always been there, in the shadows, but the monks had to collectively be aware to finally hear the frequency it inhabited. Like a tuning fork struck and emanating its last long and barely audible notes. It never got louder, the monks just became further aware of its presence… eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee... like air slowly being released from a large balloon.

‘Who? Is. That!’ asked the monks. 

‘It’s still going,’ said the Monk. 

‘We need to tie up that balloon knot,’ said MONK. 

‘I promise it’s not me,’ said Thelonious Monk. 

Meek Monk giggled. 

‘Meek Monk, is that you?’ asked the incredulous monks. 

‘That sounded like it had been going on for two days,’ said Thelonious Monk. ‘It sounded like an ocean of wind being pushed through a pinprick,’ said the Monk. ‘You should really try and loosen up,’ said MONK. 

‘Have you ever tried anal?’ asked the Monk. 

‘What’s that?’ asked Meek Monk. 

‘Ok, ok, that’s enough,’ said MONK. 

The monks laughed. 

‘What about you, the Monk?’ asked the monks. 

‘Oh, I don’t pass gas. I’m a lady,’ said the Monk. 

‘Ok, Ms. High and Mighty. I didn’t know we were in the company of such a princess!’ said MONK. 

Four fat farts chuffed from ‘neath the Monks sheets, like a steam engine slowly passing or far off cannon shot. 

‘Hahaha!’ said MONK, Meek Monk, Thelonious Monk and the monks.

‘It must have been those Jerusalem artichokes. I wondered about them when I was chopping them. I wonder how all the townspeople are faring tonight?’ said the Monk. 

The homes of the townsfolk were peppered with the same malady that besotted the dormitory of monks, tho they didn’t have near the audience or variation in their flatulences. As the farts flew the snow fell in the late March where the lion curled. The Monk slept, and dreamt of the marching lion. 

The April snows fell thick and wet while temperatures crept into the high 30s and low 40s, sometimes even 50 degrees during the day, tho they remained well below freezing overnight. The snow removal was harder with the wet fresh snow that clung heavily to the wood walks and stone paths and concrete and gravel drives. The monks strained. The Monk grew sick and was given a bed in a newly empty room for monks that had been around for a little while to help rest and heal. Her fever was hot and her cough was annoying. She slept a lot for a whole week as the herbs from the garden and medicine from the town helped cure her. She dreamt. 

The fever dreams coincided with the full moon in late April when the Monk grew ill. She first dreamt of the march lion. The lioness hunted carefully and methodically for what she sought in the full moon light in the dream canyon. Soft and dry snow dusted the dream canyon’s walls and the moonlight caught the dusted flakes, dove through them, and lit the canyon walls. One night the Monk thought she was dreaming of the lioness. As the dream trod she realized it was not the mountain lioness she had come accustomed to, but a large African male lion walking in the canyon near the monastery. The lion had a many colored psychedelic mane and walked nonchalantly through the canyon. A large black crow soared high overhead. It was joined by three more crows, dipping and soaring above and into the canyon. A murder of crows flooded the canyon and joined the large black crow and the other three crows. They filled the night dream sky, black on blue blacklit by the huge full moon and heightened dreamscape, diving and soaring through the canyon. The lion looked up to briefly regard the murder. The large black crow cawed. The three other crows cawed. The murder of crows cawed. Their cacophony filled the canyon. The many colored maned lion continued walking. The large black crow looked back at the lion. The murder of crows streamed out of the canyon. They flew to a small mountain nearby that had dark and tumultuous storm clouds gathering. They alit on the spires as the storm clouds grew. 

The Monk tossed. Her fever broke. She stayed in her private room after she healed, sharing the bathroom down the hall with the others in her hallway, tho she had a private sink. She would miss the camaraderie of the dormitory, but was happy to have some privacy.

The canyon’s brief spring came with the cold rains and warm sun and snow melt. The mud replaced the snow, and the Monk’s duties shifted to graveling the paths. With the snow going, so did a lot of the Monks' responsibilities. With her new time she was directed by Lead Monk to begin her past life sessions. Lead Monk had been trained many years ago by the wonderful Dr. Wise, a monk who lived far to the south in a monastery by the sea. 

Our job as monks is to learn what we were in order to prepare for the present and ready ourselves for what we will become. 

The Monk prayed, meditated, trained, and allowed Lead Monk to hypnotize her. She learned who she was so that she could become who she was now and prepare herself for who she will be. 

The bears awoke before the snow was done melting and came to scavenge the mostly bear proof refuse containers. MONK and her acolytes were constantly shooing the bears from the human trash. 

‘I don’t want them becoming reliant on human food,’ said MONK. 

‘Why can’t we just feed them?’ asked Meek monk. 

‘They won’t hunt and fish if we feed them. They’ll get lazy, like you’re getting with your meditation practice,’ said MONK. 

‘I’ll work harder this spring, I promise,’ said Meek monk. 

‘Hmm, we’ll see,’ said MONK. 

To celebrate the promised short summer the monastery held their annual Maypole dance, ‘round the tall totem near the wood beamed dome hall but closer to the center of the monastery. The monks danced in the warm sun in the soft damp grass near patches of snow that remained wherever there was constant shade. They held the streamers of their prayer flags and bobbed and weaved them ‘round the totem while Cook Monk played guitar and other monks played drums. They laughed a lot at the silliness and arrhythmic dancing and drumming. Sometimes all the monks got the groove. They ate that afternoon. Cook Monk had roasted a pig brought from town. Plates, napkins, forks, benches, pulled pork, vegetables canned from the previous harvest. The sun shone. The evening was a monk use hot spring day. The monks didn’t get to use the springs much over the summer, or really at all. The springs were as popular in summer as they were in the winter, tho mostly used by visitors during the cool summer nights in the canyon. During the day the weather could reach 85 degrees and be very sunny, not the most popular weather for the hot springs. The night time weather in the canyon was usually in the 50s, sometimes the 40s, and could sometimes dip into the 30s. The maypole evening was still very cool in the late May. The monks separated by sex. Meek monk got into the hottest spring. MONK followed. So did Thelonious monk and the Monk. The monks curled their toes into the pebbles at the bottom of the hottest hot-spring pool and clutched the pebbles with their curled toes. 

Bud of the flower, 

Packaged for sale 

Green grows the garden, 

Healthy and hale 

Cook Monk planted in his greenhouse in April and transplanted to the outdoors as the weather allowed. He took many trips to town in the old truck that was no longer needed for plowing to pick up nutrients for his gardens and other supplies. He tended his crops with patience. He was very good at growing and the crops grew through the summer. 

The summer was dry after a very wet winter and the creek filled with snow melt. The water rushed through the dry canyon. By mid September the creek trickled. The broken boughs on the ground snapped crisply under the monk's feet. The crops grew sparkling green. Cook Monk tended his gardens daily, and passed some of the cooking duties onto the Monk and some other monks when his garden duties became full. Lead Monk cooked some of her signature dishes in the closing summer and fall dawn. The cool night air became crisp. The cool, sometimes cold, wind blowing through the canyon from higher up the mountain contrasted with the still warm sun. The sky was blue through the summer and the sun shone bright. Sometimes white puffs dotted the blue sky, and a few times the clouds rolled down the mountain and into the canyon in the afternoon and brought rain, tho that was rare. 

The monk tends her rows, 

The monk thumbs her nose 

The monk beats her drum, 

The monk beats her foes 

The burgeoning autumn remained unusually dry. Lightning crackled up the canyon from the monastery, and the next day the canyon was shadowed in haze from the fires started from the lightning up the canyon. The haze grew thick. Lead Monk spoke to the fire chief in the town below the monastery and he said they should evacuate. The fire was not contained up the canyon, and it was not clear if it would be before it reached the monastery. Cook Monk was upset, his crops were not ready. They were an integral part of the monastery’s upkeep, their sales in town paid for many things the monastery needed, and the vegetables he preserved fed the monks and their visitors over the winter months. He thought about harvesting early. While he thought, Lead Monk arranged for the monks' transport to town. They began to leave, and Cook Monk decided to stay. So did the Monk, MONK, Meek Monk, and Thelonious Monk. Lead Monk was having none of it. The monks insisted. They were going to protect the monastery, crops, and hot springs from the fire. 

Well, I can only guide souls, I cannot demand them to obey. You are all monks of the order, and you are all adults. Who am I to force my soul's wishes upon yours? C’est la vie. However, I must ask that MONK come with me please. I cannot lose both you and Cook Monk, gods forbid, should anything happen. I cannot run this place by myself. I am fairly certain Cook Monk has made up his mind to stay. I applaud all of your bravery. MONK, will you come to town with me? It is what is best for our monastery. 

MONK thought. And thought. 

‘I’ll come to town with you,’ said Meek monk. 

‘Ok, you’re right, I’ll come too,’ said MONK. 

And so we have it. Thank you, MONK. Now, we will leave the truck here for these other brave monks. If during the battle the fire should even hint of overcoming you, you will jump into our faithful steed and drive to town. That is my only requirement. There will be no ‘going down with the ship’ here, understood? Very well, my dear brave monks. Fight hard, I will tell the fire chief you are following behind us. 

Cook Monk, Thelonious Monk, and the Monk stayed to fight the fire. Two other monks heard of their plan and stayed with them. They grabbed shovels and dug trenches. They aimed the pipes that carried the hot spring water into the trenches. They cut down dead trees and tree branches. The haze increased, and ash rained over the monastery, proof of the fires' recent feast. The fire came lazily and fat from its recent indulgence, then roaring red and hot. It sought the wood beamed domed hall, and the large totem. It sought to slake its thirst with the wooden buildings of the monastery and the wooden gate and sauna of the hot springs. The trees it had devoured up the mountain were not enough for its itinerant desires. It had to feed. It came to the creek and nearly let itself be beaten as it quickly consumed all in its path. After some time it gathered its courage and jumped the creek to the side where the hot springs stood. The monks fought the fire. The fire fought back. The monks fought harder. They unleashed the hot water from the hot springs into the hotter fire. Great hoses and pipes were opened to gush into the rage filled red maw. The fire choked and sputtered on the hot water. It wanted the monastery badly, but the sulphuric hot water balked its desire. The fire hemmed and hawed. It tried again to obtain the sweet fuel the monks protected. The fire was met with the choking spring water. It fled in annoyance, and shot up to the top of the canyon where it ate the nearly always unoccupied chalets. The firemen from the big cities helicopters came to douse the fire with their dropped fire retardant where the fire sat unprotected and open at the top of the canyon, feasting. The fire was vanquished and the monks cheered. Thelonious Monk, the Monk, Cook Monk, and the two other monks were covered in soot and smelled of sulphur. They hugged. They stuck their heads under the outdoor showers on the hot-springs grounds, then they called down to town. A day, maybe longer, had passed. The other monks of the monastery came to help clean. They cheered for the fire fighting monks and gave them food and water. MONK said she was sorry she couldn’t have been there with them. Lead Monk was very proud. She said the fire chief was upset that they stayed, but was impressed by their fire management. A reporter for the paper in the big city a couple of hours away came to interview the fire fighting monks. 

Not now. It can wait ‘til tomorrow. Can’t you see these heroes are tired?


The fire fighting monks rested. 

Harvest came and Cook Monk sold the crops from one of his gardens to Sam, who owned the dispensary in town. Sam was a Sioux Indian biker. He’d been friends with the monastery for a long time. Winter approached and hoarfrost blanketed the early November ground and coated the trees in tiny ice stalactites and stalagmites. The monks prepared for the long winter. 

Shovel, pray, meditate, hypnosis, shovel, workshops, speakers, sometimes hot-springs, shovel. So went the Monk's second monastic winter. Most days she threw herself into her duties and studies. Some days she was restless. 

The fire and brimstone speaker returned. He gave his speech, with some variation. 

‘I hear the administration is going to bring its tour of rage through the city a couple of hours from here soon. I believe I will go to observe and pray in the city that day,’ said Cook Monk. 

Hmm, yes. I’ve listened to the fire and brimstone monk's speech for 25 years now, but I’m beginning to believe him more as this administration continues. When exactly are they expected to arrive in the city? Maybe we will all go. 

A month's time from the fire and brimstone monks speech, two months tops, Lead Monk gathered the monks for a trip to the city. She acquired school buses from the fire chief’s ability to pull strings in the town down the canyon from the monastery. It was a Saturday and there were no sports or events for the schools, so the buses were idle. The monks boarded the busses and went to the city. 

The administration was scheduled to drive through the city center while their wellwishers and detractors watched gated from the road on the sidewalk. The monks parked their busses and in groups of two scattered into the blossoming crowd. They wiggled their way to the gates that partitioned the sidewalk from the street. Some monks were on the wellwishers side, some monks on the detractors. Either side gave the monks space to walk. That was a perk of being a monk. The scattered monks waited at the gates. The rage parade would commence slowly in its motorcade soon. The monks waited patiently as police flooded the street. The monks would have to be fast and quiet and sneaky. They waited for the right time. Just before the motorcade of rage was upon them, each group of two monks parted the metal gates at their gaps and the monks flooded the still mostly empty street. They grouped quickly and sat, their legs crost in meditation. The motorcade was ordered to stop a couple of blocks away. The police were furious. 

HEY! YOU! YOU MONKS! YOU CANNOT SIT HERE! yelled the police from their megaphone. 

The monks sat. 


‘We’re tired,’ replied the monks. 

The detractors and wellwishers yelled. The wellwishers applauded the monks and cheered them. The detractors called them traitors and screamed for their heads. The police were forced to the gates to control the crowds on either side of the street. 


It is no person’s right to order another soul what to do. We will move after we are rested. It has been a long day of traveling. 

The police lieutenant spoke to the police chief. 

‘Chief, we have to mace them. We can muster some of the men holding off the gates. It’s the only way to force them to move,’ said the lieutenant.

‘Are you crazy? Do you know the nightmare that will unleash if we mace a large group of peaceful monks in the street? Both sides would go insane. There are too many people here to control. Not to mention the press would have a field day with us macing a religious order. These monks have never protested anything before. We would be roasted alive, and right now we need all the support we can get. No. We’ll reroute the motorcade. They can turn two blocks back and it’s only a block to the state house where it’s ending anyway. That block is already secure as an alternate route, it’s safe and manned appropriately. They won’t finish this last loop. I want the motorcade directed down the alternate route. It’s an easy turn from where it’s stopped. I’m not macing these goddamn monks, but I will definitely arrest them when the smoke clears, whether they are still here or not. I know where to find them. I’ll personally explain to the Governor,’ said the chief. 

The motorcade was directed down its alternate route, and the foul administration went into the state house. The sides of the street were cleared and the monks still sat. 

I suppose they will come to arrest us soon. Be brave, monks. This is why we train in peace and love. 

The police did not come. A cool wind whipped through the spaces between the tall buildings of the city, then stopped. Very light snow fell on the sitting monks, the street, and the trash left behind by the detractors and wellwishers, and a couple of gates still not collected by the police or city. The snow lazily trickled. The Monk looked up between the very tall buildings at the wide spaced and slow fall of the late spring snow. A large flake kist her eyelash. She blinked and smiled. 

The summer came and went and the Monk grew restless. She spoke to Lead Monk about leaving the monastery. 

You have come so far since you expressed an interest in joining us over two years ago. So much has happened in that time! No soul can tell another soul what to do, but I feel like there is so much more you may get from us here in the canyon. I would ask you to stay through the winter and continue your past life work. You are progressing so well. Plus, we will miss you here. You have become an integral piece of our monastery. 

The Monk was adamant that she wanted to go. She said goodbye to Lead Monk and thanked her profusely. She would keep in touch. She said goodbye to Thelonious Monk, and Cook Monk, and the other monks. MONK drove her down to town in her RAV4. She would stay the night with MONK and Meek monk, who was still a monk but lived off the monastery with MONK in town now. In the morning the Monk would pay her overdue storage unit and gather some of her stuff. She had a bus ticket to the city on the other side of the state through the mountains where she knew a couple of people that could probably get her a job. MONK had some stuff to do with Sam the Sioux, so Meek monk made the Monk dinner. 

‘MONK and I are together now. I like women, I’ve found out,’ said Meek monk. ‘I see,’ said the Monk. 

‘I didn’t know when I was living in the world before I started working on myself and my soul. I think it’s part of the reason I’ve been so Meek. I’m so grateful for this monastery. I wish you would stay,’ said Meek Monk. 

‘I can’t. I have to go,’ said the Monk. 

‘Did you know that Cook Monk and Thelonious Monk are moving in together too? That’s what I heard at least,’ said Meek Monk. 

‘No, I didn’t know,’ said the Monk. 

Meek Monk cooked. 

‘Did you know Lead Monk and the firechief are going out? She told MONK they had some kind of deal, like he owed her something.’ 

‘Am I the only one not getting laid around here? Lead Monk was very clear on the rules!’ said the Monk. 

The monks laughed and ate. 

The next day the Monk got some clothes and other things and packed them in a bag from her storage unit, after paying what was past due. She haggled away the fines. MONK and Meek Monk dropped her off at the bus station. She waited in the wet and cold autumn rain for the bus. The bus came and she boarded. She sat alone and rode the several hours over the mountains to the city on the other side of the state where she maybe had some friends who could help her get a job. The cold rain turned to snow in the mountains, swift flurries that didn’t stick much to the mostly rocky ground and concrete highway. She watched the mountains go by the window. They stopped once for a food and bathroom break. It was noticeably colder in the mountains and most of the leaves had fallen in the brief mountain fall. The sparsely leafed landscape was beautiful. The bus stopped at the bus station in the small city on the other side of the state. The Monk got out and walked to a nearby motel. She called one of her friends who could probably get her a job. Her friend was busy but told her to call her the next day. The Monk went to the diner next door and ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a double whiskey and coke. Then another whiskey. After dinner and whiskey she went to the bar next to the diner. She bought some cigarettes, parliament lights, from the cigarette machine and smoked with her beer and a shot of whiskey. She got drunk fast. One of the men at the bar hit on the former Monk. The former Monk made out with him. He asked to come back to her place and she said ok. He brought some beer and they drank and smoked and kist in her motel room. He wanted to have sex with her, and the former Monk said ok. She started to undress, then she sobered up a little. 

‘Wait, I’m sorry, you have to go,’ said the former Monk. 

‘What?! C’mon darlin’, don’t be like that. We’re just having fun.’ 

‘No. Go now. I’m pulling the plug,’ said the former Monk. 

‘Ok, ok, hold on a minute.’ 

The man from the bar gathered his coat and cigarettes and couple of beers and left, in a bit of a huff. The former Monk drank her beer and lit a cigarette. 

The next day she awoke late with all of her clothes on. She tried calling her friend, who didn’t answer. She went to the diner for lunch, having slept through breakfast for the first time in over two and a half years. She shakily ordered lunch. She sat and ate, and vaguely listened to the music in the diner while she ate. She lit a smoke after lunch, and coughed. 

‘Wait, I know this song. I can barely hear it, what is this?’ asked the former Monk to no one.

Tom Petty’s 'Free Fallin’ softly played in the background of the diner. 

‘Yeah, yeah, I love this song!’ said the former Monk to no one. 

The former Monk sang the chorus loudly to the whole diner. The diner looked at her, cigarette shaking and in need of ashing in her hungover hand. The former Monk looked down and smiled, embarrassed. She stubbed out her smoke and paid. She left the smokes on the table. She grabbed her things from the motel then walked to the bus station. She bought a ticket in the cold and blustery autumn afternoon for the evening bus back to the town in the canyon below the monastery. She sat on the bench as the bus boarded. She did not get on the bus. She sat on the bench and smoked a cigarette she bummed from someone outside the station. She put out the cigarette and put her head in her hands. She sat on the bench for some time. She stood up and walked to the two lane highway that led to the major highway back to the town that sat in the canyon below the monastery. She waited in the fresh dark. Headlights pierced the new night. She stuck out her thumb determinedly. The lights slowed as they approached. The large semi truck without a trailer slowed to a stop in the gravel off the road where the former Monk had walked to get off the road. There was a large decal or painting on the side of the truck of a charging, tusked warthog. ‘Neath the painting were the words, ‘The Porkchop Express.’ The passenger door opened and soft red light poured from the truck and bathed the gravel where the former Monk stood. 

‘Where you headed?’ asked the driver. 

‘To the town down the canyon from the monastery on the other side of the state,’ said the former Monk. 

‘Do you know Sam the Sioux? Indian Sam?’ asked the driver. 

‘Yeah, he owns the dispensary the monastery sells their crops too. He’s really nice, he used to come up to the monastery sometimes,’ said the former Monk. 

‘Are you a monk or something?’ asked the driver. 

‘Yes. Or, I was up until a few days ago. I want to see if they’ll take me back,’ said the former Monk. 

‘Uh-huh,’ said the driver. ‘Well, get in, it’s cold as shit out here.’ 

‘Um, ok,’ said the former Monk. 

She grabbed her bag and entered into the driver's weird lair. The red light emanated from large strung christmas bulbs that hung from the crushed red velvet ceiling. There were weird knick-knacks of weird creatures and monsters that covered the dash. The driver’s stick shift was in the shape of a silver human skull. 

‘I’m Big Miguel,’ said the driver. ‘I’ve known that son of a bitch Sam the Sioux for years. He’s a good dude.’ 

‘Yeah, he’s really nice,’ said the former Monk.

Big Miguel turned his radio back up. Heavy Metal blared out of the speakers. The former Monk stared out the windshield warily. Big Miguel looked over and laughed loud. 

‘HA! You can change it. Here,’ said Big Miguel. 

The former Monk changed the channel. Miley Cyrus bounced from the speakers. The former Monk looked over at Big Miguel. 

‘Oh no, not this!’ Big Mike said jovially. 

The former Monk smiled and changed the channel. 

Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’ played. 

‘I love this song,’ said Big Miguel. 

‘I love this song too,’ said the former Monk. 

Big Miguel and the former Monk drove the winding highway, his lights pierced the darkness of the moonless and starless night. He dropped her off at MONK and Meek Monk's house. The next day she spoke with Lead Monk, who was happy to have her back. That night she slept in her private room and dreamt. The lioness walked in the canyon among blooming night flowers, ‘neath a huge bright moon that alit the canyon and the canyon’s walls. The lioness walked through the night flowers in the very bright night. She was content, she found what she was looking for. She laid among the night flowers, curled. The Monk awoke before dawn. A coat of white fresh snow blanketed the predawn monastery. The Monk shoveled. 

The monk picks her knows on a verified hunch, 

The monk counts her toes whilst on a time crunch 

The monk didn’t buy breakfast 

The monk didn’t buy brunch 

The Monk. Bought. Lunch! 

(laughing) Yeah she did, she bought a little…


Gregory Paul Latanick is interested in the subtle blend of the fantastic into reality, unzipping existence to reveal a mystical reality that runs synonymously with our own. He spent a lot of time writing as a child and young man. A long struggle with reality derailed him for a long time. He is happy to be writing again.

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