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William Plomer, the South African author and poet once said, “It is the function of creative people to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things or forms of expression that may seem utterly different, and to combine them into some new forms, the power to connect the seemingly [unconnected.]” You can take that any way you want. You could take it to mean that creative people have a unique way of seeing the world. You could take it as creative people have the ability to connect aspects of life and our world that would otherwise remain disconnected. You could also make it to mean, in its entirety, creative people are unique. Or, you could take it to mean all of those things. A poet writes about street lamps and soft neck kisses, painters paint landscapes and nude beauty, cartoonists develop oddly shaped and wonderful worlds, novelists and writers marry and murder protagonists and their love interests: all of them together, the millions of artists that have ingrained themselves into our culture, have built universes stacked higher and higher on top of our own in the interest of expressing themselves and their creativity. It’s that universe we wish to explore, where we wish to boldly go and rather than charter a rocket or spaceship, our vehicles are the creative thinkers that effortlessly map out that galaxy every day of their lives. They use countless tools to navigate constellations of words, spectrums of colours, flashes, notes and millions of ideas in the interest of being seen and heard. This month, NEH has chosen to spotlight the talents in our community with unique profiles and by providing an open forum and opportunity for aspiring artists to showcase their work. We received dozens of submissions from writers, photographers, and graphic artists interested in sharing their contributions to the creative world. In fact, we received so many submissions that our Creative Thinker issue will be split into two parts: the first of which you are reading now and the second part to follow in September. We will continue to accept submissions (firstname.lastname@example.org) until mid-August and we hope that many more artists will jump at the opportunity to give volume to their voice. There can never be enough creativity; but there are enough people saying they can’t or they don’t know how. Talent is endless. The mind is only as limited as one lets it be. As we explore the expanse of the creative mind, we hope that you will become inspired to remove the restrictions of your own inhibitions and you’ll find yourself encouraged to create. NE H MAG AZ INE
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NEH Magazine Founded January 2010 Bucheon, South Korea
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It’s not everyday I get an email from someone claiming to be a friend of a friend who takes naked jumping pictures of himself and inviting me to take a lookapart from the usual ‘straight-to-spam’ kind, of course. Naturally, my curiosity was more than piqued so I immediately clicked on the link to his website. Enter the world of Morgan Tepsic: photographer, naked jumper and magazine editor extraordinaire. A swift look through his work tells me that this is one ambitious, prolific 20 year old. His photographic work suggests that there is not likely to be any subject he isn’t willing to explore or any place he wouldn’t be willing to take his clothes off. He tells me that his naked jumping project began on a snowy day in his hometown. “I was living back home in Oklahoma in the winter time when I bought my first digital SLR but to my luck we had this huge blizzard where streets were just blockaded with snow. But I really wanted to go out and shoot with this new camera so I went outside to take pictures of the snow and figured, ‘shit, this is really boring’. Absolutely nobody was outside so I got naked in this field, put on the selftimer and at the last second I decided to jump. I loved the results and continued to shoot those all night until I feared I might have frostbite on my penis.” He’s currently in Seoul, visiting with friends he met while studying abroad here as well as kicking off his ‘Naked Jumping World Tour’. This will be “a
journey throughout Southeast Asia and into Europe hitting landmarks and gettin' naked along the way”. So far, he’s stripped down at Namsan Tower and the Han River. At morgantepsic.com, you’ll find a display of his work, as well Tepsic Magazine. The mag is a showcase of photographic talent, handpicked by Morgan. He says the magazine was born out of artist’s block. “I really had no idea what I wanted to do as an artist or really as a person for that matter…but I looked at all these amazing photos from all over the world, photos that people overlook, and wanted to publish these people. The response has been quite amazing so far and it’s allowed me to speak with some amazing artists all over the globe.” Morgan has a great affinity for Korea, having been on student exchanges in both Seoul and Mokpo. His most memorable experience in Korea is an activity not for the fainthearted or easily grossed out. “When I was taking a yoga class in Mokpo, we would have this exercise where we would roll back and forth on our backs. The instructor encouraged releasing farts as you did that, so you don’t hold anything back. So I have the funniest memory of being surrounded in a room of farting ajummas thinking, ‘shit, this place rocks’”. He also raves about the creative scene in Seoul, “I think it’s awesome. There’re so many talented people living in a
country that truly embraces art. Nina Ahn, Hasisi Park, Cheonbong Ko, CHIAMATT, the list goes on.” There is an aura of passion and commitment which radiates from everything Morgan does. “I was introduced to photography with a 9 week course as a freshman in high school. I wasn’t a fan of SLR cameras at the time, being so complex. I was interested in capturing the moment but not with those cameras, so I didn’t touch back to photography until 2 years later when I purchased my first compact film camera. I brought it everywhere with me, documenting literally every interesting part of my day.” He describes his art as a form of dependency. “I couldn’t leave the house without a camera in my bag which slowly turned into two cameras and then a flash. I literally feel like I’m missing a part of my body when I leave home without at least a camera Also, I can’t just sit at home and ‘chill’ I always need to be working on a project and occupy my time efficiently. If I’m sitting with nothing to do, I’ll create a small project and press on with that.” With all these irons in the fire, it is inspirational to see what can be accomplished with an unyielding commitment to creativity- and an unabashed love for getting out your privates in public. Without a doubt, Morgan Tepsic is a name to remember. n
Emerging pop sensation and Bucheon’s own DX Ki-Hong is giving K-Pop a facelift. DX distinguishes himself from typical mainstream music by blending Alternative and K-pop beats with a splash of Hip Hop. Since the 2009 release of his debut self-titled album, the Bucheon-native has garnered an impressive following from both Koreans and foreigners. But really, who the hell is DX Ki-Hong? I figured a classic game of “Truth or Dare” would enlighten me. Its 7:00 pm, and CJ and I are lounging on the patio of a Bucheon chicken joint. DX is nowhere to be found, and he’s already canceled one interview. About 20 minutes pass and I see a man frantically weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic. Muscular build, black t-shirt, baggy cargo shorts, and basketball shoes. Very unassuming. We finally sit down to a plate of cold chicken and beers, accompanied by a backdrop of illuminated buildings and a beautiful sunset. DX is ready for the interview. Let’s play ball. I waste no time in kicking-off “Truth or Dare” by discussing Chaos, which is easily the most creative track on his debut album. DX’s vocals beautifully transition from a whispery, mellow vibe to a powerful chorus to rapping. So the inevitable question that begs is, “why did you decide to experiment with Chaos?” DX leans back in his chair, pauses in reflection, and calmly replies, “the song originally had a Marilyn Manson feel to it, but after my girlfriend broke up with me, I wanted to rap so I could add a more cynical attitude. Even though KBS banned the song for its explicit content, I loved it.”
“With your music being so relatable, are you at all surprised to see a large foreigner fan base, despite your music being sung entirely in Korean?” Grinning, while lighting a cigarette, DX responds, “I sang at The Park recently and many foreigners were there... at first I sang in Korean, but I wanted everyone to enjoy the show so I performed Bon Jovi, Skid Row, and Led Zeppelin, I performed 10 consecutive English songs and everyone was thrilled!” It’s evident that music is DX’s niche, but I wanted to test his sports knowledge. “DX, who do you predict will win the World Cup…of Hockey in 2011?” DX is bewildered, but like a true entertainer, he quickly improvises and asks me, “Oh, um, are you from Canada?” “Yes”, I reply. “OK!” DX shouts. “Canada will win!” Great answer. Suddenly, DX begins devouring copious amounts of chicken. I wonder, “what the hell is he doing?” With his fingers now greasier than a used car salesman, I immediately suggest he draw an image of what he visualizes before his performances. DX is keen to avoid performing an embarrassing dare involving crooning to passersby, so he accepts the request and begins drawing. “Before performances I visualize singing on stage, ripping my clothes off and crowd surfing”. CJ and I burst out laughing. DX is f*cking intense!” I love it. “Alright DX, fill in the blanks!” “If I were __________, I would __________ a __________.” DX responds, “If I were a rich man, I would buy each of my students a Nintendo!” Sounds like BS to me. “Lastly, what are your thoughts on Justin Bieber?” “Justin Bieber?” asks DX. “Singer?” “Canadian singer?” “Sorry, I don’t know Justin”. Bucheon, this response alone is reason enough to catch his next show. N
As an English teacher, I spend most of my day doing remarkably little. To break it down more specifically, I do actual teachy things (preparing, going to class) for three to four hours. 4/24=1/8 (and now we’ve reached the outer limits on my mathematic ability). So I spend 1/8 of my day working and all of the other hours fucking around or sleeping. I sleep a lot. From about 11 pm till 11 am, to be precise. Then I wake up and pursue one of two courses of action: I watch Sex and the City on my sturdy Korean TV, or I read film reviews on the internet. I usually don’t go see the films. I just read the reviews. I know the basic plot synopsis of a staggering amount of motion pictures, but the number of actual movies I watch is roughly the same as your average Joe.
Anyways, I bum around in the morning, but after work I usually go for an early evening jog. Now, I’m not the world’s healthiest human being. Besides the aforementioned odd sleeping hours, I have abhorrent eating habits (fried chicken and Pringles are more or less my main food group), I smoke (a lot), and I drink (a lot-er). My adherence to a regular running schedule is the one remaining vestigial components of the ridiculously healthy jock lifestyle of my high school days. And the main reason I still love running is that, when I run, I allow my thoughts to run wild. Anything that I would ordinarily chide myself for daydreaming about, I allow myself to think about as I jog. Now, you might be thinking: how lovely! What a creative individual! I wonder what unfettered wonders meander through that active imagination unencumbered by self censorship as her feet smoothly sail along the path! Well, slow your roll, because apparently I have NO IMAGINATION. For there is but one central daydream that I allow myself to indulge as I clomp along the stream by my apartment: I am an amazing singer. And nobody knows yet. But I overcome my fear of public scrutiny and finally show my astounding vocal talents to the world, and become an internationally beloved musical artist, adored by legions of fans and definitely, definitely by all my ex boyfriends. And the guys I slept with who never wanted to date me. They are all dazzled by my glorious golden pipes (also, in this scenario, I have finally attained flat, sleek abs but retained full and magnificent breasts). I take the stage at a soldout concert, attended by thousands of fans, friends, family, and
all of the men from my past. Although I am very famous, they have never heard me sing. As I begin my performance, they quickly realize what a precious, magical, charismatic, mindbogglingly attractive and intelligent person I am (these facts are communicated by my soaring contralto) and from this serendipitous point my life is a rollercoaster of love, sex, gravitas, money, fame, glamour, and maybe a little cocaine. The world is my diamond-encrusted oyster. I am just such a fucking awesome singer. Though I maintain a successful singing career, I delve into public service with admirable aplomb. My commitment to third-world issues becomes the stuff of legend. Soon I am offered honorary doctorates from a myriad of prestigious universities. I engage in diplomatic affairs and become a UN Goodwill Ambassador, where I am quickly befriended by Angelina Jolie. Through a felicitous chain of events, Ang (that’s what I call her) introduces me to a wealthy but down-to-earth Spanish shipping magnate with pecs of silver and a heart of gold. Then we get married. All of my ex boyfriends are very sad, but still respect me immensely as an individual. This is my main daydream. There are several variations on the scenario that I’ve worked out over the years. Originally I was to be married to Heath Ledger, but, you know. I think the main driving force behind this fantasy is a desire to have a hidden talent. I am well aware that I am not a good singer. If I ever had any delusions, a few norebang sessions quickly cleared them up. It’s just very comforting to imagine that, if only I had a previously hidden secret talent, the reveal
would result in everyone coming to the logical conclusion that I am a freakishly excellent human being. Unfortunately, my only “hidden” talents (besides having an encyclopedic memory of what Siskel and Ebert thought of major movies from the past ten to fifteen years), are: 1. I can name all the American presidents in order really really quickly (an accomplishment I can trace back to my sixth grade social studies teacher insisting that our class listen to a song about the American presidents every day for the entire school year), 2. And, having lived in Korea for a number of months, I can now distinguish Koreans from Japanese, Chinese, and other Asian people (shamefully, I couldn’t really do that before). So, unless I meet a Japanese American history buff who also cares deeply about the critical opinions of the Chicago Sun Times’ predominant movie reviewer, approach him at a party, and say “I can state with certitude that you are a Japanese man, and not an Asian of another ethnicity, and also John Quincy Adams was the fifth American president and Roger Ebert gave three and a half stars to the little-seen Colin Farrell vehicle ‘In Bruges’”, I will probably not impress anybody ever. But I do get a lot of sleep. N
The sun was up to its old tricks again, hanging high in the pale blue sky. Sitting there watching him, giving all its attention to him as if he were the last man on earth. He could have believed he was the last man on earth, surrounded by the desert, if it wasn’t for the massive power plant in the distance. He stood there watching the tall chimneys belching out their noxious fumes into the gentle sky, little specks on the horizon of workers buzzing around the plant. “Just worker bees doing their best to support the hive,” he said to no one in particular. Reaching down into his bag, he heaved some more seed bombs, little balls of clay filled with compost and seeds, into the open desert. Today’s weapon was the sunflower, particularly Mammoth Russian Striped and Skyscrapers. It was time to take this part of the world back, bit by bit. The Industrial Revolution gave birth to a plague of plants and factories, killing the soil and spreading filth into the air. He stood and wiped the dust from his Levi 501 button-fly jeans. How long have I been wearing these? He wondered. The jeans were spotted with compost, dust, gin and grease. He turned and faced the sky, looking at the sun, every one of its rays hammering down on him. He checked his watch, still mid afternoon. A few more hours to go, he thought, and it would be show time. He squinted into the distance, watching the mammoth plant heaving with life. A drop of sweat broke free from his hairline and started to roll down his brow. Gaining momentum and gathering dust, it moved down towards his eyes, getting darker and darker with each step. He pulled the red handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his brow clean. Looking down, he could see the streak of black, the mark of the desert across the tufts of rose. Stuffing the handkerchief back into his pocket he again thought of the task at hand, turning a power plant into a thriving Eden. He would have thought this kind of job impossible had they not had a security guard on the inside helping them, promising to get them on the grounds. “Another seed planted.” he mumbled to the cool breeze. I’m a regular Johnny Appleseed, he thought, a real patriot, red, white and blue jeans. Looking out he saw a land stripped bare and poisoned for the sake of big business, leaving its scar stretched across the land. Tonight he would do his part to heal that scar, to bring new life. They called it guerilla gardening, the beautification and regeneration of a lifeless plot of land. Not much time left now and there was still work to do. He turned and looked back in the direction of the road, about a mile and a half away. Trucks had to be loaded. These seed bombs weren’t going to do all the work. They were just phase one. Back at headquarters there were trucks and vans to be loaded with their arsenal. Purple Sage, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Grey Rabbitbrush, Sagebrush Mariposa Lilies, Bigseed Lomatium, Desert Yellow Daisies and other foliage. When the workers returned in the morning they’d be surprised to see a thriving scene of desert plant life surrounding their hive. He headed back towards the road, back to his truck, back to headquarters, back to truckload upon truckload of flora. Whistling “Johnny Appleseed,” he tossed handfuls of seed bombs along his way. N
Cat Millar worked in Korea for a year, and is now back in the UK involved in Pica Pica magazine (a magazine that celebrates new wave craft and creativity in the UK). While over here she developed the sweet tooth of a local, and so would like to share this recipe with you, for when you can't be bothered making that trip to Krispy Kreme!
A RELATIVELY SHORT TIME AGO, on 24th October 2009 CE to be exact, in a galaxy very close to our own a few like-minded and artistically simpatico friends decided to form a hip hop/comedy hybrid ensemble unlike anything hitherto known in the universe. They are dubbed the Space Rhyme Continuum and on their website are described as the “only hip hop improv group in the universe”. According to this selfsame source, they also take pride in being “colossal comedians” and “freestyle phenomenons” who proudly proclaim the fact that they’re “lyrically gifted, totally unscripted”. According to de facto front man James Hershberger (aka the Naughty Rooster), although the Space Rhyme Continuum represents a totally unique synthesis of improvisational comedic hijinks and hip hop inspired rhyme stylings, their sui generis status means they are both the best and worst at what they do. This admission by Hershberger should give ample insight into his, and by extension his troupe’s, irreverence and refreshing self deprecation in a world where too many musicians/artists/ comedians/fly by night pop “sensations” take themselves far too seriously. IS YOUR NAME A CONSCIOUS EVOCATION OR ALLUSION TO EINSTEIN? B Fax: Before Rooster and I met he was still on the Newtonian shit and so he was still talking about inertia. I told him, “Rooster, man, it’s time to get with it”. He was still on those old observations so we started talking about dark matter. DJ Wong is our super string guy because he said “you’ve got quantum physics over here and relativity over there” and he brought them all together. Naughty Rooster: We were trying to think of a really clever name that fit us. B Fax: I like the idea of space. NR: Definitely. We all like the idea of space and we wanted to show that we’re not worldly. One of our big influences was Digable Planets so our name was also a tip of the hat to them. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELVES PRIMARILY HIP HOPSTERS WHO SPRINKLE YOUR WICKED RHYMES WITH COMEDY, OR PRIMARILY COMEDIANS WHO USE THE MEDIUM OF HIP HOP TO DELIVER YOUR BRAND OF COMEDY? B Fax: I don’t consider myself either. NR: We’re without a doubt a hybrid. B Fax: I wrote poetry for a while, but I didn’t start putting it to a beat until the end of high school. I didn’t really start free styling until the end of college. I just like words, pretty much. When Rooster first approached me with this project I was nervous because I didn’t know if we could do it, both be funny and make it topical. But the more we did it the easier it’s become. NR: My answer is in some ways the opposite to that as I’ve been MCing since junior high and I also did stand up comedy for a few years. With this project I decided I wanted to bring them both together. DJ Wong: I’m more a DJ so I’m more into beats and I make my own music. ARE YOU INTERESTED IN CONVEYING ANY POLITICAL MESSAGES THROUGH YOUR WORK? B Fax: In some of my own work that I write down I try and have some political elements. My feelings with this, though, is that it’s just fun. We try and put on a good show. We’ll splice in some deep thoughts when given a good suggestion. After our shows I want people to say it’s entertaining and that they’ve never seen something like that before, rather than say “oh, I didn’t know that”. NR: If the opportunity arose we’d certainly be down with doing a political parody or something more intellectual. We want the audience to be in as much control as possible. (Just last night I did a sketch on shower curtain rings). B Fax: We pride ourselves on being able to rap about anything. Whatever the audience throws at us we’ll
turn it into a sketch, even if it’s political, but I wouldn’t say we’re out there to promote a specific political message. Wong: When you’re performing and people are throwing out suggestions, the last thing an audience usually thinks or cares about is politics. B Fax: Even though we have no political agenda if we were playing an event for the Muslim Brotherhood we would tailor our performance to them. NR: We try not to have a political agenda. However, if the annual Al-Qaeda charity event wants an opening act we’d love to provide the entertainment. NR: Our group is multi-racial so instead of saying let’s bring black guys and white guys together, we perform together, which is something of a political statement. WHAT ARE YOUR LITERARY INFLUENCES, IF ANY? NR: My stage name is from the writer David Sedaris. David Sedaris is one of my favourite comedians even though he’s not a comedian and I get a lot of inspiration from his writing. I’ve been influenced by everyone from writers who live in France to Southern hip hop dudes. I have a lot of influences. I was a creative writing major in college. Other literary influences include Dave Eggers, James Joyce, J Robert Lennon and often I’ll make unwitting allusions to them. DO YOU LIKE CHEESE? IF SO, WHAT KIND IS YOUR FAVOURITE? B Fax: Sharp cheddar. The older the better. Old and smelly is the way I like my cheese. NR: Given that I’m from North Mexico, aka Texas, I like jalapeno cheese. Wong: Mozzarella. I really love it on steak sandwiches. NR: I like the way we’ve run the gamut on our choices of cheese. B Fax (incredulous): Mozzarella? Wong: I can’t have jalapeno cheese on a steak sandwich. NR: Both of our [that is him and B Fax’s] moves to Itaewon were a cheese-based decision. B Fax: We could have done the whole interview on cheese. That should have been the first question. IF YOU COULD ASK JUSTIN BIEBER ONE THING, WHAT WOULD IT BE? B Fax: I actually used to know a kid named Justin Bieber. I knew him when I was growing up and he had a terrible lisp. Does this Justin Bieber have a lisp? I really wonder if it’s the same guy so I’d ask him are you from Chevy Chase, Maryland? NR: I’ll ask him the same thing I ask all celebrities I’ll ever meet, “Yo, can I borrow 50 bucks, I’ll pay you back when I make it big”? Oh, and “can I have a cigarette?” Wong: Can I be one of your groupies?
YOU CLAIM TO BE THE BEST IMPROV HIP HOP/COMEDY TEAM IN THE UNIVERSE WHICH IS A PRETTY GRAND CLAIM. ARE WE TALKING THE KNOWN UNIVERSE, OR THE UNKNOWN PARTS TOO? NR: Of course we always qualify that by saying we’re the only, so technically we’re also the worst, though we don’t often advertise that point. B Fax: Astronomers are looking for like on other planets, but we’re looking for free stylin’/hip hop/improv groups on other planets. NR: If we had to meet an alien the first question we’d ask him is, “can you freestyle?” DJ Wong: Maybe some of them would have three mouths so they could rap, deliver a punch line and eat at the same time. B Fax: Maybe there’s intelligent life out there, but I doubt there’s life as sarcastic we are. They’re probably pretty earnest folk. DJ Wong: They’re probably just trying to get by, working nine to five. NR: So, basically, to answer your question, as far as we know we’re the only hip hop/comedy improv group. HOW LONG YOU DUDES BEEN FREESTYLIN' IT UP, AS IT WERE, IN ROK? NR: We formed on October 24th 2009, [incidentally the day after I arrived in Korea].
O CAP OFF MY INTERVIEW I decided to test the Space Rhyme cadets to see just how convincingly these specialists of the extemporised form could improvise on short notice. The first topic I chose was the suitably arbitrary one of spinach which was developed into an hilarious riff on this not exactly universally loved vegetable most notable for its association with the famed animated sailor man Popeye. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for their next attempt which they insisted should be an actual narrative, as opposed to a loose collection of jokey rhymes, and at their prompting we provided them with only an occupation, in this case that of garbage man, and a musician, which I couldn’t resist being Beethoven. The three members of the SRC proceeded to dazzle me with an account of a day in the life of a public waste disposal technician who unexpectedly encounters the body of an ex girlfriend on his daily round. Based on all the evidence provided by live shows, their demeanour during the interview, and the Space Rhyme Continuum’s amazing ability to almost instantaneously conjure highly original and breathtakingly hilarious rhyme-infused disquisitions on any number of subjects, these cats are undoubtedly, and deservedly, heading into the stratosphere at faster than light speed. DJ Wong Won assured me that there will soon be a DVD available recounting the extraordinary extra-planetary exploits of the Space Rhymeisters. He describes it as “Jack Ass with hip hop to it” where they’ll be doing “normal things and not-so-normal things”. For more on this collective and upcoming gigs, etc., check out their official website www.spacerhyme.com. N
I’d used my creative mind for years, And in a blink of an eye it was gone – I’d used it for poems, for plays, For pick-up lines and prose, Propositions, principles And every other practical practice that one could propose. In youth it chugged on Caught up with colours and clothes And it thrived, Jived and drove like a locomotive in throes But then something happened – it froze over like a well in winter, dried up as minds tend to do – with age – with time – with dysfunctional clarity And what used to be easy suddenly –– wasn’t: the words wouldn’t flow, the hands wouldn’t go … and … and … thank God I’d done what I could. cjk