Thursday, July 27, 2023

GAS Featured Writer: Dan Brook


Dan Brook is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the Department of 

Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State 

University, from where he organizes the Hands on Thailand program. 

His most recent books are

Harboring Happiness: 101 Ways To Be HappySweet Nothings, about 

the nature of haiku and the concept of nothing, and Eating the Earth

The Truth About What We Eat

Serendipity and Synchronicity in Seoul

Sakura had never expected to fall in love again. Especially with another woman, let alone at this stage in her life. Why would she? She had been with three men before, including her ex-husband, and never imagined an alternative to men besides being alone. There was something about Su-yeon, though, that she just couldn’t resist. Maybe it was Su-yeon’s confidence, or her sharp wit and way with words, or simply the way she laughed at all the right moments. Actually, it wasn’t quite any of those, as adorable as they were. Whatever it was about Su-yeon, it had captured Sakura’s heart. 

They met in Seoul, where they had each been on a business trip. They struck up a conversation in a tea shop and hit it off immediately. Sakura and Su-yeon spent the next few days exploring the city together, trying new foods, going to cafes, visiting historic sites, chatting about all sorts of things. And laughing a lot. 

Sakura felt comfortable in Seoul, having grown up in Tokyo and visited Seoul several times. She enjoyed traveling, loved big cities, and was good at her job. Su-yeon was raised and lived on Jeju Island and every time she came to Seoul, she was shocked by its huge size, giant crowds, quick pace, and modern dynamism. 

It wasn’t until their last night together that things changed. They were walking back to their hotel after dinner, their arms innocently linked, when Su-yeon had stopped Sakura in the middle of the sidewalk. 

“I have something to tell you,” Su-yeon had said, her voice low and serious. 

“What is it?,” Sakura asked, her heart pounding in her chest and her head feeling light. Sakura had a slight limp from a childhood car accident that she was sometimes more and sometimes less self-conscious of. 

“I really like you,” Su-yeon blurted out with determination and desire, her dark almond eyes searching Sakura’s glimmering portals. “I don’t know if you feel the same way, but I just had to tell you how I feel. I hope you understand,” she continued. 

Sakura was stunned. She liked to dress sexy, in a stylish and mature sort of way, and often admired how other women dressed and looked, yet she never considered herself attracted nor attractive to women, at least not that way. But the idea of being with Su-yeon was suddenly very appealing. She felt a current of electricity coursing through her entire body and was a bit dizzy. She couldn’t believe what was happening, how she felt, and she was delirious. 

“I feel the same way,” Sakura finally whispered, partially choking on her words, her eyes locked with Su-yeon’s in mutual relief and adoration. It felt as if the rest of megacity Seoul had completely disappeared, or at least collapsed into a little world that only included the two of them. 

That was how their relationship began. They spent the rest of the night in Su-yeon’s hotel room, exploring each other’s lithe bodies and learning each other’s pleasures. It had been like nothing they had ever experienced before – so passionate, intense, and orgasmic, yet respectful and gentle. 

After that magical September night, Su-yeon and Sakura continued to see each other whenever they could: in Seoul again, and also Tokyo, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. They enjoyed their precious time, sneaking away from their daily lives to be with each other. They talked about what they wanted for themselves and what they were willing to risk to be together. Their time together in San Francisco was especially thrilling, partly because it remains the only time they have kissed and shown affection in public. 

It wasn’t easy. They were both in their forties, successful women with families and careers. Coming out as lesbians would be difficult, and could even be dangerous in their conservative society. Sakura still wasn’t sure she was lesbian, or even bisexual. She only knew who and what she loved, while Su-yeon was comfortable with the label, yet she remained in the closet to most people. In any event, they couldn’t and didn’t deny their strong feelings for each other. 

Sakura and Su-yeon continued their relationship, finding many moments of happiness and passion whenever they could. They knew it wasn’t perfect, but it was real, meaningful, and deep, more so than anything else that either of them had ever experienced. And that was all that mattered to them. 


Thursday, July 20, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Kushal Poddar

Kushal Poddar, the author of 'Postmarked Quarantine' has eight books to his credit. He is a journalist, father, and the editor of 'Words Surfacing’. His works have been translated into twelve languages, published across the globe.  Twitter-

In A Choking City

The umbrella opens up about
the sunshine severance.
Nothing mind won't instruct
when it knows muscles won't follow.

Today I dream about Pyro something.
It may be true as well; I feel fire
in my lungs, debris and ashes in my heart.
Rain punctures the skin of verity. 

Rain Violence

The shrapnel of rain struck 
against the tarpaulin of a makeshift shop 
pierce my state of being.

All day, a day that may feel like
the whole life, I shall try to operate and extract 
the splinters of monsoon from my spirit.

A few may stay inside near the source of warmth 
and set me in a bursting mood. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

GAS Featured Poet and Artist: Carl Scharwath


Carl Scharwath, has appeared globally with 175+ journals selecting his writing or art. Carl has published three poetry books and his latest book Playground of Destiny, features poetry, short stories and photography (Impspired Press). Carl has four photography books, two were published by Praxis in Africa, and two by CreatiVingenuitiy. His photography was also exhibited in the Mount Dora and The Leesburg Centers for the Arts. Carl is currently a co-editor with ILA Magazine  and was the art editor for Minute Magazine. He was nominated for two The Best of the Net Awards (2021-22.)



Hysterical naked and dragging

Through heaven’s roof illuminated

Floating across the vertex of cities


Your smile and memory 

Fills the nebulae of the mind


We have a song

The loosed string tells our note


Waiting for history to begin

Making my own heaven

To see you again




Time to enter the Epicurean Garden

A buffer to the Zephyrs blowing of

Obscurantist voices impregnating

The innocents huddled in ignorance.


Tranquil pleasures-

Procreative purpose-


In an atomic swerve

Filling desolate emptiness

Looking for less what’s there

Then what was truly missing.



Friday, July 7, 2023

GAS Featured Poet, Musician and Sound Engineer: JC Roden


RC Roden is a musician, poet and sound engineer.

BE:  You’re a bit of a mystery man to me. You suddenly seemed to appear on GAS with very good videos with music which you’ve created. You say your a sound engineer. Tell us about that. What does that entail?

JC: Sound engineers work in film, television and theatre. They record the sound, for example the individual instruments of a band, they mix it, they add effects and ensure a good

balance. Therefore you need a lot of technical knowledge and experience but - above all – a feeling for the music.

I started out in theatre, worked with musicians, went into film and finally back to theatre. Nowadays I produce my own music. I use software instruments, digital effects and a digital

audio work station, which also allows video insertion and editing. All this fits on a laptop. A lot has changed in this profession, but you still need the experience, the feeling - and much passion.

How I came to GAS is easy to tell.
I used to say “rather hell freezes over and becomes an ice rink before I go to Facebook”. But I was looking for an online platform for my videos and YouTube turned out to be too

unspecific. Then a musician friend of mine told me about the many art groups on Facebook. He specifically mentioned the GAS - group and I am happy he did. I have discovered many

wonderful artists from all over the world in this group and had the pleasure of working together with some of them. I appreciate that very much.

Killing Machine (Messiah) by RC Roden

BE:   When I first “met” you you were working in Germany but you live in Greece.  Do you travel to different countries for sound engineering jobs or just back and forth to Germany?

JC: As a young sound engineer, I traveled extensively on tour and had the pleasure of seeing many countries and meeting many interesting artists. For example, I was on the road with West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar and did technical support for various bands and theater productions. To be honest, that would be too exhausting for me today. Working on tour means 10-12 hours work a day plus the traveling (and the parties). That's great if you're 25 or 30, but I'm 60 now and prefer a slightly healthier life - and the romantic dinners with my wife..

By the way, it's the other way around (unfortunately). I live and work in Berlin, but I travel to Greece whenever I find the time.

BE:  Do you work with anyone who will hire you as a sound engineer or do you have a special area where you work?  I remember you mentioned working with a puppet theatre?

Heimathafen (c) Frederic Schweizer

JC:  Oh yes, the puppet theatre in Berlin Neukölln, it's in my neighborhood. Very charming and lovingly furnished. They do children's theater, but also a lot for adults. I attended a "Faust" show a few weeks ago and met the owners. Very nice people. We chatted over a bottle of wine and got to the topic of Dylan Thomas (of course). Then we (I..) started fantasizing about how Under Milkwood could be staged as a puppet show, with music and a good sound design. To cut a long story short: I'm thinking about it...  By the way, on the same street as the puppet theater is another theater where I worked for over 10 years, the Heimathafen Neukölln. It is over 100 years old and heritage listed, also very charming and beautiful. Concerts, readings and theater performances take place here.  If you ever visit Berlin, check out both, they are worth it..

BE: I think you said you were also a poet.  Would you like to share one of your poems with us?

JC: I wouldn´t consider myself as a poet. I write a lot of texts, whether they can be described as “poetic” in any way is up to the reader. But I´m happy to share the lyrics of my new video

 with you guys, and you´ll find out for yourself...

Paradise Lost or: The End Of The Line by RC Roden

The valleys passed by in the blink of an eye, the mountains touched the moon
and one with the mountains, the moon and the stone on which he walked, the merchant looked up to the sky, but - he found no solace in it

The many summers he had seen on his way to the sea, the clouds rising and the winds rushing down, the voices that had circled, the gazes that had embraced him,
All this led him now to the end of the line
Carefully he examined the withering fields of memory whose fruits he hoped to find in the water, like the light of the sun that multiplied and dissolved there,

that spoke of memory as of a woman in labour with wide open eyes

and of her child as of a ghost


One day, before the next life or after the last love, he would think again of the mountains, of the roots of the earth and the misty candles of imagination

where seconds ago a heart had beaten in his breast,

where a single imagined syllable had unleashed a torrent of words inside him

and a single step had led to a half-empty, half-finished paradise.

And he, who dreamed the world in flames,

and kept a double-tongued fairy tale between his lips,

which asked and answered,

at the same time, with the same voice,

which once exposed, twice took a new shape,
He, who incessantly mocked the song of birds, the fear of the blind on the

pavements, and the tales of day and night, of brotherhood and freedom..

He - suddenly stood by the sea

and spread his arms

The merchant opened his eyes, he was standing in the middle of the city

He stared at the neon lights in which the moon was fading

He listened to the sound of the surf dying away in the din of traffic,

and for a last time a wave rose,

high as a mountain,

and smashed on the pavement of the street.

“If you're running out of time”, said the merchant, “buy as much of it as you can....”

He heard himself laughing and time

gave answer.


I originally wrote this text in German, in 1992. The war in former Yugoslavia began and I got more and more the impression that madness rules the world. That's why I started writing, maybe to get rid of it.

100 years ago, after the first world war, William Butler Yeats wrote the line "The darkness drops again" in one of his poems. Many wars were to follow. Today it´s the one in Ukraine, nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. I'm still writing, but the new lyrics are similar to the old ones. 

More than 30 years after the first words I wrote, madness still reigns and darkness drops again. Still, I have hope.  I may not believe in humanity, but I believe in the love and the

power of the individual human being. I can see it, everywhere and every day.

I see it in the eyes of the noisy children on the playground in front of my house and in the smiles of their mothers. I see it in the old couple from the house next door still walking down the street hand in hand after 50 years of marriage. I see it in my wife's empathy when she talks about her social work and in my best friend's passion when he talks about his art.

So, the Darkness may drop, but we we are prepared.

In my Craft or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas, art by Belinda, video and music by RC Roden.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

GAS Featured Poet, Artist and Musician: Joan Borland

Meet Joan Borland, if you haven't already.  She's a most unique and unusual talent who has learned to survive through art. When life gave her lemons she made a kaleidoscope! 

In Joan's own words:

As far back as I can remember I was scared and tuned myself out of an angry noisy family life distracting myself by making things.

In the trauma my 4 yr old self was going through I turned to objects instead of people. 
I searched for found objects that 'spoke' to me.
Rarely did anyone speak to me without anger in my family. 
I found a stone shaped like a nose I kept in my pocket I rubbed for comfort. 
I found a big, round 60's button I talked into as if it were a telephone.
I felt so scared and alone. 
I improvised to stay alive. 
I did not know what 'improvised' meant at 4 yrs of age.
I only knew of an awful feeling that stopped me breathing  normally would stop if I distracted myself enough. 
I didn't know these awful feelings were panic attacks. 
I did not know my mind was under attack from emotional neglect. 
I did not know at 4 yrs of age I was keeping my emotional and spiritual life alive by seeking communion with found objects.

I was never told I was loved. 
I did not know what love was.
My love showed itself by rescuing animals, birds in distress; I know I now was rescuing myself. 
I did not know these actions were love. 

At school an art teacher asked the class to paint self portraits. 
I painted myself as Mr Spock. 
I identified with Mr Spock as I had no self identity. 
I was punished for this and didn't paint figuratively again. 
I stopped painting anything 'til I was 30 yrs of age.
I lost a baby. 
The pain was too deep to write about so I turned to painting although I had never painted since school. 
I painted the spirit of my lost baby in the art I was beginning to create.
I'm sure me painting specifically spiritually brought a baby to me that did not die. 

When my son was born I stopped painting. 
My accidental spell of beckoning a child to me had worked and I didn't need to paint anymore. 
I didn't paint again until I painted a painting for my son's 18th birthday.

The English teacher I had at school wasn't like the art tracher. 
I was unruly and cheeky and he spoke to me instead of berating me in front of the whole class. 
He asked the class to write either a piece of prose or poetry about fog. 
I had been writing poetry as soon as I learned to write and thought  everybody wrote poetry. 
Poetry for me was easy so I wrote a poem for the writing exercise. 
When the English teacher came back to hand the class their marks for their writing about fog he said he had never given a nine and a half out of ten to any pupils writing and would the pupil who he had given that high mark to stay behind as he wanted to talk to them about their writing.

I was a noisy member of a group of girls the English teacher called 'The Bridge Club', and I was totally embarrassed that it was me the teacher had given the highest mark in the class to. 
I was 13 years of age and the poem I wrote about fog was called 'Smog Claustrophobia'.
I stayed behind and was anxious and perplexed. 
I didn't know what I had hidden in the poem the English teacher would understand. 
He asked me if I had copied the poem from somewhere. 
I replied with an indignant 'No!'
He asked me to bring in other poems for him to look at. 
I did this and he went about marking all the poems I had brought in for him with a nine and a half out of ten.
He told me I had a gift
He told me to keep writing. 
I would have kept writing anyway as writing is a part of me I need to function every day as much as an ear or a tooth.
I have becoming my writing which I rarely draft and is as natural to me as breathing. 
The same thing happened when I began to paint again. 
I've never written or painted with any idea of how things will turn out.
With writing I just start off with a word or line that has come to me and go from there. 
With painting I just make a mark and everything flows from there.
I can write songs, but I prefer to freestyle to let the words find me. 
I have never attempted to get any of my work published. 
I don't really know why this is. 
When I was a working artist exhibitions came to me; I did not chase them.

I've had to think about this as Belinda is going to put my work forward for publication. 
I had no family I could relate to. 
My family didn't try to relate to me. 
I was viewed as an outsider. 
I didn't know I was developing into an artist. 
My poetry, art, music, and songs are my family now. 
I cannot be separated from any of them. 
I did not draft this piece of writing either. 
The alchemy that turns feeling into poetry, art, and song elevates you from your insanity. 
The world sees me as mad, sad, bad; my art shows I am not of that world of judgement. 
I am my art and my world is art; the rest is gravy.