Friday, March 1, 2024


Streets empty with sunlight, birdsong,

and the sound of wheels on the road.

I stop at a store.

Five apricots and a tomato.

The saleswoman offers to wash them before she puts them in a bag for me.

On my way to the cemetery I eat the apricots first. 

One by one. They look ripe but they aren't.


A dog starts barking behind a fence 

“ Beware! Unknown human heading south, eating a tomato!”

The dog-network is activated, and now all bark at nothing.

The  path leading to the family crypt is scattered with pine cones. 

A wild rosebush curiously  leans over the headstone this any-day afternoon. 

I wander around the back and see it sprung from the old crypt—

perhaps from my mother’s heart.

I imagine the quiet union of caskets and roots. 

Maybe violets grow down there all year around.

My parents, having an afternoon tea, talking about all the things 

they forgot to tell me.

I pull out the stubborn weed growing through the cracks—

some humble openings into the otherworld.

I feel appreciated.

I feel loved. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nobody Says Hello

I walk in the rain. 

On the Danube, 

the many bridges fade into fog.

Nothing gets done. 

Nothing is never important enough.

The lines are down— 

no banking, no activation, no phone—

Promising for this misty afternoon.

A retro cheese melt and a cup of espresso

on the road.

Hellos and goodbyes come with 

the lifting of the fog.

La Salle des pas Perdu

‘ The room of lost steps’ is what they call

‘ waiting room’ in French.

Another ticket expires

come midnight.

To get a new one every morning to a destination, a mindset,-

and for each, we pay a different price. 

“ Mom, I think if you could, you would live inside your soul.”

We  wait.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Angel's Share

They say she’s a white witch. 

I walked into her bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon. She was dusting the shelves and what it looked like touching every bottle on the shelf meant that each had a special part in something magical that’s about to happen. The smell of freshly poured cognac visited my nostrils. She seemed distracted as she looked at me putting out her cigarette. 

‘How is life?’, she smiled.

I was so sad inside. Once in like every three years I meet someone who somehow seems to be the man worth knowing, but again, intuition ends up being nothing. The last thing I remember he told me that I was an amazing woman, and never heard from him again. I needed something transparent. Maybe I am a glass of Martini, shaken AND stirred.

The bar was decorated in a way it immediately felt familiar and I couldn’t wrap my head around weather she was part of the decoration, or the place was an extension of herself. I was in a flea market and my grandmother’s attic at the same time.

I thought about long chain of olives, and in this hardly 2 seconds that passed between question and answer, my mind wandered glancing toward empty glasses upside down on the rack ready to be filled with the only transparent substance I could think of right now.

‘You look like you could use a Martini! 

“You read my mind,’ I smiled back and her eyes squinted as if she knew. As if she understood. 

“Medium dirty? Dry?’ 

‘Spot on,’ I said, and as soon as I said it, I realized nothing in this world is 100% transparent, after all. 

I am her. I imagined walking into my own bar, having a chat with myself. It’s been 10 years, and meeting someone like her is meeting another part of me I haven’t discovered until I met the many amazing people who came by for a drink, and left with a memory of their own. I love this place, I know every corner. Every speck of dust is a friend of mine. 

Last night, as I was serving up two of my creations, I noticed she had a loaf of baguette tattooed on her wrist. I joined their table for a cigarette as soon as I had a minute.

‘Why do you have a bread tattooed on your wrist?’ 

‘It has to do with me and my sister. She passed away.’

‘I’m so sorry…’ 

‘We had this thing when she put a bread on her forehead, and … somehow, when I did it, it just wasn’t the same. I took a croissant…’

‘Oh, so she was the unicorn, and you were the buffalo?’

‘Something like that,’ she giggled. ‘It took me a long time to get the tattoo. I was 17 when it happened. I just had it done this year. It took many years…’

‘…to process… I get it.’ 

I hugged her, and put out my cigarette. I must have a few more drinks to make see what everyone else is up to inside.  So many guests, just the one me, my heart filled with the story of the bread. 

They returned after dinner and she ordered a digestive. I recommended Fernet Branca, and before I poured hers, I poured me a little, too.

George, sitting at the bar was observing my every move, and recognizing her as being the experimental type, I offered a sip of my drink. She seemed just as excited as Cindy, another good friend whom I treated with a sip of Fernet years ago. It crossed my mind that I might have a thing for comparing fellow writers’ taste buds. George’s reaction to Fernet was priceless, but real gagging fun prevailed when I introduced her the Hungarian Unicum, closest to Fernet. My opinion, which I seriously voiced, Unicum being less intense, being smoother and a tad “sweeter”, made no difference, whatso ever. She made faces I never knew she had. 

‘Come on. Isn’t it at least sexy? Like the Devil just stuck his tongue down your throat?’, I sniggered.

‘…after he brushed his teeth!’, she added beginning to recover from the trauma.

‘A perfectly fine blend of herbs and spices which I believe are really good for the soul is one argument, but if you must really know what Unicum is like, my answer is ‘dark and bitter, like Hungarians…’ and I get to say that with a smile, remembering how my mom used to put a few drops on a cube of sugar when I had a sore throat. Hence, introducing this lovely spirit seems like the perfect amusement for my dark side. It took me years before I grew to love it.  

No good deed goes unpunished. Sebastian and crew from the Elephant Camp shows up, big grin on his face as usual, he greets me in his adorable French accent: ‘my queenn who has the perhfect solutiooon’, he means in the form of a ginger whiskey drink in a copper cup after the long ride from the countryside to town.

‘Do you want to see what I had for breakfast?’, he asks with unreasonably far-fetched enthusiasm about some meal.

‘I don’t caaare,’ I chanted, reaching for bottles with one hand, shaving ginger with the other, which is obviously impossible but that’s what running a bar feels like sometimes. 

‘Elephant placenta!’ 

“What? Seriously? Oh my god, you’re not even kidding!’

He pulls out his phone, and starts swiping until he pulls up his eyebrows in proud excitement, or, heroic accomplishment – I find it hard to tell which.

I see a blob of bloody chunks swimming in more blood in a white soup bowl. At this moment I decide on heroic accomplishment. He lets out a sigh, and responds to what he assumes based on my facial expression I needed to hear.

‘It was amazing…. Look at this beauty…’ he swipes on, and I see this new baby elephant, wobbling around, all lost, surprised, curious in the sunrise.

‘But how was the placenta soup? Was it cooked? It looked raw!’ 

‘The mother eats most of it, and the mahouts save some for themselves and eat on the day of the birth. Very spicy, lot of herbs and the bloody placenta.’ he grins. ‘You know that the elephant has 32 souls, like humans. They are family members.’p

‘That’s amazing but I can’t imagine eating that soup!

As soon as I said it, of course I suddenly imagined, and my wholperspective changed in under a second. I understood.

‘It was a gorgeous sunrise. An hour later, I was eating a placenta.’ he goes on repeating the unthinkable improbability of what just happened.

‘I love the symbiosis. Eating and connecting. The connection is beautiful. At 6 am!!! I don’t believe it man!  I feel like the IRON MAN. Fucking solid tonight! I don’t know what I want next.. I love THIS drink’ he rants, looking observantly into his empty copper cup, ’and I don’t even like ginger. Nor whisky. You put the big spell on me.’ he laughs.

I’m amused. 

‘You were on the bourbon of my choice, so how about another bourbon something to keep you stagnant… hmmmm I got one straight from the French quarter. Veux Carre? I just learned from Sean how to make it.’

‘Do it!’ 

I’m pouring. Equal amounts of cognac, rye, sweet vermouth, two dashes of two kinds of bitters, and a small teaspoon of Benedictine. 

I leave out the twist, thinking 

Sean doesn’t like the citrusy touch unless it was a lemon, yeah but it’s for Seb. But I haven’t tried it with a twist yet. It’s probably better to serve what I know to be good. Better yet. It’s good to know what to serve to whom. I miss Lori… she said that. 

but a lemon is hard to get hold of in Laos. It’s been 10 years running my bar. 

How many limes have I peeled, juiced and squeezed so far? Why is everyone else having Gin&Tonics tonight? Why is it just the Tanqueray? Weird. It has to do with the moon what people drink. The other night, it was Old Fashioneds. Mostly. It has to do with the moon… 

‘There you go,’ I approach Seb with the Veux Carre as if I was presenting him with a Golden Globe. I have no idea why I do that. 

Symbiosis, symbiosis, symbiosis. Peanuts!!!


I walk over to the corner table and place a plate of peanuts graciously ‘Better late than never,’ I beam at the male couple who won’t be able to get hold of their luggage until the next flight comes in on Monday, currently wearing fisherman pants and Beer Lao t-shirts they resorted to and returned to show me how crap this day had turned out to be. I light a candle.

‘That won’t make me look better’, he says.

‘Oh, but if I wanted to make you look better, I would go dim the lights.’  

What a good laugh! I move on to the terrace to see if anyone there needs another drink.

The moon is half full, hanging in the sky like a boat. I say goodbyes to some, greet some, while Bryan needs another G&T.

“What is up with Gin &Tonics tonight?’ I say out loud, still sort of gazing at the moon. Bryan smiles handing over his empty glass.

‘You know how a G&T is … like a really good Club Sandwich? You know what I mean. How one feels about Club Sandwiches. Wherever you have it, however they make it, it’s always good.’

‘Yeah I know what you mean.’

‘You see I’m a chef. I compare everything to food.’

‘Hmmm… for me, for example, Bloody Mary is like a more refined Gazpacho, but I get what you mean. A similar quality of experience. Nice one.’

It’s almost closing time. I dim the lights and change the playlist. As the husky voice fills the room the heart of Saturday night...


it makes me smile because it’s a Saturday. Up in the eternal midnight sky there is the next melody... Grapefruit Moon... so I pour some more Fernet to add to my synchronicity-high. 

No more visitors tonight. 

Lighting up my cigarette I notice Bart, still sitting outside, finishing up his G&T - mainly just melted ice by now. He brings in his glass and joins me at the bar.


I reach for the red box sitting on the counter.


‘What is this?’


‘Food for the soul…’ I say mysteriously. 

...I’m an ice cream man, I’m a one-man band, an’ I’m an ice cream man, I’ll be good to you… 

‘Pick a card,’ I nudge.


“Lack of clarity only means that everything is possible”, it reads.

Nights like these are satisfying like the perfect meal. They come when least expected but most needed.

Right now I’m watching Bart reading the story of this particular Saturday night, and guess what:

You are him. 

Everything is connected. My hands to a hundred-thousand limes into the drinks you drink hearing stories that capture your heart from people you meet. 

‘Oh…ho! I wanna read what happened the next night! I have a taste for more.

‘Your bar is like a melting pot. Like a soup with all different ingredients inside.’

‘Imagine if I wrote down everything for the past years! There would be a whole book by now. There it is: the one thing in my life I could choose to regret…if it was a recipe for some soup, and say, I wanted to make the same soup again…but, how could I... 

‘…it’s more like a 10-year-old barrel of whiskey we’re talking about. Angel’s share…what was that… alcohol evaporating from the barrel in the process of aging.

‘The spirit inside the bar getting better and stronger with time while people and memories leave the space, and I am left with the best whiskey I have ever tasted. Let’s have shot!’ 



‘Sit down,’ I say, ‘sit down and think about it.’

‘About what?’ 



There was a time you look back and think, "Yep, that was perfect."

And it was! And you know it.


There was that moment when you said to yourself, "Oh my god, 

the street I live on should be named after me! I can’t believe I did it."

 There was a day when you saw her making the right decisions without you,

and you were sad and happy about it. Mostly, you were proud.


There was a night when being the night itself was just another dream.

It was what it was. It is, what it is.


There was a whole year when you thought you lost the will to live,

but you made it through and lived anyway.


There was an afternoon when you asked for what you wanted with no agenda, 

and it was given to you. 


The timeline is a jump rope. 

Jump, jump, jump.


Nobody is really watching. They might be curious, you might want— not 

so much to be accepted, but to be seen, understood, acknowledged. Forget 

it. As long as you’re jumping.


Did the world skip rope a year and tripped over checks and balances, data, and facts? 


True Zen. I mean, in this world, in this cocoon of a home, 

in this body, in these cells, inside this mind, there are question marks, laughing monkeys 

and sad ones, a few terrified ones that keep pulling the tails of the others, 

but the others choose not to give them the time of day. 


It makes sense.