Alexander the Great Decides to Conquer the Nubians

Stories from the Talmud retold by Mirian

Alexander the Great was famous for his military might. When countries heard he was approaching, they would all but tremble with fright!

One day, Alexander the Great had set out to conquer a small village in Africa run by women. Word got out. The Nubian leaders gathered their skirt in their hand, and with their head scarves flaying in the wind, bolted towards the queen. A quick meeting needed to be done!

In quick hushed voice they spoke in their native African tongue. What should they do? How can they ever defeat the Great Alexander. Slowly slowly a plan was devised.

The day came. Alexander the Great and all his military might approached.

They came and towered over the entrance of the village. Lo and behold! Without weapons, the women came out. One by one, led by the queen in all her regality. It was a quiet but noble and beautiful procession. Drums played suspensfully in the background and no one spoke a word, save the the excited wind blowing around them.

Finally, the queen spoke.

“I salute you, the great and mighty Alexander. You are well known for your fierceness in battle and for your great victories.”

Everyone listened intently.

“We women have protected and defended our village alone. And we have been successful! Now, if you should come and attack us and win, what would it be said? The great Warrior fought with women and won?! What kind of victory would that be?”

The Queen paused to let the idea sink in. Then she continued, “Now supposing WE WON? What would be said then?”

With a faint smile, Alexander the Great, conceded, “You are wise. I will not conquer your land. Now fetch some bread for me and my men and we will be off!”

The queen bowed graciously and returned with her whole procession back into their village. As soon as they were out of sight, again they hurried and huddled to think and talk.

He needs bread? they wondered. Surely, there is a trick to this! So they, again, devised another plan.

After a few minutes, once again the whole solemn procession came out bearing bread. By then everyone had dismounted from their horses and waited for the bread. The women passed bread to everyone. However, when they bit into the bread, they realized it was hard! Each bread had inside of it gold!

“What is this!” Cried Alexander.

“Great and mighty Alexander” The queen began, unperturbed, “would you really be satisfied to come all the way over here… for a morsel of bread?”

With this, Alexander nodded and left. But before he left, he wrote on the gate of their city: “I, Alexander of Macedon, was a fool before having come to this country of women in Africa and having received their advice.”

We Live in Extraordinary Times

A Quotation compiled by Sarah Khan.

“We live in an extraordinary time. Our thinking styles are severing us from our families, our religions, our ideologies, and nature. We are caught up in a pace of social and technological change that makes our work, business, and education sources of anxiety and unfulfillment. At the same time, thinking about our thinking and observing our observations can bring us a new world in which work becomes a place for innovation, and in which peace, wisdom, friendship, companionship, and community can exist. Let us design this world together.”

~Carlos Fernando Flores Labra

Eagle Lake, NY

A Poem by Richard Peabody.

After hiking nearly an hour,
a fork in the trail. Muddy lumber
track or a fallen birch blocks
your path.

Sunlight filters down
like dust mote days in a tiny apartment.
Voices from the lake. A motorboat.
All hidden from view.

You imagine bears in trees
gorging on apples, falling asleep
until awakened by your puny flashlight.

You imagine an Indian tribe
making their way back from a day
of bountiful fishing.

A crow protests above you.
Somewhere past the fallen birch
you choose the mud.

Away from the lake shore
and deeper into the dark Huron forest.
Nobody knows where you are.
Nobody knows where you’re going.

Naked you are simple as one of your hands

A Poem by Anon ymous, Occupy Chicago Poetry

esta es la verdad: ¿cómo la mano
encaja en la mía, que mi piel se quema
de su tacto, la forma en que se pierden
en el otro y es el hogar.

The last table is taken. You nod when asked if I can join you.
No glance. No words. You are engrossed in a book of poems.
I am thinking of summer, blonde fields, the sun a burning ember
in a deep blue sky. My eyes drift up when you turn the page.
I count one, two, three times when the page is turned back to
re-read. I imagine you are sad. Sad in a weary it is time to wait
again way. My mind drifts to snatches of poetry memorized in
school. There’s a couple at the next table, in their sixties,
dressed like they are coming from church.

In love yet, they share their space in comfort. She lightly
touches his hand when he says her name. Smiles at me and I
know they believe we are together. I want to wish it true. Your
sleeves are pushed up, lips a thin brushstroke of red. I ask you
the time; an inane question. I am not going anywhere.
Don’t need to be anywhere. Don’t want to be anywhere but
here. All my destinations are unplanned, bent. The road
unmapped, filled with potholes, every turn is crooked and
sharp. We listen to the impatient shuffle of feet from
customers lined up, barely aware of the low murmur of
conversation. The background music is Dylan. I know what

I want the answer to be: You tell me how to catch fire, how to
hold the spark in the palm of my hand. You tell me how to live
with ashes and dust. How you want to teach me to rub the stain
from a crucible, polish it, hold it to flame until my breath turns
to smoke. You tell me everything I am thinking is true. That
aqua blue is the color of sincerity. That shyness is a refuge,
desolation a virtue. The café is empty. Street lamps flicker,
the city struggles to stay awake. We are unnoticed. I study the
curve of your mouth, want you to feel the weight of loss;
consider the heft of grief, its every angle and bend. I want to
know how it feels to get lost in the motion of you moving
within me; that feeling of being home.

this is truth: how your hand
fits in mine, how my skin burns
from your touch, how we get lost
in each other and it is home.

(Editor’s note: The above poem came from a Chicago group. Below is theiir statement:


The poems presented here constitute an original work and are part of a new initiative: Message in a Bottle.

The idea is basic: anyone who would like to join can send a poem, poems or collection to Once it is recieved it will be submitted to blogs, ‘zines and journals. The same bio and mission statement is sent but depending on the poet the city/country will change.

Submissions are “blind” in the sense that a person who submits will never know where the poem is being sent or where it is posted or published. The hope is we can build a mailing list of subscribers for a monthy “Anonymous Poem” newsletter and also perhaps a Blog/Website of our own as well.


A resident of Chicago, Poet Anon says: You are encouraged to use this work in any way you see fit. Steal it, borrow it, take parts and make something new, rearrange it, riff on it, send it out over the internet, blog it, post it on telephone poles, throw it away. There is no copyright, no expectation of credit. Poetry should be free.)

Monique, Red Wolf and the Forest

The second part of a A Short Story for all ages by Lorna Stallman.

Bolting out of the trees, something seized the serpent just below its head in mid-strike. With powerful jaws it slung the kingsnake out of sight.

Screaming, Monique jerked suddenly, freeing her hair from the thorny bush.

Standing in front of her was a beautiful red wolf. Its piercing golden eyes seemed to cut through her. Monique panted. What just happened? She didn’t know whether to be thankful or scared and stared unblinking at the wolf for what seemed like a long time. “Why did you save me?” she asked.

“I did not save you,” said the wolf. “I killed a snake.”

Monique noticed the wolf favoring a badly injured back leg. “What happened to your leg?”

The beast bared his teeth and growled. Monique took a cautious step back. “I led a mighty wolf pack.” The wolf glowered into Monique’s fear-filled eyes. “I was injured in a hunt and one stronger than I leads the pack now. I am no longer welcome there.”

“I see you are angry,” said Monique. “How do I know you won’t attack me, too?” Her heart was still pounding from the episode with the snake.

The red wolf laid his ears back and stared at her even more intently. “Yes, I am angry at being driven from my pack. And hungry. I should eat you right now.” He slinked toward her.

Monique’s mind raced. Her stomach lurched inside, but she stood bravely against the wolf. “No you won’t.” She held out her hand telling him to stay back.

The wolf cocked his head as if surprised at her resolve.

Monique pondered her words carefully before speaking. “I challenge you to a battle of wits. The loser shall do the winner’s bidding for one week.”

The wolf straightened his head and narrowed his eyes at Monique. “One week? You won’t live that long.” His voice was low and threatening.

Monique swallowed hard. “We shall see about that. I don’t intend to lose.”

“You are courageous,” said the wolf, “but foolish. You shouldn’t be so boastful.” He sneered. “I accept your challenge. This will be easy.”

“Easy?” asked Monique. “I am sure, Wolf, that I am much wiser than you.” She stood straight and looked him in the eye. “You are not even so wise as to find your way to the crystal blue stream that runs along the edge of the forest.”

The wolf’s eyes grew wild with rage. “I will prove that I am wiser.” Despite a wounded leg, he raced through the forest, bounding over stumps and through heavy brush. Monique chased after him, barely able to keep up.

When at last the wolf reached the crystal blue stream, he heaved with exhaustion. When Monique caught up to him, he huffed. “You see, I am wiser than you think.”

Monique collapsed in a heap onto the ground. “Yes, wolf, you are very wise,” she said catching her breath. She pushed herself up off the ground and pointed a finger. “But look, that is my cottage across this narrow footbridge. Thank you for bringing me home.”

After a long silence, the wolf hung his head. “You win. I will do as you ask.” His words were slow and quiet.

Monique noticed the wolf holding his back leg gingerly. More flesh had torn open from the run. “Please don’t be sad, red wolf,” said Monique. “I only wanted to get home. If you will stay and protect my family’s house, I will give you scraps every day from our table. You can drink fresh water from the stream and roam free. I will not hold you to our bargain.” Monique held out her hand to the wolf. “whatever you decide, please first let me take care of your leg.”

The wolf picked up his head and looked at Monique with softer eyes. He lifted his front paw, placing it in her outstretched hand. Monique smiled and thought she could see the wolf smiling back at her.

Monique stayed true to her word and Red Wolf protected her house day and night. Wherever Monique went, so went the wolf.

Monique, Red Wolf and the Forest–Part 1

A Short Story for all ages by Lorna Stallman

Many nights Monique would lay awake and listen to coyotes howling and large cats fighting. That seemed to be the way of life on the edge of the great timberland she called home.

Each morning Monique crossed a narrow footbridge in front of her cottage to gather water from a crystal blue stream. She always carried a large stick with her for protection out of fear from the night before.

One day while fetching water, she spotted a beautiful swallowtail butterfly. Dropping her bucket and her stick, she tiptoed after it. Monique barely noticed the black and purple butterfly leading her deep into the thick, dark forest. Further and further she went until the swallowtail disappeared.

Monique quickly realized she was in an area of the forest she did not recognize. Lost and alone, she looked around for something familiar, but saw only trees, brushes and fallen logs. Monique had the creepy feeling that every eye in the forest was on her.

Covering her face with her hands, she broke down and sobbed. “How will I ever get back home?” Monique sat down on a hollowed-out log and tried to think and dried her tears with the ends of her long, dark braids.

Time passed. “Maybe if I retrace my steps, I can find my way back.” She jumped up at the thought, but one of her braids became tangled in a thorn bush, pulling her down. “Ouch!” she yelled, trying to break free. As she struggled to untangle her hair, Monique sensed that something hidden in the grass was moving toward her. Frantically she pulled harder, but was trembling too much to free herself.


Monique’s eyes widened when she heard the hiss.

“You are tangled in a bush and cannot get free.”

Monique looked over and saw a long scarlet kingsnake. His head swayed back and forth in mid-air as his thick, scaly body moved skillfully in coils closer to her.

The snake hissed slowly. “Maybe I can assssist you.”

Monique froze. She felt as though her heart was pounding out of her chest. “No. I’m fine,” she muttered.

“You don’t ssseem fine.” The snake’s red, crusty-looking head was closing in on her. With his long, forked tongue darting in and out, he was poised to strike. The kingsnake shot at Monique.

Shameless Love Poem

A Poem by A. g. Synclair

The mad ones write poems about death,
sparrows, lost youth,

girls. About eternal good
and the blackened eye

of a yellow café door.

She is the pale beauty of rice paper
you will write about her

because you love her
because she is a girl

because you should always write what you know.

You are a mad one
but you have nothing to say about death

so you trace the line of her back
your hand visible through her skin

she is a ghost
she is your air

your sparrow.


A Poem by Pham Nhu Trang

I remember how we met–
It was raining and you were wet.
I walked an empty street with my broken bike,
then you smiled towards me: “Let me help.”

I didn’t believe in magic
but now, I see it clearly.
Magic come from simple things
and I see the world through different eyes
no longer hiding the fear or sorrow in my life.
In my soul, the light of friendship shines.
This is one of the best things in my life

like a tree that grows, and I want you to know
our friendship, too, grows day by day inside of me
overcoming the distance and obstacles of this world.
You are my great friend, soul to soul.


A  Sermon from Yun-Man in the Collected Sermons of Wa-men-kaun.

Yun-man said, “The world is vast and wide; why do you put on a seven-fold robe at the sound of the bell?”

(Editor’s note: This is the entire sermon. After he said these words, he took his seat.)

It’s Time

A Poem by Zhu Yufu translated by A. E. Clark.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
The Square belongs to everyone.
With your own two feet
It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
A song belongs to everyone.
From your own throat
It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
China belongs to everyone.
Of your own will
It’s time to choose what China shall be.
(Editor’s note: The poem above comes from the Camel Saloon, edited by Russell Streur:  The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu

Media sources report that Zhu Yufu, 58, a Chinese writer and democracy advocate, was charged with incitement to subversion in Hangzhou earlier this week for writing a poem urging citizens to gather in public squares and create a Jasmine Revolution.)

(Additional note from A. E. Clark: In the penal code of the PRC, “subversion” and “incitement to subversion” are distinct crimes.  I believe that at an earlier time in his life, when he helped found a democratic political party, Mr. Zhu was charged with and imprisoned for subversion.  But this time round (for the poem as well as some other communications) they convicted him of “incitement to subversion.)

Facing West

A Poem by A.g. Synclair

The Jazz station is playing Chet Baker
something recorded near the end of his life
he sounded like chocolate
if chocolate
was ravaged by heroin
and time.

In Europe, Jazz is revered
crowds jam darkened doorways
and tiny tables lit by unscented candles
at clubs like Ronnie Scott’s
or The Vortex
which could also be a metaphor for all of this.

The shoulder cracks under the weight
I stop for a moment to consider the red sky
and why they jump from buildings
Baker, McCorkle….
they wore their scars
softly, I think

like rain.


A Definition by Anonymous Meditation

Not the name of someone, but the soul of essence:
small crystals from among the ashes after cremation
(or can it be creation?) as what is present
impacts on us who remain living:

Once I stood at the bedside of a great man.
He was near death.
“I am with you,” I said.
“Good,” he answered. “You can watch.”
Watch what?
He knew my thoughts.
“Watch as I move to my next existence.”
He passed away with smile on his lips.

Cremated, we sift through ash for essence,
for shari to place in a shaft of relics
giving us strength when we are weak,
grounding us when we are strong.