Tag Archives: travel

Other People’s Books–#2: A Soul’s Calling

Here’s the next entry in my recommendations of “indie” books that I’ve read and loved and would like to recommend to my readers here.  The book is A Soul’s Calling, by Scott Bishop. If you’re interested in travel, adventure, or spirituality (or–if you’re like me–all three), this is the book for you, particularly if you’ve ever wondered what it would really be like to make the trek to Mt. Everest’s base camp (you will no doubt be surprised in many ways).  Here’s my review:

“‘I couldn’t put it down’ is kind of a cliche among book reviews, but I read A Soul’s Calling in a quick two days. The book is a memoir about a man who does what “conventional wisdom” (something I’ve come to pretty much despise) would advise him strongly against, and challenges himself to fulfill a spiritual imperative (HIS spiritual imperative–he never tries to force his spiritual vision on the reader, or on those with whom he comes into contact) by making what may be considered a kind of pilgrimage to the Everest Base Camp. He is guided by visions and communication with spirit in various manifestations; one of the most beautiful elements of the book for me was his personal, loving, respectful relationship with the natural environment, which for him is also a manifestation of spirit.

The author makes no apologies for his relationship with/belief in the “spirit world”; it is simply part of HIS world, and he wishes to use his ability to interact with it for the benefit of all beings (and, again, he considers things like the mountains he approaches, the sun and moon and stars, rocks, and all the natural gifts of the earth as “beings”). This may make some readers uncomfortable, or skeptical, but those feelings should not be used to judge the quality of A Soul’s Calling. A reader with an open mind and an eye for good writing should find a lot to love in it. Even if one isn’t “into communication with spirits”, the descriptions of the people and landscapes of the Himalayas, and of the tortuous journey to Base Camp, as well as the wonderful knowledge that there are still people out there who are willing to flout conventional wisdom for something that they believe is truly meaningful, make A Soul’s Calling worth reading.” 

Here’s the link to the book’s Amazon.com page:



Free Kindle Book–A Reminder and a Note

I’m posting this for those who might have missed it yesterday.  The Kindle version of my new book of poetry (which contains the five poems included in my first book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days, along with many others), A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is FREE on Amazon through this Sunday (11/24/13). The link is below.  I’m hoping to get some reviews on the Amazon page and elsewhere by doing this; it really makes a big difference.  After Sunday the price of the Kindle version will go back up to $3.99.  The print version will be available within the next few days (and will be eligible for the new “MatchBook” program, through which someone who buys the print version can also get the Kindle version for a substantially discounted price–in this case, 99 cents).

For those who already downloaded the book early yesterday, when the promotion started, I wanted to let you know that I made some late changes to the text a little later in the day–I changed the Preface, and added a list of the poems at the beginning to make them easier to find within the book.  If those things matter to you, you may want to re-download the book.

OK–no more changes any time soon!  Here’s the link:


A Rough Deliverance Ebook Now Available on Amazon

So I got ambitious and got the manuscript for A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013 ready for publication much earlier than I thought I would.  The Kindle version is now available on Amazon.com (the print version will be out shortly as well).  This is how I’ve described the book:

A Rough Deliverance begins with poems the author wrote as an ambitious, conflicted, and sometimes naive 22-year-old college student just learning to navigate her life on her own,a young woman who wanted nothing more than to be a “famous poet.” 

It closes with poems written by a woman thirty years older–in some ways very different, in some ways very much the same, perhaps wiser and perhaps not. She is not a famous poet, but she is someone who has loved deeply, witnessed the ravages of an epidemic from the “front lines,” grieved, traveled extensively, made terrible choices and perfect ones, over-indulged and abstained, raised a wonderful son, wrestled with anger and shame about the past and fear of what’s to come, and finally learned to see all of it as absolutely worthwhile. 

This is a collection of poems that documents a ragged, imperfect, and ultimately joyful life lived one deliverance at a time. 

The poems are about love, family, alcoholism, suicide, travel, chance meetings, sex, AIDS, and many other things.  If you read poetry, or if you’ve liked some of the poems I’ve posted here recently, I hope you’ll take a look (as always, reviews on the book’s Amazon.com page, and elsewhere, are greatly appreciated!).


“Maadi Gedida”

The first relationship I got myself into after David passed away from AIDS in April of 1990 (in case you’re new to this blog, I wrote about my relationship with David in my book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days) was with an Egyptian man I worked with at an AIDS agency in New York.  He was a very good man at heart, but unfortunately developed a serious addiction to something similar to crack.

Before things went too bad, however, I went with him to visit his family in a suburb of Cairo called New Maadi (we were both actually hoping that a good long stay with his Moslem family would help him with the drug problem).  We stayed two months, and I wrote this poem (as well as a long article which, if you’re interested, you can find by Googling something like, “Nancy Bevilaqua Malik Enti“–the latter basically meaning, “What’s the Matter With You?”).



At dusk from edges of cornerless desert came voices

of the farthest stars starting to recite, and dust

that held inbred wild dogs at bay, along with heavy heat,

all day, brushed back down through thick petals

and tentacles of oleander leaves to the ground.  The dogs

rose from patches of grass where they mated and slept

to follow us, yelping confused threats, through numberless streets.


Headlights jolted over rocks we tossed to distance

the dogs and passed into hills that butted up in vague

perfect pairs in the night-blind eye of the mind.

From downtown Cairo, Helwan, Old Maadi, muezzin

competed to call day’s last prayer through amplifiers

mounted on mosques, a music that sounded like mourning

but was not.  Trees bent over balconies and shook

with black birds, hundreds, returning, and flowers fell.


Women, talking, talking, took laundry, instrument

of love, off lines, eating peanuts, dropping shells that fell

like ashes to the floors of the balconies, and crickets told

their angry stories to the stars.  Inside, light brightened

in proportion to the darkening outside, fluorescent

in most rooms, incandescent in the white room where the old man

prayed, moribund, mummied up in muslin, speaking

to his beads.  Inside we were quiet, and fed him

honey and halewah on bread and tea, and smoked

away from where his paper lungs would feel it.


Heads were pulled off pink shrimp picked from the market

in old Cairo, pomegranates split and bled into glasses

of water and sugar, and leaves that smelled like skunk were plucked

and soaked in broth and everything was eaten, nothing

wasted.  After would be milk and sweet green oranges bought

from fellaheen next to their fires in Maadi,

where European streets still rolled with fruit and smelled

of flapping fish and henna, tobacco, sorrel, saffron.

If there was water we would heat it with propane and bathe,

dreaming in steam and leaking gas, and save the rest for day.



Nowhere to be alone except in sleep, and sleep

sometimes came slowly, a litter of languages

in rooms behind the door, the window whisked with light


from distant desert cities, foreign moon, planets

crushed together in an unfamiliar field of black.

Mosquitoes that could find me in the dark by scent


of blood disturbed the drape of air around the bed,

methodical, tasting hidden wine I’d had.

Dreams were islands, slim as rafts and color


of smoke, slipping up the Nile like ghosts.

Homesick, strange, I dreamt my dreams

in English, luxuriating, understood.



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