Notes on Canto #2, Inferno, Divine Comedy


“I, one man, alone”
“my memory, unerring”
“if you think my worth sufficient”
“trust me to this arduous road.”

Canto #2

Canto #2 is the opening of Inferno, or Hell, just as Canto #1 opens the entire Divine Comedy. So if it seems like duplication, it is not. Canto #1 introduces us to three animals, the leopard, the lion and the she-wolf, our protagonist, plus Virgil. Canto #2 introduces us to three women, Beatrice, St. Lucia, and the Virgin Mary, all making intercession with God for our intrepid protagonist, plus Virgil.

Dante’s false modesty is rightly called out as cowardness by Virgil:

“Why dost thou harbour such cowardness in thy heart? Why hast thou not daring and assurance, since three such blessed Ladies care for thee in the court of Heaven, and my speech pledges thee such good?”

REpurposing the REpurposing Blog (again) – #100DaysofDante

Yesterday was Wednesday. I jumped on the bandwagon and read Canto #1 of Dante’s Divine Comedy – Hell. Between now and Easter we’ll be reading a new Canto each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The spacing is good because sometimes it takes a day to figure out what it was that you just read when so much meaning and history is packed in, not to mention the personal pilgrimage it puts you on.

Canto 1 begins: “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, where the right way was lost (that has happened to all of us). Ah! how hard a thing it is to tell what this wild and rough and difficult wood was, which in thought renews my fear! So bitter is it that death is little more. But in order to treat of the good that I found in it, I will tell of the other things that I saw there.”

The timing couldn’t be more appropriate, as I tweeted earlier today

So anyway, we are underway. Underway on nuclear power as they used to say.

Post bootcamp ruminations – 09032021

I kinda miss y’all, our learning community. I miss the chit chat through the week on the Facebook page. That part really doesn’t have to stop. So I’m gonna jump off a conversation.

What have y’all been doing since bootcamp? My garden is reaching an interesting point. Peppers are finally bearing, and my okra plants, taller than me now, have brilliant new flowers at the top. Looks like a type of renaissance. Oh yeah, and I have to pick okra every two days to keep up with the output! So we are eating a lot of okra!

I finally unboxed my new guitar and I’m talking to a prospective guitar teacher today, a Russian classical guitarist. Only in DC, right? He looks like he might be the one.

I’m reading my poetry at a public library in Alexandria on Sept 14 in a DC Poets event. They are giving me 20 minutes. I’m looking for the right collection to share. Thinking about poems inspired by August Wilson plays. You can find it and other collections on my poetry blog here:

Speaking of which, we have 20 folks signed up for our August Wilson study group. We start with Jitney on October 10. Not too late to sign up and join us! That’s about it for me. Y’all have a great Friday!

Week Seven: Interactive Timeline of the Arab Spring

A bit of background. When the so-called Arab Spring sprung, I had just returned home for a DC assignment after a year as chief of staff in Baghdad, literally ducking and dodging rockets and mortar rounds in the Green Zone, followed by a demanding summer stint as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires ad interim in Damascus. I was ready to kick back and reap my reward: assignment to a backwater office, out of the limelight, where I could recuperate from a mild case of PTSD. My new position was as office director for a small office in the Near East Bureau, Regional Affairs, which we later renamed Regional and Multilateral Affairs to highlight peacekeeping and technical assistance programs in the region. Piece of cake, right? But because events surrounding the Arab Spring took on more of a transnational appearance, my betters saw fit to put Regional and Multilateral Affairs in charge of covering it. It was more efficient than having each country office do its part as the reform virus spread from country to country, so to speak.

Pushing the paper was effort enough, but soon in, the Bureau launched an around-the-clock task force because so many countries jumped on the reform bandwagon. My team and I took the lion’s share of overnight watches, especially those of us who had served in the countries involved, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Action got real deep real quick. I had served in Cairo and was more than thrilled to be the friendly, known voice on the other end of the line for my colleagues hunkered down there.

A quote from a monologue by Maha, an Egyptian attorney/Uber driver in my play, “Seminar, or Enough Blame to Go Around: Corruption in the Capital in Late Empire,” sums up the outcomes of the Arab Spring somewhat:

“We made some strides and the government was open to moving forward. Then the revolution came. To us in Tunisia, to Egypt, to Libya. You all called it the Arab Spring, but for us it was something all together different.

“A few sincere people got the ball rolling, as they say. They made sacrifices, some with their lives, and our so-called revolution went viral on social media. That’s when the leadership transferred from a few sincere citizens to the American-trained agitators. It was they who fanned the flames and directed everybody’s energies toward regime change. In the end the regimes did change, in all three countries, but it was, as your Malcolm X said, “from the old Mississippi to the new Mississippi.””

Here is the Timeline project

postscript. 08272021. We continue to experience the blowback, backfire, and unintended consequences of policy decisions made leading up to the so-called Arab Spring. Much of the regime change policy aiming of the Obama administration had roots in the Bush Administration response to 9-11 and the corresponding “neo-con” embrace of regime change. Many of the opposition groups we funded, trained and equipped for regime change efforts turned on us, attacked us, and became our own sworn enemies. There are lessons here for the future as well as the present. There is, of course, an element of “Monday morning quarterbacking” in this analysis that I acknowledge.

p.s. p.s. If you want a timeline done, it’s easy to do. I can show you how or make one from your material. Email me at

Week Six: Storymap – Cities where I have lived

I took a short cut and made a list of some places where I lived for an appreciable period of time. Here’s a link to the storymap. Couldn’t get it to agree with WordPress. Shout-out to friends and colleagues whose love and kindness made life more livable at each port of call.

Intro piece

Week 5 extras

08102021. Take 1.

Hey Bawses: Already running into problems on this week’s assignment. Now at minute #4. Too many photographs, too involved a story, too many miles attempted. Gotta go back in and eliminate some photos, trim down the story narrative, maybe back off on the kalimba playing and the poetry recitations (hint, hint). Great experience, though.

Some of the poems written on my morning walk:

Week 5 in Digital Storytelling Bootcamp: Summer 2021 session. My Morning Walk – an interactive photo essay short

08142021. Take 2.

My final product has some glitches. Some alignment issues remain. But you will be able to follow the action. I learned some stuff. A lot of stuff. So it was a worthwhile journey. Thanks to all who made constructive comments Saturday morning. I have taken many of them on board with, I think, positive results.

Also attaching separately poems too long to cover in the video, and clips to morning walk poems I posted to Instagram. Finally, I wrote out the script and put it into stanzas to make it poetic. You can find that on my poetry blog here:

Week 4 Bonus: Digital Storytelling Bootcamp – Random clippings from the cutting floor

Growing up, I remember the sewing ladies and their customers (my mother was included) would take the leftover scraps from making dresses and clothing and create quilts of random but quite exquisite beauty. Similarly, in West African countries where I lived, tailors would take swaths of leftover material, arrange them into asymmetric geometric patterns, and create beautiful new designs of clothing. These “cutting floor scraps,” the ones that didn’t make it into the final assignment submission, and placing them all together, represent my attempt at quilting and African tailoring, let’s just say. Enjoy!

This was a big hit on Facebook and Instagram among family.

First Bawse class

Old school jam for those who have hung out until the end. As the old man told me, good things come to those who wait.

If you are still hanging out with me, still, y’all are my beloved. Check out my Haiku for the week when you are done with the Spinners jam:

That’s all, Folks!

Week 4: A Walk Down Virginia Avenue

Latin Americans and Spaniards often get short shrift in the commonly accepted narrative of American history. For example, did you know the first African slaves in America were brought by the Spanish to St. Augustine, Florida in 1535? Did you know the Great Liberator in Mexican history, Vicente Guerrero, who abolished slavery during his presidency, had African ancestry? Have you heard of St. Martin de Porres, Peruvian of African descent born in 1579, who was patron saint of mixed race people, innkeepers, barbers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony? They say when his body was exhumed 25 years after his death, it showed no signs of decay and emitted a pleasing fragrance. He was known as the Black Christ of the Andes.

We only focus on the British, like Washington, a British subject who became the father of the country and whose memorial statue below can be seen clearly from Virginia Avenue. Hence our focus on 1619, the year indentured servants were brought from Angola to the British settlement in Jamestown. Very Anglo-centric. But Virginia Avenue has some Spanish surprises for us.

Virginia, by the way, was the birth state of four of the first five American presidents, including George Washington. Virginia Avenue “emanates” from the Washington Monument grounds.

Virginia Avenue “emanates” from the Washington Monument grounds.
Background music is from Mary Lou Williams: St. Martin, Christ of the Andes
Benito Juarez, 28th President of Mexico
Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana and Cuba
Jose de San Martin, Father of Argentine Independence
Simon Bolivar, Liberator of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama
Jose Artigas, Father of Uruguayan Independence

Thanks for joining me on this walk up Virginia Avenue. Additional places of interest in the neighborhood include the Organization of American States (OAS), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Art Museum of the Americas. Three blocks up New Hampshire Ave at Washington Circle there is an equestrian statue of George Washington. Two blocks in the opposite direction on the grounds of the Kennedy Center there is a statue to Miguel Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. Interesting neighborhood.

Week 3: A Journey Through a West End Community Garden Plot

Compatibility problems continued. At length, I pulled out an old PC laptop, plugged it in, found Animoto, and uploaded all my gardening photos from my android phone (Moto G Stylus) to the PC laptop. Easy peasy.

The iMac just wasn’t having no conversation with my android phone. Damn, everything should be compatible with everything else, right?

Week 3 Animoto assignment
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