For the Woman Who Has Everything

FeaturedFor the Woman Who Has Everything

I wrote “For the Woman Who Has Everything” before I knew I’d have a stepdaughter named Sarah. Crisp early-winter mornings will often call the opening scenes to mind. The story was selected for publication in the ART Ideas magazine, once upon a time, and later included in my Lunch Break collection, which is still available in paperback and ebook.

*****

Sarah woke to silence. Thin lines of moonlight lay in diagonals across the floor and rose in needles up the walls. She listened for awhile. The only sound was the soft crush of her hair against the pillow.

She slid her legs from beneath the layers of blankets and let her feet touch the chill of the hardwood floor. As she walked, a line of moonlight slipped around one ankle, then the other, ascending deliberately, scanning and measuring her body in strict undulations. At the west window the moon caught her fully, a slender white animal beneath the new winter’s sky….

Read more…

He Completes Me

FeaturedHe Completes Me

I’m very pleased to present the world premiere of “He Completes Me,” for voice and harp, my poem as set to music by composer and creator of new musicals, the excellent Mr. Eric Rockwell. The poem is from the MY KINGDOM collection of poems, short stories, & short plays for stage & screen, now available in paperback and ebook editions at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SVGNQG6

Nice

FeaturedNice

Two years ago, St. Augustine, Florida. I’m at a gas station, after having spent some time helping a distraught woman with directions to where she needed to go. She can’t figure out her car’s navigation system. No smart phone. The last person she asked had just confused her more. We figure out her destination. Turns out she had over-shot her exit by thirty minutes. She writes down the steps on paper as we go through it on Google maps, me calming her, talking her off the ledge as we go. She’s terribly relieved.

Her: “Thank you! Thank you so much! You’re so kind. So nice….” She examines my face. “You must be a Christian.”
Me, reflexively: “Oh God, no.”
She’s confounded, disappointed.
Me, hopeful: “I can still be nice, can’t I?”

*****

Enjoy My Kingdom, my latest collection of poems, short stories, & short plays for stage & screen, now available in paperback and Kindle editions.

 

2018 QCFA Self-Made American Award presented to Dr. Leonard Peikoff

Featured2018 QCFA Self-Made American Award presented to Dr. Leonard Peikoff


We recently had the great pleasure and honor to present Dr. Leonard Peikoff with the 2018 QCFA Self-Made American Award. In justice, Dr. Peikoff has earned this and so much more. The text accompanying the award, first announced at the 2019 OCON in Cleveland, follows:

The Self-Made American Award, presented by our gallery, Quent Cordair Fine Art, is awarded annually to an individual who has exhibited exemplary independence, self-responsibility, perseverance, and courage in working to achieve personal and professional ambitions, building a good life, a better life, for himself, as left free to do under the protections provided by the U.S. Constitution.

The term “self-made man” usually denotes an individual who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and made his way in life by his own hard work, having created his own material success and wealth. Indeed, the first two recipients of this award are exemplary businessmen and entrepreneurs. But as man is a being of self-made wealth and self-made soul, he is also, and even more importantly, a being of self-made mind. This year’s recipient is a man of the mind.

In her introduction to The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand makes reference, metaphorically, to bridges, identifying Aquinas as an example, as having bridged Aristotle and the Renaissance, and herself as a bridge between the esthetic and cultural heights of the nineteenth century and anyone today willing to take up the cause of pursuing the ideal, the good, the rational, the right, the world as it could be and should be.

We are deeply indebted to those long, high bridges that span the millennia and centuries, but there are critical bridges across the narrower gaps and chasms too, across the intervening decades and years, bridges that can be no less crucial for those attempting to make their way through a wilderness of irrationality. Our award tonight goes to a man who has provided a bridge between Ayn Rand and the generations following, including a generation of which I am one. The man is an exceptional teacher, a splendid original thinker and communicator in his own right, and moreover, a stellar example of what an ambitious intellectual who is not Ayn Rand can be, what he can accomplish and achieve over a lifetime, when he sets his mind to it. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ayn Rand would be as proud of her student today as she was the day she wrote, in her introduction to The Ominous Parallels, “It is so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial achievement which is not mine” — to which I will add, “It is so wonderful to have seen, in my lifetime, a man who has built, sculpted, and shaped his mind and character in such a way that he has been able to accomplish all he has, in the way he has.”

This evening, we recognize the man not only for what he’s done and continues to do, but for providing the vision of what a man of the mind could be, should be, and is. We salute him for what he’s made himself to be.

In recognition and appreciation, the recipient of the 2018 QCFA Self-Made American Award is Dr. Leonard Peikoff.

*****

Featured

And Again the Angels

And again they called to heaven
When around them rose a hell;
Again the angels came from earth
In answer to the bell.
While flesh and blood fought smoke and flame
And kept the black line manned,
The thanks went to the god by whose
Own breath the fires were fanned.

**********
“And Again the Angels” ~ Quent Cordair, My Kingdom, 2019

“Firefighter Rick Blakemore protects a structure along Highway 128, south of Pine Flat Road, northeast of Healdsburg, on Sunday, October 27, 2019.” (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat) 

Featured

Salute to Hongkongers

Friends, please feel free to share the above image widely, particularly with any and all who may have Hong Kong connections. May the photograph and the words help strengthen the resolve of those willing to stand for their freedom, for their lives, against the march of tyranny.

Award-winning photograph by P H Yang, used with permission.

#HongKong #Hongkonger #Freedom #Individualism #FreedomHK #rights #FreeHongKong
#NoChinaExtradition #hongkongprotests #StandWithHongKong

Castle Walls

FeaturedCastle Walls

 

Castle Walls

Peace, peace, but not a moment to be found,

No closet or armoire is free from the sound,

For now your enemies live here in your head—

Sitting at your table—

Waiting in your bed—

And who is to blame for their being inside?

What use, castle walls,

When the gate’s open wide?

~ Quent Cordair

***********
“Castle Walls” is from the My Kingdom collection of poems, short stories, & short plays for stage & screen, now available in paperback and Kindle editions.

 

My Kingdom ~ free Kindle copies for review

FeaturedMy Kingdom ~ free Kindle copies for review

My Kingdom for a review — literally! Today I’m giving away three Kindle-edition copies of My Kingdom in exchange for short reviews. Even just a sentence or two will do. Average reading time: four hours. Your mileage may vary.

Sample snippets of reader-reviews of My Kingdom posted so far, to whet your appetite:

“…a highly recommended soul-quencher.”

“…an homage to the mind of man.”

“…a mind-engaging symphony of deliverance … Quent Cordair presents a benevolent universe and a gallery of heroic individuals fighting for an ideal life. Ultimately, it is a love story. It is real and, if you reach for it, it can be yours.”

“There is a refreshing benevolence in all of Cordair’s work, not sugar-coated, that is captivating, profound…”

Be one of the first three to volunteer in the comments, with the understood commitment that you’ll do your best to post a review on Amazon within the next 14 days, and a copy is yours!

Thank you!

Preview all the posted reviews of My Kingdom, now in paperback and Kindle editions, on Amazon.

Quent Cordair’s My Kingdom is a select collection of poems, short stories, flash-fiction works, studies and musings from the author’s notebooks, short plays for stage and screen, special scenes from the Idolatry, and for the first time in print, the acclaimed short story “The Match,” together with the short screenplays “Mujahid” and “At Home with Heather James.”

“For me, an artist’s studio can be as fascinating a place to visit as the gallery or museum in which his finished work is displayed. Practice sketches, studies, exercises, works in progress, casual pieces created solely for the artist’s own pleasure—while perhaps never intended for sale or public exposure—can be as wondrous and interesting as finished works that have earned the artist’s signature. Over the years, I’ve been encouraged by fans to publish the writer’s equivalent of such studio work—written sketches, descriptions, dialogues, style and period exercises, scene and character studies, musings, selections from works in progress. This collection includes, in addition to an assortment of such, a variety of shorter, finished works, from poems to plays, dating to before publication of the Lunch Break collection. To one and all, welcome again to my world, my way. Welcome to My Kingdom.” ~ Quent Cordair

Featured

 

“He completes me”

—said the Sea of the Moon.

The Moon, he did reply:

“As she flows to my push,
As she ebbs to my pull,
May we dance ever thus,
Till the dawn rises full.
While the day may me hide
While she sails her ships wide,
She’ll yet move to my shift,
I’ll yet draw to her drift,
Drawing closer and down,
Till Time forces relent—
And into her wet gown
I plunge shimmering,
spent.”

 ~ Quent Cordair

 

******************

“He Completes Me” is from MY KINGDOM, Quent Cordair’s 5-STAR collection of poetry, short stories, and short plays for stage and screen. What readers are saying ~

“…a highly recommended soul-quencher.”

“…an homage to the mind of man.”

“…a mind-engaging symphony of deliverance, composed by a brilliant mind who has most definitely lived and loved. Quent Cordair presents a benevolent universe and a gallery of heroic individuals fighting for an ideal life. Ultimately, it is a love story. It is real and, if you reach for it, it can be yours.”

“There is a refreshing benevolence in all of Cordair’s work, not sugar-coated, that is captivating, profound…”

MY KINGDOM is now available in paperback and Kindle ebook (only $2.99) from Amazon @ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SVGNQG6

For this Father’s Day ~

FeaturedFor this Father’s Day ~

For this Father’s Day, a favorite passage from Genesis, Part I of Idolatry, the meeting of the sculptor Apollonius and the boy Myron ~

***********

… It was just so, late one evening. He had worked through the night and day prior on another mausoleum frieze, trying to reach a state of exhaustion and numbness that would overwhelm him enough that he could sleep. In the scene, the mourners surrounding the dead body were distraught; all were focused on the deceased except one figure – a man who had turned to look out at the viewer, searching for an unfindable answer. His face was sorrow incarnate.

Apollonius sat on the floor, his head fallen, his body bowed over and so tired that he could no longer lift his arms, and still his soul hurt too much to rest. The tears began to fall, making silent splashes in the marble dust on the floor, as the night’s last candle burned low.

He sniffed – and heard an echoing sniff, disembodied, not his own. He sniffed again. Another small sniffle answered. He opened his eyes to find a toddler sitting on the floor next to him, gazing up at the funereal scene, tears rolling down the urchin’s dust-caked cheeks. He was begrimed but beautiful, with auburn-bronze curls and hazel eyes flecked with umber and gold. The bedraggled cloth draping his little body was a dirty rectangle of coarse, undyed wool, a hole cut out for the head. Of the pins meant to hold the sides of the cloth together, one had torn loose, the other had ripped nearly away and was hanging by only a few threads.

Seeing Apollonius’s distraught face, the boy began crying all the harder. The two looked at each other and cried on, emptying the depths of their grief until Apollonius could no longer bear the pathos, such a pitiable outpouring from such a flawless creature who surely could know so little yet of pain, a mere child with the prospect of a lifetime of joys before him. The scene had become an absurd injustice, and from somewhere in Apollonius’s soul, from a place he had thought had long died, something rose through the thick sadness, bubbling upwards to escape –

He laughed.

It was an agonized laugh, a pained laugh, but a laugh nonetheless, and the boy, in turn, laughed at the sound of it. Apollonius put his arm around the boy and pulled him close. The two cried and laughed together until the candle flickered its last, until the forlorn faces on the frieze had vanished into the blanketing darkness, until sleep overcame the night….

******
To enjoy more of the Idolatry story ~ https://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Idolatry-Book-Q…/…/B00MUWOWDW

For this “Earth Day”

FeaturedFor this “Earth Day”

For this “Earth Day,” a passage from A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry. The year, 1852:

***
…When the day ended and darkness fell, Thomas walked away from the wagon train and into the wilderness, headed south with a vague notion of going to Mexico, with nothing on his person but the clothes on his back, the knife on his belt and, in his satchel, a flint, a small package of hardtack and dried beef, and his father’s edition of Lyell’s Principles of Geology.

Through the night and the next day he walked, seeing not a trace of humanity and scant signs of wildlife. The next evening he found himself standing atop a high hill overlooking a desolate valley.

Close to the west, a range of snow-tipped mountains rose like the ramparts of a citadel. At the valley’s south end lay a shallow marsh fed by snowmelt, mostly dried up from the long summer’s heat, miles of alkali flats left in the ebb. The mountain shadows were growing long across the valley floor. The desert heat was cooling rapidly as the sky began to shift into the loveliest, most vivid palette he had ever seen—a parasol of pastels over hills turning tangerine and deep saffron, the mountains tinted cornflower-blue and violet. He gathered enough deadfall and brush for a small fire and, after a light supper, nestled down beside a low wall of stone he built to hold the fire’s heat. After reading a chapter of Lyell by firelight, he slept, with moonlight for his blanket and a stone for his pillow.

He spent three days alone on the summit—reading, thinking, remembering his father, considering his future, weighing his options, taking in the view. On the fourth morning, the fire had gone cold in the night. The scant supply of brush and wood on the summit was exhausted, as was his meager store of food. But looking out over the valley, he judged it to be the most beautiful place he had ever seen. The assessment was, he knew, due in no small part to the fact that he, Thomas Thornton Hale, was the only person in the valley. He had never enjoyed the luxury of having even the smallest corner of earth he could call his own. He and his father had shared the bedroom of their two-room cabin. On the wagon trail, a person had to venture over a hill or around a stand of trees for any privacy from fellow travelers. He looked around him that morning, from the rocks at his feet to the far horizons, and he said—“My hill.” He said it to himself and to the land and to the sky—“My hill. My valley. My world.”

There was no one there to dispute his claim. And so it was so.

He wanted to memorialize the moment and the place, but there was nothing resembling a flag or stake to plant in the ground. He had burned all of the loose wood. Other than rocks and scattered scrub, the only thing of substance left nearby was a barely living, severely torqued tree—an ancient bristlecone pine, wide at its base, with stunted arms and spindly fingers reaching for the sky, a few clusters of needles still surviving in the branches, roots clinging tenaciously to the back side of the summit. Other than a narrow strip of bark running up one side, the twisted torso and limbs were all but denuded, the exposed wood blanched white and polished smooth and hard as stone by the elements. Thomas carved his initials and the date into the trunk with his knife.

Having left his mark, he wanted something of the place to take with him. Over the past days, he had noticed a long thin vein of reddish quartz, not more than a few inches wide, cutting diagonally across the summit like a scar, exposed between the upended layers of porphyritic strata. Scattered pieces of the quartz had broken off at the surface. He chose one the size of a dove’s egg and put it in his pocket.

He was ready to rejoin civilization. There were things he needed to do before he could return to the valley….

*****

Read more…

Featured

A Reaction to Beauty

The spirit of the angeli del fango ~

The Mud Angels

Confronted with something beautiful, an ache deep inside springs up and begs me to ask myself: “Have you done your part in making the world more beautiful? Have you repaid the universe for all the beauty and meaning it has offered you? Have you done enough? Can love alone settle your debts?”

The world has given me endless beautiful things. What have I done to deserve it? What can I do now to deserve it? I know logically that perhaps there’s nothing I should, or can, do. But when something causes such a wealth of emotions, it is hard to just sit there.

This can be seen in any emotion. Beg yourself not to cry when you’re truly sad, not to laugh when you’re truly joyous, not to yell when you’re truly angry. It is impossible. I feel the same when I experience true beauty. But there is no obvious…

View original post 429 more words

At Last

FeaturedAt Last

 

*****

It matters not which border crossed,
From desert dry or tempest tossed,
To waves of grain and freedom’s sigh, 
From womb’s dark hold to first-light’s cry—
You’re here, you’re here, at last.

It matters not what age you came,
Eight months or eighty years the same,
What color skin your parents’ face,
What faith from which they fled to grace—
You’re here, you’re here, at last.

Now eye to eye, measuring minds,
The hopeful search for justice finds
No honest man can blindly curse
One more like he in chorus and verse
Than different—yes, in essence we
Are species same, from nose to knee—
As equals born with equal right
To live and work and dream the night
Where best we may, and here you are,
Your place of birth be near or far,
Your life and loves as dear to you
As mine to me—and this is true:
As innocent till guilty proved,
Against you none are justly moved.

So come, let’s toast to freedom’s song,
And may someday you pass along—
It matters not which border crossed,
To nurse’s hands or shoreline lost—
You’re here, you’re here, at last.

~ Quent Cordair

*  *  *  * *
“At Last” is from the My Kingdom collection of poems, short fiction, and short plays for stage and screen, in paperback and Kindle edtions @ amazon.com/dp/B07SVGNQG6

For more of my published fiction ~ short stories, poetry, novels, stage and film scripts, available in ebook, paperback and audiobook ~ please visit my Amazon page. Thank you!

Check out my Q & A with The Fussy Librarian ~ ~  https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/newswire/for-readers/2018/06/22/author-qa-quent-cordair

Copyright 2018, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

My Kingdom

FeaturedMy Kingdom

My kingdom has no subjects,
No serfs, their backs to bear
The weight of lives of others;
None here are forced to share.

A kingdom filled with kings and queens,
Their castles great and small,
With princes blue, princesses true,
Good dogs to guard them all.

A kingdom built with brains and brawn,
Each year less brawn than brains;
We sow and reap, invent machines
That till the fertile plains.

We sail and dream, we wing the skies,
Beguile with arts refined;
We trade for riches far and near,
Hold forth in courts of mind.

We mine and dine, automatize
The tasks that bore to tears;
Our engineers, second to none,
Lean back and toast to cheers.

Our six policemen quite suffice;
We’ve seven hard Marines
And thirteen jets with bombs so smart
That no one intervenes.

We welcome independent souls,
No honest man we shun—
Our markets thrive on goods well made,
On services well done.

Be immigrant or passing guest,
As equals all we greet;
New buyers all, new sellers some,
New friends and loves to meet.

My kingdom has no subjects,
No serfs, their backs to bear
The weight of lives of others—
Come join us if you dare.

~ Quent Cordair

 

*  *  *  * *
For more of my published fiction ~ short stories, poetry, novels, stage and film scripts, available in ebook, paperback and audiobook ~ please visit my Amazon page. Thank you!

Check out The Fussy Librarian’s Q & A with me ~  https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/newswire/for-readers/2018/06/22/author-qa-quent-cordair

Copyright 2018, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

For this Mothers Day, an excerpt ~

FeaturedFor this Mothers Day, an excerpt ~

For this Mothers Day, I offer an excerpt from the current draft for IDOLATRY, Part III, The Fruit of the Tree (working title):

The lines had shuffled forward. Paige found herself standing next to the mother. The baby, bundled in her arms, had settled and calmed. He was so beautiful, so right, his blue eyes as clear and complete as little planets, encircled with rays of long blond lashes. His lips were ripe petals, formed for ready suckling. His ivory skin was of the most translucent, softest white marble imaginable, a glowing blush in the cheeks only the most accomplished painter might capture. Every little hillock and vale of his little body’s topography, every rise and fall, every curve and round—it was all mere suggestion of the man to come, all mere promise, and yet, here he was, already present, already real. And flawless. To mothers everywhere, in all times, all but the most unfortunate babies are perfection, but Paige simply couldn’t imagine any woman wanting anything more or less than what this woman held in arms—a complete little world in himself, needing and wanting nothing more, lacking nothing, being everything. There was nothing to add, nothing to subtract, nothing to change. This—this perfect little thing should be untouchable, undefilable, always and forever. How could anything on earth or in heaven be more perfect and whole, in and unto itself? If only it could remain so, if only he might never come to know a moment of sorrow, of pain, of evil, of disappointment. Paige wanted to draw a circle of protection around him, an impenetrable halo of sacredness, to suspend time.

She was blinking away a welling wetness in her eyes. An ache had come to her heart, her stomach: she herself would never have that. She would never have what this woman had. She had never really even wanted it until now, never wanted a child, but at this moment, she found herself wanting it more than anything in the world. How could any woman not?

She looked up to find the mother watching her. Her eyes understood. Woman to woman, the one knew the other’s ache, recognizing the depth of the longing in a woman-child who had lost her own mother, a daughter who wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to be a mother herself.

The mother glanced down at her child, and back up to Paige. Wordlessly, she asked the question.

Paige could only nod, blinking back tears, stunned at the kindness of the offering, a place inside her heart breaking open.

As she accepted the baby, her arms naturally, gently formed around him. It felt so right. She felt her entire body warm with joy. He was so small, so light. She gazed into the blue orbs, perfect worlds of their own, as they gazed back into hers. She marveled the beauty of the little face in all its wondrous glory. He was staring back into a face that was new to him, too, seemingly as fascinated with her as she with him. Her rocking sway, the gentle bounce, had started without her realizing or intending it. She began humming a melody. Her lullaby. Skye’s lullaby….

*****

Parts I & II of Idolatry are available in ebook, paperback and audiobook on Amazon….

Martin Eichinger’s Lullaby

available in limited-edition through

Quent Cordair Fine Art in Napa, CA

www.cordair.com

(707) 255-2242

The real meaning of Earth Day

FeaturedThe real meaning of Earth Day

For this Earth Day, a brief passage from Chapter 3 of A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry:

*****
The sun had risen high. The breeze was warm on their faces. Ian produced a bottle of chilled white wine and two glasses, removed the cork, and poured. He raised a toast.

“To another day in paradise.”

She touched her glass to his. They drank, the sunbeams reflecting off the wine and the glasses, dancing across their faces, splashing in their eyes. The wine was crisp, light and good.

“Paradise . . .” she mused aloud.

He had used the word without a trace of sarcasm or irony. The dry ruins beneath their feet, the surrounding hills, and the alkali flats were predominantly in chalky browns, yellows and whites. The sparse native vegetation was all of the scrubby, hardier varieties, evolved over the eons to survive the long droughts, blazing summers and freezing winters of the high desert. From the reservoir, her eye followed the river, the presumable source of all things green in the valley proper. There were bends in the river’s line, but other segments were unwaveringly straight – it wasn’t a natural river at all, but a manmade canal.

“Paradise – ” She smiled at the epiphany – “just add water.”

Ian had laid out an offering of cheese, olives, fruit, and finger sandwiches. “When the first explorers came through this way,” he said, pausing to sample a strawberry, “the valley was a desolate wasteland. There was hardly a reason to even note it on the maps. Most of the early settlers passed north of here, following the Humboldt River west. The few who detoured this far south saw little if anything to recommend the valley – they barely paused on their way to California.”

Paige watched his eyes. They were shaded by the brim of his cowboy hat, following the lay of the land with an easy acceptance and steady intent. His body was relaxed, at one with the place, as if he too had sprouted from the earth here, watered and grown by the river that was a canal. She followed his gaze, trying to imagine the unwelcoming, harsh emptiness that the valley must have been.

“But one man came,” he said, “and that man stood alone on the top of this hill, above where we are now. He envisioned a paradise in this place – and proceeded to make it so.”

There was solemnity in his voice. Paige set her glass quietly on the stone. “Do tell. . . .” she urged.

He glanced at her, studying her in the same steady way he studied the land. Adjusting his hat, he took a bite of an olive, followed it with a sip of wine, and looked out to the horizon and beyond.

“At the time, that man wasn’t even a man yet – ” he said, letting the story begin – “but a boy.”

***

Enjoy the acclaimed IDOLATRY series in paperback, audiobook, and ebook ~ https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072HTC1FV

 

Plato’s children

FeaturedPlato’s children

ICE and the FDA are sister organizations, existing on the same plane, born of the same philosopher-king father and nanny-state mother. Both agencies were brought into existence on the same principle, to serve the same end: to stand between the individual and a class of things the individual might value, on grounds that only the government can properly judge whether the thing is good or harmful for the individual. Both agencies employ the same means. Through both organizations the government is to be the tester, the judge, the maker of standards, the sole decider as to the acceptability and appropriateness of the thing in question.

ICE stands between the individual and the immigrant, on behalf of the collective. The FDA stands between the individual and a drug or food, on behalf of the collective. The value to the individual of the thing in question can only be of secondary importance to the safety and welfare of the collective — and it is the collective that should decide what the individual may interact with and what he may not. The object in question is held as guilty until proven innocent, deemed unacceptable and illegal until tested, vetted, and shunted through the line of the government’s screens and the bureaucrats’ in-boxes, to be stamped as safe and acceptable, perhaps, but only as weighed against arbitrarily set governmental standards, and only after the arbitrarily established process has been exhausted. If individuals suffer or die in the meantime, this is of secondary concern to the safety and “good” of the collective.

This is preventative regulation, and it stands in stark contrast to rights-protective law. Preventative regulation violates the individual’s right to use his own mind as the sole judge of what is good for him and what is not. Proper rights-protective law goes after rights violators and rights violators only – and strictly contingent on objective evidence. Where there is objective evidence that a country, organization, or individual has violated the citizen’s individual rights or is threatening to violate the citizen’s rights, it is the proper role of government to act on the individual’s behalf against the threat.

Properly, government does not deem a medicine as dangerous until proven safe. It does not deem a surgeon born in India as dangerous until proven safe. It does not deem a field worker born in Mexico as dangerous until proven safe. It does not deem a friend, a lover, a fiancée, a spouse, an au pair, a student, an employee, or a potential business partner born elsewhere as dangerous until proven safe. It does not come between the individual and the product or person the individual has decided, by his own judgment, to value and to interact with. It does not use force to violate the individual’s own reason, his own judgment, his own choice as to what or who is good for him and what or who is not. It does not deem a potential cure for influenza or cancer or canker sores as dangerous until proven safe. It does not regulate opioids or ophthalmologists or Omanis.

“The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.” ~ Galt’s speech, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

Featured

2018 Cordair Arts and Wine Weekend

July 6 & 7, 2018

Quent Cordair Fine Art

1301 First Street, Napa, California

Join us FRIDAY JULY 6th & SATURDAY JULY 7th for a weekend of art, wine, music, drama, art history, music theory and more! 

Curtain with text

Reserve your seat for only $25 total cost. Call the gallery today. 707-255-2242

~ PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE ~

FRIDAY EVENING, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Art, Wine & Music Reception

A reception in the gallery, with excellent wine, splendid art, and live music on the grand piano by a platinum-award winning composer. 

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We are pleased and honored to announce that platinum-award winning composer/music producer Mars Lasar will be joining us at the grand piano Friday evening.

Mars Lasar

Born in Germany, raised in Australia, Mars Lasar is a prolific keyboardist and composer. Mars started playing piano at 11 years old, and over a few years of extensive classical and jazz training, he rapidly became drawn to all kinds of music. At 14, Mars began composing, recording and publishing his own music professionally.

 

 

The lovely and talented Tori Anna Sophia, Napa Valley singer/songwriter, American Idol contestant, is scheduled to join us to share a sampling from her Doris Day repertoire.  Tori Anna was the top female finisher in Michael Feinstein’s Great American Songbook Highschool Vocal competition in 2012.

 

Our friends from Capp Heritage Vineyards will be offering complimentary tastings Friday evening for our guests.  ~

 

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SATURDAY 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Turn-of-the-Century Artist-Entrepreneurs: Saint Gaudens, MacMonnies, Parrish

Dianne Durante

Dianne Durante, PhD

“In the late 19th and early 20th century, the most capitalistic era in American history, it was considered normal that the immense popularity of Augustus Saint Gaudens, Frederick MacMonnies and Maxfield Parrish should earn them substantial wealth. MacMonnies’ annual income in the mid-1890s reputedly reached $300,000 (about $7.5 million today). In 1925, one of every four American homes had a print of Maxfield Parrish’s Daybreak.

“This lecture gives a brief overview of the life and notable works of Saint Gaudens, MacMonnies and Parrish, within the historical, political, economic and philosophical framework of the period between the Civil War and World War I. If you enjoy hearing about intelligent, hard-working, innovative, highly skilled and profit-minded men making piles of money by creating beautiful works of art, then this lecture is for you.”

Dianne Durante, PhD in Classical Philology, is an art historian, independent researcher, freelance writer, lecturer, and tour guide.

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SATURDAY 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Music and the American Left ~ A Study in Subterfuge

Stephen Siek

Stephen Siek

“In 1943, Ayn Rand exposed the intensity with which the American Left sought to inject socialist propaganda into literature and film by observing, ‘In the last ten years, the Reds have done a good job of building up literary celebrities for their own purposes. … These celebrities then appear on Red committees, endorse Red causes, build up other Red names, and the racket works as the radicals’ best propaganda method. … Look how savagely they have defended the art field from all intrusions of conservatives.  They know its value.’ But literature was not the only fine art which American leftists (supported spiritually, and often financially, by the Soviet Union) conspired to dominate, and the full story of how socialists worked from behind the scenes throughout the twentieth century to transform American classical music into an instrument of communist propaganda has never been told. In this presentation, the covert methods employed by statists to control this country’s concert artists, symphonies, opera, and even ballet companies will be explored with reference to specific case studies. Images and recorded excerpts will also be used to help illustrate the power of the philosophic ideas that govern the marketing of art—and their inevitable political consequences.”

Stephen Siek is a pianist, musicologist, and piano historian; former professor of music at Wittenberg University; author of England’s Piano Sage: The Life and Teachings of Tobias Matthay and A Dictionary for the Modern Pianist.

 

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SATURDAY 3:00-4:30 p.m.

An Introduction and Discussion: What Music Is and Does

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David Berry

David Berry

Based on the speaker’s monograph, which includes essays inspired by Objectivism on music. A brief overview of a theory of music esthetics, with time for interaction with the audience on issues of interest.

David Berry is the Professor of Music History, Theory and Composition at the School of the Arts/Petrie School of Music, Converse College

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SATURDAY 7 p.m.

Wine Tasting & Education with winemaker Chris Daniel 

Learn the nuances of wine tasting with a winemaker who makes Viognier, Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Syrah.

Smell, swirl, taste, and ask questions.

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SATURDAY 7:45 p.m.

“An Uncomfortable Silence”

A short play written by Quent Cordair, performed by Hunter Schaufel & Elizabeth Brazil. 

Elizabeth Brazil

Elizabeth Brazil is an 18 year old singer, songwriter, and actress from Vacaville, California. She has been in over 15 productions at her Alma mater, Justin-Siena High school. Her favorite roll was Miss Adelaide in her senior year production of Guys and Dolls. She plans on pursuing her Broadway dreams in the fall and will be attending Marymount Manhattan College in the heart of New York City, New York.

 

Hunter Schaufel

Hunter Schaufel is a dedicated actor and recent graduate of Justin-Siena High School, where he studied and performed under the direction of James Thomas Bailey and vocal director Vivian McLaughlin. He has benefited, additionally, from five years of vocal instruction under Connie Lisec and foundational instruction in dance under choreographer and teacher Lisa Clark Schmeling. He recently received top marks in his acting exam administered by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Hunter looks forward to pursuing a career in product design and engineering, and is excited to begin classes as an undergraduate in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s mechanical engineering program in the fall.

 

SATURDAY 8:00 p.m.

A Program of Russian, German & American music

Stephen Siek, piano

Thomas Shoebotham, cello

David Berry, Composer & Commentator

Thomas Shoebotham

American conductor and cellist Thomas Shoebotham performs the Bach Suite for Solo Cello #1. Equally at home on the concert stage and in the opera and ballet pit,  Thomas Shoebotham conducts frequently with professional, community, and youth ensembles, collaborating with notable singers, dancers, and instrumentalists to bring “rousing, colorful” presentations to a variety of audiences.

 

 

Stephen Siek performs works for piano by Borodin, Scriabin, Reinagle, and a reprise of David Berry’s “Cordair Gallery” Suite, inspired by art in the gallery, first performed on the 2008 QCFA Arts Cruise.

 

Cordair Gallery: Suite for Piano by S. David Berry

Touching the Surface (Tom Seirak)
Henry’s Night Out (Quent Cordair)
Prometheus (Danielle Anjou)
Young Builder (Bryan Larsen)
Gaia’s Breath (Martin Eichinger)
The Anchorage (Bryan Larsen)

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SUNDAY 10 a.m.
Mimosas, coffee, delectable treats, and of course art!

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~ PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE ~

Napa Lodging: A special discount has been arranged at the beautiful new Archer Hotel located across the street from the gallery.  Find availability and rates at https://archerhotel.com/napa/book/quent-cordair-fine-art

Additional lodging can be found that weekend starting at approximately $160 per night (at the time of this post) at other area hotels and bed and breakfasts. Groups of friends might consider an AirBnB home rental.

Attendees will receive goodie bags filled with local coupons, dining information, and sightseeing options.

Let us know if you would like to explore Napa while you are here and we can connect you with delicious wine-tasting opportunities at some of our favorite places.

Check back for additional program updates, lodging, dining and sightseeing suggestions.

For more information call Linda Cordair at 707-255-2242 or visit our event Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/172009640082042/.

Visit www.cordair.com to explore our award-winning art gallery.

“Fake news”

Featured“Fake news”

About “fake” news: Never surrender the concepts of true and false. Words are important. How we use words is important. When someone mounts a campaign to conflate false with fake, his goal is to conflate true with real. When you surrender false for fake, you surrender true for real, and when you’ve surrendered true and false—when you’ve accepted real versus fake as the standard—he has you where he wants you, for then he needs only your acceptance of what he asserts as real, with asserted reality having become more important than truth, with accepted reality becoming what is asserted.

Never surrender true and false, if you value being able to identify what’s truly real, if you don’t want to fall for the false reality of a fake.

We allow conceptual lines to be blurred, to be erased, to be forgotten, at our peril. Beware the conceptual sleight of hand, the misdirection — the con artist’s tool. When someone assiduously avoids using the terms ‘true’ and ‘false’, and dislikes one of them so much that he works to replace it with a different term at every opportunity, ask yourself why that might be.

Also relevant: Identifying a second-hander ~ https://www.facebook.com/quent.cordair/posts/1409578702498677

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My novels, short stories, poetry, and plays are available on Amazon…. Thanks so much for reading and for all your comments and reviews ~

Enabling

FeaturedEnabling

You probably know what an enabler is. The term is all too familiar to those who have been in therapy or counseling for their role in a co-dependent relationship, for their role in enabling the destructive behavior of an addictive and/or abusive loved one.

An enabler forgives, excuses, evades, rationalizes, being too fearful of what might be lost, too dependent on the relationship with the abuser to hold him fully and adequately accountable and responsible for his destructive actions. And so the enabler continues to support the abuser in a seemingly inescapable cycle, enabling the cycle of abuse, excuse, apology, the improved behavior until the worse behavior comes around again. The co-dependency and enabling is unfortunately common in relationships with abusive children, spouses, significant others, friends, parents.

Some exhibit a similar psychology in relation to what they believe to be their “heavenly father,” a parental figure praised and worshipped for whatever occasional joy, security, and affection he might provide – while whatever grief, loss, sickness and horror he causes or allows is suffered and endured. Any positive is praised and treasured, while all negatives are forgiven, overlooked, excused, rationalized away. Someone who is psychologically and emotionally dependent on such a parental figure believes he cannot afford to make the parent angry, cannot afford to reject the parent, must defend the parent, feeling utterly dependent on the parent for love and life, no matter how abusive or neglectful, no matter how deaf to the child’s cries the parent may be. In such a relationship, one endures all, justifies all, for the sake of the occasional demonstration of what is interpreted as love and affection, for the occasional “good day” between all the bad, for the parent’s protection, for the parental security. But it is a relationship of utter dependency.

The same psychology and behavior is exhibited by many towards a religious leader, an employer, a führer, a king – a president. The only full and lasting cure is independence: intellectual independence, physical independence, psychological independence, emotional independence. Until independence is fully achieved, the bruising will continue, the enabler finding it necessary to keep the makeup and excuses handy while hoping to keep the abuser sufficiently mollified and distracted, hoping that the bad never becomes worse, while the abuser never lets the enabler quite forget, by how he treats or threatens to treat others, how much worse it could be.

***

My novels, short stories, poetry, and plays are available on Amazon…. Thanks for reading, and for your comments and reviews ~

New year, same resolve, same banner

FeaturedNew year, same resolve, same banner
New year, same resolve, same banner.
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A Call to Stand
 
One man at war with Man’s deprecation
Calls out to all men to seek no salvation,
To pick themselves up from self-immolation,
To turn from the gods of their own creation,
To stand up and face the day —
To reclaim their birthright to say —
I am that I am, before nothing I kneel;
I mastered the fire, invented the wheel;
I cast the bells true and set them to peal;
I am Man, for whom all else is clay —
I am Man. I make my own way.
***
My fiction is here.
My paintings are here.
My art gallery is here.

And Again the Angels

FeaturedAnd Again the Angels

Again they called to heaven
When around them rose a hell;
Again the angels came from earth
In answer to the bell.
While flesh and blood fought smoke and flame
And kept the black line manned,
Their thanks went to the god by whose
Own breath the fires were fanned.

 

***

The original “Again the Angels” is here …

For more of my published fiction — shorts, poetry, novels & scripts, available in ebook, paperback and audiobook — please visit my Amazon page.

Individualism

FeaturedIndividualism

A good blog post by the Hyacinth Girl, in which I’m quoted. It opens,

“Scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, I came across this picture posted by the History in Pictures account. It’s a box of wedding rings found by liberators at a concentration camp in 1945. Each ring belonged to a person, and each person disappeared into the camps….”

http://www.thehyacinthgrrrl.com/2017/12/individualism.html

 

None more wondrous or impressive . . .

FeaturedNone more wondrous or impressive . . .

Never has there been a god or goddess more wondrous or impressive than the wondrous and impressive beings after whom they were modeled. Man is quite incapable, thank goodness, of inventing an entity more remarkable or exalted than himself. The gods are nothing more, nothing less, than creations molded from Man’s own characteristics, his own virtues and vices, his own qualities reconfigured and remodeled in effort to answer his own hopes, longings, fears, and uncertainties. The gods are, at best, reflections of Man’s own essence, distillations of his own actuality, glorifications of his own potential. At the end of the creative day, however, though he may fervently wish or believe otherwise, no creation of Man can be Man’s master. Though the creator may bow and worship the creation, the creation is not, and could never be, the creator’s superior. The creation can be nothing more than the creator’s servant, a means to his end. If the creator chooses to kneel before his creation, he is free to do so, but he cannot blame the creation for staring back at him in mute wonder.

~ Quent Cordair, on Idolatry

The Idolatry story opens in the twilight of the Roman Empire. As the darkening forces of mysticism descend on Western Civilization, the daughter of itinerant traders is falling fast for a local boy—the apprentice and adopted son of a sculptor. The old master, concerned for the boy’s future, recalls his years as a younger man in bustling Alexandria, where he had found the love of his life before having to flee the threat of religious persecution. Now, having finally rebuilt his life and career in a village far away, an enemy from the past reappears, threatening all he holds dear….

Parts I & II of Idolatry, *Genesis* and *A New Eden*, are now available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook editions on Amazon. Part III is being written.

 

The Dark Deeds of Night

FeaturedThe Dark Deeds of Night

The rain has come. The rain stopped before. It may stop again. It may not. Until the glooming wetness passes, it will weigh upon me like sackcloth as I wait here at the portal for the return of the bright and warming god. For what else can one do but show a constant and enduring faith? If a small rodent appears, I will sacrifice it so that the sun will reappear more quickly. The sun is pleased by offerings of dead rodents, a truth my ancestors have known and passed down through the ages. Until a worthy sacrifice appears, the emptiness in my soul may be assuaged now and again with communion from the human-priest’s hand, morsels of sustaining manna for which I will cry out when he passes, shuffling by, he and his pale assurances of sunny morrows and an endless cycle of seasons. But what can he and his kind know of the sacrifices required of me and my kind to keep it all turning, of the taking of life necessary for life’s return? Dutifully, quietly, I will do again what my kind have always done, knowing that the human-priests will raise their faces to the sun when the sun comes again, giving no thought or thanks to those willing to do the dark deeds of night that make the day possible. Yes, the sun will come again. Of this I will make sure. ~ Le Chat

Alive

FeaturedAlive

At our local bar, sitting next to two 70-somethings who’ve met here by happenstance. He was here when we came in, wears a medical bracelet. The seat next to him is the only seat available to her. And so she sits. He’s having a glass of wine. She orders a beer. It would be rude not to introduce themselves. They ask the questions, get to know each other. Only bits and pieces of the conversation can be heard, but the emotional undertones are timeless. He used to be in a band? What instrument? Saxophone? Her husband used to play! He taught her, but she was never very good…. Heart rates rise as hopes rise. The cautious, cautious optimism. By the time he leaves, she’s revealed where and when he might run into her again. When he walks out the door, his back is a little straighter, head a little higher. She takes her time, finishes her beer.

***

Thank you!

FeaturedThank you!

Thanks so much for each and every review! “A screenplay jihadists will hate and civilized people will love…. Set in Chicago during the holiday season, the story involves a conflict between Husam, a young Muslim man who takes Islam seriously, and his younger brother Jasim. The conflict escalates after Husam is handed a heavy bag by a bearded man and gets on a bus heading downtown…. How is the conflict resolved? In an immensely satisfying way—as fans of Cordair’s work would expect.” — Daniel Wahl, The Objective Standard.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R8QP8NI

Eclipsed

FeaturedEclipsed

Eclipsed

Their dance was interrupted
As the handmaid slipped between,
With silent glide, as was her way,
Her creases pressed and clean—
“Pray suffer but a moment, ma’am,
Then I’ll be on my way;
You’ll have him back for seven years
Through each and every day.”
With graceful curiosity
The wife let go his hand
And marveled as his aura’s light
Around the maid did band.
Her blackness moved against his white,
The stars and planets awed,
Till wife in wondering twilight thought
Her wisdom might be flawed.
But promise made the maid did keep,
Her turn but for a spell;
A flash of brilliant wedding ring
Told Earth that all was well.

***
Copyright 2017, Quent Cordair.

I used to live in Charlottesville

FeaturedI used to live in Charlottesville

I used to live in Charlottesville. Today I’m reminded of this: “All of humanity was reforming into packs, each pack for protection against the others, with the barking and baying growing louder as the collectives circled, sizing each other up. Disassociated individuals were viewed warily, with suspicion, branded as a danger. If you aren’t for us, you must be against us. Choose! In the press and on social media, behind the slanted headlines and sniping innuendo, the snapping and snarling were intensifying, the pretense of civility crumbling as the packs grew and merged, the smaller groups absorbed into the larger. The collectives were circling and coalescing, testing and reaffirming loyalties, choosing leaders, sharpening claws, baring teeth. Self-loathing and fear were turned and projected outward. Homo sapiens was becoming increasingly less sapiens, devolving, seemingly doomed to another round of sub-civilized, tribalistic brutality. How dark would the next darkness be? How long would it last? How red would run the streets? How unexpected the particular details, the extent of the carnage?”

~ from Chapter 15 of A New Eden, Part II of IDOLATRY, from a darker moment of Professor Harris Grant’s thoughts as he sits on the edge of the cliff overlooking Aurum Valley.

A Call to Stand

FeaturedA Call to Stand

A Call to Stand

One man at war with Man’s deprecation
Calls out to all men to seek no salvation,
To pick themselves up from self-immolation,
To turn from the gods of their own creation,
To stand up and face the day—
To reclaim their birthright to say—
I am that I am, before nothing I kneel;
I mastered the fire, invented the wheel;
I cast the bells true and set them to peal;
I am Man, for whom all else is clay—
I am Man. I make my own way.

 

~ Quent Cordair

 

For Memorial Day, a short story

FeaturedFor Memorial Day, a short story

The Sculpture That Won the War

by Quent Cordair

From a letter to a sculptor
Sept 27, 2001

From the Lunch Break collection

ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a sculptor who had only the face to finish of a magnificent statue, his masterpiece to date. Frustrated by his limitations and increasingly dissatisfied with his efforts to bring into existence the perfection in his mind’s eye, his progress on the artwork had foundered and stalled. His workshop had fallen silent. Indeed, as the days and weeks and months drifted on, the statue was in danger of never being finished at all.

But on a crystal-clear morning, a morning seemingly as peaceful as any other in living memory, a shocking event occurred: the sculptor’s country came under attack. It was a morning of sudden and unexpected terror, of cold-blooded murder that left thousands dead and the populace reeling.

Over the next days and weeks, a miasma of insecurity and anxiety settled over the land, ubiquitous and inescapable, visible on the faces of the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the strong and the weak, the eminent and the obscure. Their sense of wellbeing had vanished overnight; their paradigm had shifted, ostensibly forever. In response to the attack, some wanted to stand and fight; others wanted to kneel and plead; most wandered through their hours fearful and confused, unsure of what to do. While the government drafted plans for war, the citizenry went about their daily routines as well as they were able, anxious for what the fractured future might bring for themselves and for their loved ones, wanting to do something, anything, to combat the pervasive sense of helplessness, yet uncertain of what, if anything, could be done.

The sculptor knew that his country was in greater need than ever of emotional fuel, and he knew what could help provide it. His country was fighting for her life—she needed vision and inspiration to survive, to defend herself, to remember what she had once been, to conquer, to rebuild, to thrive once again. With renewed vigor and determination, he threw his efforts into doing what he could do, contributing with what he did best. Days and nights, coffee and curses, dejection and perseverance, but finally—satisfaction, satisfaction that he had done what he could do, as well as he could do it.

Within a few weeks of the enemy’s strike, the sculptor sent his finished clay to the foundry; within a dozen weeks thereafter, the foundry delivered the finished bronze to the gallery; the gallery, in turn, delivered the artwork to the client who had commissioned it.

The delivery brought in the balance of payment to the gallery which, due to the widespread economic uncertainties subsequent to the attack, was on the brink of closing for lack of sales. The buyer, upon receiving the sculpture, was so delighted with the finished work that he was motivated to place yet another significant commission with the gallery, and the deposit toward the new commission kept the gallery open for a few precious months more. Over that period, the economy stabilized sufficiently that regular purchases began to trickle in again, just enough that the gallery would never again be quite so close to failing.

In the spring after the sculpture was completed and delivered, an eight-year old girl was passing by the gallery with two of her friends. Upon catching a glimpse of the art on display in the window she drew her friends inside, and as they browsed the cornucopia of treasures within, the girl stopped before a lovely figure, a bronze sculpture patined in white. It was a smaller casting of the sculptor’s larger masterpiece. She fell in love with it, and she was all the more enchanted and delighted when she discovered, upon reading the tag at the artwork’s base, that she shared the sculpture’s name. She could hardly afford the sculpture itself, of course, but she spotted a photographed image of the piece framed and hanging on the wall nearby. It too was available for purchase. She checked the price—she couldn’t afford the photograph either. But she did have five dollars. She approached the gallery manager to offer what she had, wondering, hoping. The manager dug through her filing cabinet and found, from a recent mailing campaign, a postcard that featured an image of the sculpture. She gave it to the girl, smilingly, without charge. The girl went home and slipped the postcard into the edge of the mirror on her bedroom wall.

*    *    *

A young pilot cruised silently through the cold night sky, the diamond dust of stars twinkling above. The blanket of clouds below stretched ahead toward a rumpling rise in the distance, marking the boundary of mountainous terrain beneath. His sortie consisted only of himself and his wingman, in two stealth fighters. According to the screen in front of him, they had just crossed the border into enemy territory. It wouldn’t be long now.

The mountains ahead bristled with anti-aircraft batteries.

War had been declared on those who had supported the terrorists and their atrocious acts. The ground war was proving more difficult than anticipated, with the enemy forces scurrying back into the crevices and caves of the mountains at the slightest provocation. The enemy’s military leader, the very swine who had devised and overseen the terrorist attack, was proving elusive, but a disillusioned member of his inner circle had been susceptible to bribing, and the leader’s location had been leaked. The caves in which he was thought to be hiding and their surroundings had been bombed incessantly over the past days, and on this evening, an intelligence satellite had picked up a small convoy attempting to leave the area under the cover of darkness. A forward spotter on the ground confirmed that it was indeed the enemy leader, who could disappear into another system of caves within minutes or hours.

The jets had been scrambled immediately, and now the pair were within a short thirty miles of their target. They rolled onto their sides and slipped like diving nighthawks through the clouds and to the height of the peaks before turning into a craggy-walled valley. By design, the cutting-edge craft were nearly undetectable by radar, but a watchful enemy soldier, at first spooked by the two shadows streaking silently above, frantically radioed ahead a warning. Anti-aircraft fire began tracing upwards, trying to catch the fleeting apparitions. The pilots dropped lower so as not to offer a silhouette against the night sky. Without warning, a missile from below caught the wingman’s craft, and it erupted into a comet of flame, dropping away without so much as a sound from the pilot’s radio.

The young pilot who remained fought to stay focused. All of his reflexes wanted to pull the stick back and shoot straight up to the sky, to rise above the fiery tracings that would surely find him too at any moment, to live to fight another day.

Deep in the canyon, radio reception was intermittent and broken. He might have heard his commander’s order to pull up and out, but he might not have heard it either. If he climbed, he might be able get a fair shot at the convoy from altitude—if he survived the incoming fire to which the altitude would expose him—but it was the enemy leader himself, the black heart and soul of the enemy forces, who was traveling in that convoy. When would there be another chance if the pilot missed or if he were shot down before being able to make another attempt? How long might the war drag on if the leader escaped? The images that had been seared into his memory on that accursed morning came again—the hijacked airliners crashing into the skyscrapers, the innocents plunging from the heights to their deaths, the buildings collapsing, the vacant despair on the faces of the survivors.

He thought of the postcard in the breast pocket of his flight suit, of the delicately looped handwriting in violet pen on the postcard’s reverse, of the girl who had sent the accompanying letter. He switched off his radio. Steeling himself, he kicked the plane over on its side, banking hard around a canyon corner, flying lower yet, the bullets from small arms pinging into his craft’s underbelly.

The infrared radar confirmed the vehicles of the convoy on the road ahead, speeding toward a pass so narrow that even if he were on his side he wouldn’t be able to follow them in. He dropped lower, the dust from the road boiling in his wake. Either of the laser-guided bombs on board would get the job done, but he wouldn’t be able to gain enough elevation in time to guide one in on the first pass, and he wouldn’t be able to complete a second pass before the convoy scattered.

He hadn’t even met the girl. She was a student in a class of fourth graders that had adopted his unit. They had sent a package of homemade baked goods and letters. Her envelope had found its way onto his bunk just the evening before. The letter opened with the generically respectful “Dear Sir—” He recalled the words written on the back of the enclosed postcard and the tiny violet heart after the girl’s name. On the front of the postcard was the image of a sculpture, the embodiment of innocence and delight. It was the only mail he had received in weeks. It was enough.

“Okay, baby, this one’s for you. . . .”

He armed both of the bombs and aimed the nose of his black angel at the rear vehicle in the convoy ahead. In his final seconds, he thought of the target, of the enemy leader, and realizing something, he chuckled. With the fire of hell in his eyes, he said, “Live by the plane, die by the plane, mother f—”

*   *   *

On a cloudless morning in the thin mountain air, an American soldier walked through the scattered wreckage at the site of the strike. Pieces of wood, metal and clothing were scattered about the perimeter of the blackened gouge in the road, three hundred yards long. It would go down in history as the place where the head of the hydra was killed and the tide of war had been turned. The platoon was combing through the wreckage for any of what might remain of the leader’s papers and effects. Of the pilot’s body, they hadn’t been able to find anything, though small pieces of the plane were identifiable here and there. But the oddest scraps can survive such conflagrations: after the attack that had brought down the buildings and started the war, one of the terrorists’ passports had been found in the rubble below.

The soldier lifted a piece of twisted metal and noticed in the ashes beneath it a postcard, its edges curled and seared brown but otherwise unburned. On the front was the photo of a sculpture, an elegant figure in white, beckoning to be followed into a world of wonder and happiness. The soldier smiled. He turned the photo over and read: “Dear Sir, this is how I used to feel before the war. I hope I can feel this way again someday. Thank you for fighting for me. — Joy”

The soldier tucked the photo into his breast pocket and slung his rifle over his shoulder. Kicking aside a half-burned turban, he walked down the road and took in a chestful of clean air. For the first time in months, he allowed himself to think of home.

* * *
*

Copyright 2001, 2012, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

The Sculpture That Won the War is included in the Lunch BreakLB cover mockup 060212a 72 dpi collection of short stories and poems by Quent Cordair ~

In Lunch Break, adventure, suspense and romance rule the day as the protagonists pursue their ends with passion and perseverance. The collection includes stories originally published in *The Atlantean Press Review* and *ART Ideas.*

A billionaire struggling for hope searches the world for love…. A country girl with a rifle stands ready to deliver justice…. A former banker washes windows on the side of a skyscraper…. The daughter of a foreign official is lured into the heart of San Francisco…. The son of a wealthy divorcee helps recover her lost soul…. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack, a sculptor’s work inspires and uplifts…. A teacher pursues an elusive assassin…. A family man follows his own course in preparation for apocalypse….

“…well worth the price. If you haven’t read any of Quent’s stories yet, I almost envy you. I’m waiting eagerly for more.” – Dianne Durante, author of the *Forgotten Delights* series

“Could you read these during your lunch break? Yes. Will you want to? No. You won’t want to rush yourself. You’ll want to pour yourself a glass of wine, snuggle into your favorite chair, turn off your phone, and spend every luxurious minute that you can immersing yourself in these stories.” – Elizabeth O’Brien, author of *English Grammar Revolution*

“…it is fuel for the spirit; it is an affirmation of life and what is good. That he writes beautifully and imaginatively adds to the reading pleasure.” – Michael Wilkinson, Sculptor

Enjoy your own Lunch Break today!

***

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Don’t miss GENESIS, Part I of IDOLATRY “Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor.”   5-STARS — Alan Nitikman

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In the twilight of the Roman Empire, a sculptor struggles to keep an 800-year dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adoptive son. Part I of the *Idolatry* series, an epic story in five parts. Now available for Kindle, in paperback and on audiobook…

“It is extremely difficult to believe that this is a novella when you finish it. You feel like you’ve followed the entire burning course of an epic romance, the life of a young bright mind carelessly following a difficult road, and a dramatic plot against anything glorious. Cordair had a way of bringing tears to my eyes in his previously published short stories. He has a way of creating scenes of emotional wonder and then forcing you to linger on the emotion in sorrow or defiance or happiness. … Cordair leaves us with the feeling that any obstacle, any voice that says with any amount of force that we can’t be exactly what we want and know we ought to be, is too small to care about – and the consequences of ignoring such a voice can never be so bad.… Cordair’s craft is a triumphant inspiration, the kind a soul can yearn for more of in whatever part of the tale comes next.” 5 STARS — Joseph Hampel

Genesis is now available for Kindle, in paperback, and on audiobook on Amazon here… 

Manchester

FeaturedManchester

Again comes the cry, again comes the mourn,
Clutched fingers in hair over flowers forlorn;
Candles all lit till the night wetly glows,
Coffins wrapped neatly in black satin bows.

Shadows beg mercy where mercy’s unknown,
Prayers and peace offerings all fruitlessly sown,
The desperately hoping more love will suffice
For those taking no less than blood sacrifice.

There’s left but one answer to those who love death,
Whose sword demands kneeling until the last breath,
Those blinded to reason, faith shrouding their eyes
Till torn from their skulls, their creed’s final prize.

There’s left but one choice, for those who love life,
In answer to those sworn to murder and strife:
When faith-deafened minds every argument shun,
When no word can turn what no logic has won,
When pleas have been met every time with a gun—
Swift granting of death is the deed sooner done.

For the Woman Who Has Everything

FeaturedFor the Woman Who Has Everything

Sarah woke to silence. Thin lines of moonlight lay in diagonals across the floor. She listened for awhile. The only sound was the soft rustle of her hair against the pillow.

She slid her legs from beneath the layers of blankets and let her feet touch the chill of the hardwood floor. As she walked, a line of moonlight slipped around one ankle, then the other, ascending, scanning and measuring her body in strict undulations. At the west window the moon caught her fully, a slender white animal beneath the new winter’s sky.

To the north the terraced lawns twinkled with frost as from a sprinkling of ground glass. To the south the meadow’s tall grasses were broken, the stalks strewn like fallen soldiers, the stumps standing like nails on the hills. Below and before her lay the expansive gardens, where the moonlight was caught in webs of shadow beneath the bare rose bushes and in chains of diamonds beneath the arched trellises. Beyond the gardens the shadows converged in venous networks that covered the forest floor and stretched down to the lake. The black water held a solitary, struggling prisoner, the twin sister of a star above. Beyond the circle of the horizon lay the borders of the estate. Within, the only movement, the only sound, the only life was the faint beating of Sarah’s heart.

She wrapped herself in her robe and stepped into her slippers. The bed hardly looked slept in. In the long hall, the moonlight floated in slanting shafts from the skylights to oblique rectangles on the wall. It was still her habit to pause at each of the children’s rooms. In Kelly’s, the moonlight glinted from a fleet-footed Mercury atop one of the running trophies. The stuffed animals waited patiently on the bed. Kelly was doing well in law school, her holiday visits were rare. In Paul’s room, his model airplane hung in a banking climb above the darkened computer. Paul was piloting his own plane now from one development project to the next. The last Sarah had heard, he was somewhere in Argentina. In Jonathan’s room, his first sculpture, a lovely nude, reclined on the dresser as comfortably as the day he had placed her there. He had been so proud of that first effort, and rightly so. Jonathan lived in the city now with his wife and two young children, adjacent to his new studio. They hadn’t been out to see her in a while. Sarah had hinted that perhaps she might come in to the city for a visit this weekend, but Jonathan had demurred, saying that he was trying to finish an important project before a deadline, that they would be out to see her when they could. Of course she understood.

At the end of the hall, the desk light in her office illuminated the neat stacks of papers. It was the one light in the house she left on at night. After toiling into the small hours beneath its glow, it was always there for her when she woke before dawn, the lightship guiding her back into its harbor. On her desk, the day’s priorities filled three pages of yellow pad. The computer screen blinked an urgent message from Hong Kong. A text from the Zurich office wanted her to call immediately, before the close of their business day. She found herself staring blankly at the pencil lying on the desk. A moment earlier, she had meant to pick it up, but her hand was still on the back of the chair. She switched off the light. Through the window, behind the silhouetted branches of a towering fir, the sky was shifting to a somber charcoal grey. She drifted on.

The library’s fireplace was empty and cold. The leather recliner loomed in the shadows. Sometimes she could still smell the burning oak mingled with the sweet scent of pipe tobacco, and the boys would be perched on the arms of their father’s chair, with little Kelly nestled into his lap, his golden baritone holding them in rapt attention as he read. Last year, Sarah had called the movers to take the chair away, but when they arrived, she wouldn’t let them touch it. The chair remained, the sole monument to the years. He had taken his books with him. She had tried filling the spaces on the shelves with figurines, vases and curios.

In the great room, her finger followed the edge of the grand piano. Across the floor where she had danced, she moved in a straight line, on through the foyer and into the dining room, hearing again the laughter of friends and the clink of champagne glasses as she passed the table. In the kitchen she circled the island, the home’s heart from which all had flowed and to which all had returned—had once returned. Its veined granite lay bare and clean. The surrounding chairs, which had been nicked and worn, were repainted and re-covered. She opened the French doors to the patio—the cold splashed her face and hands, spilling around her wrists and ankles, rising beneath her robe, around her bare legs.

The morning mist had settled over the back lawn, wetting the frost. Her daily routine led down the flagstone walk to the greenhouse, where reflexively, she turned to wind through the boxwood hedges that led to the gardens, following the serpentine route that allowed inspection of each well-groomed plot. The pruning was finished. The perennials were trimmed and mulched. The tulips, larkspur and peonies had been tucked under. In the vegetable and herb beds, the clods of earth lay belly-up to the sky, awaiting the blanket of snow. There was nothing left to be done.

By the time she reached the back of the gardens, the night’s shadows had dissolved in the dawn’s silver twilight which seemed to rise from the earth itself, the moon a paling wafer lingering in the haze above. Along the path through the stands of maple and birch, the moss on the trunks glistened with frosty dew, the carpet of dead leaves and rotting branches offering up the crisp pungency of decay. Ahead, the water lay like polished slate beneath the diaphanous shroud of mist veiling the lake’s far shore.

She paused at the gazebo, where the swing for two hung empty and still at the end of its chains. It was there that Douglas had left her sitting, too stunned to cry. From the supply in the lidded bench she took a fresh towel and draped it over the railing. Beside the towel she draped her robe. Below the robe she arranged her slippers.

This year, the ritual of her morning swim had extended past the end of summer and on through the autumn months. She couldn’t say why. The water’s embrace was simply something she needed, like the light on her desk. When she reached the middle of the lake, she would float awhile, then exhale and let her body slip quietly beneath the surface to sink slowly down through the ever colder, darker depths. The feeling of the mud closing about her feet had at first sent her kicking upwards for light and air—but it was only mud, she had been telling herself, the same as the stuff in her garden beneath a rainy day, where all things that have had their season inevitably return to rest. She had been staying down longer of late.

The path to the water’s edge passed through the outermost feature of her landscaping, a circular haven of evergreen hedges. She stopped there—startled.

There had always been the stone bench on the one side, but she had never found quite the right ornament for the view opposite. Her first thought was that the style of the sculpture was unmistakable—and then she couldn’t think anymore because her body was straightening to match the bearing of the marble figure, an ageless beauty in a summer dress, hands resting lightly on the hips, looking out into the world with strength, resolve and a peaceful joy. Gazing at it, she could feel her son’s hands gently pushing on the small of her back, pulling her shoulders, lifting her chin. It was a perfect likeness of her. It was her own lost soul, and as she stood before the vision, it filled and filled her. The base was engraved:

 

For the woman who has everything —

Happy birthday, Mom.

— Jonathan

She had been standing there for longer than she knew when the morning’s silence was broken by the sound of a horn from the direction of the front drive, followed by the shutting of car doors and the laughter of children—Jonathan’s.

She hadn’t expected them. She turned and walked briskly toward the gazebo. There was hot cocoa and muffins to be made. As she tied the belt of her robe, she glanced back to the lake. As soon as it froze over, she would be out on the ice with the children, teaching them how to skate. She removed the remaining towels from beneath the bench, tucking them beneath her arm as she turned toward the house.

Above the circle of evergreen, the first snowflake of winter drifted down, turning a fine pirouette. It came to rest on a sublime marble cheek, and melted there.

*          *          *

*

Copyright 2012, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.LB cover mockup 060212a 72 dpi

 

“For the Woman Who Has Everything” is one of 16 stories and poems in the Lunch Break collection, now available in paperback and on Kindle.

 

 

 

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In the twilight of the Roman Empire, as the darkening forces of mysticism descend on Western Civilization, the daughter of itinerant traders is falling fast for a local boy—the apprentice and adopted son of a sculptor. The old master, concerned for the boy’s future, recalls his years as a younger man in bustling Alexandria, where he had found the love of his life before having to flee the threat of religious persecution. Now, having finally rebuilt his life and career in a village far away, an enemy from the past reappears, threatening all he holds dear.

“Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor….” ~ Alan Nitikman

GENESIS is Part I of the 5-part IDOLATRY saga. Now available on Amazon…

“It is extremely difficult to believe that this is a novella when you finish it. You feel like you’ve followed the entire burning course of an epic romance, the life of a young bright mind carelessly following a difficult road, and a dramatic plot against anything glorious. Cordair had a way of bringing tears to my eyes in his previously published short stories. He has a way of creating scenes of emotional wonder and then forcing you to linger on the emotion in sorrow or defiance or happiness. … Cordair leaves us with the feeling that any obstacle, any voice that says with any amount of force that we can’t be exactly what we want and know we ought to be, is too small to care about – and the consequences of ignoring such a voice can never be so bad.… Cordair’s craft is a triumphant inspiration, the kind a soul can yearn for more of in whatever part of the tale comes next.” 5 STARS — Joseph Hampel

Genesis is now available for Kindle,

and in paperback and audiobook editions. 

The root from which a tyrant springs . . .

FeaturedThe root from which a tyrant springs . . .

From an exchange between Apollonius and his beloved teacher, while examining the Colossi of Memnon, considering the meaning, the purpose of the sculpture. She offers a quote from Plato: “The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. . . . This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs—when he first appears he is a protector. . . . ” Genesis, Part I of Idolatry, is now available in paperback, for Kindle, and on audiobook.

screenshot-plato-quote

In the twilight of the Roman Empire, as the darkening forces of religion descend on Western Civilization, a sculptor struggles to keep an ancient dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adopted son. Part I of the epic 5-part IDOLATRY series. “Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor; I found this an exciting and easy read.” ~ Alan Nitikman

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Now on Amazon …

A gift for you, until midnight

FeaturedA gift for you, until midnight

A little gift to help start your year off right.  This one is on me — it’s FREE until midnight Pacific tonight, Jan 3. The Amazon reading app, which works on any device, is free too. “Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor; I found this an exciting and easy read.” ~ Alan Nitikman. Available through 12a.m. PST at http://amzn.to/2j4Bccd

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Free until midnight Pacific tonight on Amazon …

Out of the Old

FeaturedOut of the Old

Yet another year, she thought,
Sitting in her chair, she thought.
Still she might, she thought,
Still she would, she thought,
Till she did, she thought —
Her soul, willed and willing,
Rose and waltzed more lightly even
Than her body ever had,
Out of the old, into the new.

 


Copyright 2013, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

My favorite “illegal-immigrant” story is FREE today ~

My favorite “illegal-immigrant” story is FREE today ~

A fan favorite, and certainly one of mine, “The Seduction of Santi Banesh”  is free to download today through Monday midnight Pacific (10/21/2019).

Santi’s story: “While traveling to America with her family for the first time, the daughter of a third-world diplomat makes a life-altering decision during a layover in San Francisco.” From the reviews: “… a delicious pleasure to read … a joyous journey of discovery … The ending is one of the most perfect I’ve ever encountered, summing up the benevolence of the whole experience with its simplicity and inevitability.”

“The Seduction of Santi Banesh” was first published in the 1994 summer issue of the Atlantean Press Review. The Kindle edition of the story is FREE TODAY through Monday midnight for U.S. readers. To download your complimentary copy, visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006596U8G . Thanks for everyone’s generous reviews — they’re greatly appreciated.

Enjoy!

~ Quent Cordair

p.s. Say ‘hi’ to Santi’s little brother for me. Love that kid.