10 Birth - 10 Journey - 9 Death




In remembrance of the qasida I give birth,
spin out the spidery substance, allowing new birth

in a dew bespattered pinwheel of trembling light.
Fogs roil with summer's whispered memories of birth,

choosing to reflect light in the teared rain,
choosing a rainforest's nascent, watery, nurtured, non-visible birth.



Born in winter, with the chrysanthemums, my journey
began as a cold, wet, hard-clodded, long journey

into spring toward the viridian grass. The light
daffodil's gold sun, its stemmed heaviness, its journey

toward bloom, its hard-sucking need for pattering rain,
its birth-weary, evanescent, bow-headed, spring demands inevitability's journey.



Toward the end of afternoon, clouds signal death.
The sun setting in whispering pinks signals death.

The ice-blue, silver building's reflection in the light
signals new ways to summon summer's of death,

which, lasting too long, readies itself for rain,
seeks the sodden leaves of autumn's announced death.



O Devayani, where to begin? Where to begin?
The evaporation of experience bugs you so you
hardly dare to wake, sit up, move about.

After sixty-eight years of gathering and discarding there's
nothing left to give you comfort. But isn't
that what you have opted for? It was

beneath you to draw comfort from things, places
or people. You live only in the creations
of your mind and, as they must, they

have failed you. You have looked at each
thing of life and set it aside. Now
you wonder what do to, where to go.

You feel as if you have been beaten
and bruised, as if you have been sick,
are not quite well. You journey toward death.



I've followed my master for sixty-seven years.
And who is your master, madame?
The necessity to turn human experience into words.

Why turn it into words?
To make it graspable, meaningful, to catch
it like musical notes from the wind.

The nature of music is to be heard and die.
I once wrote:
"There is nothing

but what happens
at the center of things."
But you don't believe it.

I believe it in that momentary way a writer does.
Tell me about the momentary beliefs of a writer.
No human activity is more omniscient.

And then it is gone, like the music?
You can see everything as you write.
Then having written it is gone?




So, its death today, once again, unease, fear of disease,
depression, repression, all arising from the chemical soup
of a body with its own intentions and desires,
appetites, curiosities, drugging perennial emotions.

You would have thought God smart enough to beware of giving
a creature as limited as man the dubious gift of consciousness.
What does he get for his pains? Boredom, anger, revenge, hostility.
You'd of thought, omniscient, he would have seen it coming.

But it really is all an illusion, there is nothing but chemical soup.
The world is Maya, they say, illusion, delusion.
It's what you eat and what you breathe that causes interaction in
the molecules. You interpert them how you will.

It seems there is only one law beside Peter's principle. That it is you
who must decide what problems you are interested in, which you try to solve.
No problems, no life. So you might say the first creation was a propensity
for error, for problems. Then came human beings to solve them

On a great field of gold, crimson and blood, was displayed all the most
attractive problems. And the, preferably, young human being could
choose among them. Nobody told him about "must". Only later in life,
finding one's self problemless, out of the swim of life, did one know

how important that choice was -- that it was indeed the first
law of the universe to lead a life of other than despair.
Why the secret? Does it sound too trival to me true?
It's the law of civilized man. The wild-man, closer to the animals,

Still knows how to do nothing.


#05 BIRTH - September 11, 2001


Nine one one, the day that changed the world.
You walk in your friend's door, ready to walk their dog.
The radio on, to keep the dog company, says:
"Two planes have just crashed into the World Trade Towers."
O, you realize, take the leash -- and then your memory stops.
Did you walk the dog or call your sister.
You'll never know which you did first.
You do remember it was 7:55 when you called your sister.
You didn't want to wake her. She had a broken arm.
You asked if she was awake. Advised her to turn on
the television set -- she never watches television.
You told her about the Trade Towers, you sent some
rather casual e-mails suggesting it was Osama ben Laden
doing it again. You canceled your trip planned for tomorrow --
all the airports were closed. It didn't seem so very important,
on Television you saw -- well you had wondered how the one
hundred story buildings could just fall down,
and then you saw --
first, the top of one slowly sinking, puffs of smoke like dust
climbing up from the windows
one story down from another,
dust up,
down one story and then another,
down down down,
up up up
then, like a banana peel,
dust puffs folding down
great fountains of dust puffs going down
like falling fog-shapes falling fireworks
a flow as fluid as an atom bomb,
but going down
and the central structure shrinking
down down down.
Another shot,
up from the street,
showing the hundred stories
just sinking into nothingness.
Another shot, and a roiling river,
like a tsunami of dust
flowing like a cumulus cloud
rolling down the street,
people fleeing toward the camera.

Another plane crashed through from the west
three of the fortress-like defense rings
of the Pentagon.
And one final hi-jacked flight,
not too far from Pittsburgh,
not too far from Camp David,

The White House was evacuated,
so was the Congress.
Our frat-boy president flying around in the air
from place to place
talking of vengeance.

The numbers of the dead withheld
all day.
You look up the specs.
The World Trade Center Towers could house
50,000 people
Many ran down steps for fifty, ninety stories
and survived.




One in each doorway,
homeless people sleep.
The great doors, of course, are
never opened.
Except on triumphal occasions.

Cascading down the steps,
perhaps two hundred candles.
Some, in tall blue-glass jars,
still alight at five a.m.
And flowers.
Not a great many, but some.
Paper wrapped bouquets,
some in jars, drinking
to stay alive.
The fog stagnates in the Seattle air,
cool, now, in September.

Up on First Hill where the twin
towers of the great cathedral rise,
where the doors are locked
for the dark,
even with five thousand missing
or dead in our teetering new world
there's no room inside
for the homeless.

Yet, O Devayani, as you look at the twin towers,
you are grateful for Christianity.
Its great buildings grace the landscape
of almost every country.
And you like architecture.
You don't much like humans,
but you like their works,
their hubris throwing steel
and concrete into the sky.
And, perhaps,
even the hutzpa of knocking it down.
This time with planes.
Airplanes of people.

Christianity may have destroyed the world,
civilization after civilization after civilization,
peoples upon peoples upon peoples
with their architecture
and their gods,
but they added new buildings.
And the Muslims,
with their blue mosques,
and Sufi skirts,
those hyper-Christians,
perhaps it was they
who knocked down the twin towers
of the Golden Calf.

Like the implosion of the World Trade Towers,
Christianity evolved into world Capitalism,
Islam into Retribution.
And still,
the homeless, sleep peacefully
in the twin doorways of the great

Where they are not allowed to rest,
even with five thousand
crushed to molecules with the steel,
the concrete, the computers,
the blizzard of papers,
the financial papers of the world,
floating out as far as
the statue of Liberty,

there's still "no room at the inn."
The stock market will reopen on Monday.
They have said They will try to restrain the trading.
Lest someone make money on our disasters,
as we've made money on theirs.

O Devayani your once-best-friend, who plays to win,
wants vengeance, as does
Mickey Mouse, our President.
He's got what he wants, what his vengeful
party wants, not just financial,
but military control -- new rules,
new powers, new games to play
with the lives of others.

While the homeless sleep at the locked
cathedral doors,
peaceful until daylight,
watched over by the light
of the blue candles,
the flowers,
the dead.



I live in Seattle, white-haired, in the fog and the drizzle,
and wonder if other lives are as skimpy as mine.
On paper, just the bare facts of my life sound like
great adventure,
but I know the thinness
beneath the narrative line.

It takes not a minute of experience
to fill up pages and pages
catching the essence, the nuance, the scarlet flush
of the dawn in a world
of uncountable molecules,
horrifying death, birth, journey, experience.

I wander on, amazed at the richness,
the thinness, the grid, the pattern,
but of sixty-seven years, I spent only
three months, three weeks in India,
and a lifetime's study,
I spent a year and a day in England,

another three other weeks,
and a lifetime trying to wash its
seductive, distortions of life from my life.
But, if they had not done it,
others stood by to conquer the world.
When there were no countries left to conquer,

America flexed her muscles of power,
did much the same as Britain
without needing to leave home.
They say its man's nature to conqueror
one another. But there have been civilizations
of peace -- rarely, individuals of peace -- often.

I dwell on that in the fog and the drizzle.
In the middle of a beautiful, oncoming fall,
in Seattle, with more sunshine than usual,
I saw the 9-11 planes crashed into the Towers,
the Pentagon, and our civilizations changed,
I began to change.

I had been to the top of the tower once,
with a man, a dark angel, an archangel, now dead (if angel's die).
He painted his way to the top and jumped off,
drank himself to death on the way down.
He, too, tried to exercise his morality --
and failed.



Is there a poem in me this morning?
I doubt it.
The grey mantle hangs over the sky.
The gloom is in my heart.
I dealt with the plagiarizers yesterday
and heard some of the "poets'" response,
both subhuman and inhuman.

I had heard that "the boards" on the Internet
are full of vituperations and insult,
that they collect a lot of the scum.
I never thought to experience it.
Well, I'm dirty now,
asking if the suggestion to repost the poems
in such an environment was a favor.

But then, I look again at the sky.
It is blue, the sun beginning to shine.
The crispness of autumn is in the air.
I like to wear heavier clothes.
Summer is the season for nakedness,
but Seattle is too temperate to indulge.
So heavier clothes are a boon

along with a heavier heart.


(Found and added in 07-24-04)

Out on the streets of Seattle, the newspaper says:
the Dow plunges as low as 1933 --
the year I was born.

And, indeed, I feel like the muck and the soil
where the daffodils were planted
the year I was born.

Born into a new journey:
A sixteen year old on the bus
doesn't know that Canada is a separate

country, doesn't know the reference to
"You can always go to Canada"
when he says he won't "join" the draft.

Each journey begins with a single step
over and over and over again, beginning
the year I was born...



What do you expect from a book titled:
Guns, Germs, and Steel by a believer
in "progress" called J. Diamond:

"Evolution selects for those individuals
most effective at producing babies and
at helping them spread to suitable places to live." p. 198

And, re writing, as quoted from Claude Levi-Strauss:
"ancient writing's main function was
'to facilitate the enslavement of other human beings.'" p. 235

There you have it. What else is new?
Here we sit psyching ourselves up for a biological warfare
attack while I lie reading, remembering how, in America,

my ancestors got the continent in the first place:
smallpox et al, we arrived and reduced the inhabitants
of Mesoamerica from about twenty million (20,000,000)

to maybe 1,600.000 (with the help of a little warfare).
And the inhabitants of North America from 20,000,000
by about 95% to about 1,000,000, also with

a little warfare and a lot of smallpox blankets.
Wouldn't you say its sort of, "poetic justice" for our present
"civilization" to be brought down by germs, to write about it

in a language system
(in a country snatched by Christians -- the precursors to Islam --
with the aid of disease and religious fanaticism)
only ocassionally misused for poetry.



With its crosses and dirt, represented in Spatial
Composition by Tadao Ando, glass and cross
on the edge of the lake, a swamp of illumination.

I argue with Sergio constantly -- in my head --
against assigning meaning to the abstract.
I design some of the most complicated grids in the world,

but I "put that there" because "I like it there,"
never because I think others will react to it thus and so.
Who's to know if high space fills another with terror

or awe, who's to make another's reaction wrong
by saying: high spaces mean thus and so.
Theoretical response to abstract space is as

personal as sex. A four square building of joined timbers,
with struts from illuminated floor to glass ceiling,
glass in between: a box. It's the house I always wanted to

live in, in the woods, in privacy, open only to the woods
and the sky. I'd make one change. I'd replace the cross in the swamp
with Shiva Dancing.



The war has began.
The war started yesterday.
I cannot find in my heart any
more than a neutral statement of that

I look around, I try to imagine Seattle's tall
buildings crumpled, its hills devastated, Seattlites
searching for small foodstuffs, drinking from puddles
in the Arboretum, ice-cold at night, shivering in the winter

No, I cannot imagine it. And why should I? The reality will or will
not be here soon enough. Along with Christmas, the birth of Jesus, those
who refuse to believe in the Second Coming -- in Mohammed -- will soon see
who wins. The world in shambles and chaos. It's happened in my lifetime to the
Jews, Cambodians, Pakistani, those of Bharat, East Timor, and earthquakes galore.
Why not us? The Columbia Tower, now called Bank of America Building, disintegrated
around our freshly wet ears,
while it rains




I ring for release from the 43,
walk across the Montlake Bridge:
mountains to the left, the Olympics, mountains,
the Cascades, silhouetted against the red rising sun,
to the right.

and down, via the lawns beside the canal, behind
the Hospital, get my 66-cent coffee in the Plaza Cafe,
walk the corridors into Health Sciences --
the garbage cans are having a private convocation

in the vast never-used lobby, hemmed into their
privacy with yellow disaster tape,
their fat cheeks not quite touching,
5 cans, and one in the middle. The person

who passes me says: "There must be a drip."

My scenario was more exciting: the world
in disaster, why shouldn't the garbage cans
invoke their own? Why wouldn't they get discouraged
called on too often and for too much?

Why shouldn't they send a delegation out across
the bridge, look for someplace else in the rising
sun to perform their services instead
of hauling away mind trash
manufactured in the serene morning where,

walking, there is nothing to be thought of except the frightened women
in Afghanistan hiding from the bombs. First their husbands, now the bombs.
One can begin to understand how, sooner or later, garbage cans become
the receptacles for babies.



The gray shroud of the sky
the wet pavement of the terrace
a plane crashes into the silence
-- its noise.

It's now reflex to pay attention
to the sound, wait 'til it
disappears -- and a little beyond, to
listen carefully.

Is it circling back? I live
a long way from the airport.
Few speak of the Trade Towers
in conversation.

We hold public ritual grief sessions
but already it is a bit
embarrassing to grieve personally, when 3,000
miles separates

one from knowledge, from encounter, from
the smell of 5,000 pulverized bodies
being slowly digested by bugs, no
doubt infrequent

survivors themselves. The constant fear-chat about
biological warfare already bringing it into
being. Anthrax through the mail -- sick
people always

willing to respond to the media's
goad to be heard, to participate
in the news. Or is it
deeper than

that? Diseases unknown carried by colonists,
smallpox blankets sent by the Cavalry
to the Indians, 95% of Americans
dead within

a year or two. Biological warfare
before it was invented, nonetheless effective.
Today, horrors! -- we would never do
such things.

But the pharmaceuticals, who don't mind
shipping expensive, out-dated, poisonous medicines to
the 3rd, 4th, 5th worlds, might.
They're not

making their fair share with everyone
dead in an hour. A little
Anthrax to be cured? -- not a
bad idea.

What does postage cost? Let's all
be patriotic and mindful to preserve
the shoppers. The Trade Towers barely
down before

our president urges us to "go
out and shop," "fly," maintain "consumer
confidence," preserved the economy, even if
its cost

is death to the human soul.
Resurrect your frivolity out of gray
skies and the dead cement, carry
on, give

up your rights with glee, preserve
the guilty government into eternity. Power,
whoever it represents -- not you or
me -- would

carpet-bomb the world, preferably in silence.
For a little extra cash. Profit.
Why not? Sell guns to your
neighbors and

have a nice little war. Train
them in terrorism, espionage, and it'll
last a little longer. Who usurped
our government.

Is it democracy? What happened to
you and me?



Awake Seattle's sunshine, doing my morning things,
rising from bed, from my anxious sleep,
swallowing my pill, reading a few sentences
about Mount Mazama -- exploding, leaving
behind the crater behind, 400 feet deeper than
the World Trade Towers were tall.

And up, green tea now
that coffee makes me itch and sneezed.
Seattle tricked me yesterday, sunshine at 7 and by noon
a downpour. You'd think, practically born a Seattlite,
I would be so susceptible to trickery. But I got soaked,
skipped one of my treasure lectures when I saw
the bus coming early!

Home, whiskey, hot bath and bed. But restless.
In the morning, the radio. I listen to the radio now in the morning.
Write about the anthrax scare. Still doubtful, still cynical.
But always listening to the news and noticing all the clues
for terrorist. Each time the reporters broadcast a potential
fear, a potential way to disaster. If I were a terrorist, I'd be taking notes,
and I'm sure they do.

Biological warfare? If that's what they fear next, let's give them some.
Contaminated water? Well, that's not such a bad idea either.
Collapse of the economy? Let's ratchet up the fear. I wash my dishes,
I cannot wash my mind. Except with impatience, I turn off the sports
news. Write one more poem, another downer packed with
cynicism and despair.

Welcome to the earth: worse than it used to be.



On the streets of Seattle, the newspapers say:
the Dow plunges as low as 1933
-- the year I was born.

Indeed, I feel like the muck and the soil
where the daffodils were planted
the year I was born.

A sixteen-year-old riding in the dark
on a pre-dawn bus doesn't know
that Canada is a separate

country, doesn't know what "You can
always go to Canada" refers to
when he claims he won't "join" the draft.

Each journey begins with a single step
over and over and over again
-- beginning the year I was born.

At a genetics lecture, I hear the question:
If simplicity works, why is
everything so complicated?

Like an echo of my breakfast of frustration
every morning, dinner of despair
every evening.

But the questioner corrects:
If it's so complicated,
how does it evolve?

Phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny
Hence we're slow, so very very slow
to evolve.

Every time the computer balks from imprecision
in its complicated process
you start over.

Phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny.
The better question may be,
if it wants to progress,

why is everything so complicated?
And why are we, progeny of our own thought,
so dedicated to stasis?



At times
I seem to dissolve with the illusion
that I AM poetry

Whatever my thought,
it makes lines; lines move into poetry;
the word is made clear.

As if the self
were churning on, like a locamotive
on coal.

Black smoke ascends to heaven
and is gone. Cinders remain,
the ash of words, the detrius of thought,

nothing --
when the wind comes by
branching the yellow autumn trees.



Let go of the belly of the worm.
Rearrange your molecules to come again.
And again.

Redundancy trumps complexity.
Madness springs from the base of the cell.
Change your vocabulary
for sanity.

Ninety-million raindrops later,
the Liquid Amber still fakes sunshine,
Eager to fall to the earth
the leaves stand still
or shimmer.

Chicken cooks on the stove,
but clucks no more. Bid for birth or
perish evermore.

Obey the binary code:




Ice-cold come the moon and the stars.
The leaves are falling.
Scarlet and gold,
no one remembers your name.

The black trees finger the sky.
Winter comes next
And humanity cries under

the leaden clouds, rain clouds
and destruction.
Climb to the moon.
You will never reach the sun.





Divisions spring in my soul
Diversions I create


Divided by laughter, light
Dawn, illumination


Deep weirs of pleasure
Desperate concentrations of love


Dancings of delight
Dewali's flames and splendor


Development of a new world
Devastatingly sutured


Dreams metamorphosing
Distinct cleavages in granite




Another of these sunless
suicidal Seattle Sundays,
the gray, the birds flying,
small plants dying, oddly
learning, as I never learned
before, that there is no hope.
History, ancient, medieval,
modern, teaches me that,
or architecture or medicine
or politics, economics, trade,
buying and selling in the streets.
All of it is tied to investments
in some people killing others,
or depriving them of food,
deporting them for slavery,
or importing oil so they can
drive the countryside as
bombs pit other parts of earth.

Accept it. Become a part of it.
No way. Let me be the first
to run out for joy, welcoming
the falling missiles. It's a pity
we can't divide the world into
two worlds and keep them
separate. Those who want
peace and those who want
war. Let the warrirors fight
each other. But what command
will keep them from the peaceful,
gathering berries, being born
everyday anew under the gray
sunless sky on the mourning earth?



Journey in the rain, a yarmulke of baldness
in the center of his long grey hair,
slightly stooped, walking slowly, drama his forte, alone,

Allan, back from the grave on Diwali morn...
He lives in his bones, said someone Jewish,
Italian's, do you know, resemble the Jews. Later

that night, after the oil lamps were waved
and the flowers' scents and the incenses' smoke
thickened the air, we, studying world architecture, saw

how all the great civilizations of Indian, Muslim,
Chinese, Jew, Egyptian, Turk, Aztec, Inca, Anasazi, African
flourished worldwide in equal triumph, equal beauty, until

the Christians went out and cut them down,
reduced the greatest cities, cultures, architecture, by their
savagery, to stone and ash and bone, terror.

So that Allan walks now, with a holy,
bald spot, open, uncovered in the rain, back
from the open, unquiet, lonely grave of peace.



The Aztecs, the Incas, the Indians, the Chinese,
the Vietnamese, the Africans, the Arabs, the Moroccans,
the Mound Builders, the Hawaiians, the Aborigines -- remember,

these were some of the most advanced civilizations,
cultures, organized and beneficent institutions of human behavior
that the Spanish, English, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Belgian,

and American, disease ridden mobsters, drug lords, terrorists
went in and took out. (Find the list
of all former colonies and names of civilizations

that were conquered, devastated, humiliated, decimated, obliterated to
create those colonies as well as the names
of the ruthless terrorists, robbers and unconscionable invaders.)

Perhaps it is time to rewrite the history
of the world, to see if we might
change so-called human nature, learn humility, beneficence, peace.



Mort, dead, heart-sick, my body hangs in there,
my spirit has fled. I no longer understand
why I put one foot before the other.

The journey is finished, completed, kaput, dwindled, amortized.
There is nothing to want, nothing to do.
I have shrunk my world to a footfall.

I pass in the night not heard by
an angry God, unnoticed by the seductive Devil.
There is no illusion, no illusion of illusion.

The path has twisted down to a chosen
nothingness, no where to go, nothing to do.
Motions remain the same as the tears fall.

But even the tears are illusion and non-illusion.
The sadness and artifice, the pain a drama,
a drama ending in the blankness of being.



The Holidays: Hanukkah, Eid, Christmas, Being Laid Off,
Happy New Year! 7,000 people laid off this
week in Seattle, who knows how many next.

Freedom, holiday, no work -- this day or any
other day. Enjoy! You'd think by now, in
our relentlessly driven Capitalistic. consumer society, that they'd

change, for the sake of their own pocket-books,
either the Holiday dates OR the fiscal yearŐs
finality. How can we fulfill? -- do our patriotic

duty, as the President exhorts, if we have
no money to shop with in honor of
Jesus, that poor Jew who had/wanted nothing



What is poetry for? To stave
away the darkness, to fend one's
eyes from the rain, one's heart
from despair.

What is darkness for? To sustain
the life of the soul, to
shrink at the grave's edge, to
lie abed.

What is rain for? To imitate
sadness in the hearts of humans,
stimulate greyness before the eyes, to
shield them

from gaudy flowers' illumination by the
sun, lest their brilliance wrest the
heart from despair. Then what are
flowers for?

To bloom and die without questioning
their existence on the rim of
the Tarim Basin, their death in
Takla Makan.

Jets and email have changed all
that. How many flowers have you
grown in cyberspace, to stave darkness,
rain, despair?



The black, iron-rimmed, glass topped tables
become repositories, pools for the rain.
The iron chairs stand guard. Raindrops
are perceptible

only against the dark. The jumping
jets splash high. The wind blows.
At night trains shriek their passing,
ambulances wail

their assent. The rocketing of planes
is noticeable in the sky. I
read about Urumchi and wonder. Why
did god

make earth? or not? Why an
evolution to the point of universal
despair, universal suffering, universal triviality. "Go
forth and

shop -- for the war effort." Even
in Kashgar, civilization was founded on
the travel of tradesmen, defending the
Silk Road.



Again, at night and the pre-dawn
hours, Ella has become my companion,
She often rides. I walked through
the Hindukush,

past the Karakorm, Kashgar. Today we
wander the Tien Shan, bathe in
Issik Kol. She claims to be
solo in

Turkestan. But it seems to me
she is surrounded, inundated, by people
of her own ilk. When does
she walk

alone? Part II, Chapter I declares:
"Alone." We'll see. The many famous
loners of history seem never to
be alone,

I note with a certain jealousy,
a certain pride, for I, who
have traveled alone in out of
the way

places, walked alone. No horse, no
camel, no dog, nor cat, no
companion, all my helpers, always, only
from the

road, the kind people along my
way in India. Until I began
to feel truly welcome on the earth,

A feeling that does not last
a lifetime. But to have known
it once, at least once! I
walk on.

Western sociology says one does not
live alone, and proves it. Eastern
dwellers in the desert and uninhabited
Pamirs, holy

sadhus of the forests and in
the mountains, live alone, and prove
themselves. The senseless breeding of overcrowded
conditions stops

with them. Nature may be blind
with lust, humans need not be.
Whence this torrent into the future?
Why journey?

Nor does one glimpse of enlightenment
suffice for a lifetime. My vision
lasted overnight, a few hours in
the day.

It was not suffused with love
for my fellow man, it was
suffused with knowledge that there was
nothing to do -- or not do.

I read on and on in
travel literature, accompanied by Ella, others
alone in my bed, awake to
soul movements.

More of The 2001 Poems

Copyright © 2002 through 2015 Jan Haag
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:






21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context