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Below are comments from people who have read my book of poems and drawings, Silence Spoken, available on

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The poems I liked best are those set in Venezuela, describing aspects of the environment and the sea and those set in Beijing capturing the impact of rapid change – for good and bad, especially “Observed:Beijing”.  It’s what I felt when in China, but succinctly and eloquently expressed.  I enjoyed the whole book, for what it expressed and also for what was left unsaid, or merely hinted at.

Mary, Canberra, Australia

Thank you very much for your awesome publication.  Sketches look lovely & will enjoy browsing too.

Khalida, Blue Mountains, Australia

There is another side of you, a contemplative one that I would not have guessed.  I am no poet and so can’t comment on the poetry but I like the sketches.

Anita, Canberra, Australia

2. Ink Tucacas Sea 3 web

I just browsed through it and your art work is powerful.  I especially like the brush painting from Pakistan. But then your “essentials only” style on Langata, Nairobi, Kenya is so spot on. I’ve read some poems too, but you know me, the art is so immediate.

Sheila, Berkeley, California, USA

Thanks so much for your book of poetry and illustrations!
It is really lovely.  Keep creativity alive!

Margot, Berkeley, California, USA

3. Pak Karkoram 772 webKarimabad, Pakistan

I have looked through it and read several random poems and David has spent much more time with it. We both are enjoying looking at these snapshots of your life.  Your drawings give life to your travels.

Linda, Baldwin, Kansas, USA

I am enjoying reading your poems and I like your sketches very much. You have experienced so much in your life. Your words are an eloquent expression of your suffering, joy, awareness and appreciation of the natural world. The book is very attractively designed and printed. Congratulations on publishing it!

Anne, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

7. Ink Nairobi Person webMan walking, Langata, Nairobi, Kenya

The poem Somewhere, snagged my eye. A knee jerk response to seeing my birthday near the bottom of the page. Reading it through I can only say, thanx for the birthday present.

The poem, Fishing at Sunset, I was timeported to Elk California doing that same such thing using carpenter’s line with old spark plugs on the end for weight. Holding the line for the twitch of the rockfish that might be dinner or dining on smaller fish if it slips the hook.

David, Baldwin, Kansas, USA



Cleaning house

expecting guests



under the bed

in the closets

Drawings from

Beijing China





Ink Drawing fish 228

Ink drawing bamboo practice 227

Ink Drawing Crabs 226

Oakland California



Lake Merritt

Ink Drawing Oakland port 239

Lake Merritt Pen drawing 232

Mendocino California




Mendocino 243

Shidu China


train tunnel


Shidu ink drawing

Drawings saved

yet lost

to memory

If no one sees them

do they exist?


How is it that

I have been drawing

and writing poems

most of my life

and yet

I don’t remember

I keep them

but don’t show them

to anyone

Did I draw that?

Did I write that?



•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •  •


Before finding more and more drawings and poems, under the bed, in closets, in cupboards, I recently published a selection of poems and drawings, entitled Silence Spoken. Available on 

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Let me write about Jim’s cousin, Li Anping, who lived in Beijing. How long have I known him? Forever more or less. How many ways has he helped me? Many, but one stands out.

An Ping at a family luncheon September 2015

Anping at a family luncheon September 2015

Over ten years ago I suffered from dizziness – making my everyday life difficult. When I got out of bed some days, nothing obeyed gravity, including my own body. The dizziness occurred off and on for years. Stress related but something more. I went to many doctors and clinics in several countries. With no success.

While visiting Beijing in 2002, Anping took me to Dr. Gu’s clinic. A small somewhat dark place – full of large machines – and people hooked up to them. Some of them jerking from electrical charges. The scene was somewhat off putting, but I trusted Anping. Besides nothing else had worked.

Dr. Gu sent me to a nearby hospital for what? Everything was written in Chinese characters so I had to go with Anping and assume all would be well. Anping does speak English but doesn’t know all the technical terms.

I got a scan of my head. I brought back the picture of my neck and head to Dr. Gu. Anping translated. Dr. Gu pointed to certain regions of my neck and head. His diagnosis: blockage in my neck by calcium deposits, leading to not enough blood circulating in some areas of my brain, affecting my sense of balance.

Dr. Gu started treatment right away, hooking me up to one of those large machines that give small electric impulses. He told Anping I would need several months of treatment. I was about to leave Beijing in two days, but decided I would come back some time and give it a try.

Long story short, I returned the next year, 2003. I went five days a week for several months to Dr Gu’s clinic for electronic acupressure treatment while teaching nearby at Beijing Foreign Studies University. I even continued during the SARS epidemic when everything was shut down. When Dr. Gu had to shut his clinic due to the government policies enacted to stop SARS, one of his assistants brought a portable machine to a hotel near our apartment for my treatment to continue.

The dizziness ended and has never returned. Thank you Dr. Gu. Thank you Anping!

Family Luncheon Beijing, September 2015, An Ping on right, standing next to his wife Zhilan

Family Luncheon Beijing, September 2015, Anping on right, standing next to his wife Zhilan

And thank you Anping for so many wonderful luncheons with Jim’s relatives in China. Thank you for your interest in keeping Jim and myself in touch with China and Jim’s relatives. Thank you for your suggestions for excursions and places to visit in China. Thank you for your big smiles whenever we got together.

Li Anping died 20 November 2015 in Beijing, age 79.

We’ll miss you Anping!

On the high speed train (300 km per hour) in China … passing landscape divided into small plots for agriculture… in the cities everywhere cranes and high rise cement apartment buildings going up and highway construction.. no visible sky or clouds just grey overhead – combination of pollution and mist.

High speed train equipped with stewardesses, fold down trays as on airplanes, large windows, toilets, hot water (boiled for tea, instant noodles), stewardesses with carts of snacks and drinks for sale (non alcoholic), dining cars with pre-prepared meals to microwave.

High Speed Train 70512

So many changes so fast in 5-10 years from dingy ordinary trains filled with people smoking and spitting, sunflower seed shells lining the floor. Trains leaving from dingy, rundown stations… to super high speed trains in purpose-built shiny clean train stations with huge signs advertising all kinds of goods to buy..

High Speed train station 70521

How does this feel for the ordinary person in China to have so many changes so fast in just 10 years or even less? Everywhere development which means high speed technology, wifi, smart phones, fancy cars, more pollution, traffic jams, bright lights so that even shabby buildings look like fantasies at night

Zheng Zhou: fancy railroad station with many many tracks, thousands of new cars lined up but no factory in sight. Everywhere cranes, the entire sky line, cranes upon cranes (not birds) hanging over high rise apartment buildings under construction

What is like to live in a society with so many physical changes? What does it mean for families, culture, ethics? Just get more goods, more high speed trains, more shiny stations? and more and more grey grey no sky days?

People now have money to visit all the tourist attractions, stay in hotels, go on tours, eat in restaurants. Thousands of middle class Chinese tourists at all the sights, taking selfies. Chinese tourists laugh, take photos, hike on sacred mountains – signs of enjoyment. They’re pushy at railroad stations, on the subway, etc, but usually friendly and helpful. People stare at us in the villages, but then break into a big smile when I say nihao (hello).

Grey is the colour – of the sky, of the apartment buildings, of the cement highway overpasses.

Black is the colour of the brand new mostly luxury cars: BMW, Audi, Mercedes: large sedans, wood like interior, total electronics, GPS, backing up rear view cameras, sunroofs very popular despite lack of sun. In Beijing, people in traffic jams, stand up in their cars looking out through their sun roofs

Previously life in China constricted by poverty, illiteracy, lack of access to internet… now life constricted by technology, consumerism, grey skies

Losing someone from your life, be it parent, child, sibling, friend, colleague, or mentor affects each one of us.

When does a death become a tragedy?  Death is a normal event. When is it a tragedy?  What does it depend upon?  The relationship of the deceased person to you?  The age of the deceased?  What they achieved during their life time? The circumstances of their death?

Losing my mom two years ago was one of the greatest losses of my life.

The other deaths were  of close friends – Tausi in Kenya, Angel in California, Claudio in Venezuela –  and my mother-in-law Hsiao Li Lindsay in China.

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Of the four, Tausi was the youngest.  She died of HIV/AIDs at a time when most people in Kenya were in denial.  As Mandela once said, people with AIDs often died of stigma, even when treatment was available.  When Tausi died, her own family was in denial and treatment was generally unavailable in Kenya.  Her death reverberates with me as a tragedy.  She was young , talented, a mother of two – a very special warm person. If she had been diagnosed and received treatment in time she could have lived. We miss you Tausi.




Then there was Claudio –  a very exceptional person – a musician in the Venezuelan National Orchestra in Caracas — a humanist and role model for everyone who knew him.  Claudio lived a wonderful full life, although it was cut somewhat short by cancer.  We miss you Claudio.



Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Angel was another exceptional person.  He was an activist for working people and human rights all his life.  Angel was a community organizer in the Mission District of San Francisco, a leader in early childhood education for all and an all round exceptional, warm human being.  Angel lived a very full life and left it peacefully.  We miss you Angel.




Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay died four years ago at the age of 93.  She was a heroine in the modern history of China.  She and her husband Michael Lindsay were in the underground opposing the Japanese occupation of China, which began before World War II. She wrote a wonderful book about her life in those years Bold Plum.  She lived to see Bold Plum published 60 years after she first wrote it.  She died surrounded by her family in Beijing.  We miss you Hsiao Li.


Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010


My mom was within nine days of her 89th birthday when she died in March 2011.  Her death was a tragedy to me as her daughter.  Her childhood was a struggle in a family with challenges of alcoholism, poverty and divorce.  Her adult life was one of sharing and participating in activities such as building support for the Kansas City Art Institute.  She loved to travel – to Mexico, to Africa and to Europe.  Her front porch in the Brookside area of Kansas City was open to all – for talk, games, and pot luck dinners.  I miss you Mom.

Of the five deaths, the one that seems to me to be a tragedy was that of Tausi.  Her death was probably preventable.  She died very young.

More thoughts on Death as Tragedy in my next blog.


Pamela on the Indus River, Pakistan, 1994

Pamela on the Indus River, Pakistan, 1994


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NOTE: A poem found while going through my files in Tucacas, Venezuela.  Probably written about 1994, while living in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Besham is a village on the southern end of the Karkoram Highway, which goes through the Himalayas on the way from Pakistan to Xinjiang, China.

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



Red bougainvilleas over the doorway

swaying in the warm autumn wind

Fine silvery sand blown up

from the banks of the Indus

Silence broken by river rapids

a low dull roar echoing

off the rocky mountain sides

The smell of wood smoke

A woman dressed in red

washing clothes by the river

Her daughter brushing tangled hair

Her son collecting gum leaves

for a long-haired brown and white goat

with twisted horns

A peaceful life

but I must push on.



Women washing on the Indus River, Pakistan

Women washing clothes on the Indus River, Pakistan


Hsiao Li Lindsay, author of Bold Plum

Jim Lindsay’s mum, Hsiao Li, who died in April 2010 in Beijing, China, was a heroine in the fight of the Chinese people against the Japanese occupation during World War II.

Cover of Bold Plum, photo of Michael Lindsay and Hsiao Li, at their wedding, Beijing, 1941

Bold Plum the  memoir of her years behind Japanese lines contains some of the best commentary on life in war-torn China, said Gail B. Hershatter, a history professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

We are delighted to announce that the Fascinating History Book Club of the Washington DC book store  and coffee house Politics and Prose will feature Bold Plum on Thursday 23 Aug 2012  at 7:30 pm.

Bold Plum, featured at Fascinating History Book Club, Politics and Prose, Washington DC







For more information  Hsiao Li and Bold Plum in Washington Post  Bold Plum at Politics and Prose Book Store Washington DC

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