Tag Archive: United States of America


Presence

Today, I have decided to post a poem that I wrote in 2004.  It was originally in French and came third in a competition whose theme was “friendship”.  I subsequently translated it into English and re-worked it a bit.  The second version was published in an anthology in the United States of America in 2006.

I have typed the French version, printed it, added the accents, scanned it and inserted it below.  The English version is underneath the French one.

Its French title was “La Consolatrice”.  I have changed the title in English.

I prefer the French version of this poem because it is more sensual and suits the subject better.

The English version was baptized a “prose-poem” by an American expert.  It was the first time that I had ever heard of this style of poetry.

***

Presence

***

Sleek, supple, black coat shining,

She steps gracefully across the Chinese rug,

Skirts a floor-cushion, then pauses near the sofa,

Her green eyes anxious, questioning.

***

The seated man holds an opened letter in his left hand.

His stunned gaze travels around the sun-drenched room,

Seeking something … or someone.

She can feel his suffering.  It worries her.

***

Spicy perfume, from yellow roses on the coffee table,

Tickles her nose.  She sneezes.

The man extends an approximate hand.

She moves closer, meeting his caress.

***

The man speaks.  She doesn’t understand the words

But leaps lightly onto his lap.  He takes her in his arms,

Lays his cheek against her velvet head.

A salty drop, landing on her tiny nose, startles her.

She tastes it, then snuggles down and starts to purr.

***

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The Devil’s Footprints

The strange beings who people our folklore could perhaps be inspired by real events, like the one that occurred in Devonshire in 1855.

It is 7 February 1855.  The whole of England’s South-West has been swept since morning by an appalling tempest.  Wind of unheard-of violence is uprooting trees, taking off roofs, blowing down belfries and ripping out gravestones in the cemeteries, leaving tombs open and coffins scattered.

Barricaded inside their houses, the inhabitants of Devonshire are terrified.  Some would later say:

“It was an infernal night, the wind was screaming like a thousand witches…”

Suddenly, around five o’clock in the morning, the wind calms, the noise stops and snow begins to fall heavily.

This silence, after the torment, worries all who have not slept a wink that night.  One of them would say,

“We had the impression that there was some sort of threat hovering…  With my wife who was trembling with fear huddled against me, we were afraid of something supernatural.  Everything was really strange that night.”

It is in Blayford that it all unfolds.

Around six o’clock, a high-pitched, terrifying howl suddenly erupts near the village.  A dog’s howl which is heard for about a kilometre all around.  The good people huddle under their eiderdowns.  Then, once again, there is silence.

Around eight o’clock, Dawn breaks and the inhabitants of Blayford fearfully open their shutters.  Snow is no longer falling, but the countryside is all white.  Many times, the villagers of the little English town have seen this spectacle upon rising and they have always found something marvellous about it.  Today, inexplicably, they feel anguish.  A woman, unable to clearly explain her unease, would say:

“Bad luck seemed to be floating over us…”

Despite this, that same morning, a farm hand goes to have a look around to see the damage caused by the tempest.  He then notices some strange footprints.  Footprints of a kind that he has never seen and which correspond to no known animal in the region.  They look like a little horse-hoof and pierce the snow with mathematical regularity.  The farm hand, very intrigued, follows them across the fields and soon arrives beside the tattered remains of the dog who had howled so atrociously in the early hours of the morning.

He bends over it and notices, stunned,

“that the poor animal had died from wounds which could not have been made by either a man or a beast”…

He runs back to alert the village, saying:

“Come and see!  There are some strange footprints.”

The inhabitants of Blayford rush out and see that the farm hand has not lied.

Further, at that same moment, throughout the whole of Devonshire, peasants are discovering the same footprints in the fresh snow.

They extend over more than 160 kilometres.

The journalists of the County of course write about the phenomenon, remarking that the footprints, which are like dots on rigorously straight lines, each measures ten centimetres in length by seven centimetres in width, and that they are very regularly twenty-five centimetres apart…  One journalist writes:

“These footprints don’t stop anywhere.  Whatever it was, the unknown creature walked on hooves in short, leaping steps, in an inexplicable fashion without stopping nor resting, and it covered here more than thirty kilometres during the tragic night of 7 February, crossing rivers, climbing the walls of several houses and walking on the roofs before finally arriving at the little village cemetery without daring to enter it…”

Zoologists soon come from London to examine these strange prints which remain visible in the frozen snow.  None of them manages to identify the animal who had travelled all over South-East England – always in a straight line.

The mysterious “Devil’s Footprints”, drawn by a witness and published in “The Illustrated London News” on 24 February 1855.

One of them writes a few days later in the Illustrated London News:

“This mysterious visitor generally only passed once down or across each garden or courtyard, and did so in nearly all the houses in many parts of the several towns above mentioned, as also in the farms scattered about;  this regular track passing in some instances over the roofs of houses, and hayricks, and very high walls (one fourteen feet [4.50 metres]), without displacing the snow on either side or altering the distance between the feet, and passing on as if the wall had not been any impediment.  The gardens with high fences or walls, and gates locked, were equally visited as those open and unprotected.”

Another notes that

“two inhabitants of one community followed a line of prints for three and a half hours, passing under rows of redcurrant bushes and fruit trees in espaliers;  losing the prints and finding them again on the roof of houses to which their search had led them”.

Farther on, he adds that these prints

“passed through a circular opening of about thirty centimetres in diameter and inside a drain of 15 cm;  finally, they crossed an estuary around 3,500 kilometres wide”…

A third writes:

“These footprints are strange, for the snow is completely removed, as if it has been cut by a diamond or marked by a red-hot iron…”

Naturally, many hypotheses are emitted by both journalists and scholars who study the case.  Some are extravagant.  Someone suggests that these strange marks could have been made

“by a balloon dragging its tethering ring at the end of a rope”.

But this explanation appears absurd.  How could a metal ring tear apart the Blayford dog;  and by what miracle could this ring, attached to a balloon blown by the wind, leave perfect prints, disposed in a straight line and regularly distanced at 25 centimetres?…

A journalist suggests that it could be marks left by a kangaroo who had escaped from a menagerie.  The zoologists reply that it is extremely rare that kangaroos leap on only one leg, and that they haven’t any hooves, anyway…

Other investigators try to explain the presence of these marks by an atmospheric phenomenon.  It is pertinently replied that no-one had ever yet seen an atmospheric phenomenon leave hoof-prints…

Finally, none of the hypotheses emitted having been retained, the newspapers publish the embarrassed words of zoologists, physicists and meteorologists.  One of them, Doctor Williamson, goes as far as writing this:

“These millions of prints constitute an absolute enigma.  Neither a man, nor an animal, nor a machine is capable of leaving such marks.  This phenomenon is inexplicable.  Consequently, the best thing, in my opinion, is to forget it.”

A surprising declaration, coming from a scholar.

But the Devonshire peasants do not forget, and they give a name to these mysterious marks:  they call them The Devil’s Footprints…  A name that is not very scientific of course, but which still remains.  And it is by this name that Historians continue to designate them today…

***

Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, consulted the English Press of the epoch and was able to note that, for two months, February and March 1855, all of the English newspapers published articles, investigations, interviews and sketches on what was called at the time the “mysterious Devonshire holes”.  He adds that a number of authors have studied this case.  Charles Fort, who called himself an “amateur of the unusual and scribe of miracles”, consecrated a chapter of his Book of the Damned to them, as did Jacques Bergier and the Info group in Le Livre de l’Inexplicable

***

They give no explanation and only emit hypotheses.  Some speak of sea birds, hailstones, field-mice.  But there is no bird, nor field-mouse whose feet end in hooves.  As for hailstones, has anyone ever seen any fall in a straight line, twenty-five centimetres apart?…  A modern author had another idea:  he suggested that these marks could have been left by an extra-terrestrial who landed from a space-ship…  Guy Breton says that he is not hostile a priori to this kind of explanation, but that this person would have had a strange way of walking.  On top of which, he must have been very small to have been able to pass through openings of a diameter of thirty centimetres…

***

So, we come back to Charles Fort’s explanation.  He said with humour:

“These prints could only have been made by a thousand one-legged kangaroos wearing a very small horseshoe…”

In other words, we don’t know.

***

There have been some absolutely identical marks left in Scotland in 1839, in the Kerguelen Islands in 1840, in the United States in 1908, in Belgium in 1945 and in Brazil in 1954…  So, you see, the Devil walks around his estates.  After all, he is called the Prince of this World…

***

A man from the past – part 2

This story was found by Jacques Bergier who read about it in an American parapsychology magazine and contacted Captain Rihm.  By this time, the Captain had retired, but he perfectly remembered the essential details of the case, which allowed Jacques Bergier to resume it in his work Le Livre du Mystere.  Later, Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, took up the investigation and was able to obtain, thanks to journalists who gained access to the Police files, some precisions which Bergier did not have.

***

The problem can be resumed in two points:

1.  A man mysteriously disappears without a trace in New York on the evening of 14 June 1876.

2.  An individual, having the features and clothes of the missing man appears, no less mysteriously, in a crowd on Broadway on the evening of 14 June 1950.

Did the man from 1876 leap into the future?

We know that the first fact relates indubitably to Rudolf Fentz Senior.  The second, however, does not necessarily imply a “reappearance” of the 1876 person.  There could be other explanations.

A collective hallucination has to be excluded because the body of the man run-over in Times Square was autopsied and buried.

***

Broadway around 1860 was a calm neighbourhood with provincial charm.

There is the possibility that a friend of the Fentz family, knowing of Rudolf Fentz’ disappearance, decided to play a practical joke.

This hypothetical person would have dressed up in similar clothes to the missing man, in 1950, would have mingled with the crowd on Broadway, would have drawn attention to himself by his strange comportment and would have committed suicide exclusively so that the Police, when they find the dollars and papers dating from 1876 in his pockets, would be placed before an insoluble enigma.  That seems a bit far-fetched.

***

For the moment, we have to be content with Jacques Bergier’s explanation:

“We find ourselves before a flagrant, irrefutable example of instantaneous “chronotransfer” or time travelling.”

According to him, this man would have penetrated, without knowing it, “some crack in the spatial-temporal continuum”.  This co-author of the Matin des Magiciens adds:

“Perhaps he is not the only one…”

He is doubtless alluding to the sudden and inexplicable disappearances of some people…

***

Broadway’s aspect in 1950 would have stunned a man from the XIXth Century who was used to the slow rhythm of a big village and hadn’t seen cars, skyscrapers, cinemas, television, or even electricity before.

There are people who run away, mountaineers who fall into crevasses, solo sailors who sink in the middle of the ocean, hikers who perish in forest fires and perfect crimes…

However, there are also the people who literally “disappear” before the eyes of witnesses.  Here is an example.  It is something which took place in the United States in 1880.  On the 23 September to be precise.  On this day, the weather is fine and David Lang, a farmer in the neighbourhood of Gallatin, Tennessee, is walking in a field with his wife and children.  Around six o’clock, as the sun is starting to set, the Langs come back towards the farm.  When they are less than fifty metres from the road, the children see a car belonging to Judge August Peck, a friend of the family, arriving.  They call out:

“Look!.  There’s Mr Peck!”

David Lang immediately raises his hand and calls out:

“Hello, August!”

Mrs Lang waves to him.  Then she turns toward her husband and remains stunned:  he has disappeared.  She searches all around her.  No-one.  Then she calls:

“David, where are you?”

Judge Peck leaps from his car and runs over.  He is white-faced.

“What happened to David?”

“I don’t know.  He was here a minute ago…”

“I know.  I saw him wave to me…  And I was going to respond when, before he had even lowered his arm, he had disappeared.”

Everyone then inspects the ground without finding the slightest hole, the slightest crack where the unfortunate farmer could have fallen.

For days, the terrain is tested without any trace of an excavation being found.   And no-one ever found out what happened to David Lang who had disappeared in a field, in the midst of his family, before the eyes of his friend Judge Peck…

***

It is possible that David Lang also found himself in another time.  Some scientists no longer dismiss this possibility.

***

Guy Breton concludes that eyes are opening, that Science is advancing with giant steps and that one day, it will be announced in the media as a perhaps rare, but perfectly explicable thing, that Mr Rudolf Fentz Senior did not return home one evening in June 1876, because he had been run over by a car, in 1950…

***

In 1876, the only cars that Rudolf Fentz would have seen looked like this. Nothing in these primitive engines announced the sumptuous Cadillacs which were to be seen 74 years later on Broadway.

A man from the past

On Wednesday 14 June 1950, around a quarter past eleven at night, the Broadway theatres and cinemas are slowly emptying, sending waves of spectators onto the sidewalks, when cries are heard.  A man around thirty years old, who had unthinkingly stepped onto the road, has just been hit by a car.  He is now lying in the middle of a pool of blood which is reflecting the lights of Times Square.

The people who crowd around the body then notice that the unknown man is dressed in a very old-fashioned way.  He is wearing a grey jacket with a row of buttons at the back, tight black and white checked pants, with no crease nor turned-up cuffs, and high-mounting shoes with buckles.  Not far from him, his top hat has rolled onto the asphalt…

At the morgue, a police officer empties this strange person’s pockets.  What he finds there rather surprises him.  There are:

– an obsolete bronze coin,

– a bill from a stable in Lexington Avenue with the mention:

“For the feed and stabling of one horse and for the storing of one carriage:  3 dollars”,

– seventy dollars in old money,

– a few visiting cards engraved with the name of Rudolf Fentz, and an address:  372 Fifth Avenue,

– a letter addressed to Mr R. Fentz bearing the postal stamp of June 1876.

The public servant transmits these objects to his superior who remains perplexed.

“And you say that he was wearing a jacket, checked pants, ankle boots and a top hat.  He was therefore in fancy dress.  But, when you put on fancy dress, you don’t go as far as having money corresponding to the period on you…  There is something funny here.”

“You don’t bother making fake papers either,”

says the other policeman, pointing to the bill and the letter, both perfectly new-looking with barely marked creases, which prove that they are of recent date.

“Do you think that it’s one of those crazy people who refuse our modern civilization and imagine that they are living in another age?”

“Unless he’s just an actor in a play where the action takes place in 1876 and has on him the money and the different documents of this time for use in the play…”

“He would have gone out into the street in costume?”

“With actors, anything’s possible!…”

This last hypothesis, by far the most plausible, is finally retained and the police officer sends two inspectors into the Broadway theatres with a photo of the victim, while a third goes to the address indicated on the visiting cards, the telephone directories are consulted, and the fingerprints of the mysterious person are sent to the records kept in New York and Washington.

All the witnesses thought that the mysterious person who was hit by a car on 14 June 1950 was terrified by the luminous signs on Broadway, and that was why he rushed onto the road.

That evening, the policemen come back with nothing.  No actor recognized the man in Times Square, the name of Rudolf Fentz is totally unknown at 372 Fifth Avenue, the telephone directories list no Fentz and the records do not contain the dead man’s fingerprints…

The affair is then handed over to Captain Hubert V. Rihm who is in charge of Missing Persons.  This officer immediately declares:

“We have to know where this person was coming from when he so stupidly got himself run over.  Was he leaving a shop, a show, a restaurant?  Publish a drawing of him in his extravagant outfit in the Press.  Perhaps the public will give us a clue.”

The portrait appears the following day in the New York Press and a few people who were in the crowd at Times Square on 14 June, at a quarter past eleven at night, present themselves at Captain Rihm’s office.  Alas, their testimonies, far from shedding any light on the case, cloud it even more.

A certain Mrs Kinners declares:

“I was coming out of the cinema with some friends.  There were a lot of people on the sidewalk.  Suddenly, this man appeared amongst us  I remember saying to myself:  ‘Where did he come from?’  Then, I thought that it might be someone doing some publicity for a show.  I thought that he was going to distribute some flyers.  But he was looking at all the signs in lights with a frightened air which struck me.  He asked me:  ‘What’s happening?  Is there a fire?”  And without waiting for my reply, he pushed into the crowd towards the road…”

Another witness, Mr Barnett, a friend of Mrs Kinners, came to say:

“We were coming out of the cinema and I was going to take a step towards the friend in front of me when, suddenly, this person was in between us.  How did he get there?  I don’t know.  All that I can say, is that he wasn’t there the second before.  I would have seen him because of his outfit and his big cigar.  The funniest thing was his expression.  He seemed astonished when he looked at me, as if I was a phenomenon.  Then he turned his head in all directions and seemed panicked to find himself in this crowd.  Finally, he looked up at the skyscrapers and murmured:  ‘My God!’  After which, he said something about a fire and, suddenly, went towards the road, as if he wanted to flee…”

Other witnesses came to testify to Captain Rihm.  Most of them repeated almost word for word what Mr Barnett and Mrs Kinners had said about the person’s sudden apparition.  But one of them, who was at the edge of the sidewalk at the moment of the accident, brought a supplementary detail:

“When the individual arrived near the road, I noticed that he was looking at the traffic lights with a frightened air, as if he had never seen any before.  Then he seemed to discover the traffic, turned to me and said, pointing to the cars that were passing by:  ‘But what’s that?’  …He looked terrified.  Suddenly, he rushed towards the street.  I called out to him:  ‘Watch out!’  But he mustn’t have heard me.  The car had already hit him…”

So who is this strange person dressed like an 1870s dandy, who appears not to know of the existence of skyscrapers, luminous signs, traffic lights and cars?

The astonishment of 1950 New Yorkers can easily be imagined when they see a man dressed in clothes from the XIXth Century suddenly appear amongst them.

Captain Rihm pursues his investigations and finally discovers, in a telephone directory of 1939, a Rudolf Fentz Junior living at 112 East 21st Street.  He goes there and learns that this Fentz, at the time that he was living in the building, was a man around sixty who worked in a bank nearby.  One of the lodgers gives the precision:

“In 1940, he retired and left the neighbourhood.  Since then, we’ve never had any news of him.”

The policeman enquires at the bank where he is told that Rudolf Fentz died in 1945, but that his widow was still alive and living in California.

Rihm takes an aeroplane and goes to question her.  Mrs Fentz’ answers can be resumed like this:

“No, she didn’t have a son, or a nephew, or even a cousin bearing the name of Rudolf Fentz.  No, her husband had not been married before marrying her.  No, no-one in her family had a taste for fancy dress.  No, she had never lived in Fifth Avenue, but her husband, yes, when he was a child.  He had even often shown her the building in which his parents had lived.  No, she didn’t recognize the visiting cards that the Captain was showing her, but the address could well be that of her father-in-law.  1876?  Yes, that year reminds her of something:  it was the year of her husband’s birth.  Yes, she has a family photo album…”

And she shows it to him.

The Captain wants to know if there is, among Rudolf Fentz Junior’s relatives, someone who resembles his mysterious person.

After having turned several pages, he stops suddenly, as if petrified, before a photograph representing a man dressed in a jacket and black and white checked pants, with buckled ankle boots, wearing a top hat…

Underneath this old-fashioned hat, a face is smiling, and although the document has yellowed, Captain Rihm immediately recognizes it:  it is the unknown man from Times Square.

“Who is this?”

“My father-in-law;  and the baby he is holding in his arms is my husband…  I mean, my future husband…”

“Have you any other portraits of your father-in-law?”

“No, that’s the only one that I have.  The unfortunate man mysteriously disappeared shortly after the photo was taken.”

“Disappeared?”

“Yes.  His wife couldn’t stand the smell of tobacco.  So he had the habit of going for a little walk after dinner to smoke a cigar.  And one evening, he didn’t come home.  His family had a search made for him by the Police, but it was never known what happened to him…”

“Do you know the date of this disappearance?”

“My mother-in-law often told me about it:  my husband was three months old.  He was born in March.  My father-in-law therefore disappeared in June 1876…”

Very impressed, Captain Rihm returns to New York where he finds in the Police archives the list of Missing Persons in 1876.  On 14 June, the name of Rudolf Fentz, aged twenty-nine, is listed “wearing a gray jacket, black and white checked trousers, high shoes with buckles and a top hat”

***

To be continued.

The legend of the Easter bells that go to Rome from Good Thursday to the evening of Good Saturday is an enigma for folklorists and historians of traditions.

There exists, in the History of folklore, a mystery which has always intrigued the specialists of popular traditions.  It is the one attached to the origin of the “Easter bells”.  When, in the VIIIth Century, the Church, as a sign of mourning, forbids the ringing of the bells during the three days which precede the Festival of the Resurrection, the good people invented a very strange story.  They said:

“From Good Thursday to Good Saturday evening, the bells leave their belfries, fly away and go to Rome…”

With the knowledge that legends nearly always draw their origins from something that really happened, one could ask what strange phenomenon could have led our ancestors to imagine such a fable.  For no-one has ever seen any bells flying in the sky.

Or have they?…

Don’t laugh and let us have a look at a chronicle from the VIth Century which will perhaps furnish us with the explanation that we are seeking.

This chronicle’s author is the monk Gregoire de Tours.  Reporting all the important facts of his epoch in his Histoire des Francs, the worthy man writes that in 584,

“there appeared in the sky brilliant wheels of light which seemed to crash into each other and go past each other;  after which, they separated and disappeared into thin air”.

The following year, he notes:

“In the month of September, certain people saw some signs, that is to say, some of these wheels of light or cupolas that one is accustomed to see and which seem to run with rapidity in the sky.”

Two years later, the monk again writes:

“We saw for two nights in a row, in the middle of the sky, a sort of strongly luminous cloud which had the form of a hood.”

A cupola, a hood, those are objects which resemble bells a lot.  From there, could we not think that these mysterious apparitions, observed by the contemporaries of Gregoire de Tours, are at the origin of the popular fable?

For centuries, city and country children await the “return” of the bells which are supposed to bring them back from Rome eggs in sugar or chocolate.

But what then were these extraordinary engines which were circulating in the atmosphere?

Their description strangely resembles that of our modern UFOs some of which have, very exactly, the form of a cupola, of a hood, in a word, of a bell

Let us listen to a witness who, on 2 October 1954, saw one of these objects above Quinay-Voisin, near Melun:

“The engine passed in the sky at a fast pace.  It was coming from the North and had the form of a cupola…  It made no noise and was shiny like aluminium…  In a few seconds, it stationed over a wood.  I then saw it rocking for a long moment;  then it took off again at astounding speed and disappeared.”

Another testimony:  on 24 June 1962, around 3:00 pm, a man from a garage, who was running an errand in the vicinity of Nice, suddenly sees something luminous in the sky.  Let us listen to him:

“At first, I thought that it was round.  Then when the thing came closer, I saw that it had the form of an upside-down bowl.  This thing circled above the hill, as if it was looking to land.  Then it threw out flashes and rose vertically at great speed.  Then I lost it from sight.”

Third testimony, even more precious:  On 19 June 1971, a former American officer was driving along a road in Georgia when he noticed above a wood an enormous scintillating object slipping under the clouds.  He says:

“This object had the form of a German helmet or of a bell.  It was fairly high, but I think that its diameter could be equal to the width of a Boeing.  Intrigued, I stopped and turned off my engine.  The object continued to advance slowly without making any noise.  Then it began to circle around a point which seemed to me to be a little lake situated not far from the place where I was.  While it was circling, some red lights appeared on its sides, as if some windows were lighting up.  Then everything went out and the object suddenly took off and disappeared into some clouds.”

So, what do we conclude?

This very curious story that parents still tell children could have at its origin the apparition in the sky of a mysterious flying object.

That the men of the VIth Century had perhaps received the visit of an engine comparable to these UFOs which roam around our sky, the strange evolutions of which are periodically reported by the newspapers?

In this case, the “Easter bells” would have entered into our traditions because of an object in the form of a cupola which perhaps came from another world and had caused the men of the year 584 to marvel…

***

Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, underlines that this explanation is only an hypothesis which he submits to the folklorists, nothing more…

***

Flying bells are very often in legends and popular tales.  In all of the world’s folklores, bells have a magical character.  We see them as special objects – almost living beings – since we baptise them.  And we lend them strange faculties:  they ring on their own to announce a catastrophe, they make storms flee, they stop hail.  Finally – and we come back to our subject – they roam around the sky at fantastic speeds.  In certain tales, they are described, brilliant or glowing red, flying over fields or villages.  In others, they stop for a few instants in a point in the air before taking off again like a flash of lightning…  Which is, according to the witnesses cited by the newspapers, one of the characteristics of our modern UFOs.

***

There is an enormous amount of apparitions of unidentified celestial objects in the Middle Ages.  The chronicles are full of them.  They speak of mysterious round objects, flying shields, lances of fire, in other words, objects whose description again corresponds with what we read today in the press…  Listen to what Gregoire de Tours wrote in 590:

“During this year, a light so bright shone in the night that one could believe that it was noon;  one saw as well globes of fire travelling often across the sky at nighttime and illuminating the world.”

Here is what the chronicler Matthieu de Paris writes in his Historia Anglorum, on the subject of a phenomenon which occurred at twilight on 24 July 1239:

“While the stars were not yet lit and while the sky was still very light, serene and brilliant, a great star appeared like a torch.  It rose from the South and climbed in the sky emitting a very big light.  When it was high in the sky, it turned toward the North, slowly, as if it wanted to occupy a position in the sky.  But when it was about in the middle of the firmament, in our boreal hemisphere, it left behind it some smoke and some sparks.  This had the form of a big head, the front part was sparkling and the back part was emitting smoke and flashes…”

For the date 1290, one finds in the chronicles of William of Newburgh this text:

“As Abbot Henry, Prior of Byland Abbey, in England, was about to read the “Benedicite”, Joannes, one of the friars, came to announce that a prodigy was showing outside.  Everyone then went outside and there they saw a big silver thing, round like a disc, fly slowly above them, provoking the most lively terror…”

Thirty years later, Robert of Reading, who was a Benedictin at Saint Peter of Westminster, notes in his chronicle that in 1322,

“in the early hours of the night of 4 November a pillar of fire the size of a little boat, of pale colour, was seen in the sky above Uxbridge (Middlesex);  it rose to the South, crossed the sky in a slow, majestuous movement and left towards the North.  At the front of the pillar, a bright red flame was burning throwing out great rays of light.  Its speed increased and it disappeared into space…  Several witnesses saw a sort of collision and a noise like a fearsome combat was heard.”

Phenomena of this kind are signalled throughout the whole of Europe.  In Sicily, the Minor Brothers of Ragusa watched, on 8 January 1388, the passage of several “very luminous and aligned” objects above their convent.  And the Cronica Albertina indicates that in 1394,

“the second day of the month of September, at the second hour of the night, appeared to some men who were on the public square of Forli and to others, in other places assembled, a great asud [name given at the time to celestial objects] which traversed the sky very slowly and which stayed in space the time of two Pater Nosters, and which was as long as one step, and which, at its disappearance – the men who were on the square reported it – gave out an odour of burning wood, and we heard other people who assured that the said asud on fire travelled through the air in its own fashion, but after it remained motionless for a bit of time in space, and after this time it disappeared little by little leaving in its place a sort of cloud, and the rest of the vapours had taken the form of serpents, a rather admirable thing.”

Finally, here is another text that Guy Breton found in the Memoires of a bourgeois from Arras written by Jacques Duclerq, Counseller to Philippe le Bon.  He writes:

“In the night of the All Saints [31 October night] 1461, was noticed in the sky an ardent thing, like a very long bar of iron, very fat like half a moon.  For a quarter of an hour, we could see very clearly.  And then, suddenly, this strange thing twisted and climbed into the skies.  Each remained stunned by it.”

You see, the sky of the Middle Ages is criss-crossed by unidentified flying objects…  It is possible that these mysterious apparitions have given birth to other myths.  Which would perhaps explain why, when the Church forbade the ringing of the bells for three days, the good people found it quite natural to tell their children that the bells – which had the form of some of these objects circulating in the sky – had flown away.  And as they could imagine them better close to the Pope, they added that they had left for Rome…

***

The UFO enigma – part 6

Having calculated that there are around 530,000 planets which could contain advanced life forms and civilizations similar to those found on Earth, we now come to the problem of distance.  At the place where we are in our galaxy – far from the central chaos – stars are so rare that it would take 7.6 light years to go from one of these civilizations to another.  Applied to the total number of planets in our galaxy, that makes 630 light years.

Some of these planets have had millions and millions of years to develop a technological civilization.  Even if it takes thousands of light years to visit all of our galaxy, the number of civilizations which could have tried it allow us to affirm that they have certainly been numerous times on our Earth, over the millions and millions of years that it, too, has existed.

***

Many good authors, such as Arrhenius, Chemistry Nobel Prizewinner, affirm that our own life found its origin in the bacterian garbage that these visitors left on the ground, or at the very least that it was fecunded by germs brought by meteorites…

***

Does this Iranian flying disc with landing gear recall the coming of an UFO in Antiquity?

In most traditions, the memory of the extra-terrestrials has remained alive, and the myths of many cultures make express reference to them.  In Sumeria for example, a constant tradition recalls that superior beings came to teach the sciences and techniques…

These myths can be interpreted differently too, but scholars continue to be astonished by the sudden mutation which has the Sumerian culture, which was originally very rustic, becoming the Mesopotamian civilization, which masters, with inexplicable rapidity, sciences and techniques such as we still know them today.  Particularly in the domains of Mathematics and Astronomy…

***

In France alone, serious statistics estimate at one million the number of persons who have seen objects which we can very safely call “unidentified”.

***

Photos taken in MacMinville, Oregon, USA, were submitted to all sorts of controls imaginable and no trickery could be detected by the scholars who examined them.  Further, the most severe report ever elaborated on UFOs, the Condon Report, which mobilized around twenty American scholars for years, and swallowed up hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaves a certain number of inexplicable phenomena…

***

Jacques Vallee, a reputed Astronomist, is convinced that UFOs exist.  He has observed them…

***

UFOs are capable of astounding things.  Unlike satellites, for example, their orbits are retrograded and all seem capable of appearing and disappearing instantaneously, of projecting all sorts of light shafts, some very short or bent at an angle, which is totally inexplicable…  They also stall the biggest motors, stop television receivers from functioning, as well as entire electrical networks.  They can even perturb firearms…

***

The more extraordinary the testimony, the more there is a good chance that it will remain hidden.  In the examples that have been cited, the witnesses asked Aime Michel to make a solemn vow not to give their names.  If they were better known, we would be able to see much better the coherence of all of these testimonies throughout the world and the competence and good faith of a great number of witnesses.

***

Those who drew up the Condon Report seem to have been terribly afraid of highlighting the positive points of their dossiers…  First of all, out of fear of ridicule.  Certainly, also out of fear of suscitating a collective psychosis…  Let us not forget Welles’ War of the Worlds…  Jacques Vallee affirms that, in Washington, the higher echelons of Government are all convinced of the reality of the phenomenon.  But they hesitate, for political and security reasons, to throw into the public domain the most probant photos and the radar recordings in particular.

***

Apart from the numerous traces we have already mentioned, there is also a piece of metal from an UFO which disintegrated near Sao Paulo in Brazil.  The analysis of the metallic fragment gave astounding results.  It was magnesium which was 99.9% pure, with a density of 1.866, which is absolutely impossible to achieve on our planet…

***

That the different places where UFOs show themselves are very often in a straight line (for example, six apparitions on the straight line between Vichy and Bayonne) prove that the phenomenon owes nothing to chance, nor to collective hallucination, nor to that of an isolated person…

***

Then there is the question of why some people who have seen an UFO appear to be in some sort of trance during and after seeing it.  Louis Pauwels, whose work I have translated, thinks that, apart from the shock of seeing it of course, there is a reason which is of a psychic and even spiritual essence.  Therefore, it totally escapes proof of a rational order…

He thinks that the behaviour of the witnesses and the prolonged perturbations that the contact with an UFO provokes could have their origin in the fact that these witnesses played a role of medium…  Between Humanity and the thinking beings inside the UFOs…

***

Vallee was able to prove that, in a great number of cases, the reactions of the witnesses and the consequences of these contacts totally resemble those which affect people performing thought transmission in the laboratory, or mediums who try to enter into communication with spirits or try to provoke psychokinesis phenomena [capacity to move objects at a distance using only the mind], which are also activated during mystical phenomena and miracles.  In other words, these thinking entities, whose intelligence is infinitely more developed than ours, use this type of phenomena to enter into contact with us, using elements that are available in the witness’ reality:  in the presence of Doctor N., a medical doctor, they heal.

***

A simpler way to enter into contact would be to speak.  However, the level of evolution of the intelligence of these beings is doubtless such that they are no longer capable of this sort of reversal to a more primitive state…  Can we demand that a human being suddenly start to speak dog or monkey?  Or perhaps they no longer have, or have never had, the same senses as we have…

We should not expect them to be able to instantaneously go back down the three million million years of evolution that they have in advance on us…

***

Those who have been in contact with them, and who dare to admit it (a very small minority probably), say that they are bearers of a message, or at least see their little everyday existence take on a completely new acuity and meaning…

***

With great coherence also, the entities reveal, or recall, that the essence of the cosmos is of a spiritual order, that thought prefigures matter and that it is therefore anterior and superior to it.  That the veritable expansion of the universe is not physical (in 1982, there was no lack of scholars to question even the idea of this expansion, in the sense of being only dilation to infinity of Space), but is of an intellectual order.  It is for this reason that all of the witnesses see their conception of existence changed, that from then on, they give priority importance to intellectual questions (you must learn Astronomy, write books) or to meditation on the final sense of things (like Doctor N. and his wife).

***

Louis Pauwels thinks that the paranormal powers that the witnesses suddenly have at their disposal comes from the contact that they have had with these thinking entities, who have put them, in some way, into resonance with the immense cosmic vibration of this Intelligence which is gradually spreading throughout the whole universe.  And which is capable of getting around material barriers and physical and psychological limitations, from which saints and mystics are already delivered.

***

Mysterious, strongly radio-active, triangular imprints were discovered in the Nams Fjord. Mr Kolbjorn Stenodegaard, President of the Norwegian Centre for UFO Studies, thinks that they are the traces left by an engine from another world.

The sign and symbol of the triangle are present in a lot of stories about UFOs.  We recall the hole in the form of a triangle left by the object which landed in Sweden and the numerous tripod traces after the departure of engines.  With Doctor N. and his son, this mark could be the consequence of an exposure to an unknown type of radiation.  It could also be due to an emotive, even hysterical, reaction.  The History of Psychopathology abounds in cases of dermographisms, that is to say, of marks or even inscriptions, which appear on certain parts of the body of sick subjects, but also healthy ones.

It is suggestion or autosuggestion which determines them, and the most famous are those of Jeanne de Belfield, the Mother Superior of the Ursulines of Loudun, on whose back the words Jesus, Mary and Joseph were inscribed.  Another known case, studied by Kraft-Ebing, is that of Ilma S…  When any word or figure was traced on the right side of her back, it appeared inverted on the left side.  These marks remain visible from a few instants to eight hours maximum.  In the case of the doctor, a lot longer, it appears.

***

Louis Pauwels thinks that if these mysterious entities wanted to hurt us, with the technology of which they dispose, we would have disppeared in a puff of smoke a long time ago…

He thinks that they have succeeded, over millions of years, in evacuating that which, in the right lobe of our brains, still remains of aggression, of the death impulse, of homicidal instincts.  That in fact, according to the admirable formula of Aime Michel “something in the immensity of the interstellar distances is selecting non-violence.

***

Observers must be very prudent. These luminous balls, photographed by an amateur astronomist, on 7 January 1974, at Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey (Alpes-Maritimes) in France, were due, in fact, to the reverberation of car headlights on the clouds.

At Delphos, in the Kansas wheat plains, the Johnson Farm is one of the biggest in the region.  On 2 November 1971, the farmer’s son, Ronald Johnson, aged 16, is watching a flock of sheep with his dog Tex.  In the declining daylight, he suddenly sees, 25 metres in front of him, an object in the form of a mushroom, constellated with multicoloured lights.  It is suspended in the air, around 50 centimetres from the ground, and its approximate diameter is 3 metres.  This object is so brilliantly lit that he can discern no detail, but Ronald notices that it is making a noise like an “old washing machine that is vibrating”.  Hypnotised, the young man observes it for several minutes, until the object becomes even more brilliant at its base and takes off at prodigious speed.  It takes Ronald a good moment to get back his sight.  The first thing that he sees before running back to the house is his dog, who during the whole time that the apparition lasted, had remained perfectly motionless and silent.

When his parents come out of the house, they also see the flying object.  It is already very high in the sky and has, at this moment, a size comparable with that of the full moon.  Ronald and his parents then go to the place where the object had landed.  On the slightly damp ground, they discover a circle which is emitting a faint glow.  The lower branches of the neighbouring trees are also glowing.  One of the investigators, Mr Ted Philipps, would indicate that, at the place where the engine had been, “the ground was strange to the touch, forming a sort of crust, like a crystallized coating”.

Mrs Johnson reported that her hands, which had touched the ground at this place, had remained numb for nearly two weeks.  Thirty days later, the circle was still visible, and the snow that had fallen in between had melted only inside the circle, where the ground had also become hard as if vitrified.

Inside this sort of crater, the investigators notice the presence of an abundant white powder around thirty centimetres thick.

The young Johnson would suffer from a prolonged eye irritation, migraine headaches and terrible nightmares, during which he called his parents, screaming:  “It’s gone!  It’s gone!”

***

There are immeasurable difficulties to be overcome in interstellar voyages.  To go to the star that is the closest to the Earth, it would take nearly nine years, on condition to travel at the speed of light.  However, the fantastic distances which separate the stellar bodies have an advantage:  the number of stars and galaxies which fill the universe is incredibly astounding as well…

It seems totally improbable that, among the thousands and thousands of millions of planets, ours is the only one to possess the privilege of life and intelligence, in absolute contradiction with the teachings of the law of great numbers and all that we know about the formation of our solar system…

***

On the evening of 30 August 1951, this strange UFO squadron, which silently flew over Lubbock (Texas) USA, was observed and photographed by many people.

Let us retain only the figures advanced by R. S. Harrington, of the United States Naval Observatory.  In 1978, this scholar was able to determine that the stars in our galaxy alone, which benefited from an ecosphere similar to that of the Earth, were of the number of 52 million million.

That is to say, a possibility of gravitating, without being perturbed too much by the radiations or the gravitations of the stars which, like our Sun, accompany the course of the planets.

***

This possibility is far from being sufficient to give life.  There must be a certain number of other conditions, but there are thirty million million stars similar to our Sun in our galaxy…

There would have to be other stars associated with these suns.  But there are six million million of those.  However, this is still not enough to give birth to the most modest bacterium.

Stars can differentiate themselves other than by their mass, their luminosity or their power of association.  By their chemical composition in particular, which allows them to group together.  Some in the central regions of the galaxies, others on their periphery.  At the end of complex metamorphoses, which occur through terrifying cataclysms (cosmic collisions which lead to chain reactions during which millions of millions of stars sink into the famous “black holes”), the stars divide themselves into different “populations”.  Precisely according to the place that they occupy in the whole of the galaxy.  Only those which escape the frightful central clashing have a chance of becoming “stars of population I”…

Among these, only the stars of the second generation, such as our Sun, which formed five million million years ago – when our galaxy was already twice as old – contain water, ammoniac and methane which permit the formation of ice, rocks and metals.  Therefore, are able to engender planetary systems similar to ours.

This still leaves 5.2 million million carbon copies of our Sun…  They also have to have planets to receive their fecund radiations…  However, in the state of our knowledge, we are absolutely incapable of saying how many planetary systems similar to ours there are…

***

We can, however, take our solar system as a reference and, starting from its characteristics, make a certain number of simulations on a computer.  The American Astronomist S. H. Dole did this very well.  He still found a figure close to 2.6 million million stars.  By refining the conditions of inhabitability, we find that the number of inhabitable planets in our galaxy gradually diminishes…

Our last figure is 650 million.  Which is considerably less than the figure retained by the Astronomer Carl Sagan, who goes up to a million million…

These are all only worlds where the molecules, characteristic for life, could eventually form.  We have to leave these planets time to sufficiently age, so that the infinitely slow and complicated process of life is able to establish itself.  From the rudimentary cells of bacteria to ours, which needed dry ground to develop, the number of planets capable of housing them falls a lot more again.  And from the inferior species of animals to those which we are, finally capable to develop a technological civilization, the number becomes really derisory:  530,000.

***

To be continued.

These two photos were taken in 1969 from the cabin of his truck by a truck driver who was driving along the Santa Ana road in California, USA.

Carelia, in Winter, is a string of frozen lakes connected by a small band of pine trees under which only a few rare Russian gamekepers travel from place to place.  Forty years before our story, the citizens of Finland had been chased out of this region.

In February 1960, during an inspection, one of these gamekeepers discovers, on the bank of a body of frozen water, a sort of long crater which wasn’t there two days before.  As, in this time of the USSR, nobody takes anything out of the ordinary lightly, he immediately telephones Leningrad to report it.  The very next day, which is a Sunday, six specialists come to examine the hole which seems to have been provoked by the axe of a gigantic woodsman.  With divers at their side, they discover a large fracture 30 metres long by 15 metres wide and 3 metres deep.  One thing strikes them at first glance…  Where is the earth that has been extracted from the hole?  To this question, which remains unanswered, another, just as embarrassing, is immediately added:  at the bottom of the lake, the divers discover a sort of scar of the same dimensions, which makes them think that an object has landed there, has skidded on the frozen ground and has disintegrated in the water of the lake.  But despite searches with the help of a detector, no trace can be found of any metal or any other kind of body…

Before this mystery, the men of Science ask the divers to go a bit farther towards the middle of the lake.  It is not long before they find another trench, similar to the first one but this time around a hundred metres long.  It is recent, like the first one, and could only have been dug by an object of fairly big size, launched at a considerable speed.  As this trench finishes in a gentle slope upwards,  they have to conclude that the engine had succeeded in becoming airborne, which is confirmed by the absence of any trace beyond this second point of impact, whether on the surface or at the bottom of the lake.  The case appears so interesting to the Leningrad scholars that they study it very completely.  But without being able to give the slightest rational explanation for the phenomenon.  What troubles them the most, is that the ice, which is floating, after having been broken, and which is partly immerged, has turned the most beautiful green and the edges of the trenches are sprinkled with brilliant grains of metal.  This substance is studied in the most profound manner.  First of all, it is discovered that it exists in no known organic matter and that no acid can attack it.  The Soviet chemists conclude that it is an inorganic matter, of non-natural origin…

***

One of the first undiscutable photos of an UFO. It was taken in 1950 in Oregon, USA, by Mac Minville. The specialists who examined it detected no trickery.

Seven years later, in Sweden, fishermen discover, on Lake Uppramen, a totally similar crater, this time 500 metres long, for a depth in the ice of around one metre.  The hole is of a perfectly triangular form and, over a fairly big surface, enormous blocks of ice are strewn on the frozen surface of the lake…  There too, no satisfactory explanation is able to be given and no pieces or traces of metal are found either, and should have been in the vicinity because of the violence of the shock that such an impact supposes.  Just a bit of pellicular matter of a reddish colour is found.  No laboratory is able to determine its origin or its nature…

***

On 15 June 1966, in an isolated corner of Aveyron, France, a 76 year old peasant woman, who is cleaning some milk containers in her kitchen, feels slightly ill.  This is not the first time and Madame X knows that, when it happens, she must neither lie down nor sit, but on the contrary breathe in some air at the window, for as long as possible…

Standing against one of the ten windows on the South side of this very old farm building, she deeply breathes in the nocturnal air.  From the place where she is, Mme X has a very beautiful view over the causse, which lets its grassy prairies flow for kilometres down to a peaceful river, a meandre of which is already catching a moonray.  Suddenly, Mme X thinks that she has noticed to the left of this reflection several fires, whose intensity seems to be rapidly growing.  She counts five of them and is very quickly worried, like the good peasant that she is for whom fire represents the absolute calamity.  Now these fires are taking on a rounded form and appear to transform themselves into spheres.  Spheres which begin to move in all directions, winking, rising in the air and moving closer.

The old lady then calls her son-in-law, who is in the dining room, two rooms farther along.  This man arrives and looks in turn…  He sees a flotilla of six big spheres which are evolving, it seems to him, at the speed of a tractor, roughly two kilometres away.

The son-in-law, who runs the farm and has a reputation for being a serious, hard-working man, would recount that he went outside on the mound in front of the farmhouse and was able to see that the objects were, in fact, rounded on the top and flatter underneath and that they could “disappear on the spot, as if they were commanded by a light switch”.  After a few minutes of observation, he suddenly sees the six flying objects come together and fuse with another object which was much bigger and very bright, having the form of an obus.  Everything then disappears and the witness returns inside, in a deep state of perplexity.

Out of fear of being taken for a madman or a drunk, the farmer speaks to no-one about what he has seen.

The first astronauts who landed on the Moon in July 1969 left, in the Sea of Tranquillity, this “Rosetta Stone” destined for eventual Space travellers…

Six months later, on 6 January 1967, while he is going out into the courtyard, heading for a vast field at the bottom of the farm, he sees, at the moment when he is about to pass under the porch-gate, a great, motionless sphere suspended above the access track to this isolated farm.  Courageously, the farmer decides to go to see the object more closely.  But he has scarcely taken a few steps into the countryside with the idea of going around the outside of the sphere, than it disappears from his sight, to be found behind him, a short distance from the gate through which he has just passed.  He then cuts through the field which goes along the wall of the farmhouse with the idea of slipping between the building and the flying sphere.  Then a surprising thing happens which gives the farmer the impression that he is living a waking dream:  he can advance as much as he wants, the sphere always remains at the same distance and tries as well to place itself behind him.

“This thing followed me over 60 metres.  And each time that I wanted to go around behind it, it followed me all the way along and each time that I stopped, the machine stopped too!…”

Very upset, the farmer rushes inside and calls his son.  Upon going back outside, the two men now see six spheres slowly moving above the track.  They are so afraid that they run back along the corridor inside the house.  After a moment, the father dares to glance outside.  He sees that, above the spheres, an object in the form of an obus is floating and he can see that it is enormous.

“It had a searchlight at the top, just at the end and it was lighting up that window up there and the whole room.  I went upstairs and opened the window opposite…  I saw that it was sending out a shaft of light, a shaft that was very concentrated and it was also lighting up my bedroom…  moving and turning…  it was turning without stopping!  It was eleven o’clock in the evening, perhaps a quarter past eleven, already.  And then everything went out all of a sudden and I saw nothing else.  I don’t know whether it was still there or if it had gone…”.  [Cited by Jacques Vallee, in “Le College invisible”.]

One week later, the obus appears again, this time only to the son, who is returning to the farm by car.

“It was truly enormous!  Two little spheres entered into it and then the obus became a lot brighter.  Then I heard a very high whistling and the obus, after having tipped to 45 degrees, disappeared at an incredible speed…

“But another object arrived afterwards!  It had the form of a disc with two transparent cupolas at the top and inside…  well, inside…  it seemed to me that it was lit by a green light and inside the two cupolas, I saw…  look I’m not sure about it, it was very dark…  You could say that there was a sort of fog, inside or outside, I don’t know…  Anyway I thought that I saw two…  well, I saw two people…  humans, you see?  Cosmonauts.  They were wearing aviation jumpsuits…  Green with white bands!”

One week later, this witness suffers important sleep problems.  After nights of insomnia, he sleeps up to twenty hours in a row, and “when it takes hold of him”, it is very sudden, to the point that he can’t remain on his feet.  Often around 4-5 oclock in the morning, his spirit “goes floating away” and, his body paralysed, he feels his conscience move away…

In the months which follow, the young man’s character changes profoundly.  When he meets young people of his own age, he advises them to start studying Astronomy and Science in general.  He himself soon envisages writing a book.  As he is reminded that he barely knows how to read and write, he answers:

” ‘They’ told me not to worry about that!  When the moment arrives, I will know exactly what I need to write…”

***

To be continued.

This photo of an UFO taken on 18 December 1966 above Lake Tiorati, New York State, by Vincent Parna, was recognized as authentic after a minutious examination.

On this particular night, around 4:00 a.m., Doctor N. is woken suddenly by appalling cries.  He immediately realises that they are coming from his son’s bedroom.  The child is fourteen months old and is sleeping at the other end of the apartment.

Doctor N. leaps from his bed and falls to his knees with a cry of pain:  three days earlier, he had hurt his leg while breaking a piece of wood.  He rises and rushes, limping, towards his son’s bedroom.  The child is standing in his bed, visibly terrified and is pointing to the window.  The father looks and distinctly sees flashes of red light which are penetrating through the closed shutters.  He tells his son that it is nothing.  Just a storm in the making.  Papa is going to prepare a bottle for him…

Before going to the kitchen, Doctor N., more intrigued than he appears, goes towards a big, glass bay-window situated on the South side of his villa.  On his right, that is to say, on the West side, he notices the same flashes underneath the rolling shutters which are half-way down.  He opens the window onto the house’s vast terrace and then sees that it is raining, but that the weather is not at all stormy.  So where are these reddish fulgurations coming from?  By leaning out of the window, he finally sees distinctly the origin of the phenomenon:  the red, opalescent flashes are being emitted by two flying objects, in the form of a disc, the top of which is of a shiny silvery colour while underneath it is a very luminous red…

Greatly impressed, the doctor notices that the flashes surge in intervals of about one second and that when the luminous pulsation which runs along the two discs arrives at maximum intensity, a brief explosion occurs.  Now, he sees the flying objects move together towards the left and stop at the centre of the vast countryside which can be seen from the southern side of the villa.  It also seems to the witness that the two discs are slowly moving closer to each other.  It is by following with his eyes the shafts of light that they are emitting downward and which are lighting up the lawn and the uneven ground which is beyond the garden, that he becomes certain that the two discs will end up crashing into each other…  An instant later, they are exactly opposite the open window and the doctor then sees very distinctly their slim edges enter into contact and the discs fuse immediately, ceasing to emit their luminous signals.  At the height of his eyes, it seems to him, the witness only now sees one disc which continues to advance towards him.  Fascinated, he tries to move backwards towards the interior of the room but, as if struck with paralysis, he can’t.

This luminous UFO photographed on 8 August 1965 by James Lucci of Beaver, Pennsylvania, had, according to estimations by witnesses, a diameter of around 13 metres.

He then sees the disc tip slowly into a vertical position and take on the appearance of an enormous coin standing on its side.  The shaft of red light appears again and passes across the window in front of which is the doctor.  At the moment when the shaft is about to reach him, he hears a sort of explosion and the disc appears to “dematerialize”.  The witness then sees nothing more than a big whiteish halo which was perhaps only, he would later say, a retinian impression, a remnant image of the disc which subsisted for a few minutes then evaporated as if dispersed by the wind.

It is only a little later, upon leaving the state of shock in which he was, that Doctor N. recalls as well that the disc bore several antennae and that the luminous shaft which was diffracting through layers of fog had a perfectly cylindrical form…

The doctor managed to return to his bedroom and woke his wife who had heard nothing.  He recounted to her all that he had just seen and while he was speaking, she put back into place the bandage wrapped around his leg.  She noticed then that the important bruise that he had there had totally disappeared and he, himself, realised that the pain that he was still feeling when he had risen had also disappeared.  Even better, the sequels of a war wound which had resulted in a slight paralysis of the right side, which made standing upright difficult, had also disappeared, and the proof that it was not just a passing impression, was that the doctor could now stand just on his right leg which he had been totally incapable of doing until then…

Aime Michel, the man who in France was the one who knew the most about the problem of unidentified flying objects and who was the first to determine that they obeyed the rule of orthotaenia (that is to say that their different apparitions in a given region can be connected by a straight line) visited this doctor, sixteen days after the observation that he had made of the flying saucer.  This man, who asks, like many other witnesses, that his anonymat be carefully respected, appeared terribly tired and bewildered and had lost several kilos.  He recounted to Aime Michel that the day after the apparition of the two UFOs, he had suffered from violent cramps in the abdominal area and that about ten days after the event, a strange triangular mark had formed around his navel.  One of his dermatologist colleagues had not been able to give any explanation and on 17 November 1968, sixteen days after his adventure, this mark of perfectly geometrical form, was still visible.

Questioning him further, Aime Michel learned that, in the night of 13 November, the witness had dreamt of a triangle in connection with a flying disc…  As a man who knew about paranormal things, the writer immediately thought of a psychsomatic explanation:  as is the case for certain people with light stigmata, Doctor N.’s subconscious could very well have suscitated this curious pigmentation of the skin.  But a few days later, this hypothesis was seriously defeated…  A triangle of the exact dimension and colour, had also appeared on his son’s abdomen.

At the end of 1970, the detectives, including Aime Michel, who had faithfully followed the doctor’s life and noted all of their observations, drew up a first report.

The handicap of the right leg had not reappeared and the sequels of the wound that he gave himself on the leg in 1968 had also disappeared.

The triangle, on the other hand, became visible regularly on both the father and the son and this sort of intermittent tattoo remained visible for three days – in the case of the son, even when he was on holidays at his grandmother’s who knew nothing of this story.

The people in this family’s entourage, also questioned by Aime Michel, have also noted important changes of a psychological order in the doctor’s household.  They say that both the husband and the wife now have a different conception of existence and that they have a tendency to give to all of the events that they experience a mystical prolongation.  Since the famous night, Doctor N. observes that he is capable of having transmissions of thought, whether he is receiving or emitting.  He has even noticed that he has entered several times into levitation and that the clocks and electrical circuits in his house inexplicably break down…

***

To be continued.

Autumn Thud

It is early Autumn in this part of the world and, in 2005, while staying with extended family in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, I started to write a poem in English.  In 2006, I submitted it to ArtsACT, as an entry for the 2006 David Campbell Poetry Prize for an unpublished poem by an ACT poet, where it sank into oblivion, possibly with a Winter Thud, as it was in June.  In December, I learned that there had been only thirty-eight entries in this category, which makes my result even worse.

In 2008, I dug it out and reduced it to sixteen lines, which greatly improved it, and it went off to the USA where it won a second prize, along with a great number of other people’s poems (there were over seventy second prizes, I think) but, as there were many thousands of entries, I thought that this result was not too bad.  Particularly as I had entered this competition many times in the past with no result.  Perhaps they were rewarding perseverance.

The poem was published in an anthology and I don’t think that I have written any poetry since, except perhaps a few haiku.  Poetry is meant to be read aloud and I have no-one to whom to read it.  In France, I had a captive audience several times a year and this gave me an incentive to write.  Here, in the Australian Capital Territory, I have no audience.  And the way things are looking, that is not likely to change any time soon.

So, to give Autumn Thud another airing, I’ve decided to post it here.  It’s Easter Sunday and you are all bound to be high on chocolate, so it might have more chance of pleasing someone today.

Autumn Thud

*

Autumn has fallen with a thud.

The temperature drop is ten degrees.

Cockatoos, magpies, pigeons, galahs

Risk short flights to cowering trees.

***

Waves of rain sputter and stop.

Brown leaves glisten on the ground.

A young magpie flutters down,

Holds out its wings, steps around.

***

Furious, the gale renews.

Rods of water hit the earth.

The magpie tumbles, flaps, screams,

Scuttles towards the tree of its birth.

***

Autumn has fallen with a thud.

It is windy and dark, cold and damp;

A time for my nest, feather quilt,

Cocoa, a book, and the fireside lamp.

(2008 version)

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