Excerpt from Times to Try The Soul of a Man,  By Kenneth Weene

Chapter 4

Is it Safe?


We had left the jeeps in a clearing and were taking a hike. There had been a few of these “side hikes” as Matt called them. “Practice for the Inca Trail,” had been Bernie’s way of justifying them.

I was feeling physically overwhelmed and wanted to head back to Lima and then to that suddenly attractive pension in Santiago. If I had been on my own. But, I wasn’t. The steep narrow pathways that exhausted and terrified me didn’t daunt my Israeli friends. In the ever-thinning air of the Andes, they talked and sang while I gasped and panted to keep up.

From time to time, they would stop. The breaks were clearly for me. They seemed to keep careful watch over my increasingly labored breathing. And they didn’t mind reminding me that I was younger, that I should be able to keep up. It seemed like I was the recipient of a well-planned training program with periodic pep talks.

“How do you guys do this?” I gasped when, at one point, I knew that either they would stop or I would fall to the ground.

​“We’ve done some mountain climbing,” David – appreciating my desperation – gestured a stop.

​I dropped my day-pack to the ground. “But that’s not a national obsession,” I tried to joke.

“No, just a personal one,” Abe answered.

​“You guys live an energetic lifestyle.” My lungs were burning with protest.

​“Yeah. When war is always moments away, you learn to savor life.”

​avid laughed. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Offense showed on my face.

​“Look, I’m sorry,” David said. “I didn’t mean to insult you, but haven’t you gotten the message here in South America?”

​“What message?”

​“Most of the world hates the U.S.”

​“No way.”

​“Yes, way. The States get more than your share of everything. You push other countries around. And, worst of all in the Middle East, you usually support us.”


​“Israel. The Arabs hate us for existing and you for supporting our right to exist. They call you ‘The Great Satan.’”

​“The Great Satan? I like that. It has a ring.” I was half laughing.

​“What’s so funny?” Mo had come up behind me.

​“Calling The States ‘The Great Satan.’ Who the hell believes in Satan?”

​His response was quick. “The Muslim world, and you Americans better not forget it.”

​“You guys aren’t fooling around, are you?”

I felt a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. I remembered it from being a kid. It was the feeling I’d had when my parents would go at it and my mother would start shrieking that Dad was a bastard, a whoremonger, and a few dozen other shitty things.

Then, she’d start throwing crap. My brother, if he was home, would slam out the front door; and I’d head for my room, turn up my music, and try to bury my head under the pillows.

It never helped. She’d always end up storming through my door and insisting that we had to leave. She’d start grabbing stuff out of my drawers and throwing it into a suitcase – all the while screaming and crying great bursts of choking sobs.

Eventually, the cops would arrive. Dad would have called them as soon as she had started. They’d take her away. A couple of weeks later, she’d come back –chemically relaxed. We’d have peace for a while, maybe even a year or more; but there had always been another round, at least until the divorce. There were plenty of other kids in school whose parents were divorced. I was the only one whose father had custody.

Around the campfire, beneath the glistening southern sky, I continued the discussion. I was sure my companions were wrong. Even if the people at the pension were snots, I was positive that the world loved America.

“It’s your money,” Abe explained in exasperation. “People like your money so they act like they’re your friends.”

​David picked up the thread. “And your government thinks that by offering them money they’ll love you.”

​“Don’t be silly,” I countered. “Our government doesn’t try to buy …”

​They all laughed at once. “What do you think your C.I.A. does?”

​“The Central Intelligence Agency?” I asked as if I were still in high school.

​“Yeah,” Bernie sneered, “Your Central Intelligence Agency, what do you think they do?”

“Collect information – you know spying,” I answered lamely.

​“That’s a part of it,” David agreed. “But mostly they spread around money and try to buy friends.”

​“I can’t believe that nobody notices. That they can do shit like that without our knowing. I mean they have a budget. Doesn’t anybody …”


Bonfire of Poetry

What happens when four poets meet every week to share and discuss? There are sparks of inspiration that can ignite excitement and a desire to share a love of poetry with the world. We, the editors, hope this poetical anthology helps to warm and inspire you and to ignite your passion to read and write poetry. With great thanks to the other poets who have added their fuel to our bonfire, we are Alicia Kimberly, Kenneth Weene, Christy White, and Mark Young.


The poems included in the collection reveal a remarkable poetic excellence. These poems aptly show profoundly imaginative power. No doubt, the poet is an adept in the intimate and convincing analysis of emotions.

Jumping Over The Ram

What an extraordinary story Deng has to tell! It is not just about South Sudan; it is a universal story about survival and determination - how a child can face the most difficult of situations and find a way through them. It is a privilege to introduce you to Deng Atem and his moving memoir, Jumping Over the Ram.  ~Anderson Cooper, CNN Anchor

The Rightful King

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Times To Try The Soul of Man

What do an overweight stripper, the CIA, corruption in New York City, the Israeli Mossad, ancient Inca civilization, terrorism, political intrigue, mad dashes across America, and a waste-case of a teenager have in common? They are the ingredients of this action-packed crime and coming-of-age novel. Much of this story is based on true events, perhaps too true to be believed. Guaranteed to make you think and probably to shudder as you relive 9/11. "In his book Times To Try The Soul Of Man, Kenneth Weene paints a vivid portrait of the peripatetic freelance journalist peering from the outskirts of mass corruption at an American horror show." (Anthony Flacco – NY Times best selling author)

Broody New Englander

Three stories set in New England explore love and seduction, commitment and infidelity, death and mourning. Literary fiction with some hints of science fiction and the paranormal. Broody New Englander offers deep psychological and sociological insights and combines warmth of character and plot with lyrical language.

Sweet & Sour

Short fiction some filled with sweetness and some filled with pain.

Red & White

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Memoirs From The Asylum

What is it like to work inside a state hospital or to be a patient in such a hospital? What is it like to live inside the mind of such a patient? This tragi-comedic novel takes the reader inside the asylum, inside the worlds of three central characters: a narrator who has taken refuge from his fears of the world, a psychiatrist whose own life has been damaged by his father's depression, and a catatonic schizophrenic whose world is trapped inside a crack in the wall opposite her bed. This is the interwoven story of their lives, a story that includes love, sexuality, violence, deaths, celebrations, circuses, and surprising twists. As the plot unwinds, the reader learns a great deal about the nature of futility, frustration, and freedom.

Widow's Walk

Mary Flanagan, caught between her sense of religion and obligation on one hand and her very human desire for love and life on the other, is in emotional limbo. When she meets Arnie Berger, who becomes both her lover and philosophic guide, Mary's world seems to be transformed. Changes also come for Mary's children, who have been trapped in their own dilemmas. Sean, a quadriplegic, is looking for a fulfilled life. Mary's daughter, Kathleen must cope with infertility and anger in her search for happiness. The lives of all three Flanagans are turned upside down by happiness and tragedy.


Hundreds of years have separated Wyndel Blackman and his mother from his father’s homeland in Africa. Now they have come from America to scatter his father’s Ashes. What will they learn on this journey? What will they teach the people of that distant community?

Tales From The Dew Drop Inne

"Tales from the Dew Drop Inne" reads like a darkly humorous sitcom. The tone is both heartfelt and deliciously irreverent, showing that one does not need to hate humanity to appreciate the humor of life. Here are tales of drifters, alcoholics, religious renegades, veterans, and drag queens set in pub that is at once a confessional, a circus, and a psychiatric hospital. --Marina Julia Neary, author of "Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916"

El Catrin

Can Father Eduardo protect Jesus? Will the Devil best his brother? What mysterious things can happen among those who believe in holy mysteries? Who is El Catrîn? Magical Realism by Kenneth Weene.

Two Tales of Terror

Kenneth Weene Pages

Weene Side

Ken's Writing Groups