Poetry: 2009

(First posted in 2009 on Stephen’s previous website)
Avalon

You may go volitionally to Glastonbury,
but not of your own impetus.

If you have gone or should you go,
you go at the behest and with the agency
of the Goddess.

There is no other way.  All who go are
called, witting or unawares. 

Some tarry; some lost, distracted.  Some stay
restoring self and others.  Others touch and
go.  Changed.

Some weep long over our recumbent Arthur,
whose sleep is not a death.

She will have her way with you.  Her
prerogative.  Her way is your way.  If
you do not yet know this, you will.

The bowl, too, at Chalice Well.  It too is
not of this world.  It, too, will guide you
through Her initiation bringing your
heart to the fore.

Deaths will befall you.  Bow to the Goddess
for such benevolent Grace.  Enough with
what has gone before, Now is your
awakening.  Now is your becoming.

Pick up your pendragon and march into
your sovereign autonomous heart of love
expressing your compassionate fire.

Burn brightly before these Wells.  Warm
the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone.

Walk on your fears.  Put your former
strengths on the ground.  Bring your love
into figure – to the fore.

Live your own life in your own way.
Not at the expense of others
but in the confluence of love’s
Human Heart.

©2009 Stephen Victor



Archipelago 

We,
archipelagoes each.

Born of 
numinous tides,
etherial tectonics.

More luminously supple than 
physically substantive.  

The sea, metonymy of our provenance
bathing our human shores,
intercessor of our transfiguration.

We ecstatically swoon in 
would-be grand currents of subduction
blithely unaware…

And, 
when seeking 
elevation…

are we really?

Erosion and deposition,
our natural movements.

Which is which?

 ©2009 Stephen Victor


While on a cross-country road trip, I listened to a CD version of Sue Monk Kidd’s sweet book The Secret Life of Bees. It was read by a woman with a wonderfully rich voice – and in one of America’s Southern accents. This voice made the book additionally delicious. This silliness of a poem came forward.

Black Madonna Honey

Nature’s Eucharist.

Bees are no altar boys,
smugglers of divine 
booty they are:

Viscous golden light.

Might I too become a 
lover of life’s corolla
and her sweetness.

©2009 Stephen Victor


I am one of the silly ones who has made a vocation out of my own psychological, energetic and spiritual awakening. I do not mean a job or career – although – I work in “That industry.” Rather, I mean that I have made arduous labor of my own unfolding. The lines below capture my thinking – rather than my heart’s awareness. This poem reflects the conceptual awareness I seemed to require along the way of moving back into my heart – the one I had exiled myself from long before. 

Crucible and Chalice 

Forte and foible. A community of self, 
innocently fashions its biography, 
sculpting tomorrow’s now.

Mortar and pestle breaking away my  
heart’s protective husks.

Hitherto unaware of my exile,
blind to the constraining banality 
of my prosaic and metered life;
I understood conceptually, of course.  

The juggernaut of my understanding is 
wholly insufficient, 
for knowing is the province NOT of an
understanding intellect,
but of the human heart 
and her fields of Wisdom’s Grace.

I, a refugee, dream of repatriation,
to the contours of beauty
in my Life’s poetic humus. 
      
©2009 Stephen Victor

This poem reflects a modicum of awareness congealing as I stood on a public transport bus near Euston Station in Central London. I seem to love my every moment in this city. 
Myopia, adios 

How do I, 
taking transport,
see 
the innocence 

of the drivershuttling me?

How do I, 
ambulating one,
know 
my own heart?

How do I, 
ordering breakfast,
see the waitstaff’s dignity 
as she brings sustenance?

How do I, 
ordinary one,
see 
my own grandeur?

How do I, 
on streets crowded,
see the beauty 
of passersby?

How do I, 
beneficiary,
know
Gratitude?  

How do I love?

©2009 Stephen Victor

Poetry: 2010

(First posted in 2010 on Stephen’s previous website)
One Sunday morning ten minutes before beginning a workshop in Nicosia, Cyprus, I ran out the back of my hotel to fetch a bottle of water. The street was filled with the movement of young women. The poem is what I saw in my five minutes with them.
Maid’s Day Out

Early Sunday morning
presences of liberty,
attenuating modest joy and delight,
inundate this wizened “Old Town” street.

In quiet relief, temporarily free from
contractual constraints of domestic servitude,
this panoply of petite and ebony haired
immigrant Goddesses
now exhale:
Perhaps their first in a week.

These resplendent beings
conveyed in weary young Oriental bodies
waft and wend their way
into a market’s alley entrance
whose front door
– chained shut –
directs one round the building’s side.

Having taken economic refuge and modest wages,
residing now
in this precinct of affordable rents,
infamous in its crush of nocturnal inebriation,
these feminine deities in quiet buoyancy of bearing,
find solace gathering sustaining conversation
and chaste provisions.

Within this crudely cordoned grocery
a vigilant proprietor surveils tall above this throng
bringing them to heel.
Attitudes of we and they, us and them
bespeaking:
Outsiders are treated differently.

These young foreigners
in exile, too, from their youthful promise.
Once cleaved, can it be reclaimed?
Here being judged unscrupulous
yet the toil and tenderness of these hearts
– expressions of Grace –
– in care and companionship –
minister to this island’s families and elderly.

©2010 Stephen Victor


I am a bit sobered as I look at some of these poems for the purposes of giving the reader context. This poem really reflects my internal dialogue – a mini pep-rally if you will. It’s relevant and at the same time, if you will permit me the expression – bullshit! It arises from my intellect rather than my heart…yet, this has been my path.
Stop All Else

I am.
You are
Gregory Bateson’s
“difference that makes the difference.”

Bow to falsity
and its profusion
then turn from it.

Pay obeisance
to the perversion of your
upbringing, education, training and experience
and wash it from your body and memory.

Nothing is what it seems.
Nothing!

Genuflect to the mother of all fears.
Stand on her great strength
now morphed and rendered in service to your joy.

Walk into the life of your longing!

Stand now
on Apollo’s Central Sun
emanating not His light
but your own!

©2010 Stephen Victor


Refer to the context from “Stop All Else” for this is more of the same.

Embargo’s End

The moratorium on loving
self has been lifted!

Your sovereign status
duly recognized!

The refugee you believe yourself to be
does indeed have a home!
Inhabit it now!

Your poetic license has standing!

The center of your power
embodied, grounded!

The occlusion on the aperture of your heart
dissolved!

Voice the authority
of your native tongue!

And, see!
See beyond what fear has rendered!
Consent to this world as it is!

My friend, you see all the worlds now!
Stand in Apollo’s Light.
Dance on Aphrodite’s breath.
Render up your harvest for those who follow!

©2010 Stephen Victor


I have the good fortune to be learning to fly a single engine airplane. The plane is an 1946 Taylorcraft – a taildragger – named Simply Magic. Flight touches my heart rendering me to tears often. After a flight I wrote this giving it to my flight instructor.
Heart’s Flight

Buoyed beauty delight,
airfoil, propeller,
convection’s currents and
morning’s colored light
lift our banked rolls
– Simply, Magically –
dancing through
cloud corridors

– these canyons –
consequences of consenting cumulus
passages through
tears of quiet quivering joy.

Now,
between sun and cloud,
this taildragger’s silhouette
borne within the physics of
circular rainbow

Changing headings
into Magic’s shadow we cruise
through this colored portal
round and open.

Simply Magic!

©2010 Stephen Victor


I don’t know whether what I write is poetic. I simply want to write and write poetry. Someday these “cartoon characters” will evolve into something of even greater beauty and relevance. Here, I am talking to myself again.
Joy

Unite your heart.
Listen as it speaks.

Its true character is inclusivity.
Its true nature is joy.

Cultivate its fecund kindness.
Its generous plethora awaits.

©2010 Stephen Victor


This poem turned up in the promotional copy I wrote for an evening public talk I gave. The talk did not go particularly well either – yet such is my journey as the one who makes labor of moving into my own life.
Life’s Movements

Identified your destination?
Not the one others want you to take,
rather –
your own!

And,
on whose chart have you planned your course?

Is your center placed properly?

Have your bearings?
Your coordinates?
Your heading?

Do you?

How will you find your way?
By what and whose markers will you orient?

What is the character, direction and force
of the grand winds over the
topography of your journey?

What will be
your true course?

Can you continue adjusting
and maintain attitude?

Make subtle ongoing corrections
en route your desired vector?

Come. Join other hearts
wild for their own soul’s path.

Orient anew
on how best to proceed
into your own life.

©2010 Stephen Victor


I love this poem, yet I had no business writing it. You see, I have never lived in a country while it endured a war on its soil. I do not know the affront of being exiled from your ground, home and community. I do not know the terror of loosing family to artillery, small arms and torture – or their disappearance.

I wrote this poem without the right to do so. I wrote it after five years listening to local contemptuous condemnations of those “occupying our homes,” and of the locals’ refusal to cross the now open Green Line. While buying some food in a local market, I overheard a proprietor correct a tourist for referring to those on the other side of the Green Line by their nationality. The proprietor insisted that she identify them as “occupiers.”

The energy accompanying the proprietor’s insistence tipped the scales. This poem came to the fore in only minutes.
Bivouacking

The provenance of the Green Line
lies south of the Mediterranean
a temporary improvisation there in 1948.
A political suture on lacerations rendered
in hastening desperation.

You believe the Green Line
exists on your maps
and the geography of your nation.

This is but sleight of political hand.
Emotional chicanery. Falsity.
An echo of individual and collective grief.
An attempted remedy to incursions into
the human soul.

This Green Line
lies, rather, on the topography of your own,
and the other’s wounded heart.

It is this territory that awaits truth and reconciliation.

©2010 Stephen Victor


Blessings for A Marriage

May the courage of your sovereign heart
prevail over the banal falsities culture bequeaths.

May your marriage be buoyant, enriching and tender.
May its supple contours center and cradle
the odysseys you are undertaking.

May you together surrender
your most fancied identities and selves
in the arms of the other’s love.

May you each, during this embrace,
forfeit your fears
– falling – for – forever –
in Love’s union of transfiguring Grace.

May you, in these nuptials, ripen
your practice of tending the
vows of a concurrent marriage:
that with self.

May you know the prism of biography
is incapable of refracting the
ineffable numinous light that you are.

May you favor humility, kindness and fidelity of heart:
knowing your dignity, beauty and innocence
are vital, intact and present.

May the poetics of these marriages set alight
a passion to avow yet a third:
the work of your creative expression.

May you take your muse’s hand,
and together – in this longing – watching over these fires –
render up your heart’s attention
to the freedom
in disciplining your self to your creative endeavors.

In the joyous communion of matrimony with self,
with spouse, and with creative expression,
may you – later –
look back across the arc of your life
seeing magnum opuses, poetics and abundant harvests.

©2010 Stephen Victor

The word Eleftheria is a Greek feminine gender term for Freedom. The poem came about due to the incongruity I felt regarding the staggering beauty of the Cypriot land and the unutterably architectural ugliness of Nicosia.
Eleftheria – Unreconciled

I
Straddling shifting platforms of providence,
foreign and domestic policy
remain insulated from politics.

All capital cities, as this one,
– anti-oases each –
ensue from ironies of governance,
and from the political posturing of
unseen and unloved selves.

The groom of government in its affairs of
consummating its bride of commerce
– as consequence –
fosters further folly in these precincts by
arresting and confining Aphrodite’s Beauty.

To wit, in part: Save for Sundays and Bank Holidays,
note the besieged and beleaguered
states of its fiercely frenzied citizenry,
its prickly crush and calamity on constricted infrastructure,
its nocturnal raucously revving redlining road races,
and the
attesting absence of architectural aesthetic.

Yet,
vestiges of poetic presences persevere: The
ensconced effortlessly enjoining elegant elderly eucalyptus
stand as stealthy stragglers along waterless riverbed,
bestowing benevolent buoyancy.

So too, those peopling this place
– albeit unawares –
are Beauty’s currency:
immigrant Asian domestics,
EU’s Eastern European labor,
remnants of Russians remaining
from off-shore tax sheltering days,
expat Brits, colonial legacies, every one;
and, Greek Cypriot daughters and sons.

Stretched on an historic and ideological loom
these diversely textured, charactered and colored
natural human fibers
shuttle their weft’s wave in and through
a raveling thread bare national warp of
unacknowledged falsity, commission, and omission
– and –
teeming dignity, innocence, and beauty:

Each awaits, albeit unawares,
the artistry of reweaving the tenor of
Turkish Cypriot siblings
into the tensile and palette of this Levant hegemony.

II
Beyond cityscape borders
on this isle, the yoni of Aphrodite,
in temperate winter and brutally
searing summer, the Feminine lay neither
animate, roused nor moist: She waits
as Avalon awaits her recumbent Arthur.

This once verdurous
sacrosanct soil, stone and sea
– crucible still –
arrayed in juxtaposition
on the cleaving juggernauts of
East and West, South and North.

She, high relief on Poseidon’s province,
awaits human apprehension
of her contemporary function:
chalice of human transfiguration, and,
ethnic, religious, national and human rapprochement.

It is here we and they,
beings inured to suffering,
will humanely heal human hearts hurt
in fear’s ignorance, arrogance and histrionics.

III
Will we give our heart’s attention to this possibility?

©2010 Stephen Victor

I have spent many early mornings walking in the beauty of a wildlife refuge on a friendly small mountain at the west periphery of Pyrga, Cyprus. This poem came from one such walk.
Harbinger

The Fire Brigade’s swath track
provides
conspicuous contours of relief
on the topography of local minds:

“Emancipating us from ‘fire’”
it is said.

This swath serpentines
profound and arresting beauty
– posted “Wildlife Refuge.”

This designated sanctuary
lays littered with a myriad exhausted
barely biodegradable munitions’ shells
each betraying the character of those discharging
their juggernaut in pleasure’s pursuit,
or clandestine hunt.

The formerly live cartridges – a viagra of
futility’s attempt at resurrecting the
potency of promise
yet fulfilled –
are now but spent casings.

Sun and soil, atmosphere and time
erode testosterone’s testaments to
a confounded creative expression
here flaccidly scattered like the lives of those
in estrangement’s wake.

Meters below this track
– on the side of this mountain –
reports now resound from rifles held by
encamped conscripts,
firing at this nation’s pantheon of
griefs and unrequited longing.

Another generation now entrained.

©2010 Stephen Victor


This is an early iteration of my poem “Eleftheria.” Seems it stands on its own…
City Character

Beyond cityscape borders
in this domain of Aphrodite’s birth…

On this sacred land of
unimaginable and stunning Olive Trees,
themselves
home to wizened elder being
of incomprehensible Grace…

In this fiercely beautiful arid climatic zone
of temperate winters and brutally
searing summers,

one is granted
uncharacteristic soul restoration.

This holy place, Aphrodite’s home,
is the source of reconciliation.
It is here! It is here that our work will occur.

It is here we and they, us and them
will heal human hearts hurt
by ignorance, arrogance and histrionics.

This sacrosanct soil, stone and sea,
crucible still,
awaits its transformation into
a chalice of human transfiguration.

But venture into the anti-oases of
human endeavor and residence
that is this nation’s capital,
and be confounded by profound irony.

©2010 Stephen Victor


NOTE: This is to be read allowing the piece’s own cadence to inform the reader’s

expression.

Beauty

“I know of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of the

imagination.” ~ John Keats

Have you yourself tended an infant? Have you observed another care for a newly arrived child? Have you watched parents from races, nationalities and ethnicities other than your own love their little one? Have you seen the elderly move with the aid of a cane, walking stick or the arm of another? Have you seen the aged from other parts of the world? Do they not move similarly?

And the beauty of the young? Do you see in adolescents their robust exuberance? What about the promise of those in their twenties? What of the thirty-eight year old who is now three months pregnant after waiting all those long years? Did you see the circles under her sleepless eyes when her child was two months old? And the new father whose ecstasy cannot find its way to the fore as the weight of new responsibility holds his
delight at bay?

Have you seen these self same states in those world round? Those in their late midlife who were spared hard physical labor yet shouldered great emotional burdens? And what of those with no means? Do you feel the weight of their soul? Or see the dignity awaiting recognition – their own or another’s? And what about grief? What? – when the one that is loved finds another to love? Or a revered one is taken from life? Do you know this in yourself or have you seen it others?

There are those whose inheritance is Christian (Protestant or Catholic), those who are Jewish (Orthodox or Reformed); Muslim (Sunni or Shiite). Those who engage in Buddhist practices (Taoist or Zen); those who live the values of the Hindu (Vedic or Bhakti); and those following Shinto and Confucianism. There are practitioners of Modern Druidism (cultural and religious); of Santeria or Gnosticism, and Native American Spirituality; there are those who genuflect at the altar of Science; there are the Animists, and there are those having declared themselves agnostic.
 
People find their way onto this planet in Belarus. In Argentina. Japan. Norway. Turkey. Syria. The USA. Cambodia. Vietnam. France. Guatemala. Mexico. Ethiopia. The Sudan. Peru. New Guinea. Those with black skin. Brown. White. Those with straight hair. Curly. Those whose eyes are brown or black. Green or blue. Some are considered physically attractive. Some not. Some have had more to eat than others. Some “educated.” Some not.

Do not the constituencies of biology and chemistry hint of common ground for humanity’s staggering beauty and imperative of our grand and myriad diversity? Might we indeed be unique expressions of one source? Might we be siblings?

Is it not the self same grief and anguish that is experienced no matter one’s age, gender, nationality, or ethnic or racial heritage when instances of horrific affront occur to a life, a dignity, our human beauty? So too is it not the self same joy and ecstatic delight that buoys a self when unexpected and robust beauty visits? And what of love? Is not another’s love for family and soil of birth, the self same love available to all?

Is it not the hand and heart of our one Earth, atmosphere and Sun, and the larger movements beyond, at whose behest we subsist and exist? And what of The Perennial Philosophy of Aldous Huxley? These rarely seen yet common and tangible energetic filaments of Wisdom that persist on insinuating their presence into humanity’s awareness irrespective of epoch, culture or continent. Wisdom is as present as our very breath! She is here now! Yet in nonchalance we slumber unwittingly and habitually distracted – “secure” within our somnolent conformity to our culture’s quiet insistence on smallness, individual insignificance and irrelevance.

Have you never read a line of poetry expressing exactly what you did not know that you knew until you read that precious sequences of words? Have you heard the music knowing that the musicians themselves had become the music? So too dancer is now the dance? Have you not been moved in the presence of a sculpture? And that time when you tasted an ambrosia such as you had not known possible? Have you delighted yourself with cuisines of the world? Tasted wine of distant regions – knowing that each was nurtured by a unique soil and sun issuing from the self same Earth and Galaxy?

Remember the joke that caused such belly laughter that your abdomen hurt? Have you seen joy and delight in another? Have you heard a baby’s giggle? Seen her smiling eyes? Watched the excited movements of her arms and legs? And the puppy whose backside cannot be stilled upon your return? And what of that lover’s touch and fragrance? And of that child’s exuberance of her in rushing to greet you?

Have you had the pleasure of standing near honeysuckle in early summer? Have you not wept a tear at the beauty of dawn coming round as the moon bursting in her fullness stays up to greet her morning’s sun? Have you not been arrested at the visage of starry sky or stood entranced by Orion or the Southern Cross in brilliant revelation above a fading mountain crest? Have you felt the sun’s generosity on a frosty morning? And the corolla of yellow in the flower’s opening? Have you drunk deeply of cool water in a midday’s humid heat or been present in a sea of wild flowers dancing at the wind’s insistence?

Do you know the breach of a whale or flash of sunlight refracted on the back of a porpoise? Have you seen the calving of tidewater glaciers and their indescribable blue deep interiors? Have you watched the dripping of meter-long icicles in the morning sun? Have you had your hands in the warm dark humus of a summer garden? What about the beauty of the flower presenting herself through the crack of the sidewalk amongst acres of asphalt and chain link?

Do you know the flower of a thistle? A dandelion giving its seed? A morning’s frost on desert cacti? Have you fallen in love with the magnificence of a tree? The movement of fields of grain in late summer? The sound of waterfalls in the distance? The noise of the breakers meeting the rocks at the jetty? Have you watched tree tops sway? Better yet, have you climbed a tree and felt its generosity? Have your bare legs been caressed by
silky strands of tall grasses while your hair was tasseled by grand gales?

Do you remember how beach sand offers the sea’s and wind’s geomancy to the curious? Recall the graceful silhouettes of Brown Pelican? The soaring of birds of prey? The dignity of the Red-tailed Hawk diving from that pole and capturing its prey? Do you know the chatter of squires? The song of chickadees? The call of raven? The aggregate singular movement of swallows?

My friend, I invite you to remember to remember. Look round. Cease your folly but for the moment!

I submit to you that the longing and struggles, the anguish and grief of loss as well as the sublime beauty of this world are themselves the Grace of the seminary that is your life. This life! Remember Walt Whitman’s prescience: “Soon there will be no more priests. Their time is done. Everyone is to become his [or her] own priest.” We have been in training. Commencement is upon us. The day of the intercessor has passed!

Humanity’s absences of love, of compassion, kindness and civility are inconsistent with the character of the human heart and our nature! Their currency perpetuates itself in the wake of our collective ignorance and haste. Nothing more! Although these absences have become our human norm, such behavior contradicts the human heart, our character, and nature; for we are, by design, brilliantly creative expressions of Universal Wisdom’s intelligence, love and compassion. Our capacity for Wisdom is wholly beyond the rational, the quantifiable. So too is our creative prowess! And did you know that cooperation is humanity’s greatest strength?

Have you been at death’s door? Whether refused entrance or directed to make your own decision…If you have endured the menace of a weapon trained on heart or head by the fears and anger of those in pain…then you know of Grace’s poetic generosity in Her reprieve. If you have seen very red blood surging from lacerated arteries at the surprised pace of an urgent heart in exigent moments, or gathered corpses after barbarous action, you know, with every fiber and filament of your being, that brutality and violence are anathema to the human heart and character.

If you have been the recipient of the cavalier vagaries of governance, business or health “care”… If you have been unjustly nicked by the authorities…if you have suffered indignities issuing from bastions of ignorance…or, if you, yourself, perpetrated a grave injustice and were blessed with the horrifying epiphany of cognizance, now knowing that you breached the very core of your integrity… you know that the character of the human heart is of love’s design and that fear and violence are the outsiders. The interlopers!

If you have not yet learned, soon you will know that your innocence remains intact – always -whether you feel this reality or not! There comes a time when you will awaken in stark relief to the reality that one’s innocence awaits nothing more than one’s own acknowledgement and remorse; and, by granting this, you enable it to come to the fore yet again! So too, you will learn if you have not yet, that neither your regal dignity nor that of another can every be debased! Although it may have have suffered sundry contusions and it longs for love’s tenderness, it is yet whole, present and strong!

So too you will learn if you do not already know that life cannot hate life! If you hate, all that you hate is the conceit arising from the distance you have drifted from your own sovereign heart’s Authority, Wisdom and Love! All pretext is falling away! We will come to love the perpetrator in ourselves and those in our communities. The only thing one can hate is circumstance! Nothing more! Its departure is imminent for we see its salutations in current global discontents.

One’s only task in this life is to consent to what is and embody Love moment to moment to moment! In the grand unfolding in which humanity finds itself – fulfilling this sacred endeavor sets the requisite attitudes and actions that prompt humanity’s magnum opus that awaits. Humanity’s boon is before us!

As for the ideological conceits of our culture? Honor, discharge and retire them. Their service is complete! These artifacts of human biography are ones of absences. Absence of knowing the true character and nature of the human heart! An absence of knowing the potency of our sovereign loving authority and creativity. An absence of knowing that Wisdom awaits our response for She has asked for our hand: Asked you to become her consort, collaborator and lover!

We have wholly mistaken our identity and makeup with something we are not! On this ignorance we hastened our pursuit toward folly’s end; we have instead worsened our circumstance. This is changing now for Wisdom’s hand is yet extended: In this marriage, we will know the staggering poetic beauty of human life and that of the Earth!

In taking her hand, and from the consummation of this love, we will learn that all things ensue! The folly of pursuit will be seen for what it is: an outcome of knackered misunderstandings and misapprehensions: the predicating of our lives on faulty thinking and static dogmas of smallness and fear. The consequences of that trajectory are being righted in preparation for this marriage, and the old folly is morphing into nurturing
compost for that from which we will succor.

In this union with the fields of Universal Intelligence’s Divine Wisdom you will place your intent and attention on the poetics of your life – the life that is your very own. No longer will you tarry in the prosaic existence another has arranged for you. Your will bring your creative expression to the fore and open to knowing joy irrespective of circumstances. You will salute the flag of being rather than that of meaning. Lastly you will know the veracity of Gregory Bateson’s words: “Wisdom develops when you can be around others and not want to change them.”

In your reconciliation with love, you will love your life, yourself, others and the Earth! Your creativity will soar!

©2010 Stephen Victor