"Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous." ~Anais Nin

31 December 2015

Goals for 2016

By Eric Kilby, Exploding Flower Bed. via Wikimedia Commons

It's New Year's Eve, a time many people traditionally spend getting wasted and making promises to themselves they don't really intend to keep.  Usually involving weight loss.  I, myself, have been guilty of this in the past.  Well, not the getting wasted part.  Not in years and years and years anyway. This year I'm trying something different.

This year my resolutions are simpler, mere goals, really, and mostly to continue what I've already begun:

  1. To continue Poetry Wednesdays—and write and publish at least one poem here on this blog every Wednesday.
  2. To restart start Fiction Friday—in which I publish a short story here on this blog the final Friday of every month. (I even have some stories started).
  3. To finish my bedroom.
  4. To follow my own studies.
  5. To regularly update my other blogs.
This is not to say that I don't have goals that I don't expect to meet.  They follow:
  1. To find a full time job—if I've been taught anything in these last 3 years of searching, I've been taught that I'm practically unhireable, but I'll keep trying.  I do need to support myself after all.
  2. To get on a regular sleep schedule—yeah, this probably isn't happening, but I'm going to try anyway.  I'll try to get to bed no later than midnight (unless something interesting is going on) and awaken no later than 9am.  If I find a job it'll be easier since I'll likely have to be at work before 9 anyway.
  3. To regulate my eating schedule—right now I eat at very odd times: at 3pm I have my big meal, then I eat again, though less, at 9pm and 11pm.  I'd like not to eat so late at night, but I suppose that all depends on the rest of my day's schedule. . . 
So, that's it.  My plans thus far for next year.

30 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #22

For my niece, Mila Simone

There are stories in your eyes

There are stories in your eyes—
Ten thousand tales you've yet to tell.
What they are is a surprise,
I think I'll listen for a spell.

There are songs within your heart—
Ten thousand tunes you've yet to sing.
I'll be there when they depart
And you make your voice ring.

There are dances in your feet—
Ten thousand steps you've yet to spin.
You will move to your own beat,
And I'll be there when you begin.

There are worlds for you to see—
Ten thousand things for you to learn
As you grow to who you'll be,
And I watch with proud concern.

24 December 2015

I am so very, very poor now

Antheraea Polyphemus via Wikipedia
It's only recently that I have come to fully understand how very poor I am right now.  I'm so far past broke that I'm just hemorrhaging money.  Seriously, it's bad.  The library pays me once a month, and I clear about $700 after taxes.  $270 of is allocated for my car payment, I need at least $50 for gas, $90 for health insurance, and $70 for my and my mothers cell phones (the only form of rent I'm currently paying).  That leaves $220 every month for discretionary spending, EXCEPT that I'm carrying a balance on my credit card, which is in excess of $1500, and needs to be paid off; unfortunately, I will soon be adding to it with a $490 charge to pay my next six months of car insurance.  That's not even counting my ridiculous student loan debt.

I am fairly screwed.  My life is a big, gods-damned mess.  Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on how you think of it), it's a mess of my own making.  I chose to leave the museum knowing that I'd be placed in these straits.  Well, I mostly chose.  And I mostly knew.  But knowing and living are different things entirely.

The thing is I did this to myself for myself.  I was miserable at the museum, and quickly burning myself out.  Check out the Occupational Burnout page on Wikipedia, I was exhibiting all the symptoms (phases), including suicidal ideation.  I'm not generally suicidal, nor, I think, am I generally quite so depressed, but death was looking more and more welcoming.  I needed to quit, for my own sanity, and because I was worth more than a part time job that didn't challenge or excite me.  I earned my Master's degree (my Bachelor's too, for that matter) so I wouldn't have to work such a job.  I put a lot of work into getting my degrees, and was so unhappy to not be using the skills for which I academically (and metaphorically) bled.  Plus, I needed to heal, to find myself again, and to regain my sense of equilibrium—which has been shaky for years, but disappeared entirely around 2013.

My situation can't last long.  There's no way I can tolerate being so very, very poor for very long.  Plus, I've been living on my parents largess for too long already.  I've thought about trying to sell some poems and stories, but I'd have to be an instant success for that to work out.  Don't get me wrong, that's still a part of my long-term plan, but right now I'd rather have a full time job with benefits.  If worse comes to worse, I will get another part time job, but that's the option of last resort.  I worry that if I go that route I'll just end up burning myself out again, and I don't EVER want to feel that way again.  I had a panic attack a few weeks ago when my mother first suggested it to me.  I think my psyche's come a long way to allow me to consider working two part time jobs again without  hyperventilating.  Also, have you noticed that this post is making a lot more sense than many of my older posts?  Or is that just in my mind?

I think I hit my lowest point some weeks back.  I refuse to fall any further.  I'm finally working on projects that I've had on my list for years.  For instance, I'm cleaning my room.  Actually, I'm preparing it for painting.  I have my colors picked out and everything.  I'm going to have to sand the crap out of my walls and trim, but not only am I doing it, but I'm on a deadline—one that I will more than meet.  Everything—the walls, the trim, the ceiling, the door, and the windows—will be finished by February!  I'm even thinking about replacing the door knob.  On February 19th, the dresser I bought will be delivered.  I've been living out of laundry baskets for years.  It's really sad.

I'm making other improvements to my life as well.  I have plans that are not all hopelessness and death.  I'm starting to eat healthier, though I've yet to break my sugar addiction.  I'm writing more and thinking about writing more, which just fills me with such joy.  I think in the upcoming year I will be able to keep my Fiction Friday commitment here.  You will recall that Fiction Friday is a feature on this blog where I post one original short story here on the last Friday of the month.  I've got four or five stories in the works right now, three of which I'm planning to make part of two series.  I'm losing weight, hope to lose more, and gaining physical strength.

After New Year's, I will start applying for jobs again.  I'm taking the month of December off, and maybe the first week or so of January.  I'd like to get my room completely prepped for painting first, and there's so much family stuff going on between now and January.

All in all, I feel like I can breathe again.  It's nice, and being temporarily very, very poor is, I think, a fair payment for this much needed healing.  I've got a ways to go still.  I still have spells of meanness that show up at awkward times—like when I'm trying to socialize.  I used to be able to tell funny stories that were actually funny, right now though . . . Ugh.  I think I insulted one of my cousin's friends at her Christmas party.  Didn't mean to, it's just—sometimes, especially lately, what I want to say comes out jumbled and angry rather than light and humorous.  So, obviously, I still have some anger I need to release.  More for me to work on.

Still, I am not without hope!  Which I couldn't have said two months ago.

23 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #21

This is another old poem.  The structure of which came from, I think, a Jack Prelutsky Halloween collection . . . And maybe the first line . . . Also, I cleaned it up a bit. ~Amber

I'm Rescued Nightly by a Wicked Black Cat

A cat as black as midnight coal
Is now upon her nightly stroll,
She runs and runs without a care–
Is that a shadow on the stair?
She jumps!  She bumps!
She knocks down books!
She gives her human dirty looks.
Toes are monsters, which she attacks.
Mercy is a thing she lacks.
She fights!  She Bites!
She brings much pain!
The toes, they try to hide in vain.
Her human gives a dreadful cry!
The cat's afraid the girl may die.
She yowls!  She howls!
She attacks again!
Will this battle never end?
The toes finally give up the fight,
But they may return another night.
She sleeps and sleeps,
She dreams of battle
'Til she's wakened by her human's prattle.
She thinks, "Human, you have no clue.
You should be glad I rescued you!"

16 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #20

I was cleaning up my room the other day, and found a stack of papers.  Most of it was trash, but this weeks poem was there, buried between years-old notes and other such nonsense.  I wrote this when I was 15, right after we moved from the city in one state to the suburbs in another.  It's not bad, there are some things I'd change or "fix," but I don't cringe when reading it–unlike most of the other poetry I wrote at 15–so I'll reproduce it here faithfully.  You may end up seeing a rewrite eventually.  Oh, and I think there's a picture of the house on my parents computer, if I remember I'll edit this post to add it.  ~Amber

The House On Karnes BLVD

The ancient face
            is closed and silent now
     old stucco skin
and a hat of shingles
are shaded under an umbrella of leaves and branches

Just behind the wall of trees
            besides the weird
a constant river of cars flows
            dams itself
flows again
the babble of this dangerous brook
is deafening
                                                        at times
a lullaby
                                                        at others

I remember the house
            I remember it's indifferent stare
as I walked to the car never to return
                        in my mind it is empty
though a new family is in
                                     it's grasp
      laughing and playing
                          listening to the cars drive by
just out of sight

Just out of sight
                        not out of mind

14 December 2015

Passion (a.k.a. Joss Whedon is God)

It lies in all of us,
And though, unwanted,
it will stir,
open it's jaws,
and howl.

It speaks to us,
guides us.
Passion rules us all.
And we obey.
What other choice do we have?

Passion is the source of our finest moments:
the joy of love,
the clarity of hatred,
and the ecstasy of grief.

It hurts sometimes more than we can bear.

If we could live without passion,
maybe we'd know some kind of peace,
by we would be hollow:
empty rooms,
shuttered and dank.

Without passion,
we'd be truly dead."
        from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 2, episode 17

Am I a big nerd or what?  Whedon's words as poetry.  Yay! 

10 December 2015


To find balance and harmony in my life, I need to unlearn the lessons that almost destroyed me.

I recently realized that there is so much that I need to unlearn.  Many of the lessons I've been taught are so much bullshit.  As I've had time recently to really pay attention to my life, I've noticed how much I don't actually hate it.  A bit of an epiphany, right?  But for a while, when I thought of myself and my life I felt a genuine disgust -- contempt mixed with panic that nothing would change, that I would remain the way I was - contemptible - for the remainder of my life.  I got to thinking about how I learned I was contemptible, where that knowledge came from, and realized that it was the accumulation of a thousand thousand messages received in a thousand thousand ways.  A lot of it, though, came from working retail.  Especially working retail as an adult (read: above "average" college age).  Stepping away from retail has shown me the damage that it's done.  As I clean the bloody wound that is my life, I'm forced to unlearn the destructive habits that I've picked up.

Getting away from a bad job can be like breaking up with an abusive boyfriend.  It's hard.  It's not a perfect metaphor [simile], but it works pretty well.  The abuse builds up: one small indignity after another, coupled with a fear of retribution and a loss of power, and we're reliant on that job - most of us living paycheck to paycheck.  There are completely arbitrary rules usually, and sometimes mind
See what I did there?
games that no power in the 'verse can convince me aren't a deliberate attempt to break your spirit.  But you can't act broken, oh no, you are expected to be happy and available at all times.

One of the worst managers I ever had delighted in changing the schedule on an almost daily basis.  One time I was given two days off in a row, let's say Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Tuesday she changed the schedule and put me on on Wednesday.  I, of course, had no idea since I was off work at the time of the schedule change.  I came in on Thursday and was written up as a "no call, no show" and told that I need to check the schedule every single day regardless of whether I'm scheduled to work that day or not.  Another manager used to schedule employees to close one night and open the next morning.  So we were expected to work until midnight (at least), then come in the next day at seven or eight depending on the department we were working that day.  I don't know about you, but it takes me a couple of hours to wind down enough from work to sleep.  I worked a job, briefly, where everything I said to a customer had to come from a script.  If a customer asked me something that required me to go off script I had to call someone else to deal with it.  That was a hardware store, and, for a little background, I had six years previous experience in another hardware store in a different town.  I was written up three times in one day there: once, when a customer asked a question about the wood screws he was purchasing and I answered because I knew the answer, and twice for saying a variation of "Thank you for shopping at [hardware store], have a nice day," rather than that exact statement.  It gets really, really old saying the same thing over and over again.

It's not everyone.  It's not every job.  It's not even always at the same job, you know?  The two managers mentioned first above were both at the same store, and I consider that job one of the best I've had.  After, of course, the first manager left, and before the second transferred in.  Years went by when it was pretty great: there was camaraderie among the staff, I had some agency, the job required me to use my brain, it was interesting, and was something I was passionate about.  For the most part I could blow off crappy customers, or the occasional weird hours.  The good managers were great, the best were astounding.  They made sure I was given one weekend evening off, and that my work schedule worked around my school schedule.  There was humor and encouragement, and I was engaged because the work was interesting and they didn't try to force me to be engaged.

Even then, there were still issues.  I was afraid to call in sick.  I worked for months in excruciating pain any time I moved my left arm more than a few inches away from my body (I had a rotator cuff impingement bad enough to warp my collarbone).  Because I worked a lot of evenings, and those that I didn't I usually had school assignments to work on, I didn't have time for my friends so I stopped socializing.  I only really have two friends left; one, really, if you don't count the one that moved 3.5 hours away.  Also, it was retail, so I made very little money and was constantly broke.  And I didn't even mention the customers that treat you like trash because they can.  There was this one guy who used to come into the store I worked at every week or so, and I swear to all the gods there are that it was his goal to make at least one employee cry (usually whoever was working the registers) before he left.  He owns a shoe store near my house, and even though I haven't had to deal with him in literally years I still fantasize about dropping in his store and screaming at him for a good twenty minutes or so just like he used to do to me and my coworkers.

This post was not meant to be about work or lousy jobs.  I just wanted to make a point about destructive learned habits, the dangers of emotional labor, and what led to my massive case of burnout.  And, boy, was my burnout bad.  It was I'm-only-half-joking-about-suicide bad.  "I know I can't do it if my mom's still alive - it'd break her heart - but, maybe, once she's dead, if things are still the way they are" bad.  All this was cumulative, collected over sixteen years of working retail.  Little things add up more and more, and all of a sudden you're worthless, some barely human thing not deserving of anything better.  It doesn't matter that you did all this, smiled at every slight for years, just so you could go on to something better, more engaging.  If you can't engage with your minimum wage job that puts you in a box alone and tells you to smile and say "yes" to every demand given you by a stranger who thinks you less than the dirt on his shoe, then you don't deserve anything better.

It's that attitude I need to unlearn.  That I am unlearning now.  I'm worth more than that box.  I need to relearn how to take care of myself, because I haven't in years.  I need to relearn how to write, because I love it, and I used to be able to get a good rough draft of a short story out in a couple of hours and now it takes me days to write a paragraph.  I need to relearn how to do things for pleasure.  I need to unlearn how to "smile" and relearn how to have genuine emotions.  The poetry thing that I've been doing every Wednesday is a start, but there's so much more to do.  Now, working only one job, part time though it may be, and as broke as I am, is the first time I've felt all this might be possible in a long, long time.  I'm heading towards balance, and feeling good about it.

09 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #19

"Into Darkness" by Jarle Refines via Flickr

Stumbling Darkness

Stumbling darkness
Troubling times 
What losses matter
In all of the grime
Death is a beauty
Violence more so
We can just ignore
What we don't know
Ignorance is Power
Power is Bliss
Is there an end to
This damned abyss

02 December 2015

Poetry Wednesday #18

Can you believe I took this picture with my phone?


Ice coating branches
After days and nights of cold
Stark beauty arrives

Winter's first signal
A warning of what's to come
The long sleep - then spring

It's sweater weather
Smells of cinnamon and cloves
Dreams of a warm hearth

Reflective evenings
Accompany chill, dark days
Twilight swallows time

25 November 2015

Poetry Wednesday #17

By Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Poetry is an Act of Purification 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! Now is the time
For a cleansing of sorts. I'll wash away
All of the dirt, and every piece of grime
My soul has collected throughout my days.
I will dispel all that doesn't serve me,
and unlearn the bitterness of my heart.
Soon, I hope, I will be happy and free,
And following my passion for this art.
So, as I walk down this road made of words:
I will remember that it was my choice
To step away from the comfort of herds,
And learn once again how to use my voice.

18 November 2015

Poetry Wednesday #16

Wild Hunt

Oh, there is nothing here for you to fear -
No ghosts, no goblins, walk these roads at night.
Shadows are just shadows.  The path is clear.
You can leave, once you make it through to light.
There are no monsters here for you to fight,
No beasts from which to hide 'til morning's dawn.
There's no real reason for your dream of flight,
And we feel bad that you wish to move on.
We're beginning to feel quite put upon,
We simply took you so you could come play.
You act as though we're wolves, and you the faun,
So now we are hunters, and you the prey.
We won't let you ruin all of our fun -
We want the chase, so run, girl, run. Run. RUN!

11 November 2015

Poetry Wednesday #15

British 55th Division gas casualties 10 April 1918

For those who came home 

For those who came home
Battered, bruised, and broken,
Who saw their friends fall,
Who waded through mud, 
Blood, and bodies,
Who endured,
Who survived,

For those who came home
Leaving limbs, and friends,
And restful nights
To the time before the 
Before the boredom
And the terror
Took them away,

For those who came home
Little different from when they left,
And those who discovered
That they weren't the same,
For the enlisted men,
The draftees, the officers,
The nurses, doctors, and all others 
Who left by choice or through the necessity of war,

We remember,
I remember,
And I honor you.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

U.S. soldiers returning to America after WWI, 1919

04 November 2015

Poetry Wednesday #14

Mila Simone, 1 week old

For My Niece

Welcome to the world, little one,
We're very glad you're here.
We were surprised when you arrived,
But hold you very dear.

Welcome to the world, little girl,
There's so much here to learn:
Like how do flowers bloom in light,
Or how the world does turn.

Welcome to the world, little soul,
You're so precious to us all.
One little look from your dark eyes, and
We're at your beck and call.

Welcome to the family,
I'm glad you've come to stay,
And I will love you so, so much
Every single day.

28 October 2015

Poetry Wednesday #13

To My Fellow English Speakers:

Though English is my native tongue
(and, in truth, my only language except for a smattering of
curse words from around the globe)
I don't
Sometimes I must translate every word spoken to me -
Somewhere in my brain there is a backfire, a
Between words and 
And what comes from your mouth
And teeth
And tongue
And throat
Is just sound.

21 October 2015

Poetry Wednesday #12

Photo: Wimborne Minister: the chained library by Chris Downer


I don't believe in an economy of words.
There is no limit,
No line,
No max. 
Feel free to fritter,
To lavish and splurge.
Use a thousand to paint a picture,
And then a thousand more,
Just to.
Conspicuously consume confabulations.
Have a tête-à-tête,
A dialog,
A chat
On me.
Spill your heart,
Or talk of nothing.
Pledge, vow, guarantee.
I don't believe in an economy of words,
So, for now, 
The words are on me.

18 October 2015

It's a panda kind of day

Pandas make me happy.  This one also illustrates my life.
Sometimes I hate my life.  I feel that this particular emotion is justified because I'm failing, and failing HARD, a adulting.  Most of the time I feel like a freaking teenager - with good reason too, because I'm living like a freaking teenager!  Seriously, the only reason I'm not in my high school bedroom is because I took my brother's high school bedroom (it's not in the basement) in my parent's house.  My current employment (two part time jobs) offer no insurance, no vacation time, and no wage that will allow me to support myself.

In short: my life kind of sucks right now.

Worse, I have no prospects.  I can't seem to even get an interview, let alone a job.  And I have this conundrum: Do I put my Masters degree on my resume?  I'm not applying for library jobs any longer - that path was going no where, but I'm proud of my degree.  Still, does it make potential (non-library) employers think that I won't stick around?  "Oh, she has a library degree.  She's not going to want to work anywhere but a library."  That sort of thing?  I don't know.  I don't know.  It's on there for now, but . . .  I don't know.  I think that the skills of librarianship (organization, collegiality, communication, etc.) translate well into other types of business, but maybe some disagree?

I'm not really sure what to do here.  I don't know how to make myself more attractive to potential employers.  I don't know how to get a job that pays well.  Looking back, I now realize that I should have started working non-retail jobs much, much younger, but those crap jobs afforded me the hours and time I needed to go to college.  For several years, I scheduled my classes all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I gave up my weekend, because I had to work full time to afford classes.  Of course, if I had known that I would have to take out loans anyway to finish my degree, and then quickly get another, I would have done that in the first place.  I didn't know.  Hindsight and all that jazz.

Another sucky thing is that I'm not dating, and not really expecting to date anyone anytime soon.  I always assumed I'd be married by now, and maybe have a kid or two.  This, of course, is entirely my fault.  I haven't been looking, haven't really wanted to look, and I keep making excuses why I'm not doing either.  I first stopped dating because of heartbreak.  Then the loss of ALL my friends followed quickly by near-crippling depression.  Then digging myself out of that depression, which was not
Mama and baby!  Squee!!!
easy and took a massive amount of energy on my part (also which I'm not totally done with).  Then embarrassment because of my massive weight gain (about 130 lbs!).  Then finishing up school.  Now, I don't have the time or money to date.  Well, that and the weight thing (yep, I'm still up there).

It's not that I don't want to date.  Being alone, especially when all of my friends are married or in other more complicated relationships, can be massively lonely.  I miss having someone to talk to.  I miss having fun with someone, going out, doing things.  I miss sex an awful lot too.  It's just . . . I don't feel like I could impose myself on some one else right now.  I mean, I can't afford to do anything, and don't like the idea of making the man pay for all the dates.  I want to be able to at least offer sincerely to pay for some, you know.  I'm having all kinds of mental issues due to my inability to adult.  And, finally (and probably above everything else), I can't stand the thought of anyone seeing me naked.  I know, I know, fat acceptance and all that, but that's not me.  I can't stand being fat.  Again, my fault entirely.

Droopy panda.
Now, though, my discontent is beginning to affect my ability to fake my way through my job(s).  HR at one of them basically insisted that I contact the mental health services (that our organization provides for full and part time employees!) in order to keep my job.  I'm more embarrassed than anything else: I pride myself in being pleasant and welcoming to patrons, but it's getting more and more difficult to fake.  Also, I started crying while she was lecturing me, again, mostly from embarrassment.  She was all proper and sympathetic, but the whole thing made me feel like more of a failure, and I don't like to admit that I'm not perfect.  Gaah!  My life is just so frustrating!

Silver lining: I get 6 free sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist.  AND I suspect my other jobs offers the same or at least similar services through the same place (I just have to find that information).  Yay!

Any way you look at it, my life is in need of a massive overhaul, and since I can't do anything successfully in steps, I'm going to have to address everything around the same time.  Not everything will be finished all at once, but I'll go ahead and start it all.  I'm planning on starting tomorrow.  I think this next week is going to be . . . well, just awful, but I know that it will get easier.  Everything gets easier given enough time.

I don't know what I'll do about the job thing.  Keep pushing, I guess.  I hope I find something, and that it pays well and is not tedious.  Writing is going fairly well.  I've written at least a couple of readable poems in the last few months, and my short story for October is coming along.  Maybe, if I don't find work soon, I'll chuck everything in and try to make a living as a writer.  That's what I really want to do anyway.  That's what I've always wanted to do.  I'd just like something as a safety net, you know.  That's where a full time job comes in . . . Of course, it seems likelier, now, that I'll have to work without a net at all.
Final panda.  Isn't he cute?

And Tom Hiddleston, because his smile makes me smile.  You're welcome.

15 October 2015

Poetry Wednesday #11

Porcelain and Glass

I would be made of steel
And ceramic.
I would be made of metal
And stone.
I would be made of iron
So I didn't hurt
Now that I am alone.

I wouldn't shatter.
I wouldn't break.
I wouldn't weep
Or cry.
Nothing could hurt me.
Nothing could maim,
Nothing would 
Even try.

I wish I were made of steel
And ceramic.
I wish I were made of metal 
And stone.
I wish I were made of iron
And it didn't hurt
To be left all alone.

Yes, I did shatter.
Yes, I did break.
Yes, I did weep
And cry.
To say nothing can hut me,
Nothing can maim,
Is a very
Foolish lie.

I am not made of steel
And ceramic.
I am not made of metal 
And stone.
I am not made of iron 
But of soft flesh
And fragile bone.

07 October 2015

Poetry Wednesday #10

First Sight

When the power went out over LA,
People in a panic called the police
About their first sight of the
True night sky.

Articles were written,
In slightly mocking tone,
On the ignorance of
Those who had never known the night.

I, another city dweller,
Half a continent away,
Understood the terror and the tragedy.
For I, too, have never seen the Milky Way.

My stars are sparse and
My constellations few.
My night is lit by city lights,
My sky is far from true.

I read, feeling pity
And affinity
With people far away from me,
Of their first unnerving 
Glimpses of what lies
Beyond our world.

And thought:
It is not stupidity,
Or a lack of education,
That causes such consternation,
Unlike what those articles imply,
Over such a simple thing as 
An unimpeded viewing of the night sky.

It is instead, a truth unsaid:
That it's been many generations
Since much of any Western nation
Has actually been able to see darkness.

The night is lost to us.
Of course our first viewing of it
Would cause alarm -
We fear what we don't know.

My stars are sparse and
My constellations few.
My night is lit by city lights,
My sky is far from true. 

30 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #9

Twa Corbies by Arthur Rackham

Twa Corbies

We all know the story,
Though maybe not this one exact:

A knight, a soldier,
Lost and gone.
His body rots
Under the sun.
His friends move on-
The living must-
While he, himself,
Becomes the dust
That stirs beneath 
Our feet.
The hunter doth
Become the meat.

It's an old tale,
One history often reenacts.

A quick note:  I'm in an odd mood tonight: dark and irreverent.  I suppose that's obvious.  "Twa Corbies" (or "Two Crows") is an old Scottish Ballad that is rather dark.  I'm including the text for the original ballad below the cut if you're interested, or you can visit this link and read the original version, a "translated" version, and an interesting analysis.  I encourage you to visit the link.

23 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #8

A lune is basically an American haiku.  There are two forms of lunes: Kelly and Collom.  The Kelly form was created by Robert Kelly and has thirteen syllables split between three lines in a 5/3/5 format.  Jack Collom created the Collom lune, which is also a tercet (three self-contained lines), but is word-based rather than syllable-based.  It's structure has 3 words in the first line, 5 in the second, and 3 in the last.  I'm playing around with both. ~ AJ

Autumnal Lunes

Equinox morning,
Sun, chasing shadows.

     *     *     *

Leaves, changing, falling -
Autumn colors paint Northern states
Red and gold.

     *     *     *

Soon bare trees will dot
The landscape
Waiting for the snow.

     *     *     *

Arachne's children grow
Fat outside my window, weaving
Traps of gossamer.

     *     *     *

Night is more vivid
In the fall
Dreams come readily

     *     *     *

Anise, cloves, pumpkin,
Cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, apples, ginger . . .
Spice the season.

     *     *     *

16 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #7

London Thoughts

I can feel the weight of you, the age of you, in your buildings and narrow
streets.  Yet, you are thoroughly modern in aptitude and character.  Your structures
scrape the sky and illuminate the night.  I wonder how long it's been
since you last saw the stars, and if you miss them.

Parks sprout among the streets and buildings like weeds through a crack in the
sidewalk.  Blossoming out of nowhere.  Every day I visit one to people watch
and get a brief respite from all the asphalt, concrete, and steel.  I whisper their
names to myself, invoking the spirits of nature and beauty: Kensington Gardens,
Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park, Regent's Park.  On and on and on.  They
call to me.  I cannot resist.

You are not wild anymore, if ever you were.  The Romans tamed you,
and the Saxons, and the Normans, etc.  Then, you 
travelled outwards, building empires and bringing back bits of cultures
that appealed to you.  Would the you of the past recognize the you of the
present?  It's been a long time since Londinium shortened it's name.

05 September 2015

Fiction Friday #1: Bartleby Jones

Bartleby Jones, Mr. Jones to his clients, considered himself a master of information.  It's how he made his living as something of a fixer/hirable detective.  There wasn't much he wasn't able to find out with the hodgepodge computer and other tech he built himself.  His office, on the eighth floor of one of the few office building still standing, was an incongruous blend of wires, plastic, and metal.  Visitors often felt like they'd stepped into an incongruous mix of film noir and space opera when they entered his office.  Every piece of  technology in it was lovingly slapdash, made by Jones himself, and all for the purpose of siphoning info and other useful bits from the city.

The man himself was considered a useful eccentric by his acquaintances, someone to count on my his friends, and vaguely dangerous by everyone else.  He was tall and almost painfully skinny, with skin the color of wet earth: deep brown with a hint of red.  For the past couple of years he'd taken to wearing ill-fitting three piece suits whenever he left his apartment, the entire ninth floor of that same office building.  The suit he chose for the meeting with the paunchy, pale, middle-aged man sitting just on the other side of the desk from him, was dark blue, made from some kind of synth fabric, and several inches too short in the arms and legs, giving the impression that he was an overgrown teenager wearing an outfit he'd outgrown years before.  His clients outfit was subtly rich: boots, pants, and tee.  Jones thought the t-shirt was real cotton, but couldn't be sure.  A backpack leaned against the leg of the metal chair his client sat in.

Jones typed something, read what came up, frowned, then repeated the process.  He had found all he needed earlier, before this appointment, but wanted to watch the reaction of his client.  He surreptitiously watched his client.  The man was sweaty, and nervous-looking, which could mean anything.  If he'd found himself in the situation his client claimed, he'd likely look the same, but something about the man rubbed Jones the wrong way.  He found he wanted to needle him, test his story, but it wouldn't help: whether the man was lying or not Jones would still have to call in a specialist.  He didn't like risking his tentative friendship with Jack by putting him danger, but with this case he knew he'd have to call Jack in.  Still, he looked up at his client and said, "I'm sorry.  Christoph Jacobi doesn't exist."

"No," his client said, "no, no.  No.  I exist.  I'm sitting right here, aren't I?"

"Are you?" Jones asked, and thought to himself, Did the man pause too long before speaking?  Did he look relieved that I found what I was supposed to find, which was nothing.  Or -

"Of course I am," the man said, rising to his feet and slamming his hands down on Jones' desk, " I exist damn it.  I'm real and I'm really Christoph Jacobi.  I'm not selling you something.  I need you're help.  I just want to go home."

Was that upset real?  Could this be some kind of trap?  I just don't know.  I'll just have to watch him.

"I want to go home," the man claiming to be Christoph Jacobi practically shouted, "This isn't a joke or a con.  I heard you could help me, but if you're not going to take me seriously I'll find someone else!"

Jones leaned backed, steepled his fingers, and stared Christoph down.  "Who," he said darkly.


"I'm just curious who you think will help you with your problem?  Do you know anyone this side of the city wall?"

"No - I just . . ."


The man sat, and Jones leaned forward.  "I doubt very much that you'll find anyone else out here who'll willing to help you.  I doubt you'll find anyone else who won't rob you, rip you to pieces, and feed you to the cannibals in the Edge.  Not with you're rich clothes, and . . . are those boots real leather?"

Christoph blanched, and Jones smiled.

"I didn't say I wouldn't help you," Jones said, "Or that I couldn't help you.  I only said that you didn't exist."

"But I do . . ." the man's voice had a whiny edge to it that made Jones want to cringe.  Could you fake that?

"What I mean," Jones said, sharply cutting the whine off, "when I say you don't exist is that Christoph Jacobi, the name and ID code you gave me, is nonexistent in every database to which I have access, both legally, and . . . otherwise.  In essence, for the sake of legal niceties, and most certainly in the eyes of the government, Christoph Jacobi does not exist.  You shouldn't feel too bad about it, not many people on this side of the wall do.  It's a perfectly legitimately way to live."

"I don't want to live this way."

Jones shrugged, and said simply, "I can arrange for that as well."

Christoph paled, and stammered, "I-I don't mean - I mean, I don't . . . No - I mean I was . . . and, and now I'm not - and -"

Jones thought to take pity on him, if it was a lie he was committed, and if it wasn't he really needed help.  "Look," he said, "if what you're telling me is true then there are two possibilities.  One, you were erased.  By someone high-high in the government.  That could happen for a number of reasons: You stepped out of line, pissed someone off, were some kind of threat, you asked the wrong question, saw the wrong document, drank the wrong coffee.  I don't know.  You'd be surprised how little it takes."

"I haven't done anything.  I didn't do anything!  I swear it.  I'm a good citizen."

"I don't really care."

"Take this seriously, damn it!" the man cried, almost standing up again.  Jones waved him back down.

"I am taking this seriously," he said, "which brings us to option two."

"Which is?"

Jones reached for the drawer under his desk, it slid open without a sound, the second option, a convenient lie with just enough truth to sound convincing slid to his lips, "That you're a government agent with an assumed 'identity' sent here to catch me doing exactly what you seem to want me to do, which, I'm sure you know, is highly illegal."

Christoph Jacobi, or whoever he really was, inhaled loudly and leaned back, as though trying to get as far away from Jones as he could without getting out of his chair.

Jones smiled thinly and almost whispered, "Which option, do you think, gives you the best chance of leaving this room alive?"

The man sitting across from him jumped up, toppling the chair and started to back towards the closed office door.  Jones rose, following him, gun in hand.

"I didn't do anything!" Christoph cried, "I'm not - I didn't do anything wrong!"

"Boy," Jones growled, "If I believed that you'd already be nothing but a stain on my floor.  'Cause if you're a spy, you didn't do anything wrong.  And if you're just some little lost 'zen, well . . . You must've done something."

"I'm the victim here.  I swear, I'm the victim," Christoph was practically in tears, but didn't make any further move towards the door.

Jones bent down, righted the toppled chair, then leaned back against his desk, gesturing for Christoph to return.  The man did, slowly.  Jones put the gun on the desk, not out of reach, he wanted to look threatening, but not too threatening.

"As it happens," he said picking up the little dagger he kept on his desk to open letters and other things.  He fingered the dagger, twirling it around his fingers, it was sharp, well-balanced, perfect for throwing, "I find I'm not entirely convinced of either possibility.  Now, let's talk about you."

"What about me?" Christoph grumbled.

"Oh, little things.  Like, how you got on this side of the wall, being a good 'zen and all.  Or how you heard of me.  Or how you expect to pay me.  You pick."

"I-I  . . . wh- I came home and my imprint didn't work.  Y-you know, the door didn't open.  It happens sometimes.  Um, I tried getting an officer to open it and reset it, a-and when he scanned me . . . i-it didn't work  I didn't show up.  He laughed.  Laughed!  Called me a slum rat.  I was arrested, thrown out of the city.  I-I didn't know what to do.  I ran into some guy near the wall.  He told me, he told me about you, th-that you could help me, and I came.  I don't know what else to tell you."

Hmm, Jones thought, truth or lie?  Both?  He did have agents near the wall for occasions such as this, but something about the man didn't jibe.

"And my fee?" Jones prompted.

"I-I don't know."

"I don't do this out of the kindness of my heart, boy," Jones said.

"If, if you can get me my life back . . . I can pay, I will pay whatever you want."

Jones smiled wide, showing his teeth, "Twenty-thousand hard credits, paid the day you get your life back."

"I can't afford that!"

"You're welcome to find someone else to help you."

"You just told me there's no one else!"

"True.  Then we have a deal?"

Christoph looked mulish, "If I can't pay?  If I don't pay?"

"We don't haggle here," Jones said, leaning forward to put his face just inches away from Christoph's, "If you don't pay me, I'll just arrange for you to lose your life again.  You'll end up back on this side of the wall, back at my door, and I'll give you to Esme to take it out of your ass before you lose your life in a more permanent fashion."

"Who's Esme?"

"My wife, and the proprietress of the lovely little whorehouse downstairs."

"What if you can't get me back in the city?"

"You still have to pay, but my fee will be discounted, and we'll work out another form of payment.  Do we have a deal?"

"Do I have a choice?" Christoph sounded resentful.

"No, not really," Jones said, and thought, Neither do I.

"Then we have a deal," Christoph said, reaching out to shake Jones' hand.

A half an hour later, Jones sat at his desk alone.  He felt glum and gloomy.  He'd arranged for Christoph to have a room at Esme's Place.  It was safer than making the man squat somewhere, and he'd be able to keep an eye on him.  He didn't like it, this story of Christoph's, it smacked of danger, true or no.  The door hidden at the side of the room opened, Esme leaned against the frame.  She was beautiful, his wife, with her curvy body, long black hair, and angel face.  She wore a knee-length white sundress that was almost, but not quite shear.  He loved her for her looks, which hadn't faded in the twenty years they'd been together; and he loved her for her mind, which was full of all sorts of clever twists and turns.  She was beautiful, yes, and as dangerous and cunning as a snake.

"How much of the interview did you see?" He asked her.

"Most of it," she said smiling, "You channeling Jack.  Kind of sexy."

"He does have a way about him."

"That he does."

"Should I be jealous?" he teased.

"Stop being foolish," Esme scolded.  She moved to stand arms akimbo, and Jones' attention was drawn to the lush curve of her hips.  She laughed, and raised an eyebrow when he looked back at her face.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"About that look you just gave me, or about you're client?"


"He wasn't one of yours?"

"No.  I quit that scam months back.  The 'zen authorities were beginning to catch on.  Ground boiling beneath my feet, you know?"

"I remember," Esme said, as she walked over to him and found a comfortable place on his lap, "It was too dangerous to walk.  Couldn't take a step without tripping over some pig-headed, overzealous 'zen enforcer.  That moron, Skinned-Ed, still can't walk."

"Well, he did used to be just Ed," Jones said.

"Don't joke," said Esme looking troubled, "What do you think?  He's your client after all."

"Something about him doesn't ring true, but I can't put my finger on it."

"What are you going to do?" Esme asked.

"Figure it out," he said as he put his arms around her and buried his face in the crook of her neck.

Jones took a circuitous route to Jack's house.  A different route than the last time he visited, different, even, than the time before that.  It was a pain in the ass, but every time he came to Jack's house he tried to take a different path there.  This time he cut through several burned out buildings, crossed over the territories of three different gangs, and skirted the Edge.  At times he sprinted, at other he meandered, looking, hopefully, like he had no real destination.  All this to make sure he wasn't followed, to keep the location of Jack's home as secret as possible.  Jones didn't know who exactly Jack was, nor did he know who exactly was looking for his friend, but he knew the man was being looked for by very dangerous people.  He'd seen the footprints of the search himself in the ether of the net when he'd checked to satisfy his own curiosity.  Whenever Jones visited, he always got the impression of being followed, and felt it best to take precautions.  Today was no different, if anything, it was slightly worse.  Jones could practically feel the boots at his back.

Jack's house was fairly typical for the neighborhood, just one more beat-up old house, brick built, two stories not counting the attic or basement.  A big porch overlooked a front garden that, come harvest, produced enough edibles to feed several large families.  Some of the bricks on the facade were pitted and scorched.  Mortar shells exploded near enough to damage but not destroy.  Above the porch was a deck with a low brick wall running around it.  It gave a good view of the surrounding area, and Jack had cut down several trees and knocked down some of the walls that still stood from other houses that hadn't quite so lucky the mortars were fired.One of the battlefronts was not far from here, during the war some of the buildings were used as aid stations, Jones often wondered which ones, and if his friend had chosen his home for that reason.

The door was some kind of thick hardwood, reinforced with steel, and Jones knew the jam and surrounding wall was also reinforced.  Jack was slightly paranoid, Jones thought he had a right to be, but the younger man never seemed to let it get to him.  He had secrets, but was so skilled in diverting attention away from him that even though Jones could find no one who actually knew anything more about Jack than he did, no one else seemed to notice until Jones had inadvertently pointed it out to them with his questions.

Jack knocked, thinking of his previous blunders and frowning.  There was no answer.  He knocked again, and waited.  Then again.

"Leave off the knocking, will you, Bart? You'll wake the neighborhood and dent my door." Jack called from the balcony, sounding amused.  Jones got the oddest feeling that he should have seen him when he walked through the yard.

"What neighborhood?" Jones asked, "You're the only one living for several blocks."

There was no answer, but Jones imagined Jack shrugging gracefully.  Jack did everything gracefully.

"I think I need your help, Jack," Jones said.

"Is that what brings you to my door?"


"I'll be right down," Jack said, and Jones heard a door close above him.

Jones turned towards the door, waiting for Jack to open it and let him in.  He felt a hand on his back and jumped.  Jack laughed quietly behind him.

"I thought I'd take the quick way down," he said.

"How'd you get down here, man?" Jones asked.

"I jumped."

"Why didn't I hear you land?"

Jack shrugged and said, "Let's talk upstairs."

He unlocked a series of complicated looking locks and opened the door, leading Jones inside, then relocking every lock carefully.  The inside of the house was all wood, stained dark and polished bright.  Every room had a wall of books and weapons.  Jones knew Jack was never without at least one blade on him, not even, it seemed, at home.  Jones also knew that Jack himself was a weapon.  He was fast, strong, more dangerous than anyone gave him credit for.  Jones' had seen him kill a man once, the man was a local thug, tried to set himself up as a boss, tried to start something one night with Jack, and had been cut three different times before he even knew he was dead.  And he was dead before anyone had even realized that the fight had fully started.  Scary stuff.  Takes some serious training too.

Jones followed the man through the rooms of the ground floor, up the stairs, through a sumptuous bedroom, and out onto the front deck.  There was a little table with two chairs, and on the table, as though waiting for Jones' visit, was a teapot and two cups.

"Tea?" Jack asked holding his arm out to indicate Jones should sit.  Jack was in his usual uniform of crisp, white, impeccably tailored shirt and dark grey, just as tailored slacks, but his sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, and Jones caught sight of the red holodermic band tattooed around Jack's wrist, his breath caught sharply in his throat.  Jack noticed, of course he did, "I won't hurt you, Bart, you know that."

"I know, man, but--" Jones gestured to Jack's wrist.

Jack smiled a small, tight smile.  "It's not really a tattoo, you know," he said, "it's holodermic thread sown layer by layer through your skin.  The pain is incredible, you can feel it wrapping around your bones.  Some are permanently disabled by the process, can no longer use their hand.  They were more careful with me."

"It's red, man.  Fuck, what I know?  Means you're a breeder, right?  What the fuck are you living on this side of the wall for?  Who are you?"

"I like it here.  It's as good a place as any."

"Ratshit.  I don't believe that for a second," Jones was scared and angry, he trusted Jack, and this revelation, intended or not, had shaken that trust, "That," he said indicating the tattoo, "marks you as a fucking 'zen enforcer--"

Jack scoffed, "I can guarantee that no one as unimportant as an enforcer wears this mark."

"That's not a fucking answer," Jones spat, "Who are you?"

Jack sat with a sigh, and poured some tea into the cups.  "This," he said lifting his forearm, "doesn't exactly mean what you think it means."

Jones sat opposite Jack, a warm cuppa in front of him, and said, "Then tell me what it means.  I need to know.  If I'm going to let you near Esme, the girls, my family . . ." he hardened, "If I'm going to let you keep breathing, I need to know.  As much as you can tell me."

A smile came and went across Jack's face.  He leaned back in his chair, sipped his tea, and said, "Do you really think that you could even touch me unless I wanted you to, old man?"

"I'm serious, Jack."

"I'm getting that, Bart."

"Who are you?"

Jack took a slow, deep breath, "You're asking the wrong question.  This bracelet, my bracelet, means that the wearer's, my, genetic code -- the engineering that went into making me . . . The anomalies that make me what I am are . . . considered valuable to the people who run the world.  Yes, I'm a breeder.  They'd like me to breed, to pass on my valuable genes.  So this marks me as a breeder, and something else.  So when you ask me who I am, you're asking the wrong question."

"What are you?" Jack whispered, afraid the answer would mean death by the hands of a man he considered a friend.

"I'm not really sure, but I don't think I could be considered human."

"Are you going to kill me?"

Jack's smile was wider now, "That option was considered and dismissed when we first met, and you've give me no real reason to reconsider.  No, Bart, I'm not going to kill you.  I like you too much."

Jones could breathe again.  He picked up the little cup and sipped his tea, it tasted real.  Jack wasn't telling him everything, but he could live with that.  For now.

"Why are you here, this side of the wall?" he asked the not-quite-human across from him.

"Why are you?"


"Seriously, Bart, you've got the skills to make yourself a nearly foolproof ident.  You could easily move yourself into the city's walls."

Jones thought about it, he'd grown up in the city, run away as a teenager, met Esme, fell in love, built a home and a business, and never really looked back.  Sometimes his nights were sleepless and filled with what-ifs but not often.  He didn't speak until he thought he had an answer, "The 'zens are little more than slaves, gears working in a machine run my tyrants.  Here, I'm free."

"Mostly," Jack said.

"Yeah, well, mostly's good enough for now."

"That's why I'm here too," Jack said and held up his forearm again, "This isn't a key.  It's a manacle."

The two drank their tea in silence.  Then Jack asked, "What do you need my help with?"

And Jones told him about his client.

A year before Jones came up with a scheme to get money, food, clothes, meds, and tech from the 'zens inside the wall.  He hacked the 'zen registry and found 'zens with access to what he needed.  He didn't do this just for himself, but for Esme, her employees, their neighbors, hell, everyone this side of the wall.  They were dying out here.  Slowly.  They grew what they could, bartered or scavenged what they couldn't, but there were still things, like meds, that they couldn't get.  What little hard credits they got from 'zen tourists looking for a wild night, went fast and never covered as much as they should've.  Taxes, the city guards called it.  Things were getting desperate, and more and more people were going to the Edge, because at least there you usually had something to eat.  That is, if you managed not to be made a meal yourself.

His plan worked pretty well, too, for a few months.  Then 'zens started showing up that he didn't erase.  At first Jones thought one of the other area hackers had found out and was working the same con, but the theory didn't fly.  Then the enforcers showed up, and Jones shut down.  People looking for help tapered, and months went by with no one looking for that kind of help.  Until a few days ago, out of the clear blue, Christoph Jacobi showed up.

Jack told Jones that they should kill him.  Jones didn't like the idea of killing some innocent 'zen, but Jack didn't give up easily.

"Think of it as a mercy killing," he said, "By the gods, Bart, if, and I really mean this, if he's not some government though, then seriously pissed off some government thug.  Either way, it's dangerous for you.  It's better for everyone to quickly and quietly get rid of him.  Bury the body, or take it to the Edge and get some use out of it.  Then just pretend none of this ever happened.  That's the smart play."

Jones couldn't stomach the thought of killing an innocent person.

Jack thought him hopelessly naive, and told him so, "You're far too chivalrous, and I think you're an idiot for doing this.  It's just asking for trouble.  I'll help you, but only because I've been bored.  And I'm doing this under protest of idiocy."

"Duly noted," Jones told him.

That's how Jones found himself sneaking up the back stairs of his own home and onto the floor that housed Esme's Place.  Christoph, a quick call to Esme had confirmed, was busy with a couple of her girls, and, most importantly, in their room, not his own.  Christoph's room was in the corner near the stairs, the murder room, easy to sneak in and out of.

"Why are we here again?" Jones asked quietly.

"What?  Are you new?" Jack answered, "I want to go through his stuff."

"I told you that Esme and I did that already.  All he had was a backpack and I checked it at our first meeting, then Esme rechecked it when I moved him here.  He didn't have much."

"I believe in being thorough," Jack said, "It's a quirk.  Think, Bart, when did one of your marks have anything coming to you, let alone a bag?"

"Well, yeah, the bag was suspicious, but I checked it and he had nothing."

"Nothing can turn into something pretty fast."


"Just shut up and help me search, old man."

Jones reluctantly joined Jack's searching, annoyed that the younger man was completely disregarding two separate searches.  He was poking sulkily around the empty closet when he heard Jack "a-ha!" and turned to find him laying on the floor and pulling a backpack out from under the bed.

"What 'a-ha'?" Jones said, "There is 'a-ha'.  There's nothing here that hasn't already been checked.  A couple of times, remember?"

Jack ignored him and dumped the contents of the bag on the bed.  Then he took a closer look at the inside of the bag, reached his hand in, fiddled a bit, and pulled out a phone and a switchblade.

"So you knew he had a blade and a phone when you booked him here?" he asked looking smug.

"What?  No.  Those weren't in his bag earlier."

"I'm afraid they were.  Hidden compartment."

"I checked for hidden compartments," Jones felt new and very stupid.

"Very well hidden.  Don't feel bad, I've seen this bag before.  Well, not this one, but one just like it,"  Jack snicked the blade open and used it to pry off the back of the phone.  He poked around at the insides, and said, "We're moderately lucky, no GPS.  Let's see who he's been talking to."

Jack turns the phone on, swiping at the screen, he lifted the speaker to his ear, listened a minute before dropping it and crushing it under his boot.  He looked up a Jones, "You really should've let me kill him."

"Yeah," Jones said looking over Jack's shoulder, "I'm getting that."

Jack turned and saw what Jones was looking at, Christoph, or whatever his real name was, was standing in the door, pointing a gun right at him.

"Find something interesting?" Christoph asked mildly.

"Not really," Jack told him.  Glancing back at Jones, Jack asked, "So this is your Christoph Jacobi?"

"Yeah," Jones said.

"I'm not terribly impressed," Jack said.

"You should be," Christoph spat, "I found you, didn't I, Jack?"

"And what do you expect that to get you?" Jack asked, he sounded amused, "A promotion?  That's only if you can hand me over, and I won't let that happen."

"You think not?"

"I know not," Jack dismissed him and the gun he was pointing at Jack, and turned to Jones, "Come on, Bart, let's get you out of here.  I'll kill this guy later."

"I think he'll shoot us," Bart said blandly.

"No," Jack said smiling wickedly, "I'm betting that he was ordered not to hurt me.  That's a big handicap."

"I was ordered not to kill you, but nothing was said about him," Christoph snarled and gestured towards Jones with the gun before bringing it right back to point squarely at Jack, "and nothing was said about hurting you either."

Jack looked at Christoph mildly, and Jones thought, not for the first time, that he might just be a little past crazy.  He didn't seem worried at all.  Jones, however, was sweating.  He really didn't want to get shot.  A movement in the shadows of the hallway behind Christoph caught his eye,  Esme.  The mad woman was there with a bat, she smiled at him.  He shook his head slightly, praying she'd catch it and back up the way she came.

Jack took a step toward Christoph and said, "I think it's highly unlikely that you'll stop aiming at me.  I'm the biggest threat to you, and that gun?  It's your only leverage.  Hurt fades.  You won't cause me any permanent damage.  You were ordered not to."

"What do you know of orders?"

"I think I know who's giving you yours."

"Who?" Jones asked, unable, even now, to check his curiosity.

"Someone I hoped would never find me," Jack said somberly.

Christoph snorted, "His mother."

"What?!" Jones half asked, half exclaimed.  His mother?!

"She's a terrifying lady, Bart," Jack said.

"She's a pussycat compared to me," Christoph said.

"Right," Jack didn't sound convinced.  He moved forward another pace.

Christoph stepped back just enough to clear the threshold and enter the hallway.  Just enough that Esme had the room to brain him with the bat she held, which she did without hesitation.  Jack laughed as Christoph thumped to the floor, and Jones ran to his wife.

"Are you crazy, woman?" he all but shouted at her, "You could've gotten yourself killed."

"Pffft," Esme waved away his worry, "I was perfectly safe."

"What if he'd seen you?" Jones asked.

"He didn't.  I'm fine," Esme said toeing the crumpled man beside them, "Do you think he'll wake up again?"

"Does it matter?" Jack asked her.

"Meh," she answered.

"Jack," Jones said, "I think you need to tell us a little bit about your family."

"It's a long story."

"We've got time right now."

02 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #6

Red Moon Summer

The West is burning.
Drought and heat coupled,
Created kindling, and a 
Cause unknown:
Maybe dry lightning,
Maybe a careless camper,
Or a cigarette tossed by a
Passing driver, or maybe just
The scorch of the sun,
Lit the world.

The summer's been 
Unnaturally cool here,
Eastward of the Western downs.
Hot days shorter in duration
If not length.
The flames of the West 
Have stolen our heat,
But the moon glows crimson,
And the air smells of 
Woodsmoke and

01 September 2015


Okay, so I know I missed my first Fiction Friday.  Not a very auspicious beginning, huh?  I was on visiting friends, my story wasn't finished, and I thought it'd be rude to lock myself in their guest room to write for hours on end.  So, as with last weeks Poetry Wednesday, this month you'll get two stories.  The first will come this Friday, and the second at the regular time (last Friday of the month).  Until then, here's an update on me:

In an effort bring balance to my life I feel the need to go to extremes.  Don't worry, this post will make more sense as I continue.  Hopefully.

I recently discovered something about myself: while meandering through a short story, I realized that I need to write everything longhand first.  Weird, right?  It's annoyingly archaic, or seems so, but I can't wrap my head around a story unless I write it first, before I type it.  I revise when it's being typed, and the story is stronger for it, but I've got to write it out first.

It make sense, I guess.  Though I am considered a member of the Millennial generation I am on the upper end of that age bracket.  I remember a time before computers were in common use, though my schools always had them.  That I remember, anyway.  My family was/is considered middle class, but we're on the lower end of that bracket too, and we didn't get a computer of our own until my last year of high school.  My brain connects better pen to paper than fingers to keys.

So things are progressing slowly, and maybe always will.  Maybe old-fashion's a good thing.

We'll see.

26 August 2015

Poetry Wednesday #5


Please forgive me: I forgot
Last weeks post.  See, quite a lot 
Happened, and I lost my head -
Wound up spending time in bed.
Really, I am not to blame.
By the time that Wednesday came:
Some lady had hit my car,
And I'm lucky not to scar
From my shattered shower door
That rained glass upon the floor
While I was stuck within it.
It was a stressful minute
Spent crying on broken glass
'Til my mom rescued my ass -
Naked as the newly born -
Broken, bleeding, feeling worn -
I just couldn't concentrate, 
So my poem is very late.

As amends, before this post's done
You'll get two poems instead of one.

Greenwood Trill

"Trees sing, you know,
When the wind is right,
And if you tilt your head just so
You can understand them,"
A witch told me once
While I slept and dreamt,
Dreamt of the fathomless depths
That only sleep can see.

I spent my days after that
Dreamt advice
Running outside whenever
The wind blew, and
Tilting my head this way and that
Hoping to catch their songs.