March 11th, 2009


Watch "They're Made Out of Meat" on YouTube

I found a rather good version of Terry Bisson's short story "They're Made Out of Meat" on YouTube. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the ending, and it was evidently recorded that way on purpose. The full story is also online. I love this story because it portrays a genuinely alien -- and yet perfectly understandable -- perspective.


Since I don't do chat, this isn't much use to me, but I thought some of you might be interested:

This coming weekend sees the first Flycon, an online con intended to take advantage of the medium in order to allow people from all over the
world to participate in panels and chats from the comfort of their own computers. Panels will be announced in the Flycon Livejournal community
( and take place on (,
while author chats will take place in IRC.

Poem: "The Ghosts of Alexandria"

This poem was inspired and prompted by minor_architect.

The Ghosts of Alexandria

Books burned are lost but not forgotten.
Their white ashes rise on the wind like doves
only to rain down on distant poets perched upon their hills.
Their voices haunt the corners of bookstores
and the garrets of writers,
and it is no secret
that starving men see visions.

Ideas are as immortal as souls.
You can tear them from their bodies
and fling their flesh on a pyre,
but in the end the heat of their release will drive you back
and they will fly free on phoenix wings
while the taste of cinnamon burns your tongue.

Someday they will come home to roost
in new fingers that birth them into new books.
Someday they will possess another poet,
another playwright, who will pour them forth
into a performance that becomes embedded in memory.
Someday they will take form and live again.

These are the ghosts of Alexandria,
the spectres of every collection ever condemned to cremation,
burned like a witch for wisdom and willfulness.
They are there in the bricks and the stones and the struts
of every library ever built – past, present, and future.
Their whispers fill the silence of the stacks.
They are the dust that once was ash.
They are the thoughts that rise like smoke signals
whenever a reader opens a book.

She, too, is there.
Her soul is as immortal as ideas.
Her love of learning endures beyond death.
She who was the last Librarian of Alexandria
lives in the heart of every girl who goes into a library
and decides to spend her life there – every girl who realizes
that math is not hard and the boys are just jealous of her gifts –
every girl who opens a book like a door
and fills the empty room of it with the furniture of her dreams.
For wherever Hypatia goes, there is Alexandria reborn.

Poem: "The Things Between"

This poem from the March 2009 poetry fishbowl was inspired and sponsored by minor_architect.

The Things Between

These are the things we realize
without quite seeing them –

the meaning of the story
read between the lines,

the things glimpsed from the corner of the eye
that skitter away leaving little footprints of wonder

the warning flag that alerts to danger
but is not there when looked for directly

the image from a dream, between waking and sleeping,
that hints of the face that will bring true love –

for our minds live with one foot in different dimensions
and our eyes can’t always keep up.

Poem: "Socked Away"

This poem from the March 2009 Poetry Fishbowl was inspired by whuffle and sponsored by janetmiles.

Socked Away

There’s a place they all go –
the white socks swallowed by the dryer,
the car keys devoured by jeans,
the wallet your suitcase ate on vacation,
the homework you knew you did.

There they are joined by
lost nails from unicorns’ shoes,
the map to the minotaur’s maze,
clear photos of UFOs and the Loch Ness monster,
quozzle tips and bent fribs from undiscovered planets.

There they lie,
in a dimension bordered by
the parts of penrose tiling that make the pattern repeat
and the parts of teflon that interpose between pan and cake,
hidden from the thin membrane of reality.

There they will stay,
dark matter collecting around a strange attractor,
holding the universe together in secret –
at least until a physicist climbs into a clothes dryer
and disguises herself as a sock.

Poem: "Family Curses"

This poem from the March 2009 Poetry Fishbowl was prompted by jolantru and sponsored by janetmiles. I'm starting to like the idea of bizarre fictional support groups.

Family Curses

The support group met on Tuesday nights
in the basement of the community center.

The introductions went around
the little circle of the afflicted,
ending with the new girl, a slumped blonde
who said to her hands, “My husband and I
just discovered we’re both carriers
for Tay-Sachs disease.”

“How awful,” said the mummy,
picking at a loose strip of linen.

“I wouldn’t want to trade,” the werewolf said quietly.

Poem: "The Absent-Bodied Professor"

This poem from the March 2009 Poetry Fishbowl was prompted and sponsored by janetmiles. If you haven't already done so, you may want to read the history of the main character. I don't often write steampunk, but I had fun with this.

The Absent-Bodied Professor

Josiah Carberry stepped into this world
in 1929, leaving his first footprints
on a bulletin board in Brown University.

He annoyed newspapers and journals.
He had adventures and wrote articles.
He became a friend of the library,
donating $101.01 for funding and
designating every Friday the 13th
as “Carberry Day,” when patrons
should make donations for the purchase of
“such books as Professor Carberry
might or might not approve of.”

His contributions to the field of psychoceramics –
the study of cracked pots – are essential to
both academics and politics.

And to think we might have none of this,
were it not for the fact that, in the universe next door,
he invented the steampunk stardrive engine
with its odd tendency to create carbonite copies of its inventor
and scatter them across the timelines like leaves.

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