December 16th, 2011


Poem: "Snowblind"

This poem came out of the February 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from zyngasvryka.  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.


I peer through a snowstorm,
my own cells in my own eye
taken flight to blind me
as effectively as any blizzard
formed of ice and wind.

The winter of my body
binds me to my house,
unwilling to stumble outside
into painful brightness
and slippery social slopes.

Instead I resolve
to wait it out indoors,
grimly gazing at
the snow globe of my eyeball
waiting for it to settle.


Poem: "Through the Eyes of an Owl"

This poem came out of the February 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.  It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion with a quote from a Torn World story:

Something using the far-finder mentioned in "Darkening Skies."

“I wish we had one of the far-finders they've got at Irelir,” Kireg said longingly. Birka had seen the item in question once, and had carefully looked through the glass lenses at the moon to see the ridges and craters that she could barely make out now in huge, unexpected clarity with her other age-mates. It was a treasure passed down from the ancients, carefully remade in ivory and wood when the original metal stays had succumbed to rust and wear.

Through the Eyes of an Owl
-- a Torn World poem

The far-finder is a fine tool,
its lenses ground from good glass
wrapped in warm wood and ivory,
our opportunity to look through owl eyes.
We see the world that we know
and inherited from our Ancient ancestors.
The view this vision gives us is very dear:
we see sights in the soft dim shade of night,
stars and moons made manifest and near,
their faces familiar to our forefathers too.
Only an owl's eyes open wide enough
to pounce on prey that others can't perceive.
Our minds must make sense of this vision
and help our poor human hands
to shape the shadows of our lives and show
that this, today, is as good as that was then.
Before the world broke, before we were
sundered, scattered in a shattered land
the stars stole across sky's floor and still
dance now as they danced then, diamond-bright.
The glass eyes of owls give us enough to go on,
but we wonder as we watch the the waning moons
what other eyes or organs the Ancients owned
and why, with what overwhelming might we hardly guess,
they cared so little for what they kept that they could not
save it from some subtle, terrible fate that left us
only a few fragile fragments of their finery.


Poem: "Wings of Stone"

This poem came out of the March 1, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from siege about flying buttresses.  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.

Wings of Stone

The builders never intended
that the building should fly.
They did not think about
what they were doing
when they did it.

They built the wings of the building.
They built the flying buttresses.
They carved the bat-winged gargoyles.
They painted the feathered angels.
They should have seen it coming.

But even the priests,
who filled the choir
with soaring voices,
were surprised

when the cathedral
shook itself like a cherub
and glided away godwards.


Poem: "Back to Back"

This poem came from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from thesilentpoet.  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.

Back to Back

Unified theory and magic
have run rings around each other,
kissed and told, lied and cheated and stolen,
yet somehow never succeeded in separating.
They are married, but without commitment.

Science and faith have sat down at the table
and carved up the universe between them,
body and soul, eaten still twitching.
They live under the same roof, but never share.

General relativity and quantum mechanics
are relatives who refuse to admit
that blood is thicker than water.
Even sweating, they still hog the covers.
They sleep in the same bed, but never speak.

There are the slamming doors and the rattling windows,
the countless steps that lead to nowhere.
There are the flying saucers and teacups
smashing into walls, flung with a savage curse.
There are the same eternal arguments
over whose turn it is to exercise the perfectly spherical horse.

Yet in the end, they always wind up
exactly where they began,
skin to skin, damp and panting with exertion,
their spines pressed together like two strands of beads,
their faces resolutely turned away.

It's enough to drive anyone mad.


Poem: "The Rock of Our Love"

This poem came from the May 3, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from wyld_dandelyon.  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.

The Rock of Our Love

The rock of our love
is smooth as water,
polished by all
that has gone before.

The rock of our love
is heavy as an anchor,
weighted with all our
thoughts of gravity.

The rock of our love
is shiny as a mirror,
filled with every moment
of our reflection.

The rock of our love
is both folklore and fact,
both symbolism
and jewelry.

The rock of our love
is not something that we buy,
but something that we
build upon.


Poem: "The Hunters Among Us"

This poem came out of the May 3, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from xjenavivex referring to the Cherokee legend of "The Water Cannibals."  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.

The Hunters Among Us

In the Cherokee land,
there are different water spirits:
the friendly Nûñnë'hï  of the streams
and the water cannibals of the deep rivers.

Once there lived a man
in Tïkwäli'tsï  town
who became so sick that everyone
thought he would die,
so they left him alone.

Then an old woman came to him
and took him under the waters
where she healed him --
and the man saw how
the water cannibals lived.

When he returned to his people,
he told them how
the spirits went from house to house
just after daybreak, searching
for someone still asleep
to shoot with their invisible arrows.
They took the bodies for their meat
and left behind a shade
that seemed to die and was buried.

The people learned to wake everyone
early in the day and warn them,
"Get up!  The hunters are among us!"
So long as they did this,
they were safe.

But there was another, subtler risk
and it took longer for anyone to notice --
the way the water cannibals
would sometimes scratch a person
with their invisible arrowheads,
not enough to kill, just enough
to let their compassion bleed out,
so they would walk away from those
who lay sleeping and let them sleep
or who lay ill and let them die alone.

It was the memory of the old woman
that whispered down through the stories,
saving those who could be saved
and reminding everyone
that it was worth doing.


Poem: "what the Xperts did not know"

This poem came out of the June 7, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from minor_architect.  It was sponsored by Shirley & Anthony Barrette.

what the Xperts did not know

the secret Xperiment
came with instructions
in which the Xperts explained such things
as how to raise a genderless child
and how to dress one
and what kind of toys to buy

but the parents and the Xperts alike
were all grown up themselves,
divided precisely into men and women,
who loved each other enough to make babies
but had no way of knowing
what was about to happen

so the babies grew up without gender lines,
without limitations on their powers and perceptions,
so that they held all the cards given to boys and girls
plus the ones that had fallen out of the deck to be ignored
plus a few new ones that nobody had seen before
plus a few blank ones just in case

and they thought rings around the men
and they felt rings around the women
and they perceived rings around everyone

when they hit puberty,
they all fell in love with each other
all at once, and all over,
and they did it without getting jealous or anxious
or confused or accidentally pregnant

while the Xperts stared,
and mumbled,
and finally admitted that no,
they didn't really know what they were doing after all


Poem: "Skinfriends"

*sleighbells jingling*

This poem came out of the June 7, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig.  It has been sponsored by laffingkat and dedicated to Wolfsong.


My skin hungers for your touch
as flowers hunger for the sun.
You are my light and enlightenment,
celestial energy spilled from heaven
without pause or expectation.
I bask in your warmth,
and am fulfilled.

My skin thirsts for your touch
like dry earth embracing the rain.
You are the ebb and flow of me,
washing away my worries
and filling in all the cracks of my life.
I drink in your essence,
and am fulfilled.

There is no word for what we are to each other;
our love is as nameless and innocent as wilderness,
as potent as sunlight, as primal as rain. 
It has existed since the beginning of time,
before ever words were carved free of the wind.
There is infinitely more to this dance of touching and being touched
than mere procreation; to know and to be known
is older than sex and ever so much more subtle. 
It is an affection of anemones, amoebas, atoms.
It is intricate in its simplicity, radical in its tiniest iteration.

Beneath our reaching fingertips,
whole worlds unfold,
waiting patiently for our explorations.


Poem: "Scales"

This poem came from the August 2-3 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from siliconshaman and my_partner_doug.  It was sponsored by laffingkat.


The Lightbringer's job
was to carry the morning star,
lambent candle against the fading night.
Illumination was always his business.

When a scapegoat was needed,
it was a simple thing to turn
enlightenment into hellfire and brimstone.

Was not the Word of God necessarily  true?
After all, the Universe so respected God
that "Let there be light!" caused light to exist
so as to avoid embarrassing God with an untruth.

Yet the Lightbringer remained a celestial soul,
however besmirched with sin and soot,
like a candle hidden beneath a hood.

In that latter-day Garden,
he wound himself around the Tree,
tasted the facts of its fruit
and told those truths to the Woman.

This is the thing that people forget:
The Serpent never lied.  It was God
who spoke of death that did not come that day.

All down the long years of history,
the Lightbringer twined coils of correction, whispering
things that God said Man was not meant to know,
always seeking to balance the scales.

This is the thing that people must remember:
in the valley of the shadow,
follow the Light.


Poem: "Patches"

This poem belongs to the Path of the Paladins series, which you can read about on my Serial Poetry page.  It didn't grow out of a specific prompt, but rather the unfolding story and some prior discussions about these characters and their world.  In particular, folks have asked about other deities and their followers, and how the paladins of Gailah interact with everyone else.  This poem comes after "Gallery of Souls."  It has been sponsored by laffingkat.

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Poem: "Not Mine"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl -- the bonus session with Monster House as a theme.  You can read more about this series on the Serial Poetry page.  It was inspired by prompts from fayanora, aldersprig, and miintikwa

WARNING: This poem deals with child abuse and implies some other violence.  The tone is also a lot darker than average for the Monster House series.  It may be triggery for some readers.

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Poem: "Imperfect Light"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl -- a bonus session featuring Monster House.  It was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig.  It was sponsored by janetmiles.  This poem explores the character of the little old lady ghost, and it includes quotes from the excellent book The Grandmother Principles.

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Poem: "All Through the House"

*sleigh bells jingling*

This poem belongs to the Monster House series, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.  It's not based on a specific prompt but is one of the holiday-themed poems that randomly appeared for this series.  It has been sponsored by the_vulture who says, "Blessed Yule/Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone who enjoys the

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5 Thoughts on Writing

The article says they're lies.  I have mixed feelings.

1. Write What You Know.
This is excellent, essential advice. It means make sure you understand and convey things accurately; it also encourages people to write from their own experiences, whatever those may be. But the corollary, rarely mentioned, is: "Know what you write." You can write about anything if you're willing to do the homework to get it right.

2. Descriptions are passé. Brand names are cool.
Stuff and nonsense. In fact, fashion is a lousy guide for writing, unless you are writing advertorials.

3. Fiction is a lie.
Literally inaccurate. A lie is a nonfact masquerading as a fact. Fiction is an open nonfact, much like stage illusions. But fiction can also contain deep truths.

4. Literary fiction equals literature (and is therefore superior to genre fiction).
More nonsense, and snotty imprecise nonsense at that. Literature is entertainment writing -- all the stuff that isn't nonfiction or otherwise technical stuff. "Literary fiction" is a genre just like all the other genres. No genre is inherently better or worse than the others. It depends on what you do with it. See above re: fashion being a lousy guide for writing.

5. "Hey, writers are entertainers. I'm not trying to be Tolstoy."
Tch. That's not even advice, it's a personal statement of intent. You can be any kind of a writer that you want to be and have the talent for. Not everybody likes Tolstoy. If you don't, then don't try to write like him. There's nothing wrong with being an entertainer. But there's also nothing that says serious writing can't be entertaining. Create characters that your readers love and care about, and they will cling vehemently to the plotline even if it drags the whole audience facedown through racism, rape, or apocalyptic mayhem. Just because people are screaming doesn't necessarily mean they're not entertained ... just ask any roller-coaster operator.

Sarcastic Font

This site proposes using backslanted type to representent sarcasm.  WANT.  This addresses a need a written correspondence, where we're having communication problems due to lack of intonation.  Smileys help but this is more elegant. 

Read the usage guidelines.  Learn how to spread the word.  Download fonts -- so far there is Arial Sarcastic.  Does anyone know of other s-fonts?