Uncategorized

Butterfingers?

Althea, out of the blue, this morning: “I want butter on my toes!”
Me: ??
Me: “What? You want to put butter on your toes?”
Althea: “Yeah! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.”

There was no explanatory context. No one had recently had toast, nor had we talked about it, nor was she pretending she had toast.

Originally posted on my personal Facebook account on November 1, 2016.

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Poetry

Duck Sleeps

Duck sleeps
while rain wrinkles the pond;
clouded dream
punctuated by thunder.

Comments: In 2002, I worked at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which at the time was called the Portland Classical Chinese Garden. The garden remains high on my list of PDX’s many treasures.

While manning the ticket booth and interacting with visitors, I came up with a few poems, as you do. This is the only one that has remained unchanged since I first penned it.

On a side note, even though it doesn’t fit the traditional haiku forms (either 5-7-5 or 3-5-3 on/morae/syllables and often using a kiru or kireji “cutting word”), I think of it as a haiku, insofar as it is short, condensed, a standalone image, and it operates on a principle similar to the kireji/cutting words, if I understand them correctly. Meaning that there is a juxtaposition of images that suggests a link between the two and opens the way to figuration and meaning-making. And even the acknowledged haiku masters didn’t always follow the format to the letter.

blog, Fiction

The Asura Trilogy – Preview

I’m working on a novel. Well, really, a series—a trilogy and a spinoff duology—inspired by this Reddit writing prompt. The basic premise is that humanity, having spread into the solar system, begins to explore other star systems. We establish a small handful of colonies and encounter a few so-far-peaceful alien species. Then, without apparent warning, one of the colonies is destroyed in an attack that seems to originate from one of the species, but involves a previously unknown and enormously powerful being—the species’ god, or one of them. Humanity retaliates, but finds that it is difficult to fight a god with conventional weapons. In defense and as a means of striking back, a team is outfitted with strange weaponry and equipment reverse-engineered from the technology left by another, long-vanished alien civilization. Their actions and the consequences thereof will lead humanity to ethically treacherous ground, and uncomfortable questions about the nature of the universe and its place in it, as well as its own status vis à vis its religious or spiritual beliefs.

The general idea is to have a trilogy exploring the initial response and the beginning of a multi-system war, unforeseen consequences on both members of the strike team and on certain alien civilizations, and the ultimate unfolding of the enormous changes humanity’s arrival on the interstellar scene provoke. And, in the midst of it all, a two-book spinoff series following a search for more remnants of the vanished alien civilization, in the hopes that it will provide both answers to some troubling questions and additional technological advantage for humanity. This search will ultimately have important consequences for the resolution of the original trilogy; it will occur simultaneous to the second and third books.

I’ll be posting previews—character sketches, technology concepts and descriptions, and glimpses of the world as I build it—for patrons over at my Patreon page. So if this kind of thing interests you and you’re not already a site supporter, head on over and sign up to check it out!

For those who aren’t already in the know, Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows creators of all types to receive regular monthly support from their fans. Unlike Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and many other such sites (which do one-shot campaigns for individual projects, usually of large scope), Patreon campaigns are ongoing and support the creators’ entire set of activities, rather than just one project. As such, reward thresholds for donations are much lower, and recurring. The result is a sort of monthly salary for producing beautiful, interesting, and useful things. Curious? Check it out.

Fiction

An Essae on the Trētmennt and Percepsun of Gyantkinde bye Men.

ritten bye the grate and humbel scrīb to Kin Thane Olorff Gravius III, yorse truly, Antavian Bolwr

            Hisstoricly Men hav hated Gyants indisputabley. Gyants hav eten Men. And thayre livestocke. Gyants arre biger then Men. Thayrefor thay are Monstars. It is truu that Gyants arr tall and Men ar muche smallar in all thinges. Perhappes this is the reall reson Men hav hated Gyants all along. Men, yff youe ken beleev suche a thynge, mezhur oanley in inches.

This aloan has cauwsed meny Men to attacke a Gyant out of feyr an envey. But it thayre have ben maney moar slandars to Gyant nām too than this. Men say we grynde Men’s bones withe owr teeth, yet Men do note noh the truu cases off this pracktise. Thare is in facte a shortege of calseeum Dentiste in the dyet live of the Gyante, and Men being beying small and Handey, Gyants emplye tham to cleyn thayr teeth. Yoou can see how, in if an unknoing wacher wer to sea this acte of syimbyosis ockerring, one myghte thynke sumthinge bad. And then if one were to triy to stoppe this affayr and wer to startel the Gyant, the Gyant mighte inadvartenly byghte down oar yven swallo the helpfol Dentiste, cawsing a tarribel mizundarstaining.

Of thea accyuzatchans of horeding Men’s tr welth, theese ar bayseless. Men hav ample monney and thay covar the cowentreyside with et. Aney that stumbels into the hoames of Gyants is thare by Men’s playcing or by vertue of “Fynders, kaypers,” Men having left et in thay open for aney one stumballing bye to have. Or the Men that coume toa attacke a Gyant arre call kynde enoff to brynge with thaem monies foar reparations, whych the Gyant is happeye enow to resseve in compansachon fore his enjurey. Ande iff a Man shold dye in battel withe one off Gyantkind, wea are kynd enouph to bary hem in the Arth so to be consumd by worms an to furtelīz our gardens, whyche es whot you Men do, or to eat him so as note toa wayste this preshis meate and to remembar hime our apponant.

Farthar, we do not raype an pillege, as yoar Wymen an yore hoamz ar too small far thet. Enywaie wee hev owar oane Gyantessez whou arr fahr pratayer an moare kyne. If Men wold myke thayr doars and houzas bigger, we wold not brake tham whan we caym to calle.

Soa youu seey it is nott for meaneness or hayt we hav thes repyutaytian, but fōr Men’s owne misledding hemsalf and hes jalossnass of our membars and his incoansideretness that thay hāyt us. Wye on Arth Godde wold myghte crayt some suche spaycies, smalle anvious an domb as thay are, Godde oanley knoes.

Comments: Oh, man, I wrote this one a loooong time ago! (Almost 15 years, I would guess.) I just stumbled across it the other day when cleaning out my computer. Dusted it off, gave it little polishing, and here it is. Enjoy!

Uncategorized

Hektor, Seeing (Audio)

I’ve been practicing reading my work—a misleading term because I feel it’s more like performing, almost acting. No, it is performing. Even though it isn’t acting. Maybe live voice acting, or something close. I actually have a lot to say on the subject, but I’ll save that for another post. (Tl;dr: simply reading is boring; adding gravitas to words produces “poet voice,” which is silly; you need to express—act—the emotions of the work.)(Tl;dr the tl;dr: feel the emotions in your body, let them out in your voice.)

Instead, right now I’m just going to share a quick practice recording that I did for a friend. It needs work (e.g., on the plosives), but it isn’t half bad. In fact, I daresay it’s a damn sight better than most of what you’ll encounter at poetry readings across the anglophone world. (Just to be clear, I’m not talking about content—amazing poems can be read poorly, and poor poems can be read really well. I’m talking only about how the content is presented vocally.)

Here it is.

Fiction

Meow

There was a man on my front stoop. A stale cigarette stub hung at his lip; he had stubble like an unmowed lawn and he stank predictably, which was to say like a hairy fat man on a hot day; he was wearing a greasy wife-beater and fuzzy orange cat ears; and he was meowing loudly.

Oh god I’m not awake enough for this, I thought. Mental facepalm.

“Ugh. What.” I said.

“Lemme in.”

“No. Who are you?” I asked, unable to prevent a note or three of exasperation from flitting into my words.

“Meow,” he said. “I’m Miffy, dumbass. Let me the fuck in.”

Literal facepalm this time. He was not a cat, let alone my cat. (Don’t know what clued me in.) Miffy had been missing for two weeks. I had put up posters. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

“Look,” I said. “I had a late night. There was a party…”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Tell it to my arse. Meanwhile, let me in and feed me. I been on the road, I need breakfast.” He pushed past me and headed straight into the living room, where he stopped, stretched his arms up, and sniffed the air bit. “It’s good to be home!” He sniffed again. “You have a lady in this place? Good job, mate!”

“Get out of my house!” I said.

Instead, he moved around the room, leaning down to smell specific bits of furniture or floor, each time commenting on some aspect of my recent life: “Some party! That pot I smell? My man! Hey, smells like that chick over here. Did you two do it on the coffee table? Niiiice.”

“What. Are. You. Doing.”

“Hey, you got some sorta bug up your arse or something? Relax, mate. I’m just taking stock.” He moved on, to the other side of the couch. I followed him.

“Ok, I don’t know who the fuck you really are, but you need to get out of my living room and let me go back to sleep before I call the cops.”

“My living room,” he corrected. “I let you stay here.”

“What?!” I was pretty much screaming at this point. “I live here. It’s my apartment. I pay rent!”

“Yeah, you’ve got your uses. Speaking of which, where’s my breakfast? I’m fucking starving.” The man disappeared into the kitchen.

“Hey!” I ran after him. He was rubbing up against the cabinet door like some creepy pervert with a furniture fetish. As soon as he saw me again, he started pawing at it. “You got any of that Super Seafood Supper shit in there? I could really use some tuna and salmon.”

I grabbed the keys off the counter and hurled them at the man, who ducked with surprising agility and took off past me toward the stairs. I could hear his feet pounding down the upstairs hall and disappearing into the vicinity of my bedroom. Shit.

Following in his wake, I counted to myself, thinking about the relaxation training class I had taken back in community college. I hadn’t done that well in it; thankfully, the instructor was hot, and I got to bang her for a better grade. Anyway, the one thing I remembered was some sort of numerical mantra that the lady probably made up herself, so I started reciting, 1 breath, feeling tight, 2 breaths let go of fight, 3 breaths made of light… I imagined my rage slipping away like fluff on a breeze, but every time I saw some sort of release, I remembered “Miffy” and felt myself tense up again.

I got to the door of my room and looked in. No one. Wait, no—under the bed. Fuck. How did he get under the bed? Dunno, but he was there, squeezed in like an overstuffed pillow.

“You hairy motherfucker,” I said. “Get out from under my bed and get the hell out of my house or I’m calling the goddamn cops. You’re fucking trespassing, and I don’t want you here.”

A muffled “Meow” filtered up from under the bed. WTF?

I sighed. “Look, buddy—“

“Miffy.”

“No. No, I’m not calling you by my cat’s name. You’re not fucking Miffy. I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you’re not my goddamn missing cat. Now listen—“

“Meeoowww!”

“—Fuck. Look, I don’t know who you are. You just show up out of nowhere—

“I’m your fucking cat, doofus.”

“—out of nowhere saying you’re Miffy. You’re a fat, hairy, grown-ass man, dude. WTF?”

Silence. Then a noise that sounded like a plunger being used on a sink without the emergency overflow being stopped up. Repetitive. Violent. And after a few seconds—

“Oh, no. No! No no no no no! Don’t you dare throw up under my bed! Get out from under there right now! Miffy!”

I dropped to the floor, flattening myself as much as I could, and reached into the dim cavern under the furniture. My fingers closed on something loose and hairy, and I pulled. The plunger noise ended abruptly.

I had been expecting a fight, especially given the size of the man, but he slid out surprisingly easily. My hand gripped flaccid skin on the back of his neck (ew), and he was curled into a fetal position as I dragged him out from under the bed. As soon as he was out, I let go. The asshole uncurled and looked around a bit startled.

“What the fuck, mate?” he said, and made an expression like he was going to turn inside out. His jaw dropped open, his body bunched up and released almost like it was doing the wave, and with one last plunger thrust, a pickle-sized packet of brown gunk ejected from his throat and flopped onto the floor next to me. It was slimy and hairy and cigar-shaped. I retched.

The man was now sniffing delicately at his ejection.

“Oh jesus fucking christ, man!” I yelled. “What the hell?”

He looked surprised. His eyes wide, and I swear, if his ears had been pointy, on top of his head, and able to swivel, they would have been facing straight backward. His body was tensed up and he looked ready to bolt again. Dammit. I took a breath, let it out.

“Ok,” I said, more calmly. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. But you just vomited all over my floor. Not cool, man. Not cool.” I was getting tense again.

The man relaxed enough to shrug. “Never bothered you that much before.”

“What? You’ve done that before? Do you—do you, like, sneak into my house and throw up on a regular basis? Fuckin’ nasty. No. No, no, that’s not possible. I’d have found it. One way or another.” I stood up.

“You always cleaned it up before. What’s the problem now?”

“The problem is that you’re a crazy, sweaty, pot-bellied stranger who pushed his way into my home like it belonged to him—“

“—It does.—”

“—and then ran rampant around it before vomiting on my floor.”

“Mate, I don’t know what’s with you, but I haven’t done anything different than usual. …Are you pissed I went away? Is that what this is about? I came back.” The man got up and walked out of the room, rubbing against the doorframe as he left.

I suppressed an exasperated cry. “Look, I’m about done. You do whatever the fuck you want. I’m going to clean up your vomit, and then I’m going to call the fucking police.”

“Suit yourself,” I heard from the other bedroom. “Your life.”

Downstairs in the kitchen, I went looking for paper towels and some cleaning supplies. I had just stood up from foraging under the sink when I heard a noise and caught movement out the back window. I looked and almost dropped the latex gloves I had just retrieved. Near the back of my yard, an absolutely gorgeous woman, like sultry, stunning, top model. Crouching, as if she had just jumped down from—the fence? As she stood up and started to stalk across the yard, a low whistle escaped my lips. Fuck. But what was she doing back there? And, come to think of it, why was she wearing cat ears?

A crass chuckle startled me. “Miffy” came up from behind and leaned against me. “Heh. Yeah, Ginger always has been a looker. The minx.”

Comments: I think this one was a response to some writing prompt, but I can’t remember which one, so…tant pis. The idea wrote itself pretty swiftly, then got interrupted. In the process of coming back repeatedly to it, I also wrote a couple other snippets of scenes between Miffy and his “owner”. Maybe they’ll be turned into sequels later.

If you like what you’re reading and want to see the work keep coming, head on over to my Patreon page and support me.

Poetry

The Robot Lover

The kiss was sweet as ever, the lilt
of her tongue in my mouth. The slow
separation, her face falling
into focus, near. “I love you”,
I say. And she: “I love—lov—
zzzrvbbrrzz—lovyou.”

That robot smile. The grill of her teeth.
The same old recording: “I have been
discovered. Initiating
sequence 3184.”

“Not again,” I think, and reach
round the bed for the crowbar.
Her eyes begin that light-up danger,
her tensile hands extend for me. I cock back
and swing. The head caves
then separates. Droplets of circuitry
shower the sheets. “Erasing—
erahsih—
euhrahhwwvp.”
And another one ripe for the cleaners.
“Well,” I mutter, “Guess I’ll see if Julia’s free.”

Comments: This a first draft, basically, inspired by the following writing prompt: ‘You’re laying in bed kissing your significant other. They back away a bit, smile, and say, “I love yo…—zzzrvbbrrzz. Love you.” You lean back in horror as you realize they’re a robot. In a monotone voice, they say, “I have been discovered. Initiating sequence 3184.”

Remember, if you like what you’re reading, please consider contributing to my Patreon account, which helps support my creative work.