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AshesThink of the letters that we write our dead.
- Dana Gioia
Mother, you are a bowl of soot. It's sad I wasn't there,
but I did remember to weep
and your yellow hair, that your eyes
were the strange, exhausted blue of certain leaves.
You buried your husband young and went on,
in a way, though I think the Mother who carried me
died the same day - I barely recall
her being in our house.
There was a woman who did laundry, made the beds.
Now she is dead, and in this bowl her ashes
are all mixed up with yours.
She used to call me 'daughter', but I was never hers.
ThirteenOne day I'll let her go -
my balloon child,
made of air and stuff so thin
I don't know how it holds her in.
Nor what I'm to do then,
but watch her go, with her string
still attached like a doubt
she's not cast off yet. Not today,
but soon. For now,
she's still my child balloon.
If You WishI shall speak to you as cats do, in sulphur
and green slivers
from the back fence of night. I will call
to you in comet-tails, in stars,
not aloof but only distant; swing by you
in a wild, wide ellipse, now and then
close enough to catch. The cat abroad
on the fence at night wears a hair shirt.
I am not her. I am nothing like her -
my heart is less ephemeral, my shadow
not so blue. If you wish, you may smooth
the frost from my spine
with your big, warm hand and I will arch.
The Hard Work of PoetryPoets are constantly crippled, creatively. It's the way it works. You write a line and, just now, right now, it seems like it's the best line in the world to date. It's a shiny, beautiful line, a thought, an image so remarkably profound that you are in awe of yourself, or (if you are a seasoned poet) in awe of that angelic being which sits on high in your mind and occasionally drops little scraps of poetic manna into your head. Now, you only need to write a poem around it.
Because the poem takes over, sprouts a million legs and scurries in directions you had no real intention of it going and now the Wondrous Line of Glory and Poetic Win doesn't fit. You have to either change it or take it out and save it for another poem. Or make it a haiku-like short poem on its own, so all those other words don't assault it again. If you're an experienced poet, you'll probably just store it in a .txt file or on a post-it note somewhere and lament it until you're old and nothing matte
On my mother's shadowSeeing her now, she's always in yellow:
buttercup, lemon, ripe wheat
in the sun as observed from the screen
of an oncoming car; her hems always
swaying, as if a dress
could capture life. I'd left her, blue
and lost, in the wilderness, far gone
but not far enough to keep her
from tracking a path back to old haunts
with a few jaundiced dreams
and her pockets stuffed with crumbs.
Rehab for Roleplayers - IntroWelcome to Rehab for Roleplayers, a series of articles aimed at helping roleplayers more successfully make the transition into writing fiction.
Introduction: How to Spot a Drow Illusionist
I can identify a habitual roleplayer from fifty paces. Those who've been spooked by my asking whether they're a roleplayer within ten seconds of reading their fiction will know what I'm talking about.
"But how did you know?" they gasp. When I'm done chuckling, I explain that I know they are a roleplayer, because they write like a roleplayer.
There's usually a pause, then, while the writer decides to what degree they're going to feel offended by this statement, and/or wonders whether I've been stalking them, before they pose the next question: "What, exactly, do you mean by that?"
What I mean is this: roleplayers almost invariably share the same basic writing habits, and some of these habits stand out as flaws in their non-RP material.
Many people develop their interest in writing
Hangs from your pelvis
like an incomplete, conjoined sibling
with no mind of its own
but enough of yours to make you fear it.
Comes when you are sleeping
to perch on your face and dip its beak
redly into your dreams.
Shucks its claws
on the upholstery of your flesh.
Is a fog-eyed poet, reading aloud to you
endless reams of his own passionate,
Squats in the waste it has made of you,
you dare not look in the eye.
Remembers the body when it moved
with the ease of light across a lakes delicate skin.
Watches your babies grow
skins so thick they cant feel you.
Is an illusion
overcome by mastery of the mind,
an ascetic life, a clean colon, eighteen
valium and a quart of Scotch, a bullet
or all of the above.
SloughIt starts with a metronomic
drip-splat, each drop a bastinado
blow on the feet of sleep.
Floundering from our half-
cold bed, I navigate the room
like a blind albatross until the bitch
of a stubbed toe stops me.
deep in the house. Rust runnels
down walls we painted ivory.
I find the sink choking,
the refrigerator dead, puddles
rising, like stigmata, on the lino.
The kettle boils itself.
It's been three weeks since you left
this house. I thought by now
it would have stopped grieving.
FFM Day 8It is better, she has found, to be a mime. Mute is an ugly word, it conjures disfigurement and loneliness, sad-eyed men in sad, brown clothes. But ah, a mime elegant and otherworldly, a mime is an artiste, and lacks for nothing!
Today she tugs on her black body stocking and striped cardigan quickly, because there is an event she must attend where there will many other mimes, how exciting. New hat, new hat, where did it go? Her room is a jumble. Ah, there! It was a gift from a friend, this little hat with its big, blue daisy.
Oh, quickly! There is little time to paint her face and it must be perfectly done: a simple mask of pure zinc-white, a hint of rose on the cheeks, little red doll's lips. The black lines under the eyes, so traditional. The hat is her only other colour, its flower and her blue eyes to match it.
The street is busy; a good day to work, the crowd seems fresh but restless, wanting something to distract it while it roams the windows of cake shops and haberd
The Thin HoursI.
Those of us here in this skeleton time,
this time of the year when the nights are thin
and dark, and dark with anxiety, peeling
as layers of an oyster shell, brittle and effaced
and somehow iridescent.
When the bell tolls out the time the sound is thin
and reaches into fractured air and softly
seeks the spaces between the atoms and
misses the vital Os and CO2s in a lasting,
failed pinball. The bell sound dies in
some space between midnight and thereafter,
and each tock tock of slipping cogs is
a repeat and not a moving on.
The air is filled with each dull sound,
each tock a repeat and a repeat again. And the
slip between this old year and the new is the
slip of ice on ice, a thing that will melt and
lose its meaning before the sun can rise.
These dead hours can spin out with
no regard for time, and
no regard for the drub of a beating heart
and no regard
none at all.
The moth at the window is a silent ghost, but
the wind has
gold scattered rough across
cracked earth and the last
remains of summer - they fell
like leaves in the arms of the wind.
some scents cannot be captured.
the gods bleed onto rock,
and the stone sends her prayers
in return: petrichor.
listen - the heavy thud of
rain on parched ground;
the monsoon sealing life back in;
the sky bows and kisses earth.
At The Old Folk's HomeThere is a chair beneath the cherry tree
velvet red upholstery peeling off the yellow foam.
There are no cherries left
and no one in the chair.
The two emptinesses commune to the sound of
the cicada reciting his mantra.
I would sit but look
the seat is wet with August rain
The SiegeThe first mile is always the easiest.
—Kyle Lynn to me, circa 2006
Tell that to the ghosts,
men soaked in sand and blood spray,
storming the shores of Normandy.
First Infantry's sprint through coastal
trenches, up bluffs, under ruptured drays.
Tell that to the ghosts
huddled in half-channeled holes,
a captain's dash through shrapnel, gray
storm on the shores of Normandy.
A German boy adrift in the compost
of his legs, his elbows' grand flail.
Tell that to the ghosts
ripped in four by mortars posted
over Omaha. Dawn's evenly keeled decay
storming the shores of Normandy.
How quickly the lung forgets to oust
its breath. Be wary of the sea's affray.
Tell that to the ghosts
storming the shores of Normandy.
The HologramsBefore Casper we were a quantum band,
an act that only happened when unobserved.
Our drummer maintained we'd split
the world, then took a full-time position
in PR. Auditioning his replacement
round our Crouch End front room,
with his white vest, buffed All-Stars
and holographic principle patter,
Casper shone. 'These,' he said,
nodding at his drumheads,
'are my event horizons;
it's where the beat really happens.'
To prove it, he worked up an almighty storm,
while we puffed on our cigarettes.
Short of a singer, Casper made a call.
Yume Shirakawa, he explained,
would beam in her performance. Jay,
sliding milk down his thin throat,
looked pleased. Dispatched to Budgens,
strangely, no complaints. We jammed.
Matter grew vague, the days came and went.
First gig, a full house, but no sign
of Yume, whom we'd still never seen.
Plugging into our amps, tweaking
Volume, Gain, she appeared, silk-clad,
like a switch had been thrown. Turning
our three dimensional selves to the crowd,
who thought we we
A Flowerwould I, I would
walk in Hiroshima, a flower
cannot say much
underneath cypress trees
we can believe
pyramid builders used stars
to map something there
sand in my hand, sand
back to where I gathered it
the cypress branches at
night canvas us like a pyramid
as it should be, with light
coming down in shafts
I'd have a flower for every
thing we ever did that needs one
that is an uncountable amount
of flowers and we
cannot count the stars
in a universe we do not understand
the world is brighter where
dregs of strangers' revels remain --
i keep this half-light for my own.
i'll stay until the wind sighs a scotch-and-smoke
cliché, til the Muscadet's slipped from the lip
of my wayward
hello.(i know you're there before you do.)
your night is told in
patchouli-pulse wanders; mine,
in whorls of liqueur-breath. come
close and i'll find the warp
through the weft, the trails telling tales
in synaesthesia --
Platinum Blonde's been 'round and gone.
(-- closer, find syllables strewn
in an exhale's wake; stolen from my throat-
ful of careless farewells, spin and sway
and beg you stay.)
time enough for a kiss-
and-never-tell, for a stumbling waltz
to the dissonance of crystal-shatter odes
to the summerlong i knew you --
we were(n't) meant for more than this.
morning goes right through you,
and breathes a thousand fortunes in-
to shards of (our) stranger starfall.
city drowned cleanbirds fly bluer before a hurricane,
wings sharper, the bricks neater.
one train is always longer than the
other. i cried about it. the saturated
city, droplets of colour caught on
tape & rewinding, cups me in its
palms, i am a bug on its window,
imagining all of it underwater &
people clapping in a silent film,
the last dying bubbles curtsying
on their lips, for their marble town
the white skied & terrible atlantis.
It's not Rocket Science a poem for Jack Parsons
Lucifer took a hit, landed
face-down & flat-broke
back in the 40s
out on the West Coast
eyes the colour of Swarfega
teeth rotting, shoes worn through,
and dying for another high
too early for acid he takes
the mescaline trail
down into the Mojave
where the rattlesnakes are
locked in their kundalini and the
stillness flickers like god
across a lizard's eye
Lucifer hitched a ride
over to Pasadena
to see Jack and the Rocket Boys
see what they can do
to put him back in heaven
too long in the desert
Jack's already on the last reel
Twenty-three years before the crippling of Crown Prince James III
He was fourteen and she was probably aged about the same, give or take a few years. It had been an hour since he'd met her.
He hated her already.
She scowled behind him and likely shared the sentiment as they scampered up the hillside in a desperate attempt to escape the roaring mob that seemed to be growing perpetually larger and coming ever-closer. Gabriel would have liked to say that it was all her fault he was in this situation, though it was his careless nicking ofwhat was it? A chicken that started the first old woman running, but how was he supposed to know that she'd stumble and fall and everyone else would think he'd assaulted her?
He hadn't. He'd taken the chicken, snapped its neck and run, because he hadn't eaten meat in weeks and he was starting to feel the affects on his already weak limbs.
This is what happens, he thought. This is what happens when you live like th
Little Miss It“Do you enjoy her company?”
That, Avadaci concluded, had been the extent of his grandfather’s kindness. Thank the stars he had broken his neck after a failed attempt to ascend the castle staircase. Not that many were privy to this information. The official listing on the cause of death involved something along the lines of falling in battle after slaying at least a dozen demons, although this was treated with quite a bit of skepticism by the general populace. Yet, interestingly enough, a decent portion of the locals believed a tale about the cannibals of Unkhtom devouring him whole.
Not that Avadaci really cared how his grandfather had died. He was just glad he was dead. And if he was glad his grandfather had died, Avadaci wondered, why did he have to attend his funeral? In fact, the whole kingdom was glad his grandfather had died. Why did they have to attend the funeral?
“Oh Avad,” proclaimed his mother, “obv
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^Nyx-Valentine arrived in our community and started whipping everyone into a frenzy with her relentless desire to bring the Artistic Nude and Fetish galleries to the fore. 9 years later, and it's safe to say that Nyx is not only a leader as a photographer in these galleries, but she has also established herself as a much saught after model. ^... Read More