my poetry

before/after the streetlights (a poemy thing)

When I was a kid, I was a bit obsessed with streetlights. Not just because I was allowed to stay out till just past the time when they came on, but for other reasons…harder to explain reasons. Imagery from the Book of Revelations via terrifying sermons, post-apocalyptic scenes courtesy of 80’s sci-fi shows and movies, and sci-fi odds and ends from books and school all mingled in my mind to give me thinky-thoughts. I would look up at the streetlights with their buzzing, orange light and wonder–what would it take to turn off all the lights in the world? If that thing happened, would they all go out at once, a sudden there-then-not kind of thing? As I grew and my understanding of the world (power grids, physics, post-apocalyptic narratives stemming from post Cold War tensions and the 80’s Star Wars propaganda) matured, I started to see that these things that preoccupied me as a kid were still pretty scary. These things come out even now in my poetry and fiction. Streetlights, powerlines stretching for miles over grassy fields, windmills with their blinking red pilot lights, the kinds of strange machinery and structures I’d see at the edges of the military bases and the Port Authority where I grew up all blend together with my young mind’s questions, creating this personalized, complex iconography of tech. To this day, I write about when the streetlights go out. To this day, I still get chills thinking about it. I hope you are all having a good week so far, and thanks for reading!

And now, a new poem:

streetlights

before/after the streetlights

 

Be in before the streetlights come on, mom calls out

and her voice slaps flat against the sides of houses

and the summerhot asphalt

and my scrambling footfalls echo back–

 

I run till the street ends in woods and it’s darker.

Before the streetlights, what was there?

Fireflies and distant blinking stars only go so far

in holding back the night–

 

Before the streetlights, one kind of darkness

and after? What happens when the white light

eats the sky, when the generators die–will the streetlights

and stoplights and house lights all go out at once?

 

Will I be able to see to run? Be in before the streetlights

come on, I tell my blue shadow and look up at the metal

and orange light and down at the crumbling street

and I hum and I try not to be afraid of the after

Haintsong–a Hallow’s Eve Poem

Hello all, and happy creppy, spoopy day! I wanted to celebrate with a new poem I wrote while thinking about the woods where I spent so many youthful days rambling, dreaming up stories of valiant last stands against armies of evil creatures, the pines whispering all around me, the Spanish moss dancing in my path on breezes I could not always feel. *shivers* I don’t normally use much rhyme in my work and though I did not employ a strict form, this piece was a challenging little exercise in word choice. I creeped myself out a bit while writing it, so in the spirit of Halloween scaring-is-caring, I hope you enjoy! <3

haintsong

Haintsong

swish of pine needle, stir of fir

borrowed silk snags thorny branch

bare feet striking frozen dirt

thud of footfall, doesn’t hurt

 

run like the devil’s on your tail

and all the world’s on fire

run, she’s nearly through the veil

hurry girl you better run

 

spanish moss shapes an arch

breaths of night stir the fronds

swish of pine needle, stir of fir

all that waits for you is her

 

nowhere left to run my girl

there’s nowhere left to hide

the fire is licking at your feet

and the devil lives inside

*

she waits for me in a thistle-vale,

her smile of smooth old bones

an echo of a darker day,

rotting silks all turned to gray

 

she sings to me in night-time wind

in words all shades of gray

cathedral stone and charnel ash,

cat’s eyes and freezing skies

 

her promises are gossamers

laced with motley grays-

cold rain, mother’s hair,

shipwreck waves, mossy graves

 

she tells me I am like her now

creature with a life gone gray

clouded ice, mind of smoke

soul of lead, heart stone-dead

 

Luminous, Almost Night and Making Monsters

Salut, denizens of Terra, this third planet from Sol! Things have been busy for this human citizen lately. For REASONS. So I’ll just get right down to this updatey thing…

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-130610 (1)I’m happy to announce that next Monday, 7/13 (ONE WEEK FROM NOW ZOMG), I’ll be rolling out the cover reveal for Luminous, my piece to be included in The Book Smugglers’ First Contact series. This is so exciting, ya’ll! The pieces from the collection I’ve read so far are thoroughly for the WIN, and I’m proud to be a part of this fantastic roster. I’ll be sharing the cover and hype for Luminous starting Monday 7/13 and I promise you, I am so excited to foist this story and everything about it up on the world!  >:-D

14444I’m also stoked to announce that Almost Night, a collection of my creppy! spoopy! poetry will be available from Pine Float Press this fall. I’ll announce the publication date when it’s set, but for now, Sean Demory of Pine Float has released a teaser poem from the collection, and oh, sweet world, be wary. I’ll talk about the collection in more detail later, but for now know that poems of creeping dread snaking like kudzu over the seemingly mundane trappings of suburbia will hit (virtual and otherwise) shelves during the waning of this 2015 year and I could not be more pleased (nor can the eldritch horrors commanding the project into existence in the first place, ha, jk, really, sorta, heh…).

And now, I present to you, How To Make A Monster: Basic Recipe, a teaser from Almost Night:

(more…)

Sidereal

I’m so excited to note that my poem Sidereal is live in the ever-wonderful Apex Magazine…WOO!

I loved writing this piece even more than most. I’d been playing a lot of Mass Effect, reading sci-fi and space opera, watching Star Trek: Voyager, and dreaming about a quietly empty, regenerating, far-ish but not too far-future earth when most humans have gone elsewhere…the constellations the same as ever, the earth fallow, waiting to thrive again with water reclamation plants and careful tending. And in the muted night, an Operator and a Specialist tending the machines that coax the world back to health–a soldier and an engineer in a quiet and generative love.

I remember once hearing someone going on about how romance has no place in science fiction and fantasy writing. That got a legit lol from me–as long as I’m writing about humanity, I’ll do my damnedest to create well-rounded and believable human characters. We (humans) love fervently and dangerously and quietly and unwisely and well; we form attachments, friendships, rivalries, and ultimately rely upon one another when things get dangerous or weird. If anything, these relationships and attachments in fiction make for life-rich characters with hella motivation to do what they do in moving a narrative forward. Now, I don’t expect alien species, every artificial intelligence, or other life-forms in speculative fiction and poetry to behave the way humans do–not unless it’s part of how the writer has imagined the species and world. But my favorite science fiction, space opera, fantasy, anything-I’m-reading humanoid characters often act from places of emotion, making decisions because of their human attachments. And yes, sometimes they fall in love. Exploration of this humanness is why Sidereal was such a joy for me to write–I reveled in exploring how two people in this future full of extensive tech and galactic conquest could grow close in the framework of lonely, dangerous, and sometimes painfully exacting work.

So, readers…any sci-fi romances out there that make you swoon and rock your galaxy? I’d love to hear about them!

hearty

Ginormous, Largehuge Updates Post

Good morning, space cadets. It’s so Monday in here…and time for a GIANT updates post. Things are busy. In fact, I can hear Sabre Dance playing in the background while I try to catch the falling plates. That said, here’s what’s going on in my writing world:

Lian commission FINAL blue

Lian, by Charminglyantiquated

My poem Sidereal will be in the next issue of Apex Magazine. It’s sci-fi poemy goodness, so look for it in the next issue releasing Tuesday, May 5th! In other awesome writerly news, I commissioned the lovely charminglyantiquated, one of my favorite artists, to paint Lian from my story Daughter of the Sun, available through Luna Station Quarterly. Needless to say, she ROCKED it and I am going to frame it and keep it forever and ever and ever. <3

wpThe lovely Lulu chapbooks for War Paint, my story in Slow Boat to Fast City, arrived and they are GORGEOUS. Sean Demory wrangled up all of us locals this past weekend to sign the backer reward copies for his recent  Kickstarter campaign. I’ll just say this–Pine Float Press is definitely one to watch. Demory has a knack for assembling an eclectic and effective mix of talented writers  and this is true for Slow Boat to Fast City, a raygun gothic 50’s AU Mars anthology. It’s remarkable, get-under-your-skin-and-stay-there stuff that I’m way proud to be a part of! I’ll be interviewing Sean Demory, Pine Float Press and the Slow Boat project’s nefarious engineer in a future posts so watch this space!

ahsoka

just look at these badasses

In the meantime, I’ve got a huge spate of edits crumbling down upon me, which means I want to play more SWTOR and Mass Effect 3 than usual and hide in space opera, sci-fi, and saving the galaxy. I’m also squeezing in episodes of Clone Wars, the animated series when I can and falling head over heels in love with Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress–and I’ve always been in love with Obi-wan, so that doesn’t count. So many of the characters in this show are fully-realized and compelling in ways I had not anticipated and I might just have to blog about this show and just how important and wonderful it is at some point in the not too far future.

pollen

pollen is the DEVIL

In Real Life, things are nutso–pollen is rendering me Queen of the Derps, and I’m just slogging through till this never-ending messy plant nookie goes away.  Seriously–it’s way out of hand. Extracurricular activities abound, of course–I’ll be gearing up to appear at ConQuest, a science fiction/fantasy convention happening here in town. I’ll be joining some other local writers, including authors from the aforementioned Slow Boat anthology and Jen Boles, author of Bringer of Light, in various and sundry panels and even some readings (*hyperventilates into imaginary paper bag*). It’ll be interesting, nerve-wracking, exciting and ultimately, rad. Finally, I’ll be preparing for the release of my story Luminous from The Book Smugglers in July–more info to come!

Azul1

Azul, the Daydream Dragon, now with extra sparklies

Upcoming Fun Things include a live Welcome to Night Vale show with a super awesome Bunny friend, my 5-year wedding anniversary (a weekend of gaming, relaxing, reading, movie-marathoning with my awesome hubby), and I’ve even started painting again after several years off (I’m working on learning to art in general). I’ll re-start my monthly Luna Station Quarterly blogs in May–you can look forward to some serious geeking out in the near future. Suffice to say, a lot is going on and it only gets busier from here! I hope all ya’ll readers are doing wonderfully, thriving like the spring flowers and trees making us all sneeze a billion times in a row here in this part of the world. Wishing you well–happy reading, writing, nerding, geeking, gaming, sleeping, or whatever it is you are doing these days! <3

Extra, Extra: Projects Update

WHEW! Things have been crazy busy these last two months.

Accurate Representation Of October-November

I have some exciting updates on the writing front.

First, my speculative short, “Primitive Tools,” is available today in issue 20 of Luna Station Quarterly! You can read it for free online via the website. http://lunastationquarterly.com/issue/issue-020/ You can also purchase single issues, donate to LSQ via Patreon, or buy all 20 issues of LSQ’s amazing stories for their Cyber Monday sale. Stop by, read, show the love for women speculative fiction authors!

Next up, I have a release date for my poem “Letters To S. From Poet-Build Beta-3,” coming from Strange Horizons. Watch for my piece to appear in the December 22nd issue along with yours truly reading the work mostly not Porky-Piggily on their podast!

Finally, I have had yet another poetry acceptance, this time from the amazing Apex magazine! WOOOO! I’ll let ya’ll know when I have a publication date for this piece.

In the meantime, I have three other spec-shorts shopped out, more poetry in the works, and a series of novels just begging to be written.

SUCH BUSY. VERY TASKLIST. WOW.

So yeah, lots going on. NaNo was a success in that I have over 13K of new stuff written (no, I did not make it to 50K but that’s fine), three pieces thoroughly edited, and couple of new blogs of LSQ in the works. Here’s hoping all is well with you lovely people…happy reading, happy writing, happy happy joy joy!

I write poetry.

I write poetry. It’s pathological. I’ve been at it for years—I have proof. Awkwardly near-rhymed couplets in my 5th grade daily journal lauding the 11-year-old me’s perfect day: extra beanbag and reading time (in a sunbeam, no less), A’s on all my assignments, and chicken patties for lunch…each of these triumphs truly worthy of occasional verse.

In middle school, I discovered sonnets replete with iambic pentameter and by high school, I was villanelling with abandon. Byronically Keatsian odes, too. Dreadful and clunky and labored. I might have even asked my mom for a quill and frou-frou journal at some point—

MOVING ON.

Something happened that interrupted the awkwardness and ratcheted my wordsmithing into a new dimension. Our family trip to The Smithsonian, particularly the National Gallery. Mom and I stood for who knows how long in front of Manet’s “Plum Brandy.” The woman in the painting looked nothing like mom but, somehow–the faraway look on her face, the way she held her cigarette, forgotten, between those first two fingers–she so very like my mother that it jarred me.

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I was unnerved by the tremendous human-ness of the painting and in awe of how much one glance could communicate. I dug around in my purse until I found a pen and scribbled a poem about my mother while other tourists jostled and crowded and came and went. The product: three stanzas, no rhyme, short lines, more white space than I’d ever witnessed in any of my other smudgy, hand-scrawled endeavors.

My mother loved it.

I even tucked the piece into the pages of her favorite Robert Frost book to be burned and mingled with her ashes. I’ve never been more humbled by my own words.

Something happened in the National Gallery that day–a sensation of tumblers clicking and grinding into place when a key turns in a lock. I understood how the enormity of the world around me could fit into such tiny spaces. How my mother’s spirit could be mirrored in a painting from 1877 then again in three squashed stanzas. How working in a condensed medium could crystallize an instant, something ephemeral and dazzling in and out of sight like sun glinting on rippling water.

How I could imply so much in the spaces between words, between lines.

How little there is to say sometimes.

One writers’ workshop and more than twenty years later, I still write poetry. I absorbed all I read, all I was taught in some bizarre osmosis of concept and style. I devoured words, I built and destroyed the infrastructures of verse and somehow developed a process that sticks with me even now.

First, the raw stone. Employ the bludgeoning tools–the blunt mallet and chisel, the heavy saw. Stand back and see a form take shape.

Sand and sand and chisel and sand.

Fine tools come next–the Dremel, the diamond cutter. Micro-adjustments. Clear the dust and polish under a magnifying glass and harsh light.

Polish again. And more.

Step back.

Understand how something of such tremendous heft and substance appears as doubly itself in a condensed form, the black-hole matter, a nothing that is weighty beyond reckoning.

Feel humbled.

I write poetry. It’s pathological.