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

 

Horrorscopes: Fall 2016, Election Edition!

zodiacnWhy hello again, Starchildren! Here in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet Earth, it’s autumn…time for cozy sweaters, those first chilly evenings, the re-emergence of the Disciples of the Cult of PSL (pumpkin spice latte) into the unsuspecting human populace, and why yes, the Fall Edition of Horrorscopes! I have to say, this is an exciting time and this year is a special year—a year in which Americans cast lots to determine the fate of our people.

I͍̯̚ṭ̲̯̫ͩ̄ͫ’̸͕̜̭͖̏s͉̤̜̳̟̝̉͌̇͞ ̬̪͈̩͉͎͒ͮ̑̅e̺̜̬̺̱̻̍̽ͨ̏͗l͐̈̎ͧ́̈́ͫe̵̩̣͉͓̗ͯ͂ͫc̲͔̩̙͛ͨͧ͂ͪ͗̏t̴̺͖̟̰̬͖̐͗̇ͦͦi̠̓̓͟o̠̻͇̦̲̦̓ͨ͐n̮̆̌̆̄ͅ ̳̰̬̻͔̐̀͆y҉̹̤̣͚̹͈̞e͇̼̝͌̈́́ͪͩ̚a͖̝͕͚̞̦̋ͦ̃̑͡r͔̗̺͍̺ͫ͛ͨ.̢̪̌̂́̋̚̚̚

In this special edition, friends, we will look a little closer at the inscrutable skies and find out what the coming months will bring for each of you! Hold on tight…it’s going to be a wild ride!

All Signs:

This is one of those rare occasions when there is a message for ALL of you! With the onset of a new season and bigger still, a new season of change for the American people, remember that style cannot be underestimated. Dress for confidence—dress for success. Dress for the journey ahead, and be sure that your new wardrobe has plenty of pockets…you’re going to need them for hoarding food and resources, for hiding your shaking hands, for the utility of knowing you still have places within you the others cannot see. In relationship news, things will be more exciting than ever for each of you! Hug your loved ones, high-five or show them your affection by cooking a meal or making sure all of your vehicles are fueled, your wallets and mattresses stashed with cash and gold and silver currency, and that any and all batteries are replaced with new, longer-life models. And finally, don’t forget to have fun! In the face of the unknown, in the path of the storm, in the wake of all that is achingly new, painful and strange, embracing the unique ability to see humor in the whole of who and what we are is essential to a full life in the coming days, and a just dandy part of being h͕̘̮̹̱̰̤͘u̝͇͇̣̠̻͝m̨̦̟̹̩͢ḁ͎̩̙̻́͝n̛̮͙͝!

Now, without further ado, your Fall 2016 horrorscope:

Hamal, the brightest star of Aries gives light to its void as do all things which burn at their hearts and in their souls but do not trust to the hearts of stars to hold fast in the wake of what will be. Do not trust the orange titan Aldebaran of Taurus, though once steadfast; do not petition mighty Pollux of Gemini and the meteoric lights that tear through Janus’s domain. Do not strain your sights to distant, glowering Cancer or trust that Regulus, Alpha Leo and a legendary light will persist as what scouts the edges of our universe sends outriders, ever bolder and more clever, to pick away at what is known and bright. Virgo boasts Spica and Libra preaches her balance and in the wake of war, Antares marches beneath the banner of Scorpius but even he may now know despair and though the archer Sagittarius lets fly his arrows and wise Capricornus, quick Aquarius and subtle Pisces all rise from the Sea of Water in a show of timeless, beyond-ancient power, their lights flicker in a coldness not new but newly remembered, not alien but of our universe’s own heart.

*

It was the song on the legionnaire’s lips it was the arrows of Li Guang it was a Maasai victory feast it was the cry of Boudicca it was Artemisia’s ships set sail it was written in blood and ink and time it was the reverent chant around the Plains bonfire and it is now silence and the fires are doused and the Elysian Fields empty and the Valkyries turn their heads from this feast of crows for none are worthy of hallowed halls and guys, hey ya’ll, calm down because maybe it is a crazy joke. We’d call it whistling in the dark but that would imply that sound carries in the Void and we have no longer teeth or lips for whistling or the voices to laugh.

*

When She wandered the wasted plains in the unnatural winter, so many layers bundling her body that She tottered and slowed, a lump on the landscape, She sang to herself then She lost the words to songs so She began to speak and when her voice was tired and frayed She wrote in the dust with a withered branch:

ALL CANNOT BE KNOWN WHEN KNOWING IS NOT WISHED FOR. ALL CANNOT BE SEEN WHEN THE SIGHTED GOUGE OUT THEIR EYES. ALL CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD WHEN MINDS ARE BURIED IN THE ASHES OF THE WORLDS THEY BURNED.

YET THERE WILL BE SOME WHO KNOW AND SEE AND UNDERSTAND AND IN THE LIGHT OF DYING STARS THEY WILL TAKE MEASURE OF WHAT IS LEFT AND NAME THE SPACES BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THE PLACES THEY HAVE BEEN AND THEY WILL SEAL THAT KNOWLEDGE AWAY IN THE VOID AND WILL STAND VIGIL SO SUCH AN EXISTENCE IS NEVER AGAIN ALLOWED.

Then seeing her words She felt a sound rise from her chest, felt it bubbling up, pouring out, a raucous intrusion on her world’s silence and She laughed, She laughed until She collapsed into the dirt, weak from the joke of it and She lifted a bundled arm and wiped a gritted tear from her eye and She took a breath and knew how it would play out, how it begins again, and again, an ouroboros, a feedback loop, an assertion of being.

An assertion of life.

*

Will this year bring me luck? Money? Love? A journey by sea? What does the seer see for me?

The answer is no.
The answer is no.
The answer is no.
The answer is no and
The question
The question was
The question is
The answer and the question are
why?

*

Don’t forget, Starchildren, that autumn is a time of gratitude, of harvest bounty, of the warmth of family and friends. Do not forget to cherish these moments of light and warmth and love. Do not forget to be the best that you have it within you to be, to love with the radiance of a universe of stars.

Do not forget to be beautifully, humanly you.

Luminous Release–My Heartfelt Thanks!

Last week, The Book Smugglers officially released my story Luminous on their site and through a variety of retailers in addition to the Amazon release. So many people have said wonderful and interesting things about the piece that it’s mind-boggling. The feedback, ya’ll–it’s been AMAZING. I am humbled by the warm reception my words have found out there in the big wide world, and I’m deeply thankful to all of you who have taken the time to read, comment, tweet, share, or review. The discussions around my story and the diverse and extremely thought-provoking reviews I’m seeing make me remember why I started writing in the first place. I never dreamed this experience would be so awesome. From Plastic Skeleton George and me, we offer you thanks from the bottom of our comically giant plastic hearts–seriously, I am thankful beyond what I can articulate without resorting to Porky-Pig blathering and interpretive dance. <3

takeheart

The Luminous Cover Is Here! And MORE!

I am so over-the-moon to share this awesomeness with the world! The absolutely stunning cover for my sci-fi romance, Luminous, is out there and shining in all its glory. YA’LL, YOU HAVE TO COME SEE THIS! *____* The art is everything I could have wanted and more I didn’t even realize I would adore. Yasmin Khudari has given my characters and world so much beautiful life in her cover art. West and Jyothi are PEFECT! You can check her out on Twitter as @executeyk, or look at more of Yasmin’s lovely work here on Tumblr–so rad!

cover-image

But there’s even MORE news–and I promise you, I’m exploding into glitter as I write this–Luminous is now available for purchase on Amazon. WOO! IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIVE! Click here for the Book Smugglers’ official cover release post. If you want to purchase a copy–and oh please pretty please, I hope you do–it’s available exclusively on Kindle here. You’ll get the story itself, an essay about what inspired/influenced me to write it in the first place, the The Book Smugglers patented awesome author interview, and a lovely note from Yasmin Khudari, the mad-talented cover artist. ALL THE EXTRAS!  Thank you to the Book Smugglers for allowing me this opportunity to realease the Kraken my work into the world. And to all who readers who take the time to engage, you have my luminous gratitude (it looks kinda like the light from a yellow dwarf star). <3

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:

Continue reading

Slow Boat Part Two: Meet the Contributors

Hello again, stalwart and brave readers! Welcome to the second part of the Pine Float Press Slow Boat to Fast City blogstravaganza. Ugh. Blogstravaganza? Horrible word.

In this installment, I asked each of the contributors to the anthology to tell me a little bit about why they chose to write about what they did. Sean’s submission call was high-concept–Martian Chronicles, raygun pulp, red dust…but within those suggestions, each of us had a lot of room to work.

War Paint–My contribution.

Nance hasn’t been herself lately. The dime-a-dance girl and pride of the steno pool has been having visions. Visions of coal-black eyes and things in the darkness, visions of blood and conquest. Whispers to wait. Wait.

product_thumbnailFor me, I chose to write War Paint because I couldn’t help but think about all the normal, work-a-day folks just keeping the machine running–dockhands, engineers, enlisted grunts, and yes–tired saloon girls working a slow boat’s voyage away in this strange and alien world. I loved the idea of the very world itself slowly, quietly enveloping the interlopers…hive minds that ease their poisons through human pores, and even slower, almost dreamy changes that cloud the mind gently–a darkening of the light in that corner, or a skitter just out of a showgirl’s line of vision. And when the usurping is complete, the usurped doesn’t know–or care–what hit her. This was fantastic, fun project and I can’t wait to write more.

War Paint: EpubChapbook

Marshall Edwards, author of Patton Sea Raiders

A man without a country. A mysterious package. “The Patton Sea Raiders” paints a picture of a ramshackle space-age Mars where answers are the only thing more dangerous than questions.

product_thumbnail (1)4343When Sean pitched “Slow Boat to Fast City”, I was already familiar with his world-building chops. Last year I wrote a story about a high-tech vigilante in his “gasping Rust Belt city” setting. The setting was engaging and Sean was pleased with my piece, so signing on with “Slow Boat” was a no-brainer!
I was listening to Edgar Rice Borroughs’ John Carter series for the first time when Sean told me about the project. I started painting my Mars in rust-red crags, yellow-red dust, cigarette smoke, and the blue-black bands of night. I used Sean’s jazzy noir hook to get me rolling and merged his post-war pulp with just a dash of Burrows’ mythology. I wrote the first scene first – a road-weary protagonist, a MacGuffin, and a shakedown in a shady little bar. Once the setting was laid out and the story began, I just had to ride it through to the end.

Patton Sea Raiders: EpubChapbook

Orrin Grey, author of The House of Mars

Police find three bodies in an abandoned house in the Hollywood Hills. One wakes up. Straddling the boundary between dream and nightmare, fantasy and reality, “The House of Mars” tells the story of one burned-out detective’s investigation into a mystery that transcends time and space. Police find three bodies in an abandoned house in the Hollywood Hills. One wakes up. That’s just the beginning.

34343434343434343Being asked to contribute to Slow Boat was outside of my comfort zone, both in that it was a shared-world anthology, which I’d never done, and a lot more science fictional than is my usual beat. But I’ve always been a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars stories, and I wanted to play with something in that vein, while still keeping with the noir tone that the anthology was going for, and also not writing something that would be completely out of place alongside the rest of my fiction. The result was my Burroughs-by-way-of-L.A. Confidential story, “The House of Mars,” which also managed to bring in some Golden Age Hollywood, because that’s my jam.

House of Mars: EpubChapbook

Steven Saunders, author of Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle

Jens Vogt is a cold warrior on a hot planet, a holdout raised from childhood to wage a Venusian guerrilla war against the Allies for the glory of the Reich. Follow Jens as he fights against the alien predators of Venus in the first chapter of Steven G. Saunders’ upcoming novella

123I have been friends with Sean for a long, long time. Several years, at least. More than that, probably. We started talking in earnest way back during my year on All The Rage (*waves to the few angry comic nerds who remember me*) and have had a pretty solid friendship since. I love working with Sean on things, so when he mentioned this Buck Rogers meets Barsoom meets Raygun Gothic anthology, I just had to jump on. I felt honored that Sean would ask me to be a part of such a mindblowing pool of talent. A pool of talent that ensures my contribution is the weakest of the lot– hey, I might be serious! Thing is, everyone on this anthology has been awesome, and the whole experience worth savoring every second of. Naturally, I had to go against the grain and set my story in the jungles of alt-1958’s Venus, complete with Viet Cong-like Nazis and frog people. But Sean was a mensch about the whole idea and told me to run with it, and Jens and his story was born.

Inspirationally, I grew up in Germany, for starters. As an American living in a village full of WWII vets and civilians from that time, and considering it was near where the Battle of Aachen and more happened, a lot of history and the German perspective was pumped into me. Shit, this is a slippery slope without explaining, but don’t worry, I hate the Nazis. It doesn’t mean they can’t be protagonists in a story, though, especially young, foolish, myopically skewed youngsters who are jungle fighting the long-ago enemies of the Reich on Venus. I honestly don’t know why I wanted to write “Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle”, especially with a German title, complete with umlauts! But Sean had faith in me to expand on one corner of his universe-baby that no one was touching yet (aside from a few notes Sean gave me). If you’re curious, the title literally translates to “Green Kingdom, Green Hell”, which I assume makes a lot more sense once you dive into the tale. With the main characters, Jens Vogt and Schneider, we get action, adventure, and the requisite disillusionment we would expect from a young man and woman fighting in the verdant, sweltering death jungles of our sister world.

Other inspirations included the wars in Indochina (including, of course, the Vietnam War), the Germans in World War I (including their actions and colonies in Asia and Africa), the original idea behind a certain frogish people in a popular “grimdark” RPG/Wargame setting/s, Arthur Machen, “Dispatches”, Sean’s notes, and more. It really was a blast to work on, and I look forward to seeing what people think of the other stories brewing and fulminating in my brain and exiting violently upon the page where Jens et al are concerned. Should be a fun ride.

Oh, and before I forget, I also was inspired to write a soundtrack for the book. I largely blame Sean (as one does) and his Big Idea was so great, and seeing what the other lovely contributors were doing, I simply couldn’t help myself. It’s a weird mix of fusion jazz, retro future, odd disco, analog noises, somber piano, and lots more. Hopefully no one hates, and hey, maybe some of you out there will actually like it.

Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle:  Epub

Thanks for reading, all–and remember, you can buy Slow Boat to Fast City starting today in Epub and both retail and Lulu paperbacks–you won’t regret it. No, really. YOU WON’T. It’s forbidden to regret. Regretting has…consequences.