Thursday, January 26, 2017


I am going to eat it. Everything sparkles around the edges of my vision and yet the golden bug floating just beyond Minerva’s shoulder gleams as if each scale on its wing is lit separately by a thousand suns. It looks delicious.
I hold still. There is eternity and there is this pose. Minerva has the profundity of a goddess, exact in herself, exact in her consideration of the point the artist has given her, beyond the butterfly, beyond this second, through the portrait itself. She has an icon’s immobility, holding a pose for the painter standing on a scaffold. The butterfly has come into the impossible second Minerva has derived for the painter, too deep or wide for Chronus and his stuttering insistence on wax rounds, ticks, atomic decay. Everything is chopped fine in his salad universe.
Minerva has promised this painter immortality for a painting and she has granted it—this second in which time does not move, although the painter breathes and mixes his paints and slides that brush across the canvas. And now a gilded butterfly has come into eternity, which she is welcome to spend in my belly.
Can I allow a butterfly to shine brighter than Minerva? Wisdom overshadowed by gold? I cannot.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Not a Review of C.J. Cherryh's Angel With the Sword

I finally finished C. J. Cherryh's Angel With the Sword yesterday, barreling toward the end as various boats and bridges caught fire or were swamped beneath the prow of larger vessels. This is my first venture into the world of Merovingen and although it wasn't necessarily the right book at the right time for me, it did eventually pull me in and stay floating in my thoughts for several hours afterward. I wanted to know what happened next and I was curious enough about the world to go through the appendix material and various maps at the end. Altair Jones' constant consideration of her situation (which had led to a general recommendation to read the book at a writers' group) made her a character that you could still feel lurking, considering her next move, after the book was over. Although, truthfully, she wasn't much of a lurker in the book--that mental conversation doubled her character slightly, so she was both active and heroic and shadowy and reckless at the same time.

It also led to the question--what if I had discovered it at the right time? If I had read this around the time I read The Hobbit or The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper...if I had encountered Altair rather than Frodo. In the middle of making notes for a draft, the question of why fantasy and whither narrative strikes more forcefully than usual.

I think about coming to a book like Pilgrim's Progress and loving it for the cracked spine, the line drawings in the chapters, the feel of the dry pages against my skin, knowing I had to take care of the physical book itself as I read it. Later, coming to Tolkien's books and having to be judged old enough to read them with care. In my current household, the same consideration would go to my husband's comics, of which I am very careful without particularly loving. Care is its own kind of veneration, I suppose.

This leads to the question of what fantasy does, what kind of escape or care it provides to the vanished and the magical and the forgotten. Am I reaching backward toward something that feels lot, trying to gild something that was never worth it? Did I discover books in accord with a preservationist, nostalgic character or did I become so because these are the ideas that I encountered that swallowed all others?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Er...What is Crawling on My Ankle?

Good morning/afternoon/evening! I'm back at the picnic area, enjoying the cool breeze that comes with cloud cover and the will it/won't it grey of potential rain. Wind in the oaks sounds an awful lot like rain, actually. And things (such as leaves) will fall on you. Probably still safe for the devices, though, right?

Today there have been more,larger bugs at the table. At least one carpenter (?) looks like an ant but moves fast. And it's maybe half an inch long? So far, it's explored the water bottle, my keys, and, just now, my ankle. As it turns out, ankles carry significantly greater risk of minor crushing injuries...although in this case, more sweeping than crushing. It seemed fine. I'm sure it's fine.

I don't know why sitting out here makes me so solicitous of the insects. Perhaps a mild form of Writer's block? Probably the same reason I'm facing the parking lot, so I can see all the people who are jogging and feel completely sedentary trying to write around the ants and whatever that thing is that looks like a crawling chunk of concrete. And that jet engine masquerading as a bug.

In front of me is a circular concrete pad that used to have a small grill bolted to the center. Crawling concrete and former grill pads in the chape of tiny saucer-landing platforms should spark something...combined with the guy who is 'jogging' while catching up on his phone calls. Guess that's just modernity, though. Aliens who encounter too many blasé people? People who aren't really interested in first contact but in better phones and hey-what-kind-of-cool-tech do you have?

Maybe the aliens aren't interested in us, either.

I'm sure the bugs would prefer a clear table for hunting and whatnot, if not sloppy patrons with scavengable trash. All I have are pens and paper, which I'd prefer to not have chewed while I' Is there something on my ankle again?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mercer Mornings

Okay, let's try this again. Maybe Google won't eat my post THIS time. It's been awhile since I posted--I've been missing Magpie Tales and the poetry prompts and caught up in the poetry collection that I'd like to have finished by the end of October, jut in time for the literary marathon that is NaNoWrimo. When the collection is done, I'm sure I'll have a post about whether or not I'm brave enough to put it up on Amazon.

Meanwhile, it's one of the last cool mornings until the next cool front next week (that's fall in this part of Texas, waiting for each gust of seasonal temps in between the heat) and I came out to Mercer's picnic side to catch up on some writing. Instead, I find myself watching the ladybug with the one damaged wing crawl all over the top of the picnic table and contemplating how to convince the tiny green spider to move from the lip of my water bottle so that can have a sip, too. Pretty sure the spider is set for the day. I have to wonder what a clear, condensate-heavy water bottle looks like to a spider. Probably not something you'd want to climb down.

There are other small bugs that blend in with the concrete picnic table. I notice them when they scuttle across my draft, seem to realize they are reality-tv exposed, and leap back onto the composite surface. At this point, I'm convinced several of these little stones might conceal creepy-crawlies, but it's cool and the shade and presumably we're all happy to have our own little patch of picnic table. I am herding the carpenter ants away from my shorts.

I've been thinking about doing something slightly different for NaNo this year: two novellas rather than one novel. My short story about birds and wizards in Houston has swum into wider waters than I expected and I think it would benefit from the increased length and I'd still like to work on my robot story. I'm not a sci-if person, generally, but I have reached a point where I hate abandoning devices (cell phone, tablet) for the latest model because we can't upgrade them or whatever reason the consumption/growth-minded crowd comes up with this year. Would we continue to do so with sentient tech? So...two very different stories, two different side of the brain? NaNo has been pretty rough for me the past few years and I'm hoping this keeps me motivated.

It seems that the day has warmed up enough that the spiders are restless. Guess that means I should get on with the day.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

All the Heat of the Afternoon

All the Heat of the Afternoon

He preaches to the three dogs,
Terrier mixes shining in the heat--
They pant and grin and tumble,
Then his pale eyes spear me.
He casts words but the window's up.
It deflects them, smothers my prayers
Before they ignite in the daylight,
A/C soft as a votive candle.
The car is neither confessional
Nor salvation. A/C bleeds out.
You can smell the tar simmer underneath
Dark drops sweating through concrete pores
Beneath my soles, slick rubber footprints
Leading beyond the curb, smeared
Across the grass dying in those vapors.
Shade fills with still, solid heat.
A hot sigh shakes the leaves overhead
Dryadic dragons drying their hair
In air thick as tarmac, boiling
A ballroom shimmying mirages.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wednesday Morning Warm-up

The construction continues across the road and I drink my coffee and watch. Yesterday's crane is NOT in the flyway for the IAH approach. Just saw a plane come in higher than the top of the crane. So. Good. There are at least two concrete sides up this morning...I can see the dirt ramp in the back of the site where they can drive closer to the upper edges of the concrete forms. Not sure what it's for. There are five trucks in the parking lot. The crane is still there. It looks like the building interior will stretch most of the way to the Popeye's next door. Nothing in my head this morning. I need to work on something.

Listening to what sounds like "Chelsea" repeated over an over to an ache, a heartbeat that hurts with every thump and chord and watching the dude outside in the fisherman's cap and the long-sleeve, chambray shirt with the neon green turn-up cuffs check the meters facing the ATMs. He checks the dials, makes notes in pen on a clipboard, looks closely. The song continues to pulse overhead.

When I entered the coffee shop this morning a single phrase, "Where are you?" echoed in my head. I guess I'm thinking of the floods, blob-slow, rising around the city where I grew up but it seemed the kind of question you ask as soon as bad news comes through. "Where are you?" Are you near the epicenter? He checks the dials again and moves on. A sprinkler comes on, he walks around the landscaping and makes a few more notes. Everything is in balance or there are minor correctives. The phrase lurks, a chorus I know will be coming up, soon.

Breathe. Think about the news. Candidates repeat the danger that breathes in the darkness of the future. It's already humming and we catch a few verses in the speeches. Utopia rotted somewhere in the bend of the creek and we are trying to survive the dystopia. If it's real, if the images correlate. The orange of the construction equipment, the neon of the workers' apparel. Here is much that is dangerous in the becoming and we are, currently, much safer when we are afraid. Per the regulations.

And he keeps checking. Opens the pipes, observes the landscaping. And we've shifted to Adele, to a deeply 70's grove that feels like the edge of disaster.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Magpie 311/There Was a Flurry

image courtesy of Magpie Tales

There was a Flurry

There was a flurry; I heard the wings and turned:
A flock of ideas pass in the fall of light by the elevator door.
Mindy’s whisper and the muted ringing--handset phones
Remain in all of our cubicles, as we remain part of the assembly
The office still requires.

Now, I have to pick the tangled feathers from my hair,
Although I could twist them tighter,
Swirl them together,
Hang paper clips from the sharp shafts,
Press push pins into the soft skin of my ears.

Will you recognize me with office supplies pressed to my skin,
Coils of ink tracing the flock’s passage?

These are your whispers from lunch, and Keri’s pens
I borrowed last week, stabbed through the tangles,
Plastic and metal clatter as I nod,
Inscribe my sighs on the walls:
Carpet creeping up, like polyester mold,
To keep our screams quite as our phones.

Startled ideas, fleeing the beeps and pressure rising
Along the empty shafts ahead of those elevators,
Rising like a front along the corridor, beat my head blank.

Watch them go, indecipherable in the afternoon,
Hammering the sky through the windows,
As we cannot.