Friday, December 18, 2009

Philosophical Moment

Recently, my life went through several changes. However, it is because of those changes that I once again understand just why I am on this planet and where my responsibilities lie. No one can predict what may occur in our lives, nor can one prepare for any situation, be it good or bad. However, we as human beings can enjoy the gifts laid out before us, even if the "gift" is a terrible one. These gifts give us knowledge and strength when we least expect it and that, my dear readers, is a wonderful thing.

One of my favourite blogs is Beyond Growth and today, I wanted to share with you their latest post. Although I am at work, this post compelled me to express my own feelings in my journal and here as well. I hope that you will take the time read what they had to say and perhaps you too will get a little something out of it as well.

I will leave you with this - I know who I am. I know my path and what I must do. The question however is: do you?

Have a wonderful holiday, no matter your religious background, and look for another book review from me soon!



Beyond Growth - Which is More Real?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Poet Mina Loy - Lunar Baedeker (From the Poetry Foundation)

Lunar Baedeker
by Mina Loy

A silver Lucifer
serves
cocaine in cornucopia


To some somnambulists
of adolescent thighs
draped
in satirical draperies


Peris in livery
prepare
Lethe
for posthumous parvenues


Delirious Avenues
lit
with the chandelier souls
of infusoria
from Pharoah’s tombstones


lead
to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous


the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts


Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”


Cyclones
of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
crusaders
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters


A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis


From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient


Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
observe
the flight
of Eros obsolete


And “Immortality”
mildews ...
in the museums of the moon


“Nocturnal cyclops”
“Crystal concubine”


Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes




Copyright © 1996 by the Estate of Mina Loy. All rights reserved.

Source: The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy (1996)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book Review - Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281 by Stephanie Osborn

Since becoming a published (and now award winning) author, I have met some wonderful and highly talented authors within the Mid-South area and even beyond. One such author is Stephanie Osborn who resides in Huntsville, AL and is the author of the book BURNOUT: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. After listening to Stephanie’s pitch about the book during the course of attending several seminars and sci-fi conventions, I finally decided to give her book a try. To put it quite bluntly, I was not disappointed at all. If you are a lover of all things NASA and sci-fi, then this book is right up your alley. What makes the book even better is that Osborn is, literally, a rocket scientist (used to work for NASA).
After a space shuttle crashes during its return to Earth, the novel’s protagonists, “Crash” Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, both employed in scientific world for their respective countries (Murphy – USA and Anders – Australia) decide to research the reasons behind such a terrible loss. What they discover is more than they bargained for, for not only do they realize the crash is not what it appears to be, but it also answers a philosophical question we have been asking for years: “Are we alone?” Secrets created by the government, lies told by friends and enemies, and the unexplained now suddenly explainable are all within this gem of a page turning book.
Osborn, from the beginning, straps you within the seat of the shuttle and refuses to let you go until the very end that will have you scratching your head and re-reading the pages several times just to make sure you did read it right. She tells a story that truly could and can happen within the realm of what we know in science and space exploration and was even “questioned” about her accuracy in describing the shuttle’s crash by higher upps. Her writing makes you feel as though you are there with Murphy and Anders as they piece together the entire work behind a supposed tragedy. Although Osborn is retired from her scientist days, she still enjoys what she is so obviously good at in teaching high school students the mysteries and fully experimented theories of science.
I will admit that, once I finished reading the book, I e-mailed my good friend with questions and my own pieced together theories about certain events of the book, events such as “Why did Dr. Blake continue to take water and beef jerky down that tunnel almost every day?” I thought I had it right but after reading her responses, I was completely off track while giving her a good laugh. Nevertheless, that question and many more are in my mind and will stay there for quite some time until the sequel is released; I, too, want to know the secrets behind the BURNOUT.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Literary News - Stephen King

Here is a good review from The New York Times of Stephen King's new book, Under the Dome.

Have a read and enjoy!

Stephen King's Latest Cast Feels Real

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Poem: My Sister's Sleep by Rossetti

This is the poem that inspired the novel Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris.


She fell asleep on Christmas Eve:
At length the long-ungranted shade
Of weary eyelids overweigh'd
The pain nought else might yet relieve.

Our mother, who had leaned all day
Over the bed from chime to chime,
Then raised herself for the first time,
And as she sat her down, did pray.

Her little work-table was spread
With work to finish. For the glare
Made by her candle, she had care
To work some distance from the bed.

Without, there was a cold moon up,
Of winter radiance sheer and thin;
The hollow halo it was in
Was like an icy crystal cup.

Through the small room, with subtle sound
Of flame, by vents the fireshine drove
And reddened. In its dim alcove
The mirror shed a clearness round.

I had been sitting up some nights,
And my tired mind felt weak and blank;
Like a sharp strengthening wine it drank
The stillness and the broken lights.

Twelve struck. That sound, by dwindling years
Heard in each hour, crept off; and then
The ruffled silence spread again,
Like water that a pebble stirs.

Our mother rose from where she sat:
Her needles, as she laid them down,
Met lightly, and her silken gown
Settled: no other noise than that.

'Glory unto the Newly Born!'
So, as said angels, she did say;
Because we were in Christmas Day,
Though it would still be long till morn.

Just then in the room over us
There was a pushing back of chairs,
As some who had sat unawares
So late, now heard the hour, and rose.

With anxious softly-stepping haste
Our mother went where Margaret lay,
Fearing the sounds o'erheadÑshould they
Have broken her long watched-for rest!

She stopped an instant, calm, and turned;
But suddenly turned back again;
And all her features seemed in pain
With woe, and her eyes gazed and yearned.

For my part, I but hid my face,
And held my breath, and spoke no word:
here was none spoken; but I heard
The silence for a little space.

Our mother bowed herself and wept:
And both my arms fell, and I said,
'God knows I knew that she was dead.'
And there, all white, my sister slept.

Then kneeling, upon Christmas morn
A little after twelve o'clock
We said, ere the first quarter struck,
Christ's blessing on the newly born!'

Book Review - Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris

Gothic Literature has a special place in my heart; I truly enjoy reading books filled with mystery and suspense with a touch of the macabre, foreboding castles and manors, and long buried secrets rising to the surface like a skeletal hand poking from its grave. Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris is an excellent example of said genre; she weaves a dark story using the narrative of four players who carry their own secrets into the fold. The book begins with Henry Chester, an artist with a touch of religion who finds inspiration in beauty wrapped in youth while desiring it on a carnal level. He is a broken man, one who should not receive sympathy from the readers but only scorn. His secrets provide part of the puzzle of the book and it is those secrets that cause his utter downfall.
Next we have Chester’s child bride Effie, who begins in this novel as his model and Muse. He first notices her at age ten and soon uses her as inspiration for his sanctimonious pieces. Effie, at first glance, is a shy child but who soon reveals her other side when she becomes of age as Chester’s wife. Hidden beneath the blond locks and pale complexion lies a woman who discovers her own inner strength through magic and seduction of Moses Harper, the third player in this novel. Harper is a rake and rogue who has a somewhat heart for situations that are beneficial only to him. He befriends Chester while seducing his wife, only to realize later that Effie is more than she appears to be. The final player is Fanny, a woman of ill repute yet able to show a modicum of concern towards Effie, especially when she earns of Effie’s special powers. However, Fanny has own her reasons for being drawn into this game, reasons that draw the other three players into a downward spiral that will expose everyone and leave no winners.
Harris’ book consists of the four players’ narratives, each adding their own spin to the ever-growing puzzle that comes together at the very end. Each narrator has their own distinct voice that makes them more believable to the reader. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself hating the characters at one point in the novel, only to like them in another; that is the charm of Joanne Harris’ writing. She draws you in with such expertise of the English language that one can’t help but feel as though they were actually in 1800s London, witnessing these strange events. Her style is clearly her own and not a poor and shoddy imitation of someone else, adding more credence to her strength as an author.
Although it is not explicitly expressed or mentioned in Sleep Pale Sister, the theme of witchcraft is prevalent. Although Effie does not know how she received such powers, she does understand the power behind them. Through her powers, she understands her inner strength, giving her courage while being married to controlling and hypocritical Chester. Her power is her own and no one can take that away from her. When Fanny learns of her power, she too is amazed and yet hopeful that her power can assist in her ultimate plan of revenge against Chester for a horrifying act committed many years ago. Fanny also reveals her powers, showing herself to be woman not to be reckoned with but in the end her powers are her undoing for the time being. Effie and Fanny both use their powers towards Chester, using him as a willing tool. Deep down he knows this and is still a willing pawn for his disturbing needs must be satisfied. Mose, although at first charmed by Effie and her hidden side, is too wrapped up in his own schemes to be completely taken in like Chester. He escapes but the price is high.
The game is created. The players are named and set. Let the fun begin.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review - Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

To those who have never attended a prep or boarding school, the thought of it may seem foreign and shrouded behind a veil of secrecy, while others who have attended may take it for granted, claiming it to be a natural part of their inner world. When I attended Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, a part of me felt I belonged there since I was and still am a lover of all things academia. Although some were there due their family’s academic history, others were there to enjoy being surrounded by such history and intellectual stimulation without being called nerds or geeks by the general populace. It felt like a privilege and not a right. The unnamed narrator in Joanne Harris’ book Gentlemen and Players felt the same way; in the beginning, the narrator explains to us the strong feelings felt while viewing St. Oswald’s through its iron gates while their father worked as Porter on the school grounds. Behind those gates lay excellence, privilege, and history, things that the narrator had never experienced before during their lower class upbringing. The narrator even admires the school uniforms adorned by the students while those who do wear them are oblivious. From these initial feelings the readers see a character evolve from a fawning and obsessive child to a teenager and later adult filled with hatred fueled by insanity and revenge on those they at first loved and admired. On the opposite end is the book’s other narrator, Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics professor who has become rather a fixed staple of St. Oswald’s. He teaches his students with an iron fist mixed with quirky Latin phrases aimed at the students, fellow teachers and Headmaster; he belongs to the academic world because he has nothing else.

The book goes back and forth between two narrators, each giving the reader different but no less important views of the school; it is through their observations that create a backdrop against the current mounting scandals slowly destroying the school; one by one, the teachers, like chess pieces, are removed from the playing board through the unnamed narrator who wishes to see the school completely destroyed for their own nefarious reasons. Roy Straitley, caught up in the torrent of school scandal and talks of his own impending retirement, stands firm in remaining at the school and even discovers the ulterior motive of the unnamed narrator with a twist at the very end. Harris, best known for her work Chocolat, creates a skillful chess game in Gentlemen and Players; a game in which the pieces are removed through lies, scandal, and even murder. One player refuses to end the game until all players are removed while the other unknowing player moves towards a truth that will forever change his views about the only world he knows. Harris’ prose, although descriptive, is not laden down with too many adjectives and filler words that lose sight of the plot, nor does she go over her readers’ heads with multi-syllable words that require a dictionary on hand while reading the book. Although it did take me a while to figure out that there were two narrators instead of one, I thoroughly enjoyed it once the cat and mouse game was made abundantly clear. I also highly recommend this novel to anyone who is an Anglophile (like me!) who enjoys reading an engaging book filled with suspense and treachery set in England. Gentlemen and Players delivers and leaves the reader wanting more, clearly a sign of literary talent and genius. Check and mate.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book News

Just wanted to let everyone know that my book, Tales From a Goth Librarian, was named as a Finalist in the 2009 USA Book News Award for Fiction: Short Story!

I am very proud of this accolade!

Cheers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Review - Farewell My Concubine by Lillian Lee

Amid luscious backdrops, colourful costumes, and historic tales of long ago, Chinese opera gives the audience a view into the past. Emperors who rose to power only to quickly fall are given an audience that will hear their story with unabashed rapture. Concubines and women will, no doubt, receive the same respect, for they too had a story to tell that was entwined in the history of China. For those of us that cannot view such performances, there is the novel Farewell to my Concubine by Lillian Lee. In this novel, we enter the world of Chinese opera, as seen from the viewpoint of two actors, Xiao Douzi and Xiao Shitou, who later take the names Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou. As children, Shitou played the role of protector and king in operas while Douzi played the king’s graceful concubine. Their operatic roles blurred into their daily lives as Douzi began to care more and more for his friend and “king” while Shitou continued to care for his friend and fellow opera student in a brotherly manner. As they progressed into adulthood, Dieyi maintained his feminine charm and grace while in love with his friend as Xiaolou is oblivious to his friend’s love and instead takes a woman from a local brothel as his wife.

One of the themes expressed well in Farewell My Concubine is sacrifice. Douzi’s mother, a prostitute, sacrificed her son’s extra digit on his hand so as to give him a better life in opera than she could ever hope to give him. We see Douzi/Dieyi sacrifice his soul in order to play the perfect Dan (female) roles, both on the stage and off, in order to appease those who offered him no other choice. We also see the sacrifices made by the country itself in order to throw off the shackles of the imperial way of life to face a new one, one shadowed with much betrayal, bloodshed, and finally, a possible redemption with lessons learned from the past and the present.

Lee gives a sneak peek into a world that is foreign to most; the words jump off the page as the readers enjoy not only reading about two opera actors but the history of China after the rule of Aisin Gioro PuYi to modern time with a heavy dose of life during Mao’s reign. Lee’s words show us China falling under a heavy spell under the rule of Mao and the consequences because of it. Although sentence structure at times was simplistic and slightly elementary, possibly due to the translation of the book, the words still held together to create a vivid picture of a life decorated with plumage, sexuality, lies, and death. One feels sorry for Douzi/Dieyi as he succumbs over and over to advances made by other men, men of power and influence that could either make or break him. One sees the simple, powerful, and at times hopeless life led by Shitou/Xiaolou who goes from boy to man thinking himself to be more than he appears to be with later realizing that he is not. There is also Juxian, Xiaolou’s wife, portrayed as the catalyst between the boyhood friends; she knows she is the stronger one between herself and Dieyi; she is ‘entitled’ to have him. The novel blends the love triangle and history of China well, leaving no room for any dead or melodramatic moments. All the readers have is an excellent and tragic story. Farewell my Concubine is more than just a book about two tragic opera singers; it is a book about tragic China.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book Review - Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand

There have been many claims that there is a connection between creativity and madness; famous artists, writers, and others with their gift for beyond the mundane appear to the outsider to be touched with a spark of insanity; where else could some of our creative accomplishments come from? For those of us on the inside, however, it is a complexly different experience; a world in which only the few many enter and even less could ever possibly leave not voluntarily. Speaking as a creative person myself, I find this to be true; my stories for my novel and future books come from something deep within me, something that people on the outside could never understand and if they did, would run away in fright. There is also the theory that creative people use Muses as guides for their work, for they remove all blocks from the mind, leading to a full immersion of the world only they know of. Throughout history, the Muse has been viewed from a source of creativity to madness itself to a destructive force tamed by the artist and so on.

Muses have been worhsipped, feared, reviled, and loved during the history of humankind and their presence will never go away, even if it means death to the artist. Such is the case with Elizabeth Hand’s memerizing novel Mortal Love. The novel tells of three very different yet similar stories of artistic men influenced by a woman who is clearly not of this world. While one story takes place in the 1800s and the other two take place in present time, the woman in all three is the same. She is of legend and myths told long ago, a woman who cannot remember her true name or her lives from before. Normal people are drawn to her because she represents what artists spend most of their lives looking for; true creative freedom with the willingness to let everything go. She is unhindered and wild but is a grave danger to those who are not like her. When she loves someone, she literally steals a piece of their life and their sanity away from them, leaving them wanting only more while knowing that more of her would certainly kill them. Such is the price and yet those within the three stories would gladly pay it.

Hand’s writing quickly drew me in from the beginning and refused to let me go until the very end; once I reached the end of the novel, I was saddened to see it end and even re-read the last page just to make sure I did not miss anything important in her words. Hand writes as a writer who has experienced her tales on a personal level. Did Hand experience the seductive and life threating touch of the Muse of whom she wrote of? Was there someone in her life that influenced her greatly in her life as a writer that was beyond all human comprehension? Did the strange green colour mentioned in her work tempt her as well? Whatever the case may be, Mortal Love gives insight as to the world of the creatives and the Muses that support and, in some cases, destroy those whom they love. In order to create, one must be willing to sacrifice a piece of themselves, knowing that they cannot ever get it back. The Muse shows us the way; all we can do is follow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review - Him, Her, Him Again, The End of Him by Patricia Marx

How far would you go for love? Would you give the object of your affections flowers every day, or perhaps perform serenades outside their homes while ignoring the complaining neighbours? Would you follow them to the ends of the earth, even while knowing that they do not and cannot possibly love you back? Would their denial of love for you only increase yours for them? Love is a wonderful (and dangerous) thing; it can make us feel as light as a feather, or cause us to go on a downward spiral of gloom and depression while writing heart wrenching poetry during a rainy day. Love affects all of us and no one is a stranger to it. Take, for example, the unnamed female narrator of Patricia Marx’s black humoured novel Him, Her, Him Again,The End of Him; our narrator is an Oxford graduate student who idolizes Sylvia Plath, loves books for the simple sake of having them in her room, and would much rather change her focus of study several times rather than actually focus on the art of studying. She is the epitome of university students everywhere and is yet the worst example of them; what she lacks in pursuing a graduate degree she makes up for in her own cerebral wit and charm.
Our narrator lives in her tightly knit and eccentric world of stimulating intellectual conversations against a backdrop of England without too many worries except for when the next check from her parents will arrive. And then, it all changes, thanks to a man named Eugene. Whereas our narrator is a dilettante of academia, endlessly fluttering around without any care, Eugene is a scholar of the obscure and archaic, a student of the world, and a narcissist that will leave you screaming and running for the hills. The two fall for each other during a date one night, instantly leading to a motley array of years filled with hypochondriac women, the birth of a child named Perseus, the opening of a crepe store in Ethiopia, a job involving eating candy bars, pseudo-intellectualism and its strange attraction to those who profess it, and much more that could only be thought of by a former writer of Saturday Night Live.
The humour at the beginning of the book was steady, giving the reader no room to breathe between paragraphs or while turning the pages. As the novel and the main relationship progresses, the humour begins to plateau and even falter somewhat; the narrator does nothing to change her unbearable situation with Eugene but instead finds some way to perpetuate it for it appears that that is what defines her in some sad and pathetic way. She remains an indecisive and wasteful young woman, one who skates by with barely an effort on anything and yet has a strange sense of good luck on her side at times. Her relationship with Eugene slowly descended into something wasteful and several times I found myself wondering why I was still reading the book. Only towards the end was there some form of redemption but I will always wonder if it came too late and too melodramatic in the narrator’s life. When I finished the book, I had no love for the narrator at the beginning and it remained the same to the end. If that was Marx’s ultimate goal in writing this book, then she did a grand job.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lyssa/Indigo Project #2

23 August 2009

Dear Lyssa,

Imagine my surprise in receiving your letter in the mail the other day! I was just thinking of you when I checked my mail and POOF, your signature dark purple envelope was on top of the pile. Even after all of this time, it’s still good to hear from you!
Yes, I was surprised too when I received the invitation from her regarding this experiment; I had no idea what she was talking about but it sounded like it might be fun to do. After all, she’s been our friend for most of our lives, helping both of us out when we needed it. Why shouldn’t we return the favour?
So, where to begin? Well, things are going well at the university; I celebrated my third year of Head Librarian yesterday! Still can’t believe how lucky I was to find such a job, especially with the way the economy is going. I feel sorry for our president but like I have told everyone before; he has four years to prove to me that my vote was not used in vain. If he screws up, he’s out. In any case, the librarian position is still doing well and I still enjoy roaming around the books, although the library is not as dusty now as it was when I was a student there. I miss the smell of the books, actually. Now, things are so cleaner and easier to find, of which I must learn to accept and pretend that I enjoy such sanitary conditions. The students know of my eccentric ways and, would you believe, I receive invitations to attend student parties? I know I am not like most women but to think that students find me to be hip enough to be invited is really kinda . . . . cool! Of course, if they REALLY knew what lay behind my purple coloured glasses, I think they run screaming in terror. Kind of like the reactions you used to get when we would hang out together at our coffee shop haunts. Remember those days? I still do and miss them actually. I miss you too. Seems you are so far away and yet so close at the same time. I wonder if perhaps we can meet up sometime and spend a Saturday doing what we do best; leaving a trail of chaos for the normals to find!
Michael and I are doing well and glad to hear that you and Oliver are doing well too. I am so glad we both found partners that can respect our “extra” internal stuff and who also have the same “stuff”! No word of marriage yet but he has been dropping hints every so often. YIKES! Will keep you posted on that too.
The second book is going rather well, so well that I sometimes wonder if I am doing something wrong! The pages can not come fast enough from my brain and I welcome the rush. Still have not thought of a title but I am sure it will come to me in time. The first book is selling rather well; going on another book tour in two weeks! I think one of the locations is your neck of the woods but I will confirm that as soon as possible. If so, I am taking you out for dinner when we get there!!
Oh yeah, before I forget: it was purple. Guess you were right on that one.
Thanks to you, I am now a Tori Head! I liked her music anyway, but good lord! I have been listening to her non-stop for the past week. But I will say that, because of her, I dragged out my old painting supplies and have begun working on a new series of works. She has been quite a Muse for me; is she the same way for you still?
Well, I’d best be off. I am writing this during my lunch break and I have 30 minutes left – want to get in some reading time before I go back. Once again, take care, love you so much, and looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Bluestocking Forever!



Indigo

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lyssa/Indigo - A New Project

18 August 2009
Noire



Dear Indigo,

Well, I figured that I would start this project just to see where it would lead. She’s not being too open with the details, only that we must correspond with one another. Frankly, I can’t see how this is going to affect either of us, but I digress.

Shall we begin, then?

I miss my coffin shaped bed.

Yes, it is true; I miss sleeping in that thing. It brought me much comfort during my lower than low moments. I still can’t believe I had to give it up because of a few complaints from the other tenants of the complex. After all, no one ever visited my lair so why would the neighbours complain about my living quarters? Oh yes, I forgot; I am the spooky neighbour so therefore, I can’t possibly be trusted. Fiends, the whole lot of them. Oh well; I am sure someone at Goodwill is just going to LOVE the donation I made to them today!
So, when do you expect to be arriving here? Although we have had our disagreements, I still care for you like a sister. Hell, sometimes we share the same brain! I can’t wait to show you my latest clothing goodies! I recently purchased a dark wine coloured velvet cloak with hood that is simply divine! It goes rather well with my witch boots; you know the ones that lace all the way up to my knees!
Anyway, miss you terribly and sorry for the argument on the phone last week; I was in a Shroud mood and I KNOW you don’t like their music but I find that listening to their darkly inclined music with a glass of red wine gives me such a delight.
Well, dearie, I must dash. Oliver is picking me up tonight for our usual night at Asylum. Don’t worry; I will NOT start a fight with that . . . person, Anna. She thinks she so hot just because she can wear corsets and I can’t! Well, I have something in store for her tonight. Something involving honey and a rat.

But, once again, I digress.

Love you as always and write back soon!

Your Darke Sister,

Lyssa

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket - a poem by Robert Lowell

The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket
[FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA]

Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts of the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.

by Robert Lowell
I

A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket—
The sea was still breaking violently and night
Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet,
When the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light
Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,
He grappled at the net
With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs:
The corpse was bloodless, a botch of reds and whites,
Its open, staring eyes
Were lustreless dead-lights
Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk
Heavy with sand. We weight the body, close
Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,
Where the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose
On Ahab’s void and forehead; and the name
Is blocked in yellow chalk.
Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea
Where dreadnaughts shall confess
Its hell-bent deity,
When you are powerless
To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced
By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste
In his steel scales: ask for no Orphean lute
To pluck life back. The guns of the steeled fleet
Recoil and then repeat
The hoarse salute.


II

Whenever winds are moving and their breath
Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier,
The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death
In these home waters. Sailor, can you hear
The Pequod’s sea wings, beating landward, fall
Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall
Off ’Sconset, where the yawing S-boats splash
The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers,
As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears
The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash
The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids
For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids
Seaward. The winds’ wings beat upon the stones,
Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush
At the sea’s throat and wring it in the slush
Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones
Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast
Bobbing by Ahab’s whaleboats in the East.


III

All you recovered from Poseidon died
With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine
Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god,
Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain,
Nantucket’s westward haven. To Cape Cod
Guns, cradled on the tide,
Blast the eelgrass about a waterclock
Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and sand
Lashing earth’s scaffold, rock
Our warships in the hand
Of the great God, where time’s contrition blues
Whatever it was these Quaker sailors lost
In the mad scramble of their lives. They died
When time was open-eyed,
Wooden and childish; only bones abide
There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed
Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news
Of IS, the whited monster. What it cost
Them is their secret. In the sperm-whale’s slick
I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry:
“If God himself had not been on our side,
If God himself had not been on our side,
When the Atlantic rose against us, why,
Then it had swallowed us up quick.”


IV

This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale
Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell
And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools
To send the Pequod packing off to hell:
This is the end of them, three-quarters fools,
Snatching at straws to sail
Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale,
Spouting out blood and water as it rolls,
Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals:
Clamavimus, O depths. Let the sea-gulls wail

For water, for the deep where the high tide
Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs.
Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out,
Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs,
The beach increasing, its enormous snout
Sucking the ocean’s side.
This is the end of running on the waves;
We are poured out like water. Who will dance
The mast-lashed master of Leviathans
Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves?


V

When the whale’s viscera go and the roll
Of its corruption overruns this world
Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Woods Hole
And Martha’s Vineyard, Sailor, will your sword
Whistle and fall and sink into the fat?
In the great ash-pit of Jehoshaphat
The bones cry for the blood of the white whale,
The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears,
The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears
The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail,
And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags
And rips the sperm-whale’s midriff into rags,
Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,
Sailor, and gulls go round the stoven timbers
Where the morning stars sing out together
And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers
The red flag hammered in the mast-head. Hide,
Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side.


VI

OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM

There once the penitents took off their shoes
And then walked barefoot the remaining mile;
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
Slowly along the munching English lane,
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid tree,
Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad
The castle of God. Sailor, you were glad
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:

Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There’s no comeliness
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species, neque decor,
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.


VII

The empty winds are creaking and the oak
Splatters and splatters on the cenotaph,
The boughs are trembling and a gaff
Bobs on the untimely stroke
Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell
In the old mouth of the Atlantic. It’s well;
Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors,
Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish:
Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh
Mart once of supercilious, wing’d clippers,
Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil
You could cut the brackish winds with a knife
Here in Nantucket, and cast up the time
When the Lord God formed man from the sea’s slime
And breathed into his face the breath of life,
And blue-lung’d combers lumbered to the kill.
The Lord survives the rainbow of His will.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Review - Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters

Being different can be both a blessing and a curse; those who are proud to be different than others may face harsh criticisms and other forms of jeers from people who are either narrow minded or fearful of the unknown. People make fun of what they simply fail to understand and in turn, short changes them in learning more about the world and possibly more about them as part of it. Over time, various subcultures have faced ridicule and hurled insults by those who claim to “know better” but most assuredly don’t. The Goth subculture is one group that receives its unfair share of insults and misunderstandings due to different styles of dress, musical tastes, and points of view with regards to Life and Death. Author Jillian Venters, or Lady of the Manners, decided to do something about this mode of thinking and wrote the much needed book entitled Gothic Charm School.

Thanks to Mrs. Venters, Goth people are explained to outsiders as eccentrics who understand the world from a completely different (but no less in meaning) point of view that should be respected by others who may not understand or ascribe to it. Gothic clothing styles, mannerisms, even inside jokes, are essential parts of this subculture that does not deserve stinging barbs and taunts. She even speaks to those who are parents of younger Goths, or Babybats, who are confused as to what to do when their child suddenly decides to wear black lipstick and fishnets . . . . and their child is a boy. Coupled with the advice to outsiders are words of wisdom to those who are in the Goth community who are struggling with their day to day lives with those who are not. She also writes to the Elder Goths (those who are in their late 20s and up) and their own frustrations of their own mellowed out sense of Gothiness as well as the next generation of Goths and their less than desirable attitudes. Club etiquette, advice for the Goth who is dating a non-Goth, a history lesson of Goths, different forms of Goths, Goth music, the future of Goth with its new “cousin” Steampunk and other subjects provide the reader with a plethora of knowledge that perhaps they did not have before regarding this strange and yet morbidly fascinating subculture. Mrs. Venters wrote her book in a style that makes it easy to read and comprehend without causing the reader to go into information overload: no holds barred when it comes to speaking about something very near and dear to her. She speaks from her own experiences as an Elder Goth which leads to more of a credible source, especially for the Non-Goths, while adding a dose of humour that caused me to shake my head while laughing more than a couple of times while reading.

I purchased this book strictly on a whim and because I happen to be an Elder Goth; yes, I was around in my black clad finery during the 90s when Cleopatra Records was in its heyday, when magazines like Carpe Noctem, Propaganda, Ghastly, and other smaller zines were being read with religious fervor, and the weekends were dedicated to purchasing clothing from thrift and local darkly inclined stores for the all night dancing at the Goth club while spending time with my fellow black clad eccentrics. Since that time, being a Goth has been a part of my life and I have no plans to call it just a phase (been doing this since I was 19 and I am now 35!) The only problem I had when I was younger was that I did not have Gothic Charm School to pass to others who questioned my style of dress and thought me to be Satanic or something very sinister. However, I am glad the book is available now for I can direct my non-Goth friends to it when they begin to ask questions about why I prefer dressing like a dark Victorian woman at times, or when I begin talking about my college years and the strange looks that follow. Being a Goth today, I think, is easier than during my college years for the strange and unusual is not as much anymore: one can see the dark coloured strings of Goth in certain mainstream music, national mall chain stores that cater to Goths and other eccentric individuals, even TV show characters. Plus, public creatives like the musician/artist/writer Voltaire, Raven Digitalis, author of The Goth Craft, Mrs. Venters, the author Poppy Z. Brite, and even myself with my book Tales From a Goth Librarian, are in the public eye, revealing ourselves to be darkly inclined but with no show of evil intent or malice towards others. We are creative souls and that’s that.

Sadly, though, there have been events that caused Goths to get a “bad rap” in the media; one event in particular was the Columbine incident. Thanks to mislabeling and a desire to incite public fear, the teenagers involved with that horrific event were labeled as evil Goths and soon, accusing and hateful fingers were pointed at the Goth community, blaming us for the evil spreading through the country. However, more and more public exposure will hopefully douse those flames for good. Being different is no excuse to hate or taunt but rather an attempt to try to at least accept and tolerate; being the same is too boring and honestly, who really wants that? It may not be your thing to dress in black and white lace and striped stockings, but at least give respect to the ones who do for they might do the same for you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

WATER - Poem 11 September 2007

All I have is a glass of water to keep my mind flowing
To keep the memories pure and hydrated.
I am afraid, however, that it will not be enough –
What will occur when I am standing by the side of a road
Dirty and torn,
Lost and forgetful
To be ignored by people who still breathe?
Shall I turn my thoughts to other matters
Like shopping and killing my only mother
Satisfying a long forgotten myth –
Out with the old, in with the new?
I give myself too much credit, here, now, never
But I am my own worst critic, to deny
What thoughts come before me, to judge
As if I had already died.
Simple, isn’t it
To reveal my own weakness as my own strength?
Wrapped in anguish –
No, perhaps too strong –
Carried across the flat dense world
That so many thought was round
Is my own body, prepared for the Oracle
To kill so that my entrails may be read
And the weather on the 6 o’clock news is proven wrong.
In my time, I was visited by a nymph
Who loved me dearly and yet I killed her tree.
A thought, seasoned well and offered to the whole collective
As proof that I have been working.
My thoughts are no longer my own,
Now poured into a glass of water clear.
I want to finally see why others regard me as me.
Why am I not like everyone else?
This, then, is the problem:
For you see, I am, I want, I, I, I desire. . . nothing.
Too much too soon and yet I am still standing as a whole person
Not yet picked apart by Nevermore birds, a murder of them my own demise
If I can still make it to be 73.
It was 73, was it not?
A cup of tea is now placed at my feet
To compensate for what I am about to lose
And what I am about to gain through pain and needles.
Pins prick my eyes carefully, the murderer knows her job well,
Knowing her victim to be of my stature
And calm composure.
This, then, is the real test: to divide my own self
And conquer each with sword.
Reveling in the blood of my own fallen body, my own enemy
To feel it in drops all over my body
And know that it does make a sound.
A glass of water: not enough
To convey my deepest apologies
That I have sinned, Father, bless my tongue with His host
So that I may live once more
To drink from my glass of dead water.
Purity, denied.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review - The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Jazz Age was a time of drunkenness, parties, flappers, and other sordid and decadent facets explored, enjoyed, or reviled. The time heralded in great works by literary giants, music that crossed race lines, and lives lived in ignorant bliss and happiness, unaware of the dark times later to come: The Great Depression. It was during those times of booze and inhibitions that authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald made their indelible mark upon the world, taking their own experiences and using them as fictional gems. The novel The Beautiful and Damned was clearly such an example, for it mirrored Fitzgerald’s own life with his wife, Zelda. The pages tell a story of a young man, Anthony Patch, and his clueless but lovely wife, Gloria, and their dramatic decline into a muddied world filled with alcoholism, transparent friendships, and a constant desire for more in a materialistic manner. Patch is a man of leisure; he has no work skills nor has any drive to obtain any, for he places all of his faith on the will of his sick but internally strong grandfather, Adam Patch. Patch lives in New York City amid a whirlwind of status, the privileged, and the socially acceptable intellectuals. His friends, Maury and Richard Caramel, are his rocks of stabilization but they too give in to the sybaritic pleasures from time to time.

Gloria, the soon to be wife of Patch, is a flighty yet entertaining woman to read about; she cares for nothing else except for her looks, fearful that one day she will lose them for they are her only asset. She sees herself as the great Beauty, one that cannot be touched by the dirty hands of Time or Mortality; she is, because of her fears and priorities, a tarnished goddess. She is not capable of loving anyone fully but herself; men swoon and chase her but to no avail, for she escapes them and their repetitive claims of undying love. She sees in Anthony, however, a similar mindset and a feeling of sympathy, treating him at times like an abandoned puppy. She loves him in her own way and therefore gives him a view into her own distorted life, treating such a view to be a privilege. Once the two become one, it is obvious to the readers that this is a marriage of lost dreams and shattered hopes; we witness the burning tower falling and yet we are fascinated by the power in such destruction.


Patch is a man driven by his extremes; he wants to live among the greats and will do anything to accomplish such a feat. However, his view is muddy and his actions are childlike, clearly revealing a man who really has no clue about anything around him or himself. His actions are further hindered by his constant drinking and the thoughtlessness of his wife. He makes futile attempts of work in different areas, only to give up after a week or several days. He even goes so far as to join the Army while the Great War looms over America. In doing so, he meets a young woman named Dot who thinks him to be her salvation out of her own dead end of a life when we can see that misery most assuredly loves company. Through his mistakes is one goal that keeps him somewhat going: the inheritance of his grandfather’s estate. However, once he realizes that is not to be the case, the strings keeping him tied to reality become taut with tension; we the readers wonder when the strings will break. When they do, we see a transformation of the most horrific kind; through experiencing such transformation, the readers are transformed as well, seeing their own world in a new light that we wished we did not.

Fitzgerald writes with tragic passion; each line is one of a kind, sculpted perfectly to be unique among all the others within the novel. While I read this novel, I was moved to almost tears at some while desperately wishing to live during that time in others. He shows us the beauty in the good and bad of this society, glorifying we today would either completely love or hate, for at times it reflects our own. His words are like a lover that desires to touch us, wanting to please us in every way, even if we are cruel for the cruelty will be returned in kind. We are drawn to Patch, Gloria, Caramel, Maury, Bloekman, and others in the web of the story because there is a part of us that desires to live in such a carefree and hedonistic time while being extremely grateful that we do not.

One passage that clearly expresses Fitzgerald’s lyrical passion is this one:

He watched her for several minutes. Something was stirred in him, something not accounted for by the warm smell of the afternoon or the triumphant vividness of red. He felt persistently that the girl was beautiful – then of a sudden he understood: it was her distance, not a rare and precious distance of soul but still distance, if only in terrestrial yards. The autumn air was between them, and the roofs and the blurred voices. Yet for a not altogether explained second, posing perversely in time, his emotion had been nearer to adoration than in the deepest kiss he had ever known.


This is such a simple and every day act but through Fitzgerald the readers are exposed to something deeper, something holier than the obvious of what lies before us. We cannot help but fall in love, become angrier than a jealous lover, or cry tears that are flavoured with the sadness of others. A valuable lesson is learned along the way and yet how many of us would follow in Patch’s or Gloria’s footsteps? How many of us would be swept away by the bliss of ignorance, simply because we knew of nothing else? How hard was the temptation for Fitzgerald; after all, The Beautiful and Damned did reflect his own life. Did he spiral downward in a similar fashion as Patch, or was there more of a willingness for moderation in all things? Whatever the case may be, it is worth it to endure the tragic and carefree while reading this work. Life, either during the Roaring 20s or in our present 2009, is Life and we make of it what we will, no matter the price we are willing to pay.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review - Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey

Sara Harvey’s novella The Convent of the Pure is a welcomed addition to the growing Steampunk literary genre, a breath of fresh air to delight the literary palette of many a reader. The novella is first in a trilogy that centers on the characters Portia and her ghost lover Imogen, hunters of demons and other creatures viewed evil in the eyes of their Order. As a result of badly timed Fate several years ago, Imogen died a horrible death but later came back as a ghost through a powerful magical bond, binding spirit to the body. The two rely upon each other as partners in their trade but soon they will come face to face with an investigation that not only reveals hidden and ugly truths about their own lives but also their world and their idea of truth. Lies are revealed and everything is not what it appears to be, but it is through said web that leads those affected by it further down the rabbit hole, leading them to a greater purpose and possible future.

Harvey is one of those writers that grabs you by the throat on the first page and does not let go until the very last word is read; she weaves her words well, skipping the “purple” style and delivering punch after punch of can’t-put-it-down writing. Although Convent is set in the Steampunk world, those who are not familiar with the genre/lifestyle will still find her words to be enjoyable and a pleasure to read. The only problem with her novella is that the next one is not due out until December 2009. Many readers, with me included, were frustrated at the piece of news, for it meant waiting for several months for the next installment.

The first time I met Harvey was during MidSouth Con in Memphis TN earlier this year; after talking with her for several minutes, I knew were going to get along quite well for we had similar qualities/quirks: we were both eccentric/eclectic women with a flair for the creative, writers with a touch of fantasy and/or weird, and Steampunkers. Seeing her again at her book signing at Davis Kidd Memphis on 19 June 2009 prompted me to finally read my copy of her novella, thereby confirming her as one hell of a storyteller.

Way to go, my Steam Sister!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Library Project - Universities in Memphis, TN

Ah, there is nothing finer than walking on the campus of a college or university; hallowed halls seeking to enrich the hungry minds of students ready to make a difference (or not!) in the world of the past, present, and hopefully future. Being the literary nerd, walking on a university/college campus reminds me of my days as a wet behind the ears college student at American University, ready to tackle the world as well as immerse myself in knowledge. I also enjoy universities and colleges for another reason . . . . their LIBRARIES!

As many of you know, I simply drool whenever I walk by a library or bookstore. They are one of many keys in Life whose purpose is to unlock minds, furthering their capacities and potentials for a better way of life. Several years ago, I decided to begin a Library Project; taking photos of libraries both near and far as a way of archiving what sadly might become extinct. As we live in the Digital Age, the need for books is slowly being replaced with the Internet. I wanted to share with others my love for the Library as well as possibly offer some good places to stop by and visit if one is visiting said town.

Today, I decided to crawl through the streets of my city, Memphis, TN, and give readers a view of not only some of our universities but their libraries as well. Featured in my Myspace photo album is Christian Brothers University, University of Memphis (another alma mater of mine! GO TIGERS!), and The Georgetown of the South – Rhodes College. So, sit back with nice cup of tea or cold glass of water, and enjoy my photos!

For the record: I am GLOWING from this morning.


LIBRARIES ROCK!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review - Love Begins In Winter by Simon Van Booy

Love is one of the most complex emotions we humans have to face and undergo. It is simply amazing how one four letter word can cause such intense emotions in people, giving them reason to commit extreme acts in the name of their own version of love. Love, like Time, waits for no one, and we are all subjected to it several times during the span of our lives. Simon Van Booy, author of the short story collection Love Begins In Winter, writes with lyrical magic about the different forms of love and the range of result feelings it produces. The five stories that make up this book are written with a unique style all their own that also show just how talented Van Booy is as an author. The first story, the title of the book, tells of the love between a young cellist who collects stones and a young woman who collects acorns. Both collect items stemmed from their memories of a lost loved one while they continue to search the earth for them, knowing that their searches are futile. It is through their mutual desperation to reclaim what can never be that leads them to each other and a love that is at once subdued yet fiery, simple yet complex, tame yet full of passion. They knew they were meant to be together, ready to share each others'pain and hope for a better future.
The second story entitled Tiger, Tiger is of a woman and her boyfriend and their love that is transformed through the boyfriend’s parents undergoing a divorce and the discovery of a book that opens the mind of the girlfriend. Through this discovery of the book, the woman remembers a moment in her childhood in which she bit the arm of a little boy while playing at a park. This act, of which she repeated many years later, reflected her own passion, allowing herself to express her love in the only way she knew how. The third story entitled The Missing Statues tells the story of a man who, while seeing several missing statues while visiting Rome, comes to confess a sad and yet happy moment in which he touched the life of another person who needed it but did not realize it. A young woman named Molly and her son Max were waiting for a man to pick them up from their waiting spot in Las Vegas. While waiting, they meet a gondolier from another casino, who gives them a reason to smile even when all is lost – a love of beauty, in all forms, in the midst of sadness. The forth story entitled The Coming and Going of Strangers is of a young man who burns with passion for a young woman but instead marries her younger sister due to a fateful night and encounter between the two. The passion felt by the young man is carried through his life with his object of desire’s sister, revealing to the reader the joy and later destruction that one can feel when one is consumed with love for another. Finally, the fifth story entitled The City of Windy Trees tells the story of George, an ordinary man living an ordinary life until he receives a photograph of a little girl sent from Sweden. The past comes alive once more, giving him reason to change the course of his life as well as experience the newfound emotions felt from the photograph. His form of love comes in the form of completion and a purpose for his existence; it gives him a reason to breathe.
Through these stories, Van Booy shows us the power of love and the effect it has on people from all walks of life and from all different backgrounds. His stories sing with a maturity and desire that only few authors are capable of doing today, weaving in personal experiences and giving them a life of their own. Van Booy is quite capable of making his readers believe in love while exposed to today’s society filled with apathy, emotional blindness, and spiritual impotence. He shows us through his stories that hope is there even in the worst of circumstances, and that we can love, no matter our own past faults and regrets. It may not take the form that is so readily accepted by the majority but the love felt and expressed is possible; in fact, Van Booy’s written forms of love are more realistic than what we have experienced in our lives. His definitions of love are archaic, complex, gritty, and strange, smelling of fruit not yet ripe and wine barely tasted. But, the final outcome of loss and eventual gain, thereby leading to love, is quite worth it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

17 June 2009 Book Review - Brideshead Revisited

British writers seem to have such a penchant for giving readers a view of a world thought hidden to most; a world full of high manners, well played roles, and lives hanging on a single word, threat, or understood promise. This world is for the privileged few and outsiders are rarely welcomed in unless invited. Those of the majority must rely upon novels and diaries of said folk so as to gain a better understanding of what being privileged truly means. One of the better examples of a novel – made – window is Evelyn Waugh’s classic Brideshead Revisited. Woven though the pages is the life of Charles Ryder, a man who evolves from middle class Oxford student to slightly jaded Army officer who is also an artist. He begins his words to us as a young man with no ideas, ambition, or character. He is a blank piece of paper ready to be stained with the “ink” of Life that comes in the form of Sebastian Flyte, a dandy and fellow Oxford student. Flyte represents hedonism, wealth, beauty, and Art, all of which Ryder desires in his own boring life. The two become fast friends, leading them both towards major adjustments of their lives and the people who are affected by it. Ryder also becomes enamoured of Sebastian’s sister, Julia, a woman who reflects Sebastian’s own ennui with the world she was born into but with her own twist to the matter at hand. While Ryder is seduced with the completeness that Julia emits, he is also seduced by Sebastian’s recklessness and homosexual arousal that throws caution to the wind. In the end, his choice reflects what he had felt all along but it is up to the reader to decide what to do with said realization.
Waugh’s writing is clear and precise, not laden down with “purple” adjectives and unnecessary descriptions; along with Ryder’s words, the characters provide their own worth and depth with their movements and interactions with Ryder. The character Anthony Blanche is a clear example as to what Ryder wants in life and dislikes at the same time; the hedonists of Oxford have no shame in what they love to do for it is their nature to be desired and repulsed at the same time. Blanche, the “leader” of the group, is in love with the world but hates himself and his background, calling himself a dago on many an occasion. He draws Ryder in with tales of Sebastian and his many not so discreet adventures, most of which include drinking, then leaves him with doubts as to how much of his tales were comprised of truth. Are we to trust the leader of the sybarites? Are we to even trust Ryder once he decides to follow Sebastian down the road of recklessness, alcoholism, and later, sadness?
I wanted to read this novel after watching the 2008 movie release starring Emma Thompson and was glad to do so; I have always had a soft spot for anything British and will gladly admit that I am an Anglophile. To me, the British have always represented class and style, history and pride, drinking tea and reformed society, and an undercurrent of sex, taboos, and sybaritic behavior that they can do so well. Brideshead Revisited is one of the most quintessential novels of British life, one that should not be discarded and treated as poetic dribble but rather given its fair share of praise and admiration. Ryder is the Everyman, exposing himself to new desires and pleasures through a rough current of repression and endless questions of not only the situations surrounding him but of himself. While reading, I too asked myself what I would have done if I was suddenly thrown into a world where champagne is served to me every morning, every desire handed to me on a silver platter, and sexual tastes and pleasures are merely a snap of the fingers. Is Ryder an example of what artists must go through in order to “find” themselves? Or, perhaps he is an exception, considering his “blank” slate and naïveté on the ways of the world? As a writer/artist, I found myself understanding Ryder’s actions in the world of Sebastian and Julia; a feeling of living in two different yet parallel worlds while learning from both in pursuit of an artistic lifestyle. Through Ryder, the readers see a man torn between wanting it all and leaving with nothing; in the end, there is no happiness, only lessons learned and regrets understood. Thanks to Waugh’s words, the scars from the mistakes made will heal in time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Musing - 1 June 2009

Seven black homeless men
Sit on a corner stoop,
Waiting for the day to begin.
Their scarred faces
Tell various stories of loves
And reunions,
Of disappointments and failures,
What they could have been
And what they turned into.
They sit like pensive crows,
Viewing the world with
Old and archaic eyes.
They receive no respect
Only wary glances from afar
And still they sit, waiting
For the sun to finally set.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Musing - 28 May 2009

Concentrate.
Slow and supple, strained
Beyond limits imposed by
The weak minded.
She told me that it would
Be difficult to believe
But once I did, the rest would
Be nothing.
I carried my own thoughts
Into the proverbial mixture,
Thinking that I had
A chance of redemption.
Instead, I found bitter virgins
Crying to a dead god,
Wondering why their eyes bled.
She told me that I was special,
Filled with stuff that made
others angry. And what
Kind of gift, I asked, would
That be?
Concentrate till everything
Is Indigo, she replied,
For nothing is what
It seems.
28 May 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Musing - 13 May 2009

Two eyes, one of blue,
See backward like Janus
Except I got a better deal.
Past reflections are seen
Across the orb, milky undertones
Surfacing like an oil slick
That smells of rose petals.
Two eyes, one of blue,
Are used to pour through ancient tomes
That tells of Mankind’s history
From hard earned intellect
To widely practiced hedonism. I count myself
Among the less fortunate, those who
See while using their own will.
My frequently worn glasses
Humble me.
Two eyes, one of nothing.

13 May 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Musing - 8 May 2009

She decided to wear a red dress to the wedding, a clear sign of defiance to everyone there. Although Monica had not been invited, she felt that her presence was still necessary for the event. After all, the groom in this charade of a wedding and marriage was her ex-boyfriend, Charles. He never loved her during their time together although he claimed he did. He never respected her mind and soul, for she was light years ahead of him on everything and he could not stomach such a plain truth that hurt his pride. He left her after being with her for two months, claiming that she was smothering him, then began dating Anna, a farm girl from the next town. Although Anna was a good natured woman, she proved to be no threat to his pride and low intellect. She only had eyes for him and did whatever was required of her by him. Monica knew all of this and more, thereby giving her more than enough reason to show up at the wedding in a red dress. After checking her reflection in the mirror for a third time, she left her home and walked down the road to the church. It was beautiful Spring day with cooling breezes as a bonus, but Monica did not notice her surroundings. Every step she took increased her courage and determination to be at the wedding, regardless of the outcome. When she reached the massive oak doors, she took a deep breath, released it, then gripped the handles and opened the doors. The creaking sound of the doors caused the entire congregation to turn their attention and gazes away from the slightly shocked bride and groom and instead focus on the newcomer, who wore a red dress and a simple grin that meant so much more.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Musing 7 May 2009

He once told me that he used to travel to three different places every year. Each place, each time, was like taking a sip of fragrant and delicate jasmine tea in different cups; such pleasures were simple and yet complex like himself. His last destination was to the Amazon, purely on a whim. When I asked him to tell me more about his adventures there, he suddenly grew quiet and took a long sip of his tea from his large purple and black dotted mug. For several awkward moments, my eyes wandered around, taking in our location and the other people who occupied it. I felt a brief sense of pride as if I was better than everyone else there because I was with him. I belonged here with him while the others were merely pretending to have even a modicum of what we had. When my eyes finally locked with his own again, he smiled and took my hand in his. When I asked him what was wrong, he replied that he loved me and no one else. Suddenly, my body felt much lighter, like the cooling tea in his cup.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Musing - Reflections of a Corporate Goth

While driving to my parents’ house the other day, I searched for a decent CD to play because the radio stations offered nothing but noise. As I searched through my glove compartment while still keeping a sharp eye on the road, I discovered a Cure CD (Wish) that I had bought for my ex-boyfriend last year. I was never a diehard fan of their music back in the day but I played the CD out of sheer limitation of options for keeping the silence in my car at bay. Instantly, the sounds of lush guitars and Robert Smith’s half wailing, half singing voice filled the inside of the car. I was immediately sent back to my 20s when I was uber Goth and proud of it. During my college years and shortly after, when I was trying to find and define myself, I stumbled upon Goth and was seduced by the clothing, the mindset of the people, and the music that defined us misfits to the rest of world and to each other. The CD reminded me of wilder times, when my friends and I struck out against the world with our clove cigarettes, coffin shaped purses and backpacks, and darkly stained lips, daring anyone to ask us if we realized that it was not Halloween. It was those years and the experiences I had that helped shape me into the woman I am today. Now, as a Corporate Elder Goth Steampunker Author, or a woman who wears many darkly coloured hats, I realize I can never remove that part of my life because I am truly grateful for it. The Cure CD is now a part of my music collection in my flat, adding its essence to what makes me tick in this crazy world.

Musing - 4 May 2009

There was a time when he was afraid to look at her, for her eyes reflected his regrets and losses of the past. She was a window that showed his life better than he ever could and he was terrified of it. He married her for love and that same love was there, but things were different now. Now, whenever she walked into a room that he sat in, he could feel the loneliness seeping from within. Words were barely spoken between the two in their golden years; he from fear and she from resignation of the entire situation. Their love from before was still there between the eccentric and happy couple; it was a love created for them and them alone.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thank You to the Revenger Crew

During my recent trip to Huntsville Alabama to visit my boyfriend, I spent some time with Captain Tomas Quin of the Airship Revenger (Steampunk crew). I first made his acquaintance in February during ConNooga in Chattanooga, TN and we became friends soon after that. Since that time, I have spent time with the crew members (my boyfriend Michael Greenway being one of them) and I have enjoyed every minute of it, learning more of the Steampunk way of life and just being around good people who share similar thoughts and goals as I. Imagine my surprise this past Saturday when Tomas presented me with an official pin of the Revenger, making me a crew member! I was moved to tears but instead hugged him and my boyfriend tightly, thanking them profusely for this show of trust and friendship. I am proud to be a member of this illustrious crew and I hope that this librarian/researcher will not let them down. Thank you very, very much.

Absinthe Dreams to you all!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Musing - 23 April 2009

She carried the weight of the world on her shoulders but she was used to it. No one else was fit to be selfless in this time, she once told me, because people chose to be hedonistic and indulgent rather than to simply live, love, and learn. Perhaps they were unaware that the Romans were long gone from the game board of the world, having turned in their lead soaked playing chips with regret and remorse. I admired her for the simple fact that she refused any form of help in her task; it was in her blood, after all. To be the daughter of Atlas was not easy but she held her own. Even when the offspring of the other deities would tease and taunt her stoic nature, she would hold her head high and tighten her grip on the massive sphere above her solid frame, her eyes focused on something that only she could see. When she took breaks from her immortal task, she sought my company to share tea with me for my presence was soothing and cool like aloe on skin. At first, I wondered why anyone would want to spend their leisure time with me, the son of Hades, but I later realized that she respected and liked me as much as I respected and liked her. My own background carried such a stigmata and never-ending waves of disdain, prejudice, and hatred from others, but I could not change any of it. I was and still am who I am. Just like her.

Monday, April 20, 2009

15 April 2009 Musing

Although Spring is finally here, the cool winds still burn my nose and chap my lips. The walk to work is somewhat painful yet I continue to do it every day because I know of nothing else. The time for daydreaming and thinking outside of the box has passed me by like a cup full of ambrosia. I wanted to take a sip but I was too scared to do so. Once upon a time, I used to be carefree and colourful, wandering in places that others would have deemed to be too dangerous. I, however, feared no one and no thing and because of that simple fact, I was unharmed. Even when danger stared at me in the face and its warm breath caused my eyebrows to wilt and turn grey then white, I held my own and refused to back away. Now, I am quite the opposite and I still don’t know what happened. How did I lose the way? What drove me from the path that was so carefully laid out for me before my birth? My back is hunched over and my eyes are constantly downcast; my new posture towards the dregs of Life. I thrive in fear and anxiety because it comforts me like a sickly wet nurse whose nipples only offer rancid milk for a screaming and colicky newborn. I no longer know the names of colours because I shut that part of my mind down when the change occurred. I have no one to blame but myself and yet my eyes still flash a glimmer of anger in response to what I have become. This is not how I used to be, I would think, then drearily go back to my menial tasks for the day. This is all I have now, I say to myself over and over again as a mantra for an opium soaked deity that has wasted away to a mere slice of belief. This is all I have now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blood and Brass: Steampunk Poem

Blood and Brass: The Poem of Sylvia Weathersby


There was once was a woman named Sylvia Weathersby
Who lived to the ripe old age of 103.
She lived alone with no spouse or mate
Spending time reading books, building machines, or engaging in debate.

She was born in the year 1824
Just before the Steam Glass War
When Conductors built constructs immense and tall
Or squat and little, strong and small.

When Sylvia was young, her father and mother dear
Taught her the science of constructs and gears.
The child was delighted with metal and brass
And also learned daily of the War of Steam and Glass.

As she grew up, her mind expanded beyond expectations
Giving way to hopes and dreams as well as frustrations.
For Sylvia asked many questions, to know the world in whole,
Studying the designs of machines that were fueled with coal.

When she was 17, she designed her first construct named Tim
It was taller than her, metal sleek and slim.
Walking around her studio, making loud whistles and pops
Tim was continuously fueled, Sylvia making sure it would not stop.

When she turned 24 in 1848
Sylvia built construct Number 38.
Each one more dazzling than the one before
People wondered, “Would she ever get bored?”

Her constructs were used mainly for good
While Sylvia created as many as she could.
She supported the war, to drive the evil out-
Those who hated the Conductors, their minds full of doubt.

“Why must we live according to their rules and laws
When they can live without any flaws?”
These were the folks who were deemed evil and full of hate
Thinking that progress could most assuredly wait.




But people like Sylvia wanted more in life
Than buying tea and cakes and complaining of strife.
She dreamed of a day when man and machine would
Work together as they truly should.

So she walked and pondered and thought of a way
To make her dream come to life in some way.
Every day, she walked along the streets
Passing by florists and butchers with fresh meats.

She would walk from day till twilight
Watching the street boys light up the gas lights.
And, every night she would go home
Back to her own unfinished work, back to being alone.

No thought came into her mind that would bring peace
Ending the entire war, suffering to be released.
She wanted to do her part for the Great Cause
To prove to the enemy that the war was flawed.

One night, around a quarter to three
Sylvia lay in her mechanical bed, rocking with misery.
Her thoughts kept her up late into the night
But none of them would work, none of them had the bite!

For years and year the war raged on through the land
While more and more people began to take a stand
Against the brutal fights and the blood spilled on the ground
From dead bodies that fell without a sound.

The skies turned black with soot and ash
Caused from the cannons that BOOMed with flash.
Mechanical soldiers, of brass and steel
Fought the humans with bloodthirsty zeal.

Then, suddenly, in the year 1893
Around the time for afternoon tea
The war was over, much to everyone’s surprise
Causing many a person to stupidly rub their eyes.

A truce was made between the warring sides
No one was the victor, no one secured the prize.
People could finally go home after so many years
To families who missed them, their eyes full of tears.


Sylvia watched loved reunite with their broken men
Knowing that they will never fight again.
There was much praise and fanfare
People screamed and laughed without any cares.

Within a year, everyone was back to their lives
Women with their husbands, men with their wives.
Conductors continued to build for the good of all
Remembering what happened before, thereby saving them all.

Yet the horrors of the war continued to remain
For blood still ran freshly along the plains.
No machine could remove the blood from the ground
And those who lost their lives were placed in a burning mound.

Fires consumed massive graves night and day
Sending putrid smoke along the way.
People would look up to the smog ridden skies
Wondering why there was a war to secure humanity’s prize.

The Age of Steam still rolled on with dreams and progress
Giving people what they wanted, creating less stress
And soon the skies did turn back to what they knew
Fluffy clouds among a sea of clear blue.

Sylvia Weathersby lived till she was 103
Still working on gears and learning alchemy.
When she died many mourned her death
Thinking of the exact time when she took her last breath.

Many learned from her teachings and her published works
For they were worthwhile and not full of quirks.
Man and machine must support each other, it was said
This was an idea that would never become dead.

“The war taught me much, she would say
And I am glad it is better this way.
Conductors are here for all, no matter what you think
Assisting with growth of food or better water to drink.”

And now my tale has ended, the lesson learned well
For I as a Conductor will not go to Hell.
I work my magick to help those in need
Still remembering the war, when many were in need.

All were affected during that time of hatred and fear
Engaged in a war that lasted many a year.
Remembering when the sky was black and grey
And how utterly long it stayed that way.

Voices - A Flash Story

The voices were always there but it was not until she turned 28 that she began to hear them. They carried the weight of air, fluttering through her mind like disoriented moths in search of a murderous light. When she first heard them, she wanted an explanation of each entity; their backgrounds, lifestyles, and tales of love. The voices, happy that they found an understandable host, gave all of their essence to her since someone finally took notice of them. They gave her new words for colours and presented sounds unheard of by the rest of mankind. In her mind, the voices locked hands and formed a dancing chain, singing off key in a melancholy sort of way. She was now content for peace had finally entered her mind.

22 October 2008

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poem of the Day - Fancy by John Keats

Fancy

by John Keats
Ever let the Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home:
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
Then let winged Fancy wander
Through the thought still spread beyond her:
Open wide the mind's cage-door,
She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
And the enjoying of the Spring
Fades as does its blossoming;
Autumn's red-lipp'd fruitage too,
Blushing through the mist and dew,
Cloys with tasting: What do then?
Sit thee by the ingle, when
The sear faggot blazes bright,
Spirit of a winter's night;
When the soundless earth is muffled,
And the caked snow is shuffled
From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
When the Night doth meet the Noon
In a dark conspiracy
To banish Even from her sky.
Sit thee there, and send abroad,
With a mind self-overaw'd,
Fancy, high-commission'd:—send her!
She has vassals to attend her:
She will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost;
She will bring thee, all together,
All delights of summer weather;
All the buds and bells of May,
From dewy sward or thorny spray;
All the heaped Autumn's wealth,
With a still, mysterious stealth:
She will mix these pleasures up
Like three fit wines in a cup,
And thou shalt quaff it:—thou shalt hear
Distant harvest-carols clear;
Rustle of the reaped corn;
Sweet birds antheming the morn:
And, in the same moment, hark!
'Tis the early April lark,
Or the rooks, with busy caw,
Foraging for sticks and straw.
Thou shalt, at one glance, behold
The daisy and the marigold;
White-plum'd lillies, and the first
Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;
Shaded hyacinth, alway
Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
And every leaf, and every flower
Pearled with the self-same shower.
Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep
Meagre from its celled sleep;
And the snake all winter-thin
Cast on sunny bank its skin;
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
Quiet on her mossy nest;
Then the hurry and alarm
When the bee-hive casts its swarm;
Acorns ripe down-pattering,
While the autumn breezes sing.

Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Every thing is spoilt by use:
Where's the cheek that doth not fade,
Too much gaz'd at? Where's the maid
Whose lip mature is ever new?
Where's the eye, however blue,
Doth not weary? Where's the face
One would meet in every place?
Where's the voice, however soft,
One would hear so very oft?
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth.
Let, then, winged Fancy find
Thee a mistress to thy mind:
Dulcet-ey'd as Ceres' daughter,
Ere the God of Torment taught her
How to frown and how to chide;
With a waist and with a side
White as Hebe's, when her zone
Slipt its golden clasp, and down
Fell her kirtle to her feet,
While she held the goblet sweet
And Jove grew languid.—Break the mesh
Of the Fancy's silken leash;
Quickly break her prison-string
And such joys as these she'll bring.—
Let the winged Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home.

Musing 10 April 2009

Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus went through His Passion and died on the cross for all believers. Today is a day off from work for me and so far, it has been a good one. The air is crisp and clean blowing through my open windows and I recently lit a stick of Ocean scented incense to get my creative juices flowing. The imagination I use has been good to me thus far, and I am forever grateful for it. I can hear the sounds of lawn mowers cutting through grass, giving off little whiffs of earth, Time, and the spirits that occupy my home from time to time. I used to be afraid of them but now I acknowledge them with respect and grace. While my fingers fly across my keyboard, my thoughts drift to the Green Man who seduces me at night and how I long for Him during the hours of the Sun. He is older and much wiser than I but He still finds time to visit me and taunt me with images of pleasure beyond all human rationale. I am here and yet somewhere else but that is how should be for I am touched in a way that others would deem me to be mad. If I am mad, then so be it; I relish the label with pride. I write, He listens, and all is right with my off kilter world.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poem for the Day

Spring
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Leaves - A Flash Story

Leaves



When I first met Paula, I told her that she smelled like bergamot. Every time she moved her arms, every time her hair was caught in a light breeze, my senses would go into overdrive and all I could think of was a kettle of Earl Grey tea. She said she smelled that way because she spent most of her childhood in her uncle’s tea shop, wandering among the tall glass jars filled to the brim with exotic smells and delicacies from around the world. A pinch of oolong here, a dabble of British Breakfast there, some lavender thrown in for good measure, and voila!, she would say, raising her hands over her head as if she was a magician. She lived for the scents that awakened the senses, for it was in those scents that brought us to a moment of undiluted happiness.
One day I wanted to test that thought, so the two of us walked from my home to her uncle’s tea shop, the small ocean blue painted store at the end of the street with wind chimes at the door. When she opened the door, I closed my eyes without even thinking. It was here, all of it, ready and waiting for me and only me. Her uncle, a grizzled old man who somehow forgot that the 60s had ended a long time ago, came from around the desk and hugged his niece with happiness and pride. I stood back, giving them their space but also taking in the scents as best as I could. Her uncle then pulled away from her and introduced himself to me with a smile and a firm handshake.
“I give people happiness,” he said with a wink. “Too often, people come in here dull and grey. I let them see what they are missing.” With that, he walked back behind the counter to a small stove with a kettle that had just begun to whistle. From this kettle he filled three already prepared cups that stood to the side then waved at us to join him. When we reached him, he handed each of us a cup; Paula’s was the colour of blood while mine was a deep violet. He raised his bright white cup in a mute toast but smiled as we took a sip from our own cups. Once the hot liquid touched my tongue, my skin began to smell of jasmine.

Book Review - Asylum by Patrick McGrath

The Seduction of Madness

When I was younger, my mother and I visited a friend of hers who worked in a mental institution. Although the area was serene and peaceful, I still felt uneasy; several of the patients were out on the grounds as we drove through the main gate. As a published author, I have found that most of my recent stories have at least one character who is suffering from mental illness; my perception of them changed from ignorance when I was younger to eerie fascination now as an adult. I have also noticed that some of my favourite writers love to write about a mentally ill person functioning around others or within their own world. Such is the way of writer Patrick McGrath; his stories contain the most unstable of humankind and yet he does it with a morbid reality, leaving us with a want for more of what we fail to understand.
In the novel Asylum, we are thrust into a mental institution in the countryside of 1950s England, told from the perspective of one of the resident psychiatrists. Through his eyes, we are introduced to the new resident psychiatrist Max, his son Charlie, and his lovely wife Stella, who is clearly Max’s opposite in the extreme; she is full of passion while Max is not. During a dance at the institution, Stella discovers a new source of interest: a patient named Edgar Stark, who is not only a talented artist but a psychopath who decapitated his wife. To her, Edgar is forbidden yet someone who could nurture her passions that fall to the waist side by her cold and unfeeling husband. Once the mutual attraction is acknowledged by both Stella and Edgar, the affair begins and continues with intensity and desire. Stella knows that her actions are wrong but she continues to do so anyway because Edgar gives her what is sorely lacking in her own husband. However, it is through this affair that leads Stella, Max, and even the narrator down a dark path that has no chance of seeing a modicum of reason, leading to events that once played out, can never go back to being reasonable. The readers witness the results from choices tainted with madness and hatred, of loves fueled by jealousy and coldness. We ask ourselves if we could ever make such choices, or if we could ever succumb to levels of dark emotion that both Stella and Edgar face.
Then again, are we to believe any of it? Did Stella make up the entire story? Can we even believe the narrator who was also her therapist; at one point in their sessions, he asks her to marry him in the hopes that he can and will save her from herself. Were his reasons for trying to “cure” Stella commendable, or was it something else? Was Edgar the only one we could rely upon, since his personality was flawed from the beginning with no layers to expose? There is no right or wrong answer, only answers with variations of truths that hopefully can and will be appreciated. How far could we go down the rabbit hole before we realized it was too late? Would we even realize it? Would it be worth it in the long run? The line between madness and sanity is blurred through a skewed lens that is created by the individual who is faced with such a matter. It is easy to be seduced by madness but it takes willpower to find the truth.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Longfellow

The Cross of Snow

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face,the face of one long dead,
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died; and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Short Story - Writer's Dream

The snow had fallen when I woke up from a heavy sleep. I was dreaming about meeting Ralph Fiennes in a coffee shop, talking about Sartre and the effect he had on our lives. I did not want that dream to end, because I had just ordered a large cup of coffee with just a touch of vanilla. When I awoke, however, I found myself wanting that cup of coffee. I dragged myself out from under the warm covers and walked into the kitchen, hoping that I still had some vanilla syrup left. I did not. All I had to drink for my morning was chamomile tea and coffee that I bought while in Jamaica several years ago. I knew that the taste would not be what I desired but I made a pot of it anyway. Today was an important day, and I wanted nothing to change or diminish it. Today was the first day of calling myself a writer, a full fledged writer. I had decided a week ago that I was no longer satisfied with my corporate job and that I wanted out from the machine. I had published a small novel several years ago and to my surprise, did rather well. The novel won several awards and my publishing company at the time wanted me to write three more within a year, if only I gave up my current job and life and turned towards a new one. I said yes. While the coffee brewed and I yawned and stretched, I thought about when I turned in my notice to my supervisor, telling him that while I enjoyed working for him, the life I had been thrown into was not the one I wanted for myself. He accepted the note and my words with a hint of a smile then turned to face his computer and began deleting my name from the records. I turned and walked out of his office, never to set foot in it again. So now, here I was, one published novel under my belt from several years ago and a new one freshly brimming in my mind and I wanted vanilla coffee like the one I had ordered in my dream with Ralph Fiennes. The coffee was taking too long to brew, so I went into my cold but satisfying living room and turned on my computer. After several seconds of black screen, the computer came alive with hisses and pops and I was ready. I sat down and began to type out the words even before my word processing program began to show on my screen. The coffee was ready but I had forgotten it. All I had on my mind now were my words. That was all I had now.

Idiot Psalms by Scott Cairns

Idiot Psalms
by Scott Cairns

1

A psalm of Isaak, accompanied by Jew's harp.

O God Belovéd if obliquely so,
dimly apprehended in the midst
of this, the fraught obscuring fog
of my insufficiently capacious ken,
Ostensible Lover of our kind—while
apparently aloof—allow
that I might glimpse once more
Your shadow in the land, avail
for me, a second time, the sense
of dire Presence in the pulsing
hollow near the heart.
Once more, O Lord, from Your enormity incline
your Face to shine upon Your servant, shy
of immolation, if You will.


2

A psalm of Isaak, accompanied by baying hounds.

O Shaper of varicolored clay and cellulose, O Keeper
of same, O Subtle Tweaker, Agent
of energies both appalling and unobserved,
do not allow Your servant's limbs to stiffen
or to ossify unduly, do not compel Your servant
to go brittle, neither cramping at the heart,
nor narrowing his affective sympathies
neither of the flesh nor of the alleged soul.
Keep me sufficiently limber that I might continue
to enjoy my morning run among the lilies
and the rowdy waterfowl, that I might
delight in this and every evening's intercourse
with the woman you have set beside me.
Make me to awaken daily with a willingness
to roll out readily, accompanied
by grateful smirk, a giddy joy,
the idiot's undying expectation,
despite the evidence.


3

A psalm of Isaak, whispered mid the Philistines, beneath the breath.

Master both invisible and notoriously
slow to act, should You incline to fix
Your generous attentions for the moment
to the narrow scene of this our appointed
tedium, should You—once our kindly
secretary has duly noted which of us
is feigning presence, and which excused, which unexcused,
You may be entertained to hear how much we find to say
about so little. Among these other mediocrities,
Your mediocre servant gets a glimpse of how
his slow and meager worship might appear
from where You endlessly attend our dreariness.
Holy One, forgive, forgo and, if You will, fend off
from this my heart the sense that I am drowning here
amid the motions, the discussions, the several
questions endlessly recast, our paper ballots.


4

Isaak's penitential psalm, unaccompanied.

Again, and yes again, O Ceaseless Tolerator
of our bleaking recurrences, O Forever Forgoing
Foregone (sans conclusion), O Inexhaustible,
I find my face against the floor, and yet again
my plea escapes from unclean lips, and from a heart
caked in and constricted by its own soiled residue.
You are forever, and forever blessed, and I aspire
one day to slip my knot and change things up,
to manage at least one late season sinlessly,
to bow before you yet one time without chagrin.