(Something I'm still trying to do, with three strikes so far. Just got the reject from Tesseracts last week. Maybe I shouldn't have sent them the immortal-gay-viking-autoerotic-asphyxiat
I'm not a great reader of YA (surprise, surprise), but while this novel was being threshed out, I was impressed by the clean, accessible style, the pace, and the plot development. I kept thinking... this person knows writing, is professional, and has a keen understanding of her genre.... this book is a winner!
So, if this kind of story appeals to you or somebody who knows this situation, I strongly recommend you pop by the website and pick up a copy.
I brought it up as an example during a discussion at last years' Can-Con of real-world horror stories just waiting for the payoff. In the past year, I've seen little to dissuade me that this is a dangerous direction we've chosen to go in.
But what is SF, but a playpen no normalize us for horrors (and occasional triumphs) we have not yet fully grasped. So, without further ado, may I point you (not altruistically) in the direction of the marvellous acwise and brni's Grump's Journal, now doing service as Unlikely Story, the Cryptography Issue, where my attempt to capture some of this horror, braided in with much thinkiness about artificial intelligence and identity.
I hope you enjoy. Better still, I hope you think to make a contribution equivalent to what you would pay for a copy (or better), even though it's being offered online for free in the full spirit of open media.
I started blocking the numbers. They were all from Toronto or Manitoba.
Then the last one came from the Bahamas.
This is not doing my baseline paranoia any good at all.
I know it's very likely all coincidence.
But I've stopped saying my name when I pick up the phone. ;)
Just got word from Dean Francis Alfar that the Yolanda anthology is now available. I'll add more links as they are posted, but for now there is [EDITED]:
And here's the very excellent TOC, which makes this book such a bargain even if it WASN'T for a good cause, which it very much is:
- “The Wordeaters” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
- “Invisible Empire of Ascending Light” by Ken Scholes
- “The Photograph” by Veronica Montes
- “A Moment in Time” by Charie D. La Marr
- “A Gentlemen's Agreement” by Susan S.Lara
- “X” by Karissa Chen
- “Cunning Syncronicity” by Berrien C. Henderson
- “Godsend” by Joel Pablo Salud
- “Ondoy” by Laura McPhee-Browne
- “Rescuing the Rain God” by Kate Osias
- “The Wish Head” by Jeffrey Ford
- “Flash Forward” by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz
- “Where Sky and Sea Meet” by Dan Campbell
- “Arrow” by Barry King
- “Finding Those Who Are Lost” by Celestine Trinidad
- “Synchronicity” by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
- “We're All Stories in the End” by Matthew J. Rogers
- “Silverio and the Eidolon” by Vincent Michael Simbulan
- “Tinkerers” by Jay Wilburn
- “Finding” by David B. Ramirez
- “Ikan Berbudi (Wise Fish)” by Jason Erik Lundberg
- “Pilar Escheverria” by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
- “Scraps” by Michael Haynes
- “Freeborn in the City of Fallacies” by Andrew Drilon
- “Storm Warning” by Lilian Csernica
- “The Nameless Ones” by Gabriela Lee
- “Whispers” by Grant J. McMaster
- “Highway Run” by Alexander Marcos Osias
- “Black Sun” by Todd Nelsen
- “Life at the Lake's Shore” by Alex Shvartsman
- “Aliens” by Fiona Mae Villamor
- “Little Italy” by Isa Lorenzo
- “Discipline” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle
- “Unmaking” by Julie C. Day
- “Fresh Fruit” by Yvette Tan
- “The Sparrows of Climaco Avenue” by Kenneth Yu
- “Gellen's Retirement Plan” by Tim Sullivan
- “When We Were Witches” by Nikki Alfar
- “All the Little Gods We Are” by John Grant
- “Tuba Knight” by Cesar Miguel G. Escaño
In more important news, Seeger passed away. I'm fortunate to have been able to see him play four years or so ago, when he came through Kingston. He told a story about last time he came through, and had to be smuggled in because he was listed as a subversive communist pinko atheist scum by both the U.S. and Canada. One thing never changes, it seems, is the disproportionate amount of fear the secure and safe have. Perhaps it's a subconscious acknowledgement that the security comes at a price someone else is paying. I'd like to think so. But I'd rather have the lack of fear, if it's all the same to you.
But anyway, back to Seeger. When I think back on songs I still remember from being three or four years old, I can only dredge up "Puff the Magic Dragon" and this:
It was only later that I learned that he wrote "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and other fixtures the grade-school music class. Which I suppose, are also a thing of the past, thanks to tax-cutting security-fearful political shenanigans.
And drama llama ding dong.
Do not speak ill of the dead
Do not speak ill of the dead
I must remember
Do not speak ill of the dead
Well, here's three versions. Three generations. Boomers, X-ers, and millenials. Funny how much nothing has changed.
Pay attention. If you ever wondered what the changes in pop culture are over the past fifty years, well, I seriously can't find a better example.
( lyrics to Ballad of a Thin ManCollapse )
( Talking Heads take on Mr. JonesCollapse )
( Counting Crows Lyrics to Mr. JonesCollapse )
However that works out, whether by dropping consulting or partnering with others, my goal is to and get onto a regular schedule with a team of people where some sort of accountability exists, but where at the middle level, not everyone is trying to resumé-hop back and forth between the private and public sector. In the mean time, bills need paying and machines need poking, so I'm diving back into regular work on Tuesday, with a regular schedule to follow. Interviews have been had, and results have STILL not been posted, so I need to do some follow-up.
But there is a difference in the wee days of 2014. After two weeks of enforced avoidance of all things that do not have to do with the personal, I've been having real dreams again. Some silly, some profound, but mostly just personal and unremarkable. I've had a chance to let go of some unnecessary chores in 2013, and the calluses they left behind (both mental and physical) are softening and sloughing off. If you live by the seasons, there is a season of dying, and it's now over. Now comes the lean months before Spring. A time for finishing large projects, for maintaining tools and learning skills.
On queue, the two-year blockage I've had over the novel is clearing up, and the plot is falling back into place. I recognize that was something that was going on, and watching General Orders 9 was brining that to the forefront. It has to do with connecting principles, as Jung would have termed them. Causality being one, and his much-misunderstood (it's a known unknown that remains a known unknown to me, but I know that I know something about causality, and so...) "synchronicity" being another. But being able to put one in one toolbox and the other in another and to recognize them as tools, not as fetters, is an important thing, I think, for everyone to achieve at some time in their life. My personal Mecca, if I may blaspheme with impunity, but I've made the pilgrimage again and will likely do it again some times before I die. And this journey back will have a novel in it.
Perhaps its our nature as symmetric flesh to divide so much into pairs, and so there may be other connecting principles, but there seems to be a cluster of left brain in causality, rationality, linearity, and a right brain in synchronicity, symbolism, association. We can't think much further than three dimensions and time, so we have to reduce process to Einsteinian curvatures/densifications of the field, or to the Dragon and the Unicorn, Solve et Coagulo, the caduceus and the divine couple, or some variation of paper folded on itself. Those are the limits of the mind, and it's good to see its own limits, rather than getting caught up in self-reflective/referential mirror-play that leads to infinity. If there is a split, an ultimate "original sin", I still suspect the chasm of that alienation runs down the middle of the hippocampus. But this is a time in history where if we don't close those infinite loops, those open systems, we are likely to take the planet with us. May have done already, "dead species walking".
So the closing line to General Orders 9, that "in the end only one thing matters" resonates. I think I may go back and re-read James Carse and Julian Jaynes while finishing this novel. It will keep me in mind of the underpinnings.
I wonder if Sheikh Mullah Omar saw it there, or in Peshawar, or on VHS somewhere, and started wearing a blue turban, which was the de rigeur headdress for the "third antichrist". It wouldn't surprise me. It's a little like Joseph Ratzinger choosing a name, in a way. Or like Muhamar Ghaddafi being found in a culvert clutching a custom made golden gun.
Saw that at Nafdec, too. With all of the kissing edited out by some less prominent mullah.
Not Christopher Lee's best work, in the end.
New Year's Eve, Cara Sposa and I were trying to decide what to do with the Christmas Leftovers (Note Caps. I'd made enough parsnips, potatoes, carrots, beets, and yams for a dozen, but only seven could make it because of ice and flu). I wanted to do pasta because I was tired, and she suggested beet pasta, which after some deliberation we settled on. The beets had been steam-broiled and tossed in cream and horseradish, but with a bit more cream and horseradish as well as goat cheese and flaked almonds, actually became a rather nice dish, which I plan on making again since...
Well, it was a good year for beets, and our CSA sold us a bushel for a decent price, and they're our main stored vegetable (out of refrigeration, they keep well because they never actually die, but grow a few leaves waiting for spring).
And, err, well, the beets this year are so rich in their basic beetiness that they actually make you pee red. Not "oh my god, my kidneys are melting down" red, but an unmistakable Zinfindel rosé. It's kind of off-putting, really.
Ahem... But I digress. So we were eating this fuscia pasta, and I'd suggested something that I'd come to regret, and we put on the film General Orders 9, which has been waiting around a while for us to get to. Cara Sposa is reading Charles Montgomery's Happy City and I had some notion that the film was about urbanization, which it kinda sorta is....
Sadly, it was a good example of what happens when processes are financially standardized. Because it had to fit a market length of 90 minutes or more, it went on into what can only be called a self-indulgent wreck of an attempt at Koyaanisqatsi with a Southern flair. But the whole point of the film could have been made far more effectively in about 20-30 minutes tops. So to spare you an hour and change of drivel, let me flesh out some of the beauty of the main point.
- In the narrator's state of Georgia (which my surname family harks from, or at least back into the 18th century), urbanization grew first organically.
- Deer paths became native footpaths became County Roads, and towns sprung up at the crossing points of County Roads.
- Towns have a sense of place, of order, with a courthouse in the center, and the town arranged around it, and a weathervane on top.
- After the Civil War, there was a die-back, and when growth returned, it came through Interstates.
- Interstates are more like the blood vessels of cancerous tumors, not leading to a place, but contributing to a process. Consequently, a city is not a place, it is a machine.
- The only response is to flee the place-lessness of the city and return to the ruins of the town, which leads to listlessness, apathy, and depression.
- In the vacuum left by the city's wake, similar to the vacuum left by the war, there is the need for a new psychological/symbolic center of place, a new totem for the new era, which arrives like a flood and leaves nothing in its wake.
- Religion only turns one away from the wreck, it does not build, and the sense of place cannot impose place on the placelessness.
- There is something about the town arranged around the courthouse, marked by the weather vane that is basic, human, and... has to do with that Jungian process of self-actualization.
This is all told through images, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated themes, and a personal narration. To differentiate the narrator's self before and after the moment of self-actualization, there is a ruined library, a canoe stuck on a stone in the Chatahoochee, and, afterwards, the canoe filled neatly with books.
Now, the visitation. When I first went to live in Georgia, to study Philosophy at the University in Athens, I was deeply obsessed with that process. For me, it was very similar to what was in the film. It has to do with the point and the circle and the square, and the transition from linear to angular motion. It's one of those so-very-fundamental things that operates in the human mind.
The first dream I recall that had me understanding that I might go into philosophy was an end-of-the-world anxiety dream. I was much younger, and when the balloon went up, and the flash of light signalled the bombs had fallen, I was shown a Boschian scene where all the books of the world were set into boats, and I was shown that only one boat had really been lost, and it was the works of Machiavelli, the Prince in particular.
So I found it rather odd to be seeing the alchemical process of squaring the circle narrated concerning the state I had gone through the same process in, end with the image of a boat of books making its way happily to the sea. VITRIOL: visita interiora terrae rectificando invenies occultum lapidem.
But what the adult in me saw was finally an understanding of why Evangelical thought is so prevalent in America today. It's the Interstate and the placelessness, the soul-lessness of the place of our lives. It's an earnest yearning for meaning in a formless void of process and valuation. It's an escape of the machine. There is a reason why Islam has one place to pray to as well: the most abstract, iconoclastic form of the Abrahamic tradition also can't just drop place. It needs place as well, in the same way. The Taliban, American and Afghani, are really one and the same in terms of what they have lost.
For me, that alchemical process gave me an understanding of faith as separate from belief. Faith is a creative process. It's the placing of hope against reality in order to transform that reality. It's the stuff of nonviolent revolution, the persistence that eventually overcomes all things.
Belief, on the other hand, is a destructive process. It's the cancellation of reality, and a kind of lying. It's the stuff of Santa Claus and Stalin. Ultimately, it's all about accumulating power, not overcoming limitations.
Ice on Pine Needles
Dawn and Moon over Ice
Ice on Winterberry Vine
Ice on Chinese Lanterns
1. Filming it, he is British.
2. Shooting it, he is American.
3. Studying it, he is Canadian.
4. Wrestling it, he is Australian.
Otherwise, things seem back under control after forty-foot pillars of flame were much in evidence.
Originally posted by rgrump at Announcing Unlikely Story #8: The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography
We’re delighted to announce the ToC (in no particular order) for our next issue, Unlikely Story #8: The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography.
- Two Things About Thrand Zandy’s TechnoTheque by Gregory Norman Bossert
- Ink by Mari Ness
- How My Best Friend Rania Crashed a Party and Saved the World by Ada Hoffmann
- Chilaquilies Con Code by Mary Alexandra Agner
- Something in Our Minds Will Always Stay by Barry King
Thank you to everyone who submitted work to this issue. We received a lot of truly excellent stories, and we look forward to sharing these cryptographic delights with you. The issue will be available in late January or early February. Stay tuned!
I'm glad to say that my story "Arrow" will be reprinted in Dean Francis Alfar's Outpouring: Typhoon Yolanda Relief Anthology in support of the Philippine Red Cross. (Yolanda is the Pinoy name for Hainan—they were the same storm) The Philippines is a big country, and I never went further south than a week in Cebu, so I don't really have a personal connection with the Visayas or Tacloban. But the three years I had in the Philippines changed me very fundamentally, and my outlook on life. It was where I learned that doubt is at the heart of faith, something that doesn't seem to have sunk in for many of my countrymen, and I think it's the reason I still feel a stranger here, and never more so than in my family's home state of Georgia.
I wonder if any of my old school chums will ever read it. A lot of them are in it, in borrowed pieces. I'm not naming names, but if they do, I hope they see where the pieces fit into the puzzle that I'm still trying to piece together. I tried to do that story "right", and be honest with myself and everyone I came to know and the history that walked in ghosts ("little men") around us. But even if it was a failure, I hope it does some good.
EDIT: And just because...
I hitch the complaining muskeg up to the surrey and rub behind her ears. She snorts, clearing her nostrils, readying for the journey. We roll down the Isenglas windows and pin them, so that none of the gasses leak in. The chambers are full. Forty-eight million pascals of pressure, according to my portable toque-metre. It should be just enough if the weather holds.
We move swiftly through the night, up to the land where blackfly meets ice, and the chickadees are both boreal and common. From this vantage, the nozzle is just a silhouette against the stars. To the south, there is a vague sodium-yellow haze of 44-40, 401. But to the North—an untrammelled landscape, like an empty canvas.
It's the largest nation on earth. You could bury all of Australia in its armpit, and in Australia's armpit, Texas, and in Texas' armpit, Germany, and in Germany's Armpit, Lichtenstein, and in Lichtenstein's arpit, Monaco.
But that doesn't mean that Mercator has overlooked us.
We hook up the nozzle.
Longtitude by longtitude, like a Crappy-Tire air mattress, the nation fills with gas. Moose-muck gas, shit-disturber gas, Gas like a thousand million Coleman stoves.
And there she is. A nation so huge, so Mercator-ly projected that even Mars could cuddle up like an infant at a Terran breast, gurgling CO2 flatulence and lullabies. Cooing.
We smile as the DEWS rolls over the tundra. Alight and alive to the invasion of space, but not a space invader in sight.
What I hear from them when they read my stories is a kind of silence, and a "why are all of your stories so sad?"
Sad? Sad? I think. Well, sure, Arrow is sad. It's meant to be a gut-punch. But aside from that, I thought they were kind of... affirming. Pythia has sad elements in it, but it's essentially about a young woman who discovers a god living inside her and manages to assimilate it into herself. "Bookbound" is about a girl discovering an alternate reality and diving into it... and losing touch with her own reality and family, true, but, isn't that what you do when you grow up anyway?
Sad? Well, unfair things happen, and people die, and there's pain...
....but... Life IS unfairness, and loss, and death, and pain, because it's also triumph and success, and rewards, and joy.
I guess I think my stories are about growing. Up, or out, or into the world. Shedding a skin is painful, but necessary, and that's what life's about, isn't it?
Well, OK. This is not sad: Halfway through November now, and I guess it's time I pointed people to that story I was talking about back in February. The one that turned into my first pro sale, and then turned into my first interview as an author.
But is it sad as well? The protagonists are people with special obsessions, people who are other-than-normal. But they find each other, in a way, and isn't that romantic? Isn't that cause for celebration?
I'm looking over the pile that hasn't been published. They're some odd ones. A society of women trying to live with parthenogenisis, an immortal Viking who is damned by the means of his immortality, and the magnum opus where a pair of girls take on the juggernaut of holy history without really intending to (Sisters of the Sundering).
Maybe the issue is that these are stories that don't fit well into formulae, and maybe it's because they move to the alchemical centre of life, which doesn't really have a "good" and a "bad" side to it, but it does have all those elements that make us human. And I think a sense of humour is an essential part of being human.
If you haven't been following Crossed Genres, I'd recommend it. It has a lot of that kind of story. I think they're one of a handful of magazines that are bringing this human stuff out of the slush pile. I think they have a lot of taste, and a sense of the unusual, and, yes, a sense of humour about it. I know that after years and years of working with human-rights and humanitarian organizations, I'm a little tired of hand-wringeryness. I want to hear about people overcoming their limitations, inborn or imposed. Crossed Genres is one of a few that are doing that.
So, read some. And then consider subscribing. Seriously. SFF is a more serious world now that the Starship Trooper types are shuffling off their mortal coils. We're tired of formula, we have long since washed the ashes of the Motherhood statement from our clothes. It's time that the big pubs were joined by the odd ones, and Crossed Genres is one of a handful bringing the real stuff to the community. They could use some support.
I don't find their stuff very sad at all, either.
When I like a music video, it's both for the song and the imagery, but if I'm going to watch a video, it needs to be something other than shots of the band playing. Lurid is good. But mostly it needs to be fun, kind of like Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine.
But everyone's seen florence and Peter Gabriel, and so on. so I think I'll share a few of the more obscure favourites she hasn't listed, in no particular order, at the risk of dating myself:
- Nemesis by Shriekback—Probably the most tongue-in-cheek video from the most tongue-in-cheek of 80s bands.
- God is God by Juno Reactor—Byzantine Iconography in all senses of the word.
- This, Too, Shall Pass by OK Go—Who can't love a Rube Goldberg machine. And the TIMING!
- Ç'est la Ouatte by Caroline Loeb—You can't get any campier, and I love her off-kilter, ironic face.
- Bum Bum by Trio—Deadpan delivery, then inexplicable game-show falderal at the end.
- Love Marriage by Wilbur Sargunaraj—I'm not sure just how brilliant this is. Your results may vary.
- Tunak Tunak Tun by Daler Mehndi—Oh, my.
So what are yours?
I started it in mid-July, kept bringing it up to work on and not feeling where it was going at all. Then it metastasized, and got all complicated and political. Then it made me go over Libertarian thought (a contradiction in terms on the best of days), and then it ran head into the CZP website rewrite where it took a back seat to getting all das blinkenlights to flash properly.
So, all October, I told myself NO. NO posting, no photos, nothing until this damn story gets written. Even then, it was a three week slog trying to make it gel in my head. And some photos DEMANDED taking.
Of course, when it was done, it was a kind of pan forte monkey bread kind of affair. Thick and nutty and dense, and created out of dis con ect ed elements of thought, memory, and feeling. A little like arrow with the linearity of feeling brought through non-linear time.
So what have I been doing in the mean time?
Apples! The tree was laden with about ten bushels, and we've been making pies and tartes tatins like mad fools ever since harvest time. Work has been spotty, and not paying well, and several invoices have not been paid, in some cases for three months, so it's getting a little difficult paying for things on time, but we're coping so far.
Job search! (Crickets chirping in the darkness). Not getting ANY responses. I think everyone's still busy and under-budgeted, because I'm not getting rejections either.
Went to Can-Con. Read a piece of Arrow very badly for the ChiZine Book Launch Party, and met some of the other Imaginarium contributors, which was really nice to do. I was surprised at how well the story was received and how many people read it. It's not a pleasant piece, by far.
The hotel did not seem aware what it meant to host a SF Con, so all the parties got closed down by security just as they were starting to take off. I was able to talk to people and meet new friends much more then ReaderCon. Mostly, though, I played Bilbo and sat in the reading room, listening to people read their novels which ran from the sublime to the self-published (and it shows).
One surprisingly interesting and thoughtful panel, though, on multiculturalism in SFF with a very Canadian mix of multicultural elements (Metis, Francophone, First Nations, Anglo, and, inexplicably, David Hartwell, looking very sedate in kakis and a golf shirt, and making rather salient points that complemented all the others and which looked both forward and back.
I didn't hang around for Sunday and the Auroras, though. Family affairs called, and the following week we went to Ottawa again for my niece's wedding. I had forgotten just how difficult loud music makes it for talking. Or anything else.
And then back to the story....
Which is done.
And will be sent in, soon.
Perhaps I can get back to my real work again? I keep feeling something is brewing, like the prickly time before a storm.
We shall see.
Dew on Kale
Outhouse Flowers against the Sun
Any favourite recipes out there?
We'll concentrate on the plot in our backyard instead. Although it only seems to be able to grown Good King Henry, Rhubarb, and Kale.
T'will do. Now off to Sir John A.'s pub for some brews and wings. Enjoy, all.
Black Eyed Susan
Dreams were, as always, of travel. Of schedules and being someplace at the right time. Strange places to stay and sleep, people I only half-know, and conversations and stories being told. Negotiations that required several people being consulted.
This time, we were going through some valley in Mexico, all covered in small steads. The colour of the small fields of crops were so intense that the landscape looked like a mosaic of coloured paper. I took photos and was swung on a high swing mounted on a crane to take them. Then we attended a convention on the top of a tall mountain in central Italy, where the roads and the walls were all made of red brick, and these roads were so steep we had to get out of the car and push until the car no longer existed and we went into the mountain that was hollow like a shopping-mall.
This places it at the high point of the dream-city, at the top of the main street, and facing away from the gorge that runs parallel to it. I recognize the steep section. But the multicoloured valley is new, superimposed on the valley that used to run outside Baguio. It's no longer impassible gorge or sea, but there are no roads across it, either.
The new entrance to the hollow mountain is definitely out of Crêche. So fiction and fact are blending even more in the old noggin.
A colleague from the other world I inhabit sent me a video. Now... madshutterbug will probably appreciate this. One of my favourite Warren Zevon songs (and probably the one that sold him on me... oh, I am such a IO nerd), was "The Envoy", which until just about three minutes ago, I had always believed, but never confirmed, was about Phil Habib. If you remember that far back, you know of whom I speak.
Anyway, here's the confirmation:
"Haven't heard from the man," indeed.
I never thought it could be topped. Well, maybe it has or it hasn't... but this is at least a close second:
Enjoy. Despite the off-colour metrosexuality refs.
Off to the Outdoor Range with the Archery Club. Have an AGM to chair. After a mock tournament.
Last time I had this wine, I decided on the spur of the moment to spend an hour or two with my dad. I'd just started my own business and had some spare change. I stopped by Bell's Liquor store on L St. NW, on my way to my parent's apartment on 26th St. NW. I picked up a bottle of it (1994 vintage) and we drank it, watching the sun go down over the unfinished Georgetown Overpass. The overpass is still not finished, but everything else is.
Sometime in the conversation, I said, (flush with wine and undeserved pride) "And we did it without compromising."
I was talking about myself and my sister. This bottle was a gift from her this last Christmas. I swore to wait until this particular occasion to open it up.
1. "You do realize that we are a rolling advertisement for the versatility of the Fiat 500, don't you"
2. Came in late, with the sun at our backs, down Mitchell Creek.
3. While Cara Sposa did her trick of swallowing very large books whole (in this case sartorias' Banner of the Damned), I had a little paddle around by myself, investigating around the campsite, places I'd not been before.
4. And that evening, a very striking sunset with crescent moon.
That night was a tremendous thunderstorm for hours. When we came out the next morning, there were two inches of water in our coffee-cups.
5. No pictures of the final day, which was misty. We were alone that night in the campsite. In the wee hours, we heard a raccoon startle and capture what we think was a grouse. Sad, high, piping calls as it was dragged away to be eaten.
And now I'm sore all over. The paddle back was against the wind in high waves, so it was an hour and a half of hard slog.
Now back to civilization and work. Think I'll launch a website today.
Not true. I've been very much involved in online things.
But they're things I've been building.
A new website for ChiZine Publications
A turnaround for the Kingston Archery Club
The voting process for the Copper Cylinder Award
It's all coming to an end this week.
And I can get back to writing as my main creative outlet.
Which I've been missing.
But a lot of things are coming to an end.
I'm actively pursuing the process of closing down the NGO consultancy.
And moving on to other things.
As soon as I find them.
Death is a kindly tarot card; Not Euminides kindly,
Like a terror you call kindly out of fear
But kindly all the same. It's the card of natural change:
All goodbyes are long ones.
Husks need husking, fields need clearing.
That's what the reaper is for.
Sudden death is the terrifying one; unnatural death
The Tower is the card that signifies that, and its symbol
Is a tower falling from lightning:
Fire from the sky.
Death used to be with us more often;
Stalked the wee hours, wandered around outside,
Hacking and spitting,
Showing up in a stranger's face like a promise,
Walking arm-in-arm with your grandmother.
We were more used to him, then,
I think, and it reminded us of how short and precious life is.
People think children shouldn't know about death. I had beers
With a friend of ours yesterday, and she said how one child,
Whenever a pet died—a mouse, a hamster, a cat, etc...
He would be taken to the pet cemetery and on returning:
There was a new pet waiting!
And later, even though he was ten or something like that
When his mother died, he expected to find a new one
At home after the funeral.
We value children in a perverse way like that, I find.
I remember being one, and they're not so special.
Definitely not innocent, or kind, or pure...
But not the opposite either. Just more ignorant.
Death is a good teacher of children.
Because just as we need youthful exuberance to buoy life along,
We need to temper it when it pushes too hard.
I notice, emerging at last from my basement,
That the three great colonial powers of the Levant
After two years of ignoring the Syrian civil war
Have started to flood their news channels
With imagery of what is happening to the CHILDREN.
Because somehow, because CHILDREN are suffering,
The war is more real, more brutal.
As if they weren't suffering before.
Someone wants this war.
I don't know who.
But I know that it's someone who does not dance with death.
Who is unfamiliar with death.
Someone who doesn't know the difference between Death and the Tower.
I suspect that someone is most of us.
It's how we were raised.
In Boston, one of the few of you I met in person was asakiyume.
Following up to that, she sent the most marvellous card.
Let me show it to you:
Isn't it marvellous? It's the angel of death on TV.
Driving a car.
Taking out the garbage.
It's a familiar death, and
When I say familiar, I mean in the same way as "family".
Death walks among families on the good days.
Death comes from above on the bad days.
Both to children and old ladies.
There's a man called McCain who wants this war.
He trained long and hard to deliver death from above.
Apparently he was good at it.
And thinks we should continue to deliver death that way.
Where it is far away from what we see.
Just a dot on a TV screen, blurry in infrared.
I haven't followed up on the trip to Boston.
Partly because we had one of those small deaths from above
And have probably lost our chance to have a family at this point.
But it was a small death. Not unexpected, and far from the first.
But it stings in a place where I can't even reach consciously,
Because I have no idea of what it's like to be a parent.
And probably never will.
But better this than to have a child and lose it.
By someone who thinks they are delivering justice
To someone you have never met.
Think on that before supporting "justice" from the sky, please.
Yes, you, too, John.
Sheepdog lifting Sheep
Corpse Flower (Indian Pipes)