still is the written word

Category: writing (Page 1 of 2)

I’m sick with time

I'm sick with time
dragged over jagged rocks, the current
leaving bits of me on the shore

this time this quanta this bit before the other bit
one by one an unyielding chain
forcing the gears of my undoing
fragrant as a house fire
billowing into the light of the sunset

part of me is there
the rest of me is here, stretched taught,
the veils of time fall year after year,
invisible snowfall
blanket of no return

Coming this Fall a new kind of Fiction

Yes, the homage. Not “based on”. Not a “reboot”. But the entire work rewritten chapter by chapter for the present. I’m not going to give much away, but I will add the occasional quote…

After Upham went below Haab stood for a while gazing after him, looking at nothing. Then she used the intercom and ordered the steward to bring her the pad from her quarters. When it arrived she waved the steward off and enabled the pad's holographic projector. The image of a woman jumped out of the screen and rotated slowly, lighting up the evening-shift hallway like a child's mobile.

But for Haab, the light dancing off her face and her terrible leg looked more like the silent and colourful electromagnetic weapons of two dreadnaughts tied together in battle. She looked like a future Queen ruling over biology and technology, when the two have become one.

"I've lost you too, now." Haab spoke softly into the empty hallway. "This wretched device remembers you, but you've slipped from my memory so I don't even recognize this image of you any more. A stranger 'lost beyond the veils of Azlaroc, as they settle and cleave us from those left behind'."

She held the pad out as far as her arm could stretch. "And even if I could remember you, what reason do I have for such a cold comfort? Where you could soften my resolve this simulacre only deadens it, raises equal part tears and wretchedness. It makes me shrink from my purpose. I'll see this no more!"

And she threw the pad to the deck, stomped it with her dhale leg until nothing was left but tiny broken pieces. Then she slumped her shoulders and returned to pacing the hallways of the ship.

Star Trek TNG: The Queen of Begemot

With the events of “All Good Things..” still fresh in his mind, Captain Picard is tasked with the dubious task of aiding in the entry into the Federation a species that needs a serious lesson in the value of individual lives.  Faced with a precarious situation involving the Tholians, Picard finds himself under orders and not liking it one bit.

To complicate matters, the Enterprise-D returns to spacedock for much needed maintenance where a routine sweep of the ship’s systems revives an old nemesis that leaves Riker with not only practical questions, but moral ones.

With Starfleet on one side and the Begemot on the other, the two men will find their paths converge in spectacular fashion!


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eyes in all heads, to be looked out of

off the coast of Japan
she put her hand upon my back
unfettered, she sd
unfettered.
 
the mountains roll to the North, wearing the clouds,
and I come to the geography of it, the
biology of my place my city
      (and I wonder)
where and when and why, and
the city spread out beneath the sky
      (where we went wrong)
 
 
the mind mirror gasps at complexity, seeks out
those exquisite minutiae that mean food shelter or replication
how terrifying when the mirror met its match
when
the two mirrors facing each other, exploding
down into one another
as the mind turned round and saw itself
 
this is what it means to be sapiens
 
 
 
I'm a poet.
I've no time to argue the necessity of empirical observation.
my obsession are the liminal lifelights
when we stopped thinking mammal
started singing God.
 
      the particular path to revelation is without meaning
      the journey is all
               readiness
 
 
So I come back to my city, my geography
off the coast of Japan
Place is my home.
Burrard comes up, splitting the city
and the diesel tankers glide between the lions,
gorging their bellies on wheat.
 
Hometown, even
my bones know it—
like an old lover
new and familiar, always
 
 
still it comes back to her word
unfettered.
Trapped in the explosion of mirrors
 
self-awareness is.
 
 
Beyond the traffic of it, beyond
the honking whining bitching
in the heat
Downtown, there is Place
beside the concrete courthouse,
to reflect
 
the Buddha sits with right hand on left
all others opposite
because the right is the hand of action, must be still
      here's something
 
we know here, off the coast of Japan,
the penalty of action.
we know it more ways than I have words to write them
 
it remains then, to live
left-handed.
 
 
* * *
 
 
Dr. Maud sd
'no-one wants to learn any longer, for the sake of it'
I leaned across the table, sd
'I do'
 
the consequences are, of course,
enormous
to commit is to dig your feet in, not be
budged.
 
Escape? go ask the bean sandwich
Prozac possibility delights not me
no, nor woman neither; though, by your smiling...
 
      The trap is not that we have problems
      but that we have problems that we have problems
 
      off the coast of Japan
      only a small step to India
      the mirrors' echo:
      BAOUM BAOUM
      repeat ad nauseam
 
it is not to solve problems but leave them
o my people!
those caves would shout back silence
and with silence comes
peace with peace
bliss
 
this, my people,
is what it means to be God!
 
 
off the coast of Japan—my Hometown
she put her hand upon my shoulder, peace
she sd
bliss
unfettered
 
the lady, Orlando

yellow rose

a world that could have been
like the world of music lost in this broken dream of keys
time's veil falls gently every year
i can no longer remember your scent

all that remains is the wind swishing our rose tree
so here -- a yellow gift to your memory

In Flanders Fields, Inc.

In Flanders Fields, Inc the smelters glow
Between the access roads, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The carbon soot still deathly flies
Scarce noticed amid assembling weapons below.

We are the Rich. Short years ago
We inherited everything we know,
Profit and more profit, don’t care who dies
In Flanders Fields, Inc.

See our margins endless grow:
To you from wealthy hands we throw
Disdain; from our 1% on high.
If ye stop making our bombs that make people die
We shall not profit, though smelters glow
In Flanders Fields, Inc.

A Case for Revenge

In the late 1970s, Climate scientists came to the conclusion that the Earth’s climate was changing. Of this they were 100% certain. They also determined that this change had an anthropogenic cause. Of this too they were 100% certain. The Earth was warming, and people were responsible. And they were 100% right.

So what happened? Or, more accurately, what didn’t happen, and why? Why did the human race just go on blindly marching towards the cliff, increasing its carbon output year after suicidal year? Didn’t people love their children? Didn’t they want the human race to survive?

The 1980s should have been the decade of innovation. During that time batteries, solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power, maybe even nuclear power, should have been researched and developed to move us away from a carbon economy. The 1990s should have been a decade of deploying these technologies, and for the Western world to deploy these technologies in Asia, Africa, and South America for drastically reduced cost, if not for free. The naughts (2000+) should have been the decade of integration and adjustment, and by 2010 the entire world should have been almost completely weaned from its reliance on hydrocarbons. Global warming halted, climate catastrophe avoided.

So what happened?

In the 1950s medical science determined smoking cigarettes was killing people at an astounding rate. They were 100% certain. Combined with the other medical issues smoking caused, the economic and human cost of this addiction was mind-boggling. But instead of getting people to stop smoking, PR firms and the tobacco industry conspired to lie to the public, to make it seem as if there was a debate about the health effects of smoking. This confusion allowed them to maintain business as usual. Tobacco companies kept raking in billions of dollars a year, and tens of thousands of people kept getting sick and/or dying. This ruse, of contrasting the scientific truth with a lie, worked for over 40 years, until the pile of dead bodies was simply too huge to cover up.

Enter Global Warming. The profitable (if murderous) tobacco strategy had been incredibly successful. So the same tactic was employed, and it worked as well, for 40 years as well, until the effects of the pending climate catastrophe became obvious to the public. But now it is too late. Our carbon economy will now run the human race right off a cliff. Those who made all that profit for the last 40 years, those hundreds of billions of dollars, will sleep rich and snug in their beds, and die without having to face the Apocalypse they have wrought. They will die rich and smug, flipping their middle fingers at the future, and our children.

I was originally going to title this “A Case for Justice”. But as I thought about it, there can be no justice. There is no crime with which to accuse these people. We would have to create a new one: auto-speciescide. Attempting to deliberately cause the extinction of your own species.

I want these assholes dragged out of their mansions, from their yachts with little mini yachts inside them, and off their private jets, down into filthy holes where they can rot as the human race dies around them. Let them watch through bars as our children are left alone to face the Apocalypse. I don’t want justice. I want revenge.

Will You Be Lying to Your Children?

In less than 10 years the gavel will come down and we will know for certain the human race is over. At least, large-scale industrial societies will be finished. When that happens, every nuclear reactor on Earth will go off like popcorn. Every dam will erode and collapse. Every toxic tailing pond will leach into the water system. And so on.

At the same time, runaway climate change will swamp the coastlines, destabilise the weather, and possibly kill the oceans, making almost all life impossible, above and below the water (this has happened before on Earth).

None of this is new. It’s actually a very old story. The Earth has suffered many, many climate-related extinctions that wiped out most of the life on the planet (I no longer refer to it as “our” planet, as clearly we are about to be schooled on who owns what). The only thing of note about this most recent extinction event is the fact human beings caused it to happen, because the rich clutched their pearls and decided a fifth summer vacation home and a second yacht was more important that the survival of the human race. No surprise there.

But I am curious about what you are telling your children. Do you tell them the truth, that they may be okay, but likely their children, or their grandchildren, will have front row tickets to Armageddon? Or do you lie and tell them we can solve the problems and humanity will be just fine? I know this is a lie, and so do you, because the opportunity to do anything about climate change came and went in the 1980s when scientists originally told us what was happening. They were 100% certain, and they were 100% correct. But the standard lying and bullshit by the rich and powerful made sure nothing changed, so by now the end is a foregone conclusion. I know lots of climate scientists and talking heads in the news say it’s not too late, that we still have time, but they are either lying or in error. The effort needed today to avert the end of humanity would involve completely new economic systems, completely new political systems, and an end to the 1% and their world of power and privilege. How likely is this to happen? Ask yourself the chance of a snowball lasting in a frying pan set on high heat. NOTE: if you make that chance anything higher than 0%, you’ve made some sort of error in your calculations. The pearl-clutching is still going on, and it will until the humanity train runs into the climate change concrete wall.

The problem with lying to our children is the fact they will learn we lied during their lifetime. We may be dead and therefore save ourselves the shame of being called filthy liars by our own progeny, but none of that will help them as they witness the end of humanity.

The problem with telling children the truth is, well… how do you tell your kid the world is ending, it was caused by allowing a small group of incredibly rich assholes to destroy the planet so they could constantly get richer and more powerful, while the rest of us did nothing about it (or helped these assholes maintain and increase their assholiness), so now our children, or their offspring, get to ride the climate change slide into humanity’s doom? I mean, how do you do that without making them neurotic and breaking their spirit?

The situation is like one of those early morning cartoon characters who runs off a cliff without noticing, tentatively feels around for the ground with a toe and, not finding it, looks down, looks sheepishly back at the camera, and then plunges into the abyss.

Right now humanity is tapping its toe around, looking for something to stand on. But the ground is no longer there. The abyss awaits. We adults will probably be fine. But our kids. They are going to fucking suffer.

Will you be lying to them, or telling them the truth?

The Pan

Pounding throb of diesel-belching locomotive. Michael hears them passing around goodbys. None are passed to him. The ground thrums beneath his feet as the last train car lumbers past. The gate rolls up. He walks toward the parking lot, remembering

…childhood. On the Island. Memories like trains take hours to stop, plowing their way through whatever’s on the tracks. Peter was a locomotive — whenever he got an idea in his head there was nothing stopping him, except sometimes Wendy and she really had no idea.

The butterfly knife sits heavy in his jacket pocket leaning against his chest sending tiny electric tingles with every heartbeat

…Peter had taught him taught well the way to dodge and step in with the knife, how to pierce the skin and twist in the guts. The noise that pirate had made blowing his last tooth-rotten breath. That was living! Or was it? Nothing made sense any more. After crawling through the jungle for a year picking mushrooms from between his toes digging holes so officers could squat in comfort and shit prime steak. He’d wanted to be a LURP told them he was an expert with the knife he’d killed a pirate as a little kid a pirate bigger than his father though not so big as the one Peter’d got. What was his name again? It was so hard to remember them after you’d killed them. Hook, Peter’d killed the Hook big mean bastard with a British accent. But Michael had been more frightened of Peter the way his eyes would flash, like reflected firelight dripping with blood. Now that was fear, almost naked clothed in leaves and carrying a sword. Teeth like sharpened pearls and his yes man those eyes were like nothing, haunting, like falling, feels like you’ll fall into those cold tiny stars foreveraway, into the gold and silver flecks flashing in Peter’s sea-green

…Harley sits by itself in a “no-parking” zone. There’s a ticket wedged between the headlight and the bars but he doesn’t touch it doesn’t even see it something like that’s just too small for him right now, not tonight.

Leather jacket creak as he swings into seat. Trying to be like Eastwood always ending up feeling like one of the guys Clint’s gonna shoot at the end of the picture. It was Peter it’d always been Peter. There was no escaping his memory, like a ghost, no way to get

…out on the island once just the two of them and some Redskins had surprised them. He’d only been on the island a short while so he just threw himself to the ground by the fire and tried not to listen to the sounds of clashing steel and squeals like woman as Peter did his deadly arabesque in the firelight. Then one last fall and silence, nothing but the hissing crackle of the fire. Peter’s face appeared suddenly leaping with devils from the flames, his lips parted in something that might have been a grin if it’d been daylight and blood wasn’t oozing from his hair.

Michael had suddenly needed to pee.

“How’d you like that Michael? There were seven Redskins!” The smile faltered but for an instant only. Michael hadn’t counted, but there had been more than seven Redskins. A lot more.

“Yes, I like seven. Seven’s a fine number for such an awfully big adventure!”

“Y…yes, seven.”

“Say Michael it could be such an awfully big adventure, here. And I’m so hungry Michael.”

“What do you want?”

“Yes…such an awfully big adventure. I don’t know why Wendy said it was wrong. I’m so hungry…Michael.”

“Yes?”

“Here, give me your hand. Such an awfully big adventure Michael. Just like here in the

…Hey, you gonna move or what?”

Michael blinks, stares in front of him for a minute the past plays like a cheap porn flick projected on a sky reality bluescreen. Then he blinks again. He’s been sitting at a green light fighting back Peter. He guns his bike through the intersection. The man who yelled at him keeps his car close, too close, leaning on the horn. Michael tries to think of other things the road or even that memory of Peter by the fire. But all he can hear is the horn filtering through thrumming blood.

He stops his bike. The car skids almost hits him. Asshole. His heartbeat remains steady but electric shocks from the knife to his heart begin. Now this is alive — like sticking your brain in a light socket, like that first red blush shooting up the needle when you find a vein. What would Peter do? Laugh? Kill? Fly away?

“What the hell’s wrong with you? You some kind of idiot?!”

Michael doesn’t move just undoes his jacket like Clint, bares the chest. His right hand is twitching like a spider eager to sting.

The guy’s almost up to the bike. Michael feels Peter’s spirit his power throbbing up from the bike. Now he feels it all the jazz time to rock ‘n roll.

“Yeah I know, big tough guy on a Harley. Are you in there asshole?” The man taps him on the forehead.

Fast faster never fast enough his hand crosses his chest pulls out the knife. With a skill he’s acquired — it never came natural, like to Peter — he spins the two strips of metal into violence and presses its blade against the man’s upper lip, not piercing the skin but hard enough.

“Shut up.” His voice is angry, like Clint it says more than words a death’s head symbol with razor teeth. But the words and the voice both lie. There’s a scared little boy on a motorcycle holding a knife. A car horn honks behind them Michael presses the tip until a tiny well of blood springs up around the blade. The man’s too frightened to move

…with Peter by the fire. Those teeth those eyes floating in the darkness a Cheshire nightmare. Naked sweaty skin and fear. He’d been terrified with Peter the rustling leaves beneath them even when he couldn’t see those teeth only feel them the horror that they might clamp down he couldn’t think of what they were doing or why only that Peter must never be contradicted Peter didn’t see the difference between the world and the mind but how he had learned that

…lesson later lying in the jungle holding his guts in strips of wood rammed beneath his fingernails screaming like a little girl begging them to kill him how they all seemed so small and powerful like Peter the whip and those wooden boxes under the ground where spiders and insects crawled over him in the blackness he’d eat them and imagine they were candy like

…in the home under the ground not eating for a week except Peter’s imaginary feasts and

…waking finally after being spewed out of hell to someone sticking something sharp in his arm why shouldn’t he attack when they tortured it didn’t matter if they’re the enemy or a doctor or teeth touching flesh if you can you strike back if you can’t you take it but if you can you lash out lash out lash out.

Michael turns the knife 90 degrees, blade up, and jerks. The man’s nose splits like tearing bread blood juts in hot streams. His hands fly to his face and he staggers back. Michael guns his engine and takes off.

The road slides beneath him like molten sky. He passes cars that get in the way, on whatever side’s convenient. One hand still clutches the knife though instinct has twirled it closed. Blood cakes on his hand his heart is on fire alive warm with the salty miasma of violence. This is how they taught him right from the beginning it’s survival of the cruelest no one ever gets a second shot hit first and hit hard and never let them catch your blind side.

Then he stops, stops suddenly a thought tearing through him.

He’d done the guy in broad daylight with about a thousand witnesses. That was crazy it was irrational you never did anything if there were people watching. Hadn’t they taught him that in the jungle? You could torture people have as much ass as you wanted only never be seen Peter didn’t allow it and you never did anything Peter didn’t allow.

He’d done it like that because he knew he wouldn’t get caught. No one would catch him not after tonight. He’d be dead.

That was it then he’d said it had gone over the edge. The butterfly does a dance between his digits. He wipes the blade clean on his jeans snaps it closed mindlessly and shoves it back in his jacket. He takes a deep breath pops the clutch and works up to a legal speed. Can’t get caught not now not when they might be looking for him want him for the knife. No, he couldn’t take risks not now not if he wanted his chance tonight just one shot one chance he’s been waiting for this his whole life.

“Do you like Peter?”

“What kind of question is that, of course I like him.”

“But we haven’t seen him in so long.”

“He still talks to Wendy. Besides, he taught us to fly didn’t he.”

“I was wondering about that too, Jack, I really was. I was wondering if he did teach us to fly because I can’t do it anymore.”

“None of us can. Shit Michael, you were able to longer than the rest of us. But we’re growing up, and grown-ups can’t fly.”

“But why?”

“What’d you mean why? Because we’re growing up, that’s why. I just told you.”

“But I remember other things, things Peter taught.”

“Like what?”

“Like knives, Jack, like sticking knives.”

“What?”

“I can’t get it out of my head. Every time the teacher makes fun of me my hand goes looking for a sword.”

“That’s loony. You’re loony. It was only on the island Michael. None of it’s real here, it can’t work here. Go to sleep.”

Michael pulls the sheets up to his chin and stares through the darkness at the ceiling. It’d been real oh yes he knew that the way the blade sunk in that thick gurgle and the breath the way he’d twisted the blade in the pirate’s guts that’d been real oh yes like biting a live wire.

“Did you ever go out with Peter?”

“You gonna let me sleep if I answer, or do I have to give you a smack?”

“I’ll let you sleep…did you?”

“Yeah, lots of times.”

“Did anything ever happen?”

“Of course, stuff always happened with Peter.”

“But did anything ever happen with just the two of you?”

“What’d you mean?”

“I don’t know, just the two of you…alone.”

“Go to sleep Michael.”

“But…”

“Go to sleep or I’ll come over there and thump you till you cry. You better believe I will.”

It’s hot, sticky. His T-shirt is pasted to his chest. The ugly fan does little more than swirl hot stagnant air around the room. Michael takes a drag on his cigarette then crushes it out. It’s even too hot to smoke.

But tonight, tonight will be cool. He gets up and staggers to the bathroom turns on the sink and splashes cold water on his face, down his chest. The shock from the water is electric, powerful like the nightmares. How long has its been since he’s slept through the night?

But tonight he’d be as cool as glass smooth as ice.

He hears a noise — someone at the door, trying the knob (but it’s too soon, Wendy said it would be later). With reflexes honed for years he moves through the living room like a cat grabs the knife from his coat pocket and plants himself behind the door. He should really be watching the window. The sound doesn’t repeat and after a few minutes of tensing up he relaxes and walks back to his bed.

It folds up into a couch if he wants to entertain but Michael had never put it up. He’d never entertained except sometimes to use the bed, and those guests never cared for pleasantries. Just give them the money and get it over with as cold as dead fish their eyes like a shark’s like black pearls like Peter like Peter’s everything comes back to the Pan and the Pan’s world those eyes those teeth and the fear like being a little kid again and no knife could make the feeling go away.

It would end tonight. All of it one way or the other it would end. He needs an ending like nothing in his life. Torture in the jungle had been nothing this empty life without friends or love this pit of self-loathing burning ulcers in his heart every agony he’d suffered on this miserable fucking planet couldn’t compare to that other life on the island when he’d lost everything. Later, out of fear-driven devotion, sticking that pirate his inhuman squeal, the shocked look when Michael had said to his father that he was “not so big as the pirate I killed.” The whole world a stinking shithole and him stuck here with his wits and a butterfly knife. Will he be able to do it is he fast enough?

He thinks of all those years spent in misery making love to the knife dancing with it like a date at a dress-up ball, his hand making a sweaty mark on her back.

Yes, the Pan was fast. Even magical. But he’d spent his life since that moment preparing for this, waiting…

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