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Category: poetry

In Our Stars

It’s National Poetry Day! (I mean, not in the nation I live in, but when it comes to poetry, I’m not picky.) The theme is stars, so here’s a poem with stars in it, previously published only in a small zine called Dark Illuminati, about ten years ago.


Holly Grove
She told me it was the oldest grove
of holly trees in the world, or
maybe just the country, I forget
which. "It's two days after midsummer,"
she said, "But close enough for a celebration."

All the mythic elements were there -- history
in the fiber of ancient live trees (like that poor girl
who ran from Apollo and, transformed into a laurel,
had to stand still forever just to get away), the stars
pinwheeling slowly through their elaborate
ballroom-dance courses, nude-girl naiads
splashing in the shallow water, and somewhere
a snorting bull roaming the darkness,
deep-chested and archetypal.

There aren't a lot of happily-ever-afters
in those old stories; the gods of the
Mediterranean were too human for those,
too firmly planted in the middle of the world,
for all their Olympian posturing. Love
affairs often ended with people turned
into trees or flowers or lonesome sounds.

(Orpheus was lucky. His lover died before
she could abandon him in a more prosaic

(No, that's ridiculously bitter. He wasn't
lucky. He was smashed apart by grief
and furies)

I watched my ex-lover swim
in the moonlight, Psyche to my Cupid,
Helen to my -- well, say Faust. I thought
about all the things those long-ago
folk had to endure just to become

Let her go, then. I don't want her 
to transform herself to escape me,
to be a tree in my backyard. I don't
want her if I have to make bargains
with the lords of the underworld,
or even the dark things in my private
caverns. Let us both live on in the middle
of this earth, and the middle of our own
stories. You don't always have to fall
apart over love

I sat on a log by the fire and looked
at the flames and the pale shapes
of the other girls nymphing away in
the two-days-after-midsummer dark,
watching night fall on one mythic time,
but aware always of later chances
to become part of a beautiful
future constellation.

Scientific Romance

I wrote this poem for my wife on Valentine’s Day two years ago. The problem is, I don’t think I’ll ever write a better Valentine’s Day poem (though I’ll keep trying). But for all you lovers (and lovers of science fiction) here it is again:

Scientific Romance

If starship travel from our
Earth to some far
star and back again
at velocities approaching the speed
of light made you younger than me
due to the relativistic effects
of time dilation,
I’d show up on your doorstep hoping
you’d developed a thing for older men,
and I’d ask you to show me everything you
learned to pass the time
out there in the endless void
of night.

If we were the sole survivors
of a zombie apocalypse
and you were bitten and transformed
into a walking corpse
I wouldn’t even pick up my
assault shotgun,
I’d just let you take a bite
out of me, because I’d rather be
undead forever
with you
than alive alone
without you.

If I had a time machine, I’d go back
to the days of your youth
to see how you became the someone
I love so much today, and then
I’d return to the moment we first met
just so I could see my own face
when I saw your face
for the first time,
and okay,
I’d probably travel to the time
when we were a young couple
and try to get a three-way
going. I never understood
why more time travelers don’t do
that sort of thing.

If the alien invaders come
and hover in stern judgment
over our cities, trying to decide
whether to invite us to the Galactic
Federation of Confederated
Galaxies or if instead
a little genocide is called for,
I think our love could be a powerful
argument for the continued preservation
of humanity in general, or at least,
of you and me
in particular.

If we were captives together
in an alien zoo, I’d try to make
the best of it, cultivate a streak
of xeno-exhibitionism,
waggle my eyebrows, and make jokes
about breeding in captivity.

If I became lost in
the multiverse, exploring
infinite parallel dimensions, my
only criterion for settling
down somewhere would be
whether or not I could find you:
and once I did, I’d stay there even
if it was a world ruled by giant spider-
priests, or one where killer
robots won the Civil War, or even
a world where sandwiches
were never invented, because
you’d make it the best
of all possible worlds anyway,
and plus
we could get rich
off inventing sandwiches.

If the Singularity comes
and we upload our minds into a vast
computer simulation of near-infinite
complexity and perfect resolution,
and become capable of experiencing any
fantasy, exploring worlds bound only
by our enhanced imaginations,
I’d still spend at least 10^21 processing
cycles a month just sitting
on a virtual couch with you,
watching virtual TV,
eating virtual fajitas,
holding virtual hands,
and wishing
for the real thing.


NaNo Update: I wrote about 1650 words on my Secret Forbidden Mystery Project of Mystery (hereafter “SFMPM”) last night, bringing my total word count to 11,500ish out of an estimated 90-100K total. Hey, it’s a tenth of a book! (Of course, it was pretty much a tenth of a book already.) It took me a few hours to generate those words, because I was reading through the existing chapters, making tweaks, cutting bits and adding bits, expanding scenes, and etc. Nothing truly new was written, but many things were clarified, and I started doing foreshadowing for some of the last-third reveals I have in mind. Given that I first wrote the proposal for this book in 2009 (it took a while to sell), I couldn’t just dive right in to writing new scenes — I needed to immerse myself in the voice of the book again, and revising the first 10K was a good way to go about it. I’m going to try to set aside an hour a day, every day, to work on this book. If I can do that, the deadline may not kill me.

On an unrelated note, my poem “Lion Heart” is up at Apex magazine, in the first issue under the editorship of Lynne M. Thomas, who asked me to write a poem. (The poem is kind of super depressing, though there’s a gleam of hope too, I think. Ever since I had a kid, the thought of losing a child has shot to the top of my nightmare list, and for poetry, well — sometimes you have to consider your nightmares.) It’s a great issue overall. If you like what you read, support the magazine by subscribing and so on.