Monday, June 30, 2008

A Short Poem

Destiny or duty,
the end of one
begetting the other.

We are here to do only
what we can, what we wish
(the difference as slight
as good and evil, as
hate and yearning);

rarer than the gift is one
who can recognize others' gifts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


talk to the person whose
job is to make it clear, whose
way is the sun's Way
hiding from the moon billowing

and we cling to each other
the time before dreams ifwhen
the forgetting passes us

by the river clothing hangs to dry
we fish & catch nothing, bait
resting in water's edge

(This is not not-zen zen, just
being lazy)

He says the fish
belongs to the moon, blind as.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ah, language

According to the Lotus Wordpro Canadian spellchecker 'coloration' is a word, yet 'colouration' is not :p

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the naming of characters

Character names tend to come to me from no discernible place. In some cases, they have meaning (for example, I did one novel (well, half-done it at present) where African names were used for everything, from people to nations, and most of the names told you something about the character (Ayo means joy, which tells someone how he views the world). This is the only time I did something like that, and it was fun. It also got me thinking about the actual process, and what process other people use.

For the current novel (Gloaming) I did my usual method of making up the character in my head and going through bits of plot, fragments of dialog and such until a name came to me that just 'fit'. For example: the one MC came into my head as Katie, and fairly feisty at that. Which seemed all well and good, so I decided I really should know her last name, even if it never comes up in the novel. I picked the last name of some neighbours we had, for something that sounds a little off-normal (Holmes). Then, something about the name Katie Holmes bugged me, and I googled it.

So now her last name must change, unless a YA horror is derailed by people thinking about Xenu. The other MC, however, I ended up going with Mike Smith for, due to how common the names are -- as if his parents tried to ensure he'd be average. The only problem was michael just didn't fit, but somehow Kevin did. Then I googled Kevin Smith, and thereafter banged my head into the desk. So I went with Jaylen (a randomly found name via a generator) but it's not working, so it's back to Kevin. And I'm changing their last names.

I just found it funny that, entirely by accident, I managed to inadvertently name two characters after celebrities. It luckily didn't hold true with the third MC,Duncan Hoyle, whose name came from Duncan popping into my head as nice and solid and Hoyle referring, obliquely, to card games and chance. Which means I still end up using names that provide hints, even when I don't plan to...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cellar's Voice, Without Rainbows

I do not know how long the human body can live without food or water. All I know is I cannot undo the chains holding me to the wall and I am very tired. And dying.
        I don’t want to die, but I have no strength left to prevent it, nothing left to call. There is a hole inside me where there was hunger, gnawing emptiness and wind that doesn’t blow in this world. Is this death for other people? I do not know. I only know that I am a magician, and we do not die as others die. I know that and this darkness and the fear of those who refuse to call me kin. Everything else changes but the fear remains. Even if I told them it was I who ended -- but it does not matter.
        I am dying, and I have few illusions left the hunger is not stripping away. I still believe they love me, and hope for the future, but I think one can’t live without those illusions; until I die they, at least, will remain. There is a strange kind of peace, if not strength, in having nothing left. They are killing me with their silence, with no food and water, leaving me to starve to death. Perhaps this will reduce the curse a magician makes when they die.
        That wouldn’t be a bad thing; I’d rather not curse anyone when I die. Not even those who deserve it; the world has enough curses without me adding more, and far to much hate as things stand. Or perhaps that is only the darkness speaking, giving its own voice to my pain.
        It is not their hate that hurts, but the places it reaches inside me that hurt. I hate myself because they hate me. I don’t want to, but it’s hard to not internalize hate, when you’re hated like that. For being a magician, for having magic, for being a legacy of those who destroyed the world so long ago.
        And so: fear, hate. I stare into their hearts -- I can do this without power; it’s a trick -- and all I see is their hatred. I want to ask what it does to them, what chaining me destroys in them, but I never have. It would only hurt, especially if it is true. And now I never will.
        But there is enough, in my wishing for another life, to press my thoughts into earth and stone. To make the ground remember what men will forget. In another age some magician will hear my voice, know these words. Perhaps a better one, but from here I cannot see it.

They have not let me out of the room in over a year. The last time was because I wanted to see a rainbow, having never had before. I undid chains and the door and walked upstairs, and they screamed and forced me back down. I said I knew no guests were there, but it didn’t matter. Nothing I could have said would, and doing would only make it worse.
        It was a very beautiful rainbow, though, and I kept it inside me for months until someone asked for it. She’d never seen one, and I’d never had someone speak in my head, magic to magic, wishing to wishing. She’d heard a lot of stories, so I won’t give her name. She told me magicians can make the dead answer for crimes, so I think - I think she never even told me her real name. Not even for the rainbow.
        She took it, though, when I offered it, and she did things. Terrible things, with the sliver of hope it gave her, to give more to her magic than hate.
        They’d removed her eyes, so she couldn’t look at them. And done it again, when they grew back. They did that every single year, and I had no response to that. But I knew hate wasn’t enough, for magic. You needed hope, and the other intangibles of the world. She said that, if we had love, we would have changed the world. Enough of us, enough love -- but we are too few, and too far apart, and she leapt into the darkness between thoughts, between wishes, between people. Years, and she only found me.
        And all I did was get her killed.

I lie. Even magicians lie. Maybe especially -- we’re lied to do often that the truth has no value. Now I’m just being silly-stupid. But everything is getting slower, fuzzy at the edges. And the hunger has come back, and the magic can’t make it go away.
        All things have limits, even magic. Even wishes.
        She wanted to make them pay, though I didn’t see the point. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, since it wouldn’t matter. Maybe that’s why I have nothing left, because I have nothing to try for. She thought so; she’d reached me, not I her. I was younger, and I should have been the one to do it. But I wasn’t driven by hate, and there was nothing else to drive me.
        The drought was only local; no one else will care, it will only be a brief season, not even a footnote in history. But she made it, with her hate, with her anger, to try and take them with her when she died. Maybe she was stronger than I was, to hate them on their own terms. I don’t know. I just know I can’t do what she did; when I see people, I know them. And you can’t hate something once you understand it, even if they never understand you.
        She never saw; I don’t know what her trick was, if she had one. Maybe she lost it with her eyes. I can’t say. I stopped her, though. For the rainbow. Because there hadn’t been any, since her drought, and I wanted to see more before I died. She had anger and hate, and I had nothing. The nothing won.
        I don’t know what that says about her or about me. I just know it took too much, and I am dying now and the drought began to fix itself because she is dead. And people found out about her, from the screaming. My family doesn’t want anyone to know I exist, so I die a slow death I cannot escape from.
        I wish I had magic enough to make it didn’t matter. I wish I couldn’t understand why they fear us. I wish I could hate them. I - I wish the magic hadn’t taken that away from me with everything else. Why can I hate myself and not them? How does that ... how does it .... work?

The wind is deeper, the darkness inside me greater now. Someone is coming down the stairs, and I can smell food. I can smell food. Torment or blessing, it doesn’t matter. I have gone where tears cannot reach, beyond the places where words have meaning. I am only a voice, putting word into stone, making a final wishing real.
        Only this.

And if you, hearing this, can somehow show me a rainbow
        just one
        I might learn happiness

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A few poems

We have names

We have names for the masks
Not for what lies under

We only have words for
things we have words for

Every time I dream of you
I forget a few more

A name is

A name is a blow, wound never recovered from;
Who is so full as to be empty?

To whom is it worthy to empty our identity?
One must love without becoming.

His ego, so fragile! forced to steal her name
Who does she not ask for his?

Her Body

They dressed her up as a bride while
I watched, scratching down notes trying
to appear professional, not interested.

I am told it is done to virgins, though
not how one determines that they are
("She was unmarried," I am told, simple,
as if that were answer enough).

Blood is not removed from martyrs here.
burying them with fashion accessories intact
(my definition brings no smiles)

I want to say the bride should be given red,
bloodied: -- Aren't all virgins martyrs? I half-joke.
I'm told only that wives were left that way, dying
for their sins, loving their straying husbands.

Dying for her sins, I am told, undertaker's voice
flint and ebony. I tread still waters: Aids? as if
death needs helpers. A hand waves to compass
the cool room, this silent world.

"This is the disease." I want to say: The world?
but I just take notes, pen stuttering across the page
a lump in my throat, ice in my soul.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Presentation, circa 2040

"Humans don't do the operations. It's not that they -- sorry, we -- can't. We can, even if machines are more accurate. History proves that. And machines have never quite matched human intuition when it comes to odd problems, though that is lightly debated. Presentation, please."

An imagine flickers into existence in front of their eyes, a young boy is sitting in a chair, head shaved, strapped into the table while wired run into his head and IV feeds into his body.

He is smiling.

"Now, as you can see, the subject is approximately seven years old. There's no real reason for them to be this old, but we prefer them over three so that they don't into odd problems with bones later on that could call for surgery and possible downtime. Next."

A robot moves into the screen, with needles, saws and other instruments coming out of its torso as it examines the subject.

"While some will -- and do, make no doubt about that! -- object to the Procedure, the graphs included at the end of this presentation show the decreased cost in running the World go down by at least 30%, possibly as high as 40%. The reality is that our clients pay for complete immersion. It's what their parents wanted for them, and what they decide to want for themselves."

The board members nod and smile, running figures on their own programs. They look pleased.

"The reality of the world is that the System is almost entirely automated now. It is entirely possible for aliens to invade, land, destroy our entire infrastructure and the World to remain. We've run scenarios, for those who care to look. If it doesn't we'll all have died and it won't really matter then, will it? Next."

The robot moves forward, inserting needles and bringing down saws.

"The World is whatever the clients wish it to be. Almost none of them make a utopia, almost all have education implanted into their brains without having to learn it and, in general, their lives are considered as rewarding and fulfilling as ours, even if they do spend them entirely in a virtual world. For those who think we do not, there are interesting studies being done on how the universe is one giant holographic projection and the like in any event. All of which means: we have no leg to stand on."

The images changes on the cue word. The robot removes the boy's legs, sealing the wound, and prepared to take him to a smaller, modified creche.

"Gallows humour aside, ladies and gentlemen and others, they have no need of extraneous limbs. Arms remain useful, in case of unforeseen events and the need to manipulate various equipment, but legs are entirely redundant and useless."

The boy is installed gently into the creche by the robot, tubes moved and placed into it as the lid closes.

"Now, if you will switch screens to F, I've prepared an examine of the modified nutrient bath and the savings in effort and energy down the line from producers and distributors to our end. There is no practical need to put energy and nutrients into limbs that do nothing at all, and there are various legal precedents that shore up any case such a thing is needed."

"I do not believe it will be."

He never stopped smiling.

Neither did the board members.