I have been taken hostage by bad poetry bats. Apparently, there are far more of them than anyone could have predicted. They have me in a very high, undisclosed location.
There are hundreds of them. Their leaders - I have named him Lord Byronesque - is the size of a small minivan.
Horatio managed to escape. I hope he is taking good care of our bestiary in my absence.
to secure my release, Horatio, get fifty large jars of kosher dills, and a hundred copies of Poetry Magazine. Take them to the big dumpster behind the Benbrook Public Library. Leave them in styrofoam coolers, next to the dumpster. Include a note of apology.
I am - I assure you - very, very sorry for attempting to capture a bad poetry bat.
They plucked me off the ground and carried me away.
I should mention that failure to do so will make them light my ears on fire with their tongues. After some time with these strange creatures, I'm not sure if that's a metaphor or exactly what they are going to do.
The conversation, however, in rhyming iambic pentameter, is forced and dull enough to make me think it is both a metaphor and a fact. If I have to listen to anymore discussions about the good qualities of different sorts of pickles in dreadful, rhyming iambic pentameter, I think I will burn my own ears off.
Ahem. Hail Lord Byronesque. His poetry is VASTLY superior to mine. Yes. Yes, he is probably going to read this message, and I want to make sure everyone knows.
Anyway. Horatio, please provide the pickles. And the magazines.
I am alive and unharmed, and etc.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I have been taken hostage by bad poetry bats. Apparently, there are far more of them than anyone could have predicted. They have me in a very high, undisclosed location.
Friday, November 28, 2008
After a long week of waiting, our pickled poetry collections were extricated, damp and stinking of vinegar, from the jars in the back of the pantry. Horatio and I had very large clothespins over our noses to protect our delicate nostrils, but odor still crept through. Worse, it watered our eyes with the pickle-y weight of damp paper.
We put then in sealed bags. We drove in the wee morning hours to the swampland at the edge of all the poorly landscaped corporate grounds and golf courses. We set our traps.
Tomorrow, we shall return. Even walking away, I saw their shadowy forms fluttering through the sky, attracted to the pickled verse.
Horatio expressed a concern. What if we catch more than one Bad Poetry Bat? We simply do not have the constitution to maintain the number of jars of thick pickle juice-drenched anthologies to feed a swooping herd of bad poetry bats.
And, who knows what kind of awful guano might result from such a toxic combination of bad poetry and pickle juice stewed inside the guts of a bat?
In the morning, we will check our traps. Hopefully, we'll only have caught exactly one.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Geophagy is often relegated to the realm of earthworms. Few other insects enjoy devouring the raw essence of life in rocks and stones.
The Statuary Beetle is a wonder. Shaped like a long fingernail, with a back mottled like a piece of granite, the Statuary Beetle will only eat marble dust. Natives of Crete, they hitched rides to the United States in the crates of Greek and Roman statuary. They plague museum curators with their nibbling teeth and acidic spittle.
They rarely mate. They rarely need to. The acidic spittle that makes it possible for the Statuary Beetle to derive sustenance from stone also makes them utterly toxic to anything that might eat them. Their only natural enemy is the curatorial staff of museums, who quietly hide the secret of the beetles' existence to prevent any endangered species organization from discovering this rare beetle in time to stop the genocide.
Fortunately, on a recent trip to a museum with Horatio, I noticed an infant beetle in the dark corner of a marble sarcophogus. I distracted the staff by threatening to touch a priceless coin. Horatio quickly recovered the tiny insect, and stuffed it among some rocks in his pocket.
We keep the beetle in the same cage as the Snaggletooth Spider. They don't seem to notice each other. One eats marble, the other eats dentition. They wait, patiently, for their meals, and say nothing to each other.
I placed a marble hand from a garden statue in the cage. The Statuary Beetle hides under the stone palm. It has begun eating the elegant pinky finger.
The Snaggletooth Spider wandered over long enough to deduce that the white stone was not tooth-related. Then, it wandered back to its familiar corner of the cage, awaiting it's nightly meal of dentures and bits of toothpaste.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Look, lots of people have had lots to say about the Twilight series, and the mediocrity of it. I couldn't stomach it. I don't like to talk mck about anyone, and the only thing I'm going to say is that lots of people liked it, and I am not one of them.
Now that all these young ladies have gotten their first taste of vampires, why not give them a book about vampires that actually allows young women to be thoughtful, active participants in their own dangerous lives?
F'r instance, Rachel Caine's very successful and very cool Morganville Vampire Series. For my money, this is the talented Ms Caine's best work to date, though I admit I'm only three books in.
I'm all for people reading just for the sake of pleasure, and reading stories that might be nominated for a World Fantasy Award. These are light books, that aren't aspiring to literature. But they're still fun. The vampires really are vampires. The young women in the stories participate in their own strange lives, and don't just sit around mooning over a boyfriend.
I think it's great Stephenie Meyer wrote something that so many young women could identify with and enjoy. But, I hope al those young people make a habit of reading, and continue exploring the very deep and diverse well of vampire literature. Rachel Caine is a fantastic next reading step.
Also, don't neglect your classics, kids. Classics exist because people of all ages, and for nor easons of academic requirement, pick up a book in the store and read it for pleasure, though generations have passed.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I went lurking below the stadium seats long after dark, butterfly net in hand, and spilled sodas, spilled nachos, dropped hot dogs, and all sorts of unspeakable trash. Night was long upon us. Early morning twiilght was a thin sheen on the horizon.
I lurked for my prey, ready with my flashlight and my butterfly net.
There, shimering in the glow of my flashlight, the spectacular North American Nightwing Moth. The wings of the moth sparkle with real gold. This mystery of science somehow creates real flecks of gold out of its embryonic mutations. It isn't much, mind you - only a half a teaspoon full on a real glorious moth - but it is an alchemical miracle unmatched by science or nature.
They are often lost to the eyes of the general public. They are nocturnal, and live in shadows.
These moths are also addicted to a substance in fake nacho cheese. Like heroin-addicts, they hunt for drops of cooled, congealed nacho cheese below the stadiums of the world, where few bookish lepidopterists venture for sporting entertainments.
I captured my moth. It's body is strictly black - jet black, like the night. The wings shimmer and sparkle with gold.
Another wondrous creature for the bestiary, suckling bits of melted velveeta, and flashing its wings in the dark corner of its cage in my closet.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I gave up on tiny slips of haiku. No matter how dreadful, the haiku and the pickles were unsuccessful. My traps remained empty. Flies and dragonflies feasted upon the discarded pickles. I saw the signs of the bad poetry bats everywhere. Teenagers scrabbling in magic marker their hideous protests of love have their messages nibbled off the benches and picnic tables and trees. The tired cliches of poetry of yore, a checkered shade, a leaf falling, a pool of water, all showing the toothmarks of the bad poetry bats.
In the morning, we shall try again, Horatio the Mute and me. We shall bring with usinstead old high school literary magazines, and the strange anthologies created by the nefarious scamsters at poetry.com and other self-published tomes of shame and infamy. We shall drench them for a week in pickle juice from all our empty pickle jars. We shall then try again in the swampy fields and parklands and golf courses.
In the mean time, Biter, our cave squirrel, has started chewing his own tail in frustration. We are building him a dark, secretive cage with no light whatsoever that we will fill with damp rocks. Hopefully, Biter will calm down a little when placed in an area close to his natural habitat.
Dimble is, as always, sleeping, and biding his time for afternoon cups of coffee, and licking crumbs and whipped cream from Horatio's moustache. He bristles adorably in his dreams. His fur all tumbles and sheens in silver. He does not suspect for a moment the spider lurking up to his tiny teeth.
If you will excuse me, I shall put the Snaggletooth Spider back in the cage, and this time I shall find some better locking mechanism than peanut butter. Spiders are surprising in their craftiness.
Friday, November 21, 2008
This year I volunteered to serve on the Novels Jury for the Nebula Awards through SFWA.
It is basically the coolest thing I have ever volunteered for. My job has been to try to read every single science fiction and fantasy novel that I can get my hands on that came out in 2008. Which is physically impossible, but really, really fun to try.
Many of them stank. And, I didn't have to finish the ones that stank. Too many other things to read without grammar errors, plot holes, and hilariously terrible prose. (I won't name names, so don't ask. I don't like to smack down other working writers. The job is hard enough without haters.)
Many of them were good. T A Pratt is doing exciting things with his urban fantasy series. Nancy Kress could very likely take over the niche Michael Crichton left behind. Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Bova has still got it. Elizabeth Moon is better than Battlestar Galactica when it comes to military SF. Elizabeth Bear could probably write anything, and do it at a very high level.
Some - a small number, indeed - of the books were so good that I couldn't believe it. And, I wouldn't have discovered them if they hadn't been foisted upon me in the mail, with a note that said... "Please consider X by Y Z for the Nebula Novels Jury Nomination".
Basically, this has been so much fun. So much fun.
And, we're getting close to the not fun part. We're actually going to have to pick just one. Only one.
That's going to stink.
Horatio the Mute is shaking his head at me right now. We have to prepare our traps for another long morning hunting bad poetry bats, and I'm on here scribbling away about the novels jury.
We spent all morning, Horatio and me, slogging in waist-high rubber boots through the murky swamps of Benbrook, TX. (Though Benbrook is not famous for murky swamps, merely attending any golf course or wild area beside a poorly landscaped business-complex leads to plenty of murky swampness, where water run-off pools indifferently among the long grass...)
Alas, we tried kosher dill, dill, and bread & butter pickles. (I admit, Horatio and I ate most of the bread & butter pickles. We were hungry after all that stomping around.)
We used all sorts of elaborately bad haiku, all composed by me. Some of my gems:
Riding crops, boots, and pirates,
I Am Fabio!
A dying leaf falls
in a puddle of water
when you touch yourself.
Alas! My pickles were pickle-y enough. Horatio assures me the pickles passed his inspection for the capture of bad poetry bats. My haiku, however, was simply too good!
I can't suck even when I'm trying.
Can anyone donate bad feeding for the capture and continued feeding of the bad poetry bats?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
In the morning, I shall be crawling among the rushes of a nearby golf course, setting traps with Horatio the Mute for my latest addition to the menagerie.
For this particular beast, I have designed floating traps that look much like lily pads. When an animal lands upon the lily that triggers the particular foodstuff mechanism, the lily petals curl shut, trapping the creature.
My bait? Pickles wrapped in bad haiku.
tomorrow i go
hunting hunting for bad poetry bats
that eat pickled verse
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Successfully did we track and locate the escaped Snaggletooth Spider! It was drunk on toothpaste, all lost and out of sorts, in the back of the medicine cabinet.
At last, I can return to sleeping in my bed, secure in knowing that the spider remains once again in its cage.
Dimble seems pleased as punch. Biter is biting at the cage. Cave Squirrels eat cave spiders in the wild. We may have to invest in a cave squirrel muzzle for little Biter, lest he actually work through the cage's barriers.
Horatio the Mute only lost two teeth, and both of them relatively inconsequential middle molars. We are glad to have our little snaggletooth spider back in his cage.
My neighbors will be pleased to see me sleeping inside for a change.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
In Brazil, in the rainforest, deep caves form where the water run-off seeps into the geology. Caves form there, and the lush jungle spreads its wealth of life down into the earth, as well.
The Brazilian Cave Squirrel likely evolved out of the squirrel's habit of burying food for winter. In the tropical rainforest, there is no winter. Still, the tendency remains. The squirrel furiously digs and digs, hunting for grubs and nuts and fruits that have fallen to the thick layer of leaves. Eventually this squirrel likely discovered the entrances to a large cave complex, and slipped inside, where no hawks or ocelots hunt for meat.
These squirrels have evolved for their caves. Their fingers are very sensitive to touch, and their eyes are gigantic and black to soak up all remnants of light. Many are born blind, but it doesn't seem to bother them. The cave squirrels tails are even poofier, to give them something to feel with. The cave squirrels dig deep into the ground after insects and cave fish and any nuts or fruits that slip through the water into the deep darkness.
They swim fluidly, unlike most squirrels. The cave squirrel swim like otters, and have the thicker fur similar to an otter.
Natives prized them for their luscious pelts.
Horatio the Mute's Brazilian contact from the circus days, El Lemure, managed to save one from the illegal endangered animal markets in the seedy underbelly of Rio de Janeiro.
The light-sensitive squirrel hides in the darkness of the closet, hissing furiously at anyone that gets too close. If you come over, watch out for dark corners. If you brush up against something furry in a gloom, it just might spin ad bite you.
The post-traumatic stress disorder from being wrenched from the caves, tossed into the unwholesome black market, and then shipped around the world, has permanently damaged this little cave squirrel's little brain.
Biter only lets Horatio the Mute near him, to feed him tiny crickets and Brazilian nuts. They make quite a duo, in my closet, sleeping curled up together on a pile of old towels.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Horatio the Mute assures me he will catch the escaped Snaggletooth Spider soon. He has laced his own mouth with traps. He sleeps with his jaw open, and various dental aromas smeared all over his body.
In the mean time, I sleep on the porch stoop, for I need my teeth in full health.
It's quite cold outside. I need a very warm blanket, and ear muffs.
My neighbors have no idea what's going on, and I don't want to tell them. I'd hate for some zoning laws to fine me for my odd bestiary.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
A young, energetic SF community of writers is on the rise in the Philippines right now. Another example is viewable here in an on-line anthology of Philippine Speculative Fiction edited by the much-esteemed Charles A Tan, a.k.a. Bibliophile Stalker, and Mia Tijam.
Check it out!
Dean Francis Alfar's entry exceptional, among some very strong stories.
I hope they do this again.
Whilst scribbling and sipping coffee at my favorite area cafe, (Eurotazza, linked somewhere on the right), I encountered a mysterious creature sneaking around the dirty dish bin. It was shaped somewhat like a hedgehog, though it's back was not bristling in the slightest. It was covered in silvery fur that bristled like the hands of a scrub brush.
The shimmery creature has a face similar to an armadillo, though it is much smaller, and more pug.
What was this creature doing in the dirty dish bin?
Simple: it was seeking out it's natural prey. The Sterling Yergacheffe lives upon the crumbs of teatime in its native London. It licks them up like an anteater after termites. It sips coffee and tea.
You can tell which beverage the Yergacheffe prefers by the color of its back. Burgundy Yergacheffe drink various and diverse drops of old tea - even breaking into used tea bags and eating individual leaves. The Sterling Yergacheffe - my discovery - prefers milkfoam of old cappucinos and empty latte cups and bits of creamy whipped topping in the remains of mochas and sweeted confectionary beverages.
I scooped up the Sterling Yergacheffe in an empty cup of coffee. I popped a lid on the cup quickly, lest anyone see my rare discovery.
I immediately took the creature to Horatio the Mute. Horatio had never encountered such a creature before, and I had to illuminate him on the proper method of feeding and care.
Firstly, Yergacheffes are napping creatures, that prefer to roll onto their backs and sleep the day away. They awake in the afternoons for tea time. They eat and drink their way through the dirty dishes. Then, they like to go for walks among hills and moors. At night, they like to go fishing in the dark for tadpoles and minnows that they don't eat. They merely catch them, and play with them a while, and throw them back harmlessly.
I don't know what we'll do about the lack of hills and moors in Fort Worth. Frankly, I don't even know how this London native tumbled into the dish bin at Eurotazza.
We've named him Dimble, and shall feed him chocolate cookies for dinner and espresso beverages for dessert. Horatio will take him to the stream near here, that he may play in the water.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
It's like walking with the ghost.
I have acquired an exquisitely rare specimin from the wild jungles in the vicinity of Bagombo.
It came in a box shaped like a banana, to fool the nosy postal inspectors who would never investigate something as harmless as a banana. They are fortunate they did not jut their nosy noses into the little, banana-shaped box. The snaggletooth spider would have crawled right up their nose, and remain in hiding until nightfall, when the spider will crawl into the open mouth and commence a feast upon incisors, molars, and any other kind of dentition.
The only way to protect yourself from a snaggletooth spider is to blow your nose very hard before going to bed, when it in on the loose. Be careful not to sneeze. They are actually very small, delicate arachnids, with gorgeous mottled carapaces of green, purple, and red. They could not survive landing in a palm after a hard sneeze.
Fortunately, Horatio the Mute has a lovely little, banana-shaped cage for the spider, and a vast collection of abandoned dentition from his career in the circus, where he scrubbed the back of the carnival freak that grew countless teeth from his spine, and lost them as he grew more and more.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I have decided to collect imaginary animals. I will be keeping them in my closet, and feeding them whatever they require, and depending on my resident imaginary zookeeper Horatio the Mute to clean up after them and care for them.
Horatio the Mute is seven feet tall and a retired circus strongman. He is quite capable of caring for any sort of creature that shows up. Also, he is not actually a mute. He merely prefers not to speak unless absolutely necessary. Thus, if I find any Dovetailed Toadbirds - that eat only music, lapping the notes from the air like floating insects with their toad-like tongues and swooping and swirling around the notes as if dancing to the silence they create - Horatio the Mute will be perfectly capable of humming the circus music of his youth, feeding them.
Thus, I shall start my collection of imaginary animals. What do you think I should add to my collection?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
i have hidden, somewhere on this page, a tiny, tiny spot. it is a special spot. if you click it - and you'll have to really look hard for it, I tell you! - but if you find it and you click it, you will immediately be transported to a strange, otherworld that is a mirror reflection of this one, except it will be quite a bit later in the day, and no one will have any memory of you being so red-eyed, haggard-looking, and manically possessed. Also, you'll be fabulously wealthy and have all your magical wishes come true. Right.
search for the spot! Click around and see what you find!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
in the night, while I am sleeping, sneaky land crabs walk all over my apartment, searching for their nefarious prey: the equally sneaky overland worm.
both are evil.
i sleep, and do not realize the mortal combat happening all over the apartment floors and cupboards and furniture.
in the morning, i walk out to the strange bits of half-eaten worm on the floor. i assume it is something the cats hacked up. i see bits of shell, and assume it is some sort of fallen eggshell from the kitchen that the cats decided to play with and bat about.
what else was i supposed to think?
then, a few nights back, i set traps for insects - the ants have returned to plague my bathroom where they hunt out mouthwash and sweet toothpaste - and in the morning i found my first sneaky land crab.
Not particularly large beasts, a small ant trap was capable of catching one alive. it flailed its little claws menacingly at me, a half-eaten little worm in the little crab's little mouth. it whistled at me like a tiny bird. it had fallen into my trap after the worm that had been trapped there first.
it took hours of careful scrutiny, under microscope, and the assistance of expert insecticians and anthropodiologists. together with these experts we laid careful traps to deduce the nature of the invasion.
sneaky above-ground worms emerge hunting for crumbs and bits of discarded cat food. sneaky land crabs emerge hunting the sneaky above-ground worms. their mortal combat has taken over my apartment.
when i sit on my couch, i sit on sneaky land-crab eggs. the worm burrows have replaced the glue of my furniture.
at night, when i dream, they crawl in and out of my orifices, and duel to the death in my ears, my mouth.
ants were only after mouthwash and toothpaste and sometimes spilled bits of sugar. these nefarious insects are after only their own mortal combat.
i can watch them in the night now, on my own skin, duelling over me like tiny giant monster beasts,grappling each other in their dance of death.
the insectologists and anthropodiologists agree that it is best just to go back to sleep. there's nothing i can do with an infestation of this size and scope, and the worst that'll happen is i might accidentally swallow them when they weave in and out of my mouth. they aren't poisonous, nor particularly dangerous to human digestion. it might seem like, if i swallow quite a bit, that i have a bit of a sore throat from all the struggling and pinching they'll give me on the way down, but that's to be expected, and not the worst thing, really.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I seem to be experiencing technical difficulties today. In the mean time, please enjoy pictures of cats with captions.
Well, not cats, really. More like ancient priests of a deathless cult locked for a few thousand years in a... Right. You get the idea.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Second Amendment says I get to carry a Goliathon 83.
And, a badass katana.
Next Question: When will Duncan MacCloud and the Highlander series get a steampunk makeover?
It's time, people of the internet.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I can't seem to slough this old idea that never turned into a story quite out of my head, at the moment...
whilst walking in the woods, a young girl came upon a wolf, standing on two legs, and wearing a gorgeous red cape with a hood.
the girl bowed to the wolf. she said, "i have never seen a creature such as you before. might I inquire of you your name?"
the wolf bowed in return. when she spoke, it was clear she was a woman. "my name is difficult for humans to pronounce. however, i am often called 'red-riding hood' because of this magic cape that lets me stand on two legs and speak in a human tongue. this cape gives me a tongue of silver, a mind of reason, and the straight back of a proud child of Eve."
"what would happen if i wore the cape?"
"i do not know, little one," said the wolf. "forgive me, little one, for i must go to my grandfather's den. he is very ill, and he counts on me to bring him things to eat lest he starve and die."
"what are you bringing him to eat?"
"i have been busy hunting deer, but I have caught none. perhaps you can help me in my hunt. do you have tooth and claw and swift feet and the black heart of death?"
the girl shook her head. "i am an innocent, like the deer."
the wolf sniffed at the girl. "then, you'll do for now, little deer."
with that, the wolf ripped off her cloak, howled like a beast from all four legs and snatched the child up.
then, all through the woods, the girl screamed out for the woodsman to save her, to no avail.
upon reaching the den, the girl was flung down at the feet of the grandfather. the wolf, red-riding hood, threw her cape down as well so she could speak to her grandfather in the black tongue of wolves.
the girl, bleeding from where the wolf had bitten her, clutched at the cape to staunch her wounds and cover her face the way that children hide from the night beneath a blanket, for she was only a little girl.
the magical cape coursed a fire through her veins. though it did not heal her wounds, it did bend her back, bend her tongue, and give her the rage to ignore the pain. the cape gave the girl tooth and claw and swift feet and the black heart of death.
she held still, because she was wounded. she knew she could not kill two full-grown wolves, even if one was an old, sick man, unless she caught them by surprise.
the female wolf, standing up to leave, reached for the cape with her mouth. she was unconcerned of the bloodstains because the riding hood was already red.
the girl, filled with the magic of the cape, quickly lashed out with her teeth, and clamped down upon the throat of the unsuspecting wolf. the girl chewed through the jugular and lashed at the soft underbelly of the startled woof with feet that had become clawed and deadly.
the old wolf, watching his granddaughter die, knew exactly what to do. he snatched at the magical cape.
though he was too late to save his granddaughter, he was able to diminish the deadly girl to save his own hide.
he pulled the cape across his back, stood up like a city elder. he tousled his gray locks. he snorted at the girl.
"because you have killed my granddaughter, you have killed me. i am too old to hunt for myself. go with your life, child. go home, and never return to these woods lest my ghost howl your sanity away."
he pulled the cloak from his back. he threw it at the girl.
she did not put it on. instead, she held it in her hand, and clutched at her wounds with her other hand. she walked home from the woods with her new cape.
when she made it to her grandmother's house, her mouth was full of wolf blood. her tongue had tasted death, and she knew she would don the cape again, and run through the woods and hunt in the darkness.
later in life, she gave birth to a bastard son with the terrible eyes like an old wolf's. she named her boy 'Bisclavret'. she let him run wild.
I still can't seem to wrap it into a decent story.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I think I mentioned this a day or two ago, but it is now officially up at the very popular Amazon LitBlog Omnivoracious:
I am in some very fine company and I only hope that I can prove myself deserving of this nod on my first novel in the years to come.
Also, I hope I can someday turn around and boost other young writer's careers as thoroughly as Jeff VanderMeer did for me - and which he does quite regularly.
Hm... Christmas is coming... I need to find a chia frog...
Friday, November 7, 2008
This is too excellent not to repost absolutely everywhere you can.
Found courtesy of Chris Roberson's Interminable Ramble:
Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here; I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy (the folks here call her Mrs. Anderson), and the children, Milly, Jane and Grundy, go to school and are learning well; the teacher says grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday- School, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated; sometimes we overhear others saying, "The colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks, but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Col. Anderson. Many darkies would have been proud, as I used to was, to call you master. Now, if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free- papers in 1864 from the Provost- Marshal- General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you are sincerely disposed to treat us justly and kindly- - and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty- two years and Mandy twenty years. At $25 a month for me, and $2 a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages has been kept back and deduct what you paid for our clothing and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams Express, in care of V. Winters, esq, Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night, but in Tennessee there was never any pay day for the Negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up and both good- looking girls. You know how it was with Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve and die if it comes to that than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood, the great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits. <>P.S. -- Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,
Source: Cincinnati Commercial, reprinted in New York Tribune, August 22, 1865.
Courtesy of my alma mater's very awesome Digital History project. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/
(I actually did some research for this fine program back when I was in college, though my contribution was quite dull. I re-copied old voter registration lists out of microfilm into a spreadsheet.)
Thanks for pointing this one out, Chris!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Guys and dolls, everyone go follow this link!
(cut and pastable:
I am in some very, very fine company. My best of the year list looks a little different than theirs, and I will probably take at least one more week to compile it.
Two books that made both mine and their year's best list? "Ressurectionist" and "Liberation".
This is so cool.
This is really, really, really cool.
Thanks to all the editors that picked my book up for this lovely list! (I certainly hope you're right though I have to admit, I don't completely believe I belong there, after all the books I've read this year!)
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I am so proud of my country right now, and proud to participate in this historic election.
Other people are going to say all sorts of wonderful things about this, our first African-American president.
I wish Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X and Rosa Parks were alive to see this day. I hope they are cheering in heaven, with all the martyrs of the lynch mobs and all the plantation slaves and everyone who came to this great nation in chains.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It is often assumed that plants view the world the same way we do, spreading limbs up into the sky.
Yet, I propose that plants do not view the world this way. They are inward-looking creatures that require a stable root structure to survive. In fact, the roots are almost more important than the limbs. The roots must seek water and food in the twisting, difficult ground. The stuff above the ground is merely sexual organs and suntanning.
Trees, I suspect, see our up as their down, and our down as their up. Everything above the ground is like the inner workings of a man's intestines, and of no interest to them in the slightest. They are too busy mining for their supper, and their water, and they would never speak of anything as shameful as their flowering. It is beneath them, totally.
Harrumph, say the trees, and leave me alone. Do not speak of such shameful things, Mr. Worm. I do not concern myself with what happens on the other side of the ground.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Any Austin-area peeps want to meet up for lunch, drop me a line! I'm driving down with my Dad to Austin. He's got a job interview, while I'm just going down for fun and to meet up with my cousins. Any interested parties drop me a line.
I shall leave you today with this bit of coolness, because it is an excellent cool metaphor for NanoWriMo that I think lots of people are doing... Not me! I just turned a book, and I'm awaiting revisions and suggestions!