Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sonnet #175

The tip jar that consumes the world
Exists so owners don't have to pay
So they can tell you it's your say
Whether you make a living wage or
Not. Everyone needs a tip jar, now
We must be kind on Facebook
Get as many people to seek and look
Otherwise when debts and bills grow
When cancer comes, when lost jobs
When sick children, when broken cars
When the month adds up to rob
And no one knows how anyone ever
Made a living in this country before
No one ever has enough, just tips for more

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sonnet #174

They run along the wires above the dogs
If they fall, it's thirty feet to ground
And even there, up there, the dialog
is loud, the angry shouts, the sound
of the frustrated hunters, the warnings.
To get to even one sunflower head, it takes
A courage to face every morning
Because the whole world hunts and slake
their bellies on squirrel meat and bones
The brave leave safety, run to bury
All they need to brace for storms
To starve or race the feathered or hairy
The barking dog, the hawks and swooping falcon:
Grant me a squirrel's courage to brave grimalkin

Sonnet #173

Go to the store and buy a new you

With the right shoes, the right suit
Get a haircut, smile, the past is moot
We can buy a future, buy all brand new
A better job will come with clothes
Buy the classes that you need
Buy the certifications to lead
You can reinvent yourself with just a pose
A shine in the right light, a wink, a nod
Find a new church, pray to a new god
Find a new house in a place, plant roses
Where the ground is bare and new
New things, new places, and new you
The bluebird follows: everything is blue

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sonnet #172

The end of times are here, they're just
not evenly distributed, but look
The trash blown ragged at roadside edge
The people walking, there, how unjust
To them, all dreams lost, can't unlook
at them but say how close is this edge
We glide like ice cubes over life, it's just
That we don't notice how we melt. Look:
The crumbling houses, where the edge
of cities yawn into the kudzu vines, just-
ice thumbs upon the poor, builds more, look:
The empty mine shafts and the lake's edge
Where dead bird bones, a bit dissolved appear
The smog that chokes us out, we disappear

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sonnet #171

Fireflies and certain birds, to me, 

resemble souls, the flash of color
in twilight dark, where cardinals hover
in the green, like discovering the holy:
A whistling meteor of love sought
If bugs can feel a kind of love
If an insect feels more than shove
and push and live and eat and ought
to know the eggs they leave will
be their legacy among the rotting wood
The soul of them, the spark that stills
the hearts of children, gathering good
Dancing in the night grass, they will
clap their hands, and shriek at starlight blood

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sonnet #170

After death, or perhaps ascension,
but likely death, who will rise to fill
the gap we leave? I have some candidates
That seem to carry enough good intention
and good adaptability, and perhaps the will
The raccoon has thumbs, a genius adequate
But such loners, like the octopi, they live
in solitude, mostly, and science demands
collaboration, so I turn to dolphins
Next and think perhaps they'll thrive
From tidal flats as the sea expands
But will they build and think and often
Enough to merit interstellar advancement?
The ants, perhaps, there are so many ants

Or perhaps machines, their factories vent
to recreate this ghost of us, their discernment.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Sonnet #169

I know how to live, but not how to stop,

I wake, I breathe, I fill my mouth with water
The aches and creaks I cultivate and fodder
Keep me grounded, while I close crop
The weeds upon my skin, and scrape
The chaos off that always stinks like empty
Houses filled with rainwater, plenty
of time spent smelling good, all us great apes
Must dress ourselves, and leave the room
We know how to live, it's moving through
The tasks at hand, keeping up the zoom
of everything, maintaining houses (make room
Make room for more life) struggle on to
the next room, the next room, (make room)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sonnet #168

It's spring, high spring, where all the green is true
And all the blossoms break even in deep woods
A walk upon a shaded path, a scent so good
It made me stop and trace the breeze through
To mysteries of vacant copses, shielding trees
What thing, what flower, what bloom is this?
Somewhere in that dense shade a scream of bliss
Exploding in some tiny bloom I cannot see
The passing breeze blows all away and I,
no more certain of any scent but damp
for it rained last night, none left but try
to search the petrichor, the paths of tramps
the sweet rot of vegetation as it dies
Oh, secret flower, oh sacred memory's stamp

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sonnet #167

Poetry hides in poverty, but it isn't our fault
We're doing everything we can to whisper
What we need into the holy vespers
It's just that spirit pays as much as ought
By the community that holds up churches
We live in the age of beggar kings and cabbages
Made gourmet, where all the ravages
Of age creep in without medicine to purchase
Because you say that we chose this
We all felt the spirit move inside our hearts
And I refused to drown it in brute work, bliss
But to be the ascetic of stutters and fits and starts

Poetry hides in poverty, and it isn't our fault
It's yours for pretending we ought to halt

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sonnet #166

To capture all the butterflies of thought
And etherize them gently, that their wings
Will last forever, delicately precious things
That tatter just a little, just from being caught
And fray at edges while time marches
Until a thousand years from now an excavation
of a catalog reveals a puff of dust, a nation
distilled into piles of colored starches
all in piles below the pins, where a librarian
once placed a name, a title, a date
Never betray these words, whereon
the butterflies all lie in glorious state
Or if you forget your self, misuse their clarion,
Deny the breath was here, thyself abate

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sonnet #165

Every spring, when blooms return, I think

This might be last, perhaps the storm
perhaps a cell, falling star, a dread worm;
car accident three blocks away, sink
the teeth of one car into another's cheek, devour
the passenger, damage the drivers, rushing a light
at a left turn, nothing will ever make it all right
but every spring the flowers swell and pour
And push so hard against the dry and cold
The green leaves grow, the day is finally ours
And in the rush, the wreck, a flash too bold
The sirens come too late, the mourning hours
among the flowers, a man just 24 years old
Every flower smells so sweet, every note sours

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sonnet #164

In a thousand years, there will be coral

Kept in glass, where automated tides
Roll in and back, and keepers keep so careful
To preserve the specimens that bide
Away the centuries, unable to evolve
to handle modern oceans, trapped in glass
forever, the albatross we bear, the whole
of them that's left a display in a crass
amusement park, where children are brought
to see the gorgeous dance beneath black light
Kids will be told how this is all that's left
Then, leave for the gift shop, buy bereft

Friday, March 17, 2017

Coming to the TWIG BOOKSHOP on Saturday, in San Antonio, TX

Joe M. McDermott & Friends
Fancy Tea and Speculative Fiction Authors
Saturday, March 18, 2017
2:00-4:00 pm.
Joe McDermott is a popular local author of many Science Fiction books.

Join Joe and his friends to celebrate his latest endeavors with his friends: 

Stina Leicht, Cold Iron

Martha Wells, Cloud Roads and Serpent Sea
  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sonnet #163

Bloom if you must, but know it is risky
Late frosts sweep through and blow it all down
The insects come and lay eggs around
Based on the smell, the borers briskly
Burrow inside baby peaches and plums
And everything will be lost, all fruit
Fallen, rotten, malformed, new shoots
devoured, diseases wake up in the spring
Energy blooming is vigor that's lost
When it's time to fight the enemy host
The chompers, mosaics, and borers, and things
Big things and little things, all come to the feast
Here come the monsters, here come the beasts
Bloom if you must, and in blooming, risk defeat

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sonnet #162

Give up before it gets too late to stop
The dream before it starts, just work
Just punch the clock and never shirk
The masters' will. Consume their slop.
And when the darkness comes, don't dream
The dreams will only show you what
Will never be; all doors stay shut
Keep eyes closed until clocks scream
All ceilings of glass, when shattered,
Will reign down pain upon the rest
Hurt no one, stay low, lower is better
Where no one knows you. It's best
To play the game, immune to pain
Immune to joy, relax in golden chain

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sonnet #161

The thing about the dog is this: I knew

The moment I saw her I knew who she was:
My dog, forever, and always stay true
To that moment of insight, seen in the laws
Between the laws, into and through
For time is a jewel, not unlike a fish tank
A solid that forms from the illusion of now
And moments come, a young pup with thanks
In her heart, for both of us instantly know 
The vision of life, growing old together
Will be, always us, until all shadows
Enjoined, entwined, and meant for each other
A man and his dog, a flash through the cage walls
At cosmic truth: This is my dog, unto ends and all

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sonnet #160

The part that no one tells you about catastrophe
There is panic, sure, and shock where you don't
think this is really happening, a synechdoche
emerges out of a mental epiphany, where notes
gather in the brain, and a piece of the terror
becomes a moment of joy in awe, the bones
of joy and wonder carrying human foolish error
wrapped in a gauze of fear and pain, the stones
collapse, the levy breaks, the volcano burps
The plane is going down, down, down, also
It means something greater, it also hurts
But it means something greater, cosmic glow
enflames the knowledge of the mortal spectacle
Laugh and feel a grateful glimpse beside sepulchral

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sonnet #159

We cannot save the bees so let's build bees
It's easier just to make a tiny robot drone
Than to change how we plant trees
Changing how we farm, we field, we home
Better just to build a better bee
It will be battery operated, require jobs
Factories to build it, refine it, see
the workers lining up to turn the knobs
And lawyers will protect the patents
And truckers will drive the bots to fields
Where salesmen set up contracts and latent
economic investments unlock on fortune's wheel
Wait for the man come round to release new bots
It's better this way, plastic buzzing dot to dot.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sonnet #158

Make your own things if you can
The manufacturing has degraded
Nothing is meant to last. I'm jaded
I know, but it's true. The wingspan
Of the common angel has diminished
until the bones are showing under feathers
And even slightest weights are tethers
To a point where no one's ever finished
Just thrust out of the window, and pray
The wind is strong today. Make your own
If you can. It takes a plan, supplies, stay
in the house a while and dedicate ground
To build your own, unimported, harbors gray
never dropped, no management bound

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Universal Laboratory

Currently, there are stringent regulations and rules in place to protect interstellar objects from contamination by earth-based organisms, either single or multi-cellular. The scientists studying the water of Mars do not wish to contaminate the sample that might contain evidence of life with life. At some point, though, we do know what needs to happen: Colonization. The universe is a laboratory of wonder and amazement, and there comes time to start fiddling with things. You see, all known and verified life forms in the entire universe are located on one floating rock, and, more specifically, upon the smear of soil and air that skims across the surface along with the sloshing jostle of sea that slips around the top of massive tectonic plates. We are one giant volcano away, one nuclear winter, one asteroid, one broken Paris Accord away from potentially ending all life in the universe, period. Not just our own, but all life. This is the only place we know there is life.

For this reason, I question the decision to focus on interplanetary exploration without the notion of any terraforming, at all. There was serious discussion of how to terraform Venus, for example, by Carl Sagan, who suggested releasing genetically-modified bacteria into the upper atmosphere of the planet to eat through and shift the atmosphere into something more habitable to life, to permit terraforming to happen. Mars, a rock devoid of surface water, seems a poor candidate for life as we know it in our forested, grassy, suburbs. But, life is pernicious and takes root at the base of deep sea vents and at the top of the Himalayan range. The sort of life that is possible in a Martian atmosphere will emerge or not, if enough seed life is planted. I say, start throwing the life forms - the tiny ones - all over our stellar town. See what we can get moving. See what terraforming we can make happen on Venus and Mars. The multi-cellular, complex organic life that could be the legacy of earth is currently limited to just one little blue ball. Our situation on earth has never been more precarious. It's time to make sure that life has a better chance of continuing, even if it isn't us continuing.

Spread life. Terraform to support life. If it is human life, that's great for us, but the first step is getting a massive, complex eco-system of single-cellular life forms to pave the way for the massive, complex eco-system of some sort of multi-cellular, complex organisms. We cannot guarantee that they will eventually form cities, become anthropologists, and recreate our marvelous, mysterious, nihilistic dance with creation. But, where there's life, there's hope. That's what they say, anyway.

Make more life. There are planets near us that are indifferent to their status as sterile labs, and form a naked canvas for the organic fingerpainting smears of Darwin's God.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Laughing at the End of the World #2

In a national tragedy, a two-seater Cessna crashed into the Arlington Cemetery in a possible terrorist attack. President Trump personally visited the scene of the terrible crash to oversee the investigation and recovery. The Cessna pilot was found dead almost immediately. Determined to get to the bottom of the tragedy, he kept directing the rescue crew towards finding body after body. He gave his unfiltered comments to the press.

"This despicable, cowardly attack on our veterans," he said, "This loser terrorist and his entire nation of... I'm hearing Delaware? Is that a country? They love me in Delaware. I'm huge in Delaware! They elected me by a huge margin! Except for all the fraud. Well, we're building a wall around Delaware and Joe Biden is going to pay for it because of this cowardly attack. This despicable, cowardly attack on our sacred veterans. We have been digging up victim after victim, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of veterans impacted by this radical liberal elite Cessna attack!"


Friday, January 20, 2017

Laughing at the End of the World

After the parties let out, but before Monday, when day 1 truly began for our latest president, the elderly man decided to relax like many elderly folks who don't read books. He rummaged around until he found a puzzle in a back closet. It was a tiger puzzle, and this pleased him. Tigers are winners, the best, number one. He opened the box and dumped the pieces out across the table, and started trying to put them together. Quickly he became frustrated and began cursing about losers and the worst puzzle. His daughter heard him and came in to see him.
"Hey, big guy. I hear you debating over here. You aren't on twitter, are you?"
"This loser puzzle. It is the worst, a failed puzzle. All the pieces are orange. There's no black pieces. I blame Obama for stealing all the black stripes. Those loser liberals! This puzzle is rigged against me!"
His daughter looked around at the puzzle, and the picture on the box. "That's awful, dad! Here let's get someone to throw those pieces. Look, I put some Legos in your desk so you can show the Senators a model of your Wall. Don't worry; I made a Mexican supporter buy the Legos for you."
"This tiger puzzle is rigged against me!"
Swiftly, she snatched up his phone and the puzzle box. Outside, she called a ma I over to clean the mess. The maid was of Mexican origin, and this was considered typical, as she was accustomed to being invisible in the room with the powerful man. The maid, carefully recruited by his daughter, was over forty.
The President's daughter went to the head of the kitchen and handed the box to him.
"Never ever buy Frosted Flakes, ever again," she said, "or you will be fired."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sonnet #157

I have a line of jars with water
Some with canes and some with roots
I change the water, wait for green shoots
To rise above the lip, sons and daughters,
Rise up through glass, and green with me,
I will sprout, too, as I am old and gathering
Barnacles in my bones and mossy smothering
Together we will lay down in a trench and see
The glory of the spring from beneath the ground
Where all that grows from us rises in bunches
And we seek all soils, all waters, unbound
Sons and daughters, you till until the hunches
Hurt, the scratches weep a little, aye, but the sound
Of songbirds in spring, the garden green lunches.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME

It's out now. If you pre-ordered,  I thank you. If you did not, I encourage you to do what you can to get your hands on the novel. Libraries are wonderful. Request it at yours, today!



And, if you want to help spread the word, all help is appreciated. In these noisy times, every little thing that helps art along is a good thing. Tell your friends if you like it, or if you hate it, or if you don't care either way. Talk about books. It's important to keep that part of ourselves alive as we stare down what's coming later this week, when what we always thought America was becomes something else, entirely.

Good luck, and godspeed, and eat art, make art, talk art.


Friday, January 13, 2017

I'm Around...

Recently, The Brazen Bull's Charlie Chipman was fortunate enough to get the chance to sit-down with Tor's author Joe M. McDermott, and talk about his upcoming book, The Fortress at the End of Time. Below is the transcript of the interview in its entirety. Charlie and Joe talk about everything from what is about the craft of writing that intrigues Joe to the so-called 'Dream Salesman' and their unfortunate customers. Joe's newest novel is set to be published on January 17th, 2017. To pre-order a copy of The Fortress at the End of Time click here Pre-Order The Fortress at the End of Time, and to learn more about the book, Joe, and Tor, click here Tor Publishing. Enjoy!

(CC) First, before we dive into your book, FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME, I want to know about you, the author. Tell me about yourself, who is Joe McDermott?    

(JMM) I'm pretty sure I'm human. I'm a pudgy, middle-aged white guy from suburban Texas, mostly. 

(CC) Why writing? What is it about the craft that drew you in? When did you realize this?

(JMM) I wish I had a good answer, but I don't. I write because I don't have the power to change the world. It's either writing or standing on a street corner and shouting at passing cars. I don't feel like writing is nearly as effective, but at least I don't have to leave the house to do it. 
continued here: http://www.thebrazenbull.com/single-post/2017/01/11/Joe-M-McDermott-Interview
Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Joe M. McDermott?
That’s who I am when I write fantasy novels. I’m going by Joe M. McDermott, these days, in part because I am tired of people I have known for years calling me “Jim.”
Your new novella, The Fortress at the End of Time, will be published by Tor.com in January 2017. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Larry Nolen, of OF Blog of the Fallen, recommended a book to me, that I loved, and which led me to another book, which I also loved. The first book was The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati, an old Italian Surrealist anti-war book. On the Amazon recommended page, there was also a fascinating book called The Opposing Shore by Julian Gracq, a French classic of SF. I loved them both, and thought about how they were better military fiction than the military fiction I was reading, because it was more about dealing with the idea of the military, the way the bureaucracy and culture press down on the soul and psyche, than about any great acts of violence.
continue here: https://civilianreader.com/2016/12/12/interview-with-joe-m-mcdermott/

Joe M. McDermott Guest Post–“The Writer Industrial Complex”

There is the writing, then there are the publishers, and then there are the consultants to writers and publishers. I refer to the third category as the “Writer Industrial Complex” and they are in the business of selling services that may or may not help books and stories along. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this industry exists, and it can provide valuable services at critical stages of a writer’s practice. However, there is always a dark side where there’s lots of hope, a limitless supply of wannabes with money, and no accountability whatsoever. You see, the Writer Industrial Complex can always place the blame for your failure to implement their system successfully upon the feet of the phrase “Write a better book”. There are very few meaningful professional standards, and no licenses to lose. If poor student performance and bad reviews build up, it doesn’t take much to burn the website down and start over.

continue here: http://www.locusmag.com/Roundtable/2017/01/joe-m-mcdermott-guest-post-the-writer-industrial-complex/

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sonnet #156

The killing freeze browned all the citrus leaves
It wiped lantanas down to brown like baking sun
like drought and sun, but it was cold, the trees
so cold, they broke the cells, lost to brown

They say it only happens every couple years
So fight to bring them back to life and harvest
What comes when the spring rain rears
And all the heat returns in summer, the hottest

Aye, we brace, we lose, and only a few degrees
Of chill in the wind, a very gentle dip from wind
The tiniest of moments in the greatest forces we see
a subtle shift in the air, a rock face fallen, a sin

A single sin, a single tailpipe adding heat to sky
The threshold is so small, and all the trees die

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sonnet #155

In fourteen lines or less, I shall explain,
Why we will never know if color is real
It was not discovered until the prism's grain
Extended out the ray of light like skinning peels
Until then we believed all things had a color,
But now we know all things reject the pigment
That we think they are, it bounces all over
With other hues devoured. It's a figment
of imagination, then, a flicker in the eye
A way to tell a shape from shape upon the plain;
At night, for all the universe is night, color dies
and there is only shades of black and grain
like ancient television screens distorting
We know it as we see it, a convenient sorting.