Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

huh, where all these pagehits coming from? all right, i'll update one more time before i leave...

my hummingbird-like attention span is a huge asset when i am writing, because anything that i am writing will have to be more interesting than the entire internet, my entire bookshelf, my guitar, my anime collection, and whatever mysterious things my sister's cats are eating.

i think my total lack of discipline is one of my great strengths as an author.

this update was way more fun than finishing the laundry or vacuuming the floor, packing, and all the other responsible things you're supposed to do the day before you leave town.

i hope the cats like my dad. he'll be coming by to take care of them while i'm away. also, i bet he might dip into my stash of Schwrazwald Kirschwasser... and, he's welcome to it.

and, just a reminder, i'm going to world fantasy convention this weekend, and 'twill be unlikely that i shall bother to update this blog while i'm having way more fun than you with some of the coolest, most interesting people on the planet.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm in Issue #4, and the newly live Issue #7.


getting all the bad ducks in a row

I'm going to be off-line a bit.

I'm leaving Benbrook for World Fantasy Convention Wednesday night. I'm not even close to packed or prepared. I've got to get all the bad little ducks in a row for a bit.

I'll be back in a week.

While I'm away, I recommend reading award-winning poet Christopher Bakken's blog.

He was one of my undergrad writing profs and he's done all right for himself since.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

some signs

i saw these signs while wandering around yesterday, and i had my hands on the steering wheel so i couldn't take a picture.

'fallow deer 4 sale' - handwritten on white cardboard in blood red ink, out in hunter country where the only reason the deer cadavers don't litter the roads beside broken fenders is because the hunters emerge every autumn to pepper the bushes with buckshot and line their homes with dead body parts. 'fallow' refers to how a field is left barren, unfertilized, and un-agriulturated. how odd to sell deer for the express purpose of raising them on a farm and calling them 'fallow'.

on another country road in a country town, a big yellow warning sign - the kind usually reserved for a silhouette of a deer or pedestrians crossing - six letters gave a strange warning. "C H U R C H". apparently, out here, the churches might sneak into the roads and cause accidents. i guess they're trying to hurry along the little disasters that turn a heart to the Almighty. Broken cars, and broken bones, and then the victim prays for salvation.

on a major highway, in the fallow little spot of city, there was an empty sign above an abandoned gas station. the high pole loomed high above all the other signs around, but there wasn't even the ghost of the panel where the company name used to be. white metal outlined an empty space where a white cross like a windowpane held the shape. i stared at it as long as i could, but i didn't see what was on the other side of the window if it wasn't just the sky.

look up, what do you see? a white cross framed in daylight. a fallow spot for sale, and a holy sign.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

vampire fangs

i have a party to go to tonight, and i picked up some vampire fangs that attach to the teeth with this kind of putty.

i look awesomely vampiric with my tousled hair and hip, urban bohemian attire.

however, i am deeply concerned that this putty flavor in my mouth will not match the big bottle of Valpolicella i have purchased for the occasion.

vampires, after all, must drink red wine at parties.

still, the teeth seem to be staying in place, and they seem not to be too much in the way, and the box assures me I can take them out to eat and pop them right back in.

remember when halloween technology was merely wax lips and latex masks?

i was browsing the aisles of the walgreens and noticing all kinds of awesome things i couldn't afford.

(and, alas, the very moment i type up these words, the fangs fall out! they didn't last one hour. halloween tech may have evolved in many ways but in this it has remained the same: cheap plastic items never last the night!

i shall go merely as a bohemian author. which is a very simple costume for me, indeed.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

just heard from Pseudopod

a little story of mine from not too long ago just got picked up by the horror podcasters at Pseudopod.

want to hear "I Am Nature" (from Issue #4 of Dark Recesses) read aloud on a podcast?

sure ya do. that will totally freak you out.

I'll post a bulletin when the podcast is posted to their site.

massimo has been spending too much time with the electronic devices. i suspect he has become addicted to the radiation fields back there, where the ghosts of the wires mingle with the ghosts of the dvds and cds.

everything is haunted, you know. didn't you know that?

for centuries and centuries and centuries, bodies have been buried in the ground - everywhere - be they bug or bird or babe or deer or dad or dove. the earth runs rich with souls, and ghosts.

our houses are full of dead tree souls. our wires burn the souls of the tiny sea creatures that smashed to oil and noxious fumes. everywhere we look, there's a ghost.

cats - magical creatures - are more capable at seeing the ghosts and pulling on their energies.

when humans make great art, bits and pieces of our soul fall into the ethereal energies of the thing. artists are the people with too much soul. we slough it off to fill in the gaps where others are missing theirs.

in between all the energy fields, of the wires and the artist souls, massimo does not need to run the television to watch the shows and listen to the cds.

he seems partial to regina spektor and cowboy bebop. who isn't?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

if you have a cat in the house

if you have a cat in the house, you also have a giant box of turds in your house. they sit there, being gross, disgusting turds.

and you don't want to clean them.

some people dump their turds everyday. i am not one of those people because i can't really imagine a daily routine that involves a giant box of turds. i do it once a week. and it is gross.

it is a horrible, gross thing to have a giant box of turds.

and i put off the cleaning of the giant box of turds for just one moment because i do need to update my blog today, and i have to now go do something about that giant box of turds.

because i am done with my entry.



stopping to clean turdbox.

right now.

like seriously, dude, i am going to get up and clean that box of turds right on out of my apartment. buh-bye turds.

right frikkin' now.

okay, i'm really leaving this time.

wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

parachute spider

in the windy dark of the first cold front of the season, trees shake off their old shadows and throw them into the night black like releasing black paper in a storm.

spiderwebs do not connect to the tree branches, or the leaves. this is purely an illusion. wicked spiders connect their dangerous webs to the shadows of the tree. the mystical properties of spidersilk - long used in alchemy - are quite clear on the way they can bind across the planar spheres.

the spider, when it captures her prey, drags the soul and fluids into a new dimension only tenuously connected to our own.

ah, but that wind of winter comes and trees shake off their shadows and spiders fly with the shadows into the night air. they shape their webs into parachutes to ride the shadows and the winds in the night.

look up, the next time you're walking in the dark below a streetlight. you'll see that flickering strand of gossamer, and the looping bowls fashioned by a single thread. you'll see the tiny acorn at the bottom, like a demon's earring, like a halloween tree ornament, like a terror in the sky.

terror of the night sky, torn from the blowing shadows, tears through the winds to the new trees that will collect old shadows in their bare branches like wet paper bags clutched in sewer bars.

then new webs, and new death.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

name him like a man

burly yellow mottled black brown red hairy dogs
covered in dust and old pizza sauce
sleep in the vacant lots like coyotes
and i grow pawprints in my garden

i have a red brick fence
two orange trees that never sprout oranges
evergreen hedges that are usually brown
also, tomato plants and rose bushes wane by my air conditioner
where i kneel each week over dirt and weeds
and paw prints are all I grow

i don’t know how the dogs get in my yard
i have to keep my trash in an air lock
i keep my small children inside after dark
my husband walks the fence and positions
stones in the crevices like chess pieces
when i can’t sleep, i sit in the window box
stare into my dark garden,
wait for the dogs to show themselves
i never see them

when i’m driving home from work
i see those vagrants walking somewhere
they don’t look me in the eye
they must be angry at all of us humans
ruining their territory with stones and gardens
they don’t seem to know what to do about us.

my family, we’ll adopt our own growling sentinel
we’ll plant his little house near the garden
he’ll sleep in the laundry room on dirty clothes
he’ll jump through a floppy dog door to piss his turf
he’ll piss off my neighbors with his shouts
when he dies, we’ll bury him under an orange tree
he’ll haunt my children’s memories with blurry
photographs of fur bolting away like a dream warrior

i’ll name him like a man.

Monday, October 22, 2007

And, our Winner!

Congratulations Janet Di Giacomo for your victorious Villanelle!

Last Dragon

Green dragon drifts in the dying light
His fires are spent, his colors fade
No longer strong, no longer bright

A swirling leaf, a broken kite
Down the sky where once he played
Green dragon drifts in the dying light

The battered wings turn dark as night
Their fabric rent, their edges frayed
No longer strong, no longer bright

The hated George with shield snow white
The crimson cross upon it laid
(Green dragon drifts in the dying light)

Accosted him upon the height
Set burning steel on flesh of jade
No longer strong, no longer bright

Vain the battle, vain the flight
Last strength fading, life unmade
Green dragon drifts in the dying light
No longer strong, no longer bright

'Twas fun, folks. We'll have to do this again sometime, perhaps with Clarihews, or perhaps all Glosa!

For anyone who lost but still badly desires an Advance Copy, watch out at Abebooks.

Honorable Mention of Limericks

The poetry contest quickly devolved into a giant limerick throwdown of epic proportions. Well over 3/4 of the entries were limericks.

I picked two of the better ones for an "Honorable Mention" Award:

1st Honorable Mention, Sarah the Ninja Bunny (for composing the best limerick about LAST DRAGONS I have ever seen in my life. Good job!)

The dragon is three shades of blue
With eyes of an orangish hue
It may be the last
But damn it runs fast
And I think it might want to eat YOU!

2nd Honorable Mention, Curtis Putnam (for using the words "Hoomin" and "wiggeldy" in a poem. I am easily amused by funny words.):

A dragon asleep on his gold pile
Started and jumped up a good mile
"Its a hoomin!" he said,
as he lay back to bed,
a wiggledy finger stuck in his smile.

What do you win for an honorable mention?

Well, for starters you can add this line to all of your query letters to potential editors: "I won honorable mention in the LAST DRAGON poetry contest sponsored by J M McDermott."

I'll post the actual winner of the contest as soon as I get in touch with the poet. They should get to hear the good news, first, you know!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Final Day of Poetry Contest

Today's the last day to get your entry in.

I must confess one interesting factoid about the entries: this contest seems to have very quickly devolved into a limerick smackdown of epic proportions. I have received exactly TWO non-limericks. One of these entries was - alas - disqualified for ignoring the submission guidelines about which form of poem I want entered.

The limerick beat-down is actually quite amusing, and if a limerick doesn't win, I'll be sure to post a few of the better ones as honorable mentions.

But, you never know until the contest is over right?

Send me your Sonnet, Sestina, Triolet, Villanelle, and/or Limerick about a last dragon!

You have until midnight.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

rock show in a strange spot

the patio of the fort worth museum of modern art - on the second floor, framed with evergreens and tiled with manicured grass - a stage got put up. some tables in the back for people who didn't want to sit in the grass. a giant white balloon moon lantern dangled in the sky from the single scultpure there.

indie rock bands - creative types, all of them - mingled sounds for a crowd of people there.

in the starless night, planes flew overhead. i do not think they were planes. they were just lights, like the balloon lantern over ours - like the moon, like the stars.

pigeons had captured the stars and re-arranged them. they flew in tight formations to fool the crowds below that the flocks of pigeons were planes. but, they were pigeons holding stars and flying in close formation. they were pigeons stealing the lights from the sky, and carrying them to the countryside.

we only think it is light pollution, and planes. that's what they want us to think.

poor anne the star: her sampler never worked right, and when it did she played "now, now", but before it did when she was busting at the seams with stage stress at equipment that wasn't working and time that had to spent talking geek instead of entertaining, she played a song of rage. then, at the very end, when everything worked right, and she was relaxed and comfortable and talking to fans, she played the highlight of the night, at the end of the show where it belonged:

(one of the bands had clearly never been to a museum before. one of them, walking past me - i was dressed in a tie and jacket because it was a special event at an art museum and one must dress appropriately, no? - that one looked at me, turned to his fellow bandmate - both of them dressed like slobs who had never walked into a museum before - and did the annoyingly obvious fake cough *gay*. i rolled my eyes at them and wondered how professional that was to do at their own show where they could have just been taunting a fan. at the very least, they were taunting a potential fan. 'twas not only a very bad idea, but incorrect. they were the ones dressed inappropriately, after all. i also spent most of the night between musical performances chatting with lovely, intelligent women who were also dressed appropriately for the event.

naturally, their act was also the weakest musically, and artistically. i was surprised they were on as late as they were. i don't want to announce them, but they were not on first. they should have been. they were out of their league on many levels.)

((the best performance of the evening was the lovely anne of st vincent. also notable were "peter and the wolf" and "mom".))

Friday, October 19, 2007

I got my Literary Agent through MySpace... No, really!

So, a couple weeks ago, I got a message at my MySpace page from a total stranger. The headline was "New York Literary Agent". I opened it up.

Apparently, this person is an assistant at a literary agency of some repute.

Matt Bialer had heard about me, and heard that I was not currently represented. He decided to get in touch with me. The only things he could find were my blog and my MySpace page. He asked around the office, and his assistant was the only one with a MySpace page.

She sent me a message dropping a name I recognized immediately because he was actually next on my list of agents to query. She asked me to give them a call. I double-checked the phone number at the agency website.

It was legit.

I called. I spoke with the lovely and talented assistant who was surprised I got in touch with her so quickly. They requested the manuscript.

I heard back from the assistant. She loved it. She handed it off to Matt Bialer.

I heard from Matt today, and they offered representation.

Don't nobody ever - EVER - let anybody make fun of me for having a MySpace page ever again.

That is my crazy MySpace story.

So... I think I may be the first person in the history of MySpace to get their agent through their MySpace page.

That is all.


the liars

don’t believe everything you read
because writers will lie to you
our worlds want answers in our minds
sometimes we just

just say what sounds good enough

like with lovers, usually
what gets us through the night
by tomorrow, no one remembers exactly

anyway, i always tell the truth
you can

trust me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

sentimental mercantilism

investors will bid higher when my action
figures return to the freemarket
We were – all of us -- the child lounging in a bedroom
with all these worthless, vibrant things
clutching Supermen like roses

tough fighters stand in rows
my chinese bedroom tomb
with japanese soldiers
made in taiwan

shrewdly consider a collector’s gut:
businesses falter under
unchecked greed
and golds diminishing
as veins cut open are rfb , sent to mint

only in Original Crust does metal
hold the deepest, imagi-
nation’s Pure

unless you are a coin collector
(in their economy, $0.05 is worth $193.16
and a little sliver of gold is priceless
when a character from a history book scowls
to the conqueror’s horizon

a palm’s curved edge)

what i mean to say is:
once we held this hotel ticket
signed by Jimi Hendrix
his letters sharp and jammed together like two ecstatic riffs
i wished it were mine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


bear dropped this screaming babe
and took the sister, out in Tennessee.
out west this man gave up the monkey on his back
took the bears upon his back instead

everyone had told him but he didn’t
care if he died until he was standing
at proud Saint Peter, screaming why!

Simon Peter, who’d cut off this slave’s ear,
showed the man a fisherman’s gladius.
Peter had this blade all the days of all his lives
“My neighbors had this rooster once,” he said,
“I couldn’t wait to devour that crowing bastard.
Call it nature; carry a sword.”

little sister there hugged her teddy bear

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

new myths picked up a story

New Myths ( picked up a little story of mine for - I think - their December issue.

Keep your eyeball on the wires or on the feed and you'll know what I know when I know.

Just a short little thing, right under 2,000 words, but an interesting piece, I think, and thought-provoking.

i abandon more stories than i finish

The people in uniforms, their lazy cigarettes and lack of eye contact betraying them, encouraged us not to fly over that particular corner of Sera Geral because the timber czars that had been creeping their axes into the hillsides had taken to shooting at anything in the air. They were afraid of inspectors. They’d shoot at us in the air
Jonathan Asher and I both shrugged. We had a long trip to a particular assignment with an Indian tribe in the Sera Geral highlands. We didn’t have the fuel to fly around the illegal lumberjacks. We had been shot at before – every decent Missionary got shot at once in a while, but rarely hit - and we weren’t afraid of a few axe-swingers that couldn’t hit a plane any more than they could hit a tree from ten feet.
We were wrong.

Jonathan was the pilot. My wife had never been on a plane this small before. She kept fidgeting with her seatbelts. I fell asleep almost the moment the engine’s roared. I had been up all night, sitting in a chair beside my wife’s hotel bed, watching her sleep. When the plane started, I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
Then, the engine sounds stopped.
Jonathan was screaming. My wife was quiet. I looked up and turned my head to the front. She had her hands gripping the headrest of her seat. She was gripping it so hard, one of her nails cracked while I watched.
Jonathan shouted that we were going down, we were going down, and we’d been shot, we’d been shot.
I watched the jungle canopy in front of us get closer and closer and I listened to how quiet the world was while we were about to crash. I couldn’t hear the jungle birds. Jonathan stopped screaming. The air rushed past us. I think we were all holding our breath.
Jonathan got a hold of himself, stopped screaming, and started trying to be a pilot, again and get us on the ground safe.
My wife whimpered, “I love you, Chris.”
I didn’t say anything. I held my eyes open as long as I could, but then I closed them. The last thing I remember seeing was a grey wall peaking out from between the When the crash came, I was knocked unconscious.
It was dark for a long time...


all abandoned prose
slips out in the dark from the computer screens
when no one is watching the filing cabinets
all abandoned prose
dances in the dark to unfinished symphonies
plots revenge that never comes
because the plans are incomplete
by daylight
when the prose must return to hiding

Monday, October 15, 2007

me thinks about copyright, me thinks

lots of kerfluffle in the wires about copyright these days, at least if you've been following SFWA and BoingBoing and Jerry Pournelle's blog, and i feel the need to weigh in on this issue.

imagine, if you will, a suburban house, plopped in the middle of a suburban street, with a sidewalk, a driveway, and a jar of pennies next to the mailbox, a jar of nickels halfway up the driveway, and a jar of dimes at the front door.

people walking past - most of them - won't exert one iota of energy towards these pennies, these nickels, or these dimes. they might lift a finger to point and say, "hey, look at all those weird coins all over the place. this is strange. let's walk faster away from this place that does not conform to the rules of the housing community!"

some people, walking past, will pocket a penny. later on, they might feel guilty about it, and drop a penny in some other day.

some people, will break an entry - GASP - by walking up the driveway to verify that these are actually nickels, and not fake. Some of the people who do this might take a nickel for themself. A few less might drop in a nickel to rid themselves of spare change.

some people will walk up to the dimes and do the same.

some people will knock on the door, and go hunting for quarters. quarters are exceptionally valuable due to their hefty weight, multiple uses in vending machines and laundromats, and even if you have to trade a few dimes and nickels to get some quarters, that's a good exchange.

at this point, the owner of the house has made contact with a new friend. hooray!

some people in the housing community will get flustered and talk about how not everyone is doing things like that. they will fling rulebooks around and call meetings and get upset that someone is doing things differently in our gated community!

angry letters will be written! angry phone calls will be made! resolutions will be passed! committees will be formed!

and - the obverse is also true! in a community where everyone has jars of pennies, jars of nickels, and jars of dimes in their lawns, the person who has no jars of anything on their lawn will be subject to letters, phone calls, resolutions, and committees.

still, hold the first example in your head for a minute. that person who takes a penny from the jar by the mailbox is stealing. they are breaking an entry into the home owner's property and stealing. the same is true of the nickels. the same is true of the dimes.

at what point do you call the cops and prosecute?

personally, if you make a living by getting people to knock on your door and trade their dollar bills in for mystic, multi-use totem-objects like quarters, i don't see why we have to make a stink about the pennies and the nickels and the dimes that spread goodwill and curiosity all over the mundane, flat, boring, suburban-mediocre, communal-stinkpit that some would have the internet become. we can put a sign on the door announcing the trading. we can spur curiosity by giving things away. we can do all sorts of fascinating things.

ursula leguin was mad that boingboing posted one of her stories (a one-paragraph-long satire), and cory doctorow pulled it down when he heard about it, and apologized, and ursula leguin accepted the apology.

i don't know about any other regular boingboing readers, but when i read the boingboing post, it reminded me how much i liked ursula k leguin, and i thought about pulling some of her books out and re-reading them.

now that it's pulled down and brought into this angry stink, i don't want to read anything. i had assumed such a small slight was above the notice of a venerable master, and all that publicity might even help her get the word out to a new generation of readers.

at what point is it worth the fight? one paragraph? one line? one penny?

what if that penny stolen today reminds people of how much they ought to do the right thing and go knock on that door and trade a dollar in for some quarters.

these are the pennies of my thoughts.

this sh** is getting too personal. i hope my peers stop fighting in committees and start to live and let live.

i f-ing hate housing communities and councils and being told how to live and work by a committee, how to decorate my yard with anything i want - even things i want people to take so they come back to my house tomorrow.

if that made any cents to anyone - because i'm not completely convinced my metaphor made complete sense - mayhap drop me a line in the comment section. after all, i make a living trading thoughts for pennies. i wouldn't mind trading a bit with you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

teenagers with cellphones

after the cellphone was invented
the teenagers of the world evolved
in their left arm.
the skin between the left arm and the elbow merged together.
and now the left arm is this strange
device that has evolved to hold
the cellphone up against the ear.

teenager is a phase of life that gets broken in a ritual
right after graduation:
a Jewish Rabbi cuts it loose
and it flops bloody,
until the arm is rebuilt to hold an iPod.

that would be an intelligent design.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

musicbox ghost

(aphex twin's "nannou", laurent briet directs)

do not weep for this ghost of the music box
who weeps for we ghosts of the clock's tick-tocks

one dances the dance of tomorrow
the rest forget the dances of yesterday

all pity the other for both

Friday, October 12, 2007


your mother said to you

jade is better than a diamond
because your mother gave it to you
told you it was your grandmother’s
and it was stolen from her master's wife
during the war, when a bomb killed the old
beautiful fool in her fat mansion.

her husband died somewhere too
and all the servants were there
in this house that no one owned
when bombs were falling

took what didn’t burn
and now it belongs to anyone

and do not worry about mother missing this
for she has plenty of diamonds in her eyes
when she thinks of how beautiful her daughter is
when she wears the beautiful, old jade of an old, dead fool.

(I made up the story
when I was looking at her
over coffee and innuendo
a lull

must have meaning
since it does not have diamonds

she told me she loved diamonds.

I waited. Then, I told her the story about her mother.

She didn't like it.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

bare feet in the street

i was out for a stroll with my dog. we were just making the usual rounds. the weather was hotter than usual, but that didn't really make me pay any closer attention to where i was, what i was doing, and where i was going.

then, my dog started barking. she was a big boxer - scary looking, but harmless. she jumped back from where she had been sniffing. where were we right then? the park? we were in the park. my dog, she jumps back and barks and i pay attention.

i'm thinking about skunks and porcupines. i've had to be up in the dark scrubbing down my dog after a skunk sprayed her eyes. i've seen the porcupines at the edge of the city, like living punji sticks, and i've had nightmare visions where i'm endlessly plucking the barbs from my poor baby's nose. i'm worried about skunks and porcupines. i'm not thinking about feet.

two feet, naked and ending at the ankle in a clipped bone and skin that twisted up to the white tip, like something out of a zombie movie, are moving as if someone's attached to them and walking. They step out of the grass. They walk down the street.

i can't believe i'm telling you this story. i never told anyone about the two feet. but i saw them, and my dog saw them. and it was a hot day, but it wasn't hot enough to drive us both insane. and this is old caddo country. caddo indians used to live here, and they got smallpox and died like a zombie movie.

that's what it was like for them. they got this horrible disease and it killed everybody. then these people with white skin like corpses walked over the hills from the lands below the earth riding horses and shooting guns, and rounding everybody up that wasn't one of the zombies to kill them.

and the barefeet walked down the road, and they were brown like indian feet, and maybe this is still indian land, and they're coming from the other side.

my dog and i still walk there, and i always know where i am, where i am going, and what i am doing.

i've seen hands floating in the dark, i think. i've seen long, black hair. i've found roadkill with speartips.

be careful out there, friend. this city won't last forever.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

another secret of cats

in my continued research into the mystical properties of the common housecat, i have deduced the true secret of all that shedding.

massimo, as anyone who has ever set foot in this domicile knows, sheds three times his body weight in hair every two days.

this is, in fact, a self-defense mechanism, and a useful tool for hunters.

with all these puffs of cat hair everywhere, feeble-visioned creatures like geckos are quick to meet their doom when they do not realize that massimo is, in fact, not just another big poofy ball of cat-hair.

rodentia with their awful red eyes have difficulty discerning the clumps of cat hair, like tumbleweeds over the kitchen tile. thus, massimo is hidden by his own natural camouflage.

also, when he is sleeping, no larger animals will attack him, because he looks like a big, poofy pillow.

however, a clear disadvantage to this scenario is that occasionally larger creatures come along with brushes and scrape away his defense mechanisms.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

dreaming about the end of the world again

i was dreaming about the end of the world again.

i was thinking about how cosmic order exists beyond our comprehension. thus, why do we assume the cosmic order will end under our comprehension.

i suspect that the world exists in our senses. thus, every single death is the end of the world because it is the end of the sensation of the world.

i dreamed about a deus ex machina that didn't save a thing. the god came down from olympus to end the war, and raised his glorious thunderbolts, but they didn't do a damn thing to end the war we were fighting.

and then, people started dying, all pelmel, and no one was dying when they were supposed to because this was a metaphor for the end of the world.

we live with a billion worlds in our faces, because these worlds are created by the measurement of the bodies that sense the world. we reach out to each other and collectively create our own shared creation of creation. and when we die, it is the end of the world, and it comes like a thief in the night, and the greatest myth of christianity and religion is that everyone's world will end at exactly the same moment in time.

but i'm in central, and you're in greenwich mean, and up in space they measure the light and move with einstein's theory of relativity, and no one experiences the same time.

we live in a hazy window of about ten minutes. there is no true exactitude.

and when the end of the world comes, your eyes will bend shut. your fingers will curl closed. your tongue will twist and wilt. and you will hear nothing. and that will be the end of the world.

it might as well be, for you.

anyway, that's what i've been dreaming about lately. i need to work on a different story for a while, and maybe i won't have dreams like this.

dark dreams of death and ruin.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"night flight" got picked up in a journal

the most excellent poetry publication (remember robert shirtliffe) called Tipton Poetry Journal just accepted a little poem of mine called "night flight" for their next issue, (#7).

I want to encourage everyone to pick up a submission to this excellent little magazine, because if we don't support literary magazines of quality with our pocketbooks, we don't have them anymore.

publishing poetry is always a good feeling.

dare i use one? i dare:


exceedingly early character sketch

my second novel, NEVER KNEW ANOTHER, began as a character sketch. i took two player-character pictures from Icewind Dale 2, and imagined a scenario that juxtaposed them in some manner of interpersonal conflict.

the names have all changed. the situations have all changed. the characters are all completely different. fortunately, so - i might add - because this early character sketch is just not good enough to unravel spirits from the rafters of haunted houses. there's nothing holy about this sketch.

anyway, the final book is out a few interesting places that i really can't tell you about - you know how that story works, writers.

take a look at the barest of beginnings:

Mari spent the night sifting through the back alleys and the secret basements. She threatened bouncers with magic fire. She threatened bartenders and card-runners and pickpockets and bums and wild eyed prophets of doom.
She picked up her half-brother’s trail.
In her mind, she thought of her half-brother, Tenk, as two people. The first was the young man that fought to the edge of life to save his sister from the wicked inside of her and the pious all around. The second was the dying man that faded into the city with a lick of the lips and a hungry fist.
It was the second brother whom she was hunting tonight.

“Wake up, Tenk,” whispered a voice. “Tenk!”
Tenk groaned.
“Tenk!” shouted the voice. It was his half-sister, Mari. He felt her fingers on his hands.
“I’m awake,” he said. He opened his eyes. His legs and arms still weren’t working right. In his hand, he still held the long stem of the hookah. He smiled. “I had a horrible dream.”
Tenk looked around the room. A low pink of smoke hovered in the air. Soft pillows stank of vomit and smoke and smothere the filthy cellar floor. Tenk’s sister was so mad that her tongue dangled past her teeth. Nobody cared about demon blood in this room. In the streets, she’d be arrested for her tongue alone. Here, she was a purse with women’s legs.
“I was looking for you all night!” she shouted. “I didn’t know where you went!”
Tenk laughed. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“You spent all of our money, didn’t you?!”
“No,” he said. His body slowly discovered solid ground below him.
“How much did you waste this time?”
“Not all of it,” he said.
Two dwarves watched listlessly as the siblings fought. From upstairs, a bouncer peered down into the cellar. The light and the noise of the tavern spilled in from the open door. He shouted, “Take it outside!”
“I had to pay just to come down here and find him!” she shouted.
“I don’t care!” shouted the bouncer, “But you gotta keep it down and stop fighting if you stay!”
Tenk nodded. “We’ll go,” he said, “Will you help me outside?”
“No,” she said. She let go of his hands. She had been holding his hands. He sank back down to the pillows. She snarled, and grabbed his hands again. She dragged him to the stairs.
He struggled to work his legs. He couldn’t quite make them work.
“Hey, you!” shouted Mari to the bouncer. “Hey! I’ll give you a kiss if you throw my brother outside!”
The bouncer shrugged. “Sure.”
Tenk dropped asleep when the bouncer picked him up. Tenk dreamed of flying. He woke up lying in an alley behind the tavern, his face covered in mud. He looked up to see his sister’s frowning face. He grimaced. “Hi,” he said, “Have you been here long?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Have I been here long?” he asked. He tasted the rising bile on his tongue.
She folded her arms. “How much did you spend?”
He threw up in the mud.

The two lived in a room above a bakery. The smell of the baked goods wafted up into the open window on the damp sea storm winds. The siblings sat at the table next to the window. Tenk stared at a cup of tea she had made for him. He didn’t feel well enough to drink it.
Mari sat across from him, and stared at his tea. She didn’t want to look at him.
Finally, she said, “You used to come up with excuses,” she said. “You used to tell me a woman left you, or you were making a deal and your partner went there. You used to tell me about my father.”
“I know,” he said. He coughed. He tasted bile in his mouth when he coughed.
She leaned back, calmly. “Aren’t you even going to say you’re sorry?”
“Probably not,” he said.
“Are you sorry?” She looked at his face, desperate to see remorse in his crevices.
He thought about his answer. He looked up into her eyes. “Yes,” he said.
“You’re always sorry,” she said, “If you’re sorry, why do you keep doing it?”
He coughed again. He shook his head, and looked at the tea. “I don’t know.”
The tea’s waves of steam faded into tepid nothing. Time passed in silence.
“Drink your tea,” she said.
“I’m not ready, yet.”
She sniffed. “Drink it anyway.” She was calm. She was angrier when she was calm.
He nodded. He took the cup in his hand. He considered the orange liquid. He held his breath, and swallowed as fast as he could. It burned down his sore throat. When it landed in his stomach, it sunk like lead weights.
Tenk swallowed down rising bile. He held his breath until the urges passed.
“Feel better?” she said, bitterly.
“Good. What are we going to do with you, Tenk?” she said.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“We have to leave the city. I would rather spend the rest of my life sleeping under a tree than watch you do this to yourself. We have to leave the cities.”
“Where will we go?”
“You took all of our savings. Do you have any money left?”
“I have a hundred good coins in my pocket. I think I won it gambling. I can’t remember what we were gambling over, but I think I won it.”
“Did you steal it?”
“The thing is… I don’t remember. You know how it can be. Once I get started, everything fades.” He looked down at his hands. “I hope I won it.”
She coughed. She shook her head. “That’s what will happen if you keep this up. You’ll fade. People will find you in a ditch. A merciful soul will take you to a temple. You’ll spend the rest of your life staring at the ceiling and drooling.”
“I know.”
She clenched her fist, and pounded the table. The tea trembled. “If you know…!” She hit the table even harder. She snatched the teacup and heaved it out the open window.
“I don’t know why I do it, Mari,” he said, “If I knew, I’d stop.”
Mari scratched at the scales beneath her shirt. She scowled. Her scales itched when she was angry.
Tenk’ bottom lip trembled. He closed his eyes. “You could just leave me, you know.”
She frowned, dropping calm again. “I’m not leaving you,” she said, “I want to help you.”
He opened his eyes and looked up at her. “Have you ever thought about…?”
She stood up from the table. She looked out the window at the tea cup. It had fallen into thick, wet mud. The cup hadn’t even scratched from the two-story fall.
“I’ve never thought about leaving you, Tenk,” she said, “We have some money left, however you got it. We’ll sell everything. We’ll buy some gear. We’ll sign on with a merchant. We have to get out of the city. We’ll find somewhere new, somewhere far away. We’ll start over.” She sighed and took a deep breath. The baking bread from below smelled too good to her right then. She didn’t want things to smell good..
“I’m sorry,” he said, “You liked it here.”
She held the rest of her words inside of her. They burned.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

movie theatres like death

i like to sit alone in large theatres by myself. i do not like when the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th person arrives to spoil my solitude.

even then, in the most crowded of theatres, the lights go dim, and everyone ignores everyone else and we stare at the screen like we're alone with our lovers and children next to us - but individually alone and locked up in our own eyes and ears - alone and alone in a crowded room. still, i prefer to be literally alone in theatres, not just metaphorically so. i like to make the metaphors real, because they then spiral beyond the easy metaphor into new realms of meaning.

alone in the place where i should be alone in a crowd is what i prefer. all the empty seats become the illusionary crowd of ghosts. i am sitting in this chair that's shaped like a plush tombstone. in other planes of sensation, all of those chairs are full with just one person alone in a theatre. we're all ghosts for each other, in our silver-sreened cemetary. the movie rolls - and all these plots are the same - pulling a narrative out of the memories in my head. the memories replay and replay until i forget the details and the film falls further into the stylized techniques of idiosyncratic directors. finally, even these narratives fade to mythos languages, gibberish child-speak in the rushed conclusion. then, the music plays and it's just a list of words, of names, like in an obituary where they list survivors and family friends.

and then, you're all alone staring at the empty screen of your own forgotten life. mysterious sounds at the edge of language, like audio hallucinations, are all that's left of your mind. you strain to listen, but you can't make anything out. somewhere people are laughing, running, talking to each other.

and you're alone in a theatre.

i sit alone in a theatre and imagine all these things. people arrive a little later and yak loudly about where they should sit. they rattle popcorn and icy beverages. their clothes make annoying swishing sounds while they walk down the aisles, still talking.

more people come. then a few more shout for their families over the previews and opening credits.

we are then, all of us, metaphorically alone in the crowded theatre.

at the end of the show, i stand up and exit the theatre. i drive home in the dark to an empty apartment.

i turn off the lights and watch the ceiling fan spin in the moonlight and the streetlamp glow like the way the milky way is spinning in the dark in the cosmic eye.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I just won my own ARC in an auction. I already got one. I don't need it.

You do.

I'm holding a contest starting right now and ending October 21, 2007 to see who shall win this lovely ARC. (Personally autographed, of course).

I will choose the winner myself.

To win a personalized, autographed ADVANCE READING COPY, I want you to send me your favorite original sonnet, villanelle, sestina, limerick, or triolet about (naturally) LAST DRAGONS.

Winner and as many runner-ups as I want (and maybe some honorable mentions) will be posted to my cool blog.

Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your cats. Tell your neighbors. Tell anybody.

Enter as often as you'd like, with as many original entries as you'd like.

Send everything to me at j_m_mcdermott (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anybody want an Advance Copy of LAST DRAGON?!

Reviewers are turning over the book to used bookstores.

They're showing up in the world, for sale (despite that prominent note on the cover that says "Not For Resale"... It happens).

Follow this link to see if you can find yours today.

I ask that you - PLEASE - do what these advance copies were intended to be used for. Please post a review of the book, somewhere, everywhere, and etc.

I tell the story and I tell the story

I say, sternly, furiously, in my big-booming, you-have-been-a-bad-kitty voice, "Get in the box!"

The story whinges and cringes. "NO! I don't WANNA get in the box!"

"This magazine will not even look at you if you are over 4,000 words. You do want them to look at you, don't you? GET IN THE BOX!"

"NO! I hate the box! I want to be 8000 words! I want to go to a different market!"

"You're crap at 8000 words and you know it. Now get in the goshdarn, Hemingway-humping BOX!"


I take a deep breath. I tell the story I shall count to ten. I cross my arms. I tap my foot. "I'm getting you in that box even if I have to chop out the land of the dead."


"I would."

"You know what would happen if you did that, and I fit in the box?"

"You'd fit in the box. I'd send you off."

"And I'd stink and you know it. You need the land of the dead."


"NO! I don't WANNA get in that AWFUL BOX!"



check back later. This may go on like this all night.

until then, how about a good, old-fashioned mystery novel?

Friday, October 5, 2007

create what's said about yourself. also, about the holy people

i am a new person whenever a new person looks at me.

i create what is said about myself.

my angles, my corners, the gaps in my lips when i smile, the texture of my palm when i shake hands all carve new territory in the mind's twisted, cluttered desk. but new places are rarely carved. they are pulled together like a dream mosaic of familiar mental schema. i am placed upon the patterns of other people i have never met.

bits and pieces of aunts and cousins and siblings and friends and lovers and short acquaintances all pull together in the soup of psyche until my face is recreated behind the face of the new person i have just met.

my smell is actually full of other smells. my sounds - my voice, the sweeping muffled insect call of corduroy when my legs cross, the way my jacket grinds gently on the suede chair - are not my sounds inside your head because i am a new person to you. i am made of the sounds of them that came before.

and you, new friend, new lover, new enemy, else newly to be forgotten: you, too, are a frankenstein monster in my mind. we gape and pose at each other like foreign embassies posturing in diplomatic relations. we are, both of us, foolish and not ourselves at all in the other new person's head.

and i look upon you, new person, fully aware of the bric-a-brac of brains, and i am still incapable of meeting you any other way.

perhaps a holy person is the one that has no head for faces, voices, and identities. 'tis easier to love all when that love is uncontained by the history of bodies and faces and voices and smells. the holy one shakes hands with another formless, gormless entity. all they can sense inside the head is the luminous light of life. all bodies are just souls and everyone looks like a brother and a sister.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

why does George W Bush hate poor children?

Why does George W Bush hate America and poor children so much?

When you are poor. When you are very poor. When you don't know where rent is coming from next month. When you work full-time and do not make ends meet. When you have to miss a whole day of hourly-wage work to sit with your sick, crying child in an emergency room waiting to see a doctor that will make you pay for this basic thing for years.

When you are almost poor. When you were middle class, and then suddenly discovered yourself to be chronically ill, but technically in that hazy gray area between aid eligibility and wealth that precludes your ability to qualify for necessary healthcare programs while you still don't know where rent is coming from next month.

When you are poor. When you cannot afford healthcare for yourself, much less your children.

ANYTHING is better than nothing.

Socializing all medicine would not improve all the problems in the system.

However, the way health insurance works is that it doesn't actually work. It's broken. It's busted. It needs to be fixed. And, companies don't make any money by fixing the thing that's broken about it. Thus, in this situation, the Federal government is the only entity with the clout and the power to make even minor changes that can make everyone's lives better.

One minor change that would have made America a much happier, healthier, wealthier, and safer place was the federal bill approving funds for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Bush did an evil thing when he vetoed this bill. For the cost of one day in Iraq, we could have improved everyone's life - and I do mean every single solitary American citizen, including the wealthiest and healthiest.

Some problems are a keystone in a bridge of many bricks leading to disaster. Poor children's health care is one of those issues. It pulls kids out of school - the ones who need it most to improve their standing in life. It lowers their grades. It forces parents to miss work, lose jobs, etc. If you cannot afford to care for your chronically ill child - for instance, one with Autism that requires special, expensive schooling and close supervision, or Asthma that requires constant care and close supervision - no amount of free market punditry will make a damn bit of a difference in your life, or your child's life.

Teen pregnancy increases because the healtchare knowledge just isn't imparted by doctors and nurses.

Chronic illnesses remain undiagnosed until they are very deadly, dangerous problems, destroying lives and family retirement accounts tragically and unnecessarily.

Things like chronic headaches and lack of appropriate corrective eyewear dramatically diminish a child's performance in school. Things like bad dental care diminish your child's ability to eat healthy and nutritious food, which - in turn - diminishes your child's academic performance and life options.

Missed classes from poor healthcare promote drop-out rates.

Poor children's healthcare increases crime. It increases the size and glut of our already crowded prisons. It places a heavy toll on the urban and rural communities that must then increase the spending of police and public safety tools that increase the dangerous militarization of our communities. It increases the "Us versus Them" mentality of class and race issues that affect us all.

With the increase in criminals comes an increase in crime and thusly an increase in organized crime. This means an increase in all levels of gang violence, drug use, drug-trafficking, prostitution and human slavery... All of which take money out of American citizen pockets and places it into the pockets of our nation's enemies.

Promoting universal health care for children takes money out of the pockets of terrorists. I wish I was exaggerating. Terrorists deal in opium and hashish, after all. Even Bush will admit that much. Poor health care among children does contribute in great strides to all the issues of endless poverty and poor opportunities that contribute to drug-dealing and drug using.

Vetoing this bill just caused a whole system of little disasters that add up to a world that isn't as fair, isn't as just, isn't as economically sound, and just - simply - isn't the America we know and love.

Critics say, "But why should the Fed do this? Don't many states have, already, this CHIP system?" Many do. All do not. I live in a state without one. We used to have one. It is a damn shame we don't. The Fed should deal with this because it is a universal need, and needs the kind of funding only the Fed can provide. Even the states that have the program need more funds, always.

Do not be afraid of limited social programs that could be called - by fools - "Socialism". Socialism is not a slippery slope. There is no domino effect. Be afraid of the people who oppose things simply because they are afraid of a single word - one which I doubt they truly understand.

Socialized healthcare, as an option for all children - especially the ones that have no options, is a very good idea. This one specific instance, socialization could make our freedoms and democracy more glorious, indeed.

Also, when I hear critics speak of this, they question the cut-off points and insist that no one should get a "free ride". They reveal their anti-conservative values. No true conservative would want the govenment to decide for the individual what that individual needs. Wouldn't you prefer to be the decision-maker in your child's life instead of a government suit who only knows your name when your form is in his hands?

How very un-conservative, and foolish. The program is needed. Adding a layer of oversight is not as effective as allowing parents to choose private health care as they can afford it - because it will be better than the socialized stuff.

All in all, a group of very stupid, hateful people just quashed something that is not only morally correct, but fiscally and socially >Necessary< for the children and parents of this nation.

I ask again, and this is rhetorical, because I don't think I can keep talking about this without more whiskey than I can get right now.

Why does George W Bush hate America and her poor children so much?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

found something on e-bay

so, you work in an office. you deal with a sales staff. sometimes they try to butter you up with gifts.

if you're anything like my mother, you thank the sales guy, and immediately hand off any gift at all to your staff. you give these things away to others.

or, if you like books, and you're given books to read as part of your job, you keep them for yourself, garage-sale/used-bookstore-sale-them them later, or donate to a library.


why would you auction such a gift on e-bay?


seems a touch tacky, no?

people of the interweb, i respectfully request that you refrain from bidding on this.

if i can win this auction, i shall run a contest for all of you, and I will give this book to the winner free of cost.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

the flowers of germany

i was consulting with my sister's cats about the sad story of mr toad/mr moth. my sister's cat was born in germany, and spent her whole life in the confines of an apartment.

she said to me, some in german some in english, that in her country, cats do not do such awful things.

i asked her what cats in germany do.

she said that they prefer to sculpt their victims into flowers. the timing has to be just right, or else the bubble will burst open too soon into a bloom, and die in the frost.

and, because this is germany, each breed of cat is assigned a different flower. there is no competition. there is only punishment to those that neglect their duties. she was taken from her mother too soon to learn the true art. she and massimo try their best in the apartment, carefully measuring their blows against spider, lizard, and bug. they're trying to make peonies, because that is what their mother taught them.

sometimes, they practice on paper towels or kleenex, trying to get that perfect rumpled puff of the peony just right.

i can only wonder what other mysteries of nature exist if we only bother to ask.

at the end of our conversation, diva was quite insistent upon one subject, however.

"where's my breakfast, you bastard?!"

Monday, October 1, 2007

recommended with reading the first chapter of last dragon

for the lucky few that have gotten a taste of my first chapter, and the lucky many that mayhap will get a taste soon, i have suggestions on ways to enhance your experience. like any fine dish, the addition of complementary wines and menu items will likely improve an already salubrious subject.

i recommend reading LAST DRAGON with White Chocolate, Pinot Noir, Rainer Cherries, Firelight, Bengal Spice Tea, Rainy Afternoons, Reading Aloud to Cats, Beanbag Chairs, Curried Tofu with Vegetables Over Brown Rice, Comfy Chairs in Quiet Cafes, Blackberries and Whipped Cream, Shostakovitch Symphonies, Long Train Treks to Calcutta Upon the Orient Express in a Luxurious Sleeper Cabin, Turkish Coffee, Samuel Barber's Two Essays for Orchestra, Reading While Practicing Tai Chi Chu'an, Dark Chocolate, White Merlot, and Always Thy Comfiest Pajamas.