Things I Write

I write things. Most of them with line breaks, though sometimes prose. From time to time, people pay to publish or read them.

I keep a poetry journal of sorts, mostly for posting early drafts, at DreamWidth. Lately, it's been mostly translations of classical Japanese poetry, which is fun if slightly overloaded with cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

Some Recent Works

"Listening" in Tales of the Talisman (forthcoming summer 2012)

"Laurel Thoughts" in inkscrawl (issue 4, Aug 2012)

"Desert Stories" in Mythic Delirium (issue 26, Apr 2012)

"Winter Advice" in Goblin Fruit (Feb 2012)

One Hundred People, One Poem Each (Oct 2011: Paper, Nook, Kindle)

"Myrmidons in Calydon" in Eye to the Telescope (May 2011)

"Kassandra" in Ideomancer (Jun 2010)

"Psyche, at Midnight, in the Dark" in Goblin Fruit (Jan 2010)

"At Death's Door" in Ideomancer (Jun 2009) Rhysling finalist

"Seven Translations from the Priapea" in Rhymes for Adults (Jun 2006: order)

"Beasts of Elfland" in Abyss & Apex (May 2006)

"Pygmalion's Marriage" in Mythic (Apr 2006: order; info)

"Paul Bunyan and the Photocopier" in Say ... (May 2005: order; excerpt; podcast)

"Her First Affair" in Abyss & Apex (Jul-Sep 2004)
Rhysling finalist

"The Myrmidons" in The First Heroes (May 2004)

My first collection is out: One Hundred People, One Poem Each, being translations of Japanese poetry. Here's the cover description:

Around 1235, Japanese poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika compiled for his son's father-in-law a collection of one hundred poems by one hundred poets. Within its chronological summary of six centuries of Japanese literature, Teika arranged a poetic conversation that ebbs and flows through a variety of subjects and styles. The collection became the exemplar of the genre—a mini-manual of classical poetry, taught in the standard school curriculum and used in a memory card game still played during New Years.

One Hundred People, One Poem Each contains the best that classical Japanese poetry has to offer—here presented in a new verse translation.

The poems are translated in a form modeled on the originals, now called a tanka. Each translation includes annotations for context and the original Japanese in both kanji and romanized text, The book is available in a variety of formats, including paper from Lulu, ePub/Nook from Barnes & Noble, and mobi/Kindle from Amazon. You can preview the whole thing at the Lulu link, so you know what you're getting. Note that, due to formatting restrictions, the Kindle edition does not include kanji, so if you really want that, you'll want another one edition.

If you're interested in more of this sort of thing and don't mind reading works in progress, I have a free ebook (ePub/Nook only) of the first four books of the Kokinshu anthology (c.905), including the poems of spring, summer, and part of autumn. I will be adding to it as I work my way through the collection, or however far I get—my current plan is to finish the first six books, covering all the seasons of the year, and then see where I'm at. For even rawer versions, you can follow my progress on DreamWidth as I post initial drafts, or on LiveJournal as I post collected revisions a book at a time.

(Full disclosure: the publisher of record, Cholla Bear Press, is the imprint my wife and I use to publish things ourselves. We also do holiday cards, if you're interested.)

When I write my own things, I especially like narrative poems; sometimes, I manage to sell them as short stories. I do this as part of the Well-Versed Skiffy movement; our motto is "good storytelling, good meter, good speculative fiction" — think Speculative Fiction meets Expansive Poetry. We wanna tell ripping yarns in rhyme about magic and spaceships.

For an example of what I'm talking about, there's "The Myrmidons," a Greek myth sex farce that appeared in The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age edited by Harry Turtledove and Noreen Doyle (Amazon, B&N, or support your local indie: ISBN = 076530287X). Here's the opening:

The plague came out of nowhere. No one knew
What god or goddess sent it, and the signs,
When not ambiguous, were all too few:
The oak leaves still, the livers whole and fine,
From left and right the birds flew in straight lines,
   And worst of all, the tea leaves all refused
   To form a pattern readers could have used.

And so Aegina suffered under doubt
As well as spotted fever. Amid the death
And raw despair, a couple souls were stout
And tended invalids to their last breath;
But others, I report to my regret,
   Were drunken, rowdy, riotous, and rude—
   In short, a bacchanalic rout ensued.

The harbor, drunk with sailors, caught the mood,
And soon from there the tide of riot spilled
To sweep depopulated streets in flood
Until the city plain was all but filled,
A violent lake—except where good sense stilled
   The fires round two places, islanding
   Plague houses and the palace of the king.

King Æacus was long since past his prime
And, not as strong as once, in youth, he'd felt,
He couldn't stop the carnival of crime.
His sons? Off heroing with club and pelt
And so no help with troubles he'd been dealt.
   They're only known today for being hid
   In family trees, and not for what they did—

For hero means "he scatters wide his oats,"
And heroes' brats are strewn across the nations
Like jetsam tossed from overloaded boats.
Son Telamon apprenticed that vocation
With the greatest of the generations:
   No lesser man than he—a drum roll please—
   The man, the myth, the legend—Heracles.

Soon after Telamon had helped the Herc
To conquer Troy, he spawned the Ajax who
Would later try to replicate that work.
Young Peleus sacked as well a town or two
Before he gave a fateful goddess woo;
   His son Achilles had his song of rage
   That still is read in this descendent age.

Thus, sonless, Æacus was forced to handle
The crisis, and he too old to wield a sword—
Which added to his shame, for the scandal
Of crumbling state will always hurt a lord,
Since he is judged by his domain's accord.
   And so, as when mere anarchy is loose,
   He did what monarchs do, and prayed to Zeus.

You can read the rest of the story here, and the sequel, "Myrmidons in Calydon," over here.

Needless to say, this sort of thing is going to be the Next Hot Thing in SF/F. New Weird is already passé, the Interstitials have nearly crested—Well-Versed Skiffy is where the momentum's going. You heard it here first.

When not telling metrical stories or translating other people's words, I also write light verse, especially epigrams and parodies. For example:

To the Ghost of Ben Jonson

Your epigrams may not have bettered Martial
But next to mine they ring like perfect chimes;
And if your royal James was not so partial
To flattery, at least he read your rhymes.

I don't know whether Clinton is well-read,
Though by his character I fear the worst,
Yet were he, since the published poem is dead,
He'll never see my praise nor hear he's cursed.

That appeared in Light. Feel free to substitute "Dubya" or "'Bama" if you wish to modernize it. This, on the other hand, is unpublished:

The Chicken
For These Our Guests

I plucked this morning morning's pinion, chick-
   en of Sunday's supper, singed-sear-smooth Fowl in her perking
   In the boiling level underneath her water pot, and lurking
Low there, how she'd shed beneath the shuck of my fingers' pick
Her feathers—torn off, off forth on a flick,
   As a leaf's curl scatters on a fall wind: the pull and jerking
   Removed the small down.  My hand in working
Stirred the bird, —the cleaning of, the preparation, a cook's trick.

Pale pullet and gizzard and heart, oh, skin, flesh, fat there
   Bubble! AND the broth that breaks from thee then, is two
Times told tastier, more delicious, than plainer fare.

   They're waiting for it: such folks must first chew
Cheese, in square-sliced cubes, and the spare
   Liver, onion lavered, then gulp good chicken stew.

In addition, along with Janni Lee Simner, I'm half of Cholla Bear Cards, writing and designing custom greeting cards. I've also occassionally translated from Spanish and Latin, though right now I'm a bit rusty with both. And then there's translations into words of one beat, though I don't really count that as my stuff. The game makes for good finger exercises, though.