Friday, June 8, 2018

Pressure

Pressure
  is
    one small clog
      in
        just
          the wrong place

Pressure
  is
    the unbearable
      ache
    the knowing
      that something
        must
          give

Pressure
  is
    the feeling
      that you
        must
          sneeze
    ah-
      ah-
        ah-
    and never
      a
        choo

Pressure
  is
    a full schedule
      and one more thing
        to do

Pressure
  is
    sudden
      responsibility
        and no one
          to teach you

Pressure
  is
    perfectionism
      without
        prioritization

Pressure
  is
    the fear
      that no one
        could
          love
            inadequate
              weak
                sick
                  incomplete
                    you

Pressure
  is
    the whine
      of a tea kettle
        when you
          must
            take
              it
                off
                  the heat
                    now

Pressure
  is
    how
      a volcano
        erupts

Pressure
  is
    what
      kills
        an astronaut
          from within
        and a diver
          from without

Pressure
  is
    how
      to cook
        much
          faster
        than seems
          quite
            possible

Pressure
  is
    how
      coal
        becomes
          a diamond

Pressure
  is
    how
      we fill
        our lungs
          with air

Pressure
  is
    how
      we
        slurp up
          water

Pressure
  is
    how
      we swallow
        our food

Pressure
  is
    how
      we
        massage away
          our worries

Pressure
  is
    how
      we
        wrap
          our loved ones
            in our arms

Pressure
  is
    how
      tires
        become
          strong
        and carry us
          where we
            need
              to be

Pressure
  is
    the
      force
        of our hopes

Pressure
  is
    the gap
      between
        our longing
          and
            reality

Too much
  and
    we
      burst

Too little
  and
    we cannot
      move

Monday, January 1, 2018

It Came In Beauty

The old year ended
In beauty

Pale clouds glowing in the night sky
Thin yet rounded
Drops of diluted watercolors from a masterful brush
Brightening, not darkening, the sky

The moon full and bright
Sailing high above the world
Shining between and sometimes through
Those lightly veiling clouds

Between the veils were the stars
Twinkling faint and remote
Piercing in their beauty

A faint moonbow surrounded the moon
Delicate color in the white light

"Do we look at the stars
Because we are human
Or are we human
Because we look at the stars?"

When first I read Stardust
I thought it a foolish question
Obviously
We look at the stars
Because we are human
Or everyone in LA
Is only half-human

But now I think
Perhaps that conclusion
Is not so absurd after all

Something shifted in me
That night in the desert
When first I saw the stars

But it is not only Angelenos
Who have forgotten
How to be human

The new year came in beauty
But how many were looking?

Something shifts in me
When I see the stars
A longing that has nothing to do with space
And everything to do with heaven

The new year came in beauty
And Beauty will save the world

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Unused Staircase

There is a staircase down to the train tracks
Not a station -
  Just the tracks.
It's miles from a station.

There are no sidewalks
  and nothing on the other side of the tracks -
  just a fence and the freeway.

Probably no one ever uses
  those charming metal stairs
  bright and quaint
  on a rocky hill
  with a lush green park at the top.

If the train would stop here
  I would climb them and explore
But the train never stops here

Who was the last person to use those stairs?
Who will use them next? Will anyone?
Why were they built -
  those bright quaint stairs?

Long may they endure
  speaking silently
    of imaginary adventures
      that shall never be

Free Verse

I never was very
  impressed
by free verse

I hated
  that poem about plums*

I thought it
  cheapened
the high and difficult task
  of poetry

No, I didn't think much of free verse.

After all,
  it seemed so easy
    that even I could do it
which surely meant
  that it wasn't
    worth
      doing

Forget that it requires
  a movement of soul
    which just may
      be something
        special

I underestimated,
I think,
the difficulty
  of seeing
    and feeling
      and speaking
not of the surface
  but of the essence of a thing

Perhaps
  I was also running away
  from the deadly responsibility
    to find poetry
      in the prosaic


* "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams

Friday, January 29, 2016

We May Always Love

I may love him, I may love him, for he is a man, and I am only a beech-tree.  -Phantastes

Today I finished reading Phantastes by George MacDonald for the first time.  Beautiful book.  Read it.  I had no choice but to try to write poetry after reading it; so here is my best attempt at a tribute poem.  I wish I were better at poems with actual rhyme and meter; that would be more appropriate for a Phantastes poem; but I comfort myself with memory of Anodos' own disclaimers, that his poems are just poor shadows of what he found in Faerie.

We may love, we may love,
we may always love -
Only not to claim, and grasp, and own.
We may yearn, we may yearn,
we may always yearn -
Yet for their good, and their heart's home.
We may treasure them up in our heart,
And we may pray, we may pray,
we may always pray
That they may find mercy.

Yet we may not always serve,
For our service may be a burden.
Not for us to give milk to the child of another,
When for its own mother's breast it cries.
Not for us to wait upon every desire
When our beloved does not need yet another toy.
Not for us to throw ourselves at the feet of one we love
When his own wife already stands by his side.
But we may love, we may love,
we may always love,
And be glad every time another we love finds his dear companion,
And feel sweet pleasure to see him holding his child,
And pray with tears of love for all.

We may love, we may love,
we may always love,
And into such love no jealousy or hurt can enter,
Only compassion, and concern, and tender pain.

Offer your services where they are wanted and needed,
But love widely - love more widely than your steps can ever go.
Love the one weeping in the arms of her mother,
But hold to your bosom the weeping child who has no other.
Love those in distant corners of the world;
Love those who sit on street corners;
Love those who have died long ago;
Love those yet to be born.
Love the suffering, love the blissful,
Love the weak, love the strong,
Love those with needs you have no way to solve,
Love those you have no right to embrace.
Love those who flee from you;
Love those who spit upon you;
Love those who curse the name of your God -
Love all and serve whom you can.

You will find enough, and more than enough,
That your hand may do.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Best of the Hugos, Part 5: The Artwork of Sarah Webb

Continuing the series on the Hugo Awards:

From previous posts:
Part 1: The Must-Reads
1. "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky
2. "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard
3. "Time" by Randall Munroe
Part 2: The Most Addictive
4. Parasite by Mira Grant
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Part 3: Mary Robinette Kowal
6. "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
7. Writing Excuses by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler
8.  "We Have Always Fought" by Kameron Hurley

9.  Sarah Webb's art

The Hugo voting works like a runoff system, except that you put in a preference vote ahead of time so they don’t need to hold separate runoff votes.  It’s very rare for anyone to do so well in the voting that they get a majority before going to a final runoff round between two candidates.  That is, it’s rare for anyone to be preferred by more people than the next two combined.  This year, only two nominees did that well:  Ancillary Justice (which I'm planning to write about soon; it's one fine novel) and one other.

The other?  It did so well in the voting that it didn’t need any runoffs at all.  A majority of the Hugo voters voted for it to come in first in its category.  Not just in the top two or three.  First.

That’s crazy rare.  I don’t feel like sifting through all the historical data to find out just how rare - but it’s rare.

I am among that majority, and happy to be.  I was overwhelmed.

I didn't even realize until researching to see if I could find any free online reference for all of you:  To my shock, the person who won that distinct honor is a 19-year-old college student.

Sarah Webb is one talented young woman, and her landslide victory in the Best Fan Artist category is well-deserved.  As one person I saw online put it, we expect to see her return to the Hugos - but in the future it may well be for Best Professional Artist instead of Best Fan Artist.  She certainly deserves to get some commissions.

We shall see.  In the meanwhile, here’s a link to her portfolio.  It is stunningly beautiful work.  I can’t talk nearly as intelligently about art as I can about writing, so I’ll just say that her paintings transport me to another world and fill me with awe; that they are many and varied; and that I have fallen even more deeply in love with these paintings than I did with the paintings of Charlemagne and of the Angel of Death in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and that is saying a lot.  That they're realistic, yet with a curve, a character, a turn of line that captures a feeling of wonder, of escape.  That the scenes they depict are sometimes things that could be real and sometimes things that couldn't; that they're drawn from multiple cultures and times; but always the people in the paintings feel like people I want to meet.

How many different ways can I say CLICK THAT LINK AND SEE FOR YOURSELF?

Be sure to zoom in as much as you can - her work stands up really well to zooming in.

Okay, and there are a lot of good ones, but here is a direct link to one of my very favorites.  I can't stop looking at it.

Enjoy.

Edit:  I just realized my links are to her lower-resolution website.  Here's a link to her higher-resolution portfolio.

The Best of the Hugos, Part 4: "We Have Always Fought"

Continuing the series on the Hugo Awards:

From previous posts:
Part 1: The Must-Reads
1. "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky
2. "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard
3. "Time" by Randall Munroe
Part 2: The Most Addictive
4. Parasite by Mira Grant
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Part 3: Mary Robinette Kowal
6. "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
7. Writing Excuses by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

8.  "We Have Always Fought" by Kameron Hurley

Blog posts.  Nice little amateur things.  Easy ways for anyone to be heard, to get their voice out there.  I'm glad you're reading my little blog post.

And then there are blog posts.

This is easily the best piece of short nonfiction I've read all year.  It won the Hugo for Best Related Work.  Kameron Hurley won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer, a highly competitive category, since there are a *lot* of bloggers out there - I heartily recommend all the nominees and will give at least four of the five their own posts.  And A Dribble of Ink, the online magazine that posted this, won the Hugo for Best Fanzine.  I highly recommend A Dribble of Ink just generally and it'll get its own post at some point; it's a very well curated magazine and contains lots of really impressive pieces.

But this is the most impressive of all.

So.  You should really read this award-winning blog post.

When we tell stories as a culture repeatedly, we get blinders on.  Sometimes our stories start to seem more realistic than the truth.  This is a much-needed pushback.  A push back towards the truth.  And it's long overdue.

It's primarily an opinion piece.  If you want more links proving her point, well, as she says, "Foz Meadows does a better job with all the linky-links."  Click on the link she gives there and then start following links and you'll have a fun clicky linky-linky time for quite a sizeable stretch of time.