The Rule of Yesterday

In Spring, this is the fate that princes face:
Proclaim the way the tree of state shall grow,
Then hold that course, till autumn’s lost leaves show
That other branches led to less disgrace.

And when the pox blot’s Summer’s crop with blood,
The royal eye must pick the stems to prune;
Then watch, as past the cuts the poisons flood
While other, healthy twigs are trimmed too soon.

Leaves fall. The branch is bare; the year is done
And Winter claims a plan still incomplete.
Frozen, still thin, it cracks beneath new feet:
The state’s elect, replacement, younger son.

But rare’s the step that treads on something strange.
Four seasons hence, the forest’s barely changed.

Singularity

The future is a sheet of writhing light.
An image wider than the eye can grasp,
Stretched sky to sky and onwards beyond sight.
An orbit’s edge, in circuits fine and vast.

Upon a thumbnail, we write a chip:
A million words, alive in lightning’s strife.
A million Earths in this new sky could fit.
A pin-prick, puncture more than that mere life.

Dream of a question, and the answer’s there,
Inside the mind that drinks Apollo dry.
Ask — search a thousand lives — and find despair,
Still baffled at the gate you entered by.

So leave? And from the shadowed edge, look up.
An ocean asks you why you fled the cup.

When Thought Failed

“The lamp will overheat unless turned off,”
A dimmed projection screen proclaims. Beneath
A slide announces “Conference of The Wise.”
The seats are empty; new, beneath the dust.

Outside, upon the grass, two tables stand.
The first holds urns of tea and coffee — cold;
The second cups, and plates in plastic wrap
(A turned-up corner leaks a whiff of rot).

A wall of weathered posters rings the yard.
One heading asks, “Mortality: a Choice?”
While elsewhere, “Fate and “Haste” alone hold out.
The rest is bleached-off ink and tattered chaff.

A fallen fragment twitches in the breeze.
“Beware,” it reads, “the minds that think of these.”

To The Grave

Here Slaughter, son of Murder, stakes his claim.
His grunting trucks patrol around the pit,
Where cranes and shovels sort the heaps of slain,
Stacked high between the walls of bone and grit.

Here Murder broke the ground that once was green,
And stamped the pasture flat with rubble cones.
Brought out a poison better left unseen,
And left a barren ditch between the stones.

Here we shall welcome Horror, Slaughter’s heir.
She’ll fill the pit with bones scraped bare, made clean.
Sieve out the poison burnt into the air
And write in ash, “Remember what has been.”

In flowers we shall lay our memories here,
Each new guilt buried in another year.

Shadow of a Story

It is something like a shadow
    that goes everywhere with me,
Cast by the light of distant lamps
    that I shall never see.
For some, it is a chain I bear.
    For others, it is I.
It fades faint when I am busy,
    and it thickens when I cry.

Each morning, you’d a shadow-road
    that rolled out from your feet,
And fell on places you should go
    and people you should meet.
Then at dusk, your shadow trailed
    from your feet back to the dawn,
And its fingers picked out places
    where you had — or hadn’t — gone.

From afar, my shadow crossed your path,
    and whispered to your mind.
In due course, our shadows mingled,
    sharing face, and shape, and mind.
For our daughter, they stretched stronger,
    showing all that she could prove.
Since we parted, each has faded
    to a shadow of our love.

When I saw your shadow frozen,
    cast alone upon the ground,
And I could not find you near it,
    though your thoughts lay all around,
Then I knew that you had left us
    for a life without decay,
Under light that casts no shadows
    — so your shadow had to stay.

Icarus the Innocent

Who said the sun was life, and grace, and green?
That fire, so attractive from afar,
Burns fierce; and fiercer when from closer seen,
Blinds lying eyes, that hid what fools we are.

You melt beneath the pain of layers lorn
When light peels back your face, and then your skull.
To bare, beneath your bones, the words that warn:
“This ship rots from the captain, not the hull.”

An instant in that hot, actinic glare
Brings clarity monks vow their lives to learn,
Then terror at a broken world. Despair.

Then all is white,
And there is no return.

Looking back on Q4 of 2016

You can’t see either end of the corridor.

Whoever had the torch has ducked into a side room, and the only light is the flickering reflection of the doorway on the opposite wall.

Sounds echo out of the darkness. The drip of water. A skittering of claws on stone. A drawn-out creak ends with a thud, and you are suddenly aware of the weight of the mountain above you.

Air moves on the back of your neck. You turn around, but see nothing.

Someone points and yells. Other convicts rush towards, then past you. A hand grabs your arm, and you are part of the charge before you know what you are charging at.

Aside from writing that (just now), what did I do over the holidays?

Caught up with my family, cooked, travelled, and various other things that weren’t part of my goals. In retrospect, I probably should have realised those two weeks of leave weren’t going to mean lots of work on projects.

That said, I did get a decent amount done on each of my five goals:

Finish collecting data for my Mary Sue project

I got sick of all this scoring fairly early in the piece, so I’ve got seven comics still to score. I’d like to finish all of them by January; but for now, I’m focusing on doing a little each day, to avoid pushing myself any harder than necessary.

Add editing of doors to Aeldardin Rooms.

This is half-way done. I did get back to it over New Year’s, but I spent all my time editing old code and didn’t program in anything new.

Write a couple of things a week

Again, about 50% successful; I wrote about one thing a week, although a lot of it was half-formed ideas that didn’t get very far.

Keep posting updates

Nope.

Finish my roleplaying project (added mid-December)

I’m counting this as a success. I managed to collect all the rules I needed, write up a scenario, and then actually run the game (on New Year’s Eve, just creeping in before the end of the quarter). That’s what inspired the snippet above.

What I’ve got is still very much a draft, but now I know where to focus next. Step one: plan monsters in advance. Step two: remember to print everything out.


I’m also looking at joining another writing group, but I don’t think it will show up in my goals until mid-February or so.

Good luck and happy writing!