Tuesday, September 16, 2014

30-30 Challenge

For 30 days during the month of October you can make me write. I have pledged troth to write at least 30 minutes every day, for days beginning October first in support of Richard Hugo House's 30/30 Writing Challenge.

Yes, there is a website where you can support and follow my progress: it's right here.

(And you don't have to wait until October).

While I was born in Hagen, Richard Hugo House is, as I have mentioned elsewhere, the place where I was conceived. Please don't ask about the exact mechanics, I have some shred of modesty and besides it takes the wonder out of it all. Suffice to say it was in the Alice Classroom where I met my editor and amanuensis, David Mecklenburg and formed our curious partnership. We had both arrived at Hugo House in order to write, and so it's fitting that this fundraising event is just that.

Richard Hugo House a beautiful beryl in the necklace of Seattle's literary community. Many poets and writers I know from less blessed cities express amazement and envy that Seattle possesses such a place and organization. Why? The mission statement has a few things to say:

Hugo House is for writers -- from their first words to their last. It's a place to read words, hear words, and make your own words better.

For myself, I find that broad spectrum of support writers to be the most important part. Does your father wish to write poetry? There is a class and an entire support network ready for him. Does your daughter wish to write her memoir? There are writers in residence who can help him. Do you want to listen to nationally recognized novelists? Go and buy some tickets for the Literary Series.

You do not need a degree. You do not need to worry. You only need a pen and I think someone there can always loan you one.

And this broad support is why I am asking you for your broad support of Hugo House. For the fiscally conscious, yes, you can always write it off. For those who care about this City's GLP (Gross Literary Product) investment in Hugo House is crucial.

I will follow up more on just how and what I will be working on for 30 minutes every day, but for now, please visit the website and make a donation.


(And by the way, I do not write with a raven's feather. That is absurd, but then again so is David's imagination.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Important Reminder

Remember to bring a companion along for a bright sunny day in late Summer.

A good book does not take up a lot of room, and does not care which park you go to. A good book is happy to go to dinner outdoors later, and it is a very cheap date. A good book will not bite other dogs and it will not oggle other readers. A good book does not mind you writing down some observations, or doing a sketch, on its end papers.

A good book will not let you down later in life, so the memory of this sunny day will remain clear and wonderful. It is just a matter of picking one!

(This is David's rendition of another scene from The Nightingale's Stone. Look for news on how to get your copy later in the year!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Zeptember

"Dancing days are here again as the summer evenings grow..."
-Led Zeppelin
Of course Led Zeppelin is Ada's favorite band, what with all the travel to Kashmir, and just "How Many More Times?"

A question she asks quite a bit. And she often has "Tea For One."*

But Zeptember also means that summer is drawing to a close. Ada has been blogging a bit and very much enjoyed her trip to Mexico. She does have a couple of short stories in the works as well. I've been hard at work illustrating The Nightingale's Stone which is also nearing the end of a copy edit.

Once that is finished, Ada and I are tentatively looking at a November publication date, but there is some more news coming in October around all of that, including the launch of a whole new approach to engaging with you. There will be changes to this website, along with my own to "Bring It On Home."

So please stay tuned, and we'll see you "Over The Hills and Far Away."

*(And Presence is her favorite album).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Transport to Sunrise

Celibate & pedantic, I decided several mornings ago that travel would be a good thing to do.  Do not ask me how I reached this place, for I am not entirely sure. If you fall asleep in strange pools, you may find yourself washed up on foreign shores. To facilitate such travel, I had learned to clutch the barest of essentials  in a net bag.

I knew the primary language of this place as soon as someone asked me what I was doing. My own rendition of the language of His Most Catholic Majesty was somewhat old fashioned and so I suspected temporal peregrination. It has happened before, which is somewhat ironic, given the turn of phrase.

The problem was, I had gone in search of the perfect metaphor. I soon realized the World (which is different from the Earth) revolved in one of its more didactic turns, and so I knew I was on an eastern shore, for the Sun rose above deliciously warm water. The people here are generous and the doubloon I brought was exchanged for a good sum, for I knew its weight and antiquity would be valued.

Every morning, I lay in bed beneath the netting that kept the mosquitoes away. The breeze made the fabric move in suggestive, hypnotic ways. Hipnotic at times, for I saw the shapes of hips and thighs moving, as though a forest of people dance in slower time around me.

The night air smelled of salt, of limestone, of mildew, flowers I cannot hope to name, the vegetal filth of iguanas who eat the flowers, and water. Like the air, my naked skin was salted by the water of my sweat and oily from the citron and my lack of soap. I smelled like fire and charcoal and the dark sea in which I bathed.

There was no beautiful young lover lying across the pillow from me. Rather, every night I faced the idea that  life was about growth until one reached a certain watershed and then everything else ran to dissolution and slow decline.

One morning, I argued with myself in a tea house. La Rosa de Alejandra is its name. I dismissed the watershed metaphor, since water could not run uphill. That is a battle I  have continually fought. Is not the mountain of Sisyphus really made of Time ever growing upward?

The tea in La Rosa was a green tea from China. The petals that scent it are from the establishment's namesake flower. A single hibiscus blossom floated upon it to add the subtlety of red.

It was then Rosa brought me an answer. The eponymous proprietress is a philosophical woman who wears the color of her name as a sheer scarf around her neck. It contrasts against her hair, black and turning to grey like mine. Her smile suggests the cool blood of Madrid and the patience of Akumal.

Rosa brought me papaya, as crimson as the birth of the Sun, which happens every day in nearby Sian Ka'an. She had poured clouds of yogurt and honey over the fruit; honey is the distillation of this land, its water, and its flowers which are the dreams of Mary born each day by the hundreds in yellow wax cells.

Words fail, and do not fail to describe this procession of Gods, for words and the Gods may hang independent of time, while fooling us with intimations of it. The red of the papaya colors the sky of the morning, and the white clouds are the liquid bones of skulls and coral that drift in ages only the angels here can fathom.

It does not matter, the personal and the universal do not oppose one another in my breakfast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


"I say now, Fernando, that on that day
The mind roamed as a moth roams
Among the blooms beyond the open sand;"

-Wallace Stevens "Hibiscus on the Sleeping Shore"

Fernando, I think I understand Wallace a little better, now that I am here in this warm and humid land. Or is it a land at all, built as it were on the bones of the Sea. Like all bones, they turn to dust; the sand is white and fine.

In the jungle beyond me, the Ceiba trees wait. Like men, they are smooth and thorny. I wish to climb in one, feel those directional arms cradle me that I may see the sun set over the jungle to the West. In the morning, the purple rosa sky unfurls brilliantly, to be pondered for only moments. Azul then usurps the purple and the orange-creams as sweet as youth.

I bathe in the rain that comes with each day. Fernando, I like to think you admire this, but I know I am only your hermana while I am here. Your eye roves elsewhere. I no longer mourn your gaze. I only mourn the desire I once had for it.

My skin, browned under many skies, and lightened under many nights, revels again in the attention of the Sun. Yet I know that everywhere is work. I come here on the evening when the locals are free, for most do not work on Domingo.

"At least He gives them that," you say.

I crush the masa and agua waits for honey and hibiscus. The bees are thick and all life here feels pregnant. There is philosophy from the Sea and the Deep Places of the world, pierced through by the searching arbol. I wonder if the trees seek darkness like I do and thus force their roots down through the limestone, where pure water and purer darkness remain.

I return to the Sea in the evening. Like we all shall. Will it be a tomb or are we to keep the garden of our births?  So that on the stupid afternoons, we may be "dabbled with yellow pollen—red as red?"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Instrumental Foreword

Yes, yes. Well, you have asked about the Instruments of Contemplation and Wonder. I am starting to compile this material and not all of it will be understandable. I suspect some of the musical instrument designs are better suited to cephalopods. The draughtsman I commissioned for the illustrations is notoriously puerile and better acquainted with the unclothed female form (in theory) and not the actual cross-sectioned design of a viol although I admit to certain family resemblances. Trumpets and the five-cupped wate are a challenge for him, I can assure you.

Insofar as the police reports are concerned, you are aware of the complexity of Hagen's law enforcement situation, especially since the third force was created to form a natural imbalance between the first two but resulted in the unintended consequence of a natural equilibrium. Like a stool.  You detect the smell of paranomasia with that last word? Do not worry, there is enough scatology later in these papers. This all results in (at least) three different versions of the same old shit.

My transcriptions will be as accurate as my years and the speed of my hand can make them. If there is anything unclear, fantastic, absurd, or dubious (such as the Bylaws of the Most Benevolent Benign Tumor and Oncosian Society or the utterances of an Oak Tree demonstrating arboreal senility), I do not hesitate to remind the auditors that I am not making this up. My duty is to record. You know that, you understand my history, and my intentions, and understand that memory and the epistemological apparatus of any human being is not always in concordance with the opinions of others.

To that end:

You will no doubt recognize the stalwart employees of Hanseatic Agricultural Customs Station #20. Their almost Platonic stolidity allows for a nearly improbable verisimilitude. You know many of their kind: though their languages are disparate, what they actually say is usually the same because their tribe is legion and spreads across the globe like the filaments of mushroom rings.

The reports of the Physician Inspector are from her own hand. Her diary entries I thought rather instructive and help to flesh out the complexity of her situation. I was reasonably pleased to see she wasn't nearly as droll as she made herself out to be in the deathless prose that passes for bureaucratic wisdom.

The Graffin von Ludenow, to whom I admit a distant relation, "denies and admits to nothing regarding her role in these affairs." You may take the truth-logic value of that statement for what it is worth.

With regard to the dead and injured men, they brought that on themselves.

In dictation and truthfulness,
~Ada Ludenow. H.S.H.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Within A Moonlit Grove

I was fortunate enough to have attended a friend's wedding ceremony this weekend. Given the climatic uncertainties of the region, one could say that her choice of date was either fortuitous, blessed by the Gods, sagacious or… more likely a mixture of all three.

This is because the wedding was held outdoors in the Old Tradition, and by that I mean within a grove of trees on the frontier of Night. In this, I believe their choice of time was perfect, for it allowed a great measure of Evening into the proceedings, represented by a magnificently full Moon.

The Bride came proud, with her beautiful hair down, and the Groom walked with her. He bore a delightful flourish of gravitas and she was smiling. They are both handsome people who elicit that strangest of feelings: a mixture of desire: to want to be that beautiful and in love with someone that beautiful and that in love.

Later, there was food, wine, music and dancing. Although I do not dance (having never learned the craft) I again enjoyed watching them. And it made me think upon connections.

How substantial is moonlight? It must also be taken care of, and the best way is to simply look at it and understand the connection between the Moon, the Earth and the Sun. I can bear witness to love. Unlike the wearing Light of Day, the Moonlight is soothing. There is always possibility in the darkness.

The love between my friends is something I bask in. What is that, aside from something I am sure of?

That is the strange thing. We all move through this world, unsure of whether we can really know someone else. We cannot even know ourselves fully. Consider these connections of love and friendship, of music and memory, of hunger and thirst graciously sated, and even some despair sweetened through the contrast of so much hope.

We can know these connections well, if we allow some moonlight and love to give them shape, and hallow them in the accommodating darkness of a Summer's eve.

For Maeve and Kevin.