Meteor Mags: The Battle of Vesta 4 – now in paperback and ebook!

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bov4 cover kindle

Four Action-Packed Stories Full of Anarchy, Asteroids, and Excessive Ammunition Continue The Adventures of Meteor Mags and PatchesHoist the Jolly Roger and Get Ready to Rock!

Available on Amazon in paperback (224 pages) and Kindle. Also available on iTunes and at Barnes & Noble for Nook Book.

Rings of Ceres: A hell-raising space pirate and her indestructible calico cat return to a decimated asteroid civilization to rescue friends and kick ass, but they get caught up in violent riots between the desperate citizens of Ceres and the mercenary security forces guarding the mining corporations.

Jam Room: Meteor Mags leads a jam session with the teenagers who want to start a punk band called Dumpster Kittens!

The Battle of Vesta 4: Meteor Mags and her fun-loving crew throw the birthday party of a lifetime—until death rains down from the sky! Mosh at the rock’n’roll party of the century as the Psycho 78s record their new album! Flee in terror as Club Assteroid falls under the dragons’ assault from space! Discover the underground caverns of Vesta and join the resistance! Take one last hell ride aboard the Queen Anne before it all goes up in flame! Strap on your battle armor and get ready for the most brutal, barbaric, blood-soaked fight of your life: The Battle of Vesta 4!

Hunted to Extinction: Meteor Mags and Patches undertake one last hunt to exterminate the space lizards from our solar system. Their journey reveals the fate of Tarzi’s parents, a tragedy that connects our criminal crew to a powerful potential ally. Plus, Mags gets a new ship, and it’s got even more kick-ass stolen technology to help her plunder the System! Her club might have been destroyed, but Meteor Mags and her friends will never accept defeat so long as they live.

May not be suitable for children or carbon-based life.

 

Blackened Sole with Noodles

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BLACKENED SOLE WITH NOODLES

Usually I blacken catfish, but fillet of sole was on sale. Why not try it with that pack of Ramen I picked up on a whim? And of course, toppings.

blackened sole with noodles.jpg

Prep:

I soaked the fillet of sole for about an hour in a marinade of one take-out packet of soy sauce and an equal amount of juice from my jar of pickled jalapeños.

While that sat, I ground a pile of black pepper onto a plate, and added an even bigger pile of chili powder, then stirred that together.

Also, I got my pans ready, because the fish and Ramen will cook super fast, and that’s no time to be fumbling with pans. I put water in a small sauce pan for the noodles, and olive oil in the frying pan for the fish. Don’t skimp on the oil; it keeps the fish from sticking to the pan.

Cooking:

When I was ready for the fish, I got the water boiling, and heated the oil in the frying pan to medium heat. “Blackening” can turn into “burning” very quickly, so it’s best to not be too aggressive with the heat.

I put the fish one piece at a time onto the blackening mixture and gently but thoroughly coated each side, then set the fish in the hot oil. This is no time to dawdle, because fillet of sole is a delicate cut of fish, and it only takes a couple minutes on each side to cook all the way through.

The water was boiling, so I dropped in a whole pack of Ramen. The noodles finished at almost the same time as the fish. I drained most of the water and added ½ to ¾ of the flavor packet. (I wasn’t making broth like the Ramen instructions say to, so adding the whole packet to mostly dry noodles would make them way too salty.) Stirring in the seasoning was easy because the noodles were still wet and steamy.

Serving:

Spread the noodles on the plate, and set the fish on top. I heated nacho cheese sauce and sprinkled on diced jalapeños, with a light drizzle of red hot sauce. (The pile of green stuff in the photo is quinoa pesto I was taste-testing. It’s good on its own but totally wrong for this dish.)

Taste Review:

I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by this inexpensive concoction, but it was all kinds of awesome. More sensitive palates could dial back the saltiness and spiciness by using less of the flavor packet and not garnishing with jalapeños. The Ramen was perfect for this, but you could make a deluxe version with angel hair or fettuccine pasta. This dish could probably feed two if it included a side.

 

holograms

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holograms

we might be tiny flecks
inconsequential shards
but any fragment of us
contains the whole

every atom of our lives
holds a universe

we have always matched
our eyes the same color
our origins identical
we came from nothing

we stole everything
and we refuse to leave

Battered Cod with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Injuries

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Battered Cod with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Of all the meals posted this month, this one was the closest to ecstasy, but also the most painful, because I burnt the ever-loving shit out of my finger while making it. It all started when Sprouts put nearly a pound of Alaskan cod on “manager’s special”, and I thought, “Isn’t that what British pubs use for fish and chips?”

battered cod garlic mashed potatoes

Marinating the Fish.

I cut the cod into five pieces and soaked them in the juice of one Persian lime mixed with one take-out packet of soy sauce. I don’t know what’s special about Persian limes other than that they were on sale, and the ones I bought were seedless, which is convenient. The fish marinated in the fridge for about an hour while I worked on everything else.

Potatoes Like a Boss.

The secret to great mashed potatoes is realizing the potatoes are merely the vehicle for flavor. Potatoes are neutral, like blank pages in a book. Your mission is to write a flavor masterpiece on those pages.

I started with roasted garlic butter. The last time I made garlic butter, it didn’t have enough garlic flavor for me. This time, I upped my game. Instead of regular garlic, I roasted two entire bulbs of elephant garlic, which is convenient because of the bigger cloves (which means less peeling).

Roasting garlic is easy: get rid of all the papery skins, chop off the hard tops of each clove, rub the cloves in plenty of olive oil, and bake them at 350F. The bigger cloves in elephant garlic take a little longer to get completely tender compared to the smaller cloves in regular garlic, around 20 minutes.

While the garlic cooked, I melted a stick and a half of unsalted butter in a sauce pan on low heat.

I also chopped a gigantic Russet potato, peeling and all, and boiled it until it was super tender. This potato must have weighed a pound or more; it was a real beast. It ended up in 32 small chunks so it would cook quickly, which took about 20 minutes. When the potato was tender, I drained off the water. Easy stuff.

Right about the same time, the garlic was tender and smelling so good! I removed the hard skins from the cloves and used an immersion blender to puree the garlic and butter together. That’s it. Now you are a garlic butter expert.

I poured off half of this butter mix for later meals, then combined the remains with the potatoes, a generous pour of half-and-half (not milk, you savages—get some cream in the mix!), a splash of sea salt, a sprinkle of dried rosemary, and an “Italian blend” of grated cheeses (parmesan, romano and asiago). I pureed it all with the immersion blender, pouring in some more half-and-half when it seemed too thick for my little blender to handle.

The result was so good that I could have stopped right there and just eaten mashed potatoes for dinner.

The Topping.

It’s not my revolution if I can’t put toppings on it. I didn’t want boring brown gravy (though I do love that), so I made a chopped veggie topping by dicing a Roma tomato and a bit of red onion. I added diced, pickled jalapeños for heat and color, and a generous heap of dried rosemary. I shook it all up in a plastic container so the rosemary would soften a bit in the veggie moisture.

The Fish Fry of Doom.

I made a breading by whisking together flour, chili powder, black pepper, and sea salt. I suspect the “flour” was leftover waffle mix from last year, in an unmarked container. But waffle and pancake mixes are mostly flour anyway, so why not? I worried this would screw things up, but the breading tasted great.

I love coconut oil, but olive oil is better for a fish fry since it has a higher burning point. Once the oil heated up in my frying pan over medium heat, I started coating the fish chunks in the flour/spice mix and placing them in the pan.

Here’s where I fucked up. When setting the fourth chunk of fish in the pan, one of my fingers dipped into the hot oil with it. I suggest you don’t repeat this step, because I’m typing this three hours after I finished my meal, and if I take off my ice pack for more than five seconds, my finger screams like a motherfucker. So, unless you really enjoy physical pain that will give you the vocabulary of Samuel L. Jackson in a Quentin Tarantino movie, I have a suggestion for you. Put the goddamned fish in the motherfucking pan using TONGS!

Chalk this up to lessons learned. It’s difficult to cook fish, photograph it, eat it, and type one-handed. Somehow, I held my ever-so-manly pink Hello Kitty ice pack on my finger, reduced the heat a little on the fish fry, and flipped all the pieces once. They came out perfectly, and I saved three of the five chunks for leftovers.

hello kitty ice pack pink

I can’t tell you how many times this Hello Kitty ice pack has rescued me from total agony.

Serving.

Fish and potatoes on a plate! Drizzle with some of the still-warm garlic butter and the diced veggie topping, and dinner is ready! Ice Pack Optional!

Taste Review.

This may be one of my top ten tastiest meals of all time. The fish turned out great, despite the medical emergency in the middle of frying it. The improvised veggie topping surprised me by being the perfect flavor bridge between the fish and potatoes, without traditional gravy. I’ve made mashed potatoes many times, but it’s been a few years, and this batch made me fall in love with them all over again. I’ll send you a postcard from our honeymoon.

In the spirit of injury-induced profanity which informed this post, my potatoes would like you to know that, bitch, they ballin’!

 

 

seedling

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seedling

the body is soil
the world is dirt

ideas and emotions are seeds
longing to sprout
to break through the surface
unfurling green wings to capture the sun

they might grow unfettered or be consumed

they might live for centuries
or be wrapped in fire
presented as gifts
to the blackening sky

they might become medicine or poison

they might flourish in obscurity
or wither under the attention of millions

they might fill a forest like arboreal soldiers
marching in chaotic ranks to the coast
or stand isolated on the cliff edge
where only pumas sleep in their branches

they might drink their fill or die of thirst

seeds neither know nor care for any of this
gravity tugs their roots
the sun summons leaves
the stalk joins earth to heaven

the seedling wants to grow
yet desires nothing
seeking light
without ever looking

its substance and soul
are one and the same

Sausage with Black Bean and Spinach Salsa

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SAUSAGE WITH BLACK BEAN AND SPINACH SALSA

Sprouts put a package of three bratwurst-sized pork sausage links on sale, so I scooped them up for another creative culinary experiment. Yes, there are sausages hiding in this photo! What can I say? I like toppings.

sausage with black bean spinach salsa.jpg

Prep:

Rinse about ¾ of a bunch of spinach (minus the stems) first and thoroughly drain the water. The water needs time to drain before adding the spinach to the mix later, so you don’t get an explosion of popping grease when water meets hot oil.

Cooking:

I did this all in one frying pan, as usual. I browned the sausages on one side in coconut oil over medium to medium-high heat. After flipping them over and browning the other side, I pulled them out of the pan, sliced them in half lengthwise, and laid them out in the pan so the (former) inside was directly on the pan’s surface. This browned more surface area and sped up the process of cooking the interior.

When the sausages were fully cooked, I pulled them out and put all the spinach in the pan without removing any of the oil or melted sausage fat. Fat equals flavor, and we aren’t counting calories here.

I added two generous scoops each of canned black beans, diced pickled jalapeños, and fire-roasted salsa. Cooking over medium-high heat boiled off some of the liquid to thicken the mix a bit. (I worried this level of heat might harm the flavor, but it didn’t.) After a few minutes of occasional stirring, the spinach was fully sautéed and ready to pour over the sausages.

Serving:

Top with freshly ground black pepper, and it’s good to go!

Taste Review:

Unseasoned pork sausage is a bit bland on its own, but this dish made it part of a flavor explosion! The result reminded me of a rich gumbo, but with a much shorter cooking time. It might be even better if the sausage meat were first removed from the skins and cooked on its own, crumbling it into bits and stirring in the rest of the mix as it cooks. With three sausages and this topping, I could easily feed three people, so I saved 2/3 of this dish for later.

eclipse

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eclipse

when the sun disappears
we dance in its umbra

embracing lightless silence
where mockingbirds dare not fly

darkness belongs to bodies
we plant kisses like seeds

and if one star
carves its absence like a scar

then you and i are healing
in the wound

 

charcoal planets 1 v2

Pastel Planets 1
Buy it as a print or card.

Serrano Pepper Hashbrowns with Cheese

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SERRANO PEPPER HASHBROWNS WITH CHEESE

I never ate Yukon potatoes before, but the little ones at Sprouts looked so cute that I had to take a couple home for something special. Why not a spicy twist on an old breakfast favorite? Why not slather them with so many tasty toppings we can hardly see them?

serrano pepper hashbrowns with cheese.jpg

Prep:

I put two Yukon potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water and a dash of sea salt, then boiled them for no more than five minutes. I ran them under cold tap water to cool them down, and shredded them along with two serrano peppers. I ground some black pepper into the mix and a generous amount of chili powder, then mushed them about into four little patties.

Cooking:

I fried them in a skillet with coconut oil on medium heat. They were browning a little too fast, so I reduced the heat to medium-low and flipped them.

While they cooked, I took the mouth of a small jar and cut out circles from slices of Colby Jack cheese, and set the circles on the patties to melt.

Serving:

I topped them with a drizzle of chipotle ranch dressing and sprinkled on some more chili powder and black pepper. A little scoop of diced, pickled jalapeños in the center completed the presentation.

Taste Review:

Delicious and enjoyably spicy, but they could use a touch of sea salt in the patty mix for flavor. This batch turned out slightly mushier than the crisp perfection I envisioned, so I’d consider frying them in a lot more oil to get that deep-fried vibe. Olive oil might be better than coconut, since it can take a slightly higher heat. Overall, they tasted great, with a little room for improvement in crispiness.

The Martian Top 40

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redkrackle-small-for-blog

Mars Will Send No More is approaching the end of its eighth year, so I’ve been doing maintenance on it, clearing out dead wood and tidying up a bit. With more than 1500 posts, this garden of artistic obsessions requires pruning now and then. But I don’t mind. It’s fun to take a trip down memory lane and re-experience the ramshackle madness and mayhem upon which this blog was founded.

It’s a strange time for comic book blogs. Lloyd Wright at Diversions of the Groovy Kind is celebrating ten years of bronze-age comics blogging with nearly 3000 posts, and he’s musing on how life has changed since he started. He’s returned to writing comic books after stoking the fires of his nostalgia, and he’s a grandfather now, so he plans to post less frequently. Lloyd was a big influence on Mars in its formative days, so visit Diversions to wish him well and check out his latest original creations.

Paul O’Connor at Longbox Graveyard was an early supporter of my blogging endeavors when Mars was getting off the ground, and he’s been through changes, too. His “graveyard” has long since been been pruned and organized into a collection of his bronze-age favorites. He’s survived Californian fires, moved to Canada and returned, and is doubtlessly pondering his next conquest in the wake of leaving Twitter and putting his blog on indefinite hiatus. Drop by the Longbox to explore his entertaining collection of personal musings and generous guest blogs by fellow comic-book fans, and let him know we’d love to see him back.

Here on the distant frontiers of my Martian outpost, I’ve got no plans to abandon these virtual fortifications any time soon. We can always find something to rap about, whether it’s poetry, writing, art, food, or cats. But in honor of Lloyd and Paul and all the comic book bloggers out there, I’ll share an update about the comic book posts that have been the most popular here. Some of them overlap with my twenty-two all-time favorite comics, which you can find on the Archives Page. Some of them are from the earliest days of this blog, and others have recently rocketed to the top.

Here they are, in descending order starting from the currently most-viewed. Thank you for indulging and sharing my obsessions and joys, and stay creative.

Our Top Forty Most-Viewed Comic Book Posts
Magneto Rips out all of Wolverine’s Adamantium!
First Appearance of Spider-man’s Black Costume!
The Death of Barry Allen: Crisis on Infinite Earths 8
EC Comics & Ray Bradbury: There Will Come Soft Rains!
KISS: 1977 Marvel Comics Super Special #1
Dinosaurs of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson!
Animal Man 5: The Coyote Gospel!
G.I. Joe 21 – The Silent Issue!
Miracleman 15: Nemesis!
Origin of Starfire!
X-Men: Fatal Attractions Wrap Around Covers With Holograms!
The Conception and Birth of Nightcrawler!
Wolverine Aces the Red Skull!
Jack Kirby’s 2001 A Space Odyssey – First Issue!
Complete Jack Kirby Portfolio from 1971!
Wolverine Aces the Hulk!
Origin of Galactus by Jack Kirby
Michael Zulli’s Ninja Turtles!
Black Cat: She’s So Totally Amoral!
Your Guide to Getting Started Selling Comic Books on eBay
All I’ve Got to Worry About Is Shooting My Dinosaur!
Jim Starlin’s Psychic Battle Motif: Thanos vs. Galactus
Jim Lee X-Men Posters 3!
A Look Inside Bruce Jones’ Run on the Incredible Hulk
Jim Lee X-Men Posters 1
Robert Crumb’s Meatball!
Todd McFarlane’s Torment of the Lizard!
Scenes from Jack Kirby’s Black Hole Adaptation!
Do You Want to Know More about the Creepy Guy at the End of Avengers?
Jim Lee X-Men Posters 2!
Anatomy of a Comic Book Bad Girl!
Origins of OMAC: Made of the Future: EC Comics
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Graphic Novel Collection by First
Preeeeeeeesenting… The Women’s Texas Championship!
Rick Griffin: Man from Utopia!
Tygers: Alan Moore’s Legendary Empire of Tears!
The Human Head According to John Buscema!
What If Spider-Man Had Stopped the Burglar?!
Wolverine Gallery 22: Jim Lee
Judge Dredd versus Satanus, the Black Tyrannosaur!

Spicy Lemon Swordfish with Spinach

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SPICY LEMON SWORDFISH WITH SPINACH

Swordfish has a meatier texture than many fishes, more like a steak, but I find the taste a bit bland. Since the manager at Sprouts put out a half-pound chunk of swordfish at a steep discount, I improvised an intensely flavorful marinade to liven things up.

spicy lemon swordfish with spinach.jpg

Marinade:

  • A spoonful of sun-dried tomatoes with a splash of oil from the jar.
  • A spoonful of diced, pickled jalapeños with a splash of liquid from the jar.
  • The juice of one fresh lemon.
  • One take-out packet of soy sauce.

I cut the chunk of swordfish into quarters, like four mini-steaks, and marinated them about 90 minutes in the refrigerator.

Cooking:

All the fish and marinade went into a frying pan on medium-high heat, hot enough to boil the marinade. I ground a generous amount of fresh black pepper onto the fish, flipped it once, and ground more pepper on it.

Then I added a pile of chopped spinach leaves to the pan. I let the spinach and marinade cook about a minute longer after I pulled the fish out, so the liquid reduced and thickened, a bit like a sauce.

Serving:

After scraping all the saucy spinach goodness onto the fish, I sprinkled it with sunflower seeds and even more pepper, and added a dollop of hummus on the side.

Taste Review:

I wanted intense flavor, and I got it! More sensitive palates might prefer less lemon juice. More adventurous palates might desire more jalapeños. A half-pound of swordfish is more filling than I expected, but this was a delicious meal—and a lot cheaper and easier than it looks!

pollen

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pollen

words we create together
for each other
lavender-scented and improvised
bloom like wild roses in a field
untidy and free
scattered in summer sunlight
delicate as lace

our blossoms want to stay
unplucked from our stems
we cover this field
in a scent we share
embracing bees
who drink from us

we hold them close within our petals
for moments we never recapture
but always remember
giving grains of pollen like gifts

paper-thin wings
carry our presents
to distant lovers we never meet
flowers who want to taste and touch us
to grow as we have grown
and fill this place
with creations of their own

simple

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simple

you make it sound so simple

as if we could feast on angels’ corpses
dragging tomorrow over us
like a blanket

as if we could inhale
the first breath of stars
and claim their color as our own

to you it all makes sense

the way a song splashes on stones
bathed in light
they never see

how water holds you aloft
when you dream of drowning
and forgetting

you come here all the time

to this windowless shelter full of holes
this expanse that ceases
at your fingertips

you call it home
and it answers you
in silence and thunder

 

blackout poems from the archives

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blackout poetry -017

While organizing my writing files today, I found my collection of blackout poems from a few years ago. Some were eventually combined or otherwise transformed into poems I published in Anything Sounds Like a Symphony. If you’re looking for off-beat inspiration for your own poetry adventures, give this method a shot. I didn’t invent it. It came to me through a friend of Austin Kleon, who made a name for himself doing this to pages of newspapers and launched a successful series of books including Newspaper Blackout and the New York Times Bestseller Steal Like an Artist.

blackout poetry -006

I didn’t use newspapers, but a stack of National Geographic and old Playboy magazines, and odds and ends like an issue of Seattle’s Stranger.

You can do it with anything! In a writing course I took last January from Joanne Fedler, we did a similar exercise with our own material. We started with free-writing based on our recent dreams, just filling the pages with anything that came to mind, and then we highlighted only the most captivating words or short phrases. We used those as prompts for additional writing, like new starting points, but my highlighted pages resembled a blackout poem. Anyway, here’s the lot of them, from the archives.

 

 

fresh ink

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A couple of new illustrations for The Battle of Vesta 4.

mags 37 - drums - small copy

mags 36 - dances - small copy

history

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history

some objects crave stories
like the restaurant receipt you find
in a used book of poems

or the face carved in palm tree bark
on your walk home
from the bus stop

the lavender tops of a mountain ridge
silhouetted against the soft peach of sunset
demand a history

the truth of their geology moving in slow centuries
collides every night with astronomy
to tell a different tale

embrace the miniscule
the details
in their honest inconsequence

they are undiscovered fragments of giants
waiting for you to weld them with words
unique narrations tying threads together

symbols find meaning
only when married
to other symbols

all mine
lead back
to you

joe’s steampunk electric eel

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Joe Shenton got his Kickstarter funded for his current book project, and on Tuesday I received an awesome ink drawing from him. My modest contribution earned me a steampunk monster drawn in the style that will appear in his book, with the option to choose what the monster would be based on. I requested an electric eel, and Joe delivered!

UPDATE: You can now buy a high-quality print of this piece from Joe’s Etsy Shop!

joe shenton electric eel steampunk art.jpg

dawn

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dawn

at dawn the trees awake
with your name on their lips
unfurling your syllables on every leaf

tributaries of sap
running clearly to the edges
like resonant waves from a bell

a microcellular song
carried to thirsting branches
to reach above the horizon
and reunite this earth with heaven

like the trees you create the air i breathe
and shelter for the birds
flying from my heart
in every direction
seeking home

nestled in your boughs
where last night
stars danced and descended
to converse with shadows
and show them
what gave birth
to light

deconstruction

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deconstruction

bricks
gathered and mortared
under lightning
immune to the sky-cracking blast
but not the pickaxe
not the jackhammer

water you endured
always more water
deluge of the desert
borderless within its hour

forgotten in the desiccated day
receding into memory
until people forget to pray
for what will quench them

thirst they slake with other means
dehydrating like meat in the sun
cooking like heroin in a spoon
all to be extinguished

 

men work to destroy
what men have built
then rebuild it

unlike ants who always construct
always repair
forever expanding

 

you take days to crumble
resisting the hands of strangers

glorious rebel of stone
uncouth fortification
senseless monument

silent ferocity
honest façade
they will cart you away for burial

then dig you up again
to deduce your purpose

 

what did any of it mean
sullen edifice guarding nothing
beneath a conspiracy of pillars
and a swarm of false fires

factories where noise is born
where chaotic life is forged
into merciless order of steel
and unforgiving plastics

what did it mean to you
solid barrier protecting specters
intangible ideas of property
profit and pavement

 

how they burned to break you
without considering how you destroyed them
as they deconstructed you
how you eroded those who carved you

sending them to be sequestered
unearthed later like artifacts
discovered and debated
but never
truly
known

union

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union

accidents of birth have separated us
but they did not last for long

i loved you before we met
and always after you leave

how could we be apart
when the sunrise bears your signature
birds carve your name below the clouds
and no one can count your colors

you are this morning and the following onslaught
the shade and the respite
the chill
the darkness and the forgetting

you are the memory
the thread that sews me to tomorrow
the fullness and the emptiness
and all that comes between

how could i not love your light
reflecting for the first time
from buildings i never noticed
until this morning

you are the quiet space between passing cars
the silent animation in the palm trees
the slowly vanishing shadows
of the city’s slumber

what would i care for this minute
this millennium
if it did not carry your name
in every crevice and every peak
and all the undiscovered spaces

i am but a speck
a mote of dust
a whisper daring to dream it is alive
and achieving nothing

but in your arms
i am everything

writers

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writers

you drank away
everything i ever owned

it burned a hole inside you
until nothing was left
but unpaid bills

stains on the furniture
pages full of imaginary heroes
you son of a bitch

i threw them out
you writers are all the same
in love with any life but this one

even when you slept beside me
you thought of someone else