insect

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Click to hear a reading of the following poem.

insect

for 80 million years she crawled
flightless as her arthropod ancestors

she grew wings in the devonian period
and flew away faster than six legs ever carried her

no flowers bloomed or scented her flight
no brutes with torches or electric moons

she flew in a night without fire and she dreamed

remember her under your porch lights
in your desolate parking lots at 3 a.m.
in your isolated rooms where sunlight
never penetrates

remember her millennia of yearning
for a place to swarm and burn completely
and in that brief flash before dying
tell an ancient story written with buzzing wings

outlined with keratinous hairs
segmented like carapaces into paragraphs
stories you could never understand
until you too had lived in darkness

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now in print: The Baby and The Crystal Cube

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Two lucid dreamers meet in recurring dreams, fall in love, and conceive a dream baby; but the unreality of the dream world leads them to distrust each other—with nightmarish results.

A paranoid exploration of two minds dreaming the same dream, and fighting to control it.

On Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

On Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook Book.

On Apple iBooks.

drone

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Click to hear a reading of this poem.

drone

near the end
you chose the monotone

you had your fill
of chord progressions
bouncing like billie

or children playing in the grass
chasing soap bubbles
until they burst

all you wanted
was a steady drone

a placid ostinato
oscillating in the background
like hummingbird wings

or a rothko canvas
consuming your vision
with one fundamental color

 

 

now in print: Never See the Night

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An interplanetary biologist locks himself in a fortified research lab with an alien octopus, stranding his teammates outside in the path of a ferocious hurricane on a water-covered world. The animal already killed one of them, and the scientist-commandos must get inside to confront it, or die in the storm.

But the octopus has plans of its own, because it just discovered a new species, too: humans.

This short story is accompanied by five recent poems from the Poetry of the Planets project.

Now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. On Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook Book. On Apple iBooks.

now in print: Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition

Featured

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Get ready for asteroids, anarchy, and excessive ammunition, because Meteor Mags and Patches are back—bigger, badder, and louder than ever!

On the asteroid mining frontier of the near future, a hell-raising space pirate and her indestructible calico cat rage against the forces of law and order, “liberating” cargo and racking up a massive body count—until they come face-to-face with an alien invasion!

Join Meteor Mags and her criminal crew, the hard-rocking Psycho 78s, in fifteen tales of interplanetary piracy and total destruction. Run for your life in the tornado that wipes out Ceres! Thrill to the savage mating rituals practiced by the evil space lizards! Learn how to smuggle cigarettes and shoot pool with the solar system’s number one dancer! Witness the unearthly energies of the machine that transforms Patches the cat, and merge your mind with a telepathic space kraken!

From rescuing a pirate radio DJ in a hail of bullets to dancing naked with a tribe of Russian space monkeys, Mags and her outlaw friends rock the Belt. But how long can they survive when everyone on Earth wants them dead?

Now Available on Amazon as a 588-page paperback featuring black-and-white art plus Asteroid Underground articles and interviews with the crew. Also available in a text-only version for Kindle for $9.95, or get the Kindle for free when you buy the paperback.

Also available for iBook, and on Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook Book. The sixth volume collects and updates all the material from the first five volumes, plus three new stories. 183,000 words.

 

quarterly report

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As you know, these quarterly reports are serious business, so for the love of all that’s holy, put on some decent socks.

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In the past six months, your purchases at MyComicShop through the affiliate links on this site earned your humble martian moderator enough store credit to get two volumes of the Samurai Executioner Omnibus. THANK YOU, dear reader! These are books by the Lone Wolf & Cub creative team, full of poetic decapitations and deeply disturbing human behavior in Edo-period Japan.

I love omnibuses so much that I made my own this month. There will be an announcement about it here tomorrow. For now, here’s a shot of my first proof copy of the paperback edition. It’s 183,000 words, 588 pages, and weighs more than 2 pounds. It’s like heavy, man.

omnibus proof

Hey! Wasn’t I supposed to graduate this month? Yes. But the forces of evil conspired against me, and the upside is that I have until November to turn in my final project. My sister wanted to send me a little graduation gift, which turned out to be a “sorry about the forces of evil” gift. It’s a plant that looks like an alien growing out of a Dimetrodon‘s back. Hell yeah!

dimetrodon plant

It’s a lovely addition to the blogging station, especially because my venus flytrap bit the dust after I made the n00b mistake of letting its stalks grow. And yes, that’s a bloody stuffed puma in the photo, and I got him a friend this year. They read Villains of All Nations together.

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Most people would think it odd that a grown-ass man takes a stuffed puma on visits to the dentist, but my dentist totally understands. He is my hero. He works on big cats like ocelots and tigers at the Phoenix Zoo, and he and his father saved the life of a jaguar that was illegally trapped in Mexico. The poor thing had tried to chew through the metal bars of its cage, damaging its teeth so badly that it couldn’t even eat. My dentist fixed up that awesome cat, and he and his staff take excellent care of me.

No, I don’t have him give pretend check-ups to my toy puma. But now that you mention it, I might ask for that next time! It would make a great photo.

Last but not least, my cell-phone pics of my old Godzilla toy got their fifteen minutes of fame this year. Some cable show about memorabilia found them and contacted me for permission to use them on an episode. No, I can’t remember the name of the show right now – This Bloody American Junkyard or something – but I signed a contract allowing them to unleash my late-night toy photos on the world. If a huge green monster destroys your city this year, I guess you know where to send the hate mail.

This is a different Godzilla toy who deserves his own gallery here someday.

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gravity

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gravity

the moon burns for the ocean
when no one else can see the sun

he cares nothing for what her tides erode
with violent patience

nor the animals lost
in her limitless depth

he only wants her
closer

they hold each other
across unchartable distance

never touching
but never pulled apart

Hang My Body on the Pier

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This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

ABOUT THIS STORY

The fifteenth story in the Meteor Mags series presents scenes from her Great-gramma Magdalena’s early life, from when she was found orphaned, through early days pretending to be a boy and sailing with pirates, to her eventual rise to power as a pirate queen.

Central to the tale is her relationship with the man who found her and took her to sea, a man she calls Father. Combining third-person narration with excerpts from Great-gramma’s memoirs, this tale reveals the years which shaped her relationships with death, crime, the sea, and a male-dominated world of power.

Mags was named after her great-grandmother and worships her. By this point in the series, readers have discovered amazing things about Great-gramma. Though she died before Meteor Mags was born, she visits the space pirate to give her guidance in dreams and visions, and she may be influencing events in the stories. She created the magic ring Mags wears. The ring extends Mags’ lifespan to 200 years, just as it did for Great-gramma. The story of its creation has yet to be told.

This tale includes a framing sequence in the series’ “current day” of 2029, featuring characters who will be unfamiliar to new readers, but who have been central to the past seven episodes. Mags sings a song with these new friends she’s made in the asteroid belt—a song with origins in Great-gramma’s untold past on Earth.

This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

 

painting

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One of the neighbors moved out and left behind a 36×12 canvas with a generic photo print of a flower on it. Seemed like a good opportunity to break out the acrylic paints and texture media. I don’t have a name for it yet.

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kalaratri

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kalaratri

time’s endless night
destroys all those she makes
her acolytes

we build honeycombs in carrion
not even ravens will scavenge
we sleep in cities where birds refuse to roost

back alleys where the concrete wind
blows one implacable song
then collapses

in refuse we find refuge
what was cast off we repurpose
to make it new

my sweet everything
this continent belongs to you
by virtue of your villainy

you own it because it cannot escape you
nor restrain you
your power here is absolute

the essence of impermanence and solitude
embracing all and drawing them
to your breast

suckle your disciple
so i might outlive gods
and kings and treachery

outlive words and paper and the
bonfires where they will be burned
and then
forgotten

jupiter

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jupiter

you make me laugh until we tumble
into this drift like asteroids
coaxed by gravity

to surround this jovial hydrogen bastard
who disturbs the belt
with his frivolous storms

laughter heals and lifts us past the pain
your tears on my shoulder and fictions
we dream together

love me for an hour then leave
traces of your orbit and clues you give
astronomers

to the sadness of the inner planets
where life only made them realize
they’re small

i will never let them touch you
with telescopes and equations
i will erase their blackboards and crush their lenses

until all they know is mystery like a fool
i would keep you to myself
though your brightness burns for everyone

annihilation comes easily
rejuvenation takes more effort
or none at all

one word
one touch
will inspire

Hear this poem read by Judy Cullen. Then go discover her work!

painting

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This new 30×40 canvas makes a colorful addition to my bedroom. It feels more like a background than a finished piece, but it’s going to spend some time on the wall where I can think about it and enjoy it in this minimalist stage.

Quinacridone magenta, ultramarine violet, and prussian blue over acrylic texture media.

new painting 1new painting 2 detail

mercury

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mercury

when you no longer hate the sun for shining
or curse it for bringing life
to our cold blue speck

when you run out of things to say
i will hold your heart in my hand
so you may count the petals of every flower

every hand that held another holds us
ache for me when i am gone
then realize i never leave you

write our manifesto and burn it
our buried chest of golden coins
will grow to a garden of stars

love it for me as if it is our child
my place is with you

we paint the stars together
when no one else is breathing
the moon hides below the horizon

our neighbors rise from beds
like corpses from their graves
unable to recall the songs

the mockingbird performed at 4 a.m.
the wind whistled down the asphalt
haunted only by coyotes

my modern mercury’s caduceus
is a radio tower pulsing
between realms like dreams

the serpents of his staff
become iron girders riveted to the sky
broadcasting love and fury

to the sons and daughters of lightning
spanning the globe under incandescent shelter
from midnight’s prehistoric treachery

clarity
communication
the courier’s gift
signals the dawn

The Ryderium Caper

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This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

ABOUT THIS STORY

The eleventh story in the Meteor Mags series reveals the smuggler has been up to much more than just shooting people and breaking stuff in 2029. No one in her crew except Slim knows what she has been secretly working on with an old friend of the family. She has big plans she gradually reveals in the next three stories set in November 2029.

In The Ryderium Caper, Mags and her partner in crime, Ryder, discuss Gramma Margareta. Readers met Gramma in The Weight of the Universe, and Mags has talked about her in an Asteroid Underground interview. Readers know Gramma made a ton of money in billiards in Europe in the 1800s; and after the estate she and Great-Gramma built was bombed in WWII, Mags and Celina helped her rebuild it as a home for female refugees displaced by war.

This matriarchal utopia grew into a micro-society that was responsible for developing the principles of gravity control; and along with her mother’s fierce devotion to anarchist uprisings and her great-grandmother’s penchant for piracy, it has informed our villainous leading lady’s ethics and sense of justice—and her own aspirations to shape the future of humanity.

Astute readers will notice the scene in April 2029 is the same night seen from another point of view in Part One of Mountain Lions Forever.

This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

 

mars

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mars

you and i have unfinished business

you taught me destruction
a skill for leaving trails
of unmarked graves and broken spears

your path leads nowhere but down

stone is your only element
you bask in the sun for millennia
and only learn what it means to burn

you serve neither love nor justice
but conquest as its own reward
its prize a thread of wounds and ash

what words could you offer for redemption

how dare you speak them
over the eulogy of rain
and falling earth

neptune

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neptune

you wait when light abandons you
to a frozen ammonia tempest
forgiveness lives here no more

what becomes the sea without the sun
what tide is borne without the moon
to bear it

silent you drifted for centuries
while after you dreams dared not venture
and no one sang at all

holst named you the mystic
but what knowledge awaits
your desolation

the astronomer forsakes the city
for the unlit barrens
to see farther

past the realm of noise and mirth
and the din of blinding light
distraction

busy with nothing
he discovers
what lies
beyond

 

Note: Holst originally composed The Planets for two pianos, except for Neptune, which was an organ solo. Peter Sykes’ nine-minute organ transcription of Neptune captures a depth of tonality and emotion that surely would have pleased the composer.

mermaids

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No actual mermaids appear in this abstract painting, but it was the last wash of turquoise that made me think it might be the kind of place they’d like to swim. The other two colors are quinacridone magenta and ultramarine violet. The colors are liquid acrylics from Golden, and the black and white layers underneath are semi-gloss acrylic house paint. A couple coats of gloss varnish from now, she’ll be decorating the wall. 15 x 30 in., acrylic on canvas.

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Voyage of the Calico Tigress

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This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

 

 ★

OUR STORY SO FAR

The smuggler Meteor Mags and her criminal crew survived their suicide mission to Ceres—but just barely. They encountered Mags’ old friend Alonso, a musician from Kaufman’s favorite band. The pirates stole the freighter he worked on and almost killed him, but Alonso was too happy to see Mags to hold a grudge.

The storm on Ceres separated the crew from Kaufman and Patches: the treasonous official and Mags’ practically indestructible calico cat. Patches rescued Kaufman, but not before he took a beating from the tornado. They escaped in his stealth spacecraft.

On Vesta 4, where Mags and Patches swore to reunite, Kaufman’s son Anton awaits his father’s return. At Mags’ request, Sarah promised to show Anton around and take care of him. They help repair damage the club suffered in the cyborg incident.

On Earth, Mags’ “nephew” Tarzi studies a book she found which may reveal the origin of their reptilian enemies. She has also inspired her friend Slim to create a new field of mathematics; and with it, help her create a system to distribute free, unlimited energy throughout the Belt.

But despite their efforts, in the vast darkness of the asteroids and beyond, forces gather which threaten them all.

 

frontier

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Frontier

Luna, our beloved crescent,
you swell until you are full enough
to hang heavy against the horizon
like the breast of a pregnant woman.

You will be the first we settle,
our laboratory to test survival
on other stones that fill the sky and
telescopes. How could we resist touching you?

Will you shudder with pleasure
beneath our fingertips, or recoil
at the machines and metallic intrusions,
the rivets and girders of our civilization?

You have been our goddess
since before the dawn of history.
Now we will bring you atmosphere
and mark you with our scent.

We have always been inseparable.
Now we will be close.