Thief of August

 

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William Faulkner – Light in August

take a look, take a long look and come running back for summer

wrapping atoms of madams and bricks made of wonder

already i stumble i grumble and trundle and pray for the glass to be thinner and humble

because i am the thief , sacks full of stolen light, heart full of borrowed grief

and no matter the cage, no matter the masquerade,

I keep on checking windows for the latch that is broken

sometimes meter doesn’t matter when the clockwork king has spoken

as often I slide down in the slush and the mire

as often the city guards hound and holler around the cobalt spire

my fingers are sure, until they are only bones

lock up your words, this thief has been in all your homes

craven-heart wish made on a nine-day fish,

i let that wide-mouth go and now this kid’s come to dish

not for me the farm or the plow

not for me the milk and the cow

i’m stealing the patter of rain on the sedge grass

fast dealing the cards and hoping for a queen’s pass

some skill, some fire, but unwilling to retire

i’ll reach inside your heart and rip loose the golden lyre

so don’t show me the cash box, don’t show me the vault

others may kneel but this kid was born in a circle of salt

as long as i breathe I can undo the bolts

grease up the hinges and slip in revolts

olympus is grand but looking bare by the year

this thief will release every spin of thunder’s peal

can’t keep me out

can’t stop me now

i know it’s a lie but the thief in me can never bow

two daggers in the sharp night

black cloak on my shoulder right

pockets full of poems and sacks full of syntax

don’t let me inside because i’ll pull up the carpet tacks

no power but the moment, no wit that isn’t stolen

through grime and grease keep praying my lantern’s golden

i am nothing but Now unravelling Then

too scared to part the waters that hold back When

this is about me, the two button-bandit

it’s always about me, check the feet as you scan this

don’t know won’t learn, but the ember still burns

nose against the glass and waiting for the three moons to turn

then i’m out again and hands in your wallet

nowhere to land so perhaps time to call it

dance in the east, bleed in the west

sleep in the south, northern lights only by request.

 

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Free Fall in 1000 Words

I have to start somewhere. Here is as good a place as any. This dot, this sentence, this word. What did Archimedes promise?

  • Give me a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall move the earth.

Yes, I know. Some versions of the quote he mentions the lever or the fulcrum too. And already the sand runs through my fingers.

I’m in free fall – I built myself specifically to ignore problems like these. I left the real world to its own devices. I have always believed, needed to believe, that we beat back the darkness with art. That making makes light, makes heat, makes a calm rhythm on the street. Everyone else can go to work, go to church, go to the store and buy milk. I do some of those things, but not really, not truly – I’m a phantom in this world, or I want to be. I make enough to live, I own very little. If my girlfriend threw me out I’d be gone without even a mattress to my name. I grew up in nowhere Georgia, which is to say a place dreaming itself. I grew up in books, flinging myself further and further away through any door, through every door. The most revolutionary act is Transformation – new eyes, new lives, new skin and bone. Every time I was ripped back here it was an insult, an umbrage, a soggy disappointment.

But I grew older. A four word opera. There were things I wanted here in this world, so I learned to Appear. To Seem. When you’re a ghost pulling levers it’s easy to pull together a pleasant machine. Take this laugh and that rhythm and those lines of words unspooling across his brow and cobble together an Almost Person. And I lumbered forward and I crammed a lot of this world into my gob. Take this part and that part and this smile and that heart and the machine is without chink.

Until one day. Three word tragedy. A bullet broke the machine, right over my heart, and I remembered I was a ghost after all. And I was here again and could feel again and I was falling. Like now. Like then I wanted out and the ghost that is me remembered the trick of opening the doors, always another door, always another Transformation. And I found, to my true surprise, that other people wanted to find the doors, needed help opening the doors, would follow me through if I sang just right.

This is it, I said. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m addicted to narrative, and we always want to find out we are the Hero that Hides. All the time in the mines, running through the shadow, all the time wandering on the edge of things, it was all for this. The real world has enough people watching it – I have my own worlds to tend.

But it’s not true. It wasn’t true. It was lucky and privileged and ignorant and vain. I’ve had time and peace and food and roof to scrawl dragons in the dirt. I have white skin and hazel eyes and can walk where I please in This world or That. I have lived idly on the edge of a great battle my entire life and have barely even offered to wear the colors of justice.

In my stories, though it may not always be clear, I’m trying to give something, say something – something useful. The power of the bonds of love. The nobility of the fight against the inevitable. But what good is it?

I’m a ghost and I’m falling. I can open door after door but I’m only bringing forth more phantoms. I can sing you a story about a city on fire but I can’t get more tax allocations for the fire department.

Because here. Now. I don’t know what to do. I called my Senators, I called my Congressman. It helped, it was worthwhile. But it’s not enough. The amount of my relief far outweighs the amount of good I did. I’m reading up on my entire state federal legislature, desperately trying to cram knowledge that I should have already mastered. I voted, I’ll vote every time, I’m ready to throw myself behind any true-heart champion on any level. I have some money I can donate to the right side of the important fights. It doesn’t feel like enough.

I’m not looking for absolution, I’m just stammering out a resolution. I’m a ghost and a broken machine and there are so many doors – but here is where the fight is. With people. With blood and bone and fire and stone. I’m falling like before, but this time I don’t have the lightning bolt in my belly. I don’t have the secret gift. I have no elixir and it’s getting dark.

I’m looking for that firm place to stand. The spot, even a dot where I can rally. There isn’t one, this isn’t a song or a fable or a run across the jazzman’s table. Just falling and air and fear. And this is where I was content to leave the rest of the worldNo door, no light, no dancing in the twilight. 

I can’t stop being a ghost or a broken machine or a sad little boy on the edge of a forest. But I can do more. I can do my best. I can keep making, I can keep opening doors, but I have to find my way into the fray. The most revolutionary act is that of Transformation – I’ve changed to suit my own purposes, I can change to better suit the times, to better suit the defense of my fellow humans.

And here we are at the end. This was mostly about me, I don’t know if I can shed that. Help me get in the fight. Instruct me. Inform me. I come from a people that love means duty. I have not done mine.

The Circle

Stand in the circle

and  hold,

hold light in

the circle and stand.

made of song, made of ink

made of water overflowing the sink

circle of salt

circle of bone

circle of holly all green and alone

circle of hands

circle of eyes

forget this charm and the last fire dies

we are the circle

and the howl is the wind

singing of  moon

singing of End.

Not tonight

not today

not while the circle is we

standing and demanding

our blood be more than the sea

burn like the lightning

sing like the sun

remember remember the charm’s twice done

all of us fall and all of us die

but the Circle still stands

and we give our reply:

as long as we stand

as long as we hold

as long as the circle

burns hot in the cold

 

riddle of heart

rot in the bone

we stand and dissolve

but our legend is stone.

Wind up the charm

thrice bound against harm.

Hold.

Hold.

Hold.

AMOD appears in BookBathBox!

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At last, I can talk about this! After months of secrecy I can finally blab and gush and turn into a small imp of excitement. This is quite honestly one of the most fun projects I’ve been able to work on with Asteroid Made of Dragons.

BookBathBox is a subscription box service filled to the brim with a panoply of delights constructed around an optimal experience for reading in the tub. Scents! Candy! Tea! And, shockingly for the Autumn box, my book.  The proprietor of the service, Winx, also runs a fantastic Booktube which I implore you to navigate to now. I sort of knew Booktube was a thing before this year – but never took the time to really investigate.  Holy crap it’s like Narnia – a Narnia of people quietly and pleasantly losing their minds about books and tea. The sort of people that would find me INCREDIBLY ANNOYING in real life – I could never interact with them in the wild. But here on YouTube, I can sit quietly and listen and imagine a life where we all sip tea together in a giant library. Just quiet slurpin’ and reading and sudden animated conversations about plot.

But how did all this happen? How did my mutant book find its way into the hands of such refined readers?

As I said, I only had the vague concept that Booktube was a thing – when a fellow author mentioned that they had spotted a review of their book on YouTube. In a FRENZY, I opened a tab and immediately searched my title and was blown away to discover a couple of reviews of AMOD. (Any of my Twitter followers may remember – I was, shall we say, elated.) The first one I found was from Winx & Ink. Normally, I keep a pretty hard policy of not commenting on reviews I find online – positive or negative. It’s not my place and it’s just this side of creepy – BUT I WAS SO EXCITED YOU GUYS. So, of course I commented on the video and gushed without reserve. Luckily I didn’t make it too weird- Winx and I became Twitter pals and all was well.

A few weeks later, she contacted me with the idea of using AMOD for the ‘Science of Fantasy’ themed Autumn box. Let’s be clear – she did ALL the work. I sent over some goodies and then she handled all the logistics, packaging, delivery – the alchemy of the box contents. I’m just left to watch in wonder -and awe as I get to watch the various reviews and unboxing videos pop up online. Like this!

or this!

or these!

It’s just wonderful and fun. And like many things that contain those adjectives I had almost nothing to do with it! Just sit back with a smile on my face and sip my imaginary tea.

Please go support Winx and Book Bath Box – you can still order the Winter Box, which is themed “Faeries in History” (AWWW SHIT) and I recommend that you do this immediately.

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Antietam

The old man sat polishing his armor with a faded white cloth. It was evening, late summer – the wind idled through the flaps of the tent but he gave it little notice. The cicadas were loud, but he gave them less. All of his attention went into the final corner of his breastplate, even though the dull iron would benefit little. All except a sliver of mind for the wheezing youth who lay dying in the cot near the entrance.

His armor was old, the stink of sweat and linseed oil inescapable. The leather scar-tissue that bound it all together had been replaced dozens of times, was due to be refit again. The old man made a note to seek the proper skill at the next city of note. The boy on the cot gave a snore that was half-choke and half-gasp. The old man kept polishing without hurry.

The hand holding the cloth constricted of it’s own accord and the cloth slipped free. The old man sighed. He was growing used to his hands and knees and even eyes and mind turning traitor. He leaned forward to snag the cloth from the floor and the wind idled through the tent flaps again, with more force this time as if it had remembered what it had forgotten there. It brought with it the smell of the fire from outside, the chicken and barley in the stew his men tended, and undeniable and soft at the end: the smell of pine and cold, the smell of home. He forgot the cloth but still felt the breastplate’s weight on his knees and breathed in deep.

“This is what no one will tell you, young man.”  His words were careful, pitched where only the wind and boy in the cot could hear. “You are alone. You can fill your life with noise and faith and toil and love and drink and battle, but it always goes quiet. It’s never real. Not even your memory is lantern enough. Stumbling in the wind and dark…”

The boy gave a noise that could have been a sob or just another wheeze. The old man shook his head and stretched his aching arm to pick up the cloth he had dropped. The cloth was faded white, but it was daubed pink and brown and darker crimson. At least the armor was clean.

The old man stood up with a spider’s care. He put each part of his armor in its proper place on the stand, then moved to the dying youth’s side. The old man gave his full attention at last and laid a firm hand aside the boy’s bloody face.

“At least you may rest now. You kept faith-or didn’t know the tale I needed. And still you keep breathing though you are empty and broken and choking on your own end. What honor there is in that, I give it to you gladly. Travel on, Child of the South.”

It was the work of a few moments to join his two old hands on the boy’s throat and close them tight. They did this job well, they did not betray. And then there was only the old man and his clean armor. And the idle wind bearing the memory of cold.

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Asteroid Made of No Dragon Award

 

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Did I win the Dragon Award for Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)?

No.

Did I want it?

Yes.

Did I expect to win it?

No.

Do I hate the person that won it?

No.

Do I have larger thoughts about the state of the genre, the context of this award with other awards, and awards in general?

Yes.

Are any of them important?

Uh..no?

Is this format becoming needlessly hostile?

A little…yes.

 

Why haven’t I written anything in a while?

Hey! What?!

Do I only write weird rap lyrics now?

Um.

Am I ever going to put Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box on iBooks like that nice man on Twitter keeps asking?

Shit.

Where are the audiobooks for The Riddle Box and AMOD?

Uh, see–it’s–

Why have I stopped using my FitBit?

Look, now you’re just —

No one likes you anymore.

Hey, that’s not even a question. And you – I? – changed pronouns.

Bold-face you is ashamed of regular-face you.

Well, I suppose there’s plenty of reasons to feel a little —

No one finds you funny.

Okay, that’s just a lie. I am hilarious AND a delight.

You’ve been drinking too much.

I – that – could be argued.

Where is this going?

I – don’t know?

Rap battle?

Okay, rap battle.

. . . .

Swing around the street lights

Remember why you stay up nights

howl down the wind and be sure

your ribs are zipped up tight

Calling down the hallway

Surely must be a better way

to hide in the hollow of too many years

black earth, red blood, and those things you say

scamming programming and spamming the blueshell tears

hound of the west comes to die in the south

words are the only thing you have left in your mouth

words are air and time is dust

End is the lover you can always trust

to forget and forgive and bury you clean

silk coffin so tight you can’t even dream

sing in your bones, stand in the fire

plateglass warrior lives to die at the spire.

 

Sing what you wish, this kid has moves

inevitable correctable which my clockwork symphonic proves

hoarding up my void points and waiting for turns

when the black trumpet is quiet and the midnight burns.

Hum down the wire and come meet me in the spire

I’ll help you remember which of us first confounded Fire.

Astounding, unlikely but already true

it’s only meter that matters when blank notes unspool.

uncork the bottle of already gone

lets see what’s left to cobble up this song

i serve at the mercy of the undying Gray

which means i’ll keep spitting until that witch has had her say

untouchable for now, my broken-heart vow

is the lyre the liar or did I forget a final bow?

burn up the curtain and break down the arch

no lovers can linger when Open and Shut is on the march.

. . . .

That was a pretty good rap battle.

I agree.

Who won?

I did.

Clever. I see what you did there.

I’m glad someone does. Let it never be said I won’t follow my muse to the bitter end.

But then there’s this weird part at the end that trails off. How do you land this?

Only one way:

horsedragon

Nice.

 

 

 

I am VERY excite.

DragonCon Schedule (How to Find Me)

First, you must do this.

You must stand in the spire as the sun reaches its zenith. As the light falls on your eyes, close them tight.

A youth, dressed as a vaguely homoerotic Smash Brothers fighter will appear. You are not to speak to him, only nod in appreciation. He may nod back. He may not. That is not part of this. Or is it.

Second, you must do this.

On Friday, in the Hyatt Lobby, three women will appear. They are not cosplaying. They are actual elves. Do not speak to them, only nod in respect. They are wearing headphones. When they depart, turn quickly to your right. The first Deadpool you see is named Craig. That is not part of this, but a neat trick nonetheless.

Third, you must do this.

Climb the stairs to the hidden Con Suite. Eat and drink whatever is offered with effusive thanks. Walk to the westernmost corner that overlooks the lobby. Someone of no important gender will appear – as gender is performative anyway – and speak to you of echolocation. You are close on my trail. Go to bed immediately, you will need your strength.

Fourth, you must do this.

Find the Catan board with the triangular notch in one side. Steal the Thief piece, he knows one of my secrets. Interrogate him carefully in a manner of your own devising. He will not speak. Chaos does not break.

Fifth, you must do this.

Forget your name. Forget the weight that hangs on your heart. Run down the endless halls and sing the songs that you like best. Gaze with disbelief on the vague errata of a life you have left behind you and scoff at those who claim you must return.

Last, you must do this.

Remember that we are the Empty, but we shine all the brighter for the light we can carry in the vast hole some call Heart.

OR

You know, hit me up on Twitter – @gderekadams – or comment here. I’d love to meet up with anyone! And I’ll probably make time to go to The Dragon Award ceremony, Sunday – 2:30.