Empty House

what make we

what mar we

in the formless air of the

nothing square?

shuttered, dustless

and sere

like a  hobbled

moonbeam or broken

cog.

i speak

i don’t but I speak

and light dribbles down my cheeks

and is lost in the cracks around my navel.

hard to remember

wax breaking, channel and signet gone

the ink

is poison.

Dust eats me

and I am alone.

I Have Only Read 1.5 Terry Pratchett Books.

The Color of Magic and Good Omens.

That’s it. That’s all I needed to know. That I would live my life writing in his shadow. That I would have to wait until I was not writing fantasy for a while before I could read more, because I would copy. Copy copy copy. Some without realizing, some with avarice and the bandit’s dagger bit between my teeth.

Artist -  Molly Crabapple
Artist – Molly Crabapple

I’m sure you’re surprised. The closest comparison people have had for my stuff is ‘Are you trying and failing to do some sort of weak-sauce Pratchett thing?’. And the answer is yes. Of course it’s yes. Even without reading more, he’s everywhere – his essays, his presence, the quiet vibration in the air when I write. I’m not the first explorer, far from. He marked these paths for me, he’s already traveled further than I ever will. He already said the things, he already made that joke, he already saw, he already wrote it better than I ever could. I’m a candle and he is a bonfire.

It made me jealous, it made me depressed, it made me feel safe. I struggled to articulate the core concept of my fiction for months, he laid it out in 1000 words thirty years ago. I seethe on the border of the city he built, a useless rebel. I stare at his mountain of work with pickle-green envy.

And now he is gone. He left as he wished, in the manner he chose.

And now the road is less. The way is less. The worlds beyond are darker, and the paths out of ours harder to find. His light remains but it is distant, like the time-phase of starlight. And I feel alone. I have his whole canon to enjoy one day and that is a blessing, but out here in the woods between the wind is colder and I am bereft of the traveler who I envied and barely knew. He left his light in a tower of words, but his campfire out here in the dark has gone out and all I can smell is smoke.

With temerity and gall I claim kinship, with grief I join my voice to all that mourn.

Diagnostic

B_WtFziVEAEpEnGLet’s see what still works.

do re me fa so very far I fall when the wind stops blowing

held aloft like tinsel, like tin planes made of memory and bone. ten planes or eleven or six or seven while all bad dogs are barking at heaven

Run through the manger howl and stammer

break up the night but don’t mind the grammar

I tap the strings and shake off the moss

i hold nothing but the Songs of the Lost

the wires are heating and the sheep are bleating and light bends the heart into lines and vibration

change the station

The peak of the mountain was oddly shaped, like a malformed muffin discarded by an unknown baker.

Her smile was daggers and her dagger was laughter.

The steel circle meant nothing to her, not yet.

He picked up the faded staw hat as if it were made of cold rain.

The dog was made of glass. It had no heart but Purpose, no mind but Will. And it could hear it’s master’s call.

“Is everything okay?”

“Getting better, I’m just a tad sensitive about how my mind works. I’ve taken some blows up there, medical and otherwise – and the medication I’m on adds to that feeling of being…disconnected.”

“From the Force?” Obi-Wan, who is also Neal, probed carefully.

“Yeah.” I sighed, rubbing my eyes with the heels of both hands. “Things come out of nowhere, I’m always swiveling my head. I’m always on tip-toe.”

Always the dawn finds us scraping our heels on the edge of the fire, singing our skin as the dark retreats, as if we can burn the memory of shadow-lessons into the mute pages of form.

Radd Plateglass stood on the edge of the Red Tower and tuned his violin. The place he stood was not really called the Red Tower, but as a Name it was certainly evocative enough. The host of bright death that gathered in the streets below had destroyed many Names this night, this lyric of nights, and he was too exhausted to decipher the rubble and smoke to truly know where he stood. Except he knew where he stood, in the ruin of Gate City, the cracked bell of the world that would peal no more. A thousand-thousand strains of melody and light and song and memory had been born and treasure-troved in these streets, hidden and en-wombed by the endless night that covered all like a protective mother-spirit. Blood dripped onto the violin from his forlorn eye, the quiet dark circle of empty ravage the green skeleton had gifted him before tossing him aside. In days gone he would wipe the filth from  his instrument, but it was no matter. It had gone beyond the chance of repair. If only it would play true, that would be more than enough.

All Bards of Gate City had but one goal if they were worth their staves. That their death-song be true. Grand, yes. Better than all others, of course. The summation of a life of skill, beyond question. But true. Above all true. No lies in the soul of music, not from a true Bard of Gate City. And even if there would soon be no more Gate City, Radd’s song would be true true true.

The bard raised his bow and swirled the black smoke around as if to gather his audience and began to play.

Play the lines, play the lines

Play the times again Lucas.

the Machine is waiting

but light is fading

and sleep is gathering around like a constant vassal with poison in his teapot

i had it for a moment there

which is all i’ve ever been able to claim

so good enough

it will have to do

i have an oak tree root in my heart

and it groans in the wind