servant

i see you

standing on the edge of the tower

the mountains behind you

the flat town below you

i see you

and i see who you serve

i have not done

i have undone

enough

i was not watching

i am not doing

enough

i see you

and i see who you serve

time to remember

who i claim to serve

my eyes are red

with not seeing

enough

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Writing Update

Over the past year, friends and acquaintances will ask me ‘ So, how’s the writing going, Derek???’. I usually grimace and give some sort of a half-answer. I sat down today to write a seven-eighths answer, and this is what I wrote.

A traveler came to a city on the edge of a forest. The windows were dark, the chimneys were cold, the few people he passed had empty faces and sharp teeth. This was a place where Hunger wed Time, and he could see that soon their vicious children would be born. He had no wish to enter this city, but his shoes carried him down into its red tile streets all the same.

The traveler carried with him a box — a box wrapped three times in cords of silver. He did not know what was inside. Along the path, next to fire and  under the moon he had told himself many times what the treasure might be. He knew it was no heavier than so, no more fragile than so – but the silver cord was wound too tight for even the tiniest peek at the contents.

A long time ago perhaps, he had promised to carry the box to the city. Of that he was sure. But as Night gave slaughter to a legion of days, the rest of his charge had grown hazy. Was he to give the box to someone? Was he to perform some task with it? Were there other preparations he had needed before arriving at the city? He did not know, was not sure if he had ever known. Only the familiar weight of the box in his pack, only the road blooming in front of his feet, only the city waiting on the edge of a forest.

He wandered up and down a few streets, uncertain. Fewer and fewer people could be seen – and those he did see were walking knives. The sun was dying, so he hurried on. He found an abandoned house on the end of a narrow street and slipped inside. He laid out his bedroll in what must have once been the dining room of the house. He ate a few meager bites of his provisions and listened to the wind hoping it would have some suggestions.

The traveler went to sleep, his pack and the silver-wound box tight in his arms.

In the dark he dreamed of nothing, the lonely house swaying in the wind.

He awoke and his arms were wrapped around nothing. His pack was gone and the box.

The traveler cried out in fear, then in anger.  He ran to the door, the morning sun beaming down on him and an empty street. Not even stopping to retrieve his meager bed roll he ran out into the city. Up and down streets, past empty building and broken windows. He saw no one. Not even the few hollow people that he had seen the night before: the city was empty. Nothing but red tile streets and and shattered doors and the sound of his feet hitting the ground. He ran for hours, until at last simple exhaustion brought him to a halt.

The traveler sat on the edge of a dry fountain and felt the sun’s heat. His charge was gone, he was alone, and there was no one to explain. He groaned into his hands and took a long breath.

After a time, the traveler stood. He took one last look around and then shrugged. It took him some time but he retraced his steps to the abandoned house where he had slept and found his bedroll tangled and waiting. He folded it carefully and slung it over his shoulder – it was all he had left to carry.  Taking a loose nail from a broken cross-beam he took a few minutes to scratch his name on the outside of the front door.

Then he shut it behind him and walked out of the city. Into the forest, the road blooming underneath his feet.

drop

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one jot in the ocean, one clot in the lung

hard -hearted departed still clinging to the bottom rung

i see you up there, wearing those crowns of jade-locked air

free for the moment, never know where my curse went

keep spending out the bric-a-brac from the golden coffer’s lent

i howl in the dark, hands on the ladder still

praying for a break mistake where I make my final meal

my people eat brown and choke on the ash

upending neverending piles of sorrow in our father’s stash

stronger than fire, more devious than song

this curse is bloodborne and it doesn’t tarry long

i howl in the sun, the black blood how it runs

bones on the abacus still flipping until we remind the sums

staying for a wave, an eruption or a masquerade

bring me within reach of the table where the bronze and silver game is played

i don’t have much but a drop of the ocean

furor is favor for those that replace thought with motion

what magic is left, i call on it now

riddle me seven, but six will never bow

strong are the gates , built tall are the towers

banging my way to the feet of the fetid powers

i’m here in the silence, cloaked in thorn and ivy

almost there and hoping that you try me

i’m ready to burn, spend gold on the turn

sick of howling at the bottom of a city that never learns

eight seconds of midnight, nine drops of my birthright

look away thirteen, i’m running out of hindsight

the moment passes and i’m lesser, the same

standing in the alleyway mumbling my  name.

 

What Writers Want

An incomplete list.

  1. More time.
  2. More words that are interesting but aren’t too iridescent or macabre.
  3. For the shape in here to be the shape in there. For somehow you to see what we see.
  4. Less names or better names.
  5. Temporal vortex to skip to when the thing is done.
  6. More minotaurs.
  7. For it to matter.
  8. You waking up in the middle of the night, the solution to our riddle hot in your brain.
  9. You waking up in the middle of the night, knowing our heroes are with you and feeling warded.
  10. You waking up in the middle of the night, knowing our monsters are in you and feeling alone.
  11. Characters that follow the script would be too much to ask, but perhaps characters that would at least be willing to explain WHY they just blew up half your novel.
  12. A writer you revere to look up from your pages with wonder.
  13. A writer you hate to look up from your pages with despair.
  14. Less gerunds.
  15. An owl that whispers punchy dialogue to you.
  16. To know – really know – that this sentence is good.
  17. Bad reviews to be punished by that reviewer receiving only their least favorite jelly bean flavor. Forever.
  18. To briefly escape the knowledge that it’s always getting away from us, that we’re never quite catching it, that the faster we type the more certain the end of the sentence will never, ever be true.
  19. Less words. (if there were less, we’d be better at picking the right ones)

Accountability

I want my art to do more for the people, causes, and country that I care about. And as much as I earnestly believe in the power of any art to shape the world – I also know that direct action is also required.  Protest, dialogue, education – and donation.  We’re 10 days in and a lot of righteous war chests are going to need our coin to battle all this goddamn evil.

Effective immediately, I pledge to donate all of my 2017 royalties from my novel Asteroid Made of Dragons to the following:

I believe in the rule of law, I believe in the duty of the Fourth Estate. I believe in organizations that shield the defenseless. I believe in women AND health care AND allowing them to easily be in the same room without oversight. I do not believe that His Excellency’s administration will serve or protect the common good, so all of us need to pick up the slack as best we can. And arm the defenders of decency and justice.

Whatever royalties I receive on AMOD this year I’m going to evenly divide between these four groups. Like most authors I receive royalties once every quarter, I’ll post here when I get the next one in April. Now, I ain’t no Stephen King – these aren’t going to be big numbers even as I start to really flog the book in the next few months. But ‘what a person can do, a person ought to do’ as Antigone said.

If you are a supporter of His Excellency and his administration and goals – and this means you won’t buy my book or anything else I ever write – that is perfectly acceptable to me.

It doesn’t matter where you buy the book, the royalties will still come to me and get funneled to these organizations I want to support. Paperback, ebook, doesn’t matter.

AsteroidMadeOfDragons-finalfront cover hi-res jpegPurchase direct from my publisher. (Paperback and all ebook formats, DRM free.)

Purchase from my favorite independent bookstore: Avid Bookshop. (Or YOUR favorite independent bookstore!!!)

Amazon / Barnes & NobleiBooks

Man in the Mirror

I’m not one for resolutions or revolutions or any plan of any sort. But this is a more perilous world we’re all living in and I think it behooves me to state with as much authority as I can muster what I have planned for 2017. I need to be more accountable, I need to fight with the weapons I have and learn more about the weapons I don’t. Also, maybe write a few less of these weird raps? You know, just talk about my problems – process things like an adult? (No promises on that one.)

So, here’s what is on the docket.

Political Thought/Fiction

  • City on Fire : I’m writing an allegory of sorts over on Medium, I’ll also be putting any political writing over there. I’m going to be putting up the next chapter of City on Fire in the next couple of days, it should be about 10 chapters total. In between chapters I also have some open letters to my Senators planned.

New Projects

  • Shadeaux Public Radio : I’ve been writing songs and making bizarre Christmas albums with my friend, Jonathan, for 8 years now. We decided to finally stop being babies and actually take a stab at a regular podcast. Weird songwriting, comedy, the dissolution of reality, and resistance against the Darkness. Here’s a taste of our science: https://soundcloud.com/g-derek-adams/sets/the-shadeaux-bros-vs-the-king

 

Writing

  • Finish Basilisk Gospel. (Yes, still.)
  • Start Rime Korvanus vs. the Council of Nine 
  • *PENDING* Asteroid Made of Dragons news, that I hope to share with you soon.

 

Theater

  • Directing Sarah Ruhl’s STAGE KISS, opens February. (Expect my brain to be a little overtaxed this next month.)

 

Resistance

  • Every day.
  • Even if it’s just a little.

 

I know many of you probably feel similar to me after this past year – weary. But I’ve also begun to feel different these past few weeks. Not better – but tempered, prepared. There’s work to be DONE. The battles are now. I don’t know if I’m the equal to it, but I believe that I must be. That we all must be. And there’s strength in that.

 

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.