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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Directing Sarah Ruhl’s STAGE KISS, opens February. (Expect my brain to be a little overtaxed this next month.)
- 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.
what am I getting at? what am I getting at?
repetition and iteration
will these save our nation?
can’t doubt, can’t stammer
got to put both hands on the hammer
what we are, we are – for One and Zero
in the rudiment parliament each of us can be the Hero
heat up the forge, I remember the way
coal still burns and metal bends when the words of Power stay
this summertime tune won’t hold up in winter’s tomb
got to reinvent the moment and rewire the golden loom
pull down your iron, the shovels and rakes
melt all the horseshoes, the copper and tin mistakes.
Want to know my mettle can hold an edge
want to be sure that this wizard is more than hedge
the battle is coming and dog-blood has its own stench
I can see the lightning but can I call it down in a trench?
Am I better on the sidelines, distracting with my bylines
pester like a jester, and checking real combatant’s tie-lines?
I can make toys and I can make shelves
and when the wind is right I can make Twelves
Elevens, Sixes, and Nines
Not all that’s gold is glittering but even the rudest ruby shines.
pull off the forge door, melt it down with the iron store
i’m burning up the shapes interlaced verbs to thee implore
sentences are sentinels that march on the beat,
can’t keep them straight enough to out-fox the darkened feat
when its all gone, and melted and gold
bring down the hammer and beat out the shape foretold
we need blades and blades and blades and the hammer
edges of light that won’t chip in the clamor
my words aren’t elf-made, Moria-born none
no gleaming Glamdring when this kid’s work is done.
but i’m hoping that the blood and lies in my cauldron
can make a bane to hold back a few of the Darkest-son.
Can’t even remember when I laid my words like cobblestones
now I rattle and tattle like a ghost moaning through ship-wreck bones.
Regardless and markless and the path grows darker still
no rhymes left but rubble, echo again like whippoorwill
don’t sleep at the forge, even dross can’t be ignored
these syllables will serve and beat every drop of ink into a sword.
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.
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 world. No 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.
Stand in the circle
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 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.
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!
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.