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

Geranium’s First Song

Watch all this wither

Watch as we gather

the leaves and grass

and broken things

threadbare heroes

and three-cross kings,

we sleep in the heart

we wait in the dark

until the cobblestones give way…

Watch all that glitters

Watch all that stains

the sun shines on the city

but tomorrow will rain

but tomorrow will rain

we dream in the earth

we dream of the sky

Green bone and promise

even blue dreams can die.

When the cobblestones give way

When the cobblestones give way…


Song of the Road – The Riddle Box

Song of the road, road made of song.
Who knew I would travel so long?
Stories and wind, campfire and rain.
When will I ever see my home again?
When will I ever see my home again?
Triumph and travel, teapot and steel.
Won’t someone tell me what I’m supposed to feel?
Lovers and liars, heroes and pain,
When will I ever see my home again?
When will I ever see my home again?
I walk through the sunshine, but only see night.
Even in the valley I stand mountain height.
Summers and Winters and Springs made of Fall,
The world keeps on turning and I forget them all.
Quiet and quick, I walk alone.
Who knew the cold could marry my bones?
Mud in the gutters, shadow and flame
When will I ever see my home again?
Never, oh never see my home again.
Never, oh never see my home again.

The Riddle Box – Music

“You know a lot of things. I say it, so you can hear it. It is very important that we all know this about you, yes?  You know a lot of things. Things and springs and wheels and the click-clack of numbers falling in a row. But music?” Geranium tapped a staccato beat, two fingers on the pulse of his wrist. “It cannot be known. You can’t contain it, you can’t weigh it, you can’t put it safe on a shelf or bury it down in a hole. There is a reason that the Songs of the Lost still haunt us, that the simple melody in children’s games hum and burn in our temples as we clutch the pension-staff and stumble our way towards the grave. There is a reason that I walk penniless and proud down dark roads, with only my guitar as companion, as every true Bard of Gate City must.”

“What does –”

“Quiet now,” the bard raised two fingers to his lips. “Listen and remember. It binds as it breaks, it slips up the tallest castle walls and shivers its way into the darkest of hearts. It burns as bright as the sun, warm as an oven while I stand on the stage. I sing and every eye is mine and every heart is mine and every secret unfolds and the music drinks tears and shines and shines and shines. One song, the right song, one song for every heart. Even if they’ve never heard it, even if the song hasn’t been written yet, there it is, quarter notes and red blood on the parchment. And when the wind is at my back, I can see it. I can hear it.”

The bard’s eyes shut tight.

“And if I can sing your song, I can break your heart.”

Rime interrupted sourly, “Ridiculous.”

Bard’s Doggerel

Writing about music is like dancing about math.

Song in the scabbard and stone in the bath.

Hand in my pocket, heart full of dust

Robot Vandal is nothing but rust.

End of the road, bend of the way

the king’s thread-jester has nothing to say.

– Max Madwand, Bard of Gate City

The Riddle Box – Cover Reveal

At last – no further preamble – here is the cover illustration for The Riddle Box!

Cover Illustration - Mike Groves @poopbird
Cover Illustration – Mike Groves @poopbird

Yes! Bask in it’s glory. So many thanks to Mike Groves – poopbird.com – for his fabulous design.

Thank you for enduring the flood of activity from the blog, but I’m afraid there will be more to come as the release of the book in August gets closer.

Shares, presses, tumbles, and retweets very much appreciated – but please always credit Mike Groves/poopbird as the artist.

Stay tuned at this spot for more ramblings, poorly planned self-promotion, and pretty good recipe for peanut butter cookies.

Please follow this link to add The Riddle Box to your Goodreads queue!

Eli Wallach


See you around, Tuco.
Always moving forward,
Foul and sure
And human
And around and around you go.
Gunsmoke and desert sand in your teeth.
Your greed overmasters thirst and pain
And death itself.
But you have a brother
And you have another
Lie to trade with time
For one more day in the sun.
Slip your noose and run,
Your grin defiant and broken.
I will miss you until I see you
Leaving and hiding and
Biding amongst the dunes.

Get Back into the Fight


And so we begin again. Careful and slow, the embers spark and the cold howls the ramshackle hovel I call me.

We begin again. With the dull swords and halberds of rust we clutch and stammer in the wendigo afternoon. Turn and face, about-step and lunge.

I remember the way. My demons have taught me well. Cruel mentors are the surest sages. Rime knows this and Jonas will learn.

Again the weight and again the City of Rain. Again the fading halls and the broken sunlight. I have built my army well, I am not just what you see. I give my words away but the doors remain shut.

Keep faith in the gatekeepers.

We begin again. I am not alone. I have miles to go. From black earth risen, I burn like the Third Moon.

Stand shoulder-wide with me and shout. This is not the day we die. Jangle skeletons and foul-diamond horde. Ogre-pain and empty wind. We stand to face you. You, and your master, the Patient Dark.

This is not the day we die.

We begin again.

Riddle Box Sketch 3

Sing in me, O Muse

of the dark that hides,IMG_0254

quiet and calm

in the center of the

riddle box.

Open the lid and

let the two travelers inside.

This is not their mystery,

but they are the clue

lost among the echoes

of now

and long ago

and yet to come.

Will you ever know,

will you ever really be sure,

that the shadows give way

when you turn on the light?

Do they retreat

or do they wait?