Categories
Commentary Quote

Wednesday Words (late) Ray Bradbury: If Only We Had Taller Been

I posted an NPR video a few days ago that featured this poem, and the video below, because it is SO DAMNED AWESOME, and because I’ve been reminded lately of how America, distracted by fear, anger, hate, suspicion, partisan caterwauling and self-serving rhetoric, has surrendered our collective zeal for greatness, settling for loudmouthed mediocrity.  I intend to address this in the near future, when I’ve collected my thoughts, but in the meantime I’m posting this video again because the accomplishment is mind-boggling.

ray_bradbury_writing“Nine year old boys are always finding me out.  A ten year old boy ran up to me a few years ago and said, ‘Mister Bradbury,’ and I said yes, he said “that book of yours, The Martian Chronicles?’ and I said, Yes. He said, ‘On page ninety-two?’ and I said, yeh, He said, ‘you know you have the moons of Mars rising in the east?’ and I said, Yes. He said, ‘No.’  So I hit him. I wasn’t about to be bullied by a small boy…..Seriously, I’ve been hoping…as we got closer to Mars, and the dust cleared, that we’d see a lot of Martians standing around with huge signs that read, BRADBURY WAS RIGHT.”
–Ray Bradbury, on the eve of the Mariner 9 probe entering Mars orbit, November 12,1971

“If Only We Had Taller Been”

The fence we walked between the years
Did bounce us serene.
It was a place half in the sky where
In the green of leaf and promising of peach
We’d reach our hands to touch and almost touch the sky,
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘Twould teach us, not to ,never to, be dead.

We ached and almost touched that stuff;
Our reach was never quite enough.
If only we had taller been,
And touched God’s cuff, His hem,
We would not have to  go with them
Who’ve gone before,
Who, short as us, stood tall as they could stand
And hoped by stretching, tall, that they might keep their land,
Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul.
But they, like us, were standing in a hole.

O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall
Across the Void, across the Universe and all?
And, measured out with rocket fire,
At last put Adam’s finger forth
As on the Sistene Ceiling,
And God’s hand come down the other way
To measure man and find him Good,
And Gift him with Forever’s Day?
I work for that.

Short man, Large dream, I send my rockets forth
between my ears,
Hoping an inch of Good is worth a pound of years.
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall:
We’ve reached Alpha Centauri!
We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!

Categories
Poetry

Pluto Shits on the Universe By Fatimah Asghar

tn-p_lorri_fullframe_bw_custom-1c3fd83c90aa01f369f2ddb1f8060347b655fb62-s800-c85fatiheadshotPluto Shits on the Universe
By Fatimah Asghar

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/250212

On February 7, 1979, Pluto crossed over Neptune’s orbit and became the eighth planet from the sun for twenty years. A study in 1988 determined that Pluto’s path of orbit could never be accurately predicted. Labeled as “chaotic,” Pluto was later discredited from planet status in 2006.

Today, I broke your solar system. Oops.
My bad. Your graph said I was supposed
to make a nice little loop around the sun.

Naw.

I chaos like a motherfucker. Ain’t no one can
chart me. All the other planets, they think
I’m annoying. They think I’m an escaped
moon, running free.

Fuck your moon. Fuck your solar system.
Fuck your time. Your year? Your year ain’t
shit but a day to me. I could spend your
whole year turning the winds in my bed. Thinking
about rings and how Jupiter should just pussy
on up and marry me by now. Your day?

That’s an asswipe. A sniffle. Your whole day
is barely the start of my sunset.

My name means hell, bitch. I am hell, bitch. All the cold
you have yet to feel. Chaos like a motherfucker.
And you tried to order me. Called me ninth.
Somewhere in the mess of graphs and math and compass
you tried to make me follow rules. Rules? Fuck your
rules. Neptune, that bitch slow. And I deserve all the sun
I can get, and all the blue-gold sky I want around me.

It is February 7th, 1979 and my skin is more
copper than any sky will ever be. More metal.
Neptune is bitch-sobbing in my rearview,
and I got my running shoes on and all this sky that’s all mine.

Fuck your order. Fuck your time. I realigned the cosmos.
I chaosed all the hell you have yet to feel. Now all your kids
in the classrooms, they confused. All their clocks:
wrong. They don’t even know what the fuck to do.
They gotta memorize new songs and shit. And the other
planets, I fucked their orbits. I shook the sky. Chaos like
a motherfucker.

Categories
Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Keeping With the Speculative Fiction Sub-Theme…

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Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Excerpt: Novel in Progress

Someone asked me about the novel in progress…here’s some:

It took both of them to drag me up from the hole, and from their grunts and curses  it wasn’t easy for them.  I had stopped struggling weeks before, and was paid for it with harder currency than when I’d fought back, but there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d walk docile, like a cow, to whatever was next.  Passive resistance was the better option,  although that brought the gnawing pleasure of my bare feet and ankles thumped against each concrete stair riser as they dragged me up, one thug under each arm.  My boots had been taken with my uniform—government property

At the stop of the steps they paused, waiting for the sentry outside, calling after her with additional profanity.  She wasn’t one of them—just one of those who stood by idly, day after day, doing what she was told, avoiding eye contact, complicit in their silence.  I can’t say that I blame her—or any of them—and had spent countless hours fixated on the question: would I do it again?  A better man than I certainly would.  A lesser man would lie and tell you he would.  I can’t say that I could. I’m not proud to admit it, but what’s pride but something someone stronger than you can take?

Tumblers spun inside the door, a bolt was thrown, and the armored entry swiveled open.  The goons and sentry exchanged more curses, and I was dragged to the right.  A turn to the left would have meant another visit with the Colonel, and another beating wrapped in a skin of interrogation.  The passage to the right led down a long hallway, through another armored door, and outside.  I could be headed for the stocks again, or the mudpit, the colonel’s preferred discipline—a pool of sopping mud into which a prisoner was tied spread-eagle and face up into the incessant rain. The mudpit was kept sodden, but not full, so a prisoner could relax as long as the rains were brief and widespread.  Prolonged showers filled the pool with slick mud, forcing the punished to crane his neck up and forward  in order to breath, for as long as it took for the rains to stop and the liquid to sink down into the sodden ground.

I much preferred the stocks, or the beatings for that matter.  Beatings lasted for minutes, then they left you alone.  It could rain here for a week straight.

“Hey there, Mikey’s awake,” Corporal Charkviani rumbled. Igor Charkvani, a perfect goddamn Igor if ever such a beast roamed.

Raul Cloutier laughed his exaggerated, hyena laugh. “We’re in trouble now, Private Space Command gonna is to get us.”

Charkviani, a leering, menacing coil of muscle and tendons, rumbled his amusement.  I imagined Cloutier, younger and smaller and ever ready to please, jumping up and down, clapping in satisfaction.

They had put the usual black bag over my head, bound tightly at the neck, ostensibly for safety—lest some maniac like me discover their true identities.  Of course, they insisted on tormenting and teasing me, with a regular selection of violence, all the while keeping a running dialogue in their distinctive, heavily accented voices. I held faith that the time would come that I could repay their hospitality.  In fact, I lived for the moment.

They wore rain hoods and goggles

The bag came off my face.  I squinted into the deep gray skies as specks of rain fell upon my cheeks.  Though afraid to look up—the guards responded intensely to eye contact—I recognized our location immediately.  We stood at the threshold of the main gate, far from the hewn wood scaffold the Colonel had erected behind the administration building.  A pair of sentries stood on either side of the gate, stone-faced  in their narrow shelters—Clarke and Modobo, decent soldiers not known to be the Colonel’s lackeys, but not the sort to take a stand against him, either.  Like most of the unit, their sin was in pretending not to see, and staying silent when what they saw was unavoidable.  Still, I doubted they’d let their compatriots execute me, at least not in the middle of the fort.

They had no problem with one last thrashing, however.  Charkvani and Cloutier wasted no time…

Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Novella Excerpt: Sharp Del

   Sierra Exif JPEG

“Come on out of there, you motherless—.” Sharp Del’s voice died beneath a deeper, more malevolent rumble.

“My mother,” the hulking Brin stepped out from the shadows behind him, “was very young.”

Sharp Del whirled around with startled fury, swinging the heavy ball gun a bit further from his body than he ought to have, a matter of centimeters.  The Brin snatched it in one huge, four-fingered paw and twisted it away to the snap of human fingers.  Sharp Del wailed.

“My mother could not provide me with the privileges customary to a male of our line.  My acceptance to the Warrior’s Third Creche honors both her sacrifice and our shared blood.”

“Just—an—expression,” Sharp Del moaned, recoiling, clutching his broken hand close to his chest.  “Wasn’t even talking to—Gods!” He wailed, “—to you.”

“Ah,” Vanya glowered, jabbing the broken ball gun into Sharp Del’s chest.

“Sad for you that I heard.”  His left arm swung, catching the human in the jaw.  Bones snapped and gave way, teeth broke free from infection-ravaged gums, beneath the blow.  Sharp Del staggered backwards and nearly righted himself, then his knees gave and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.

Vanya stood there a moment, inspecting the seized weapon.  A human-scaled trigger guard rendered it unusable to him, and it’s generally poor condition made it worthless for trade.  He removed the cartridge, scooped up a handful of sand, and poured it into the loading channel, then worked the action several times, until it jammed.  He dropped the ruined weapon beside Sharp Del.

He turned back to the cabin and shouted.  “Get out here, you motherless serpent!” He bellowed.

Half a minute later the door swung open and Qualm emerged, dragging his damaged leg.  His left arm was tied close to his chest in a makeshift sling.  His right hand clutched a steel fireplace poker.

“Serpent?” He asked. “Warrior’s Third Creche?”

The Brin shrugged. “You people,” he sniffed, “you eat that shit up like pudding or raspberries.”

“Pudding?”