Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I die of carelessness; I die of caution;
I die of fear; I die too brave for my own good;
I die from too much sweet devotion;
I die from lack of drink, for want of food.
I die silently, or I die screaming;
I die in tears, in pain, or from disease;
I die awake, I die when I am dreaming;
I die upon my feet, my hands, my knees.
I die in happiness; I die in blank despair;
I die with love, or with my frail heart torn asunder;
I die with ugly wounds, or I die fair;
I die in fire, in water, night, and thunder.
I die too old; I die too young for dying;
I die too sure, uncertain of my soul;
I die in tears, with eyes too dry for crying;
I die too much, too often, on the whole.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Still, I have found time to not only read dog communcation books for my new job, celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, and watch a film by Aleksander Gorodnitsky entitled "V Poiskakh Yidisha", "In Search of Yiddish", but also to write a Thanksgiving Poem which I will now share with you.
An Eighteen Year Old's Thanksgiving
Those who celebrated Thanksgiving first
Were immigrants like us, newcomers here,
Grateful for the surcease from hunger, thirst,
From cold and death and danger, and from fear.
Now we bake turkey, cornbread, pumpkin pie,
And say our Russian thanks to this fair land
To which we were by fate compelled to fly,
Whose riches we dared grasp in our hands.
Raised by this land, divided into two,
What can four years hold against fourteen?
Only memories, far between and few,
And relics, beautiful, but few and far between.
Grew up with English, but sometimes I still stumble
And feel a stranger in this tongue I speak.
I wish I could write poetry in Russian,
But after all this time, my Russian's weak.
I'm grateful to this land with all its plenty
For all the freedom I have to explore,
To use this English tongue all too ungently
When all my parts seem constantly at war.
In this land I grew to be eighteen,
So I've English in me to my Russian core.
Four years can hold but little 'gainst fourteen,
But what can fourteen hold against those four?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
So all I can say right now is that I am ridiculously happy that Barack Obama won. That all the hard work I and all the other people who volunteered and called and persuaded and cajoled and raised money and so on and so forth has finally paid off. Now I'm just hoping that he will continue to be the intelligent, thoughtful, forward-thinking person he has shown himself to be all throughout this campaign, and that the cabinet he chooses for himself will be a similarly intelligent, thoughtful, and forward-thinking one. His choice of Vice President, of course, was awesome. I liked Joe Biden back when he was running in the primaries and I think he's a terribly good choice.
The damper on all this is Florida's and California's marriage bans. I don't know. I thought that this country, riding the wave of progressivism, would stomp all bigotry and intolerance underfoot. Or something similarly idealistic. I don't know what I was expecting from Florida. But California, at least! I thought that Proposition 8 would be hit with a resounding slap and then torn into little pieces from which it could never re-awaken. The result disappointed me. I'm terribly disappointed, but also not quite believing that it's happened. Riding on the wave of joy from Obama's election, this sudden plunge downwards is so shocking I don't quite feel it.
And also, I'm still hopeful. I do believe, most sincerely, that America is on the right path. That we can make the right decisions that will lead to more equality and more tolerance and acceptance. And gay marriage is on the way to that. I do believe that.
In other news, I am doing NaNoWriMo this month and this is an excerpt from my prologue.
Three hundred twenty seven years prior to the events laid out in the previous section, Ayala Manasdaughter and Sarrkhan Yanasson, antelope Astartians sick of being hunted when in their animal form and shunned in their human form, left their homeland in the country of Marren and went looking for a place to call their own. They traveled on main highways and country roads, through forests and plains, eventually leaving Marren and entering Ancaria. In the holy city of Ci Seii (so called because of all the temples within its walls), they left offerings to the goddess Time and the antelope god Colven, and continued traveling.
It is not known what path they took, but it is known that after two and a half years of traveling, burdened by exhaustion and Ayala’s swelling belly, they came very suddenly upon a valley surrounded entirely by mountains. On one side of the valley was a sheer cliff wall; on the other, a few hillocks and a mountain pass. There were two creeks, one on each side, in the valley. The hillocks were entirely forested, though the rest of the valley was not. There was man sign in the valley, but it was more than a month old. It was perfect. Sarrkhan and Ayala decided to make their homestead there.
Over the years, other shapeshifters fleeing the same kind of trouble that the couple had fled found out about their discovery and followed in their footsteps. The homestead became two homesteads, then three. Then it became a village. The village needed a name. They named it Ci Zarna in the Ancarian style. Ci Zarna was a village of shapeshifters; there was not a single person in the entire village who kept one shape the entire time.
Here a note about shapeshifters would not be amiss. No one knows how shapeshifting works. The trait seems to be hereditary. Shapeshifters of different species can interbreed if they are in a similar form, but not enough studies have been done on what kind of children they produce. There are shapeshifters whose primary form is human and who can change into a single other creature. There are Astartians, whose primary form is that of an animal and who can change into human form. And then, there are those shifters who can change into many different creatures and whose primary form is unknown. There are also shapeshifters who can change into inanimate objects, though these are rare. The one form all these shapeshifters have in common is the humanoid one, so the Ci Zarna villagers spent roughly equal amounts of time in human and animal form.
It is noteworthy that predator and prey animals lived peacefully in Ci Zarna, though the first several years of the village’s existence there were incidents that caused some worry about whether or not they could live together. Nowadays, the children of the Ci Zarnans play hunting games with each other. These games help to improve their instincts and their capabilities, but are not taken seriously. Those shifters whose forms required the consumption of meat were very careful about communicating their hunting intentions so that no shapeshifters were in the area where they would hunt in their animal forms. It is true that shapeshifters have a distinct scent from either humans or animals, but when the bloodlust is upon the hunters, they are susceptoble to mistakes. Other shapeshifters learned to stay out of the way on those occasions.
After many years, Ci Zarna was almost completely forgotten by the outside. The villagers traded infrequently with people on the outside, but they were largely self-sufficient, surrounded as they were by fertile and bountiful land. The first few generations of Ci Zarnans were wary of attack and kept their weapons knowledge and their battle skills well-honed. As the years passed and the world seemed content to leave them alone, the worries of the older generations were forgotten. New people trickled in every once in a while, bringing their skills and whatever supplies they could bring; these assimilated into the culture of the village.
Ayala Manasdaughter and Sarrkhan Yanasson spoke Marrenan. Others of the first settlers spoke other languages, Ancarian Common, and dialects of smaller locales. The first settlers spoke to each other in an argot comprised of different aspects of all the different languages. In time, it became a language of its own, similar to its parent languages, but different in many ways as well. By the time of the events related in the previous section, Ci Zarnan was its own language, and those who came to live there had to learn it as though they were moving to another country. They could communicate without language barriers in animal forms, but Ci Zarnans lived in both human and animal forms. In humanoid form, language became necessary, so the newcomers learned.
It was a massacre.
Too few people remembered how to fight in humanoid form. The skills that the wildcat shapeshifters used to hunt their prey did not translate into fighting human raiders who rode horses and used weapons. The wolf shifters fought in pack formation and did the most damage to the raiders, bringing down their animals (with murmured apologies in their own tongue) and tearing into their throats. It wasn’t enough, though the whole village turned out to fight them. There were more than the fifteen that Guillette had seen on her mad dash back to the village. There were more even than thirty. It was less like a band of raiders and more like a small company. They were attracted by the fertility and prosperity of the village and could tell that the village had known peace for many generations. They slaughtered those who stayed to fight and looted the whole village. Then, they fanned out into the forest and went looking for those who had escaped. They were very thorough, but they did not know the land as well as the Ci Zarnans did and they did not find most of the survivors. Unfortunately, most of the survivors did not find each other, either. They survived in small, separate groups, scattered by the sudden horror.
What is surprising and strange about the story of Ci Zarna is that each of the small groups of survivors returned to the village at least once, each time staying very briefly. This is known because over a period of a few weeks they ate the bodies of their deceased and buried the bones in individual graves, leaving markers identifying whom each body belonged to. They did this separately, without ever seeing each other, and without ever banding together. When the business of burying the dead was complete, they departed from the village without attempting to rebuild, deciding to attempt to survive in an outside world whose language and culture they did not know.
The reason for this is unknown.
Jasper and Eilidhe Laine returned to the village, buried their parents, and ate a few parts of the bodies lying in the square. Jasper saw Gidion’s large black body, horse-shaped at the end and reverently tore large chunks out of one of his legs. Gidion had fought as a human, but when he lost his sword he must have changed into his horse shape. His hooves were brown with dried blood. Jasper brought a few of the chunks to Eilidhe and offered them to her. Thus they honoured their dead. Then, they gathered what supplies they could find and departed that fertile valley, never to return.
Four weeks to the day after the massacre there was not a single body left aboveground in the village. The houses stood abandoned; the wheat grew unharvested; the village was dotted with grave markers.
So that's that. I realize the quality is not so good, since the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to finish the whole thing and then edit it in the year that follows. Still, I'm happy that I'm doing it.
Love and hugs,
Thursday, August 21, 2008
It Was Six In The Morning
It was six in the morning and all was silent--
Night had just ended and summer was gone.
It was six in the morning, she hadn’t yet woken,
and I did not feel it was time to move on.
It was half after six and the morning still glistened.
My arm was quite numb from the weight of her bones.
I knew if I moved that she'd wake, so I didn't.
I was in no mood to spend this day alone.
It was ten after seven and light bored right through me.
The sheets were still twisted around as we lay.
She thought she would leave as soon as she wakened,
but I was still hoping for doubt and delay.
It was eight in the morning and she began stirring.
I was still silent, and still as the dead.
It was eight in the morning when her eyes first opened.
I pressed a small kiss on the top of her head.
It was eight and a quarter, and she took a shower.
Her steps were a mix of delay and of haste.
I lay there and listened, intent, to the water.
I hoped there was still some time to waste.
It's nine in the morning; she's out of the shower.
I beg with my eyes for her to remain.
She smiles a little and then acquiesces.
I think it will all turn out well, in the main.
Be well, my darlings!
The Tailor's Lad
There was a young boy, once. He had been raised in the home of an old tailor who had been bringing him up in his trade. Unfortunately, the old tailor died and his home (which was both home and store) was reclaimed by the man from whom he'd been leasing it. The man's daughter had just married and the old tailor's death (of old age) was fortuitous in that now the landlord's daughter and son-in-law could move in. There was no one to take the boy in, so he took to the streets. He became very adept at stealing sweetmeats and apples from the market stalls and evading the adults who seemed to rule his universe. He did not go hungry, though what food he scrounged never seemed to be enough. He was a growing boy, after all.
One day, he was not so quick in evading a pastry-seller's eye and the hue and cry was raised against him. He ran through and around the market stalls, scrambling as quickly as he could away from his pursuers. In his mad rush, he knocked over a girl in a sunhat and a dairy stall--the cheeses and milk were irreparably lost, most likely resulting in a sad and hungry family, but this is not their story so we shall not focus on the dairy-seller. The urchin boy was happy of any commotion that could slow down his pursuers and, once he was certain no one who was looking for him was looking, he ducked under the flap of a tent just off the marketplace and found himself blinking in the dim light and incense-smoke of a fortune-teller's tent.
"Do you have a question, young one?" the fortune-teller's voice emerged from somewhere beyond where his eyes could see. He moved forward and saw her, a woman covered in many layers of clothing of varied colours. She wore a veil, but it was lifted at this moment, revealing a face that was nearly a perfect circle. Her eyes were dark and her eyebrows two neat penciled-in arches. She was smiling ever so slightly.
"Uh. Not really," he replied.
"Nonsense," the fortune-teller said. "You came here, therefore you are looking for something. Something I can lead you to."
"Well, all I want now is to make sure the people chasing me don't get me." He himself didn't know why he bothered replying to her, but now that he had he figured he'd go all out. "And a meal. A meal would be the best thing."
"A meal I will give you later," she replied. "As for the people chasing you..." she trailed off; her large hands, fingers bedecked with gaudy rings, ghosted over the surface of a crystal ball sitting on the table in front of her. Her veil covered her face as though of its own accord.
The boy, not knowing what else to do, sat down on a cushion on the other side of the table and waited.
After a few minutes, during which the boy fidgeted impatiently--he had gobbled up the pastry that had caused his flight, but he was still hungry and the promise of a meal in the future made him very impatient--the fortune-teller began to speak, though her voice seemed to come from very far away rather than from right in front of him.
"There is a tree," the eerie far away voice said, "on the outskirts of the city, with large purple leaves, the color of the bruise just under your right knee. Dig in the spot where the large root branches into three and you will find solace from all your fears. As for the people chasing you right now," the far away voice said in a conversational tone, "they'll give up in about three and a half hours. Stay with the woman who is my medium for the night. She will feed you well before you set off to dig." The voice ceased after that, but the woman did not stir. After a few more minutes, during which the boy tried to figure out what he had just witnessed, the veil lifted as though of its own accord off her face, and the fortune-teller's head nodded on her breast. Presently, she began to snore.
Now the boy did indeed have a bruise just under his right knee, a starburst of purple that was beginning to yellow at the edges, and that was what convinced him to stay, more than the promise of solace from his fears. What were his fears after all? Being caught and beaten, being thrown in jail, these were things he had always avoided and with all the assurance of youth he was sure that his luck would continue. The bruise, though... well, that meant that someone unseen was watching and wanted to help him. If so, he would take whatever he could get.
Thus decided, he waited impatiently for the woman to wake up since his stomach had begun again to remind him of its emptiness. When she did not awaken presently, he began exploring the small tent and discovered that it was not so small as it looked from the outside. There were partitions in the fabric that led to two other rooms. One had a large bed and many arcane and occult things; the other was very clearly a kitchen and it was there he began to explore. Finding the fortune-teller’s icebox was not at all difficult and he grabbed a large hunk of cheese that he found there and an apple from the table, then curled up as small as he could in the farthest and darkest corner of the kitchen and began to eat hungrily. He was halfway through the hunk of cheese when the fortune-teller’s shadow fell over him.
He immediately curled even smaller, not ceasing to eat, because if the food was going to be taken away from him, he was going to get as much of it as he could.
“Lords and Ladies, boy! Didn’t you hear what Missiva said? Put down that cheese and let me get you some real food.”
“Y’ain’t kicking me out?” he asked incredulously.
“Didn’t you hear what Missiva said?” she asked again, and he figured that Missiva was the name she gave to the owner of that eerie voice. “I’m to take care of you until you go on your quest. Now put down that cheese or not, I’m making you a good hot meal as every body should have.”
The boy laid aside his customary suspicion of adults and decided to trust her, but he did not let go the cheese. Still, he ate slower and watched curiously as she made the meal that they would share.
To be continued.
Be well, my darlings!
They Set Fires
They were a couple, walking down East Broadway
And I couldn’t help but overhear:
“You don’t love me,” she says,
but there’s no heat in it.
“These people, they set fires!
Can you imagine if they got married?
The whole town would be burning.”
And that’s how I love you, sweetling:
Fire, burning, and a red hot torch
And our bodies scorched and twisting,
writhing in the flame.
When I say your name,
twin tongues of fire hiss it in my mouth.
I am a candle, burning at both ends
When you take my hands,
grasping at them, gasping in them
It’s a conflagration,
an exclamation point to end the story
Not a period, not a finale
cause even embers burn.
When we’ve had our turn,
why, we’ll just start again:
throw more wood on the fire,
let the flames leap to the sky
higher, higher than we can fly
I love my marshmallows
charcoal black, the skin
paper thin, and the insides
gooey, melting on my lips
I’m an incense stick,
on an altar, praying
with wisps of smoke,
rising from me, swaying
Until my head is wreathed in smoke
And my hair is sizzling
and burning to the roots,
simplifying to the scalp,
and when that happens, there’s no help
now is there?
cause ‘love’ isn’t a word, any longer
It’s been burnt away,
and all that’s left is the sting of lips
And the burst of flame
and the clash of hips, until the rain
comes down in torrents,
floods the fire,
and we’re steam and ash and we’re rising higher
And we vanish
and we’re scattered
and we stop.
I love you well
I love you mad
I love you chill, like hoarfrost
I love you sweet
I love you mad
I love you blue, like drowning
We are lunatics
We are moonstruck
We drink love like chocolate martinis
And quench our fires in cool sheets
that might as well be silk
When I kiss you,
I taste ice in your saliva
Don’t tell me there’s no passion in coldness
Don’t tell me that ice cannot burn
’cause I know better.
I tear icicles off rooftops
suck them between my lips
burning cold melting warmly
into steel-tipped drops of snowmelt
I love you, I love you, I love you
I am a wellspring of words
I am an outpouring
There is no thirst in you I cannot quench
I can drink the pools
of your eyes
You are a fountain when I grasp you
slipping slick through my hands
Pouring through me
like dams breaking.
We wear love like a wet wind,
hanging heavy, hot on clotheslines
And pooling, salty sea-like
into sweat between shoulderblades, skin flushed
We tongue the first snowflake
taste its imprint of the heavens
I love you,
You are the deep black waters
and the ice, shattering
steel breaking when spring comes,
untouchable as rain.
Be well, darlings!
Friday, July 25, 2008
I've been going to milongas for the past three days, which has been wonderful, but also painful. At La Luna on Monday, I accidentally kicked off part of the toenail on my big toe, which caused bleeding and much distress. On Tuesday at Rubyfruit I didn't injure myself, but I did dance only with women and get some good leading practice. On Wednesday at Corazon, I had a whole lot of fun (including getting some good footage for my film), but by midnight my feet were hurting so badly that I was almost in tears. On the bright side, I found out that the fellow who tends the bar at Corazon is named Nick and is fun to dance with. I rather like him.
I also, at one point, need to watch the DVD that my Video Production instructor gave me.
But for now, poetry!
My Little Rhythm
Somewhere deep inside me is a tick-tock clock
I can hear it ticking if I'm really quiet,
counting off the seconds of my long, short life,
keeping time for my moments -- it's my little rhythm
Somewhere deep inside me is a gong-gong clock
I can hear it tolling if the world stays quiet,
counting down the moments 'til it's all done, gone,
keeping time for my life -- if I take it slowly
Somewhere deep inside me is a thud-thump heart
I can hear it beating if I lay real still,
counting up my life, pulsing on on on,
keeping time for my seconds -- I know it keeps on going
Best to all,
Friday, July 18, 2008
I like to write
about the most banal things.
My friend has a bottle
of Glade in her bathroom:
Lavender Meadow scent.
And every time I go, I like to
follow the instructions on the label:
shake well before using
spray toward the center of the room
And then stand under the spray
and feel each droplet
like a lavender-scented kiss.
I love split-toe socks because
I can pick up a dropped object
with the big toe, like a thumb.
Also, mine are purple,
like the physical manifestation
of a lavender-scented kiss.
My eldest sister's getting married on Saturday.
I'll see you all next week.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Second order of business: I made a promise to myself when I started blogging (oh, two days ago) that I would update twice a week on some schedule and more often than that if something awesome happens that I can blog about. I'm putting this in writing in a public place so my readers (if I have any) can hold me to it.
Third of order of business: The Blogging Itself.
We've been repainting the house this weekend so it's been kind of hectic. By we, I mean the people we hired to do the painting for us, but let me tell you, this does not mean idleness on the part of the family. We emptied, we scrubbed, we moved, we lugged, we loaded, we pattered, we did any amount of verbs that would make the actual business of shoving stuff aside and painting the walls that much easier for the workers we hired. And we succeeded. The painting was finished yesterday while I was at Pride (which I will talk and squee about later in this post), but the house is not back to normal yet.
For example, I am typing this post up on my father's laptop rather than on my desktop computer because my computer is sort of lying there on my desk, wires a-tangled, CPU and monitor listlessly unattached, and the keyboard... somewhere. I actually haven't seen my keyboard at all. My bed is in the middle of my room with stuff on top of it--stuff including two boxes of books from my shelves and whatever else is on there that I haven't catalogued. The rest of my books have been shoved into a little closet-like desk-thing and aren't that much worse for the wear. I'll have a blast reorganizing them when I get home tonight.
More importantly than all that, however, I went to Pride yesterday for the first time in my life. Not only did I go to Pride, I marched in the actual parade. I was marching with the PolyamorousNYC contingent (which may or may not have outed me to a lot of people as poly. I'm still unsure about the headcount of people who know). At first, I was simply marching with the PolyNYC people, but then one of the girls walking in front had to go, so I was switched in for her.
It also rained like crazy during this time. So there we were, with our lovely handmade cardboard signs, walking along as tiny fissures began to run through the paper. There were three lovely ladies (not sure about the spellings of their names, so I'm gonna leave it alone) walking up front and the one in the center was holding a sign that said
I'm with Her --->
She bravely held the sign in her hands as it slowly fell apart. Actually one of the ladies had to leave halfway through, so I took over for her walking in the front which was unbelievably fun! Eventually Leon (one of our marshals; the lady in the center was the other martial) bought us new styrofoam poster board on which they made not one, but two signs. The first was exactly the same as the one above and the second one said:
I'm with her---->
<--- I'm with him
So it was from left to right (facing the same direction we were): me, Erica (I think that's the spelling?), Brigitta (I think that's the spelling?), and Leon. We danced, cheered, waved, shouted, blew kisses, and got very, very wet. I had to hide my hat in a plastic bag every time it began to rain again, but I put it back on every chance I got. Someone got the bright idea to "Pass the Kiss" or what Nell (another girl who was marching with us) described as a "Kiss Wave" where I would kiss Erica, Erica would kiss Brigitta, Brigitta would kiss Leon and then back it went. As we got closer to Christopher Street and got more comfortable with each other, this progressed to "Let's Switch Partners" and other such enjoyable things.
I recall being a little worried about how it would look to people. After all, we're polyamorous not promiscuous. At the after party for the Poly people (it was held at this poly family's house. A lovely couple and their two children and dog played host to us while we ate their food and took advantage of their company. It was beautiful), Justen (who is a long-time member of PolyNYC and all kinds of sweet) said that what we four were doing up front was the nature of polyamory. At that point I realized that the Pride Parade isn't about sending a sober message. It sends a message, yes, but the message isn't, "Look, we're not as bad as you think we are." The message is, "Oh baby, isn't it fun to be us?"
And you know something?
It really is.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
This is the post where I'm supposed to act awkward and not quite know what to do because I'm a new blogger. So if anyone is reading this and I'm not shouting into the proverbial abyss, my darling readers might be wondering, "Why on earth is Penny (for Penny is my nickname) writing a blog instead of doing something more substantial or less time-sucking?"
The answer is that Greta Christina, whom I respect and admire (and even idolize a little) very much, exhorted writers to blog, using the argument that a 21st century writer who does not blog is like a 20th century musician who does not allow his/her music to be played on radio. As an aside, the gender pronoun thing has really gotten out of hand. We need a nice single-person gender-neutral pronoun and stop worrying about it. Until I figure it out I will use he, she, and they alternately, all meaning non-specific-single-person-gender-neutral pronoun.
Aside aside, that's why I'm here. I am a writer (poetry, prose, what-have-you) and I want publicity because writing is, after all, what I want to do with my life. Also, as Greta Christina said, blogging means a) practicing a lot and therefore becoming better through sheer perseverance and b) opening yourself up to criticism which also helps you improve. So there. I'm open to criticism and perseverance. If you see anything at all that you think needs arguing or correcting, do argue and correct it. That's what I'm here for.
If I were Japanese and in-person with you all, I would now bow and say, "Yoroshiku onegaishimasu." As I am not in-person, you'll just have to take my word for it that the sentiment is there. Truly.