Saturday, October 24, 2015

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part II

The Black Dog

“He’s in the kingdom, to be sure. Reports have him moving east,” said the black cat, referring to the Black Dog.

It had been days before rumours of the Black Dog and his crew came back to the King, whose search had largely been unsuccessful. He had found a rather nice inn he had never heard of, and one or two promising new recruits for the palace service staff (never enough pages and the like, given the turnover), but no Queen. It was positively disheartening. It had been a rather long time since they had spent any great deal of time apart; the King found that he did not like it, not at all.

“He’s a pirate,” said the crow. “What’s he doing moving away from the water? And why would he take the Tiger Queen with him?”

“Bit of a coincidence, though, with the Queen disappearing and the Black Dog showing up like that,” said the cat.

The King thought of the Black Dog, and their chance meeting some time ago, before he was the king, and before the Black Dog was a pirate. Briefly, they had worked together, the king intent on rooting out a robber-baron haunting the eastern provinces, the Black Dog intent on rooting out the ill gotten gains of the baron’s hard work. Now the Dog was one of the most dreaded pirates on the Western Sea, a newcomer to be sure, but rapidly building a reputation as a scoundrel and a cut-throat, as well as a fearsome warrior and above-average tactician. His boat, the Canis Major, was a familiar sight in the worst of the Freeports, and the last sight of a great many merchant vessels. Already, tales of him and his crew were appearing in penny-dreadfuls, titillating parents and scaring children into eating their peas.

“I am not fond of peas,” said the king, slowly. His advisors paused and looked at him curiously, before resuming their discussion on the position and motivation of the notorious pirate.

The King did not relish meeting the Black Dog in battle, but would do anything for his Queen. He arose, said that they would head east. The search resumed.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part I

The Queen Goes Missing

It was some years after the adventures in the Forest of the Faerie, and the subsequent wedding, that the Tiger Queen disappeared. The Brown King awoke one cold morning in the fall of the year to find her side of the bed empty, the fire burned down and her dressing gown gone. It was not unlike the Tiger Queen to quit her bed abruptly, and so the King did not worry so much, right away.

It was only after breakfast was finished and several cups of hot milky coffee consumed that the King really began to worry. It was unlike the Queen to pass up coffee, and the kitchens assured him that she had not been in that morning. He made inquiries; her maid, his butler, the guards and the clerks had not seen her. It began to seem highly unusual.

The king enlisted the help of the guards, the clerks, her maid and his butler in his search. They began with the royal chambers, moved on the surrounds, spread into the rest of the keep, the castle, and, with the help of the clergy, the groundskeepers and the local urchins, moved into the King’s Park, the cathedral and the town.

The Queen was nowhere to be found. It was past lunch, and the Brown King began to worry in earnest.

“Where is she, do you think?”, he asked his closest friends and advisors, the black cat and the crow.

“Haven’t the foggiest,” replied the cat, speaking over the crow, who was croaking out an “I couldn’t tellya.”

“Helpful bunch, you two”, said the King, sitting down and pulling the heavy bearskin cloak of his office more tightly around his shoulders.

“Eh, sorry, and all that,” said the crow. “Truth be told, we’re as upset as you are. We love her too. All the kingdom does, really.”

“She might show up yet. There’s still a lot of the feline in that one, and we do love to slip out and wander,” said the cat. Looking around, he began to groom himself.

“She’s never been gone this long, and she always says when she wanders”, said the King. “I suppose it’ll have to be a search, then. Better pack a lunch.”

The King would pack a great many lunches before he was reunited with his Queen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"That's why I hold with all I have..."

My muse, sometimes, asks me why, why I am your muse?

It is a question, when put on the spot, that can be hard to answer. The sea, I say, I cry. The moon, and books, and trains in magical lands. Stories of kings, and bears, and tigers, of pirates and boys who won't grow up. Latin, Greek, and languages long dead, I say. And love, my muse, love.

My muse asks me what is love, and when I answer, it is you, it is not enough.

But this, this is love:


When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

So, Gentle Reader, when next my muse demands, perhaps I have an answer. It is the moon, and stars, and the sea. It is stories, and Latin, trains, and magic, and all these things. My muse will ask, what is love? Why me? And I will answer, it is you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Sleep, gentle reader, has never come easily to me. You are lucky, in your unabashed love of sleep, with naps like long embraces. Sleep and I are wary of each other, although we do fine when we both finally accept our mutual fate.

I am tired. It has been a long run, of late.

e. e. cummings

You are tired 
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me then 
And we'll leave it far and far away-
(Only you and I understand!)

You have played 
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of 
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break and-
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight 
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart-
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows 
And if you like 
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble the moon 
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream 
Until I find the Only Flower 
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

I have been tired, you know. Drawn out, worn out, like an old thing. I am tired of things that break, of the puzzle of living and doing. But like our dear cummings, so recently discovered, or re-discovered, I'll keep knocking, Gentle Reader, at the gate of your heart, no matter how tired you are, no matter how tired I am.

These things, these things that cummings writes about, that he gets, are important, to me, to you. I'll keep knocking at that gate, no matter how tired I am, no matter how tired. There a sea out there somewhere, and a moon, a moon! And I intend to go there, somehow, someway, and with you.

Gentle Reader, will you come to the sea, with me?

Monday, November 19, 2012

On Tigers in the East

"It is a well known fact that the great Emperors of the East kept, as pets in their courts, the great cats known as Tigers. It is a lesser known fact that the great Emperors of the East judged the value of a Tiger not by its size, nor by the luxuriance of its fur, nor by the beauty of its eyes, nor by the length of its fangs or of its claws. Rather the great Emperors of the East judged the value of a Tiger by the amount of debris it left behind in its trail."

- Samuel the Apostate, Adventurer and Historian, in The Histories

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On Re-reading...

Even the poets agree, Gentle Reader, that sometimes, even a dictionary can make a good date...


I beg to dicker with my silver-tongued companion, whose lips are ready to read my shining gloss. A versatile partner, conversant and well-versed in the verbal art, the dictionary is not averse to the solitary habits of the curiously wide-awake reader. In the dark night’s insomnia, the book is a stimulating sedative, awakening my tired imagination to the hypnagogic trance of language. Retiring to the canopy of the bedroom, turning on the bedside light, taking the big dictionary to bed, clutching the unabridged bulk, heavy with the weight of all the meanings between these covers, smoothing the thin sheets, thick with accented syllables—all are exercises in the conscious regimen of dreamers, who toss words on their tongues while turning illuminated pages. To go through all these motions and procedures, groping in the dark for an alluring word, is the poet’s nocturnal mission. Aroused by myriad possibilities, we try out the most perverse positions in the practice of our nightly act, the penetration of the denotative body of the work. Any exit from the logic of language might be an entry in a symptomatic dictionary. The alphabetical order of this ample block of knowledge might render a dense lexicon of lucid hallucinations. Beside the bed, a pad lies open to record the meandering of migratory words. In the rapid eye movement of the poet’s night vision, this dictum can be decoded, like the secret acrostic of a lover’s name.

As befitting its clearly tongue-in-cheek nature, I'll largely leave this here, as is, without undue amounts of commentary.

However, I should point out, if only for clarity's sake, that prose poems confuse me, as I have always understood prose and verse to be two things. Why must the world alway collapse my categories, Gentle Reader? Why?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"I have no strength...From which to speak..."

I wonder sometimes what you must think, reading these words here, Gentle Reader. Why poems, and why write so much of love?
Why not, Gentle Reader? Why not write of that thing that makes so many mad? That drives so many to do so much?
Or perhaps, that drives so many to the point that they can not do any more.
I am a man driven, I suppose, and so I write. Most often on love.
A big thing, love. As big, perhaps as a windmill. And as hard to pin down, with a lance, or a word. Because maybe there are different kinds of love, or maybe different people love differently. There are certainly different kinds of poems about love, as I'm sure you may have noticed, reading these words here, as you do.
And this one, this one is different. But it talks of a kind of love, and what it says, Gentle Reader, just might apply to other kinds as well.


We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to   
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,   
just because you don’t know what work is.

Love might not always be work for you, Gentle reader. And stories of horses, and of windmills, for that matter, can't simply be bandied about. One always needs to be careful with stories, I know. But maybe there are different kinds of love, and maybe sometimes, you need to know work to know them. But they're there, and they are real, and they are good. So maybe Wagner is beautiful. More likely, Wagner is Wagner, and it's beautiful because some one you love loves it. And some days, those long days, the grinding ones, the foot-shuffling, rainy ones, it's no wonder we look for the beauty in the world, that our thought turn to those we love, and why we love them. Life sometimes gives us "the same sad slouch, the grin that does not hide the stubbornness, the sad refusal to give in to rain, to the hours of wasted waiting," but love sometimes gives us Wagner. I read these words here, and I think of love, even though you are not my brother.
What do you think, Gentle Reader, when you read these words here? Do you think of love, or of me?