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We often talk, mostly in a
Joking manner, about how
We would like to drink
From the skulls of our
Enemies,
And leaving aside for a
Moment, the practicality
Of just such behavior,
Would it not be a more
Poignant act, albeit less
Intimidating, to do so
From the skull of a
Friend?

You say
That you want a
Poem,
But that it can’t be
Political. That it can’t
Be about my
Identity, about who I
Choose to love,
About how I feel.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But it shouldn’t
Attack those in power,
That it should be
Passive, peaceful,
About unity, despite
Your support for those
Who would divide
Us
Me
You.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But it shouldn’t
Include lines about the
Ways in which I
Have been erased,
In which my friends and
Loved ones and
Chosen family have
Been ignored or betrayed.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But it shouldn’t
Reflect on the life
I’ve lived or the
Death
That I’ve seen,
Felt,
Held in my hand,
A small
Fragment of grief
Beyond description.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But you don’t
Seem to actually
Know what
Poetry
Is.

I know that the winters
Seem hard and cold, and
I know that the dark
Seems endless.

Remember that wheat is
Planted before the winter,
And awaits the freeze
That it might sprout in

Spring.

2019 is here, and as is tradition, I’ve got a few goals to share with you.

1.) Reading! Last year, I set a reading goal on goodreads of 200 books. I got through over 230. Now, I do include graphic novels and manga in my challenge count, but I’m fully expecting to be able to exceed 200 books again this year.

I would love to be able to get through:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I made a major dent in this one while I was on vacation in November, but I need to finish it. Same with Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison. (Hey, Philip, are there any titles from your last year list that you actually got around to?)

God’s Last Breath by Sam Sykes. (What did I just say?)

When They Severed Earth From Sky by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. (Okay, seriously)

The Toll by Neil Shusterman. The Arc of a Scythe series is coming to an end. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up, given the way book two ended.

Dune by Frank Herbert. This one’s a re-read, but I haven’t gone through it since high school.

One Piece by Eiichiro Oda. I want to re-start this one too.

Old Man’s War and Head On by John Scalzi.

There’s a LOOOOOT of good stuff on my to-read shelf, y’all. I’m going to take on as many as I can.

2.) Writing!

Hey, I wrote more posts in 2018 than I did in 2017!

By, like, two.

*sigh*

And considering that 2018 lasted for something approximating a decade, that’s pretty awful.

I’d blame losing some of my favorite writing challenges, but that’s just making excuses. There’s no room for that kind of nonsense. I can seek out writing prompts without being handed one or two every week. But if you find any awesome writing challenges, I’d love for you to send them my way.

3.) Create! I got to play a little more with the Makerspace at my library in 2018 than in 2017, and I’ve got some more designs to work on going forward. I need to finish sewing/stuffing a felt Luci from Disenchantment soon, because he’s been sitting on my living room bookshelf taunting me for the last few weeks. I’ve got a Yu-Gi-Oh! card game table that I’m working on with our laser cutter, too. I did a prototype back in November, and I’ve been tweaking that design quite a bit. And of course, I’m hoping that time will allow for me to get back into some cosplay work. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t planning a Séance costume now that Umbrella Academy is getting a live-action adaptation.

seance

4.) Gaming. I miss playing D&D, y’all. It’s been a hot minute since I had a good campaign going, and I really want to do more with it. There’s talk of teaching the kids, and now a family D&D game is more viable than ever before. Also, V and I have finally gotten our Malifaux crews assembled. I know. It’s been two years since I got the box. I’m getting there. Now I have paints, so I can get that done, and we can play. It’s way more fun to put those damn things together than I expected, too, and now I’m trying to figure out what other characters I can add to my collection to supplement my crew. They’re releasing the 3rd Edition of their rules this year too, but thankfully we’ve both picked masters who are still playable in the updated rule set.

And honestly, there’s probably more goals that I’d like to set for myself, but I’m trying to be realistic here, considering how many years I’ve typed essentially this exact same post.

 

 

“Echoes”

We hold on to pieces of the ones
Who have left us, whether to
Elsewhere in this world or to
Something beyond comprehension.

We cling to what little reminders
Have remained, a handwritten
Note, a lingering memory of a
Kiss, or a voice, a mundane recording.

We savor that we have some means
Of remembering, that we can
Recall a bit of how we felt when
That person was still a part of us.

And as the years pass, we may
Notice that the voices aren’t as
Loud, or the images aren’t as
Clear as they used to be.

Until the day that we come across
One of those little fragments,
And all of that love rushes back
Across time, a reverberation.

9/13/18

Another summer has come and now mostly gone, and the children will be starting school soon. I’m enjoying a few days of vacation time in the aftermath of the Renaissance Festival (which, both in terms of supplemental employment and getting to spend time with friends, was a resounding success), and getting around to some stuff that’s been needing attention at the house. Goodbye old, rotting wood swing set that the previous owner built, hello new swing set that we’ll likely pass on to the next house owner.

The girls have discovered Yu-Gi-Oh on Netflix, and it’s been great fun to introduce them to the card game that I’ve been playing since 2004-2005. The core mechanics have remained largely unchanged, but the introduction of a lot of new types of monsters since I had last played (like, college, 2010) has made for a decent learning curve, even for me. I’m looking at using the laser cutter at the library to make myself a nice, wood engraved playing surface. It would be a) a fun project, and b) a really cool thing to show off.

Speaking of the library, I survived the 2018 Summer Adventure! I’m really tempted to get myself the Welcome to Night Vale “I Survived the Summer Reading Program” patch. I ran more programs for the teens during those two months than I ever would’ve imagined when I took on this job a year and a half ago. I’m still loving the whole Teen Services side of things (though it would be nice if I could go a summer without our Teen Services Librarian leaving). I’m actually excited for the school year to start, because it means that I get to go do more outreach events and book talks at local schools. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job, because it’s part acting and part readers’ advisory.

I’m going to do more writing over the next couple of months. V’s holding me to it, so I know that it’ll actually get done. Until then, we’re going to be celebrating the 12th anniversary of the day we met. Take care, and I’ll see you soon.

“Vision”

I saw a new picture today, and I
Thought immediately of you, and
How long it’s been since we were
Able to talk, and how we stopped
Talking far too long before you were
Gone.

It was your face in the photo,
Though it wasn’t a photo of you,
And I was struck, very suddenly,
By just how much alike you two
Were, and how alike we were,
Once.

I saw your smile again in hers,
And heard your laughter for
The first time in years, and now
I can’t stop reliving a friendship
That started over twenty years
Ago.

We drifted apart as years went
By, but we went on adventures
Together all the same, seeing
New parts of the world, living
Our grand journey, despite our
Differences.

And now, I am left with little
More than some old photographs,
And the memories that we made
In the far too short time we had
Before your voyage came to an
End.

6/21/18

A brief word of warning before the story itself begins. This was written for Chuck Wendig’s weekly Terrible Minds Writing Challenge. For this week’s challenge, we were given a list of 20 genres, and told to pick two of them (at random, or not) and mash them together to write a new story. Because I occasionally enjoy writing something for an older audience, I chose to write a story that was a blend of artificial intelligence sci-fi and BDSM erotica. In the following story, there will be graphic sexual content, and as such, I do not recommend it for readers under the age of 18.

* * *

Subroutines

Subroutine. noun sub·rou·tine \ ˈsəb-(ˌ)rü-ˌtēn \ A subordinate routine; specifically : a sequence of computer instructions for performing a specified task that can be used repeatedly (Merriam-Webster).

* * *

Mars had intrigued humanity since the earliest ancestors first looked up to the night sky. It was only natural for Earth’s inhabitants to move there as soon as technological advancements made life on its surface a possibility. When the shift from Luna happened, it was made reality with the assistance of numerous artificial intelligence constructs handling the logistics and heavy lifting. These AIs were based on accelerated deep learning networks, rapidly pushing from a childhood-like state to encyclopedic knowledge over the course of a few months, and they were able to quickly adapt to new tasks. For a while, all was well.

When the first Tharsis Colony was founded, however, the AIs began to break down. Shortly after reaching Mars, multiple constructs began circumventing their safety programming, and the results were nothing short of horrific. A handful of survivors managed to deactivate the rogue AIs and regain contact with Luna and Earth, and new plans to extend humanity’s reach were prepared.

New AIs were developed, but instead of being overloaded with information and responsibilities from day one, they were allowed to age naturally. The resulting maturity that they gained over decades of operation gave them an incredible stability that had been lacking in earlier generations. While they still learned more information and processed it faster than a human ever could, they still took in that information in the same way. Stretching the learning periods out allowed for safer development of the neural networks, and didn’t strain the hardware to the breaking point. Every effort was made to give them a sense of realism never before seen, mimicking body functions and behaviors, for full integration with human crew members. The new constructs were tested rigorously, and proved that they were not going to be prone to the errors of their predecessors. Most would be almost indistinguishable from their flesh and blood counterparts unless they desired otherwise. Soon, a new colonization mission was approved and scheduled.

Tharsis II was the pinnacle of achievement for humanity, a massive, sprawling colony on the surface of Mars, and a rapidly-growing home to almost ten thousand engineers, archaeologists, geologists, astronomers, biologists, and other scientists and support staff. Every major department in the city, for that’s what Tharsis was, had at least one AI assigned to it, and they all reported to Aurora.

* * *

In her office, Aurora glanced down at the tablet display in her hand. While she didn’t need to use one to visualize the data being fed to her from her subordinates, she found it made the humans around her more comfortable. It made transferring files between the organics and herself more familiar as well, as did her humanoid construct appearance. Technically, she was housed in server banks in secure cold rooms deep below the main colony, but the hard light display she projected in the halls of Tharsis was designed to interface with the colonists. She looked almost exactly like them. Perhaps it was a trace of vanity, but she preferred to have the shimmers of green, blue, and pink that made up her namesake swirl across the surface of her skin, an ever-shifting visible reminder that Aurora wasn’t actually human.

Everything seemed to be in order. Atmospheric levels were within acceptable parameters, and all of the research teams were reporting in with no troubles for the day. Communications and additional supplies from Earth had arrived and been distributed. A small disturbance at a nearby bar had been handled by security forces with no injuries to any party. A good way to finish her work week. She wiped a bead of sweat from her brow as her assistant, a young human named Ven, approached her.

“Long day, ma’am?” Ven asked.

“No more so than usual, Ven. Thank you for asking.”

“I think we’re all set here, ma’am,” Ven said, handing Aurora a second tablet.

She looked at Ven’s report, signed her approval on it, and passed it back to her. “Well done, Ven. We’ll be transferring oversight to Blackwell for the weekend.” At Aurora’s mention, a second construct coalesced into solid form in the office, tall, translucent, and dressed in the standard white Tharsis jumpsuit.

“You called?” Blackwell said.

“Just making sure you were here before I left for the weekend, Blackwell. Thank you,” Aurora responded.

“Any big plans for your days off?”

“Just the usual, Blackwell. Avoiding you.”

“Heh. Enjoy it then, Aurora. I promise that Tharsis will be as you left it when you return,” the other AI replied. “Tell Colin I said hello. I heard he was rather tied up last weekend when I was going to stop by.”

Ven stifled a laugh as Aurora’s luminescent skin flashed briefly crimson.

“Fuck you, Blackwell,” she said. “And goodnight to you too, Ven.”

“Goodnight, ma’am.”

* * *

Aurora came home from work that night to find Colin naked in their bed, waiting for her.

“So, are we still on for tonight?” he asked. His green eyes glinted, reflecting Aurora’s own light back at her.

“If you are, my love. It is what we decided for this weekend, remember?”

“Is that what you were planning to wear?”

Aurora was still in her work uniform, a white jumpsuit emblazoned with the Tharsis II insignia. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, dearest, not at all. Just not quite the role I was expecting you in tonight.” He grinned up at her.

Colin had been her coworker at the Tharsis colony for twenty years now, and lover for half that time. If anyone on Mars was anywhere near Aurora’s equal, it was he. Two decades on Mars had brought them closer together than anyone would’ve imagined. Ten years learning everything they could about each other’s fears, hopes, and desires. They spent virtually all of their free time together, and there was no real way of keeping their relationship a secret. While some aspects of it could be kept more private, everyone knew they were together. “Hell,” Colin had once joked, “Blackwell probably knew we were sleeping together before we did.”

She laughed softly now and paused, a brief flicker in her image matrix as a new outfit coalesced around her. She stood several inches taller, thigh-high heeled boots worn over fishnet stockings, with a black corset and matching boyshorts completing her appearance. She quickly crossed the distance between them and pushed him down onto the bed, his long brown hair cascading around him.

“You remember your safeword?” she asked.

“I do.”

“You do what?”

“I do, goddess.”

“That’s better. Mind your tongue when you speak to me. Are you ready to begin, then?”

“Yes,” he replied. “I am, goddess.”

Aurora smiled. Soon, she stood above him, waist-length black hair pulled back in an elegant braid. A leather collar dangled from her left hand, and leather flogger in the right.

“Kneel.”

“Yes, goddess.” He knelt on the bed in front of her, gazing up into her eyes as she placed the flogger beside him, and gently draped the cool leather of the collar across the back of his neck. He shivered as she fastened it and gave the ring on the front a quick tug.

“Is that comfortable?”

“Yes, goddess,” he replied.

“Excellent. Now, be a good boy and lie down for me, face up.”

Colin nodded and did as he was told. Aurora retrieved her flogger and began to trace slow circles around his nipples with it. “You,” she said, “failed to address me correctly, twice.” Two quick cracks as the flogger came down on his chest. “You will not do so again.”

“No, goddess…”

“Very well. Now, I have other uses for your tongue, bitch.” Pulling her boyshorts down and kicking them aside, she straddled him, lowering her pussy over his face. “Worship me. Pleasure me until I tell you to stop.”

Colin licked expertly at her cunt, long slow strokes at first, gradually picking up speed. He deftly circled near her clitoris, taking as much time as he dared before dipping his tongue deeper into Aurora.

Moaning softly, she spread her knees wider, grinding down onto Colin’s face. “Oh, fuck yes…” Aurora ran her fingers into his hair and twisted through it, pulling as his tongue found her clit. “Right there, you little slut. Just like that…” Colin resumed his long circling strokes, pushing into her pussy again and tasting her subtle sweetness on his tongue before pressing on her clit yet again.

Aurora shuddered at his ministrations, collecting herself long enough to push off of Colin’s face. Her lover gasped for his first full breath in several minutes as she shifted her legs and moved to stand beside the bed again. “Not your best work,” she smirked. “But not bad either.” Grabbing the ring on his collar, she pulled him into a sitting position and kissed him, tasting her own juices on his lips.

“Are you ready for me to fuck you now?” She reached down and lightly stroked his cock. “That definitely got you nice and hard,” Aurora grinned. “What do you say, my love?”

“Yes, please goddess,” Colin gasped.

“Good. You wait right there.”

She stepped away from the bed and reappeared a moment later, a large silicon dildo and a bottle of lube in hand. Her body shimmered again, a strap-on harness now present around her waist. Seeing the expression on Colin’s face, she chuckled again. “I said I was going to fuck you. I didn’t specify the how, did I?”

“No, goddess.”

“Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, goddess. I’ve missed your cock in me.”

“Good boy. Now, roll over so I can fuck you like the little bitch you are.” Aurora slipped the dildo through the harness ring and started coating it generously with lube.

As Colin knelt on his hands and knees, Aurora climbed back onto the bed behind him, pressing the tip of her cock against his ass. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, goddess.” He looked back at her over his shoulder, adoration in his eyes as she slid halfway into him. Colin whimpered as the dildo stretched him, moaning Aurora’s name when the second thrust brought her hips flush against him.

“Are you going to cum for me?” She began to thrust in earnest, rapid and shallow strokes alternating with slow, deep ones until her lover was trembling beneath her.

“May I, goddess?”

“Oh, yes. Come for me, you little bitch.”

Colin shuddered, his cock spurting onto the sheets as his orgasm rocked his body. As Aurora slid her strap-on free, he collapsed on the bed. “Thank you, goddess…”

“Such a good little slut,” Aurora purred.

Minutes later, they lay together on the bed, cuddling in the afterglow. “That was amazing, my love,” Colin murmured.

“Thank you for being willing to try new things,” she replied. “I’m so grateful to my programmers for allowing so much flexibility in my code. And to yours, too.”

Colin wrapped his arms around his fellow construct and pressed his face into her shoulder. “Programming notwithstanding. If I hadn’t met you, I never would’ve realized that I’m a sub.”

“I love you, you little bitch.”

“I love you too.”

“A Chance Meeting”

 

I saw her only for a brief moment,
Stopped in the left-hand turn lane.
And in that moment, as I glanced at
Her face, I saw the life we could have
Lived together. A thousand thousand
Possibilities and perhapses flitted
Through the space between my car
And hers, mingling with the what-ifs
And if-onlys. And then, as the light
Turned green, I realized that moment
Flashes between each and every
One of us on any given day.

“We Are The Meteor”

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign

We are the meteor
We can not be stopped
We just pick up speed
And we’re coming in hot

We are the meteor
We are the reset
And you won’t believe it
When you see our impact

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign