Saturday, 15 April 2017

A Poem for National Poetry Month: A Caution on Gathak'nor

A Caution on Gathak’nor

When I started to write this, I was thinking of writing a nonsense poem. Instead, I ended up with a cautionary tale inspired by speculation of what the poetry of the future might be about, if it followed old Earth patterns of verse, and the storytelling tradition—and by the idea that not all the worlds humanity reaches will be friendly and benign, even if they look habitable. This verse was written on April 15, 2017, to celebrate National Poetry Month, and as the April 15 entry for Another 365 Days of Poetry.

I spasmed in the Gathak’nor
and tumbled down the hill.
In the wake of dandelions,
the bluebells seemed to spill
clouds of pus and whitened bone,
as I found the river bank
and tumbled o’er the brink
into a torrid torrent rank
and, in case you’re wond’ring,
why I was walking Gathak’nor,
when the planet is forbidden
and will remain so evermore,
t’is because I found a signal,
something faint that called,
and I rode the beacon down
and landed on a world
that used to be a colony
before its nature true
was clear
to those who tried to call it home,
as their lives it tried to steal,
and the whole damned world’s a death trap,
nasty to the core,
but I found the signal and ended it,
and ended lives that were no more,
for they had ceased to live
within months of landing there,
and then I left the site a-running,
fleeing like a hare,
hoping to make the shuttle
that I’d ‘borrowed’ for the trip,
and get back to the starship
before from its orbit it did slip,
but soon my side was stitching
and my legs refused to work
so my headlong flight
became a slow and stupid walk,
and then the spasms came,
and I fell into the creek
and I’d have joined the murky torrent,
but for the protocols I’d rigged,
and now I’m back aboard the ship,
in isolation while they purge
every particle of taint
that through my blood and bones does surge,
for the world of Gathak’nor
is more toxic than they say,
and those who fall within its atmosphere
hardly ever get away.

(Copyright, C.M. Simpson, April 15, 2017)

Writing Life: May’s First Release

Finally, I have also made the first release for May available for pre-order.

When the plane carrying P.O.S. Officer Schaeffer goes down, it’s no accident. She and her partner lose the prisoner they’re escorting to trial, and the local elves nearly lose their lives protecting the unicorns and a grove of dryads. With the aircraft and its passengers on the ground, Schaeffer has to secure her prisoner before the woman can create any more mischief—and with dusk closing, the local unicorns seeking vengeance, and the trolls beginning to stir it’s not going to be easy.

A Matter of Justice is set in a world where magic has returned, pixie dust is the new drug of choice, and humans live side by side with creatures of legend. With new crimes forming around new resources and new markets, the Paranormal Operations Squad, walks the edge of two worlds, trying to bring justice to both.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Writer Fitness: Walking with Ingress and PokemonGo

It was a beautiful Canberra autumn day,and I'd been cooped up at home for most of the week with a little one that was under the weather, and an essay on Wittek's ghazi theory to complete, so, with the little one in safe hands, and the essay done bar a few extra references and some formatting, I went walking. I needed a long walk just to clear the cobwebs, and Ingress had just the thing.

I'd started a mission series a few weeks ago, and hadn't been able to get out to finish it, until today, when I set out to complete the last 9 missions in the set... and maybe add a few more kilometres towards the trekkers medal, while hatching a few eggs for PokemonGo.

Well, that was the plan, anyway - and it worked beautifully.

The buses ran on time, and I was down by Lake Burley Griffin by half ten or so, finishing Enlightened agent, Wharty's, pictoral series called The Burley Trail. Starting at the National Carillon, the Trail takes you along the edge of the lake to the Commonwealth Avenue bridge, and then across and along the south side of the lake to the Kings Avenue bridge and back to the Carillon. Along the way, you get to explore the memorials and sculptures along the shoreline, or close to it.

And at the end, you end up with the picture you can see just under the achievement medals below. (Ignore those; we'll get to those in a minute. Just enjoy the picture - it's worth the walk.)

Now, speaking of medals, that was the other bonus from today. I finally hit gold on the Builder's medal - and, no, most of that blue wasn't me, but another Resistance agent or three. I just bolstered a couple of portals, took a couple more, turned them blue, and fully deployed them, and was very pleasantly surprised, when this little chap popped up on the scanner. Mind you, I now have to go do it all again to get to platinum, but still...

And, in addition to the walking for Ingress, I played a bit of PokemonGo, switching back and forth so I could stock up on pokeballs - the Lake has a ton of stops to spin - and maybe catch the odd pokemon. I didn't get any new types, but I did manage to hatch three 2km eggs. These little guys, all "strong" or able to "battle with the best of them", were welcome additions to the poke-queue.

I have to admit that, while all this was nice, the best part of the day was getting acquainted with the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery. I'd skirted the edges, but the end of mission 14 takes you into the gardens, and the very first portal at the start of mission 18 takes you back to the lake's edge. What lies in the missions in between is magical - especially on a day when the sun is shining, and the weather isn't too hot, and the cockatoos come over in flights, shrieking fit to wake the dead, their wings gleaming against the sky. It was a sight I was, unfortunately, not quick enough to capture on camera, but I'll come back for another go. In the meantime, here's some of what I did remember to photograph on this leg of the series:

A wolf guardian,

a woman, who was clearly tired of whatever the two blokes in the background are arguing about,

not that they cared; they just kept on with whatever it was that had them going - perhaps it was something to do with the benefits of waste over recycling...

which was clearly causing the nearby group of fellows some consternation,

although I think this woman was in agreement with the other, and wanted them all to just be quiet,

  because she and her friend had yet to master the art of relaxing.

 I left them to take another path, which wound through the trees, and brought me to this startling sight,

and then these, who stood not far from some of the spookiest heads, I have ever seen - which will be the subject of another trip with something more suited to what I wanted to do than the phone camera.

There was also this strange construction, which frames the pole statues behind it, beautifully, but which I'm still trying to work out a meaning for.

All in all, it was a lovely day for a walk, a great walk, and some more beauty spots to mark down for a revisit at a later date.

And those spooky heads, the ones in the pond?

Yeah - there's a story out there with their name on it as inspiration.

A Poem for National Poetry Month: With the Lame Man, One

With the Lame Man, One

Written on April 14, 2017, to celebrate National Poetry Month, this piece is an experimental form about an attempted assassination, perhaps influenced by the sound of the old television series of Dune playing in the background—but only a little.

“Walk,” the lame man said,
and I obeyed.
I took
first one step
and then another.
Behind me, I heard him whisper,
“Run,” he said,
and I obeyed.
I sped
my steps,
each one falling faster
than the one that went before.
“Run!” he said,
when I hesitated.
And his voice compelled me,
each stride driven by its sound,
when I wanted nothing more
than to turn back,
to return
and rescue him.
His words roared through me,
and I obeyed,
their compulsion too strong,
an order
that settled inside my head
and overrode my mind.
And then,
when I felt that all was lost,
that I had lost him,
and my heart,
he said,
and I obeyed,
sliding to a halt,
his hand on my arm,
though I had left him,
far behind,
as the roof caved in,
the room
Yet, here we stood,
his hand on my shoulder,
me turning into his arms.
Safe as the fury flew around us,
took the door from its hinges,
the walls from their foundations,
our rooms
to the sky,
while we stood firm,
an island of peace in the maelstrom,
as we
had stood before,
when others had tried
to take our lives.
“Stay,” I said,
and he obeyed,
his arms around me,
as I demanded,
our heads bowed,
our thoughts entwined,
our minds hunting the origin
of our assassin.
This time,
we would find them,
reverse the maelstrom,
send it swirling through
their treach’rous hearts
tearing them asunder,
sending them racing
for their lives,
in futility,
for we were one,
our minds now joined,
one thought: