Categories
Essays Opinion

The Book of Koli Review

As a work of science fiction, worldbuilding is the most significant element and the most enjoyable in The Book of Koli. M.R. Carey’s The Book of Koli is marvelous, one of those science fiction books which did not feel like there was an author, only the character. You are so completely immersed in the world, you become as a part of it as any of the characters which populate the book. You stand among them. The themes explored technology, power, and coming of age in a post-apocalyptic world where the tree is carnivorous.

But it’s not so much about the Trees as Koli’s life in his village or the Trees, it’s how society has formed and adapted around their knowledge. Ramparts are the military and police force of the village where you are ‘chosen’ by a piece of old technology.

Koli’s realization of the truth of his world and his place in it make you want to read more and more. After reading the first one, I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one of this trilogy.

See Clare McCullough’s short story, “The Treasure Notebook”

Categories
Essays Opinion

“In infinite dimensions, all things are possible”

Ava’s story begins like most of our lives begin, at a low-paying job. Finna by Nino Cipri joins the ranks of trailblazing gender representation in contemporary science fiction.

It addresses the mental illness and depression of an underpaid service employee. Ava and her fellow works are asked to do too much and out of their job description, asked for endless service to capitalism. It reviews the injuries caused by the relentless allowance of capitalism’s oppression of the worker.  The morphing and changing scenery around them is representative of the author’s fear of conformity and Ava’s realization of identity. Until she imagines the infinite possibilities available for her future, does the main character fully realize hope.

It has an almost anti-romantic arc in that the main characters have fallen out of love. They are trying to make their way into friendship. The most outstanding impression I got from this book was not from the main character, but of the love interest, Jules who is only referred to as they/them.

The biggest strength of this book is its razor sharp-wit and the pure fun it was to read. It was touching and had qualities of exuberance and righteousness.

It challenges us to rethink the traditional and patriarchal approaches toward science, capitalism, and gender. Examining attitudes that span across generations and multiverses. All knowledge is fundamentally gendered, being construction of possibility and more oftentimes than we’d like to admit, a self-fulling prophecy.

Categories
Poetry

Delta

Waning and waxing

My heart is like the

Crescent Moon;

Soft buttery craters/

– Obscured by candlelight/

Flicker fire lit the wicker chair

Oh woe to those reeds

Those that bend those that

– Break and swell/

Waves commanded by/

That cruel changing moon.

Categories
Poetry

Place of Safety or Refuge

Meter is defined as measurement. 

The way that poetic form is definition. 

In the form of evolution,

Ink pens are royalty.

A king’s gold plated destinies and rule lines

clearly written.

Everything with a place and a home

Life attends this noble firmament.

Categories
Paintings and Photos Poetry

I, Ladybug (or the power of small things)

The aphid tasted good.

Rough grass irritated

my wiggling six legs.

Talented black spots 

decorated my ambitious

red wings.

Yet unobserved 

by the sharpest hawk’s eye 

with a clear blue sky.

I, Ladybug

matched the color

of the bright burnt sun. 

I, Ladybug

soared over mountains

and burrowed under fallen leaves

by the rushing stream

finding my way between

the cracks of a tree

near invisibility leading

to immutability

I, Ladybug, marched beneath the 

door frame and

right onto your page.

Categories
Short Story

A Job from Hell

I was born with the name, Calvin. Although it was the name that my mother gave me when I was born, it wasn’t the name people at the office called me. They usually called me Cal.I never knew what name to call any of them. I had worked at the office for years, but I had not gotten the name of any of my co-workers or even my boss. 

Yellow United Company was an insurance company. It was the only place that I have ever worked. Whenever I told people that I worked there, a glaze would come over their eyes and they would say, “hmm, very interesting,” 

It didn’t seem like the people who worked there thought that the work was interesting either. They always seemed to be training someone new when I was finally around the office. So many different faces, all without names. It was alright for me. Once every couple weeks I would get on a plane and travel around the country. When I would often come back I would see new people in the office.

 I never recognized anyone. I preferred it that way. But it was after my 37th birthday party that I began to feel an uneasiness that never left as long as I was at Yellow United. The people I had worked with were always a bit strange. Never in any way that I could explain to people without them saying that I was being sensitive or that I was the strange one.

I went back to my desk. Brushing off the dust I sat, and reorganized my desk. I looked to my left. There was a strange scent wafting from the cubicle there.

“What is that? Tuna?” I asked, trying to make conversation.

“Hey Cal, happy to see you. Welcome back to the office. It’s not tuna.”

“Yeah nice to see you again… remind your name? I’m sorry,” I said putting my hand behind my head and giving a grin.

“My name is Joseph.” He said. I stared at him. 

“Okay,” I looked to my left just in time to see my other co-worker clipping her toenails at her desk. 

“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked as a shard of toenail flew into my mouth. I turned green and spat out the offending projectile. Slamming my hands against the table, I stood. “Would you stop that? Do you have to do this now?”

“Oh, Cal. I didn’t see you there. Do you want to borrow my toe clippers after me?” She asked. My stomach turned over and my face twisted in revulsion. Her toes were yellowed and thick. I could see the fungus overgrowing and flaking off of her foot onto her desk.

“No thanks, uh what was your name?”

“Dorothy,” She said, even her smile was yellow.

“Right,” I said and nodded. It wasn’t long before 5 o’clock blissfully came around. 

“Goodbye,” I said. 

“Goodbye Cal,” The whole office said in unison. I shivered. 

The next morning I had to sit in my car for a few minutes before going in. 

“Hey Cal,” There was a young blonde sitting across from me.

“Oh, hello, do I know you?” I asked. I pushed back my receding hairline. The young blonde laughed as if I had told a hilarious joke. My laugh was hollow as I joined her. 

“What department do you work in,”

“I work in HR,”

“Oh, I thought Joseph did,” I said, earning myself a blank stare. Something squirmed underneath my feet. I looked down. The whole floor below me was covered in slugs. Brown slugs, with their mucus trailing behind them, staining the carpet with black streaks. Shining in the fluorescent lights like precious stones. Gasping, I stood on my chair. I looked around. The slugs were coming from the cubicle to my right. Where Joseph had been.

But, instead of the well-groomed if a bit fish-smelling man from yesterday, there was a boy, who couldn’t be older than 20 sitting there. 

“Do you have any salt?” He asked me. I shook my head. 

“No, I don’t”

“Pity, it’s the only way to get rid of slugs, is to throw salt on them,” He reached for his briefcase and opened it. It was filled to the brim with slugs. My stomach turned over again, looking around. Was anyone seeing this? This had to be against the rules.

“Oh, I see. Yup, slugs, got you,” I said, wiping sweat from my forehead. 

“Is something wrong Cal?” He asked. I shook my head and didn’t answer. I rushed to the men’s bathroom. But a sound stopped me just as I began to push on the door. 

There was a soft chanting noise coming from the woman’s bathroom. It took a bloodcurdling scream for me to rush in. 

“Is everyone okay?” I said, bursting through the door. I looked to see a roomful of strangers holding a chicken without a head. It’s blood splattered across the walls and a pentagram was drawn on the ground. 

“I see that you are all busy, and I’ll leave you to it,” I said, turning white. “Goodbye,” I said and I ran out of the women’s bathroom. I loosened my necktie, took everything of value from my desk and shoved it into a white box. 

“Cal, where are you going? It’s not even lunch yet,” A stout woman blocked my way through the door.

“I’m leaving, I’m quitting, I have no idea who you are and I would appreciate it if you would step aside,”

“Oh that’s too bad, we’ve had a change of management recently and I would really like to introduce you to your new president,”

“No thanks, really I have to go,” I said. I pushed her aside with force and ripped off my nametag, throwing it into the garbage. I kicked open the door and went to my car. Driving away I looked behind me to see that the ground surrounding the Yellow United Company building was cracking and descending into hell. Literal hell. I laughed incredulously and wondered what I would say when I had to tell people why I had left my last job.

Categories
Short Story

The Treasure Notebook

It was dark inside the trash compactor. Hippocrates’s Green Bay packer Jersey hung off of him. Small bits of slime shone in the green light. He gritted his teeth as the light blinked. It blinked again. He cursed his late grandfather for ever leaving him that small black moleskin notebook and its dumb map leading it to his Grandfather’s fortune. 20-thousand-dollar treasure be damned. Why did his Grandfather have to be so damn cryptic all the time. Hippocrates’s screwed up his face, his eye blinking from the sweat dripping into and stinging his eyes.

                “We’ll let you go if you give us the notebook,” a voice blared from speakers just outside the small sliver of light from the outside. Hippocrates retched at the vile smell around him and he raised his hands defensively.

                “Brandon, I cannot give you the notebook on account that I do not have it on my person at the moment,” Hippocrates said. He noticed a smudge on his wristwatch and rubbed the smudge, only making it spread more. The light turned red. The walls wailed as they moved closer together, leaving less room for Hippocrates

“Is that so? It’s not like you haven’t come up short before in our business dealings. Even in high school, you always were a gram or two short of weed when I picked up. Always trying to screw other people over for a quick buck. Now that the stakes are higher, your idiocy is finally being paid back,” Brandon said. Hippocrates winced and cursed himself for not cutting the weed with other drugs so that Brandon wouldn’t have had noticed his past deceptions.

“Wait, wait. I have a counter offer. My grandmother, she knows about the notebook. She knows about the money and the map, so why don’t we take a break from the trash compactor and the crushing and I can lead you to her. No one gets hurt and you get your money. 20,000 dollars, and it’s all yours, all my debts, paid in full,” Hippocrates said. The walls stopped moving and the light turned back to green. Hippocrates breathed out.

                “I’m listening,” The speaker said. Hippocrates bared his teeth, lifting himself on the tip of his toes. Stench filled his nostrils. His eyes widened.

                “My grandmother. She’s the only one who knows what it is. She’s still at the football game at Lambeau, she’ll lead us to the little black notebook,” Hippocrates says.

                “How do I know you won’t just go to the cops?”

“Because I just told you where my grandmother is,”

“I don’t know Hipp,”

“How long have we known each other? You know I’m good for it, I’ll get you your money, no harm, no foul. Grandma and I will retire to Florida and ride out the rest of her retirement money. You get to keep the notebook and the 20 thousand, and you never hear from me again,” Hippocrates said.

“Alright, lead us to your grandma and out of respect for the time that we have known each other, I won’t kill you,” Brandon said.

“Thank you, Brandon, thank you,” Hippocrates said as the walls began to open. The floor beneath him began angling down and Hippocrates was dumped unceremoniously onto a pile of trash below. The wind blew across the dump as Hippocrates stretched his legs and shivered in the fall air.

“Let’s go,” A tall muscled man lifted Hippocrates to his feet.

“Oh hello!” Hippocrates said and removed himself from his grasp. “Brandon, who is this handsome man?” Hippocrates asked as he wiped his hands on his clothes, not much good that it did. The tall man frowned at him pushed Hippocrates towards Brandon, as diminutive as always even compared to Hippocrates’s modest 5’7.

“I’m glad you decided to help us Hipp, it really makes finding your grandfather’s black moleskin all the easier. Your grandfather was a tough guy and smart too. He’s hidden his money well, but as soon as I found out about the map in that black book, I knew I had to have it. It’s too bad you didn’t get any brains from him or any of his Irish mafia buddies. Now are you ready to go to the playoffs?” Brandon asked, his neck dripping with herringbone gold jewelry.

Hippocrates ran his fingers through his hair in the car’s reverse mirrors, trying to restore some ounce of tidiness. He smoothed down his eyebrows and fixed his collar.

“Yeah, I’m ready, you don’t happen to have any deodorant or cologne, do you?” Hippocrates said and cleared his throat. He adjusted his jersey and pants. The car rumbled and he shifted uncomfortably in his own stench. Brandon nodded to the tall man who sat in the passenger seat. The tall man threw the deodorant at him.

“Thanks,” Hippocrates said. They rounded a hill and over the horizon was Lambeau field. Hippocrates smiled.

“That isn’t the first time he’s heard that,” Brandon said. They pulled up to the parking lot and navigated the tailgaters and stray cans of Miller High Life that populated the lot. Brandon pulled to the entrance. The Tall man got out of the car and slammed the door shut.

“Keep an eye on this one and bring grandma back in one piece,” Brandon said to the tall man. The Tall man nodded.

“I understand. Let’s go,” The tall man said.

“Is that your catchphrase or something? It’s always ‘let’s go,’ but never how are you,” Hippocrates said. The tall man bared his teeth and the hardness of his expression made Hippocrates quiet. The tall man opened the door for Hippocrates and jerked his chin. Hippocrates got out of the car, his head down.

“Be back in an hour and a half, there’s a sale on at the grocery store and I need to pick up asparagus before its over,” Brandon said. The tall man nodded and pushed Hippocrates forward.

“Don’t think of trying anything,” The tall man lifted his shirt and reveal a very shiny black revolver.

“They aren’t going to let you in with that,” Hippocrates said. The tall man glowered and took out the gun and gave it to Brandon.

“Don’t think I can’t crush your skull even without a gun,” The tall man said.

“Understood,” Hippocrates said. He flashed a smile, “Let’s go,’ Brandon took the gun and rolled his eyes.

“See you in an hour and a half, and don’t be late. If anything goes wrong, well, I think I remember where you live, and grandma has got to come home sometime. Hippocrates swallowed back his retort and nodded.

Lambeau was packed. Every seat was filled and the sun shone. As the two made their way to the ticket booth, a group of women wrinkled their noses at Hippocrates’s stench. Hippocrates grinned, his face going red and winked at the ladies. One of them gasped and averted her eyes. He caught his reflection in the mirror and ran his hands through his hair again, wiping off some of the more obvious slime patches and with a couple of disgusted looks the cashiers waved them through.

“Is it something I said?” Hippocrates said smiling to the tall man. The tall man grunted and pushed him forward.

“Where is she?” The tall man asked. Hippocrates rifled around in his pockets drawing out his stained ticket stub again

“She’s… she’s in section 1A5. Pretty good seats I have to admit. Grandpa may have led a life of crime but he had good taste,” Hippocrates said.

“Whatever,” The tall man said, dragging Hippocrates behind him. They walked down the steep flights of stairs as they saw the football players in green and gold warming up on the field below them.

“There she is, my grandma. Isn’t she beautiful?” Hippocrates said and pointed as he caught sight of an old woman decked out in cheesehead gear. He quickened his step and the tall man checked his watch.

“Grandma!” Hippocrates shouted. The old woman turned and smiled but her face froze as she saw the state that Hippocrates was in.

“Hipp, my goodness what happened to you? Did you slip in dog poop again?” Grandma asked.

“Grandma, don’t embarrass me in front of my friend,” Hippocrates whined and hugged his grandma.

“What’s wrong dear?” Grandma asked the tall man, “Here,” Grandma drew out a small plastic wrapped pouch of tissues and handed them to Hippocrates.

“Listen I’ve gotten into a bit of trouble and now I need to get that black notebook that Grandpa gave me right before he died,” Hippocrates said.

“Have you been gambling again?” Grandma asked. “Your grandfather wasn’t a perfect person but I hate to see you making the same mistakes that he did,”

“I’m sorry Grandma, but my friend here really needs the notebook. Well I need the notebook too, We’ve got to go now,”

“What do you mean, the game hasn’t even started yet and you’ve been looking forward,” Grandma said and the tall man, after glancing at his watch again took Grandma under the arm and helped her up. “Get your hands off me young man, I’m talking to my grandson. Have a little respect for your elders,”

“Grandma, please just listen to him,”

“No, your grandfather gave you that money Hippocrates, I am not giving you the black notebook now,”

“Well, I’ve already sort of lost it,” Hippocrates said.

“Lost it?”

“I had a couple bad hands at the Dragon Turtle,”

“What are you doing spending time at that dingy place? Alright, since it seems like you really need it, I’ll come with you and miss the game,” Grandma took out the black notebook from her bag and handed it to Hippocrates. Hippocrates cradled the key to 20 thousand dollars to his chest. He flipped through the notebook and saw the map.

“Really Grandma?” Hippocrates said, putting the notebook behind his back.

“Really,” Grandma said and stood, Hippocrates helped her gather her things and they slowly made their way to the exit. Just as they were about to pass the ticket booths.

“I’ve got to visit the bathroom before I go, you know these old bones and age. Emergencies become very dire,” Grandma said and squeezed Hippocrates’s arm with a knowing look. Hippocrates knitted his brow together.

“Oh course Grandma,”

She leaned in, “I’m going to call some of your grandfather’s friends. They are here in Lambeau right now, I knew something was up this morning and so I made some preparations. This isn’t the first time someone has tried to put a squeeze on your grandmother, trust grandma, I know what to do,” Grandma said and they walked her to the front of the ladies’ room. The tall man crossed his arms and surveyed the area.

“Women and their bladders amirite?” Hippocrates joked, smiling. The tall man frowned at him and ignored him. After about twenty minutes the tall man checked his watch again.

“What’s taking her so long? Go in and check,”

                “But, it’s the ladies’ room, do I look like a lady to you,”

                “you don’t want me to answer that,”

                “Right, right, I’ll be right back,” But before Hippocrates could so much as take a step forward Grandma tottered out. In her liver spotted and wrinkled hands shone a menacing revolver. She pressed it against the tall man’s back. A stream of people passed unaware of the danger that they had just been placed in.

                “Don’t you move young man, now. You are going to leave Lambeau and tell your boss that he should give up any ideas he might have to harming either my Hippy or me. I’ve got the whole irish mafia waiting at my house. If there are any questions, he’s going to get his answer in bullets you understand me?” Grandma said. The tall man paled.

                “I understand,”

                “Now go and let me enjoy this wonderful fall day with my grandson,”

                “Okay,” The tall man, visibly shaking beelined it for the exit.

                “Wow, now that was bad ass,” Hippocrates said.

                “Language, Hipp and don’t you go getting yourself into trouble again. Let’s go watch the game. Seems like we’ll be able to enjoy our money from grandpa for a little longer,” Grandma said.

                “Thanks grandma!” Hippocrates said and they gathered up their green and gold gear and went back to their seats to enjoy the game.

Categories
Poetry

I pass those pennies by!

When I was young

I thought I was little.

Spending my time

running to pennies 

on the street 

filling up my pockets

hoping 

to increase my value 

The shiny bits of copper worth 

more than my soul worth

more than my body

 my heart and my mind 

more than my time

But, no way I could 

grow in stature and size

With my pockets 

weighing me down

Now,

I pass those pennies by!

When I will be old

I think I will be

as tall as the tallest mountains

And like the mountains,

Gold will glow in my veins

Remembering facts that even the smartest

Man will forget

Hair will sprout over me like grasses

And like the mountains,

My skin will be

reinvented by the wind, the rivers, 

the ice, and the living things.

Categories
Poetry

Wild Engine

I combust forward

My thinkin’ has been numinous

Mind running like wild engine

Blowing surprise fire geysers 

Into the smoky depths

I’m Constantly

Collecting

.. Callouses ..

I rose above and was never tethered 

I was free just like icarus

Was

Light the fire

 Hug it tight

Prepare for fighting

Break

Break

Break

Fight to win not only the battle

Eyes on winning the war

Napoleon, Alexander

I’m quickest, rawest queen

In all matters.

I can speak it all

My thoughts, my dreams

I’m hungry for victory

Lie to myself before lying to others

Stomping my feet like the angry child

Feeling the earth shake my knees

I’m going to live forever, 

My life is my life.

Categories
Poetry

My Diss Track

I got one question for yah

Before I begin;

Why are you so ugly?

Face crooked like witch

And magic couldn’t fix it

Repellent; Repugnant

Pretty sure your identity

Coincides with Methamphetamine

Bow before me, you’re my peasantry

Meet the real me The real queen

Enough with the pleasantries

I make skeletons

Outta my enemies

You’ll be burnt through

overplayed like Peek and Boo

Clear the color off

your talent palette

You’re just grayscale

A pale comparison

I am cadet using my

Clarinet

Making you sweat

Making good on my

Threat debts like

A soviet based warhead

Halitosis, you smell like

Garlic bread 

But what’s new 

Now you are hungry and scared

 Rigid Like bamboo

Petrified at my corkscrew

You are so ugly,

It looks like your face

Has been sprayed with mace

I wish there was something else

In that space where your face is

Acid in your Basic knowledge

I’ve a PHD in chemistry

Warlady of WWIII

Get off the airwaves and areospace

You were born 

With a Nasty face