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SQL for SCOTUS*

SELECT
     Intelligence,
     Knowledge_of_Law,
     Dignity,
     Determination AS GRIT,
     Strength      AS RESOLVE,
     Empathy,
     Insight
FROM
     SCOTUS_Requirements
INNER JOIN
     Virtues
LEFT JOIN
     Womens_Rights
LEFT JOIN
     Equal_Treatment
WHERE
    Moniker  = 'Notorious'
AND Initials = 'RGB';

 

 

 


*Yes, yes, I know this isn’t strict SQL.
Poetic license and all.

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Grief is not a constant thing.

Grief is the unwanted houseguest, the itinerant acquaintance who shows up without notice or invitation, steamer trunk standing behind him as he smiles, his obvious intention: to settle in for an extended stay.

When he arrives, I cannot send him away, much as I want to. He is here, and he will stay. So I make up the bed in the spare room, put out fresh linens, and prepare myself to meet daily the constant sadness that has taken up residence in my home.

But it is not constant, this sadness, this Grief.

In the mornings, Grief, still in his dressing gown of paisleyed silk, shuffles into the room, inclines his head discreetly in my direction, moves to an unoccupied chair, and unfolds the day’s newspaper, sipping creamed coffee as he reads.

In the afternoons, Grief wanders the house, inspecting artwork, photographs, the spines of books, the memorabilia of my life. If the weather is fine, he might venture out for a turn in the garden or to sun himself on the porch.

In the evenings, Grief may enjoy a cognac and a pipe near the hearth, or take a book and a glass of port over to the chair beneath the reading lamp.

Grief is like this much of the time. Quiet, unobtrusive, there are spans when I almost forget that he is there, when life seems normal, but then the rustle of his broadsheet or the sandy whisper of a turned page reminds me: Grief still haunts these rooms.

But Grief is not always so reserved.

On occasion, Grief will clear his throat, breaking the silence between us. The paper will fold, the book’s page will be marked, the teacup will clink home in its saucer, and Grief will turn and look at me with an intensity that demands my attention.

“Remember when . . . ?” he might start, or “I wonder why . . .” he’ll begin, and to that he will attach an anecdote about the one who has passed, the death that brought him to my doorstep. The memory he relates might be a happy one, albeit scorched by loss, or it might be of an angry moment that I would rather forget. It might even be a hidden truth, now unveiled, that reveals unknown realities that add confusion to my pain. Insistent, Grief relates these thoughts to me, whether I want to hear them or not, and in so doing, he brings into razor-edged focus the unhealed wound, the lacuna that can never be repaired.

Grief acknowledges the pain he causes. He furrows his brow and nods as if in sympathy, but ultimately he is unaffected by my anguish, unmoved by my feelings. Day or night, at random moments, consistently inconstant, Grief interrupts my thoughts, my work, my dreams, with reminders of loss and recollections of a life extinguished.

But Grief has visited here before.

As with previous visits, I know that, in time, Grief will begin to leave me alone. His strolls out on the grounds will lengthen. He will take meals in his room. He may even enjoy the occasional trip to the countryside.

As the days and weeks that form the months pass by, the timbre of his recollections will change as well, softening as the seasons dilute and cleanse our discourse of its harsher notes, leaving me with memories that are infused with less pain and greater fondness.

Eventually, Grief will find a place of his own and move out, perhaps across town. He will continue to pop in for a quick visit, around a birthday or the holidays, and we will chat and reminisce and raise a glass to the loved one I lost.

And thus we will continue, Grief and I, until I myself am at an end, when Grief will pack up his steamer trunk and take memories of me to someone new.

. . .

 

 

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224 Words

224 words 
are not enough 
to hold your complexity 
to describe your life 
to tell your story 

224 words 
discretely categorized 
these on education and profession 
those on the passions that fired your mind 
cannot suffice 

I could write novels 
stories and essays
odes and sonnets 
vignettes and epigrams 
and still not compass 
all you were 
to me 
to any of us 

224 words 
cannot scratch the surface 
of the sadness and pain 
that in the end 
consumed you but 

224 words
are all that fit 
into the columned inches 
to tell the world 
you are gone 

 

. . .

 

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It’s been a tough week for us all, one way or another, and one reason is that it is now obvious that all this . . . [gestures to everything] . . . is not going to end any time soon. In addition, I took my own advice and spent much of the week listening and learning from diverse voices. I’ve been rethinking and reevaluating many long-standing notions of society and America. You might have been doing likewise, and like me, you may have found it both depressing and exhausting.

But this post isn’t about any of that.

This post is about how I’ve been taking a moment here and there to brighten these dark days with a really, really bad book.

After sharing what I previously described as “the worst piece of professionally published fiction I have ever read,” a friend loaned me a book he felt was even worse.

And boy-oh-boy was he right.

It’s a self-published work, so my stance on “Man-Gods From Beyond the Stars” remains unchanged, but while “self-published” is by no means a synonym for “crap,”—I’ve self-published a few works, myself—there is a lot of the latter contained within the former. A whole lot.

And this book, well, it is utter crap.

And it is also absolutely adorable.

Seriously, it’s just adorable. From the mistake in the dedication straight through to the formatting error on the last line, it is chock-a-block with typos, malaprops, misused homophones, and errors of grammar and punctuation. Stylistically, it’s a hot mess. Unwieldy character names abound, used in every line of dialogue and the attached, adverbially enhanced avoidance of the word “said” (e.g., “Not to worry, Gondranth. I’m a trained professional,” stated Ik’nolt greedily). It has (dis)continuity issues that make you flinch and wonder if you’ve just had a minor stroke. And there is So. Much. Telling.

But here’s the thing: it’s just so earnest, so fervent, and so . . . enthusiastic . . . that it’s impossible not to cock your head to the side and say, “Awwww, how sweet.”

I won’t mention the author or title or even the genre here, because my point is not to humiliate the pen that created this trashy treasure. This book is an obvious labor of love, a gift to friends and family, and the author isn’t trying to be famous or “strike it rich” as a bestselling novelist, and isn’t complaining about the heartlessness of the publishing industry. This author just wanted to write a book, an homage to their favorite genre, and share it with others, and I will not make them feel bad about that.

I haven’t, and I won’t read the book in its entirety—frankly, I’m not sure that’s possible—but when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by [again, gestures to everything], I will pick it up, open it to a random page, and chuckle at such fervid prose so inexpertly crafted.

We should all be that passionate about something. I’m glad this author found their dream and congratulate them on achieving the goal.

k

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As a youth, I was not “into” comic books. The reason for this was two-fold.

First, the nearest store that had a rack of comic books was a two-mile walk from my house. Now, a two-mile walk wasn’t unusual for me—I spent all summer and many school-day afternoons with friends up in the hills, trekking miles from our suburban homes—and a gaggle of us would frequently walk or ride our bikes down to that store, but once there, the primary reason came into play: as a kid, I was never given an allowance. (more…)

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When I do die, I hope it is in spring,
though not for me, no, not on my account.

For my part I would rather die whilst deep
in Autumn’s arms, to meet my final slumber
as the Earth trades out her riotous robes
for melancholy hues, and hones the evening’s
cool-lipped kiss into a thing that bites.

To die at such a time, in synchronized
conclusion with the fading world, it seems
most apt and natural, but still, I would
not have it so.

Those friends who rue my end,
I would not have them grieve in chill and growing
dark, nor hang with crepe the holidays
of friendship, love, and hearthfired warmth, nor mute
their joys with mournful tones, like minor chords
that linger in cathedral vaults.

Instead,
for them, my dearest few, I hope to die
in springtime, just as Nature’s hand arrives
to balance any sadness with the fresh
and unrelenting joy of life’s renewal.

I would ask the sun of warming days
to light each face, have blooms and birdsong lift
their hearts, and let the season’s boisterous breezes
dry their briny tears, all while surrounded
by the freshness of a world reborn.

k

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First, a bit of business.
My third Quarantine eBook Giveaway is live, today through Monday.
Free books! Tell a friend.

Now, onward to a writing quandary that has been rattling around in my pea-brain this week.

When I was writing speculative fiction (alternate history, high fantasy, science fiction), my process was unaffected by changes in modern life. I was writing about times past, alternatives to the present, or imagined futures, so I didn’t have to worry about current trends or innovations. At most, if a piece was set in the near-future, I might have to extrapolate forward from the day’s news, but in general, I had free rein and could build the world as I wished. (more…)

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