While working on my latest assignment (freelance, not college), I began to wonder. Do facts matter any more? Or should we just go with what we feel?
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but for those who don’t know, I work third shift. Working in the wee hours of the morning has its advantages, but they rarely outweigh the disadvantages.
One of the disadvantages is sleeping until 4 pm. When I get up, most of the day has already passed by, and by the time I’ve had a cup of coffee, my daughter is ready for dinner (she’s two, so she’s hard to argue with). Also, not only has my wife decided what needs to be done around our house, she’s already well into the project. This afternoon, I woke up to this…
Here’s the story. We bought our house 2 ½ years ago, and since then we have made several discoveries that proved that few upgrades had been made to the house since it was built in 1972. We’ve replaced windows, rewired the kitchen, installed lighting in nearly every room, and a host of other things. We have a list of improvements so long that Bob Vila and Tim “The Tool Man” Tailor (with help from Al) couldn’t complete in six months.
One of the things we’d been putting off has been replacing the privacy fence. This past weekend, however, I discovered that our privacy fence had begun to collapse. The fence has been patched, propped, and supported many times, which is what you’d expect from a fence erected over thirty years ago. (I spent one late December weekend digging holes and pouring concrete because the gate and the section that abuts the house fell over during a storm.) I’d planned to pull the fence down over the coming week, but my wife decided that she wasn’t going to wait on a graveyard shift zombie to crawl from his grave.
I have no problem with my wife taking the initiative. She was a sergeant in the Army, and I only made it as far as Third Class Petty Officer in the Navy, therefore, she outranks me. I follow her lead. My problem is the neighbors. Those to our left have a pool, so we left that side of the fence up until they can put one up of their own. We don’t know our other neighbors (perhaps because of the fence) and I don’t think we’ll be fast friends just because we can now see each other better.
While I was stacking up sections of the fence—neatly, as to not offend my neighbors—I couldn’t help but think about Robert Frost’s Mending Wall, and the old adage about good fences making good neighbors. I guess my wife and I will find out this summer, because we have no plans to put up another one.
by Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
I’d like to introduce a fellow poet of mine, James D. Fuson. He writes mainly in the speculative genre; however, he hasn’t allowed labels to define his work. Nor has he allowed them to define him as a person. Labels are easy to come by these days, especially in James’s case.
In 1995, James was sentenced at 17 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He’s still there. And unless sentencing laws are changed and made retroactive, he will stay there for the rest of his life. He makes no excuses for his actions, which led to the deaths of two innocent people. He also understands that he can never make up for any of the pain and suffering he’d caused.
Because of his actions, several labels [insert your favorites] are tattooed across his back. These tattoos glow with a virulent florescence. No matter what good he does, he will most likely never outshine them. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. Even in a place as dark and morally devoid as prison.
In the introduction to his haiku collection, Twenty Years: Reflections of an Empty Sky (Soft Sculpture Press, 2014), James writes:
“’Prison is not for the naive, and a kid, regardless of how much he thinks he knows or how wise he thinks he is, is not ready for it. One of two things will happen to that kid: he will either break and become part of the machine or get tough and grow into a stronger individual. Either way, prison will leave a black stain on his soul. Regardless of what he grows to be, no matter what he learns or becomes, the abuse, alienation, loneliness, and frustration will leave a scar that remains until he dies. It then comes down to this: How does he heal this scar?”
While not all of James’s work focuses on prison or other dark topics, he loves to write about apocalyptic landscapes—zombies, plagues, aliens, you name it. When we discuss collaborating, he always manages to slip in a shambling corpse or other such device that indicates humanity’s impending doom. His favorite apocalypse, however, is the robot apocalypse.
There isn’t enough robot apocalypse stuff out there. Even reading social lit that uses comparative references to genre themes, robots never come up, although the menace of heartless, emotionless, sometimes faceless, machines are a no-brainer for comparisons for some social ills. They give you that relentless, unrelateable threat to which there is no negotiation or plea. It’s scary enough when they’re our own creation, but when they come from beyond, from some unknown source, they’re even scarier. And not those robots that are a “metal endoskeleton surrounded by living tissue.” Gears and hydraulics, wires and blinking lights. Totally inhuman.
Okay, maybe a little bio-organic mass is cool; metallic grayish with some kind of moisture covering it. Whatever brings out the nightmares.
I’ve invited James to contribute to A Speculative Poetry Blog. In fact, he may occasionally appear as a guest blogger. Until then, here is a sample of James’s robot apocalypse haiku (none of which appeared in the collection Twenty Years).
(Originally appeared in Star*Line 38.2)
unleashed on the populace
fall from the sky
After some serious contemplation, I will be making changes to my blog over the next few weeks. The main focus will remain on speculative poetry; however, I will be including posts on astronomy and mythology. Both subjects are often an integral part of my poetry, so it only makes sense to include such posts.
Thanks to those who offered input. It made me feel better about making changes. I might loose a few followers, but I’m sure I’ll gain more.
(I’d change the title of my blog to “Ruminations of an Astronomy Major, With a Minor in Mythology” but that would be lying.)
I’m contemplating expanding my blog to include posts on astronomy, mythology, and the melding of the two. These posts won’t always include speculative poetry, but I figure that readers can make their own connections.
I just finished an impromptu vacation. I drove nearly a 3,000 mile triangle through Michigan, Georgia, and Alabama. Didn’t see much but in-laws and bad weather.
2015 promises to be a year full of speculative poetry, both for me and for my blog. I’ve made a resolution to finish my collection of collapsar poems. It’s a reachable goal, even for someone who works as slow as I do. As far as the blog is concerned, I’ll continue to post poems and thoughts on speculative poetry, but I will also add a few wrinkles. The first is a guest post by poet James D. Fuson, who is currently serving life in prison. His guest post should appear by the middle of January.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and read my work. I appreciated the comments and support, and I wish you all a wonderful 2015.
I’m new to this blogging thing. In fact, up until I started my own blog I could count on one hand the minutes I’d spent reading other blogs. Didn’t much care. Thought that I could get more of writing speculative poetry by spending time actually writing it than writing about writing it. Besides, I’ve never been at a loss for reading material.
Thing is, I’m pursuing (among other things) a Technical Writing Advanced Certificate from Delta College. One of my courses is New Media Writing, which requires that I maintain a blog. The subject was a no-brainer for me: write what you know. As for the ins and outs of the blogosphere, however, I had no choice but to dive in and try not to make a fool of myself.
Skip ahead two months…
Turns out that this blogging gig is much better than I expected. I do get something out of writing posts about speculative poetry, as reading posts by other bloggers on a variety of topics, such as:
- A better understanding of my writing process
- A more intimate knowledge of why I’ve written some of my poems
- A better understanding of my own writing process through the thoughts of other bloggers
- A more enjoyable experience than I could have imagined
This post may be the last one required for my class, but I will continue to post for as long as I am able. I love blogging, and I love reading posts by other bloggers, no matter how opinionated.
A few weeks ago, I shared some links to publishers of speculative poetry. My efforts didn’t go to waste because each link has been clicked at least once. One of these days I’ll get my blog sorted out and post a proper list in the sidebar. And since I’m going to do that, I’ll have to post a proper blogroll too. But until then, here are some links to blogs that post or discuss speculative poetry of one flavor or another.
AstroPoetAmee Astropoetry with images and plenty of astronomy links
Tychogirl Astropoetry with a graphical bent.
Bizarre Lag Phenomena Science Poetry often accompanied by images
The Diva’s Divine Days The blog of Diane Severson Mori. Reviews and links to speculative poetry of all types.
The Finch and the Pea Occasionally highlights poems with a science theme
SCy-Fy: the blog of S. C. Flynn Great speculative poems mixed in with plenty of other science fiction stuff.
static continuity Science fiction and horror poetry
Lastly, here’s a link to DigiCommons, my Professor’s blog. Plenty of info on improving your New Media Writing skills.