Monday, November 17, 2014

Poem: Ten poems on Lee Soo Hyuk (my ICB)

Yesterday, early-early, I opened my computer:
you were there.
A glimpse, merely
But later, all my thoughts were of you.

Men should not be so beautiful
Or old women so lustful.

As a teenager, I loved David Cassidy,
Edward Albert Jr, Martin Sheen, Jan-Michael Vincent
Forty years later, I'm scouring websites
for stories of you
If I had a grand-daughter, I would steer her to you


I want to be a vowel in your mouth: caressed

In the teaser,
You walked across your studio,
eyes moist from welling tears
On the window pane raindrops trailed;
Teaser indeed:
I wished you were not for me.

You make me smile
Jae-rim makes me laugh;
why should i love you so much
you who only make me smile?

A fragile delicate beauty
milk-white skin
some hidden unspoken pain
eyes that become narrow slits when you smile
and I am suddenly lost.

I did not like suits
until you wore them
you've made me shallow.

Surrounded by your friends
all as young as you
all as beautiful
but even there you stand out:
why has my heart chosen you?

My friend asked me what "ICB" meant:
I gave her the literal definition
"Imaginary Celebrity Boyfriend"
The metaphorical meaning
only old women understand.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Poem: Crying for myself

This morning I cried for my life
and how the body betrays --
that the soul wants so much to wander
but the physical body cages.

Once I envied the sprinter
the casual ascender of many stairs
the dancer
the mother who chases her errant child
down rows and rows of city blocks without apparent fear

while i dreaded to rise from bed
fearful my heart would fail

I am so tired now, frail
but no envy
just grief, grief, and regret
that thirty years have been spent in illness.

Thirty years too soon.
Sixty years too soon.
I should not have gotten so old
at such a young age.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Poem: Fall comes suddenly

In the five years since you've moved here
your steps have gotten slower.

All evening, I kept looking at you.
There must've been pity in my eyes.
You walked so slow.

I turned to look at you last night
in the parking lot.
The air was so crisp last night
the leaves swirling about in eddies around our feet

Twenty years we've known each other;
Please live another twenty.
I want my friend always at my side.
In twenty years time, will I be as frail as you?

Remembering how you turned the steering wheel
I think of how relentlessly time turns.

I want to shout to your children:
Be careful with her, she's getting old.
But I can't do that.
You might hear. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Poem: The Princess and the frog

Some frogs do not become princes
no matter how long the kiss
how deep the love.

We must tell our daughters this
especially if they are kind-hearted
especially if they are loyal.

Some fairy godmothers
must challenge us
and lock us in chains
to prevent us from attending the prince's ball.

We old women must acknowledge this.

This is not something that can be told to princes
They don't listen
And they rarely believe that they were truly frogs.
And they tend to believe in their supposed transformation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Being both a Reviewer and Author

I have a somewhat harsh review coming out next month on Fantastic Stories of the Imagination 

Well....harsh for me.

As a reviewer and an author, I'll just say:

1) I hate being given a bad review. But if it's a bad review, I like it if the reviewers actually offer constructive criticism. I tend to do that when I review. I like it if a reviewer is fair and knowledgeable about themselves and their own biases (especially when it comes to race, sex, and religion.)

I've challenged reviewers about three or four times. All  those challenges I considered valid:

I once had a white reviewer lecture me on what Africans really think and why my story Changeling  was so bad and so entirely wrong for Griots, the african anthology it was in. Apparently I -- a black woman-- didn't know African culture as well as she --a white woman who had travelled to Africa-- did. All the Africans I knew loved my story by the way. In addition this reviewer named what she thought was the best story: the only story written by a white woman. I answered her review/bog and said it was interesting that the story she considered the best was the only story in the african antho that was written by a white woman. She didn't know the story she loved was the only story written by a white person but I could only think that she had been trained to like certain types of writing and was unaware how deeply inculturated she was while she was challenging me on culture. So I had to call her on it.

Another reviewer (Neth) hated one of my novels (Wind Follower) and said he couldn't finish it because nothing happened in it. He said among other things he was tired of women being saved by men. I answered him that it isn't a good idea to review a book one could not finish, that the format of that novel was a romance and romances had different rules, and reminded him that just because he wassick of women being saved doesnt mean blck women are sick of it. Black women saved by heroic princes was new for us. We were always the mules of the world and our vaginas were not on pedestals. So should minorities who are now just getting their literary voices shut up because white folks have"already said that." I was right but I shouldn't have done tht because some bloggers like seeming important. To this day this blogger/reviewer posts my comments everywhere. I've been told that other bloggers dislike him because he likes to feel important and probably loves it that an author challenged his review.

One reviewer said she would "anthropology geek" me and correct me about Wind Follower and various folklore issues. She began complaining about what was wrong with my anthropology. I just said no! She concluded I was touchy about my writing and said, "Well, some writers like being told where their mistakes are so they don't do it again." But the truth was that if I create a fantastical world with its own religions, cultures, histories, and social mores -- how can someone come in and tell me about folklore when it's my anthroplogy in my own created world was wrong?

The last reviewer I challenged hadn't been so bad at all...he had "kinda liked it" but he was still dismissive about the writings of a black woman fantasy writer and I hated that dismissiveness. Moreover, I had been so suicidal and depressed while writing that novel that it hurt to see someone dismiss the novel (Wind Follower) that had helped me commit to live.

So I try my best as a reviewer to remember how a bad review feels. I critique many stories by writer friends and I am a tough critiquer. So when I review published books I tend to fall into critiquer/beta reader mode. The trouble with this mindset is that the book I'm reviewing is already published by the time it's in my hand. When I find myself getting annoyed with the book's editor for not helping the writer, I feel the harsh relief is valid. Because I know I care about the writer's future books.  Will see how it all comes out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Speculative Fiction Blog hop catch up

Yep, i totally need to catch up.

Amelia Smith 
Amelia is working on a five-volume epic fantasy series with an allegorical slant. The story follows a group of friends as they grow up in a world falling apart. Book One, Scrapplings, starts just before the main characters meet and covers their first season together.

Here's the link to the whole post:

S B James.

SB, who is a steampunk author, blogs about her writing process and her series, The Inventor's Son. SB is also planning to do a mash-up of zombie tropes. Bring it on!

Here's the link to the whole post:

Dean F. Wilson.

Dean is the latest author to take up the story of his writing process.

Dean is the author of the fantasy series The Children of Telm, and short stories about The Memory Magus. He is now working on a steampunk novel (yay!).

Says Dean:
I write in the fantasy genre because of the freedom it gives me to tell amazing stories that are, on the surface, fantastical, but underneath explore real human issues.
Here's the link to the whole post:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Poem: How to speak to the dying

Do not tell them, "You will live."

They have already seen utter darkness or glorious light

and they will despair and fall inside themselves

because they are not believed.

People don't like being disbelieved.

So you must acknowledge that they are ending

and put aside your own comfort and your need to comfort

and hear them out.

But you must not sit there like a log either.

You have a heart; engage.

You must talk as well.

This is important whether or not the dying is able to speak.

If they are awake or in a coma.

At all times you must make your presence known.

Your full presence, I mean.

You must not be absorbed in the television show

hanging atop their hospital bed.

Even if it's the last of the ninth in the world series.

Except of course, if they are absorbed.

And then, if they are watching the game,

You must gauge yourself

match lightness to lightness, frivolity to frivolity, emotional heft.

If they attempt to resolve some hurt between you

be brave and honest and resolve it.

There is not much use holding a grudge against the dead

but be aware sometimes the dying are still selfish

Although they know they should not be

Although they know they are quite wrong

And have perhaps lived cruel lives.

If they continue to do harm

even on their death bed

challenge them;

why should the weak, frail, and dying

still have power to harm you?

But you must not be the one

to dig up old bones

or to remove skeletons from closets;

I see no point in being cruel.

Particularly if the dying are old and set in their ways.

Why do you think your words will enlighten them now

when words have been useless for so many years?

But you must speak of other things,

the good things in your heart

the loss you will feel when they are gone.

And when the dying goes silent,

And the monitors proclaim death's power

you must continue speaking.

For the soul does not immediately leave the body

synapses do not immediately stop firing.

Tell them you will see them again. . .soon.

Tell them to visit you in dreams. . .

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