Ballads from a Distant Star: Concept Album . . . in the works

I was just chatting with Carlos Hernandez about our upcoming Brimstone Rhine/The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours concept album/spoken word project, Ballads from a Distant Star.

I am EXTREMELY excited about collaborating with my brother Jeremy Cooney and Stefan Dollak again, and Amal says she will SING with me (have I such SOLOS for HER!!!), and it is all very exciting.

My new idea is that the five or so Distant Star Ballads will be woven in with this 4-part spoken word poem I wrote for Mike Allen’s Mythic Delirium.

When I mentioned that, to my surprise and delight, CARLOS SAID HE HAD NEVER READ IT BEFORE!!! How did that happen? But . . . YAY!

So I read it aloud to him.

Go on–you can too, if you like. Just click that link, pals!

And then he told me, “You know, I remember, back in graduate school, first hearing about science fiction poetry and thinking, ‘What is that? How does that even work?’ This,” he waves in my general direction. “This is how it works. I can feel this looping back even now, feeding that lacuna in my education.”


So that got me all keen to put together that package I’ve been meaning to do for my collaborators. Patty Templeton might be able to do the artwork–she did such a beautiful job on the lithograph for Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir, and her partner Brett Massé is a graphic designer of no small talent.

But before all that happens, I need to actually, you know, do the work.

After that, the Indiegogo.

Possibly in September. Later than I’d intended, but the year’s already boding to be busier than I thought, what with Carlos’s book Sal and Gabi Break the Universe coming out March 5th from Disney Hyperion, and my novella Desdemona and the Deep coming out July 23rd from

Fingers crossed things’ll slow down in fall–and who knows, maybe by winter . . . per aspera ad astra.

Or maybe I’ll get it all together before then!


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Boskone 2019 Schedule

Dear Everyone who is going to Boskone, and SUNDRY!

I am excited about this year’s Boskone. I really had to train myself to like panels, because they make me feel VERY VERY NERVOUS, but I LOVE and ADORE giving readings and singing in public–both of which I get to do!

Not only that, but Carlos and Faye are both playing with me for the Brimstone Rhine Concert; we even rented a car to haul synthesizer and CAJON! Can we do Lysistrata chant-style, with a drum box? WE’LL SEE, WON’T WE?

I am particularly bouncy re: that first reading there, because look at that LINE-UP! Zig-Zag, Hernandez, Queen Cerece, E. C. Frikkin Ambrose, and my darling Ken–whose Hobbit party I once attended, colorful vest and all.

The workshop I’m teaching I’ve gotten to teach with both Caitlyn Paxson and Amal El-Mohtar before at Readercon–twice, I think? And maybe once on my own. It’s always been very fun and useful, I’ve felt, and I hope it will prove so to a few budding writers who are nervous speaking in public. It will meld really nicely with my audiobook panel.

. . . You know, I find being on panels about audiobooks so much EASIER than ones about writing, because my actor brain loves EVERYTHING and my writer brain is just SCARED. Why is that, Hivemind?!!!

So, here’s my schedule below. See you at the con.


Brimstone Rhine at the Arts Cafe Mystic, 2015

The Unlikely Imaginarium: A Reading

Format: Reading
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Griffin (Westin)

Authors E. C. Ambrose, C. S. E. Cooney, Zig Zag Claybourne, Carlos Hernandez, Cerece Rennie Murphy, and Kenneth Schneyer gather around the dark bonfire of their collective imagination to tell stories of women, wolves, woods, bones, enraged ninjas, AI toilets, the end of the world, and basically, the whole entire multiverse. Or maybe something completely different. Attend our wild and rambunctious reading to find out for yourselves!


Me, reading at World Fantasy 2018. By Kathleen Jennings. Live!

Music in Science Fiction

Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 12:00 – 12:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

What part does music play in science fiction? We hear it in films, videos, and even games. What about fiction — how does music enhance the reading experience? Is there a special connection between music and SF that other genres lack, and that goes above and beyond mere sound effects? Let’s talk music and its special interplay with the SF genre.


Newest Brimstone Rhine album, released 2018. Find us on Bandcamp!

Concert: Brimstone Rhine (C.S.E. Cooney)

Format: Concert
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 16:00 – 16:25, Lewis (Westin)


Yup. That’s me and cutiepants Carlos Hernandez, giving a concert at the Thunderbird Arts Center. Phoenix, AZ 2017.

Reading Your Fiction Aloud: From Page to Stage

Format: Workshop
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 10:00 – 10:50, Lewis (Westin)

Award-winning author and performer C.S.E. Cooney leads a workshop for writers with little to no public performance training in reading their own work aloud. To people! In public! You’ll learn tips and tricks to captivate your audiences. (Aimed at writers who have had little or no public performance training.)


I first taught this workshop at Readercon with writers/performers Caitlyn Paxson and Amal El-Mohtar. Together (with a few others) we were known as “The Banjo Apocalypse Troubadours.”

The Future of Audiobooks

Format: Panel
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Audiobooks are a hot-and-getting-hotter way of enjoying stories. Join our panelists to discuss audiobook ups and downs, tips for listening, how to choose the ones that are right for you — and what the future holds for the new (and very old) experience of reading by ear.


Serious Audiobook Narrator Face. Truth is, this is probably as still as my face ever gets in the recording booth. Otherwise, it’s cartoonclownface ALL THE TIME.

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Interview with a Little Red Vampire Reviewer

Dear Readers,

I am excited to present to you my very first EVER interview on my BLOG! I would like to do LOTS MORE! I have IDEAS! But what a great start!

Today I have Andrea Johnson, an avid reader and reviewer of Science Fiction and Fantasy. She keeps a blog at The Little Red Reviewer, and we all wait SLAVERINGLY to hear what she says about our stories.

(Now, you may be THINKING we’re using our Royal Plural HERE, but you can’t be sure, can you? WE MIGHT BE SPEAKING FOR THE HIVEMIND!)

Now Andrea has collected the best of eight years of reviews into a book for our shelfish pleasure (not SHELLFISH, autocorrect!), and she’s running a Kickstarter in the month of January to fund it!

She’s fascinating and lovely and she has books in her TBR pile that haven’t even been INVENTED yet! But I’m getting ahead of myself! Read this interview, and get to know her a bit for yourself.

And then, if you have a few bucks to spare, send them her way at her The Best of the Little Red Reviewer Kickstarter!

little red reviewer

C. S. E. COONEY: Have you always written about the books you’ve read? Do you read differently when you are reading to review a book than when you are reading for pleasure? Are they one and the same? How are the experiences alike or different?

ANDREA JOHNSON: I’ve always enjoyed talking about the books I’m reading. Why am I reading it, am I enjoying it, that sort of thing. Writing about books I’m reading didn’t start until the internet and “blogging” was becoming a thing. Would you believe some of my first pseudo-reviews were on MySpace?


AJ: Through a bulletin board, I’d gotten connected with someone who was started a review journal on MySpace, he mailed me a few novellas, I read them and posted my thoughts. It was way fun! I posted reviews on a few now defunct bulletin boards and e-zines, and many years later, Little Red Reviewer is a happy eight year old book blog.

I do read differently when I’m reading for review, I’m much more focused when I know I’m going to review the book. I like using a blank piece of paper as a bookmark, so I can take notes as I’m reading, even if it’s just a page number where something funny or interesting happened. If I have any guesses about what’s going to happen at the end of the book, I write that down too.

CSEC: (Gosh, that piece of paper thing’s a good idea. I have historically scribbled in the book itself. A big no-no for collectors, but . . . )

AJ: I recently pulled a book off my bookshelf to reread it, and found my old notes still tucked inside! (The whole writing notes on a bookmark thing doesn’t work so well with e-books, I’ve found)

If I’m reading a book with no plans for reviewing it, I might skim portions of it, I don’t mind if I fall asleep while reading and lose my place. If I’m not going to review it, I just enjoy the ride and treat the book like a perfect lazy summer afternoon. If I have no plans to review the book . . . I may not even finish it. When I want something breezy and satisfying with no pressure to review, I’ll pick up an anthology and read just one or two stories. It’s very relaxing!

CSEC: Why do you think reviewing, critiquing, just talking about books is so important—now, and throughout history? What are some reviews you are the proudest of? What would be your ideal reviewing job—if one exists?

AJ: It will always be important to talk about books. It can be any kind of discussion–chatting at bookclub, reviewing, or critiquing. Readers take it for granted because we are used it–books we read change our worldview, they inspire us, they help us understand the world, and different people will experience the same book in a completely different way.   We talk about politics non-stop, right? Why should talking about books be any different?

I’m part of a local sci-fi book club, and my favorite part of our discussions is that everyone gets something different out of the books that we read and discuss. Think about ice cream.

CSEC: Mmmnnn. Ice cream.

AJ: If it’s chocolate ice cream, just about everyone who tastes it will say, “Yep, tastes like chocolate!” With books, one person says it tastes like chocolate, two people say it tastes like cherry, another person says it tastes like mango. They all read the same book, but came away from it with completely different feelings and experiences. Talking about our different experiences reading the same book, it’s a window into how we all experience life in a different way. And I just love that!

My Kickstarter, The Best of Little Red Reviewer, will feature the reviews I’m most proud of. The reviews I’m most proud of seem to be when I didn’t just read a book, I experienced it.  These are books that shocked me, floored me, scared me, bewildered me, amused me. Instead of just reading them, I somehow got the IMAX experience. My review ended up being a reflection of my experience of reading the book. I’ve found that the more I enjoy a book, the less I talk about the plot in the book review. Because when the book is that good, the plot is the often the least interesting part.

CSEC: I love that.

AJ: The writing of those reviews can be an enjoyable intense experience unto itself, and the writing of the review often helps me remember the book even more vividly.

My dream reviewing job? I used to think being a professional reviewer was a dream job. Other than getting some free books, I do not make a penny on writing book reviews. No one pays me for my time or effort, my blog is not monetized, this is not a business, I don’t do this for money. If I did do it for money, I worry it would stop being fun and would just feel like a job. And jobs are a drag! You do them because you need to pay your bills, not because they are fun. I think right now, I have my dream reviewing job. It’s a hobby, I review fun books that I choose, and I don’t have to worry about meeting any style guidelines or deadlines.

CSEC: What are some books either in your To Be Read pile, or that you wish WERE in your To Be Read pile, that you are very much looking forward to—and why?

AJ: My To Be Read pile is completely unorganized with no rhyme or reason with books randomly floating in and out of it on a whim, so I’m going to make this a list of books I wish were in my TBR pile. Books that don’t exist yet, and some that will never exist.

I’d love to read a ton of Culture short stores by Iain M Banks. A sort of “State of the Art” type volume, but all the stories take place in the Culture.

Once upon a time, Catherynne Valente talked about self publishing the third book in her Prester John series (publisher went under after book 2, much disaster all around), or maybe Kickstarting it. She got sidetracked with her Fairyland series and other more marketable and profitable novels, so who knows when or if the Prester John book will happen. In the meantime, I’ll just read the first book over and over and over again.

I hope Steven Brust and Skyler White write a million more Incrementalists books, because I want to read all of them. Every time another side character gets the spotlight, I realize how little I know about that person and their past and that I want to know way more than could ever fit in one book.


Now, dear Readers. Go Ye Forth and Help Kickstart THE BEST OF THE LITTLE RED REVIEWER!

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Some S. Pevensie song I’m working on

I found this in my notes, and I think it’s worth working on. But I may have to re-read the books.

Verse 1

Lucy, I would give my arm to comb your hair again

Peter, what I’d pay to play our checker game

Edmund, I’d move mountains just to hear you strum guitar

And I’d never let you near another train


I’ll be just like Nellie Bly

Or Ehrhart in the sky

Lion-hearted, valiant, and bold

And I won’t forget our wars

Neither one, forever more

But I think I’ll always fear the cold

V2 something

V3 something even better

Bridge (sometime later)

And Lucy, my Lucy, my Lucy

my Lucy my Lucy!

Every door that I open

Every song I sing true

Every portrait I hang

Is a gateway to you

My sister, my phantom, my empress,

My dream

my emptiness, temperance, trickster, my queen

I long for you!


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Three Now, Three Near, Three Far

The illustrious author Ysabeau Wilce quoted something on Slack the other day that’s been haunting me ever since.

“HAVE NINE IDEAS ON YOU AT ALL TIMES.” — Gustavo Arellano, reporter and author of ¡Ask a Mexican!

She went on to expound on the quote, or perhaps summarize what she remembered: “This is the advice I would give my writers . . . I always told them to have nine ideas on them: three they could do immediately, three that would take a couple of days to gather, and three long-term projects.”

I really liked the idea of having several projects in line and on the burner, ready for when I am ready for them. So I thought I’d do a little mental housekeeping. A little list making. I make them for groceries, after all. And for taxes. And prep scripts. And chores. I get ALL OF THOSE THINGS DONE. So why not writing?

My three for the present all have to do with my novel revisions. Markus (my agent) got back to me in November, and I’m more than a third of the way through them now. My whole goal is to be faster on these revisions than I was on last year’s. (Took me ten months. Count ’em. Ten.)

They won’t necessarily make sense to anyone reading them, unless they have also read one of the COUNTLESS DRAFTS of Miscellaneous Stones: Necromancer, but here they are anyway, for me.


  1. More dark underpinnings in middle.
  2. More of a conscious plan on protagonist’s part, even if these fail.
  3. That thing with the ghost. Fix it.

As for the next bit of planning, I have several projects I want to be working on–including some Brimstone Rhine stuff. And so:


  1. Ballads from a Distant Star
    1. a.) Send package of Distant Star lyrics and concept to Patty Templeton and Brett Massé for illustrations and graphic design of lyric ebook.
    2. b.) Send same to Jeremy Cooney, Stefan Dollak, Carlos Hernandez (possible other musicians? Tim Rodriguez? Faye Ringel?) for instrumentation ideas.
    3. c.) Collaborate with Amal on a few more song ideas to round out the album.
  2. Dragon poem for upcoming anthology, loosely titled “The Wyrm of Lirr.”
  3. “The Twice-Drowned Saint” novella re-drafted and submitted. (TIME TO TRY AND CRACK THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION MARKET!!! Or, really, anyone who’ll take me is good.)

Meanwhile, we have ambitions for the future, and these are:


  1. Well, you see, Miscellaneous Stones: Necromancer is the first of a trilogy. The second one being called Miscellaneous Stones: Justiciar. (Which word I will have to learn how to pronounce.) Not to mention Miscellaneous Stones: Psychopomp. BOOM!
  2. Possibly collect all three Dark Breaker novellas into novel-shape and try to sell it. And/or put together a new collection of short stories and poems. Mmn. The two Witch’s Garden pieces could go in there. And all kinds of secret, interesting, weird little uncollected things. In fact, wouldn’t THE WITCH’S GARDEN be a WONDERFUL title for a short story collection??? I’d finally get to write “Silver and Bone” for it–my sequel to “The Bone Swans of Amandale” in which Nicolas gets nicked by the Faerie Queen and Greenpea et al have to save him. With MUSIC. TRA-LA!
  3. Also, there’s that not-so-little matter of SHADOWSTALKERS. Possible MAGNUM OPUS, or at least my opinions on graduate schools and what they do to my BEST FRIENDS. In a fantasy setting. With spies and shapeshifters. Right now I am happily collecting, buying, and reading ALL THE BOOKS about the HISTORY of SPIES, so if you know of any good ones (pre-20th century, or even pre-19th, if possible) LEMME KNOW! Especially non-European histories. I have several of those, and two about the United States. One about Washington’s spy networks, and one about THE PINKS–the lady detectives of the Pinkerton Agency–fascinating stuff.

And here we are. I just got freshly excited about the future. So thank you, Ysabeau Wilce (read her books, not joking, just do it), and thank you, Gustavo Arellano–now I want to read your column, among other things!

In the meantime, keeping hopeful is the hardest bit. But that’s my concern for the new year. To remember that the act of sitting and writing is . . . play! It’s the thing I want. The thing I yearn for when I’m not doing it. So I’m gonna stop treating it as a headache and a chore and start WRIGGLING LIKE PAVLOV’S PUPPY every time someone says, “Let’s write!” including me. Wriggling is an instant mood-changer, I’ve found. Wriggling and lots and lots of lightbulbs.

Farewell for now.



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Meander and Nemesis

the gray gentleman, we called him, smoke-soft, big as a barrage balloon, he wafted into any room and made himself available for affection.

this was Meander, that gorgeous galoot: time was and time again I said I’d marry him if he were a man, so handsome, so courteous, who minds a bit of matted fur on such a magnificent beast?

couldn’t quite grasp it when he was gone. Like a sudden, beloved fog. Gone.

and then, Nems. Nemesis, black beauty, wide-eyed, a cuddler, dapper, slim, always dressed so sleekly in assassin’s colors, but lived to be loved.

when he sickened, like a poet, we all lost our appetites. Tidy little guy, all across the miles, I pictured her holding you. Enviable last hours, but. I wish they weren’t yours.

anyway, this is my letter to you, cats. Cats of my friends, my friends. Who are relentlessly kind to small things. Who save as many as they can. Been a dark few months, but your little lives gave off such light.

your memory for our constellations.

– for Jeanine Marie Vaughn and Rebecca Huston

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Bat-Folk: A Virtual Anthology Based on the Art of Kathleen Jennings


Remember our “Train To Everywhere“? I thought we would try again, this time with BAT-FOLK!

Last year, World Fantasy-nominated illustrator–not to mention FANTASTIC writer!–Kathleen Jennings sent me two of her Bat-Folk sketches. Just randomly. Out of the Australian blue.

Ever since then, I’ve been meaning to write a piece of Bat-Folk flash or verse, because I love them, because they are ADORABLE! The other day, after those train poems my friends wrote to the photo prompt, I thought, “WHY SHOULD I HAVE ALL THE FUN?”

With Kathleen’s permission, I am posting these pictures. Anyone who wants to write a verse or flash or even just a CAPTION inspired by these Bat-Folk, I will put them up here (with your permission) and Kathleen’s art, all together!

Check out her work at TAUNADEL.

You can also PURCHASE her work at REDBUBBLE. (The scarves alone! The HARPIES SCARVES!)

And NOW, if you wanna play: HAVE AT IT! Flash, poetry, captions, short plays, what have you–in the comment section!



1. bats at the opera

there are bats in the catwalks
they dress in dark coats, and bright dresses
(starched stiffly so they can hang upside down)

arias echoing all around them,
rustling the edges of their wings
until they shift into flight


The skin that curtains—from my arm—
and from the other—too—
lets me create—a sentence like—
“I’m flying”—or—”I flew”—

But dressed—in human finery—
with shawl—and purse—and hat—
makes me no homo sapiens—
but somewhat less a bat—

I won’t remain encaged in clothes—
will not—like humans—preen—
I’ll echolocate—who I am—
when naked—free—I scream—


“Oh, Mr. Bat,” said Mrs. Bat,
A’hanging upside-down,
“Do not you think the night is fine
For going on the town?”

“Why, Mrs. Bat,” said Mr. Bat,
“I love the bright sundown.
It makes the sequins sparkle
On your yellow velvet gown.

I’ll proudly fly beside you
As we promenade the square.
I’ll buy you fruits and flowers
And some moth wings for your hair.”

The missus blush’d to hear him gush;
Her darling thought her fair!
She felt the same about him
In his formal evening wear.

“I long for crunchy katydids!
Let’s call on Mr. Owl.
Perhaps he’d like to join us
On a little insect prowl.”

“My dear, that is a lovely plan!
My stomach starts to growl.
Let’s go before that tiny sound
Can turn into a howl.”

  • Autum Rachel Dryden


4. Black Tie and Tails

A most formal occasion
An event for top hats and pearls
For flying over the world
Tangled in shadows
Decorated with webs and dew and moonlight

Sonar senses marvel
Yawning caves
Sheer cliffs
Towering trees and wide open fields
Soaring and wheeling
Grinning ear to ear

A nice night for a celebration


Bill: Fly awa’ with me and ‘ang fer a bit, missy?
Charlotte: Of all the…! Do you take me for some common lady of the day?! Be off with you or I’ll alert the constabulary.
Bill: You can turn up yer nose at me all ye like, but yer not in this cave by accident. I’d say yer lookin’ fer a bit o’ rough.
Charlotte: You’re close, you loutish oaf, but…
Lizzie: Charlie, is ‘e botherin’ you.
Charlotte: Ah there you are Lizzie, my bit of ruffle. Do you know this masher?
Lizzie: Oh, that’s just Bill. Don’t pay ‘im no mind. ‘E talks a lot, but don’t get nothin’ back.


“You two! Come forward!”

Alicia Forestall, Countess of Margrave, stepped carefully over the Earl of Annoth, now a brown-grained slug wearing a miniature long-coat and a tiny monocle. The little Earl had been oozing away from the throne for several minutes now, but the pixie on the dais had evidently grown impatient.

Beside Alicia was her husband, Count Fenwick, resplendent as always in cloak and vest, wearing his signature top hat that he still insisted upon, though it was five years out of fashion. She loved him in it, as she loved everything about him.

The Countess did her best to ignore the squeaks, clucks, brays, snorts, hisses, and caterwauls that resounded through the throne room, and bowed before the pixie. She elbowed her husband, who quickly followed suit. The little elf glanced down to his left where the King of Abernia—assuming a fowl could hold that title—strutted in his rooster-sized ermine robe, the scepter of his office clamped in his beak.

“Count. Countess.” The pixie rubbed his hands together. “I have left you to the end for a reason. Alone among your court, you have always been a good advocate for the forest and its denizens. Your stewardship has not gone unnoticed. Therefore I shall bless you with forms that I find most pleasing. You shall have the shape of those creatures who rid the world best of the pests that plague it, who enjoy the dusk when the light is perfect, and who hear the truth echoing from every corner.”

Alicia fingered the black pearls draped around her neck. “Do…do you mean bats, good sir?”

“Yes,” said the pixie, smiling widely. “That is exactly what I mean.”



Poor naked humans
Clothed only in flesh
No fur
No wings
No skirt or shawl
No cloak
No cap
We pity them at nightfall
Shed our raiment to leave for them
Then fly away.


Meet me in the barn rafters at midnight, my love
I’ll bring us a bottle of sweet sanguine wine
We will sip it and sing of the coming feast
When we rise up and trample the folk of the village

  • Dave Munger


Snow scratched with charcoal, the portraits of the bat couple were there for all the villagers to see when they rose in the morning.

Each one was 38 metres in length, a precision that should have had some meaning though no-one could fathom what it might be.

They studied the crochet pattern of the shawl, walking the wool as they hooked stitches, to make their own copies. The hat maker felted stove pipe after stove pipe, crushing the top just a touch, and the tailor stitched ragged cloaks, barely finishing one before it was sold.

The villagers gathered in the market square, dressed in their finery, black pearls around their necks, or linen waistcoats worn correctly with the bottom button unfastened.

And when they glanced themselves in the windows they realised that the charcoal portraits were no installation art, or guerrilla marketing campaign. They were an invocation, to transform, to take to the skies. To navigate by the echo and the leather wing, and one by one the villagers accepted the invitation and, dressed in the finest shawls and cloaks, took flight into the snow choked sky.





When mating season arrived, Lydia would venture out after sunset, carefully dressed in her very best. Once she had attracted an eligible gentleman, they would repair to a nice restaurant; since Lydia refused to wear spectacles, under the impression that they hid her best features, she would simply laugh, hand the menu to her escort, and ask him to select something for her.

It proved to be a most felicitous strategy, since Lydia had borne several children who had grown to successful and independent adulthood. Of course, it was a bit inconvenient, since Lydia had to raise them on her own, but since all the neighboring ladies suffered under the same vexation, she took it as part of the lot of a fashionable bat female.


going about my business for the day,
I notice
the stares, the whispers, behind hands across mouths
is my hat too tall, my cloak too dramatic?
maybe I tied my cravat in a way unacceptable?
nonetheless, I go about my business for the day.
for I am me, I am beautiful, I am bat.

  • Janet Kraner Morse

13. mating season

when last we met, in this
secluded corner of the keep
i faced away, wings splayed
you, sucking me like a fig
i, reimagining your aerials
the formality of the occasion never fails
to stir me, lured by your love sounds
plunging rush of leather, warm sting
back of my neck, all my pearls
trembling, your grip on my thumbs

  • C. S. E. Cooney

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Shopping The F’list: A List of Beloved Handmade Holiday Recommendations

Nicole Kornher-Stace (AKA: “One of the Most Amazing Writers in our Generation”), author of the acclaimed Archivist Wasp, its even more acclaimed sequel Latchkey, Desideria, and The Winter Triptych had the most MARVELOUS idea on Twitter/Facebook the other day.

She, like many of our clever, renaissance-minded friends, makes and sells beautiful things to augment her living. With the holidays coming up, she figured, we could all compile among us who makes things, where you can find them, and provide links, in a sort of cozy virtual bazaar, where the merchants are all friends.


1. Betsie Withey‘s WEARABLE TEXTILE/FIBER ART at TheFaerieMarket on Etsy.

(A while ago, I did a threepart blog called “Art for Art” about Betsie, with some of her friends and clients contributing pictures of themselves wearing her art, occasionally accompanied by stories and poems!)




2. Nicole Kornher-Stace‘s VEGAN CARAMEL SHOP at feedyourface on Etsy.

I’ve ordered from her when friends are feeling especially down and need something delicious FAST. I’ve ordered from her for myself, just because I was feeling the CRAVING. I will order from her again and again. But don’t trust just me. Just on Facebook today, a friend ours said:

“I can vouch for these omg!” – Kelsi Morris


3. Meenoo Mishra‘s JEWELRY SHOP at  MinouBazaar on Etsy.

I got a pair of Meenoo earrings for my birthday last year–glorious! I love wearing them! And, most dear to my heart, my husband (then fiancé) and I commissioned her to make me my engagement necklace with a Herkimer diamond his sister sent us. She was a great communicator, fast, elegant, and skillful. I wear that necklace more than any other piece of jewelry.

Below you can see the earrings and necklace separately (with some Betsie flowers on both occasions!)




4. Alanya Belethil‘s ART AND JEWELRY SHOP at Belethil on Etsy.

I found Alanya around 2012, I think. I was (blush) probably “ego-surfing” for  my name, and found the title of my poem “The Sea King’s Second Bride” linked to a beautiful piece of jewelry: wire-wrapped gold, seed pearls, and alluvial larimar, she said, in the description, was inspired by my poem. I contacted her and thanked her profusely. But, being a poet, I said, I could not afford to buy it! She sent it as a gift. It is precious to me. Her work is so intricate and elfish, as if a true artisan of Lothlórien were working among us.

Below you can see a picture of the necklace, “The Sea King’s Second Bride.”



1. Kelsi Morris does Yarn Subscription Box (monthly, quarterly, or as a three month gift/trial), as well as learn-to-knit kits that have everything you need to complete the project you choose. PLUS: free shipping in the US and Canada! Find out more at KNIT ME!

2. Stephanie Marie Thrasher at ToYouFromMePinkyLee on Etsy sells “pins, stickers, prints, and other fun nostalgic flair.”

3. Jenn Reese sells T-shirts, stickers, et cetera, at Tiny Tiger Jenn Reese Designs on TeePublic.

4. Lisa Mscichowski at HyfisHouseofCharms sells CHARMS!

5. Daisy May Essentials is a shop that sells goat milk products, such as soaps and lotions. I was informed that they raise their own goats for the goat milk used in their ingredients, and comes recommended particularly for its lotions.

6. Jeanne Kramer-Smyth sells some of her jewelry designs on her friend’s Etsy shop, Capital City Kayak. To know which jewelry designs are hers, check out her “Jewelry by Jeanne” Pinterest page.

Recommendations from Amal El-Mohtar‘s Twitter Feed–many from whom I’ve bought before!



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“There’s a crack in the wall…”

When we did our spontaneous Train to Everywhere project earlier this week, I did, in fact, make an attempt at a poem. I wanted to be like ALL MY COOL FRIENDS who were doing the same.

I did post that bit of doggerel to Facebook, but not in the end-result virtual anthology I flung up here on the blog. It seemed too trite on the one hand, but not funny enough to stand up to the limericks and higgledy-piggledy poems I found so amusing. So I omitted submitting myself to myself.

Over the next few days, however, I grew increasingly restless. I wanted to write a train poem too! I was JEALOUS. ITCHY. COMPETITIVE WITH THOSE OTHER 36 POEMS I LOVED TO WATCH BLOOM OUT OF THE PIXELS!

Since moving to New York a year ago August, trains have become inextricably entwined with my life. I have a 3.5 hour super-commute (one-way!) to work, and that’s not to mention all the intracity traveling. I’ve been having BIG FABULIST THOUGHTS about trains, like FRANK O’HARA levels of NEW YORK MYTHIC.

Anyway, so I sat down with my pretty yellow journal and I scrawled out a first draft of something. By the time I finished typing it out and tweaking it, it was 1.) Way longer than any of the other poems we put up, so it still didn’t fit, but 2.) Maybe a poem I actually really liked, and 3.) A thing that might fit the requirements for a poem for an anthology I’m contracted to contribute to sometime next year . . . !!!

Which is to say, I can’t chat about it too much now, and I still must revise and revise, and have several poet’s eyes upon it, but I think that this thing, this sub for next year I was vaguely worried about, has taken a shape I find . . . pleasing . . . even in its nascent form.

I haven’t been writing much poetry lately–not since I started writing songs, really–and nothing that has pleased me as much as my own earlier poetry used to. Not lately. Not in two years at least.

But I felt something crack open a bit. Some wall I’d built, for whatever reason. And I just wanted to say thank you for playing with me, poet friends. I can’t wait till “Wyrm City” is in a state (of draft and possibly of publication) to share with you.

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The Train to Everywhere: A Spontaneous, Virtual Anthology of Poetry


I took this picture at train station.

The next morning, my husband, Carlos Hernandez, says: “I love it. Looks like the cover of some poetry book.”

Me: “Write a poem that would belong in said poetry book?”

Him: (opening doc) “All right. A little short one.”

We posted the picture and poem to Facebook and Twitter, with a challenge that others write the poetry of this non-existent anthology.

What happened? A virtual florilegium of poetry.* Literally. And metaphorically.

A few pastiches, a few parodies, even a limerick (the poet called it a “base limerick,” or at least intimated that all limericks were somehow base, but I don’t agree! Or maybe I just like base things. I am, after all, unapologetically fond of puns, so my taste is questionable), and many others with that soaring depth of precise introspection that gave me the Good Shivers.

This sort of thing used to happen on LiveJournal a lot–take, for example, the Cinderella Jump Rope Rhymes. But not often on Facebook.

With the permission of the poets, and all credit due to their enthusiasm, I post these here.

And, oh, by the way. Anyone who wants to add their voices, go ahead and leave a comment here!

*(See, Amal. I trust you are reading this.)


By All of Us


Do you worry
like I worry

that you will die
and become a ghost

who must forever
ride the Northwest Regional,

endlessly rumbling
toward a destination

that, while you lived,
meant something?


When the end did come
The sun rose over the land
Humans were not missed


If only I could look up
from rails that tie my feet
mired in unwanted journey
if only I could look up


Scoured from the tracks,
the train was forgotten by all who were waiting to catch it.
A glimmer of light and the scorch of cooked air
the only trace it had ever been.

Somewhere in the minds of those
stood on the wind shuttered platform
there was a feeling
of a lost connection
For the rest of the day they could not place
where they should be
, unused tickets forgotten in their pockets
the only reminder of a train
no longer due


Almost winter sunset
on the railroad tracks
is like my life:
High contrast
Off center
Converging on a point
I can’t yet see.

  • Avery Bowen


I have eaten
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so TRAINS


A hazy sun shines
A vanishing point nexus
A tilted train track

All converge far, far
Away— a lost horizon
Shrouded in the mist

Trade waiting alone
For the journey home to him
And his open arms.

8. Tie by tie

Beneath our rattling tubes of transport
Beneath the hazy skyed sun
Tracks march in straight lines, gentle curves

Born lines on a plan
On a map
In someone’s minds eye

These tracks built
Tie by tie
Even spaced
Patiently aligned

Lines of patience
Impatiently watched
The sun sees all


Envying the rails
The infinite possible
Traversing each gate.

  • Rebecca Maines


Sat on the porch of their trailer
At dusk
They watched trains
shudder by
To destinations
they would never see

  • Steve Toase


The wealthy summoned the beast
And fed the faceless poor and foreign into her maw
Bones of trees
And gleaming rail touched with rust
As bloody iron stitched the land
Her heart swallowed the memory of forests
And roared as she endlessly delivered the unfortunate to the veil
The bison and the cattle that replaced them


The train shattered the silence of the dawn
disturbing the only peace they ever knew.

  • Jocelyn Barnhart


so much

a sepia

with frequent

the train


He rides and rides the rails
But never arrives at
The vanishing point

  • Dave Munger


Lines above: electric links.
Lines below: strict lanes for locomotives.
Lines across: stitched under the road rails.

The silvergold sun stared through
the clouds, the lines, the wounded world.


Shall I cover my behind?
Do I dare to drink champagne?
I will wear my grubby parka and go walking in the rain.
I have heard the tuneless singing of the train
I do not think it will stop for me.


A road is a liar
Slickly promising control:
Hop behind the wheel early, you’ll zip along the tarmac
Get there with plenty of time to spare,

Never mind
The flaggers and orange cones of construction
Endless traffic lights of doom
A tiny helmeted child scootering heedless across the street
As the digital dashboard minutes tick you
Into a world of rushed entries and sheepish apologies.

Equivocation is a road’s middle name.

But a train track, now,
That’s another tale.
An old one.

You hoist yourself up metal steps
Through a door swept open
Find a seat next to who knows who
Tuck your ticket into the slot provided

Settle in
Wait for the smooth or jolting start
Knowing nothing you do
Will slow or hurry
Those hard wheels
Along that cold steel.

  • Els Kushner

18. Third Rail

they told me keep on the straight and narrow
they told me with their teeth grit tight,
keep on
straight, and narrow, and iron wavering
and try not to look into the sun

there are two tracks, they said, and then picked one
said this is yours, only walk to the right
keep on, straight and narrow, unwavering, Good
keep your head down, your breasts bound, your hair done

they said there is no space in the middle,
told me this with a threat in their eyes
keep on
straight, narrow, unwavering, Good, docile, soft, patient, pretty, quiet

there are two tracks, they said; they were lying
there is room to the left and the right
there is space in the middle, and good that’s no Good
and other paths if the train doesn’t come.


Don’t you know there’s bright, somewhere?
Somewhere the air is luminous, spins
silver out of industry when it recedes, spins
Find-Your-Way tracks as it leaves, weaves
rigid lines into a glamour of iron and steel,
into a Way we can take to
Somewhere Else.
But that Leaving, that Receding, see,
it has given us these tracks;
these sharp lines, metallight
to mark our progress.
The leaving is forever.
The lines run long, and endless.
But don’t you know there’s bright, somewhere?
A luminous air, just there —
Just there.


Those rails must
Lead outta here
A road somewhere
Away from the yards
The harvested rust
And scraps of years
Wasted on moaning
To the train’s long whistle

I wanna run down the track
I wanna see what lies
On the other side of
The trash and dust
Come with me
Or wait till I get where the
Tracks and the rust all end
And I’ll drop you a line

  • Kris Dotto

21. Tracks

She hides in right angles and straight lines,
Crossing at the light,
Keeping off the grass.
She stands
Straight as light poles, as bars on windows,
As tightly wound braids.
If there is a song within her
It is the crickets at twilight.
It is the creak of a broken door.
It is the thrum and surge and whistle of the trains
Passing her by.

Even her dreams of escape
Are shining parallel tracks
Going on


Autumn train —
still the sun remembers
Summer’s warmth


Look –
see the tracks
disappear into a
field of wildflowers
stretching to greet the
early sun.

Look –
see the cars full
of people of long ago
now and tomorrow
faces carved by time
and love.

Look –
see the ground fall
away from the tracks
rising into blackness littered
by stars.

Look –
uptown. downtown.
Now boarding.


There once shone the sun o’er the tracks,
Its light glinting sharp as an axe.
Did the rails run conjoint
To an infinite point
Or recede to a gray parallax?


The cat and the mouse made room on the tie
I knew they were friends, and we waited
Friends for true, and we waited.
The trains don’t come, the strength to stand
it hasn’t come. The sun dims, low as a friend.
Mouse in the pocket, cat on the shoulder.
Time to rise, time to rise.


Clasp it, wires,
Praise its wavelengths
And all their frequencies
Bless us, near star
You who power us all
Directly or at removes
The rooted and the winged
And those that roll on rails


Do I need to say again?
I am a Traveller.
And in search of a destination to
Soothe my soul.
You too are in a way Traveller,
But our poles are apart.
I am moving towards south.
And you’re towards north.
Still I am okay.
At least we both are Travelling together
On a same land.


the sky draws lines
each half as small as the last

shrinking as the sun sets past the crossbeams
its energy sapped from the wires
as it fueled another journey


A long train creeps by
the city’s on the other side
of tracks to which she could be tied
prostrate and also waiting
but in vain
for her oh-so-handsome hero
or a swiftly moving train.

  • Lisa Marie Farver

30. A haiku

Train tracks, lives, and loves
Converge on the horizon,
And the sun warms all.

31. Romare

rolling past the houses alongside the track
he would peer out his windows into other lives
faces emerging between curtains
foot stomping and fiddling on porches
glimpses of humble dinner tables
women hanging clothes and beating rugs
he’d paint the impressions left on his retina
By then reduced to shadow and motion
skin gone from brown to blue
surrounding eyes silver as the dusk
he’d paint them in paper
cutting up newsprint, putting
all those awful words to better use


All things parallel must converge,
At that strange infinite place, that nondescript meridian,
Where the one eternally meets the other,
Where all possibilities flourish,
In the domain of sunrise, the tomorrow of all tomorrows.
Until that time, until that undiscovered instant,
We must travel our parallel gradient,
Always following, always followed,
Side by side, in no particular order,
Through the construction of our terrestrial dreams.


As the sun rose
She looked in vain for the five o’clock eastbound train.
“Where is my lover?” she cried.
“With his cold steel wheels and hot electric power?
“Is he only late or am I once again forgotten?”
She waited impatiently for the answer.


Photography class,
A study in perspective,
Shot caught, homeward bound.

  • Allison Souter


These tracks are infinite, though they appear to fade
I’d give up my last breath if I thought it’d make you stay
You say you must continue but anywhere that takes you will always be too far
My love for you can’t be measured, your footprints left on my heart forever mirrors a symmetric scar
I wish we had forever, though enough it’d never be
Nothing can replace or mimic how much you mean to me
I plead please just reconsider, my tears flowing like a river no matter how much I wanna stop
I believe what we have is bigger and I won’t accept it’s not
These tracks break my heart for taking you away
I’d give up my last heartbeat if I thought it’d make you stay

  • Marie Ang

3g. A Conversation Between Poet Father and Poet Husband

Part 1: A Dissenting Opinion 

A freight train embarks from Vancouver
And blocks my path oeuvre and oeuvre.
I can’t leave my house
Nor return to my spouse.
I say CN sucks like a Hoover.

Part 2: Just Went For the Joke

don’t ask Rory Cooney
to write you some verse for
a poetry prompt:

His rhymes are so tortured
and his wit such a scorcher
you’ll just feel chomped, clomped, plonked,
stomped, tromped, and whomped.

  • Carlos Hernandez



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