Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Descent [poem]

Note: This poem was published in Rigorous, an online journal edited and written by people of color, in Volume 1, Issue 2.

Light strikes the eye’s pupils—contraction 
Striking pain in the pinprick fore of the head 
Like lightning colliding with a tree 
Turning it charred 

Of colors—surging red rushing thunderous dome 
            Boom booming of heart drum in ear caverns 
            Angry welts of purple green vision 
            Red hot rage fizzing soda pop 
Vibrating buzz of internal machine like 
            angry hornets’ nest dropped on concrete 

The sour taste of yellow on the flesh 
As lovers peel off each other 
Slicked sweat and sultry 
The piercing A-sharp scream of cat 
            Shaking earthquake vibrations 
            Through bones and up spine, unsteady 
            Juddering arm joints, quaking finger sticks
Thunderous crash of bullet leaving barrel 
Spouse / partner / husband / wife 
No silencer—ringing alarms in ear domes 
Crimson ricochets off the walls and the 
White white sheets splattered 
            Entrails like roadkill sick 
Swimming vision fading orange green blue navy 

Gentle kiss of glowing gold on lids of optical receptors 
Tight hug from belted arms white wrapped about 
            Cold body 
            Of ghost, whiteness like clouds, ephemeral mist 
            Lightness of body floating floating 
Into ozone 
Blissed nap in padded box, dessert pills of happy woozy 
Love love love 
Comfort and hazy drawing closed curtains of gray dark 
            Coming through the other side of shadow
            This descent into madness

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Game of Thrones Theory: The Dragons! [SPOILERS]

This theory is based on the what happened after the latest -leaked- episode in Game of Thrones (season 7, episode 6).

For those of you who have not caught up on the latest season of Game of Thrones… 

First of all, what is wrong with you? Season 7 is by far the most exciting season. Everything is coming together. Everybody who was scattered throughout Westeros and Essos are back. There are more deaths. Even someone I have completely given up hope on many seasons ago makes an appearance in the leaked episode 6! 

Second, you should stop reading now if you are not caught up, because SPOILERS AHEAD. 

So this week, episode 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones season 7, set to air this coming Sunday, August 20 at 9 pm Eastern Time, was leaked. Of course, anybody who is obsessed with Game of Thrones and streamed the episode online, myself included. 


A quick recap: 

Jon Snow and company, including Jorah Mormont, Tormund Giantsbane, The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, and the newly-returned Gendry-bastard-son-of-Robert-Baratheon, and some minor characters, head north of the wall to capture a Wight so they can bring it to Cercei to demonstrate the existence of the White Walker threat, and hopefully unite the two warring Queens and the Northern houses against the White Walkers. 

In the process, the party end up surrounded by a humongous horde of Wights and their White Walker leaders in the middle of a frozen lake. They manage to send Gendry back to the Wall, who then sends a raven to Daenarys, who comes to the party’s rescue, but not before a fight breaks out between the party and the Wights and a few minor characters and Thoros of Myr gets killed. 

In comes Daeny and her three dragons, blasting fire at the Wights, and Drogon with Daeny lands to rescue what remains of the party and their captive Wight and saves the day. BUT WAIT! At the last minute, Jon (being a stupid hero) charges at an oncoming Wight while the others scramble onto to Drogon’s back. Meanwhile a White Walker lieutenant takes a giant ice spear and throws it hundreds of feet into the air, AND KILLS ONE OF THE DRAGONS, causing it to fall out of the sky and plunge into the icy lake. (It’s not immediately clear which dragon was killed, but I assume it was Viserion. The reason I say this is because Rhaegal is clearly meant for Jon and Daeny is riding Drogon.) GUYS, THERE ARE ONLY THREE DRAGONS AND NOW ONE OF THEM IS DEAD. NOOOO. 

Jon yells at Daeny to take off and she does, and as she flies off on Drogon with the rest of the party, she watches as Jon plunges into the icy lake while fighting off a horde of Wights. 

While the party return to the Wall and prepare to sail (back to Dragonstone? immediately to King’s Landing?), Daeny stands and watches for Jon, hoping for his miraculous return. Back at the scene of the battle with the undead, Jon emerges from the icy depths of the lake, grabs Longclaw and prepares to fight to the death when, out of nowhere, uncle half-White-Walker-Benjen shows up on a horse and rescues him. HOLY ****! Benjen puts Jon on his horse and it brings Jon back to wall and he and Daeny have a bittersweet reunion as he metaphorically bends the knee, acknowledging her as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. 

At the end of the episode, we see a group of Wights dragging heavy chains from the lake and we realize, OMG no they’re turning the dead dragon into a Wight… and that is exactly what happens. 

Which leads me to my theory about the riders of the three dragons. There has been many theories as to who will be the riders of the three dragons brought to life by Daenerys. It has become pretty clear that two of them is obviously Daeny herself, and Jon Snow, who is a secret Targaryen. Since season 7 episode 6 revealed that Jon is not a bastard at all and is a true-blooded Targaryen and a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, there is pretty much no question he is one of the dragon riders. But there has been so much speculation about who the third rider will be, including in some theories Tyrion, and Jaime Lannister (who is also theorized to be Azo Ahai, The Prince That Was Promised). 

Here’s my theory, in light of what happened in the latest episode, that leads to the conclusion that one of the white walkers is (was?) a Targaryen. 

Hear me out. 

We all know about Craster. He was a wildling that lived alone with his daughter-wives and provided information to the Night’s Watch about the wildlings and on the happenings beyond the wall. Craster was also not a full-blooded wildling. According to the story, he was fathered by a member of the Night’s Watch with a wildling woman and who then abandoned them. 

Aemon Targaryen was a maester in the Night's Watch. His timeline and Craster’s timeline coincides. Aemon lived a long time. He could have been one of a ranging party that went beyond the wall at some point and fathered Craster. (Do I remember correctly that in earlier in the series, Aemon said, in his warnings to Sam or Jon about love being the death of duty, that he had never accepted the advances of any women except for one?) 

Craster had many children, both sons and daughters. (His penchant for marrying his daughters and fathering children by them is a very Targaryen characteristic.) He made a deal with the Night King to give up his sons as long as the White Walkers left him alone. As we saw in an earlier season, Jon witnessed one of Craster’s infant sons being turned into a White Walker by the Night King. 

My theory is that at least one of those sons became a member of the Night King's elite group of lieutenants. And now you have a Targaryen White Walker. And now they have a dragon. 

Of course, I can't find any proof that Aemon ever went beyond the wall, but in all his decades of service, he never went on a ranging? That's hard to believe. 

I also can't find anything about who Craster's father is, just that he was fathered by someone in the Night's Watch. He could very well have been fathered by Aemon. 

Craster’s story also goes on to say that his mother brought him to the wall when he was born to show him to his father, but was turned away by the Night's Watch. Who, at that time, needed to keep their honor more than a Targaryen? 

Of course, this would mean that there are far more Targaryens remaining than we previously thought, and that means that Gilly is also a secret Targyen and so is her son. 

But this theory fulfills the three heads of the dragon prophecy, especially now that one of the dragons is a Wight. I don’t know, there are crazier theories, right? 

(I have been told that I am not the only one who has argued this. So, I'm not totally crazy...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Love story [poem]

Here we are at the top of the proverbial ivory tower of amor. The beautiful facade of sparkling glass jewels, like an ideal — sharp facets, reflecting the blinding sun, the brilliance diverting eyes from the crumbling foundations built up through the decades. The river is shallow, running through the archway, eroding the last bits of sturdy stone. The black is faded near to gray and the white is covered in dust, shabby — grown closer than ever but fading. The snow is whiter than the white. But how does one tell, looking from such a distance. A shadow lurks in the frame of picture perfection. It is there even when not captured on camera. The dull edge of a blade can still cut with intention. Sharp pain can be assuaged by pills while still bleeding out. Paint chips off the fire escape as we stand on the edge, flames obscured, emblazoned by fiery passion.

Come see us in our vainglory. Are we not exactly what you have aspired to be?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Disappearances [book review]

The DisappearancesThe Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a digital advance reader's copy of this book through Netgalley. This book will be released on July 4, 2017.

In the town of Sterling, its citizens are cursed to lose something ordinary every seven years and nobody can figure out why. First they lose their sense of smell, then their reflections, followed by colors, dreams, the stars in the night sky, and the sound of music. They are called The Disappearances. Nobody who was a residence of Sterling when The Disappearances began could escape its effects, even if they leave, except for one, Aila and Miles Quinn’s mother, Juliet.

Fifteen year old Aila Quinn and her younger brother Miles are sent to live with the Cliftons, the family of their mother’s childhood best friend, in Sterling after their mother dies and their father is drafted to fight in the war. Aila is thrown into a world of mystery and mistrust as the town’s residences harbor a secret suspicion that her mother was the cause. Aila is determined to clear her mother’s name and, with the help of the Cliftons’ teenage son, friends from the Sterling high school, and her mother’s notes in her old copy of the Shakespeare plays, they work to get to the bottom of the curse. Meanwhile, an unknown menace from Aila’s mother’s childhood stalks ever closer, threatening the lives of not only Aila and her brother, but also those she has come to love, and the entire town of Sterling.

For a debut novel, this was an entertaining and engrossing read. Although the story was fairly predictable and a little slow going at times, it was satisfying. It is a good young adult novel full of the typical teenage angst, first loves, sibling fights and misunderstandings, and the struggle to grow up in a world of loss. Interspersed with the magic and mystery of the Disappearances, it is well-written, the characters are easy to like, and you find yourself invested in finding out what happens to them at the end. In all honesty, I was first drawn to the book’s cover, and then the story’s description was so intriguing, I had to read it. It was overall satisfying read.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stella '17 [poem]

Note: This poem was published in Rigorous, an online journal edited and written by people of color, in Volume 1, Issue 2.

These high piles of snow lining the sides of the streets
has me walking on the straight and narrow, 
starting and ending at the crosswalks, 
waiting for the lights, and looking out for cars,
like you’re supposed to;
no more short cuts between parked cars,
no more jaywalking in the middle of the street,
no more detours through driveways and bike lanes...
I'm left with no other choice but to navigate
thin patches of concrete wide enough only for one person,
single-person meandering walkways,
negotiating with other unfortunate pedestrians
for that precious piece of clean sidewalk
through the white snow, packed snow, dirty snow,
navigating treacherously over brown slush
halfway through the crosswalk, only to be stopped
by a dark gray puddle of melted once-snow,
looking like the cold mush of nightmares,
that you need to leap over, run around, climb past
over the packed slick hills, or risk walking through it
(how deep is it, really?).
I always supposed the straight and narrow
to be the road of least resistance, but now that I realize
it is only full of hidden dangers and unexpected troubles,
I think I prefer my way of clever shortcuts and
shrewd calculations, risking known dangers and
making leaps of faith,
for you are not entirely blind when making your own way;
you are guided by life's experiences.

zig zag

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Evening's Land [book review]

Evening's LandEvening's Land by Pauline West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a digital reader’s advance copy of this book through Netgalley. What drew me to this title was the description: “The dark elegance of Anne Rice’s THE WITCHING HOUR meets the lush parallel worlds of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN series.” I did not read the description any further before I requested an advanced reading copy. Neil Gaiman is my favorite writer and I would jump at reading anything recommended by him or compared to his writing. And Anne Rice’s popularity and reputation as a writer of ornate prose and attention to detail makes her a notable name among modern fiction writers. So when this book was described as Anne Rice meets Neil Gaiman, I immediately wanted to read it.

And I was not disappointed.

I was drawn in from the very first paragraph. One of the things I love most about Neil Gaiman’s writing is that his metaphors and descriptions make you stop in wonder and amazement at the way it makes you see something in a new and different way. Pauline West’s writing has a similar feel, creating a sense of awe and wonder as it draws you deeper in the story and the lives and struggles of the characters. The metaphors and descriptions hooked from the very beginning: “…his uncle was a big, barrel-chested autocross king, with a scrim of curly red hair that could have upholstered a sofa, and dancing ladies tattooed up both his arms—”. And in describing the first taste of beer “[t]he first gulp was like blood and nickels. The next came sweet and bready and light and suddenly it was going down like Missouri sunshine.”

The story is about a young woman named Ada who has a supernatural ability to open up a doorway between our reality and a dream reality called Evening’s Land. It is about how Ada holds on to her best friend whom she had lost to suicide after a terrible trauma. It is about a young woman coming to terms with her life after trauma and heartbreak, and learning to let go after desperately trying to hold onto a life that no longer existed. She encounters people, other-worldly creatures, and even the dead, all eager to use her and her abilities for their own ends at whatever the cost. As she comes to terms with her powers, she also comes to terms with her sexuality and with the death of her friend.

Pauline West’s writing is beautiful, full of poetry and prose, and near-perfect metaphors that really get at the moods of the moment. Her writing flows easily and masterfully from one imagery to the next, drawing you so deep into the story, you would think you’re right there watching it all unfold. I often came out of a reading session a little dazed and wishing I didn’t have to put down the book to attend to my other responsibilities. The main narrator is Ada, the point-of-view through which most of the story is told, but West uses the points of view of several other characters throughout the book to clarify plot and setting and to increase tension by giving the reader information that the main character does not have. I finished reading the book in less than five days (and I would have finished sooner if I didn’t have to work and sleep).

I must add that this novel is rather dark, dealing with suicide, rape, sexual and mental abuse, and satanism. It is not a light read for the faint-of-heart or for someone with a sensitive constitution (or someone who is easily offended).

This novel comes out on February 20, 2017 and I highly recommend a read!

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Monday, January 23, 2017

In the Shadow of Lakecrest [book review]

In the Shadow of LakecrestIn the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book as a Kindle First offering in January 2017 at a highly discounted price. The expected publication date for this book is February 1, 2017.

From the first chapter, this book reminded me of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a Gothic romance first published in 1983. Like Rebecca, In the Shadow of Lakecrest is about a young working class woman who marries a wealthy man with a mysterious background. In fact, the parallels are conspicuous, at least in the beginning—the narrator in Rebecca was a lady’s companion and the narrator in In the Shadow of Lakecrest is a governess, both were on holiday with their respective employers when they met their wealthy husband-to-be, and finally, the story centers around the family manor and family’s mysterious past.

I had read Rebecca a few years ago and the beginning of this book, I would say the first quarter of the book, greatly paralleled Rebecca, so much so that I began to wonder if the author just rewrote the du Maurier novel with minor changes in characters and premise. But Lakecrest soon diverged into its own storyline.

In the Shadow of Lakecrest is a light gothic novel about a young governess and companion to wealthy daughters who snags and marries a rich businessman with a mysterious family past. Kate Moore and her rich husband, Matthew Lemont, returns to live at his family’s estate in the pre-Depression Chicago suburbs, where Kate feels ill-equipped to handle an overbearing mother-in-law and high-spirited sister-in-law. She learns that her husband is not the calm and confident man she married and is instead haunted by nightmares of a past that has affected his mental health. She discovers unsavory family secrets and the mysterious disappearance of Matthews aunt.

The story started out well with the build-up of the characters’ relationships and the suspenseful build-up of the family secrets and mysteries. But I feel like the story devolved by the second half of the book, both in the storyline and in the behavior of the characters, which could not be explained by the events that were occurring. It made it difficult to remain empathic to the characters. The storyline also devolved with the seemingly random occurrence of events, like Matthew’s twin sister suddenly eloping with a British nobleman and the summer storm that appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the Lemont’s annual party, pushing the story into its final stages.

The second half of the story was fast and disjointed where the first half moved at a steady pace that carefully laid out the story. I enjoyed reading it up to a point, and then I was just rushing to finish the story and to find out what happens at the end. The build-up and the suspense was atmospheric and gripping, but the reveals and the resolutions were underwhelming, not to mention the uncharacteristic personality twists that Kate’s character went through was ungrounded in her character build-up from the beginning of the book.

There are many great elements in this book that I feel were not fully fleshed-out and was not given the attention that they deserved to be a truly remarkable read, though it is a quick and entertaining read for those not overly-concerned with the writing.

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