A land’s value increases with

our absence – the smooth lines

of unhumanized spaces

storm touched, swept

by wind and not fingers


the picture in front concealing

the worthless trail of footprints

created to view the next

path of destruction

The view we seek contrasts with the path we create in the search

I am always fascinated by our pursuit of what lies before us in contrast to our ignorance of the path behind.

For more paths, of destruction and otherwise, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.


Into Dusk, Into Autumn

The sun is with us always

for months and months

there is light when we wake

and we sleep and then


the sky fades and the flowers

have lost their petals

when we weren’t looking

Remember to look up

It is easy to be caught by the passage of seasons and important to remember to look.

For more passages, observed and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.


There is no magical death that ends the winter.

Flowers bloom, buds emerge

Only to be slain by sudden snow, persistent frost.

Winds that reach down and strangle the green

(Shake loose the darling buds)

Are as common as the uneasy calm of rain.

It takes no special genius, no seer

To unfurl that first green flag.

In the end, it is the queer courage

Of things that persist and persist

That rises, defiant, above the dead leaves of the year before.

IMG_0571Whether it is truly spring or only winter’s pause, courage rises

In spring, I am always reminded that strength is not always obvious, that the sprouting of dandelions can break cement.

For more feats of strength, obvious and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

The Path of Water

We measure seasons by the shape of water.

From dew to frost, from rain to snow,

Water travels through the year-

A chameleon marker of time,

Of passing days and relentless progress.

The weight of water is carefully measured.

Small trickles of rain or snow or dew

Gradually etch their presence into buildings,

Into trees and stone.

You would think the metal would survive,

But after forty years, it is the trees and grass that bear

The yoke-

All previous signs of humanity ground

Into mossy debris.

Look out at the lawn and the delicate lacing-

Power is not force,

But persistence.

IMG_0255Few forces as powerful or delicate as the expanding water burrowing to the ground

Slow change is an amazing force to watch.

For forces delicate and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.


Catch of the Day

On the cape of the island, you could grab the plate-sized crabs with your bare hands.

A little wading in the surf and you’d walk back out with enough to feed communities.

Of gulls and herons.

Of bears and men.

Crabs don’t come to the hand as quick anymore.

Most things don’t.

I’ll watch them sometimes, the ones who wade out and the ones who take a full operation out on the water.

Every year they come back with less for their efforts.

The crabs come and go.

So do the strangers who take their catch and leave.

The communities stay.

Still hungry.

IMG_2142The nets are often older than the crews

I think a lot about the way the shape of the north changes… and the way it remains the same.

For more reminisces on scarcity and abundance, feel free to check out my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

In All Things, Joy

The air sings still of the weekend’s snow, of colder, darker months, not yet forgotten.

Such a sharp edge for the cresting of the new.

Too soon, and the late frosts will stifle the birthing.

Too late, and the time for frantic growth will be cut short on the other side of the seasons.

It would be easy to see it as a cycle of fear, cold death chasing until it catches and swallows.

I look out now and see the lie in the trail of life before me.

We do not grow away from the cold, from the death that would drown us.

We grow upwards, outwards.

Not fleeing.


Light, joy, love.

Those that grow do not cower from what-might-not -be.

Life is not for retraction, for burrowing back into the frozen earth.

Life is reaching, greedily grasping every breath of warmth, every ounce of joy.

For daring the frost, the snow, the unexpected, and shooting upwards-

Buds outstretched, furling into the sun.

 Upright LeafIn all things, joy. In all joy, hope.

The pursuit of joy has always served me better than the flight from fear.

For more of writing on joy and fear, both flight and pursuit, you can read my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here. The sequel, With Honor Intact, will be coming out on April 23, 2015.

What Falls Away

The fence needs replacing.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, like so many scrabbling ants, we raise our structures and see them fall and raise them once again.

I want to write more one day of what I’ve found in the backwoods, of the small, surprising remnants of other lives, other stories.

The rotten shells of old cabins will sometimes return to the earth before a child’s doll or a rusting tin cup, haphazardly wedged under a rock.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, nearly every structure here has a skeleton of beams and ridge-poles, their strength slowly being sapped by the forces around them.

I would tell stories I think of those lost towns, now grown over. Of those old mining and logging and fishing villages, whose passage is only marked by a slight rise in the moss where the central buildings stood.

We build over these ghosts beneath our feet, repeating the same failed steps only to be built over ourselves.

I wish I could read more stories with that conscious sense of our repeated history.

I wish I could write more stories that capture the cycling beneath my feet.

The fence is falling and needs to be replaced.

The snow and the sky press down, unchanged.

IMG_7133Our tracks are as ephemeral as our memories

The weight of history weighs heavily on the present.

My own pursuit of both history and cycles can be seen here in my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here.


There’s always one of them – the lost ones. Just before the weather changes, a single bird or a pair, migrating with unhurried ease as the clouds close in behind them.

I try not to think about what happens to them.

This is not a forgiving land.

Mistakes are etched deep into the grooves left by glaciers and those sudden deadfalls across every ridge, every turn of the river.

In the cliff faces by the ocean, I saw a small cave once. Inside was the skeleton of a deer, caught by the tide as it tried to escape a storm.

Its head was bowed in death, facing the inevitable, not with fear, but with resignation.

It knew that knife’s edge of choice and consequence.

It knew when it had fallen on the blade.

I read fiction because sometimes I want mistakes to not be permanent. To know that through the magic of narrative (or through literal magic), that it is possible to err deeply and still rise upwards. To make a late-season flight and arrive at the migration point shaken, but unharmed.

And yet…

In between the snow drifts the remnants of last year’s growth rot in place. They appear almost startled, caught by surprise by the frost, by the snow, by the inevitable grinding of the unrelenting wheel.

Sometimes I want stories that take me away from here.

But sometimes I want stories that remember this-

A deer’s skeleton.

A lost bird.

A dead frond, its roots waiting for spring.

IMG_1487Hope is what comes after everything else has failed

Sometimes we need to talk about consequences in a variety of ways.

If you’d like to see my take on consequences of various kinds, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.


You can hear rotten ice.

Smell it even, if the wind isn’t too thick above the water.

There’s a shifting, moaning noise where the ice is wearing thin and breaking loose. There’s a taste of running water and dead things, being pushed up from under the sterile frost.

If you’re looking for rotten ice, you’re already in over your neck.

People keep looking.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions, hoping for a different result.

But it’s hard to break out of patterns, break out of the familiar way of approaching the world. It’s hard to break out even if it can, and will, prove deadly to our purpose.

We trust our eyes, even when we know our eyes deceive us.

I see it too much in what I read, that blind acceptance of what is visible.

If writers challenged that perception more often, it would be a useful shortcut, but too many lakes sit solidly icebound, no treachery visible or apparent.

I went through once as a child.

Not deep, not enough to damage, but I’ve never forgotten that sickened swoop of betrayal as my solid, icy footing vanished beneath me, crumbling like so much rotten wood.

Maybe that’s what it takes to use the other senses.

A cold lake, a deceptive surface, and, as the water meets your flesh, the realization that you have never been the one in control.

IMG_1359So which step here will take you under?

The consequences of where we place our feet are a vital part of telling our stories.

Watching where we walk is something I enjoy incorporating into my writing. Feel free to try my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor here.

A Frozen Moment

We pass quickly from not-winter to winter here.

The trees, the air, the movement of the clouds all provide warning, but the last traces of fall will vanish from night to morning.

Not all parts of my world are well-prepared for the transition.

On the first winter morning, I search for casualties.

A rosebud, half-opened, forever frozen in place.

The wagon, forgotten in the field, and now mired in frozen mud.

A small butterfly, too late in the transition, its wings become a crystallized work of art.

Change is not easy.

In stories, we see the best moments of those rising to the challenges before them, facing the oncoming cold with determination and understanding.

Seldom do we see those caught out by the wind, futilely trying to understand when the air passed from welcoming to dangerous.

Not all survive those transition points.

But even in those who lose, who pass out of the ongoing cycle, there is a beauty.

The leaves are frozen, unable to withstand the force of winter.

Still they stand, forever reaching towards the sun.

IMG_6822The delicacy of the ice crystals belie the strength of their destruction

I am a fan of persistence. Even, or especially, in the face of failure.

If you would like to see my other writing on persistence, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor over here.