Original Poetry: 10:55 Flight to Chicago from Heathrow

A final look back at the boarding gate
               shows stand-bys milling, rushing
               among linen scarves, watches and fresh
               fruit booths from the Tube station escalator.
Trains networking out embrace fields, coasts,
               and leaping rivers, disturbing the contours
               to reach the valleyed cities.
Rains sweep down and stop miserably,
               as they had started, luring
               someone into the sea by warm sun
               and high waves industrially glossed.
The castle deteriorates upon the throbbing
               club pulsating with men-by-day
               experiencing Madonna with each breath
               of bottled poppers.
Separate out a quarter and smoke it, surfer.
Gather blossoms from the rhododendrons
               to sprinkle on the water ebbing further
               from shore draining this filthy bay
               marred by a fresh stream cutting
               through attracting gulls.
Come in, roll up, blow blue smoke
               out the windows from the lofty ledges
               used by bees that just want the jam packets
               to get drunk on like we get drunk on
               before dancing, dancing, and sleeping
               with the nice looking guy who tries
               to lure us back to his place before coming in ours.
Was it worth it?
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Novel Review: Blood Rites [The Dresden Files, #6] by Jim Butcher

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6)Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The modern day Chicago wizarding detective, Harry Dresden, throws himself headlong, as he is wont to do, into yet another deadly situation making himself the target for multiple supernatural nasties. The brilliance of this series doesn’t reside in the details of the individual cases but in the continual development and enrichment of both the urban fantasy world and in the abilities, mindset, and personal connections of protagonist Harry Dresden.

When the series started, Harry was a loner running half-afoul of the law and the ruling wizarding counsels. He quickly added Karren Murphy of the Chicago PD to his friends list as they investigated supernatural crimes that found their way into non-supernatural awareness. Other cases, but still including the increasingly less skeptical Murphy, took place entirely in the realm of the Fae or the war between the wizards and the vampires.

This installment manages many things for the series. It opens the closed book on orphaned Harry’s family. His mother’s history comes to tantalizing light. A half-sibling emerges from the ether. And seriously concerning enlightenment is cast upon Harry’s foster-parentage. This is very welcome development.

Also, the world of the vampires along with the cultures and politics gets blown open in unexpected ways. While previously established that the 3 “courts” of vampires are very culturally different, here it’s seen that they are unrelated species barely tolerating each other. This case revolves around the lust-feeding, emotion-devouring foppish White Court vamps. They may not touch blood, and they don’t, but they are no less toxic. Making them major players in the world of porn production is just plain fun–no need to stalk prey if they’ll come willingly to you . . .

I’ve previously read the following Dresden books and stories:
     Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)–4 stars
     Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)–4 stars
     Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)–4 stars
     Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4)–4 stars
     Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5)–4 stars
     “Last Call” (The Dresden Files, #10.6)–5 stars
     “Love Hurts” (The Dresden Files, #11.5)–5 stars

 

 

 

[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: “Daughter of Bilitis: for Del Martin (1921-2008)”

You are the defiant devotion of a half-century of modern, queer courtship
     resolving with your domestic vows.
You are the equanimity that surmounts court-forced annulment
     on your anniversary by reenacting your marriage while California
     patiently waits.
You are the tympani echoing from the bayside Pacific cathedrals since
     nineteen-fifty-five. Daughters of Bilitis beckon while mouthing, Qui vive.
You are the silent vanguard among our disaffected communities huddled
     in gay ghettoes bracing against communist brands and police
     who strip your Chicago sister-dykes.
You are the deviant teacher of variant knowledge, unbarring our doors
      and expunging our records of psychopathologies.
You are the asterisk and footnote to the legal chapter that quietly registers
     as an obvious coda.
You are the legend that, in death, no proposition can amend again.
 
 
 
[This poem was written in 2008 upon Del Martin’s passing to honor her work in promoting equality for a half-century. She and her partner were the first same-sex marriage in California before it was later nullified by the courts and voters. Del died before the proposition was overturned and before a single court upheld marriage equality.]
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Short Story Review: “Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P. N. Elrod

3 of 5 stars.

Chicago has had its fair share of supernatural detectives–most notably, Butcher’s Harry Dresden the wizarding detective of the modern era. This fun tale takes detective noir and Chicago back to its 1930’s bootlegging, gangsterland roots. Detective Jack Fleming happens to be a vampire, his partner, Charles Escott, isn’t. Together they right wrongs–at least as far as their clients are concerned.

This case involves a stolen inheritance of a rare yellow diamond called Hecate’s Golden Eye. It may be cursed, if one believes that sort of thing. What ensues is a mad scramble of alliances and subterfuge all taking place within a few hours on a single evening as money, the jewels and counterfeits aplenty play the Old Shell Game between the various suspects, clients and detectives.

Jack’s vampiric traits play a role in solving the case. Especially helpful is his ability to hypnotize and turn incorporeal.

This tale appears in Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran.

 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Lincoln Park Zoo in Late August

During the uncertainty—
      the lull compressed
between chemo bouts
      and stem-cell harvesting,
my brother had
      a good day.

His eyes were tracking
      marmoset acrobatics
and green swamp monkeys
      flinging themselves
from leafless branch
      to man-made vine.

Pressed nose to glass,
      his emaciated face
seemed to curl
      an unthinkably big smile;
his eyes –
      wonderment-wide.

My brother was once
      himself a monkey
climbing, leaping
      each ledge and tree.
But not now;
      and never was I.

Earlier, when basking,
      resting the walking stick
and his neuropathic hobble,
      our small talk
was ruptured
      by seagull screeching

emanating from a fist-faced
      young girl, her eyes
and fists squeezed white
      in deliberate mimicry.
Gulls responded and resumed
      scavenging the patio’s periphery.

If asked about those tall
      days of August waiting,
my story
      will be the seagull-girl
with steady eyes, arms
      outstretched collecting the wind.
 
 
[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in April 2015.]
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Short Story Review: “Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher

Love Hurts (The Dresden Files, #11.5)Love Hurts by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This short but bittersweet tale sees detective/wizard Harry Dresden and his police partner, Karrin Murphy partner up yet again to investigate a series of dual suicides by lovers throughout the Chicagoland area. The balance between his supernatural connections and intuition and her investigative know-how sends them on a roadtrip downstate to the State Fair looking for foul matchmakers.

This, of course, moves them beyond their normal territories and world of resources. It also plays with the growing friendship between the two as they are not immune to the wiles of the devious matchmaker. Their relationship has managed to stay platonic up to this point . . .

“Murph . . . I think we got whammied.”

She blinked at me. “What? No, we didn’t.”

Look at us,” I said, waving our joined hands. . . . “Murph, think about it. . . . You know how good this is?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“How right it feels?”

She nodded. “Yeah.”

“How easy it was?”

She nodded energetically, her eyes bright.

I leaned down toward her for emphasis. “It just isn’t fucked up enough to really be you and me.”

Her smile faltered. “My God,” she said, her eyes widening. “We got whammied.”

This tale appears in Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran. I’ve previously read Butcher’s:
     Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)–4 stars
     Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)–4 stars
     Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)–4 stars
     Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4)–4 stars
     Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5)–4 stars
     “Last Call” (The Dresden Files, #10.6)–5 stars
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Suspension

From the tiers of the river,
      a floe of fog shears
Chicago’s drifting citadels—

their buoyant bulk hovers
      like oscillating droplets
amid eddying vapors overflowing

the locks of the man-hewn Hennepin.
      Like Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge,
a smudged tint in suspended mist

on the opposite bank,
      my parents’ place, gains definition
as I silently slide away.
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]