On Muses and Shakespeare’s Fire

O! For a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest invention of heaven!

Wm. Shakespeare

There is a general assumption in the arts that a muse comes in the form of a woman, close enough to aspire to, but no so close as to actually reach, and that great art is created while in a state of great longing. The inference is of course, that one cannot make great art except out of love. I don’t believe this to be a universal truth. What muse then to women who make art? (There seem to be few male muses.) Or, conversely, what muse to the writing of Whitman and Wilde and others going back to antiquity? Note too that the muse comes as much from loss as longing – artist HR Giger’s Li for example. (I have no doubt that loss can beget longing, possibly more strongly than presence.) Is the muse then the longing for something that can never be had?

I would think that the muse is that which is there at the inception of the work but sometimes not at the end. I say only sometimes because what work is ever really complete? Who would not remake something, who would not reorder the words and even the world, if only given the chance?

A man told once that there is an alternative translation of the first words of the Book of Genesis that say “In the beginning, God spoke a word upon the water and the world was created.” I have not been able to find that translation since I was first told of it, but I have thought often upon it and that, in it’s own way is a muse. Enigmatic and pure, the beginning for creation in conceptual thought (where the word stands for the thing) a corollary of a sort of the ontological argument for God.

I imagine that along time ago, in some cave not far from the particular blue waters of Mediterranean, a creature once an animal stared into a fire and then, moved by something they could not articulate, placed their henna-colored hand-print upon the wall. There, in between the light of Shakespeare’s fire, and the drying dye, was the muse. Something comes and was seen in the light of the fire, if only for a moment, and someone else marks its passing with something else.

I also think it possible, in the Socratic way where each statement implies it’s own antithesis, that with the exception of that first pure word spoken upon the still waters of the primordial, that muses come not to create but to destroy. The artist then must make something out of the ashes left in the fire of the their passing. Creation and recreation, fire and clay. Who builds until they have to?

Heavy Shit.

Someone beer me,

Steve

Permutations and Combinations

… and break-up songs on the radio.

I usually don’t talk about pieces before they actually appear. “Accepted” and “published” mean two different things. I’ve had a few where the accepting publisher has vanished or failed to meet their Kickstarter or whatever and the piece ultimately had to be re-shopped. That said I recently had a 666-word story accepted that is a permutation/combination of two poems I’d had accepted and published awhile ago. I pitched it to the editor that had taken the poems as a flash fiction piece and as  a different take on the same themes explored in that sweet, sweet poesy. I think an idea might be expressed in multiple literary formats – I had hoped they would concur. Concur they did with great enthusiasm and now “We Are All Already Dead (Reprise)” will be coming to you sometime in June.  So there, you have something to look forward to. I can’t promise you that there will ever be a “We Are All Already Dead – The Musical” but you never know what the future may hold.

As an aside this is the 5th 666-word piece I’ve written and placed. (I have two more that should appear before the “Reprise” goes up in June.) Inadvertently … I have found my niche. If you want a million words – a few kilos of words really – you’ve got DFW or some Russian. At the other end is the six-word story that started with Hemingway’s “Baby Shoes” – don’t pretend you don’t know it – and spawned a legion of contests. (Pro tip: Many of these charge you around $4/word to enter.) However, if you are particular about needing 666 – I’m your guy.

I’ve been listening to this lately, watched “American Hustle” the other night and this was on the soundtrack. I’m usually all metal, all the time, but something resonated and now it’s on loop.

Stay young and cool readers reader, I’ll be back with more literary shenanigan-izing in no time at all. In the meantime go google up where the band Steely Dan got their name from and don’t say you never learned anything via my blog. (I bet most of you already know anyways,)

Steve

This One & The Prophet of Regret (#9)

Auto-Engine-No-97-5-4-2013 used for RAR's Summer 2017 Cover.jpg

The Cover Photo for The Rat’s Ass Review Summer 2017 Issue is by Gerald Leonard.

The Summer 2017 Issue of the Rat’s Ass Review is live and I have two poems in there – namely “This One” and “The Prophet of Regret (#9).”

You can read them Here.

Much thanks to E-I-C Roderick Bates for accepting these poems and for working through them with me to ensure they came out well.

As an aside, with nine “Prophets of Regret” now (not all have appeared in print) I’ll have to figure out some way to collect them all in a single volume. Nine is a whole lot o’ regrettin’. Next up is “The Prophet of Regret (#7 – Cathedral City)” in the Coachella Madrigals chappie I have coming out – I am not sure of the actual release date as it has been pp’d a couple of times.

Stay young and cool kids, I’ll be back with more publishing news soon enough.

Steve

El Centauro

SONY DSC

My story “El Centauro” is up at the always ably-curated Storgy magazine and you can read it Here.

True story: I pitched this story with the tag “Hesher heaven, Hipster Hell.” You know, I write all my stories on a blend of drive-thru coffee and middle-aged despair but if you want to blaze up, fire up some Orange Goblin, (“Time Travelling Blues” is my fave,) and read it let me know how that goes. Reading should be a sensory experience as well as in intellectual and emotional one.

Much thanks to the Ed’s at Storgy – it’s exciting to have a piece in a publication with the reach that Storgy has.

Stay cool friend-o’s, I’ll be back.

Steve