“Prodigious birth of love it is to me,”
She quoted, fingers twining in his hair,
“Like foam-born Venus rising from the sea.
The problem is: it’s neither here nor there.

“Aye, that’s the rub I have,” she said, “to date –
So quick you’ve won all that my heart can give;
A fish may love a bird and seek to mate…
But where could star-crossed lovers ever live?”

“Choose us new realms,” he said. “Be not afraid,
For in your arms I find the hottest fire
Of Hell to be the sweetest nest e’er made.”
“A phoenix pair… ourselves birthed from our pyre.

“For you — the seraph mad, who makes me sane.”
“And you, my lady — my most joyful pain.”

Read an explanation of this sonnet here.

Copyright (C) Vox Mortuum 2013

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All through the day, a pirate for the hive,
Goes golden bee to plunder ev’ry flower
And steal its dust so that his queen may thrive.
No other purpose tasks each waking hour.

Industrious and tireless in flight –
Does lowly bee e’er feel him some regret
To leave the rose that wrapped him in her light?
Or does her perfumed softness he forget?

My hive’s abandoned, lady, and no queen
Could reign above the radiance of you –
So duty lost to love, in choice between;
I cleave me to the path the heart finds true.

With petals tight, the bud embraced the bee –
My lady, will you do no less for me?

Copyright (C) Vox Mortuum 2013

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“Truth is not beauty, nor,” she said, “reverse –
Is beauty, truth — though some would have it be.
For pretty truths are shallow, and what’s worse:
Subjective beauty, unmistakeably.

“Just look at you,” she said, “a warrior poet,
In battle forged; your flesh still wears its scars
And what they are to me (you may not know it) —
Adored. A shining nebula of stars.

“Your sky-blue eyes, your tarnished silver mane,
Your care-worn face: all these are priceless things.
To me each detail precious, both mundane
And magical — your snowy sweep of wings!

“Each flaw, a gem. I could go on at length.
My love is truth; your beauty is your strength.”

Copyright (C) Vox Mortuum 2013

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Dear Mark…

What can I say? The last few days were a blur.

On Thursday I suffered an absolutely shattering humiliation at my RealJob(TM). I didn’t feel well enough to eat *anything* for the rest of the day, but I started to write.

Friday I went to work completely disassociated; I made the motions but my mind and heart were elsewhere, on the characters that were developing in my mind. I came home and wrote.

Saturday I puttered around; I exercised a bit. I wrote. I crocheted a little. I wrote.

This morning I woke up and wrote.

Today I’ve got 13.5K words of what is going to be my first novel. I’m probably going to do some more writing here in a bit, before stepping out in the afternoon.

I feel like everything’s falling into place, Mark. Like my life is bringing towards me everything I need, and all I have to do is wait.

Yeah, there’s the slings and arrows of fortune in among the flotsam, but I survive as I always do.

I’ve lost more weight. I just today threw away a number of underthings that no longer fit because I have grown too small for them. Too small, Mark. I’m the smallest now that I’ve been in the last eight years for sure.

The fog is lifting; I can see the finish line. It’s miles ahead, of course, many days and nights… maybe weeks or months or even years. I see it as one could see a mountain’s pinnacle from a city low on the plains.

But it is seen. And what I can see, I can aim for. And what I aim for, I hit.

I’m sitting here in a camisole I used to not be able to wear — I couldn’t get it to slide down over my belly. Now it hangs out from my body.

I wish my father could be alive to see me change. I know that he sees it, where he is. But to have him here to share in the triumph of my will over my health would be a great comfort to me.

Every day my face changes, Mark. I don’t know what it’ll look like in the end… but I know what your face looks like. I can work in parallel from it.

My imagination — the same one that has taken the thought “What would a woman do if an angel crash-landed outside her house some night?” and is spinning it into a novel-length tale — is still not strong enough to picture myself at the size I am going to be. And in that gap is where you stand for me.

If I were to step off a sidewalk tomorrow and be hit by a bus, to die like a dog in the street (horrible, I know, but not out of the realm of possibility), in the last seconds of gazing upon this life I could think to myself quite serenely: “In the last seven months I have done all that I could, with every minute I was given — and though the work is not finished, what I have accomplished will be sufficient.”

And I could die, Mark. I could go to the next life in perfect release, because I have lived these months with full intention. I have been the mistress of each moment.

So I have no fear of leaving the sidewalk — but I pledge you that I still look both ways.

I sign myself again for you

Your unfolding chrysalis,

Vox Mortuum


The tarot card was drawn, on velvet laid:
A sunless valley plain, and waging there
My silent battle — king of beast, and maid
Garbed all in white, lemniscate-haloed hair.

How can such comely hands still hold so fast
The lion’s jaws, and tame its awful bite?
Eternal soul knows worldly trials can’t last
And in due time will fade, as day to night.

Let “Courage”, then, be golden mask of Strength –
The visage calm that looks on tragedy
And bears a smile, assured its finite length.
Stand fast! Hold hard! And, in the end, be free!

A gentle touch, tenacious as a noose,
Restrains the might within — or lets it loose!

Copyright (C) Vox Mortuum 2013

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Dear Mark… I’ve been far from this page, but you’ve never been far from my thoughts. So much is happening, so rapidly — it feels as if the entire earth is being ripped out from under my feet and I’m falling away into the universe.

Things I’ve realized today: apprehension and elation feel the same in the gut but different in the heart. Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean the situation is bad. Fear is the root of the plant that flowers into courage.

Love, and courage, and power, and fear… roots so deep in the human psyche I am just beginning to bring them to light in myself.

I’m reminded of a quote from the movie “Conspiracy Theory” (although I know it’s not exactly high art): Love gives you wings. It makes you fly. I don’t even call it love. I call it Geronimo. When you’re in love, you’ll jump right from the top of the Empire State and you won’t care, screaming “Geronimo” the whole way down.

And that’s where I am right now. Flying is a risk. For every new-fledged baby bird that soars away into the sky there’s one that ends with a broken neck at the base of its nest-tree, knowing no better world than the one that took its life.

I’d like to think that I’m at the stage in my life where I won’t jump before having a good idea of how to land. I’ve got a sheaf of back-up plans.

But at some point plans and schemes will only carry you so far, and then you take your destiny in your own two hands and hold it hard while you make the choice. In the end you’ll have to step forward, gather your strength, and yell “GERONIMO!”

I made a thing this week; I posted it to my tumblr here.

It’s a plan of my life goals for the moment, culminating in being able to go to England to lay a rose on A.E. Housman’s grave. Things that need doing; things that I’ve left undone for too long. Once it’s done… you’ll know.

The evening’s fading, my dear, and I’ve much still to do before I can rest. So I sign myself once more

Better Late Than Never,

Vox Mortuum


Mark… someday I’ll be exactly who and what I want to be, and exactly where I want to be.

And on that day if you, not yet knowing me, say to me “What is in it for you?”

I will smile at you gently and reply: “When you feed the ornamental koi in a water garden, what is in it for you?”

And my answer will be the same.

I sign myself,

In Potentia

Vox Mortuum


Dear Mark… I am so tired.

It doesn’t take long to realize the falseness in someone’s face, but I still begrudge the lost time until truth and lie trade place.

You see, they almost had me. I was hired into a new environment, a new realm. I thought my opinions would matter. I thought my experience would be respected. I thought I would be given new challenges and adequate tools to conquer them. I thought someone would see my effort and be proud of it, reward it.

I’ve been a fool many times in my life; I’ll add another mark to that tally.

And while I labored under that handsome illusion, I was a company woman for once. Studying on my own time. Spending every moment religiously working. Presenting my absolute best results.

Only to have it torn down, torn apart, disregarded, thrown aside.

What one does with his or her life daily, what they seek, what they strive to accomplish… that is at heart the expression of what they are inside. And it’s a dangerous game. Because if the people around me had given me even an ounce of the validation that I was craving I would have redoubled my efforts. I would have happily imbibed the Kool-Aid.

A company woman to the core.

I’m tempted to thank my management on Monday when I have to go back. Thank you for showing me I hold no esteem in your eyes. Thank you for proving to me my extra efforts are not appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you — because you have brought me back to myself.

I am nothing special to them, but I am to *me*. I could do everything they want exactly as they want it and still win no rewards. But the time I spend not on their dole is precious to me, and I must spend it like the rare coin it is, to accomplish the deeds that will matter to me twenty, thirty, fifty years from now.

There’s much to be done, Mark, and I am so tired. I feel like a half-fledged bird struggling to fly. I’ve not read anything beautiful lately, other than “The Stand” (to which I retreat every time my world goes dark) and it *is* beautiful in places despite its specious message.

I’m still learning, however. Still trying, still fighting. Still making little trifles. I will take back the life I am meant to live, and the person I am meant to be.

So I sign myself to you today, my dear –

The Hermit’s Lamp,

Vox Mortuum


A spinning maze, this labyrinth below:
Famed Daedalus’s art — of genius built
And royal coin (paid dear for royal woe)
To chain the monstrous child of Zeus’s guilt…

There’ll be no clever lass with skein of thread.
You might have heard that story. This one went:
“The gods had mercy only for the dead –
Don’t look you for the boy Olympus sent.

“You’ll turn and turn again, and hear the pace
As twisted monster hunts you, room to room.
No drugs can stall its unrelenting chase –
So match its step, and dance with eager Doom!”

We turn and turn again, forevermore.
This endless waltz with Pain — this Minotaur!

Copyright (C) Vox Mortuum 2013

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Dear Mark… it has been a while. It has been too long. I’m taking some steps in my life to hopefully resolve that for the future but please allow me to say that, while I may have been gone from the keyboard, you were never gone from my thoughts.

Today I want to talk about makeup. Not in the way that the girly-girls do, however.

I used to wonder why women went to the trouble each day. Are they so desperate to look pretty that they spend so much of their terribly finite time painting themselves up each morning only to wipe it all away that evening?

Some of them, probably. Not me. With few exceptions — interviews, weddings, funerals, et cetera — I went bare-faced and shameless for over a decade.

Then why start again at this late date, one might ask?

People really do treat one differently, based on the “public face” one presents. Full makeup, coordinating outfits, jewelry and accessories to bring it together… it offers a picture of someone who is in control and wants to impress.

Why go to the trouble daily, though?

For the same reasons that Lancelot would strap on his armor every day since childhood. For the same reason he hefts his sword Joyeaux and practices the same way since he was a boy.

The first reason is: there is often no way to know which day will turn out to be important. Lancelot could be faced with a dark knight on a random morning, who may or may not be chivalrous enough to wait until he’s got his gear together. Much the same way as I could meet my CEO walking down the hallway of my office.

One has to be prepared, at any moment in public, to use whatever assets one has both as weapon and shield: draw attention and notice, deflect disparaging comment and poor impressions.

The second reason is: on the days that are known to be important, to be in perfect readiness. On all the probably-not-important days Lancelot can experiment with tightening a set of straps in a different way, settling the vambraces just-so, exchanging old equipment for new to see if it is an improvement. I can experiment with colors, with application, with techniques… on the days it probably will not matter if the experiment is, er, less than satisfactory.

But on the days and nights that matter, like tonight, the daily routine assumes a ritual sensation. Each movement memorized on countless mornings now is full of significance, its own kabuki dance. All that experience is drawn out and brought to bear, honed for this one moment.

I am at war. I am prepared.

Mark — I go tonight to see someone that I used to care for very greatly. I used to go as a supplicant, begging for scraps from his table.

Tonight I go as a warrior-queen, proud and powerful, complete in my own person, asking nothing.

Once the dust has settled, we’ll see whose banner tops the day.

So I sign myself again for you, Mark, as

The Dulcet Battle-cry,

Vox Mortuum