When off on the road, a motel room’s a swell room—
Big beds, lots of pillows, and acres to stretch—
But no, I was sleeping on couches, so “ouch” is
The travel review from this Cuttlefish wretch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy old chappy;
I saw lots of family, and had a great time
But damn, it is clear that I’m older; my shoulder
Is hurting—beyond either reason or rhyme

Now, several days back, I’m still hurtin’ for certain
I’d love for this torment to just go away
I’ve iced, I’ve tried meds, I’ve tried showers for hours
But strangely, I’m not even tempted to pray
You know—if it works when I choose it, I’d use it
But prayer has a record of failure or worse.
So, no, I won’t pray, though I’m moaning and groaning…
With Pain for my muse, I’m complaining in verse.

Road Trip–Open Thread

Just a quick note to say, don’t expect me around for the next week to 10 days; I have no idea whether I will even have internet access at all.

I expect this comment thread to be full of wonderful stuff when I get back. That’s a reasonable expectation for an internet comment thread, isn’t it?

The Master And His Student

Ok… A bit of confession…

A dear friend of mine in meatspace gave me a couple of books of translated Bengali poetry, which is frankly stunning stuff–it reminds me that even translated poetry is–or can be–actually poetry, not mere verse (longtime readers both will remember that I am a huge fan of poetry but do not claim to be a poet–I am a proud versemonger, a wordsmith, a cuttlefish); I am a huge fan of verse, but also a huge fan of poetry, which is a different thing entirely. Some of my favorite poems I have only ever read in translation, which is shame, really–in real poetry, every element matters, from the sound to the meaning to the associations to the very breaths one takes in reciting–translated poems cannot be expected to perfectly replicate every element.

I have tried, and failed miserably, to translate poetry–I have actually tried in three languages (Spanish, German, and Greek), with no success in the slightest. I try too hard to fit meter and verse, and meaning necessarily slips away; the author’s “voice”, perhaps the most important element of all, I disregarded entirely… and as a result, my translation attempts have been pathetic failures.

What I am trying to say is… translation of poetry is not easy. But I love it. My favorite poems are actually translations of Greek (better in the original) or Turkish (my favorite, which I’ve never heard in Turkish) poems. The strength to be able to choose which elements to keep, which to sacrifice… I admire it, but have never had that talent…

Go. Read This. Kausik Datta has beautifully translated an Indian (Bengali) poem, The Master And His Student. And it works. Wonderfully. Yes, I wish I spoke Bengali, to see how it compares to the original, but the translation works. It is playful, it is sweet, it is… well, as far as I can tell, perfect.

And I cannot convey how honored I am that he dedicates his poem to me; his translation, even in translation, is far more poetry than the verses I write here (I say that as a fan of poetry and–separately–a fan of verse), and I clearly do not deserve it…but out of pure self-interest, will gladly put it up on the mantel!

Cuttlefish Shakespeare Fanboi Squee!!!!

So today is, as far as you know, William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (no one knows for sure, but it’s as good a day as any, and better than most, to pretend that it is). Which is cool. The odds are very much against anyone knowing I ever existed nearly 4 centuries from now (and if you exclude whatever future version of ancestry.com is in use then, the odds are even lower), but Shakespeare will be known for pretty much as long as people are known. If the last copy of any human book that ever exists is a version of one of Shakespeare’s plays, it would not surprise me (yes, assuming that I still exist to be surprised by the heat death of the universe), and if it is something else instead, more’s the pity. [Read more…]

Ok, That’s A First

Twice today, students asked questions that I had previously examined on this blog, such that my immediate thought was “oh, I’ll just recite this verse”. Which, of course, I did not. I gave a nice, thorough, completely prose response.

I need to get more people reciting my verses as answers to classroom questions, so that I can do so without raising suspicion.

In the future, anapestic tetrameter will replace powerpoint as the go-to presentation format.

Looking Under The Hood…

I just love statistics, and numbers, and such
Whether icy abstractions or warm to the touch
I’ve been told that, perhaps, I adore them too much—
That my feelings are more-or-less “weird”

Ok, “weird” I can see, but I have to confess
I’m put off by the too-imprecise “more or less”—
Is it greater, or smaller? And so, I obsess—
Which is pretty much just what they feared. [Read more…]


I don’t feel sick
I don’t feel tired
I don’t feel hot
I don’t feel cold
I don’t feel sad
I don’t feel happy
I don’t feel nothin’
I just feel old

I don’t usually feel all of my years. I look at pictures of people my age, and think they look considerably older than I do. I have friends who started going gray in their twenties, and I am just barely beginning, in my fifties. I got carded buying wine just last year.

But today, I feel every one of my years, and a good many of someone else’s as well–so if you feel extra young today, I would be happy to return your years to you.

If this is what normal aging is gonna be like, I’m having none of it. Starting tomorrow, I’m getting younger.


I’d have given you warning, but I only just heard, myself.

The Lulu people are having a 20% off sale on everything. That’s the best deal I’ve seen so far, so I thought I’d let you know. This means 1/5 off on any of my books, seeing as they are self-published through Lulu–so, 20% off on Ink, and 20% off on the Omnibus… and if you really want to be a collector, 20% off of everything else, too. I’ve linked to the dead-tree versions, but it ought to work for the e-versions as well.

At the checkout, the code is SUPER20 –the offer ends March 10, 11:59 PM.

This Is Why.

There are moments that pass all too quickly
There are moments that linger too long
There are times we want heroes rewarded
And villains reproved when they’re wrong

And so we invented a heaven
And so we invented a hell
So we could be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

I wish we could talk to our loved ones,
Our family and friends who have died
But wishes are… wishes, not magic
That’s not how the world works—we’ve tried.

Instead, we invented a heaven
And instead, we invented a hell
So we could be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

Sure, maybe it’s all wishful thinking
And none of it, really, is real
But life, as it is, isn’t perfect
So the things we don’t like, we appeal

And yes, we invented a heaven
And yes, we invented a hell
So we could be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

The Good Guy who should have been noticed
The Bad Guy who clean got away
Some folks deserve blame, and some credit,
In an afterlife, if not today.

And so we invented a heaven
And so we invented a hell
So some would be happy forever
And some would be punished, as well

Of course, the bad news is, it’s fiction
No justice comes after we’re dead
We can’t trust a god to bring justice
Let’s work with the real world, instead

We’d only invented a heaven
We’d only invented a hell
We’d love to be happy forever
And punish our enemies well

And yes, we invented a heaven
And yes, we invented a hell
The world doesn’t bend to our wishes
But, honestly, that’s just as well.

So… so today, I helped my niece with something (she’s currently at Cuttlefish University, completely independently of me being here). And I wanted to tell her dad about it, because it was so outrageously… unlikely. I wanted to say “look what your daughter just asked me, and what I did for her, and how much fun this is, and how cool this is.” (I really wish I could tell you about it. Sorry, personal.)

He’d have loved it.

Long time readers, though, know… he’s dead. There is not a damned thing I can do to share her request with him. And it sucks. I love that I can help her, be there for her… but I’d have been there for her if he were still alive, and goddammit, wouldn’t that be so much better?

And that is why we, we human beings, we sad, sentimental, creatures, invented a place where we could say “hey, guess what your daughter did today; you’d be so proud!”, and laugh (or cry, or drink, or dance, or read, or sing, or … I dunno, play frisbee) with the loved ones who would still be with us if praying wishing actually did a damned thing.

My niece is a wonderful woman. I sooooooo wish I could share that with her dad.

And that is why–not the apologetics, not the “sophisticated theology”, not any of that crap–is why these ideas (whether religious, “spiritual”, or any other type of magical thinking) are just so damned resistant to logic and evidence.

And goddammit, her dad would agree, and I wish I could hear him say it.