Wind, water, music, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath…
J Edward Neill and H.R. Reiter choose a wide variety of themes, styles, and famous poets, and splash several poems in each theme throughout this elegant poetry book.
Hecatomb – ‘heka’tom/ (noun) – An extensive loss of life for some cause.
The name of my terrifying novella.
In a drowned village, on a dark shore, in a city of white stones, an ancient evil stalks.
It has no name, no face, and no desire but to see the death of everything…
Down through the ages it exists, sleepless and void, a relic from the world before humanity.
One dead. Every night. Forever.
Until nothing remains.
MARCH 16TH – MARCH 26TH
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No one loves you like I do.
In fact, I’ve several nicknames for you—
Beef chunk ambrosia
Salty, buttered rump of heaven.
All of these and more.
It’s like I said—
No one loves you like I do.
When I first met you
as a young lad
I didn’t fully understand you.
Why would they leave your bone in?
Why are you a little burned on the outside,
and a little undercooked in your fleshy center?
Why would they give a six-year old
a Ginsu knife?
You tasted as if a live cow
had strutted up to me
and begged me to eat it.
Which I did.
Some people cook you better than others—
That restaurant I used to haunt
That annoying guy with the green, egg-like grill
whose house I visit for only the one reason.
the one time he did it right.
But none of them revere you
like I do.
A dash of salt.
A blob of butter.
White charcoals, hotter than Chernobyl.
It’s pretty much a religious experience,
You should’ve seen my face
when I ate your cousin the other day.
Most midlife crises
begin with flashy cars
and a new therapist.
But he and I,
we sat alone in the dark,
and I made stupid faces,
while he just
raised my cholesterol.
I’d die for him.
And for you.
I mean, it’s probably too late already,
given the number of Angus I’ve sacrificed
to my sacred fork.
I think the neighbor hates me.
He stands on his deck, watching me worship you
as if you were some woman he coveted,
some woman I just grilled
over a five-hundred degree flame.
He lurked a while, gazing at me
like a starved wolf, who is also balding.
I hope he was looking at you, not me.
When I’m alone, which is almost always,
I daydream of you.
You don’t talk much.
You just sizzle seductively.
Is that even a thing?
When we embrace, every vegan
in a ten-mile radius
It’s a shame, really.
I’m sure they were good people.
But nothing like you, my friend.
You, who loves me in a way
which makes me embrace arterial hardening
like a hug from an old friend
who just happens to be delicious.
See more (not nearly as ridiculous) words here.
J Edward Neill
Enter here for a chance to win one of 100 copies of The Fall of Castle Carrick!
In the stillness, in the moment our lips meet,
we turn to sunshine.
Our fingers, woven, are knitted with one another
like trees in ancient soil.
The rhythm of your heart drums a furious pace,
echoing inside me.
And I fall deeper.
You are wordless, but never quiet.
Like coals, heated in the nil space between our bodies,
we turn to fire, but never ash.
And then you climb, a hot wind upon the aching mountain
of my desire.
And I surrender.
In these places, no one knows our names.
No one sees our faces.
Our eyes are heavy-lidded, our breaths broken only
to kiss, and to kiss again.
We wander from dream to dream, a reverent carousel moved by the hurricane of our love.
I call to you, crying out your name.
You clutch, you pull me closer.
Like a starved fire, you catch and burn and consume me.
We turn to sunlight again, delivered through all darkness,
sent to this place as if born in the very same star.
And I surrender.
And I fall deeper.
J Edward Neill
For more poetry, go here.
Here’s the fourth entry in a series of blogs from writer, rider, and environmentalist explorer, Michael Kristensen. He’s a native Dane riding through South America, exploring opportunities and cultural challenges to sustainable environmental practices.
His Facebook page is here.
The original blog appears here.
Every week (possibly more often) Michael will be riding through South America, remarking on his experiences, and blogging at length. We at Tessera Guild will follow him every step of the way. This week marks the fourth leg of his journey. His third week is here.
Please note: these blog entries are direct from Michael. No editing. No proofing. As raw as any blog you’ll see.
“When you talk you only repeat what you already know, when you listen you might have a chance to learn something new”
The above is one of my favorite quotes, the truth in that is so simple, but yet so hard to live. Whom shall speak and who shall listen, which person is the messenger of truth, and truth from which perspective, which truth is being reflected and how is it communicated?
My meeting with people has shown me another way, I have been frustrated because my plan didn’t play out the way I had expected. I wanted to visit projects and write about them, about people’s initiatives, their great projects and how people can inspire each other to do better for this planet we live on. Let’s say the people I have met have opened a door to another dimension…hmmm maybe just another perspective. It’s about communication. If we only manage to communicate to our peers and repeat what we collectively already know, are we then communicating or just nodding heads? Does the message come through?
We the urban climate-change warriors, yes us Westerns. Look at us! We tell the rest of the world what they must do the change the path we have guided them toward, the path of consumerism. We tell the farmers in Asia that they must stop using pesticides (which we have sold them and promoted) we tell them to grow organic, we tell the fishermen in Brazil to stop overfishing and not to pollute the water with their fishing gear while we trawl our own waters with enormous fishing boats. We the Westerns communicate that from our over-electrified cozy homes filled with stuff, “hygge” and Christmas decorations, while we tend our newly constructed urban gardens and Instagram it. Who are we to tell them anything, maybe we should start to listen instead? Why on earth would they listen to us, when we talk from that perspective?
We have everything they are told to strive for, what’s the argument for them not to get the same as us , we are so overwhelmingly rich on materialistic goods it’s sickening, do we feel hollow and need to find purpose in something, find a battleground for our bad consciousness? Can we start to live like they do, with less?
It’s not that we don’t have some of the answers, because we do, but what does that matter if we can’t communicate it? And more importantly if we don’t want to live it! The fishermen and the farmers that LIVE with nature they might also have some of the answers, but we have been so busy alienate them and make them our enemies, they have become criminals in the public eye, the farmers are polluting the soils and streams, even the oceans, with their pesticides and fertilizers. The fishermen have overfished the oceans without respect for the very element they live off. We tell the Ranchers in Argentina that their cows fart to much and it is killing the planet! Why would they listen to us the urban climate-change warriors, when we are communicating from that perspective?
Then there’s the fight among the different fractions, vegetarians against meat-eaters, vegans against everybody, political left against right, deniers against science (sorry had to do that) the middle-aged gray men against Greta Thunberg, governments against indigenous people, feminists against men. When do we stop fighting each other and start working together toward sustainable solutions we all can agree upon?
I met Ashley and her Husband Pat, on their farm in Uruguay, the couple originally from Chicago has done what most people just talk about, they moved away from the urban gardeners to live a more sustainable life on a farm. A life much more tough but also much more giving. I interviewed them to get their perspective, and to understand what had made them move away from the “easy” life of urban Chicago, to a remote spot in the back hills of Uruguay.
It was actually very easy to make that decision was their reply, they wanted to present another set of values to their two young daughters, than it was possible in the US. The hard part was to get acceptance from the family, and to get them to understand that a simple life on a farm added more value to their life than being part of the rat race at “home”. Ashley with a PhD in environmental sustainability, is well aware that she must fit in and be humble, she tells me that she spend most of her time listening to the farmers in the region, than trying to teach them how to grow their crops or treat their lands. She has a huge deal of respect for the farmers and are well aware that they have most of the answers, not her.
We had a great talk about how to communicate with the stakeholders, how important it is that we communicate by looking at the problem-task-issue-challenge from outside in, meaning that we the stakeholders stand shoulder by shoulder on the perimeter looking in, trying to find solutions together and most importantly we start by finding common ground.
Ashley and Pat have started the https://www.facebook.com/RizomaFieldSchool/ here in their own words(mission) : we hope to educate a network of individuals who can hack, subvert, create, resist and share strategies across contexts. Join us in envisioning and creating a world that can be continually better for all its inhabitants.
They have students coming to study from all over the world, the studies at totally hands on sustainable farming. Ashley has a theory saying that you can only learn so much from books at the University, the real knowledge will be imprinted in the students consciousness by being there and actually do the work, get your hands dirty and see the results of your hard work.
My next encounter with great minds in Uruguay was when I met the wonderful people of the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS) http://saras-institute.org/ in their own words (mission) SARAS are designed to generate critical insights allowing South America to build sustainable futures. It seeks integration across a broad range of innovative approaches, combining disciplinary domains (social, natural and exact sciences), different sources of knowledge, and art-science interactions.
I was extremely privileged to be invited in, I came uninvited to a conference they held, I was welcomed in to participate in the conference which was about how to make the food industry in S.A more sustainable. there were scientists from all the South American countries and people from as far away as Sweden, Holland, Germany and the USA.
Interesting enough was one of the most important topics “communication” how to involve the stakeholders, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, manufacturers, scientists, producers ect. In a productive and constructive dialog across interests and try not to end up in a polarized political discussion, as they said their most important tribute was building bridges between the stakeholders, SARAS are trying hard to be the epicenter of knowledge sharing. I interviewed a small group of 7 persons, trying to get their opinion about the challenges we face regarding sustainable food in the future and how to deal with it.
The institute are planning a sustainable conference to be held in Uruguay2020, where every possible stakeholder from the food industry are invited and will have a voice. Hopefully some of the answers will be found at this at this event.
The good: All the amazing and super friendly people I have met, its been an amazing experience, even though I kind of know that meeting people with a smile and always communicate in eyelevel in a humble way, mostly result in a smile and compassion right back at you, it’s been overwhelming how welcoming people have been. I mostly stay in private homes found through Airbnb, and without exception have that been wonderful. I have had so many good experiences with people it will require a blog of its own to tell about it, but here is a few outstanding meetings. When I got robbed in La Plata a wonderful young teacher found some of my possessions laying on the street, among that my Green card, some other important documents and some of my clothes, he went through the trouble finding me writing me an email telling me he found the stuff and took time off work to come meet me and deliver it back to me, I tried to compensate him by offering him money, which he refused all he wanted was a picture of me and my bike and a big hug. In Rio we met some outstanding people as well my host Sergio what an amazing man, his outstanding hospitality he totally went beyond what can be expected, our friend Lily and their friends which gave us the most mesmerizing New years evening on the beach of Copacabana, with food drinks and they spend an hour at 3 in the morning finding us a ride back to the hotel, just wonderful people. I spend 5 days in Brazil without any cash because I was in the por part of the far south, people I met gave me credit for food late at night without a worry about me coming back to them the next day to pay up, I still couldn’t change money or find an ATM that would take my credit cards, so they found a guy that accepted my US $, the time I took a ferry and to my big surprise found out that they didn’t accept Visa cards, (we had already taken off) the ticket guy laughed told me to go to a bank when we arrived on the other bank, I did but they didn’t accept visa either, I waited 2 hours for the ferry to return, when they did I offered him US $ which he told me had no value to him , he told me it was a free trip from him smiled and went on with his business. They all did it with a smile and hugs not a bad word or any frustration, they wen out of their ways to help me out. As I wrote I can go on and on with these great encounters.
One more amazing thing is how the Brazilians are cleaning, everywhere I went, gas stations, Restaurants, homes even the beaches are spotless. Copacabana beach is the cleanest beach of that size I have ever been at. Good job guys 😊
The bad (Surprise) wauw the language barrier in Brazil has been far more extreme than I ever expected, hardly nobody speaks English at least not outside Sao Paulo and Rio D J. and they hardly ever speak Spanish either. I had trained my Spanish for a month hoping I could use it in Brazil but NO, and now after spending 5 weeks in Brazil returning to Spanish speaking countries, I have to relearn my Spanish once more very frustrating 😊 honestly it have been hard not to communicate with hardly anybody without google translate for 5 weeks, and my sustainability studies has suffered from that, that’s partly why I have been waiting to blog until I was back in Paraguay and Argentina. Another surprise has been how good the Brazilian drivers are, being on a motorcycle you really pay attention to other drivers, I must say that Brazilian drivers are very cautious and give room for MC¨s thanks guys for a wonderful road experience, I cant recall one bad incident in 5 weeks and traveling more than 3000 miles.
The Ugly hardly nobody has anything to say about sustainability, recycling is horrible, there is on obvious plan for climate change, and very few sustainability projects. The entire Florianopolis area is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but does not have a sewer system or use septic tanks, raw sewerage is being let in to the streams and out in the bay and ocean. I met with a professor that wrote her PhD about sustainability in the area, and it was horrific reading, not even the natives want to change and talk about sustainability, they want the short term benefits from selling parts of their lands to foreigners or expand their houses to be able to earn a few bucks by renting it out. The professor I talked to had given up, she tried to have the government listen to her and do something about the issues, but they had no interest in change, just looking for fast cash selling land to developers.
Beer prices are pretty good domestic beer 1,5 $ for a liter in the stores, 2,5 $ for a liter in bars , imports are 30% more expensive.
You didn’t even cry.
Just hunkered there in my arms
blinking with meek lids
as if to say,
‘Is this the right place?’
Maybe it isn’t.
Maybe it is.
But there we were, the newest of companions.
If nothing else,
you were swift to stake your claim.
That time you loosed your little bowels
in my hands.
The dinner you gave back
while in bed
on my face
When you loosed expletives
at the bedroom door
as if it were a bartender
denying you a beverage.
The time you leapt headlong
into the filthy water
and nearly died
but came out laughing.
Your odd disdain for corn.
Your completely understandable hatred
tiny yet formidable
When you asked me
whether bubble gum counts as dessert.
The way food touching
pretty much causes
the end of the world.
Eccentricities, some might say.
The building bricks
of a child
one day a man.
Not to me.
These are the foibles of a friend.
The wisest sage among
the world has ever known.
For more words, find me here.
J Edward Neill
I’m J Edward. I write books.
I try to please my readers. I really do. I want them ALL to have a great experience whenever they crack the cover.
We writers can’t please everyone. Not even close. Some readers will be indifferent, and others only mildly interested. And still others will be so non-entertained they’ll take to the internet to write a gut-busting negative review.
A lot of writers hate this part of the job. They’ll say they don’t mind a bad review or two, but then when it happens to them, they’ll be indignant, even angry. I’ve watched the cycle play out hundreds of times.
As for me, I cherish bad reviews.
“Wait, what?” you ask.
Let me explain.
First, a bad review gives me a glimpse of what I need to do better in my craft. If a reader puts together a thoughtful diatribe about how bad one of my characters sucked or how long-winded a chapter was, it’s an opportunity for me to improve.
Secondly, and 500% more awesome, is that I simply like reading bad reviews more than good ones. It’s fun for me in a way I’m not sure most writers understand. I savor the crappy reviews as much as I do the good ones. Even the ones written by vindictive trolls. (Yes, it happens.)
Hell…I’m considering writing something truly awful just to see how many bad reviews I can collect.
Here’s some of the most interesting bad reviews I’ve ever received. Each one is three stars or fewer. Each one appears on Amazon, Goodreads, or a similar site.
Oh, and these are verbatim. I didn’t edit or correct grammar or spelling mistakes. Oops.
Down the Dark Path
By Shirley on March 8, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
*** Shirley’s right. It’s pretty bloody. Especially at the end. (Which means she read the whole thing. Cool.)
1.0 out of 5 stars
on December 17, 2015
“ok so far..cool thing is free.”
*** If this is the worst review I ever get on this book, I’m fine with it. It’s not like the reviewer paid for it. 🙂
Eugene rated it 2 out of 5 stars
“The only complaint I have for this book is that it’s too damn long. I actually got so frustrated that I skipped a few chapters just to get to the end. The author changes perspectives (by that I mean switching to events happening elsewhere) at the most inopportune moments. So that’s two complaints I suppose. Oh, well. At least it gets better in the second book.”
*** Now this is a constructive review. After reading it (and others like it) I actually went back and chopped tens of thousands of words out. I did a total rewrite. Took me a year to finish. Ouch, but worth it.
Reviewed by Martha in the United States on January 5, 2020
Reviewed by Lynguy in the United States on March 26, 2019
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. This book takes place in the distant future and is relatively well-written despite a few editing errors. It deals with enhanced virtual reality, world building, how people with different priorities can become enemies, AIs, and high-tech war.
The main characters could have been better developed if the book was a little longer. However, the book was thought-provoking and had a different take on the subject matter than a lot of other sci-fi novels. I am glad I read it, but it did not blow me away.
*** This one is a thoughtful, well-written review. If all reviews were this insightful, I’d be one happy camper.
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2016
” Gerrard De Napoli, un-jacked himself…..”. Apart from some awkward terminology, I was sucked into the book. It’s dark, gritty and more terrifying than anything else, it’s a very believable concept!
Reviewed by Patryce in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2016
By Lieschen on July 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition (101 Questions for Women)
“The author claims to have put on his filter in order to save the book from becoming chauvinistic drivel. While I appreciate the gesture, the book still is fairly chauvinistic and not too enlightening philosophically. The questions show a clear bias (e.g Do readers think of feminism as: a) somewhat useful b) silly c) much too confrontational) with the moderate path being laughably mainstream. Critical thinking and philosophical content (dilemma, insights etc) are incredibly thin. In short, the book focuses on the otherness of women from a masculine perspective. While this might help one feel special and while men frankly discussing their worldview can be rather enlightening in itself, I wouldn’t recommend the book to any woman interested in philosophy.”
*** Boy the ladies are really killing this book. Anyway, I can’t disagree with her. (I’m assuming the reader is a woman.) This book is def biased based on my masculine point of view.
Reviewed in the United States on October 17, 2019
This story comes across flat; it is a galaxy-sized tale with a small, narrow, one person point of view. So much so that it takes away from the believability. There isn’t a lot of world building , and what is there doesn’t ring true according to the premise of the story. There is no depth to the characters, except maybe the MC. I also like to see more Science in a science fiction tale, and less magically produced technology that is all ultimate, unbeatable awesomeness, and is available even after long-term global war and collapse.
For the first quarter of the book, the MC doesn’t even leave the farm, and there is quite a bit of repetition of maudlin details throughout the book, as well as other filler.Kudos the editor! I found only one spelling error, which is extremely refreshing. Thank you! However, what is up with the line spacing at the beginning of the chapters?Spoiler Alert:
Vampires? Vampires?? I almost quit reading the first time this word was used! Why do we even have to refer to worn out, over-used urban myths when in deep space? How is it even believable for the excessively sheltered MC to know about them, considering the world he came from? Isn’t it possible for a fertile imagination to come up with something (anything) original to name a group of energy-suckers?
Reviewed in the United States on April 5, 2019
So, I won this as a GoodReads giveaway and decided to use this as a book for a reading challenge (category: giveaway). If I hadn’t had to finish the book to count it for the challenge, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.
Lords of the Black Sands is dystopian fiction, which I don’t mind in and of itself. But this is oppressively dark. It actually really reminds me of Orwell’s 1984, except 1984 was meant to be sociopolitical commentary, and Lords of the Black Sands is not. This might have been a decent story if not for the fact that reading it is a trial with pretty much no payoff. There were some better parts, but ultimately this is not a book that I would recommend and I’m happy not to have spent money on it.
2.0 out of 5 stars
By kmcmur02 on September 6, 2016
It’s fine for getting some new questions but it’s very heteronormative and the questions largely focus around your relationship to each other, but not necessarily about how you as a couple relate the the world at large.
It’s pretty repetitive.
It also assumes some traditional gender roles, which didn’t really work for us, so we ended up skipping a bunch.
*** I guess the guy and girl on the cover didn’t give the theme away. My bad.
Hollow Empire – Night of Knives
on December 15, 2015
“I did not like it–it did not hold my interest so I only read a few chapters.”
*** I blame my co-author, John R McGuire. Just kidding. Love ya, John!
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2019
This book has questions to ask your friends or dates to generate discussion and get to know them better. For example, “If you died tonight, could it be said that you lived a good, fulfilling, and satisfying life? If not, what actions will you take tomorrow to make it so?” What is the noblest profession? What is the most despicable profession? Assuming you have a job, is there anything noble about it?”
The book has only questions, no answers, no discussions. If you have trouble coming up with questions for discussion on your own this book might be helpful. Frankly, I was hoping for something deeper and more interesting.
And lastly…positively, absolutely my favorite bad review of all time…
Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2019
Simplistic writing at it’s worst. The hook was horrid and that was the best part. I do not recommend this book or this writer.
His writing style is very much the same as a preteen emo boy without the depth. Save your money, time and imagination for something else… anything else.
It shouldn’t matter whether
your mirror is cracked
or a pile of coins peering up at you
from some dank, municipal gutter.
The face looking back
You earn nothing.
Good or bad,
you deserve less.
The only meaning in your vibrant
but astoundingly brief life
other than the roses you never gave
the trains you never took
and the amber liquor you left
sitting on the counter
is the meaning you make for yourself.
The expressions of your waitress,
the doctor who will one day
pronounce you dead,
they are dust,
and you’d do well
to let them float right through
the bulbous lump atop your neck.
If having a god suits you,
When prayer, the grand placebo,
seems to soothe you,
Whatever soul stirs
in the grey soup around your bones,
it isn’t meant for this place,
these sewer-pocked streets,
these placid suburban shacks,
the hum of your television
as it begs for your inaction.
You don’t belong here.
You never did.
You’ve always known as much.
But hell, you pretend just the same.
Don’t kid yourself.
The worth of your accomplishments,
the hill you slogged to climb
in your shiny new shoes,
in your robes
which made you look royal,
is to be the highest grain of rice
in a field soon to be harvested.
How does it feel
to be a crop?
It should be a wonder
to be so free.
To walk whichever street you want
humming a tune only you can hear
sowing the garden of your mind
with carrots, or pumpkins
or bales of black cigars
or with love
or with whatever idea, scrawled on a wad
rolls up with the wind
and hits your heel.
Those problems you have,
the debts, the wheels falling off,
the heart raked over the coals
of your last great error,
the faults placed in yourself
or with anyone but,
those aren’t real.
You and your soul,
and your broken mirror,
you don’t belong here.
You never did.
Read more J Edward Neill here.