Poem: Melancholy Embodied

by A.M. Lynn


My body, betrayal is like
car hoses leaking in a drive,
ship hulls cracking at sea,
horses’ spines stabbing the riders.

My mind, failure is like
trash in the desert,
books misshelved,
paper notes burning.

My spirit, loss is like
waiting hours for pickup by dad,
defending against sis,
learning I’ve long strangled myself.



Author’s Statement:

Recently, I dreamed at night about riding a horse (not one I’ve known in the waking world) whose spine felt as if it was about to burst out of its back to impale. The hard ridge of vertebrate jabbed up into me. I was scared.

That ridiculous fear is not one I’ve had before, even in the distant days of riding my father’s horses and ponies bareback (as in, without a saddle or blanket). What did the dream mean?

I figure that fear was the translation of the threat from my own spine. Because dreams allow it, I existed simultaneously as the horse and rider. In reality, my back has been hurting nonstop for years now, and on the worst days, I feel as if any movement will destroy me.

That self-analysis inspired this poem, made up of memories and nightmares.

IWSG: Favorite Genres to Write

Question of the Day:

Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Fantasy is the most fun. Science fiction and creative nonfiction are usually the most fulfilling.

Creative non-fiction helps me deal with my own past.

My love for writing science fiction helps me sort through my feelings about people today and our relationships with technology.

I feel that fantasy is the most fun to write because of the thousands of years of human stories that can be explored for inspiration: historical facts for historical fantasy, fairy tales and old folklore for contemporary stories, and all the ways past stories combine in in new environments for futuristic and other-world fantasies.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group aims to inspire writing and sharing. Writers are encouraged to express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who “have been through the fire” can offer advice. It’s set up to be a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

See a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

The co-hosts for this June 5 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte. Thank you, hosts!

Weird Science in the News 190531

We haven’t done one of these posts yet this year. Below are several current news stories about weird science to entertain, educate, and inspire.

Researchers suggest that most of the solar system should be a protected wilderness, with one-eighth left for “mining and resource exploitation” (says Universe Today).

Air conditioner ‘in a patch’ provides portable cooling for personal use (says Nature).

Rescue ants “save the day for comrades” entangled in spider silk (says Nature).

Molecular cells in humans “‘hear’ messages with help from shape-shifting molecules” (says Nature).

Quadratic voting is “a new way of voting that makes zealotry expensive” in Colorado (says Bloomberg).

A type of popular polling indicates that up to six (6) percent of Americans claim to have experienced an alien abduction. “Space aliens are breeding with humans, university instructor says. Scientists say otherwise” (reports NBC News). This is perhaps because aliens replaced fairies (NY Times “Opinion”) as the distant Other in many Western cultures.

Weird enough for you? What else have you seen in science news of interest?

Tarzan and Victor, Kings of Mystery and Memory

What follows is all true.

The Mystery Cat

Tarzan’s fur grew thick and long. He smelled wild. He had unusually wild traits:

Short legs. A stocky tail. Opposable thumbs. A habit of dunking food in water before eating it. The ability to strategize and lead a group of domestic cats.

We believe he was raised by raccoons.

But Tarzan was a cat.

My sister-in-law’s family lured him away from a city pack of raccoons who’d been stealing trash. He adjusted well to eating cat food (dunked in water as needed), sleeping indoors, and playing with toys.

Years later, one of my nieces was flipping through a book on wild cats. I glanced over her shoulder, amazed at all the unfamiliar species, then stopped her on one page. The photograph of the European wildcat looked exactly like her Tarzan! She agreed but kept on flipping through the book.

I’ve since learned he might have been not only raised by raccoons, but part raccoon. Maybe. Raccoon-cats are possible. That would explain the physical features not reportedly shared by wildcats; also, it would explain why he lived so far from the wildcats he most resembled.

The Talking Cat

Ultimately, it might not matter what Tarzan was, other than a member of the family.

We tend to accept that our pets are whatever they are.

Several years ago, I kept a domestic cat who could speak English words. We didn’t teach him how. We don’t why, but he conversed.

The most consistent words were “out”; “why”; “momma”, for someone he’d once know; and “carpet”, for when he needed to vomit. (He had allergies and a sensitive stomach that took us a couple years to figure out).

We would warn everyone who agreed to cat-sit that Victor could talk. However, no one fully understood what we were warning them about until they witnessed his conversations for themselves.

Tuxedo cat with cream-colored fur stacked on his headVictor, a tuxedo ragdoll cat © A.M. LynnSometimes it was annoying to deal with a back-talking cat.


“No, Victor, you aren’t going outside right now.”


“Because it’s not a good time for me to go out with you.”


“I said so! Find something to do inside!”

To his credit, he would listen to me.

Sometimes it was annoying to deal with a back-talking cat.

I understand why Tarzan’s family didn’t make a big deal of their incredible pet. When friends or coworkers asked why I wasn’t taking videos of Victor to promote him on YouTube, I’d shrug. It didn’t occur to me while I was at home to video him.

One reason might’ve been that he was what he was–a member of the family. The idea of trying to gain popularity or earn money off a member of the family who can’t consent to it, all while I couldn’t predict what negative consequences would come of that, was uncomfortable.

What mattered to us was how we could take care of Victor. He was what he was–a talking cat, but also, a loving, intelligent cat with fur that felt like a rabbit’s and an unfortunate beef allergy.

Tarzan was whatever he was, too.

I’m grateful to have known them both.

Thanks go to John Lynn for corroborating the facts in this post. Happy #Caturday.

Shades of Memory


Once upon a bright Californian desert, I lived in fear of the sun.

That fear might have been inspired by an incident with a seat buckle when I was a toddler. Back then, car seats exposed more metal than what’s allowed today. I don’t remember the incident but know I witnessed my sister burn on her seat that heated in the desert sunlight coming in on her side of the car. The babysitter said she screamed and screamed. The burn left a permanent scar on my sister and (maybe) emotional ones on me.

I’m not sure I liked direct sunlight or heat before that. My parents insisted that I stay out in the sun on decks and beaches long enough for my skin to burn, and I remember wanting to stay inside. I do believe the incident in the car intensified my fears.

We moved north to green woods and valleys deepened by whitewater rivers. My family complained of the overcast skies that lasted for months. I explored the cool shadows of the forests.

Sure, animals that could eat me lived in the shadows, too. I knew to avoid routines while outside during the dawn or dusk, those glorious times between night and day when shadows filled with rainbow colors. Those were hunting times. I hunted for beauty.

I’ve known since early childhood how to avoid dangers where the light is dimmer. Don’t look like prey. Feel for each step. Know the difference between a baby oak and poison oak–I mean, know what’s actually dangerous. These are important lessons for living in the shadows.

foggy mountain rang at dusk

In my twenties, I learned to live in cities. The human to non-human ratio is higher in urban environments than it is in the country. Most of the dangerous predators are of the same species as their prey. Construction interferes with routes as much as weather does. Toxins are everywhere in higher doses than one finds in an old-growth forest.

Shade can take on new meanings* with greater exposure to human cultures. Shadows are cast by the people who attract the most notice.

As a writer, I like to take the places and types of characters hidden behind stereotypes. They’re buried in history. They’re too alien/unfamiliar. The characters aren’t the typical age or gender, or they’ve blurred the lines between heroes and villains. I blend the light and the dark. That looks familiar to me.

These days, I also try to fill shadows with rainbows.

That’s what I’d needed when I was younger.

* Just Wanna Share: “Throwing Shade”

What is the correct usage of ‘throwing shade’?” on Stack Exchange

Illustration of flowery symbols in a chickadee

Voices Left Behind


by A.L.

“You won’t fly again,” they said.
My wings spread.
I rise on my exhale.

Illustration of flowery symbols in a chickadee

“Voices Left Behind”

by A.L.

My father-in-law was told after a war injury that he would never walk again.
He walks.

My aunt was told that she died years ago.
She lives.

I have known people who believe that once broken, one is broken forever.
Yet I heal.

Don’t listen to the voices that would keep you from spreading your wings.

Content originally published in 2017.