Listen to “Spores,” Read by Morgan Cook

Morgan, an actor from Galway, says this story sounds like “outer space in a North Dublin chip shop.”

He pulled together a reading of it, just to show self why.

Here’s the link to the audio, on decomP Magazine.

It’s the first of self’s dystopian science fiction/fantasy series (written in very cracked syntax). Thanks so much to decomP for giving it a home!

The story (which self wrote in Ireland) begins:

K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

“Me mom’s a thick,” she said once. “A focking thick.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

From “Utopias” by Alfredo Zaldivar (New Letters, vol. 82 nos. 3 & 4)

The poem is in the New Letters Cuban issue.

Excerpt from Utopias, by Alfredo Zaldivar, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Randall:

I romanticized the tent they gave me
the fierce hand that caressed my skin
the assigned word
and promised touch.

I didn’t take into account the fragility
of the dying stag
who sleeps among beasts
the few doves who fly
when the lights go on.

I didn’t see the labyrinths surrounding the tent
the fear of conceding passion to terror.

I fled with such precision
that only my obsession for being on time
could ignore those flights.

Alfredo Zaldivar is co-founder of Vigia, a cultural arts magazine and publishing house based in Matanzas, Cuba.

Quest: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 23 September 2016

We have a new Daily Post Photo Challenge, dropped today by Cheri Lucas Rowlands, QUEST:

  • What are you in search for? Capture your quest with your camera.

Here are some photos from self’s (huge) stash of photos that she thinks emblemize QUEST:


An Ed Ruscha: Currently on Exhibit at the De Young Museum

And here’s from a handmade book self saw at the Legion of Honor:


Illustrated Book at the Legion of Honor, Text is by San Francisco Poet Wallace Ting

Every new story is a quest. Here are two pages of her draft for “Ice” (forthcoming from Bellingham Review):


Two Pages of Self’s Manuscript for “Ice,” One of Her Dystopian Fantasies

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


“Appetites” (The Café Irreal, Issue 31)


Bakery, Kanlaon City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

  • When she was a toddler, cook cut everything into tiny morsels so that the girl’s mouth would not stretch and become wide and ugly. The girl ate only the sweetest pastries, only the smallest and most tender eggplants. Cook herself grew these in a corner of the garden, which every summer sprouted with little trees with purple-tinged leaves.

— “Appetites,” published in The Café Irreal, Issue 31

Mourning for Isotope, edited by Christopher Cokinos

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper,they would look like a series of waves. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

— from self’s hybrid essay/memoir/short story The Lost Language, published in Isotope

Isotope was a literary journal based in Utah State. When that university began to make steep budget cuts, the magazine lost the heart of its funding. In 2009, editor Chris Cokinos issued an appeal for support. posted it.

Alas, Isotope lost the fight. Self mourned. It was the only literary journal of its kind, combining science writing and creative writing, a place that joined physicists and playwrights, biologists and memoir writers, and created an exciting new kind of community.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Poetry Sunday: Diane Kirsten Martin

The following appeared in Crab Orchard Review’s The West Coast & Beyond issue, Summer/Fall 2014:


— by Diane Kirsten Martin

Don’t you wonder about the panhandler
On Fremont and Market, sharing his day’s
proceeds with his pink-nosed pit? Or

Frank Chu, with his sign of 12 Galaxies?
What about the World-Famous Bushman,
hiding behind the branch he shakes

at passers-by, or the matching — from pumps
to pillbox hats — Marian and Vivian Brown.
Who are they and who are you, starting out

from the glass eyes of your apartment?
Do you wake in a sweat on an October
night with stars, the moon a fat orange

and the temperature pushing 90
and remember a silver filigree ring buried
under the azalea, the mute orphan who lived

with his uncle, your father who gave you
the back of his hand? Do you, like Frank,
dream of aliens? I’ll bet the man on Fremont

dreams about Thunderbird and wakes up
as if he drank a whole bottle of fortified wine.
Nights like this, with windows wide, you can

hear the rush of the freeway, like the sound
of whitewater Ronald Reagan had piped
into his bedroom for insomnia. Nights like this

we lie naked, contiguous in this warm
ocean that flows around our back and breasts
our arms our throats our lips, necks, thighs.

  • Diane Kirsten Martin won the Erskine J. Poetry Prize from Smartish Pace and was included in Best New Poets 205.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Thursday: David J. Daniels


by David J. Daniels

(published in Indiana Review, Winter 2013: Vol. 35 No. 2)

I was thinking, about beauty in particular
yours, you who are not by your own admission

beautiful, when the old bird down by the gatepost
started uttering his song, the one I think means

joy, but with an undertone of terror. The bird,
apart from his being a queen in the way he carries

on, is neither beautiful nor pure. I despise the clock
of his ruby throat, and because of the way I’ve watched him

root a metal can for grub, then turn that filth to music,
I have thought to take him down. But with what?

I’ve got no gun to speak of, and once in my hands,
what would I do with that terrible scrap of scarlet?

David J. Daniels is the author of Clean, Winner of the Four Way Intro Prize, and two chapbooks: Breakfast in the Suburbs and Indecency.

Yes, self hangs onto everything. Everything.

Stay tuned.

Dumaguete, Twenty Years Ago

Dumaguete is on the island of Negros, one of the central islands in the Philippines.

This is a descption of the city from a short story self wrote years ago. The story was published in White Whale Review 1.2:

The town itself was small and not at all like what he’d expected. He noticed there were no signal lights and everyone rode around on motorbikes or tricycles. These contraptions roamed all over the City and made a terrific belching noise. Smoke poured from their exhaust pipes, marring the fresh air that blew in from the ocean.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Forest” in Potomac Review 59


Such a beautiful cover! POTOMAC REVIEW 59

There are seven fiction writers whose work appears in Potomac Review 59:

Ron Darian * Shane Jones * Meghan Kenny * Beth Konkoski * Cassandra Powers * Yours truly * Nouri Zarrugh

Self is reading Cassandra Powers’s story, Into the Bright Sun:

I look at my husband, watch him lift his shirt over his head. A kind man, gentle-handed. Five years ago I convinced him to marry me. I still don’t know how I’m so lucky.

Self’s story is The Forest. Here’s a sliver:

“I’m relocating,” George said. “To western Washington.”

“Why?” Thumper said.

“Because the forests are being threatened by Dick Cheney,” George said.

“Who’s Dick Cheney?” Spike said.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Reading (2016)

  1. Memoir, Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies
  2. Brick 96
  3. 2nd poetry collection, John Clegg, Holy Toledo
  4. Nonfiction, Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  5. Walasse Ting, 1 Cent Life
  6. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


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