Author Archive

i suffer alone, uncomplaining

Having traced my mother’s family to the Kingdom of Mercia I am in gales of laughter over the title of the most important surviving text in the Mercian language: The Old English Martyrology. Even other people who knew my mother and grandmother don’t think it’s as funny as I do. Story of my life.

some books i loved this year and why you might want to read them

America is Not the Heart and How to Read Now
Have you ever really thought about Fremont? No? Why not?

An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873
Learn your blood-drenched history and mourn your courageous dead

Another Day in the Colony
Know that history is in no way done with us yet

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
Comics aren’t supposed to make me cry (are they?)

Homage to Catalonia
Reread old novels now that you’re big enough to understand them

Nona the Ninth
Meet the soul of the earth

Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego, and the Twilight Zone Case
Understand how power corrupts

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity
Consider alternatives

The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred and The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking)
Drive from San Francisco to Joshua Tree thinking about deep space and social justice

The Years
…so that when Annie Ernaux wins the Nobel Prize you can say “oh yeah Annie, I call her Annie, she’s great”

becoming story, by greg sarris

In that brief moment before the clouds shielded the sun again, I felt what it was like to be held. I was standing in the earth’s enormous hand.

claire dewitt and the bohemian highway, by sara gran

The drive over the Golden Gate Bridge never stops being beautiful. In every kind of weather on every kind of day it’s a different kind of beautiful.

inciting joy, by ross gay

Whoever saved the seed loved us before they knew us. And some of them loved us as their world was ending. Our gardens archive that love.

gold fame citrus, by claire vaye watkins

camel, horse, mammoth, saber-tooth cat, dire wolf, short-faced bear, coyote, flamingo, pelican, eagle, swan, goose, mallard duck, ruddy duck, canvasback duck, double-crested cormorant, grebe, crane, seagull, stork…

smöl bb house wolf

The club leader says “she is just a little bit ugly, which makes her cute.” Which is… not inaccurate.

adventure time: introducing eleanor

There is a dog in my house! Her name is Eleanor and she is a thirteen month old yellow lab in training to be a particular kind of service dog. Not gonna specify which kind because I don’t want to appear to be speaking on behalf of the excellent org to which she belongs.

Getting qualified to raise dogs like Eleanor is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, and have trained to do since the pandemic. I’ve had temporary dogs but I am now Eleanor’s primary handler.

It is an awesome responsibility and, being me, I’ve already had anxiety dreams about it. She’s a good girl whose worst crimes are a bit of pulling on the leash and some surprise bork-bork-borking when Charlie came home from college with Hazel the emotional support cat in tow. (Alice and Thimble have already judged Eleanor and found her wanting.)

Still I fret. The group leaders like to say “you won’t break the puppy” but what if I somehow do? What if I’m the first raiser to have her dog abducted by aliens or indoctrinated by Fox News? Charlie said, “no one’s expecting you to be perfect at this the first time,” and I said, “I am.”

She has enormous paws and hilariously expressive eyebrows. She likes licking things, meeting new people and curling up on my foot.

a half-built garden, by ruthanna emrys

corporate strength has always come from transmuting the threat of force into softer trade.

what my bones know, by stephanie woo

I wanted to be the kind of woman people didn’t leave.

we watch a bad heterosexual date on the telly

Jeremy: Why are they sitting next to a bank of candles? Why is their table in the middle and everyone else’s around the edges?

Jo: Have you never been to a restaurant where you are the main character?

husbandry, by matthew dickman

my only job now, in all the world, is to not destroy my kids, and in turn, teach them not to destroy others

whale fall, by david baker

I wish I had spoken when it mattered

in the eye of the wild, by nastassja martin

Three years ago Daria described the fall of the Soviet Union to me. She said, Nastya, one day the light went out and the spirits came back. And we returned to the forest.

nona the ninth, by tamsyn muir

She had the terrible sinking feeling that whatever was going wrong right now, it was her fault somehow: that she hadn’t been smart enough or good enough.

america is not the heart, by elaine castillo

Baggage means no matter how far you go, no matter how many times you immigrate, there are countries in you you’ll never leave.

nature poem, by tommy pico

Repeating patterns, the mistakes of yr parents, running but not getting very far. Not as far as you wanted but maybe farther than you think.

a calm & normal heart, by chelsea t. hicks

treaties are for settlers, too.

in which i succeed in naming three (3) emotions

I’m sad she’s dead, for the usual human and parasocial reasons.

I’m genuinely curious if also worried about what comes next.

And I’m angry, I am so so angry, about the British empire.

As a white Australian I exist because of what Britain saw as surplus population it could send to administer its stolen wealth. The ways in which my life was predetermined, the ways in which I was raised and educated to be a colonial bureaucrat, were callous and calculating and fundamentally genocidal, and have left me traumatized.

The thing about Elizabeth. The thing! That I managed to grope towards just now, is that she was a human sacrifice to empire. She had no choice and no escape. She had to do her duty.

And she did her duty flawlessly. She was incredible at it. A genuinely awe-inspiring triumph of will.

And she shouldn’t have done that. For two reasons. One (the most important) is because the Empire is a death cult that murdered millions on her watch. The other is that her performance of that duty is and always will be forced on the rest of us as the standard we will inevitably fail to meet.

I admire her. But I will not seek to emulate her. Her indulgence of powerful men and her racism were ruinous even in her immediate family, and catastrophic for the world. What she did so amazingly well is a thing that should never have been done.

Which loops back to sorrow. Those glimpses of the woman she could’ve been: the 18yo ambulance driver, the rider galloping her own racehorse.

What a fucking waste and betrayal of all her strength and integrity, to pour it out in the service of maintaining a corrupt status quo.

What a waste of mine.

virology, by joseph osmundson

The nuclear family is a construct that both renders affairs of the family unit private and makes labor forces more “flexible.” Economists say frictionless.