Monday's post on Dragonstairs Press's two new (and one old) chapbooks ran so long that I didn't have the chance to present any excerpts. A failing that I will correct right now.
The preface to Midwinter Fables:
That scandalous old slave, Aesop, having spent his youth as secretary to his master, and his middle years as the freed commercial ambassador of the same man, found himself living in a cold stone hut in the mountains. One day, his scribbling was interrupted by a woman who claimed to be his granddaughter, looking to discover what sort of man he was.
“How do I know what you say is true?” Aesop asked.
The woman cast a scornful glance at her surroundings. “My father is a successful wine merchant in Syracuse. Why would I lie?”
“Very well,” the fabulist said. “Listen to these stories I have just now written.”
A season from 5 Seasons:
I crave thy pardon, mistress, that I did try to eat thee. It were the Darkwinter, when we all do what we must to survive. I understand why thou dost flinch from my touch.
Still. Didst thou not kill thy sister, who did love thee, when the foodstuffs ran low? Not that I disapprove. It were the right thing to do, God wot. Hunger knows no morals. I did the same with my father, poor soul.
Those dire times are behind us. The snows are melting at last. We can scrabble in the mud for last year’s roots, and perhaps a small rodent or three. We keep our knives sharp and close to hand, of course, because we each know what the other is capable of.
Now the ice turns back into pond water. The air is warm. Desperation falls a day, a second day, a third into the past. Now at last – though I grip my blade as firmly as thou dost thine – I am free to say...
I do love thee.
And the afterword to Touchstones:
A touchstone, literally, is a stone used to test the purity of gold. Metaphorically, it is the test of the truth of any particular statement. But in the heart, a touchstone is whatever connects us to our deepest and truest values.
When you travel, you carry a little bit of your home with you as a sort of touchstone. For my third trip to Chengdu, I brought these three stories, which exist in physical form in my house. The first is written on a jar filled with keys and is partly true and partly not. The second is written on a framed sheet of paper behind a Mason jar filled with mineral oil, scrap electronic parts, and a rubber eyeball. It is an homage to Ray Bradbury and completely fictional. "Lovers and Lunatics" is written on a crescent moon shaped wall lamp. It is a love letter to my wife and every word of it is tru
"A Jarful of Keys" was published on my blog in 2009. The other two stories appear here for the first time.
Home, family, fantasy, and love. These stories are touchstones for what matter to me most. I hope they give you pleasure.
And since you asked . . .
The Dragonstairs chapbooks -- slim, elegant, and seriously underpriced -- can be found here.
Above: Winter leaves.