GloPoWriMo – Day 20

In Hand

After my sister left
to marry the puppeteer
my hand clasped the colt
she carved for me last year.

It fit inside my palm
like another hand
simple, rough, black walnut,
cut with a toothed steel band.

It smelled like my sister,
shone with her fingers’ oil,
painted eyes, soft like hers,
around its nose, reins of red toile.

Even now, I sometimes hold
that rough colt in my fingers,
press my thumb against its ears.
Across miles, her presence lingers.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem about a handmade or homemade gift that you have received,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 13

Salt-Spray Rosary

I stole my sister’s tears
to string around my neck.

100 for my father’s death,
10 for the tuxedo cat.
50 for the shotgun her
husband stole from neighbors,
70 for the mania
that drove the frantic theft.

Thousands for our mother
who lives beyond the reach
of memory, abandoned fate.
And countless more for distance
and time’s strange grasping hand.

I don’t wear pearls
around my sweaty neck.
I finger this salty rosary
that lets me never forget

a tear for every mile
between us, enough to fill
the wide salt bay
where floats her island home
inescapably far away.

I never saw my sister cry.
I stole her salt-spray tears.

Daily Prompt:  “write a non-apology for the things you’ve stolen,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Song 30

Sister Moons
















Daily Prompt: “try your hand at a minimalist poem,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Poet’s note: This poem fits as a piece of A Psijic’s Measure, and, most likely, doesn’t make the type of sense I intended unless one reads it within the context of that collaborative novel. But I’ve had fun thinking about what kind of meaning it might carry (if any) for a reader unfamiliar with its source work.

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NaPoWriMo 2019

A Psijic’s Measure: Third Moon

Spoiler Alert: References to and quotations from ESO story quests.

Author: Michael/@Shishwik


The trek north to find the siblings Tythis and Nevena has me hopeful, for if I can reunite these two my chances of finding my sisters… Wait, sisters? Yes this rings true yet I do not know them…. How in Nirn did that happen? No matter, what is, is. I shall delve deeper into that matter at a later time.

I briefly jot in my journal about Tythis and Nevena:

A relic hunter told me of a young Dunmer who fled Vivec City after committing murder. Her brother has gone north to search for her in the Forgotten Wastes. No one has seen either of them since.

ESO: Echoes of a Fallen House

So a day’s journey away. I stock up on food, potions, and a magic scroll I found deep in an ancestral tomb… Can’t wait to see what it does. On my trip north I go out of my way to clear the roads and surrounding areas of trolls, nix hounds, cliff striders, and hive golems. One, because I  might end up helping those I seek , and two, it feels good. Feels good to burn  and zap that which seek to feed on me. 

As I stop for the night I feel my chin taken gently in an invisible but comforting hand. My head is turned to the side and two names are lovingly whispered into my ear. “Cat. Twig.” My eyes behold the eternal chase of  Secunda and Masser. Yet the proper names as I have learned them seem out of place… The gentle hand, the loving whisper: “Jone and Jode.” This breathy recitation leaves me with goosebumps. For in my perfect recall…

According to Varieties of Faith, “Jone” and “Jode” are the names of Aldmeri deities of the moons, but in Khajiit cosmology they are parts of the ja-Kha’jay, the Lunar Lattice and the core of their religion. In their creation myth, Fadomai gave birth to the Moons and their Motions around the same time she gave birth to Nirni and Azurah. No connection to Lorkhan, except that Lorkhaj is also a child of Fadomai.

The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages

However, Lorkhaj’s body is indeed a moon in Khajiit tales, but not Jone nor Jode. It’s a third moon, one that can’t be seen except under very special circumstances. As explained by a candidate who walked the path:

“We’ve walked the Two Moons Path, the path of Jone and Jode. But there is a third moon: The Dark Moon, the enemy of the Khajiit. Lorkhaj, the Missing God.”


It’s the Missing God that chills my soul.

I fall unconscious.

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Septemus 31


Dear Sept,

You’ve developed a funny habit of checking the sinks. Fortunately, we’ve only got two, the kitchen and bathroom. You will stop what you’re doing–even if you’re deep in concentration. Then you head to the sink.

“OK! All good!” you say, when you see that the faucets are off.

“You don’t have to check them all the time, son,” I said.

“I know, Pops,” you said. “I’m just making sure.”

All right. It’s not a big thing. No cause for concern. And likely, you’ll grow out of it. And even if not, there are all sorts of people, all over the world, who check that the faucets are shut off. I bet half of them haven’t even been through anything close to what you’ve been through. So, one little quirk. It’s not such a big deal.

You also keep singing other people’s songs. Some of them are heartbreaking.


Mum is hurting, don’t know why~
Come back, come back.


“Don’t leave me.
Not alone. Not you, too.
Come back, come back.
Stay with me.”

“Whose song is that?” I asked you. While you were singing, I saw a flash of a little indigo girl.

“It’s Panda,” you answered.

“Is she? She’s not… is she imaginary?” I asked.


“Of course not!” you answered. “She’s my sister. What makes her mom sick, Pops? Do you know? If something happens to her mom, can she come live with us?”

Oh, man. We’ve got such a little house. I’m not sure if the agency would approve of our taking in anyone else. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons for spreading out all you kids, keeping you all separate. I know they had their reasons for not giving me the contact info for the other parents.


But what if something happened to me?

Where would you go?

I wouldn’t want you to go back to the agency. I’d want you to be with someone else who knew about you kids, who understood you, who would be patient with you and let you be yourself, without interfering.


“Sure, son,” I said. “If something happens to Panda’s mom, or to any of your brothers’ or sisters’ parents, we can take them in.”

I could talk to Geoffrey. I’m sure he’d see my point.

“Oh, squeegee,” you said. “And anyway, she’ll be OK, right? Panda’s mom?”

You started singing softly, so I could barely hear.

“It’s safe, it’s safe now.
There’s time and wolfbane!
There’s tea and tisane…


“For little girls
and Mamas
And sisters
and Papas.

“Don’t worry
little Pandas.
It’s safe. It’s safe.”

Oh, I will do all I can. That’s for sure.

Love you,

Your pops.

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Author’s note: Panda’s song was written by Thymeless. And what’s happening with Panda’s mum? Read Pandora’s Box to find out!

Septemus 23


Dear Sept,

You’re sleeping soundly on the divan while I’m writing. We had a big night at your new favorite place, the karaoke bar.

“Please can we go?” you asked during supper. “I’ll sing your favorite song!”

“What song is that?”

“You’ll know it when you hear it,” you said.

“All right.” It’s so hard for me to refuse you anything. “As soon as I do the dishes, we’ll head out and catch the next tram.”

“I’ll do them!” And you popped right up, grabbed my plate before I’d even finished the last bite, and washed it up, along with the pots and pans.


Ten minutes later, we were sitting in the first seat of the tram, watching the city lights coming ever closer, and half an hour later, I was listening to you sing, “Here Comes the Sun.”


All it took was hearing your high fluty echoing voice singing, “Little darling! The smiles returning to their faces,” for me to realize, yes. This is my favorite song.

Thankyouverymuch,” you said as soon as you were done. “I gotta say hi to Molly!” And you dashed out of the room.


I found you talking with the bartender.


“Does this belong to you?” she asked me.

“Well, not exactly,” I replied. “Septemus is very much his own person. But we came here together.”

“That’s OK,” you whispered to me. “It’snotliteral. It’s just a way of saying that I’m your son.”

Molly chuckled.


“You’re a very nice person,” you said to Molly. And you hopped up and grabbed all the dirty glasses and appetizer plates from the bar, and whisked them off to wash them.

“Is he always this helpful?” Molly asked.

“Actually, yes,” I replied. “But I also think he wants to be sure he can come back here anytime he wants. This is his new favorite place.”


It got late quickly, and we had to head out to catch the last tram home.

On our way out, you stopped to talk with a vendor.

“Do you really grill the garlic at the spice festival?” you asked him. He was wearing a spice festival garlic hat and apron.

“Actually, no,” the man replied. “I am, actually, very allergic to garlic. Can’t get near the stuff. This is just, you know, regulation.”


“Say,” said the man. “Do you have a little sister? Or maybe cousin?”

“Oh, I have loads of brothers and sisters!” you replied. “Ninety-nine, to be exact. Why?”

“Do you have, maybe, a little cousin named Pandora?” he asked.

“Pandora?” you replied. “What’s her number?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” he said. “Her name is Pandora. She’s my neighbor. She looks a lot like you.”

You got quiet.


“Yes, she’s probably my sister,” you said at last. “Tell her that Ruki says ‘sintu liyu.'”

The vendor walked off to the Forgotten Hollow station, and we got in line with the folks at the Magnolia Park/Willow Creek stop. You looked around at everyone, dressed like they’d just stepped out of a costume party.

“You know what, Pops?” you said. “I love the city.”


Oh, son. I hope this world remains a place of friends and friendliness to you, always.

Your pops,


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Wonder 6



“So? I was right?” asked Ulrike when I ran into her in the park.

“You were,” I told her. “We have a little boy.”

“A son for Paolo!” she laughed. “Will you raise him to be the artist or the player of futebol?”

I chuckled. “We will raise him to be Charlie Rocca Cups!”

Something in me has shifted, after Charlie’s birth. All my future-thought, planning facilities feel like they aren’t accessible. I can’t think about schools or colleges or child-rearing philosophies or anything like that.

All I can do is enjoy the sandwiches that Berry makes for me.


All I can think about is cleaning dishes.


All I can feel is this wash inside of colors I don’t even know how to describe. Yeah, I guess I’m still in love and drowning in oxytocin.

This biochemical cocktail of love is great for writing, though! I finished that book about our dad, and now I’m writing a book about bunnies. What? Oh, heavens. It’s true. I am drunk on the mommy-hormones of love.


Fortunately, Berry’s got herself together. She’s still taking over any projects that require concentration.


“What would I do without you?” I asked her the other day, when both the bathroom sink and the toilet broke.

“Marry Paolo, most likely,” she replied.


The whole time we’ve been here, Berry’s been painting every day. Her work’s masterful. She’s been painting a lot of landscapes. The scenes look like they’re from the Pacific Northwest, where our dad grew up, and where we spent most of our summers as kids, roaming around through mountains and along the coast with Frank and Sylvia, our dad’s parents.


I’ve spent a long time looking at her most recent painting.

I can’t really express what I see in it. Three trees in the foreground, and there’s something about the way that smaller of them inclines away from the other two that tugs at me.

It feels like family in some way, that dynamic of love, dependence, and individuation.


“Berry,” I said to her. “Thanks for being here with me while I’m this big puddle of emotion. I don’t feel like myself. I feel good, but I feel weird. Thanks for being here to keep everything going.”

She wrapped her arms around me and didn’t say anything, except she hummed this funny little song that our mom used to sing.


I heard her later that night singing the song to Charlie.

Mares eat oats
And does eat oats
And little lambs eat ivy,

A kid’ll eat ivy, too,
Wouldn’t you?


It’s just an old nonsense song that was popular when Mom and Dad were kids, but when I hear her sing it, all these marrow-deep memories come alive.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was so happy–so fiercely happy. It was a power beyond me–like in my genes. And I thought of Frank and Sylvia, Nonny and Papa, Mom and Dad. I thought of all this continuation of a gesture, a voice, an arch of an eyebrow.

I didn’t think about a song, and how one day, maybe little Charlie Rocca will sing this same song to a little baby in his arms.

But somehow Berry knew.


Somehow, Berry’s got this all figured out, this complicated dance of ties and love and independence.


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