Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In the Boiler Pot: My Second Novel

At last, I'm working on Epiko again, my second novel. It might turn out shorter, maybe a novella, but I'm not yet sure. I have a habit of turning short stories into long ones. Plus, its title is EPIKO... go figure. @_@

I'm predicting that it will have 15 chapters. Word count, maybe 50K. I'm at 15K now.

It took some time to get it in shape, the plot at least. I couldn't figure out how the events connected and flowed. I thought the story would just die cold. But it's now hot and fiery in my hands, ready to be shaped and written.

Damn I haven't felt this lively in a while!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Featured at OMNI Reboot, Expanded Horizons

"Hiring Process" Anne Carly Abad
Read at
My science fiction flash piece "Hiring Process" is featured in OMNI Reboot, a rebirth of the classic sci-fi magazine. Thanks to editor Claire Evans. Before closing in 1998, Omni featured William Gibson, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova and many more names that I've been reading for years. It's an honor to be part of this project.

The circumstances that led to this story being published are surreal. Given that this story feels "jinxed," I didn't expect anything good can still come out of it. It's the same story that was involved in fiasco with a contest that once published my private details without my permission. That problem has been resolved with the help of the good people from Absolute Write, my favorite forum and writer resource.

A friend of my mine linked me to OMNI and I checked it out right away, excited at the fact that one of the best SF mags is making a comeback (there aren't enough of these zines left!). When you visit the site, you'll kinda feel nostalgic if you're a fan of golden age sci-fi. It has that air to it, one of cold metal and possibilities.

At almost the same time, my poem "Molting Season" was published sooner than expected (supposedly 2014). It's now out and crawling about at Expanded Horizons. Also in Issue 41:
"Swallowing Saturday" by Catherine Batac Walder
"Daughters of the Air" by Gail Labovitz
"The Five Flavors" by Bryan Thao Worra
"The Robo Sutra" (Artwork) by Maria Mitchell

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Podium, at The Finger Magazine June 2013

The Podium

keep the silence and peace, earn your right to speak
cut off tongue and hands to offer up to the gods
and only then can you welcome yourself to our desert

begin from the bottom of the dunes,
look up to the great ark that locks away your gifts
in the abode of gods, whom you can curse
or you yourself become only if you dig deep
into the sands of their speech
find and keep every word, write and act as they do
if only with feet or whatever remains of you

once there was a girl who stole back her tongue
used it to speak words, rivaling the gods
yet what is one voice against a pantheon of hosts?
the gods tore out what she stole
tossed her back to the sands below

so save us your tears and put this to heart—
only the gods can decide
who will stay and who will climb
to the podium to claim prize of rightful limbs lost
make attempt of the rebel kind
and fall before you can ever rise

Caterpillar Man and Why I Will Not Attend Your Wedding, at Starline Summer 2013

Why I Will Not Attend Your Wedding

Thank you for inviting me
but do you remember
how we used to laugh
at the madnesses of our times?
Robot doves for weddings,
MILFs vying for men’s attentions
against designer-bodied grandmas?
Oh, how we roared

at the growing craze--faces for rent.
What appeal do stars have left

now that they are licensing
their eyes and noses
to anyone willing to pay?

Where did all our laughter go?
That man from the big city
may have put a ring on your finger,
but must you don a dog collar, too?

Must you fetch every bone the cityfolk throw,
and crinkle your nose at our beginnings,

too parochial for contemporary fashions?

Perhaps you’re no different now
to the fools who wear another’s face.
Edible diamonds will be served?
Then we might as well drink pearls!
If you like, you may bring your future husband here
and I will feed you both free-range chickens
before you start relying on rocks for nutriment.


Caterpillar Man

No one wanted to touch him, of course.
A larva the size of a full-grown man
born of a woman who died giving birth
and in her final moments entrusted her child to us—
Beautiful, she said, breathing her last
and leaving us to wonder, 

had she even laid eyes upon the bloated ridges 
on his back, the odd spiracular structures,
or the undeniable spinneret and fearsome mandibles?
Had we not witnessed his birth, we’d have burned him
at the stake with the vampires and witches.
Instead, we were kind enough to let him live

with the goats and the horses,
who allowed him a share of their hay and grain.
And in the way of larval insects, he did nothing 
but gorge and grow, yet we found 
that we despised him. Caterpillar Man, 
we taunted, Why don’t you bloom?

Hoping he would leave, we demanded that he fly,
that he show us the majesty of monarchs, 
or the brilliance of morphos and lacewings.
But he stayed and spun into chrysalis,
stealing the blue of sapphires one day
and turning into gold the next.

A shell as pretty as this
must yield an angel, we thought.
So we took our hatchets and hacked away; 
layer by layer we split him open
and found just the husk and its wet walls:
nothing inside.

Caskets to Sleep In, at Dreams & Nightmare #96 (September 2013)

Caskets to Sleep In

The day we stopped dying
the world fell into frenzy
parties frothing with beer, music and naked bodies,
nations singing new anthems from now on we live forever.
We discovered eternity in dozens of ways
soldiers getting shot in Iran then standing up like nothing happened
the pope slipping and breaking his neck then standing up like nothing happened
farm chickens being beheaded, then standing up like nothing happened…
I don’t know if it was enough to kill me, but I ate some botulinum-ridden lasagna
and recovered from vomiting like nothing happened.

Hundreds of years of beer and merriment in,
we built Stephen Hawking a new body, but by then
the frenzy was the only thing dying
you-never-gonna-die jokes made tempers snap
because the Millennium dawned and it dawned on us
that, like the permethrin-resistant lice plaguing our days,
every single one of us was here to stay.

We sent out search parties to find Death,
deployed submarines in caves and trenches
and, as a last resort, gave tracker dogs dry corpses to sniff.
Finding nothing but ourselves, we resorted to suicide attempts
but ended up with spilled guts, burnt bodies
and blown up heads—all too easy to grow back with stem cells.
Rumor has it, someone jumped into a volcano
his body cremated yet his brainwaves could still be read.

These days we can’t die, we can at least pretend
and maybe in the process, extort death from Death
with the newest trend, caskets to sleep in
where we endure airlessness and ennui
to create mental movies of Closure, The End, La Fin.
Lie down, hide inside, stay dead as long as you can.

Some Poems that Came out 2013: No One Wants a Girl with Brains and Things We Tell Ourselves After Elections

Thanks to the editors of The Philippines Graphic Magazine. I wasn't able to get a copy of this particular June 14, 2013 issue since National Bookstore may have run out of it that time :(

No One Wants a Girl with Brains

No one wants a girl with brains
just make sure she doesn't burn your bacon
but when she does
raise your voice immediately
make known the vastness of your displeasure
and if for some reason, she causes you to go hungry once more
you may have to go old fashioned on her--
ball your hands into fists
you're sure to get her knees wobbling.

No one wants a girl with brains
you need someone who won't complain
she should smile when you get home late
never to figure out why
you no longer touch her withered prunes
that you're tired, is all
she will ever know.

If you do get a girl with brains
just make sure she doesn't like to use them
she should laugh when you tell her to make a sandwich
(and maybe make you a real one, too)
and solicit your help even when she knows what to do
making you feel needed,
she might just be
the prize among all prizes!


Things We Tell Ourselves After Elections

Keep telling yourself
that the masses are the powerful
ones, yeast that works through the whole dough
much more potent than you
in your leathers and power suits
or even you with the still-hot diploma in your hands.

Keep telling yourself
that the masses are the ones that kick ass
at election time, and once more you’ve gotten whopped,
you whose vote couldn’t make a modest dent
into the iron doors of a tomorrow
you can but now accept.

Keep telling yourself
that the masses are not stupid
just a bit drunk on TV, and easy
to manipulate, as all things
that run on empty
tend to be.

Keep telling yourself
all they need is you, and your gift
of information
just maybe a dash of a better
education. Keep telling yourself that
we need just one solution.