In Aggregate (2021)

As the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks approached, I found myself increasingly displeased with some of the language of my original “In Aggregate”

I decided to clarify that while the unidentified of 9/11 may be forever bonded, physically, to the sites of the attack, their memory and their afterlife are not bounded by the location of their remains.

May God have mercy on those who died those day, on those who have died of diseases contracted on the Pile, and of all who have died in the War on Terror. May they be brought to “a place of light, a verdant place, a place of freshness, from where suffering, pain and cries are far removed.”

May their memories be a blessing. And may God bless America.

My soul does not cleave to the dust
Even if my flesh does
Even if my blood clots it
Even if my bone shapes it

Nowhere and everywhere I am
And I am not alone—
Like motes in a sunbeam
We hang together, strung
Between here and eternity.

This is eternity: to be bonded,
but not bounded, by time and space;
To see a day as twenty years
And twenty years a day

The line between life and death
Is so thin, and still so terrible
Like the sharp blue edge of sky;
So begrudge us not this sacred earth
Of which we have become a part.

For all victims of 9/11 who were never recovered

Allison Shely, 9/10/2021

What sort of time have I been born into
that we mark its passage by falling towers?

–A.R. Shely

gray rocks under white cloudy sky
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

Urgent Fans Make Me Type Faster: I’m Live on Patreon!

7 October 2018

Hello, dear readers!

Over the last two years, you have helped this blog go from an erratically produced collection of book reviews to a somewhat-less-erratically-produced labor of love.

You have helped me put my fiction out in public for the first time. Well, excepting the middle school literary magazine…but let’s not think about that.

*shudders at the thought of her middle school writing*

You have stuck with me through the dry spells, the shameless introduction of ads, my verse of questionable meter.

Because of your unwavering support, I have decided to devote more time to this blog, making sure to get work out to you on a weekly basis.

(For real, this time, I swear)

To help support my work, I have launched a page on Patreon!

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For those of you unfamiliar with Patreon, it is an online platform that allows fans to become patrons of their favorite creators. (I hope I might be one of yours, dear reader)

In exchange for their monthly pledge, patrons get access to rewards, in addition to extreme bragging credit. You are following the footsteps of the Venetian Doges and the Medicis by supporting the arts!

With less murder, of course.

Please do not blame your murders on this blog. Lorenzo the Magnificent. Wikimedia Commons.

For just $1 a month, patrons will receive a mention in a special edition of this blog every month they are a patron. If you are interested in your business or organization taking the credit, reach out to me by DM on Patreon.

$5 a month gets you access to a weekly patron newsletter and plenty of behind-the-scenes looks into my creative process: drafts, inspiration sources, angst. It’s more of the writing you know and love, even before your patronage helps me produce even more of the writing you know and love.

There’s a virtuous cycle here, you see.

Patreon is going to be especially important for me so I can put together a real, physical “To-Review Queue” have the resources to buy all the books, etc. It will also keep me accountable to a schedule and order for reviews.

Because when you owe people money, you type faster.

Benozzo_Gozzoli,_lorenzo_il_magnifico,_cappella_dei_Magi

Much faster.

Thank you for supporting me on Patreon. You can follow this link to my profile.

To Pompeii

 

View of Vesuvius, from the House of the Centenary, Pompeii. Courtesy of National Archeological Museum of Naples and Wikimedia Commons.

To Pompeii

24 August, anno 832 ab urbe condita

From Baiae I write, Severus Tarentius,
to tell you things you must already know:
business is good; the weather is fine.
I have only just come from Rome,
bringing with me two new handmaids
for my dearest wife, Aurelia.

One is a Greek woman, a skilled hairdresser—
sold, I think, by our feckless Senate colleague
Syrianus, to pay his debts.
I recently beat the old goat at alea, by the way,
a victory decisive as Scipio’s at Carthage.

The other is a rather unfortunate figure,
a slave woman from deepest Germania,
driven, the trader told me, across the river
that divides our empire from their lands
by maurauding tribes out for loot and brides.

It disgusts me how
these Germanics fight among themselves.
Such suffering they cause for their own kind!
This new woman, like many others,
fled with her small child
into the arms of our legionaries
and the warm embrace of Rome.

The babe was wailing
while she was on the block.
She wailed too as we led her away.
It was really quite distasteful:
somehow, Rome’s din grew even worse.
And the smell, Severus,
I can smell it still here—like brimstone
against the salty stink of the bay

We have given her a bath.
She’ll be well taken care of now,
among civilized people.
I think I’ll call her Macaria,
for blessed is she.

What other news is there to tell…
Oh!
I have met the new emperor
–long may he reign—
and I am not impressed.

Yet Caesar is always useful, though,
so long as we are useful to Him.
Gods, this table needs a new leg!
Perhaps Caesar can grant me one of those,
so I won’t be writing in the midst of a quake?

I am looking out across the bay
towards your home at Pompeii.
It is hot, but the mountain
looks so tranquil from here.

Such is the order of our lives, Severus:
empire without end,
baths and dinners,
immovable and unchanging
as Vesuvius’ peak.

-By Allison R. Shely, September 2018. 
All rights reserved.

Cole Destruction
The Course of Empire: Destruction, Thomas Cole, 1836. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.