Stonework’s Done

Stonework is up. Been a lotta work, but it’s a good issue this year. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard, especially Jack Leax, the senior editor, and all the writers.

For those that don’t know, Stonework is Houghton’s online literary journal. Everyone should go check it out and appreciate all the artists work. The fiction in this issue is especially good.

A proper journal entry will follow, probably tomorrow, when my class ends and I can think straight again.



On ‘Baking’

It is officially 8 minutes from Saturday morning, at the time I’m beginning this entry. For the past week, I’ve had to wake up at 7:00 each day to go to a class that I’m only barely able to keep abreast in. Two weeks, five assignments, and one very large group project to go.  I feel a little discouraged, because I really don’t want to do all the work involved.

But for now, that is all you’ll see on that subject. I feel I have no right to complain about anything–after all what am I complaining about? That I must wake up at 7:00, when others don’t even get to sleep in a bed? That I have to work hard in college–a privilege that anyone less fortunate woud be happy to claw my eyes out for?

Please, if I ever complain too much, don’t listen. It is only because I have moments of powerful selfishness. I am blessed–more than I could ever know–and in the presence of all I have, to have ingratitude within me would be disgusting.

I baked some cookies today. I didn’t tell anyone about it, because they would get jealous and want some, but after posting this they will probably be all gone, and I will have an–almost–guilt free conscience. They were sugar cookies, and I enjoyed every minute of making them. Cooking is something that, like writing, I seldom want to start, but once I begin I enjoy it very much, and find it hard to stop. I haven’t made anything besides eggs in a while so any treats at all, especially cookies, are a delight to make. I even got to take the first (and only) batch out of the oven with big padded oven mitts.

I should note that cookies hold a special place in my heart–I didn’t get them very often growing up. It seemed to me that every other parent in the world made cookies for their children every day, but not my parents. My parents are Texan born, as one might be able to see from my poetry, and the Texan folk aren’t famous for cookies, but instead for delicious meats and astounding breakfasts. So, while I was never short of brisket and biscuits growing up, cookies were more of a commodity. I lived off of Fudge Rounds and Oatmeal Cream Pies for the majority of my childhood, so anything homemade was a commodity.

Thus, whenever I really like to ‘bake,’ I make cookies. The ‘bake’ is supposed to have apostrophes, because I don’t technically bake the cookies. In the king household, putting cookies in the oven is just a waste of good dough and heat. So I have a lump of sugar cookie dough that weighs about two pounds in the fridge. Suddenly, the coming two weeks aren’t looking so terribly bad.

Going to work on a bit of fiction tomorrow. Perhaps another journal entry.

Good night everyone. I would give you all cookies if I could, but I can’t fit them through the internet connection, and even if I could, that would mean less for me.


Shortest Experiment Ever

Well, after only a few weeks, it’s increasingly clear that this dual-blog system isn’t working. I just don’t like the way it’s turning out, and there are way to many complications in updating both of them at once, dealing with links, etc.

SO, I’m canceling the other one, and keeping this, combining the content of both. In addition to all the literary stuff, I’m going to have general updates on life and eventually some other content, such as book reviews and reading recommendations, as well as other things in the future.

More to follow later today, after I get finished playing with Ants.



The Rat Race… with Ants

So, I just spent the past three hours programming artificial ants. I can send them out foraging on a digital map. They attempt to find the most efficient route to a non-existent strawberry. They lay down different amounts of binary pheromones depending on how close they come to the strawberry. When they find the strawberry the program ends, and I record the time it took them to reach the strawberry.

Tomorrow, I get to go to class again, and do another assignment.

There is something terribly symbolic about all this, but my brain is far to full of theoretical arthropods to figure it out.  I am going to sleep, instead. I’ve had insomnia the last few nights, so with me luck.

Also, Chase is leaving for some Spanish-speaking country for a month. Wish him luck!


Lone Star Nation

Cracked plains were what we returned to
Coming back from a trip
And bone-dry grass riddled with fire ants
was more familiar than trees and hills.
We would drive on roads smooth as flight
Before we became Yankees.
Before we learned to tolerate the
Jostling cracked pavement.

We would smile and welcome all
With open hearth and open table. 

We would eat our breakfast big,
Our steaks fried,
Our potatoes mashed,
And our gravy made with grease and flour.

Memo to Myself

A blank page is scary.
It stretches to fill your vision,
As if to prove that there isn’t anything else but its whiteness.
It mocks you. 

It reminds you of the quiet that comes when your fan is broken,
And you’re lying in bed at night,
With silence so thick that it makes you wonder if you have anything to say at all. 

Take heart. 

Silence is nothing. You have only to speak, and it is gone.
And the whiteness of a blank page can be chased off
With simple lines of ink.

On a couch, May 12, 2007

If we are to be technical, it is May 13, at 2:23 in the morning. However, May 13 would be both Sunday and Mother’s Day, and I yet have hopes that I will be able to pull off something strangely beautiful in honor of my matriarch. Perhaps I’ll let her see some of my poetry. She’s seen what has been posted in the Lanthorn, on of Houghton’s literary publications, but beyond that not much. She enjoys seeing me write, I think, so I’ll give her more (along with chocolate and a nice card).

Finals are over, and I’m preparing to begin an adventure in mayterm, learning about Linux. I hope I’ll enjoy it: if I really do, I might switch over entirely.

My mind, at the moment, isn’t really consumed by Mayterm though, but rather on the fact that I am writing at 2:30 in the morning, and can only seem to manage it sitting in a not-terribly-comfortable lopsided position on my couch. Professor Leax claimed that it wasn’t possible to write on a soft chair, because you simply fall asleep instead. I’m still young enough to manage the couch, but I do seem to need to scrunch up.

I should have written earlier today, but I didn’t. Summer always strikes me with the deadliest sin of sloth. I awoke at sometime between noon and one today, toddled upstairs in pajama pants and a ripped t-shirt, and made myself biscuits out of a can. I then proceeded to play Riviera (a fun hand-held video game based loosely on Norse Mythology) and ignore any semblance of responsibility that came my way. The biscuits and the game managed to team up and mug away six precious hours of my life before I went to celebrate an early mother’s day meal with my parents.

We ate at Earls, and I garroted my arteries with sausage gravy, cheesy-potatoe soup, and a slice of chocolate peanut butter pie with hot fudge slathered over the top of it. Bad for the heart, I won’t dispute, but terribly good for the soul.
Speaking of good for the soul, I intend on going to Church tomorrow, the first time in several months. I don’t really think this is a bad thing–I’ve had chapel two times a week for the past two semesters to keep me company–but it will be nice to drive down to the old Houghton Church building, and join the congregation I’ve been a part of since I was born in worship. They have just finished refurbishing the central worship-hall, and Dad says that the acoustics are simply breathtaking. We are a hymn oriented community during the summer, and I can’t wait to hear what the space will sound like once we get rolling.

It is nearing 3:00, now, and I aught get to bed before too much longer, or I won’t have the willpower to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Herein lies a great irony of my craft of writing, that for more than the past twelve hours, I’ve avoided it like the plauge, making up countless excuses about why I can’t write at the current moment. And now, as I begin to work, I am cut off by my own procrastination.

I am doing better, though, than I have been doing summers ago. Where I might once have waited a month in self loathing before working on a piece, it has only taken me an afternoon or two.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to begin a bit right after church. Or, if the good Lord wills it, after I take a nap.

Good Night to everyone,

~David King

P.S. Show the woman who bore you nine months that you appreciate that, despite the innumerable pieces of evidence to the contrary, you do appreciate her. Do the cooking, and maybe your own wash. They appreciate stuff like that.

After visiting the creek, April 24, 2007

Today, I began to build a dam. This is a long-time tradition for me; it marks the beginning of my summer. I have lived in Houghton for most of my life. Only a few years in Texas have broken the monotony (just enough for me to consider myself a Texan). Ever since returning from the Lone Star State, though, I’ve made a dam in the Houghton Creek every summer.

I can walk down the creek bed now, and point out the ruins of each, running over a mile up and down the surface of the running waters. I’ve often re-used each site several times, because there are a few places in the creek where a good dam in the right place can make pools that come up to my waist.

It’s not even May, yet, and the weather has only just turned warm. The creek water was still frigid from the winter melt, and the rocks, undisturbed for more than a season, were slick with creek scum. The basics of a creek dam are simple: you block the flow with rocks. The point isn’t to be thurough, because water will always get through no matter how hard you try to stop it. You go for height and width instead, slowing the water as much as you can so that it builds on one side. I’ve become good at it over the years. I started with the ruins of a very old dam, so old that I’m not sure if I build the original. The water sat happily a few inches above my ankles when I started, and had risen half a foot within ten minutes. It’s astounding how fast the depth grows now that I’m strong enough to move the big rocks into place.

Before long, a local of Lambein, the creek-side girl’s dorm, wandered over and asked how I was doing, and if it was cold. Yes, it was cold, I told her, and that the water was lapping around my knees now, staining my shorts wet.

She nodded politely, clearly not as enthused as myself. She told me that she hoped a flood wouldn’t wash it away, which seemed to me an odd thing to say.

I told her that I try to always build my dams to last rain-waters, so that instead of breaking apart the water pressure will only wash more rocks against the structure, making it stronger.

She nodded, not-terribly impressed with my cleverness.

I felt the first drops of water moments later, and her question suddenly made sense. As usual, as I had been concentrating on the water around my feet, other people had watched the sky cloud over. The girl was already gone, fleeing the incoming rain, and I followed suit, a little saddened that, despite my claims, I hadn’t had the time to rain-proof my creation. I left with sore feet from the rocks, red skin from the cold, and smelling of small insect larvae.

I was thinking on Saturday, that I’ve started to think about things differently, and I hypothesized that I’m starting to become an adult. Maybe, maybe not. If I have, it’s an odd sort that still enjoys the play of children. And here I am, reflecting on it later in a professional blog.

There’s something terribly meaningful going on here, but I’m not sure I fully understand it. I’ve sensed it for a while, now, without being able to put my finger on it.

If it’s nice tomorrow, I’ll go back and see what is left of the rocks I played with today. I’d like to make it again, this time well enough to withstand pressure that comes with the rain.

Maybe this is what they call “adulthood.”

Written for the Roads in Houston

What is one supposed to say,
When presented with such sweeping elegance,
That could shame the snake and hawk?

What is one supposed to say,
Seeing the models of Atlas in concrete,
Holding up the world on strong shoulders?

To see them rise, curling in and out of each other,
Like a child’s puzzle or a circle with only one side,
And to see how, in their infinite complexity,
We do not get lost.

What is one supposed to say,
In the presence of splendor
Which allows passion to say,
“I’m coming to see you. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

In Java’s, April 21st 2007

I’m currently sitting in Java 101, the local coffee shop. The little room isn’t crowded yet, but there’s a coffee house later tonight, so it’ll probably get more so soon. It’s Jazz tonight, though, and the Houghton community doesn’t always appreciate that, so maybe it won’t be too bad.

Even now, there are people I know filtering in, and I’m involuntarily drawn to listen in the conversations happening behind me. Don, the Choir’s assistant conductor, and Dave, my professor for Linear Algebra, both work part time here as Java Jockeys. I have their calls of Lemon Zinger, Orange Frap, and Baha Breeze Smoothie to ignore as well. This last is especially hard for me, because there are few drinks I relish as much as a fruit and yogurt blended in the correct proportions, with whipped creme on top. I do okay without one, though. They cost some $4.50, which is half the cost of a book of poetry, so skipping on two effectively gets me a new source of inspiration–something far more valuable.

These past weeks have been good for writers. The Lanthorn (it’s pronounced Lantern, but I forget sometimes) came out with a bang on monday. It’s the school’s literary magazine. Two poems of mine got in, but only one I really liked. There are three girls behind me reading the thing, and I confess a secret desire that one will turn to my Written for the Roads in Houston, and read it aloud. I’ve been complimented on it, but I would sometimes would rather hear someone else read something of mine, then comment on it. I feel a little like a voyeur, listening carefully to their conversation, occasionally cocking my ear to hear above the laughs of the ROTC folk to my left, but I’m not going to let myself feel guilty. I want to know what they think of things, and I’m to shy to simply go and join them in their conversation. I don’t know them, and they sound like they wouldn’t be comfortable talking poetry with someone they don’t know. I’ve asked a few friends if they want to get together to talk shop sometime, but I’ve yet to receive any responses.

The Writing Conference just ended at Houghton College, this afternoon. There was a good collection of writers here: Susanna Childress and Jean Janzen were the poets, which was very lucky for me. Two strong poets, there, of two very different styles. Jean (I feel odd, calling her by first name, but a last name reference seems too formal for such a nice lady, and full name takes to much space) is a poet I feel comfortable with, which is valuable in today’s day and age. She seems to think in the same way that I do, especially when it comes to Theology and the workings of the world, and captures our communal thoughts in ways that I envy. Susanna is the opposite, she makes me intensely uncomfortable, but in a way this is much, much more important. We’ve had very different lives, the two of us: my father is both my greatest role model and a man who loves me dearly, hers is clearly not. The way we look at everything: sexuality, violence, men, women, humanity in general is wildly different. When I first read her book, Jagged With Love, I felt a little like a voyeur (in a more negative way than listening into the conversation behind me does–they never read my poem, by the way). Then we discussed it in class, and I read it again, enjoying it more the second time. Having heard her read it on Thursday night, though, it clicked, and I understood why the poetry worked. I am now awaiting her next book eagerly. She’s thinking of writing a novel, or so she says. I would love to be able to help her in some way, but I don’t think I can really. I’ll look forward to that as well.

Leslie Leyland Fields was the writer representing creative non-fiction. I didn’t identify with her as much. She was in the genre I admired the least, but I’ll have to forgive her for that. Don’t misunderstand, please: her prose is fantastic, among the best I have read. I purchased Surprise Child out of duty, but hearing her read it in chapel makes me look forward to reading the contents, as opposed to dreading it.

Larry someone-or-other was the Editor, there, and he shared a great many important things. I can’t even remember what publishing house he was from. I’ll have to find out, because I’m interested. Perhaps after graduation I’ll go into publishing. Working with Bob Hudson from Zondervan this summer will no doubt help me towards that end. It would seem to me that if I can’t support myself on novels as I’d truly like to do, working with language in any way would be a delight for me. Perhaps an editorial position until (I tell myself over and over that it will be an until, that it will happen someday) I can support myself on novels and poetry and articles and any other clutter my voice ends up coming up with would be good for me. Immersing myself in language won’t be able to hurt, in any case.

The three ‘woman writers’ of the conference had a panel at the end, about the role of women writers in the modern world of writing. I entered dreading it, with images of men crucified with their arms spread up in a bloody mock of the Village People’s Y, the same as my gender’s accursed chromosome. I’ve attended panels of women-writers before, and left feeling feeling accused. Ashamed, I admit awareness of the sins of my own sex, along with the sins of my skin color, my country, my ancestry, my very humanity. But I’d like to think that I have raised myself up at least a little from those, and I am a better person than those that make social movements necessary, and I have known one to many women-types who accuse me based on genetics rather than spirit.

I left relieved, inspired, even moved. I have never heard such a reasonable discussion on anything regarding gender before. And it really was discussion, not debate, as I was so used to any gendered discussion being. But even more than that, I felt respected throughout the conversation, even loved. I was not nailed to my gender through my hands and feet, and I didn’t feel a crown of sexist thorns through the entire thing.

Susanna especially impressed me. I was most nervous of her, I think, both because on the ignorant first readings of Jagged with Love, I saw the potential echoes of a radical feminism (a thought that was driven out by the second reading, I should add), and because I had seen her loose appetite at lunch merely hearing a vague story about a misogynistic writer. My stress was unfounded, and I never once felt uncomfortable or judged around her. I’m not even sure if she would define herself as a feminist. There is a feminism to her, though, of a sort that builds great respect in me. Hers is a feminism that, should the rest of the women of America adopt, their cause would be reached far sooner than any would imagine. I would pray for that to happen.

Jazz will be beginning soon, and I should like to post a poem or two as well. The girls behind me never reached my poem, but this suddenly doesn’t seem as important to me. I’ll post it on here, and allow the world to read instead.

Goodbye, The World.

~David King