paperback rider 9: metricity and Millie


Millie, the librarian, and the employee who is seeking mythical Sheridarp have been debating whether it can be found on the rooftop of their Dreamwalk Library. Part 1 is here.

Certainty’s uncertain, I’m almost sure.
Lesser libraries might be networked to the greater,
according to the principle of megawasps,
and Dreamwalk might be part of Sonandinho.
So please, dear Millie, my librarian, my master,
might we go together to the rooftop?

Reluctant Millie half-agreed,
so we climbed a bookcase filled with stories,
stepped inside a wrought-iron elevator
and clambered from its roof into another,
thence upward through a stack
of stationary elevators, as we’d expected,*
before we finally reached the roof.


The morning sky was polarized,
honeycombed in indigo and gold,
burnt with cinnamon clouds and arching contrails,
dusted with formations of Solarian turistas,
while all around a desert waited;
beyond that desert, windy shards of glass
and razor wire vortices.

Millie made an explicatorial comment.

There are times of quickening,
when everything’s a jumble or a hologram or both,
when everything’s as obvious
as the truth that nothing is,
as the mystery of sanity.

I was unsatisfactorized.

Yesterday the world was everyday—
bitumen in traffic, pedestrians with magnolias for heads,
bipedaled signs that pointed out their end was distant.

No problemo, we can fix it later
with a range of 
legal medications.

I heard a sound, a buzz of circular saws,
of a hundred transformers with loose laminations,
and I looked up to see a swirling grey-scale cloud
—a swarm of wasps, in the shape of a wasp—
the mighty megawasp.


No, that’s only a kilowasp.
(Millie had read my notes.)
For a megawasp, you need
a cloud of kilowasps.

But I paid scant attention,
I didn’t even try imagining a gigawasp,
because the cloud was drawing nearer.

to continue to double digits or more likely, hexadecimal

*in the present context


  • Polarized sky light is probably explained in the nature of light and colour in the open air by M G J Minnaert.
  • solarians
  • I love unnecessary words like “explicate,” and they could even be useful if they had a distinct meaning. Often more syllables go with a more precise meaning, and there is a shortage of multisyllabic words which are vague or mean nothing; this issue needs to be addressed.
  • Salvador Dali was fond of flower heads. Here is one.

the rooftop (part above) from VEE, the visual evolution engine, and TIM, the illustrated mind. The image is evolved from 10 minutes of my EEG, and the detail above shows the transition from writing poetry to listening to music, mostly in the left hemisphere (upper part).

62 thoughts on “paperback rider 9: metricity and Millie

    • Thanks, Peter. At one stage, before the internet, I didn’t go to libraries to read but to find answers, I thought that all the answers were there somewhere. Now all the answers are on the internet. Not.

      Me too with Dali, although I now tend to see it as vaguely sexist by implication. Perhaps this is one of the problems of our age.

      Years ago I was gold prospecting with a metal detector in a cave entrance. I didn’t hear the loud buzzing from the wasps’ nest because I was wearing headphones. Apparently this event has lodged in my subconscious, hahaha.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Travelling upwards with Millie is such an exciting and unexpected journey. The description of the morning sky is so beautiful!. I like ‘the mystery of sanity’. It IS a mystery in this mad world. Not so keen on the wasps. Marvelous poem and lovely picture Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Margaret. I certainly have doubts about my own sanity. 🙂 The polarization of skylight does give you a kind of coloration but you do need to stare at the sky in certain conditions for quite a while. Wish I had a copy of the Minnaert book. Come to think of it, it’s probably in the library at my university.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you know how hard it is to get past the line “Certainty is uncertain, I’m almost sure” ? That might be one of the best lines I’ve ever read. Seriously. There’s about 20,000 pages of philosophy packed right into those six words. I’m stuck in amazement 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much. I think that if you make assumptions for a simple enough system, you can prove things, but that is very far from the real world. I am now coming around to the point of view that we have our pop science descriptions of the quantum mechanical (QM) realm and the macroscopic realm we live in backwards. In the QM realm, one can calculate precisely, but in the real world, everything that matters depends on statistics and is at best only likely to be true, including the direction of time itself. This is just a theory of course.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Randy. I don’t mind following instructions, it depends who’s giving them. 🙂If I don’t respect them, it’s a problem.

      Ah yes, I can see that dragonette. Maybe I was thinking about dragons at the time, Haha, it doesn’t work like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “I was unsatisfactorized.” Boy, I know that feeling! Love the way you use words. And the description of the morning sky. And Millie’s “explicatorial comment.” Randyjw sees a dragon in the artwork; I see an exotic rainforest bird. And that looks like a volcano at the bottom. Everything swimming in a subtly fluorescent sea. Makes me feel good to gaze at it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Steve, You always take us to these incredible places with your creative application of words.
    I am with most in commenting on the sky description, beautiful but I am a touch apprehensive with
    “I heard a sound, a buzz of circular saws,” oh ohhh. I also really like the dark vertical line addition in your art lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A staircase would be much more functional than a stack of stationary elevators, methinks. Then again, I doubt the Dreamwalk Library was built with functionality in mind. 🙂
    Millie says it’s “only a kilowasp”?! Sounds pretty terrifying to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Paul. I agree, there is terror in every day of living. I see the desert as more of a foreboding, a general uneasiness about the disintegration of the biosphere and everything in it. Thank goodness we still have emojis. 😑

      Liked by 1 person

  6. i love your unnecessary words, it is the stuff dreams are made of. I like climbing stairs that have stories and standing upon imaginary roof tops. I think light is a trickster, he says he is one thing but shows us another just when we start believing. ok so the moon may be the cause of this or maybe its that when i read your story it has a poetic beat that stirs a very pre-historic emotion I cannot put a name to.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your luminous words, Gina, and I’m glad my words resonated with you. The moon is responsible for many things, but in any case, I agree completely about light. One art project I worked on made me realize that we never see what is in front of us: we see various kinds of emitted and reflected light which are processed by our brain at a fundamental level even before higher levels come into play.

      Emotion X is interesting. 🙂 I cannot explain why I write what I do, but it has to feel right to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i am fascinated by art and music both of which I have no skill or aptitude for – the fundamentals are just what we have been conditioned to believe, in a world of sameness I always challenge rules and convention, why must anything fit a predetermined mould. that is why reading your words gives me this reassurance I am not alone in imagining this world is just a slide show, and there is something deeper we can reach into and the intangible isn’t a lie. yes Steve the writing process is a weird one – i like reading how you write what you feel is right to you, i start the same way – there is no better way to be honest with ourselves. carry on! you are a brilliant writer!

        Liked by 1 person

      • oh my Vanessa, you make me smile! i had to go back and read what I wrote, my mind is just too full and i think Steve encourages my madness. he is absolutely brilliant without realising it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • oh as you are too my dear Vanessa, your short stories are superb, i wish you would write more of them. Steve is very cool, I did once ask how it would be like to live in his brain just for a day.

          Liked by 1 person

        • As you two know, I love your work, but you really don’t want to spend a day inside my head. For example, today…

          I needed a quite specific piece of furniture (dimensions etc) for my studio–the EEG work. I found it on the IKEA website, there were plenty in stock, I put the app on my phone and drove there. After walking 2km through the store, I came to the warehouse area, took a large flatbed trolley and started loading the necessary items, but one item was missing. I opened a cardboard box on the shelf but it turned out to be other parts.

          A helpful assistant came over and told me that she had noticed the item was missing. During the conversation, I looked across to where my trolley had been, and it had vanished with the other components on it: someone had taken it. This was a blessing in disguise since I no longer needed them. I told the helpful assistant that visiting IKEA had been an edifying experience and went on my way.

          You might find this hard to fathom, you might say that people go to IKEA, find what they want and buy it. My life never works like that.

          Liked by 1 person

        • see i told you it will be interesting, all those secondary brainwaves that interrupts current. I want to be likewise electrified for one whole blue moment. i enjoyed your little journey through the nether world of IKEA – only brave souls venture unaccompanied here. in no way does this story deter my ambition. have a lovely weekend Steve!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Gina, I did have a good weekend, by not going back to IKEA. They still don’t have the part in stock. Your description is perfect: the netherworld. Perhaps soon customers will have to shovel coal with serial numbers in their furnaces.

          I like your secondary brainwaves. I see them as waves on a beach where there is a rip current, running at angles, at cross-purposes.


  7. I agree with songsfromtheriver. That first line is incredible. It aptly leads up to a plethora of imagery describable only by your selection of words, which is awesome, as always. Wonderful write, Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

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