Women in Horror: Denise Dumars

WiHM11-Scalples-wh

Denise Dumars is today’s guest poet. She talks about her love of poetry, interests in weird themes and being considered strange.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I honestly don’t remember NOT knowing about or reading poetry. In my day it was common for people to learn to read before starting school, and children’s books are full of poetry. My favorite poem when I was a little girl was called “Overheard on a Saltmarsh” by Harold Monro. It’s about a goblin who is just dying to get these green glass beads that a nymph is wearing. He’s howling and freaking out and the nymph tells him to shut up because she stole the beads from the moon. So, yeah, fairly dark poem for a little girl. I guess I haven’t changed. I went on to favor Poe, Lovecraft, Baudelaire, and especially Emily Dickinson. Dickinson lived in a repressed era in which formalist poetry was pretty much the only poetry, and so she made up her own forms and lived her life her way. When she discovered that the neighborhood kids were whispering about her, she started wearing white to add to her “legend.” She also had an unrequited love for a married clergyman. Dark romantic all the way!  I discovered the small press in the late 1970’s, and found so many poets that I felt a kinship with and who wrote work that I admired. There are too many to name, of course, but some names for Women in Horror month that pop up immediately are Corinne DeWinter, Ann K. Schwader, Marge Simon, Stephanie Wytovich, Linda Addison, Deborah Kolodji, Nancy Ellis Taylor…I could go on and on. See also my answers to the last question.

Dumars solarWhy do you write poetry?

I had this student who always wore cat ears to class. I asked her one day, “Why do you always wear cat ears to class?” She said, “Why not wear cat ears to class?” She had a point.  It’s like that with poetry, and people look askance at you for writing it almost as much as they look askance at someone wearing cat ears every day. But seriously, I think poets are born, not made. Poetry is just something I do; it’s part of my identity. No matter how much fiction and nonfiction I write, people primarily think of me as a poet. And I haven’t had much time to write in the last few years. I still have to make a living, and most of my free time has been spent taking care of elders in my family and managing their lives. I’m just now getting back, gradually, to my writing. My most recent book of poetry came out in 2012, and was nominated for an Elgin twice, and then later that same year my aunt got sick and I became her conservator. I’ll spare you the details; right now I’m trying to manage my late father’s estate and see that my mother is cared for. It’s a full-time unpaid job. I’ve been recently published in Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Space & Time, Eternal Haunted Summer, The Literary Hatchet and several other genre and mainstream poetry journals. Not having time to write has almost driven me over the edge, I’ll admit, so I guess I could say that poetry has saved my life multiple times.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

Well, except for the fact that people in the U.S. think you’re weird for writing poetry, I think getting in a poetic frame of mind is hard, especially if you’ve been writing a lot of prose. Few people really encourage you except when you write fiction and nonfiction, so when I write a lot of that I find it very hard to come back to poetry. I’m working on a couple of novels right now and have several new short stories I’m revising. I also have to write a second volume of one of my most popular nonfiction books, The Dark Archetype. Teaching doesn’t help. It’s really been the kiss of death for my vocabulary. I can’t spell anymore, either. A colleague warned me about that when I first started teaching and I thought she was kidding, but now that I’ve taught college English for 24 years I find that it’s true. Thankfully, I’ve been nominated for a Rhysling several times and even won a second-place Rhysling once.

Ghost Riders

They’re not what you think.
Transparent Hells’ Angels,
Dude may have weighed 280 in life
But now weighs less than a feather.

A last member of the Hessians’
“One percent” is on his oxygen tank today
Telling me how he saw his late friend,
The one Jim Carroll wrote about,
Who came looking for him
Right there in Intensive Care,
Transparent as a hooker’s raincoat.

You don’t tell him that you’ve seen them
As they laugh through red light cameras
Disappearing into the Milky Way
Out around Yucca Valley,
Heading toward the honky-tonk
At Pappy’s Pioneer Town,
Leaving you in the dust of life

Out where the sky
Is vaster than the afterlife,
Darker than the demons
That compelled the ghost riders
To leave the mainstream world behind
Even while they were alive,
None fearing the end
That inevitably comes too soon.

You taste salt and Reaper Ale
On your tongue, grow claustrophobic
Beneath a sky you had no idea
Was so fucking crowded,
And the hollow roar
Of phantom engines nearly drowns out
The Gram Parsons tribute band
At Pappy’s, and you are the one sad
Mutherfucker alone in the crowd.

You could disappear
Into the tarantula darkness
Of the Mojave,
A vision quest
Beneath the great chaotic
Smear of the night sky,
Or you could stop awhile
And listen to their voices
Before going back to the bar,
“Last call,”
Just too damned ironic,
Then the long, dark
Lonely road home.

Don’t worry; they’ll be here
When you travel the dark highway
Again. You’ll start to feel the freedom
Of coming and going as one pleases,
Without corporeal limits.

It’s a trap; don’t believe it.
Every one would come back full-throttle
Sell his weevily soul
For just one more taste of Jack Daniels
One kiss from the girl singer
In Daisy Dukes.

Finish your beer; say a prayer;
Give them the middle-finger salute
Or any other gesture
You feel is appropriate,
And let them fade, fade,
Headlights lost in the Milky Way.

## I wrote this poem in memory of my late cousin, James Hicks, who was a biker. It appeared in my book Paranormal Romance: Poems Romancing the Paranormal, 2012, White Cat Publications.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?Dumars para

My latest book of poetry, Paranormal Romance: Poems Romancing the Paranormal has a theme: paranormal investigation in the modern world. It just cracks me up the way ghost hunters nowadays use a plethora of electronic devices to talk to ghosts! They go hollering down hallways and banging on walls. Whatever happened to séances? Whatever happened to being quiet and listening? I find the whole thing hilarious. Overall I tend to write dark work: horror, dark fantasy, dark SF. I prefer the supernatural and the mysteries of nature and the universe, but I do write some mainstream poetry. As for themes, I think alienation, melancholy, loneliness, decay—you know, the usual! All of my books are out of print except the ones I still have copies of to sell. However, I do a lot of poetry readings. Check out my website or my Facebook page for info. I started performing with Casketeria, a dark romantic poetry performance troupe that also delves into humor. They’re an offshoot of a troupe I read with back in the 90’s called Undead Poets Society. Poetry is part of the oral tradition; it’s meant to be heard.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

It’s the same frisson you get from reading a horror story, watching a horror movie, listening to Goth music or viewing dark artwork. It’s all about the emotion; horror is a feeling, not a genre, really, and I forgot who first said that! Poetry is uniquely suited to evoking feelings, so if those feelings are dark and creepy, poetry really brings those emotions to the fore in an immediate way.

Dumars bookWhat projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I mentioned novels and short stories and nonfiction, but as for poetry, I have a couple of collections working, and I’m promising myself that in 2020 I will submit far more poetry and get some of my chapbooks and book-length stuff together to submit to publishers. As for a themed collection I keep thinking of goofy crazy things—I have one called Heisenberg’s Phone Bill and another called Cajuns in Space, but I’ll probably finish a darker collection first—Kali Yuga Raga. We’re living in the Kali Yuga—the time of troubles. According to Hindu lore the Kali Yuga started on my birthday—Feb. 18th—around five thousand years ago. A raga is a Hindu pattern of notes that can be played for, oh, several hours to several days! I have a very dark view of our society and the future right now. That definitely does factor into my poetic themes. I’m a Lovecraftian, also, but as much as I try to stay away from Lovecraft these days the themes of cosmic horror keep sneaking up on me. My column on finding speculative poetry in mainstream magazines is published in each new issue of Star*Line, so look for that.

Is there anything else you would like to say about writing, poetry or horror?

I really believe in the beauty of decadence in its literal sense of decay. It’s a romantic thing; the love of cemeteries and ruined buildings and famous people whose lives ended tragically. I can be pretty harsh in my writing, but I think it all goes back to the darkly romantic. I was “Goth” before the word had begun to be used to describe the subculture. I like that science is now able to observe decaying orbits and suns and things like that, so that we can enjoy the beauty of the decaying cosmos. I love Paris, like all poets, but I also love Mexico and New Orleans, both of which display some of the same cultural tendencies toward dark romanticism. New Orleans is a part of my heritage on my father’s side, and it shows up in my poetry a lot. I keep a picture of his aunt Josephine on my bookshelf guarding some of my contributor’s copies. It’s an eerie picture of her in her nun habit in the fog—like the ghost of the Flying Nun! A sizable part of my interests also run toward surrealism and Dada—Andre Breton, the founder of surrealism, went to Mexico and famously said, “This country does not need our movement.” In Mexico they have meet-ups for all the kids who wear black—it doesn’t matter if you’re emo or Goth, a metalero (fan of heavy metal), a witch, a vampire or whatever–wear black and come to this coffee house at such and such a time on such and such a day. How poetic is that?

Denise Dumars is a college English instructor, poet, fiction writer, and writer of Dumars biometaphysical nonfiction. She is the author’s liaison for the academic journal Coreopsis: Journal of Myth and Theatre, and writes a quarterly column for Star*Line. She also helms Rev. Dee’s Apothecary: a New Orleans-Style Botanica, available online at www.DyanaAset.com and https://www.facebook.com/RevDeesApothecary/. She has a blog that no one reads at https://dyanaaset.blogspot.com/. See these links and her own website, www.DeniseDumars.com, for more info and book sales. She was born and still lives in Los Angeles County’s  beautiful South Bay region, but her heart is in New Orleans. She has published two collections of short fiction, several poetry chapbooks, one full-length book of poetry, and two metaphysical texts, one co-authored with Lori Nyx. Many years ago she also had a screenplay optioned, co-authored with Nancy Ellis Taylor. She can be found grousing and muttering to herself at https://www.facebook.com/denise.dumars.

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Women in Horror: Michelle Jeffrey

WiHM11-Scalples-wvMichelle Jeffrey is my guest poet today. She shows quite well the dark with her poems of pagans and mythic beings.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I started writing poetry when I was six years old, so my early influences would have been traditional nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss. I started exploring dark themes in my poetry when I was eleven, drawing from life experience. Later I was influenced by the work of T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because my soul screams out for it to be written. I have been driven to write poetry from when I could first write. It is an integral part of my being and I could not imagine a life where I was not writing poetry regularly.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

I find it difficult to write poetry when I pick a subject and decide to write about it. My poetry is usually written about something I feel passionate about. The muse takes me and the words just flow from deep within my psyche.

Jeffrey spec 12A Summoning of Demons

Oh fallen angel, oh spirit unclean
However heinous and obscene
Be thou but the fiercest fiend
From the very darkness weaned
Nurtured fast on dread and slaughter
Thou who dwell across the water
Beyond the bounds of space and time
From nether regions’ fiery clime
Come, cross the river of life and death
With burning eyes and blazing breath
Come hither now with ravening bent
In answer to this summons sent

Beelzebub, thou of envy and spite
Come storming from the realm of night
Belphegor, cause thyself to shift
Come voracious, across the rift
Asmodeus, thou who stirs the blood
Licentious, lust and passions flood!
Baal and Hadad, come together
With thou rain and stormy weather
Sathanus, wild with wrathful ire
Come thou from the realms of fire!
Mammon, heavy with rapacious greed
With appetite strong and avarice freed
Lucifer, proud with blinding light
That shines eternal burning bright

Demons mighty, strong and tall
Greatest gods before the fall
Indomitable, rampant, wild and savage
Unbridled, set to storm and ravage
Monstrous with malevolent grace
Hither, come unto this space

## Published in Spectral Realms No. 12, Winter 2020

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I often write about the natural world, such as the seasons, the rain, the sea and the moon. My poetry is often drawn from classical mythology and paganism; Gods and Goddesses and their stories.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?Jeffery cave

I think some people like the thrill of immersing themselves in horror. They enjoy the feeling of being scared and contemplating something outside their day-to-day existence, beyond the bounds of the safe structures society builds around them. There is something about the meter of poetry that heightens the macabre experience, causing people to anticipate dread with a disturbing delight.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I am currently working on a ritual descent to the Underworld incorporating my poetry. I will be conducting the ceremony in the Temple of Baal Cave, one of the most spectacular limestone caves at Jenolan Caves, located in Australia.

Of Hooves and Horns

Within the depths of velvet forest
Something stirs
Elusive scent lichen and moss
Ferns and firs
Movement slight scarcely seen
Rarely caught
Shadows move the darkness dancing
Edge of thought
Wilderness walking stalking shadow
Soft sounding
Hooves clatter striking stone
Wild bounding
Taunting glimpse horned shadow
Falling light
Calling drawing through the veil
Darkness bright

Jeffrey god## published in Call of the God: An Anthology Exploring the Divine Masculine Within Modern Paganism, 2015
(Also published in Spectral Realms No. 9, Summer 2018)

Is there anything else you want to say about horror or poetry?

My mother used to  take me to see the Hammer gothic horror movies as a young girl, sparking off a lifetime love of the horror genre.

Jeffrey bioMichelle Jeffrey is a poet, artist, dreamer and cat whisperer who likes to weave mythology, music and poetry into the rhythm of rituals and ceremonies. She is a regular contributor of poetry and articles to pagan magazines in Australia. Her poetry has also appeared in the Spectral Realms: A Weird Poetry Journal and Call of the God: An Anthology Exploring the Divine Masculine Within Modern Paganism. Michelle resides in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two cats.

 

Twelve o’clock

Deeply engrossed
With the busy day’s clatter
Never expecting the sudden crack
Stunning my senses
Staring blindly
At the increasing void

The icy surface
So smooth, so still
The break was raw
Against all nature
It seemed
As if Hades had come
And dragged me down
As abruptly as
He had seized Persephone
Tearing me too
From the stable surface
Scattered flowers in my wake

## published in The Small Tapestry, Winter 2015Jeffery spec 9

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Women in Horror: Emma Gibbon

WiHM11-GrrrlWhiteWhen did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I started writing poetry as a teenager. I was extremely angsty and trying to put down some of the darkness I felt was a way of releasing it. I read the first poetry that really blew me away around the same time at school–Coleridge and Blake. “Christabel” was a wonder to my teenage brain and “The Sick Rose” was the first poem I ever memorized. Later, Plath and Sexton really spoke to me. I find my influences come from different mediums too–the music videos of Mark Pellington, the works of Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier, film and TV like Donnie Darko and Twin Peaks, and the photography of Gregory Crewdson. I’ve always said that if I can ever create something that gives me the same feeling as Nirvana’s version of “In the Pines” then I’ll feel like I’ve finally made it.

Consumption

I had always envied Emily’s beauty
her life it seemed
charmed
and I a hobgoblin in her wake,
the ugliest sister,
while she of the flaxen hair,
rosebud lips
and a laugh that
tinkled like spun glass
sailed ahead.

Even when the sickness settled into her bones
like a cursed sea fret
and the hack, hack, hack of her cough filled rooms
still her suitors came.

This creature,
this consumption,
enhanced her beauty still.
Burrowed into her body
and made it shine
like a thing that must die.

Her cheeks, inflamed, bloomed
in their hollows
and those famed lips,
crimson and blood-bitten

but it was her eyes
her eyes
that stopped the menfolk across
the room
feverish green
gasoline on water burning
come-hither and much, much more.

How I wanted what she had
How I wanted to be her
How I wanted

I watched her obsessively
as she lounged on every chaise longue
trying to hide what she produced with her hack, hack, hack.
She was sly but not as sly as
I. I tracked those delicate handkerchiefs she
spat into,
folded,
and tucked under cushions,
pillows,
behind drapes,
trying to hide the shame
of her mortality.

Still the men simpered,
her tragedy an aphrodisiac.

When she was abed,
swimming in laudanum dreams,

I would retrace her faltering steps,
collect the small silken packets
she would leave like presents.

When alone I would open them,
inspect the slime,
the bloody sputum.
Steeling myself,
I would lick the silk,
consume her sickness,

steal her beauty for myself.

## published in Eye to the Telescope #33

Why do you write poetry?

It’s the same as all the writing I do, it really is a compulsion. I am a happier person when I do. I don’t necessarily find writing easy but not writing makes me feel uneasy in my skin.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

There are certain poems that come out almost fully formed and it feels like magic. I can reverse engineer them and see what my subconscious was working on and where they came from, but in the moment of writing, I experience a flow that is the best feeling of writing. The difficulty comes when it is the opposite of that when there’s something I want to write about but it really takes work and a lot of drafts to get it right. The irony is is that I don’t think the reader can tell the difference between the finished poems.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I do. I have themes that come up over and over again. Very often, I am only aware of it retrospectively. I’ve been writing for over twenty years now, and I can track what my concerns and worries and interests are through my work. I also have certain “obsessions” that I come back to. My librarian-brain means I go down research rabbit holes and these resurface later in my writing. Some of the themes and motifs you’ll find in my poetry (and other writings) are illness (especially tuberculosis), sympathetic portrayals of monsters, underdogs and outcasts, robots and AI, death and funeral rituals, the supernatural, gothic sensibilities, dystopias, punk and glam rock and much more!

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I genuinely think that there are many people (myself included) that are just hardwired to be attracted to darker themes. I’m deeply suspicious of people who are relentlessly sunshine-y and positive. I believe that art is full of dark and light and all the gray areas in between and to experience all of it is to live a fuller life.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I have “Persephone,” a poem out with Kaleidotrope this year and I also have a chapbook, Monster, Miasma & Myth, out on submission that I hope someone will pick up. Very excitingly, I have two poems nominated for the Rhysling: “Fune-RL” and “Consumption.” In not-poetry news, I have a story “Purgatory” due out in the folk horror anthology, Would But Time Await, and my debut fiction collection, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, is due out in May. I’m also going to be a Readercon program participant this year, and I will be editing Eye to the Telescope 36, House and Home which will release in April.

Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now lives in Midcoast Maine. GibbionShe is a Rhysling-nominated speculative poet, horror writer and librarian. Her poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Pedestal Magazine and Eye to the Telescope. Her stories have appeared in the New England Horror Writers anthologies, Wicked Haunted and Wicked Weird, The Muse & The Flame and Toasted Cake podcast. Her debut fiction collection, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, is out in May from Trepidatio Publishing. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra and M. Bison (also known as Grim). She is a member of the New England Horror Writers, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, the Angela Carter Society and the Tuesday Mayhem Society. Her website is emmajgibbon.com and you can find her on twitter @EmmaJGibbon.

 

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Women in Horror: Lori Lopez

WiHM11-Scalples-whLori Lopez is my guest today for Women in Horror Month. Yet another fantastic writer with nominations and awards. And a special treat: Lori wrote a brand new poem, seen here for the first time.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

Well, that goes way back to Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes and Doctor Seuss books.  I loved those, and then the Alice books by Lewis Carroll.  I became familiar with works such as “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, murder ballads “Tom Dooley” and “Barbara Allen,” folk songs, protest songs, and a variety of lyrics.  I believe I wrote my first poem in third grade inspired by Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”  I was fascinated with verse and wrote it before getting into prose.  I recall writing and drawing when I wasn’t reading in my spare time as a child, and I never really stopped, though I was actually writing songs for some years as a young adult before focusing on poetry, short stories, novels and such.  I also illustrate my books.

Why do you write poetry?

It isn’t so much why I write poetry, it’s more that I cannot stop writing verse.  It practically flows from me like breath and has since I was small.  It really does come naturally, whether humorous or serious or dark, whether fantasy or science fiction, horror, speculative . . .  I seem to be drawn to dark poetry the most, yet I have written a fair amount of humorous pieces too.  And of course, the two will merge.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

I find that poetry affects my prose and prose affects my poetry. They bleed into each other like humor and horror, blending. Things turn out funny that were supposed to be scary. It can cause delays for deadlines. Personally, I don’t mind if my prose is poetic at times, or my verse has a prose ring. Punctuation and breaks, flow and balance are emphasized in poetry, yet also important for prose I feel. And I enjoy horror comedy, growing up with The Munsters and The Addams Family and The Scooby Gang for inspiration! Not to mention Lewis Carroll (because I already did).

I like to tell stories, so longer narrative poems will pour out. That isn’t what’s “in” these days. I seldom write very short poems, and when I write haiku I like to do poems with multiple verses in haiku form. I used to rhyme more than I do now, but I do still love to rhyme. And I don’t care what the latest trends are, what’s popular. I write according to what the story or idea demands. So I guess being “current” or “relevant” might be a problem. I am hoping there will always be an audience for quality verse, even if it isn’t always a popular style. I do experiment and may be cutting-edge on occasion, but not because it’s expected.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I have a very themed series of poetry books based on a poetry column I was writing for about five years, “Poetic Reflections.”  The column is currently on pause but will continue (I hope), less often than before.  Each column has a specific theme, with a humorous prose intro and poems more or less on the subject.  I used the columns to begin chapters in the Poetic Reflections book series, then added more poems.  Right now I am preparing second editions in print for the first two volumes, Keep the Heart of a Child and The Queen of Hats.  The first volume includes song lyrics.  A third volume was released at the very end of 2018 as an E-book, Blood On the Moon, and will be released this year as an illustrated print edition.  I have a fourth volume underway titled Poe-etic.

lopez bookI am also releasing two related book series.  My Poetic Reflections collections and columns encompass a wide variety of poems.  In my Darkverse series I am literally putting together the “dark verse” and have released a volume titled Darkverse:  The Shadow Hours.  It’s available in E-book and illustrated print editions.  I plan to launch a series for my humorous verse as well.

I also have a series of stories told in rhyming prose, with the first one titled The Dark Mister Snark.  There will be two sequels released in the near future:  The Darker Mister Snark and The Darkest Mister Snark.  I’ll be publishing some other specific poetry books, and my novella The Strange Tail of Oddzilla contains a number of silly pieces.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I’ve always loved spooky things.  I’m not alone in that, and people in general seem to enjoy macabre musings, creepy moods, atmospheric settings at least some of the time.  It can help them cope with unpleasant realities, prepare them for the true-life moments that make hearts race.  It’s certainly fun around Halloween.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

There is a ghost collection of stories I hope to finally release this year, Spooktacular Tales, along with the second Mister Snark.

There may be a new dark poetry collection this year, and the first humorous compilation . . . plus new print releases for volumes one to three in my Poetic Reflections Series.  I have a few other special things I will be trying to get done.  There are so many projects to finish or start, and I never know how long things will take, especially my artwork.  I’ll see what I can accomplish in the months ahead, along with recording several of my songs with my sons for our new band, The Fairyflies.

Is there anything else about poetry or horror you’d like to mention?

I have a lot of horror tales published, and a lot of people don’t know about me yet.  I appreciate this chance to be featured for Women in Horror Month.

My sons and I released a funny Bigfoot sighting video last year, also The Chupacabra’s Jig with a spooky song and animated Chupacabras.  We’ll be doing plenty of interesting things together, horror and otherwise.  You can check out our website, Fairy Fly Entertainment, and look for us on You-Tube to find author readings and other videos.  We’re planning a couple of new web series and our first film projects in 2020 and beyond.

THE SACRIFICE

Digits of dread, cold as the chill of a grave
Fingerwalk the bones of my back in ghoulish strides
Up and down the column of a crooked spine
Wending like a road through the night. Woe is me,
Plodding such a route, silent as a charnel resting-place —
A pasture of tombs; a network of catacombs, the bodies
Buried deep to slumber undisturbed. Lucky stiffs.
I envy their repose, their peace.

Cloaked in exquisite solitude I roam, unable to nap
Or catch a wink. Solemn as a wraith, a specterless spirit.
Hunched in reverie without words, my phantom thoughts
Dark and elusive. Troubles submerged, unseen but sensed,
Like a fanged bloodfiend in the mirror, for that is
Surely the worst and the most free, to be glimpsed not —
Even by one’s self. I’ve read the tales, the folklore.
I comprehend their pain and misery.

Yet I am more alone, and spend my days wishing
I were blind, to not view these scars, the mounds of
Brute force, an ogre’s shadow! Wishing not to be aware.
On fleeting respites I carve a trail of un-speculation through
Shadow and street. Then return to my fate, and none the
Wiser. Me or the masses. For my calling is no clearer
To the eye of the ignorant. No more obvious than scratches
Under a coffin’s lid.

How comforting that could seem at my lowest point.
A bed without disruption, minus the echoes from end to end
Of these infernal waking minutes. The drudgery of days
Wretched beyond measure, crossing any limit of sanity,
While the late and early hours flit away in a moth’s aerial
Fairydance — too swift, too intangible. A mere blink,
And then I am risen from the Keeper’s hut above
The beldam’s abyss.

Someone has to bear it, the weight and monotony . . .
The blistering ache and dire lamentous torment of my tasks.
In complete oblivion, anonymous, thankless, friendless
I labor . . . to fulfill an oath, a purpose that few in reality
Would believe or appreciate. It must be carried out, so that
Everyone like you will have a chance to lead a happier life.
Isn’t that how the story goes? How it’s supposed to end?
I perform this sacrifice . . .

There is a larger good, I need to believe that.
It is all I’ve got left to remember you. Eight years ago
I made a vow, accepted the destiny of fathers and sons in our
Bloodline. I was a daughter. No man-child remained of age.
And I did not inherit size or strength, but had to be adapted —
Flesh rebuilt from daintier, warped from beauty into beast,
Transformed like a monster by gruesome procedures and
Parts. Ripped from the arms of my young . . .

Who I may nevermore visit, hold, or speak with.
I miss you both. And fear for you. The patchwork creature
Of bulk and brawn a kind lass became has no resemblance,
No claim to such foolish daydreams. Wistful reflections.
A faraway existence. Only this. My duty and ordeal.
You were too small. If I might talk to you again, sweet children;
If I could share a last Bedtime Story, I would explain that
Once upon a time . . .

There were four Great Witches. Lazy. Selfish.
Rancorous old women. A family of very huge, very hungry
Sisters. And sometimes families cannot get along. These
Siblings fought over everything! To protect the world,
They had to be kept apart . . . These hags are vital for they
Control the Seasons and Elements. Without them,
A fragile balance could be destroyed. Their mother —
Nature — the Planet — would be in chaos.

I and male cousins toil as Witchkeepers. The Cavewitch
Locked in a mountain. The Woodwitch confined to a towering
Treehouse. The Pondwitch inhabiting a cage submerged,
The mudpool her kettle. Each stirs a cauldron, maintains a Spell.
The Wellwitch I tend, chained at the base of a dry stone pit.
At Dawn I must drag her out of bed, lug the enormous crone
To her pot, then collect sackfuls of ingredients. Fat Pumpkins.
Thick Toadstools. Fresh-picked Banewort and Witchgrass.

Devil’s Hand. Goat’s Rue. Bee Orchids. Witch Hazel.
Snapdragon Seed Pods. The Root of Mandrake. Flame and
Voodoo Lilies. The shed Skin of Poisonous Spiders and Serpents.
The Spit of Wildcats. Stray Owl Feathers and Bear Fur.
Whiskers fallen from Vampire Bats. A broken Bigfoot Toenail.
Laughing Hyena Tears. Lost Milkteeth from below the pillows
Of ornery sleeping Tots. A demanding list of foraged items to
Feed the Witch and fuel her Potion.

Vapors of enchantment ascend the steep rounded shaft,
Wafting, blending, merging with magick from her siblings
To form a purple layer of gases, embracing, shielding
Earth. Colorless to mortal gazes, undetected. Keeping you
Safe. Tomorrow I repeat the routine, climbing to the floor.
Moving the Witch. Scaling the Well. Gathering the List.
Hauling it to the cauldron. This time I will have slipped inside,
Instead of lingering at the window.

I may look like a beast; my heart is the same that
Always loved you. When you read this note, my darlings,
Picture me as I was. Tell your father to take you far.
I will not endure forever. This burden grinds one down,
And I do not want it to be yours. The world might not
Be as secure, as stable in the future. You will need to
Watch out for each other. Do not be afraid to live.
Do not despair over me.

I must stay alert or am haunted by grim concerns.
I cannot allow myself to think: What if I refused?
What if I tricked the Witch to do my bidding, rather than
Permit these changes? What if I were the mother you
Knew and could run off with you . . . It’s too late now,
My dears. A surgeon and your grandma contrived this
Ruin. I thought there was no choice. When I think,
I see the truth — that I was deceived.

##

lopez

Lori R. Lopez is an award-winning author, poet, songwriter, and illustrator who loves wearing hats.  Books include The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, Odds & Ends: A Dark Collection, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours.  Verse and prose have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines such as The Horror Zine, Weirdbook, The Sirens Call, Bewildering Stories, H.W.A. Poetry Showcases, California Screamin’ (the Foreword Poem), Grey Matter Monsters, Dead Harvest, and Fearful Fathoms Volume I.

Vegan and an activist, Lori resides in Southern California.  She’s originally from Wisconsin and has lived in Hawaii, Florida, and Spain.  Her works span a range of genres — primarily Horror, Speculative, Dark Fantasy, Suspense, and Humor.  Lori co-owns Fairy Fly Entertainment with her two talented sons.

A 2020 Rhysling Award Nominee and a 2018 Elgin Award Nominee, her other honors include three first places in the 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, finalist for poetry in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards, second place for poetry in the 2016 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, second place for humor in the 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, and winner in the 2014 San Diego Book Awards.

Website: www.fairyflyentertainment.com
https://www.youtube.com/user/fairyflyent
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/lori-r.-lopez
https://amazon.com/author/lorirlopez

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Women in Horror: Angela Yuriko Smith

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?WiHM11-Scalples-wv

The first poem I remember reading was “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. I think I must have been around 2nd or 3rd grade. I was going through a bandits and pirates obsession and the way Noyes put together the story as a poem intrigued me. I was breathless after absorbing such an intense tale distilled into verse. Not long after I stumbled across “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. I fell in love with him and the way poetry could cut the fat from prose and leave the reader with only the essentials. In my mind, poetry heightened the reader’s discover and could play outside the normal rules of fiction.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because some stories need to be told that way. I love the way you can show an alternative perspective with poetry and turn a few thoughts into something to mull.  Poetry sparks revolution, soothes pain and reawakens the spirit.

Dark Matters

It’s all dark matters
in the space between the stars.
Inverted brilliance.

## 2019 winner of SFPA poetry contest in dwarf form

smith clawsWhat do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

Finding an authentic voice and staying true to it. Allowing the poem to be what it wants to be makes me nervous sometimes. Often I tell a poem “You can’t say that!” but until I let the poem say what it wants in the way it wants, it won’t let me rest.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

A lot of my poetry (and prose) hopes to give readers a different way to look at fears. Are monsters, death and destruction really so terrible? In my poetry, it’s often just the way you look at it. I’ve been told this is how “the Antichrist” communicates and I find that immensely flattering.

Parade of the Raven Prince

He stands at the head
of a carnivalistic parade…
hungry and bizarre with
hollowed, craven eyes.

His sharp beak pierces
the dark side of my heart.
His ebon feathers tickle
my fancy and I blush.

His misshapen troupe
watches from behind
licking cracked lips
waiting for reactions…
will I run or stay?

I stay, hypnotized
by his compelling dark
gaze laden with promises—
annihilation for adoration
seems a good exchange
in the woods at night
when face to face with
the Raven Prince and
his possessive posse.

His stance says enough.
I am already owned. He
is the scavenger of souls…
the claimer of carcasses.

Boneless, helpless
I drop to the leaves
adding my humanity
to the detritus there….
cast it off like a girl’s
outgrown, faded frock
and open my chest
inviting him to dip his
razor beak into my soul
and drain me to a husk.

Somewhere, a witch’s tears
mar her silver scry as she
witnesses wilted and sad
girlhood fall forgotten to
the forest floor and her
child prisoner rise to join
a different twisted family.

I see her eyes in the mist
watching me from shadows
cast from my new master.
With no love lost I wave
soft and secret for her
that watches, blinded
as her monkey joins
another circus.

##

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

Speculative poetry is the mirror we hold up so we can safely see Medusa. The world is Medusa. The speculative genre allows readers to dip into unsafe worlds where there are no rules, protections, or assurances and view our own through them. A fictional viral zombie apocalypse allows us to think about the very real coronavirus, but in a safer way. We can dip our toes into our fear, have a peek into its eyes and see how we might slay it.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

My next poetry collection is Altars and Oubliettes which is an exploration of the things smith bookwe want to remember on our mind’s altars and the things we’d rather forget. I’m currently working on a collection I’ve called Sugar Skull Songs about the darker side of femininity. I am nearly done with the follow up to my Bitter Suites, my 2018 Bram Stoker Awards finalist and of course Space and Time magazine keeps me busier than I ever thought possible. I have a few short stories popping up in different anthologies and magazines over the next year as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about horror or poetry or other dark inspirations?

One of the areas I look forward to exploring in the next decade is my Okinawan background. Family lore has stories about my relatives there, the Ryukyuan religion they followed and how they were yuta, a kind of female medium or shaman. These influences were important factors as I grew up. I’m planning a trip to Okinawa in the next few years to visit some of these places and perhaps get some personal answers that I’m sure will show up in my writing.

smithAngela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA’s poetry contest in the dwarf form category. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit SpaceandTimeMagazine.com or AngelaYSmith.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelayurikosmithsmith pain
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaYSmith
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angela_yuriko_smith/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/dandilyonfluff
Amazon: amazon.com/author/angelaysmith

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Women in Horror: Shannon Connor Winward

WiHM11-GrrrlWhiteToday’s guest is the well-published and award-winning Shannon Connor Winward.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

Do you know—I’m only just making this connection now, but it was probably Shel Silverstein who truly showed me what poetry could be. I remember they had an album of his poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic at our local library (which was pretty much my personal temple when I was a little girl). I must have borrowed that album a dozen times; I loved listening to it at night before bed, with all but the closet’s light off in my room. He had such a powerful, spellbinding voice, and an uncanny ability to tap into the imagination of children—that’s why he was (and is) so hugely popular and beloved. Obviously my tastes evolved (and darkened*) as I grew older, but I guess I must credit him with igniting the spark of my love for poetry.

*(To be fair, though, lots of Silverstein’s poems are pretty freaking dark!)

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because I was born a poet. That might sound romantic or grandiose or whatever, but that’s really what it comes down to. 🙂 Every part of my personality is built to observe the world and paint it with language.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

The biggest obstacles to writing poetry are self-doubt, real life, and politics. Self-doubt is the mind-killer, so many of us are kept silent or slowed down for too long. Then, there’s the struggle to find time to write, and to keep that commitment. Beyond that, the many many rivulets of politics and personalities in the poetry world make it extremely challenging to be heard as a poet, to say something relevant or useful, to be a good literary citizen, etc. It is definitely not an endeavour for the weak-of-heart.

Session

Last night I was in a field
under a heavy sun
surrounded by people chipping at the ground
people sifting dirt through a screen
people trying to make tableaus from shards of pottery
though there were never enough pieces.

I told them where to dig.
They uncovered the remains of a woman
and I knew
in the way you know in dreams
that she was me.
I knew also that there were others
so many more
a field of fragments

and they were also me.
I knew that men, like you, would come,
doctors,
that you would want to bring them up
that you would want to catalog them
ask me what I felt about them
and what I think it means

as if it were only
a metaphor.

I think you should look more closely.
Sometimes a cigar is also
a cigar.
The remains tell a story.
See, here, how the skull is not quite fused?
I was a child.
And yet, here, in the space between my hips
(where you measure with your fingers, like this
yes, just like this.)
I bore children. At least one.
Probably more.
Probably hundreds.

Open my mouth, look, and read
what I ate, or, sometimes
what I hungered for.
Sweetness, rotten
gaps, bits
gnawed and worn down to the root
charred bread and mistletoe, bits
of his hand
bit-back words, here
lodged in the throat.

Take my hand,
arthritic, my hand, useless, my hand
shattered, here; a defensive wound
my hands
clutched around my knees and frozen
on bright alpaca blankets, my hands
bound behind my back,
at his feet, my hands
scoured with wine and Nile salt and
laid gently on my breast

gutted,
courage and rancor encapsulated
in an ivory vase behind my head
(but not my heart. No.
That I keep).

I think that you should consider
the psychology of forensics
the anatomy of history.
Examine the lines on my face
the hollow of my eyes.
Peel back, gently
the layers of my resting-place
I will not fight you.
I will not move.
I am in situ
I am

a testament. See, here,
I lived, here
I felt, here I was broken and here
I endure.
The remains tell a story
and mine say
See.
I was here.

## first published in The Pedestal Magazine, 2011

Winward bookDo you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I explore a variety of themes in my writing, as I’m sure most of us do.  Some of what I write is dark, some less so. Personal experience and preoccupation drives that kind of thing. For my part, I tend to be preoccupied with things like: mortality, life after death, the meaning of life, lust and pathos, and the urge to leave the world a better place than I found it. I was the girl scout telling ghost stories around the campfire over a mouthful of s’mores. In many ways, that’s still exactly who I am.

My chapbook, Undoing Winter, is a katabasis—a journey down into the dark places of the spirit and back again into the light. Like much of my work, it combines speculative themes (gods, ghosts, monsters, and so on) with stories of personal experience and reflection.

My full-length collection, The Year of the Witch, is similar in themes and tone but on a broader scale and with more cheekiness. It is structured to mimic a “New Age guide to the lunar ritual calendar of modern witches” so it has a sort-of faux educational, “homage to the seasons” riff, overlying poems both personal and speculative.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

It’s funny, I brought up “pathos” twice now recently. The other day I was talking to my 13-year-old, who is tasked with giving an oral presentation on Dr. King. He didn’t know how to begin, since his go-to narrative voice always skews toward the funny. “There’s nothing funny about Dr. King!” he cried. In my best philosopher-mom manner, I told him that, in my opinion (at least at that moment), the opposite of humor is pathos—a good speaker can capture an audience by jokes, sure, but also by tapping into our love of a good tragedy.

I think pathos is the lure of dark poetry for much the same reasons. There’s something about dwelling on the sad things, slowing down to look at the traffic accident. It’s as entertaining as it is cathartic—a means of coming to terms with the inevitable tragedies in our own stories.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?Winward_Shannon_Connor_Cov comp

Right now I’m entering the second year of a medical situation that has severely impacted my day-to-day life. Unfortunately, this includes my professional and creative lives. I’m not involved in much of anything outside of the orbit of my illness. Still, I’m doing my best to stay connected to my literary communities, local and virtual, in the hopes that all of that will still be there if and when I get well again. I’m looking forward to the day that I can pick up a pen or rock a mic, and I am awash with ideas for future issues of Riddled with Arrows.

Winward bioShannon Connor Winward  is the author of the Elgin-Award winning chapbook Undoing Winter (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and the Elgin-nominated full-length collection The Year of the Witch (Sycorax Press, 2018). She has won the SFPA Poetry Contest for speculative poetry in multiple categories, and has a quiver full of other nominations and awards, including an Emerging Artist Fellowship by the Delaware Division of the Arts. Her writing appears widely in places such as Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, Pseudopod (Artemis Rising), Strange Horizons, Star*Line, The HWA Poetry Showcase and elsewhere. In between parenting, writing, and other madness, Shannon is also founding editor of Riddled with Arrowsa (sometimes, gleefully, dark) literary journal dedicated to metafiction, ars poetica, and writing that celebrates the process and product of writing as art.

 

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Women in Horror: Lynne Sargent

WiHM11-Scalples-whI’ve been impressed and honored to feature so many great poets for Women in Horror Month, and that continues with today’s guest, Lynne Sargent..

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

The first poetry I encountered was Tolkien’s, as a child I loved poetry that was seeded into the books I loved to read. I started seeking out external poetry after coming across Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot” in Meg Cabot’s Avalon High. After I started writing poetry in high school as the result of a book report assignment, I also fell in love with Dickinson, Wilde, Plath, and when I found speculative poetry and started publishing, my horizons broadened even further and now I love poets like Amal El-Mohtar, Leah Bobet, Holly Lyn Walrath, and Brandon O’Brien. In general, my poetry is hugely influenced by politics, myths, and fairy tales.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because it’s how I organize my brain. Poetry writing is an intense and sidelong endeavor in journaling, and its also how I work through ideas/emotions/problems that are too complex to handle in plain language.

Particularities

She put a grain of sand
under my eyelid,
not a pea
under my mattress

and still, I do not sleep.

Each morning comes,
the performed joy of waking
for his honor, the unemotional tears
second, unbidden, borne of irritation
or exhaustion, I know not
which.

I yawn at the day
at how carefully they scrub my skin
how precisely they watch my hand
with the knife at the dinner table.

I never pretended to be a princess,
I just was a discomforted woman
-and that was enough for them to avoid
the cost of a corset.

Now I dream of bedding you,
how you will lick my face clean
again, give me new eyes
like a new name.

Our kingdom will be a hundred mattresses high
all of them waiting to be stained salty,
too uncomfortable to look
upon, and you will know

the grating that can keep you
from sleep.

## Previously published in Dreams & Nightmares

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

I find the most difficult aspect in writing poetry is the editing: refining an idea down, keeping it focused, ensuring the punctuation and breaks say exactly what you want to say, and making specific things general or camouflaged enough that readers can find something to grasp onto and see themselves in.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

The themes I find myself coming back to time and time again are issues of oppression, and the ways that stories can challenge oppression or reinforce it. As storytellers and writers, we have a fine line to walk making sure that the things we write are moving, but also that they have responsible messages.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

I think dark poetry is attractive because in some ways it’s taboo, and it lets us talk about taboo things. Poetry is often about vulnerability and honesty, saying things that can’t be said in other ways. Dark subjects share that with poetry so they suit each other well. I also think in some ways poetry makes the grotesque more manageable, we make it pretty so its harder to look away.

Meat Puppets

They eat the children’s dancing skins
to the soundtrack of thunder in the next room over

while I take off your clothes,
and your flesh, and make love
to the naked muscles and bones beneath.

We chopped off limbs like they were butter,
rode dirt bikes through decrepit parking lots
told campfire stories while watching the gangrene seep into our skin

crawl its way all the way up to our eyeballs,
until the sunrise only looked like hunger.

and now here I am-
at screams and storms and meaty pieces

bloody, but satiated.

## Previously published in Polar Borealis

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I’m working on getting my first book ready for publication with Renaissance Press! A Refuge of Tales is chock full of fairy tales and myths, and how they still influence our lives and the stories we tell about our world now. It’s my first collection (full-length) or otherwise so its very exciting and very nerve wracking.

Is there anything else you want to say about horror or poetry?

Let poetry wash over you! If you don’t understand it, that’s okay, just relax and let it make you feel how you will feel. Anyone can read and/or love poetry; its not just for critics and experts in literary analysis!

SargentLynne Sargent is a writer, aerialist, and philosophy Ph.D student currently studying at the University of Waterloo. Her work has appeared in venues such as Strange Horizons, Dreams and Nightmares, and Augur Magazine, among others. She is a Rhysling and Aurora Award Nominated poet. Her first poetry collection A Refuge of Tales is forthcoming from Renaissance Press, and received an Ontario Arts Council Grant. If you want to find out more, reach out to her on Twitter @SamLynneS, or find a complete list of her published works at scribbledshadows.wordpress.com

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Women in Horror: Abigail Wildes

WiHM11-Scalples-wvToday’s poet is Abigail Wildes, who likes to combine Tea with her poetry.

When did you discover poetry and who influenced you?

Other than being read to as a child my first experience of falling in love with poetry was in middle school. We had a very brief two weeks of poetry in English class and I was head over heels with writing since then. Although it took me most of my life to actually pursue writing poetry in a bigger way than just personal. But I did get my first poetry publication while I was in high school.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because I feel like I have to. It spills out of me like a rushing river, sometimes even a waterfall. I could no easier stop that flow than I could hold back the ocean.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?

Editing! I can edit a single poem for years sometimes. Finding that perfect word to fit in the perfect spot can be the most agonizing process. It’s not just about getting it right, it’s a bending, a stretching of myself. A way of growth and personal challenge. And sometimes I edit because the damn thing just doesn’t make any sense.

Click to read “Eaten Up By Lies”

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

HAHA! Oh yes. I find that I just love themes in general, not just in poetry or prom night but in the books I read, music I listen to, even my outfits (dress-up is my favorite game and lifetime pursuit). The themes explored in Tea With Death are rather dark but sewn together with light-hearted humor. Whether it’s poisoned tea or ghost stories or the perils of lying, I’ve tried to match the melancholy with an equal amount of pure fun.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?Wildes pic

Without the night we wouldn’t know how to appreciate the day. Without loss we wouldn’t hold our loved ones so close. Without death, life would never be so precious. I think that people are drawn to the dark because without it nothing matters quite as much. Human beings do not change, grow or excel without the pressure and pain to push us do so. Without pain there is no compassion, and compassion is the greatest of all humanity.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

Oh my goodness, far too many! But with my poetry I plan to make Tea With Death into a collection of three books–the first, Tea With Death, of course. The second will be Let’s Eat Cake. The third I haven’t settled on a title just yet but will be along the lines of Dig My Grave or Find My Grave, or some such. So that when they are all combined, years from now, into one big collection that one will be called Tea, Cakes, & Graves. All will follow in the same flow and have the same artwork from the amazing Jeanna Pappas who has done an incredible job on Tea With Death.

In between those, I’d like to produce a consistent series of small books (a lot like Edward Gorey’s) that will have various ideas and collaboration with different artists. I have some children’s books as well that I’m hoping to publish soon. And I’d like to pull some focus to building my Secret Tea Society.

WildesAbigail Wildes is an oddity. Displaced from time and maybe even space. She writes her strange and delicious poetry while spilling tea and dreaming of partially restoring dilapidated houses. She’s a paradox and a mystery, with a smile like sweet southern sunset and a wicked little grin that knows your secrets and your soul.

Tea With Death  available from Alban Lake Publishing or purchase one of the numbered, signed copies and accompanying goodies at https://www.etsy.com/listing/755009325/signed-copy-tea-with-death-dark-humor

My Crafts~ https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBlackParasolco
My Socials~ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17034938.Abigail_Wildes  https://www.instagram.com/abigailwildes/
My Secrets~ https://www.patreon.com/thesecretteasociety

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Women in Horror: Halli Lilburn

WiHM11-GrrrlWhite

Today’s guest is Halli Lilburn, a Canadian poet, editor and fiction writer.

When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?

I started in high school when I was first diagnosed with depression. I used it as an outlet. My first great influences were Neil Gaiman, Shakespeare (thanks to the curriculum) and my grandmother.

Why do you write poetry?

For attention.  Honest answer.  I need to understand myself and I need others to understand me.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?  

I want to have a point and often it’s difficult to translate the feelings and misgivings of my heart into a formula that others can understand.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I enjoy themes like steampunk, nature, resurrection and spiritual powers. My chapbook, The Ballad of the Sea Lion Woman takes myths and fairy tales and spins them into steampunk tales.

Monster

I need your eyes
Scoop them out for me
So bright and alive
They will show me much more than before
I need your legs
Just chop them off
So strong and steady
They will take me much farther than before
Give me your voice
I wrecked mine when I stopped caring
So, I will rewind time
And breathe deep again.
Your brain, I need your brain next
To fill in the holes and the shadows
Carved out by abuse and ignorance
You should hear the things I was told.
The racist, sexist, ablest common norms
That stained me.
I got to switch up that rubbish with hipster tolerance and representation
While you’re at it, give me your liver, your heart, your age, your diet, your height and your depth.
The depth you stabbed me with when you tried to kill me.
Tried to rid society of old monsters like me.
Me and my entitlement, fake news and fake tan
But I can’t die. I can’t even get sick
Drown me, crush me, incinerate me.
My broken bones will snap back in place
And I will reach out and steal your parts
Piece myself back together.
You never wanted the responsibility or ownership or accountability
I’ll leave what’s left of you propped up in a chair
Hooked up to machines
With the occasional lightning bolt to zap life into you.
Your eye sockets can stare out
The passive listener like you always wanted
‘Cause man, if you had legs you might have used them.
If you still had a voice you might have to speak out.

## from We Shall Be Monsters

lilburnWhat is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

People need to wake up to the world around them.  The horror of indecency needs to be exposed so that we can abhor it and fight it.

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

I am working on a sky pirate adventure novel with my 17-year-old daughter.  She creates the monsters and I write the fight scenes. We are excited to get it published.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about poetry or horror?

My spelling can be horrifying and I apologize for that, but I won’t let it stop me from writing. Not any more. I had teachers who cared about nothing else and that really stifled me but my skills lie in structure and imagery so stop telling me I’m stupid.  Not lilburn biohelpful.

You can find Halli at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5301255.Halli_Lilburn  I have works in Tesseracts 18 and 22, Carte Blanche, Vine Leaves and many others.  I am an editor with essentialedits.ca and The Dame Was Trouble by Coffin Hop Press.  She teaches creative writing, art journaling and steampunk workshops.  She is also a Dungeon Master.

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Women in Horror: Ashley Dioses

WiHM11-Scalples-whWhen did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you? 

I discovered poetry when I was very young.  My dad used to write children’s poetry and read it to me and my brother when we were young.  He would come to my elementary school and read to our classrooms and include poems in the school newsletter.  My dad also happened to be a huge horror and fantasy fan, and eventually, when I grew older, he introduced me to Poe’s fiction and poetry.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry because poetry has always been in my life.  I wrote stories when I was too young to read horror and when I discovered Poe, I didn’t realize horror poetry existed.  I put two and two together and I went from there.

A Queen in Hell

To Edgar Allan Poe

Upon a moonlit eve, we strolled along the shores
Of a still lake, all atrament save for the bright,
Rich, hoary moon-glow, which threw wide dark, eldritch doors
Into a hell of reeking hells that stole her light.

My love, my gorgeous love, how could you abandon me?
What haunting daemons lured you to your early grave?
How could you not perceive that you were always free?
Why, why was it not you, my love, that I could save?

The years have passed and sadly I stand so alone
Beside you, by your grave, yet in my heart you dwell.
Your kinsmen knew of your great beauty, and it’s known
That we lament so deeply for a queen in Hell.

## from Appears in Diary of a Sorceress

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry? 

Writing in a structured form.  Not only do you have to master any form you are trying to write in, but you must also do it in a way as to not distract from the story or message you are trying to convey.  There’s a delicate balance that can be hard to achieve.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

I tend to stick to speculative genre, mostly in the veins of Gothic, Weird, horror, Dioses SORCERESS_LSI_FRONTsupernatural, and fantasy.  I grew up listening to these genres being read to me until I could read myself and I’ve never stopped.  My first collection, Diary of a Sorceress, is broken up into four themes which range from fantasy to nature-based fantasy to dark romance, and then to horror.  My next collection of poetry, The Withering, will cover mostly supernatural and psychotic/psychological themes.  Future collections will be more refined and will stick to one theme.

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

It’s an escape from the real world and yet I think people can resonate with the various underlining meanings darkness can convey.

Quest for the Flesh

Arise at night when sun takes flight;
Awaken with the moon.
A chilling breeze is just a tease
For what is coming soon.

A breath you feel, which makes you squeal,
Still lurks inside your mind.
The nighttime stars have healed your scars
While you are in a bind.

The loss of hope and things you cope
With leave you with a lie.
The path you take will make you shake—
Yet will it let you die?

You grasp your past but that won’t last,
For lust infects your core.
Her body chills as her blood spills,
Yet you are craving more.

The quest for flesh, the human mesh,
Ignites your blood-mad slave,
Your eyes alight when she turns white—
You leave her in a grave.

## from The Withering

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up? 

My second poetry collection, The Withering, contains 55 of the best poems I wrote in my pre-teen and teenage years.  It is due out on Walpurgisnact (April 30th,) from Gehenna and Hinnom Books.  My current project is Diary of a Vampyress, which will be my Gothic-centric poetry collection.

Is there anything else you’d like to add, about poetry or horror, or anything else?

I have a degree in health science, I’m a martial artist and former instructor, and I have a deep interest in the occult; all things that help aid in my writing one way or another.

DiosesAshley Dioses is a poet of dark fantasy and horror from southern California. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook Magazine, PS Publishing, and elsewhere. Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, was released from Hippocampus Press in 2017.  Her second collection, The Withering, is forthcoming from Gehenna and Hinnom Books in 2020.  She has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.

https://www.amazon.com/Ashley-Dioses/e/B00ME9N2D2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_3 
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7463452.Ashley_Dioses

 

 

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