Tag Archives: poetry

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for Halloween Season by Lucy A. Snyder. Trick-or-Treat with Us for Cool Gifts! RT pls. #halloween #halloweenseason #RDSP

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Every Day is Halloween

Halloween decor is in select stores, and though we are still “enjoying” summer, October is just around the corner. Today I have a cool cover reveal of a new Halloween story collection and giveaway as part of Trick-or-Treating adventure, which means some of you may be dropping by from social media or another site, but let me give a little background for my subscribers as well.

Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP) is an award-winning indie press of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, crime, and more that I’ve worked with in regards to PR and publicity for several years via my business Hook of a Book. One of the exciting authors I get to work with published by them is a fellow Ohio author, the multi award-winning Lucy A. Snyder. On Oct. 5, 2020 we are excited to say that RDSP is releasing a collection of stories by Snyder for Halloween called…. you guessed it, Halloween Season!

Whether Halloween in person festivities are canceled this year due to Covid (so do your duty so we can all have fun this Fall, will you?) or not, you can always partake in some online escapades. For instance, let’s start a bit early with RDSP in a digital rounds of trick-or- treating to celebrate the reveal of the seasonal cover created by artist Lynne Hansen of Halloween Season!

How Trick-or-Treating Works – 

There are five houses to visit on this block: author Lucy A. Snyder, cover designer Lynne Hansen, mine here at Hook of a Book, co-owner of RDSP and author John Edward Lawson, and Raw Dog Screaming Press. Visit any of them first and feast your eyes on the amazing cover created by Hansen, then pick up a different “treat” (or giveaway) from each post also featuring the cover reveal. Keep reading to check out my giveaway and the other stops below…. after we meet the artist and see the cool cover.

But first….

Meet the artist, Lynne Hansen – 

RDSP was looking for a cover that captured all things Halloween and turned to artist Lynne Hansen. “I have over fifteen years of experience in marketing and promotions including art and design,” Hansen said. “I started creating book covers when my husband Jeff Strand decided to make his humorous horror novel The Sinister Mr. Corpse available as an e-book. Once people saw Jeff’s next e-book Wolf Hunt, I started to receive requests to design covers for other authors. Now I get to tell other people’s stories through the art of the book cover and I love every minute of it.” For more info about Lynne head over to LynneHansenArt.com and make sure to browse her gallery.

So without further ado, here’s the cover!

HalloweenSeasonByLucyASnyderlowres

Cool and festive, right? Excited as much as I am now?

Halloween Season launches October 5th but you can preorder now!

Order from RDSPOrder from Barnes & NobleOrder from Amazon

Media Requests – 

If you are a member of the media or reviewer, I’m also happy to put you on the list for e-arcs or print copies, just let me know! I’ll also be sending requests, but do feel free to let me know also either in the comments or to my e-mail. Also, I’m scheduling Lucy for select interviews as well.

Now look at this FULL SPREAD! 

Adobe Photoshop PDF

About Halloween Season – 

Halloween is the most wonderful part of the year for many of us. For dedicated fans, the season begins when the leaves start turning autumn colors and doesn’t finish until Hallowtide ends in November. With it comes a whole lot of fun: scary movies and stories, haunted houses, seasonal sweets, spooky decorations, costume parties, and of course trick or treat. But Halloween is also a deeply spiritual time for some; it’s an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on.

Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty.

One of the best things about Halloween is you don’t have to be yourself. So go ahead and try on a new mask or two … you may discover hidden talents as a witch, a pirate, a space voyager, a zombie fighter, or even an elf. This is the perfect collection to celebrate the season of the dead or to summon those heady autumn vibes whenever you like. You may even find a couple of tales that evoke a certain winter holiday that keeps trying to crowd in on the fun.

In the worlds within this book, every day is Halloween!

Trick or Treat Giveaways – 

Now for the goodies! Thanks for participating in our trick-or-treat cover reveal!

My Giveaway –

1) I’m offering to one (1) US winner a copy of one of my favorite autumn poems I’ve written, previously published online at Spillwords Press, BUT this would be a hand-lettered original, probably with a little original art on the border to follow the theme. It will be signed. This is one of a kind! Please leave a comment below or e-mail me (hookofabook at hotmail dot com) to be entered.

2) For both US and international, if you e-mail me, I will send all who contact me a .pdf for you to download that you can print of the original mentioned above. It will have my digital signature.

This giveaway I open from July 23 to July 31, 2020. Entries after that won’t be considered but feel free to comment anytime.

Head to ALL the Stops –

Visit all the houses on the block to collect all the treats. Here are the current stops and treats:

  • Stop #1 Lucy A. Snyder (excerpt from Halloween Season)
  • Stop #2 Cover artist Lynne Hansen (printable bookmark)
  • Stop #3 Raw Dog Screaming Press (postcard promo pack)
  • Stop #4 Hook of Book publicist Erin Sweet Al Mehairi (that’s me! You’re here. See above about a signed, hand-lettered Halloween poem)
  • Stop #5 John Edward Lawson (Halloween card and story)

Lucy A. Snyder, Biography –

Lucy3Lucy A. Snyder is the five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of over 100 published short stories and 14 books. Chaosium will release her novel The Girl With the Star-Stained Soulsometime in 2021. She also wrote the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, and Switchblade Goddess, the nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, and the collections Garden of Eldritch Delights, While the Black Stars Burn, Soft Apocalypses, Orchid Carousals, Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and Best Horror of the Year.

With Michael Bailey, Lucy also co-edited the critically-acclaimed collaborative dark fiction anthology Chiral Mad 4. When she’s not writing, she’s faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction and also works as a freelance developmental editor in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.

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Thanks for stopping! Did you say TRICK-OR-TREAT!? Don’t forget to enter to win.

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#HookedOnPoetry: A Poem by Steve Stred for Father’s Day Weekend #poetry #fathersday @stevestred

Today I have for you a second posting in the #HookedOnPoetry project for the week. If you missed the news, after a few weeks hiatus I started up the postings again earlier this week with a review by Sonora Taylor of The Place of Broken Things poetry collection by Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti.

I chose to feature Steve’s poem today (and I had held this one all along for this reason) as it’s the weekend before Father’s Day and this poem deals, somewhat, with growing up into fatherhood. And Steve is a wonderful dad! Steve told me he wrote this poem in 1998 on Father’s Day when he was in the eleventh grade and gave it to some family members. I find it only fitting to feature it for everyone to read this weekend. It’s not Steve’s normal dark fiction, but I think you’ll enjoy it all the same.

HookedOnPoetry

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Untitled
by Steve Stred

As I walk into the hidden unknown,
I hold my bag, ticket to my throne,
I can be whatever I want to be,
But to get to that place, it won’t be easy.
Many hurdles come up from out of nowhere,
And I hit my shins and bruises form there.
But I pick myself up and continue my pace,
Because getting to the top is now a race.
The stones that tumble away behind me,
Will leave me with scars, there to remind me,
Of all the bends in the road, and the corners ahead,
And someday at the top, when a kid calls me dad,
I’ll tell him my story of how life really is,
And he won’t believe me, ‘til he tells his kids.

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Steve Stred, Biography –

steve-stredSteve Stred is a dark horror author. He’s the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri, and Jane: the 816 Chronicles, and two collections of short stories—Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick. He’s also released the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.

Steve also loves reading and reviewing and is part of the team at Kendall Reviews. Steve has a number of works on the go and enjoys all things horror, occult, supernatural, and paranormal and is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada, where he lives with his wife, his son, and their dog OJ.

Find him online at his website.

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram – stevestred

Dim the Sun, Poetry Collection

Dim the sunDim the Sun is a collection of 14 dark poems and one bleak horror short story.  Focusing on pain, fear, anger, depression and anxiety Steve Stred brings you deep into his mind to share some truly unnerving moments.

This is Steve Stred’s first collection of poetry.

Purchase  or Add –

GoodReads

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Thank you, Steve! And thank you readers for joining us! Be sure to join us back next week here, and hopefully at Kendall Reviews, for more poetry.

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#HookedOnPoetry: Sonora Taylor Reviews The Place of Broken Things by Linda Addison & Alessandro Manzetti + Update @sonorawrites @nytebird45 #poetry

First Some Updates on the Project –

I’m going to give a little update here on the status of the project, and then Sonora Taylor has a poetry collection review for us! The last week of April I started the #HookedOnPoetry project to highlight poetry for National Poetry Month in April and carry it through May and June. I ran it through four or five weeks in May with three to four posts a week both here and on Kendall Reviews, then I took a break before starting up again this week. I’ll be continuing the project throughout the rest of the year with a #HookedOnPoetry posts twice a month (more if I decide).

If you’re a poet interested in being featured, contact me anytime.

HookedOnPoetry

I apologize for all this website house cleaning in front of this week’s post, but I feel it needed to be said. I’m super excited for you to read this review and essay submitted by author Sonora Taylor today. I chose this one to feature first coming off the break as the collection she is reviewing here is co-written by one of the greatest black voices across several genres, five-time Bram Stoker Award winner Linda Addison. Sonora wrote this back in mid-April, and since then, the collection itself won a Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a poetry collection, we’ve been quarantined (or at least most of us have) for two to three months more, and life and the world seems to have HIT THE FAN. Amazing how much can change in so little time.

Without me rambling more, I’ll let Sonora take it away… enjoy!

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Broken Things in a Broken Time
by Sonora Taylor, author of Little Paranoias

When my brain is troubled, I find it comforting to dive into prose and verse that connects with its scattered fragments. After our current president was elected, I went through my days in a blur, one finally broken by a book called Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldana Paris. I laughed at a passage where the protagonist observes, “It’s unnecessary to start by describing the actions that make up my routine. That tedious list will come later. First, I’d like to state that my head floats about two inches above the top of my neck, detached from me. From that position, it’s easier for me to observe the irritating texture of the days.” I felt both amused and comforted to see my state of mind described so well.

It’s April 18, 2020; a little more than a month since we were asked to social distance and flatten the curve — meaning keep the number of infected and subsequent dead from COVID-19 as low as possible. My husband and I are safe. We have many blessings: both our jobs, a comfortable home, ample supplies, and the means to safely get supplies when we run low. Still, a day-to-day defined by doing our best to not die is one that takes a subtle toll on the brain. It can crack our psyches and make us lose sense of what day it is, what time it is, what’s safe and what’s not, who’s well and who’s not. We can only hope for the best when we text our parents or talk to our coworkers on Zoom.

 

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When I began reading The Place of Broken Things, the Stoker-nominated (upon reading) book of poetry from Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti, I thought of it as a piece to add to the books of poetry I’ve focused on throughout April, aka National Poetry Month. The first few poems were very good, but I found myself reading them with broken focus. I floated two inches above the book’s verses much like the protagonist’s head above his own thoughts in Among Strange Victims. My mind was also on today’s news, today’s Zoom hangouts, things I could bake, if the weather would be good for a walk, if I’d have more dreams like the one I had the night before, which included images of 9/11 as well as a fight with my husband.

Soon, the poems in the book — all about broken people — began to ground me, both in their stories as well as in my own mind. My thoughts stilled and my fragments stopped trembling. I found comfort in the quiet agony of the characters. In “Facing Olympia,” a man sees all kinds of women when he sees one woman, before realizing he sees no one, only his memories. In “A Clockwork Lemon Resucked,” the poets analyze what we sacrifice in order to not have to feel. “What We Have Become” asks the titular question in the context of minds and souls battered by fear. It closes with, “who remembers Before …” — a question many of us ask when we wake up each morning as of late.

As sad and broken as the individuals in every poem were, I still found The Place of Broken Things a comfort to read. Addison and Manzetti put into beautiful words and imagery what I’ve been feeling to varying degrees since this started — hell, since even before this started. I’d feel it in pebbles rolling throughout my life from rocks of anxiety, and situations like this pandemic have been a rock slide leaving me numb and stuck. The Place of Broken Things proves to be a beam of light shining between the cracks of those rocks, saying with its warmth, “I understand. I feel it too.” It’s a warmth that is very much needed, and I’m grateful for this book and the work of both Addison and Manzetti.

You can find The Place of Broken Things online at many retailers including BookShop.org.

The Place of Broken Things Summary –

place-of-broken-thingsBram Stoker Award winners Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti use their unique voices to create a dark, surrealistic poetry collection exploring the many ways shattered bodies, minds, and souls endure.

They created poems of visionary imagery encompassing death, gods, goddesses and shadowy, Kafkaesque futures by inspiring each other, along with inspiration from others (Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, Phillis Wheatley, etc.).

Construction of The Place started with the first bitten apple dropped in the Garden. The foundation defined by the crushed, forgotten, and rejected. Filled with timeless space, its walls weep with the blood of brutality, the tears of the innocent, and predatory desire. Enter and let it whisper dark secrets to you.

“Addison and Manzetti appear, here, as a songwriting team, certain tunes attributed to one, then the other, but regularly meeting, so that not only do we get to know where each great poet is coming from, but their electric union to boot. At turns gritty and aqueous, this book is totally alive. Addison and Manzetti have written a volume in which literally every line is worthy of being that book’s title.”–Josh Malerman, author of BIRD BOX

“There is no book of poetry quite like THE PLACE OF BROKEN THINGS! Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti spin dark magic! Highly recommended!”–Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-WARS and GLIMPSE

Linda Addison, Biography – 

Linda AddisonLinda D. Addison born in Philadelphia, PA is an American poet and writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Addison is the first African-American winner of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®, which she won five times for her collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes (2001) and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (2007) and How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (2011), Four Elements (2014), and The Place of Broken Things, written with Alessandro Manzetti (2019). In 2016 Addison received the HWA Mentor of the Year Award and in 2018 she received the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

She has published over 350 poems, stories and articles and is one of the editors of Sycorax’s Daughters (Cedar Grove Publishing), an anthology of horror fiction/poetry by African-American women (HWA Bram Stoker finalist). Catch her latest work in The Place of Broken Things, written with Alessandro Manzetti (Crystal Lake Publishing) and anthologies Cosmic Underground (Cedar Grove Publishing) and Scary Out There (Simon Schuster). Addison is a founding member of the writer’s group Circles in the Hair (CITH), and a member of HWA, SFWA and SFPA.

Find Linda’s Amazon Page HERE.

Alessandro Manzetti, Biography –

AlessandroAlessandro Manzetti lives in Rome, Italy and is a three-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, editor, and translator of horror fiction and dark poetry whose work has been published extensively in Italian, including novels, short and long fiction, poetry, essays, graphic novels and collections.

English publications include his novels Shanti – The Sadist Heaven (2019) and Naraka – The Ultimate Human Breeding (2018), the novella The Keeper of Chernobyl (2019), the collections The Radioactive Bride (2020), The Garden of Delight (2017), The Monster, the Bad and the Ugly (2016, with Paolo Di Orazio), and The Massacre of the Mermaids (2015), the poetry collections The Place of Broken Things (2019, with Linda D. Addison), War (2018, with Marge Simon), No Mercy (2017), Sacrificial Nights (2016, with Bruce Boston) Eden Underground (2015), Venus Intervention (2014, with Corrine de Winter), and the graphic novel Calcutta Horror (2019)

He edited the anthologies The Beauty of Death (2016), The Beauty of Death Vol. 2 – Death by Water (2017, with Jodi Renee Lester) and Monsters of Any Kind (2018, with Daniele Bonfanti). His stories and poems have appeared in multiple Italian, USA, and UK magazines as well.

He is the Founder & CEO of Independent Legions Publishing, an HWA Active member, and a former HWA Board of Trustees member.

Find him on his website HERE.

Thanks to Sonora for her wonderful review of the collection.

Sonora Taylor, Biography –

sonora-taylor-2019-headshot (1)Sonora Taylor is the author of Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” was published in Camden Park Press’s Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Taylor’s short stories frequently appear in The Sirens Call.

Her work has also appeared in Frozen Wavelets, Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast.

Her third short story collection, Little Paranoias, is available on Amazon. Her next book, Seeing Things, will be available June 23, 2020. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Find out more about Sonora on her website.

Seeing-Things-Cover-Art-FrontSeeing Things  –

Featuring cover art by Doug Puller, the book will be available in e-book and paperback on June 23, 2020, on Amazon.

It will also be available in paperback through Bookshop.org and IndieBound.

Link to Pre-order (e-book only) on Amazon.

More on #HookedOnPoetry –

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and read about these wonderful artists and their work. If you are curious about the rest of the the poetry posts already featured this year, or in years past, you can find them all in one place on the POETRY page here on my site.

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#HookedOnPoetry: Author Patrick Tumblety Shares Three Beautiful Ocean Inspired Poems @peak37pt #poetry #ocean

How is it Friday already? I’m here to introduce you to Patrick Tumblety as the last feature of this week on #HookedOnPoetry. If you missed the first two, hosted here on Tuesday and on Kendall Reviews on Wednesday, you can find the links on the Poetry page. 

I’m excited for you to meet Patrick today and read his original poetry. I’m so very happy to publish them here for you to read. Patrick has a big heart, is a wonderful supporter of other writers in the community as well as charities, and is a talented writer and poet. He’s been published in a variety of anthologies, including Tales of Jack The Ripper by Word Horde Press, Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, Fossil Lake, edited by Christine Morgan, and the historic Weirdbook Magazine.

During October of 2019, Patrick released The October Children, an audio series of seasonal poetry and prose to celebrate Autumn and Halloween. He is currently producing a 2020 season.

I hope you enjoy! If you do, please share and use #HookedOnPoetry hashtag! Have a wonderful weekend. See you back here next week, mostly likely on Wednesday.

Erin

HookedOnPoetry

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A foreword from Patrick
(note: it’s from the day he submitted the poetry almost a month ago)

Day 25: Quarantine.

I need poetry now more than ever. The fear and frustration is building and the best way I can release it is to throw myself onto the page. My body can’t leave the house, but my heart can still travel. So I reach into the sand and pull out the pieces of myself that dreams of fresh air, without a virus, without uncertainty. Where we can congregate, soak in the sun, and look toward the horizon for a healthier tomorrow.

Patrick

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Undertow
by Patrick Tumblety

I belong on the shore, amongst the sand and the sun.

Where my skin sizzles in harmony with water against sand.

My soul knows I’m right on the edge and implores me to take the plunge,

let the waves roll me out and the undertow drag me away.

 

The concrete sirens sing with voices as dry as dust.

Still, I close my eyes and hear the sea maiden’s song.

She will be waiting for me when my work is done,

and I can return to the place where I belong.

 

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Brined
by Patrick Tumblety

Sun burnt and salt scraped

we live by the sea,

and sail by old wood and new skin,

foam-tossed and free!

 

We believe in gods and monsters,

for the ocean can swallow us whole.

If a leviathan breaches, we look toward the reaches,

splashes of stars shall guide our way home!

 

Threading the blue line between oblivions-

the depths of hell and sky-

we bounce the curved horizon, gently,

and through the squall we ride!

 

The horizon is a cursive flourish;

a signature of a God who knows no time.

We ride the loops and connections, willingly.

On capsized letters we are prepared to die!

 

With cured muscle and calloused hands

we fight against the raging sea.

If the sails tear and the ship sinks, so be it,

we have always been blue-bound and free!

 

At pink sky’s end we return to the beaches,

and tend to our families on shore.

In morning we return to the reaches,

salty dogs to a great blue lure…

 

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Sam Chang / Unsplash

A Blank Page
by Patrick Tumblety

My Greek Goddess,

singed by the sun; her skin

is punctuation at the end of her Odyssey.

Now, she births a new sentence

and begins a legacy.

 

My little Odessa,

has yet to see the light of day.

Her snowy canvas

awaits the color of history.

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Patrick Tumblety’s Biography –

PTumblety Bio PicPatrick Tumblety has been published in a variety of anthologies, including Tales of JackThe Ripper by Word Horde Press, Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, Fossil Lake, edited by Christine Morgan, and the historic Weirdbook Magazine. His work has been described as being able to deliver both “genuine fear and genuine hope.” (Amy H. Sturgis – Award Winning Author and Professor of Narrative Studies).

In October of 2019, he released an audio series comprised of poetry and prose to celebrate the autumn season, titled The October Children. The project received positive feedback and encouraged him to do a 2020 season. The pieces are all original and range from the nostalgic to the macabre, all in fun for Halloween.

During the holidays of 2019, he released a creepy Christmas poem (illustrated by artist Thomas Boatwright). He donated a dollar for every like/retweet/post about the poem to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

He has been featured in various other publications including Dark Moon Digest and Siren’s Call Magazine (most recently issue 45 in 2019 published two of his poems). He uses poetry not only to be nostalgic about the holidays but to write about love, family, and life. He’s currently working on a collection of poetry.

Follow Patrick on Twitter: @peak37pt

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Thanks again for joining in. Let’s keep talking about poetry, shall we?

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Note: The first two photos have no attribution as they are free images from common areas.
 

 

 

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#HookedOnPoetry: Brian James Lewis Discusses Mental Health & Writing + Shares Three Original Poems @skullsnflames76 #poetry #mentalhealthawareness

Today is the start to another week of the #HookOnPoetry project. I want to introduce you to my friend Brian James Lewis today. He’s no stranger here as he was part of the project last year as well. Brian has something important to talk about today given that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. He talks about how writing has helped him through his depression and how it focuses him to look toward things like being successful with his writing even through disability. I’m really proud of Brian for what he overcomes. I hope you either relate or come to understanding through his essay, and then, enjoy three original poems he worked on for this project. I’m proud to publish them. Join us the rest of this week here, and at Kendall Reviews, for more poetry.

Erin Al-Mehairi

HookedOnPoetry

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HAPPY MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH FROM BRIAN JAMES LEWIS aka DAMAGED SKULL WRITER!

Hello everyone! I hope you all are taking the voluntary quarantine due to the Covid-19 Pandemic as an opportunity to read things you didn’t have time for previously or even to spread your wings a bit and try something new! One suggestion that is totally contagion free is issue 49 of The Sirens Call e-Zine. Lots of really good writers, poets, and art in this totally free issue. Check it out!

Writing has become my “second life” after a major accident left me with severe spinal injuries and PTSD. I went from working multiple physical jobs and having physical hobbies, to not being able to do much of anything at all. Previously, I was a pleasant, happy-go-lucky kind of guy who liked to hang out with friends and family. After the accident and its aftermath, chronic pain was a constant problem. I became very depressed and suicidal. I shut out the world and focused on anger and rage about what happened. Things escalated until I was classified as a danger to myself and others. If I’d owned a gun during that time, I would not be here. Writing served as an escape and a place to harness all that negative energy into something better. In fact, my psychologist encouraged me to send work out and attempt to get published. Amazingly enough, I found some takers, got into doing book reviews and… totally lost my grip and fucked everything up. Not exactly the way to be a success. green man pic (2)

Depression took over my life and it brought some friends along. Nothing mattered, medications didn’t do much, and my doctor was about ready to move me into inpatient treatment before I killed myself or ended up homeless. Then a friend of mine committed a carefully planned and really messy suicide by cop. Oddly, that woke me up. Perhaps my friend found the peace he was looking for, but in myself I found that I didn’t really want to go down that road anymore. Overall, it’s been better chasing a dream than working on my own death. Since then, I’ve had to push myself, but things are gradually improving. Through regular mental health care and the right medications, my life is gradually getting better. But the main deal is I write something every day. A lot of those things are poems and a few of them are included here.

“Lunatic Twist” is brand new and a good introduction to dark poetry influenced heavily by depression and anxiety. “Nightmare Suite No. 38” is influenced by H.G. Lovecraft, who got many of his stories through the nightmares that made sleep nearly impossible for him. Last, but certainly not least, is “STOP.” Many of us plagued by mental health issues spend a lot of time thinking about suicide. Since our brains aren’t working right, ending our lives can look attractive. “You’ll finally be at peace and free” the demons whisper in our ears. But that’s a lie. If we stay alive, we’ve got options and the chance for life to improve. But if we take ourselves out, we’ll be trapped in a personal hell that lasts for all eternity.

In 2014 Trajectory Journal published my poem “Puppeteer” which mixes complicated emotions with fast cars, my love of big women, and fire. Most recently, I’ve appeared in Trajectory Issue 20, The Sirens Call e-Zine issue 49, Ghost, Spirits, and Specters, The Toilet Zone from HellBound Books, and Putrescent Poems Vol. 1, recently out from 42 Books. My work has also appeared in literary journals such as SLAB, Hickory Stump Magazine (w/video!), Third Wednesday, Bards & Sages Quarterly, and The Iconoclast. A lot of my writing over the years has been in reviews, which I’ve been doing since 2016 for Hellnotes, Aphotic Realm, Gallows Hill, and my own site, Damaged Skull Writer. I’m a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA).

I also enjoying bringing vintage typewriters back to life. It’s really a pleasure to be a part of the writing community. Everyone is so supportive and looking to lend a hand which is great! Thanks for reading my work! If you want to say Howdy, don’t be shy. Your best bet is to visit me on Twitter @skullnflames76 and Damaged Skull Writer on Facebook – he just doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing there! For news and reviews, please take a gander and also my website: http://damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com.

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scary photo

LUNATIC TWIST
by Brian James Lewis

Nightmares of strange things
Brought on by songs from the past
Echo inside the plastic case
Of my transistor radio that plays

An endless loop of songs
that I once knew until the changes
Made the sound double over
on itself like an angry serpent

Sweet song melodies twisted
into a lunatic laugh track
That frightens my poor brain
Like the carnival fun house

Shaking uncontrollably
Eyes glowing in the dark
I huddle upon my sweaty bed
Wishing it would stop

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snake

NIGHTMARE SUITE No. 38
by Brian James Lewis

 

Here

Not here

Dying

Decaying

Falling apart
Falling apart
Falling apart

We

Don’t have it together

Things

Slip

Away

Drift

Apart

Until it’s too late
and your life melts into the gloom
under the highway overpass
Forever

Trapped…trapped…trapped
in the flickering fluorescent lights
Like a ghost on a hot night
Undergoing sublimation

 

Leave me here in the place where I belong
Dark and deep
There is no wrong
Nor any rights

The creature slithers across the tiles

It smells my fear

And it smiles

Knowing that I’ll make a fine meal

I’m a crawling King snake, baby
In your room again
I’m a crawling king snake, baby
In your room again

Open up that door, little girl
and let me come inside
because I wanna boogie
Yeah, I wanna boogie

All night long

All night long

All night long

Until the break of dawn

When the light of dawn hits
everything returns to normal
But that’s a long time to wait
when you’re facing down a monster

Its skin rasps along the asphalt

As the creature moves closer

The drip of saliva is louder than a heartbeat

I try to think brave thoughts before the end

Hoping that the sacrifice of my too short life

Will save the citizens of a city I’ve grown to hate

As the decades slide by the corruption grows

Like cancer of the mountain-tearing it down

Ruining lives and releasing this thing that moves closer

Its greedy maw opens and closes like a hungry bird

Now is the time for me to burst into flame!

Spontaneous combustion has been trained

Into me by the masters, who see all

From their posts in the old subway stations

I’m sure they are watching me now

Whether they will assist me in my fight is unclear

Regardless of what they said at our last meeting

As a piece of Hell incarnate, I grab the fangs and swing

Inside that maw, fighting the devil with fire

Making the huge serpentine body whip

And venomous secretions attempt to drown my flames

We both hurt and I can feel myself bending

Bending

Bending to near breaking

“Mayday! Mayday! The ship is going DOWN!

That’s all I have, I’ve done my best and now…

FLASH! I’m growing into a giant with amazing powers?

The creature explodes as I stretch its body past all limits

With my multiple arms, tentacles, and teeth

It never had a chance against

This monster of the deep

Now I will return to my

Underwater cave and sleep

And return again

When I am needed

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STOP
by Brian James Lewis

Have you ever paced your room
Saying “I should shoot myself in the head?”
If not, good for you! You might just be alright.
But for the rest, who make up a larger number
than we’ll ever admit, I am with you
We are brothers and sisters at arms

Don’t think for a moment
that I’m condoning suicide or self-harm
What I’m saying is that I feel you
and live in the same world of pain
Frustrations, disappointments, loneliness
On that dark, crooked street called life

Sometimes I wonder if intelligence
makes life worse, not better
As was preached to us in grade school
Could ignorance really be bliss?
I watch people in my neighborhood
and they make it appear to be so

The pressure is off if you’re an idiot
or a person with a very set mentality
about what’s right and wrong
Just coasting easily through life
because you don’t care about others
You’re right, they’re wrong. That’s all

Sensitivity to others’ pain
makes us want to end it sometimes
Because there’s only so much a body
can take before it twists and sours
I’ve screamed into the city night
But the demons won’t let go

Though it may not feel like it
you’re not alone in the struggles
to keep sunny side up and hold on
For just one more day, hour, minute
If we kill or cut ourselves-They win
Which makes the demons even stronger

Life is simpler when we’re alone
That’s why many people run away
Unfortunately the pain follows
Like a Bloodhound on your trail
No matter how much you drink and dope
It’ll be waiting when you come down

What happens if you don’t?
Just overdose until it’s final
Trouble is that all your baggage
goes along for the ride with your soul
Once you’ve destroyed your body
There’s no getting free of the toxins

So if you’re pacing the floor
and thinking you should kill yourself
Stop, and remember how that door
will slam shut and leave you stuck
with everything you tried to escape
Except now it’s forever

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Thanks so much for reading and please consider sharing. What can you do to spread the word about mental health awareness as well as learn to value, appreciate, and work with, as well as help, those who are struggling?

Stop by Kendall Reviews tomorrow for another feature in this poetry project.

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#HookedOnPoetry: Shane Douglas Keene Shares His Original, Powerful Poetry #poetry @shanedkeene

HookedOnPoetry

Today I’m very pleased to introduce some original poetry from my longtime friend Shane Douglas Keene. Shane is a book reviewer, columnist, co-creator and editor of the site Ink Heist as well as a host of the podcast of same name. Not only has he given so much back to the horror and writing communities, but he’s a fiction writer and poet too.

Most recently Shane was part of Josh Malerman’s Carpenter’s Farm serial book, a project in which Shane wrote companion poems inspired by the book to each chapter. They were very good and such a special thing to read along with it!

He writes some heartfelt poetry here that tugs at the heart of loss and love and the storms that are people’s emotions. I can’t wait for you to read them, furthermore, for us all to be able to read even more of Shane’s work.

Thank you for following our features this week for the #HookedOnPoetry project and please join us back next week for three or four more features as we continue on.

Enjoy,

Erin

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Forces
by Shane Douglas Keene 

 

you can never resist a tsunami

or a determined woman, both will

forge their paths, hindered as you

will, but if you cross in front of them,

hope the earth will take you, plow you

under like so much compost;

you won’t have changed a thing,

but woman and wave

are, and will have changed, everything;

a man will storm and rage and

demand his right to draw first

blood, an ineffective quaking of

empty hubris;

she will abide, biding her time,

a quiet demon, no victim, seething,

straining against bonds not properly

designed to constrain her;

she the maelstrom, a proper storm,

barely slowed before,

like cheap rubber bands, restraints

snap and she surges forth, earning

brand new scars;

creating them

_________________________________

 

Effigy
by Shane Douglas Keene 

 

I think of you a lot,

the way you threw me down the well,

the way you dragged me back, threw

me down again and again and still the

damage insufficient to your

needs, you burned

me down to ash, scoured me from

the universe as if I’d never

been

never will and if I rise it

will in effigy be,

petrified in Vesuvian flames,

standing in worship in a

trophy cabinet somewhere,

stuck in rigor and

holding my ruined heart

in frozen fingers,

and what I’m really

trying to get across is,

I think about you night and

day

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Shane Douglas Keene, Biography –

shaneShane is a poet, columnist, podcaster, and professional curser living in Portland, Oregon, where he was born and periodically raised. He is the co-founder and editor of Ink Heist and one of three hosts on the Ink Heist podcast. He hates long walks on the beach, playing with puppies, and romantic candlelit dinners, but he does love a good glass of scotch, a good book, and good music playing in the background.

When he’s not bumbling his way along pretending like he knows where he is, he plays a pretty decent guitar and sings with the dulcet tones of a sick bullfrog.

You can find his various meanderings, podcasts, and poems at Ink Heist, and you can find and follow him on Twitter @shanedkeene. You can find links to his companion poetry penned to Josh Malerman’s serial novel Carpenter’s Farm at this link.

NOTE: Content is sometimes, okay pretty much always, quite explicit, NSFW but good for teaching your kids new words.

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If you missed yesterday post at Kendall Reviews, it was a lovely poem by Christina Sng. You can read it HERE. Stay tuned for more poetry next week! Thanks for sharing and supporting the #HookedOnPoetry project.

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#HookedOnPoetry: Erik Hofstatter Brings Us Original Soul-Searching MicroPoetry #poetry #micropoetry @erikhofstatter

Welcome to another week of the #HookedOnPoetry project! We’re in our third week and today is the first of a four day feature run this week here and on Kendall Reviews. Thank you so very much to those who are supporting it and sharing the features! It’s all in support of these amazing poets and authors… and to bring awareness to the art of poetry.

HookedOnPoetry

Today I’m featuring Erik Hofstatter, who is a published author. Erik’s words and worlds have always taken on a emotional, deep, fantastical feel that’s lyrical and smooth, poetic amid the prose. When he reached out to me to submit his micropoems for the project, I immediately fell in love with them. They are so beautiful. I hope you agree. And I believe these are Erik’s first published poems and I’m so proud to bring you his original micro work below.

If you aren’t familiar with micropoems, micropoetry is a genre of poetic verse which is characterized by its extreme brevity. Micropoetry is described by micropoetry.com as a collective term for a variety of different forms of short poetry. As a poetic artform, it doesn’t really have any rules. Although it does consists of certain forms of short poetry with fixed rules such as haiku, tanka, senryu and gogyohka.

There are also no real character length limitations either. The limits are set by the medium with which they are being shared, and also that invisible line where micropoetry becomes a regular length poem.

So now that we have that lesson out of the way, I’ll let Erik have the floor! My only recommendation is read them slowly taking a moment in between to capture their full flavor.

Erin

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Micropoems by Erik Hofstatter

a chameleon dressed
in your eyelashes
gave birth to a
red star

_____________________

singing pale
breaths to
a drowning
anchor
he sank
like martyred
daughters

______________________

she wrote
ruby-clad
scars
on the
torn
parchment
of
his skin

_______________________

a jellyfish spurned
and floating
in hidden tears
below
lamenting lost
lovers
like he did

_______________________

Red stone
skimming across
the rust-kissed
surface of
my soul

_______________________

Mist of lost
orphans
veiled her
abandoned
eyes

________________________

She was a heart
note in
the
perfume
of swan
tears

_________________________

Leviathan’s tongue
skewered
by a broken
rib
her eyes
like wet scales
in a sea of
eternity

__________________________

Tumbling emotions
in an iris of blue
changing
fading
ghosts of you

___________________________

A febrile crow
and unspoken oaths
lonesome
nights
a vortex of delirious
memories

___________________________

I slept on a raft of snakes
echoes of obstinate words
barring me
from the warm blue waters
of your eyes
my haven

____________________________

Your lips
coloured like
morganite
welcoming alcohol
with
mad urgency

____________________________

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Stray raindrops
tap against
my cold window
pleading

____________________________

Pale tears
and broken
heartstrings when
she sang

____________________________

Eskimo kisses
in
a porcelain
glow

____________________________

Like a rogue tribe
of fire-tinged stones
she rolled down
my heart

_____________________________

her eyes
smudged with seduction
and
enigmatic
blue

____________________________

frost gods
whispered perversions
thawed
by
time

____________________________

the sleeping sun
below
his feet
dreamed of black
rain

______________________________

stillborn firestars
burned
like choleric
sinners

______________________________

lyrics of violent death
painted scarlet
letters into
the
midnight
sky

_______________________________

Weren’t they beautiful?

Erik Hofstatter, Biography –

Erik Hof

Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer, born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic. He roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry.
His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Manor House Show, and The Black Room Manuscripts Volume IV. Other works include Katerina, Rare Breeds, The Crabian Heart, and Toroa.
Contact – 
Twitter: @ErikHofstatter
Instagram: @ErikHofstatter
Erik’s latest story is from Sharp Shock books –
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To read the poetry and essays on writing poetry from last week, head HERE. Stay tuned tomorrow for another poet and poem I’ve chosen to feature over at Kendall Reviews.

Don’t forget to follow and share using #HookedOnPoetry hashtag!

Photography Credit for Raindrop photo: Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

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#HookedOnPoetry: “This Was Supposed to be About Poetry” by Bram Stoker Award Nominated Poet Donna Lynch @geeklioness #poetry #writing

Donna is fast becoming one of my favorite people and poets. She has an honest way about her I really like and, whether she knows it or not, she’s taught me a lot about letting things go and being easy on self. She’s super funny, creative, and kind. She has some stellar work out there in the music, writing, and poetry world. Her last two collections Witches and Choking Back the Devil earned Bram Stoker nominations and both were worthy of wins even among the highly exceptional field of poetry in horror. She’s a beautiful lyricist and her words flow so smoothly and with such passion.

I asked Donna for a poem or a reprint and then…. in true Donna form, she writes this instead and asks me what I want to do with it. Ha! I just felt in this moment, that it was perfect. It explained exactly how I’ve been feeling about writing myself, even poetry, which sometimes breaks through when I’m blocked otherwise. These days I’m too stressed and tired. I want to clean too. It’s a weird thing. I don’t know if any of you other writers can relate to this, but I hope you can. We will all rise from this with some major emotional dumps onto the page eventually.

Thanks for the piece, Donna…. and readers, feel free to discuss in the comments!

HookedOnPoetry

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This Was Supposed to Be About Poetry
by Donna Lynch, author/musician/poet

Are we tired of talking about the pandemic yet?

Yes, of course not.

“I’m so glad we’re doing this tonight because I really need a break from all the COVID-19 talk,” we say to our loved ones via the video chat platform of our choosing, then immediately start talking about COVID-19. Maybe not the virus, itself, but about our futures and our right nows.

I’ve probably told twenty people no less than thirty times how happy I am that my husband and I finally cleaned up our porch. The weather will be nice soon and now it’s like I have a whole extra room in the house, I say. I keep saying it. When people ask me how I’m doing, I tell them about the porch. I don’t feel like saying much else about how I feel. I’ve had a couple episodes of word vomit in regard to my feelings, which I immediately regretted, so now I’m just really fucking happy about the porch. That’s what I say.

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Photo by Avi Werde on Unsplash

This piece is supposed to be about poetry. I write horror poetry, and I’ve written a couple novels, a novella, and so on and so on. It bugs me that anytime I talk about being a poet, I can’t help but mention the novels, as though the poetry isn’t enough. That is, of course, bullshit. I’m a horror writer. That should be enough, right there. But right now, nothing feels like enough.

I’m envious of the 100+ writers I follow on Twitter, because they all seem to be making the most of this situation. For a horror writer, how much more firsthand material could you ever get access to than the realities of a world-wide, modern-day plague? I feel like they’re reading and writing and thinking and observing and taking advantage of this sudden, threatening, and unsolicited gift of time, meanwhile I’m staring blankly at a huge to-do list and an empty Word document each day, calling up friends around the country at 2am, while busting into yet another box of wine that smells like Lysol.

I don’t begrudge them their productivity. I’m happy for them. And I’m jealous.

The thing is, though, there’s nothing about me that makes me unique or exempt. There’s nothing about them that’s superhuman. They’re making themselves work through the stress and anxiety, I’m sure, just as I could be doing. But it’s harder than I thought, and I’m using my pre-existing hurdles as excuses. No sense in lying about it. Writers tell the truth, except when they’re lying their asses off and kidding themselves. Or maybe I’m projecting.

Here’s an issue that I can’t decide if it’s me kidding myself or not: Two of my most prevalent topics in the horror genre are body horror and existential dread, and a pandemic does a fantastic job of creating both, which has left me feeling paralyzed. Could Stephen King write The Stand right now? Could Josh Malerman write Bird Box?

Probably, because neither strike me as the type to make a lot of excuses, but maybe I need to hold on to the idea that, for me, Fear in the Time of Corona would be easier to bang out once we get a vaccine. So, I guess my workaround is to revisit my ghosts and witches and vengeful creatures, because I’m not afraid of them when I go to the store.

And there’s the punchline. I’m not having Imposter Syndrome about being a writer. I’m having it about being a horror writer, because now that we’re here, staring directly into the void I attempt to toss readers into through my poems—you know, to really make them face the things they fear the most—I’m suddenly speechless. I feel like I talked a lot of shit, and now I have to put my money where my mouth is.

Poetry. This was supposed to be about poetry, so I’ll share a tiny poem that I managed to write the other day inside of someone else’s journal.

 

Karma resigned / Do crime / But be kind

 

I don’t know what to say about it. It’s what was there in my hands when I picked up the pen. It was honest.

One bright light is that artists are truly being appreciated throughout this. I thanked a front-liner recently and they thanked me back, saying that if it wasn’t for books and music and Netflix series, they’d lose their mind. That was humbling to hear. The gratitude this past month has been the shiniest silver lining I’ve seen in a very long time, and with that I think about how that gratitude will be the thing that will make me sit down and face my fear. I will write. I will make music. I will use the gifts this monster inadvertently gives me and I won’t let it consume me. I will try to give back hope, or maybe just some distractions.

The truth is, I really have no choice. I don’t have another porch to clean.

_______________________________

Donna Lynch, Biography –

AUTHORS-DonnaLynchDonna Lynch is a dark fiction writer and the co-founder—along with her husband–artist, and musician Steven Archer—of the dark electro-rock band Ego Likeness (Metropolis Records).

Her written works include Isabel Burning, Red Horses, Driving Through the Desert, Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures,, Daughters of Lilith, In My Mouth, and her Bram Stoker nominated Choking Back the Devil and Witches poetry collections. She and her husband live in Maryland.

 

About Choking Back the Devil (2019) –

BOOK-chokingDonna Lynch’s poetry explores the horror of losing control of mind, body, and autonomy. Whether it be through death, hauntings, violation, mental illness, violence, or the demons in our brains that terrorize and tempt us all, no one is immune to the nasty surprises of life. Yet somehow we must go on. Choking Back the Devil documents the attempt to get through the worst of what life can through at us.

Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.

You see, these poems are small drownings, all those subtle suffocations that live in that place between our ribs that swells with panic, incubates fear. Lynch shows her readers that sometimes our shadow selves—our secrets—are our sharpest weapons, the knives that rip through flesh, suture pacts with demons, cut deals with entities looking for more than a homecoming, something better, more intimate than family.

It’s about the masks we wear and the reflections we choose not to look at, and what’s most terrifying about the spells is these incantations show that we are the possessed, that we are our greatest monster, and if we look out of the corner of our eyes, sometimes—if we’ve damned ourselves enough—we can catch a glimpse of our own burnings, what monstrosities and mockeries we’re to become.

So cross yourselves and say your prayers. Because in this world, you are the witch and the hunter, the girl and the wolf.

Praise for Choking Back the Devil

“Lynch mixes in childhood fables with waking nightmares, the result is electrifying; sometimes in a few razor sharp words; sometimes in longer numbered verses counting down the cycle of a damaged life. The silent cries of souls tormented to healthiness by pills and poultices, force fed by imperfect humans, echo in the silhouette of these poems. I smiled at the shadows unexpectedly delivered by her words, as will you.”

—Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“This collection is not for the chronically disturbed, as fear is doled out in terse, potent portions. I got the shivers reading these unsettling poems.”

—Marge Simon, Bram Stoker Award winner, SFPA Grand Master Poet

Cover Artwork: Steven Archer

Find Choking Back the Devil, and her other works, HERE.

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Enjoy yesterday’s poetry by Joseph Van Buren over at Kendall Reviews, then stop back by there again tomorrow for another poetry piece. That one will be by Stephanie Evelyn. Next week we’ll host more poetry on both sites, starting back here on Tuesday.

Keep sharing and spreading the word, please!

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#HookedOnPoetry: Award-Winning Latina Author Cina Pelayo Brings Us a New, Original Poem, “Scrying.” #poetry #latinxbookmonth @gjkendall

To start off the features for the #HookedOnPoetry project this week, I’d like to share a poem by someone who in many circles needs no introduction. She’s a powerhouse of smarts, wit, and kindness. I love Cina to pieces. If you DO happen to need an intro, she is an International Latina Book Award winning author and writes novels, short stories, poetry collections, and more. Her poetry collection, Poems of My Night, is published by Raw Dog Screaming Press.

She’s sharing with us a little about her poetry and writing below, and then we’re giving an original publish on a new poem by her, which will hopefully grace the pages of an upcoming collection of hers.  I absolutely loved it!

Take it away, Cina…

HookedOnPoetry

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I like to think of myself as both a poet and a fiction writer. I enjoy writing horror because I enjoy exploring this dance between good and evil. I also very much enjoy mystery writing because I enjoy working with puzzles and logic and clues. Then there is poetry where I feel I can be most creative in a short space of time. Writing poetry to me feels almost musical. I’m not a musician, but there’s something about a great poem and a great piece of music that seems so similar because I just physically feel both.

I have been focusing on some fiction projects lately, but I’m slowly plugging away at another poetry collection. Below is one of those poems.

I hope you enjoy.

Cina

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Photo by David Boca on Unsplash

Scrying

She searches for her futures in a smooth glass

Cobbled together by onyx and obsidian

The pendulum swings above her misfortune

Settling on those crumpled petition papers, black ink

The secrets in the candle wax are obscured by

Herbs, and bark, and the desperate bits of angelica root

Muddied tea leaves give no clarification

Tossed bones jumbled together and fail her as well

The runes laugh at her, the celestial bodies above remain silent

And the cards, how hopeless they are? The Empress is still

The Hierophant turns his head and ignores all earthly pleas

The Wheel of Fortune reversed, and the tarot card of the great

World slips into burning charcoal, erupts, and with that she has her answer

– Cina Pelayo

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Cina Pelayo, Biography –

Cina PelayoCynthia (Cina) Pelayo is an International Latino Book Award winning author. She has written LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, POEMS OF MY NIGHT, and multiple short stories, poems and articles.

Her upcoming novel, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO, will be published by Agora.

For more information or to contact or follow –

Website: cinapelayo.com

On Twitter where I’m most active: @cinapelayo

On Instagram: @cinapelayoauthor

Poems of My Night Poetry Collection

BOOKS-poemsofmynightCynthia Pelayo constructs a narrative in her poetry in response to the work of Jorge Luis Borges that examines the themes and subsequent consequences of insomnia, death, and blindness. There’s a visionary quality to her work that dances along the line between the present world that we inhabit and the other world that lingers beyond the veil. Her poetry folds back this blanket of darkness, and shows readers the quiet violence and beauty that hides beneath waiting to be exposed, experienced, and encompassed.

Pelayo showcases this scream of silence through an urban and metaphysical night as she reflects on the spiritual, the occult, and the everyday happenings that become extraordinary in their own rights. Her poems are sermons, prayers to the voices that surround us in the dark, and comforts to those who watch over us as we sleep. Her style is honest, raw, and her voice will leave readers asking questions about what waits for them in the beyond, and whether or not their sins and frustrations are trapping them in the here and now.

She shows us that all too often, there is nothing to be scared of when the sun goes down, but that sometimes, we have every reason to be afraid, especially as we enter her world of blackness and decay, of smudged fingerprints and burnt pictures. These poems are cautionary tales for those who choose not to cover their eyes, warnings for those who refuse to find the light. And when our dreams come to roost, when our sleep eases us in, Pelayo shows us what nightmares are made of, and why there are some stories we can never escape.

Order direct at Raw Dog Screaming Press

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Take a peek at the last posting here and be sure to check out tomorrow’s poetry by Joseph VanBuren over at Kendall Reviews. You can see all of them in the series and from the past projects here as well. We’ll be sharing poems each week in May, or as long as they last, in celebration and awarness of poetry! Please share and spread the word!

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#HookedOnPoetry: Thought-Provoking Poems by Madison McSweeney #poetry @MMcSw13 @gjkendall

Today as part of the #HookedOnPoetry project, I want to introduce you to Canadian poet Madison McSweeney. Madison submitted her work to me in an open call for this project and I’m delighted she did so because it allowed me to get to know her and her work. Her poems are ethereal and rhythmical. She’s very talented and I hope you all will appreciate her work as much as I do.

Below is an original poem first published here with Hook of a Book as well as two reprints, all which will give you an idea of her wonderful style. Of course, I’m not only excited as my great-grandparent’s name last name was Sweeney (haha), but because I really enjoy featuring new-to-me poets (and therefore maybe new to you as well). Madison, however, has been published in some cool magazines and anthologies so you can check out more of her work there.

If you’re new to the project as a whole, you can read all about it here in this introductory essay or here on this page. It was started to celebrate National Poetry Month in April, but will carry throughout May too.

Enjoy!

HookedOnPoetry

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Holy War

He did not have the heart        to burn down his favourite building

but he was curious to see        how the alcohol

would mix with the flame       this

tempting isolation, with a lighter and a bottle

and the stench

of burning plastic panic          in the distance

burning dreams

why should this castle stand

when a thousand fantasies of wonder and lust

turned to dust              on a parking lot pyre

why should his persecutor

have a place to call home

and why must this distant smoke        be permitted

to drive me mad?

no sense to blame the bricks   for the man

nor the windows                        for the fog

nor the turrets                            for the bullets

let it stand.

may this place be a prison for you.

A companion piece to The Forest Dreams With Teeth, a sword-and-sorcery/folk horror story set during the heavy metal panic of the 1980s.

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 Cemetery Way

 Walk with me

along cemetery way

where one day we may rest

securely locked away and topped

with white marble

(white like orchids, white like bone) lest

we stir in our sleep and seek

to claw our way towards the

sun   is so lovely today

as we walk along cemetery way

where we may rest

for a moment, on the wrought-iron

bench erected in honour

of a fine local citizen

long lost

what bliss is this

your hand

so warm in mine

your eyes shine

like marble

(like funeral orchids, like bone)

“darling,” you say

“your hand”

(in yours)

“it’s so cold”

(like marble)

like bone

 Originally published in Truly U Review, Halloween 2019

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The Last Poem

 Keep the books from the children –

They may want to read them

the Librarian said, with the world-fearing concern

she had learned

in her years on the job

watching far too many minds

erupting with horrible thoughts, borrowed

from those tomes;

Shut the windows –

There’s darkness outside.

 

Lock the cabinets

Hide the folk tales with the poisons and the fetal pigs

our dears will know a world

with no fear.

they will know flowers

and fairies – the good kind;

and boyish adventures controlled and quickly resolved

with a minimum of risk.

Lock the doors –

A stranger may knock.

 

We will do all we can

To restrain the world from them

they will not know pain,

or death,

until it comes for them

in the flower garden

and they will blink, for they do not recognize a skull and scythe

and try to hand the Reaper a rose.

Disperse, darkness!

Until such time as you are too deep to see through.

Originally published in Truly U Review, Halloween 2019

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Madison McSweeney –

Author Photo1Madison McSweeney is a Canadian author and poet interested in the macabre and fantastic. Her poems have appeared in Rhythm & Bones, Pussy Magic, Cockroach Conservatory and the Twin Peaks themed anthology These Poems Are Not What They Seem. She has also published horror and fantasy stories in outlets such as American GothicCabinet of Curiosities, Unnerving Magazine, and Zombie Punks F*ck Off. 

She lives in Ottawa, Ontario and graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Political Science and Communications. She was an arts and culture contributor to The Fulcrum campus newspaper, and has written music-related articles for Bravewords, Music Vice, Hellbound and Ginger Nuts of Horror.

 She blogs about genre fiction and the local music scene at www.madisonmcsweeney.com and tweets from @MMcSw13.

Instagram: madisonmcsweeney.13

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Check out yesterday’s poem from the amazing Ashley Dioses over at Kendall Reviews and join us back next week on both sites for some more poetry celebration!

pen poetry

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