December 26, 2015

banana (2)

Try pickles. Better yet,
cucumbers, bananas, all-beef
hot dogs with those tight
little skins. Or how about
tomatoes clumsy on the vine
heavy to burst with juice
and seeds, cactus fruit
sweet-succulent and dripping
pink, split to the moist heart.
The recipes are endless;
hunger for such edibles becomes
addiction when unchecked.
Avocado, pomegranate, kiwi
with its hairy cover, even
tiny new potatoes boiled
naked in deep salt.
Salivating yet?
We’re talking food here, folks.
An onion is an onion,
slice it how you will.
And you will.

Katharyn Howd Machan

(Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines; in anthologies and textbooks such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience; and in 32 collections, most recently Wild Grapes: Poems of Fox from Finishing Line Press, 2014; H from Gribble Press, 2014 ,and When She’s Asked to Think of Colors from Palettes & Quills Press, 2009. Former director of the national Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc., she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology from Split Oak Press, 2012).

it shattered slowly

December 26, 2015


He began by breaking things that morning. He broke the glass of water on his night stand. He knocked it crazily against the opposite wall and shattered it. Yet it shattered slowly. This would have surprised him if he had been fully awake, for he had only reached out sleepily for it.

Nor had he wakened regularly to his alarm; he had wakened to a weird, slow, low booming, yet the clock said six, time for the alarm. And the low boom, when it came again, seemed to come from the clock.

He reached out and touched it gently, but it floated off the stand at his touch and bounced around slowly on the floor. And when he picked it up again it had stopped, nor would shaking start it…

R A Lafferty
The Six Fingers of Time

let the imagination fly

December 26, 2015

old book

To be a writer of fiction, for a woman, has never been a totally respectable occupation. Let her write a gentle and sensitive poem or so, perhaps […]. But to let the imagination fly is to allow it to fly into unwarrantable places, to contemplate the uncontemplatable.

Fay Weldon
Preface to A Double Life: Newly Discovered Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott

the approach of the Evil One

December 26, 2015


As the candles burn blue and the air smells of brimstone at the approach of the Evil One, so, in the quiet and healthy air of Golden Friars, a depressing and agitating influence announced the coming of the long-absent Baronet.

From abroad, no good whatever had been at any time heard of him, and a great deal that was, in the ears of simple folk living in that unsophisticated part of the world, vaguely awful.

Stories that travel so far, however, lose something of their authority, as well as definiteness, on the way; there was always room for charity to suggest a mistake or exaggeration; and if good men turned up their hands and eyes after a new story, and ladies of experience, who knew mankind, held their heads high and looked grim and mysterious at mention of his name, nevertheless an interval of silence softened matters a little, and the sulphurous perfume dissipated itself in time.

Now that Sir Bale Mardykes had arrived at the Hall, there were hurried consultations held in many households. And though he was tried and sentenced by drum-head over some austere hearths, as a rule the law of gravitation prevailed, and the greater house drew the lesser about it, and county people within the visiting radius paid their respects at the Hall.

The Reverend Martin Bedel, the then vicar of Golden Friars, a stout short man, with a mulberry-coloured face and small gray eyes, and taciturn habits, called and entered the drawing-room at Mardykes Hall, with his fat and garrulous wife on his arm.

The drawing-room has a great projecting Tudor window looking out on the lake, with its magnificent background of furrowed and purple mountains.

Sir Bale was not there, and Mrs. Bedel examined the pictures, and ornaments, and the books, making such remarks as she saw fit; and then she looked out of the window, and admired the prospect. She wished to stand well with the Baronet, and was in a mood to praise everything.

You may suppose she was curious to see him, having heard for years such strange tales of his doings.

She expected the hero of a brilliant and wicked romance; and listened for the step of the truant Lovelace who was to fulfil her idea of manly beauty and fascination.

She sustained a slight shock when he did appear.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
The Haunted Baronet


The girls piled into the lift, standing alongside Scanlon. One of them, the tallest and prettiest, looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t place her.

“Going up?” She said in an American accent and the other two began to laugh.

Scanlon attempted a grin that wound up as a grimace. Although they were here for the same
convention it was impossible to underestimate the gulf between he and they. Scanlon was a thirty-two year old with black-rimmed glasses whose nose bridge was held together by sellotape. His face was half-hidden behind a bushy unkempt beard and he’d been wearing the same shirt, tank top, Oxford bags and underwear for over a week. His greasy hair was plastered down in a ragged side parting. He’d been working part-time for the last six years in a PDSA Charity Shop in a run-down part of town and carried around with him like a miasma the stale odour that seems to cling to second-hand clothes. The only perk of the job was he had first choice of the books people donated, and this was how he’d cheaply cobbled together his prized collection of horror paperbacks. The closest he’d come to a sexual relationship in the last five years had been a drunken grope behind the counter with a sales assistant at a Martin Goring book launch party at the Leicester branch of Waterstones.

Mark Samuels
The Cannibal Kings of Horror