Blush me a humble hydrangea
shade of pink. Your lilypad heart
lapping. How the skirts of trust
rustle, edge my waist in hungry
red welts. What can we find
to sacrifice to the goddess who
severed her tongue so that humans
could harvest this art of dance,
even as it damages the high
marrow of their hip bones?
I want our bodies to be difficult
to explain: like the shape smoke
takes, its slow ghostly groping.
Or like a lapse of memory —
scent of eucalyptus after rain.

Emily Paige Wilson

When my friend said she had seen God’s face,
I wondered if it was an old man’s,
backlit by a playground’s night-game lights,
wondered if it was a woman’s,
fan of silver pins glittering between her lips
as she knelt on cold linoleum
turning up dress hems for money.
My friend said you can only see God’s face askance.
She said it terrified her
like the sleek and planet-eyed sea lion
whose yawn reveals a cavern of sharp teeth.
I prayed for a glimpse, but only saw
what God wanted me to see, a scarped skyline,
hard angles spangled with small panes of light.

Susan Elbe

read a lot

May 28, 2018

girl

When I was about 11 or 12 I think I must have said something about how I wanted to be a writer; I don’t remember having any such aspiration until much, much later. But I must have said something, because Lucy [my governess] wrote to Somerset Maugham and said that she was governess to a little girl who wanted to be a writer and what would Mr Maugham suggest? Heaven knows how she managed to write to him – I suppose care of the publishers. He wrote a very nice letter back saying absolutely the right thing: “If your little girl is interested in writing then the best thing she can do is read a lot.” Perfect answer; exactly what I’d say myself.

Penelope Lively
On writing: authors reveal the secrets of their craft
The Guardian, 26th March 2011

an infernal paradise

May 28, 2018

a city of the future - London

In Lovecraft’s defining stories, meaning such later works as “The Shadow out of Time” and “At the Mountains of Madness,” there is a sense of adventure. In his letters, Lovecraft often wrote of experiencing moments of what he called “adventurous expectancy,” by which he meant feeling oneself on the brink of some weird and hyper-exciting revelation that is always held in suspension and never known in its particulars. This is patently an aesthetic perception of existence. Borges described a similar feeling of the imminence of a revelation that never occurs as the definitive aesthetic experience. In Lovecraft’s work, unlike that of Borges, the origin of his feeling of adventurous expectancy derives from something terrible that is associated with the inconceivable spatial and temporal nature of the physical universe. I think that a great many people experience the same thing in their lives. I have myself. But it never occurred to me to express this feeling as a source of adventure in my stories.

My focus has fairly consistently been on what I have thought of as an “infernal paradise,” a realm where one wallows in something putrid and corrosive that lies beyond exact perception. In his stories, Lovecraft’s adventurous expectancy ultimately has its origin in something terrible, and not the child’s picture-book wonderland you find in the work of a lot of writers of fantastic fiction. But it’s still thrilling in its own way. It isn’t purely hellish, as is the case with my stories. Lovecraft was an astronomy buff as a child and so this feeling probably stemmed from that time. I was a pathological Catholic as a child, and one might make a connection between my early life and my later writings on that basis. Ultimately, the difference I’m trying to articulate between Lovecraft’s adventurous expectancy and my infernal paradise may seem superficial. I would say as much myself. But it seems to me that what captivates a reader’s interest in one writer’s work as opposed to another’s is quite often based on superficial qualities, even when there are deeper likenesses. Anyone can think of examples among both popular and literary writers. Lovecraft’s defining works portray a variety of monsters. Mine seldom do. What’s the difference? Not much on the deepest level. But monsters are a great literary hook and there is necessarily a surface adventure in dealing with them. If asked to name the definitive image in Lovecraft, one might likely say its tentacles flailing from the body of a monster. For me it would be probably be puppets, manikins, and clown-like things, even though these are more often a matter of metaphor than a literal presence of a monstrous type. Nevertheless, if Lovecraft’s tentacle monsters and my puppets and so on fought each other, I think the monsters would win.

Thomas Ligotti
Interview: Thomas Ligotti and the Realm of Nightmares
Weird Review 15th October 2015

One Last Kiss

May 28, 2018

If that one last kiss is still
The thing you’d long to give someone
Then give it now before they’re gone.
Give it daily; never be caught out
For never passing on
The one last kiss you’d give
Just because you didn’t know
That’s what it was.

Frieda Hughes