Next up, we have poet of the dark, Ian Futter. His poem “Him”, is a beautiful piece in A Darke Phantastique. I fell in love with death. He stopped my heart and stole my breath. With charming smiles of bone and eyes like caves that called me home. And what is behind this seduction? … Continue reading Author Spotlight: Ian Futter
Our next spotlight author, Marge Simon graces A Darke Phantastique with “Selected Poems: Spider Poem, The Little Man, Dream the Titanic”. Here is a snippet: Needing neither sun nor moon, my mistress spins her webs. Long of leg, with umber hair drawn to fine designs with clip and braid the bright black eyes, the… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Marge Simon
Mythic Delirium Books, 2014. $14.95
Having enjoyed Mike Allen’s fiction, I was curious to sample his poetry as well. Allen’s fiction ideas are very weird, and his poetry is weirder still. Wonderfully weird.
Classical themes collide with modern stylistic license in verses that defy the rules yet satisfy a natural rhythm and timeless beauty. Many of the entries are prose poems, but none seem too wordy or out of place in this book.
Most interestingly, Allen uses varied structural techniques to fit the mood and invoke sensibilities from other forms of art: colors and painting terms, musical structures, even playing with the alignment and position on the page illustrating the underlying concept. Some of these pieces read like hymnals, some like ancient spells.
Allen is an artist and words are his clay, his ink, his notes, his instruments. He best describes this himself in “Retracing the Moon”:
I cup the moon in my hands,
lift it from its hook and balance
its weight in wheel and lathe.
I prepare to press fingers in
its silver skin, but think again.
Who am I to cook the clay of dreams?
Hungry Constellations is an excellent collection. It is rare to find genre poetry so artfully rendered. It is full of stars.
Stephanie M. Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2014. $12.95
Stephanie Wytovich is quickly becoming a favorite in dark poetry, and for good reason. This is a strong collection and even at 118 pages has not much wasted space. These aren’t trunk poems.
She creates a different world and mood within each piece and her ideas are touching, beautiful, and darkly romantic. Thematically, her verses and prose poems deal with death, but also with the macabre coping mechanisms of her twisted but relatable characters.
Many moments are pure eroticism, such as in “Succubus”:
Her heart kisses his soul goodbye,
but not before it bathes in the waters of lust. She licks at his lips,
tonguing at the growing desire brooding in an
unconscious mind as he gives himself
over to her—an unwilling participant in
love’s final soliloquy.
Wytovich knows how to empty her soul onto the page. She taps into the feelings and thoughts that we harbor secretly, shamefully, delightfully, and tenderly.
This is the best poetry collection I’ve read this year.
”Beyond black voids subsumed by blacker fire
We conjure entities from gates of hell;
And knowing all their names impose our will,
Binding those spirits with essential night
To glean the mysteries of eldritch dark
That warp the weave of time and space and earth.”
Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls
By Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca
$17.00; 156 pages; February, 2012
Elektrik Milk Bath Press
It’s not very often that I judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls, it’s hard not to. Draped in a colorful palette of reds, grays, and blues, DeLuca wraps both the cover and the spine in a woman’s hair, concocting a gentle, yet vicious maelstrom of curls. The female looks off into in the distance, refusing the viewer’s eyes in a seductive glance, eyes wide open, piercing blue, lost in focus. The brushstrokes lead the viewer in, and then push them away, much like Simon’s women between the pages. In a stunning marriage between poetry and art, the two artists not only call to the definition of the feminine, but question its innocence and ferocity. Are these women misunderstood angels? Devils? Or perhaps maybe they are something much, much worse.
What’s most beautiful about this collection is the way that Simon and DeLuca feed off each other’s muse, off each other’s interpretation of the lifeline of their characters. The vampires, the zombies, the wanton souls… Simon and DeLuca don’t just write and paint them. They become them. They devour the girl’s stories, their heartbreaks, their sins, and then they retell their deaths and rebirths with ink and color, metaphor and line.
And it’s frightful what these women have done.
Simon tells the story of the seductress, the victim, the murderer, and DeLuca paints the blood on her face and the circles under her eyes. If you flip through the collection, you’ll meet a flash of color—bright and dull, absent and vibrant—and catch the stares of many a woman wronged, not to mention the wrath of a woman scorned. Simon speaks of love taken to the edge of a cliff, of back-alley sex after the stars go blank. DeLuca siphons souls with the curves and strokes of her girls, hypnotizes men with the full pout of luscious lips. It’s hard to imagine who’s deadlier: the ladies on the page, or the ladies creating them?
Take this collection as a cup of tea, but one mixed with rose petals and poison. There is great beauty here—women who have survived, conquered, thrived—but there is also death, destruction, power. It’s easy to be attracted to danger, especially when she bats her eyes at you, and whispers promises in your ear. It’s hard to walk away from fate, to push past the desire, the need to explore and sate your curiosity. But sometimes the people we want the most, the people we yearn for the deepest, are devils masked in the moonlight, sirens walking the earth. This collection is a warning as much as it is a celebration.
Readers and viewers beware: beauty can kill you, but it can also bring you back.
But as something different. Something darker.
Something with fangs. With cravings.
Something without a soul.
—Stephanie M. Wytovich
Hysteria: A Collection of Madness
Stephanie M. Wytovich
2013, Raw Dog Screaming Press
ISBN: 978-1-935738-49-7, 160 pages; $13.95
Horror and poetry don’t often come together in a collection as entertaining and disturbing as Stephanie M. Wytovich’s Hysteria. By turns, this is a wild romp through a cast of unhinged minds: serial killers, violated corpses, mental patients, betrayed lovers, and suicidal lunatics play out their darkest fantasies in Wytovich’s demented verse.
Although most of the entries are quite brief, there are just over 100 poems–each piece delightfully dark and many sexy, perverse, horrible moments to be savored. So many of them in fact, that a singular complaint may be that it seems the editor gave up on any semblance of organization of the book, opting to simply deliver all of the content as one contiguous section in alphabetic order by title. Regardless, the presentation does offer an arbitrary randomness which likens it to the proverbial “box of chocolates,” allowing the reader freedom to choose how best to tackle to consumption by either dipping in and out, or selecting a predetermined order.
To illustrate, one could pick a number, for example, 73, turn to the page and sample, in this case, the title poem, “Hysteria”:
. . .You’re diseased, he said
But I can cure you
If you let me
He turned the lights off
A vibrator up my cunt
And told me to
Told me to relax and
Let go. . .
2013 mgv2>publishing, 25 pages
In her debut poetry collection, Event Horizon, Valentina Cano paints with dark and light free verse to create short yet powerful poems which she terms as “Debris”. These illuminations and dislocations give insight into the sometimes troubled, but self-encouraging mind of a promising young poet.
In poems such as “Regarding Anxiety” and “Compulsions”, Cano explores the mental confines of worry, anxiety, depression, and pain. Meanwhile, her thoughts find way to escape the dark “Disorders”, allowing the self to immerge triumphant. This theme is illustrated in “Compulsions”:
. . . My mind cowered
and pushed anything to hide behind.
To hide from the marching,
full like a tick.
A scream turned the night into day,
the thought into a concrete wall.
Valentina Cano’s poetry is intensely personal, very moving, and well worth exploring. She summarizes the collection with the last verses from “An Ill Head, Dreaming”:
If I could find it,
this hospital that quarantines shadows,
then I think
I could learn to breathe again.
Gulping air in a waterfall of light.
Catch her reading here: Valentina Cano
The Monstrance by Bryan D. Dietrich
ISBN: 978-1-926912-97-4 $10.99; 132pgs; August, 2012 Needfire Poetry
The Monstrance by Bryan D. Dietrich is the lightning bolt that gave life to Frankenstein’s monster. It is the storm that rode through the sky-cracking thunder and spurting rain- and the madness than ran through Victor as he waltzed the steps of a scientific breakthrough. This collection of poetry gives breath to the creatures that run from the torches, a voice to the damned that speak without tongues, and a heartbeat to the corpses that walk the cobblestone streets looking for their lost loves. Dietrich weaves the lyricism of perspective through the eyes of monsters as readers are reintroduced to the stories we grew up thinking we knew. Like the doctor himself, Dietrich makes incisions to old tales and resurrects new life through adaptations and outlooks that had yet to be explored. His words are sublime as they take on the nostalgia of the old and the reverence of the new, but it is his uncanny ability to relate to the monsters and feel their pain and confusion that make the words bleed off the page. Each piece is an awakening. It is a lesson, a kiss, and a teardrop. The Monstrance collects the other side of the story and reiterates that not everything is what it seems to be at first glance. Dietrich shows us that love can be found in death, that it can be created from spare parts and shoved out into the world without first being taught how to walk, how to speak, how to feel. It becomes easy to allow oneself to be swept up in the abandonment, the curiosity, and the stark realization that the world isn’t divided by black and white, but rather swimming in shades of gray. But it is in that subtle mist that truth and acceptance run like banshees through the woods. It is in that fog that the creatures take off their masks and reveal who they truly are. As both a poet and a fan of classic horror, I found myself consumed by the raw unearthing of human emotion. The narrator does not once cheat his readers of his opinion, and when he gives a glimpse into his life, no matter how wonderful or how awful it may be, he holds our hand and shows us the way. Because of this, Dietrich’s poems are like dark shades of light. They are mixtures of good and bad, of accuracy and farce, and they flee from stereotypes much like the monster from the flame. With a combined style of literary and genre, The Monstrance questions as much as it answers. It covers as much as it reveals and like the ability to bring the dead back to life, it frightens as much as it excites. Each piece is a story. It is a memory, a fable, and memoir. It is told from the lips of a child, an adult, and a lover. And it is felt by all. —Stephanie M. Wytovich
Dark Duet $8.99; 94 pages; January, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-1481902649 By Linda D. Addison and Stephen M. Wilson Necon E-Books Reading this poetry collection was like watching two artists dance with words and paint with language. I felt drawn in from the fist piece, as Addison’s lyrical verse wrapped me in song, and sent me… Continue reading POETRY REVIEW – Dark Duet