I Started a Novel—A Poem

(Etsy)

——

I started a novel.
It’s scary.
Not the novel. Well, it is going
to be scary
sometimes.
But the act of it.
The writing down things
unbidden things
did not sound realistic
in the how-to books
(it sounded safer)
but seeing it happen
in real-time is
scary. Things start to grab at your
pen things dart about your room
things shadow the paper so
it never remains purely white
or yellow in candle-glow—
but gray and
hard to follow.
I need to
write
this down;
and so down
I
shall
write it.
Nail
by
damned
cursèd
cof
fin
n
a
i
l
.

🩸

—(c)2022 by Sanguine Woods

Cold Moon!—The Horror Film Led Me to the Book & its even better!

Originally published in 1980 by Avon Books. The above edition was published in 2015 by Valancourt Books (covert art by Mike Mignola).

——

Look down fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods on faces ghastly, swollen, purple,
On the dead on their backs with arms toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred moon.

—Walt Whitman

——

PROLOGUE

One hot afternoon in July of 1965, Jim Larkin and his wife JoAnn were slowly paddling their small green boat upstream on the Styx River that drains the northwestern corner of the Florida panhandle. Having spent the several hours around noon lazily fishing in a favorite spot, half a mile downriver from their blueberry farm, they were bringing back enough bream for themselves and half the town of Babylon besides. Jim’s widowed mother, Evelyn Larkin, was back at the farm, taking care of their son Jerry, eight years old, and their infant daughter Margaret, born only the year before.

JoAnn Larkin, who had pale skin and dark red hair, and always wore dark red lipstick and matching nail polish even when she was working in the patch, had already started to clean the fish, and was idly scraping scales back into the water. Her husband, Evelyn Larkin’s only child, paddled slowly, and kept his face turned away from the sun. He had to be careful about burn, and considered that it was a sore trial for a farmer and his wife to have fair skin.

“What’s that?” JoAnn said curiously, and pointed at something in the water, twenty feet away.

“It’s a croker sack,” Jim Larkin replied, and turned the boat a little so that they would come nearer it.

“It’s not one of ours, is it?” she said.

“I don’t think it’s one of ours. Who’d be throwing our croker sacks in the river?”

“I don’t know. We ought to take it back. Good croker sacks are getting harder to come by every day. Looks dry. Must have just fell in from somewhere.”

JoAnn leaned over the prow, and snared the sack. She swung it over the side of the boat, and set it between herself and her husband. The string that held the top together had already come loose in the water, and the sack fell open in her hands. With dampened rattles, five snakes slithered out over the lip of the burlap.

The man and woman drew back in fear, pushing frantically against the rattlesnakes with their feet. Each was bitten several times, and probably would have suffered more had not their thrashing panic overturned the small boat.

Jim Larkin dived deep, and in a few seconds attempted to come up for air. Among the dead bream that floated on the surface of the water, he could see the snakes coiled and waiting. Their tails swaying slowly in the water beckoned him upward. He lost consciousness and drowned.

JoAnn Larkin swam to a sandbar, crawled across it, and fell into a sand-sink, which are as common as leeches along the margin of the Styx. She was sucked in slowly, and all the while never left off calling her husband’s name. But she gave over all resistance to the sinking sand when she saw his corpse rise suddenly to the surface of the water, and bob among the dead fish. His head was thrown back, his eyes wide, and one of the snakes pushed its way into his slack mouth.

Their bodies were never recovered. JoAnn Larkin’s skeleton, white and contorted, still lies frozen in the sand a dozen feet below the surface of the Styx. Jim Larkin was spun a couple of miles downstream, and then wedged into a rocky crevice in the bed of the river; there the normally sluggish black waters of the Styx, rushing through this submerged ravine, industriously pried the rotting flesh from his bones.

Evelyn Larkin had nothing of her son and daughter-in-law to mourn over and bury. The overturned boat, protecting the nested croker sacks and two drowned rattlesnakes, told no plausible story of their deaths. One July morning they had rowed down the Styx and simply failed to return.

Though she had no remembrance of her parents, Margaret Larkin never went swimming in the river, for fear that she would be dragged down to the bottom by her drowned mother and father. And her brother Jerry never after crossed the bridge over the Styx without glancing uneasily among the pilings, dreading to see there his parents’ decayed corpses. Yet they said nothing of these irrational terrors to one another, nor to their grandmother, who never lost the feeling that her son and daughter-in-law were still to be found somewhere in the river’s meandering length.

Eventually, a small cenotaph was raised in the Larkin family plot in the Babylon cemetery. It was marked with the names of the couple and bore the simple legend: LOST UPON THE STYX. 14 JULY 1965.

Savior Love, A Ditty

(NBC)

for JJCQ, w 💕

——

You derail me—
Like a cool freight
Train and I lose
My way veer so far
off track
We both know
I won’t make it
Out
And you just keep
Rolling on
You
Have agendas
Depots
Promises to keep
I fall down through
Flamboyant green woods
Dark and unfamilar
Trees snap
My wake scarred earth
And fuel leaking
ember sparks flying

Heap of coalfire
Twisted iron glowing
Glass and heart pieces
Like Parade candy
All over the ground

Torn wood catches
And I am aflame
Like a silly Valentine
In this absolution

Savior Love—
Is speaking
His licking tongues
Sharp and hot
As any devil’s tail

Choking smoke
billows can be seen
A hundred miles away
From this wreckage

And you—you
Just keep on
Keeping on

You got agendas

Depots

Promises

(To keep)

——

(c)2022 by Sanguine Woods

Have you been to The Hollow Places…? #tkingfisher

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.
——

Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.

With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s LabyrinthThe Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.

Reviews

“Kingfisher imagines the horrors lying between worlds in this chilling supernatural thriller…Kingfisher has crafted a truly terrifying monster with minimal descriptions that leave the reader’s imagination to run wild. With well-timed humor and perfect scares, this one is a keeper for horror fans.” —Publishers Weekly

“There are no cheap scares here…entirely of the author’s wonderfully twisted and endlessly fertile imagination….The perfect tale for fans of horror with heart.” —Kirkus Reviews“Can horror even be this rollicking, this fun, while still delivering on the creepiness, the dread, the ick? In Kingfisher’s hands, it can.” —Stephen Graham Jones, acclaimed author of The Only Good Indians

Author

T. Kingfisher, also known as Ursula Vernon, is the author and illustrator of many projects, including the webcomic “Digger,” which won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story and the Mythopoeic Award. Her novelette “The Tomato Thief” won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and her short story “Jackalope Wives” won the Nebula Award for Best Story. She is also the author of the bestselling Dragonbreath, and the Hamster Princess series of books for children. Find her online at RedWombatStudio.com.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Nobody ever believes me when I tell them my uncle Earl owns a museum.

They start to come around when I explain that it’s a little tiny museum in a storefront in Hog Chapel, North Carolina, although there’s so much stuff jumbled together that it looks bigger than it is. Then I tell them the name and they stop believing me again.

It makes for a good icebreaker at parties, anyway.

My uncle runs the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy.

Most of it is complete junk, of course. There are things in the cases that undoubtedly have (MADE IN CHINA stamped on the underside. I threw out the shrunken heads when I was fifteen and found identical ones for sale at the Halloween store. But the wall of Thimbles of the World is real or, at least, contains real thimbles, and all the Barong masks are really from Bali, and if the Clovis points were chipped out in the seventies instead of thousands of years ago, they were at least still made by a human with a rock. The jar of MYSTERY PODS?! on the counter are the cones from a Banksia plant, but they’re a mystery to most people, so I guess that counts.

And the taxidermy is real, insomuch as it is genuine taxidermy. That part of the museum has eleven stuffed deer heads, six stuffed boar heads, one giraffe skull, forty-six stuffed birds of various species, three stuffed albino raccoons, a Genuine Feejee Mermaid—which I keep trying to get him to rename because I think it’s probably racist, or at least he could put a sign up explaining the context—two jackalopes, an entire case of dried scorpions, a moth-eaten grizzly bear, five stuffed prairie dogs, two fur-bearing trout, one truly amazing Amazonian river otter, and a pickled cobra in a bottle.

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“Building the House”—An Essay by #maryoliver

Miss you Mary (Mariner Books 2000).

——
ONE

I KNOW A YOUNG MAN who can build almost anything—a boat, a fence, kitchen cabinets, a table, a barn, a house. And so serenely, and in so assured and right a manner, that it is joy to watch him. All the same, what he seems to care for best —what he seems positively to desire—is the hour of interruption, of hammerless quiet, in which he will sit and write down poems or stories that have come into his mind with clambering and colorful force. Truly he is not very good at the puzzle of words—not nearly as good as he is with the mallet and the measuring tape—but this in no way lessens his pleasure. Moreover, he is in no hurry. Everything he learned, he learned at a careful pace—will not the use of words come easier at last, though he begin at the slowest trot? Also, in these intervals, he is happy. In building things, he is his familiar self, which he does not overvalue. But in the act of writing he is a grander man, a surprise to us, and even more to himself. He is beyond what he believed himself to be.

I understand his pleasure. I also know the enclosure of my skills, and am no less pert than he when some flow takes me over the edge of it. Usually, as it happens, this is toward the work in which he is so capable. There appears in my mind a form; I imagine it from boards of a certain breadth and length, and nails, and all in cheerful response to some need I have or think I have, aligned with a space I see as opportunistic. I would not pry my own tooth, or cobble my own shoes, but I deliberate unfazed the niceties of woodworking—nothing, all my life, has checked me. At my side at this moment is a small table with one leg turned in slightly. For I have never at all built anything perfectly, or even very well, in spite of the pleasure such labor gives me. Nor am I done yet, though time has brought obstacles and spread them before me—a stiffness of the fingers, a refusal of the eyes to switch easily from near to far, or rather from far to near, and thus to follow the aim of the hammer toward the nail head, which yearly grows smaller, and smaller.

Once, in fact, I built a house. It was a minuscule house, a one-room, one- floored affair set in the ivies and vincas of the backyard, and made almost entirely of salvaged materials. Still, it had a door. And four windows. And, miraculously, a peaked roof, so I could stand easily inside, and walk around. After it was done, and a door hung, I strung a line from the house so that I could

After it was done, and a door hung, I strung a line from the house so that I could set a lamp upon the built-in table, under one of the windows. Across the yard, in the evening with the lamplight shining outward, it looked very sweet, and it gave me much satisfaction. It seemed a thing of great accomplishment, as indeed, for me, it was. It was the house I had built. There would be no other.

The labor of writing poems, of working with thought and emotion in the encasement (or is it the wings?) of language, is strange to nature, for we are first of all creatures of motion….

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#Elsewhere odd things seem to be happening… #reading #horror #koontz

(Thomas & Mercer 2020)

——

“He no longer trusts any place to be an absolute refuge from danger….For one like him, who knows not just a single history, but many—libraries are not infrequently places of death.”

——

The Kindle edition of Koontz’ novel Elsewhere actually has a moving front cover! Pretty cool. Haven’t read #koontz since the late 1980s, early 1990s.

This is a pretty good opener…

——
The Visitor in the Dead of Night

Without need of a door and unconcerned about the security-system alarm that has been set, the library patron arrives at three o’clock in the morning, as quiet as any of the many ghosts who reside here—from those in the plays of Shakespeare to those in the stories of Russell Kirk. The aisles between the cliffs of books are deserted. Darkness enfolds the great room and all its alcoves. The staff is home sleeping, and the custodian finished his daily chores an hour earlier. The air smells of pine-scented cleanser and wood polish and aging paper.

Although a watchman patrols this maze of valuable knowledge, the patron does not feel safe. Most would assume a library to be a haven in a world of tumult, but the patron knows better. He has seen numerous gruesome horrors and has much experience of terror. He no longer trusts any place to be an absolute refuge from danger.

For one like him, who knows not just a single history but many, libraries are not infrequently places of death. Librarians and other champions of the written word have been shot and stabbed and burned alive and hauled off to concentration camps to be tortured or used as slave labor. Libraries are not safe places, for their shelves are filled with books, but also with ideas regarding freedom, justice, truth, faith, and much more, ideas that some find intolerable. Book burners of all political persuasions know where to find the fuel when they feel the hour has come for action.

The postmidnight patron knows this town, Suavidad Beach, in all its manifestations, but he can’t be sure that this one offers what he needs. On arrival, fresh from another library, he switches on a flashlight. Hooding the beam with one hand, so that it won’t carry to the high-set windows, he makes his way to the computer alcove and sits at a workstation.

Soon he’s on the internet, then to Facebook, where he finds the page he wants. There are amusing posts by Jeffrey Coltrane and by his eleven-year-old daughter, Amity, but none by his wife, Michelle. Indeed, there are as well photos of Jeffrey and Amity, although none of the girl’s mother, as if perhaps she died long ago. This prospect excites the patron.

As the enormous library wall clock ticks softly with each passing minute, the patron searches the public records of Suavidad Beach, seeking a report of the woman’s demise. He doesn’t find it.

What he does find, in the electronic files of the Suavidad Beach Municipal Court, is a petition filed by Jeffrey Coltrane to dissolve his marriage to Michelle. Jeffrey has neither seen nor heard from her in more than seven years, but he does not seek to have Michelle declared dead, only to be released from his marriage to her. He is not the kind of man who can stop hoping. His statement to the court is eloquent, profoundly sad, yet threaded through with a wistful optimism.

Jeffrey’s hope is surely naive. The patron has much knowledge of murder and has often been present at scenes of savage slaughter. In this case, Michelle is no doubt dead. Her death is both a tragedy and a cause for celebration. The patron switches off the computer. He sits in darkness for a while, thinking about death and life and the risks of trying to foil fate.

At 4:10 a.m., he leaves the library as he came, with no need of doors and without setting off the alarm.

This is the eleventh day of April.

Im too gone to be stayin, stayin…♥️🗯♠️🗯♦️

(Rolling Stone Magazine)

——

I see you calling
I didn’t wanna leave you like that
It’s five in the morning, yeah, yeah
A hundred on the dash

‘Cause my wheels are rolling
Ain’t taking my foot off the gas
And it only took the one night
To see the end of the line
Staring deep in your eyes, eyes

Dancing on the edge, ’bout to take it too far
It’s messing with my head, how I mess with your heart
If you wake up in your bed, alone in the dark
I’m sorry, gotta leave before you love me

Ay, ay, leave before you love me
Ay, ay, leave before you love me
Ay, ay, leave before you love me
Ay, ay, leave before you love me

Official video (YouTube).

——

I’m so good at knowing
When to leave the party behind
Don’t care if they notice, yeah, yeah, no
I’ll just catch a ride

I’d rather be lonely, yeah
Than wrapped around your body too tight
Yeah, I’m the type to get naked
Won’t give my heart up for breakin
‘Cause I’m too gone to be stayin’, staying’ (dancing on)

Dancing on the edge, ’bout to take it too far
It’s messing with my head, how I mess with your heart
If you wake up in your bed, alone in the dark
I’m sorry, gotta leave before you love me

Ay, ay, leave before you love me
Ay, ay, leave before you love me
Ay, ay, leave before you love me
Ay, ay, leave before you love me

Dancing on the edge, take it too far
Messing with my head, how I mess with your heart
I’m sorry, alone in the dark
I’m sorry

Ay, ay, leave before you love me

Live at the Billboard Music Awards 2020.

——

Songwriters: David Martin / Richard Boardman / Alessandro Lindblad / Philip John Plested / Nicholas Gale / Pablo Bowman / Everett Ryan Romano / Marshmello / Will Vaughan / David C Martin / Geoff Morroe