Category Archives: dark poetry

Interview with author James Dorr

How would you describe your writing style?

Mixed-genre perhaps, or a potpourri? That is, my most recent book Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth is a mosaic novel, or novel-in-stories, with elements of horror, dystopic science fiction, science fantasy, and dark romance blended in together, and in a style I think of as baroque – tending toward lush and literary. However, I’ve also had stories in mystery magazines that are more bare-boned, in some cases perhaps even noir. The idea for me is that the type of story will ideally suggest the style, with The Tears of Isis (to drop another title) as a possible example, a collection that begins with a poem, then a stream-of-consciousness story, and so on, ending with its title story in a fairly no-nonsense, straightforward style.

What draws you to dark fiction?

One of my primary interests is character. In my opinion the best fiction, in any genre, is that which makes its reader think, to think about what it means to be human whether in terms of relating to the world, or building new worlds as in science fiction, or intimately with just one other person, or even within the folds of one’s own mind. This last is where I think horror and dark fiction excel, in putting a character under the greatest personal stress and examining how that character then copes, or even just survives. The vampire has bitten, now what does one do? And does its playing out induce the reader to think how he or she might react as well, perhaps not to a vampire bite as such, but to other, hopefully no longer quite as extreme pressures they might be under in everyday life?

Such an eloquent response, it makes me want to sit down and read some James Dorr tonight. Please tell us about your latest release, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth.

On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul – an eater of corpses – explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest that leads us through the 16 stand-alone chapters, about half in fact already published in various venues as complete short stories, loosely inspired by a pair of quotations from Edgar Allan Poe, of the most poetic subject being the death of a beautiful woman (which also informs, in its way, my previous book The Tears of Isis) and of the boundaries between life and death being “at best shadowy and vague.” If these statements be true, and in an already dying world, can love be a power to even transcend death?

Looking through your Amazon page, I noticed how much you’ve been getting your fiction out there in different anthologies and magazines. Are there any of these publications that stand out in your mind as a particularly memorable experience, whether it was a lot of fun to participate in, or maybe for charity, or a badass theme?

So many things, and where to start? One story that comes to mind is called “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” one originally written for a horror anthology that turned it down, then was rejected by a succession of other horror markets until I switched gears and sent it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine where it was accepted – the first that I sold there and, at the time, one of my first wholly professional fiction sales. (It is in addition written in a mannered style, which was taking a chance for me back then, but in a sense prefigured the style later used in Tombs.) Then there’s “Moons of Saturn,” a science fantasy story that’s almost a reverie based on an astronomy book I had on the solar system, which went to Algis Budrys’s magazine Tomorrow, another early (and in my opinion, validating) professional sale. For another, “Avoid Seeing a Mouse,” which went to Max Booth III’s alternate history anthology for Dark Moon Books, Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories, and played a role in bringing about The Tears of Isis. And for a fourth, perhaps “King Rat,” written in part as an allegory on world politics and economics, that first appeared in Gothic.Net and was reprinted in Bleed, a charity anthology for The National Children’s Cancer Society.

James, I also had a story in Bleed. It was a terrific book! But now I want to know more about your 2013 collection, The Tears of Isis. It has received some great reviews. How long did it take you to put this collection together, and what do you think has made it so successful?

In that The Tears of Isis was assembled from stories already written, it didn’t take that long at all. Max Booth III had just started Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and, having recently published me in Zombie Jesus, invited me to submit a collection to his new company. For the contents, I was to have a completely free hand as long as it came in within a certain word range, choosing and arranging the stories myself. As it happened, I’d been playing around in my head with a couple of possible collection ideas, so I emailed back suggesting I get back by about Halloween, which would have been two or three weeks, with a definite yes if I thought it feasible, then get a manuscript together by about Thanksgiving – this would be aiming for a publication date for the next spring or summer, in time to be out before that year’s World Horror Convention.

So the dates worked out. Since the stories were already written (which isn’t quite true, I did write one short one to be combined with an existing poem, while one other story was as yet unpublished) it was more a case of compilation and one thing I learned, the process was both a challenge and fun. By analogy to the sculptors in the book’s opening poem and closing story, in choosing materials from an unformed “basket” of stories from which to form a loose theme (in this case of beauty and death; of the artist conferring on his or her model both immortality, and through its objectification, a kind of destruction) and then fitting and arranging them into it, I had the thrill of watching as until-then-unrelated works formed of themselves a cohesive and artistically satisfying whole.

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Wow! That sounds like a unique collection of stories, for sure. Do you keep a notebook or file of potential story ideas? If so, how many do you think you actually end up using?

The short answer is “no.” My relationship with the muse is not a sunny one; I have to wrestle her for ideas and, if I get one, I usually try to develop it at least a little bit right away. At that point I’m likely to make some notes on a piece of scrap paper or the back of an envelope, but I’ll still try to get to work with it on the computer within a few days. (One exception: in the case of a series of stories – I have one ongoing, for instance, about the original vampires who allegedly came to New Orleans – or a created world, as in Tombs, I may keep a folder with common information, such as maps or naming conventions.)

You write poetry as well. Who are some of your favorite poets, from any era?

To go to possible extremes, I consider Edgar Allan Poe and Allen Ginsberg to be major influences. To them I might add Byron, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Chaucer, the Greek tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (these in translation, of course), any number on up to Kipling (who, after all, even wrote a poem called “The Vampire”).

Where can we find your poetry?

I’ve been lax in marketing poetry lately, though I will have a short poem in the current (Fall 2017) Star*Line. I do have a book of poetry, Vamps (A Retrospective), available from White Cat Publications as well as (although in print only, I think) Alban Lake. Also my early collections Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret both contain poetry sections. (These latter are technically out of print but can still be found on Amazon, et al.)

Is there any genre you’d like to attempt but haven’t tried yet?

I consider enough of my work to be cross-genre that it’s hard to answer. I’ve never written straight romance or straight westerns (or western romance, for that matter), but if I tried it’s likely that horror elements would sneak in. (Also erotica might be fun, but again. . . .)

What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?

I like watching movies, particularly science fiction and horror, but comedies too and some documentaries. I also lead and play tenor in a Renaissance recorder consort.

Where can we find you on the web?

I recommend that people follow me on my blog at http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com to keep up on my latest doings. Feel free to comment too if the spirit moves. Also I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.dorr.9 and my Amazon Author page (lots of book titles, but most of them are anthologies where I might just have a story or poem) is at http://www.amazon.com/James-Dorr/e/B004XWCVUS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1380306038&sr=1-2-ent

TombsLargeWithSubtitle

It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn’t know quite what — ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others’ deaths. Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection. Tombs is a beautifully written examination of the human condition of life, love, and death, through the prism of a dystopian apocalypse.

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James Dorr’s latest book is a novel-in-stories published in June 2017 by Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of  Latter-Day Times of Earth. Born in Florida, raised in the New York City area, in college in Cambridge Massachusetts, and currently living in the Midwest, Dorr is a short story writer and poet specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. His The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). He has also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full time non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician, and currently harbors a cat named Triana.

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More Regrets Than Glories, by Rick Powell

A collection of dark poetry just hit the market, written by friend and talented author, Rick Powell. You may remember Rick from his guest appearance on April 3rd, 2015, when he shared a few poems from his book, My Soul Stained, My Seed Sour. A little over a year later, Rick is back with his new book, More Regrets Than Glories, and another poem to share. If you enjoy what you read, consider picking up a copy of the book, please.

KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/More-Regrets-Than-Glories-collection-ebook/dp/B01GANL3U6?ie=UTF8&keywords=more+regrets+than+glories&qid=1464492710&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

PRINT: http://www.lulu.com/shop/rick-powell/more-regrets-than-glories/paperback/product-22694866.html

 

The Coachman

The dark coachman stopped at my house this Autumn night,
I was hesitant as I stepped up to the cold seat to sit at his side,
His countenance was in shadow from the hood of his aged cloak,
We started on without a word as through the forest we did ride.

I then wrapped the thick wool blanket around my thin, pale form,
Ma said I have had the chills for days and nothing could cure my ill,
Pa had no money since this year the crops were bad all around,
I asked “Where are we going?” but the coachman’s voice was silent still.

I looked back to my home and at the windows dark as the blackest pitch,
The forest beyond my house was even more dark and silent in the night,
My memories of the last days were muddled and I hope to be well soon,
I hope that this fever will pass and I will be better by the morning light.

I remember my parents talking about the Doc at the edge of the other town,
They were most frantic as my Ma kept a cool rag on my burning head,
I passed in and out of the blackness as I heard them arguing about what to do,
I felt my skin was braised by the fires of Hell, even though cold sweat filled my bed.

Why would they send me with this coachman, when my health was most dire?
Why did they not come with me, my only family that I have ever known?
Why does this dark horse that pulls us seem to be a beast out of a nightmare?
Why do I see a deathly grin of the coachman, when the Autumn moon is shown?

mrtg

The Dark Poetry of Johnny Ringo

What’s that in the air? It smells like… OCTOBER! What a beautiful month, full of spooky delights. The perfect time for dark poetry. My thanks go out to Johnny Ringo for sharing his works with us. Enjoy!

*

Asphyxia is my damnation
That stifles my lungs and chokes my brain,
And while I struggle to think in a vacuum of fear,
No sanctuary can be found.

My arms flail in panic to reach your skin,
To feel the warmth of your flesh,
For the sound of your heart beating to lull me,
But sound and warmth are not luxuries here.

The decomposition of my brain is necessity,
My cells dying, screaming out for respite,
My fingernails clawing at a prison, incorporeal,
Which destroys all of my being in an empty whisper.

Terror grips everything around me.
Release means a prayer of breath I lack.
If time would rewind to release me,
I would not starve in the black.

Asphyxia is my damnation.

1

Bring me back from the dead.
Let me rise from the dirt to reclaim my place.
Show me the path to the truth.
Let me don the tattered remains of happiness.
I will rise to bring true chaos.
Mend the wounds that have been wrought.
This is not revenge but justice.
They will know the pain they caused and suffer.
I will fight to the last breath
To destroy the sinners and crush their tyranny;
Then when the task is done,
Guide me back to the grave to sleep again.
I will find peace with my love.
Due to your guidance, justice has been served.

rising

Dripping blood,
Restrained barks of rage,
Ebbing and flowing pulses,
The flames that dance.

The sorrow of children.
Tears of blood flow down
Emerald eyes, breasts of alabaster.
Baptize the child.

Gaping wounds
Tear across a perfect image
Weeping innocence, ignorantly.
Hatred for us.

Your makings,
Tales of insanity aged
Across the lips of all.
Death is yours.

Your skin will bear my mark.
Yours is blood and lies.

3

“Remedy” by Lindsey Goddard – video and narration by Lee Harral

Hey, guys! I’m popping by to post a quick video. My friend and fellow creative mind Lee Harral produced an eerie video narration of my poem “Remedy”. I hope you enjoy. Subscribe to his YouTube channel if you like it!

Remedy
By Lindsey Goddard

Withered skin and yellow teeth,
Gritty tongue, a stifled call.
Blinding sun adds injury
To her rigor mortis crawl.
Brittle nails, like insect wings
As her frail hands try to claw
To salvation she can suckle
With her chapped and pale-blue maw.

Shards of mirror in the sunlight,
Casting shapes across her picture.
He emerges from the shadows,
Twisted smile. He can fix her.
Spider veins and severed limbs,
It’s too late to sew and stitch her.
Lips strain open; he pours in
Another dose of the elixir.

Dark poetry by Lindsey Goddard

The great response we’ve received to horror poetry so far has got me itching to share one of my own. Do you mind if I steal the spotlight for a moment? The following poem has been published twice. In 2009, it appeared in the anthology Mausoleum Memoirs, and in 2013, it appeared in the October issue of Infernal Ink Magazine. It’s my favorite poem I’ve written. I hope you enjoy it. Well… as much as one can enjoy gloom and doom. 🙂

Within These Walls
By: Lindsey Goddard

A ghost who mourns; her earthly name
was tarnished by the word “insane”.
The curse of life: her mortal bane,
her rival… ’til she stopped the pain.

Her name is now synonymous
with how she chose the Reaper’s kiss,
and how she stopped her heart for this–
eternal ache, with no dismiss.

And now she floats within these walls,
follows me down every hall,
eyes me from the shower stall,
begging me to hear her call.

“Lobotomy,” she heard them say
on that strange and frightful day,
“is sure to wipe her tears away.”
Choked up, her father said “okay.”

An ear still pressed against the door,
she listened as the doctor swore
her grief and strife would be no-more.
His words, they chilled her to the core.

She ran until her legs gave out,
chest heaving with her final shout,
“It ends right here, there is no doubt!”
And she began to look about.

The gallows towered in the distance.
She ignored her limbs’ resistance.
Permitting not a moment’s hindrance,
she bid this world a curt good riddance.

Her tortured soul, it didn’t stay
near her gallows of dismay.
From its deathbed it did stray,
finding its way home that day.

And now she floats within these walls,
follows me down every hall,
eyes me from the shower stall,
begging me to hear her call.

Her name is now synonymous
with how she chose the Reaper’s kiss,
and how she stopped her heart for this–
eternal ache, with no dismiss.

Dark poetry by Rick Powell

Greetings, and happy Friday. Today I offer you the dark poetry of Rick Powell. If you like what you read, grab a copy of his book!

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She’s Waiting

She is waiting, crouched on the floor,
A trembling figure, covered in gore,
Clutched in her hand, a cold crimson knife,
She has relished this moment, waited her whole life,
Shivering and tense, her mouth a bloody grin,
Caring not of consequence, caring not of sin.

She remembers the times, his warm gentle touch,
Of candies and kisses, flowers and such.
Now, later every night, smelling of whores,
Once, whispers in her ear, now, yelling about chores,
The bed they used to lay in, was comfort from life’s storm,
The caress of naked flesh, their bodies were so warm.

Flesh entered flesh, she loved him so much,
Now, a bruised crushed breast, a hard dry thrust.
She came from the kitchen, to the bed where he lay,
With every plunge of the knife, the blood, a fine spray.

After she dials the phone,
She waits for them to arrive,
She never felt so free,
She never felt so alive.

Now, she is waiting, crouched on the floor,
A trembling figure, covered in gore,
Clutched in her hand, a cold crimson knife,
She has relished this moment, waited her whole life,
Shivering and tense, her mouth a bloody grin,
Caring not of consequence, caring not of sin.

Here, She Sits

Here she sits, near the edge,
Staring at the open sea,
The ocean blue all before her,
Nature’s beauty for all to see,
Of all that beauty, she sees not,
Of the nighttime sky and more,
All she sees is her destiny,
To lie at the ocean’s floor,
She’s done with all the living,
And with the life long fears,
She knows if she were to weep,
She would cry ebony tears,
Her life has been a waterfall,
A despairing cascade of sorrow,
She is done pondering about the past,
And dreading what is tomorrow,
She looks down at the waves,
As they crash on the vacant shore,
It will take a moment’s time,
Maybe a few minutes, nothing more,
She wishes for a distant voice,
To stop what will be done,
Maybe she will let this cold night pass,
And wait till the morning sun,
But for now, she will just sit,
Wondering if she will be missed,
With her feet, dangling over the edge,
“Should I dive, into the abyss?

It Was A Night Unlike Any Other

It was a night unlike any other,
The night that they first met,
The lamplight reflecting off the cobblestones,
In a darkened alleyway, the sun long set.

He went walking alone this night,
His heart full of remorse,
For a love that had abandoned him,
Her life had found a new course.

A long way he had walked to this village,
Streets with no name, passed houses unknown,
Passed businesses in need of great repair,
Passed dark, dirty windows, where light is not shown.

The only sounds in that dark night,
Were of his footsteps on the damp cold stone,
Not another soul about did he peer,
Glad in his misery, to be left all alone.

He turned into an alleyway,
To go back the way he came,
When out of the midst of the darkness,
He heard a soft voice whisper his name.

He paused, frozen, to see who would appear,
Then his gaze fell upon a shadowy form,
A hooded figure, still as the stone,
No other sound, except of an oncoming storm.

The figure took a few steps, silent and slow,
The dark robe whispering, to arrive where he stood,
A pale, slender hand touched at his sleeve,
The other cold hand then pulled back the hood.

A flash of lightning revealed the face,
The face of a woman, so pale and fair,
Lips so red, like dew on a rose,
Framing her visage, the darkest of hair.

What captivated him the most, was the depth of her eyes,
The color, indescribable, it made his soul swoon,
They were the brightest, as the sun on the sea,
And also the darkest, as the eclipse of the moon.

He meant to ask how she knew of his name,
But all of his words, over his tongue they did tumble,
No sound at all, passed over her lips,
The only sound in the night, the storm’s steady rumble.

She seemed to sense the misery in his heart,
When slowly she took him into her embrace,
He felt her cold breath upon his neck,
The feel of her locks upon his pale face.

He felt his misery leave his tired form,
Like dried leaves in the October breeze,
Though the pain was nothing like he could describe,
The hurt could not stifle how she set his soul at ease.

He felt his blood mingle with hers as she drank,
With every pump of his heart, his agony did drain,
Though the lightning did flash, the bolt he did not see,
Though his body did drench, he felt not the rain.

Now he walks these streets at night, no thoughts of past love,
Not thinking of woe, not of despair, agony or strife,
His home is with the darkness, he is at rest with the shadows,
All gone is the pain of his past, he has found a new life.

***

If you enjoyed these poems, please visit Rick Powell on Amazon and show your support by buying/ reviewing his work: www.amazon.com/author/rickpowell

Dark Poetry by Alistair Cross

As promised, this blog will focus on a variety of entertainment, so long as it’s plenty horrific! Today, I bring you poetry.

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies. By the age of 8, he began writing his own stories. Fast forward to 2012 – that’s when his first novel was published by Damnation Books, and he’s been busy cranking out dark tales and poetry for his readers ever since.

Alistair hosts a live radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE, and you can find his website at: AlistairCross.com. The two poems we’ve chosen to share with you are dark and clever and evocatively disturbing. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

The Beautiful Girl

I woke up with a girl

Who was dead as could be

This a most macabre scenario

That made no sense to me

~

I couldn’t recollect her

From the night before

But there she was with cold blue flesh

In a dress made of velour

~

Her sightless eyes were watching me

Her mouth agape in fear

And down her cheek a tell-tale streak

Of a single dried up tear

~

And for weeks now I have wondered

How she came to be

This beautiful, decaying girl

Who keeps me company

***

A Book of Morbid Methods

I met her in the pages

Of an old dust-covered book

A book of misadventure

And the sad wife of a crook

~

She married into money

That was her belief

But she recently discovered

She’d been married to a thief

~

She was written to be pretty

She had diamond rings and furs

And she said it was all mine

If I’d trade my world for hers

~

She was angry at her writer

For her husband’s cons and lies

For her life of sins and secrets

And her pseudo-human guise

~

But I told her it was dull

Here on the other side

That over here, life’s dismal

And ruled by greed and pride

~

I declined her proposition

But she said, “Just look at me…

I have everything I want

I am glamorous and free…”

~

For a moment, I considered

What did I have to lose?

The world might have more meaning

If viewed from in her shoes

~

She watched me as I pondered

But she sensed my hesitation

Then a tear fell from her eye

And she said in desperation…

~

“My husband is suspicious

That I know what’s going on

He’s a man of morbid methods

I’ll be sorry before long.”

~

And this I did consider

What was I to do?

Maybe if I tried

I could rewrite a page or two

~

And so I traded places

With my newfound fiction friend

But what I didn’t realize

Was the book was at its end

~

For, just moments after stepping

Into the pages of this book

By way of strangulation

I was murdered by the crook

tandc

Visit the author:

ac

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