Keeping the Dead
by A.M. Stickel
In my opinion, we poets
are the true horror elite. Case in point: SCREAMING POETS AND OTHER RAMBLINGS, A
Fantastic Horror Sideshow. One of BP
#62’s poets, Christopher Hivner, features prominently therein—with A.J.
Huffman—among the 4 members of “The Damned” that include Kathy Rippa (also the
cover artist) and Chris Stevens. The frightening collection comes at you on
every front in a variety of fonts, which adds to the eeriness of the work. This
is not your nice, sweet, uplifting poetry, and there are a few disconcerting
typos (the scariest part for an editor, of course).
While all the poets
in the Sideshow scream eloquently, Hivner is able to do so in a
multitude of voices, from betrayed lover to country boy to fallen warrior to learned
scientist to drowned soul, and more. Rippa’s narrative “Wantonly Thought” (which
may have inspired the book’s cover) takes you on an endless, sacrificial journey
through catacombs in a frail boat on a sea of lava. Despite their differences,
how much these poets have in common!
“Reaching for Mars” (page 123): The heat
rose/ until our skin/ slid from our bones/ forming a soup/ of flesh, ash and
“Wantonly Thought” (page 54): Stepping
from my charred raft, the skin peels/ from my feet, leaving bloody tales
Unless you have a
high tolerance for graphic content and violent imagery, you will be hard put to
find the calm eye in this hurricane of a collection. And the foolhardy few who
don’t yet fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell most definitely will
after daring to read these “disturbing poems from disturbed minds” (as the book
Bonus: Ads follow the
poetry for FANTASTIC HORROR’s Volumes I, II, and III and enticingly summarize
the contents of: LEGENDS UNTOLD, THE DEAD AND NOT SO DEAD, and WELCOME TO HELL.
There’s even a Stickel (not me!) among the authors listed with the brief story blurbs.
ISBN for …SCREAMING POETS… is 9781479226733. When reading, keep the lights on,
even by day. And maybe wear a cross.
No BP Black Roses—they’d turn to dust. As
I was preparing to write this review, a litter of 3 feral kittens died, my
house was robbed, my refrigerator quit, my kitchen sink had to be replaced, and
Ebola may find its way to the rest of
us from West Africa… That said, welcome to BP
#68, in which Mike Mulvihill is our featured author. Expect a
long, hot summer, friends.