Tis’ the season.

You know which one I mean.  Halloween 2018 is advancing on us like a creeping black cat.  I hope you guys are getting into the spirit.  I know a lot of you are already way ahead of me.

I know Emily E. James is.  She spends most of her time being a first-class editor (you can find her website right here), but she also finds time for her own unique brand of truly macabre handmade Halloween decorations.  As you can see, she is a sublimely talented woman (albeit one who is quite mad).

Emily has an Etsy store for her creations in the works.  I’ll post it here when it becomes available — lest the little infernal monsters find and haunt me.

 

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“Gonzalo,” by W. H. Auden (recited by Eric Robert Nolan)

“Gonzalo”

— from W. H. Auden’s “The Sea and the Mirror”

Evening, grave, immense, and clear,
Overlooks our ship whose wake
Lingers undistorted on
Sea and silence; I look back
For the last time as the sun
Sets behind that island where
All our loves were altered: yes,
My prediction came to pass,
Yet I am not justified,
And I weep but not with pride.
Not in me the credit for
Words I uttered long ago
Whose glad meaning I betrayed;
Truths to-day admitted, owe
Nothing to the councilor
In whose booming eloquence
Honesty became untrue.
Am I not Gonzalo who
By his self-reflection made
Consolation an offence?

There was nothing to explain:
Had I trusted the Absurd
And straightforward note by note
Sung exactly what I heard,
Such immediate delight
Would have taken there and then
Our common welkin by surprise,
All would have begun to dance
Jigs of self-deliverance.
It was I prevented this,
Jealous of my native ear,
Mine the art which made the song
Sound ridiculous and wrong,
I whose interference broke
The gallop into jog-trot prose
And by speculation froze
Vision into an idea,
Irony into a joke,
Till I stood convicted of
Doubt and insufficient love.

Farewell, dear island of our wreck:
All have been restored to health,
All have seen the Commonwealth,
There is nothing to forgive.
Since a storm’s decision gave
His subjective passion back
To a meditative man,
Even reminiscence can
Comfort ambient troubles like
Some ruined tower by the sea
Whence boyhoods growing and afraid
Learn a formula they need
In solving their mortality,
Even rusting flesh can be
A simple locus now, a bell
The Already There can lay
Hands on if at any time
It should feel inclined to say
To the lonely – “Here I am,”
To the anxious – “All is well.”

 

 

“school shooter,” by Eric Robert Nolan

Grendel’s mother wanted murder; but we all knew that,
you knew that just by looking at her:
the green and odorous skin like dark olive parchment over her cheeks’ low bones,
the blackening teeth where the stale blood caked
and dried in her receding gumlines
like burgundy ink on her molars and incisors,
and a blackening-scarlet
stain on her canines.

Remember when we first saw her —
her flaccid breasts like flour-sacks,
her womanhood a stagnant moss,
the cadaverous, driving
lime of her hips,
her labia in livid lines
of bitter water lilies?

Remember the rising, putrid moon of her —
her green, sour form arching over ours in her ascent,
burning up from the green lake, a gangrene flame from the brackish water,
her profane grin adorning her,
and algae tracing her lips?

Remember the wet weeds
trailing the viridian strait of her throat
like silt-laden necklaces,
and all the mud and water rolling off her knuckles?
The spoiled laurel of her sinewed shoulders,
her outspread arms and their
parody of embrace?
Remember her mocking our own mothers?
Her derisive voice was like
the crack of splitting emeralds, asking,
“Am I so strange to young eyes?”

Remember the boiling fat on her tongue and
her victims’ burning skin there?
The scalps she held in her upturned palms
were like watery garments.
Her talons were as black
as snapping-turtle shells.
We all knew at once that we were quarry.

Remember her
sorrel-colored cataracts?
Her eyes were as green seas
boiling under Ragnarok.
Remember their ruptured capillaries
like collapsing red galaxies?
Remember her very irises bleeding?

But what if evil appeared
not as the face of Grendel’s mother,
but, rather, the ordinary boy in her maw —
as unexotic and as common
as we are?
If we were boys and girls again
and bored in English class —
maybe at Beowulf’s strangeness,
or maybe the strangeness of Jung —
and he were next to us,
with neither green skin
nor blood along his molars,
if he wanted murder, could we tell?
His face was as a clock’s face — prosaic and round.
Neither silt nor sinew lined his frame.
His gaze did not depict a grisly cosmos;
no galaxies had hemorrhaged in his eyes.
Would the difference be perceptible there
between wanting to kill time
and wanting to kill ten?
Would we know that we were quarry?

Tonight we’d like to believe
that the young are strange to old eyes
for any resemblance would kill us,
as Medusa’s own face was fatal
to her upon the shield.
As adults, we understand
that Beowulf is only fable —
but that Jung’s reservoir
is a fatal green lake.
Better an Idis than likeness —
if a monster looks like us, it stands to reason
that maybe he could BE us,
we’d nag in our primordial minds.
It might make us envision
a kind of reverse baptism:
our own plain faces
cresting the flat, green waters
to glide across the lake,
but bearing the eyes of strangers,
emerald and seething,
irises bleeding,
crushed green reeds in our jaws, like captive verses …

And we could not suffer the thought.
Better to be quarry, or be drowned.
We’d know that, and so
we would run mad, we would run weeping, we would run forward and ravening to the green, forgiving lake,

where we could sink like Beowulf,
and our silenced lungs would fill with water.

                                                            (May 19th, 2018)

(c) 2018 Eric Robert Nolan

 

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More stories from Eric Robert Nolan

If you happened to enjoy “Shine Now, Fiercely, Forever” last week, then stop by the “My stories” section right here at this website.  It has links to all of my published stories, and some of them can be read for free:

https://ericrobertnolan.wordpress.com/stories/

Publication notice: “Shine Now, Fiercely, Forever” featured at The Bees Are Dead!

I am truly honored today to see my colleagues over at The Bees Are Dead feature a new short story of mine.  Its title is “Shine Now, Fiercely, Forever,” and it might be the darkest thing I’ve ever written.  It portrays a married couple constructing the world’s first functioning time machine — and then discovering what are possibly the worst possible consequences of such a device malfunctioning.

Thanks so much to Philippe Atherton-Blenkiron for allowing me to share via The Bees Are Dead, his online magazine for dystopian prose and poetry!  I am grateful indeed for the opportunity he’s afforded me.

“Shine Now, Fiercely, Forever” can be found right here:

http://www.thebeesaredead.com/prose/shine-now-fiercely-forever-eric-robert-nolan/

Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine features “Amanda” and “Amanda II, A Haiku”

Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine released Issue 9 tonight; if you’re so inclined, you can peruse my poems, “Amanda” and “Amanda II, A Haiku.”  (You can find them on pages 16 and 20, respectively.)

You can actually download the magazine for free right here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/samantha-rose/peeking-cat-poetry-magazine-issue-9/ebook/product-22468453.html

Or, if you’d like to have a hard copy of Peeking Cat delivered to you, you can purchase it here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/samantha-rose/peeking-cat-poetry-magazine-issue-9/paperback/product-22468430.html

Once again, thanks to Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine for allowing me to have my work included among that of so many talented authors.

 

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MY LONG STORY, “IRIDESCENT GREEN SHARKS,” IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE AT WATTPAD.COM.

October finds me in the mood to try new things, and so I have self-published a tragic story entitled “Iridescent Green Sharks” on the wonderful website, Wattpad.com. This story is dedicated to Audrey Hanson.

“Iridescent Green Sharks” is the story of Sean and Maryanne, lifelong friends, storytellers, and lovers of words, who inevitably come to love each other. Yet divergent paths in life can make love, art and even life itself suffer – or ultimately be destroyed.

The story is a bit long, at just over 11,000 words. It can be viewed here:

http://www.wattpad.com/26952420-iridescent-green-sharks-this-story-is-dedicated?d=ud