Thursday, April 17, 2014

In the Blue Room

In the Blue Room 

heavy, indigo drapes frame the window
to nowhere.  Violins fiddle without
fingers, their haunting voices painting
unfinished dreams onto the walls. 

I thought I saw the sky, pale blue,
crying behind a flock of clouds. 
But it was only my imagination dripping
words into oceans.  Deep water 
always frightened me.  I never learned 
to swim. Boats make me seasick.   

In the middle of the room, an abandoned
isle calls out to me.  Offers solace
in a lei of stars but only if I can reach
him.  The moon yawns, searching for his
missing eyes.

Once, I built a bridge from wasted time.
Piled and nailed each hour into days
that transformed into years, leading me
to where I am now.  Alone, with fear
scratching my back. 

And I wonder if drowning is as painful.

Published in The Lotus Reader, Jul 07

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Haunted Island Being Turned into Hotel

Via AOL, something I found interesting:

What is believed to be one of the world's most haunted islands may become home to a luxury hotel.
The Italian island of Poveglia, which sits in the middle of the Venice Lagoon, was a quarantine during the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in the 16th century.

Thousands of dead and still-living victims were essentially dumped on the island to be turned, or just left to rot. It's estimated more than 100,000 people died on the island.

Hundreds of years later, Poveglia was the site of a hospital for the mentally insane.
The doctor who built the hospital reportedly tortured his patients and performed unnecessary lobotomies, which led him to go insane himself. He eventually threw himself from the hospital's tower.
Understandably, Venetians think the place is evil, and they're not the only ones.

The cast of the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" investigated the island and says that one of them got possessed.
Regardless of it's history, the Italian government is putting it up for auction in the hopes of reducing its debt.

But buyers beware, the soil is said to be a mixture of human ash and bone.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poppy Road Review's Annual Edition, 2013

~ Finally completed Poppy Road Review's Annual Print Edition, 2013.  It was something I'd been wanting to do for awhile but with running the press, it was hard to find the free time to do it.   It's a beautiful book and something I will always cherish.  The poems inside are amazing and the book features all the poets published in Poppy Road Review in 2013 such as Byron Beynon, M.J. Iuppa, Michael Keshigian, Steve Klepetar, Donal Mahoney, Joan McNerney, James Owens, Scott Owens, Richard Schnap, Martin Willitts Jr., and many others.  I'm planning to put together annual editions for 2011 and 2012 but it will take some time as I also have upcoming chapbooks to work on for Flutter Press.  The 116-page book is available at Createspace and Amazon.

~ My only regret is that I wasn't able to put together annual print editions for Flutter Poetry Journal.  I managed to squeak out a monthly issue here and there but that was it.  That journal was my baby and now it's completely gone.  It started to turn into such an unorganized mess in the later years that I became unhappy with it and what I had done with all the closings and then re-openings.  It's a wonder that Flutter still had followers but I do remain thankful for all the poets who sent their poems there.  Hopefully they will migrate over to Poppy Road Review, some have and I am grateful for their support and friendship.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The White Devil by Justin Evans

Set in a four-hundred-year-old boys' boarding school in London, a chilling gothic thriller by the author of the critically acclaimed A Good and Happy Child . . .

A fierce and jealous ghost . . .

A young man's fight for his life . . .

The Harrow School is home to privileged adolescents known as much for their distinctive dress and traditions as for their arrogance and schoolboy cruelty. Seventeen-year-old American Andrew Taylor is enrolled in the esteemed British institution by his father, who hopes that the school's discipline will put some distance between his son and his troubled past in the States.

But trouble—and danger—seem to follow Andrew. When one of his schoolmates and friends dies mysteriously of a severe pulmonary illness, Andrew is blamed and is soon an outcast, spurned by nearly all his peers. And there is the pale, strange boy who begins to visit him at night. Either Andrew is losing his mind, or the house legend about his dormitory being haunted is true.

When the school's poet-in-residence, Piers Fawkes, is commissioned to write a play about Byron, one of Harrow's most famous alumni, he casts Andrew in the title role. Andrew begins to discover uncanny links between himself and the renowned poet. In his loneliness and isolation, Andrew becomes obsessed with Lord Byron's story and the poet's status not only as a literary genius and infamous seducer but as a student at the very different Harrow of two centuries prior—a place rife with violence, squalor, incurable diseases, and tormented love affairs.

When frightening and tragic events from that long-ago past start to recur in Harrow's present, and when the dark and deadly specter by whom Andrew's been haunted seems to be all too real, Andrew is forced to solve a two-hundred-year-old literary mystery that threatens the lives of his friends and his teachers—and, most terrifyingly, his own.

Review:   The setting of the poem, a 400-year-old boys' boarding school in London is perfect for a ghost story IMO.  The atmosphere is gothic, haunting, dark, and curious.  I also liked that the story revolved around the poet Lord Byron who I only knew of by name.  I don't think I've ever read any of his poems until I started reading the book, read a few verses, and also learned some interesting tidbits about his personal life which involved relationships and dalliances with lots of women...and young men.

The writer presents the story in a rich descriptive style which for me, made the book much more engaging.  I could picture the school, the Lot where Andrew stayed, the basement, the library, etc.  The dialog between the characters didn't seem forced and was witty at times.  He also did a great job building up the tension whenever the ghost appeared and in describing how ghastly the ghost looked with the white hair, sunken eyes, and the awful sound of his raspy breathing.  

The ending didn't turn out exactly the way I had hoped and was a bit sad.  The ghost was determined to have Byron all to himself again and nothing was going to get in his way; he killed and would attempt to kill others to get to Andrew.  Andrew just happened to be in the wrong place and resembling Byron didn't help at all.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky

When Jacob left home for a new life, he pretty much forgot all about Maryfield, North Carolina. But Maryfield never forgot him. Or forgave him.After a failed business venture in Boston, Jacob Logan comes back to the small Southern town of his childhood and takes up residence in the isolated house he grew up in. Here, the air is still. The nights are black. And his parents are buried close by. It should feel like home, but something is terribly wrong. 

Jacob loses all his belongings in a highway accident. His car is stolen from his driveway, yet he never hears a sound. The townspeople seem guarded and suspicious. And Carl, the property caretaker with so many secrets, is unnervingly accommodating. Then there are the fireflies that light the night skies . . . and die as they come near Jacob's home. If it weren't for the creaking sounds after dark, or the feeling that he is being watched, Jacob would feel so alone. He shouldn't worry. He's not. 

And whatever's with him isn't going to let him leave home ever again.

Review:  When I bought this book, I hadn't realized it was published back in 2008, oh well.  It actually took me about 8 days rather than the usual 3-4 days to finish reading this book, maybe because I forced myself to continue reading it after losing interest within the first few chapters.  The story was slow going and seemed to just drag along; the conversation was dull and dry.  It took me a while to get a hang of the southern slang but the author definitely ensured you could hear the long drawl of Jacob's speech which wasn't always a good thing.  I have nothing against southern accents but just find it makes for a more difficult read.  

The story seemed to pick up speed near the end of the book, when all the strange activities came into play even more and more characters were introduced.  I do like the meaning given to the fireflies by Jacob's mother and could visualize them buzzing around, glowing with their golden-green light.  I didn't find the book to be frightening but there were moments when you felt creeped out with the door and cupboards slamming, the toy soldiers showing up from nowhere, and the indentations in his parents' bed.  The ending of the story was good but did seem a bit rushed.

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars.