Category Archives: poetry


This poem first appeared in Postscripts to Darkness Volume 5. Read the interview with Mike Allen that accompanies this reprint here.

andante maestoso
Long before the partiers arrive, the Arborists
form the ballroom, standing in a dolmen circle,
stretching their many arms until vine-fingers
meet and entwine, bloodflow causing all
their leaves to fan out in rosy canopy,
transparent teeth unsheathed in long smiles
that serve for windows.

allegretto con grazia
From opposite corners, they play
a game, a duet. Xora unfolds hir head
so its branches uncurl, fork heavenward,
a radial candelabra, inverse chandelier,
each stalk tipped with a gorgeous gold eye,
succulent fruit encircling light.
Danyel’s neck, sleek and black,
stretches across the room, supporting
hir porcelain face. Ze winds hir neck
through the spires of Xora’s cranium,
speaks to the rest through lips that don’t move,
declaring hirself serpent in the tree,
calling for guesses as to which temptations
ze offers. A dance, someone chitters,
and X and D both kneel, elongated neck
that bridged the ballroom now a line
for us to limbo beneath. R tries first,
barely clears as ze bends sculpted legs
beneath hir custom body with its wings
and gables. The little dolls that hold
hir consciousness cheer from hir windows
as ze stands. F cheats, hir entire shape
unraveling in sea-snake tendrils
before ze undulates under the bar
in an hieroglyphic wave. We delight
in our clowning, how it rearranges us
through the room, each of us a work of art,
each random pattern a new curation.
M can’t dance this game at all.
Ze towers above us, hir upper half
a stack of vertical diadem membranes
stretched over crossed bones, soaked
with shifting colors. Ze cannot flex
as we. Yet get hir out onto the plain
outside the Hierophant’s city,
where ze can unspool all hir kites
from hir belly, let them swoop defiance
against the evergrey sky.

The gathered separate
into those with heads
and those without.
The headless more numerous,
their torsos replaced altogether
with cages of whistling,
musical bone, or deft
bonsai sculptures,
or miniature castles
populated by mechamenageries.
Those who’ve retained faces,
hewn more closely
to antiquated physiology
in their self-selected designs,
kneel ballroom center,
allow the headless
to place the maidenbox
restraints around them,
clamp them shut.
The prisoners bow their heads,
swivel gazes to the floor.
The headless dance,
weaving between them
in peacock display.
All are silent.
Only those few gluttons
for history can guess
at what the game means.

allegro con molto spirito
A whisper flitters ear to ear:
The Aesthetes are marching past.
D snakes hir head
to a windowsmile, confirms.
Even in this now
fashion has trends to defile.
The Aesthetes have all kept torsos,
disposed of their legs,
replaced them with outsized monkeybar skirts,
pyramid scaffolds two stories high,
their trunks crowning the points,
their unmodified arms outstretched.
Their tiny clones support their frames,
hordes of identical homunculi
marching beneath each one,
a laborphalanx of Atlases
holding up their parent bodies
on bulging shoulders.
They move forward in spirals.
Slow architectural dervishes.
Their discomfort is evident.
It’s true, M sings, peering through
the highest window. They’ve heads,
but no mouths or ears or eyes.
Now they all watch.
The Aesthetes believe, it’s said,
existence without sleep or thought,
surrender to void and pain,
for long enough duration,
will inspire their bodies
of their own to birth
the next evolution
sans any surgery.
The partygoers silently will
this dream come true,
pray the moment arrives in front of them,
this spontaneous transcendence
something they all long to see.


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People Change: A Love Story

  1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

he’s secretly in love with her
alas he only tells her

when they’re about to be replaced

by emotionless imposters

and love is about to be

eradicated from the planet

timing is everything

  1. The Fly (1986)

they fall in love

then he gets jealous

of her ex-boyfriend

gets sloshed on champagne

and morphs into a giant insect

(sometimes I just watch the first half

of the film, pretend it’s only

the sweet romance between

a scientist and a reporter

they live happily ever after

nothing disintegrates)

  1. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

they’re happily married

sex becomes newly interesting at first

as he roams the increasingly

vast expanse of her body

he continues to diminish

until even the cat wields

more power than him

still he grows more minuscule

until his wife can no longer see him

or hear him calling her name


Illustration by Carrion House

Linda Blair Pantoum

I cut her photo from Famous Monsters       

the makeup-caked demon’s gleeful grimace

I haven’t seen the movie yet

her picture is everywhere

the makeup-caked demon’s gleeful grimace

possessed girl with bad skin and matted hair

her picture is everywhere

“that thing upstairs isn’t my daughter”

possessed girl with bad skin, in a shaking bed

twelve year old spitting out expletives

“that thing upstairs isn’t my daughter”

shock of her whisky-and-nicotine voice

twelve year old spitting out expletives

Sarah T. the teenage alcoholic

shock of Mercedes McCambridge’s voice

born innocent babe in juvie

Sarah T. the teenage alcoholic

sweet hostage in Martin Sheen’s speeding car

born innocent babe on TV

I approach adolescence, looking for signposts

sweet hostage in Martin Sheen’s speeding car

I haven’t seen the movie yet

as I approach adolescence, looking for signposts

I cut her photo from Famous Monsters

Gwynne Garfinkle (poetry) lives in Los Angeles. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in such publications as Strange Horizons, Interfictions, Apex, Mythic Delirium, Lackington’s, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Through the Gate, inkscrawl, and The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk.

Carrion House (artwork) currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first-class degree, he is now a full-time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence.

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