Friday, May 30, 2014

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions 12
Compiled by Anthony Servante

Words and Pictures for the Head

Welcome, readers, to our 12th venture into modern poetry. We shall enhance your experience here visually through words and artwork. We are also critiquing our poems this month as I continue to explore the best format to highlight your poetry visits. So, let’s get to the poets for this month. We have Lori R. Lopez, Louis Emanuele, Jaye Tomas, Kim Acrylic, and Brande Barrett.

We begin with Lori

Lori R. Lopez


Lori R. Lopez wears many hats, literally and otherwise. She is an artist who designs her book covers and illustrates some of her tomes. As an author she writes poems, short stories, novels, songs, children’s books and nonfiction as well as a humorous-slash-serious column called “Poetic Reflections” at Fairy Fly Entertainment. She is a musician, actress, filmmaker, tree-hugger and animal-lover. A vegetarian, her work often contains themes of conservation and animal rights. Also, messages regarding the rights of children.

A horror fan since small, she roamed graveyards as a kid and conducted funerals for dead birds, squirrels, insects and spiders. Lori was named on an list of “92 HORROR AUTHORS YOU NEED TO READ RIGHT NOW” for WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH 2014. Her books include CHOCOLATE-COVERED EYES, AN ILL WIND BLOWS, THE FAIRY FLY, THE MACABRE MIND OF LORI R. LOPEZ, OUT-OF-MIND EXPERIENCES, DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS, and POETIC REFLECTIONS: KEEP THE HEART OF A CHILD.


The Poems:

The Madhouse

by Lori R. Lopez

My brain is on fire
And the flames are licking
The backs of my eyes
With bright yellow tongues
That billow out my ears
And melt my thoughts to puddles
Which escape parched lips
Like tears of drool . . .
Then dribble down my chin

The drops are crawling
Beetle-like around my toes
They cavort in syncopated patterns
That only I can see
For I have lost my mind
In rhapsodous irrational lapses
That cause me to misplace it
Along with my socks
And pencils; I have none

The ceiling holds a forest
Of porcupine pencil quills
It doesn’t write or draw
Or even doodle
Some things are insane
Even to a mindless individual
Without a clue and wet shoes
Who thinks inside a box of crayons
Being pencilless and unsharpened

I’m sure I will enjoy
My visit to the madhouse
Where bats roost on the rafters
Of rubber rumpus rooms
In a stick-house of transparent walls
And windowless curtains that sag
In the absence of straight edges
On a stage where the wings
Are paperclipped together

Like monkeys from a barrel
Dancing The Polka-Dot
With hands clasped loosely
In chains of fish-hook links
That border on abstract
With their foolishness and frolic
Who is sillier, I wonder —
A monkey or a penguin?
I am as mad as the moon

They serve refreshments to visitors
At the loony bin
Have a seat, enjoy the nuts!
It is quite a show
A daily spectacle of oddities
From a magic gumball machine
Playing a wind-up tune
An organ-grinder’s pop-out specialty

The scuttlebutts and insects flee
Frightened by our antics
We mean no harm
Unable to contain our mirth
Spreading the amusement
Though it isn’t a disease
We are not contagious
Simply crazy
As all the nicest people are.


by Lori R. Lopez

There be moments of darkness that just keep going
No manner of shine in their netherence showing
An endless amount of black always found
Of a shadow thus cast that it swallows the sound
And it’s here you will meet your wildest fear
Slipping out of your mind into the unclear
Where nefarious beast-slugs plot your demise
Leaving oily jet trails as a crude surprise
And a deafness hums that could burst eardrums
In the timbre of dread from which slithers the numbs
While you wait for assurance that it isn’t a trick
Pressed to silence so thick that it feels like brick
As you tremor and gulp in a goosebumped tizzy
The lack of dimensions is making you dizzy
No substance or shape or sense of proportion
Just a gaping absence in abstract distortion
Where it seems as if the space might waver
With a gravitous lurch and a gut-wrenching quaver
If you hazard a step, it could be your last
There’s no time or distance, no future and past
For this inken blotch of obscure twilight
Could conceal a drop-off farther from sight
Exceeding the fathoms of its darkest sea
In the pitchy confines of Eternity
Where imaginings are free to simply wander
Meandering the depth of a tearful ponder
And your biggest concern, what you haven’t met
What may lurk beyond the butterfly net
There’s no glimmer of notion, no guesses or clues
Just a dreary stain of umber and ooze
That seeps forth bubbling from a murkish mass
The tarry soul of a perditious morass
Bleaker than bleak as if nothing were there
Yet harboring anything, a mind laid bare
A blinkless eyecloptic gungadim
The surly unmentionable severed limb
Clubfooted hook-fisted faceshifting stompers
Assorted sundry garish chompers
That skulk devourous in the pith of night
Pigmalian brutes, tusks clacking with might
The grunts of evillings scratching the floor
As they hunt their meals, seeking fodder galore
Avoid the cracks, these pockets of doom
Crevices ’tween utter darkness and gloom
Such as once had been deemed unbelievable
Now you only wish it were . . . inconceivable.

city of angels

by Lori R. Lopez

Halfway to the city of angels
I may have lost my mind
I think it fell out the window of the car
When we hit a bump on the freeway
There were many such bumps in the road
It could have been any one of them
Now it’s lying beside the freeway
Coated in grit and gunk
A forlorn-looking lump
Of gray and pink matter
If you see it, please brush it off
The best you can . . .  I will be waiting
In Los Angeles, mindlessly wandering
Around — visiting the homes of
Fallen stars who toppled from the sky
Much the same as when I lost my brain
I will staple flyers to telephone poles
And other random assorted objects
In hopes my Abby Normal
Will one day be returned
In the meantime, you can find me
Wading through La Brea Tar Pits
In search of fossilized shoes
Or tossing the pennies for my thoughts
Into fountains and wishing wells
That have more sense
Than my current condition
It is such trying circumstances as these
Which truly test our reflexes, our balance
Better than the inkblot flashcards
Overused by headshrinks
My answers are usually monsters
And aliens, for some reason
Perhaps now I will see angels
Having lost my mind along the way
To Hollywood Boulevard
Where you can walk on stars
Many of them famous, others inexplicable
Even with a brain it would be difficult
To decipher their presence
When there are some legends
Shining luminaries of the highest order
Ignored by Tinsel Town’s honor system
Neither starred nor cemented
Probably not awarded an Oscar
Or even nominated due to a dramatic
Oversight, but that is how it goes
With authors too
Unpublished by publishers
Unread by readers
Unnominated by the most common denominators
If you’re reading this, you must be an angel
I’ve been to your city
More times than you could believe
I can’t remember why I was going there again
Memory went out the window as well
Yet I hold fast to the firm conviction
That I am someone
Although not someone with a star
Not yet anyway
But I’ll keep looking for mine
In the night sky
In the letters that spell HOLLYWOOD
Upon a lofty City Of Angels hill
Where frayed sentinels stand guard
To keep out the riffraff
Or welcome the dreamers
Perhaps not being famous
Is all in my mind
Wherever that may be.

The Critiques:

I gave a book of short stories, Out-of-Mind Experiences, by Lori R. Lopez to one of my English students who sent a thank you note to Lori, saying (partially), "It is a bit hard to read, but I'm enjoying it." This bit of insight sums up Lori's poetry as well. The Madhouse is a playful look at madness, the upside down inside out view of a madman (woman?). Note the point of view from "the backs of [his/her] eyes". The pov liquefies and drips out of the ears and mouth. This movement takes the reader from inside the mad-person's head to the sensory areas (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste). The senses then become insect-like creatures. And finally, the mad-person notices other mad-people like him/herself in this madhouse. You see, what's hard for a reader is following the details of Lori's description too literally, for here we have a metaphor for the writing process: turning one's thoughts into images and then words, and then noticing that she is but one of many writers who undergo this madness of poetry and short story writing. And this is Lori being playful. With the same pen, she can dig beneath the surface and draw blood. But we'll go into that when we present an Appreciation of Lori and her fan page in a coming issue of the Servante of Darkness. Look for it.


Louis Emanuele

Louis Emanuele 


I am a therapist by trade and a writer/dreamer/philosopher by choice.  I am currently unpublished.  I have been doling out advice and writing since as early as I can remember.  I believe my creative and logical sides influence each other and both come across in my work.  I use the passion for story telling when I wax poetic with a client and use my passion for making the unknown known, as you do in therapy, in my writing. Emotion, Thought, Behavior, Conscious and Unconscious it is all grist for the mill of my mind. 

The Poems:

By: Lou Emanuele

I must confess,
I am the villain
Of my own nightmare.
Searching for my pure Horatio moment.
I walked a multitude of tightropes between
Genius, sanity, honorable, dishonorable.
Half alpha, Half Metro, Half Hipstar
Slowly descending into beastly depravity
All while searching for my American dream.

I never intended to become Shelley’s monster.
Unlike his, my metamorphosis was one of reversal
An internal reincarnation
One from life to death.
Rather than Death to Life
It took its time gradually
And down the rabbit hole I went.
My life, career and dreams
Tumbling with me,
Never to be recovered again. 

By: Lou Emanuele
Noble bells of ancient past ring,
As blind justice sits in its palace guarded by devilish cherubs with quivers drawn,
Ancient men sing of their lonely past, as the river of blood flows unabashed,
Drink from its cup and you will see the delicate intricacies of their history,
Is your soul prepared to be tormented by their despair?

The Critiques:

Lou Emanuele joins the Darkness Circle of Poets this month with two poems. He has mentioned to me that he is nervous about his first entries into our column and he should be. I returned the poems to him with a request to tweak the "pronoun" use in his works. He tweaked and returned his revisions, which is what I am reviewing now. Lou has constructed two poems that are poetic but without inspiration. They are bereft of a Muse's whip. And granted, we all claim poetic license when writing our metaphors and similes, our couplets and quatrains. But here we have two works in need of editing. I do not edit. I return poems and tell the poets to edit their work, as I did here with Lou. Let's look at the first work, Confessions.

The first person opening grabs our attention. But then the role of villain is cast to Hamlet ("Horatio moment"); he was not the villain. Here we need a villain worthy of a "Hannibal Lecter moment", for instance. The triple "Half alpha, Half Metro, Half Hipstar" has a problem or two: Why isn't 'alpha' capitalized? Why three halves to make a whole (poetic license or poor math or poor math to make a poetic point--too many options to choose from; never give the reader too many options); and Why is Hipster misspelled Hip star? To make a poetic point about Hipsters believing they're Hip celebrities, namely, 'stars', or typo?

Next problem comes in the couplet: "never intended to become Shelley’s monster./Unlike his, my metamorphosis was one of reversal". To whom does the possessive pronoun refer? Shelley was female; it should read "her"; unless he refers to the monster, in which case the pronoun should be "its". And after a "metamorphoses", the villain falls down a rabbit hole. After building a nice metaphor of change, he trips and falls. And coming right after the line, "It took its time gradually", one wonders to what does each "it" refer: Death, Life, The Monster? 

What happened here was too many mixed metaphors. We lose track of the villain by the second stanza. And those two opening lines are killer. They set up a sustained series of evil and good battles playing out from stanza to stanza. The punctuation needs to be tightened to better follow the thematic development of the poem, and then the poet should rely on his own metaphors. He rewrites popular metaphors (the rabbit hole) and peppers his stanzas with them. There is talent here. The theme is strong, but the execution is derailed by the confusing grammar. Had Lou tweaked the "pronoun" use, the poem could have been better. Had he avoided the cliched metaphors, we would have had a very well-written poem.

Take this away with you, Lou. I don't often write this much about one poem unless I believe in the poet. You and any poet can ask me to edit the work, but I don't edit unless asked. Consider this an edit rather than a critique. Rewrite the poem, as well as Noble?, and resubmit. Think of it as a poem in transition and we've just brainstormed the first draft. There is a great poem in there. I hope you chip away at my suggested edits and bring it to life, like your Frankenstein Monster.


Jaye Tomas

Jaye Tomas


Jaye Tomas has been a "scribbler" all of her life, but the Internet provided a way to more easily share it. Creating Chimera Poetry (blog & facebook page) has been an incredible experience. The fact that anyone reads what she writes is a constant source of amazement and gratitude to her. She is working hard behind the scenes getting ready (fingers & toes crossed please) to publish her first book of poetic scribblings. There is a huge probability that there will also be a second. The ink is always fighting to be heard.... Her biggest obsession is books and her reading tastes are eclectic to say the least: Tolkien, Lovecraft, Gaiman, Plath, Ellison, Christie, Aaronovitch, Yeats, Blake, King, Barker, Straub, Lopez, Pyper, Maugham, Poznansky, Funke, Taylor name a very few. Originally from the windy suburbs of Chicago she now resides in the UK. Lately she has been casting her eyes in the direction of Italy, but hasn't completely settled on that.....yet. It may be back to the USA, it may be Edinburgh, it may be Gallifrey..... the beauty of the story is in the journey, not the arrival. (Jaye Tomas on facebook) (Chimera Poetry on facebook)
@JayeTomas1 (Twitter)

The Poems:

Red Mask ~
Are you sleeping are you dreaming or have you slipped sideways through a timethinned corridor
a rabbits hole
landing feet first in a place of no focus
where colors float before you
in a space without measure without angles without solidity
all you can catch and hold are her eyes
flashing darkly inside a red mask
shimmering in the lights which flash like fireflies
the music sways the room and she moves with it
gliding like a bead of oil across glass
this room this beat this strange dancing pulse
what ballroom has a capricious reality uncovered and dropped you into
when eyes meet yours over masks and are amused
you struggle to understand
senses swimming
the red mask is a lighthouse
beckoning you
but the distance never lessens and the curtains billow with the lightning and rain smell of violent winds
in a windowless room
and you turn in unsteady circles
before you sink to your knees and wait for the nightmare to end
you see once more those dark eyes framed in red
and watch them close

Somnium Mortis ~
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come..” - William ShakespeareHamlet
The fear rises sharp and clear
scented on the air as I approach
 and bend to
gaze fully into your face for the first
and last time
it’s always fear
 like a glissando 
on a harp in a vast and empty room
fear always fear
when I am perceived in fullest mystery
when I first draw near 
You, who have extended every invitation, who pursued me ardently
now shrink back
am I not beautiful? not desirable?
perhaps my kiss seems cold but it burns only briefly 
the frost will pass and sleep will come
 then the gates swing open
and we will walk in the twilight 
watching the shadows form dark gardens
 and there is beauty and meaning to be found here
I am so much more than just a devourer
I am a prophet and a fulfiller of dreams
take my hand in love 
not in fear
for I long to be with you
*artwork from Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno*

The Critiques:

I love Jaye's voice. I've never heard her speak. I know her Facebook voice. But when she writes, THAT voice emerges, the poet takes over, and Jaye takes a nap. She awakens in time to pick a picture to accompany the poem, but that's just the ornaments on the beautiful Christmas tree she has created. In Somnium Mortis ~, that voice speaks with an unseen presence, a lover or a beast in need of taming. She urges, seduces, and ultimately surrenders herself to win the trust of the second person "you" of the poem. The fact that the work ends without a response to the request of the poet to "be with you" suggests doubt in her seductive skills, thus turning to honesty to gain this trust. It is a perfect moment, neither one of love or attraction, but of vulnerability and a need to be accepted. This is one poem that the picture really gets in the way. It has such a strong poetic voice that it overwhelms the pic, which bodes of silence and loneliness, the opposite of the narrator's pleas with the unseen "you". Lovely, as always, Jaye. 


Kim Acrylic

Kim Acrylic

The Poems:

"Dear Haiku"

Alone I walk; scared and beat I crave only dreams, forbidden escapes ensue.

I've seen your dreams of pure gold, ribbons of vast color; you dance in the slumber worlds.

Opiates of caffeinated odor penetrate my scene, porno for the stupor of husbands in wives dresses

One more night to confess hate, sad fears kiss Jesus; one less man to dance with us.

Time to say goodbye to false colored love affairs, your past must delete.

Hot lava emotions destroy the witty and the clever, Gritty or poisoned I'm spoon fed fear, forever.

I kiss the sun from your eyes; I steal the new moon. Beliefs rain down from lost stars.

Magic escapes fear; forbidding the sun to set, loving the moon's wake.

Languid soul remains off beat; like the summer’s winter, it lets us feast upon it.

Big eyes glued on my one love; passion a dire need, I feel you inside forever.

Wicked secrets wake the night, Devouring sleep, into oblivious ends.

Sandstorm kisses made for love, Spiteful wind breaks hearts; I feel alive in your death.

Saddened by loves lived and lost, I mourn by full moons of yester-years winged creatures.

Change my name to solitude, Reap just what you sow, you are the one who runs now.

I've come undone far too soon, sorrow fades to black I will dance naked for freedom

Twisted and true I repent, lost in sin I wail, is there sanctuary here?

Whispers fight the sun; dandelions fill the sky, Scream songs to my grave.

I will succumb to be free, I'm going back home to be one with my need.

Love is lost in times of greed; I sing my prayers to the mysterious gods.

Pain is freeing me; love is black as I cry to the moon for peace.

No more magical thinking, I'm lost in a dream When are you coming for me?

Legends of worries, Falter to their last demise I shall be free now.


Vast radiant tides will sleep,lovers dance naked; like ancient times they falter.
Radiant ruins bend time, moon signs woke today; gifting you with magic lore.
Prince of a boy sleeps; in a forever slumber, he whispers his song.
The music must never end; not even for death, just breathe in the melody.
The dawn threatens me, with violent rays of gold; here to test my fate.My end has begun today, but I will remain, forever in a daydream.
Alabaster skin beams bright; making for misquoted talk, with abstract trust and envy.
Smiles of the frown, kiss the strangers of grandeur; becoming one force.
Plastic pillow talk soothes me, clouds formed by smoke fade, as religions break
Razor cut my flesh, purify your exit wound, I will begin the final show.

The Critiques:

To be continued.


Brande Barrett 

Brande Barrett

The Poems:

An introduction by Brande Barrett: The first poem was written by my father when I was born. The other two Bad News and the Watcher in the Water from his death and the last one is my response to the feeling that he is channeling his poetry through me...

The Beloved Fool

Naked, most ill-equipped of all creature

To life given,

With rosy-hued form and uncertain features,

To begin living.

Awareness of new light dawns on his senses

Like to a blinking mole;

Vague remembrances of unknown experiences

Recede into his soul.

A sprawling imp in sagging, ragged attire,

Curiosity peering through bars;

Borne of Innocence and Hope, his sire,

And hovering above, his doting stars.

A responsibility, an heir, a delight.

A soft bare handful;

Grunting, struggling with all might

To become-a people.

With nodding, blank head, a gurgle, big wide eyes,

Intense concentration;

A faint smile, uncertainty, innumerable sighs,

Finally- recognition.

Feeling, tasting, smelling, and sighing.

Exploring with wonderment and babble;

Grabbing, mouthing, shocking, and crying,

He discovers his toes and navel.

Care and concern of all men and women

Over sex, age, race, or nation:

He belongs to the World’s playpen

Human kindness his libation.

With soggy drawers and winning, dirty smile

A damnable folly of drool;

A helpless bugger with clear eyes bereft of guile,

Behold- The Beloved Fool.

By William Larkin Barrett

Memorial Day
Bad News

Tear stained she quivers under her tightly held breath
it wasn’t supposed to be this way
she tells herself over and over
like a skipping record
cold to the touch
no life lingers in the eyes
dead stare returned
she puts her hand over them lowering the lids
she kisses the still cheek
she touches the breathless lips with fingertips
closes her eyes
tightly—trying to squeeze out reality
trembling hands pick up the phone
the news ready to be spread.

watcher in the water
May 30, 2010 at 2:21pm
Carefully stepping across the rocks
along the pebbled cove
laden with package and purpose
we snaked our way to the cliffs
where the wind blows and the white waves
crash and tear at the jagged rocks to wear them down
The words
slipped out bravely
between sobs like broken glass
the contents of the box
released upon the sea
caught by tide and wind
cast out
 mourners notice
 lone seal 
 follows intently
 as silent progression departs
Are you there?
Heavy with words
To channel
Giving breath
To the thoughts
In chains
Of dust
And memory
Long forgotten
Spider webs
Spun of golden moments
And fragmented patches
Of dancing
Tears of joy and sorrow
Etched in
Stone walled thoughts
And broken dreams
Onto the pages
Flowing like whispers
Conspiracies in the ears
Pulsing with life
Like the pulsating rhythm
Of blood rushing to the head
Sent to hands
Feeling the words said
as much as written
To be read
And spoken
Wholly unaware
Of where it came from
But feeling spent and empty
An empty vessel waiting
For the next inspiration.

Brande Barrett Memorial Day 2007

Surreal Digital Photography Landscapes Seascapes and Sky


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Thank you, readers, for visiting our 12th venture into the world of poetry today. I am always looking for new poets to feature on my column. If you are interested in sharing your poems, send a couple to under June Poetry. Also let me know if you'd like some constructive criticism or not. Hope to hear from you soon. Till next we meet, burn the Darkness at both ends. 

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