Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions 13
Compiled by Anthony Servante


Welcome back, dear readers, for our 13th venture into the poetry of today. For our latest visit for our guest poets, I invited them to talk a bit about their poems. Usually I am adamant about letting the poems speak for themselves, as is my academic wont and training, so when Drew Arnott, singer and songwriter from the 1980s New Wave Progressive band "Strange Advance" brought up the question of what the effect on a poem (or in his case, a song) has when its writer tells the reader or listener why he wrote it, I decided to make that this month's theme. Think about it. In the song "American Pie", if the writer Don Mclean told us what each line meant when he composed the piece, would it affect how you've perceived the song all these years? Does it dilute or enhance your enjoyment of the song? I mean, there are 7,360,000 hits when you Google American Pie Meaning. Now the songwriter tells you the one meaning. Do we still say the song is about the plane crash that killed Richie Valens and the Big Bopper?

Well, that's the question, isn't it? Each poet was asked about his poem(s), save for Drew, who came up with the idea himself. So, I thank him for making this month's poetry column unique. Our guests today areLemmy Rushmore, Geoff Brown, Michael H. Hanson, Philip LoPresti, and Drew Arnott discussing the song “We Run” from Strange Advance's second LP 2WO. We'll also be looking at some new poetry books that I recommend by Kim Acrylic, William Cook, and A. D. Blacet. And I'll be talking a bit about my book, Urban Graves: 13 Poems from the Machine. 

We begin with Lemmy Rushmore.

Lemmy Rushmore



Lemmy Rushmore is a mechanic by trade and father of three who occasionally dares dabble in the world of words.Until recently unpublished,his pieces touch on many topics,but tend to lean toward the darker side of those things encountered daily.Ranging from emotionally dark to horror,some of his work can be seen in the anthology We are Dust and Shadow released by James Ward Kirk Publishing.He also has pieces included in two more soon to be released anthologies also from James Ward Kirk Publishing,No Sight for the Saved,featuring the superbly dark art of Niall Parkinson and Demonic Possession.Both are set to be released in July of this year.His newest work can be viewed on the Facebook page,the P.R.S. Project as he is currently involved in a unique collaboration with the extraordinarily talented artist, Niall Parkinson and an amazing writer/poet by the name of David Slater.


The Poems: 

on a raven's wing....

I think I might know the answer 
they whispered it while I slept 
I know why each night they haunt me 
why into my darkness they have crept

they bring word from the one I once loved 
back they've come on a raven's wing 
they speak of the fields Elysian 
and a lock of hair from my love they bring

they offer me safest passage 
say it shall come with the simplest act 
say no more shall I wander lonely 
through those lands that love left cracked

on and on they shall lead me further 
right there on a raven's wing 
at least that's the picture they've painted 
in all those songs they now cease to sing

so on a whim I'll make trade with the whispers 
upon this snake's poisoned tongue I shall kiss 
and I'll hope that it's truths that they're selling 
as I trade it all for the one that I miss....

Copyright © 2014 Lemmy Rushmore All rights reserved.

The Inspiration for the poem "Vessels..."


pure carnage incarnate 
the right hand of the beast 
unburdened by souls 
and upon you unleashed 
forked tongue of the tainted 
the true spreader of lies 
be not fooled by our form 
we are but one disguise 
we are the vessels 
and through us evil shall creep 
into each crevice 
into every pore we shall seep 
these rotted remains 
in which we still roam 
for years they have caged us 
so long been a home 
locked here to linger 
for as long as we may 
housed here by the harmed 
in hopes that we'll stay 
contained to these corpses 
in which we now reside 
they see the good doctor 
what they don't see is Hyde 
much more now we are 
than these forms that we wear 
with a shed of these cloaks 
at pure evil you'd stare 
we are but vessels 
grotesque beauty beheld 
you grasp not the concept 
or the power we weld 
bathed in the fires 
and bred the unclean 
with us comes the beyond 
and such sights to be seen 
we are the portal 
so that evil might dwell 
we are mere vessels 
but we bring with us hell....

Copyright © 2014 Lemmy Rushmore All rights reserved.

Geoff Brown



G.N. Braun is an Australian writer and Australian Shadows Award finalist-editor raised in Melbourne’s gritty Western Suburbs.
He is a trained nurse, and holds a Cert. IV in Professional Writing and Editing, as well as a Dip. Arts (Professional Writing and Editing).
At graduation, Braun was awarded ‘Vocational Student of the Year’ and ’2012 Student of the Year’ by his college.
He writes fiction across various genres, and is the author of many published short stories. He has had numerous articles published in newspapers, both regional and metropolitan. He is the past president of the Australian Horror Writers Association (2011-2013), as well as the past director of the Australian Shadows Awards. He is an editor and columnist for UK site This is Horror, and the guest editor for Midnight Echo #9.
His memoir, Hammered, was released in early 2012 by Legumeman Books and has been extensively reviewed.
He is the owner of Cohesion Editing and Proofreading, and has now opened a publishing house, Cohesion Press.

The Poem:


I sit in this room, the shadowed memories flying behind my eyes like moths darting at the flames of an open fire.
High, vaulted ceilings rise above me like a narcissist's self-regard.

I remember...

Alone, I feel a tempest of recollection bursting at the seams of my mind, twisting it like taffy in a sideshow arcade and trying to come forth, to break free of the mental constraint that is me.
Books lie scattered everywhere, a field of fallen dominoes waiting for another chance to inspire.
I wish they could.

The memories grow...

Grotesque images plough my senses: the smell of beast after a sudden fall of acid-rain, the colour of viscous viscera fermenting in a vat of vomit.
These appeal to me in ways I cannot begin to define.
I can hear the silence: the echo of my pain, like claws scraping down a fleshless spine as the spider-webs cling to the ceiling, drifting like dandruff from a diseased scalp; that, too, appeals to me.

Was I going insane?
Or am I already there, all this an imaginary friend that's not very friendly at all?

I can taste the dust settling onto my skin.
It tastes like dry, dead beetles; scarabs scuttling down my throat to infest and ingest me from the inside.
It tastes too good to not be true.

The three windows allow marginal light, seeming as stingy as bankers with God's own illumination. The carpet under my bare feet is gritty, more a collection of shards, splinters and sand than any man-made fibre.
I feel the same; scattered and broken.

I remember...

As I stare at the tattered pictures of fallen heroes blue-tacked to the walls, I remember the events that happened here, the terrible things that no-one will talk of.

Not to me, anyway.

I remember the things that I wish I could talk of.
I mean...it was me that suffered here, wasn't it?

Was it?

Or was it all just a dream...?

Note by Anthony Servante: The poem itself is the reminiscence of a poet describing his thoughts in stream of consciousness fashion, so there was no need for Geoff to explain the poem as the poem itself is an explanation of the poem. 

Michael H. Hanson

Mike at Libertycon


Michael H. Hanson is the Creator of the Sha'Daa shared-world, horror/fantasy anthology series (currently consisting of "Sha'Daa: Tales of The Apocalypse," "Sha'Daa: Last Call," "Sha'Daa: Pawns," and the soon to premiere "Sha'Daa: Facets," all published by Moondream Press (an imprint of Copper Dog Publishing LLC).

He has written two collections of poetry, "Autumn Blush" and "Jubilant Whispers," whose second editions will soon be published by Racket River Press (an imprint of Copper Dog Publishing LLC).

In the upcoming year Michael will not only be overseeing the writing of the new Sha'Daa anthology "Sha'Daa: Inked," but he is also overseeing the writing of the shared-world novel "Not To Yield," a science fiction tale inspired by The Odyssey.

The Poems: 

Silver Fireflies
by Michael H. Hanson

'Pon noble nights, such sacred sights
enchant all mawkish mortal eyes,
in heaven's heights the laughing lights
of frozen, silver fireflies.

What silent spell did they befell
that stopped their joyous, dervish dance,
the knell of unrung virgin bell
'cross ebon floor where none now prance?

Charmed curse each moonlit eve rehearsed
in sublime, static harmony,
God's purse of sparkling infants nursed
'til morn's pallid parsimony.

Some choose the kiss of amber sun
I love the weave of stars fine spun.

Poet Comment: This poem was inspired by a memory I had of a weekend I spent at Camp Vigor (a no-longer existing Boy Scout camp outside of Potsdam, NY) one Summer during my youth. Far from the ‘light pollution’ of the nearest town, with no clouds in the sky, the view of the stars above was simply… magnificent. Like many (but certainly not all) poets and writers, I’m a night person. “Silver Fireflies” is my simple homage to daytime’s mistress.

The Golden Road
by Michael H. Hanson

Pray kiss me quickly, take my hand
and let us bolt to yonder wold
escaping this mundane wasteland
to journey on the golden road.

We'll laugh and sing each other's name
'pon amber avenues of love
free of all lame, enduring blame
that stain what every heart has wove.

We'll drink the wine of gilded vine
and dance amidst these summer trees,
an honor guard most palatine
for all we fleeing refugees.

Fear naught of forest paths not strode
and join me on this golden road.

Poet Comment: Some fantasy escapism here. A bit of a loner, and currently a divorced man who is single, I was daydreaming one lunch hour while walking on a forested walking path (not far from my workplace) and spotted a lovely woman in the distance, strolling half a mile ahead of me on the same path. Our courses did not intersect, but still, for a moment, the yearning to leave my monotonous day-job, and escape the life that late middle-age has become, felt almost overpowering. That night, after work, the inspiration hit and I wrote this piece.

Summer Tryst
by Michael H. Hanson

The sum of all my summer days
extracted in a sweet malaise
cannot compete with your soft lips
that set my very blood ablaze.

The hazy hum of summer trees
richly perfumed in loamy musk
will not defer my earthy needs
tempted to life by you each dusk.

The drizzly drum of summer rain
beating in tempo with our hearts
would not distract my warm solace
and all the joy my soul imparts.

A lover taut and adamant,
I melt into your every want.

Poet Comment: Another slice of romantic escapism. “Summer Tryst” is not about an actual liaison, but more the wish-fulfillment and admittedly passive-aggressive thought experiment that filled me one Summer afternoon while walking through the streets of Provincetown, MA (Cape Cod). I had become quite smitten with a woman I had met that Summer, but, alas, it was never meant to be (for several good reasons, not the least of them being it was an unrequited affection). All the sensory elements of that day haunted me for weeks and ultimately came out in this poem.

Predatory Love

by Michael H. Hanson

True beauty blooms far more than once,
showing that loveliness is rife,
a predator who haunts and hunts
throughout the seasons of one's life.

True beauty is a wanderer
whose journey crosses many lands,
a fickle, anxious sojourner
deaf to every woman's commands.

True Beauty is a cunning coin,
a treasure trove subtly concealed,
hidden from cads who would purloin,
unearthed when ardour is revealed.

Beauty is truth often expressed
when love blossoms beneath your breast.

Poet Comment: As with most of my poems, “True” wears its intentions and conceits on its sleeves. It came about from my FB-surfing habit of viewing lots of photos online. After awhile, you become attuned to people’s expressions in photographs taken of them, and it really doesn’t take much effort to see a person uncomfortable in their own skin, avoiding the camera’s eye with awkward angles of facing the smart phone lens, hiding portions of one’s face with one’s hands, etc. And I found myself contrasting such images with those of individuals who had no such insecurities, and who faced the camera head on, full of confidence, with a great big wonderful smile on their face. And this made me think of beauty, what is it, really? Where does it come from? Is it really only skin deep? And if so, just how deep? And then I formed a conceit in my mind… that beauty is merely an extension of the love one feels within themselves. That love comes and goes like a tide, sometimes emptying out of us, and other times, filling us up… that this happens throughout the course of one’s life, not just in one’s youth. And then I wrote this poem.

The Original Selfie

Beautiful Selfie
by Michael H. Hanson

When I see you, I’m seeing me
in all of my transparency,
palpable perceptivity
and casual complacency.

When I see me, I’m seeing you
in your vulnerability,
a self-effacing ingenue
wary of all false flattery.

Each instant of a life we see
moments of fate’s causality,
an existential reverie
of all creation’s tapestry.

Clairvoyant selfies offer us
glimpses into our own essence.

Poet Comment: This poem was sparked by a selfie (a photograph taken of one’s self, usually using a smart phone) of a woman that was posted on Facebook (one of my FB friends). Not a particularly deep or complex poem… I found that in examining her picture, my own sense of self-awareness became much more acute. And I started to ponder the whole phenomena of posting selfies on FB, and elsewhere. In one very real sense, I found myself learning more about myself by looking at her photo, than I could ever know about her. For a moment I felt that all selfies on FB were just little mirrors into our own psyches. And thus a poem is born.

Philip LoPresti

Philip feverishly signing I AM SUICIDE


Philip wants you to know: "You can get Haunted Fucking from amazon on kindle or paperback. My new collection I AM SUICIDE should be out in the next couple months.

I think it's best to let the poems speak for themselves. Giving away too much of intended meaning sort of dulls the magic of it all.

The two poems are from my book HAUNTED FUCKING."

The Poems:

Drum with white washed bone.
Cadaver dolls hung slight
like bastard fruit.
I clenched you between teeth
and felt the taste of ditches
when a strangled bush of five
meant we were dying.
The words were written
in ovarian dust
and carved on the rectums
of eight crippled saints.
Your hymen was a light bulb
that led the way into a seven year rage.
Just forget what you came for
and bury me in the hollowed out
vessel of a blue ruin.”

The impossible birds
have come to rape her peninsula.
To shoot blood seeds into the nest of her guts.
To exhume sadness
from all manner of infected deserts
and spill the wad
on all forms of strange creatures.
The breathing girl has sucked me to shatters
and now lives as a skin drum in the rubella ballet.
Her husks are an ancient serene
which no language survives.
Part your lips
and lament for the moss stricken paranoid
that came gifted in brambles.
Part your lips
and let the prostitute gospel
stream out from it.
Isn’t this wonderful?
I know all the games you love to play. “


Drew Arnott




Drew Arnott was the singer/songwriter for the New Wave Progressive "80s band, STRANGE ADVANCE from Canada. Isn't "New Wave Progressive" a oxymoron, you ask? Not in the case of SD. Their range of music included flights of ethereal ponderings with guitar work that most Metal bands would envy. They mixed the two genres of music and made it work, thanks to the writing talents of Drew, whom I caught up with while he was working on the history behind "We Run", SD's most successful LP. In this discussion he brings up some valid points about the writing process itself, which grabbed my attention. I asked him if I could use Parts I and II of the five piece article and he agreed. If you'd like to read Parts III, IV, and V, visit Drew's page on Facebook here. 

The Song:

Welcome back to the 80s.

The Lyrics: 

We Run

You're on your own and meet a friend
Who doesn't kill but wounds for life
The sun blinds you through the trees
While watching clues fall from the skies

And she smiles

At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun

We Run

Frozen smiles for men returned
They never even left this place
She kissed me softly on the cheek
And a shadow cut across her face

At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun

We Run

I walked for miles and miles to the sea
I know you never tried to deceive

At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun

At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun

We Run Pt 1

I couldn’t tell you when exactly I wrote it. Sometime in 83 or 84? I have a terrible memory and have always thought I should contact everyone I ever met and ask them what I was doing at the time.
It started with a dream. I have strange dreams. I was on the side of a hill / mountain, looking down on the harbour. It was a beautiful sunny day but strangely there was no sound or movement anywhere. I could see a large warship in the harbour drifting aimlessly. On deck were the lifeless forms of sailors. Scattered bodies lay randomly in the streets of the small town below. “Frozen smiles for men returned. They never even left this place…”

I should interject here and say this. Explaining songs to people can be a letdown. I know that when I listen to a song, I take away my own meaning. Sometime it might be just one line that resonates with me. One time a fan came up to me and told me how Worlds Away held so much meaning for him, as he had just gone through a divorce and clearly, that was what the song was about. I couldn’t tell him the real story. I wanted him to take what he wanted from it.

So, my question is:
Does learning the writers inspiration for a song help your understanding or destroy your personal interpretation?

"Worlds Away"
Song about divorce? A pending break-up?
Read my review of "We Run" and "Worlds Away"

We Run Pt 2

Okay then, on with the story.

I’m not sure what I’ve ever said about We Runs lyrics in public. One recurring theme for me is “the end of the world as we know it”. Yeah, I know. I’m a cheery guy. For some reason, I keep dreaming about the way the world will end. To be specific, how we will mess up and kill ourselves (and others) off. Lots of nuclear holocausts etc sprinkled with a bit of alien invasion!

Don’t ask me why certain imagery or words were chosen. “You’re on your own and meet a friend, who doesn’t kill but wounds for life. The sun blinds you, through the trees, while watching clues fall from the sky”. The ‘friend’ is radiation. The blinding sun - the explosion. The ‘clues’ - fallout. I’ve seen some people post lyrics that say “You’re on your own and need a friend” which is a good thought. We all need friends.
More about lyrics later.

For the gearheads out there, the song started life on the Roland JP8 (Jupiter 8) which is an awesome synth. When Strange Advance was first signed, the record company gave us money to live on and buy gear (you won’t see that these days). Getting the JP8 was a big deal to me. It directly inspired Worlds Away and many other tunes.

On a side note, I also fell in love with a new drum machine – the Linn LM-1. It was the first drum machine to use actual samples of drums and it sounded amazing. I’m a drummer and I couldn’t believe the way it sounded. We had previously been using an old Roland drum machine (CR-68?) so this was a HUGE step up! The only problem was, no one in Vancouver stocked them. So Bruce Fairbairn (our producer) decided to book us tickets to LA where they were in stock. (another side note – we had SUCH a nice record company. And we spent SO much money. As a matter of fact, we’re still paying them off!) So there was Bruce and I at the Guitar Center being sold an LM-1 by a salesman who tried to convince us to fly him up to Vancouver to ‘program’ the drum machine for our recordings. Now, first, it is not a complicated drum machine and second, the salesmans big claim to fame was that he had ‘programmed’ the drums for Rod Stewarts “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”. If you listen to that song, you will notice that the drums are pretty much kick snare repeated. Not an impressive resume!

So there I was in my basement, working on We Run. I think I had the song worked out when Ed Shaw came in to add some guitar.

Yet another side note! Ed Shaw and Derrick Gyles were the guitarist and drummer for an Albertan (I think?) band (or was it Winnipeg?) who Darryl and I fell in love with and stole. They were very cool, great musicians and we needed a band for touring. We rehearsed for a tour after the first album but due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to cancel it. Instead, we started work on tunes for the next album. When it was decided that we were going to record in London, the record company refused to pay for Ed and Derrick to go with us. Much to my shame, I did not put up a big enough fight and we lost Ed and Derrick. Fortunately, they landed on their feet and joined Images In Vogue, creating classic Canadian new wave tunes. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if we had stayed together…

Anyway, Ed loved playing with delays and suggested using a particular delay on the keyboard line. It vastly improved the feel. Thanks Ed! By the way, the keyboard I’m playing in the We Run video (makes me squirm to watch it. I had no clue.) is the JP8.

Now I am leaving to go to the studio. Sorry! More to come as we take We Run to London, Buttonville, Toronto, New York then back to London!


Fine Art America
Where You Can Find the Artwork
Brande Barrett
Surreal Digital Photography Landscapes Seascapes and Sky


Poetry is alive and well. If you haven't noticed, there is a Modern Movement in the genre and these are the voices leading the way to becoming the writers that will reach the history and academic texts of tomorrow. So grab your copy now and stay ahead of the poetry that's turning the form inside out and making the unreachable concepts of life, love, death, and caging them in poems that demand your attention. 

A.D. Blacet is a poet to keep an eye on. He's one my three picks to enter the field of poetry and make both scholars and laymen read his works. Brande Barrett is the perfect choice to illustrate Blacet's abstract concepts as her art captures both realism and the abstract in a way that complements the words but also works as standalone art as well.

Andrew D. Blacet (Words) Brande Barrett (Art)

Buy this fantastic poetic journey here.

Description: Here are poems for those who prefer to linger among the ruins, to listen for ghosts in leaning doorways or the driplines of caves; for those who appreciate the incipient dread of long shadows, the dark flourish of root and branch, the reflections of stars in wet sand. These are poems for the reader who does not require every puzzle to be solved, every monster to be dragged from its well and thrust into withering light. For those seeking reassurance from the familiar or mundane, look elsewhere. These are the thud of moist earth on the lid of a casket, the suggestion of half-formed faces budding in the boulders of a cliff – these are the occupants of the ditch.


William Cook is another of my three picks for the poet to lead the way into the future for poetry.

Purchase the future of poetry here.


Kim Acrylic comes from a background of music. Her poetry is from the head and heart, but these are not lyrics. They are cries of anguish in the form of irony and wicked smiles.

Read this semi-autobiographical look at the poet
through her words and ideas.
You'll get lost in the magic realism.
Purchase Kim's latest book here. 


Anthony Servante is a retired professor of English literature. His background is in critiquing poetry, novels, and prose. Yes, that's me. My book of poetry is about growing up in a poor community surrounded by industry: dog food factories next to human food companies. They'd haul in the cows and pigs at midnight and slaughtered them and stuffed them into metal cans, some marked for Rover, others marked for Mrs. Housewife's breakfast table. Two animals killed for two animals. And that's how I saw my neighborhood, like episodes of the Twilight Zone mixed with death's grin and beckoning finger. My poems are designed like little MC Escher drawings: the beginnings and the endings are seamlessly melded. A colleague once called this style of writing a "Servantian tangle" akin to an O'Henry story ending. I write this way because the ending draws your eye back to the title of the poem, which makes you read it again. It's a haunting little loop that's hard to break once you're caught in it. For example, one poems has a driver being tail-gated on the freeway. After some deadly road rage, the tailgater finally catches the narrator in a dead-end. When the narrator looks in the rear-view mirror to face the tailgater, he sees that =he= is the tailgater. So, pick up a copy of my book and get caught up in the tangle of poetry. It's fun getting snared in the web.

Click here to purchase. Only 99 cents. Limited time only!


Well, it's been another pleasant visit with you. Thank you for coming. I hope you enjoyed your stay. Remember, inside we are all poets, so submit your works for next month's column at servanteofdarkness@gmail.com. Or if you have artwork that you'd like to feature along with the poetry, send it in with a link to your website so our readers can see your other works of art. It's been a pleasure hosting today's column. Till next month, burn the darkness at both ends. 

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Anthony Servante


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