Mrs. Winchester (The Poem)

I missed National Poetry Day (I think it was yesterday). Here is the original poem that I wrote before I wrote the script that’s a finalist at Shriekfest. It’s been published several times, most recently in my Bram Stoker Award-nominated poetry collection, At Louche Ends: Poetry for the Decadent, the Damned & the Absinthe-Minded.

Mrs. Winchester

I am always building
like Mrs. Winchester
my fingers ever reaching
steeple and strut
for who-knows-what
and all my doors open
to a sheer drop
as I blindly press my walls
beyond the copper gates
and into the briny blankets
smothering the wind,
searching the breezes
for him…
for you.

Mine will be an empty house,
not for dwelling
but for touring,
lace and bed
roped off from their touch
a spectacle
my wood floor splintering
from their stares
under the weight of their wonder
for I’ve built a house
that even I cannot live in
and cursed I wander
the darker hours
from bed to bed
never resting
hammers sinking
nails of grief and fear
lips tasting
leaded glass
as if this frozen pane
were you
if only they knew
it’s your voice at midnight
that tells me where
to build each gable, rail, and stair…

I’ll drive them all away
before they discover
my madness
like the servant’s hall
is north by northwest
but until then
add another window
Mrs. Winchester
because when the oak doors shut
there will be
no more light.

And Now the Long-Awaited WHC 2008 Highlights

Such as they were, in no particular order. Subject to change.

1. Had a successful round of pitches, including one to an unanticipated publisher, Mirrorstone Books. The editor Stacey and I were chatting happily when she asked me if, by any chance, I had a children’s book. As it so happened, I’d written one about 8 years ago called Monsteria, starring a little girl named Anabelle, who is like a miniature Mary Poppins. I told her about the story, which is Where the Wild Things Are but with a girl protagonist. This seemed to make Stacey enormously happy. We’ll see how that pans out.

2. Sold and signed stuff.

3. Read a bit of Caitlin Kiernan’s fiction for the “Male or Female?” panel-come-gameshow. One contestant said female, the other male. I asked them why they thought the author was either male or female. Gary Braunbeck offered the generalization that men write more about the external world while women write more about their internal world. The passage I read was definitely more about the external world, but then Monica Kuebler had stumped Gary earlier with passages from John Shirley and Jack Ketchum, proving that generalizations are only that.

4. Met lots of great folk, including the very gracious Scott Edelman, up and coming writer Scott Browne, the incredibly sweet Paul Genesse and the delightful Australian writer Rocky Wood, not to mention the awesomely talented Marge Simon. Her husband, the Grandmaster of Poetry Bruce Boston, wrote the introduction to my poetry collection. Biting Midnight. Meeting Marge had been long in the coming. The convention staff were all terrific people, I should add.

5. Strutted around in some utterly frivolous and girly outfits, especially that amazing pink 1940s suit that I bought from Sabrina Belladonna.

6. Read my latest poem, “Uncle Nietzsche with Anchovies,” to an appreciative audience in the Poetry Reading, as well as “Le Menteur” and my French and English versions of “Petite.” (Now, is it just me, or should poetry make fucking sense? All that poetry I heard loaded with random adjectives and hyphenated bullshit seriously needs to meet Mr. Shredder. Most came from one Vogon in particular.)

7. Ground my teeth through most of the Bram Stoker ceremony as I witnessed more “club awards.” However, I was there to support friends, to which I must say “Mission Accomplished,” and besides the emcee was quite funny. I enjoyed watching Sarah Langan win Best Novel. The best part was when Gary Braunbeck mentioned one of my favorite movie moments of all time — the ending of Prince of Darkness — as one of two iconic John Carpenter moments. Yay! It’s not just me!

8. Made a complete ass of myself in the audience of the screenwriting panel I attended. Lisa Morton knows I’m insane and Bill Breedlove still wrote “Maria Alexander is a goddess” on my martini glass that night, so I suppose they forgive me. The other panelists might not. I do repent my ass-like behavior. Alas!

9. Had a lovely sushi dinner with Loren Rhoads.

10. Said other apparently strange and shocking things whilst on one of the networking panels, as I recall a jaw or two dropping. Oh, how I do love being provocative! (Did I mention I also apparently love the taste of my shoe?)

11. Seemed to sexually traumatized every male in the room with “Pinned” at my reading. (Well, I had warned them about the kinky sex on the advertising flyer. Silly boys!) Later sold a copy to the sweet gal who wandered in late but heard enough to want to read the ending.

12. Survived hotel horrors, including two power outages the first night that caused my room to drop to sub-arctic temperatures, skin ailments galore because of the dryness, and finally some kind of food poisoning that nearly cripped me from packing and leaving the hotel. Can I say that I hate Salt Lake City and the Radisson with equal measures of peevishness? Yes, I certainly can.

And there you have it.

Poetry Fight Club

The excerpt from the late Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives just has me in stitches, and I bet he wasn’t looking for that response. It’s based on real-life thugs, otherwise known as the “infrarealists” (or some variation thereof) break up poetry readings and mock Octavio Paz. Gangsters hell bent on changing the poetry world.

That is simply hilarious.

Meanwhile, Slate is referring to the new Spiderman as “Emo Parker.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Awww, Spidey! Turn that frown upside down, man!

I was thinking the other day about what I miss most about the U.S. You know what that is? My goddamn immune system. Yesterday, I went through another hellish, painful ailment that involved an emergency visit to the doctor, the lab, the pharmacy, and now all kinds of French meds. And I mean, so much pain, I couldn’t speak English, much less French. And we’d just finished a major Vitamin C + Royal Jelly run prescribed by the pharmacist, too. You want a gangster poem? I got yer gangster poem right here, Roberto:

Fucking France
I’m always sick here
La grippe
Le rhume
La gastro
Not to mention
All sorts of other
Damned things
I never get at home
You know
I love Provence
And Paris more
But fuck this
I bet I’ll
Catch a cold
On the plane

I’m going to mock me some Paz now and rest some more. Good night, and good health.