Poems from The Journey to Kailash III

/ April 20th, 2011 / 5 Comments »

A Curtain of Stars


The needle repeats
with imperfect persistence
dotted thread lines,
new meridians in cloth,

stitches connections
between constellations,
binds warm lining
to a curtain of stars;

a seam that would
only compliment
the cloud-free night
should it appear there

suddenly crisscrossing
the Milky Way.
The spirits of the stars
are with us tonight

watching from the heart
of the fire; sparks rise
to the flue as you stitch
a new cosmos together.

“A Curtain of Stars” first appeared in Star*Line, Vol. 25, Issue 5, 2002. Copyright © 2002 by Mike Allen. Reading by the author, © 2008. Art: Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

A note about “Requited”

/ April 19th, 2011 / No Comments »

This rough-hewn villanelle is wicked fun of a sort on the surface, but there’s something utterly unfunny underneath.

When I worked as a courts reporter, covering crimes, I learned that many terrible things follow utterly predictable patterns. I covered several murders that could be summed up the same way: a woman slain by her former husband or lover. Inevitably, these cases would have an easily-accessed paper trail attached to them, documenting threats and accusations of domestic abuse, court dates missed or charges dismissed, protective orders sworn out. And yet none of it effective in preventing tragedy — the killer might be punished afterward to some degree, but never stopped in time. I had much occasion to meditate on the mindset that green-lights this notion, that when a partner leaves, or tries to leave, or simply is suspected somehow of wanting to leave, the best response is to kill her rather than let her go and move on with your own life.

In my mind, the voice of the poem is female.

(Read and hear the poem here.)

Poems from The Journey to Kailash II

/ April 19th, 2011 / 2 Comments »



You killed me to keep me near.
Seven days, from then till now.
Why won’t you kiss me, dear?

Your fingers squeezed my cries of fear
to silence as you kept your vow.
You killed me to keep me near.

You’ve slaked your needs yet now appear
so frozen — frightened — sweat-slicked brow.
Please, why won’t you kiss me, dear?

Your heart in thorns, I’ve seen it clear,
this distance you could not allow,
until you killed to keep me near.

Your love’s fire became my bier.
My arms reach for your warmth now.
Kiss my breath away, my dear.

My mouth on yours till I can’t hear
your shrieks, ungrateful lover’s row.
My tongue on yours, our fates cohere.
You killed me to keep me near.

“Requited” first appeared in print in The Journey to Kailash, Norilana Books, 2008. Copyright © 2008 by Mike Allen. Reading by the author, © 2007. Art: Detail from illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s “Berenice” by Harry Clarke, 1919.

A note about “Defacing the Moon”

/ April 18th, 2011 / No Comments »

I have more to say about this little poem than I thought I would. This was the title poem of my first collection, and I’ve used it in both of my big fat (by poetry standards) retrospectives, and when I give a poetry workshop, this is the piece I give to participants to play around with.

My humble writing career got started in the days of the desktop publishing surge, when advances in software and home printers made it possible for editors everywhere to generate paper chapbooks that looked (more or less) like a professional printer produced them. (My own Mythic Delirium is a relic of that time, a Triassic beast hanging on into the Cretaceous.) Back them, the equivalent of Ralan’s or Duotrope was a monthly snail mail zine called Scavenger’s Newsletter, published by the late lamented Janet Fox.

And that zine accepted flash fiction and poetry, but poems could only be 10 lines long. I wrote “Defacing the Moon” specifically for SCAV, but being the inattentive lunkhead that I am, I sent it in at 11 lines. Janet returned it with a note that she really loved it but it was too long.

Never give me an opening. I asked her if she’d be willing to look at it again if I made it the right length. She said she would — and what happened next turned out to be a big breakthrough for me. Because it wasn’t easy at all removing a line while keeping the same flow of ideas and imagery. It took a lot of thinking, a lot of playing with words, a lot of double checking with Anita, before I felt the 10 line version was ready to go back. But go back it did, and sell it did, and I learned a little something about writing.

The stanza breaks didn’t come until much letter, when I was shopping my first chapbook around for blurbsters. One of the people I approached, Bruce Boston (whose own published poems must number in the thousands) told me he would not endorse the book as was, but he’d be willing to give me tips for editing were I open to it. I sure was, and it was the best decision I could have made. He red-penciled my chapbook and turned a mediocre mess into something that could turn heads. One of those tips: make wise use of stanza breaks!

As to the topic: my favorite movie in the whole wide world (not saying it’s the best, but it’s my favorite) is Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The image from that film of an old sailing ship cutting a groove through the moondust with its keel inspired this verse. Though it’s possible the episode of The Tick in which Chairface Chippendale attempts to carve his name into the moon (managing the first three letters before Tick stops him) also played a part.

(Read and hear the poem here.)

A new post at Black Gate: Through Mordor to the Unreal City

/ April 18th, 2011 / No Comments »

Through Mordor to the Unreal City: A National Poetry Month Post

Poems from The Journey to Kailash

/ April 18th, 2011 / 1 Comment »

Defacing the Moon


Your ship’s sharpened keel
slides across airless seas,
blown by the breath of your desires.

Those sails stretch like skin
to catch the winds of your whimsy,
and the keelblade carves crags
into cheekbones and eyes.

Soon your own face will rise
from the moon’s far side,
awaken and stare down the sun.

“Defacing the Moon” first appeared in Scavenger’s Newsletter, June 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Mike Allen. Reading by the author, © 2011. Art: Still from Georges Méliès’ “A Trip to the Moon,” 1902.

Journey to Kailash posts begin tomorrow

/ April 17th, 2011 / No Comments »

THE JOURNEY TO KAILASHTomorrow, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’m running a series of posts containing selected poems from my 2008 poetry collection, The Journey to Kailash. They’ll appear at 9:30 a.m. every morning for the next 13 days, with a very appropriate choice appearing on the 13th and final day. Each one will have an accompanying audio reading.

I hope you get a kick out of these dark and quirky musings.

A new post at the Interstitial Arts Foundation blog

/ April 14th, 2011 / No Comments »

Kat Howard interviews writer and dancer Megan Kurashige.

A basket filled with Goblin Fruit

/ April 14th, 2011 / No Comments »

The Spring issue of Goblin Fruit just sprouted up. See for yourself:

I note: subscribers to Mythic Delirium are eligible for prizes in their 5th Anniversary Prize Drawing.

If you’re not a subscriber, click here for some reasons why maybe you ought to be.

Because it deserves to be said again

/ April 13th, 2011 / 2 Comments »

Congratulations to these poets with work from Mythic Delirium in contention for the 2011 Rhysling Awards:

    short poem category

  • Jennifer Crow, “We Took Our Gods”, Issue 21, January 2010
  • Lyn C. A. Gardner, “Midnight Posture”, Issue 23, Summer/Fall 2010
  • Shweta Narayan, “Cave-smell”, Issue 22, Winter/Spring 2010
  • Jane Yolen, “The Gospel of the Rope”, Issue 23, Summer-Fall, 2010.

    long poem category

  • F. J. Bergmann, “Occidental”, Issue 23, Summer-Fall 2010
  • C. S. E. Cooney, “Ere One Can Say It Lightens”, Issue 22, Winter/Spring 2010
  • Joshua Gage, “Rats”, Issue 22, Winter/Spring 2010
  • Jaime Lee Moyer, “Rain Face”, Issue 21, January 2010
  • Catherynne M. Valente, “Red Engines”, Issue 21, January 2010

Swiped from the original post at The Plasteel Spider Factory.

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