Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greeting Card Featuring My Art & Poetry

Believe it or not, I came up with a poem for a greeting card! The Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store now features a greeting card with my mermaid illustration on the front, and a little rhyme I wrote on the inside.

At first, I wasn't sure if I could come up with an appropriate poem. My initial attempt at composing a poem to go with the mermaid was too dark for a greeting card. I began to wonder if I would be able to easily and effectively create a proper greeting card poem. However, my second try worked just fine. I'm actually rather proud of the result.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Niteblade Art Blogger

The editor of the fantasy and horror e-zine Niteblade sent out a call for an art blogger. I happened to be one of the applicants who answered that call. The idea of posting blogs to promote the work of various aspiring artists appealed to me.

Well, the editor offered me the position, and I accepted. I am now the art blogger at Niteblade!

So, if you are a fantasy or horror artist looking for some exposure, if you would like to see your work featured in Niteblade's art blog, please send me examples of your art and a little bit about yourself to: Niteblade can't offer any monetary remuneration for your art; payment is in exposure only. However, I do promise to spread the word about the entry featuring your work.

Let me see whatcha got!

Horror Cinquain Accepted at NITEBLADE

My horror cinquain "My Final Masterpiece" has been accepted for publication in the December 2008 issue of the fantasy and horror e-zine Niteblade. This particular poem exhibits a somewhat erotic nature. Well, the subject is about as erotic as my work ever gets, anyway. And unlike many of my other horror poems, "My Final Masterpiece" does not have a supernatural theme.

I believe it pays to explore new themes every now and then. It exercises the muse, helping to keep creativity limber.

For a while, I wasn't sure if I would have any publications in December. I don't have much in my submission pool right now, and I've been too busy on other projects to work on much poetry for zine submission. I haven't really been trying that hard to keep my roll rolling. So I'm very glad that my cinquain will appear in Niteblade. It means that my roll will roll on into December.

Now on to 2009...

Monday, October 27, 2008

rustling skirts

rustling skirts
spinning shadows
ghostly ball

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Bye Bye Medieval Font

Curses Yahoo Site Builder! I spent most of the weekend trying to deal with a strange glitch that suddenly popped up in Yahoo Site Builder. I was changing one of my illustrations from a black and white version to a new colour version, and when I published the page, all my medieval-style script loaded wrong. Links and titles would be mixed-up. The script, a special font published as an image, didn't load properly at all.

At first, I tried to trick the site builder into thinking that I added new text. That didn't work. Wondering if something had happened to the program itself, I un-installed and re-installed Yahoo Site Builder. Well, that led to further problems concerning my internal links. For some reason the program didn't read the internal links properly when importing my site, so I had to redo my page-to-page links. And still the medieval script refused to load properly.

In the end, I switched to Palatino Linotype. It's a much more standard font, and one that can be published as text instead of published as an image. That actually solved the problem.

I don't know why this happened. The medieval font worked fine for months. I'm saddened by the loss of my fancy script, but I would rather have a site that loads properly with working links rather than a fancy one that loads all jumbled up. One plus of all this is the fact that the site loads just a smidgen quicker now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another Poetry Collection in the Works

An amazing thing happened the other day. After I sent more and more reprints to a certain editor, she commented that, with ten more pages, we would have a chapbook, if I wanted it. In other words, out of the blue, the editor (who also happens to be a publisher) offered to publish a collection of my science-fiction and fantasy poetry and art.

At an earlier date, I had mentioned to this very same publisher that I wanted to eventually work on a fantasy collection in the future. So perhaps the offer wasn't completely "out of the blue" after all. However, I hadn't done much more than thinking about it, until now.

Considering that the editor really wants me to create illustrations for my works currently in her zine anyway, ten more pages wouldn't be much of a problem. I may even have some poetic forum and blog postings floating around that I could include in the collection. If we could get all the way to 110 pages, we could release a full-length book! That may be overly ambitious, but it might still be a goal worth shooting for.

Nothing is really official yet. No contracts have been signed. However, the fact that the publisher approached me after already publishing the works in question gives me some confidence that this idea for a collection will indeed reach fruition.

Still, there are things I need to do to make this a viable reality. I would like to include at least a few unpublished works. So I had better get busy writing more poetry. And I had better get busy drawing, too.

It looks like I'll be pretty busy for the next few weeks or months. The gears in my mind are turning so fast that I haven't even had time to really think about how amazing the whole thing truly is. I might just fall over in shock once it truly sinks in!

Oh well, it sure beats boredom!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seventeen More Poems in ABANDONED TOWERS

The reprint floodgates have now opened! I just had seventeen more poems published in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers. "West Dingleton's Loss of Humanity", "The Faces", "Holiday on Phreetum Prime", "Infiltration", "Nanomite 323", "Galactic Road Trip", and eleven "Selected Scifaiku" now appear on the Abandoned Towers "Poetry" page. One of my scifaiku, "wander the ether", appears alongside an accompanying illustration. All have been previously published, some in print, and others on-line.

One thing that is new; the illustration accompanying "wander the ether" is now in colour. The version originally published in the May, 2008 print issue of Scifaikuest was black and white. The addition of colour has turned a cool drawing into a very cool drawing, if I do say so myself.

To peruse these latest additions to the Abandoned Towers site, just click on the link to the "Poetry" page. Scroll to the bottom. Then click on the links for each individual poem, and the page containing my scifaiku.

I would love to "hear" what people think of my various science-fiction poems and the "wander the ether" illustration. And while you're there, check out some of the other nifty works published in Abandoned Towers.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slimy Orange Guts

slimy orange guts
oozing between my fingers
jack-o-lantern's birth

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poem Accepted for Publication in ABANDONED TOWERS

The editor of the zine Abandoned Towers has accepted my cinquain chain "Amongst Faerie Oaks" for publication in the November, 2009 print issue. That's a long wait, but I've waited just about as long before. It happens.

Since the last line of one cinquain becomes the first line of the next, and I usually avoid such repetition, this particular poem proved to be a challenge to complete. In the end, however, I was happy enough with the results. And the editor obviously liked the piece enough to accept it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What's in a Name?

Okay, some inhabitants of the right wing of the political fun house (or mad house, as the case may be) invoke Senator Obama's middle name of Hussein as if this somehow makes him an anti-American terrorist. Oh, really?

Let's turn this name game around for a moment and look at Senator McCain's last name. McCain sounds awfully Scottish to me. He must really be a Scot come to subvert our American values and traditions!

Since he has to be a Scot due to his Scottish name, McCain will force all American males to wear a plaid "skirt". He'll call it a kilt, but a skirt by any other name...

Once he has perverted American fashion, McCain will then attack our other traditions, like having turkey on Thanksgiving. Turkey will be right out; the offal delicacy of Scottish haggis will take the place of that time-honoured American entree. And you can forget about stuffing and cranberry sauce, too; the only dishes allowed alongside the national sausage will be "neeps and tatties".

As for the national anthem, McCain will obviously push to make it law that the "Star Spangled Banner" shall always be accompanied by highland bagpipes. No more singers belting out the tune solo, they will be drowned out by a raucous troop of rowdy pipers.

Oh, and perhaps he will make Gaelic the official language. English certainly isn't, so why not Gaelic instead? There will be mandatory Gaelic education in all public schools. And even when we do speak English in public, we will all be made to rrrrroll ourrrrrr rrrrrrs.

This all sounds pretty darned silly. Implying that Senator Obama is some sort of anti-American come to subvert our culture or attack our nation just because he happens to bear the middle name of Hussein is just as silly.

My last name is Fay, but I'm actually half Slovak. The other half is a bit of an Irish mix. For many years I had an Italian last name, even though I don't have a drop of Italian blood. My step-father legally adopted me after he and my mother married, when I was but a wee laddie. A few years ago, I legally changed my last name back to the name I was born with, in part because there was no real father-son relationship between my step-father and myself. The name alone certainly didn't make us a real, functional family.

So, what's in a name? Often times, not much. Not much at all.

(Sorry to any Scots out there that might take offense. I love the Scots and Scotland, I really do. If McCain was O'Cain instead, I would have made similar jabs about Irish traditions.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

shrouded skeletons

shrouded skeletons
swaying amidst cobweb veils
seasonal decor

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Friday, October 17, 2008

Corvus corax, Avis fatalis

An homage, or at least a nod, to Edgar Allan Poe...

Corvus corax, Avis fatalis

shards of moonlight
glint in the raven's eyes
while that fell feathered fiend foretells
my doom.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

In case you're wondering, Corvus corax is the scientific name for the common or northern raven. My attempt at Latin following Corvus corax hopefully means "fatal or deadly bird" or "bird of fate". I may have messed up or mixed up forms, but if I did I'll just claim poetic license. I don't really know much Latin outside of some scientific names.

Interestingly enough, avis also means, figuratively, a portent or omen. I didn't know that before I decided to use avis in the title, but it's certainly appropriate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wrote a Foreword

Here is a new and unexpected experience for me. Since the two poets involved seem pleased with the results, I think it's safe to mention that Crystalwizard of Cyberwizard Productions asked me to write a foreword for a forthcoming poetry collection by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans.

Even though I said yes pretty quickly, I wasn't sure if I would be up to the task. Since both David and Kendall are accomplished, award-winning speculative poets, I felt a bit daunted by the prospect of writing a foreword that would due justice to their work. Well, I put on my creative cap and came up with a darned good foreword, if I do say so myself.

I'm still amazed that Crystalwizard requested that I write the foreword to begin with. I know I work with her on a regular basis, but I was surprised by this request. And I surprised myself with the results.

Just as the old saying goes, you never know what you can do until you try.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Liar, Liar, Skirt on Fire!

Apparently, Sarah Palin believes that Senator Obama has not been completely honest about his relationship to Bill Ayers as well as his connection to the possible election fraud committed by the group ACORN. Unfortunately, the same accusation of dishonesty can be leveled against Palin herself. Frankly, I tend not to believe in or listen to liars.

Recently, Sarah Palin blatantly lied about the conclusion of the bipartisan report on Troopergate. She claimed vindication, saying that the report found she did not abuse her power. However, the report clearly stated that Governor Palin did act unethically, and broke the state ethics law. She abused her power alright, and is now insulting the intelligence of Americans by lying about it.

War is peace. Black is white. Up is down.

I wish I could say this is new territory for me, but I've been here before. I've already visited the warped land where lies are truth as long as the liar thinks they are true, despite what the plain facts might say to the contrary.

My own madly malevolent mother is an unrepentant liar. I once caught her lying about a rather small life insurance policy that she kept secret, hidden, and supposedly safe from my greedy hands. When I accidentally found out about it, she claimed that the policy wasn't really in my name, it was actually in my step-father's (he happens to be Richard too, and at that point in time I bore his last name).

Calling her bluff, I declared that the policy had my social security number on it, not my step-father's. Caught in her own lie, she then admitted that it was a policy they had originally taken out when I was a kid. It was indeed in my name, I was legal owner of the policy, and it probably should have been handed over to me when I turned eighteen. Instead, my parents held onto it, secretly paying into it. My mother claimed she would have "done the right thing" and made sure my wife and daughter were taken care of if something had ever happened to me, but I doubted that. The small amount of death benefits from that pathetic policy wouldn't have covered the cost of the funeral, let alone any other expenses, and my bet is that my mother would have gone on a cruise, remodeled the house (again), or done some other selfish thing with the money.

The worst part of the whole story is that I then caught hell for accusing my mother of lying! She stumbled into her own web of lies, and yet turned it around so I was the guilty party. How dare I accuse her of lying to me?

Truth is lies. Lies are truth.

So I am thoroughly unimpressed when someone states an obvious lie. Shame on you, Sarah Palin!

By the way, in case you're wondering, the insurance company let me cash in the policy without question. I did get my "greedy little hands' on it in the end, and put the money to better use. Of course, I still wonder if my mother has more policies on me that I don't know about, hidden away in her home or in a safe deposit box while she hopes beyond hope that I die before she does.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cinquain Accepted at EVERY DAY POETS

After a few failed attempts, I now have a poem accepted for forthcoming publication in the e-zine Every Day Poets. Their editorial team felt that my cinquain entitled "Autumnal Woodland Morn" was appropriate for the season. I'm assuming it will appear on-line sometime next month, since it is specifically a November poem.

The roll rolls on, and on, and on, and on...

Thacher Park Trip

We took a trip to John Boyd Thacher State Park today. We hiked for about three hours, and along the way I snapped a few photos (my wife took the one of me on the nature trail). I also took some snapshots of the view at the top of the Helderberg Escarpment. Unfortunately, I had to take in the wonderful view solo because my daughter suffers terrible vertigo. We didn't think it was wise to have her walk along the top of one-hundred foot cliffs!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All It Takes is One

At times, all it takes to set off the powder keg is one crazy individual lighting the fuse, one sick person committing one violent act. Just one.

That is the lesson history has already taught us. It has happened before. If you doubt me, read about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo in 1914. The intertwined alliances and growing militarism of early twentieth century Europe may have created an atmosphere where the assassination of the archduke became an easy pretext for war, but that doesn't change the fact that one violent act by one angry man triggered the chain of events that led to World War I.

This is why the cries of "traitor", "terrorist", and "kill him" shouted by certain McCain supporters troubles me. We may be nearing another boiling point in history where simmering hatred and unrest could create the spark that sets off an explosion. One slight flick of a finger could send the dominoes tumbling.

To put it bluntly, if something terrible does happen, all hell could break loose. And I dread the possibility.

The Hate Scares Me

Certain things I've seen in the news recently trouble me greatly. I'm extremely disturbed by the venomous, and potentially dangerous, hatred displayed at recent McCain rallies. When his supporters start to cry "terrorist", "traitor", and "kill him" in reference to Obama, I worry about what the future may hold. This is a dangerous path to take in a nation with a history of assassinations and a penchant for violence.

What has Palin and company stirred up? What are these crazies actually capable of? How long before the violent rhetoric turns into violent action?

Ironically enough, some of this reminds me of what I've read about the history leading up to World War II. Hitler came to power in Germany, in part, based on a policy of hate. Even if McCain himself denounces the worst of it, the fires of hatred have been stoked. And it may take more than a few contrary words to put the flames out now.

Yes, I'm worried and scared. I do not want to live in a nation of hate. I don't want my daughter to face a hate-filled future. This has to be stopped, and stopped now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weird Concert Experience

I may be a speculative poet and artist, but last night I discovered I am a terrible square at heart. I just don't understand the more experimental side of art.

My daughter and one of her college friends decided to go to some of the opening events at the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at RPI. They lassoed my wife into being their chauffeur, and since didn't want to just drive back-and-forth from home to RPI, she got us tickets for one of the shows. It happened to be Robert Normandeau's Cinema for the Ears, a presentation of "acousmatic" multichannel electronic music. I figured we were in for a weird experience, but nothing prepared me for what I saw and heard.

Walking into the building itself, I knew right away we were in trouble. The structure looked like some great wooden ark trapped inside a steel and glass monstrosity. It appears as if it's trying to be modern, but it just comes off as idiotic. However, it was the perfect venue for that particular performance.

To me, music has pattern. Music has rhythm and melody. Music does not arise from a parade of noise and sound effects strung together through a multi-channel sound system.

Strange sounds assaulted our ears right from the beginning. The first part sounded like the wet poo sounds when my cats had diarrhea combined with the thumping throb when my neighbors have their music cranked too loud. A man a couple of seats down from my wife let a rather long fart rip, but my wife never even noticed. She thought the sound was all part of the show.

At one point it sounded as if the giant ants from the movie Them were attacking the building. I even said as much at the time. And at one point the ark must have turned into a spaceship, because it sounded as if we took off into the starry sky.

My wife and I sat through the first part, hoping the second would be better. Our hopes were soon dashed when we heard a sound akin to Godzilla pissing on the concert hall. And, boy, the Big-G has a huge bladder! Then, after another series of thumps, throbs, squawks, and a few nature sounds here and there, the aliens invaded! The noises coming through the speakers sounded just like the sound effects from an early Eighties video game. However, the aliens couldn't keep the 9:45 express away, because we then heard train effects. Finally, a marble went around, and around, and around, and around.

Intermission couldn't come soon enough. My wife and I sat out the second half, and waited in the adjoining cafe while my daughter and her friend went back in for the rest of the show. After the show, my daughter's friend raved about the composer. I, on the other hand, was less-than-impressed. The fact that Normandeau is apparently world-renowned for such work had me scratching my head in utter bewilderment.

What I heard sounded like the bad sound effects from a cheesy sci-fi movie, or a bunch of kids fooling around with a series of synthesizers. It certainly did not sound like aural art by a renowned aural artist. I simply did not understand the performance at all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Murmured Words

murmured words
heard in empty rooms
voices of the dead

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

The Dangers of Retail

Yes, work in retail can indeed be deadly:

Customer opens fire at Tenn. mall, killing worker

Disgruntled customer + firearm = tragedy. Having seen how angry customers can get, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often. Perhaps the confrontation was over personal matters instead of retail matters, but retail workers do still face potential dangers from armed robbers and angry customers. I've seen it. I've experienced it. Thank goodness I haven't had to put up with it for years now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is Science-Fiction Poetry Silly?

Certain discussions and comments regarding the place of science-fiction poetry in the literary world got me wondering about the subject. Is science fiction poetry a silly non-genre? Is the wider field of speculative poetry truly the quality-poor step-sister of literary poetry? Must speculative poetry in general be seen as merely folk-art while its mainstream literary relation is granted the title of fine-art?

Standing under the broader umbrella of speculative poetry for a moment, I suggest that this particular poetic genre has been with us a very, very long time. Ancient myths and legends, often presented in verse form, are truly speculative stories cloaked in the shroud of belief. In other words, the subject matter of these tales would be speculative in nature except for the fact that people seemed to believe that these tales were true back when they were first told. Much of what was myth, legend, and folklore inspired later speculative literature classics such as Frankenstein, Dracula, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Lord of the Rings. Speculative poetry has delved into the same creative depths, using verse instead of prose. Science-fiction poetry merely puts the "modern myths" of the science-fiction genre into poetic form, just like the ancients often did with their own wildly imaginative tales.

Certain examples of poetic classics from years ago also seem to fit nicely into the label of speculative poetry. Many of Poe's macabre poems could be considered speculative. Poets of the past often used folklore, fairy folklore in particular, as poetic inspiration. Works by W.B. Yeats ("The Hosting of the Sidhe"), Christina Rossetti ("Goblin Market"), and William Shakespeare (Mercutio's speech about Queen Mab) could arguably be considered speculative poetry of this nature. Why must modern speculative poetry be placed in a lesser category than its more illustrious predecessors? This makes no sense to me.

Speculative poetry is a valid poetic genre, one with a rich past and potentially exciting future. Science-fiction poetry is just one sub-type of speculative poetry, and a logical offshoot of science-fiction literature. I see no real need to suggest that it must be a silly non-genre. And a determination of quality should be made on objective grounds, not based merely on what genre a piece falls under. Calling speculative poetry a lesser art due to its subject matter is grossly unfair. Many current speculative poets let their creativity soar, they give free reign to their speculative muses, and it shows in their works. Besides, I've read some examples of modern mainstream poetry that seemed incredibly silly, and downright dreadful! Mainstream certainly doesn't equal quality anymore than speculative equals a lack of it.

To be quite honest, I never even realized such distinctions existed until fairly recently. I've always approached my speculative poetry as just plain poetry. The separation of speculative poetry into its own category, the placement of all speculative-themed verse into a stuffy dark box shoved into a little corner of the literary attic, seems a bit silly to me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spooks and Frights

Spectres take flight!
Phantoms and ghosts drift into sight.
Bogles and bogies,
Goblins and ghouls,
Join all strange things that go bump in the night.

Skeletons chuckle!
Graveyard moulds heave and buckle.
Creatures and critters,
Monsters and mutants,
Rise up slowly from the miry muckle.

Leaves fall and blow!
Corpse light candles flicker and glow.
Witches and warlocks,
Devils and demons,
Wing through the sky to frighten those below.

Zombies must roam!
Bats take off in the gloam.
Maniacs and madmen,
Frankensteins and fiends,
Dig dead bodies from the cemetery loam.

Something's at the door!
Strange beings recite spooky lore.
Wraiths and wizards,
Bugbears and banshees,
Appear from the dark to scare you once more.

Copyright © 2007 Richard H. Fay

A Bit Late: Bewildering Stories Third Quarterly Review

Even though it was apparently up last week, I didn't find out until today that my speculative love poem "My Alien Love" appeared in Bewildering Stories Third Quarterly Review, 2008 Editors’ Choices: issues 297-307. That's the third poem I've had in a Bewildering Stories Quarterly Review, out of a total of ten of my poems published in their e-zine. I guess you could say they like my work.

Anyway, I'm proud of this achievement. Of course, my pride is tempered by the knowledge that there are always much greater goals to shoot for. Still, any recognition above and beyond publication is a good thing.

All that from a poem I began to think was fatally flawed! Weird.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Potential Poetry Reading: Any Advice?

After putting it off for quite some time, I finally sent an e-mail to a local coffee house inquiring about possibly scheduling a date and time for a poetry reading. Since I hit the century-mark with my poetry publications, and the forthcoming publication of my collection seems to be back on track, I figured it was time to bite the bullet and face the public. Besides, it wouldn't hurt to get a little local exposure, something that I've been lacking up until now.

So, all you poets out there, do you have any advice regarding poetry readings? What things should I do, and what should I avoid? What should I expect?

Even if, for whatever reason, this particular establishment chooses to say no, there are other reading opportunities out there. Sooner or later, I will be reading my poetry. And it's something I've never really done outside of the classroom or my own home, so I'm a bit apprehensive about the whole idea.

And words of advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

My Comment on it All...

I'm fed up again. My daughter took this photo of our one cat sticking her tongue out. I figured, with a little modification, it suited my mood at the moment.

So I'm just going to blow a cat raspberry at all those miserable people out there trying to drag me down into their stagnant, reeking pools of misery. Somehow, even as pessimistic as I can be, I have more hope for life, the universe, and everything than that. I certainly hope I'm better than that.

Our cat actually DOES blow raspberries on occasion. How talented is that? Then again, maybe she's just copying what her daddy's been known to do.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Understanding and Tolerance

The following words of wisdom came out of comments I made in a recent on-line discussion. The thoughts may be a bit simplistic, but I think there's still truth in these words. Truth enough anyway to share with others. Food for thought for all those "Joe Six Packs" and "Intellectual Elitists" out there. So here goes...

With knowledge comes understanding. With understanding comes tolerance.

With ignorance comes intolerance.

And intolerant ignoramuses are just plain schmucks!

I Lived in a Haunted House

Our former family home was haunted. Some may question the reality of ghosts and hauntings, but I don't have the luxury of disbelief. I feel there is no other explanation for some of the things my wife, my daughter and I all experienced while living in that house. Although some of the occurrences were probably associated more with us than the location, the site did seem incredibly active. I'm sure I've already made mention of some of these encounters with the paranormal, but since it's October, I thought I would present a more thorough overview.

When we worked on painting the home, prior to moving in, the kitchen lights seem to have come on by themselves. We didn't think much of it at the time, until we started experiencing other types of phenomenon.

Quite frequently, we would see a pale grey, human-like shadow standing in the vestibule between the dining room and kitchen. It was often accompanied by a cold spot and static. There was nothing that could logically be casting the shadow, but it appeared quite often. We figured it was the home's former owner come to check on the place. He never did much but stand there. It was as if he didn't really want to disturb us.

We heard the sound of a game of marbles being played. This sound, coming from the floor and the walls in the dining room, ceased when I dug a bunch of marbles out of the intake vent in the dining room. However, I don't feel that the marbles had actually been moving around because they were buried in thick dust and stuck in cracks in the vent.

We would also hear footsteps upstairs when no one was there. My wife and daughter often heard footsteps upstairs when I was napping or sleeping late. And I don't sleepwalk, so it wasn't me. And I heard the footsteps once or twice when I was home alone, although my wife and daughter heard them more often than I did. Again, the footsteps would be accompanied by a cold spot and static charge. At times you just knew when you walked through someone, even if you didn't see or hear anything.

There was a time both my wife and I heard a woman's laughter coming from an empty room. It was perhaps the clearest disembodied voice I've heard yet. Strangle enough, our daughter didn't hear it, although she was right next to us at the time. The window and storm window in the room were both shut, there are no radios or vents in the room, and we never heard the neighbours that loud and clear, so the source of the laughter remains a mystery.

The living room would frequently come alive with darting, luminous orbs. We would see several shoot across the room. This occurred most often towards the end of our grey cat's life, when she was ill for two years (she didn't seem to suffer until the very end, when we finally had her put to sleep).

Ghost cats, both known and unknown, also appeared when our cat was ill. My wife recognized her former cat, one that had been dead for years. We figured they had come to take our poor elderly kitty to the other side, but she hung on for months, refusing to go just yet. And when she did finally pass, she came back when our black and white, part Siamese cat was ill. My daughter even saw our deceased grey cat transform into a grey orb!

The black and white cat appeared frequently after her death, sometimes in a brief but complete visions, and sometimes only in bits and pieces. One time her ears were sticking out of the wall to drive her "loyal doofus" (our German shepherd/Chow Chow mix) crazy. The dog couldn't quite understand why she couldn't follow her best friend. She actually happens to be one of the spirits that followed us to our new home.

My daughter claimed to see several odd apparitions in the yard and on the porch, everything from tall black figures to my doppelganger. She even saw a man dressed in red, in clothes we later determined wouldn't have been out of place in the 17th century!

A few times, if I entered our bedroom in the dark, I would swear I saw a black shadow rush at me. It would swoop across the floor and get right in my face before dissipating. I always felt as if I someone were right there, and react defensively to the sight. At first I attributed it to a trick of the eye or a trick of lighting, but after my daughter reported a black figure in the window of that room the day we moved out of that house, I'm not so sure.

Strange faces and figures first appeared on my computer's desktop background in that house. However, I don't know if there is a connection, since they still appear on occasion. They might be interested in what I'm doing, and not necessarily associated with any one location.

Based on the impressions we got towards the end of our stay there, and the fact that my daughter saw a black something that she still refuses to describe, we got out of there in the nick of time. A neutral haunting seemed to be turning into something evil.

We have some activity in our new home, but nothing like we had before. Our cat still come by, we have occasional sounds at the door, and my computer screen friends still pop in, but we don't feel anything evil here. We can live with an occasional strange noise or supernatural visitor, as long as it's nothing too negative.

Nails on a Chalkboard

Doggone it, is it only me, or are there others out there that can't stand Sarah Palin's voice? The way she talks just irritates me for some reason, like nails raking noisily across a chalkboard. I literally cringe when I hear her speak, regardless of what she's actually saying. (That irritates me, too, but for other reasons.)

Am I too much of a "Yankee" (and an avowed Anglophile to boot)? Is that my problem? Is it a bit of regional "culture shock"? Or am I just a miserable nutter?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My 100th Poetry Publication!

My vampiric cinquain "Consequence of Taking Too Much" now appears in Macabre Cadaver Issue 3, October 2008. If I counted correctly, counting multiple pieces in the same venue and reprints separately, this happens to be my one-hundredth poetry publication. Some may see this an a less-than-impressive achievement due to the nature of some of the publications my poetry has appeared in, but I see it as an exciting milestone nevertheless.

Not bad after nineteen month's work!

Also, make sure to check out the "Featured Artist" section of Macabre Cadaver Issue 3. There you will see five pieces of dark speculative art by yours truly.

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

Real-Life Vampires

Someone asked me recently if I believed that vampires are real. It's truly a complicated subject, and a timely one. Since it is October 1st, I thought this subject would make a great journal entry.

Do I believe in vampires as animated corpses rising from their graves to drink the blood of the living? No, I think modern medical science can explain away most of the evidence once used to prove the existence of the bloodthirsty undead. However, there are other types of vampire worth considering as possible reality.

Certainly, some people have an odd thirst for blood. A few modern vampires insist that they must drink blood to survive, but modern medical tests usually don't support their claims. However, consuming blood does mean these people are vampires in at least one sense of the word.

A more promising possibility for real-life vampires may be the so-called psychic vampires. These individuals seem able to drain energy from others, whether they be willing donors or unwilling victims. I've seen some evidence to suggest that an energy transfer does indeed take place when a psychic vampire is doing its thing. In our modern age, psychic vampires who feed off the energy of unsuspecting victims may actually be a real threat to public health and well-being. Thankfully, preventing attacks from such people may be as simple as a change in attitude.

Something that possibly intrigues me even more are the supposedly true-stories of encounters with supernatural vampiric beings. It may only be a case of folklore, but the tale of the Vampire of Croglin Grange could be a true account of a real-life encounter with some sort of vampiric creature. Another story along these same lines is that of the Highgate Vampire. In both cases, the beings were associated with graveyards, but I suspect that they were more than merely the animated dead. Something tells me they were inhuman supernatural entities, cloaked in the guise of traditional vampires. Then again, maybe the tales are merely legends.

Sorceress Devolution in THE LORELEI SIGNAL

My fantasy poem "Sorceress Devolution", about a sorceress's rise to power and subsequent descent into diabolic magic and ultimate damnation, now appears in the October-December 2008 issue of the fantasy e-zine The Lorelei Signal. Although I've had a couple of poems published in the zine's sister publication, Sorcerous Signals, this is the first time I've had anything published in The Lorelei Signal.

Check it out!

Since this happens to be one of the poems originally sent out in my first batch of submissions, when I started seriously submitting my poetry back in March 2007, I'm glad it is finally out there for others to read. The core concept of the poem actually goes back to my previous, very brief and half-hearted attempt at getting poetry published in the mid-nineties. Even though I had no real success then, a few of my earlier experiments served as the nuclei around which later, more complete works developed.

Yeah, I was a bit of a late-bloomer, poetry-wise.