Poetry

What Walks Here, Walks Alone (Audio)

This is a quick reading I did of a previously unpublished poem, set to silent film footage.

 

Written, performed, and produced by Mack W. Mani

Video: Alice in Wonderland (1903) courtesy of Archive.org

The title is taken from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The phrase “black chests and high back chairs” was lifted from the poem The Prophet’s Paradise by Robert W. Chambers

Special Thanks:

Jordan Seider & Elizabeth Laws

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Essay

8 Tips For New/Unpublished Writers

1. Learn to write stories of different lengths/mediums.

Don’t be tied down to every idea as a novel or a screenplay. Some ideas simply work better as flash fiction or as a poem. If you’re not diversifying your output, then you are limiting the impact of your stories.

2. Submit to the right magazines (at the right time).

Take the time to compile a list of magazines and what types of stories they publish. Read what they publish. You are wasting your time and the time of the editor if you are unfamiliar with what the magazine wants.

Make note of their submission periods so you can stay on top who is accepting what types of stories.

Always check to see when the latest issue or post went online, there are lots of defunct magazines that still say they are “open for submissions”.

3. Submit regularly.

Give yourself regular deadlines to have work completed and submitted for either publication or contests. In the end, if you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve done, you don’t have to send it in, but it gives you a goal and a date to complete your project by.

(Don’t pay to enter or for consideration unless you are extremely confident in your work)

4. Do your cover letter right.

Use the editor’s name, if you can find it.

Don’t use a form letter for submissions, even if the magazine uses one for rejections.

Keep your cover letter brief, don’t describe your work, just who you are and that you thought it would be a good fit for their magazine.

Keep your bio professional, it’s okay to express yourself, but don’t try to make a lot of jokes or seem quirky, it comes off as desperate.

Don’t list 1,000 credits, just your most recent/prestigious publications. If you have no credits, keep it simple: Lucy Gordon is a French-Canadian Poet. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thomas and their cat Judy. 

5. Don’t talk about writing, write.

It has been scientifically proven that talking about projects before they are completed gives one just enough satisfaction to feel like they do not need to complete the task. It’s better to share a finished product than an initial idea. Outside input too early in the creative process can muddle your vision and inhibit you from making something that’s truly your own.

6. Don’t be afraid to branch out.

Pursue your ridiculous ideas! 

In Wonderbook Jeff Vandermeer talks a lot about how important the imagination is in the writing process and emphasizes the importance of “creative play” or simply letting your mind go where it will. Indulge your fantasies and daydreams (and nightdreams for that matter) you never know what seemingly absurd idea will lead you to an amazing, original story.

7. Write everything down.

Make list of your ideas, interesting names you hear, locations, moods, scenes, if something in your daily life strikes you, then make a note of it because you will forget. 

Be organized, know where everything is. Don’t delete what you cut, set it aside for later use. Many times I’ve been inspired by seeing the scraps of two poems next to each other in my “cut document”.

8. Know the rules, so you can break them.

You’re going to do what you want anyway, but it helps to know what you’re pissing on and what you’re praising. Even if you want to write free form, non-rhyming poetry, it’s still helpful to learn about meter. If you never learn proper grammar, all your characters will sound casual and uniform.

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Poetry

New Eden

When I saw you creeping in the grass,
I knew at once, with just a glance
exactly what you were and were doing.

Painted red and sitting there
barefoot child, without a care,
yes-oh-yes, I know that you need something…

For I have come from a far off land
and I have brought my merry band,
of men who haven’t seen a girl since last Sunday!

But if you find my lot too lively,
we can sit and talk of ivory
and where your city sleeps inside the jungle.

Yes, take us to your far out tribe,
show us where your people hide,
it’s oh-so-far past the time of our meeting!

And the wild creatures you have here,
strike my men as passing queer,
full of meat, that tastes just like our salvation!

We will dance and pray to heaven
that your souls can be forgiven
of all the sins you didn’t know you were committing.

And if your streets are paved with gold,
we will not make the journey home,
we shall stay and make this place our New Eden.

Yes-oh-yes, with blood and sweat,
we will make this our New Eden!

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News

4 Poems 2 Magazines

I’m lucky enough to see four of my pieces published this month.

The first “Scheherazade” is a re-telling of 1,001 Nights featured in the latest issue of New Myths and can be found online here. 

The rest are three poems over at Neon Magazine, “Going Under” “Heir” and “Belasis & Hastur“. The entire issue can be downloaded for free here, however do I encourage you to purchase a physical copy or make a donation, they’re a great magazine that supports authors and consistently delivers interesting fiction to its readers.

Thanks for reading!

-M.

 

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Poetry

Fairy Pieces

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A fairy piece
is a variant or
combination on
the established chess tokens,
such as the Princess,
the Sargent,
and the Knightmare.

They are used only
in unorthodox chess,
where you might try
to force your opponent
into checkmating you
and in programming,
where a computer might
know over a thousand
unique pieces.

*

In 2012,
five hundred new
fairy tales were unearthed
in Regensberg, Germany
originally collected in the 1800s
by Franz Schönwerth.

He was highly respected
by The Brothers Grimm.

But while they weaved
romance into their stories,
Franz remained a historian,
his tales giving us a rare look
into the lives and times
of those who told
these stories first

*

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed
the Cottingly fairies existed
and attended seances
held in a magician’s parlor,
he was even friends with
Houdini, for a time.

Arthur was convinced Harry
truly had some mystic power
and the illusionist was
never able to convince him
it was all just a trick.

*

Bridget Cleary fell ill
in the spring of 1895
and after several
worsening days
a priest was sent for.

Her husband was blinded
by grief and refused to believe
this woman was actually his wife,
and convinced himself that
she had been replaced
by a changeling.

With nine witnesses present,
her father and husband
poured urine onto her skin and
forced her, pleading
into a roaring fireplace.

They hid her body in a ditch
and went home to hold vigil,
so that the real Bridget
might come home.

To this day, in Ireland
you can hear
schoolgirls singing:

Are you a witch,
are you a fairy,
or are you the wife of
Michael Cleary?

*

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Poetry

Color Into Noise

Up until the 1990s,
they let the peacocks
roam the grounds here,
temperamental as they were,
they would follow you
around the courtyard
and through the gardens.

The birds would
come and go
as they pleased,
flying between
the estate and
the nearby woods,
densely forested
though they were.

In the summer,
you could hear
them out there
most nights,
boys calling out
to the hens,
translating all that
vibrant color into noise.

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Poetry

Secret Santa

I didn’t know for sure
until last Christmas Eve,
when earth and sky
shared the eerie twilight blues
and all the people seemed to glow
with rosy cheeks in
soft bright sweaters.

I was wearing
that tired black dress,
looking down at my children
and up to their father,
dressed up for the kids
as reward for being good.

They cheered
when they saw him,
Santa! Santa! Santa!

But maybe he is
too good of an actor
or not good enough,
because when I saw him
in that red costume
and white beard,
I realized what I was missing.

That night he was
a different man,
or at least
different enough
from the one I knew.

Here was a happy guy
the giving type
always kind
not afraid of a few drinks.

He was everything
my husband wasn’t.

And that was when I knew.

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Poetry

The Winter Fox

I caught a fox inside my
house one morning,
his winter fur a flash
as he was running
down the wooden floors
and steps and past
the sleeping children,
’til he led me to a room
that I had long forgotten.

Under blankets,
wrapped in covers
where I laughed
with my brother
’til a knock came
from the back porch
like the second coming,
so the fox ran to the door
and he laughed as he answered.

And then we were both outside
in the cold, cold forest
the endless paths of winter
stretching out before us
and the fox is running free
on the ground and it’s snowing
and it don’t show signs of stopping
not until the morning
and I think that we can
make it if we just keep walking.

Yes, I know that we can make it
if we just keep walking.

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A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: The Unicorn

When I was young,
I sought her
because of her wonder,
that was all that mattered.

When I grew older,
I hunted her
for beauty’s sake,
wanting it for myself.

As a man,
I wanted her
for what she could offer me,
a legend of my own,
immortality perhaps.

I hardly knew what to do,
when I finally caught up
with her, one day at sunset
drinking from a cool, clear pool
in the heart of The Deepwoods.

We wrestled for a time,
but eventually,
I broke her,
tying her to an ancient elm,
with silver rope,
as legend proscribed.

She told me all
the secrets of her kind.

When she was done,
I ground her horn
into my satchel
and drained her blood
into my flask,
through all of which,
she was alive
to preserve potency,
just as I had read
in the ancient texts.

When I emerged
out of The Deepwoods,
I told no one of my kill
and no one laughed
when I quit the hunt,
putting away childish things.

I prospered much from that day,
in my mixing and dealings.

But as an old man,
I see her now in my dreams,
beckoning for me
to join her in the pool,
a dark glint in her eyes.

I wonder what
she wants from me.

I see her sometimes,
even when I am awake,
a brilliant white streak
at the edge of my vision…

But I am too old to be hunted,
aren’t I?

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