Monday, October 31, 2022

notes & things | all hallows eve

It's been a week. Which is to say it's been the kind of week I've been dreading but felt was kind of inevitable in greater or lesser degrees. My dad wound up in the hospital with an infection that had made him weaker than usual after a few months of more limited mobility that had been building the past year. He had been talking of pain in his legs and back that he'd written off as part of the sciatica that had plagued him for a while, requiring a cane and a walker most of the time (which apparently is more arthritic in nature as it turns out.). He'd complained about food just not being as desirable in the past few months, so had been steadily getting thinner, but not yet alarmingly so until recently. 

His condition had worsened in past couple of weeks to the point that my sister successfully tricked him into a trip to the emergency room under the guise of taking his stubborn ass to the hospital. The actual problem for his weakness and unsteadiness that resulted in a couple falls was dealt with quickly, but I arrived to find him a smaller, frailer version than I'd last left him. He seemed to be doing well all day Friday, but a seizure maybe (these are not new to him, and something he is medicated for, but very infrequent with more than a decade since the last) resulted in some aspiration and lung issues that led to him being put on a ventilator, which thankfully due to low covid infections right now was readily available.  He's been in a holding pattern since, sedated and intubated. and the doctor seems optimistic, they will take him off and go back to trying to get him ready for some rehab and physical therapy  

On one hand, for all their hope, I am being cautious with mine. My mother was sick in greater or lesser degrees for months, and yet her death shocked me to the core since I really believed she would pull through.  The visuals on this one scare looks terrible, this small, frail man hooked to a machine that is currently breathing for him (though the settings according to the nurse s are lower and more just augmenting his own breathing).  I have prepared myself for the worst. Well, am trying to while still hoping for the best.  A friend said via text today that hope is a tricky thing--difficult to have and difficult not to have. 

Since he is currently under heavy sedation and not missing me, I headed back to the city to finish up some deadline writing projects, tend to the cats, and get some warmer clothes for going back later in the week when he will hopefully be back awake and kicking or at the very least awake. The day before things went south he had seemed really good, still very frail, but up using his laptop (well as much as shitty hospital wi-fi allowed), watching television, and drinking coffee. He was sleepy, but could have a conversation. By that night, he'd started having some problems that got worse.

In many ways, my dad is a very different person than my mother, with none of the overall health problems that plagued her in terms of heart disease and diabetes. He is also just mentally and emotionally stronger on the whole. Age will still sink its teeth in though. As will fear.  One of the reasons he wanted to avoid the doctor was he was certain he had cancer--which he did not.  On Friday, when the doctor came through, he asked, partly joking,. partly serious, "So I'm not going to die?" We all laughed.  Hours later, he came close to it. 

Tonight, the veil is supposedly thin, and I feel anxious that its so thin he could just slip through without a sound. Though I suppose any of us could. It's that weird time of year when the clocks will be changing and the trees bare and I want to crawl out of my skin. November is not my favorite month, never was-- and even less so the past few years since my mother's death at the beginning of it. Tonight, we are going to watch some horror movies and eat chocolate and appease the spirits. Hopefully they won't steal us in the night. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | little apocalypse

Years ago, I had a book that didn't quite make it out before the press shuttered, fitting since it was about the end of the world and all (though we've had several apocalypses since.) I may at some point issue a bonus print version, but you can read it here, though:

Monday, October 24, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | overlook

As if anyone ever has to ask what my favorite horror movie is....

read it:

Saturday, October 22, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | licorice, laudanum


A couple year's back, I spent a springtime writing poems about Chicago's most famous serial killer and the Columbian Exposition World's Fair, which involved a lot of research and true crime reading. And while the project veered off in interesting directions not at all intended,  made a little e-zine for it, or you can read just a sampling over at Tupelo Quarterly, which also includes a brief process note...

Friday, October 21, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | the torturer's apprentice


This little collection will be soon going out of print with BLP, so get it while the show is still in town...

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

automagic coming soon....

Today, my proof copy of AUTOMAGIC arrived in the mail, which means I hope to spend the next couple days searching for ever-elusive typos and tweaking margins and getting it ready before I place an order for the first batch.  Every time, I am amazed at how beautiful and nice the quality is for the POD books, which have come a long way from the humble beginnings in the early aughts.  I am probably right when I say that a good number of trad publishes I've worked with also use POD instead of printings, thus the quality has improved overall in terms of cover gloss and interior papers.  I opted for cream this time as with ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MONSTER though I went with the size I used for FEED, so it's an inch or so larger and tops out at 100 pages. I need to nudge over my title riding a little far to the right, but otherwise the cover is glorious both front and back. I had initially planned for a hardcover edition, but it does seem unnecessarily expensive per copy (which would raise the sales price higher), so I nixed those plans in favor of paperback. 

I am learning how much I revel each time in the process of bringing a book into the world with each step.  I usually compile the manuscripts a couple years in advance, so AUTOMAGIC has been waiting, mostly finished since the end of 2020, though I added in a new section, the bird artist, that I wrote last year in this longer version, as well as what remained of the unfinished unusual creatures series completed in  2021. The other stuff is older, beginning with work from as early as 2018.  This was prior to writing most of what went into FEED and AVM, but after finishing up SEX & VIOLENCE in late 2017. Unlike a couple of the others I did give BLP first dibs on, I knew I would probably issue this one on my own--it being an idiosyncratic little victorian dream of a book, largely since I had more timely and pressing projects with newer books like COLLAPSOLOGIES.

The past few months I have been picking at bits and pieces and revising some things, but mostly it was intact and only needed the final layout and adjustments and of course, the cover and promo graphics and trailers. The business of launching a book into the world of course being arduous even with a publisher behind you, let alone fending it alone. I've been more and less successful with past books depending on how much effort I put into them, with comparable sales to my trad published books so I know better now what works and what does not. Where to sink efforts and what is wasted time. 

I am finishing up a longer trailer this week and some graphics to promote the book and share some samples before I officially make it available on stay tuned...

#31daysofhalloween | another cautionary tale

This one is an older poem from my second book, IN THE BIRD MUSEUM, penned circa 2005, but one that has never gotten a recording and is a perfect accompaniment to spooky season.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | mr. potter's cabinet of curiosities


read it here:

Monday, October 17, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | the summer house

"We went on for this like years til the child looked like any child.  Like any other life.  Play dates and fruit punch.  In the dark, we could pretend she was one of us, until she'd sigh or cough. A hundred drones escaping from between her lips."

Sunday, October 16, 2022

the red room, revisted

I've spent the last couple of nights rewatching (again) the brilliance that is The Haunting of Hill House and marvellng over how Jackson's work serves as a spark and a guide, but the series builds so much around it, sot of like the mask embedded in the tool shed in the second episode. The orginal source is there, and visible and recognizable, but so much else happens.  This is true of Blythe Manor as well, which touches on many of the same themes and horror tropes, but HH always has been my favorite for the family drama at its center, this wrought thing that holds so much in its web.--inherited trauma, mental illness, addiction, and also the supernatural, and a haunted structure that rivals the Overlook in its ingenuity and feeds on its residents.  And in fact some of the best moments are the dramatic ones that happen within the bones of the house. The conclusions and resolutions that have less to do with ghosts and more the personal dynamics. 

When you watch something for the third or fourth or fifth time, as I have with this, the scares are they lose some punch, but the dread and eerieness remain, the scene that is set. While the jump scares do not stop the heart, the feelings are deeper that they evoke..horrific is maybe the best word. Once you know what happens, the experience of a film or book or series changes. You start to notice structural parallels in characters and plotlines. I still say the bent-neck lade, who turned out to be the ghost of Nellie's future death haunting her since she was a child, is the most apt metaphor for depression I've seen. 

Structurally the series builds well, approaching each character's p-o-v and then merging them together before we get to that of Olivia, where the greatest mysteries lie. The penultimate episode, which is hers, is disjointed and jarring and yet also ties other, previous things together. I only wish there was more on the house and its inhabitants--the non-living, and wished that was where the subsequent seasons would go, though Blyth Manor was its own treat.

This week, I quickly watched The Midnight Club, which given both my Flanagan and Christopher Pike obsessions proved to be highly enjoyable, as thoughtful and wrought as last years Midnight Mass, it dealt nicely with mortality and death and was a good story and interweaving of Pike's works. But definitely not as chilling or scary as HH. Apparently,  the next project afoot is a Fall of the House of Usher series, which stops my little English major heart, so that will no doubt prove exciting. 

#31daysofhalloween | automagic teaser


Saturday, October 15, 2022

notes & things | 10/15/2022

Last night, I slipped outside to mail a package and was met with wind and the beginnings of rain and once again it was the sort of fall evenings, now when the leaves are trending toward yellow and brown and the air smells like fall, that are perfect and yet descending much faster than I'd like.  It's still light at 5pm, I tell myself, but know that in merely a month, that will steadily not be the case. Novembers are still unstable months, perhaps that will always be the case now and I will just have to adjust.

I've been locking down to writing business and press business and berry pie and coffee brewed in my new Smeg coffeemaker, which was way beyond my price range, but so pretty I bit the bullet and bought it--coffee being about one of the most important things on any given day--more important perhaps even than everyday electronics.  I've used a French press for 20-odd years, but get tired of reheating everything beyond the first cup. It's a little less strong a cup, but warmer is better than strong in this case and I think I just need to adjust a setting I haven't figured out or maybe use a darker roast. 

This week, I finished up and placed an order for the first galley of AUTOMAGIC, which according to an e-mail I got this morning, is winging its way toward me now via UPS.  I will give it a good, thorough proofing, make any adjustments needed, and make an order for the 1st batch, which at this rate, barring printing delays, will be in hand by Halloween and its official release date.  I have a couple more teasers, a longer trailer, and some promo graphics in the works I hope to finish this coming week. I am also thinking about what I want to do for this year's advent project, which of course, will be here sooner than we know. Already stores are pimping Christmas, though I always feel like it rushes fall and Halloween too swiftly out the door and then stays around much past its welcome. (Scraggly , dusty winter-worn decorations past January 10th or so feel extra depressing.)  

This week, I got a new covid booster, so spent a couple of days with a sore arm and just kind of worn out feeling, enough to move my scheduled shift at HD to Friday since I really just wanted to not think and write. My arm is a little red, though not as angry and swollen as last time. While I did see about halfsies on masks on my bus ride downtown and the rates are down in the city, I don't know what the next few months will bring in terms of new variants.  I am convinced nothing will ever again lockdown or slow down or stop because, ya know, capitalism, but I will continue to mask in risky situations. I am still eyeing case counts, though obviously only a fragment of the picture (home tests and lots of people with "colds" or "flu" in my internet circle that sound a hell of a lot like covid.) We might brave a movie tomorrow or later this week, hopefully, a non-crowded one--probably the newest Halloween. Now that I am making some money from my horror addiction, I feel better about blowing it on theater showings and streaming fees. 

It's crunch time for the real estate site so I am working on some non-Chicago neighborhoods to help speed the process for the relaunch of the site, so this week, was writing about Cincinnati, with a couple more Ohio spots on tap. Also deserted houses for HD and LA restaurants for Cozymeal (which will require some more ardent research than the past couple of pieces on Chicago date nights and gift card presentation ideas but I am up for it, great things to know if I ever make it to California myself..) 

#31daysofhalloween | plump


You can read the entirety here:

Friday, October 14, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | alternative facts


poem as phantom ship


Earlier this year, I wrote some fiction. I haven't returned to it full-heartedly since, being more focused on preparations for the new book and new poem projects and just general writing and editing work, but I am never completely happy with my short stories--mostly horror and erotica genre pieces. I feel like stories require certain things of me--logic, timeline, acceleration, denouement. Poems are like this moment, frozen,  which contain the entirety of a story or narrative in a limited amount of space. 

While a story goes somewhere, has a destination, no matter how long or convoluted, the poem is just its own world, even when placed alongside other poems to create a larger world.  I struggle sometimes when talking about projects or submitting work, which always feels like plucking a few strands out of a rug and offering them with little context. 

Or maybe the better analogy is that fiction is more like a river or stream that wanders but does intend on getting to an endpoint, or even having a beginning at all, whereas poetry is a like a lake or small pond or maybe even just a puddle that reflects the sky. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to write sprawling horror novels like the ones I hoarded--the Stephen King, John Saul, VC Andrews. I tried, but never got very far (well for one thing I was writing them longhand in a looseleaf binder.) Poetry, when it came to me, was a new mystery, in which things could be done in a smaller space, a smaller scale.  Instead of building the seascape out of sand and rock and boats, I could encompass everything in a single drop of water. 

And what are ghosts but moments, hauntings, memories the stories we tell about ourselves and others after they are gone. The ghost ship is just a ship alone on the ocean. It doesn't have a destination, or if it did, it has long since forgotten it. It just is.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | exquisite damage

This little zine formed the backbone for my longer DARK COUNTRY book, but you can read it in its original form with the collages from my "Terrible Place" series...

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | /slash/


This little spooky print zine project came out in 2018, but since has been rendered freely and electronically here:

Monday, October 10, 2022

poet as shapeshifter

I've been thinking about voice, particularly since writing is so much of what I do now on a daily basis--not just the poems or blog, but writing for different websites with different needs and entirely different audiences.  There is the online lesson work, which is more formal and academic, with the Worthpoint dictionary entries being very similar, both in the research aspect and the tone. Then there is the entertainment writing, which is newsier in tone, with a little bit of editorializing, but less formal.  Then the real estate neighborhood guides, which make me sound a little like a tourist brochure. And then there is what I was describing as "lifestyle" voice, which uses words like :"cozy" and "gorgeous." This voice is, of course, what I use for House Digest, and also the blogs I've been writing for Cozymeal.  Somewhere in the middle of all these things is this space, this voice. Which is somewhere between more informal writing and poems or essays that are more creative.  The poems are somewhere way at the other end of the forest and require an entirely different kind of thinking and expression.

The one thing I feared, and the reason I perhaps avoided writing for income was the fear that the paid world would take all the words with nothing left for me.  In the end, I didn't care, honestly because the alternative, staying at the library, was worse than having the poems dry up. The poems, while nice, would not help me survive. Or pay the bills. Or get out of a terrible, stress-addled existence. The poems were, it sounds terrible to say, negotiable. Which of course, a horrible thing--to think of letting go of them, something rather important to my sense of self.  But I could if I had to if not doing so meant the alternative. And its not like I wouldn't be writing something.  

Thankfully, it was not even an issue, the brain I use to write for other things and the brain I use for poetry not even sharing the same planet sometimes let alone the same resources.  It might be different if I was a prose writer, just word counts alone would be problematic.  On a given day I write anywhere from 3000-5000 words of various things, not including here.  My poems are pretty short. The entire manuscript of AUTOMAGIC came in at less than a 10,000 words total and exactly 100 pages. And it was written over the course of several years on and off.

So tonight, I don my blogging hat. This after donning my editing and curating hat for a while tonight, which is maybe a whole other shape, but one that does not involve putting words to the page I am planning on editing and revising some of the pieces in a bit I've written recently in the project I do not yet have a tile for--the more personal, romantic oriented poems, which of course, require me  to be a different voice, a different shape, than the more narrative, story-driven work of AUTOMAGIC I was editing last week.

So, really, within even just poetry, we are many different creatures all at once. 

#31daysofhalloween | strangerie

These collages accompanied a series of poems that eventually were included in ANIMAL, VEGETABLE., MONSTER. To see them with their orginal text, visit:

Sunday, October 09, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | the bleeding hour


The only poem I've written in more than one voice was part of my 2005 ERRATA chapbook. It was written for a forms class in my MFA and I think the only time I've heard it read aloud was in that class. I've always been to do a whole book like this, but it might be a little much...

This was also one of the pieces that did not travel with much of the chap into my second book, IN THE BIRD MUSEUM, but you can read a pdf of the original project in its entirety here:

Friday, October 07, 2022

poetry as haunted house

"Nature is a haunted house--But art---is a house that tries to be haunted."

--Emily Dickinson

Today, I was writing a piece for Game Rant on a movie that's based on a real haunting experienced by the writer/director. When I made a mental note to check out more info on the actual haunting, I was startled by what I think was the thud a bird hitting the window in the living room, something that used to happen at my parents' house all the time, even downtown, but never here. I took this as an omen and decided to shelve the inclination for the moment. 

As I was putting the final touches on AUTOMAGIC last night, it is so fraught with ghosts...the fortune tellers in the strange victorian futurist landscape of the ordinary planet poems. The haunted sisters in unusual creatures. The Eleanor series and the more violent, sinister underpinnings of the bird artist and the HH Holmes stuff. More than any other recent book, this is a predominantly fictional, narrative world without much involvement from me. And at that, like GIRL SHOW, one set entirely in the past.  I, as a speaker, as a character, am absent from this book. But then again, not absent at all. It seemed fitting last night to be rounding things out as the wind howled and heavy, cold drops of rain hit the windows. I am running the space heater daily until they turn on the radiators, which management has dutifully promised this weekend. In this weather, I am sleeping well--too well--a dead-to-the-world slumber that makes my arms ache from remaining too much in the same position wound amidst my pillows (I am a side and stomach sleeper--never my back) I also have the same chronological impairment every change in seasons brings, never quite understanding internally what time it is--the light being so different from summer.

The film I was writing about combines child-loss related grief with supernatural horror and I remembered this sort of psychological-based horror is what I loved so much about The Haunting of Hill House--how you would be in this heavy, wrought, terribly sad scene and Flanagan would throw a scare at you that nearly made your heart stop. Bly Manor, in all its Henry James splendor,  was good and did some of this, but Hill House set a high bar. This is the best kind of horror, moodily shot, psychologically loaded terror. Its something I would love to translate into poems, but struggle with how. 

#31daysofhalloween | swallow


This series was not about horror per se (well supernatural horror anyway) but some of the videos wound up having very autumnal vibes when I was making them in the fall of 2020...
The entire 13 poem video chap is available here:


Tonight, it took some taco bribery, but I stuck it out and thoroughly finished the design and layout portions for this little beauty, which, once its approved, will be in galley stage ideally by next week.  I learned my lesson the last two times and kept this one the same size as FEED was after varying twice since (DARK COUNTRY was larger and squarish, ANIMAL,VEGETABLE, MONSTER slightly narrower.) 

This way, I could do the margins right based on that book instead of just hoping I was getting them right for that first galley on the first try. There will prob be some adjustments, but hopefully only one more proofing. I had to tweak the cover slightly but decided on a coral color for the spine that matches the blooms.

Much of course depends on how swiftly the production part moves (which seems to vary every single book. I could have a proof in a couple days, it could be two weeks) but I am still on schedule to at least have some copies in hand for the official release on October 31st or shortly thereafter unless it needs any major adjustments, which it shouldn't. 

The great thing about the process is I learn a little more each time and in general, it moves much faster in terms of file specifications, font choices, margins, and cover designs. Self-publishing has been more than worth it in terms of getting books out there and having total control over keeping them in print and more of a financial cut than traditional publishing.  I wind up doing more of the heavy lifting in design, promo, and distribution, but its work I like doing (and am kind of doing anyway for others), so it's enjoyable.

Stay tuned for more teasers, a couple recordings, and a proper full-length trailer coming in the next few weeks. 

Thursday, October 06, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | archer avenue

Quite a long time ago, I wrote a chapbook about everyone's favorite Chicago urban legend / ghost story, Resurrection Mary...while copies of this 2006 chapbook are long gone, you can read an electronic version here:


Wednesday, October 05, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | automagic teaser


I have officially set a release date for Halloween with this latest little book project--and since its contents is haunted women, serial killers, and strange futuristic victorian fortune tellers--it seems definitely appropriate. Stay tune for more sneak peaks and a longer trailer for the book..

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | creepy curiosities

This installation was one part of my 3 part UNUSUAL CREATURES project, which included a series of collages and a zine you can check out here:

Monday, October 03, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | what's inside a girl?


Today's installment is one of the early trailers I made for SEX & VIOLENCE, which has turned out be one of my favorite videos overall. The text is taken from my ./slash/ series in that book.

poetry as exorcism

Perhaps it seems highly appropriate to be talking about exorcisms here at the beginning of spooky season or maybe its just that the fledgling project I kept dipping into when I was working on GRANATA, as yet untitled, feels like an exorcism of sorts. After finishing up what was a project more removed from me personally and my personal history, I moved wholeheartedly into something much closer to my own vest, which is mixing a bit of the past, but in this strange whirl of leaves.  

It's a short project, probably maybe 20 poems overall I'm guessing eventually (right now I have about a dozen). They are about exes and romantic dissolution, which seems old hat and places I've gone before, but this feels new in a way those poems did not. Or more that I am hammering away at something in an effort to rid myself of it. 

Having been a pretty functional and happy relationship the past 7 years, and written about it early on, there still seems to be a lot of yuck clogged in the gutters that needs to come free. But then, I am always chipping away at the past when it comes to all things. Maybe less like leaves but more like a collapsed house we are excavating one level at a time. Here the roof broken in half. Here the sub-basement where the ghosts live.  A chair. A wonky stove. Sometimes, things just lift up from the ground and hover inexplicably.  Sometimes a monster is just a chair with some clothes on it.

I've already got another idea for a more seasonally appropriate project I plan on turning attention to more toward Halloween and the end of the month I look forward to delving more into. More on that as the month progresses...

Sunday, October 02, 2022

#31daysofhalloween | conspiracy theories

This little zine project about urban legends was completed in 2021 as part of a library exhibit. the text portions eventually wound up as part of DARK COUNTRY.

You can read an e-version here: