Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump Gothic

Tomorrow is the inauguration of Donald Trump as POTUS. In anti-celebration, I created a couple of American Gothic parodies. (With apologies to Grant Wood, but no one else.)

“Russian Hacking Gothic”
  by Vince Gotera

“Trump Gothic: How Do You
  Hold This Whatever It Is?”
  by Vince Gotera

If you click on either of the images, you can see a larger version in my DeviantArt gallery. Upon arrival, you can again click on the image there for even more magnification.

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Ingat, everyone.   

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poems Eligible for a Rhysling (Part 3)

On Friday, I posted a list of my 2016 speculative poems that are eligible for a Rhysling Award. Of those poems, these are the ones that appeared only in print in Popcorn Press's Halloween anthology Lupine Lunes: Horror Poems & Short Stories. Available at the press and also on Amazon.

This first poem has to do with the aswang: a mythical Philippine monster. The specific kind of aswang featured here is the manananggal, a woman who can sever herself at the waist: the top half grows wings so she can fly in search of prey, leaving her bottom half wherever it is standing when she transforms out of her human-appearing form.

Encounter on Good Friday
— Cutud Village, north of Manila, 1936
On his straw mat, his banig, under the inky susurrus
of the mosquito net hung from the walls of his nipa hut,

a bachelor farmer named Santiago de la Cruz lounges half asleep,
half dreaming of the Easter sunrise mass day after tomorrow

and of today’s penitentes flogging their own backs into bloody
crosshatch, a couple crucified for a handful of long minutes.

Tiyago gazes up toward the now charcoal-tinged underside
of his thatched palm-leaf roof and starts at an indistinct

shadow above, shaped darkly like a crucified person. What?
Tiyago rolls out of the net and fixes his eyes above. Yes,

there is something there in the pitch black. Wait, is it
a dark brown woman with her arms outstretched, gripping

the almost invisible bamboo supports of the roof? A ghost?
A hallucination? Tiyago rubs his eyes and looks again. Her eyes

are dark red like dying coals. He crosses himself quickly,
notices a rippling behind her like a mourning-dress curtain.

Susmariosep, Tiyago whispers, she got wings like a bat!
He slowly realizes there is nothing below her waist

but a few brackish red loops of, what, guts, torn intestines?
Wait, it’s not a whole figure. She has no legs. No legs!

O my Jesus, an aswang . . . putang ina, she’s a mananananggal!
The aswang smiles, teeth a dingy slate gray, and from her mouth

slips a dingy blood-red thing like a snake or maybe more like
a thick dark earthworm that writhes wildly, closer and closer

to Tiyago. It’s her tongue, a ten-foot-long tongue.
Hold on, she’s trying to suck my blood, the black harpy!

He clenches his arms, his fists, shuts his eyes hard.
The aswang’s tongue slinks, inches, nearer to his neck.

His body in the shadowy center of the room seems to sprout
fur, arms and legs thinning and crackling into wolf-like limbs.

Tiyago is growing taller and bulkier, T-shirt and boxers
ripping apart like tissue. He growls, dark yellowish fangs

flashing out of the lengthening snout of his face. Tiyago
is also an aswang, a shapeshifter churning into a huge

black dog, larger than a man, standing wide on hind legs.
The two monsters growl and snarl at each other, a tableau

carved into the dusky sweaty air of the room. Then it stops.
Both of them laugh, they snicker and snort, convulse in dark

shrieks and screams of black humor. The manananggal pulls in
her slimy tongue, waves at Tiyago, and swoops out of the window,

her pterodactyl wings sighing velvety tik-tik, wak-wak sounds.
Tiyago lifts his noble black head to the heavens and howls.

— Vince Gotera, Lupine Lunes: Horror
Poems & Short Stories (Popcorn Press)

In this next poem, the two aswang from the last poem have fallen in love. Clara, the manananggal, has been under suspicion by her fellow villagers of being an aswang. One night, they attack — almost like in the first Frankenstein movie, when people with torches and pitchforks hunt Boris Karloff's character. Santiago, the shapeshifting farmer from the previous poem, changes into his aswang form to rescue Clara.

Villagers at Clara’s House, After Dark
— hay(na)ku
Ay, dios ko,
malaking aso!

black dog attacked,
rabid, rending . . .

. . . jumping up toward
our necks,

Threw our torches,
bright fangs.

Swung bolos against
black fur,

Guns, no good,
too fast.

We scattered, scared
for our

Next day, Clara
was gone.

— Vince Gotera, Lupine Lunes: Horror
Poems & Short Stories (Popcorn Press)

In case you weren't able to figure it out from the context, the opening sentence of the previous poem, "Ay, dios ko, malaking aso!" means, in Tagalog, "Oh my god, a huge dog!"

Aswang Wedding: Early Saturday Morn

The aswang lovers held each other’s hand,
kneeling at the teakwood communion rail
of La Iglesia de San Agustin,

the simple granite-walled Spanish chapel
not far from the shores of Manila Bay.
Heads lowered, the humble country couple

waited while the parish priest, Padre Rey,
drowsy, wished he was asleep in his bed.
Raising his hand he droned, In nomine

Patris et Filii . . . Dawn, a faint red,
kindled stained glass the deep dark shade of blood
draining from a body torn and shredded.

Rings, sign of the cross, yes, but Padre would
later tell how his heart sank at the end:
fangs glinting in the bride’s smile, the groom’s mouth.

— Vince Gotera, Lupine Lunes: Horror
Poems & Short Stories (Popcorn Press)

The three poems above are part of my novella-in-poems, currently in progress, telling the story of these two aswang in their attempt to live a normal life — normal if one is a human, that is. After marrying, Santiago and Clara emigrate to the US, feeling they won't be persecuted there because most Americans don't know about aswang.

In this next poem, the priest is not the same priest in the wedding poem directly above. Some readers have thought they were the same person, perhaps because in Lupine Lunes, these two poems are next to each other.

The Good Father

The folks at St. Mary’s Church thought well of their priest, Father
Joseph Paolo. Every Sunday, after each of the masses, he would
stand in the narthex and greet every person, shaking their hands,
while above in the tower, the church bells would sonorously ring.
The parishioners often recalled, our last priest would be damned
rather than greet anyone. Father Joe was at his best with weddings,

so friendly, so accommodating, so gracious, and each wedding
couple felt genuinely special. Yup, no one better than Father,
everyone always said. But Father Joe had a secret so damning
some days he could hardly believe his vocation. His secret would
send him to hell, he frequently thought, to the deepest, darkest ring
of the Inferno. Sometimes, unable to sleep at night, his hands

would burn and sting, and he wondered how his flock’s hands
couldn’t feel the hot guilt in his grip. Every week, on Wednesday
evenings, he would hold Bible Study and his voice would ring
with authority and wonder, but inside his soul, he’d feel farther
than ever from God. And truth. Because his own truth would
keep him exiled forever from heaven. His secret? He’d damned

someone to hell. Not just someone, his beloved. She was damned
to perdition as if he had killed her, body and soul, with his own hands.
In his last year of college, Joe Paolo had fallen in love. He was just wild
about Francesca. And she adored him. Often they talked about a wedding:
a silver dress, champagne, a four-tiered cake. Joe even went to her father
and asked for Francesca’s hand—truly old-fashioned. He bought a ring,

a lovely one with three diamonds, got down on one knee, and put the ring
on her finger. But Joe got scared. And ran. Ran all the way to the damn
seminary. And Francesca hanged herself. Even after he became a Father,
Joe never told anyone, not even during confession. He ached for her hands
to give him absolution, cool water from God’s font. With every wedding
he hoped for peace. Then, one evening in the church, she came. It wouldn’t

be as he thought: Francesca floating above, in a silvery gown, and she would
forgive him. No. She appeared as an angry ghost in the dark chancel, ringed
by fire, glowing chains of molten iron holding her down, apparition wedded
to blackness and stinking filth, the smoke-heavy shrieking of the damned
wafting around her. Francesca was whispering. She held out flaming hands
and beckoned. Come to me, come to me. He fell to his knees, the poor Father.

That night Father Paolo felt the closest ever to being eternally damned:
an imprint appeared up on the cross, a woman’s hand burned into the wood,
sweet Francesca’s softest caress, with an unburned gap for a wedding ring.

— Vince Gotera, Lupine Lunes: Horror
Poems & Short Stories (Popcorn Press)

Apropos of the next poem, I hope there won't be a full moon during the upcoming Presidential inauguration.

Lupine Lunes, Starring Donald Trump

Donald Trump, werewolf,
turns in wash of moonlight,
presidential, with fangs.

Donald Trump sprouts
wolf fur in tailored shirt,
fresh from China.

Donald Trump’s canines
glow like radioactive little fingers,
fluorescent plastic teeth.

Donald Trump’s tail
wags while he whines, howls
at harvest moon.

Donald Trump: “I’m
The most handsome werewolf ever,
believe me. Handsomest!”

Donald Trump’s paws
fumble in the voting booth,
no opposable thumbs.

“Donald Trump, President.
And also Wolfman, so what?
Everyone loves me.”
"Here's Donny," Daily Mail, 16 October 2015

— Vince Gotera, Lupine Lunes: Horror
Poems & Short Stories (Popcorn Press)

I got the idea for this poem from the anthology's title "Lupine Lunes," announced in the book's call for submissions of poetry and fiction. The phrase is a truly witty title by the editor, Lester Smith, founder and editor of Popcorn Press, because of course werewolves are turned by the moon — la lune in French — when full. "Lune" is also the name of a poetic form, invented by Jack Collom: a three-line stanza with three words in line 1, five words in line 2, and three words in line 3.

Friends, do check out Popcorn Press. For a number of years now, Lester Smith and the press have published a Halloween anthology. Always fun. Popcorn Press has published many wonderful collections and anthologies. And pick up a copy of Lupine Lunes at the press or on Amazon.

Won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

If you got here from my list of Rhysling-eligible
poems, please click here to go back to the list.

P.S. I just realized today (11 May 2017) that I left a poem off.

All Zombies, Coming and Going
—  a somersault abecedarian ...
read first down left column
and then down right column
same words, new punctuation

— Vince Gotera, Lupine Lunes: Horror
Poems & Short Stories (Popcorn Press)

(Added 11 May 2017)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Poems Eligible for a Rhysling (Part 2)

Continuing from yesterday's post about Rhysling Award–eligible poetry . . . here's one of my speculative poems this year that appeared only in print, in the excellent poetry magazine Dreams & Nightmares, edited by David Kopaska-Merkel.

Aswang Christening: A Family Photo

Radiant parents and bouncy baby, all silken
and crinoline, taffeta and three-piece wool,
are posed in this portrait next to the baptismal
font at St. George’s. The baby smells of milk and,

slightly, of turned earth. They name him Malcolm.
The mother, Clara, whispers to herself, she’ll
swear off womb water, that sweet fetal
liquor, now that she’s bearing children.

Santiago, the father, thanks the parish priest
but thinks to himself how plump the man is.
Imagines Father Simon running for his
Life, pale skin glimmering in dim forest.

Behind them, in stained glass, a trick of the light
turns the Holy Ghost — a dove — black, not white.

— Vince Gotera, Dreams & Nightmares
(Issue 104, September 2016)

I just remembered that when I started this blog almost ten years ago, I used to comment a little bit on the poetics of the poems of my own I would post on the blog. I originally envisioned the blog as an extension of my teaching so that both my creative-writing and my literature students could come to the blog to learn. Let me go back to that practice now.

This is a hybrid sonnet (part English, part Italian, or part Shakespearean, part Petrarchan). It uses the Petrarchan envelope quatrain (abba) but is structured with a Shakespearean architecture: three quatrains and an ending couplet. I'm particularly happy with the rhyming in the third stanza: it's abba (or, in the context of the whole poem, effe) with "priest" rhyming with "forest" in lines 1 and 4, as well as "is" rhyming with "his" in lines 2 and 3. But that's not all. There's consonance in "priest" and "forest": p-r-s-t echoed by f-r-s-t (where the /p/ and the /f/ are related consonants. Besides that, the last two lines of that stanza are a couplet with two-syllable rhymes: "for his" and "forest." Ain't rhymin' fun?

I should also point out this poem is part of my in-progress novella-in-poems about two Philippine monsters — mythical aswang — who fall in love, marry, and move to the US to try and live a normal (i.e., human) family life.

Do check out Dreams & Nightmares. It's one of the premier speculative poetry venues in the US. And subscribe!

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

If you got here from my list of Rhysling-eligible
poems, please click here to go back to the list.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Poems Eligible for the 2016 Rhysling Awards

Hello, friends! Happy New 2017 and welcome back to the blog.

It's that time of year again when Rhysling Award nominations are happening in the international Science Fiction Poetry Association. To help SFPA members who might want to read my speculative poems that are eligible for the awards, here's a list of those poems with links to where the poems live.

Okay, first, the short-form poems, fewer than 50 lines.

The eight poems from "Encounter on Good Friday" through "Aswang Christening: A Family Photo" below are part of a poem-cycle, a novella in poems, about two aswang (mythical Philippine monsters who pass as ordinary people during the day but turn into predators by night — vampires, shapeshifter, ghouls, and other fiendish creatures). These two, named Clara and Santiago, fall in love and attempt to transcend their monsterly natures in order to start a family and build a peaceful, loving life together. Or so they hope.

"Space Opera" Altered Reality Magazine, Sep/Oct 2016  
"Dragon-in-Training"Altered Reality Magazine, Sep/Oct 2016
"Superhero"Altered Reality Magazine, Sep/Oct 2016
"Encounter on Good Friday"  Lupine Lunes: Horror Poems
& Short Stories
(Popcorn Press)
"Aswang Ghazal:
 Santiago's Confession"
Poetry Witch Magazine, Feb 2016
"Aswang Love:
 Clara's Rhapsody"
Spirit's Tincture, Nov 2016 (page 39)
"Aswang Peril:
 Santiago's Rescue"
Spirit's Tincture, Nov 2016 (page 39)
"Villagers at Clara's
 House, After Dark"
Lupine Lunes: Horror Poems
& Short Stories
(Popcorn Press)
"Aswang Wedding:
 Early Saturday Morn"
Lupine Lunes: Horror Poems
& Short Stories
(Popcorn Press)
"Aswang Honeymoon
 at the Golden Gate"
Spirit's Tincture, Nov 2016 (page 40)
"Aswang Christening:
 A Family Photo"
Dreams and Nightmares, Sep 2016
"The Good Father" Lupine Lunes: Horror Poems
& Short Stories
(Popcorn Press)
"Lupine Lunes,
 Starring Donald Trump"
Lupine Lunes: Horror Poems
& Short Stories
(Popcorn Press)

Second, the long-form poems, more than 50 lines:

"Elegy for Iain Banks" Star*Line (Issue 39.3, July 2016)
Altered Reality Magazine, Sep/Oct 2016
Also in the textbook Composing Poetry
"Menage à Tiger and Dragon" Altered Reality Magazine, Nov/Dec 2016

This wonderful illustration by Richard Fay accompanied my poetry sequence "Menage à Tiger and Dragon" at Altered Reality Magazine.
Richard Fay, Tiger and Dragon (2016)

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word "comments" in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

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