The HWA extends a warm welcome to the following new and returning members who have joined in the past month. For any questions about membership, please contact email@example.com.
David A.F. Brown
Joe M. Solomon
Scott M. Baker
Heinrich von Wolfcastle
J. Edwin Buja
Rebecca Stone Gordon
Lisa Gail Green
– Linda D. Addison & Alessandro Manzetti –
While the Rooftops Become Red
Hush, she says,
while the red bulbs of Shanghai
are showing her breasts and thorns
(my mouth disappears)
and just behind her thin shape
a curve, an angle, a twisted strip
of the empty skin of Huangpu river
(no boats and barges, no living things)
like it was an eternal Sunday.
Hush, she says,
while the rooftops become red
like her necklace, her throat
(my hands disappear)
and just behind me, over by the window
the Oriental Pearl Tower, the antenna of the future
seems always the same, with its big orbs,
and so are the temples, the neons, the sleeping
steel numbered whales in the harbour,
as if she was still alive.
Hush, she says,
while red tears burn my chest,
a whisper in my ears, I am the hunger
(my legs disappear)
and just behind her walls of
the City God Temple shimmer
in the cooling pool of past
clients contaminating the
gardens of frozen Yulan magnolia
seeds stolen from dying dreams.
H-U-S-H, she carves
on my chest (with my hands),
the curved knife scraping my ribs,
while the rooftop burns, red rains
from the ceiling, and just behind me
a whisper, you are the animal
(my eyes disappear), before my last
breath I remember the old city walls
of Shanghai, where I found her, and
the knife, and the hunger … hush, she says
(my head disappears)
(from The Place of Broken Things, Crystal Lake Publishing 2019)
+ – + – +
– Ashley Dioses –
All Hallows’ Awakening
At once, I fall into a sleep;
The agony is dire and deep.
My heart and soul are sparrow-black
With ice invading every crack.
I lie beneath the hallowed ground,
Where Hallows’ Even spells abound.
Only the humans I despise
Have powers that can make me rise.
At first I hear a human hum;
Then scents of smoke, of myrrh, of rum,
Pervade my senses from atop
My coffin, which lifts up, then drops.
I hear their chanting clearer now,
Their necromantic spell and vow.
They call to me to set me free,
And suddenly my eyes can see.
The hollows of my sockets stare
At necromancers standing there.
The humans know of what was done,
Yet I’m the one to have the fun.
“Arise,” a man demands of me,
And I obey this loathsome flea.
My ancient bones begin to stand;
They smirk as spellcraft goes as planned.
A crimson liquid then is poured
Into a cup; I stand there, bored.
“Drink now.” The man hands off the drink.
I mutter at its golden brink.
Yet as I savor its rich taste,
A curse awaits them in their haste
To summon me. Their lives I need
To live again, to kill, to feed.
A strange sensation burns inside,
And fills my veins with blood and pride.
My flesh reforms, again I thrive,
As I am newly made alive!
My laughter I can hardly still
At their misfortunate cheap thrill.
I close my eyes and utter spells
Acquired from hidden crimson hells.
The necromancers’ bodies chill
As they discover all my skill
In sorceries of old, and they
All start to die from rank decay.
They all began to drop like stones;
Their every breath revives my bones.
Our places now have made a trade;
Their bodies soon will all but fade.
I drink until the final drop,
Still waiting for their hearts to stop.
Their bodies lie this autumn night
As I arise to former height.
They each receive what they deserve;
Now Hell is where they ever serve.
I shall descend upon this land,
Their wicked grimoire in my hand.
+ – + – +
– Michael A. Arnzen –
Proverbs for Monsters
Slime never feels slimy to slime.
Bark all you like, the man in the moon has no ears.
Biting off the head silences the victim. But it is the feet
that stop them from running away.
Beware of things that go bump in the day.
Man, like monster, also has sharp teeth.
Those who most shun garlic, often most enjoyed it in their youth.
The sleep of madness brings forth humanity.
Wear gold jewelry. When silver is in fashion, wear even more of it.
Like a stake through the heart, so is the love of the clergy.
A man-eating plant will even swallow a vegetarian, when hungry.
A garbled threat is but a spell cast by an illiterate witch.
An infant vampire bites hardest.
Even werewolves shave during the day.
It is not your tentacles, but the acid that drips from them,
that frightens your prey.
Those who fear the sun too soon often awaken before sundown.
One can catch a good human with a bad hamburger.
Holy water stings but a neck bite is forever.
Nothing is more stupid than an exposed brain.
Fortune favors the cleaver.
My Pet Vampire
Tight as a tick to a scalp,
I keep my vampire nailed down
to the floor in my bedroom.
His arms are stretched pale and flabby
as the hairy little bat I know
he wishes he could turn into
when I see him squinching his lupine brow
and grunting like he’s constipated.
But the nails won’t set him free
from the clock-handed impalement of his limbs.
Maybe he could transform into a flying rodent
but he’s stretched so tight, the tension
between those silver spikes would only split
him right in two. I keep him fed
with stray pet blood and sometimes
he acts like he loves me for it—
cooing like he’s the one stray I kept,
the one pet I cared enough about to take in,
the lucky survivor I won’t kill.
At other times—usually at night
when I peek over the bed before sleep—
his eyes quiver ablaze and he stares
right at me like some starving feral animal
caught in a barbed wire fence.
Asleep, I dream of torture—
of drizzling holy water left-right
across pasty dead flesh, drawing
cross-shaped wounds in the gray canvas
of skin. I dream of taking needle nose
pliers to teeth before teasing him
with my bare wrist and strained neck.
But in the morning, the sunlight blares
into the windowpane, fizzling his face
and he screams like a drowning hyena.
It’s annoying. And as I close the curtains
I deeply wish I could just finish him off,
but this supernatural sundial
is the best alarm clock I ever had.
+ – + – +
– James Dorr –
The mirrors held spooks!
The images, wisps of loves,
stared out from silvered mists
whenever he approached,
washing or combing his beard or his hair,
they mouthed words as if to speak
yet never made a sound,
red lips instead settling into accusing pouts,
deep eyes condemning.
He knew them, of course — in his youth,
in France, he had been a seducer,
a rover, a thief of hearts;
he recognized them, his Yvette,
his Marie, his Hélène,
but now in his age having flown to New Orleans
seeking to drown his Parisian aplomb
in a Cajun patois,
the memories had followed,
souls captured in glass
come back finally to haunt him.
(Published in the Spring 2008 Illumen, reprinted in Vamps [A Retrospective]. “Émile’s Ghosts” was originally based on an illustration [and suggested title] by illustrator and poet Marge Simon.)
+ – + – +
– Christina Sng –
SUPERHERO DREAMS AT HALLOWEEN
John died last year,
Dressed as a ghost.
This year we dress
As super heroes.
THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN
Samhain has left
In its wake
Treats are eaten,
Stale and stuffed.
I have hung up
My cloak and scythe.
The bloody blade.
Its crusty grasp
Halloween has past.
She lays herself onto the ground.
On her pale young face, a painful frown.
She blinks away her gathering tears,
Reminding herself the things at stake.
Her parents held with guns to their heads,
Shot point blank if the trade isn’t made.
So she waits, brave but afraid
Till the monster looms, tall and great.
He picks her up with his giant claw,
Pops her in his mouth, eating her raw.
Before he bites down, she pulls out a gun,
Shoots him right through his thick bony skull.
He falls down heavily onto the ground.
She crawls out, looking cautiously around.
The townsfolk have fled, her parents
Dead, gun shots to their heads.
She screams out loud in a primal rage.
The resonance snaps all of their necks.
She sets fire to that hateful world.
The old cottages burn, slowly unfurl.
She walks away, down an unknown road
In search for a new place she can call home.
+ – + – +
– Jill Bauman –
Out of darkness demon appears,
With angel crushed in wings embrace.
Tears roll down her cheeks,
Spilling from her eyes,
Silently drip into space.
A lone cherub tastes the tears of salt,
Uplifted by their power.
Without a thought
He flitters high,
Demon’s snarl makes him cower.
Voices boom from distant places,
Monstrous claws pull, then grab.
Angel falls swiftly
Landing on a cold rock slab.
Badly bruised, wings torn and tattered,
One loose feather spirals down.
Twin rivers of tears
Flow down cherub’s cheeks,
Onto angel’s silken gown.
Demon feels a searing pain,
From innocent cherub’s tears.
Now weakened and worn,
The mighty now filled with fears.
Falling, then landing in the face of hell,
Swiftly, the demon disposed.
Cherub now cradled
In the angel’s white wings,
Sleeping, dreaming, reposed.
(Published in the anthology Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, edited by P.D. Cacek and Laura J. Hickman, Necon eBooks, 2017)
Dead and forgotten
Boney bleached skull, empty eyes
Smiling at life’s joke
+ – + – +
– Stephanie M. Wytovich –
Snapshot to blood and bone,
there’s a knife in my head,
but my migraine was two years in the making,
stitched to the side of my skull
like the arrow tip lodged behind my eye,
buried in my brain like the bruises
of last night’s thunder storm,
my teeth ripped from my mouth,
shoved down my throat
like how the sky pushes out rain.
Of my wounds, there are many:
see the delicate stigmata cut into my hands and feet,
the gashes dug into my thighs, the tally-mark slashes on my wrists;
I am the punctured female, the pincushion of hysteria,
a traumatized sack of feminine injury,
the flesh of my flesh, the scar of my scar,
I’m a collection of lesions and lacerations,
a patchwork of black and blue contusions
worn out from where you scrubbed me raw,
beat me till I seeped red like rare, woman steak.
Look to me on this table as I bleed and break,
a toy of operation, a surgical muse to the amputation
of bodily consciousness: hear me when I say I feel nothing,
that with each incision and penetration, I am dead,
gone from this world of torment and torture,
a disappearance, an acceptance to oblivion,
to the land where I can forget the flower,
the blossom of what I saw lies underneath.
Yes, use my soon-to-be-corpse as a nametag,
as a placard to the other girls who are destined to bleed;
I am closing my eyes to your knives now,
deafening myself to the fractures you inflict;
I will cease to be your canvas of mutilation,
Only a head, a torso, a heart,
best to photograph me while in transition;
it’s the last chance you’ll have
to locate my soul.
(Originally published in Sanitarium Magazine; Reprinted in my collection, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare)
+ – + – +
– Donna Lynch –
The cheap decorations
Suggestions of life after death
While fake ghouls and dead stars
Stumble and cheer
We stand by, ever silent
Indulging your vices
You know not what awaits you
You know not what the price is
It’s so lovely to think
That one day you’ll be free
Of the weight of your bones
And your unending needs
But there’s no way to say
As you flaunt your disguise
How it hurts to come back
Once you’ve said your goodbyes.
+ – + – +
– Allan Rozinski –
The Dark King
Deep in the forest’s hidden spaces
where nature’s ebb and flow is found,
and decay ferments underground,
here, the pagan rites take place.
The ceremonies held secret as required,
the sacrifices offered—a jealous god’s spoils,
blood spills across the altar, then down to the soil,
where life and death merge and conspire.
Each disciple wearing robe and hood
gathers round countless bodies grown cold,
bled dry to summon The Dark King of old
that now menaces from the nearby wood.
Its head crowned with a bed of writhing vines,
gnarled branches for limbs, a trunk-body massive in size;
the ground rumbles and quakes with each step it takes, its eyes
reflecting apocalyptic warning signs.
The ritual resumes at their strange messiah’s command
to poison the fount of hope and thwart the unseeing drive
toward the futile future to which the wretches still strive
—this has always been The Dark King’s plan.
(Previously published in Spectral Realms #10, Winter 2019)
+ – + – +
– Sara Tantlinger –
The skeletons are dancing on the beach
celebrating the death of summer
crashing like lightning bolts,
skulls thunder against each other
summoning the wicked months
that are starting to scent the air—
cold, metallic bursts of sin
Their cacophonous bone grinding
nettles away seagulls and starfish,
pearly dust plumes between femurs
settling like snow against sand,
coalescing with sea foam as if bargaining
instead of battling for seasonal dominance
Sternums and ribs break
as the final September storm rolls in
roiling the waves, and the skeletons
dance harder, a coven of bone
encircling the last pile of flesh on the beach
sacrificing summer meat to hungry autumn,
who has been waiting
who has been listening—
cold, metallic bursts of sin
(Originally published in the Sirens Call eZine, Issue #40, 2018)
+ – + – +
– David E. Cowen –
Sins of the Father
your pleading eyes
broadcast your agony
gasping with each wave
I know you hurt
it will end soon
let the dark be your blanket
find comfort in the coming empty
to take your burdens
each sliver of flesh
each red pulsing muscle
and sinew chewed from bone
each organ still warm to my lips
while you watch me
feasting on your sins
on your dying form
the duty of a good son
to baptize you
to release you from your transgressions
so that you will be healed
by your own blood
close your eyes
so that they do not dry
before I can pluck them
I will be gentle dear father
my son is watching
as I once watched you
(Published in HWA Poetry Showcase Volume V)
The Best Horror of the Year—PMB 391, 511 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011-8436. Editor: Ellen Datlow. “I edit The Best Horror of the Year for Night Shade Books and am currently reading for the twelfth volume, covering material published in 2019.”
“I am looking for stories and poetry from all branches of horror: supernatural, uncanny, sf horror, psychological, dark crime, terror tales, or anything else that might qualify. This is an all reprint anthology, so I’ll only consider material published in 2019. Authors, please confirm that your publishers are sending me review copies. If a book or magazine is coming out after my deadline, I’ll look at galleys or manuscripts. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. The only excuse is if you’re a foreign publisher and shipping everything at one time saves postage. If you want your work to get a fair read, do not do this. I do not have time to carefully read a year’s worth of magazine issues and 10-20 original anthologies in two weeks.”
“I’ll look at e-versions of anthos and collections only if they’re navigable and have running heads. Otherwise, they won’t be read. I always prefer print, if available.”
“Authors can query as to whether I have/need your collection or an anthology/magazine in which you have a story at [E-mail address below].”
“My summation of ‘the year in horror’ in the front of every volume includes novels, anthologies, collections, chapbooks, nf, poetry, art books, and ‘odds and ends’—material that doesn’t fit elsewhere but that might interest horror readers. But I must be aware of this material in order to mention it.
“*** I regularly cover many magazines/webzines that publish horror (Black Static, Cemetery Dance, F&SF, The Dark, Nightmare, crime digests, and webzines such as Horrorzine, Uncanny, Apex, etc.—when their publishers send me the material).”
“Please ask your publisher to send the entire magazine or book—unless the venue doesn’t regularly publish horror. In that case, you can send me a Word file of your story. For online publications, E-mail individual word DOC files—not PDF files—including on the manuscript where the story has been published.”
“If I choose a story you will be informed. Otherwise, you will not hear back.”
[E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.datlow.com]. Deadline: December 1, 2019.
Borderlands 7—Borderlands Press, PO Box 61, Benson MD 21019. Editor: Olivia F. Monteleone. UPDATE OF AN UPDATE!
KP Note: A year or so ago, I asked publisher Thomas Monteleone for more details about what they want. Also, note the deadline extension. “We do not want any familiar horror/dark fantasy/weird settings, situations, or tropes like ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc. We want writers to stretch and show us something we have never read before. Bentley Little’s ‘The Pounding Room’ or Platt’s ‘All Hands’ or Braunbeck’s ‘Rami Temporales’ are good examples of a Borderlands story.”
“We are seeing too many tired, familiar, and predictable plots and characters. I can’t be more specific than that.”
And here is yet another update from Publisher Monteleone: “Despite getting many hundreds of submissions, we still have not encountered enough fiction that reflects the type of stories that define what the Borderlands series is all about. The previous two volumes both won Bram Stoker Awards™, and we want Volume 7 to be equally as strong. That’s two years’ worth of reading, and we are still looking to fill almost half the pages. Simultaneous subs are fine—life’s too short to wait on us. The only caveat: if you’ve never read a Borderlands anthology, your chances of selling us your work is pretty slim.”
And here are the rest of the guidelines.
“We are back! Sooner than you expected? Definitely. Sooner than you could have ever imagined? Probably.”
“After the positive feedback from Borderlands 6, we’ve decided to do it again … except this time there’s been a shift in leadership, and I’ve been passed the proverbial torch. Man, I am excited, and you should be too—things are about to get even weirder.”
“For Borderlands 7 I’m looking for pretty much the same kinds of fiction: no clichés, nothing familiar. I don’t want to see vampires, killer plants, shrinking humans, werewolves, trolls, goblins, ghouls, once-upon-a-times, zombies, ghosts, found footage, etc. If you have a story in your arsenal and you wonder if hmm … this one might fall into one of the above tropes, it probably does. So just don’t send. Work out something else and send it in! And if you’ve never read a Borderlands anthology, I don’t think you have a chance of selling a story to me.”
“Not into writing, but into weird?”
“I’m looking for cover art. As far as the visual art goes I don’t want anything I listed above to be represented. Other than that I’m very open to different styles. Send samples from your portfolio and we can collaborate, OR send a piece you think would fit the anthology. Artwork deadline is [Check with editor].”
“Editing Volume 6 was a great experience; I am thrilled to commence work on Volume 7. The stories in Borderlands 6 were AMAZING in their variety and originality, and that’s the caliber of story I am looking for … and I can’t say this enough: before submitting, pick up a previous volume to get a sense of what the series is all about. Please do not let a past rejection stop you from submitting. Never been published? Submit. Been published for forty years? Submit. Write a good story. Scare yourself. Make your s/o’s wonder who their partner is. Confuse your friends. Make sure I don’t sleep at night because I can’t get your story out of my head.”
“I want all of your stories in my hands by [the deadline below]. Hard copies ONLY.”
Deadline: “Extended until we get enough great stories.”