This last month of 2017, I’m delighted to welcome Wrath James White, author/poet and Man of the Hour wherever and whenever he shows up!
I didn’t know, but I’m not surprised to learn that he is a former World Class Heavyweight Kickboxer, a professional Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts trainer, distance runner, performance artist, and former street brawler, who is now known for creating some of the most disturbing works of fiction in print. I am not surprised, given that I’ve been following his Facebook feed. He’s a big man—tall, strong, and gifted in many respects, not only physical.
Wrath is the author of such extreme horror classics as The Resurrectionist (now a major motion picture titled COME BACK TO ME) Succulent Prey, and its sequel Prey Drive, Yaccub’s Curse, 400 Days of Oppression, Sacrifice, Voracious, To the Death, The Reaper, Skinzz, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town, The Book of a Thousand Sins, His Pain, Population Zero, and many others. He is the co-author of Teratologist, co-written with the king of extreme horror Edward Lee; Something Terrible, co-written with his son Sultan Z. White; Orgy of Souls, co-written with Maurice Broaddus; Hero and The Killings, both co-written with J.F. Gonzalez; and Poisoning Eros, co-written with Monica J. O’Rourke; among others.
Of Love, Sex, and Horror Poetry
Wrath James White
What happens when you blend love poetry with horror poetry? What happens when you blend BDSM erotica with erotic horror? These are the questions my new poetry book, If You Died Tomorrow I Would Eat Your Corpse, asks and answers.
I have developed a reputation for writing extreme and erotic horror. Novels like Succulent Prey, Prey Drive, The Resurrectionist, Teratologist, Poisoning Eros, and 400 Days of Oppression have branded me as one of the more violent, visceral, and sexual authors in the horror genre. And my poetry bears a strong resemblance to my prose. It is violent, sexual, and unflinching. It flirts with taboos and delights in perversion. These are my love poems. Love poems written through the prism of extreme horror.
Many poets have written of the tragedy of love, but too few have written of its horror. That for all its wondrous joy and beauty, it must ultimately, inevitably, cause pain. That it must hurt those who experience it, giving pain as much as pleasure, if for no other reason than that the ambitions of love, to unite with the love object, physically, mentally, and emotionally, are impossible. Two can never truly become one, and it is this desire, and every vexation of that desire, real or imagined, that causes pain. Love is the ultimate sadomasochistic experience. It is the ultimate horror story. Some of the best poems ever written were tragic love stories. And, as poetry is romance, the iconic expression of love, might it not also be the truest expression of horror?
Horror is, in its essence, an exploration of the fear of pain and annihilation. Love is embracing that fear and overcoming it, willingly pushing through that fear for the promise of pleasure. Just as in any good horror story, love stories begin with hope and promise, characters you can root for, that you care about, and want to see survive and flourish. And, just like any good horror story, these characters are placed in peril. Some pivotal event threatens their joy, their well-being, perhaps even their lives. Every good love story is, in essence, a horror story. All that separates the horror story from the love story is the depth and breadth of the peril the main characters experience. Call it horror lite, but tragedy and horror are inextricable from love. Someone once said that a romance is just a tragedy with the ending omitted. In my poems, I don’t omit the end.
Of course, in every good horror story, there is also a hint of the taboo. That’s why sex and horror are so often combined in novels and films. Because, in our society, sex is taboo. Kill whoever you want, in as great a number as you like, and you might still get a PG-13 rating on your film. But, show a nipple or a penis, and you have earned yourself an R rating. Show it more than once, and you are flirting with NC-17 territory. We love our sex in this society, but we don’t like to admit it in polite company. And deviant or kinky sex? That is reserved only for late night internet browsing, not in our fine literature, and certainly not in art. Well, bullshit! I write what I like!
The other big taboo in our fine entertainment tradition is the nature of the violence. Gun violence is ubiquitous in our culture and art. You can find gun violence in a PG movie. BAMBI, anyone? But we have decided that quick killings are okay. Torture, vivisection, dismemberment, cannibalism? These are reserved for the darkest ghettos of our literary genres. No one should suffer, and certainly no one should enjoy or derive sexual pleasure from that suffering. That blurs the line between genre fiction and pornography. And we must hold that line. That line is the only thing separating the guy who enjoys a good scare from the perverts jacking off to bondage porn in their basement. Again, I say bullshit. I write what I write!
If You Died Tomorrow I Would Eat Your Corpse is a collection of new and old poems of eros and thanatos, love, sex, torture, fear, pleasure, pain, and death. I’m a fan of very strict meter, and the poems in this book tend toward Japanese poetry, styles such as haikus, chokas, and bastardizations thereof. However, unlike my last poetry book, Vicious Romantic, I don’t hold strict to these forms. You’ll notice a lot of poems that follow the 5,7,5,7,7 pattern of a choka, even when clearly not traditional Japanese poems. And some stray slightly from that pattern with an occasional 4- or 8-syllable line. Still others are completely free-verse, following no discernible pattern. One or two even rhyme, and there’s even a Byronesque poem in iambic pentameter. Below is a sample of a poem indicative of the style, meter, and subject matter of many of the poems in this collection.
I want to know you
so much more intimately
from the inside out
to snuggle deep within you
nestled by your heart
hearing its lonely echo
vibrate against me
Strip away the masquerade
of your supple skin
wear it like a warm blanket
and smile from behind your face.
A cannibal flirtation
a rattlesnake flick of the tongue
Across her meat-stained fangs
in place of a smile
Blood washes down her throat
Like warm red wine
Drools from her chin
In strawberry splatters
Her heart rages
And pushes a quivering scream
Up from her full belly
As the first orgasm
Brings her to her knees
Her body trembles still
As she licks my seed
From her carcass
Red and meaty.
Fossilized seconds whose tracks lead us only to partial remains
where not even their skeletons remains in evidence
Fading photographs yellowing with nostalgia
the mausoleums in which true experience lies inert
as each moment heaps another corpse upon the slab
Experiences that we can never touch
hold against us
feel the gentle warmth of
lick from smooth voluptuous thighs
let bleed down our chests in long salacious rivulets
Experiences with no mass
displace no air
do not crunch broken glass
echo when screamed at
or leave their impressions in the sheets
too much like believing in Christ
too much like believing I love yous
I would like them much better
if I had to clear a space for them
If I could open the closet
and discard the ones I no longer have a use for
If I could taste them
throw them in the air
catch them in my
shatter them against the wall
and rub their fragments over my body
until they stuck
… and formed armor.
Poems from If You Died Tomorrow I Would Eat Your Corpse, scheduled to be released in February 2018, from Clash Books.