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BURNING HOUSE PRESS

Not For Profit/For Prophecy

Author

Amee Nassrene Broumand

Writer & Photographer

The Wolves Ripen: A Gothic Halloween Interview with Poet Kate Dlugosz

During my tenure as BHP’s Guest Editor in March 2018, I was lucky enough to publish many gifted writers. One of these was Kate Dlugosz, whose mythic poetry stayed with me long after my editorship was over. Earlier this month I invited her back onto Burning House Press for a gothic Halloween special. She agreed. Take note, this interview is merely masquerading as an interview. What follows is a gorgeous helping of dark prose poetry for those of us who have October in our bones.  Enjoy!  —Amee Nassrene Broumand

In your poem “Springtime,” you write: “If nothing else, I know owls come from flowers.” Tell us some more origin stories. Where do bats come from?

Bats come from song, as the shape of music from the cords formed of autumn constellations played by the wind upon the harp of the waning crescent moon. It is from the stars and the moon that the bat took flight from the night sky, the space between the stars where they learned to see by shape. And released by moonlight, through the darkened canopies of wine-red treetops they fly as hordes of poppy seeds, scattering over the moon as grey clouds, and the world below them becomes strange and wild and unknown in the dark. The bats echolocate the moths and the beetles in the night, and in the blindness of their own vision seeing with clarity the worlds of ghosts and spirits that pass over our own. You feel the first chill of autumn is the hiss of the bat as it grazes your neck. At times the bats hang down from the banisters of old barns, the wooden planks slicing the moon to shreds like a white moth between their fangs. And sometimes they sleep hanging from the limbs of oak trees by their claws before taking flight into purple dusk in search of blood, the moths and monsters prowling under moonlight. Bats suck the red from apples and rosehips and would consume the sun if they could sink their teeth into flame. Should you stare into the vast night sky on a clear autumn night, you are stargazing through the blackness of their wings. Continue reading “The Wolves Ripen: A Gothic Halloween Interview with Poet Kate Dlugosz”

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Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge by Amee Nassrene Broumand

Broumand_Gorge1Broumand_Gorge4Broumand_Gorge5Broumand_Gorge6Broumand_Gorge7 Continue reading “Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge by Amee Nassrene Broumand”

Photos of Astoria, Oregon by Amee Nassrene Broumand

Broumand_Astoria dBroumand_Astoria c.JPGBroumand_Astoria eBroumand_Astoria fBroumand_Astoria j Continue reading “Photos of Astoria, Oregon by Amee Nassrene Broumand”

Masks, Transformations, Cosmos, & Personal Myth

March 2018

Guest Editor: Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

4 March

 

Professional Mermaid by Megan Dunn

After the 10th Date by Sam Frost

gibbous moon waxing by Lewis Ellingham

Three Poems by Jared A. Carnie

Charon’s Amusement Arcade by BR Williams

 

 

10 March

 

Three Poems by Laura Potts

Plastic Eggs by C.B. Auder

Night Photos of Newstead Village & a Poem by Sophie Pitchford*

L’Idole by Laura Izabela

Two Poems by Annette Skade

A Bacon Sandwich by Jim Gibson

Solitaire by Attracta Fahy

 

 

17 March

 

Three Poems by Ivan de Monbrison

Forgotten Astronaut by Spangle McQueen

What Else Can I Do? by Rob True

How to Tell Men Apart by Breslin White

Invitation To Move On by Jonathan Humble

Two Poems by Kate Garrett

Stealing Sleipnir by Alison Lock

The Transformation by Emma McKervey

 

 

24 March

 

Three Poems by Samuel J Fox

Sing a Song of Ever Changing Perception by Michelle Diaz

Photographs of Bristol & a Poem by Jason Jackson*

When Food Goes Bad by Kelly Froh

Two Poems by Anna Wall

7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle

Jack by Gene Farmer

 

 

30 March

 

Two Pieces by Erin Calabria

genesis by Clark Chatlain

Baroclinic Instability by katillac tweed

A Catalogue of Small Shatterings by Makensi Ceriani

Bear off a Leash by Stephen Lightbown

Photographs of New Orleans by Julia Skop*

Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz

Interminatus by Cory Willingham

The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett

Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer

Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia

The Linen Man Suite by Lorie Broumand

An Interview with Poet Laura Potts by Amee Nassrene Broumand*

 

 

 

Featured Image: Solar Eclipse from Salem, Oregon 2017 by Amee Nassrene Broumand

Individual featured images by Amee Nassrene Broumand unless marked with an asterisk

An Interview with Poet Laura Potts

by Amee Nassrene Broumand

 

Hello Laura, thank you for taking the time to speak with me here on Burning House Press! I love the complex music of your work. What’s your relationship to sound and the oral tradition of poetry?

Always, in testament to its fundamentally oral heritage, sound has stood at the forefront of my work: that is, I have always tried to pay homage to the ancient verbal roots of poetry with an acute focus on just how moving sound can be. It is probably, in the words of Harold Bloom, my own anxiety of influence: the writers that haunt me the most are those who expand the malleable state of sound. There is no single prescriptive path which sound can take in poetry, and I think that appeals to the rebel in me. And I’ve studied it quite intensely really: I often apply scansion to Latin poetry to see the specific moments of gravity and levity which bring a line alive. And, of course, I always read my work out loud as I write: it may have one life on the page but it has another one aloud.

“the writers that haunt me the most are those who expand the malleable state of sound”

You had the chance to work at Dylan Thomas’s birthplace in Swansea. What was that like?

My summer there was the single most academic season of my young life. At first I’d planned to stay for a week or so, but that soon turned into a couple of months and I’m sure I learnt the equivalent of a whole degree in that time. I travelled from a small village in Carmarthen to Swansea each day, where I walked up the old hill of Cwmdonkin Drive and through the small black gate of number five which Dylan had pushed so many times. My time was largely spent reading, writing and researching his work. I wrote essays for The Dylan Thomas Society and saw a performance of Under Milk Wood. I drank in the pubs he drank in. I slept in his bedroom a night or two, with the old gas lamp still burning. I visited the boathouse in Laugharne which he shared with his wife, and even interviewed an old neighbour once. Yes, my broken old bookcase still models three rows of Dylan and always will. It was the summer to always remember. Continue reading “An Interview with Poet Laura Potts”

The Linen Man Suite by Lorie Broumand

The Sale

 

The linen man was having a sale. The townspeople got up early to buy linens.

The linen man had boasted of his sale for seven years, and the townspeople were driven by a rabid impatience. They’d pressured him to hold it now, and then now, and so on.

On the day of the sale, the town was caught up in a colossal heat. It was uncommon, so early in the summer, and the townspeople swung their limbs in wretchedness. Henny and Ida claimed the temperature had increased daily as the sale neared.

Others noticed this, too; worse, the air took on a density that smelled of flowers. It was clear from the smell these flowers had flourished in the heat, grown large in it, and died. The townspeople chose not to say anything, as it was unpleasant in a variety of ways. They held handkerchiefs over their faces as they walked to the linen sale.

The sun hadn’t come up yet, and all but one of the streetlights along the linen man’s street had gone out. It was too hot to fix them, so no one had, and the solitary light turned the air an uncomfortable green.

“There’s something linen-like about that shade of green,” said Mrs. R.

“It’s not the shade of green you’re noticing, it’s that machine sound,” said Mr. L.

“It’s the smell,” said Ms. X, “which is clearly linen in nature.”

Mr. L and Ms. X were notoriously confident about the superiority of their perceptions.

Townspeople streamed into the linen man’s street. The machine sound was very loud there, and a large object shook under a piece of plastic.

Near the object was a crate of cubes.

The townspeople needed dishcloths, bedclothes, curtains, and shirts. But they saw none of this—merely the cubes, and the density in the air.

Mrs. R drew a line through the air, an involuntary motion.

“Linen sale,” called the linen man. He ushered the townspeople with his hands.

 

 

Continue reading “The Linen Man Suite by Lorie Broumand”

Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia

Punctuality

 

This

This is

This isn’t

This isn’t a

This isn’t a nice

This isn’t a nice, cool

This isn’t a nice, cool dream

This isn’t a cool dream

This isn’t a dream

of a sunny day in

a Cimmerian

night

This may

This may be

This may be even

This may be even worse

This may be even worse than

This may be even worse than a nightmare

This may not be worse than

This may be the worst

This is the worst

ever

the worst ever monster

the worst ever monstrous

the worst ever monstrous, cool

the worst ever monster, nice, cool

dream, which turned into a

nightmare, since we

didn’t wake up

on time Continue reading “Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia”

Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer

I can pinpoint the moment.

A sudden silence of traffic,

and voices

weaving a scary tale,

far away,

then further still.

 

Under the fluorescent lights,

I folded.

 

I didn’t catch anyone’s eye

but breathed deeply.

It didn’t help.

I’d ended up on the ceiling

looking down on myself.

 

My heavy blue beads

clunked and swung

with each swivel of my neck.

No one noticed.

 

Below, the other me had finished her tea

and was sorting change from her purse.

I called out. She didn’t glance up.

 

Rivulets of condensation

on the steamy window

seemed to tell me to follow, follow

as if droplets of water

could guide me home.

 

Continue reading “Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer”

The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett

It was a surprise to see the danger red, tango orange, white mottle. All the other shellfish she had seen that day in the rock pools had been dark browns, some black elegant creatures. This was a lobster that looked like it was half-cooked, but alive and well, a naturally appealing dinner invitation.

She felt like a child squatting down next to the rock pool. How had he got washed up here, so beautiful against the wrinkled rocks and sighing sand. The day, sunny but with a wind that ran through her ankles and up her skirt occasionally, should have been about observing. She thought she would spend some time looking at the rock pools, looking at the creatures in them, grey and black and brown—crabs moving amongst the husks and wrappers of their dead comrades. Never take a step back, pick up claw from a fallen brother.

She was going to be detached today, she’d promised. She wasn’t going to get involved with anything, she said the creative writing course was helping, but there needed to be more material, more distraction. She’d been told by the tutor that she was a natural journalist, scornfully. Always ready to get involved and meddle in someone else’s story, rather than secretly skimming off the best bits from a distance.

So she would observe today. It was a bit like when she had been dumped by her boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend. The idea was to stay single for a while, to observe the others doing the dance and check she knew the steps.

But here, with this orange lobster in the black bowl of a Welsh rock pool, she decided to engage with it. She started by giving it a nudge with a stick to see how active it was. It was beautiful, so could be dead. It moved and whirled around to look at her, pointedly. She was surprised, and didn’t expect it to be so forward, it was a rare thing and therefore should be shy in her world. Continue reading “The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett”

Interminatus by Cory Willingham

I

 

If I should die before I wake

I pray the lord my soul to take.

But if my dreams some wonder show

I ask him that he let me go.

 

Space wrecks hell on mortal minds.

 

 

II

 

Last night, I closed my eyes

around midnight

and slept for unknown eons.

I travelled up

and up and up

and made claws of my hands

to tear through the atmosphere.

I floated serene across silent spans

of violet shadow

dots of light seen mostly by night

expanding to fill my view—

and then I met the moon.

Continue reading “Interminatus by Cory Willingham”

Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz

Cherry Pit

 

My mouth is a bowl full of pitted cherries. My stomach the bucket for all the swallowed bloody pits. Every word tastes sweet and dark and tart on my tongue, rolling against my blushing cheeks. And when I smile, red love dribbles down my chin.

When I speak, I am tempted to sing like the way the bright pink blossoms burst into bloom in the springtime. The air is fragrant with love and sweetness and honeybees. But at the lightest breeze, fragrant with daffodils and shadows, my flowers fall

in clusters trembling, and I remember the splinters in the black bark of the cherry tree, the amber sap dripping down the exposed inner rings. The long weeping, the unfurling of flowers. And while the axe is out of sight I fear for other trees, and my branches still shake hearing lightning Continue reading “Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz”

Photographs of New Orleans by Julia Skop

Julia Skop 1

Julia Skop 2

Julia Skop 3 Continue reading “Photographs of New Orleans by Julia Skop”

Bear off a Leash by Stephen Lightbown

I’m out with Bear on Victoria Street

who pads on all fours beside my wheelchair.

Slaloms his way through the soil rain that falls

from freshly watered hanging-baskets perched

like floral eagles on London’s lampposts.

Cranes observe from above as they deliver skips

to third floors without lifts and walls.

Wet nose to the ground, tension stretches

his sinews. His fur bristles. Always moments

from mayhem. The street is a treadmill in reverse,

every third door a Pret, repetition everywhere.

Step step Pret. Step step Pret. Step step Pret.

Tourists and commuters momentarily forget their handhelds.

It’s clear we don’t belong here.

I am wary of Bear. I want to get to the station

without incident. A wheelie suitcase here. Double pram there.

Sideways glances. Unseen fury from Bear.

Bubbles of rage fight for release.

Bear explodes. Chaos.

Now on two legs he claws at a man on a bike

for hire. Interloper on the pavement, briefcase

and Metro in the basket. He has spun too close

to our tension in his race

for AOB at 9am. Bear scratches

at the fact we are different. That in this city

of a million faces we stand out below eye level.

The commuter cyclist is collateral damage. An accident.

Like we once were.

Lava eyes ignore sense. He’s too strong for me.

I grasp at the space where moments ago he was.

Bear stop, what are you doing? Let it go. I plead.

Bear replies: Say he deserved it.

Bear is lost in the woods. Redwoods loom,

their branches retreat, unable to contain contempt.

You’re pathetic, stand up for yourself. Say I was right.

Bear is a dot. Lost to me.

No good ever comes when he is like this. I know what he thinks.

If people want to stare, give them a show.

Take me out from the trees, put me in a Big Top.

Silence and shame will deliver us to the station.

But Bear is right.

Can’t you control your bear? Pedals the victim. Continue reading “Bear off a Leash by Stephen Lightbown”

A Catalogue of Small Shatterings by Makensi Ceriani

I have always had a fascination with transformation. With taking incongruent parts to make a whole. With cutting and stripping and building up from the bottom and the artist as self-portrait. I could easily be found in childhood obsessing over the arrangement of furniture and décor of my Laura Ashley doll house. Today this is a dining room with a red velvet tablecloth and a chandelier light that chimes a segment from the Four Seasons because my Polly Pocket is the queen and she’s having the tour group Bratz over for tea. Tomorrow it is a miniature of my family’s dining room with boxes and old paint chips and no tablecloth and striped walls that look like silk and show damage easily.

Most of my toys were dolls, the easiest to buy for a girl, the easiest to buy for a child who liked to imagine new worlds. I remember the Betty Spaghetti dolls with neon bodies and plastic hair whose arms and torsos and heads could pop out to be interchangeable. To be made anew. How many times did I snap and unshape the forms of girls to get the end result I wanted. How many times did I teach myself what is, is not always. I remember the What’s Her Face dolls with smooth, blank complexions I could stamp their expressions on. This one is surprised. This one is happy. This one has stars for eyes and an eye for a mouth. The stars were permanent marker, the eye easily removed. My mother did not buy me anymore of those dolls after that. She would tell me not to cut Barbie’s hair because it did not grow back; I could not understand her anger when I cut my own bangs with clunky construction paper scissors. I thought we both knew it would grow back. It must have been the shock, of my swift reveal from one face to another. She must not have recognized me. I was not allowed to cut my hair again. Continue reading “A Catalogue of Small Shatterings by Makensi Ceriani”

Baroclinic Instability by katillac tweed

this song makes your kisses so wet

pull the moon out just to watch me win again

cover me in sleep and ticket stubs

and message sent

i was better when my haircut was so tom petty ‘89

i knew all i needed from open pages on your floor

remember sketchbook boy with the nice lips

when intentions only tried to find us

the overestimation that

we weren’t dumb enough to return

again & again & again

a cement truck tipped off on your street

centripetal forces and spells broken

 

i’m so loose after that fever left

pull the moon out to see my shower filled with wristbands and beer cans

this trajectory doesn’t promise much but when i glance up i receive enough vindication to continue

and enough light to see my name on endless married middle-aged women full of regret or curiosity or boredom or

 

sometimes i’m sitting in front of a horizon 5pm to 7pm lovingly watching a water skier all poised all shore to shore like it’s the most natural thing and i ask my soul if she would still know smoke signals even if neither she nor anyone else at a reasonable distance could possibly decipher them

 

Continue reading “Baroclinic Instability by katillac tweed”

genesis by Clark Chatlain

out of the gray afternoon it might begin—the creation of the world. in the sound of a snow shovel scraping on ice and in the slush that remains a kind of ex nihilo is generated. from nothing. certainly from nothing. in the birthing of worlds there are no principles only the appearance of that which did not exist before and that now is. that now irrefutably is. where once the cosmos was simply gray expanse and the waters then below, or even the gathering of all things in one small, great magnitude, there is now the gray afternoon. no diving for worlds in the great sea. no trickster. nothing. a flock of dying geese crosses the new sky in a v that tapers to oblivion. a dog howls to no answer in the distance. his leg is broken and he is looking for a culvert to hide in. surely, they have come. in this world the names are stripped one by one and a first and last lonesome forked creature with twelve fingers and no face ticks off the forgotten. ah, yes. this swirling mass of creation, this pool of dim color that rises in the deep of the gray and seems to nod to the cracked moon above—this is genesis. the names fall off each and each wanders to their glory in a desert of rock and gray sun. a world. a new world.

 

Continue reading “genesis by Clark Chatlain”

Two Pieces by Erin Calabria

Ten Sentences

 

I. Rowing

I am setting out on this water not to drift but to row, since this not loving you has drawn from me almost as much as loving you once did, and nothing is as full as a boat by itself in a sea that does not end.

 

II. Barn Ruin

We found it at the edge of the woods that August you wouldn’t touch me, just a skeleton of walls and poison ivy climbing all the way to the caved-in roof, triple leaves bigger than hands and glossed to the point of dripping, and it was almost pretty, all those edges hooked against each other, baring back a tessellated light, just as long as we didn’t come close.

 

III. Tide

I was not afraid you would hurt me, but that you never would, that you would never even peer between these ribs I’ve hinged apart for you, until the wind will do to me what it does to all soft creatures left behind by the tide, and the only sound my throat can make will be the sound of robin nests unraveled in a storm.

Continue reading “Two Pieces by Erin Calabria”

Jack by Gene Farmer

It was for Joanna Newsom that I left my wife and children, all of whom I adored more than anything in that world which I left behind and to which I will never go back. My defence is sound, you’ll see.

I’d checked myself into the hospital, just like they tell you to if you’re experiencing difficulties in breathing, have a tight chest and your head is spinning. I passed swiftly through triage and onto a bed where they wired me to an ECG, took blood and then abandoned me to crisp blue curtains and the metronomic beep of an ignored monitor. Continue reading “Jack by Gene Farmer”

7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle

this splintered

self, always

 

there and not

there—all ways

fragments

 

too close

to truth

 

his

portrait

 

ear-splitting

hairline cracks

 

eyes—iced-over

puddles

stepped

into, smashed

 

nose, broken

punched in

like a code

 

pupils;

dead flies

captured by

misshapen webs

 

frown thrown

off guard

 

skull-shatter

piece by piece

 

within his

lashes

 

a universe

on the blink
Continue reading “7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle”

Two Poems by Anna Wall

Of the sea

 

I was not formed from earth:

A dirty rib, used and scratching.

His name wasn’t on the birth certificate.

 

A womb of one’s own, forged in a locked room—

Nourished by sadness and

the shame they made her feel.

 

The sea always felt like home,

wind born waves held me.

Rocked me to sleep in a salted cradle.

 

Sometimes the monsters would come—

Emerging from beneath,

threatening to take my legs.

 

They never could, and I floated

eyes skyward.

Wishing I could row.

 

Continue reading “Two Poems by Anna Wall”

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