Creatures In The House – 21 Days Until Halloween

We have cats.  We also have animals skulls, mink skins, a preserved alligator head and piranha, and vials of insects.  I have a coin purse made out of a Bufo marinus, complete with head,  front legs and googly eyes, but she’s at work.

percey and skullsNow that it’s Halloween time, there are all sorts of additional creatures lying around.  The cats consider them new places to sleep and fantastic toys.  I found a skeleton leg today that a cat had pulled from its owner to bat around the living room.

If I’m writing, this is the cat trying to crawl into my lap, pawing at my computer, or suddenly deciding to climb the laundry room shelves so I have to get up and investigate the crash when it happens.  I’d like to say he inspires me to write creatures that move stealthily through the night, creeping up behind you, with golden eyes that glow as a light slides past them.  Alas, he is the least monstrous creature in the house.

I am drawn to creatures of all types, whether they are furry or warty or scaly.  Even the ones with shiny exoskeletons and pincers are beautiful to me.  And I am intrigued by how they can figure into a horror story.  The idea of something adorable filling someone with dread is compelling.  Imagine the recognition a character would have, the moment they realized their beloved pet or the beautiful creature was something monstrous and unpredictable.  It gives me shivers.

Throwback Thursday – 23 Days Until Halloween

I listened to Sounds To Make You Shiver over and over as a kid.  Blowing wind and hooting owls made me imagine empty places.  Frankenstein’s monster breaking loose was the very sound of havoc.

But, goodness, look at that album cover!  So. Many. Monsters.  They are tumbling out of that castle!  Frankenstein’s monster is stomping towards you.  The witch is busy with her cauldron, but the werewolf and Dracula have totally seen you.  And what is that hairy, gape-mouthed thing…a banshee?

I wanted to live in that castle and learn all its “Bloodcurdling! Terror! Horror!” secrets.

Want to listen to enjoy the spooky sounds, too?  Click here, but be warned, it opens with a scream.

The Haunted Shed – 24 Days Until Halloween

My parents passed away last year, and my family and I are getting things cleaned up to sell their home.

There have been lots of creepy surprises along the way. The jack-o-lantern door mat and classic horror movie DVD’s were warm reminders of my dad and his love of spooky stuff. The bags of bones were probably from an art project of his. The old plastic doll, missing an eye, her head turned around, and mysteriously standing in the middle of the workshop was weird, but not in a bad way.

But my family didn’t like the haunted shed.

The shed probably wasn’t really haunted.  Sure, it was filled with some odd things.

Medical equipment is not inherently scary, and old wheelchairs and walkers shouldn’t be surprising in a home where elderly people passed their last days. But my parents never used this equipment.

The dust and cobwebs were simply what collects in an outbuilding under the trees. They were lovely, in their way, draped on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. There was rusted scaffolding in there, and tools. A hammer with the hand-built handle. A pitchfork. Multiple machetes. It had a dirt floor, so of course something had burrowed up into the old squirrel cage and built a nest. The aesthetic was right up my alley. Dim and claustrophobic. Creaking. Dilapidated.

My family said it felt bad in there.

The haunted shed was recently cleared out by professional trash haulers.  Everything was pulled out and stacked on trailers, mundane in the light of the day.

But I like to wonder, will hauling all that away expel everything that was moving in there?

Wolf’s Museum Of Mystery – 28 Days Until Halloween

Do you remember the first time you stopped at aWolfs-shop windows
shop window, drawn to the oddities arranged there?  Some of them were vaguely ornate, gleaming and reminiscent of the other side of the world.  Dolls with piercing blue eyes may have looked out at you, their red mouths open to show small, white teeth.  The mechanical toys were metal and their sharp edges were rusty.  Maybe your companion said it was just a pile of junk.

Wolfs-headBut you saw them for the treasures they were.  You pushed open the shop door, squinting into the dimness within, and the bell tinkled to tell the owner that another one had been drawn in.

Wolf’s Museum of Mystery is stuffed with collections of spiritual artifacts and horror gimcracks.  Taxidermied creatures are tucked in every corner.  There are aliens and eerie chanting.  A mermaid is rumored to live in a pool in the back, where the bunnies are.  Watch out for the bunnies.

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There’s free popcorn in the horror movie watching room upstairs.  And if you walk deep enough inside, you’ll find out what that dripping sound is in the bathroom.

Wolfs-sign

Horse – A Poem Poised To Run

Horse
by Victoria Nations

Smooth planes of muscle and bone
grown over with layers of
detritus, lichen and grime
caught
in the corners
spreading
until they touch one another
crusting the surface
beneath
which lies
smooth planes of muscle and bone
and skin
shiny with sweat
wetting the living things who
drink
and cover the
smooth planes of muscle and bone
rolling beneath
hard but for
a rolling eye
wild in its socket
caught
tangled in the
detritus, lichen and grime
smothering the
smooth planes of muscle and bone

Captain G – A Love Poem For May 20

CAPTAIN G
by Victoria Nations

Rough seas at bedtime, the faithful crew
of stuffies rush around, pulling ropes and sails.
My glass scans the horizon,
but riding the surf is too thrilling to
turn into that calm port ahead.

A huge island rises above the waves, and we cry:
It’s a gum ball! I love gum balls!
And we break into laughter, rolling around the poop deck,
jumping over the sides,
swimming out of the sheets and falling onto the floor.

Courage and Turt preside over our splashing, while
Iggy and Spike make rude noises, which break us up even more.
Count Sockula flies around and Tex stampedes;
we run around the deck with them, and Honey tries to hush us.
Minitee and Orcky are dolphining around, and suddenly
The Annoying Thing goes off, chattering at the top of his lungs,
and we are all lost, gasping for air in the sea of bedclothes.

Mom clomps upstairs, and there is a chorus of shushing.
Everyone wiggles to snuggle down and look asleep.
(Several are holding their breath, submerged under blankets)
After a kiss and a drink, Mom tells us to go to sleep.
And we smother ourselves, nodding that we will, watching
the door close. It is bedtime.

Until Minitee breaches big, his tummy breaking above the waves of pillows,
a great round gum ball bobbing there.
And we are drowning in giggles until we can’t breathe.

* This poem was published in Chronicle 2014 Prize-Winning Poems, a publication of Seminole State College

Chicken Purse – A Poem

CHICKEN PURSE
by Victoria Nations

I need a new purse
and I want to find one that looks like a chicken.
It will be life-sized and feathery,
and have little horny feet that stick out of the bottom
because truly elegant purses have feet.
The head will have a pink, rubbery comb
and bright plastic eyes.
And I’ll carry the straps over my shoulder
so I can tuck the chicken purse under my arm.

Everyone will notice my chicken purse.
They’ll wonder if I’m carrying a live chicken
or a stuffed one that’s dead.
I’ll talk to it, stroking its neck
and cooing to it lovingly.
And people will think it’s adorable,
or kind of sad, the way I talk to my stuffed chicken.
They won’t notice how it has a perfectly sized sleeve
for my laptop, and cunning little pockets,
and pen holders inside,
though they really should assume it has those features.
I wouldn’t have gotten my chicken purse if it weren’t functional.

I’ll set my chicken purse next to me when I dine.
And I’ll tell it “stay,” and give it a piercing look
like, “You’d better not disobey me, pet chicken.”
But it won’t really be a pet; it will be a purse.
And I’ll compliment it when it sits obediently through the meal
and reward it with bits from my plate.
And when the check comes,
I’ll pull my credit card from under its wing
and thank it for holding it for me.
But I’ll tap it on its beak when it tries to peck the paper.
It will need to learn to behave properly in a fancy restaurant.

Anyway – A Love Poem

ANYWAY
by Victoria Nations

She has no red hair,
and no gray,
and only a few freckles
peppered across her putty nose,
and splattered down her back.

She’s the tall one,
the strong one
who owns a tool belt, but
leaves the dead opossums
to me, along with the lizards
and big bugs.

She’s a delicate flower,
nearly crushed by a giant,
snuggling man child, and
fighting for space
amongst twenty-five cats,
and unexpected skeletons,
and feet in the freezer.

She just stacks the
bags of heads higher,
keeping it all organized,
and squeezes her wife and boy
when they pile on her,
showing her weird objects,
and she loves them anyway.

Happy birthday – and anniversary – wishes to my lovely wife and Monster Woman.