DARK INK: An Anthology Reading

— Saturday — October 24, 2020

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have just lost a game in the World Series that will go down in their franchise’s history as far more stunning in its implausibility than KirK Gibson’s home run back in 1988. In this case, though, the tape loop will verge on infamy, as it involved a two-error sequence that was closer in quality to what one might see on a Little League field.

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of reading with a wonderful set of poets earlier in the afternoon to celebrate the Halloween season by revisiting our contributions to DARK INK, an anthology of poems “inspired by horror.” Edited by the indefatigable Eric Moraga, this collection seems even more lively than it did when it first appeared two years ago. If you need a book to provide a counterbalance to the colossal infarction of American democracy that is being addressed in the ICU of electoral politics, then this volume is the one to get by the end of the coming week. It will provide almost enough imaginative solace to keep the thought of the unbearable in historical perspective.

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Here was this afternoon’s line-up:

Robin Axworthy
Laurel Ann Bogen
Amanda Bradley
Cathleen Calbert
Mike Cantin
Sarah ChristianScher
Scott Noon Creley
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Brian Fanelli
HanaLena Fennel
Jerry Garcia
Sonia Greenfield
Seth Halbeisen
Armine Iknadossian
Victor Infante
Rick Lupert
Daniel McGinn
R.S. Mengert
Bill Mohr
Mish (Eileen) Murphy
Robbi Nester
Terri Niccum
Alan Passman
Lee Rossi
Jennifer Lee Rossman
Beth Ruscio
Jason Schneiderman
Rob Sturma
Ben Trigg
Ellen Webre

Each of us read one poem. I chose to read “The Ghoul Convention,” which I wrote well over well over a decade ago in response to a WSP convention. (WSP stands for “White Supremacist Party,” a political organization that used to be known as the GOP.) The reading was recorded and will eventually be made available to watch online.

THE GHOUL CONVENTION

“The young ones can’t catch on. Stay calm,
even when confronted with the hilarious panic

of a half-dead corpse. After waiting all year,
don’t leave the picky eater picnic with any regrets.”

The old ones give each other shoulder rubs
while reading back issues of Ghoul Housekeeping.

Next year’s panels are announced: Topiary Management.
(“Even a ghoul must plant his garden.”)

Wraith of the year! Eidolon of the decade!
The world is not an ugly place, not yet.

No natural enemies, a voiceover recites.
A very young ghoul is digging holes in a huge field

too far from any city to be a place for mourning,
yet the bereft come here to be alone, or grouse.

“Ignominy,” an adolescent mutters. “Carnival music,”
a widow responds. “Casual acquaintances,”

their companions proclaim. “Whores for hire
in all but name.” “Depends on your definition

of virginity,” said a half-naked ghoul getting dressed
again. “I don’t like accidents,” the seduced insist.

“Unintentional carnage is so boring, so effete.”
“Magnanimous spite is the only motive I respect.”

Borrowing the sentiments of triumphant candidates,
the ghouls repay their debts with orphaned toys.

(This poem first appeared in SKIDROW PENTHOUSE, in 2011. My thanks again to its editors.)