Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
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Our good friend Steven P. Bouchard has written a classic-style holiday poem for Thanksgiving, and we’re very pleased to share it with you. We hope you do the same.
Late after dark on All Hallows Eve,
After mischievous tricks and collecting of treats,
Skeletons chattered, dead things were screaming,
And sugared-up children were twitching and dreaming.
Deep in the woods in a leaf-covered clearing,
The foxes were gathered, the time was a-nearing.
In the fog that transitioned the night to the day,
To the keening of fox-calls, formed a frisky, dark shape.
And out of the haze stepped a fox-headed mum,
Who quieted her troop with the snap of her thumb.
Her name it was Frixxa, the Matron of Foxes,
She gathered her children to sit upon rockses.
With fog rolling slowly, and moonbeams aslant,
She lifted her arms and she started to chant.
The troop circled in and joined in her song,
With chatters, and wooing, and barks short and long.
Then beyond the darkness came gobbley noises.
The foxes gave chase, unleashing their voices.
And when the Fair Frixxa’s song came to an end,
Turkeys aplenty were corralled in the glen.
Now unearthly birds summoned back from beyond
Were squabbling all dazed from a year being gone.
So henceforth the foxes would fatten and feed them.
For soon the Fair Frixxa would certainly need them.
The night’s work all finished, the matron stood up,
And gave out her blessing to each kit and pup,
And as morning broke she dispersed with the mist,
A long silhouette as the sun’s rays first kissed.
A fortnight and half having passed in the glen,
Darkness fell early, the troop called again.
And out of the mist-shrouded night came the matron,
Wearing an orange- and brown-colored apron.
A week it then took them to ready the flock,
As feathers were scattered and blood soaked the rocks.
But once preparations were fully complete,
The clearing was cleaned and the foxes were neat.
Then hundreds of thousands of plump burlap sacks
Were tied up and hoisted on strong foxy backs.
And as the night fell on the Evening of Thanks,
With a word from Fair Frixxa, the foxes broke ranks.
And over the land they did carry their gifts,
With joyous yip-yapping, on feet running swift.
At each house and shanty they stopped at the door,
And with a quick pause left their offerings poor.
Frixxa, the mischievous maiden of foxes,
Took her own path and dissembled some lockses,
She entered the dwellings on silent fox feet,
To gaze at the children in beds all asleep.
And those she found worthy, or needy, or right,
She left a small gift under pillows that night.
To some she left wishbones, and some pretty pennies,
But to most just a blessing, and some didn’t get any.
And to those very naughty and evilest of kids,
Which is so very seldom (but sometimes she did),
She would leave a fair warning to send them a shiver,
Like wattles, or giblets, or eyes, or a liver.
And back to the clearing when all this was done,
Fled Fair Matron Frixxa, and her troop, every one,
To await the slow breaking of the sun’s early rays,
As each gift is discovered on Thanksgiving Day.
As people all over give thanks and then feast,
The fox-headed mum gives a nod to the east,
Then Frixxa Fair gets one last autumn trick in,
Transforming into a reindeer named Vixen.
About the Poem: I’ve always wondered why Thanksgiving gets a bum deal, blowing right by and being overshadowed by Christmas. I thought about it and realized that Thanksgiving doesn’t have any figurehead like Santa or the Easter Bunny—the turkey is not a herald of the holiday: its dinner.
Also, kids don’t really have anything to look forward to on Thanksgiving–not like Easter Eggs, Trick-or-Treating, or presents from Santa. There are not many holiday movies or TV specials with Thanksgiving in the foreground. So, “Fair Frixxa” is in response to that, giving the holiday an icon to follow, and a more tangible give/receive motif like the more popular holidays. While I don’t usually write poetry, this just begged to be written as a pastiche to the traditional “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This is my attempt to bridge elements of Halloween and Christmas together, and to firmly plant a Thanksgiving legend in its proper November place. Now, if I could only get Boris Karloff to narrate it…
About the Author: Steve lives in Maine with two kids, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and one wonderful wife. This is his first published work.
T.R.O. Publishing recently released the second installment of The Gate series, The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, an anthology featuring work from two of Shock Totem’s own—Mercedes M. Yardley (“Black Mary”) and me, K. Allen Wood (“The Candle Eaters”).
[ Copyright © 2012 by Jesse David Young ]
In addition, you’ll find work by Daniel Pyle, Steven Pirie, David Dalglish, Robert J. Duperre, and seven others.
So if you’re looking for some great fiction at no cost, check out The Gate 2.
Winni…uh, never mind.
Definitely a very cool site, run by a cool cast of characters. Check them out. And for those looking for some quick reads, check out the sidebar on the right. You’ll dig it.
Dark Faith, edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, is one of the newer anthologies put out by Apex Publications. It features 26 short stories and five poems that attempt to tackle the intricacies of faith. I haven’t read much of it, and as it is with most anthologies, I won’t finish it all at once; but I look forward to slowly picking its bones clean.
The first story in Dark Faith is “Ghosts of New York,” by Jennifer Pelland. I will sing praise for this woman until its borderline creepy. (I’m harmless, I assure you.) Her anthology Unwelcome Bodies is one of the best I’ve ever read. Sure, some stories didn’t blow me away, but many floored me. Read “The Last Stand of the Elephant Man,” and you’ll understand. “Ghosts of New York” is not equal to that tale, but it is quite good.
The story revolves around the World Trade Center tragedy, particularly the ghosts of the jumpers, those victims that chose not to perish in fire or the collapse of either tower. The ghosts are forced to relive the terrifying free fall and final impact over and over again. It’s a heart-wrenching tale, one of horror, tragedy, and discovery. And its beautifully written.
Since originally writing this for my blog some months ago, “Ghosts of New York” has been chosen as a Nebula finalist. In celebration of this, Apex has put the story online for free. You can read the haunting tale here.
Next up in Dark Faith is Brian Keene’s “I Sing a New Psalm.” My first experience with Keene’s writing was his short story collection Fear of Gravity. I wasn’t blown away. I loved the final story, “The Garden Where My Rain Grows,” it more than lived up to the praise bestowed upon him, but the other stories just didn’t have the same impact with me. Decent, but maybe my expectations were too high. “I Sing a New Psalm,” however, is a very good tale if a bit obvious.
The story is told in 44 short bursts and follows a man of uncertain faith through his ultimate acceptance and subsequent denial of God. It’s a story that explores the puzzling contradiction of cruelty and selfishness from a so-called loving, omniscient god. Something we’ve all questioned. Keene does it justice.
Though I haven’t read it completely, Dark Faith is worth buying. Anything Apex puts out is worth buying. Dig it!
Hey, it’s my YouTube debut, and it doesn’t involve any singing or dancing! Check out this reading of my essay “Butterflies and Battleaxes,” a chapter from my Williams Syndrome memoir.
Her first nomination was in 2007, for her story “Captive Girl,” which can be found in the fantastic Unwelcome Bodies.
Wish her luck!
And for those interested, you can read the haunting “Ghosts of New York” by clicking here. It’s well worth it.
Issue #3 contributor Steven “Seven” Pirie is offering up for free download a short collection of four humorous tales, which you can download here at Smashwords. It’s called Mrs. Mathews is Afraid of Cricket Bats.
And issue #3 of Shock Totem, of course.