Feeding the Dead
by M. Brett Gaffney
These poems are the knife edge, the hot blood, the wolf’s howl, and the fang of the girl who hunts him down. This book holds the haunted-house-horror and everything real underneath, the costume, the bruise after, the smoke curling in the heart of a hellhound. “After supper she pulls on boots, prepares her heart” and goes out to collect his “sharpest fang.” These poems are demons and strawberries and bones, and teeth, and agency, self, girl-power, woman-power—assertive figures preoccupied with agency, not beauty—not prettiness for the observer. This chapbook of poems is the bone-yard, the skeleton, the strength. “I am here to stay / … / I am just as real as anything else.” (Porkbelly Press, 2017)
A Haunted House Disclaimer
This is what you’ve paid for,
my gravel-voice behind this mask,
my makeup like brimstone—
What’s wrong sweetheart?
You don’t think I’m pretty?
You want me like this
bloody and bad-girl,
hand heavy with baseball bat,
wrapped with rusty barbed-wire,
dangerous at my side.
You tell me how you’d like to slip your tongue
through, push past latex to my lips.
Just the voice, baby, only my swagger.
You can’t get at the woman
under all this filth and grime.
Is it a guy or a girl? someone asks.
Do you really care?
Aren’t there better questions here?
Like how much blood can I carry
on the outside, all over my clothes,
these torn-up jeans like midnight slaughter,
boots scuffed with after-death, the skin
dust of everything you’re afraid of most.
Remember, it’s what you wanted,
the grit and grin of chainsaws waiting
behind me, like hungry hounds,
and in my fist is buried the leash.
You want me to let it go.
Tell me how much.
Shove your ticket in my hand
like a dirty secret and run.
ABOUT THE POET
M. Brett Gaffney, originally from Houston, Texas, holds an MFA in Poetry from Southern Illinois University and is the art editor for Gingerbread House. Her poems have appeared in Exit 7, Rust+Moth, Permafrost, Devilfish Review, museum of americana, BlazeVOX, Rogue Agent, Apex Magazine, and Zone 3, among others. She currently works as a library associate in northern Kentucky and lives in Cincinnati with her partner and their dog, Ava.
ABOUT THE COVER ARTIST
Born in 1979 West Virginia, Mary Chiaramonte was raised helping her family live from and farm their land. She had no TV or other distractions, and was encouraged to entertain herself with objects in nature. Left with the workings of her imagination and observations of the world around her, she translated her understanding into paintings and drawings. She continues this practice today, taking much of her momentum from the people that surround and affect her. Hanging between darkness and light, Chiaramonte’s paintings offer a narrative that echoes a provocative daydream, communicating both the human disposition and the mysteries therein. Her unending exploration surfaces in her paintings with an ambiguity that asks the viewer to wonder at our world as she does.
“The Fables,” acrylic on wood, 24 x 36 inches.
Title typeface: Brain Flower by Denise Bentulan.
micro review via Gwendolyn Kiste: “Women of Horror, Dark Fantasy, and the Weird: A Recommended Reading List.”
delightfully reviewed at Rust+Moth