On this episode we discussed three poems by Dana Sonnenschein, all submitted for our Monsters issue! Dana is a professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University. Her manuscript, Bear Country was selected as winner of the 2008 Stevens Poetry Book Manuscript Competition.
Present at the Editorial Table:
Kathleen Volk Miller
PBQ Box Score: 1:2
On this episode we discussed three poems by Dana Sonnenschein, all submitted for our Monsters issue!
Dana is a professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University. Her manuscript, Bear Country was selected as winner of the 2008 Stevens Poetry Book Manuscript Competition. Her writing can also be found in Pith Journal and Poemeleon.
Dana love wolves, ravens, black cats, Universal horror films, folklore from around the world, and the kind of cookbooks that feature ingredients like mummy and shavings from human skulls. And yes, she does wear white glove when she handles manuscripts!
You can ‘like’ Dana’s author page on Facebook.
These poems were part of a series that put a twist on old horror stories. First up was “The Secret” and we were seriously scared. From eyeballs in hands to some Shining-esque twins, we knew that we were in for some creepy stuff in the best way.
We moved on to discuss “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” a prose poem. This poem particularly resonated with editor Tim Fitts, causing him to recall a neighbor he had with serious boundary issues.
Last, Sonnenschein took us to Egypt with her poem “The Return of the Mummy.” Somehow, this poem related the mummies we all fear with another fear we all have–in relationships.
Although the authors we’ve asked to participate in our podcast have been overwhelmingly supportive, we have had a few authors who declined to be a part of Slush Pile.
We discussed some of the emotional responses we received so far, and some of the reasons our podcast might scare authors, even when we’re not talking about the Creature from the Black Lagoon!
Two boys of nine or ten in yellow slickers. The first time I saw them, one stood high on the bank, watching the water, hands in his pockets; the other ran down the hill, holding his eyes out in his palms. Drops ringing. Grass shining wet with rain, rock dark like a rook. A broken oar split the surface of the river. The next night they came down from their stone keep and sang sweetly, holding hands, We are the eyes from the Eye Tower. Then the river flowed under and the road gave in one sweeping curve. I had to know. So I took a whirlpool down, cool and smooth as metal. Came up spiraling, my mouth full of blood. I spit on the causeway, put my fingers where my teeth had been, and told no one what I’d seen. But you know the river I mean.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
My neighbor leads a life of fiction and once in a while invites me in—to make believe she’s got a spotless apartment, a couple kids, religion. It’s hard to keep up with the plot. The radiator hisses like a cast-iron snake. Or the kitchen faucet drips, and a roach slips out from under a plate. She changes her age like her clothes, every few days. Sometimes she stares where water scales the wall and says she’ll give up booze. One night the building’s old pipes ring and then my phone—I heard you typing. I’m writing a novel, too, she says, about some people I know. I sigh and lean on the wall we share. Soon she’s breathing into my ear, So you think it’s your honey, forgot his keys, no, drops the keys, he knocks and calls, louder, because you were in the shower, yeah, and you let him in, but he’s not your honey. He’s a man in flippers and a black rubber suit. Universal Studios, 1954.I roll my eyes. But then I think of her, hunched over, listening behind her door, as keys jangle onto hardwood, as this thing between a man and beast slithers in. I say, Sorry, I left the water running. You’ll have to stop by tomorrow and tell me how it ends. When I hear her slippers in the hall, I shiver and pretend there’s no one home.
The Return of the Mummy
At midnight, it’s Kharis, clutching his heart
and game leg trailing: he needs a good start,
but he won’t stand still for his priestess’s goods
being touched. Her ghost returns to girlhood
or a handful of dust, but he remains, cursed,
rag-wrapped, limping through reels without words
Once we swore, Cross my heart and hope to die,
and stared into glass cases where mummies lie,
holding hands, our monstrous fascination
taking in needles, death, and devotion,
a toe dark as a raisin, the Rosetta Stone,
eternal pyramids, copulating oxen.
When we unlocked dead tongues and tombs,
it was because we knew the future loomed
beyond chill doors. We held onto love like a balm.
We didn’t want to be left alone after all
and couldn’t quite believe in sky-blue heaven
or living on without our flesh and bones.