Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rise of the Rain Forest: A Book Review

Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest: By Robert Frazier and Bruce Boston: Crystal Lake Publishing, 2017, 245 pages.

In an undefined future, the rain forest has taken on a grotesquely beautiful life. It and everything in it mutates wildly, incessantly. The only laws governing the changes appear to be chaos and rage. Some humans survive at the jungle’s ever hungry and expanding frontier; their existence is precarious. The people who live within the forest itself are no longer human.  Perhaps they are more, perhaps less. The cities fight back with flame and chemical warfare. The forest attacks with spores and vines and strange beasts. In the end, everything succumbs.

In this thick and meaty work, the reader will find poems, flash fiction, and even a few longer stories. Many of these have appeared in other publications but there are also a number of new pieces. Boston and Frazier appear to have been writing of the mutant rain forest for quite a few years, and I’m glad to see this material collected together in one place by Crystal Lake Publishing. It certainly heightens and reinforces the impact of the individual pieces.

I’m very familiar with Bruce Boston’s work, less so with that of Robert Frazier. However, I thought the vision of these two writers meshed wonderfully throughout the collection.  As I started reading, I was paying attention to which particular author did what. I soon stopped concerning myself with that as I got further immersed in the world. It didn’t matter any longer.

The greatest strengths here are word play, imagery, and resonance. Maybe word ‘play’ isn’t quite the right term, for the language is serious. Word “work” might be better. Others have remarked on the imagery as apocalyptic and hallucinatory. I concur. But there’s a bit more. The imagery is itself insidious—not in a negative sense but in the sense of entrapping and beguiling. It’s almost as if the spores of the mutant rain forest wash over you with every page you turn. You wonder if they might take root on your skin. What might be born from such a symbiosis? And there you have the resonance.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hateful Thing


When life struck its first blow,
he retreated before it.
But blows never stop at one.
So he kept retreating
until his back found the wall.
Within himself he found
hammer and anvil,
turned the ore of pain
into plate metal and shield.

Gilded and girded,
he strode forth upon the field.
And the wounds he took showed
only as dents in his armor.
On the outside.
On the outside.

A hero holds his own in the face of many.
He does not wish battle but does not shirk it.
He “stands tall.” He “fights the good fight.”
His face may be bloodied, his body bruised.
But it’s only on the outside
because his spirit is burnished within.
Burnished within.

Only, in this world
there are so few face-to-face fights.
He seldom sees an enemy coming.
He can’t watch every shadow where a dagger
might lurk.
And not only enemies wield the blade.
Friends and loved ones always know
where the chinks lie in the armor
that has started to rust.

When does the hero become the villain?
Is it when he begins to return every blow
with the force of ten?
Or when he returns blows not yet given?
But expected.

In time he came to enlightened rage.
When an insult was thrown at him,
he sharpened it with words,
poisoned it with his own blood
and hurled it back.
By then he was going armed
to every gathering.
Prepared for defense.
Or offense.
Or offense.

Finally the day came
when he looked in the mirror
and saw,
he had become his own enemy.
A hateful thing.
And for such a blow
there is no armor,
no retreat.
For such a blow must be the last
ever struck.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Sleep Paralysis Experience

Wow, I haven't posted her since February 10. My blog seems to be dying almost in spite of myself. Well maybe that's because not a lot of interest has happened to me. However, I did have a dream experience last night that might be worth sharing.

Many who visit here know that I have very vivid dreams and have written a lot of stories from those. However, I also occasionally experience sleep paralysis. For those who don't know, sleep paralysis involves waking up from sleep but remaining paralyzed from the neck down. The paralysis is temporary but can be disturbing. Sometimes, sleep paralysis is accompanied by vivid dream-like experiences that indicate a state that mixes waking and dreaming. I've had both types, the paralysis only, and the mixed state. Last night's experience was rather interesting, and scary.

I woke up, or thought I did, with a leg pushed up against my back. I knew Lana was in the other room and tried to call out but couldn't. I reached behind me to touch the leg and realized it was too small to be Lana's. It was a child sized leg. And it seemed to be growing out of me at the base of my spine.

I got a chill over my whole body and squeezed the leg hard. As soon as I did so, a child's arm popped out of my shoulder. But it was like a ghost arm. I could see through it. I realized at this point that it was sleep paralysis. Normally when I realize that I try to relax, which is the best way to make it dissipate. However, I was still freaked out enough to struggle. I tried to sit up and managed to do so, then woke up completely to find myself still lying on my side. I went and told Lana about the experience, then fell back to sleep pretty easily.

About all I can imagine from this experience is that it was my "inner child" trying to get out. Maybe he just didn't want to go to work today.