Poem – “Devil of the Solstice”

Devil of the Solstice

Here the unholy tones of your footsteps whisper,
Ingesting death in baubles of bone and opal
Devil of the solstice, never threaten your song
A billow of razors and dead willow vines
Do you hear it reaping the ice from the mountains?
A sound so somber would ring the cries
From the unborn and necropolitan alike,
Devil of the solstice, never wander by my window

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

A Note on Haunt Me to Sleep and MHz

If you’ve kept up with this blog, you know the troubles I’ve had with Haunt Me to Sleep. A lot of them are unexpected personal delays, as I’m the only one working on it, such as having to recover from getting sick and drastic schedule changes with work and family. So, it probably will come as no surprise that I’m resetting the publication date until next year. There’s no set date or month, it will just come out when it’s out. The good news is, you can request a review copy ahead of time by messaging me on Goodreads, if you want one. They’re free, as long as you give it a rating or review in return, and I’ll email it to you before it’s published.

It was largely wishful thinking believing it would come out this year, but I’d rather it come out late than bad, and I need time to clean up the writing, so that it can be at its absolute best quality. A late book is only late until it’s out, but a bad book is bad forever. (I’m pretty sure that’s a paraphrase of a real quote, but I forget who by.)

MHz was the last poetry book of this year, but it only has a Kindle version for the moment. I’m working on the paperback and ePub version now, so that it’ll be more widely available. I also intended for those to come out much sooner, but sometimes things happen that get in the way, and I honestly had forgotten about it for a time. You can get the Kindle version on Amazon if you want, it’s not expensive. Just wanted everyone to know about these things! 🙂

Poem – “Difficult Places”

Difficult Places

In the corner, a famine of mind
Patiently waits for the situation to change –
The dreams he wastes creep up the walls,
Delusional strings of white datura metel
Creep into the holes in his soul and decay
All the pleasures that he keeps there,
Like murky water spoiling worn-out books

We pass by him slowly, calculating
Whether or not we noticed him dying

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “Always in Mourning”

Always in Mourning

When I grow up, all I want to be
Is the rift in the devil’s logic
Nothing to trip me but the stairs to hell
That I’ve always been playing on,
Always in mourning as if whoever I love
Is always in the throes of dying

All this self-inflicted torture,
Reliving a trauma that never happened,
That never existed on the plane of existence,
Yet it is easier to swallow than any joy,
All the memories that matter

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – Ginger Root

Ginger Root

Tell me your treasury of terrors,
I’ll heal you to keep you sleeping
What floats in the stratosphere of the heart
Can never hurt you if you’re never there,
Where they skulk in the endless pit

Nestle down in the belly of the planet
And I’ll make you safe for the first time

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “The Mercury Drops”

The Mercury Drops

And the fever refuses to subside

I have engulfed the tundra,
An iceberg of blood and plasma
Enormous bones lost beneath the water,
Too small for the palm of the angel

Ten minutes on the seafloor
Are a hundred repetitions of the cycle
Where the world ends as it is born
The nightmare of a burgeoning apocalypse

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – Comatose Awake

Comatose Awake

Comatose awake, dead alive
Retreating into the clouds that bore us,
The windswept plain of a childhood
Passed like water through the palm’s grooves

A signal delayed, a synapse broken
Forgetting how to function on a day
If you suppose it’s sorrowful, consider
That maybe bliss of the fog is better

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Upcoming Books, Frustration and News

This year’s been a right beast, hasn’t it? Don’t you think so? In a way, I wish this span of time were a literal beast, that way I could just kill it. Put the horrible, mutated thing out of its misery. I’m more than ready for 2020, in other words.
This year has tortured me like clockwork, too. Say, if I promised you today that I’d begin, I don’t know, writing a novel tomorrow, and I was truly dead-set on writing it, something out of my control would be thrown in front of me to ensure I couldn’t possibly go through with what I promised to do. The whole year has been a constant torrent of that. After Halloween, I did want to start finishing my backlog of book reviews and ARC books, because it’s gotten quite hefty, but I can’t guarantee I will, at least not judging by the way it’s gone for the past several months.

I have an updated schedule for the books I’ll be publishing. You can find the ones I’ve got out on Amazon or Smashwords, but also several other eBook stores. Pick your favourite mainstream store, they’re likely there. Most of them are free, except for the two that are for the time being, exclusive to Amazon. I’m working on getting them international as well, but I might have to wait awhile because of the Kindle Unlimited policy. Anyway, here are the things that I can guarantee, for sure, are coming out in the next year or so.
Haunt Me to Sleep initially was supposed to come out on Halloween, but there were about five or six stories I ended up having to finish or rewrite, and I didn’t want to rush them out for the sake of a holiday I barely celebrate, so it’s back to it’s original planned date of December or possibly January.

Haunt Me to Sleep (Fantasy / Horror) – Winter 2019-2020
Atlantis Drowning (Poetry) – Summer 2020
The Gutterpunk Blues (Poetry) – Summer 2020
One of three short novellas – 2020-2021
Drift From Electric Green (Dark Poetry) – Spring 2020
Watercolour Hearts (Horror / Fantasy) – 2020-2021

Poem – “Tied Up”

Tied Up

Cannot be counted on the devil’s palm
The arrows embedded in your chest
A sacrifice on the eve of child warlocks
Boy premonition, blood slave to a sorceress
All tied up on the skin of a juniper man
Weeping, gleaning the eyes of faerie youth
Spinning blood into his web of ropes
Keeping you hostage, a blasphemous bondage
Configured in riddles of the cell, without answer

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Book Review – Card of Fate by The Duke of Quails

Card Of Fate: Poems of a Gambling Addiction

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Poetry
Publication Date: December 7th, 2016
Publisher: Independent

“The card of fate was never to be wagered but intended for you to keep. Dear, to bet or gamble on such a card is to place your soul on the devil’s feet.”

Addiction is a rough path, full of setbacks and dotted with many camouflaged pitfalls and brambles. It’s a nagging, teasing sort of demon who stays hooked in you like a bumblebee’s stinger, poisoning you little by little from the background. Some are lucky enough in their lifetimes to only have to skirt around this path, but most will at some point have to face that personal mire head-on, or risk losing something precious.

Card of Fate is a series of free verse poems from the viewpoint of victims to gambling – an addiction that carries some of the highest risks, yet is tragically easy for anyone to fall prey to, whether they’re a parent, a child, rich or poor, young or old. Desperate or self-assured. True addiction is a devil’s game, debilitating and not the least bit picky in who it takes as its hostages. It’s rarely just the addict who suffers, as well.
Gambling addiction is a resilient and strange monster in that it feeds on so many high, sometimes conflicting emotions at once. The initial happiness and elation of winning quickly turns to greed, which in turn becomes pride if you succeed, and depression if you don’t. And then it convinces you to flip that cycle around again. It’s always “just one more chance”.

The prose in this collection flows easily, and the themes are beyond relatable. I’ve never personally had an issue with gambling, but I can definitely understand the mindset, as would anyone who’s harbored an addiction of their own. Some of the poems are a little repetitive when read in sequence, but I love the concept of different perspectives and drives behind gambling. It’s very personal and seems like a lot of consideration, reflection, pain and heartfelt effort was put into these poems – strife of the past rewritten into a cautionary tale for the future. It reminded me strongly of Requiem for a Dream, except to be honest, I enjoyed this writer’s more concise, straightforward style of prose over Selby’s ramblings in that novel. Card of Fate has a slam poetry feel, moving very fast and cutting deep, and I appreciate that.

Time and money pass like water flowing downstream to the addict, and before they know it, important things have become irretrievably lost. Card of Fate really captures and jibes with that feeling – and who has never felt that way, really? – and I would definitely recommend it if you want to understand more about these personal, emotion and sometimes dark depths of addiction.

“The regret in the word gambling comes from what you have lost: family, respect, and trust that you will never get back.”

[Thanks to the author for the book trade, and for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]

Follow my reviews on Goodreads.

Poem – “Hanging From the Juniper Tree”

Hanging From the Juniper Tree

A noose for a basket full of aspirations,
Wicked dreams that sliver through the hooves
Of horses decomposing in the plains of night

A weeping tragedy, ten headless kings
Hanging from the juniper tree
On the path of the prisoners’ walk

The crying red moon is bleeding tender
Over the forbidden waters of the dead
And not one drop penetrates a severed soul

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Amazon | Bookstore | Goodreads
Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “Black Aura Mystery”

Black Aura Mystery

I know you didn’t even try to save me
When my black aura mystery
Infected the vein and left be decaying
Wreathed with barbs from the inside
One for each hour my suicidal self
From the past before mine awakens
To find he’s never become healthier
His black aura mystery fails him all the time
I wasn’t beyond an embryo then,
I know you didn’t even try to save him
Green eyes necrotize in the grave’s hearth
Tears of blood and a black aura mystery

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Bookstore on Amazon.

Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “In Agony”

In Agony

Tremulous tendons, strung like piano wire
In the valve of the heart of anxiety
Little spectres in agony, fitful dying dreams
When they wake, a field of eyes follows
What thoughts might lie behind that cluster
Of prying eyes, it is what keeps them haunted

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Amazon | Bookstore | Goodreads
Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “Thirteen”

Thirteen

Pleading with time to halt,
The hours only spin by faster –
Yarn unraveled in a crumbling house
Thirteen rooms, a palm full of dreams
Scattered on the bloodstained carpet
Minutes that can’t have passed the spectrum,
A paranoia that leads to superstition –
Salt in the eye of a monstrous black cat,
And cremains on the roses of a witch’s crown

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Amazon | Bookstore | Goodreads
Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “A Time for Rainfall”

A Time for Rainfall

A time for rainfall dawns when poison flowers bloom
In the cracks of the windowsill in an enclosed cell
Glaring with ferocity at the indefinite darkness

Do you see the vision concealed in the seed? I do, too.

A satisfaction of the heart teases the spires of reason
And soon we will forget the fruitful days we bury alive
Do you see the mist as it parts to reveal a barren dream?

Where am I? Well, I am in that darkness, too.

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Amazon | Bookstore | Goodreads
Support my work on Ko-Fi.

A Commentary on Cosmic Love

ChapbookCoverCL(Ebook)

+Cosmic Love is free to download on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords. Get a copy worldwide in any format here. Add Cosmic Love on Goodreads here. A paperback is also available.+

Genre: Poetry / Dark Fantasy / Romance

Commentary: Cosmic Love was unceremoniously plopped out as a miniature chapbook of haiku in early 2018. Its second half, Parasite of the Sun, was also supposed to be its own separate book, but the two were so thematically similar and short that I conjoined them to save time.
The project began namely as an experiment to test myself, to see if I could handle the rigors of publishing a piece of writing. Spoiler: I couldn’t! The initial “beta” version was not that good, and it still brings shame to me just how many people read it! I suppose it shouldn’t. I mean, there must have been something salvageable about it that I didn’t see, or there wouldn’t have been nearly over a hundred downloads by the time I took it out of print that fall.
I feel like, no matter what I write later on, Cosmic Love will always be my most popular poetry book. At least now, I can be somewhat proud of it! In both cases, I was determined for the cover to be pink. And it is certainly pink.

The new version was developed from February to April 2019, off and on and in snippets. The haiku are still present in the final, or what I like to call the “real” version, but cleaned-up and strung with the freestyle poems in a more coherent way, to form working themes of tragic love, cosmic horror and cosmic beauty. The oldest poems are “In the Land of Rust”, “System Time” and “Patchwork Tower”, which are all out of a notebook I kept in high school. They have been cleaned up heavily from the source poem, don’t worry! They aren’t that old, but it’s amazing to see how your writing changes and, hopefully, improves in just a few years.

Some of the inspirations for this collection were the science fiction novels Double Star by Robert Heinlein and Dune by Frank Herbert, and various sci-fi horror films like Sunshine and Fantastic Planet. Retro sci-fi in general, with a blend of Eastern philosophies served as kind of the building point that Cosmic Love grew from. One poem that might be intriguing is “Wandering Melon”. The title, and obviously the poem itself, were inspired by the nara melon, a mysterious fruit that somehow survives and thrives in the hottest, most arid parts of the world, in Namibia.

What ended up being probably my personal favourite poem, “Hidden in a False Sun”, was written on a day, on a whim to enter into a contest. It didn’t win but it did appear in an issue of Radium Piano Band, along with my second-favourite, “In the Land of Rust”.

The passion of sound flares my final dream
I evaporate in the corals of Neptune
Into the parhelia of a hidden sun –
No one else will know what I found there

-from “Hidden in a False Sun”

Personal Fave Poems: “In the Land of Rust”, “Hidden in a False Sun”, “Promenade of the Palm”

“Biotica” Featured in Radium Piano Band

My poem, “Biotica”, was recently featured in Radium Piano Band, along with some extraordinary poems by other indie poets. This poem is the sausage ground up from several different incarnations, was supposed to be in multiple books that it never appeared in, and went by several different titles, including the rather peculiar titles “Biotic Black Hole” and “Dreams of Human Sacrifice”, before landing on simply “Biotica”. The final result is… kind of an insane poem, not going to lie.
“Biotica” will be featured as well in my upcoming multi-medium horror compilation, Haunt Me to Sleep, which I talked (read: aimlessly blathered) about yesterday. That book will likely be published in late September or October.
You can read or download the August issue of RPB here:

Radium Piano Band – Issue #16

Poem – “And a Blackbird”

And a Blackbird

And a blackbird chimes on the willow branch
Ten notes of a halcyon, or perhaps a tragedy
A riddle heard in our playground below,
Whose answer we can never acknowledge

And a blackbird dies on the willow branch,
Feathers on a skeleton, or perhaps a hollow soul
We’re growing older every moment and soon,
Another spectre unseen in the dawn light

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Amazon | Bookstore | Goodreads
Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Poem – “Heart in the Catacombs”

Heart in the Catacombs

Heart in the catacombs, in the valve
A facsimile of the orchard, necrotic
Digital memory of a lifetime, corrupted
Suspended in its nightmare, evolving
In the dark fog, in the core of a plastic apple
Heart in the catacombs, in the valve
In the wishing well of the blue-eyed devil

Copyright ©2019 S. M. Shuford
Amazon | Bookstore | Goodreads
Support my work on Ko-Fi.

Price Drop – Dark Poetry on Kindle

ChapbookAbsHeav(Ebook)

The Kindle edition of Absolute Heaven has dropped, permanently, from $2.99 to $1.50 (USD)! The price drop is worldwide, so if you picked up the rest of my poetry collection, which is still largely free, by the way, if this is your first time hearing of it, here’s your chance to get this massive volume of cut, altered and early material from it for quite a bit cheaper. I’ve had some minor publication troubles with the paperback and ePub versions of the next book, so maybe this will make up for it in the meantime!
Absolute Heaven is a considerable volume with lots of illustrations, horror and offbeat philosophy, so if experimental works are your kind of thing, can’t hurt to give it a try. 🙂

View My Bookshelf
Add to Goodreads
My Shop on Amazon
My Shop on Smashwords