New Poems by Robert Fillman

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I am honored to announce the publications of new poetry by the extraordinary poet, Robert Fillman!

“Witness” which appears in Split Rock Review

Witness

Probably by now, my friend
has recovered from the shock
of finding his pet rooster
headless and strung to the fence.
He has no doubt untangled
the thing, his bare hands perhaps
sticky with feathers and stained
with blood, the knees of his pants
maybe cool, wet from kneeling
on damp earth, having buried
the bird, taking care to smooth
the mound with a shovel, still
not realizing what transpired,
how he had hunted it down
before dawn and drunk with rage
bent over its body, choked
last crows from its throat and stole
the morning light from its eyes
before returning to his
home and probably crawling
into bed, without knowing
what he was capable of,
how late he’d sleep, what silence
would follow his every step
when he finally started
his long list of daily chores.

Three poems in hamiltonstone
 

Promises

My father didn’t talk

much to me as a kid.

So each sentence glimmered

 

as if it reflected

his eyes and not the mug

of beer lifted beneath

 

the yellow kitchen light

those nights on Union Street.

My son’s hesitant Yes

 

I would like that brings me

back to words my father

never said but guided

 

into me with his hands,

the even syllables

of a saw pulled across

 

a two-by-four, the rasp

of a taping knife scraped

over spackle, the smack

 

of an old baseball trapped

in the web of his glove.

Each act translated back

 

to a promise of love,

the only way he knew

how to cure the silence.

Omen

The mountain as severe

as my grandfather’s brow

in that small airless room

during his final hours,

I see a barn owl soar

out of the ridge’s mouth,

its big head, terrible

eyes cursing all color,

as if it were hell-bent

on draining the season

 

of red maple, black gum—

every leaf a target.

It doesn’t seem to know

the difference between

misery and mercy,

the living and the dead,

that my grandfather warned

Go easy on your kids

before he closed his eyes

and slipped away his hand.

 

My body suddenly

tight, bracing for a blow,

as if I am the prey,

a small, soft animal,

yet I’m surprised to feel 

a fluff of brown feathers

then a rush of wings that

beats on, flooding my ears

with what could only be 

the sound of a last breath.

 

The Vanity of It All

Two months into quarantine

and I’m still shaving my head,

scraping a razor across

the curve of my skull every

single night, the edge of each

blade sounding like my mother’s

cheerful voice those mornings she

greeted me at the breakfast

table with pink lips, bluish

black mascara, two eyebrows

perfectly penciled on. Her

uniform for a long day

of chores in an empty house,

the sagging clotheslines, the hours

of stirring sauce on the stove,

all the dirty dishes stacked

in the sink, my father’s shirts

piled for ironing, shower

and toilet always needing

to be scrubbed. In the bathroom

steam I’m staring at myself

in the mirror as I rub

a palm over scalp to feel

some small comfort. I lean in,

clicking my tongue if I spot

even one errant hair I

might have missed, those wisps I am

desperately hiding from

whom? My wife and kids? Maybe

a delivery man or

that nice neighbor who brings us

our groceries? All the while

my mind tries to smooth away

this human need of keeping

up appearances, this strange

compulsion to polish things,

with every swipe of the blade

memories of my mother’s

painted face reflecting bright

in the shine of a brass pot.

And two poems in Innessfree Journal

On date night my wife must choose

 

between love and food because
her body will not allow
her both, so I ask her to
starve herself in one way so

I can be satisfied in
another. Last night I grew
frustrated by her illness,
selfishly imagining

how every spoonful to her
lips was a cold betrayal,
willingness to twist with pain
on the couch and not with me,

heating pad strapped to her gut,
the nausea setting in,
all color drained from her face,
as if each little swallow

were another nail punching
through the white skin of her breast.
Now I’m left wondering if
my depravity caused this

crucifixion, how all she
craved was a scoop of ice cream
from the cafe down the street,
how I will writhe in hell,

be made to atone for these
wicked thoughts, no saint to save
me, no matter how badly
I hunger for forgiveness. 

 
 
Learning to Listen

I remind both kids to be
extra good today, insist
their mother doesn’t feel well,
that she has to stay in bed—
and hate myself for it.

            Kids
should be able to be kids.
But when my son suddenly
leaps onto the couch and makes
the springs cheep and squeak I snap,
ask why he never listens,
threaten to send him to his
room alone if he doesn’t
stop, my voice breaking apart
when I notice the redness
of his cheeks, the tears that will 
follow.

             Then I consider  
how only moments before
the three of us were huddled
by the window watching four
goldfinches peck at feeders
on our porch, how my daughter
said they were a family
flitting about, their frank chirps
a break from the hard silence. 

Robert Fillman is the author of the chapbook November Weather Spell (Main Street Rag, 2019). His poems have appeared in The Hollins Critic, Poetry East, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and others. Fillman earned a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University and is an Assistant Professor at Kutztown University.   

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Available for purchase at:

The Main Street Rag Online Bookstore

How Dare They?

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I am now feeling angry, frustrated, and frightened, all at once. My wife and I went out for what was supposed to be a short afternoon trip. The day was going to busy, with just a short afternoon diversion.

There was a Trump rally at the intersection near our place, and that is not an issue. Everyone has the right to protest in the U.S.A, but some were carrying automatic rifles (perhaps semi-automatic, but that really doesn’t change anything) and standing right at the edge of the road and screaming at cars. This should not be allowed–when I saw this, I immediately thought–they would have been at home in Nazi Germany. They are bullies, and they are not supporting democracy. How dare they try to intimidate people that way.

The election is over, and Trump lost. That is what happens with elections; sometimes your candidate wins, and sometimes your candidate loses. I learned that a long time ago. Trying to influence an election through intimidation is the tactic of a would-be totalitarian government.

We are supposed to be The United States Of America.

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My Biggest Accomplishment to Date

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Please visit Michelle’s page; she is now officially beginning her freelance editing and writing business. She did an excellent job with editing my latest novel: Evil Lives After: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3.

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So I’ve kept this off the blog up until now because I’ve gotten superstitious about putting accomplishments out into the Universe (or the Internet) without first having them fully go through. Now that is accomplishment is out, I feel now is the right time to speak about it!

I just want to preface this by saying that I in no way, shape, or form want to diminish the accomplishment of Charles F. French, the man to which I owe this accomplishment to. Charles is not only one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, but he is also a fantastic writer with interesting storylines and characters and so much emotion that getting through a book without feeling something is impossible.

So when Charles approached me about editing the latest novel in his series The Investigative Paranormal Society, I not only stammered…

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Monsters & Gender: Part 1 (Teenage Girls and the Role of History in the Making of the Modern Horror Monster)

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KC Redding-Gonzalez again gives us a powerful post on horror!

Zombie Salmon (the Horror Continues)

Often for young women just entering the teen years, our first experience with the Horror genre is a summer blockbuster (if not a broken-backed used copy of a Stephen King novel). We are “in it” for the fun, for the thrill ride, for scaring ourselves. We don’t look too closely, we don’t draw comparisons to Real Life; we simply can’t wait to laugh at the way something made us jump, to grab the arm of the guy we came with.

Some of us stick around for years – long enough for the glamour to wear off, to start noticing things that seem to be there intentionally or accidentally, and we remain because we are transfixed by the contradiction of liking something that on its surface seems gratuitously misogynistic – yet being female – also haunts us. What is it about Horror, then, that draws a feminist in? Why do those…

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#review Gallows Hill, by Charles F. French @French_C1955

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Thanks to Didi Oviatt for this lovely review of my book Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2!

Didi Oviatt

MY REVIEW 4 stars:

Gallows Hill is the second installment in a paranormal investigative series. The first book, Maledicus set the stage for a small group of men who set out to uncover and solve paranormal mysteries. They get themselves into quite the evil circumstance and it’s insanely scary, talk about a nail biter! This second book isn’t quite as fearful, but it’s shocking, engaging, and very well developed.

I really love that Helen, a victim of paranormal attack in the first book has actually joined the team. Her, and the little girl in her care are quite phenomenal characters. They add in a bit more dynamic and realism to the day to day life of the crew. In book 1 we learned a lot of back story for the crew, Roosevelt Jeremy Sam and more, yet in book 2 the focus is mainly on Sam. You see, he lost…

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Halloween and a “Jennie Story”

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Here is a lovely story from that excellent teacher, Jennie!

A Teacher's Reflections

Our ‘Day in the Dark’ and ‘Pajama Day’ at school was fun.  Glow sticks and black play dough were a big hit.  Wearing pajamas to school is cool.  Things are different this year, yet the constant is storytelling.

Storytelling is, and has always been, the foundation for language and learning.  I write about children, yet storytelling applies to all people.  Words and ideas are how we start to learn, and how we continue to learn.

Everybody loves a good, gripping story.  I am the storyteller at school, and all my stories are true- things that happened to me in my childhood.  A pretend story starts with Once Upon a Time.  A true story starts with It Happened Like This.

Whenever I say the words, “It happened like this”, children are captivated.  They know it is a ‘Jennie Story’ and a true story.  Best of all, they are getting far…

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Have a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

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I want to wish everyone both a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

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(http://lubuntu.me/blessed-samhain/)

On the pre-Christian Celtic calendar, October 31 was Samhain, pronounced Soo-when or Sow-when, and it marked the day when the world of the living and dead where at the closest. It is also the end of year, with November 1 as the start of the next year. This day is one of the most important Gaelic/Celtic/Pagan/Wiccan/Druidic holidays of the year!  And please do not worry about the devil–he is not a part of Samhain. There is nothing evil here.

Samhain/Halloween is a day to remember those who have passed and to think of the future.

This Halloween is special–we have both a full moon and a blue moon this year!

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So, enjoy the day, dress up, have candy, party, and raise a toast and wish all a Happy New Year!

 

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Favorite Horror Films: Part Eleven: The Horror of Dracula

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I am returning to my series of examinations of horror movies through various decades.  After the great horror  cycle of movies from Universal Studios in the 1930s and 1940s culminating in the Abbott and Costello spoofs, serious horror movies vanished for a period. They were replaced by the spate of giant critter movies spawned by the fears of nuclear fallout post World War Two and the ominous threat of nuclear Armageddon of the Cold War.

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In 1958, Hammer Studios, a British film company initiated a new cycle of horror films with the release of Horror of Dracula (the American title) or Dracula (the British title).  This film not only allowed this film studio to emerge as a major force in horror films, but also it spawned a new cycle in horror that would span nearly two decades. The film starred Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula, Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing, and Michael Gough as  Arthur Holmwood and was directed by Terence Fisher.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This film dramatically changed the course of horror films.  Prior to Horror Of Dracula, most horror movies, especially  the classic Universal films were shot in black and white; this film was in vivid color. Also changed noticeably from the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi was the pacing and the level of over sexuality and violence. This movie moved at a very rapid pace with condensed action and compression of characters from the book.  A very lively film score added to the tension and feeling of almost constant movement.

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(https://fr.wikipedia.org)

Christopher Lee brought an imposing physicality to the role and played the count with a noble British accent. He showed great strength and mobility in his performance. And this film introduced  the vampire with fangs and blood.  When he emerges in full fury after the vampire girl has attacked Jonathan Harker, he is a demonic image.  This was a representation of the vampire that was entirely new and very powerful.

In Britain, this movie received an X rating because of its, what was for the time, overt sexuality and violence. The women sometimes wore low cut gowns, and Dracula’s attacks carried a not too subtle sexuality, although by today’s standards, this shocking sensuality certainly would be tame or almost quaint.

Horror Of Dracula was a success both financially and critically. Hammer studios would make numerous sequels to this film and would also base the release of other movies, principally on Dr. Frankenstein, on their good fortune. If you enjoy horror films and have not seen this particular movie, I recommend it.

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Evil Lives After is available at

Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Available on Amazon

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Available on Amazon

Book launch – Evil Lives After: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3 by Charles F. French

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Here is a lovely review by Robbie at https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com of my new book Evil Lives After: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3!

Professor Charles F. French has recently launched book three in his The Investigative Paranormal Society series. This third book is a bit different from the other two as it brings in some real historical elements relating to the rise of fascism and World War II. I really loved it! There is nothing more frightening than real life.

What Amazon says

In Evil Lives After, The Investigative Paranormal Society confronts an enemy that is both human and supernatural, one that the world faced down in World War Two and is confronted by as a growing menace today, that of Fascism. Jeremy leads the battle against the ghost of an American Nazi who lived during W.W.II and his grandson, who are both attempting to change the course of history and establish an American Reich. Freedom rests on their actions.

My review

Evil Lives After is the third book in The Investigative Paranormal…

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