Wholesome Terror: Lawfully Combative Verse

WholesomeTerrorCollected poetry, Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2014

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The sheer terror of hope has been dissected and repackaged as standard rhymes, experimental verse, and other poetic forms in order to rendition the reader blissfully numb. These are poems that contain elements of eroticism, satire, political commentary, and horror wherein the reader need not wonder how many times can Lady Lazarus be resurrected after waterboarding, because they find themselves acting as her proxy in this endeavor. Wholesome Terror is a savage, hydrophobic dog of a book curled up with the reader’s throat comfortably within reach.

Part of a readers group? Download the free printable Wholesome Terror Resource Guide.

A film adaptation from the collection

“Why the Big Cat’s Eyes Are So Pretty”
by John Edward Lawson

Does anything exist beyond
the fire’s glow? There are
walls, surely, for a ceiling lingers
above our writhing bodies as if
waiting for the moment our guard

is down. It may well pounce upon
our prone, exposed forms as would
the tiger whose pelt rests before
the fireplace, and as we ourselves
pounced upon that pelt to soil

it with sweat and saliva. Our teeth
and tongues inventory scars, map
the braille of our bodies’ memories.
Our lips and fingers chronicle orgasms.
The smokey odor lends to this dim

room a sense of authenticity which somehow
augments the carnal nature of our
surroundings. Are the tiger’s teeth still
sharp enough to bleed us to defenselessness?
We test them, deciding they have been

filed down in order to avoid
lawsuits. We are exhibitionists: heads
line the walls, eyes glassy not so
much from replacement as from being
dazed by their decapitation. Their

judgments are passed among themselves
in silence while you massage my flesh
with powdered borax. Their warnings are
mute–as if their jaws were wired
shut–when you force your injection

into my tail: glycol ethers, or
some other solution-based preservative.
Remove my brain with a pitiless
blade. Your needle is not yet through
penetrating me: stitch my flesh from

end to end, shaping my form to fit your
desires. Stuff me full of your sawdust,
but don’t forget to leave me slack. There
must be enough room for you to slide
in, unlubricated, and swivel your hips,

draw your shoulders back in crossbow
fashion to thrust your breasts through
mine. Is my skin not dark and sleek
with these preservatives? Is my sex
not full of permanence? With these

appendages you may spread wide your
reach to ensnare hundreds more
lovers, and with these eyes assert
the dominance of those who are upright over
those on all fours, and with these

fingers ignite conflagrations which will
consume every night. The extinction
of darkness would be a crime against
humanity to break all records and precedents,
save for the fact that you can use

these large, abominable hands of mine
to taxidermy the night sky and drape
its flesh over the Earth, a canopy
concealing untold orgy and abandon
from the wet eyes of the Divine. Those are

sockets you might yet fill another day,
when, after prying the Pearly Gates apart
to make yourself at home between them, you
grope the face of Divinity with a blind
artist’s precision, glass eyes at the ready.

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