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Time Waits for No One: Petting the Time Shark and Other Poems by Mike Allen

Time Shark cover

Rhysling Award winner Mike Allen brings us an outstanding collection of his poetry in his new forty-eight page chapbook Petting the Time Shark. Many of the twenty-nine poems included have been previously published, but several are new, and all are thought provoking and enjoyable.

The theme of time is treated in several poems. The title poem suggests that we must move forward into the future, that turning back toward the past brings pain. The echoes of time past are reflected in "The Old Man in the Mirror" and "A Ghost Story," which are among the most disquieting offerings. They remind us that certain things from the past continue to haunt us in the present. Time slips away erasing the present in "Plague," and in "The Unseelie Tree," one of my favorites in the collection, a dream foretells the end. In "Saturn Devours His Children" we are warned that time is the ultimate conqueror.

Successful forays into dark fantasy include the evocative "Bloodspell: A Sestina," co-authored by Anita Allen: "I feel the night / call me with its chill, a crimson chant / unheard for eons in this castle's heart / this tomb that has for so long been my haunt."

In the darkly humorous and portentous science fiction poem "Seventh Coming," co-authored by Ian Watson, future scientists know how to deal with the telepathic Jesus 7.0.

The final offering "And All Dust Part of the Dreamer," co-authored by Charles M. Saplak, is perhaps most disturbing of all, as we glimpse a theory of creation and an evolution that not even a god could have imagined.

Mike Allen's poetry is sometimes amusing, often disturbing, but never disappointing. Certain passages get under your skin and call you back to read them again and again, each time to find new insights, hidden meanings whispered in allegorical phrase.

With exceptional cover and interior artwork by Tim Mullins, Petting the Time Shark by visionary poet Mike Allen is a keeper.


A Fitting Tribute: The Modern Art Cave edited by Erin Donahoe

Modern Art Cave cover

Speculative writing, less concerned with subtlety than mainstream literature and more with the communication of ideas and emotions through vivid words and imagery, hits characteristically close to the bone and to the heart. The Modern Art Cave, a tribute to the memory of ProMart Creator James B. Baker, is an example of speculative poetry, prose and artwork at its best.

Thirty-eight poems, three short stories, and numerous illustrations make up the collection, and from the striking color cover by Catherine Buburuz to the final page, it is a delight.

Themes include Egyptian mythology, dragons, astrology, storybook fantasy, and more.

Several of the dragon poems are particularly fine. Among my favorite poems is "Dragonflowers" by Tim Pratt, a whimsical fantasy about the dragons in his garden, "tiny ones," he tells us, "most with blue and gold scales." Rhysling Award winner Tyree Campbell dispels our preconceived notions of good and evil in "Black Dragon," a traditional poem of twelve rhyming quatrain stanzas that is both pleasurable to read and intriguing to consider. Finally, "The Lair at Midnight" by Mr. Campbell and Jennifer Cawthorne is a translation from the French "La Taniere A Minuit," the story of the two last dragons. They have searched for each other for centuries and have come at last "To their little place / Between the night and the stars."

Other poems besides those featuring dragons captivate. "Leviathan Dreams" by David C. Kopaska-Merkel tells the story of the great sea monster who is driven to greater and greater depths of the ocean by the teeming mass of earth's inhabitants above. "New Zodiac" by Roger Dutcher gives us a glimpse into the future and of the new frontier, while Tim Pratt's "Clutch Purse," Mr. Pratt gives us a different kind of glimpse in his horrifying account of a purse snatcher who gets more than he expected. "Brittle Bones" by James B. Baker marks the end of the volume and is one of the most touching and memorable poems found here. It considers the deterioration of an aging body and reflects upon the deterioration of the whole earth as a result of careless human abuse.

The three short fiction offerings are as engaging as the poetry. "More Talk" by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and "Alchemotherapy" by Tyree Campbell are particularly noteworthy. "More Talk" is a darkly humorous tale derived from ancient African folklore and "Alchemotherapy" is the story of a desperate young woman who has failed to gain acceptance despite her many concessions and who longs most of all for respect.

The artwork accompanying the poetry and prose deserves special mention. In addition to her engaging cover illustration, Cathy Buburuz gives us the exquisite "The Illusionist" in accompaniment to her equally engaging poem by the same title. Margaret B. Simon's beautiful and skillfully drawn "Light Years Apart" is another fine example. Others include "Black Dragon" by Keith Sikora and "Beauty and Beast" and "Sun Catcher," both by t. santitoro. Judy Gorton, jennifer cawthorne, s. c. virtes, Erin Donahoe, Dan Scott and Clinton OíDell provide other significant artistic contributions.

Careful selection and meticulous editing combine to make The Modern Art Cave a book to treasure. It is available from Sam's Dot Publishing.

Shannon Riley is an award-winning writer whose poetry, fiction, and articles have appeared in over 400 publications in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom, including Cemetery Dance, Blood Rose Magazine, Hellnotes Newsletter, Gauntlet, and Twilight Times. Her most recent work will appear in Quietus Gothic Literary Magazine and The Book of Dark Wisdom.
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