Giving Back to the Muse

by Mike Allen

She wears a necklace of knives and eyes,
a sash sewn from flags and faces,
boots welded from bomb fragments,
a belt of hangman's rope.
You fear she'll see you watching
but you can't look away,
not even once she notices your stare.
She is medium cool; she requires
all your senses to impart the vision,
stab your eyes, shred your feet,
strangle you in half and burn your face away.
Your sinuses crack like eggshells.
Your loins avalanche blood.
You put your tongue in her mouth,
let her chew and swallow. What use
were your words ever anyway?

A three-time winner of the Rhysling Award for speculative poetry, Mike Allen lives in Roanoke, Va. with his wife Anita, a comical dog and a demonic cat. The Philadelphia Inquirer dubs his most recent collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, "poetry for goths of all ages"; Ellen Datlow calls the book "an excellent overview of the poet's past ten years of writing." A stage performer, fictioneer and journalist, he's also editor of the poetry zine Mythic Delirium and the upcoming fiction anthology Clockwork Phoenix.

When asked to name what kind of mask would choose him, he replied, "I have already been chosen by a mask of flesh. But I am certainly smiling beneath it. Someday, perhaps, that grin will be bared to all."

Back to the Table of Contents.