The Wolves of Midwinter

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Heavenly Hallucination
Inspired by Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil

He sure was congenial-
That wily Devil
Who adorns himself with so many disguises
Yet, he tells me he can reveal the truths
Hidden beneath the metaphysical
Fabrics of heaven and Earth

Reluctantly, I complied-
But, the devil smiles sardonically
Maybe, it’s all just a lie
No, I’ll never achieve this again
Satan, I am complicit
If only to find validation
Of the deepest yearnings of my
Immortal soul

Upon entering heaven,
I was thrown to the ground
By the magnificent force
Of the rapturous singing
That only Angels create
In the nuances of the tune,
I heard my desire
Rendered into a beautiful symphony
About my intrinsic need for redemption and purpose

I pored over books in heaven which were
Endless, like the scope of heaven
Upon earth, I could never recount
The information
But, I can recall the
Profound elation that
Feels now like a vague sense
Of its true gravity

Suddenly Satan weaved his woeful tale
He had his questions about
The elusive methods of God
It was the reason for his downfall
The grandeur of heaven was too unreal
There had to be some ounce of imperfection
 Underpinning the entire grand design
Of this heavenly oasis

Now, he was educating forsaken
Earthly souls and
Educating them to be penitent
In order to escape the infernal
Landscape of hell
He didn’t know if he was still allied with God
For God still appeared divinely angered
At the devil’s inquisitiveness

I’ve seen horrific imagery
Terrifying flashes of perdition
Edifying images of heaven
Yet, I could place my confidence in either of these places
I could only disbelieve
Because all that I’ve seen
Is far above the lowly
Cognitive powers of someone like me

In the end when I awoke,
I felt shaken to the core
Now, I could only fall deep
Into some catatonic state
Till I could rediscover my bearings
Within this Godless prison  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A State of Non-Being

One describes sleep ineffably
Before they succumb to the state of blankness,
The mind is abuzz with concerns of the living
Instances of life are replayed and regretted
Guilt inundates the mind
Till we nevertheless fall helplessly into our nihilistic refuge

Soon enough dreams fill the canvas of our minds,
Where are we?
Is this any different than the reality set before us?
Meaningless dreams are forgotten
While significant ones forge on through the empty planes of sleep
And persist after we wake and find ourselves breathing life

Wakefully, we recover from the pacifying darkness of our netherworld
We re-begin our mundane lives where we seek out knowledge
To provide ourselves meaning within the world from which we
Might not wake back up again
We must struggle valiantly to scope out artistic wonders and grandeur structures
All in attempt to forestall the inevitability of the perpetual sleep
Where we no longer are conscious of our wakeful selves

Before I fall asleep permanently,
I cling to the illusions of love which may soon be forgotten
In the abysmal darkness of a church
I pray earnestly to a God who is not there
To assuage the terror of my conscious soul
For the oblivion is upon me and
I refuse to slumber peacefully and lifelessly
Under the pretense of “living life to the fullest”

Upon the ornate cross above me
Jesus appears sorrowful as he frightfully screams to God
Before submitting to death:
“Why hast thou forsaken me?”
This same question fills my panicked brain
As the beat of my heart accelerates then fitfully slows
Till my death is brought to fruition

Unless there truly is a God
Hidden within the complex fabric
Of the accidentally-placed universe
Then cause, effect, and sleep
Are Rendered Untrue
Once the miracle of life
Becomes crucified by inexplicable death

Till Death, Do Us Part!

One day, I unburied the corpse
Of my deceased lover who
Never reciprocated my feelings  
He locked lips with another woman
When he still dwelled in that deplorable death sack

Now, he was nonexistent so his body was up for grabs
Thankfully, he wouldn’t find my rambling disquieting
He had to listen for eternity
While, I jabbered incessantly with
That damnable lisp that he always detested

For once, I felt settled with him, not harried
Normally, I felt unfit around him
Usually, there was a pregnant pause
In the midst of our dialogue
And a husky, exasperated sigh
That signaled his disgust with me
Then he proclaimed that “I was infuriating and inane”
After issuing those venomous words, he walked away and
Left me to Rot

If he was dead, like now,
He would be quaint though dank
At least, he would not interrupt my nervous
Stream of thoughts with his inconsiderate words

Now he could restfully sit motionless
On my grandmother’s antique rocker
And grant me his seductive death stare
As I liberally talked
Or expounded about extenuating financial circumstances

Occasionally, I was bemused by his lifelessness
So I crept over and kissed him lightly
On his rotting lips
They were chapped and cold
But, the kiss still satisfied but
His vile words would not intervene
On this deathly romantic occasion

Sometimes, I would read excerpts from “Jane Eyre,”
Then I would comment that Jane could have
Rectified Mr. Rochester’s brooding
By waiting till he jumped from the highest floor
Of Thornfield manor like that loony wife
Whom he frustratingly pined after

Maybe, the women of Jane Austen novels
Could have prolonged the stiff countenance
Of their love interest’s faces
Surely, the reader could have availed themselves of the agony
Of reading rosy passages about animated Women
Adoring men that
Seemed partly dead anyways

Tess of the D’Urbervilles should have
Sought revenge on those abhorrent men
Who were indifferent to her abuse?
Much like Aphrodite who didn’t care
About Medusa’s plight and punished her
Only because some sea gods
Cannot keep their tridents under restraint

No, dead men were the greatest
You didn’t have to probe their minds
For any semblance of feelings they had for you
They weren’t boisterous, drunken, and restive.
Instead, they were infinitely silent
Which I am eternally grateful for

On our anniversary, I took my desiccated beloved
To the gravestone that symbolized the end of
His brooding and woeful masculine selfishness
Now, we could memorialize our deadly wedding
Beside the monument of his
Former disinterest in me

Limbs might crack but
He’ll still be delightfully intact
And boy, will I be loquacious?
For the rest of his nonexistence,
He’ll have to listen to me talk
Until I face my own demise
“Till death, do us part!”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review of Shadow's Lure by: Jon Sprunk

        Surely, sequels are a tedious task for writers because they have to improve upon the last installment of a particular series.First novels are inherently difficult like any writing project but you do not have knowledge yet of the expectations that savvy readers have created. Many times, the writer has to focus intently upon the natural course that all the characters are obligated to follow in the case of sequel. Shadow's Son therefore was the formative stages of a very expansive story. Interestingly, the word "son" in the title connotes a introductory stage of the novel. Therefore, in the first novel, we were offered a fast-paced, concise story set within one environment amongst an even larger world. In "Shadow's Lure," Jon Sprunk expands the scope of the story to involve other kingdoms and a whole range of new characters who inhabit these new terrains.

  Following the Star Wars template, the second novel also delves closer into the mystery of Caim's being or origins. Within Empire Strikes Back, we learned more in-depth information about Luke's endowment of being able to hone the force. In this story, Caim explores his shadow powers which greatly enhanced his ability to overcome greater challenges within his past. Now, he is having doubts about this intrinsic connection to the shadow. Is this shadow ultimately a benevolent or malicious force? How much free will can he afford with this power that appears to have greater control than him? All the characters similarly face this same conflict between their autonomy and the restraining power of authoritative forces among them.

  In the first novel, Josey appears straight-laced and she often remains complicit with her superiors. Caim's autonomy, in a sense, liberates her from the restraints of her insular life and challenges her to assert herself more. Within "Shadow's Lure," Josey willfully enters a role where a city is dependent upon her aptitude to rule justly. In the beginning, she experiences doubts about her ability to rule deftly. She even begins to examine the power that others have upon her. Much like Caim and other characters within this particular novel, Josey must undergo the struggle of remaining true to herself among the many contrasting expectations or roles the others thrust upon her. Ironically, Caim and Josey must face this same daunting challenge of seeking out their autonomy within a world that seems where they feel enmeshed with a superior force who dictates the type of person they are.

Skillfully, Jon Sprunk delves into the complexity of each character while writing vivid, exciting action sequences. Oftentimes, characters become muddled by the bombastic nature of action sequences. Any author, especially fantasy writers, have to maintain their character's personalities within the midst of chaotic action. Jon Sprunk's enviable skill with action scenes extends to other areas of his writing. He can summarily describe things which are considered exposition and yet still maintain the high-octane action of a particular scene.  Also, his female characters are not superficial damsels in distresses or undeveloped "sheroes." Instead, they're fully-realized characters who face some of the same demoralizing trials that any of the male characters would face. Jon Sprunk admirably does not shape them into politically-correct female characters who are strong by default without any authentic challenges. When I thought about Josey's evolution as a character, I was profoundly impressed by the care that Jon Sprunk took into slowly developing her into a different person than she was within the first novel.

Sometimes, there was moments where the story was temporarily uninteresting. Meaning, there were peaks of actions but the action sometimes settled into scenes that were slow. But, these scenes were pivotal because the exposition offered within these scenes contributed to the story. Many times, fantasy books become burdensome because the exposition is extraneous. It does nothing but make a novel desultory. Therefore, the reader feels that reading the novel is ultimately unsatisfying. Luckily, these novels offer readers a cathartic release because Jon Sprunk focuses on the characters and allow the fantasy world to slowly be developed at the same pace as the characters.

Overall, Shadow's Lure was a fantastic sequel to the first novel that was truly one of the biggest surprises of last year. I have become very disillusioned with fantasy novels because they're often too convoluted and the characters appear to be empty husks. Shadow's Lure is filled with "mindful" action rather than mindless action. While it is filled to brim with action sequences, it is also filled with characters who are dynamic. The action itself often achieves a vividness that is rare within novels. Oftentimes, I am overstimulated by the action that takes place within fantasy novels because the breadth of the novel cannot sustain itself in the heat of the action. Instead, the action sequences naturally progress from the scenes that are heavy with dialogue. By the end, I greatly admired the characters and was left with an insatiable need to read the next installment. Only well-constructed series can achieve that type of addictive psychological reaction. Hopefully, next summer means another novel being written within either this world or some other.

Thanks Pyr for providing a complimentary copy of this book!!!  The fantastic cover art and quality of some your novels never fails to impress me!

If you're interested in finding more information about the author, Jon Sprunk, check out the below links:
Jon Sprunk's blog
Jon Sprunk's website