Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ghoul of the Enamel

Tonight, we sense him, hiding in the sunken shadows of the bedroom: a ghoul creeping silent, forcing quiet the other monsters. Chunks of enamel, grooved by nightly gnawing, fatten his belly. And our own teeth tighten in the jaw, fight the urge to drop and slip away, to escape his gluttonous rage. You see, the foul thing broke from fairy law: took to ripping out the loose teeth of children, a calcareous shit slipped beneath their bloodied pillows in a gesture of defiance; a jab at us proper fairies. And though imprisoned for a time in the amber caves, he broke free—saber arms flapping and chipping with madness.

Now we wait within this toy-box, scanning the room for residual energies: the moans of bloody roots, the chattering of crowns, the hissing red of severed nerves…. Such things betray his whereabouts.

At last we fly and crawl from the moonlit box, our eyes narrowed and our tongues writhing with an invocation. How swift, how sweet the coming of revenge from its ancient lair! Soon the children will sleep soundly; none will recall the ghoul’s attack. Money will distribute where due, and the status of the tooth fairy will once again be restored to its innocuous state. Because tonight we are going to pounce on the fiend. Unravel his existence. Shred into his stomach and take back what is ours.

First published in the Summer 2015 issue of Spectral Realms.

We Call Them the Gods

There are men in the sky, and we call them the gods. Their beards shine with the light of rejected stars, harbor failed empires and the wailing souls of extinct hominids. Always their dark, playful eyes are hot with mischief. They delight in a belief that the goddesses are impressed by their creations, amused even. Surely they got a kick out of Homo sapiens, that inferior clay fumbling wildly over the layout of design. Such fodder for comedy. But in dull pockets of timelessness, when the bearded ones are idle, the goddesses—because it is their way—have been known to nurture Earth’s fetal spirit, to channel love there, to fire-open seeds of art and philosophy, to spark the ambitious theories we never prove. Myriad tasks are assigned to fairies, mystics and angels; demons too, if it should lead to a truth. Much then becomes nurtured in the hidden spectrums of our souls, in the heart of posterity. There are men in the sky, and there are women. These are the gods.

First published in the Spring 2015 issue of Tales of the Talisman.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gold 'n' Blue Sunrise

Gold ‘n’ Blue Sunrise
Forks of the River WMA, Knoxville, TN
July 7, 2015

On glistening sunflowers,
In ghosts of morning mist,
Whistle-buzzy buntings
Open us to joy.

Indigo Bunting by Jimmy Tucker

(From the book Wilderness & Love)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On a hiatus

UPDATE: I am currently on a hiatus from writing while I raise my son Garion (he's just over 5 months old). I now spend much of my free time leading nature hikes in East Tennessee, mostly around Knoxville and in the Great Smoky Mountains. At this time I do not know when or if I'll return to writing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Climbing Rose in a Ruin

Somewhere between soft touching
and hard kissing, I swerved into love;
somewhere between a dead end
and a wreck at a hairpin turn.

I wrote exotic poems for her,
sang them through a hedge of nettle and wire.
And when she drained my heart pallid
I crumbled comatose for years, for years.

O rose of my chest, bramble of the bones,
where love sleeps amid a ruin of brick and leaf—
Bloom in my teeth, pollinate the tongue.
Press your thorns gently to the backs of my eyes!

(From the book Wilderness & Love)

Winter from Below

Oak leaves tremble in the wind,
drip with recent rain.
They turn orange and fall
to know winter from below.

I know winter from above.
My place at the window,
coffee in hand
as thoughts rise and take shape.

I’ve seen the leaves shine and die.
Seen them shake in storms
and fall from crowns.
From this I have gathered insight:

In each moment, a heart shines,
a body dies. Lives bend beneath wind.
They’ll all go orange inside
to know winter from below.

One day I too will fade:
drip with a lifetime of storms—
float leaf-like
into the hands of winter.

(From the book Wilderness & Love)

White Heart

See the eagle spread his wings,
soar across the sky of white dreams.
Watch as a million arms reach
for a falling feather on the breeze.

See the elders shake their hair,
fling an old song to the four seas.
Watch as oiled machines
plow through red clay and sky.

We of this country burn with the hope
of softening our heart’s history,
yet polish our cups of tarnished gold,
strike with hot guns and false tongues.

We drive stakes into the skin of Earth,
hang our hats on melting icebergs.
How long till we clip the eagle’s wings?
Stick him in a cage all fat and tame?

(From the book Wilderness & Love)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Poem published in 2015 Rhysling Award Anthology

Earlier this year my poem "Intimate Universes" was nominated for a Rhysling Award in the Short Poem Category. Winners have not yet been announced, but an anthology containing all the nominated poems is currently for sale.

Paperback and PDF copies can be purchased through the Science Fiction Poetry Association website (you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page). Paperback copies are also available at Amazon and CreateSpace. A few other places may also be selling it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Post-Funeral Mission (to Mars)

This fantasy prose poem (or vignette) was first published in the Autumn 2014 issue of Tales of the Talisman, and is semiautobiographical.

Post-Funeral Mission (to Mars)

As the airplane enters the towering clouds, Billy spies wispy ghosts and shifting white valleys. What is turbulence to everyone else, to Billy is scratching fog-fingers and the bites of monstrous jaws.

His grandma snores beside him. Others resign to airport novels, electronics, and the anticipation of the cart. Humming engines and whooshing air vents backdrop the cries of a baby, of two teenage girls absorbed in gossip.

Billy peers out the cold, turbid window, sees Harryhausen beasts run amok through the floating landscape: dinosaurs gnawing on cars and bridges, a distant Cyclops ripping a train off its tracks.

A break in the clouds reveals a stretch of suburbia, baseball fields where an interest in sports fell short of home plate. All around, long thin roads blink with ant-cars: “More people die in car crashes than in planes, you know,” his parents once said, not long before the accident.

The edge of an approaching cirrus cloud swirls over the wings: here comes Conan through the smoke of battle, sword dripping with ruddy sunlight. He charges an army of angry skeletons—bones and skulls sailing through the fog.

Suburbia slides back into view, its rooftops the color of cigarette ash, a string of retention ponds like chicory weeds in a cracked parking lot. His father’s voice: “Earth to Billy, Earth to Billy—grab me another beer!”

A return to clouds, where Charles Knight mammoths [ding] struggle in [ding] tar pits [ding].

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Please fasten your seatbelts and turn off all electronics. We’ll be landing shortly. Thank you, and good luck.”

Someone kicks the back of Billy’s seat. The baby shrieks. Others shut books, fumble with personal items. Grandma adds a wheeze to her snores.

Suddenly a woman’s voice blasts through the intercom static; the voice is distant, yet familiar: “Mars to Billy . . . —ars to Billy . . . —der alien attack! . . . You are des—rately needed . . . Please—ome at once!”

A space suit drops from an overhead compartment. The plane becomes a silver rocket. Billy squeezes past his grandma to the aisle, climbs into the suit, snaps on the helmet. The passengers dissolve as he heads for the cockpit. Outside, the clouds turn red.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Photos of author Jason Sturner (Jay Sturner)

At my grandmother's house in Park Forest, Illinois.

Ring bearer for my uncle's wedding, Park Forest, Illinois.

Author photo for Kairos, my first book of poetry.

Author photo for Selected Poems 2004-2007.

At the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

With poet Nikki Giovanni in Knoxville, TN.

Sitting at my computer in Knoxville.