Alibi V.13 No.25 • June 17-23, 2004 

alt.press

Gorelets

Unpleasant Poems
$7.99

The company meeting is less than 10 minutes away. Your guts churn. Frankly, blowing chunks would be a huge relief. You use your Palm Pilot to log onto gorelets.com and are treated to "Worm": "naked in soil / writhing red wet and blind / puckering tip and tapering tail / i wonder if there's any of you / left in its belly / as I bring down the shovel / on your collarbone / splitting you both in two."

Bram Stoker Award winning author Michael A. Arnzen credits one Ryan Michael Williams with introducing him to handheld computing. This, in turn, led to Arnzen's gorelets.com where every week he showcases poems composed, and intended to be experienced on, a handheld computer. As exemplified by such literary inventions as flash fiction, microfiction and haiku, limitation can birth its own artistic subspecies. A gorelet is a maximum of 11 lines long, containing no more than eight words per line. Courtesy of Patrick and Honna Swenson, the husband and wife team who publish and edit the topnotch science fiction and horror magazine Talebones, some of Arnzen's contributions to minimalist literature for the really small screen can now be appreciated in print as well.

But why the horror? Why all that ickiness and morbidity, all the stuff that we don't want to think about? In his introduction, Arnzen hits one of the most redeeming aspects of horror on the head ... so to speak. "In it," he writes, "one expects the unexpected, which requires the writer to break with convention at every turn."

Breaking with convention is one way to sum up Arnzen's "Brain Chunks:" "always locked / inside a box / of bone—it's / rather unctuous / always soft / as tofu quiche / but never quite / as scrumptious."

All right. At least the meeting's over. As you clean out your desk and contemplate paying off all your student loans with a new career in the fast food industry, you're starting to feel queasy again. You'll probably have to hock the Palm Pilot soon, but for the time being here's some "Hardboiled Eyes:" "raw white eyeballs / stripped of their nerves / bump glass in a boiling beaker / like rocks jittering in a tumbler / they tussle and dilate in panic / whenever I reach for their container / as if their final memories were more / than just a matter of lost marbles."

If that doesn't do it for you, here's "Gross Eerie Shopping:" "Granny Mae fondled the foot in the / banana pile, tapped the hand in the / papaya, and pinched the eyeballs in a / bunch of grapes. She blindly bagged / them along with all the rest of her / produce, grumbling about scale- / tipping and price-gouging today. Worse: she couldn't even find help / when she needed a head of lettuce."

The wild, computer-manipulated photo art, some of which you see on the cover, is the product of Arnzen's fevered and inventive brain as well. Feel better now?