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Danse Macabre

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150

Porte D'entrée

Yvette Viets Flaten

Steven French

Matthew J Gleason

Ellen Harrold

CB Heinemann

A Elizabeth Herting

Ed Higgins

Robert E Howard

Edward Jackson

James Kendley

CD Kester

Richard Magahiz

Peter Marra

James W Morris

Elizabeth I Riseden

Cindy Rosmus

Diego M Sieiro

Ron Singer

Sylvia Woodham

    

Overture

 

As the grande danse promenades, step by inexorable step, so Rota Fortunae turns, and turns, and turns.

One day you’re married. Another day, you’re not. One day, you’re home. Another day, you’re learning the kindness of strangers – the hard way. One day, you’re dashing l'imprimatur de l'exécutif on documents you barely read, much less comprehend. Another day, you’re wiping ink off your fingertips ahead of criminal arraignment.

The Wheel of Fortune never stops, and it never stops for anyone. If you think it stops for you, you’re whistling past the graveyard, my friend.

But, you protest, we’re so much more rational, so much better informed than the ancients, aren’t we? This Rota Fortunae was old hat by the time it appeared on a tarot card, so surely we can discount such antiquated, superstitious twaddle. Cause and effect, that’s what we like, ’cause we believe in science, even if it’s so abstruse that we have to dress it up as genetics, or gut flora, or the butterfly’s wing generating fractal parallel timelines, or… Jesus, the hell with it, let’s just go with karma from another lifetime coming back as dharma in this lifetime, or predestination, or something, for God’s sake, anything other than the sheer, terrifying, inconstancy of chance.

Meanwhile, Dame Fortune smiles and spins again.

(If you don’t want hard news on Lady Luck, stop now. You shouldn’t have come to Nevada’s first and finest online litmag, domiciled – as it were – in Las Vegas. Spend enough time in Vegas, liebchen, and like Danse Macabre, you will know ALL the Stations of the Wheel.)

The cold, hard fact is that no one promised you safety on this short journey. If they did, they were lying you to sleep.

They knew, just as the ancients knew, that in the long run we are utterly powerless, and sometimes the bad luxuriate in silken sheets while the good take stones for pillows.

But is there no solace, you wail, no constancy in the horrifying haphazardness of the Great Wheel?

Constancy? No, of course not. The only permanent thing in life is change (that’s from Heraclitus, by the way, not the Buddhists, who’re busy with their own greater and lesser wheels).

Of solace, however, we have much to tell.

Let us start with this: 

An online journal of imaginative verse & prose dedicated to the magical, the ethereal, the supernatural, the dark, the absurd, and the unknown.

That’s the mission statement of DM I, the first issue of Danse Macabre, the fruit of summer 2006 – brutally sacrificed around Halloween that year to make way for DM II.

In the intervening years, there’s been very little in the way of constancy, whether in editorial line-up, in platform, in the use of Roman numerals, or in the personal lives of the various players on this little stage (oy, you’d think Dame Fortune gets a union wage from the overtime she’s spent on the DM crew).

Perhaps as a result, over the past one hundred forty-nine issues, DM has become increasingly fluid and flexible in execution of that delightful description of purpose, one way the solace DM offers stays fresh.

DM is an almost organic amalgam of creative energies of editors, residents, contributors, and readers – how could such a beast be static? That’s why both the numbers of readers and page hits increase with each understated little sans serif Roman (or Arabic) numeral, and that’s how DM has attracted a truly international family. We keep coming back for more because DM cares naught for impressing colleagues, accruing tenure, swaying juries, setting lit-hags’ tongues a’ wag, impressing nubile grad students, or trading in workshoppe overstock at bargain-basement prices (and passing the savings on to YOU).

More than that, we come back for the solace DM offers in these hard times, the solace of carefully chosen classics juxtaposed with new wonders of literary pursuit. The menu always changes because sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (and so, we argue, the solace).

So the wheel will turn. You will be up, and you will be down. One day, you will be broken on the wheel (not Rota Fortunae, the other one). Another day, you will squat over the hub to disperse a noisome gift to greedy clerics (yes, DM invokes Chaucer, so watch it).

You will be up, and you will be down, and there will be no constancy, and DM will be different as well – each month (or so) a new feast, a new horizon, a new solace. As we first wrote in 2010, for DM XXXII:

Over the course of reading this month’s DM, you’ll be amused, beguiled, mildly disgusted, perhaps aroused, and in the end, thrilled. Once again, you’ll find that it really is Kismet – you really were made for each other – because DM is intoxicated with love of the literary macabre in all its various shapes and hues, just as you are.

Welcome to the Danse. Your partner awaits.

Sincèrement,

James Kendley

Former DM Senior Editor, Archivist, and blog-monkey James Kendley is the author of The Drowning God and The Devouring God, available from HarperCollins Publishers, and several other books available on Amazon. He is also director of digital asset management services for Cricket Media. He is father of two, and he lives in northern Virginia.

 

* * *
 

Steven French

Nice Teeth

 

“Nice teeth,” he said to his reflection, twisting the dental floss round his lower first molar. He always thought you could tell a lot about a person from the state of their teeth. He finished flossing and smoothed his eyebrows before running his hand across his freshly shaven chin, then inspected his nose hairs, just to make sure they didn’t need another quick trim. Sighing happily, he turned away from the mirror, switched off the light and returned to the bedroom to dress.

 

“Hey babe, you ready yet? I’ve made your favourite for breakfast.”

Her voice echoed up the stairs, bounced off the hall ceiling and into the bedroom.

‘Coming!” he called back, finishing the double knot and smoothing his tie.

 

“Nice teeth”, he said to the skulls arrayed in the display case, the off-white bone and enamel standing out against the dark wood. He picked up a soft cloth and gave one a quick wipe across the top set. Was that a blemish or a speck of dust, caught between a cuspid and incisor? He examined it closely, then gently blew the speck away before closing the lid and placing the neatly folded cloth back beside the display. Looking around his office, he sighed again with satisfaction. From the signed photographs on the wall, to the various mementoes placed carefully on the shelves, all was in order and presented in the very best light. 

 

“G’night!”

His secretary’s voice preceded her popping her head round the door before leaving.

“See you tomorrow!” he replied, before pressing send on the last email and putting the computer to sleep.

 

“Nice teeth” he said to his latest victim, as he inspected the ties binding their wrists and ankles to the wall, then tut-tutted at the way the plastic had cut into the flesh, leaving red welts. Moistening the tip of his handkerchief with his tongue, he gently wiped away a drop of blood. Then he turned his attention back to their face, holding it firmly in one hand and turning it towards the light, first one way and then the other. He sighed once more, running his finger over the metal headgear which held their mouth open and teeth apart. They groaned and twisted their head, trying to say something. Gently touching their cheek, he pulled out a pack of dental floss. “Just one more clean and then we’re done”, he said reassuringly. “Well, almost” he added.

 

“Nice teeth” he says to you, as he looks into your mouth one last time, before holding up a long bladed knife. 


 

Steven French is retired and lives in West Yorkshire UK and have had various pieces published in 365Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories and of course Danse Macabre, among other venues.

*

Ellen Harrold

Underlit in new territories

 

Sweet phosphorous spires

entangle in nerves and teeth.

It glows in dark wells and cavernous trenches

casting hues through dimensions

 we cannot.

 

A figure falls on such low sediments,

trawling in isolation

and far above, something sees them alight

Overhead a creature falls.

Shatters the distance between all things.


 

Ellen Harrold is an artist and writer focused on science and nature. She is completing a master’s degree in Art, Science, and Visual thinking at Dundee University in Scotland while working as an artist, writer, and editor-in-chief of Metachrosis Literary. She has recently published both written and visual works with New Feathers Anthology, Honeyguide Literary, and Green Ink Press. She has also recently published her first book ‘Aesthetics and Conventions of Medical Art.'. Bienvenue à la Danse Ellen.

 

*

 

Elizabeth I. Riseden

Branded

 

Each produce department stores

humid perpetual harvest,

burgeons each day with bountiful

eggplants from El Salvador

Chilean grapes

melons from Sinaloa

California kiwis

Oregon raspberries.

 

Fruit is labeled---

one tiny sticky

per piece---

³Dole², ³Sylvan²,

³Pictsweet².

A company

credits itself.

³Yum² yell most

 

tomatoes¹,

premature prophesies

gassed green.

The hymn might better resound,

From deity and nature, with

selection, out of Juana¹s & Jorge¹s

hands, by their calloused fingers.

 

Liz was Danse Macabre’s first contributor. She lived & wrote across northern Nevada.

Our 150th issue is fondly dedicated to her memory.

Danse Macabre

An Online Literary Magazine

is edited, designed & published by

Adam Henry Carrière

Copyright (c.) 2007-2023 by

Adam Henry Carrière & Lazarus Media LLC

All rights reserved.

ISSN 2152-4580

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