Sunday, June 30, 2013

The River


This is the opening poem from Pop-Up Book of Death. The first seven poems of the book describe the surreal and horrific pop-up book that I witnessed in a nightmare.

The River

A group of mourners,
standing on the riverbank,
rise from the page like
flowers in time lapse photography.
Even if the page is opened quickly,
the paper figures emote bereavement.

A clever optical illusion:
the lines of the river trick the eye into seeing
relentless current, which
continues to flow in a blink
like the echo of a flash bulb.

Pull the tab:
A pursuit of crocodile and corpse ensues to the right.
The paper body and reptilian scavenger ride on a track,
bobbing up and down through a cut in the page.
At the end of the track, a crocodile jumps from the left,
nipping the thumb of the reader with a sharp cardboard edge.

A fun activity:
The Crocodile Death Roll Game for the bathtub.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Birthday Cake




The intruder enters the front door
during the wine and cheese party.
The guests turn to me to do something
before someone gets killed.

The hostess of the party leads me to her bedroom
where she keeps her bullet drawer.
Right above the sock drawer,
the bullet drawer contains rows of bullets,
all dressed in colorful knit outfits
like finger puppets.

I undress six of the bullets and load my gun.
I return to the party to kill the intruder;
I discover the intruder has transformed
into my boyhood dog,
but she is old and sick.
The execution has become a mercy killing
to put the dog out of her misery.

She doesn't know what's happening
as I put the gun to the back of her head.
I pull the trigger several times,
but the gun does not fire.
It only makes flat-sounding thuds.
I open the gun to discover
the chamber is clogged with birthday cake.

Read more in Pop-Up Book of Death.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bat Dream

At the supermarket
a new display of bats on sale

the small size rips open with a tear strip
like the resealable bags of shredded cheese
a little plastic ripcord
and inside a honeycomb of bat packaging

the bats fly out
the speed of hummingbird wings
like pouring out the cremated on wind
and the air zips with bat wings

the medium size
packaged with egg carton
and frozen for freshness
a three-pack of bats
each a winged little fetus

and the large size bat
hangs from a hooked claw
like an obscene hairless chew toy

and I'm relieved because
I get one at last
before they sell out
and I tuck the naked urchin
under my arm
to be resurrected at home
with warm water

Monday, June 06, 2011

Boy and His Dog


I place my face inside her skull-mask
as I peer through the blur-hair;
the blizzard of her bangs
descends over my eyes
in white-out erasure.

I crawl into the dog,
a costume,
a silky-white cocoon.

My foamy tongue dangles past my chin,
and I am helpless to tuck it back inside my lips.
The passages inside my nose branch and turn,
multiplying into the labyrinth
of the dog's odor-understanding.

I feel the white hair blear the clarity of my eyes,
and I transmogrify into the dog again
just like the old movie with Tommy Kirk.

I place the white dog costume
between myself and the camera
in this black-and-white family comedy.
I place the white dog’s mammalian warmth
between myself and the world.
Her image, her symbol, the idea of the white dog
filters my secret.
Her hair turns as black as a shadow,
as black as a pubic hair
with what the white dog filters.

The white dog costume
bleaches my fear of the dark.
I clutch her like a flotation device
as the shadow flash floods the neighborhood.

She buoys me up from the drowning,
buoys me up like a coffin
in which you will find me.

Press for Pop-Up Book of Death

The Pop-Up Book of Death is a collection of vivid and startling poems from Chad Helder. These poems navigate a humorous and unsettling landscape where horror movies transgress the boundaries of the screen, sinister words strike out from books like trapdoor spiders, and true love extinguishes every apocalyptic flare-up. In this bizarre terrain haunted by the white dog, Helder offers a pastiche of childhood memory, dream journal, and surrealist fantasy, confronting the horrors of The Closet and the anxieties of The Apocalypse.

Jon from Evil on Two Legs writes:
Chad Helder’s “Pop-Up Book of Death” makes enough references to zombies, disease, and dismemberment to satisfy any fan of the horror genre, but this is real poetry written by someone who knows his craft, and Helder uses the conventions of horror to do what good poems always do, whether or not they make reference to the horror genre. These artfully written poems offer fresh insight to the darker and more absurd aspects of the human condition.
Click Here: Review at Evil on Two Legs

Jory Mickelson from Literary Magpie writes:
There is something in this book for most readers.  The horror fan will finally find poetry that speaks to him or her.  A casual reader will be disarmed and drawn in by the use of humor.  Queer readers will find new representations of themselves.  In short, Pop-Up Book of Death is entertaining and uncomfortable at the same time.  It will stay with you just as long as your reoccurring dream about the man behind your bedroom door with the knife.
Click Here: Review at Literary Magpie

Wander on amazon.com writes:
This is NOT a pop-up at all....Sad to say, I am a collector of pop-ups and was disappointed to receive this last night and discover it is not one. Not sure why the title, but.....whatever...

Listen to the interview about Pop-Up Book of Death on Artclectic PDX:
Click here for the podcast!