Tuesday, 30 August 2011


He offered her beauty
and she knew the value of beauty,
so she accepted.
She thought that she had changed him,
that the animal had sloughed off
with the shape he had worn.
But even her beauty faded
and his beast remained –
she remembered that heavy step
from her first nights in the castle,
now creaking the stairs leading
to her daughter’s bedchamber.

copyright (c) 2003 and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Monday, 22 August 2011

To Frankenstein's Monster, With Love

Child of my mind,
I have pursued you,
worked my brain to fever for you,
and you, yellow cadaver, lie there.
How can I help but cringe?

The corpses I have exhumed for you
from the graves of dead poets
with wrinkled skin and sallow eyes,
the dry words that fashion your limbs,
the wet marrow of your bones –
when clay Adam sprawled motionless
did the living spark diminish his Creator?

Once the syllables are formed,
their pattern set,
it is irrevocable.
The fires galvanize you.
Electricity twitches your form.
You lurch forward to the page.

Oh, my love,
you are not human.
Less than nothing,
a voice I claimed as mine,
but you are not me,
and there is no immortality
in the lines you speak.

You are nothing,
but you are mine!
And I will love you
lurching and breathing
through your phrases
until the mobs come with torches
to burn your pages away.

copyright (c) Daniel J. Bishop 1998 and 2011


The depths of scars
scars in the sky
scars drifting around the moon
scars on you and me.
Thread and stitchwork crosses us within
like untidy Frankenstein’s monsters,
two mannequins stumbling around.
Scars with patchwork souls.
We are mountains of scars,
and seas of scars,
scars floating on waves,
reflecting the scars in the heavens
the scars in our private hell.
There have been wars, there have been cease-fires.
We’ve staged all the plays for the Generals.
We speak like jugglers doing tricks.
We open our mouths and knives spill out
falling, cut gashes in our flesh,
scars upon scars and scars,
and cut the scars apart.

Copyright ©1997, 2008, and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Java Man

I have been a vampire 
for a cup of raw blackness. 
I have scrounged like a ghoul 
through pockets of change 
to slink to the coffee-house 
at midnight.

Copyright © 1998, 2008, and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hymn to Aphrodite

Black Aphrodite
fills Her doorway
with swaying breasts
and Neolithic hips,
jiggles when She bends
for the milk.

Scrawny Aphrodite
shows an armload of tattoos
asking waif-like for change.
Rings in nose and eyebrow
glitter like quarters and dimes.
Anything would help.

Aphrodite in the morning,
when the world is calling,
is warm against my back,
Her lips touch my shoulder
until the world is silent.

Aphrodite with a thousand cats
reveals Her dentures to the world.
Her skin is as wrinkled
as a newborn baby’s.
Her cats are Her children –
are Her lions – devouring the sun.

Aphrodite is hungry.
He dresses in drag
And haunts the clubs.
Because gods travel in disguise
He keeps on trying.

Aphrodite, in Her living room,

I came from the cavern of Aphrodite.
I breathed Her ocean perfume
in the womb of the world.
We crawl across Her belly
to lie between Her breasts,
to suckle Her life then expire,
breath from Her lips.

copyright (c) 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Friday, 19 August 2011

These Stars

That night in Yucca Valley
the stars spread over us like dust
glittering in a velvet sea.
They fell forever into space
and we grappled under blankets.
I fell forever into your depths,
coming together and falling apart,
beaded with stardrops of sweat.

Tonight, over the lake, the same stars
and I stand on the deck craning up
drinking them down like heady wine.
I remember Yucca Valley.
I remember the stars and the depths
and the blackness between the stars.
They are still binding us together.
These stars, and nothing more.

Copyright © 1994, 1997, 2008, and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop


Petals flushed pink
like delicate lips waiting to be kissed.
Everyone knows roses draw blood.

Everyone knows roses carry daggers.
Sweet fruit is hidden in their hips.
Their stems are sharp, cut from the earth.
Roses love you when you bleed.

So I bring you roses
to remind you of the daggers I carry.
And if the thorns have been removed,
that is to make you forget.

Copyright (c) 2003 and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Flumph With Waving Tentacles

I am the very model of a flumph with waving tentacles
I hang out with a fighter and a guy who plays with pentacles
I know the things of caverns, and I quote weapons historical
And all the monster manuals, in order categorical

I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical
I calculate the CRs and with buff spells I'm fanatical
About role-playing theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news
With many cheerful facts about the best builds that you-can-use

With many cheerful facts about the best builds that you-can-use
With many cheerful facts about the best builds that you-can-use
With many cheerful facts about the best builds that you-can-choose-to-use

We met up in the dungeon though I’m not within the SRD
Invoking Rule 0 the DM tried quite hard to forbid me
I complained about “badfun” and DMing most tyrannical
And by these acts I forced my way into his campagnical

He complained about “badfun” and DMing most tyrannical
And by these acts he forced his way into the campagnical

When in town floating around the villagers all stare at me
Which helps to take attention off our ranger who’s a chimpanzee
Cities I’ve patrolled for more than gold or silly precious pearls
I’m trying to find where the DM hides all the anime schoolgirls.

I can tell templated illithids from krakentua and aboleths
I fought with several parties and survived where they met their deaths
I had them all raised up so they could fight as they had fought before
Up until the point in which they were all dead once more

Up until the point in which they were all dead once more
Up until the point in which they were all dead once more
Up until the point in which they were all dead once again a-more

I am a floating creature so pit traps do not bother me
With slides and chutes the point is moot due to my levity
I come in special armor though as a flumph I wear no pants
And I can make you flumph-touched with a very special dance

In short, with the fighter and the guy who plays with pentacles
He is the very model of a flumph with waving tentacles

If I roll low I think you know that I will call a mulligan
And if I miss I must insist I be allowed to roll again
The Core Rules just limit fools with no imagining
Of how to play a flumph with no stats below seventeen

I’ve been to Krynn and old Berlin and walked the streets of Waterdeep
And in Greyhawk my party walked in places where the dark things creep
I don’t care if my flumphing ways cause the DM much distress
“When in doubt, just say yes” is something that the rules stress

“Just say yes” the rules stress, or so says he
“Just say yes” the rules stress, or so says he
“Just say yes” the rules stress, be plucky and adventury

All the rules in all splatbooks are memorized and known to me
Though in a tight spot I might not remember to apply one or three
In our DM’s campaign world flumph PCs are now cannonical
My next PC I think shall be a LEGO man bionical!

But still, in all matters of driving his DM mental
He is the very model of a flumph with flailing tentacles

(To the tune of the H.M.S. Pinnafore)
copyright (c) 2006 and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop


night enfolds breathless
in the clouds lightning flashes
jagged semaphore

copyright (c) 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Dragon

On the islands of Komodo,
Twixt Java and Timor,
Deer and men both tremble
When they hear the Dragon’s roar.

No wings grace Her pebbly back,
Nor does She mount the sky,
But slowly walks across the ground
Head swinging side to side.

Her forked tongue flicks yellow bright
And tastes the balmy air.
The wild water buffalo sooner flees
Than face Her baleful stare.

Hooves slip silent cross the stones
And once-proud heads held low
When antlered stag or horned goat
Comes thirsting to water’s flow.

With staccato thunder of Her feet,
Strikes the land crocodile.
Pestilence drips off dagger teeth
Gleaming in Her smile.

When the stars alight like burning ice
Komodo’s dread Mistress tires;
She rests Her head on golden sand
And dreams of breathing fire.

copyright (c) Daniel J. Bishop 2011


No sour note its beauty marred;
I heard the music from afar
And hastened in the orchard night
To dancing candles of fox-fire light,
Where the heavy moon cast silver globes
Upon rings of mushrooms glistening fair
For faerie folk that held court there
Amid the drops of swirling light
In gossamer and cobweb-robes.

Faster and faster the fiddlers played,
Dancing within the enchanted glade.
Round and round the faeries whirled
And in the moonlight madly twirled
To the skirling of their magic song.
The apple trees waved with breeze
By mortals unfelt through autumn leaves
Until, slow-rising there came the dawn,
And with the night the host was gone.

In the orchard’s new-day glow,
I heard the music far below.
I heard the sound of dancing fair,
And wished aloud that I were there.

Copyright (c) 2002 and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop
First published in Fables online.


I buried my lover, deep,
under floorboards of
cinnamon dreams and
stale condoms.

The planking moves –
ambushed by time
as time snared me
when I was green,
unacquainted with
the monster we ride.

There is no paddle,
and rocks cascade through,
shattering lumps of wood
that corner us on the shards
of raft that remain.

I bury my lover.
There is nowhere else
for her to go.
She goes deep.
Shattered splinters shift,
break up,
and leave her behind.

If there is a god
he is a lover of steamboats
who goes under his own power
and plows through our barges,
leaving nothing.

This river is made of tears.
The salt of upstream romances
carry me, and my tears
carry funeral boats for buried flames.

There is nowhere for me either,
unless I enter that river,
go deep,

and drown.

copyright (c) 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Emerald Alert

People of Oz slip inside
our citizens for their mischief.
They are all terrorists in Oz,
or worse.

It was the people from Oz,
tear-stained fathers would say.
The President calls the Army,
but soldiers only stand, vigilant,
while scarecrows slip into their bodies
and the heavens rain friendly fire.

Oz has blown off the maps
so the bombs cannot find it.

The terrorists of Oz
have already infiltrated Kansas.
You will know our true patriots
by the way they search your eyes
for flying monkeys, even now,
sneaking inside

copyright (c) 2011 Daniel J. Bishop


beetles under petrified glass,
we became thick with sugary blood
pouring over us in a sluggish crawl
so slow we did not notice until,
like insects in golden ice,
we were frozen apart,
our passion congealed,
amber oil without warm engine motions
to make it run thinner than water

copyright (c) 1999 and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop

Angels of Babel

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!
this is none other but the house of God,                                 
and this is the gate of heaven.

– Genesis 28:17

I have assaulted Eden,
and wrestled with angels
beneath sweaty sheets
under the moon.

I have held my breath
and expelled great sighs.
Poetry has moved me.
Candlelight dancing on thighs
with each bobbling flame
has cut the barriers of time,
revealing depths and shadows
that made the world sublime.

Paradise came unexpected
in a kiss, in a whisper, in walks and philosophy.
For one to be part of two, to come again and again
together and apart, requires effort and will,
but Paradise is an oasis, a garden that protects,
that holds back the world without denying it,
and though I burn myself for you,
and you breathe incandescent for me,
there is always more, growing beyond our fires,
our hair in disarray and our bodies sweaty
and smelling of ecstasy and pain, and love.

You said “I love you,”
and I knew what you meant.

In every Paradise serpents crawl.
For what sins have I cast myself out?
The unwillingness to meet expectations I knew
but was unable to fulfill,
the all-too-many failings of flesh and breath.
My vision blurred.

I have walked the paths of Eden,
taken pleasure within her
and lain upon her silken grasses.
I have tasted also of good and evil,
and that fruit was sweetest, like honey
smeared upon my chin
forbidden by love and tasted in my kiss.

Call this poetry seduction,
call these words bricks,
and my tongue a mason
to build a tower that would reach heaven
and reclaim that Eden of my youth,
love that other desires set aside.

I wanted it to be said that angels ran unseen
up and down this edifice of words, this Babel of my tongue,
that time could run backwards, and I could believe
as I once had.

That Infernal Trinity of Id, Ego, and the oh-so-Holy Ghost
saw the women waiting to climb and descend,
those unchosen, unknown, or nonexistent fantasies,
those who danced along the edges of trembling sight,
and the Tower trembled, too.
Lust and desire shook it in an earthquake
of unrestrained longings.
Words faltered, and the masons fell silent.

I heard the angels singing
and the world broke into a thousand voices –
one million promises of one million Edens.
Your voice sang one prolonged note – 
sweet and pure and strong, and I remembered
innocence, or what I believed it to be –
and we were lost to the music.
Words shattered, the sounds I was building
cold wind through trees
hungry baby cries
endless water falling

“I love you,” you whispered.
What did it mean?
I returned empty noises that sounded like
“I love you,” but I meant
I have no power over angels,
and I cannot make love stay golden.

I have wrestled angels
and found comfort in their shadows,
but time leads on, and the angels remain
lost in the past,
their human shells holding memories
and bittersweet memories
of what we were.

copyright (c) 1999 and 2011 Daniel J. Bishop