Vastarien: A Literary Journal: Vol. 2, No. 2


Grimscribe Press, Summer 2019

Jon Padgett, Editor-in-Chief

My previous reviews of Vastarien:

Work by Giuseppe Balestra, Paul L. Bates, Deborah Bridle, Alana I. Capria, Donyae Coles, C.M. Crockford, Tatiana Garmendia, Robin Gow, Danielle Hark, S.C. Hickman, Trent Kollodge, Andrew Koury, Christi Nogle, Valin Paige, Eden Royce, Lucy A. Snyder, D.P. Watt.

When I read this journal, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

12 thoughts on “Vastarien: A Literary Journal: Vol. 2, No. 2

  1. An inchoate colour illustration by Tatiana Garmendia seeming to depict…


    “; one of those lovely moments of synchronicity.”

    ‘The Green by Dock Street’ on one poster among many posters advertising events like a circus and wrestling, leading to the narrator watching from a window the benighted comings and goings into a derelict junk yard, a yard that gradually becomes a Green of grafted flowers with docked corpses, and the narrator’s personal connection with one of those comings and goings, and other signs. drawing the narrator there. One page of this darkening work containing a poster as an avant garde / silent garden poem of sparsely spaced words. Evening all, and night night.

    “, please contact the Police immediately on 999.”

    My previous reviews of D.P. Watt:

  2. B0291B2F-D29E-4DE6-A01E-1231077B2589An illustration (part of it left) by Danielle Hark

    Three lower case enjambments as free verse by Robin Gow
    like crickets
    not other’s tongues
    types of knife blades:

    “that’s someone else
    who sleeps for us
    & conjures our strange dreams”

    I was rather struck by these accessible word-wounds…


    “This kiss was a feast, a feeding.”

    A highly earthy, wormy baccy-haunting around blacks’ baccy farm, a sister Annie Maggie abandoned by her older sister, now to alone look after their ageing father, his wife, their mother, already taken by the baccy poisons, a mojo pouch buried, but after naively removed by Annie Maggie, taking protection away, with dealing with the crops, their stringing and worming of the leaves, makes her beset by all manner of wishes, like her father’s for baccy workers, for boys that stay, girls that leave amid leaves, and the invasive baccy man, a scenario with striking preternatural coincidence-resonance with two Tremblay sisters, only yesterday, here, the youngest sister also left alone, with stories about GROWING THINGS growing things, threatening Annie Maggie’s kisses imposed upon her and mouths and stinging wounds — and America First coming…?

  4. Another striking colour image by Danielle Hark
    followed by –

    THE PELT by Christi Nogle
    I am very struck by this narrator woman’s moving to a new house, as masterminded by a husband figure that seems to stay nebulous. Her need for her sofa that she sometimes stains with body stuff. Not exactly a yellow wallpaper syndrome, but something far more insidious. Who is choosing the deliveries to ‘furniture’ the house? Like the mock autumnal pelt of lawn, to make up for or actually match the window view of the burnt hill, even if the hill is promised to green up again. Reds and greys and angles. And the neighbours opposite, as if my own neighbour with his giant flashing screen covering one whole wall in the small front room of his even smaller bungalow. Porches beyond porches. 8DA372AB-98D0-45B7-9DE3-B9288CEED3E0Also preternatural mutual-synergies with the previous Royce story just reviewed above, the Rix novel just finished before reading this wonderful Nogle and, also, the Tremblay things growing, and Dillon’s Ice & Autumn Glass…. “and up from the carpet come pale cordyceps mushrooms, little segmented vines with spiked flowerbuds, soft little worms […] ice and dirt and leaves — yes, the first autumn leaves.”

    My previous reviews of Christi Nogle:

  5. SILENCES a fine poem by Lucy A.Snyder (“Fifteen frantic texts unseen,”),

    a remarkable pencil sketch portrait by Giuseppe Balestra of Thomas Ligotti,

    and then a substantive academic essay, with footnotes and bibliography, VISIONS OF THE GOTHIC BODY IN THOMAS LIGOTTI’S SHORT STORIES by Deborah Bridle.

  6. EYESTALK by C.M. Crockford

    “, ‘Your left eye is, erm, dying.’ I shifted in my gown, unsure why she’d made me change into one in the first place.”

    A deadpan narrative account, almost as if written with the inhuman logic of an AI (see here very recently) — an account, by vignette, if not by a lorgnette turned monocle, of a worker in Ligotti’s take on the Corporate world, where a career means everything in order to reach that top storey view in the office, to the detriment of a loosening eyeball damaged by digital screen work in bright light. The eyes here remind me of the earlier tongues in the poems of Robin Gow.
    We all pace that driven, swerveless I-stalk, I guess, even when – or especially when – we are self-employed and drive ourselves.

  7. THE MANNEQUIN IDEAL by Andrew Koury

    “I wanted to be blank.”

    A narrator who constructively suffers or enjoys the nexus that I — as an old man similar to the one in Koury’s Ligottian mannequin shop — compare to the fleshy eroticism / phobia and ‘blankness’ nexus revealed by my very recent review (here) of A Blast of Hunters. Such a comparison is preternatural or inadvertent as a mutual synergy between them. I find this work, meanwhile, a striking description of, inter alia, a sexual encounter illuminatingly portrayed by the Koury-story transcending and/or enhancing such a nexus.

  8. Another inchoation in colour, entitled Death & The Maiden IV, On Jan 27, 2012, by Tatiana Garmendia, followed by –
    A discrete but also intercontextual poem DADDY’S DEPARTURE by Danielle Hark
    with, inter alia, the imputed shaving of Daddy’s face in the mirror, ON the mirror. Aptly last night, I happened to watch this shaving procedure also happening in the 1964 film A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, more than just that being serendipitous for the following story…

    THE SPRITE HOUSE by Trent Kollodge

    “What are you making, Daddy? […] The haggard man in the mirror caught his eyes.”

    A slip of the chisel to draw blood, if not the shaving blade, or the wood plane, as the Daddy here carves not only a song but also the intricate wooden Sprite House for his daughter, by means of the Sprite House Manual (a manual given to him by whom? the neighbour who subsequently burned it before the Daddy had finished the house? that neighbour whose own house was the mirror image of Daddy’s own, bar the more bachelor furniture in the neighbour’s?) — Meanwhile, this story is a genuine oblique inspiration to face out the depressing world as we know it, the circumstances of the Daddy’s wife’s departure, the fatherly love for his small daughter and her love for him, and the sprites watching this constructively self-sacrificial hard-day’s-night of the soul, as I see it. A possible classic, once it has been reflected upon long enough?

    My previous review of this author:

  9. SIRENS IN THE NIGHT by Paul L. Bates

    “Horns, guitars, electronics, symphony orchestras,…”

    Thanks, story, for bringing in the sirens, as I heard last week from the London Proms the first performance for many years (masterminded by Rattle) of the complete version of AMÉRIQUES by Varèse, and, appropriately, a week or so before that in the same festival, Mozart’s Requiem….That was surely serendipity enough! Yet, this was also a great story of a man with something clawing to get out from the inside of his head via a sporadic pimple, and serendipitous destruction of his pesky noisy neighbours one by one. All helped by the synchronicity of — or even caused by — a Ligottian Doctor’s medicine. His work all now done, this time with the sprite house become a whole apartment block!

    My previous review of this author:

  10. A substantive academic article; THOMAS LIGOTTI: THE ABYSS OF RADIANCE by S.C. Hickman with footnotes and bibliography,
    Followed by HAUNTED: a painting or collage in colour by Danielle Hark
    Followed by

    THE MILK MAN by Alana I. Capria

    “In that netting, I might catch the milk man and if not him, then another like him.”

    Anything I say about this work will not be sufficient warning about it – except perhaps saying that. And the woman narrator, though, tries to tell us everything, even the most shocking, but has she kept anything back? Has she saved the worst for last, the blank page, where milk settles into perfect whiteness bar the vague see-through outline of the presumably next – still unviewed by me – artwork. Meanwhile we dare watch this woman’s collage-in-words with milk and blood, her own body meat to feed him or herself, her inner self become the beast baby she might need to feed with herself as other mothers do? But nothing I say will convey the sexual and bodily co-engulfment you will face here. A mutual synergy. A melting dance of Stringer and Sprite. Perhaps ligotti are not the knots as I once thought, but, rather, the still conscious lumps in the milk of vastarian death?

  11. Colour silhouettes with naked flesh emerging: THE UNRAVELING by Tatiana Garmendia,
    followed by an effectively tactile poem: TRANS WOMAN GUTTED, all in lower case and ampersand, lower case except for ‘Oklahoma’,
    both of which are perfect accompaniments for Daniellle Hark’s more overt SILHOUETTE by dint of its title, artwork in colour,
    And all three then perfect accompaniment for:

    WHAT FOUND NEVAEH by Donyae Coles

    “Off didn’t matter. Out mattered.”

    More off than on, as if born never to have been born, other than to be in this story, in a literary journey, itself within a literary journal for alienists and anti-natalists. A young woman called NEVAEH, not Oklahoma, though the latter sounds structural, and echoes from the foregoing poem, NEVAEH who’s escaping something, having inherited her deceased uncle’s squalid flat which – as a remarkable coincidence – bears structural stains like that in the Gahan Wilson story that I happened to mention here only an hour or so ago before reading this. But nowhere else are there cages in the laundry, cages the ultimate frame with silhouettes inside rather than dirty washing, a wash of oil, and nowhere else a boy called Zion killed by a bully, but with Zion now haunting the hallways, and an older woman who talks to NEVAEH, inchoately showing NEVAEH the ropes. The only “off” story in the world. Like switching this whole journal off. Its darkest light now out, not even a silhouette of itself. I return my thoughts to the cover image by Anna Trueman, at least to know, simply to know, but know what? It won’t go away.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s