It’s frequently denoted as the place where the heart is, is it not? And when you think of it this way, it does paint a pretty picture, doesn’t it? Lots of warm and fuzzies, maybe fun times in the kitchen, or running in the sprinklers in the backyard on a hot, summer day. Maybe you see late nights doing homework for the kiddies or watching the news for the parents. Perhaps there are birthday parties and barbeques. Valentine flowers, Easter egg hunts, Thanksgiving dinner, and presents under the tree. Perhaps there’s some sadness and grief. Maybe illness has plagued your four walls, and tears were shed. Loved ones remembered. Regardless, it’s all part of the experience that we call home.
Yea, the traditional idea of home can conjure up a lot of lovely images. That assumes, of course, that your perception of home is happy.
Sometimes, it’s not.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of introducing my friend Francis F. Keating to the world (if you consider the world to be about forty or more people, but I digress…) and sharing some of his poetry. This week, I’d like to share with you a little of the harmony that exists between us.
As writers, Francis and I are uncannily in sync with one another. It’s been years since we’ve actually seen each other (the last time we were together was for my wedding, which was fifteen years ago) and there was a long period of time when we had simply lost touch and did not communicate at all. However, when we finally re-connected to write our novel, we amazed even ourselves at how much we are in tune with one another in terms of our ideas, our descriptions of scenes or settings, the rise and fall of our characters, the direction of the story. In terms of our writing together, it’s as if we’ve picked up our writing habits right where we left off so many years ago, without the even the tiniest stitch in time to interrupt us.
I don’t doubt for a second that in all other facets of our lives, we are probably as different as two people can be: the way we live, the people we love, the things we do. It’s not even unreasonable that this is so. But when we write, he and I are completely in sync. We both like the darkness. We both flock to the twisted. We both imagine the depraved, the irrational, the psychotic. But the thing is, we tend to do this much in the same way. Sometimes, I’ll toss an idea to him and he’ll tell me, “Ha, you know, Liz, I was going to suggest the same thing.” Or he’ll share something with me and I’ll respond with, “Dude! You beat me to the punch; I was going to do that!” We’ll laugh and then we’ll move on, but sometimes we are so in line with our thought processes that it’s almost a little weird.
But, it’s weird in a good way. Although we might surprise one another every once in a while with a bit of writing, we’re not usually shocked by the direction the other took, the words we chose, the nature of the beast—and we always find one, he and I, we always find the beast. We’re able to easily seek out the sinister in our tales or in our verses and help each other improve on it, without judgment or sermon, without suffocating conversations about right and wrong. We find the darkness, we embrace it, and then we roll.
So when Francis shared one of his newer poems with me, She’ll Call Her Vengeance Home, I wasn’t at all surprised by the darkness of it. On the contrary, I was attracted by it. I loved the idea that he had taken the idea of home had made it obscure and opaque, adulterating it with images of revenge and despair and amazingly enough, wholehearted acceptance—and why not? Not everyone sees home in the same cheery way. In fact, what is warm and light for some is cold and dark for others—and they welcome that. That is the reality of the world in which we live, but often times, people shun that reality. They don’t want to believe it, despite all evidence to the contrary.
In his poem, Francis made the idea of home unexpected and disturbing, in a way that might bother some people. However, his poem spoke to me. In fact, I would later write my own poem, And An Angel Will Lead Him Home, partially inspired by his.
Needless to say, I too took a dark and unexpected turn, mainly because it seemed so natural to do so. Of course, I can’t speak for Francis, but I would like to think that he’d agree—that we each turn to these darker elements in our writing in a very natural, very fluid way because it has merit and it has value.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we also both think it’s kind of cool.
Other horror writers know this, I’m sure. There’s a kind elation that comes when you find it in yourself to cross to the other side—where not many are destined to go—and grasp the darkness to tell its tale, to give its perspective. There’s a moment when you show the ugliness for what it is: unapologetic, alive, and present. Oh, yes, very present.
And you do it with aplomb.
Francis is good at that, too.
And so, with this next poem by my friend, I’d like to share with you another interpretation of home.
SHE’LL CALL HER VENGEANCE HOME
When winter comes and angels die
When blackness creeps across the sky
And demons make an oath to try
A wicked plot against the eye
The watchful eye
The healing eye
Of souls that ever tend to cry
Of sorrows known to you and I
That’s when we both shall die.
But misery shall not soon agree
When death’s embrace does come for thee
When melancholia runs from thee
When saviors slay disharmony
She will not flee
She will not see
She’ll hide behind her vanity
She’ll mock the pleas of sanity
She’ll call her vengeance home.
COPYRIGHT 2012 © FRANCIS F. KEATING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
photo credit: Women Abuse, Cindy Coverly