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Unpleasant Poems
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-086-8
Genre: Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 82 Pages
Published: September 2003

From inside the flap

Gorelets is a collection of "sudden horror poetry": 52 ultra short shockers guaranteed to make you squirm!

Originally written on (and for) handheld computers as part of a successful online experiment at Arnzen's, each of these little "caplets of gore" pack a powerful punch. With titles like "Zombeanie Babies," "Teasing the Cyborg," "Brain Chunks," and "The Embolism of Evil" you know you're in for an unpleasant surprise.

Released in print on Halloween 2003, this exclusive electronic edition from Double Dragon Publishing includes 21 BONUS POEMS unavailable elsewhere, bringing the grand total of the collection up to 73 poems!

Reviews and Awards

"Horror and poetry very rarely mix well -- if at all -- but with GORELETS, Michael Arnzen has produced something of minor miracle; not only does every piece in this marvelous collection stand up to the rules applicable to poetry, but each piece -- like the best horror story -- provides the reader with chills -- no small feat. If, on occasion, Mr. Arnzen's tongue is obviously pushed toward his cheek, it's all in fun -- albeit intelligent, well-crafted fun. These pieces, and this collection, will not disappoint."

-- Gary A. Braunbeck, author of the Stoker nominated books THINGS LEFT BEHIND and THE INDIFFERENCE OF HEAVEN

"SCARY. Achieves in your face, punching rhythmical effects. Coupled with Arnzen's vivid visuals...these rhythms are confrontational, leaving readers no place to run and hide." - Sidereality

"Tight and succinct...visionary fragments, sharp little pictures that make your tomach regular English, avoiding the pretense that consume so many other poets" -

"Like one of those stubborn and painful scabs, only Arnzen could pull this one off. Served up with humor both vitreous and gut-wrenching, Gorelets delivers its tasty mind-morsels in palatable portions both raw and rare. If you haven't tried one yet, grab a plate and dig in." -- Kurt Newton, author of Dark Demons and Denizens of the Cityscape

"It's no wonder Arnzen has built up such a cult following with his website -- read one thing by him and you're hooked." --

"Gorelets is an example of horror's rebirth." -- Pittsburgh City Paper"

Scary, gory, horrifying little demons that float around in the sinister mind of a very talented writer...these teensy poems are larger-than-life! Arnzen's technique is brutally artistic with a blood-streaked flair." -- Brutal Dreamer Reviews

"Arnzen represents everything good about horror and speculative poetry. One of the few people who can write poetry that is genuinely disturbing." -- Lip Dink

"It is easy to see why many of Arnzen's readers consider him a master of the macabre." -- The Dream People

"Arnzen's a crackerjack poet of the dark fantastic...his work whipsaws the reader from giggling to guffaw-ing to cringing, often all on the same age." -- Edward Bryant, Locus

Gorelets (Excerpt)


These poems -- like all poems -- were an experiment.

What distinguishes these texts is the way they were written and the way they were intended to be read on a portable handheld computer, or "PDA," like the popular Palm Pilot. Whenever the urge struck, the poet composed on a 3"x3" screen with a stylus. Consequently, no poem here is longer than eleven lines and each of those lines contains no more than eight words, at best. Brevity and word economy was the rule. But if you study them, unique structures and patterns will emerge. The medium certainly shaped the message.

As did the genre. Gorelets are "horror" poems a mode of writing which explores the "dark side" and muses over morbid themes like death, murder, disease, mutation, chaos, mutilation, the uncanny and all things outr?. This is the genre I work in, mostly because I believe it is the most experimental popular genre. In it, one expects the unexpected, which requires the writer to break with convention at every turn.

Tapping into the popularity of the fiction genre, horror also brings a new audience to poetry. That was part of my goal to get more readers in the digital age to take notice of poetry. When I began this project I realized that e-books were everywhere, but nowhere was poetry. And poetry just seemed to "fit" the screen better than long, eternally scrolling documents written for print rather than pixels.

Gorelets were like applets -- tiny computer applications -- only darker than the usual fare. I think these pieces hold up rather well considering each one fits on a screen the size of gauze bandage. The "Extra Unpleasantness" poems in the bonus have been added especially for the e-book edition of this text -- enjoy.

So read and bleed. They'll be quick jabs, but I hope nothing will clot the cut.

-- Michael Arnzen, Halloween 2003

Sample Poems:


grip my thumb tightly
in your carpenter's pinch
and press the moonsliver ridge
against the score in the wood.
my denuded knuckle --
a fitting hook on this sick
pegboard of people and parts --
and strong enough to hold
the hammer you're swinging.


naked in soil
writhing red wet and blind
puckering tip and tapering tail
i wonder if there's any of you
left in its belly
as I bring down the shovel
on your collarbone
splitting you both in two


always locked
inside a box
of bone -- it's
rather unctuous

always soft
as tofu quiche
but never quite
as scrumptious





You hook me up
to a machine of wire --
a thousand piercings per inch --
and slip me out
of this pale costume
only to stick me
to you