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Monday, January 6, 2014

Scenes Along the Zombie Highway by G.O. Clark

G.O. Clark's work has nominated for a number of awards. He won the Asimov's readers' poll, was runner-up in the Rhysling and a finalist in the Stoker award.

Humor characterizes his latest collection of... zombie poetry. Just when you didn't think you could add any new wrinkles to the subgenre. Many of these basically ask, "What would happen if [insert occupation here] were to become a zombie?" A number of his answers will provide a chuckle, e.g.:

Well-behaved zombies
are always welcome at political
rallies, church services and
golf tournaments.

The opening salvo is essentially an introduction to the collection.  The second "Little Zombies" may be the most funny clever of the lot playing on the words "Trick or Treat." One of his new takes (or new to me) is the freezing of zombies during winter in "Seasons of the Living Dead".

Perhaps the most crafty--at least it tricked me at first--was "Saturday Night Social Scene". Upon my first reading, I thought the zombies had something of volition and ambition, but the wording is so smooth on this one, he's got it playing both ways, an imaginary intelligence overlaid them. Mark this one as definitely worth reading if you're interested in the field.

Other zombies include clowns, ventriloquists, Christmas carolers, cartoon characters, and policemen.  The most interesting of the occupation imaginings might be carpenters in "You Just Can't Get Good Help Anymore" which ends:

Their constructions
are surreal, no two houses alike,
the carpenter's level unused,
2x4 framework a twisted nightmare
like the carpenters themselves.

Although it makes sense to end the poem on what it would be like to be the poor misunderstood "Last Zombie", my favorite ending would have been from "Two Drink Minimum":

this final night
of the human species
spreading across the dying Earth
like a long, drawn out,
toxic breath.

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