Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fiddler's Green

Imagine if you will, a starry night in southwestern Oklahoma just after the Civil War. Nestled in the shadows of the Wichita Mountains is a battery of smoothbore cannon camped for the night. As the campfires dim and the flasks of rum and lemon are empty, the conversation turns to the life hereafer. A rugged old section chief is surprised to learn that all present have not heard of the special destiny of Redlegs. As the young artillerists listen intently, he shares with them the Legend of Fiddler's Green.

The section chief explains that the souls of the departed eventually end up in Heaven or Hell. Heaven lies about six miles down the dusty road to eternity, and Redlegs get there by turning left at the first crossroad. From this same junction, Hell is about eight or nine miles straight ahead. The road's easy to identify, it's the one paved with good intentions. A little way down the road to Hell there's a sign pointing to a trail that runs off to the right of the main road. It reads "Fiddler's Green - Artillerymen Only."

Then the section chief teaches them the following poem:

Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green,
Are the souls of many departed Redlegs.
Camped near a good old-time canteen,
And this eternal place
Is known as Fiddler's Green.

Though others must go down the trail,
To seek a warmer scene,
No Redleg ever goes to Hell,
'Ere he's emptied his canteen,
And so returns to drink again
With friends at Fiddler's Green.

The campfires die out, and the Redlegs doze off to sleep, knowing Fiddler's Green awaits them and all thier cannon-cocking brethren in the life hereafter.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Other Hasselbeck Verses

Osama Bin Laden was a very bad guy
He hurt many people, don't ask me why
We shot him in the head and now he is dead
Now close your eyes and go to bed
- Elizabeth Hasselbeck

Deep.  Supremely deep.  It's words like these that inspire men like me to want to be authors and poets.  To seek, to find, and not to yield to that muse that sang to all the greats: Milton, Dante, Keats, Hasselbeck.  Perhaps this might even become a new epigram for the blog?  That old Bulgakov inanity is getting a bit stale, don't you think?

"Now Close Your Eyes and Go to Bed (Osama Bin Laden Was A Very Bad Guy)" is one of those pieces that transcends the poetry genre, and simultaneously steps into pop culture while eclipsing all else that went before it.  Like all great poems, people know the lines without necessarily knowing where it came from.  Everyone know that "the paths of glory lead but to the grave" but not everyone knows that Robert Gray wrote that in his "Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard."  It's common enough practice to state "Look on my works ye mighty and despair" without necessarily knowing that Percy Bysshe Shelley penned those words.  Similarly, how many times have you ruminated upon a subject and concluded "We shot him in the head and now he is dead?"  Just a little food for thought.

Interestingly enough (and little known) is that Hasselbeck comes from a long line of troubador poets.  No doubt her idea to scriven this frankly brilliant work came from her mother, who once similarly wrote this piece to explain The Killing Fields to her as a child:

Pol Pot was kind of a mean jerk
He messed up Cambodia, don't ask me how it worked
We fed him some arsenic and it made him really sick
Now go teach the dog another trick

Deep, deep stuff there.  Deep.  Of course, Madame Hasselbeck mère was probably similarly inspired by HER OWN mother, who, deep in the throes of the Holocaust penned this little ditty:

Adolf Hitler was a bit of a rough customer
He gassed 12 million people, don't ask if we can go to Fuddrucker's
Then he shot himself and it was bad for his health
Why not go watch Will Ferrell's "Elf"?

More moving than "Schindler's List" and the "Diary of Anne Frank" combined, that one.  Anyway, if you really want to trace the origin of the Hasselbeck family's genetic talent, you'd probably be surprised to find that it leads you to 13th century Mongolia, where this piece of verse was found carved in tanned cowhide:

Genghis Khan woke up on the wrong side of the bed
He raped two continents, not really sure why he led
He died of pneumonia, now he's full of ammonia
Why don't you go see if grandma will phone ya?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Radioactive Terror Zombie

I know I write a lot about zombies on ye olde blogge (and in general) but the danger that we are all feeling about the possibility of Japanese radiation resurrecting a sort of a glowing Mer-sama bin Laden raises a question that I think we're all wondering:

How did Osama bin Laden become such a pussy?

(Bet that didn't go where you were expecting, huh?) 

I mean, revolutionaries are supposed to die AWESOMELY.  It's part of their whole mystique.  It's why we still wear Che shirts today.  Robespierre got guillotined face-up with a missing jaw.  Nat Turner was hanged, flayed, beheaded, and quartered.  Spartacus was crucified with 6000 of his dudes.

And then there's this asshole.  First of all, he was supposed to be living in a cave and turning down Pepsi because it was "too American."  Turns out, nah, he was living in the Pakistani equivalent of the Upper East Side, in a million dollar bungalow.  What a pussy.  Then, he grabs one of his wives and uses her as a human shield.  THEN he takes one bullet in the eye and goes down.

Zip.  That's it.  No mystique.  No awesome last words.  Lived like a king for a while, hid behind a woman, then one shot and he's down.  I mean, hell, even Trotsky took an ice axe to the head and lived for like, two days.  I can explain that in no other way except that the ice axe must have dinged off his enormous brass testicles.

Speaking of which, can you imagine what kind of dire straits Stalin must have been when he sent a dude with a climbing tool to kill his biggest enemy?  I'm going to imagine it went something like this:

MOLOTOV:  Uh, General Secretary?
STALIN:  Ah, Molotov.  Is Trotsky dead?
MOLOTOV:, General Secretary.


STALIN:  What happened?
MOLOTOV:  Well, first we sent a highly-trained Russian Special Forces operative to set a bomb and blow Trotsky up.
STALIN:  And...?
MOLOTOV:  Trotsky caught him.
STALIN:  Uh huh.
MOLOTOV:  Then we sent a pretty solid Ukrainian soldier with a gun to shoot Trotsky.
STALIN:  How'd that go?
MOLOTOV:  He caught him, too.
STALIN:  Hmm.  Then what?
MOLOTOV:  Well, then we sent this drunk Estonian with a knife.
STALIN:  That didn't go well, huh?
MOLOTOV:  Well, he caught him, too, General Secretary.
STALIN:  All right, listen, here's like fifty rubles.  It's all I've got on me.  Go find, like, the next Mexican guy you see holding something sharp and tell him to go kill Trotsky.
MOLOTOV:  Yes, Comrade General Secretary!
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