New Project: Poems for Edward Gorey’s Fantod Pack

From Moth & Candle: ‘The Fantod Pack is an Oracle deck designed by author and illustrator, Edward Gorey (1925-2000).’ Published October 11th 1995 by Pomegranate Europe (first published 1969).

From Goodreads: ‘Edward Gorey’s trademark sense of impending doom is nowhere more darkly humorous than in this, his version of a tarot card deck. Each of the 20 cards forecasts a list of outcomes for the user ranging from the merely unpleasant (loss of hair, breakage, thwarted ambitions) to the downright horrible (catarrh, spasms, shriveling). The 32-page booklet provides interpretation of the cards courtesy of one Madame Groeda Weyrd, who Gorey tells us “is of mixed Finnish and Egyptian extraction, has devoted her life to divination, and is the author of, among a shelf of other works, Floating Tambourines, a collection of esoteric verse, and The Future Speaks Through Entrails.” Who but Gorey to make mirth from a kaleidoscope of catastrophe?’

I will pull a card from the deck at random, then write a poem based on the image and on Madame Groeda Weyrd’s interpretation of it, as shown on the left under the picture.

 

Mylkylla

 

In the airport, I saw that blonde had prevailed,

Taking gold over the slivers of sky, of platinum,

Tin hats, of my silver plastic toy that skims

Now, across white caribou hide, sewing shut blue lakes.

The plane’s innards are clad in chain mail.

(Mine are not). The potable air hostesses know this,

They give me dark, medicinal gut-rot. Bilberries:

The cause and the cure. I cradle myself

Beneath a great, sky-borne tree, levitating over Moscow,

Who sleeps still [static] under cloud-sea.

Seven Sisters Around the Foot of Your Bed

 

With bow-curved mouths, bullet-nosed and suited,

They draw down shutters against loud, lonely noises

That scrape the skull like a truth drug —

Phantoms slamming against dirty chalkboards

To leave warnings scribbled in pink & white.

The First Word

 

I haven’t yet found the first word

The one that validates all others

So when I move my mouth to speak

I reveal the tragedy of empty sound

 

Would I accept this, my last decision?

I would walk to the quiet mountains

I would cut off my tongue and eat it there

It would better serve me in the form of food

Chase

 

I lay still, toppled clay golem
You sleep, deep and animated
Against my joyless insomnia

(Dreaming of rabbits?) No, bone-saw
Flee, they turn and see you, now flee
Flee on short limbs, four red stalks

In my ballooning, musing ego
I put these tremors in you
This brooding traversed two skins, osmotic

Plasticine bull-demons, horned men
Stalk through blackened infirmaries
Casting voices of lost family

My violence becomes your twisted wrist
My frustration becomes your bruxing
I am fearful and so you shiver

Impossible deserts, impossible sea
Tunnel through glass dust dunes
Paint tell-tale scars across soiled skin