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Originally from New England, Noel Sloboda earned his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. His dissertation about Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein became a book. He sat on the board of directors for the Gamut Theatre Group for a decade, while serving as dramaturg for its nationally recognized Shakespeare company. Sloboda has published two poetry collections, seven chapbooks, as well as hundreds of poems in journals and magazines. Currently he is an Associate Professor of English at Penn State York.
People are the real creatures in this chapbook. We all can be monsters of some sort. Sloboda reflects on the past, “I yearn to make sense/of what was and will be…only to find everyone I grew up with entombed.” Creature Features is full of surprises and quick wit. We all can identify with these poems so go ahead, read them on a dark eerie night. “For years, I devoured everything/that might harm me—” ~Gloria Mindock, editor of Cervena Barva Press, author of Ash
Creature Features is full of Hollywood ghosts, mummies, and monsters, but presented with an unusual twist and POV—many are written as persona poems ala monstro. Its very creative titles set an expectation of unusualness that’s delivered. Though conversational, the poems are lifted into poetry with effective line breaks, internal rhymes, and other literary devices. Often humorous, surreal, weird, clever, edgy, and insightful, the poems, at some level, are metaphors for humanity. ~John C. Mannone, poetry editor for Abyss & Apex
In Creature Features, Noel Sloboda invites us to meet the real Blob, Wolfman, Rat Queen, Mummy, and other creatures in moments beyond fangs and claws. When we are not laughing, we are delving into places where nightmares are manufactured. We are celebrating the ghosts and ghouls as they navigate dating, art therapy, tattoo removal, and aging, as brilliantly shared challenges in the changing world. These poems carry a delightfully wicked humor! ~Juan J. Morales, author of The Handyman’s Guide to End Times
The Blob Does Ophelia
I wonder what I could have been
thinking. How should an ameboid feel
about sweet flowers?
Madness never was going to work
to showcase my acting chops. He will never come again.
Halfway through the manic song
blank faces in the house
of the Colonial Theatre tilt
toward green screens aglow
in laps. How should I your true love know
from another one? Dripping
with youthful ardor, Juliet
would have been better—
or maybe Rosalind, full
of woodland sass. Still, I go on
singing, jiggling, and ribboning
toward a willow I envision
waiting beside a brook in the wings.
I believe in commitment
on stage and off, and once started
there can be no stopping a dance
set to the tune of oblivion.
At the Tattoo Removal Center
Roughly stripped from bulging hips
sapphire butterflies shiver
as they heave against lids of bins
out back, delicately brocaded wings
tangled in miles of tribal
barbed wire. Sapped by efforts
to escape the dump, they drop
into a vortex of dyes
where they float and dream
of something far sweeter
than nectar they suck
from broken hearts
bearing the names of mothers long gone
and lovers unforgiven.
At the Nightmare Factory
Even with every line churning
out woes, agonies, and phantasms
in this mournful gloom
we can barely keep up with orders.
We love the pimples of puberty
erupting again in late-middle age
and both sets of grandparents appearing
at a speech you must deliver naked.
We love being stranded in strange
lands where the water is orange
and nobody speaks your language.
We love days of drought in deserts
and weeks of rain in flood plains.
We love the invisible virus
everybody is looking for lately.
We love wedding rings mangled
in garbage disposals at flats
of mistresses and obituary sections
of alumni newsletters running for pages
until at the end appears your name.
It is true we must contend
with the occasional December
full of snow days; here and there
a parade of dancing puppies.
Yet even with such production hiccups
our fangs remain bared in grins—
except during rare mornings
when third shift steps down
and the machinery slows just enough
for spring birdsong to be heard.