Neal Romanek


Photography by: Chris Anthony

Van Helsing Makes Amends

Van Helsing unfastened the coffin lid,
peeled the crucifix from the bone-white brow.
pulled the garlic from the rust-flecked mouth,
careful not to touch the teeth.
He stitched back on the severed head,
and he blotted up evidence of Holy Water,
and, full of care, heaved free the hammer-frayed stake,
like Excalibur from the nameless stone.

Then rolling up his sleeves, he said:

“Now here comes the hard part.”

Drowning Man

Untrained flailings, tiring, fail
On a night crawl for a far, dark buoy.
I snatch at the sea
And she snatches me.

Goose-skinned, testicles shrugged, I succumb,
Disappear, descending.
Coward, cartoon balloons abort my head
In mercury burps; reason freezes
And fries–a burbling jam of memory. I die:
The longest, thick, sickly twisting dive and sigh.

Picked clean for the occasion, skull to shin,
By each station, groomed by tickling slick schools,
(Requiem teaching the grin, moray polishing)
Encouraged by tentacle pats, I’m
Committed, lead as suicide, settled
In bone-lined beds of black horrific,
Where needled pressured demons shimmy and writhe
And wear dim lamps as tails and ties.


Photography by: Chris Anthony

Ode To The Primordial Sea

This sea at the shore of seas,
Where other seas begin,
Where is conceived the great Pangaea of seas
that stretch three quarters of the way into the future,

This sea, pubescent,
Horny and tempestuous
And desiring increase at every level,
Ingenious and bursting at the seams,
Throwing up all kinds of mad ideas,
Shimmying, shimmering with milky life,
Not yet self-conscious, unshy, reckless
Grand-roiling stinking-green and then some,

What joyful possibilities and probabilities
You had, before rhythm and the seasons
And the practice of five hundred million years
And filling the forms
And seeking your own level
And overthinking it

Brought you to that staid middle age
In which the best trick
You can conjure
Is a mere blue whale.


Cradling it to his belly –
to where a womb might be –
the Spartan Son held it still,
concealing it in clothing.

His Father smiled down.

Feeling whiskers dust him,
the Son smiled back.

(It bit a door in his skin
tearing in,
penetrating the quiet wound, pulling
its pink, snake tail through.
Like a hand in a sock, it filled his gut,
then squeezed with ulcerous steps
to the stomach.
It burned to his spine,
then climbed, rung by rung –
stopping to grapple the heart,
stroking and groping with delicate paws.
It tugged on his tendons, clenching his hands;
its swell in his neck cracked his voice;
its squeak wore his teeth, and the water it made
seeped through forehead and lip.
Grinning, it entered his skull,
eye beads trained on the matter.
Scouring it hollow and dry, it nested,
awaiting a lover.

He’d seek to spook it with moving soon,
to poison it with wine,
to sate it with night flesh.
Trying to draw this horror out,
he’d quarter himself in the city square.)

The Father smiled.
The Son kept smiling back.

Neal Romanek is a writer and artist living in London. Visit his website here

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