Tree Killer Ink, Epic Rites Press; no. 10 (12 pages)
Tree Killer Ink is not an arts and literary mag that invites calm reflection; it is meant to engage the reader enthusiastically and aggressively. Flip through the short prose and poetry that, on some pages in this issue, almost literally spears out from the backdrop picture of a dead, gnarled tree, and you’ll quickly realize that the subject matter isn’t meant for the delicate.
Issue 10 of the publication certainly shows great stylistic attention to presentation on the part of the Epic Rites folks. The dark shades and creepy fonts give the layout an almost Doom Metal feel. And that feeling also permeates many of the pieces themselves – Nahshon Cook’s ‘Last Night’ being a nice, compact example of dread and inevitability.
Darkness aside, there is a still a level of depth running through the work, as well as good variety in theme, and narrative or poetic style. John Dorsey offers some absurd humor in ‘An Excerpt from Stringer: The Love Song of Melvin R. Danforth’. R L Raymond and Wolfgang Carstens offer pieces tinged with a bit of a softer edge (although the edge is still quite capable of drawing blood).
And with John Yamrus, Rob Plath and Lyn Lifshin also included here, there are works that will still engage a casual reader, while also offering, perhaps, a gentler way home.