Valley of the Shadows & Surrender

a novel duet by Rochelle Lynn Holt

(Ft. Myers, FL. Dec. ’04)—iUniverse, Inc. announces the release of two novels-of-the-future in one book.  (The term was invented by Anais Nin (the author’s friend and mentor) in the Sixties).
Valley of the Shadows & Surrender is a duet, concerning the fickleness of pursuing fame in a society that measures success by media adoration.  In the title novel, Marya Brooks, an experienced poet in her seventies, decides to practice amateur obeah (voodoo) to cast negative spells on her favorite top five poets, the thriving competition.  Only when each poet begins to die mysteriously does she develop guilt for her actions.  Her former student, H.D.,believes her research can dispute Marya’s fallacious theories.

Surrender, the second poem-novel, alternates between viewpoints of Rory Pole, an aspiring songwriter, and her idol, country music rising star, Maggie Moore.  Also set in the southeast, primarily on both coasts of southern Florida, the tale reveals the pitfalls of longing for fame.  Rory is bitter when she receives no response from Maggie, after determining that lines of her poems are appearing in the singer’s popular songs.  Rory then invents a macabre form of revenge.

Excerpt from Shadows

When I read about Silvia’ s bizarre death,
I was sick to my stomach.  I’d not intended any
major malice towards her after I drowned the spider
or was it the ant?  My five ceremonies were
blending together like a bad watercolor.  The
voodoo doll set afire, the black candle, the cemetery
walk.  Each ritual had been enacted at a specific
time on a certain day in accordance with b0 .
But not to induce death,  I screamed.
I only meant to slow down the competition,  the
pop five.  Defer them all from another book
contract, a grant, a talk show appearance.  I was
filled with guilt although I knew Silvia’ s untimely
demise had to be just a freakish accident.
However, like a sad robot I automatically
drifted toward the bookshelf of spurious
veneration.  I retrieved Silvia’s collection titled
Bones and opened to the title poem.

Like buoyant bubble on driftwood afloat,
she swims addicted to constant motion
in desert or swamp with gestures remote-
controlled by promise a mirage emotes
on sand-face mirrors ravine reflection
like buoyant bubble on driftwood afloat;

she embraces wind to whorl inside moat,
oblivious to gravity for skeleton
in desert or swamp with gestures remote

booksCover art by Magdalena

Excerpt from Surrender

Perhaps Maggie’s success with a song
that uses many of the lines of “Whistling Bird”
(just one of a batch I mailed to her for months)
combines with a brash freedom I feel after
mother’s demise.  Otherwise, why would I be enraged?
I was the one who placed the poem “Tragic Dove”
in the saddlebag of the wayward horse.  What’s worse
is I led him away from the stable when the rider
returned to the house because she’d forgotten her
water, the bottle I pilfered when she wasn’t looking.
I never thought the horse would end up colliding
ith a car.  It was not my intention for anyone to be
injured.  I only wanted someone to find my poem
and match it to Maggie’s style.

“Tragic Dove”
He walks over edge to dive into yew
with beehive of eyes as treacherous as swamp
would devour him whole, bones & flesh of rue.

Most swimmers prefer not to stroke view
brown fields crawl where mud and dirt press damp;
he walks over edge to dive into yew

like tangling reverie, daringly new
for insomniac asleep with lamp
would devour him whole, bones & flesh of rue.

He had not thought teeth could cut through
womb of hollow cave empty as vamp
when he walked over edge, dived into yew:
stillness of horizon without clue
such soul could quiet in death-camp
would devour him whole, bones & flesh of rue.

Swallowed by ache, dove is Wandering Jew
circumstance yet torments without pomp;
he walks over edge to dive into yew–
flesh devoured whole and his bones of rue.