Return to Issue 4
Click here for an article about this work

A Collaboration of Poetry and Art by John C. Mannone and Jason Carusillo *

Like a Bat Out of Hell

After Trust Me, German Expressionism
Acrylic on canvas by Jason Carusillo

Spores have fungus'd the air,
my nose, powdered white,
and I can't breathe. There's fire
in my lungs; night turns red.
A century of dreams, delicious
wet air in my cave, now dried.

My leather skin warped around
me, changing, folding into myself,
into my own burial wrap. Now,
I free-fall through the dark,
stalagmites poking stony fingers.
I can feel them loom, prick

into vestige of my body  —  a cape
from Tartarus, smooth, dark.
My furred head with eyes as black
beads, turned inside out; muscles
kneaded as plastic dough. Fear
paints wet flesh, green; red sinew
contorting, twisting colors into
hideous face  —  humanoid, bat
identity transformed to Dracula's
with fangs not blind for blood.

Postscript: A mysterious plague is wiping out cave-dwelling bats in much of the eastern US. An unknown fungus, Geomyces, is a white, powdery-looking organism found on the muzzles, ears and wings of dead and dying bats hibernating in caves. The white-nose syndrome, linked to the fungus, first appeared in the winter of 2006/2007. It interrupts the hibernation cycle and awakens them too early. The bats then prematurely burn too much energy looking for food and die from starvation.

The Wolf in Other Dimensions

After Pieces of Jack, Cubism
Acrylic on Canvas by Jason Carusillo

From the movie Wolf (1994):

The demon wolf is not evil,
unless the man he has bitten is evil.
And it feels good to be a wolf, doesn't it?
Power without guilt. Love without doubt.

—  Dr. Vijay Alezias

I've never loved anybody this way.
Never looked at a woman and thought,
if civilization fails, if the world ends,
I'll still understand what God meant.

—  Will Randall (Jack Nicholson)

His smile, parceled in Picasso's
cubes, white fangs, teeth, showing
on every facet of his geodesic'd face
—cold blue, even sadder purple.

Is this how the transformation
             —man to wolf—
occurs in the fourth dimension?
Arms, legs neatly folded
like Rubik's pieces poking though
the third and fifth dimensions
at the same time. Yes,

I see fire spreading between them,
the cold hot orange of space, hell
blurred with heaven and earth
in every facet, triangular or square,

substance converting to spirit,
laughter gelling between polygons,
fear oozing all over you
or what used to be you, the meek
silent lamb, now somewhere
between heaven and hell.
The wolf will lie

with the lamb, and the lamb
skewered into cubes.


After Inflames, Expressionism
Acrylic on canvas by Jason Carusillo

Imagine the "man in the moon" or angels
in clouds hiding among the moving shapes
of shadow, light. Chiaroscuro in pale skies.

Behold the glitter of heaven, the beautiful
dark scintillated with stars, each like crystal
trapping brilliant light. Sapphire blues or red
rubies strewn on black velvet.

That star! The solitary diamond in the cold
galaxy. Zoom in. See it seethe continent-size
bubbles of hot plasma  —  granulation of heat.

Feel the inferno? A mere ten thousand degrees
Fahrenheit. Skin of this sun, a fiery crocodile's  —
scales glow amber, scours emptiness, loneliness.

You are not alone.

Imagine the "man in the moon" or angels
in clouds  …  or Satan in sun's hell. All that glitters
is not gold.

Layers of Man

After Layers of Man, Expressionism
Mixed media on paper by Jason Carusillo

Sometimes everything is black and white with symmetry of good and evil.
Like the hypocrites in the Gospels of Matthew and Dr. Luke, each a casket,
smooth mahogany white, yet full of dead man's bones  — the living dead—
skin peeled off the charcoaled face, sinew frayed, off-gray. Cut away
the milk-colored, yet soured, yellow-looking flesh, to the pure bone white
frame caging a black heart — the beauty of hatred.

Collaborative Project Portfolio:
Additional Information

Poetry by John C. Mannone

Visual Art by Jason Carusillo

Digital photographs, courtesy of Java on the Square

Notes on Artwork
Inflames, Honorable Mention, Cleveland Sate Community College Art Competition 2000: Stimulated by an exercise in both impressionism and expressionism while working from a wired sculpture.

Layers of Man, Juror's Choice, Cleveland State Community College Art Competition 2001: Drawn from a self-portrait using expressionism exploring the darker side.

Trust Me, Second Place, Cleveland Sate Community College Art Competition 2001: Depicts that "up to no good" mischievous look.
Pieces of Jack, a cubist portrait was inspired by photographs of the Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman, as well as others from The Shining and Wolf.

Jason Carusillo has been drawing and painting for twenty-five years, a love that originated from the use of colors to correct serious dyslexia at the age of six years old. Jason specializes in expressive art. He studied under Jere Chumley, notable abstract artist in Tennessee. Jason has created backdrop paintings plays, his other passion. He has been an actor for ten years in regional community theaters. Contact him at razorshadow85 at hotmail dot com for inquiries on the sale or commissioning of artwork.

John C. Mannone lives in east Tennessee. He is a widely published award-winning poet in mainstream and slipstream fiction journals: Pirene's Fountain, Iodine Poetry Journal, MO: Writings From the River, Aethlon, Main Channel Voices, Wordgathering, Linnet's Wings (Ireland) , American Diversity Report, Liquid Imagination, Silver Blade, House of Horror (UK), Mirror Magazine, Static Movement, Sonar 4, Astropoetica: Mapping the Stars through Poetry and others. Please see the Liquid Imagination Blog for his interview linked to further examples of his poetry.

(return to top)