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"An excellent collection." — Ellen Datlow

Visions from the darkest galleries of the artistic soul.

"Mike Allen stares deep into the canvases and sees, intuits or fabricates things that aren’t there…but should be .... This is the magic of Disturbing Muses. It’s as if, with the measured slice of his words, he’s succeeded in tearing through the canvas and gouging out secrets that the artists never shared."
— SpiderWords

"A beautifully worded introduction by Goss ... the contents more than live up to the praise offered therein."
— The Endicott Studio for the Mythic Arts

My cycle of "dark artist" poems, Disturbing Muses, is available from Prime Books. Artists whose strange secret histories I've tackled in these pages include Goya, Escher, Picasso, Mirýÿ, Chagall, Toulouse-Latrec, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Klee, Yves Tanguy, Jackson Pollock and Giorgio de Chirico, from whose famous 1917 painting the chapbook takes its title and its cover. There's also a playful introduction by Rhysling Award winner and World Fantasy Award nominee Theodora Goss. If you want a signed copy of the book, I'm personally selling them for $11, shipping included. You can buy them from this website using PayPal or credit card, or you can order via check sent to me at 3514 Signal Hill Ave. NW, Roanoke VA 24017.

From the Introduction by Theodora Goss

"I have said, I think, that these poems are interpretations of what the poet sees on the canvas. I add that they are imaginary biographies, as true as anything that actually happened: they are biographies written the other way around, from the evidence of the art. Pablo Picasso's relationship with women, for instance, as when

he left her a twisted, flattened shell,
curled like wet canvas on his padded chair,
mouth soundlessly screaming
from the same side of her face
that both eyes now started from.

Isn't that, don't you think it is, the way it (actually, metaphorically, what's the difference) happened?"


Introduction by Theodora Goss
  • Chagall's Lamp
  • The Disturbing Muses
  • Escher's Bed
  • The Golden Helmet (Casque d'Or)
  • Klee's Garden
  • Miró's Mirror
  • O'Keeffe's Bones
  • Picasso's Rapture
  • Pollock's Knives
  • Saturn Devours His Children
  • Tanguy's Pebble