When I was a teenager, Harlan Ellison was my hero. I loved his stories and his prefaces to those stories. I delighted in his antics, and thought there was nothing better than going to listen to him speak at LA colleges. Much later, after I was published, he invited me to his home after a book-signing at Dangerous Visions. His house was every bit as amazing as he claimed, adorned with Nixon-era gargoyles and full of a lifetime of writing. And he was every bit as feisty and quick in private as in public.
I celebrated him in “Toasting Harlan Ellison,” written for the Cemetery Dance horror poetry collection, The Devil’s Wine, edited by Tom Piccrilli. This is the first time it’s been seen anywhere else.
Toasting Harlan Ellison
Come all ye young writers, bring ale and cup,
And I’ll tell you a tale that will make you
Proud of the profession that you have embraced:
The story of Harlan, a man with no
Fear and no hesitation;
He threatened producers with painful
Red bricks and dead gophers in boxes,
He scared them so badly, he shriveled their
Cocksureness and shocked them to bits
And Harlan, he said, “You ignorant
Men, you illiterate fools!
You should all drown in stinking
Harlequin Romances and bunny-soft words,
You deserve nothing more than to be blinded by
Visions of danger and stories with pluck!
Your problem is that you don’t give a
Damn!” he finished and returned to his art,
And settling down, he let a great
Thought through his mind pass
And cried, “I’ll write what I want and you can all kiss my–”
But everyone knows that Harlan’s a
Hard man to fetter and cannot be mastered!
Here’s to you, Mr. Ellison, you’re my favorite
(c) Tamara Thorne 2003-2013