Categories
poetry

A Ritual for the Dying

Close the windows. Cover the doors in crepe. Light a candle on the floor. Tie coins to the ceiling and leave three eggs in the yard under a new moon. Sing softly. Chase out the flies. Collect all their papers and cross out their names. Open the crypt and air it out. Count the moths. Circle three times widdershins and don’t look them in the eye as they go. (They could take your soul with them as they go.) Turn off the fans. Leave a plate of oranges. Sweep the corners. Open the windows. Close the windows. (Don’t look.) Open the windows. Close the windows. (Don’t

Categories
poetry

We Got on the Wrong Bus

After Edward Gorey

It seemed strange the driver didn’t ask for our bus pass. Instead he shook a box full of finger bones and growled exact change only.

Cleo sat down by the hooded figure near the front. She didn’t want to offend anyone by mentioning the smell.

Tyrone stepped over the pink-clear puddles that oozed over the center isle from the seats. He said ahem and I prefer to stand.

The chanting bothered Willem, but only when she took out her earbuds and glanced around at the faces under the hoods.

A skeletal hand was left on the seat Charise wanted. When she poked it, it scrambled under her feet.

Bones to Dust, read the sign above the driver, but Paro couldn’t see very well to read the rest; the purple fog was too thick.

Jacinto thought he heard the giggle of children, checked the seat behind him and saw an empty baby carrier.

Katy pulled the cord and heard brakes screeching, but the bus didn’t stop. Neither did the screaming.

Categories
poetry

Come be an Alligator

After Alvin Schwartz, “Alligators,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
For Levi

Because I love you,
I invite you:
come be an alligator
with me.

We’ll live in the river, float
like logs, quiet
as death
pull those fishermen
down to the bottom

Grasp our babies
gently, between
our massive jaws
teach them
to chomp minnows
and toes
and roll, roll, roll.

We’ll eat things when
they expect it least
sun our bellies
with the moon
and have them all
fooled
because everybody knows
there’s no
alligators
around here

Categories
poetry

I might be a dungeon

Last night, while cutting onions
I cut my finger and made
a small peep-hole,
a mini-cavern, and bled a little.
Peering inside, I saw
what might have been gray cobblestones,
rough-hewn stairs, old pitch torches
lighting long passageways, smelled
the smell of smoke and moss, heard
the occasional clank of
sword against bone,
teeth against shield,
and the groan of paladins dying
(I heard this, while squinting,
keeping my finger-hole close
to my ear)
the chomp of monster jaws
making short work
of cheap armor,
the clink of emptied riches
into a hoard, the whisper
(or perhaps weeping)
of the party’s magic user
who spoke of terrible secrets, written
in unknown languages, buried
in the levels below.

Categories
poetry

A Letter from Your Love Interest (who is not an Embalmer)

When you leave
I’ll preserve you
(your memory, I mean).

I’ll tuck my dreams of you away
in a bed of Egyptian sand
for centuries and centuries, until
the treasure of your face is uncovered
a rich and ancient icon,
ossified,
priceless.

or I’ll dip you in brine
(my feelings for you, that is)
a recollection of our love suspended
in formaldehyde
or honey, like the Persians did.

or I’ll nestle you down deep
in a peat bog bed.
The unusual conditions
of low oxygen, acidic water
and Irish cold
will transform the reminder of you
into silky black leather.

or I’ll lay you down
on a long steel table
pierce your carotid artery
and expel your
blood and interstitial fluids
(uh, memories),
flush your veins with
methanol
(love)
and other solvents,
so the time we spent together remains
chilled forever
a tag on the right toe.

This is to say,
when you’re gone,
My thoughts of you will
never rot
they will never decompose.
you’ll remain forever
precious,
refrigerated

(in my mind).

Categories
poetry

Nothing Fun will Happen this Halloween

This Halloween, I’m afraid
there will be nothing fun
that will happen to us on this dark moonless night
no ghosts will pop out as we sneak through the yard
no ghouls will rise up out from under the porch
no goblins will glare out of dark cellar shadows because
we all know, for quite certain, that monsters aren’t real.

This Halloween, I’m afraid
will be boring and tame
as we invade the house under cover of night
no vampire will hiss when the door slowly creaks open
no werewolf will howl as we all creep slowly through
no zombie will groan as we slink through the halls because
we all know, for quite certain, that monsters aren’t real.

This Halloween, I’m afraid
will be just like the last one
with the usual, quite regular holiday feast
no demons will care when we tug off the covers
no angels will hark all the shrieks from the beds
no monster at all will join us for dinner because
we know, for quite certain, that monsters aren’t real.

Categories
fiction

That Thing Standing Behind You

That thing standing behind you
Just wants to say hi
It was stuffed under floorboards for so many years
It just wants a stretch, to uncurl all those legs
And visit, just briefly, with another kind soul

That thing standing behind you
Just wants a big hug
The house was so quiet and dark and alone
There’s so little to eat, the icebox is empty
Is it too much to ask to dine with a friend?

That thing standing behind you
Gets a little bit bigger
Its mandibles stretching as wide as the hall
Such an affectionate gesture, you won’t even feel it.
Won’t you turn, just a little, and give it a smile?

Categories
fiction

That Fish is Going to Eat You

Look at it, all way down there in the deep watery shadows
With black marble eyes that seem inhuman and strange
It looks at you coldly, without hardly a quiver
I think that fish is going to eat you.

It wasn’t the best idea to go swimming, of course
Despite how warm it is on this lovely June day
How spontaneous you seemed, jumping into the pond with a whoop
Now you shiver, very quietly, because that fish is going to eat you.

This secret forest pool seemed so placid, idyllic
You paid no heed to the arcane markings carved into the trees
I didn’t carve them myself, but I read them (before I hid the brushes)
Those markings pretty much said that fish is going to eat you.

Is it a fish? Maybe not. Who knew this pool was so deep?
How many sharkish eyes does it have? Two? Twenty-seven?
Those strange, greyish eyelids stretch wide open to see you
…Well, to do more than just see you. (Specifically, eat you.)

What can you do but scramble for shore?
Your legs kick frantically as the waves start to froth
Foul bubbles rise up–are those tentacles? Teeth? Whatever,
they wrap around your ankles, preparing to eat you.

Down you go, down to the deep, struggling as you descend
What a terrible way to go out, I must say.
I’m sorry I had to watch such a scene, but thanks to you
I’m at least happy that fish is not going to eat me.