Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Seventh Shadow
Or: Dead Phoenix 

by Anthony Servante

Your third shadow falls before you 
from the light of yesterday's moon; 
your fourth shadow falls behind you 
from the light of tomorrow's sun. 
Today you are joined by two more shadows:
One moves clockwise as the sun rises and sets; 
one moves counter-clockwise as the moon crosses the sky. 
Your first shadow fell the day you were born
in the harsh bright hospital light.
Your final shadow joins you as the coffin lid shuts
in the strict and formless darkness.
Should you choose cremation, 
the seventh shadow returns to life in ash.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Howard Carlyle - Lemmy Rushmore Collaboration
Poetry of One Horror, Two Points of View

Edited & Formatted by Anthony Servante


Poetry is a lonely place where silent horrors breed from the mind of a solitary writer. Howard Carlyle and Lemmy Rushmore have managed to visit this place together and combine their writing talents to create a singular form of horror rarely found in poetry today--a Collaboration. In the best form of "ironic art" where two opposing forces coalesce into a new form, the Collaboration can be found. Do not mistake these works before you for "mash-ups", the combination of two different songs that harmonize well together. This is not the case here. Here we have one form of poetry that had you not known it were collaborated, you'd have thought it a work from the lonely place of muses and nightmares. Look not for seams, for there are none. To see Lemmy or Howard in this line or that is an illusion. There is only one poet here today. And they are here with us on the Servante of Darkness Blog. 

In Part One, we have three collaborative pieces. The poems utilize the stanza form with a rhyme scheme that is more familiar in festive verse; however, William Wordsworth, the Godfather of Dark Romantic Verse, applied the same style to discuss the themes of death and the supernatural as healthy counterpoints to life and nature. Carlyle and Rushmore deliver a similar take on this dark formula. In Part Two, we have the Epic "The Presence of IT". The hero journeys inward, towards madness, perhaps. This is not the epic of Homer or John Milton; it is the "Ulysses" of James Joyce or "Howl" by Allen Ginsburg. It is neither verse or narrative, but a betrayal of a paranoid mind. Or is it? "IT" traverses the shadow of mind and the illusion of body, mixing one with the other till they are inseparable. Not unlike our collaborators. 

NOTE: I initially intended to edit "The Presence of IT" but chose not to in order to maintain the frame of mind captured by the format and style. You will read it as it was meant to be read, free of polishing or prejudice. 

But enough from your host. Let's meet our poets and immerse ourselves in the image between the mirror and the reflection, where you, the reader, become visitors to the lonely place, for just a spell. 

Anthony Servante


Our Poets:

Howard Carlyle

I live in York in the UK and I'm married with a 12 year old son, so I have to write whenever I get any spare time, which is hardly ever.
I have been writing poetry for over twenty years but it's only over the last couple of years that I have been writing horror/dark poetry. Recently, I've been lucky enough to have some of my poems appear in various anthologies.
Last year I had 3 poems published in an anthology called Doorway to Death and this year I have 2 stories appearing in SPLAT 3. One of my poems will appear in an anthology called Zombies: Zero Hour. I also have a story in one called The End: An Apocalypse Anthology. I have a story and a poem in an anthology called Psycho Path. All these anthologies, which have been run by JEA, are expected to be published soon.
Another poem is in one called Freaks and I have a story that was hand-picked from a website called Short and Scary Stories, in an anthology called Endless Darkness 2.
My aim this year was to get at least one story into print, so when I got more, it was a real surprise.
I have two websites. One features some of my poetry and a few short stories, called and the other is about an abandoned psychiatric hospital where the patients were treated with total disrespect. The web address for that is

I am currently collaborating on a story which I hope will go into print next year, giving me my first book release.

Lemmy Rushmore

A lifelong resident of northern Pennsylvania, Lemmy Rushmore is a mechanic by trade and father of three who occasionally dares dabble in the world of words. He now resides in Roulette PA with his girlfriend of nearly 30 years and his youngest son Zayden. Ranging from emotionally dark to horror, his pieces touch on many topics, but tend to lean more toward the darker side of those things encountered daily. First published in the anthology No Sight for the Saved, which features the superbly dark art of Niall Parkinson, Lemmy's poetry can now be seen in several anthologies including: We are Dust and Shadow, Demonic Possession, Hell II: Citizens/Cellar Door III: Animals, Indiana Horror Review 2014, Bones III, The Grays, In The Trenches, Doorway to Death, JEApers Creepers, Ugly Babies 3, and Toys in the Attic: A Collection of Evil Playthings for which he won the editors choice award. He has released an art and poetry collection through JWK publishing that features nearly 90 of his poems illustrated by Niall Parkinson, titled Between the Walls. Besides finishing up work on a soon to be released poetry collection titled A Trip into Madness that features over 200 poems, Lemmy is also in the beginning stages of putting together a horror anthology with friend and fellow writer/poet D.S. Scott, which will be called A Love That Lingers…

Part One: Three Poems

Your Death is a Must
can't you keep your mouth shut
I'm so sick of your cries
why not see it this way
all alive wilts and dies
why must you wiggle so
can’t you sit your ass still
the more you thrash about
all the more blood you spill
can’t you go with some class
have you no pride at all
how you squeal like a bitch
how you whimper and crawl
with those chains that you drag
quite a racket you make
have some dignity please
soon your last breath you’ll take
you lied and you cheated
you hurt those all around
now it’s this price that you pay
to your guilt you are bound
it’s the life that you led
that has led you to this
did you think all you’ve done
I could simply dismiss
it just don’t work that way
we must reap what we sow
and with all that you’ve done
there’s a debt that you owe
it does no good to fight
nor to stew and to fret
you’ve been tried, you’ve been judged
now your sentence you get
don’t you beg unto me
it won’t help you a drop
would be best for us both
if your pleading would stop
once your skin fades to rot
and your bones turn to dust
you’ll be paid up in full
for your death is a must…

Away It Doth Play
I had happened on it
in an odd antique store
the thing had instant charm
plus a little bit more
had a mystical feel
and a hypnotic hold
like a dusty old book
with a story untold
it had weathered the years
with no visible wear
and with one glance I knew
it had stories to share
it looked expertly built
with precision and care
down to hand carvings done
by a craftsman that’s rare
it was mine and I knew
and I bought it that day
before some other fool
could come buy it away
but beneath the etched lid
‘neath the treats for the eyes
in among all those parts
came a hidden surprise
‘neath that rich luscious stain
and those curves that deceive
there was magic it seems
you must hear to believe
I was schooled the next night
on just how much I’d missed
when that box gave me proof
something else does exist
‘twas a musical box
with a tune to delight
but it played by itself
in the dead of the night
I was startled as first
even scared I must say
but the more I heard it
the more fear went away
I would sit and I'd wait
and I'd watch by myself
till that old music box
would begin on my shelf
it would sit on its own
and away it would sing
as if some ghostly thing
had hand tightened the spring
it was one tune at first
the next night it was three
and then night after night
it kept playing for me
I was baffled it seems
by how untouched it played
even more mesmerized
by the music it made
I was drawn to that box
like a moth to a flame
that thing beckoned to me
till each night passed the same
each and all I’d return
to that spot, to my chair
and I’d bathe in its sounds
as upon it I’d stare
even now as I write
nearly rotting away
I can hear it just there
and away it doth play…

The Haunting Show
This old country estate
Where I’ve come to reside
Has an uneasy feel
Like there’s something inside
When the house should be still
And it’s peace I should know
Form the woodwork they crawl
To start their haunting show
In one room then the next
It’s strange noises I hear
Then much to my surprise
Apparitions appear
Some shout out and some scream
Others pass through the walls
Some rock on in my chair
Others roam through the halls
Some move things on their own
Some throw things for a thrill
Others push and then pull
Some lend merely a chill
Some come calling at night
Some are there through the day
Seems no mercy have they
For such cruel games they play
They’ve all wore at my nerves
And caused my heart to race
But around and around
They continue to chase
Some will cause me to cringe
Others cause me to shake
Till I know deep within
They’re just too much to take
Though I’ve asked them to go
They keep picking at me
Till I’m starting to think
They’ll steal my sanity
Though I thought it was mine
Seems it’s their space instead
But then maybe I’m wrong
And it’s all in my head…

Part Two: The Epic

The Presence of IT

It all started when I was younger. I could sense that something was watching me. When I tried to sleep, either from outside of my bedroom window or from the inside of my wardrobe it would come. I could hear it breathing and sometimes it would even giggle quietly to itself knowing that I would be terrified of something that I could not see. Most nights I would find myself in a fight with my eyelids for fear of what might happen if they were to close but each night, regardless of my struggles, finally they would and that’s when the tapping would begin.

It would always start off very faint, nearly unnoticeable. I would try to dismiss it as nothing more than just a figment of my vivid imagination but the more I tried to dismiss it the louder it would become until it would grow to deafening proportions. It’s as if it was trying to provoke some sort of reaction from me, yet each time I did react in some way it would seem to depart leaving me there in that empty room. Each time it drew from me what it seemed to want it would run off like some scared cat leaving me there in that utter darkness but it would always return to torment me again. It seemed that thing never left for very long and each time it would return it seemed its grudge against me had grown.

As time went by things got worse and worse. It picked at me more and more with each passing minute. With its noises and its departures it bullied me like some schoolyard brute that seemed to find extreme amusement in picking on those weaker than themselves and all the while it went on, weaker is just what I was becoming. I wanted to run form it, I needed to hide from it but it seemed the more I tried to evade and escape the more it followed. It was though it had my scent and was bound and determined to drive me stark raving mad.

Even in the daylight it would make its presence known to me. It would stroke at my hair or present itself as a cold chill upon my skin sometimes even a long, heavy breath in my ear. As scared as I was  and as weary as I had become of it, often I would still try to ignore that unseen thing that seemed to have attached itself to me. Why had this thing chosen me as its object of torment? Why had it chosen me as something, or someone, to taunt in its sick and twisted little game? It seemed to get some great pleasure from pestering me far beyond my tolerance.

There was not enough speed in my feet, not enough strength in my legs or my mind. There was nowhere I could run from it and not a single place I could hide. It seemed to always be one step ahead of me. It seemed to always be right there beside me as if clung to me like some sort of vile and malignant growth. It hounded me constantly and badgered me always as if hell bent on my demise. I grew to hate it almost as much as it seemed to hate me but then again maybe it didn’t hate me. Maybe somewhere deep down inside whatever it was it held some sort of sick love for me or at least for my destruction.

My friends couldn’t see it nor could my beloved family. Hell, I couldn’t even see it. They all knew nothing of it but I did. I knew it was there. I had no idea at all what it was or even what it might possibly want other than to utterly break me but I knew with all I was it was always close by. I knew it walked along with me as I went about the doings of my everyday life just like I knew it was there while I slept, although sleep was becoming all the more difficult to find.

The longer things went on the more its escapades escalated till it got so bad I would walk the streets speaking to something no one could see. I begged and pleaded with my imaginary foe and all the while the masses stared at me in wonderment. I begged for it to stop. I pleaded with it to go but always it stayed and carried on its same shenanigans. The crowds wondered who I spoke to while I wondered if it would ever cease the maddening nonsense that it seemed to enjoy so very much. Not a soul heard the awful things it did to me but I did. I heard them as plain as day and they bothered me so. In my ears those noises rang out crystal clear and they ate at my innards like the screeching of nails upon a classroom chalkboard. No one knew of the terrible things it did to me. They didn’t know it touched me time and time again for no other apparent reason other than to raise my dander but I did. I knew all too well of the tortures I was enduring. As much as I wanted it to go, as much as I needed it to leave that thing, that horrible, horrible thing stayed while instead the sanity that I did wish to hold onto was ever so quickly departing.

It played with me always like a kid would with his favorite toy but the more frequent its visits became the crueler its pranks would become. It would trip me as I walked. It would whisper while I talked. It slapped at me while I sat not bothering a soul. It screamed at me every time I sought silence. Always it would cackle to itself as though utterly amused with itself but its tricks were no treat, at least not to me. I tried to ignore it but it made that impossible. I tried to evade it but I found nowhere I might hide from it. It was everywhere I might be long before I might get there myself.

It was a constant distraction until my only thoughts were those of how to flee from it and what my life might be without it.

My school work suffered just as I myself suffered and normal everyday tasks became undoable feats. I had become its puppet and it yanked at my strings always till I danced like a fool. My parents thought me mad and my teachers thought even worse. It would tickle and I would cuff it away but they never saw its actions, only my reactions. It would speak to me and I would answer back but no one heard what it was saying. They would only catch my reply.

They whispered behind my back about what to do with me while it whispered in my ear of how they all wished to send me away and then always it would giggle. I watched as each one spoke trying to read their lips so I might know what lay in store for me and as I did the paranoia grew within me. I would walk in a room and catch my parents in the middle of a conversation all to watch them cease what they had been doing. They’d just pretend they were never speaking at all but I knew they spoke of me just like I knew they wanted me gone.

I thought several times about ending it all so I might find just an ounce of peace. My mind ran over and over the ideas of what I might do so I might finally be free of all that which tormented me so. Often I thought about closing my eyes tight and stepping off the curb into oncoming traffic or maybe diving head first off the highest structure I could find but each and every time it talked me out of it. Once I even had the noose I would hang from ready and waiting but it talked me out of that too almost like it was the best friend I had ever had but I knew better. I knew deep inside that it was to blame for it all just like I knew with all I was that I couldn’t give it its own way.

Finally I could stand it no more and I reached out to those around me. I couldn’t let them think me mad. I couldn’t let them think it was all me. I finally told them all of the dreadful things that were taking place and of the hideous thing that was bringing them to be. I couldn’t let them go on thinking I’d just lost my grasp on my own sanity or on reality itself so I poured my heart out and spilled it all. I told them all of how I was pestered beyond all belief by something not even I could see. I had to clear the air and try to clear my name but the effort was in vain and the more I spoke the madder they thought I had become.They assured me it couldn’t possibly be so. They assured me that it couldn’t really exist nor could the things I’d described to them ever really happen. They all swore it was all in my head and they all swore they could show me just how to bring it to an end. They all swore they could help me but much to my dismay they have done anything but that.

Instead they talked me into this. Instead all those I loved and all those I thought I could trust placed me here, here in this place constructed to house the mentally deranged and the utterly disturbed.

There are people all around me here but I have never felt so alone in my entire life. This place where I now reside is like nothing I could have ever even imagined existed yet it does and I am here within it. It is my own personal hell. They all claim that here I am with others like myself but these ‘people’ are nothing like me. They know not what I deal with. They have no clue what I’ve been through, what I am still going through. I myself am merely bothered while these ‘people’ they have caged me with are downright nuts and that’s putting it mildly. Troubled I may be but the others here are truly insane to say the least. Some of them scream at the top of their lungs, others just sit alone whispering to themselves in languages only they can understand. Some sit silently, their hands fidgeting endlessly while others bang their heads off the grate covered windows or the nearest wall. They all looked dead behind the eyes—empty shells if you will—just waiting for death to take them, something that would seem almost an escape from this house of madness.

Most days I question whether the so-called doctors in this place are any better than my cage mates.  They claim they are here to help me but they torture me as much as the crazies within these walls. They take turns poking and prodding at my already aching mind, tormenting me as much or even more than it ever could. They’ve medicated me to the point I can no longer differentiate up from down in an attempt to banish the thing they claim never existed, yet it still picks at me when they are not. They subject me to tests that I do not understand and stick me with needles time and again while it laughs and laughs. They claim over and over that it is not now nor ever was real while it continues to show me just how real it really is. When I am not being tormented by them I spend my time locked away in some rubber room or strapped down to some god awful table being tortured by it.

Had I known that it would come to this I would have suffered this thing alone. Gladly I would have suffered with the misery it caused rather than the misery and emptiness of this godforsaken place. It’s almost like the thing inside me has manifested itself into something more, into something real. It has gotten to the point where I have to decide whether I should let it taunt me and accept that this is what was meant to be or just ignore it in the hopes that it will eventually get bored and leave me be. Now I have to ask, how will I be able to cope without this thing that has been with me for so long?

For here in this place there is nothing for me. It seems what I hadn’t lost before I came has been stripped from me. This place has taken from me all that I was, all that I knew, and all I might have one day been. I have no friends here; no family comes to visit me. Here there is nothing, nothing but the cold of these walls and the suffering lent by those held within them. Here I have been robbed of it all, of everything except for it.

It, that thing that has been with me since I was but a child, It, that thing I despised, that I loathed. It has been here by my side for so very long till I can barely imagine a life without it near. Has it become a situation of it not being able to survive without me or of me not being able to survive without it? Am I a part of it or is it a part of me? I’ve grown used to its taunts now almost to the point I’d be disappointed if it no longer tormented me. How would I spend my days, how would I pass the time without it pestering me so? It seems for better or worse we are bound to each other to the point I find some comfort in this love-hate relationship we have. What would happen if it were to suddenly abandon me? I wonder now, here in this place, what would become of me if it were to no longer be?

Copyright © Howard Carlyle 2016. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Lemmy Rushmore 2016. All rights reserved


It's been a pleasure hosting you today, dear readers, for our visit from Howard Carlyle and Lemmy Rushmore. The most pleasant Thanksgiving to you and yours. And the Darkness thanks you. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Poetry Today: Trends & Traditions

The Halloween Gathering 2016

Formatted and Compiled
by Anthony Servante
Graphics Assist Courtesy of Coralie Rowe


Welcome back, dear readers, for another Gathering of Poets this Halloween month of October 2016, with a nod, of course, to November First, El Dia de los Muertos. Traditionally, Halloween celebrates the scary side of death, while El Dia de Los Muertos celebrates the life of loved ones passed on. This month on our blog, we wish to honor both traditions with our friends here for you now: Roger Cowin, Toy Davis, Howard Carlyle, Lemmy Rushmore, D.S. Scott, Coralie Rowe, Jaye Tomas, Rick Mohl, Gregory Kimball, Lori R. Lopez, Bridget Wishart, & Billie Sue Mosiman. 

We begin with Roger.

Roger Cowin

Monster Kids

Monster kids dream
In black & white,
Celluloid nightmares
With crimson drenched
Technicolor screams
And giant, crawling bugs
From the earth’s crust,
Alien blobs from outer space
And batrachian beasts
That slink and creep
Through the Amazon jungle night.

Monster kids live
For Halloween,
That plastic
Glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein
And Famous Monsters magazine.
They collect comic books,
Creature Feature trading cards
And believe in Tales of the Hook.
At night, they keep their feet
Tucked safely beneath the sheets,
Just in case the boogeyman
Drops by to play tickle the geek.

Monster kids play dress up,
With latex masks and prosthetic limbs
And when they play at make believe,
It is not cowboys or Indians
Or army-men they pretend to be
But Dracula, the Wolf-man
Or the Creature from the Haunted Sea.

Monster kids come in all
Sizes and shapes,
Short and tall,
Thin and fat
And in all ages.
Some are eight
And some are eighty
But all have the same dreamy,
Youthful faces
Even if they live to be
One hundred and eighty-three.
And behind the far-away eyes
Of every monster kid
Lies a paradise
Of scary beasts
And Halloween trees
That’s big enough for you
And big enough for me.

The Sweet Taste of Murder

With a belly full of murder,
I want to taste your sin,
Split your skin,
Peel you like an apple,
a human banana.

Your flesh is fruit
I need to nourish
This emaciated soul.
I’ll make love to you
With my serrated teeth
‘Til you scream and plead
For the sweet pain to end.

And you’ll know
Just how much you meant to me
When after our love is spent
And I parade
Around my room
Dressed in your skin,
The salty tang of your flesh

Still wet upon my tongue.

Toy Davis 

Killing Spree

I see a glimpse of bone in the corner
I'm not sure if it's really there
It may be a part of my insanity
Now I see colors in the air.

It's floating towards me,
reaching out to grab me.
And whispering my name over and over.

I try to get up but fall straight down
It's as if there's no ground beneath my feet
My skins coming off
It's stinging pain
I'm getting beat by the arms that are supposed to help me

It's so dark
I can't see my hands
I feel myself sinking in sand
I can't do anything but believe
That this is no longer a dream

I'm surrounded by dead bodies
I can smell them decay
I think I'm starting to change into an unholy being
I want to claw my way out
and feed on everything I see.

The old me is dissolving into what I'm destined to be
I feel all this anger longing to be free
I want to kill and destroy all that's around me

I feel an unearthly strength
I think its time to let go
I see blood spray everywhere
I loved how it felt upon my skin
I think I want more
As I reach for my next victim, I let out an inhuman roar

by Toy Davis

Howard Carlyle

I Can See You.

I can hear you,
I can see you,
I can smell you
and you don't
even know I'm

I know when you
leave the house
and I know when
you get back home.

I see what you
have for breakfast,
for dinner and
for tea.

I see you at the
coffee shop everyday
but you take no notice
of me!
I'm polite but I still
answer to your
or ignorance.

I know which perfume
you choose to wear,
which earrings you choose
To decorate your ears
even which necklace
you wear,
I know the underwear
you choose to wear
I even know which
bubble bath you
choose to bathe in.

I serve you your coffee
and every friday you
have a blueberry muffin
and a double espresso,
read the daily paper
and do the crossword..
but still you take no
notice of me.

I see when your friends
come over and the
wine you drink..
I even know that your
favourite song to sing
on karaoke is
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen..
you have a little trouble
hitting the high notes
don't you...
but that's forgivable.

I know your Facebook
login details,
your computer password,
house alarm number...
I know EVERYTHING about you..
even the things
you say in your sleep.

Do you know how
I know these things?

Next time you go to bed
and just before you turn
out the light,
listen..really carefully..
and you might just hear
me in the ceiling
above you shuffling
about looking down at you
from all those 'invisible'
little holes above you...
sleep well.

Copywrite © 2015 Howard Carlyle
All rights reserved

Watching Through Your Window.

I crept up to your house

under cover of the night

using shadows cast by the

moon...keeping out of sight

I watched you through

the window as you started

to undress...a lady with a

flawless beauty like no other

could possess

sometimes I sit for hours

and watch you as you sleep

secret memories that will

stay with me..forever mine

to keep

I'd like to imagine that I'm

I'm laid there at your side

kissing your cheek and stroking

your hair.. no longer needing

to hide

all those silent phone calls while

you were all alone

that was only love..

I want you as my own

if I had to harm you so that

you could be just mine

then I would do just that for would forgive me

given time

as the sun comes up and daylight

breaks I must leave

my point of view..

but know tonight that I'll be

back to keep an eye on you.

Copyright © Howard Carlyle 2016. 
All rights reserved

Lemmy Rushmore

The Haunted Hotel

seems this place has a way
of containing the dead
like they don’t want to leave
so they check in instead

apparitions roam free
and strange orbs float the halls
the faint voice of a youth
can be heard in the walls

some are homeless, some ghouls
some have evil to do
some are bound to this place
while some others pass through

we have odd sounds galore
and such sights to be seen
we have evil and good
the full spectrum between

there are specters that scream
and some spirits that speak
we have spooks of all sorts
each and every unique

there’s a mother that mourns
and that wails through the night
far too many to count
manifested in light

we have goblins that groan
while they stomp on the floors
we have banshees and wraiths
we have souls slamming doors

there’s a small headless boy
always bouncing a ball
and a limbless female
somewhat trying to crawl

in the lobby there’s one
in a long business coat
he’s been here since the day
that his wife slit his throat

a nice elderly gent
with a dog in his lap
leaks out brains while he sits
from a well opened gap

there’s a walker that walks
and a stroller that strolls
and a man with no eyes
just two deep bleeding holes

some just vapors, some smoke
some just whispers or cries
from the woodwork they crawl
to play tricks on the eyes

every crevice possessed
and they wander about
till you can’t take a step
without one crawling out

we have phantoms that fly
and eternally yell
even guests that once dwelled
in the bowels of Hell

every room has its tales
far too many to tell
now, may I check you in
to the haunted hotel…

The World’s Loneliest Boy
much too sickly to run
far too weakened to rare
I'd just sit in that chair
and out that window stare
in great groups kids passed by
and they gathered to play
but no part could I take
so inside I would stay
how I wished I was them
how I hoped and I prayed
but each day I awoke
it's still me I had stayed
while they all had their fun
I had naught to enjoy
seems my illness made me
the world's loneliest boy
but then change chose to come
in the absence of light
unto me it would come
with a bump in the night
from the attic it came
down the stairs it would creep
little thief in the night
it came thieving my sleep
just a bang it was first
but it grew into more
like up there above me
someone pounded the floor
I was frozen with fright
hardly holding my scream
but then quiet returned
as if all was a dream
back to slumber I slipped
but it stayed on my mind
and for thoughts the next day
only that one I'd find
with the next night it came
and the one after that
it would haunt every night
while beneath it I sat
just a bang and then more
till a rhythm it took
till the notion to know
had me needing to look
so from bed I would slip
and toward it I would go
while the urge to find out
would continually grow
it would crawl up my spine
and would grip me with fear
but still I hunted down
what I only could hear
as the steps I would near
all the banging would stop
but the fool that I was
still I'd crawl to the top
as the door swung within
I was ready to flee
then I heard a voice say
"won't you come play with me?"
right before me he was
just a child my size
with a grin on his face
'neath those black sunken eyes
though he stood before me
still I questioned the sight
was an odd thing indeed
and with it I would fight
but the fear that there was
nearly withered away
as he reached out toward me
and said, "here, wanna play?"
an old jump rope he held
and then offered to me
"here, don't you wanna try?
oh, such fun it'll be"
my poor legs I explained
just weren't up to the task
but each word he ignored
and again he would ask
"you can do it I know
I've no reason to lie
who knows what one can do
if that one doesn't try"
with my feet beneath me
I would give it a go
and I'd jump and I'd jump
till it's fun I would know
'pon the floor boards I'd bang
and I'd bang and I'd pound
as my night I'd enjoy
with the friend I had found
with that rope we'd pass time
and we'd giggle with glee
by that chest full of toys
just my new friend and me
but as dawn rolled around
seems I just couldn't leave
and the truth of it all
I just couldn't believe
the next day I was found
from that rope I was strung
in the attic that night

by my friend I was hung...

What Possessed Me
In my yard there’s a hole
With a skull and some bones
It’s right there by the fence
‘neath that pile of stones

The guy wasn’t much
But he struggled a bit
And when I hacked him up
He dared pitch quite a fit

Thought he’d wake up the town
How he screamed and he shrieked
But he died far too quick
From the fluids he leaked

By the pool there’s two more
They both went the same night
But the both were a bore
Neither put up a fight

They both hollered a touch
But I stifled their cries
And I promise you both
Met a painful demise

‘neath the deck they’re encased
In some concrete and stone
But at least I ensured
That they’re never alone

There’s a couple I took
They lay there by the drive
But as old as they were
Both were barely alive

It was mercy of sorts
At least I thought it so
But I still took my time
And skun both of them slow

There are six more outside
All are randomly spread
Where they are matters not
I assure they’re dead

One was friend, one a foe
One a neighbor and priest
I made him eat his tongue
Once he called me a beast

One I sliced, one I diced
One I hacked into hunks
Then I closed my eyes tight
And just scattered the chunks

It’s disturbing indeed
What I’ve shared with you now
Until you’re asking why
What possessed him and how

But it’s been just a taste
I can promise you more
All the true horrors come
Once you step through my door

Dare I speak of those things
That lie waiting inside
Through that door, in that dark
In that place I reside

More a tomb than a home
It’s a place of the dead
As you step in you’ll see
By the well mounted head

There are chairs made of bone
All upholstered in skin
And an ashtray that looks
Like it once was a chin

A whole wall seems to stare
With its jars full of eyes
Every inch I’ve made mine
With some horrid surprise

There are victims I’ve stuffed
There are trophies I’ve dried
In the corners they sit
In the attic they hide

I’ve arranged some to dine
Round the table they rest
Each one spit shined and clean
In their fine Sunday best

‘neath the floor boards they lie
Nestled snuggly they sleep
Every tidbit a prize
That forever I’ll keep

All my closets are heaped
Full of pieces and parts
In a bowl in the fridge
There are three pickled hearts

There are ears upon strings
Round my bedroom they’re strung
And about a tall mirror
There are faces I’ve hung

I’ve plucked teeth from their jaws
Till they’re piled in drawers
Snipped off big toes to keep
Till they seep from my pores

I have brains on display
I have skulls I have carved
Even one shriveled corpse
From a victim I starved

There are tales of my deeds
In each crevice and crack
From the finger bone chimes
To the etched sternum plaque

There are innards I’ve stewed
Left to stink in a pot
And some old filleted flesh
That’s succumbing to rot

There are treasures in nooks
In each cranny a treat
Like my shelves full of shoes
All complete with the feet

There are some things preserved
Others change as they will
But decay’s lovely touch
Seems to add to the thrill

Each and all lent a bit
Be it large or it small
But somewhere around there
There’s a piece of them all

All these things are the truth
And I swear to them now
Although you’re thinking why
What possessed him and how…

"The World's Loneliest Boy" is from the anthology Toys In The Attic.

D.S. Scott

My Life and Death Journey
By D. S. Scott

I study these blood-covered sheets
Watching the body on the gurney
I contemplate my many defeats
The ones of my life and death journey

I cut him open with a knife
Brought him back from death
My attempt was to renew his life
My wish was to restore breath

In my studies I played God
The creator and all-knowing one
His insides I would prod
Wishing his brain would run

Wanting his heart to beat
My very own ached for it
It would be a wondrous feat
And a view only I would get

To the best of my ability
I used all of my machines
With a touch of electricity
I would do it by any means

I was a modern day Frankenstein
With ways to conquer death in sight
The honor would be only mine
I would be the first to do it right

So, that is exactly what I did
With all my research complete
At last, the reaper I would rid
But the win would be bittersweet

What an amazing accomplishment
I brought him back from the brink
Or at least that was my intent
But soon I would have to rethink

For when he opened his eyes
The color in them, a milky white
Even though everything dies
I found him living, to my delight

But the excitement did not last
All will to continue was gone
Every single bit of joy passed
When the truth, I stumbled upon

I could see it so deep within
This thing was a creature, soulless
He was nothing of what he had been
There was no restoring his wholeness

With this, I turned my back in shame
This was what I worked so hard for
For this disaster, I held the blame
I had nothing to show for it anymore

Facing away was my second mistake
The first being creating him at all
I should’ve turned back for my own sake
Maybe then I would not have to fall

Suddenly, there was a commotion
I could feel his presence behind me
But I was too full of fear and emotion
I would not take a look and see

I could feel his breath upon my back
The stench was beyond putrid
Still, I would not defend or attack
So in the end, it was he who did

Things quickly began to turn grim
He mauled me with all his will
Then he tore me limb from limb
But no, he was not through, still

He thrashed and he started to trample
In his rage, he pulled everything apart
It seems he was out to make an example
And I was where he wished to start

Obviously, out to settle some score
I was ripped until diminished
When everything of me was just gore
Finally, he came to be finished

Though now dead, I am still here
Damned forever to stay in wait
I have lost everything I once held dear
But I guess you could call it fate

In death, something is left behind
Maybe it is cruel, but I am to remain
For some reason, I am here to remind
Now on this earth it seems I walk, a stain

My creation still walks and roams too
Soulless or not, he has the will to be alive
That is something that I never knew
All living things have a wish to survive

So, as I study these blood-covered sheets
Watching my own body on the gurney
Still, I contemplate my many defeats

The ones of my life and death journey

Blood Moon
By D. S. Scott

A terrible scream pierces the dark
Followed by a harsh sounding bark
Frenzied footsteps storm the wood
She would stop, if only she could

A frightened girl and her worst fears
Bring sheer agony, pain and tears
The twisted chase of her life is on
In an appalling phenomenon

Above her shines the bloodied moon
She has felt its presence, since afternoon
A prickling feeling that is so wrong
The morbid sensation, eerily strong

Something else sinister lurks there
Some rampant horror meant to scare
She can feel it dwelling deep inside
From the animal’s stalking, she can’t hide

Now running in between trees
In her mind she hears crying pleas
She urgently begs for it all to stop
For any other life, she would swap

Searching for its prey, a crazy lunatic
In the air, the smell of terror is thick
This sick abomination’s nostrils flair
It savors and enjoys its meat bloody rare

Surrounded by shadows, crimson red
The hideous monster must be fed
From the black depths within
A depraved creature awaits the sin

From the moonlight, she can see
She herself, is the monstrosity
Hearing another ear piercing shriek
It comes from her, she’s the horrid freak

Shocked and disturbed at the evil that grows
Whatever has occurred, no one knows
Becoming one with the awful miscreation
She carries on with her gory infatuation

Just beyond her ragged claw’s reach
Runs a lost soul, who does beseech
With no other way to defend
He begs and cries for it all to end

It seems now it is much too late
With nothing left open to debate
The demon has given in to it
There is just no way to ever quit

So, she pounces on him at last
All her cares have been surpassed
Straddling him, she pins him underneath

And savagely tears his throat with her teeth

Coralie Rowe

The Caretaker's Children

The pale shadowing light of the waning moon 
Casts its glow upon small archaic marble runes 
Held in the withered grey hand of a wandering man 
The Caretaker of this morbidly chaotic land

A place of unspeakable incomprehensible life 
An accumulation of despicable morbid strife 
Creatures formed from his depths of despair 
The underlings he spawned with utmost care

He nurtured them from a thought in his brain 
He gave them life, he bore them from pain 
He is the father of all life here within 
He is the master of his cruel creations of sin

They watch from the shadows as he passes through 
Trembling with excitement when he comes into view 
They quiver and quake with a wanton need 
They await his command and then they will feed

They wait in silence listening for that special tune 
A systematic click clack of those marble runes 
His sign to them that soon they will be fed 
His sign to them, that he wants someone dead

He doesn't like strangers entering into his home 
He will kill anyone here who has unwittingly roamed 
This is his land, no one is ever allowed to leave 
This is his home and into it you will be weaved

His abysmal offspring will partake of your flesh 
They will consume you into their evil mesh 
Sharp teeth will chew you down to the bone 
Your life and blood will them now hone

Shredding through your body and soul 
These creatures delve deep till you pay their toll 
They do the bidding of the Caretaker's thoughts 
They will annihilate you until you are naught

Then back to the cage of their master's mind 
To lay in wait for another to foolishly find 
The way into the dark recesses of the Caretaker's world 
Where his dire manifestations wait to be unfurled

The Caretaker's Children II

The Caretaker's world is born from within 
Filled with the darkness of his demons and djinn 
They are the creations of his wandering mind 
If you dare to step inside you will find it cruelly unkind

It will taunt you and tease you as madness chases 
He will bring you into his world of darkened places 
Drawing you in as a moth to a twisting flame 
Toying with your sanity he loves playing this game

He entices you into a maze of his deception 
A labyrinth filled with hate and dejection 
A torrid landscape that will perplex and confuse 
Once you enter, you will become his muse

His inspiration for his warped ways to play 
He watches from the sidelines as into his world you stray 
He snickers derisively as you become lost 
Taking delight in the fact, your life will be the cost

He supervises as you stagger slowly on through 
He and his children wait silently for what they are due 
Livid little monsters they bide their time 
Knowing soon they will commit their morbid crime

He will send them out to chase you down 
His face contorting between a smile and a frown 
His wee little ones of which he is so proud 
The children of his evil mind, around you shroud

You will feel them approach but them you will not see 
They will come upon you as a shadowing catastrophe 
Invisible clawed fingers will yank at your hair 
As sharp tiny teeth bite your flesh everywhere

The warmth of your blood fuels their need 
Ripping through your skin with wanton greed 
Devouring every single inch of flesh and bone 
Then scamper back to the Caretaker and their home

There they will sleep, deep in the Caretaker's brain 
Dreaming of you and your agonised screams of pain 
There they will subsist within the mind of the Caretaker 
Their lord, their master, their unholy creator

Malevolent Gnome

Under a mossy broken stone 
I found the body of a twisted old gnome 
He was certainly squished as flat as a tack 
Especially his head and his pointy red hat

His face was quite a sight to see 
It kind of resembled an old man's knee 
Wrinkled and round and sort of flabby 
His once bright clothes, now torn and shabby

I looked around for a stick with which to poke 
But as I was about to jab him, he eerily spoke 
'Go ahead little one, take a stab at me… 
Your worst nightmare will come alive, you shall see'

I hesitated a moment with my hand held high 
Then thought what the hell and thrust it in his eye 
The ground under my feet began to quake 
As the gnomes gnarled body did shiver and shake

His limbs did quiver, they wriggled and writhed 
He started to thrash as though coming alive 
He started to swell, his form becoming round 
Emitting a strange noise, a gurgling choking sound

A gaseous cloud seeped from his now bulbous nose 
Stinking of rotten moss, dead bugs and rancid toes 
An ominous omen of what was about to come 
I turned from him and away I did run

I made it home safely and hid under my bed 
Reliving those words that horrid gnome had said 
Secure in my home, I fell asleep curled in a ball 
But my dreams turned to hell as I heard his voice call

'Little one, I come for you, to collect for your sin 
To consume you, to devour every inch of your skin 
You shall learn it is better to let the dead rest 
You shall learn from me, as your flesh I digest'

'You awakened my ire, with your act of cruelty 
Piercing my eyeball showed your evil depravity 
And for payment of such, I shall take from you 
But an eye for an eye, just won't do'

'So I shall take you as a whole, every ounce of fat 
Chewing each piece whilst wearing my red hat 
Died with the blood of all those I've eaten before 
This is just how I settle a score'

I awake screaming from this ghastly nightmare 
The atmosphere of it hangs hauntingly in the air 
Slowly I open my eyes to the chilled room 
To see him sitting there, one eye glowing in the gloom

Jaye Tomas

Jaye Tomas is a scribbler and a poet. Her latest book, "What Lies Beneath" (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) was released early this year with gratifying reviews. Her blog, Chimera Poetry, has attracted readers and writers from far and wide. Jaye loves all things bookish, pasta, Halloween, and has a minor obsession with hedgehogs.
Originally from Chicago, she is currently residing in the UK but has begun to cast her eyes in other directions.
She has an annoyingly long list of ways to contact her:

Twitter @JayeTomas1

A Dark and Stormy Night ~

'It was a dark and stormy night...'.
she laughed to herself
'All nights are dark...'
The streets and houses sat softly,
And one finally met her approval with an obligingly ill fit window.
All she needed was a place to hide,
to be solitary and safe.
The house was nondescript,
non remarkable,
non occupied,
a place of muted colors and muffled noise,
except for the ebb and flow of night sounds,
and sleep found her quickly.
It was a low level kind of
sound that made her flinch.
Frozen for a moment
her eyes strained the grainy night vision away and she stood
knees cracking loud in the silence
and padded to the window.
All quiet, all still.
Nothing moving and her brain spoke reassurance
while her neck whispered dread.
All thoughts of sleep now scattered,
the humming in her bones simmering,
she searched the ceiling for cracks to count
and saw the black teardrop hanging above…
Not there?
She stared hard and counted,
held her thumb steady against her eye to check its movements,
and against her brains "not real not real" Morse code,
she moved step by halting step toward the door.
As did the teardrop…
and then dropped.
With one flinching, gasping breath she ran,
wiping her face with both desperate hands as if scraping away spider webs,
and the copper taste of fear,
and something else,
'It was a dull and cheerless day…'
she laughed to herself
'All sleepless nights give birth to cheerless days.'
And she ate another mint, the package already crumpled and folded over,
the taste in her mouth like old poison.
But sour tastes no longer bothered her (them)
Her betraying feet led her in circles,
led her back to the house,
and the damp rooms welcomed her
as an old friend.
The black teardrops spreading like ebony stalactites across the ceiling
swaying in an unfelt breeze
This time she didn’t flinch as they dropped,
This time she tilted her head back,
her mouths open.
This time she stayed.


Ricky Mohl

Window Sill Dreams

I fell asleep on the window sill,
The evening sun upon me spill.
Off the river there came a mist,
Trailing fingers of gnarled twist.

I slipped under layer after layer,
Unheard words on silent prayer.
The rain dance on window pane,
Crystal streaks spread the stain.

I shiver in the abyss of dreams,
A dark hole filled with screams.
Such evil cries of black despair,
Sinister echoes in a nightmare.

The icy winds and roll of thunder,
Tore me awake from the wonder.
Such release as I have never felt,
Escaping the fear that I was dealt.

I fell asleep on the window sill,
A crescent moon upon me spill.
Off the river there came a sound,
Where truth and lies can be found.

Ricky L. Mohl Sr.
October 2, 2016

Gregory Kimball

"Dead Man's Shoes!"

By: Gregory Kimball

Here sits Henry down on his luck
Nothing was left not even a buck
Sitting and staring as the rain came down.
If his mouth was open he would probably drown.

Out in the alley with the rest of the trash
Heartbroken and blubbering with zero cash.
Our poor little Henry had nothing to lose
When he stumbled upon The Dead Man's Shoes.

Wingtips they were, polished and bright
And they shown like a beacon in dark of the night.
Calling to Henry; "For you! For you!"
No question at all of what he would do.

Inside of the shoes were the dead mans feet
The rest of him there like a side of meat.
There in the alley dead, dead, dead!
Filthy bags of plastic as his final bed.

Off they came, quick as a flash
And the dead man’s body sunk in the trash.
On they went and Henry stood tall.
They fit rather well though a little small.

Into a grin his mouth stretched wide
And he felt his body filling with pride
Suddenly then his heart ceased to to pump
and his head hit the ground with a terrible thump.

Along came Hector dejected and alone
He was feeling the loneliness way down in his bones.
Poor little Hector had nothing to lose
When he stumbled upon the Dead Man's Shoes!

By: Gregory Kimball

In the dead of night through the pouring rain
Came the tapping sounds of three tiny canes.
Up the walk and through a hole in the door
Their lightening flashed shadows cast on the floor.

Their eyes were useless and their tails were gone.
The terrible tale told in a children's song.
The clock in the kitchen, its chiming had done.
Big hand on twelve and the smaller on one.

Guided by sense and memories alone
The climbed up the cord that hung from the phone
Moonlight through the window streaked with rivulets of rain
Revealed on the counter a dark grisly stain.

Amidst the clutter where they once had played
Beside the grim sink the carving knife lay.
They pushed and they pushed and they pushed some more
And the carving knife fell to the kitchen floor

Nudging and sliding they moved it along
Determined to right a horrible wrong.
Across the cold floor their tiny feet crept
Into the room where the old woman slept.

Confused and shaken she awoke with a start
As the carving knife plunged deep in her heart.
They leapt from the bed without further delay,
Turned their nubby nubs and ran blindly away.


"Miss Gladys"

By: Gregory Kimball

Strange books of secrets curiously bound
And a multitude of bottles just lying around.
Mummy dust and wrappings and bones from a rat
And an odd little creature with the wings of a bat.

Porcupine quills and dried chicken feet
And an ancient old heart that no longer could beat.
Potions and trinkets and many things rare
Even Gladys lost track of the things that were there.

William B Brown, the eminent scholar
Was growing rather hot inside of his collar.
As Miss Gladys beside him batted her lashes
His temperature rose in feverous flashes.

"Dear William," said Gladys with a gleam in her eye
Her hand ever so lightly was brushing his thigh.
Mister Brown unused to such forward attention
Was filled with longing and a tingly tension

"Miss Gladys," said William. "You are driving me wild."
And from under her lashes came a shy little smile.
Mister William B Brown his heart was aflame
Was feeling quite randy and a little ashamed.

"Miss Gladys," said William "One thing I must ask.
There’s a yearning inside I can no longer mask."
Her hand in his he looked in her eyes:
The color and grace of bright summer skies

"Please, Miss Gladys. Please allow me this.
Bestow me, beloved a single kiss."
"William, dear William. Of course I will.
I will grant your request and your wish fulfill."

With his thoughts a race and his face flushed red
Mister Brown immediately inclined his head.
Her lips upon his he felt a burning inside
His tongue in her mouth he was compelled to slide.

"Delight!" swooned William. "My darling, my dear."
He felt like the first in a virgin frontier.
Held in the embrace of this tender small dove
Mister William B Brown enraptured, in love.

Suddenly without warning the trap slammed shut
As into his flesh a searing pain cut.
Poor William knew that his bell had been rung
When Miss Gladys bit off the tip of his tongue.


    “No Pity for the Kitty.”
By Gregory Kimball

                      Doctor Herbert P. Vest PhD had something for Agent Cline to see.
There on the table in a stout metal cage was an animal furious and completely enraged.
“It’s a cat.” said Cline as he took off his hat. “And mad one too, I can tell you that.”
“Quite right.” said Vest. “And as you can see it’s not at all very pleased with me.”
Cline was wondering what this was about and hoping the doctor didn’t let it out.

“Yes, quite mad.” said the doctor. “Completely insane. Due to work I did on its brain.
It’s marvelous, actually.” said the doctor quite proud. The cat itself was eerily loud.
“A crazy cat.” said Cline. “But I just don’t see exactly what it has to do with me.”
“Ah,” said the doctor. “Let me explain it to you.” And that’s precisely what he began to do.
“Have a seat.” said Vest as he pulled out a chair and smoothed the wildness out of his hair.

“Now,” said the doctor. “I’ll try to explain.” And he held up a model of the animal’s brain.
“Here,” said the doctor. “Is the Medulla oblongata, firmly attached is the Pina colada.”
Cline leaned back in the uncomfortable chair and blew Chesterfield smoke out into the air.
“Agent Cline,” said the doctor without a doubt. “I must insist that you put that out.
It’s a vile nasty habit and I really must say I’d be ever so happy if you put it away.”

Cline pinched the ashes from the small white tube. Vest always made him feel like a boob.
He brushed the ashes from the jacket he wore and they fell like snowflakes on the floor
“Alright,” said Vest. “Now pay close attention and I will tell you of my newest invention.”
The doctor then pointed to the brain in his hand. “Please listen closely and understand.
The animal brain is a lot like ours and is capable of the most wonderful powers.”

Cline stifled a yawn. He had heard it before. The Doctor indeed was a petulant bore.
Even after all of his years in clandestine service, Vest still made him a little bit nervous.
“Agent Cline!” snapped the doctor. “Hear what I say and try not to keep drifting away.”
“Sorry, doc.” said Cline as he sat up straight and resigned himself to getting home late.
“As I was saying,” Vest droned on and Cline was praying that it wouldn’t take too long.

Minutes into hours and word after word. It was the same old stuff he’d already heard.
Vest rambled on about cell invasion and non-linear parabolic differential equations.
Cline indulged the doctor without a blink. He was anticipating his first after work drink.
“So there you see, through feline osmosis I’ve induced a deep transitional psychosis.”
“See,” said the doctor. “One small piece that now is gone gives this cat no will of its own.”

“Though the implants there seem quite strange they greatly increase its receiving range.”
He doctor smiled broadly as he held out a box giving the impression of a demented fox.
“Within any distance up to a mile I can control its movements with this tiny dial.
Everything it sees and hears that someone may do is instantly transmitted back to you.”
“But doctor,” said Cline. “The cat is quite wild. It realistically should be gentle and mild.”

“Ah,” said the doctor. “Never you fear. It’s easily controlled by this button here.”
Vest pushed a button on the box in his hand and the creature became docile and bland.
“That’s amazing!” said Cline, truly impressed with how the animal quickly regressed.
“Just think,” said the doctor. “Of what you can do. No secret is safe nor hidden from view.
So now you see, Special Agent Cline, you can readily spy on those communist swine”

“Well.” said Cline as to turned to Vest. “What do you say we give it a test?”
“Hummmm,” thought the doctor. “Perhaps you’re right. Let’s do it now, this very night!”
“Get the cage!” said the doctor as he put on his coat. Already inside beginning to gloat.
Doctor and Agent out in the park had little time left before it was dark.
The kitty at last was free from the lab and promptly mashed flat by a yellow cab.

The Bed Bugs

by Lori R. Lopez

They were growing . . .
Voracious eaters, appetites like
Piranhas and teeth to match
They must have crept in
During the Great Storm
Hatched in a flooded quarry
Where everyone threw everything
Including truckbeds of suspicious
Cargo.  Anyone’s guess what
Those boxes and barrels contained
The abandoned pit was where
These infernal bedbugs spawned
That’s my theory, the only possible
Explanation for something so
Random and malignant
So fundamentally wrong
They fit under the door, a plague
Since Granny’s room was the nearest
They flocked to her, invading her bed
And fed nightly on her flesh
There was plenty of it
They grew.  She complained of bites
But she always complained
We were used to it and didn’t
Listen.  She griped a lot, you see!
We didn’t know.  How could we?
Till they ate a hole in her back
Devoured what was inside
As she carped and railed about
Her wants, her needs, her aches
That never ceased, never once let up
Because she couldn’t
Get out of bed.  Just lay there
Growing weaker and weaker
Stiff and sore and difficult to remember
As anything but a burden
Sad to think a whole lifetime could be
Reduced to this, an indignant bedridden
Sore we called The Pain
When she couldn’t hear us
Maybe if we tried to put ourselves
In her position, the way she asked
Maybe we could have saved her
In time, before they went too far
We thought she was exaggerating
That she was being eaten alive
Heck, we thought that she was prone
To drama and theatrics, hysterics
Whining for attention
We figured she aged badly
Became one of the crabs, the elderly
Ladies you see encrusted with wrinkles
And spots, shrill and overbearing
Harpies without the wings
She couldn’t have flown even if
She had them; my gran was no angel
Yet we had some times
The sweet remnants of youth
That linger and shape a person for good
Then I grew too old for her
(I thought); eventually embarrassed —
by her, for her, about her
We dismissed the woman as senile
Assumed she was just raving
Like a lunatic as usual
But it wasn’t that way at all
I wish I had known sooner, before
It was too late to hold her hand
For a moment of sympathy, tenderness
A final measure of respect
Now I know what she was worth
In hindsight, how much she suffered
And all I can see
When I think of her
Is that hollow gaping wound:  the crater
Where the bugs ate their way inside
From the bed ⸺ her lonely resting place
A tomb for the living
Instead of the grief and mourning
She was due, we wondered
What would become of us
For they had grown and spread
To all the beds
Even the couch, the recliners
We couldn’t sleep or watch
Our favorite shows
Desperate, we hauled the furniture
To the quarry, tossed it in that murky drink
But should have burned it!
The bugs welcomed us home . . .
We had no place else, no choice
Except to wait until they grew
Hungry enough and crept from
Shadows to feed
Once more.


by Lori R. Lopez

I am not losing it.
The view changed.  The scenery
has shifted and the trees are
different than they were yesterday.
Look about you!
Can you swear that nothing
is out of the ordinary?
It isn’t me, it’s them.

No substances are distorting
my vision or perception.
I’m the same as ever:  steady,
clear-minded, overcautious.
Wary of things not being
where they should be.
That is a sane thing.  But this,
what is happening to me . . .

This is no delusion.  It is,
however, the opposite of rational.
What did they think,
I wouldn’t notice?  I’ve been
staring through that window
for eleven months.  This was my
haven from a crazed world.
It appears to have caught up.

My tentative peace of mind
is ruined.  Splintering
as I watch in trepidation.
The eldritch surreptitious vibe
I left behind has found me,
infected my terrain, the sheltering
boughs that surround my cabin —
this isolated refuge.

Daring to relax, I overlooked
signs of impending peril.
Now the trees have encroached.
Even their postures are affected —
some leaning more, caught in
midstride; others too straight,
the branches altered.
Covert, sinister, they moved.

Closer.  Almost menacing.
Almost here.  It was inevitable.
There were never any odds
of outrunning them.  Where could
I hide?  The Shiftings won’t quit
until they win.  I was tracked
a long way, as if I were magnetic;
True North to their cold steel.

Iron-hearted, discompassionate,
they show no mercy,
taking everything away —
everyone I ever loved.  My job,
my sanity, my courage.  The final
hope.  Gone in a furtive blink.
You see, we live in a glass bubble,
a fishbowl controlled by them.

At least I do.  I swam beneath
the lens of their microscope
and stuck out my tongue,
apparently.  If you think I’m mad
you’re right, by any definition.
There’s nothing I can do, no way
of getting even or halting the
inexorable progression of their
sly justice, their creeping karma.

For in some way I know
that I deserve this.  I must have
done something to incur their
unbending unending wrath.
It couldn’t be a mere meaningless
crossing of paths . . .
I was nobody special!  I didn’t
stand out from the crowd.

And yet I gained their attention.
Their interest or rancor.
They are a curse, a disease.
It isn’t the subtle changes,
the sleight-of-hand maneuvers.
They manipulate matter:
sometimes gradual, then abrupt.
You can’t prevent it.

They are attuned to Nature,
the Tides and Seasons, the currents
of Time and Space, the laws of
Gravity and Relativity; Inertia.
They can turn Society’s gears
at whim.  We have no chance.
It took years to realize.
Today I know.

Fate has arrived.  This is my last
testament; my will is depleted.
I don’t expect you to believe
a terse account that offers
little in proof, only my word.
But keep an eye on the trees,
the bushes and landscape,
the air and fabric around you.

If something seems out of place,
don’t be hasty to discredit
your sight or memory.
What was that?  Rustling.  A tap.
They’re at my door.  A scrape.
A table leg.  They’re inside.
And I have nothing more to lose
in their vicious game, except . . .


by Lori R. Lopez

Stumping through swampland, hulking, impure,
Lived a beast with the Black Grip and nary a cure.
Lethal and crude, of grim nature and birth,
He could quake a man’s heart sure as tremble the earth.

His body of sinewy vine, tough and fey,
Moist and ripe from the wellspring, touched by decay;
Slipping through weeds with no serpentine grace;
Lathered in soil, a wild grin on his face.

Not a stick, not a stone could shatter the bone
Of a wretch from the bog, his origin unknown.
Named Quaggamon in lore, yet the locals would dub
The creature by another, his feet being club.

The gimp left impressions, flat prints in his wake:
Even-soled and deformed, from the steps he must take
With a hobbling gait, though an arrogant stride,
The proud limp of a cripple with nothing to hide.

On two legs he traveled, upright at an angle,
Hiking the grasses, unperturbed at their tangle.
Elusive and eldritch, for some arcane reason
He roamed with a vengeance, whatever the season.

But he wasn’t a person, more malignant and foul;
A legend of the mire, stalking night in a cowl
And weathering any storm as he guarded his fen.
The folks he encountered were not seen again.

Baptists claimed him a plague, risen out of the muck
To atone for their sins, and that notion has stuck.
Clergymen flocked to bless a cursed marsh ⸺
The wages of penance extremely harsh . . .

Their limbs arranged in the form of the Cross,
The rest of them buried in a cold soupy dross,
Or devoured by the teeth of a soulless wraith
Who had only one creed, an abysmal faith.

Most cannot say when a day is their last,
Till they reach the finish line and venture past;
Nor recall of them all which was the first.
It is easier remembered the day that was worst.

Bad luck or judgement, the fiddler was paid
With empty fools’ caskets mournfully laid
By funeral processions that marched to his beat.
The price was high when their ends did they meet.

Those residing on the fringes of the barrens’ son,
Near a wasteland of methane where devilry is done,
Live in dread of the eyes staring sharp from its gloom
While they huddle in fear like sheep in a room.

His tracks are indelible and deeply planted,
Reminders of a presence both bleak and canted.
Don’t stray very far, you may be the next toll,
For too zealous he bears the Reaper’s role.

Clubfoot is out there, an avenging brute,
Inhabiting the mist with a lurch and no boot,
As he slogs humid night or casts a cool breath
To linger like fog and blanket like death.


by Lori R. Lopez

The audible can be petrifying . . .
More frightful
Than sight, or both senses combined,
As it leaves so much for minds to fill in —
Endless possibles.
Perilous “What ifs?”

I was never good at dangling maybes;
Tentative facts;
Unknown or open-ended circumstances;
Trips around the bend.  Leave nothing to
Chance, I believe.
Things go awry.

Clutching pen and tablet, I strove hard
To concentrate
On the simple, the mundane:  Scratches,
The rub of hand against paper while
Tersely I scrawled
Words in a lather.

I was writing this,
Recording my fate
In Past Tense.

We are all poets at some point,
Good or bad.
Oral or written, there are statements
And emotions that spill out with
Profounder truth
Than ordinary.

Panic can make of us babbling idiots
Or geniuses.
Fear may turn us to cowards or valiant
Knights.  Terror and suspense rendered
Me a scribe,
Jotting it down.

A soothing act that I could wring little
Comfort from.
The disturbances were blatant and abrupt.
Rude, inconsiderate, shattering what rest
May be found in
A highway hotel.

Technically, motel.
I liked the alliteration.
A roadside dump.

Lodging, invited a sign; it said nothing about
Peace and quiet.
Still, there were silences between the sounds
In the room next to mine, and I hadn’t a clue
Which might be
Better or worse.

Even the lack of it can unsettle the brain,
Paralyze the heart,
Chill or boil the blood with anticipation.
My lungs ached, keeping pent respiration.
I was rigid and
Cold as marble.

I could have expired in that condition —
Pen in fist;
Huddled in a corner across from the wall
That might shatter from silence or blows
And expose me
As I cowered.

What could be happening?  I knew not.
Something bad.
Shocking and unexplainable from the sounds
And intervals of dead air reaching tuned ears.
Unable to flee,
I waited to die.

There was no creeping from the motel room.
He might hear
The latch and locks disengage; the door swing
And my treads depart.  He might come out of
That chamber . . .
The terrible vault.

He might follow, chase me or track me down
From the smell
Of my fear, or the sound of my footsteps.
How could I know what uncanny abilities
The monster or
Man possessed?

I was trapped in his vicinity, his periphery
And earshot,
Just beyond his sights, and I could not move.
Could not betray myself to his vile senses.
I had to hope
He left soon.

Nor could I use the phone; I couldn’t risk
A single noise,
The slightest whisper to give me away!
Not that I would have called the police . . .
I’m a fugitive
From justice.

Here come my
Deep dark secrets.
Confession time.

I’ve been on the lam since age fifteen,
Always running,
Alone and scared, unable to trust anyone,
Or share my story.  I had lost everything.
My entire life.
It wasn’t fair.

They told me to wait in the backseat . . .
“A couple minutes.”
My boyfriend and his buddy went to collect
A debt.  I had no idea what was going on
Till a gun fired,
A loud detonation.

They spilled out yelling “Let’s go!”  “He’s dead!”
My eyes widened.
Sirens began to mimic my screams inside.
The car roared onto a street; flashing lights
Appeared, reflected,
Chasing the mirror.

Griff pushed me out in an alley.  “Go home!”
My parents said
He was trouble.  Well, he sure proved them right.
I couldn’t bear the I-told-you-so’s.  I’d be charged,
An accomplice
To murder.

So I wound up here, even more afraid, more
Alone and wary.
Life has a way of turning corners, leading in
Circles.  I was on the straight and narrow . . .
My path swerved.

It was the name out front.  The story of my life.
Seeking refuge,
Only to find myself in another jam, another bad
Situation.  Griff hadn’t been very nice; I didn’t
Miss him or
My strict family.

I had never been free, and refused to go to prison!
The long gold hair
Clipped and dyed, my name altered to Mary —
Ashley croaked in a cheap motel room like this,
Five years ago.
Mary’s birthday.

I had been her too long.  Ashley the same.
It was time
To be me, find out who that was.  Pad and pen
Dropped.  I stood up and grasped the switchblade
Under my pillow,
Went to the door.

A pivotal moment,
One of those crossroads
Or whatever you call it.

I was ready to burst from my shell, explode in
Determined to end this before it ended me,
I stepped to the walkway, marched to the door
With a shiny red
Number:  Thirteen.

Drapes shut tight; the knob loose, unbolted . . .
I let myself in.
The ghoul absorbing a battered couple on the bed
Did not look up as I entered, intent on his meal.
Stained walls,
Broken furniture.

The place was a shambles, the creature brazen,
Drinking blood
Through a chest cavity.  Pale as a ghost yet solid,
The fiend hovered, otherworldly, and sucked with
A needle tongue,
A piercing dagger.

I should think nothing of killing it — a mosquito,
A dreadful bane.
He heard the snick of the knife and swiveled.
There was no alarm, merely a complacent and
Disarming stare.
He was beautiful.

Gliding toward me the wraith smiled, teeth crimson.
“Ember,” he greeted.
I was entranced as he offered his hand, his touch.
We merged; a cool electric flame spread tingling
Between us and
I felt complete.

I would die in his embrace, a tragic gothic heroine,
A romantic vow
Bleeding from the stanzas of unfinished poetry.
I retrieved my pages, inked these last lines of verse.
I miss birds singing.
Wind-chimes, laughter.

It’s the sounds
That I remember —
And most regret.

My days were never happy.  There isn’t any joy now
In his wicked nights.
The violence, the ghastly soulless taking of life
That scatters a trail of victims and grief behind us.
But I’m no longer
Lonely or unloved.

I am Torvik’s companion, his bride; we stalk cities
Immortal, cloaked
In ebon attire, traveling by tinted black hearse,
Then strolling murky lanes side by side, eternal,
Our union a wedlock
Of entwined needs.

**For more on the books by Lori R. Lopez, see the ad below.

Bridget Wishart

Out of the Bedclothes

Out of my bedclothes and into my jeans
So fed up of a blocked nose I'm eating my greens
I'm ending this nightmare I'm stopping the steams
Getting rid of my bed hair with shampoo and creams
Enough of the virus, enough of the flu
I'm so sick of this illness I give it to you

Billie Sue Mosiman


You don't know October
That slinking sad month dragging along Halloween
Like a tawdry skirt behind it.
It was October that took my boy
My little two year old boy
Harshly trapping him in a fire
Flames shooting to the ceilings
And eating like acid through the floor
To the dark basement.
I flew fast as a crow toward the critical mass
Breathing gritty blackness that blocked all entrance
Panting, gasping, praying the inferno was not
What I saw scowling back at me from down the long hall.
Screaming Screaming Screaming
A precipice of darkness barred the way, all shot through with red flame
The wall phone melted even as I reached for it.
No no, no no no.
In a bedroom behind a door another boy cowered
Wringing his hands and crying how we had to get out.
The window stuck as the insane smoke invaded.
The only object handy an old champagne bottle
For crashing the window to bright sunny October bits.
The boy went out head first into the clean sky.
Turning, I called for my boy who should be in his room
But was not, was missing, his covers thrown back,
Empty. Where? Where? I must find him, save him.
The flames stalked the hallway like a fiery-headed monster spewing smoke black as midnight.
Screaming Screaming Screaming
Breathless, panicked to insanity, I went out the window at the back of the house
Landing chest first on hard ground in October.
Leaping up to run across the street
Screaming Screaming Screaming
Burned arms and hands, skin hanging, banging on the door
On a perfect fall day in the Hell of October.
All was lost then.
The mind skips away in real horror
When faced with the end of things.
Life would never again be innocent and pure and full of hope
When a little boy lay long lost in the ashes of October.

Thank you again, dear readers, for visiting the Servante of Darkness Blog for its annual Halloween Gathering. We will see you again in December for our annual CHRISTMAS LIGHT, CHRISTMAS DARK Poetry Column, and please visit next month, November, for a special Poetry Today column with collaborative poetry from Howard Carlyle and Lemmy Rushmore. Till then, we welcome all submissions for future Poetry Today columns from all our readers. There's a poet in all of us. It sounds goofy, but it's true. 

Submissions to: Any length. For the Christmas column, we are looking for both poems that celebrate the festive holiday spirit as well as the pagan spirit of scary rituals and beliefs in demons like the Krampus and others (including those of your own imagination). Direct queries to Anthony Servante. 


The Latest from Lori R. Lopez

Have you ever kept a secret from even yourself? On one rainless electric night, Frieda Noff will learn the truth about her past, her relationship with her sister, and her hometown’s darkest secrets. It is All Hallows again, twenty years after she went down that fateful gauntlet of haunted houses as a Trick-Or-Treater. She’s finally back, perhaps to stay this time.

Also from Lori R. Lopez

Illustrated Print Edition

There are those individuals we know little about who skulk and creep delightfully across page or screen. In reality, we are taught to avoid them. Sometimes, however, they may surprise us. The Dark Mister Snark is such a figure. Beware! His secrets will be revealed in humorous and touching verse, with Halloween and Edgar Allan Poe among the themes. You will not look at corn or crows the same. And once read, you could find Mister Snark watching you from every dark place!


Daren Karl has an aversion to Halloween. When his sister asks him to take his nephew Trick-Or-Treating, he must overcome deep-rooted fears to survive a stressful night that becomes eerily familiar. The secrets of a murky past return to the surface to the point of rocking his entire existence. What is he willing to give up?