Haunting Poems


Dan May, Where-time-beckons-the-wicked
Dan May

Kate Bernadette Benedict 

The Gathering

A spray of chevrons, epaulettes so fine!
The thirteenth chevron seems a lucky sign.

Indeed, this was the proper place to gather,
where the better roads meet:
66, the Silk, the Via Regia.
My compliments for choosing it.
Yes, done! I’ve taken roll call.
Only a few drones are missing.
The rest have taken their appointed posts.
Exhilarating, is it not?
The probability!
It won’t be long.
That buzzing you hear is the revving of the great engines.
That storm cloud is another emblem,
a fusion of our ultimate winter breaths.

Dan May, ContemplationofJupiterRose

Simone Muench 

Wolf Cento

We: spectators, always, everywhere
with goldpinnacled hair & seascapes
of a pale green monochrome,
we wanted to be wolves:
strange animal with its miraculous elusiveness—
a step toward luck & a step toward ruin.

Old circuits of animal rapture & alarm
have stained the sun with blackened love.

The question of the wolves turns & turns.

[Rainer Marie Rilke, James Joyce, W.C Williams, Frank Stafford, Marianne Moore, Edith Södergran, Robert Duncan, Osip Mandelstam, John Berryman]

[First published in Poets & Artists]

Dan May, The-Departure

Julie Brooks Barbour

Small Print Tornado

It wants to be on the ground whirling dirt.
It wants to be fierce, a force, and stir up despair

when it stops spinning and vanish as quickly
as it came, a ghost. It’s stuck on the page

in your book where type smudged
during printing, a whirl few would notice.

You know the feeling of confinement,
held between words you didn’t utter,

vocabulary blocking you in.
You would set it free if you could

lift it, if a small spatula or the edge
of your fingernail could work,

but you can’t even scratch it away.
It has to stay. You turn the page.

Dan May, Seasons-change

Hannah Stephenson 

The Part Where They Go to See the Witch

She lives away from the town.
It takes all day to go there, so when they get there,
there is darkness rolling in behind them
like a storm.

Please. I need the future
to be different than what I predict.

Change a body. Change my body.
Set new desire in a cooling heart.
Let what I want snake its way
through every circumstance.
Give me more time.

Cabinet. Cauldron. Cup.

She promises and laughs.

They ask, what’s so funny here,
and she just says,
soon enough, you’ll see.

[previously online at The Storialist]

Dan May, Where Have All the Monsters Gone

Jill Khoury 

My Collected Works

The body: a table
of translucent skin
on which is inscribed
a topographical depiction.
Through the glass-topped display, a magnifier
invites you to peek. Spidery capillaries
indicate service roads that trail off
—no access. But further south I branch
into rural routes, then avenues and highways.
Clusters of bruise-colored towns.
Industry moves through here.

The brain: electronically weighed
and sliced, portioned, pixilated
for posterity, their research efforts.
To be located —my aberration,
an apparition, a mass, a manse,
a monster. Spirit corral. See my
idea cage, my idiot gauge, projected.
A portrait of the artist
in her blue period.

The blood: encapsulated
in child-size vials, story buried
deep. The scientists will awaken
their centrifuges, read my stains
through special lenses. For a modest
fee, you can put your eye to the scope,
walk my many alcoves,
peruse my shelves, ambiently lit.

Dan May, TheEpilogue

Susan Slaviero 

Epilogue

She is the last girl. She says this
is the cloudy mirror in the attic,
this is how we love our monsters.

Pandora, White Witch, Locust.
Look, look
away from the shimmering

wormhole, the universe flattened
into an icy sea. Remember
the body, the slab, the lies we told

beneath our skirts. We became
segmented—a leg, a tongue—
and there is something beautiful

in the act of severing, in the rubbing
of a tooth on the inside of your cheek,
the pretty jackal holding a bit of viscera.

She eats these archetypes for breakfast.

She had a job once, wore kittenheel
boots tapping along the cavernous
hallways, carried a leather satchel

filled with birds. This is the dream
where she asks for the scalpel,
where someone remains

alive to admire the pretty
pulse in her throat.

[from Selections From the Murder Book, (Tree Light Books, 2012)]

For more of Dan May’s haunting art, please visit his solo feature here at EIL!  For more marvelous and scary poetry, please click on each poet’s name above, or visit the EIL haunting-poem features below:

Poetry of Fear

Poems That Scare You

Sally Rosen Kindred

Susan Yount

Ron Hardy




  • Maureen

    What a kettle you’ve brewed, Kathleen. And that artwork is perfect!