Horror Haiku

I found this on Twitter #horrohaikuesday and I’ve been having fun participating (not sure if haiku allows for punctuation, but oh well.) Here’s this week’s. I know, I’m sick.

Beautiful child
Asleep in my bed, sweet and
Pure. Alas, quite dead.


A Christmas Poem


The holidays evoke ambivalent emotions for many people. I tried to capture some of that in this poem I wrote for a Christmas poetry challenge. There’s more baring of my soul on my poetry page .

Blue Christmas

Mall’s Mélange of Yule yodeling tunes,
Thick with fossilized marzipan.
Deflated Santa, dead balloons,
Fruitcake in the mousetrap, and
Howls, horrid howls of homeless Ghosts
Clanking their chains up the alley ways, and
To my front door, banked with snow.

That withered, wretched Elf
(Shivering in the cold)
Gives me a wink-
A look I dread.
Cork sealed with red wax pops!
Libations pour.
This bitter drink
Might take me back.

I’m on my sled
Whooshing down a hill of blue ice,
Black trees fly past
My fresh, red face—Fast! Fast! Fast!
Blue moonlight shows my way.
A farmhouse in the woods (cliché but true)
Its Yellow windows--topaz carved in blue
Fogged with warmth, forever in my 
Memory stays.

Shadowland by Peter Straub

The King of Cats


In the first chapter of Shadowland is the retelling of a scary little English folk tale (one that M.G. Lewis, author of the classic Gothic novel, The Monk, once terrified Percy Shelley with). It creeped me out too.

A traveler, in other words my friend, was journeying on foot to the house of a companion — not me — where he was going to spend the night.  He had been walking all day, and even though it was already late and night was coming on, he was tired enough to rest his feet when he came to a ruined abbey.  He sat down, took off his boots, leaned against an iron fence, and began to rub his feet.  An odd series of noises made him turn around and peer through the bars of the fence. Down below him, on the grassy floor of the old abbey, he saw a procession of cats.  They were formed into two long equal lines, and were marching forward very slowly.  Now, of course he had never seen anything like that before, and he bent forward to look more closely.  It was then that he saw that the cats at the head of the procession were carrying a little coffin on their backs, and were making for, were slowly approaching, a small open grave.  When my friend had seen the grave, he looked horrified back at the coffin borne by the lead cats, and noticed that on it sat a crown.  As he watched, the lead cats began to lower the coffin into the grave. After that he was so frightened that he could not stay in that place a moment longer, and he thrust his feet into his boots and rushed on to the house of his friend.  During dinner, he found that he could not keep from telling his friend what he had witnessed. He had scarcely finished when his friend’s cat, which had been dozing in front of the fire, leaped up and cried, ‘Then I am the King of the Cats!’ and disappeared in a flash up the chimney.  It happened, my friends — yes, it happened, my charming little birds. Continue reading “Shadowland by Peter Straub”

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

A House Without Love is Not a Home

My introduction to Shirley Jackson is memorable in that it marks my first exposure to a particular kind of horror. Not the kind I experienced from watching my first monster picture at age five (Tarantula—and it was love at first sight), but the difficult to articulate kind of horror, the silent dread that feeds your paranoia, and makes you feel that the world is a lonelier place than you ever realized, and much, much colder. My fifth-grade class (seems a bit young for this, but whatever) read The Lottery then watched the film, shown to us on a reel-to-reel projector inside the classroom with the shades down, which is how it was done back in the day. Here’s the exact film that traumatized my young mind so. Watching it again now on YouTube it appears quite tame, but I remember how that streak of blood on poor Tessie’s face horrified me. I suppose the reason I was sensitive about townspeople piling up rocks to beat to death one of their community members is I had witnessed and fought with children who routinely bullied (and threw at stones for real) my mentally ill brother. Kids can be real shits, and so can their parents, as the real-life horror of the current election process proves. Perhaps another reason the story hit me so hard is that I was raised in a rural community that somewhat resembled the one depicted in the story. Among the comforting scents of apples rotting on the ground and distant manure-laden fields (country folks understand) there was an air of ignorance passing off as tradition that could chill you to the bone. Every community must have its scapegoat (sacrifice), and one just hopes it’s not her turn…this year. Continue reading “The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson”

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