Empty Pendant

Some nights the bridge she can see from her bed

will twinkle with lights golden and red, two 

lanes of vehicles coming and go, lead

a dainty damsel out her window, through 

a foul darkness, opening doors.  Awakes

adrift in some duckweed, a small boat 

without oars amidst the green water snakes,

bald cypress trees, moss in a bruised throat,

discrete mysteries she holds squeezed in a fist,

severed chain, gemstone deplete.  Four prongs,

empty pendant, small silver teeth she twists 

into the sky and huddles beneath; as long 

as her arm can brandish its meager weight,

she may float home before it is too late. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Wood

wood that the
wood-termites chew
withstands the
withdrawal.
it’s a wood-bank,
like a food-bank
for foragers.
eaten away,
the planks and posts
stand still,
an image
of intensely slow
crumbling,
hosts for the hungry,
pallid as ghosts.
good will
is in good supply
here in these halls
of holes
and grainy porridge
bowls.
“please, sir,
may i have
another?”
i read dickens
in the woods,
stricken
with the sense
of convalescence,
even as the
walls weaken,
mumbling not
with wheedling
words
of the ways of the
woods and the
termites’
feeding,
needing, and yet
not pleading.

George Pestana is a software developer and poet living in Texas.  He has a love for cats, word-play, and semi-deep thoughts.  He has written four collections of his poetry (“Raven”, “Breathing in Quarantine”, “Apollo’s Arrows”, “Bathysphere”), and is working on his fifth (“Cressida”). A selection of his works as well as links to his books can be found on the website he created : oddwritings.com     Find him on Twitter  @OddWritings

2am

after Servant 

2 AM tolls in a decomposing house.

Below maidens, mannequins, a demon

will rouse.  With mendacities, mud,

her pupils flood to Stygian pools.

A spouse suspended in sleep 

abdicates a supervisory rule.

As sanity seeps through the 

ductworks and pores, upstairs 

she creeps towards a saint she 

abhors. On altars in attics 

attenuated servant supine, 

metronome-captivated lullabied 

mind levitates static, for innocence 

sacrificed.  Summoned home by 

a potion, iPad looking glass device, 

one will atone for a crime another

commits then buries the burden 

with a borrowed seraphim

until she digs them both up 

at 2:00 am. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker.  She is a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Mean Girls

A cursory glance is all it took

I put a spell on you

straight out of my book

Shadows and nightmares

You’ll visit dark places

Nancy Downs

And evil clowns

Forever haunted

By terrifying faces

Here comes Carrie

Prom killer Queen

Nothing can save you from

The demonic Christine

Lisa Mary Armstrong lives in Scotland with her children.  She tutors law and researches women and children’s experiences of the criminal justice system.  In what’s left of her spare time she likes to write poetry and fiction, drink tea and play the piano. Find her on Twitter @earlgrey79_lisa

Heard, not Seen

The blackness hides them in the night

Haunting sounds of creatures

who likely can see me

knowing that I cannot see anything

Heard and not seen; what could they be

Heard and not seen

A mile away scream

The echo shakes

A looming fear

The atmosphere is different here

Sweat forms puddles in the dark

I wish for sparks of light anywhere to assist

This blackness unkind, unwelcome, an abyss of loneliness

Heard and not seen

Where could I be

Heard and not seen

A mile away dream.

Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. His work has appeared in Sage Cigarettes, Crepe & Penn, Hell Hued Zine (among other publications). His second mini collection of 3×3 poems is available here:
https://payhip.com/b/LBev

Find him on Twitter @storiesyoumight

Two poems by Holly Darragh-Hickey

Insomnia

That night, like so many before,

I retraced the twenty paces: bedside to kitchen.

My footfalls crackled, as if edging over brittle earth;

The house heaved ponderously—

The grousing of an ancient generator, slumberous from its cradle,

Those boards beneath my nocturne passage

Sawed and snapped like restless teeth.

The kitchen’s tiles swept my feet in a glissando.

Stillness, save the utterances:

The purr, the staccato, the hiss,

The stealthy whispers of slippered feet,

And the touch down of fingers on the counter.

The gloom-lit window there,

Was a brimming greenhouse by day;

Yet on moon-starved nights,

The lure of its strangeness

Has pulled me in like some misshapen horror—

From the Hadalpelagic Zone.

Clambering toothedly, from the dregs of unlit ditches, hollows.

No ravening beast—

To trouble the tame shores of an Irish night!

The maw of the night had long closed,

Having swallowed all diurnal things;

Only echoes remained, chasing round the empty spaces

Into the vastness of night—

Fodder for the intellect!

Never a care then—

Except the dominion of the mind,

Over eye, ear and touch—

With such potency as to pacify or perturb.

The night bestows such gifts.

But what fearsome fable was this?

That one Piseog, flickering upon the edge of reason—

To accost my idle fancies—

Looming blackly and brazenly from my mind’s eye.

That was to walk in the wake of a nightmare.

What of that something settling behind the press of glass?

An ill-begotten specimen

Sealed by the four pane corners—

Like some nameless deity.

Her smile pealed back expectantly, into the curl of the lips—

A twisted mockery of my face.

I drowned in the shadows of that face,

The tales of ages still rooted in my heart.

I awaited her foray—

To reach through, to overwrite—

To rip me from this life.

Then, a single qualm wavered into existence,

Expanding tremulously into the night;

My finger alighted on the kettle switch

To quell those quickened thoughts.

With a final shotgun crack,

The spell was scattered.

The shadows withdrew, like fingers into a sleeve.

I sheathed my face.

Night Terrors

I walked that routine beat tonight;

This was an ambit I often came under,

A time when the sun rolled back—

Dropping over the precipice of the earth.

I picked through the remnants of a conscious plain—

The thunder of sleepers, wind rasping, drizzle plinking glass.

Then, the silence descended from the starlessness—

Distilling like an extraterrestrial melody.

It dampened like a miasma.

The pipes did not clang contents—rowling like overfed guts—

Gloom settled like sediment on my soul.

My teeth locked into nerveless acquiescence—

Tethering my faintest of hearts.

It amassed—rising yet, from a deep recess of my mind—

Like an exhumed nightmare—rekindled!

She was pressing palms against the rectangular cell—

Her anticipation mirroring my own!

I cornered that visage, unpolished by moonlight—

Floating in her glassy ocean.

My pulse stammered in fright. I rationed my breaths.

I stoked my bravado, steeling my very mettle—

To spurn that shadow!

My gaze snagged on a new phenomenon—

What new haunt had been loosened?

The night enshrined him,

Embellishing every hallmark sign of predator—

The magnificence of feline.

I marked the smooth progress—

His profile stealing across patio paving,

One fluid motion over kindled stone.

Each paw was placed reverently—

To denote his mastery over movement.

A light stumbled on, stripping back the shadows—

Painting my reverie with sudden colour.

It broke the monotony of the night—

In sunlit profusion.

A beacon separated him from his cover.

The cat froze—as though cornered—

His clandestine purpose revealed,

Under the oscillating eye of an unshuttered lens.

His face lifted towards the light—

All whiskers glittering a warning.

His eyes fell open wide, pupils paring to points—

The green glare pinning me.

Wild fires smouldered, accusing, from out of the cold—

Before he melted into shadow.

Light pervaded like an ocean—

Traffic lights strobing flowered sleepers,

Swilling the perimeter of the garden—

As if it was a sumptuous feast.

The entirety blazed—like an alfresco stage.

Light refuted shadow, as any good sun would—

But these pale faux suns were many;

Nothing escaped their notice!

Searchlights moved to frame and capture—

No bolt holes for night revellers.

I gazed out like that—one hand held in repose,

While saucepans steeped in the sink.

Grease was filming the water and the kettle whirring

Under twisting columns of steam.

The clouds towered, hastening onward—

And, as I attended them,

My vision shifted—as if relapsing into myopia.

They were reeling backwards,

Into a quieter space.

And as it descended—with a pinprick of silence—

The spell scattered.

Holly Darragh-Hickey is an Irish poet and writer. She catalogues challenging experiences from her life, endeavouring to create beauty from the darkness. She also writes about the solace of nature. She writes for Libero Magazine, where she discusses mental health. Holly is due to be published in Bua Collective and Shine in early 2021.

Find her on Twitter/Instagram: @HollyAliceDH

So The Forest Can Devour You

you kept your secrets

as lovers,

wrapped yourself

in shawls of silence to ward

off anyone who might dare to

love you;

you wanted someone who would

be terrified of your darkness

not someone with a deeper darkness than yours—

you wanted someone to cower

before you,

wanted someone you could spill over and take over

to break open someone vulnerable and grow in their bones

before they could banish you and your demons;

i can say i don’t miss you

all i want,

but that is only a partial truth;

your ghost still lingers here, though, i wish he wouldn’t—

because i am not here to be your haunted house,

i am the little red that escapes the wolf and sets fire to his home so the forest can devour him for once

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: the samurai (Yellow Arrow Publishing, October 2020). She’s also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). Recently she has published three full-length poetry collections Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020), The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit, February 2020), and Mythology of My Bones (Cyberwit, August 2020)