t was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open . . . I beheld the wretch — the miserable monster whom I had created . . .” From FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

I consider myself, first and foremost, a Horror writer both in poetry and prose. I have been an avid fan of the genre since I was not very tall. And the horror story that stood out in my youth was penned, rather astonishingly, by a Victorian Englishwoman. Despite my own fascination for the the morbid and macabre, I still find myself surprised that so-called “normal” women might love the same stuff too! It amazes and amuses me what non-crazy females (as opposed to the oddball types like me) are Horror fanatics — or even more strange, write gleefully of gruesome things.

This is not my mother’s era, when most ladies seemed more into flowers and going to the beauty shop, so just imagine how starkly Mary Shelley must have stuck out in her day! I wonder what traits or quirks she displayed that might have caused the people around her to wonder. Could she wiggle her eyeballs and stand on her head anytime, anyplace? Did her mom fret about Mary like mine worried about me? Did the girl hang out at graveyards, collect dead creatures from along the road to bury in her mother’s flower garden the way I did? Or run off to the forest with only a sackful of stuffed animals? Did she feel more at home in the woods with her aunt and grandparents than with her own family?

(To answer my questions, I conducted a bit of research on her life, then decided to dedicate a poem.)

Society tends to frown on those who exhibit a flair for uncommon albeit harmless behavior. When I was growing up, girls were supposed to dress and act in a certain specific manner. I wanted to be me, but my mom wouldn’t let me so we fought a lot.

I read FRANKENSTEIN when I was just a child, although it is not a children’s story. The novel is a brooding Gothic masterpiece that remains as powerful today as it ever was. Considered a forerunner of modern Horror, and Science Fiction, it is a timeless work inspired by elements from the author’s day and yet a true original; a classic that seeped into my psyche to remain a potent influence.

Now I am inspired by the unique art of Tim Burton, the dark visions of Neil Gaiman, the cleverness and success of J.K. Rowling. I have long relished the vivid horrors of greats like Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson . . . I am also impressed by the talents of the indie authors who are my competitors. Fellow writers marketing their tales outside the exclusive circle of the major mega publishing giants that gobbled up all the rest of the big fish. I’ve seen many awesome books produced and promoted by highly capable self-pubbers like me, or those represented by smaller presses.

What of other women, my sisters in Horror? Ever since Mary Shelley led the way, few ladies have traced her indelible footprints to create real terror in the hearts of readers. I am as guilty as anyone, for I write in various genres including Horror and often incorporate humor. Which leaves me feeling dissatisfied, unfulfilled. Thus, I plan to devote more attention toward genuinely scaring readers, because I do love a good fright. Some of my poems are quite dark. However, I feel I can do better than the horror stories I have written. Perhaps I will always be striving for that goal.

These days there appears to be a revolution in Horror, with any number of rising female stars who may be the new Mary Shelleys, Shirley Jacksons, Anne Rices. There are numerous women I have met online who are publishing some pretty chilling plots. So move over, guys! We have arrived, and we are not going anywhere but up.

In honor of Women In Horror Month, I present some dark poems. And one for Mary, who died on the first of February . . .

horror she wrote

She was just a girl, giving birth to a legend

In a flash of horror, a monster was born

The invention of ghouls would be nothing new

But this one had heart and it beat forlorn


From a mad doctor’s lab, the corpse on a slab

The sum of a man built in pieces of death

A jaundice-eyed fiend stitched by charnel design

A jigsaw of fragments until his first breath


How that aberrant moment when life was jumpstarted

Would jolt the world like a bolt of thunder!

His ghastly pulse brought rejection and shame

To the sinister figure of a scientist’s blunder


This object of guilt and forged conception

Of miserable tainted vanity

Perpetual loathing, parental regret

How much his plight would mean to me


The society that shunned was the same to love

A cumbrous ogre, the patchwork creep

I was just a girl when I watched and read

His tale of torment; the words made me weep


Ahead of her time in a prim proper age

Of rigidly stern antiquated views

Mary wrote an ironic iconic fable

And will always be the genre’s muse


The daughter of authors remembered today

Her philosopher father for a novel’s style

Her namesake a founding feminist

Whose child would never see her smile


A mother whose hugs she couldn’t recall

But whose stirring declarations remain

Proclaiming that ladies are equal to men

This bold example would Mary gain


A thinker who practiced her own ideals

While sifting the notions her parents had

Rebelling, embracing, at times she would bend

To society’s ways or the will of her dad


Like me, she read and scribbled stories

Happiest as a child away from her life

With another family or in the cemetery

To read near her mother and escape the new wife


She fell for a poet with a failing marriage

They declared their love by her mother’s grave

Where the two would rendezvous in secret

Till she ran away with the charming knave


A summer visit with several friends

At Lake Geneva proved a stroke divine

The impetus for a masterpiece

Telling ghostly tales sparked Frankenstein


With Lord Byron they chatted of the supernatural

Inspired by a scary dream and dare

Amidst rainy-day talk of reanimation

A legacy was wrought out of grim nightmare


The story she drafted, and then the book

Yet more than a single horror tome

She wrote stories, novels, and of their journeys

While the couple moved from home to home


The pair would wed as lovers do

Four children died, just one survived

Her husband’s death by accident

Left a spouse and little boy deprived


Mary edited and released his poems

To help Percy Shelley’s verse be read

Promoting his name, increasing his fame

Too soon she herself would join the dead


A brain tumor claimed her the age I am now

Her prose has long touched me with acute emotion

As only the truly brilliant can

Who inspire such immense devotion


The Mother Of Horror gleams strong today

More recognized than the man she’d marry

Gone a century before my birth

Yet the horror she wrote is still scary.


There be moments of darkness that just keep going

No manner of shine in their netherence showing

An endless amount of black always found

Of a shadow thus cast that it swallows the sound

And it’s here you will meet your wildest fear

Slipping out of your mind into the unclear

Where nefarious beast-slugs plot your demise

Leaving oily jet trails as a crude surprise

And a deafness hums that could burst eardrums

In the timbre of dread from which slithers the numbs

While you wait for assurance that it isn’t a trick

Pressed to silence so thick that it feels like brick

As you tremor and gulp in a goosebumped tizzy

The lack of dimensions is making you dizzy

No substance or shape or sense of proportion

Just a gaping absence in abstract distortion

Where it seems as if the space might waver

With a gravitous lurch and a gut-wrenching quaver

If you hazard a step, it could be your last

There’s no time or distance, no future and past

For this inken blotch of obscure twilight

Could conceal a drop-off farther from sight

Exceeding the fathoms of its darkest sea

In the pitchy confines of Eternity

Where imaginings are free to simply wander

Meandering the depth of a tearful ponder

And your biggest concern, what you haven’t met

What may lurk beyond the butterfly net

There’s no glimmer of notion, no guesses or clues

Just a dreary stain of umber and ooze

That seeps forth bubbling from a murkish mass

The tarry soul of a perditious morass

Bleaker than bleak as if nothing were there

Yet harboring anything, a mind laid bare

A blinkless eyecloptic gungadim

The surly unmentionable severed limb

Clubfooted hook-fisted faceshifting stompers

Assorted sundry garish chompers

That skulk devourous in the pith of night

Pigmalian brutes, tusks clacking with might

The grunts of evillings scratching the floor

As they hunt their meals, seeking fodder galore

Avoid the cracks, these pockets of doom

Crevices ’tween utter darkness and gloom

Such as once had been deemed unbelievable

Now you only wish it were . . . inconceivable.

belated valentine

He dressed in his finest coat and shirt

Looped and knotted his best necktie

On a day of dolor for someone alone

But lucky for him, he wasn’t that guy


They had been together countless years

His hair was gray, his mind lost track

More smiles than frowns, more ups than downs

Ned recited the words and straightened his back


In the mirror he appraised a sallow visage

Stubbornly chipped, lean from working hard

A man who had but one agenda

To give his beloved a Valentine card


She was waiting downstairs in a quiet parlor

With the violet dress from the day they met

The frock hung loose but he didn’t care

They both had changed, still he loved her yet


Clasping the Hallmark, he cleared his throat

Then read aloud the same sweet verse

He had memorized so many times

But meticulously would rehearse


The grin was wide across her face

Complexion wan, her cheeks too hollow

The twinkle missing from her eye

Its memory made him swallow


He reached to brush some silver strands

From off her brow as if his duty

The woman didn’t seem to notice

Posed stiffly there, a faded beauty


So pale and tense, she sat unmoving

He tucked the card in her right hand

Then gently held her left in his

And fiddled with her wedding band


Fingers clasped, the couple waited

Side by side on a worn loveseat

Ned spared a glance; she looked so lovely

Their closeness quickened his heartbeat


The humble man just loved his wife

And couldn’t part with his sweet Adeline

He clutched her bony grip, contented

As she grasped the belated Valentine.

stone cold

Is there any emotion colder than stone?

How it permeates to the bitter bone

Sprawled limply wracked with shivers of dread

Lifting tremulous fingers to touch a damp head

Crimson-smeared the shaky hand beheld

A victim of malice, so randomly felled

Mind cracked like a nut for the searing ache

While lips pray no devil this soul to take


An abysmal regret knowing what fear means

Much sharper than any horror-film scenes

The anxious anticipation of shock

That flash of pain when it lands like a rock

Delivered with nary a crystal-ball cue

Unglimpsed the arrival like morning dew

At the hour of justice, the stroke of chance

When the Reaper grips one’s hand to dance


Pallid eyelids lower for the longest wink

In a cavernous void of eternal blink

Ere the cosmos reclaims each wisp of matter

By death from disease, old age or splatter

The last breath sighed or gasped or screamed

Yields the same conclusion of darkness dreamed

As life drifts away down a winding river

Peeling flesh from bone in the width of a sliver


My eyes transfixed upon the face

Of a senseless attacker so lacking grace

With not a thought for who I may be

The triumphs and virtues of a bright destiny

And here I lie over an expanding stain

’Pon the marbled floor of a public plane

While the world keeps spinning as I melt to dust

’Neath the graven words IN GOD WE TRUST


A bullet launched from a mad man’s rage

Like a horror story that has left the page

Of terrors and bombings and shooting sprees

The war-murder-suicide of casualties

Blood feuds and fugues, vendettas and hate

Serial stalkers who believe they’re the hand of Fate

In one tiny instant, the most precious is lost . . .

Death without meaning, but a very high cost.

~ Published ~
February 28, 2012

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