e’ve all heard them. Banshee yodels in the dark. Sometimes rattling the windows. Other times a distant shriek. Maybe an unheard scream building up inside: a peal of effusive all-out joy; a slowly awakening dirge of unleashed sadness turned to madness from the depths of your being. The kind that will tickle your stomach until you have to let it out. Be it laughter or anguish, it’s those night howls that seem to echo on and on.

Most of us have feared the thing in the closet. The Unknown. Perhaps we have trembled at an unexpected, unfamiliar touch. Or wept like a needy nestling all rumpled and peeping, crying out of hunger, beaks gaping like our hearts, waiting for something to fill them. Could it be that we have shared such experiences, if not identical at least similar, that connect us in space and time as a band of humanity much like the rings of a tree; the layers of sediment that compose the natural surface of the planet?

Whether we fear the night, worship it, roam it, or allow our imaginations to wander its murky alleyways . . . we are as much a part of it as we are the daylight. It is a portion of our lives we can do nothing about, even if we leave all of the lights on or live where the sun doesn’t set for months at a time. Conversely, the sun will not rise for months. The darkness will find us. And day in, day out, the night hours are there — the same as a danger will not go away when we close our eyes.

So rather than shun it, why not give the night a hug? Stay up with it and read, write, paint, putter, watch the tube. Enjoy a cozy beverage of choice and breathe in a sense of tranquility. Take a deep listen to the quietude of those wee hours between Midnight and Dawn; gander the stillness. You might just find that the world is a more peaceful place instead of more disturbing.

Of course, if you happen to be reading a truly terrifying tale. If you or your neighbor should crank up the volume of a Heavy Metal ditty with no consideration for the hour. If you reside in a community where inconsiderate members shoot up the streets or drag-race empty lanes. If the couple next door gets into a screaming match. If you watch the Late Late Creature Feature. If you should summon the nerve to actually peek into the closet or peer under the bed . . . then all bets are off.

Some nights there may be a hallelujah choir of sirens. Thunder’s splitting crackle-boom. The symphony of a catfight or feline serenade. There could be the monotonous hollow metronomic tick of the clock, the reverberating echo of your heart, the fervent fevered moan of a silent voice that demands attention.

Would that we could make things different in our lives, or the lives of others, to pacify those moments so we all can get some sleep!

night howls

In the stormulent surge of a black-laden morrow

Shredded by the screech of a cloaken night owl

A bristling voice cried with absolute sorrow

But its meaning got lost in the shatter of a howl

Where the pieces were sown to the soil disarrayed

In an eloquent pattern of leaf-stricken pangs

While living upheavaled on the edge of afraid

Only knowing the dark bares a mean set of fangs


From a corner so dim that a shadow looks pale

With ill-fortunate bane creeps the truth of the day

A screamenous shame that is hurled to the gale

When the silence crescendos for there’s nothing to say

And the heart is so heavy with the knowledge of grief

At the cutting of losses that will make the soul bleed

Like a vein that’s carved open and spilling belief

In the teardrops of trust that can’t fill your great need


Your whimpers unheard below the scud of indulgence

That drowns out your voice as it coughs up regret

How vividly etched is the tarnished effulgence

Of a symbol so transparent it is hard to forget

At what age do we cease to repeat old mistakes?

Or to cower uncertain neath the shade of the past?

What point will we grow up and do what it takes

To stand for the image in which we were cast?


But it’s always the same in the end, don’t you see?

A night tallying hours as the content count their sheep

It is never the way that you wished it to be

In the dark the view’s clearer when you should be asleep

Shining brighter than daylight to a subconscious eye

That was watching, head shaking, the clever antics of fools

With a voice growing louder in a wrenchening cry

That had long ago surrendered the fighting of duels


Lying faceless in fear that the morning arrives

And nothing has changed but the calendar’s date

Catlike you pray for a set of nine lives

Hoping one will at last be the wish you await

If only these mirrors and this smoke could be real

The flourish of deeds be as grand as they seemed

If we only could erase how we’ve been made to feel

Then perhaps what we’ve lived would live up to that dreamed.

old socks

Never wear socks with your toe sticking out

While tip-tapping through a haunted dwelling

You don’t need distractions when dealing with fears

Or battling your demons, your steps pell-melling

A trivial concern you might believe

And so it is I cannot deny

Yet for all I am worth I will safely assert

That socks can matter when it’s do or die


There are further regards to contemplate

With singular attention and effect

For the thing of it is, we have much to lose

If our personal pride we do not protect

It simply won’t do for our nerve to falter

At a time when we may need it most

’Tis an awful thing to lose composure

And turn even whiter than the ghost!


Whether new socks or old, the question remains:

Might a creak in the dark signal panic or fright

A scratch on a pane send a finger of dread

If when we were small we could stay up all night?

Would these fears we acquire hold the impact they have

Were their principles taught us as children at school?

Training for who to call and who to let enter

A crossbow’s your friend; killing zombies is cool . . .


We need such lessons from A to Z

To spare us a tragic and gruesome fate

Being gullible and skipping through the woods

Unaware of the perils this could create

Donning worn-out socks may be just as glaring

Since it undermines one’s attitude

When you need to act daring, jaunty and able

But instead must cope with a disrupted mood


Mind well your manners, your P’s and Q’s

Your etiquette and rules of thumb

Don’t wear old socks or you’ll be sorry

It’s worse than stepping on chewing-gum

Which can also upset one’s concentration

For a sticky sole is the devil’s sister

While a holey sock can bind and chafe

And condemn you to a blister.


(to be featured in my short story “Shrieker” for my UNHALLOWED horror collection)


Up from The Badlands of wind-sculpted dunes

Edgy and striped in dull hues of faded glory

Comes the legend of a fellow who had heard too much

In the blare of an instant; this ballad’s his story . . .


Not to be confused with the sighs of the wind

As it rattles the grasses and wails through the mounds

Loose sediment can shift, the eyes can deceive us

Nor was it the keening of a pack of hellhounds


There’s no wolf or coyote could bay nigh as mournful

And the psyche may conjure the blackest of forms

The truth in this tale is that a spirit does wander

The Badlands at dusk when the world sheds its norms


Then the awful thing scurries and scampers at will

Stirring dust to the air with complete disregard

This is all that’s perceived till The Shrieker’s up close

Staring straight in the heart of a soul frozen hard


He who laughed has been pierced by a devil’s sharp tongue

Now the mind has but fled from the chilling attack

Laid dormant as still-life, his heart petrified

Here lies slumbering Joe and he ain’t comin’ back


This bold man disbelieved the warnings of natives

A peddler by trade, he had journeyed too far

Alone in the hills as the sun bid farewell

So he unrolled his bed by the light of a star


“Be careful past sundown!” earnest warriors have spoken

“Don’t cross the grasses by the lonely tombs!”

Resplendent like pyramids, these hills had been carved

As shelter for The Dead One who guarded the glooms


Joe scoffed at their myths and pushed onward, alas

Traversing too late the whispering prairie

As he forded the stalks, he shook off a cold shiver

And admitted to himself that it was kind of scary


A mistake that would linger the rest of his days

Having bid the last village a brash adios

He rode to the shadows a smirk on his lips

And a few hours later would fall comatose


He who laughed has been pierced by a devil’s sharp tongue

Now the mind has but fled from the chilling attack

Laid dormant as still-life, his heart petrified

Here lies Joe and he ain’t comin’ back


The steed and pack mule shyly clattered away

Abandoning Joe as a voice gathered pitch

He kindled a fire while a harsh breeze arose

Shrill and coarse like the throat of a witch


Attempting to rest on the slope of a hill

Ere the embers blew out, he was jolted upright

Confronted by the features of a churlish nightmare

The fiend wore a visage that smoldered with spite


Its shriek escalated to a deafening waul

And covering his ears couldn’t muffle the sound

From an explosive impact, brain curdled to mush

Engulfed by darkness he struck the ground


A captive within the confines of his errors

Once scorning belief in all manners of spirit

Dwelling stiffly inside the grim vault of his body

His pulse rang with truth, he just couldn’t hear it


He who laughed has been pierced by a devil’s sharp tongue

Now the mind has but fled from the chilling attack

Laid out dormant as still-life, his heart petrified

Here lies Comatose Joe and he ain’t comin’ back.


(an excerpt from my short story “The Wraith”, available as a single E-book and to be published in my horror collection THE MACABRE MIND OF LORI R. LOPEZ)


There’s a song of solitude

Neath the desolation as night falls

And light turns itself asunder

Then is heard the mournfullest of calls

Out I dare into the drink of dusk

Washed by brume and billow on my cheek

Treading gently so as not to break

The respectful silence that I seek

Accompanied by misery

Wracked by throe and direful twinge

The throngful groanings of dolor

From my private cryptic fringe

A marginal reprieve at best

Where cravings covet and abide

The ramblings of a wayward fool

Long gone the other side

A funeral famine of rain-drenched color

The glummest occasion, mild and blunt

A dearthful chatter of solemn rapport

No twitch of mouth nor joy to hunt

My pulse unbeaten, a vapid throb

Red lips tinged blue, my nails undone

With gliding steps that miss the ground

I’ll have my moonstruck fun

Asway I saunter, jauntering

From all unmorbid and mundane

Clandestined secrets well repressed

My only solace an owl’s refrain


Around the clockhand’s cuspen nose

As hours grew wee, the heavens dreary

And none could pass the tests of time

With eyes too shot and bleary

There stood a man obscured by gloom

In drabness wreathed, a wraith

Who lingered in the world to catch

A briefest glance, a sign of faith

The wretch could not yet bear to lose

What he had won, a heart complete

The depthless fondness of a damsel

However shorn and fleet

As stars would cross, misfortune shine

Their rapture ruptured stark and dim

Too brittle, fragile, kept apart

Upon a fatal whim

This vagrant walked the graven soil

Where once their strides had left a mark

Anticipating her release

From the shrouds and mists of dark

Whether down some brilliant sunlit path

O’er a barren tousled field

In a restaurant they used to haunt

Would his pacing never yield

A life not lived, a love unfading

The glow a searent unburnt flame

How much he yearned for one last glimpse

His mind was not the same


And when his prayers unanswered went

His ardent pleas her failed to save

Conspired did he to resurrect

His beloved from the grave

With the Devil did he barter

Trading more than his own soul

For the chants and potions of a witch

To awake his darling whole

He lured another to take her place

Who must willing lie within the earth

Convinced to sacrifice herself

By filling the lady’s berth

So he lured me as an evil muse

Inspiring my pen toward my demise

Having pilfered hair and cloth for a doll

Thus my leap invoked her to arise

But their wicked plot could not endure

Since I was granted my request

That I be bound to him in death

For an eternal ambit of unrest

Now I find myself within his realm

Adrift in thought where I reside

Just another lonely hollow soul

Like kindred spirits of eventide

And we share this solemn hour of day

This underside when the sorrows roam

On the surface while the blackness comes

It is there the wraith’s at home.


The Wraith By Lori R. lopez Cover

I was invited to try my poetic hand at composing a werewolf Villanelle along with Pierre Mare and Tracie McBride for Pierre’s blog. The results were published here: pierremare.blogspot.com/2012/05/vicious-villanelles-wolves-on-two-legs


A Villanelle is a poem of nineteen lines that contains pairs of repeating rhymes and refrains. This is mine . . .



A wolfman by day has a wicked heart

Though gentle of face in his human restraint,

With the moon’s embrace he will rip you apart.


His bite is sharper than the tooth, I impart;

No power of will would the blood-urge constraint,

A wolfman by day has a wicked heart.


Unclawed, his smile wields the stab of a dart

But these jaws transformed can make a stone faint,

In the moon’s embrace will he rip you apart.


A stature that would make the stout of chest start,

His change not a pretty picture does paint,

Yet a wolfman by day has a wicked heart.


It may seem benign, his charms an art,

Behind his guise lurks the odor of taint

With the moon’s embrace; he will rip you apart.


No beast as cunning, one cannot outsmart

The werewolf whose corruption is pure as a saint.

A wolfman by day has a wicked heart

And with the moon’s embrace will rip you apart.

~ Published ~
May 30, 2012

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