Three Dark Poems by Toshihisa Nikaido

Sticks Beneath the Trees

As I gather the sticks beneath the trees
          A gust of wind causes the branches to sway
          Colder than a midwinter’s storm
Finding shelter under the trunks
 
         A gust of wind causes the branches to sway
I’ve found warmth where I may rest
Finding shelter under the trunks
         Allowing me to finally say goodnight
 
I’ve found warmth where I may rest
          Colder than a midwinter’s storm
          Allowing me to finally say goodnight
As I gather the sticks beneath the trees

The Bard

A strike of my shovel reveals a crypt,
          Through which awaits a new conflict.
                   The grounds below I cannot predict,
                             Even when I’ve become well equipped.
                                       Laws down here have left me bound;
                                                  To these deathly tunes, I am constrict.

Dracula’s Reflection

When he looks into the mirror,
          His expression falls unfamiliar;
A frown breaks through his charisma,
          Puzzled evermore by this enigma.
 
Now, whom does he see here,
          When he looks into the mirror?
He cannot find his face so grim,
          Only what was left behind him.
 
His heart is filled with devotion,
          And yet each time he sees no one,
When he looks into the mirror;
          Still wishing he could be near her.
 
Once seeing from the tower of an aristocrat,
          Now fallen into darkness and blind as a bat;
Yet the truth could not be clearer,
          When he looks into the mirror.



Toshihisa Nikaido has worked on popular video game series such as Resident Evil, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda. Toshihisa more recently joined Japan’s space exploration agency for a new challenge while using various forms of writing as a creative outlet and has since been published in several literary journals.


Three Dark Poems by Thomas White

Vampires in Love

Our love glitters inside us:
veins strung with lights

like secret Yule trees
while we rage for blood:

the hunger of Vampire bats,
living in the delicious heart

of Halloween still with the
Christmas spirit of giving,

offering our necks, mouths, and
bodies to each other as presents
and tricks or treats, dressed
up in the kinky costumes of  

our passions that frighten
little children who come

to our door asking for the gifts
of candy behind love’s scary masks.

Clowns Showing Teeth

All the malls have certainly changed,
full of rubbish, screaming children,
and sinister clowns, baring their teeth 
between pale red lips, watching me, mockingly,
intently, like pinkly-bewigged gangs at twilight
loitering with murderous intent.

Obviously clowns are not what they
used to be: death mask make-up
slathered on like sour pie cream,
no craft, no art, not much color,
all sweating something foul
like spoiled, greasy butter.

The circus is over,
the masks are off, 
but the face of Bozo still grins
into his dressing room mirror
while coldly loading his revolver.

The Faltering Circus

Aged feet shuffling
in front of each other
without (their children
hope) falling: wobbly
as if on a tightrope,
poised on knotty
varicose veins,
hovering above
the breathlessly
erect crowd
where every
spectator in 
this faltering 
circus is finally
a ghostly performer.

Thomas White has a triple identity: speculative fiction writer, poet, and essayist. His poems, fiction, and essays have appeared in online and print literary journals and magazines in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He is also a Wiley-Blackwell Journal author who has contributed essays to various nonliterary journals on topics ranging from atheism, the meaning of Evil, Elon Musk, Plato, The Matrix, and reality as a computer simulation. The Encyclopedia Britannica selected one of his previously published essays on Hannah Arendt, Adolph Eichmann, and the “Banality of Evil” for inclusion on its website, Britannica.com.

In addition, he has presented three of his essays to the West Chester University Poetry Conference (West Chester, Pennsylvania), as well as read his poetry on Australian radio. His poetry collection Ghostly Pornographers, published by Weasel Press/Sinister Stoat Press, is available on Kindle and through the publisher’s website.


Four Dark Poems by Donna Dallas

The Reunion

I
Girl 
I did not want you 
to wrap cell around cell 
vein loop through artery 
muscle form and flex 
to stretch my stomach out 
I thought there was a monster
inside me 
and there was…

I carried your heavy load 
for over twenty years
finally said fuck it 
I’m done with your addictions 
your bloated belligerence from birth 

I closed the door 
at that moment felt only freedom
not realizing this umbilical cord 
still fresh and slick 
with its own aliveness
later dread
then decay 
as the door shut for good…or so I thought
at the end I wrapped myself in that damn cord 
cuddled with it

II
Mother
had I known in my dumbass youth
you needed to seek your true calling
and if I could have cared for and fed myself
it would have worked out between us 

Instead I tried to hide
in my cell sac
watch you wild with pain
you’d hear me coo and giggle
then realize I needed attending

I sought only the sweetness
of what I believed 
the band-aid to my bruises
if you knew I was falling 
you waited for my collapse
into your release

Here we meet at the gates 
do not know one another at all really
yet I smell the stench of my cord
entwined in your fingers

Day Breaker

In a capsule I ride the earth
seek star-borns and sayers 
to heel me
I fold into a bowl
of witchery 
wait as the forest beckons
the leaves curl into my fingers
fall off as I point blame
I’ve no dolls left to burn
in my cauldron of wonder 
mixed with bourbon
I spit out fire
speak in tongues

If they understood
my piercing blister
that rots under
my many hearts……
I could roll myself under this pot
hide forever with my bottle
yet I still seek the sunny
drip that IV’s
me into this shell I live under

Post Re-Boot

This body has hardened into a pit 
left over from rotted fruit the meat of it 

disintegrated and not to get too cliché 
I keep replanting – restarting – refreshing – re-re-re

regrowth – rebloom I can re myself into oblivion
tear at my eyes and form a hollow so deep it comes out

the other side around and around I want this yes
I do – to reboot but I can’t get footed into a place it all

feels so narrow I’m hanging over with so much of me 
exposed I’m a target for hairy torn vultures to pick at

they tend to loosen my parts send pieces of me here
and there I can re-connect them yet it’s always difficult

to reconfigure myself but I’m not re-ing anymore
one last re-roll to my end

Sky Ticket

Shy moon
baby moon
the weakest root in the sky
that just won’t take 
to the night soil
turn my back
it’s grown into a thick vine

Full-face moon
touch my sleeve
mesmerized
golden bowl of glow
your vine creeps around
the tree trunk
eases up the branch
secures its front-seat view
to our night rhapsody

Ms. Dallas notes: “I studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at NYU’s Gallatin School and was lucky enough to study under William Packard, founder and editor of the New York Quarterly.  Lately, I am found in Horror Sleaze Trash, Beatnik Cowboy and The Opiate among many other publications. I recently published my first novel, Death Sisters, with Alien Buddha Press. My first chapbook, Smoke & Mirrors, will launch this fall with New York Quarterly. I currently serve on the editorial team for Red Fez and New York Quarterly.”


“The Death Walk Trilogy” Three Dark Poems by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Last of the Sun

Last of the sun highlighting the clarity of day
Now the shadows spawn and spread
 
Quiet
Almost unseen
 
She walks in a different mood
Her dress falling to the floor like a quilt of flowers
 
I can’t help myself but watch
Hypnotized
 
The whole house dark but lit with her glow
The outside world reduced to strangers
 
The slow dance of her night fulfilling
Capturing my haunted soul.

The Gulf

There is no sleep when she is beside you
The bed cradles her like a pearl
 
You stare as she sleeps
Her dreams not yours
 
You can still taste her sweetness
For she is your drug
 
You would steal for her
Kill for her
 
But she would not want you to
 
And the night takes her out to the sea
Where she walks on water
 
And you cannot follow.

Dark Man

There is some sickness keeping me from you
I’ve always had it since birth
 
You have been healed by your beliefs
I question everything
 
Trusting nothing
Or myself
 
I dwell in my own darkness
My own doings
 
Quick now
Run away from me
 
Before the wind blows through your hair
Before the sun uplifts your face
Casting me down
To your feet
Where I belong
Crawling through the sand like a snake
 
But somehow I sense
You will take me in
Giving me a spot of light.

Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to write poetry and draw unusual works of art.  He can be found on Twitter @papapoet.


Three Dark Poems Written and Translated from the Russian by Ivan de Monbrison

Время - это круг. 
Мы в центре, марионетки из плоти.
Ваша мысль как воздуху, 
ваш череп полон облаков.
Вчера я нарисовал твой мозг зеленым, 
а сегодня он снова красный.
Я окунаю в нее ручку 
и пишу красными чернилами слова, 
которые не имеют смысла.


Time is a circle. 
We’re in the center, puppets of flesh.
Your thoughts are  like air, your skull is full of clouds.
Yesterday I painted your brain in green, and today it’s red again.
I dip my pen into it 
and write with red ink 
words which don’t make any sense.
Открытый угол забвения.
Тишина в кармане.
Тень скользит по стене и льется в бокал, как черное вино.
Я пью этот бокал.
Тень входит в меня как мысль.
Завтра я пойду идти всю ночь, 
чтобы увидеть, как звезды одна за другой 
падают в море и медленно тонут.


An open corner of oblivion.
Silence in your pocket.
The shadow slides along the wall 
and pours into a glass like black wine.
I drink this glass.
A shadow goes inside me like a thought.
Tomorrow I will go all night to see the stars 
fall one by one into the sea and slowly sink.
Небо - зеркало.
Кто-то говорит.
Это не ты.
Ваша открытая рука пуста. 
Внутри есть дыра, из которой вылезают мухи.
Ваш мозг потный, 
он много работает.
Он похоже на мясо, которое вам дают на обед.
 


The sky is a mirror.
Someone speaks. 
That’s not you.
Your open hand is empty.
There is a hole inside, from which flies crawl out.
Your brain is sweaty
It works a lot.
It looks like the meat that you get for your lunch.

Ivan de Monbrison is a poet, novelist and artist born in 1969 in Paris. He has studied oriental languages in Paris, and then worked for the Picasso Museum, before dedicating himself to his own creativity. He has been published in literary magazines globally. His last poetry book in English and Russian без лица / Faceless has just been released in Canada. He does not believe that his art is of any real significance. He does it as some kind of a tribal ritual. He is fully aware that vanity is one of the worse enemy of most poets and artists, and tries to stay away from it as much as possible. 

https://sites.google.com/view/ivan-de-monbrison/home


“Whack-a-Mole” Dark Poetry by Jake Sheff

Australian Lungfish. Photo by Vassil
Whereupon the great tradition found itself,
Floundering in muck, the flagellating sea foam
And ragged, unmerciful depravity: a lungfish;
The lurid miscreant with the abandon of
A top-heavy star, or photon. It crawls, or maybe
Distills a warrantless idea straight from the cosmos
Borne, it’s rumored, of necessity for capital. 
The gasps for breaths are inimical and costly, 
But the slime-assuaging wind, forsworn 
And shapely, congeals around the bubbly, 
Piscine no-name. For so many true-believers,
A dawn is clapping out of latency, something like
Garages open to the day without people. There is,
To the lobular fins, a tender hedonism and upright
Sense of atavistic colors, like bloodless red and
Red-less rage; benumbing synesthesia worth
The fall from ease and scrumptious days without
Quizzes, teaching lessons to the echoes. Curling
Around the moment, the lungfish harps
A ditty taking shots at deities abstaining once
Again. The greenery beyond the banks are
Preening for the nascent forms rebellion strikes
At unexpected times and places, always free
But doomed to catching on. And what strange
Bedfellows the lungfish makes with structure,
Laid out on sand like a blueprint for amassing;
But still, the quiet touch of harsher tones
Summoning themselves for the occasion is
Imperceptibly housed somewhere the lungfish
Is not privy to, where destiny is daylight. Gone
Are the nights where nomenclature’s blue
Pariah wipes the slate as clean as shuttles;
The lungfish absorbs its newest memories into
Absolute refinement, takes a stuttering stipulation
Toward the avant-garde unknown to fate, until
A club is brought, by differing opinion, to its head 
That cracks, opposable as hominoid deliverance. 

Jake Sheff is a pediatrician and veteran of the US Air Force. He’s married with a daughter and six pets. Poems and short stories of Jake’s have been published widely. Some have even been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). A full-length collection of formal poetry, “A Kiss to Betray the Universe,” is available from White Violet Press.


Two Dark Poems by Brianna Malotke: “I’m Still Here” and “Hug Your Mother”

I’m Still Here

When the violent wind howls
And the shutters slam against
The tightly locked windows
- who do you call out to?
 
When the lights flicker
And the floorboards creak
With every step, or just old age
- why do you close your eyes?
 
When the temperature drops
And the air seems frigid,
Even though the fire is roaring
- who do you pray to?
 
When the shadows dance
And shift about so quickly
Your eyes second guessing
- why do you whisper my name?

Hug Your Mother

When I was little and upset
My mother would always say
To not forget to hug her for
A mother’s love cured everything.

And so, over the years
Even if I didn’t need one
I often hugged my mother.

I hugged her – no matter what – 
Through good times and bad
Our family always did seem happy
From the outside looking in.

And so, over the years
I always hugged my mother
Up until the day we buried her.

A mother’s love cured everything
Echoed faintly in my mind
As the doctor explained the diagnosis
And gave me a set of days left.

And so that night I dug her up
And made sure to hug her lovingly,
For a mother’s love cures everything.

Brianna Malotke’s most recent work can be found online at The Crypt, Witch House Amateur Magazine, and Dark Entries Journal. She has poems in the anthologies BeneathCosmosThe Deep, and Beautiful Tragedies 2. Looking ahead to 2022, she has two poems in the Women in Horror Poetry Showcase, “Under Her Skin,” published by Black Spot Books. 

My website: https://brimalotke.wixsite.com/malotkewrites