Three Dark Poems by Peter Michael Bush: “Fear in the Eyes of the Crocodile”, “First…Serial…Rites”, and “Blood in the Sycamores”

Fear in the Eyes of the Crocodile
Give me the time, 
I will tell you of fear 
in the eyes of the crocodile- 
Black and lifeless, 
Summing up, stalking 
While frozen in terror I stand 
My son falls into 
Brackish water 
And takes, does the crocodile, my boy. 
 
My arms they flail, 
They beat about on 
Water’s cold dead face; 
Parting the deep, 
Revealing small children, 
And surrounding them, the crocodiles, 
Their bodies long 
Twisting slow in the ice.  
 
So, I carry these children 
Across, one dying step at a time; 
Yet, still I sense 
The crocodile’s black eyes 
On me damning, hunting, burning 
Me with this hate; 
Promising me that, 
Come the spring, he will find us again. 
My boy clings fast 
To my freezing body 
as we make our way across 
 
Evil waters 
To stare, time and again, 
Into hungry, black, lifeless eyes.
First…Serial…Rites
Blood, pitter patter, at right angles 
From his chin to the floor falling. 
Perfect circles. Perfect circles. 
Naked body splayed out before him- 
Science pig opened up, pinned down, 
Strewn about for present eyes to see. 
And the blood, the blood, squeezed like juice 
From some unnamable piece of flesh 
Gripped tightly between his fingers. 
The cherry popped, a virgin no more 
With no fear, life no longer a dream; 
But a fantasy to be revealed, to be 
Reveled in, basked in, rolled in, bathed in 
This metallic, coppery taste 
Spilled in a surreal train of pictures 
Later to endlessly be replayed: 
Uncomfortable fumbling, discomfort, 
Unknowing fear lending to panic; 
Pain and torture, torture and pain… 
Gurgling, disbelieving death; 
But the money shot: so like God: 
Power, control, reality’s master. 
An experience so vivid, 
The memories, the film - a promise 
That next time would be all the sweeter. 

Blood in the Sycamores
Between Noodle Dome and Stink Creek 
Out where our fathers hunted squirrels, 
Dead in the middle of Crater Wash 
Hard in the night, the moon waning 
Headlights blaze white over mud flats. 
 
Blood in the sycamores tonight 
Splatters wet, crying out innocent.      
Where we go, men were not meant to dwell. 
 
Hearts grow shocking cold in ugly work. 
Hands ill-prepared for wicked measures 
Blister on the rough skin of shovels 
Digging deep before the sun rises 
Dead in the middle of Crater Wash. 
                                     
Blood in the sycamores this morning 
Dried to black circles on fading leaves 
Made witness to passions of fallen men. 
 
Time rolls on in floods flowing over the Wash, 
Erases markers of makeshift graves 
Where ghosts reside now forgotten. 
Rumors once strong slowly drift away,  
Make secret what the stars have seen. 
 
Blood in the sycamores always 
Accusing from beyond the silent,  
Penitent men unforgiven. 
 
What we have done, what we have chosen 
Lies indelible in the record: 
A thorn gone festered in my mind 
For that night on Crater Wash. 
Between Noodle Dome and Stink Creek 
             
There is blood in the sycamores. 

Peter Michael Bush is a mental health therapist in rural South Georgia. He spends his free time writing, editing and pondering his own existential dread. He has been involved with powerlifting for over thirty years and has been writing for longer than that. Pete has completed three novels but considers himself a poet first as that is where all of these high jinks began. His work has been published in AlbatrossThe Poet’s PenDream Fantasy InternationalThe Florida Times Union, Independent InkMidwest Literary MagazineThe Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and Anatomy.   


“Act 1, Scene1” Dark Poetry by Prithvijeet Sinha

Sshhhhh.....
Put your ears on the wall.
There's a vile element in the concrete,
A phantasm of the moors.

This scullery is built atop
what once was a necropolis
and they buried masses of all hues six feet under.
Surely, the children have played here
and even spotted a finger bone or two
near the tree.

Listen,
stand here.
Somebody gargles,
hisses a curse,
then
'Deux Ex Machina'
or invokes a native sermon.

It thrills me
but grips like a vice
like how Master's eyes
lock with mine,
a tinge of forbidden desires
in the slow steps he takes
towards the kitchen door.

 ***
Sshhhhh....
Hear.
Nuns and sinners alike
speak various tongues.
Confessions afoot
with the decaying yellow haunting
of the afternoon.

The very light is stricken,
diseased,
separate from the entities of the night that lurk like
Lizzie and Bridget,
their secrets bitten under every lip.

The cat sits there,
breathing
and seeming as placid as Granny
on her rocking chair.

The phantasm from the moors
glows in the shadowed veil
of this room
and then whispers a dirty secret in my ears.
Stone cold
and frigid as the history of this town.
Did you hear it?

Previously published in Visual Verse. 


The writer’s name is Prithvijeet Sinha from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his prolific writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog An Awadh Boy’s Panorama(https://anawadhboyspanorama.wordpress.com/)  

Besides that, his works have been published in several varied publications as Hudson Valley Writers Guild, Piker Press Online, anthology Pixie Dust and All Things Magical published by Authors Press( January, 2022), Cafe Dissensus, The Medley, Screen Queens, Confluence- South Asian Perspectives, Reader’s Digest, Borderless Journal, Lothlorien Poetry, Live Wire, Rhetorica Quarterly, Ekphrastic Review, Chamber Magazine, The Quiver Review, Dreich Magazine, Visual Verse and in the children’s anthology Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Poems From Around The World ( AuthorsPress, February 2021), among others. 

Three Darkly Humorous Poems by K.A. Williams: “Lunch at the Lake”, “Cal and Kay”, and “Night Caller”

Lunch at the Lake

Summer sun
Hungry rabid dogs
Running 
Running
So hot
So tired
A lake
Safety
Jump in quickly 
So cool
Dogs hate water
Splashing   
Oh, right
That’s cats

Cal and Kay

His name was Cal,
he lived by night.
If you met him,
you'd get a bite,
and wished you had
stayed in till light.

He met a girl,
her name was Kay,
but not like him,
she lived by day.
He sought a witch,
and had to pay.

The spell did work,
his fangs won't grow,
and his eyes lost
their bright red glow.
Cal looked for Kay,
she had to know.

Where did she go?
Cal had no clue.
When Cal found Kay
her new fangs grew,
and her eyes had
a bright red hue.

Night Caller

Mist entered the open window
and hung in the air,
transforming into a vampire
with a red-eyed stare.

Moonlight shone on the
woman lying in the bed.
The vampire glided forward
and bent over her head.

Startled, the woman screamed,
then looked at her clock.
"You're late," she scolded.
"And you forgot to knock."

“Cal and Kay” and “Night Caller” were originally published in The Creativity Magazine in 2020.


K. A. Williams lives in North Carolina. Her stories and poems have been published in many magazines including The Chamber, Black Petals, Corner Bar, Tigershark, Page & Spine, Altered Reality, View From Atlantis, The Sirens Call, and Trembling With Fear. Apart from writing, she enjoys rock music, and CYOA games.

Three Dark Poems by John Tustin: “The Crush of the Moon”, “Dead Candles”, “Respite”

The Crush of the Moon

Every night she appears
Above me
From her position of nowhere
To her position of somewhere
From behind the magic of a cloud
And I look despondently at her
From my perch at the window,
Drunk on the melodies of music
And embers of light in the darkness

And she looks down at me
With a bored but petulant rage,
Flicking me with a powerful finger
To put me in my place
And knock me down
Just as I am rising

Every night I corkscrew deeper
Into the sameness madness
Of a love that is wan,
That is not tender,
Crushed between the fingers of the moon
And floating further out
Each evening
Into the vast useless discomposure
Of a promiseless
Tomorrow
And the next

Holding on inside to the very things
That have cast me
Into the void

Dead Candles

The smell of matches lit in vain
For candles whose long wicks remain
But are irresolutely soaked in the tears
Of ghosts who never lived here
But in a place I was banned
That I imagine I would see in my dreams
If I still had dreams.

Respite

Even when I close my eyes
I cannot get much rest.
Still. Still.
After all these years,
living more than half a life
in fear and obscurity –
I will not, cannot relax.
The poetic term would be Respite.
No respite for me.

Perhaps it’s because I have words missing
as if chunks of memory deleted.
Faith. Bravery. Trust.
I search for those words
and when I find them
I break them open,
only to find their shells empty.
Standing on the beauty of a silvery sand,
held up by trillions of kernels,
tiny and abrasive individually
and all I can feel is alone,
exhausted, unable.
No respite for me.

When the water laps up to me,
I retreat.
No matter how good it feels,
I back away.
No respite for me.

After all these years
and all that’s happened
I’m still afraid to stand 
at the open window
unless the shades are drawn.
I close my eyes,
the lids shutting abrasively.
The breeze is there
but the shade absorbs it.
It doesn’t matter 
if it’s dark or light out there.
I’m naked and afraid,
my skin untouched.
No respite for me. 

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.


“Voice in the Casket” Dark Poem by Bernadette Harris

Good night and hello, my wandering one,
Deep in the moors, and whence did you come?
Quaking and pale, cheeks kissed from the winter,
Frost in your hair, lips frozen and splintered.

Step over my ’thresh, blackened by mold,
Smothers the spot of whitening gold,
Tortuous star in celestial tower,
A shriveled heart, now ashen flower.

Surely you pity this human-like form,
This diet of red, this home among worms,
Prostrate the dust, alone with the slaughter,
Stretched upon bones of unfortunate daughters.

Why do you shrink, my sweet little meat?
My body has ceased, but eyes still may weep,
Take hold of my fingers, sink into the clay,
For shame, wary boy, you now turn away?

Come to this corpse, breathe into the tomb,
I came from the fire, torn straight from its womb,
Throat withers within, I gasp for the veins,
Along with the twilight, a stolen life wanes.

Bernadette’s work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including Ruminate, Braided Way, Introvert, Dear, and The Mindful Word. When she isn’t exploring her latest existential crises, she dabbles in writing children’s literature as well. She can be found at https://www.bernadetteharris.net/


Three Dark Poems by Callum McGee: “Black Oracles of Anfield Cemetery”, “Black Taxi”, and “Four Years of Hell”

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
South Catacomb, Anfield Cemetery, 12 September 2018, photo by Rodhullandemu, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Black Oracles of Anfield Cemetery
Raven’s cry in broad daylight
twiggy corpses holding black oracles, bright sparks in a sea of melted wax

Sanctuaries of hope 
dance with death, candles ooze pale essence, moss feasts decaying stones

Singular sparks 
returning to black, crooked branches, shriveled skeletons, inky feathers stain my suit

His thunderous voice
silent forever, a fiery passion dead silent, the red stadium’s heart forever still

Wretched symbols 
of the inevitable, Valkyries watch through beady eyes, sharp scythes snuff out lights

Life demands sacrifice
for eternal youth, rigor mortis seals an obsidian prophecy, ashes to ashes, oracles await

Reaper’s devoted 
disciples, messengers of a terrifying truth, tax collectors for precious time you owe 

Black banshees cry
for the damned, winged shadows flocking in the night, final debt paid
Black Taxi
Lifetime ago.
black taxi makes its stop.
Passengers await.

A small patch of gold.
Maple ripples on sweet bread.
Food packet feasts mine.

Bright blue brings out green.
Light in merciless sea.
Toasty bungalows.

Bounties of wisdom. 
Candles melt away at night. 
The black taxi makes its rounds.

Traceless wheels screech. 
White homes fade, life source leaves now.
Lone bungalows weep. 

A new sun arrives.
Shadow tires gone; mark left.
Passengers aboard destination unknown. 
Four Years of Hell
I am charred black
soul bitter. Demons in all shapes fractured my mind
contaminating my soul. My pure heart shriveled sweet and sour.

Like the Messiah
kindness was rewarded with cruelty. A crown of thorns
piercing my brain. Judas’s disciples blend in menacing groups.

My ears bleed
from the lies of the foul tonged. Satan’s legacy flourishes here
lies, serpents, and rumours. Power hungry vultures linger around every corner.

The foul stench of evil
contaminates my nostrils. The sheep huddle together
to look powerful. Guardians turn a blind eye to the foulest creatures.

The light of a soul
fades like the sun in this cold, dark place. Surrounded by monsters
and demons, masking as human beings. They infect the weak with their childhood sickness.

The Prey perish
as the Predators pounce. Kindness is rewarded with cruelty here,
the defenceless punished and banished. Four years is a torture chamber here.

Hope of many
is forever trapped here. Long gone, long perished even after the four years ended.
I never believed in Hell, but a place as evil as this, only proves such a place exists.

Callum McGee is a passionate BA creative writing student at Edge Hill University. His short horror story has been published on the official EHU magazine/newspaper The Quack’s blog. Callum is working on a debut fiction novel based on many Native American tribal cultures and beliefs. However, he also writes poetry tackling societal issues such as pollution, bullying, and inequality. Callum prefers writing from 1st personal point of view across his writing genres. However, he can write in 3rd or 2nd person points of view to expand his writing craft. 


Three Poems by Joseph Farina: “fever planes”, “simulacrum”, and “what we leave behind”

fever planes
heat and sweat salted grit on my neck
the cocktail ridge of loose blown sand
black feathers glean high on black mare's head
eyes wide nostrils open in the hot dust
the single caw of a raven above
all somehow in this room in hours
unknown, between the fever and the heart
that fears a landscape seen only in photographs
but owned by time blood and tears
does it call me or am I the caller
voices in two tongues
the lamentation of my birth voice
and its evolvement to some shattered hybrid
warning of raven and  lizard whispers
a place of measurement and balance
do I answer or  have I been already charged
simulacrum
coyotes howl
at the full wolf moon rising
loose dogs prick their ears
the silence of the cold night air
descends on those who
are half in their beds
waiting for mercy
like a lullaby to blanket them

outside the moon rises higher
cold coyote eyes
follow it to its culmination
knowing there is no mercy in its light
to either men or pack
what we leave behind
I have known all the days
their low and high appointments
the mornings, evenings and afternoons
each sunrise's different colour
each sunset's imitations
measured my time by the sun's chronometer
the lengthening and shortening of shadows
the phases of the moon
from wolf to harvest to cold
the wind's voice in each season
the telling scent of autumn
the frigid kiss of winter
my greatest moments
like shooting stars
flash and disappear
leaving nothing
not even a scar
to say that this was me

Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. An internationaly award winning poet. Several of his poems have been published in  Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine,The Chambers Magazine, Ascent ,Subterranean  Blue  and in   The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in many anthologies including:  Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent,  Canadian Italians at Table,  Witness  from Serengeti Press and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century . He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines   Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, Philedelphia Poets and   Memoir (and) . He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles   and   The Ghosts of Water Street.