An Anniversary

Our loved ones come to visit
For one raucous night each year
With creaking limbs to dance with us
And familiar smiles from ear to ear

They never do look quite right
Not quite what we remember
But we greet and embrace them all
Our long-lost, well-loved family members

Anne’s grandpa walked with a cane
But tonight he seems quite spry
Unfurling his crooked spine
She laughs as he lifts her to the sky

Roy’s wife had beautiful eyes
Shining, like a new penny
And as he meets her smiling gaze
He can’t recall her having so many

The barman was a large man
Muscled and barrel-chested
Now from his torso spouted beer
Twas superb, the drinkers attested

Mother sang sweet as a bird
Her voice now comes like a wave
Singing about next year’s crops
As I help her step out of her grave

For only one night each year
Never more but rarely less
We celebrate with the dead
Before we put them all back to rest

It is known by all who live
That death comes with morning light
So reunite with weapons close
They only recall us that first night

A Dark Path

There were the sounds of panic
In the moment she had slipped
But the child searched in the dark
Until he felt his mother’s grip

This forest is much too dark
She had very often warned
And too dangerous to walk
Between the sunset and the dawn

But they had stayed late in town
And needed to travel home
And though the path was obscured
The gently-led child was not alone.

They walked in complete silence
Hand in hand, footsteps in sync
He pictured monsters watching
Staring from shadows dark as ink

He questioned when they turned left
Down a path unfamiliar
But mother lay dead miles back
And the silent guide did not answer.


She had arrived earlier that day
Weary and lost, exhausted and nervous
They had kindly offered her a place to stay
Provided she came to their service

She agreed and happily met the preacher
Who showed an icon of their God
A statue of a dripping creature
She laughed at what she thought was fraud

The boat is gently pushed from the dock
She sits still in her seat, face grim
Terrified as the boat gently rocks
Her limbs tied so she cannot swim

The boat floats to the centre of the water
Following a deep and unseen tide
From the shore she hears chatter and laughter
And there is torchlight on all sides

She had sought safe harbour
but knows now she will never leave
And as boat rocks harder
she sees something stir beneath

Little Brother

My little brother has the biggest bedroom
Which I do not think is fair
He takes up the entire basement
and Mum says I’m not to go alone downstairs

I sneak down some nights
After my parents go to bed
He cries until I visit him
And stroke his soft forehead

Other nights he waits quietly
His joy barely restrained
He rushes to hug me when I visit
But I tell him not to pull at his chains

He is not in the family photos
Hung upon the walls
and when I ask my parents why
they say visitors would not understand at all

For a little brother, he’s very large
Taller than mum and dad
But he’s gentle and he’s happy
Unless something makes him mad

Mum is trying to show him
How to brush his teeth
But he has far too many
For any brush to reach

Dad still tries to teach him
How to read and speak
But it’s hard to form words
With hard lips, like a beak

I tell my brother I have a surprise
As I turn the key, the chains unlocked
I hold what I think is his hand
Tonight, for the first time, we will go for a walk

Comfortable Horror

Sarah had never married
Not that she’d make a bad wife
But with her strange adventures
She did not think she suited married life

She fed the witch’s familiars
As their owners flew across the sky
They appreciated her kind care
And left gifts when they stopped by

Each month she left a change of clothes
Draped over a naked, exhausted frame
Once recovered, the werewolf gave thanks
And left her a good share of game

She had long chats with a vampire
and although she never invited him inside
When the daylight found him
She loaned him an umbrella to hide

Her parents had told her, when she’d asked
That babies come from the cabbage patch
So it was not that strange to her
When she heard a cry from the field out back

The baby was not quite right, however.
He’d clearly grown from the wrong crop
His head was a bit big, his complexion odd
But he needed care and she’d give it, full stop

Sarah bundled up the newborn babe
She took him home and put him to bed
She cared for and loved him all her days
Her little boy with a pumpkin head


It was only a small bite
But the skin had turned green
And scales had begun to grow,
so he knew for certain that the foot had to go

The next day he awoke and checked
He saw the scales climbing up his shin
and within second he was sure
He needed only take off a bit more

He took the leg off up to his hip
But the next day the other leg looked green
So he made his choice and braced
Ready to cut everything from his waist

He was always certain it was the last bit
Then he would be completely fine
But every day it was a little bit more
Leaving spare parts over the floor

He was a torso, head and arms
But each arm then needed to go
Then his torso began to moulder
so at last he took his head from his shoulders

Now the parts would not stay still
They reached out for each other
and a different body slowly grew
old parts making something new

His head watched from the floor
As hands lifted him onto a new neck
looking in the mirror, he saw the monstrous grin
in his reflection was the monster that bit him.

At the Bottom of the Well

There is something living in the bottom of the well
If you drop in just the right gift, it will offer a spell
Teeth, coins, oddities and various bric-a-brac
Once a gift is dropped it is well-paid back

A girl dropped in her doll, a gift from mother to daughter
Her childhood favourite now sunken underwater
She asked for beauty, something for which she had prayed
Each morning she awakes, shining hair in a perfect braid

One lad dropped the blanket his grandma had knitted
Long outgrown but still beloved, his tears admitted
He asked for his muscles to swell without effort
He often wakes sore, like his limbs were subject to violent sport

Most people wish for fortune and small blessings
Careful to offer enough and to be polite in addressing
But some call for darker acts to be committed
But with the right payment, this is also permitted

Enemies disappear quietly into the dark
Nail scratches on floorboards their only remaining mark
But those who ask for this and offer less than their best
Will find themselves facing their own request

There is something living in the bottom of the well
And if not paid its fees, it will take you there as well
But its greatest gift is that it lets everyone believe
That it lives only in the well, and does not leave


She had left in the middle of the night
A note left behind asking for forgiveness
Explaining that she had taken a lover
But leaving no forwarding address

He was embarrassed and depressed
His wife departed for greener grass
When asked about her whereabouts
He chose to say that she had passed

He had more homemade meals
than in fifteen years of married life
He had friends and neighbours for company
And he barely missed his wife

One night she returned, distraught
Her lover had decided to roam
So she, with nowhere else to go
Decided it was time to come home

He quickly ushered her inside
And told her all was forgiven
He made her favourite drink
And she drank what she was given

He watched her finish, greedily
and collapse onto the floor below her
It was lovely that she had returned
But he would rather be a widower


I know it has stopped raining outside
and the sun has come back around
The day is warming and bright
But please stay on solid ground

There are pools of water
So dark and so deep
that if you try to jump in
They will rise well over your feet

You will feel yourself gripped
Like vices upon your feet
And it will be only moments
Before you are pulled underneath

I walked once with a friend
Between puddles besides a stream
She laughed as she leapt
And in a moment began to scream

I remember that frozen second
Thinking of how to save her
but all I could do was watch
As the hands pulled her underwater

I cannot forget her calling for help
In the moment before she was swallowed
I see her now in every pool
But now she calls for me to follow.


Do not follow strange creatures
Do not listen to their call
A friendly form with sweet promises
Will soon have you enthralled

Her mother warned of familiars
Of a witch’s faithful servants
creatures that heeded wicked orders
and stole children from their parents

The girl followed the small black cat
She had never walked so far from home
Though she did not recognise the route
It was better than walking alone

It led her to a small house
Made of something sweet
The cat pushed open the door
and sat at the witch’s feet

Between work and forced feeding
The days passed in a blur
But the girl had a friend
That whispered beneath a purr

The day finally came
The witch stoked the coals
Waiting for the oven to heat
The girl knew her role

The cat rubbed against the witch’s legs
A move the witch ignored
At last, it was time to cook
And she opened the oven door

The cat remained still
braced against withered feet
The girl pushed as she was told
and the witch fell to the heat

The cat pushed open the door
and told the girl that she had only dreamt
It knew better than to keep the child
For familiarity breeds contempt