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The Werewolf's Cage
by Schuyler Becker
*Series Editors' Pick

What happens when 
it finally wins? 

I become like glass 
or thin ice 
spiderweb fissures
form across my skin;
Begins at the heart
and claws its way out;
I start to fragment,
the bones keeping it in
crumble to dust
and the monster
is out. 

That was when 
lines began 
to appear 
on her skin 
spiderweb fissures 
spreading out
from her heart, 
creeping up her arms,
inching past her throat, 
masking her face; 
The kintsugi flesh
began to darken, 
crimson rising 
to the surface and 
seeping out 
like tears, 
like poison; 
Fragments of flesh 
dissolve 
in trails of hot blood;

​Eyes shut, 
final fracture 
locked into place, 
preparing 
to collapse 
and give in 
to the monster within.

A Diamonds in the Jukebox of Ghostbusters
by Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arowolo

i learned in a nightmare 
          that the best way to quench 
               fire is to douse it with more

embers—a futile miracle. 
          raise the goblet a little to the wet 
              lips of the moon, what do you see?

a tide of crimson? 
           the noise deafens night's silence—i 
                am learning to put up with the whines

of my ancestors' ghosts. 
              in this dream, i am a figbird chewing.     
                  the light through its navel. 

this means that i prey against my usual
             soaring grief like a child washing 
                     its musty doll anew. look at the lake

in my eyes, a harpy strangles a wren 
               in the camwoods. i have lost many things
                    to the ghost town, a golden rod to a 

graveyard, a bunch of fingers to the catacombs,
                  a field of hair to the burning wilderness. 
                   how do i displace the curse, glory the grace,

usher out the sorrow left inside 
             the grapevine of my bones? 
                 moonstone, who is never content with 

the burden of light? mother-of-pearl, 
            i rush down the rapid to gather 
                 within my calloused palm a waterfall of possibilities.

Hey Ghost
by Manuel Cabral 

Hey Ghost,

I think I can still make you out when I squint,                              
but I'm not sure anymore that was it,
you ain't been yourself in a bit,
and for what? For who's benefit? 

You’re a ghost,

all in your home all alone,
that's why no one bothers to phone,
you've been dead long ago, they all know,
you've been dead, they all know you're a ghost.

Pen perfect for nothing, it's nothing,
words on the wall, they say nothing,
what's troub'ling I ask, you say nothing,
“what's troub'ling?” I ask. You say, "nothing."

Stupid ghost,

no one can see you, you're dead,
So you live all alone in your head,
and nobody's heard what you’ve said,
and nobody takes up your stead.

You’re a ghost,

no one remembers your name,
you were gone just as quick as you came,
you died, no one spared you a flame,
here or not, to us, all the same.

What's troub'ling I ask, you say nothing,
cause you can't admit to yourself that you're nothing,
you don't want me to know that you're nothing,
but I can see, like it's clear, like it's nothing.

Just a ghost.

No one can see you, you're dead,
held together with needle and thread,
not a monster to fill us with dread,
not a nightmare that waits in our bed.

You're a ghost,

It's like you don't even exist,
I'm not even sure you ever did. 
In fact, I'm quite sure you never did. 
You've been dead for as long as you've lived.

 

​It's like you're just nothing, you're nothing.
Not a shadow, reflection, you're nothing,
you're just another ghost. See, you're nothing?
I don't lie, waste of time, thanks for nothing.

Hey ghost,

nobody can see you, they're dead, 
not as they walk, in their head. 
No one can hear what you’ve said,
they’re really all bones in a bed,

they’re all ghosts.

Which means you’re really alive, 
and all around you have died,
the dead are vicious and snide,
when they don’t know that they’ve died.

What's troub'ling I? Ask you, say nothing.
Don’t believe what they say, it's all nothing.
Just visit their graves in the nothing,
and bring them some flowers, say nothing.

To Meet the Midnight Beast: A Verse Retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula
by Andre Peltlier

By hook or cook, carriage or boat
     John Harker, he flew East
Towards dark Carpathian Alpine peaks
     To meet the midnight beast.

He left his love behind in York;
     She swooned to see him go,
But soon poor Mina moonlight saw
     Through Whitby’s misty glow.

In Transylvanian forest wood
     Where Nighttime’s children sing,
The shadows live and stalk the land
     To praise their midnight king.

He rises with the setting sun
     From catacombs departs
To feed his brides, the dreadful three,
     Upon the living hearts.

In England, Mina waits for love
     And waits with Lucy true.
When Lucy meets that awful thing
     She’ll wake from death anew.

The ship of ghosts, she flies with Death
     To herald coming doom.
She lands with coffins in the hold
     She lands with ghastly gloom.

Through Whitby streets, he stalks his prey;
     Fair Luce invites him in.
She follows him to Carfax lair
     And to his den of sin.

As Jonathan attempts return
     In Budapest to sleep,
He races now against the clock
     To lib’rate love so deep.

And now the hunter dost arrive
     With cross and wooden stake.
And now Van Helsing prays to God
     Whom Count of Fangs forsake.
Harker’s passage booked and bound
     Up England’s Eastern shore
Where Seward, Morris, Holmwood fought
     To save she they adore.
As from the veins they pumped in vain
     And Lucy died and rose,
So too the garlic Mina wore,
     So too the lovestruck beaus.

Oh, when Westerna rode the winds
     And feasted on her kill
No clouds would part, no birds would sing
     No creature living still.

In Seward’s cells they planned the hunt
     To Piccadilly Lane,
And South of Mayfair tracked the beast
     As Renfield went insane.

The midnight fiend with box of earth
     Fled homeward on the wave,
But on his heels the stout of heart
     For Mina’s soul to save.

They overtook him on the road
     And took his fearful head.
With Mina freed, the midnight beast
     Turned ash forever dead.

Metaphor, Metamorph
by Remy Biggs

I don’t know this creature
Scratching and crying at my door
But he has your eyes and your
Curly little tail, and gentle nose

I ask where it came from and its teeth
Are bared, those same black lips receding
From yellowed, decayed teeth

Something is wrong with this
Facsimile — begging for entry
Shrieking for mercy faced with the
Iron doorknob

How did that thing dig you up
And how do I tear you from its grasp?

Pam's Horror-scope: You are Not the Final Girl
(The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974)

by Helen Patterson

I am a slab of living meat 
in this house of death.
Rot in my nose, buzzing flies,
Texas heat, oppressive as father’s hand
smacking my smart mouth

Hanging like an old pagan god,
like Odin on the tree of wisdom. 
What is there to learn here?
Nothing but the bite of the meathook,
cruel metal sinking deep

I hear the chainsaw revving;
my skull rattles with its death cry
as my lover is butchered like cattle 

I try to picture mother’s worn hands,
twin calla lilies folded in prayer.
But all I can think:
what mortal sin have I committed,
why, My God, have you forsaken me

You can’t escape Saturn in retrograde.
I am wheezing, dying meat,
and the chainsaw is fast approaching.​

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