August 16th, 2020
(Content warning: horror, death, suicide, some discussion of Midsommar with what could be considered general, mild spoilers)
Death In The Air
A scent in twilight past breaths of the beast
who stalks the edges of forests on the
phalanges of feet, quickening heartbeats
of little lost girls, panting in pine trees
near the end of the world. Pale hirsute ear
you peer where the needles are bare. Eyes straight
ahead, mutter pieces of prayers. Fear
the savage inside you that gravitates
towards the territories of teeth as
evening grows late. Blackberry nightshade
swallowed, lie down, await the spasms
orgasmic. Pupils dilate. Grave green blades
coronate a corpse, breath hot in your hair.
Dance with a beast who smells death in the air.
‘Tis the season, and I don’t mean fucking Christmas. The one and only favorite season of womanchildren everywhere — or at least at my house, Halloween. Yes, I do have a calendar and realize that it is “only August.” It is a pandemic, and we are allowed to be lenient and graceful with ourselves in order to survive. It’s called self care, and months of Halloween and its horrors is that for me.
Tonight, for me, it’s writing a sonnet about beasts, nightshade, self-sacrifice/suicide. I’m a weirdo, but sometimes this kind of super dark writing — that is heightened and totally not at all what I’m about on a literal sense is very comforting to me. It makes the many “real problems of 2020” retreat in my mind a bit as I worry about dark impulses to give oneself over to beasts even as a sacrifice.
This sonnet is definitely inspired by two things — one that happened to me today on my walk. I’m pretty sure I saw a coyote in my woods near where I live. I heard very close to the edge of the dense woods where I was a bunch of commotion, scurrying, heavy breathing and then in a space between branches I saw an off-white hairy ear, and I’m pretty damn sure it was a coyote. We have had problems with coyote in this neighborhood killing animals though I had never seen one myself. Once I saw a fox in my driveway, but this was not a fox.
It inspired me today to write this poem about living so proximate with beasts — knowing that they are there, maybe even larger beasts but still wanting to share that space with them. Since I’m in the Halloween season, this poem became totally on its own accord unintentionally dark. Sometimes that happens to me.
Another inspiration for this piece was the movie Midsommar. I totally owe my watching of this film to my friend Nadia Gerassimenko. I love horror, but I can get a little chicken about watching certain horror movies because I am a delicate little girl at times, complex. Nadia gave me the low-down about the roughest parts and when I’d be able to settle in and just enjoy it and checked in on my after I watched it to make sure I could sleep. She’s such an amazing friend.
I was so glad that I watched this movie because it really spoke to me in its love of nature and beauty above humanity really. The rituals and customs in Midsommar are horrific because price of being in the utopia of nature and the natural world is that one must ultimately sacrifice oneself to it — which is what my speaker does in this poem. She wanders her woods and is drawn in by the beast. She seems afraid he will attack her, ambush her as she enjoys her jaunts. It doesn’t happen that way though. She takes nightshade and offers herself to him eventually much like the people offer themselves over to death.
We are in a grim season with the pandemic, and this is why I put a content warning on this column because I certainly know that there are many people suffering who cannot handle any more horror in their lives. I feel terrible for them, and I live in fear that I will become one of them. I wear my mask and self isolate most of the time. For me, though expressing darkness purges some of it from my soul. So thanks to those of you who read. If you haven’t started decorating for Halloween, I have and you now have the excuse of saying to your roommate, spouse or child who says, “too soon,” that you aren’t the first. I’m with you in this horror. It is our season to shine.
If you are interested in hearing more dark poetry like this check out Kristin Whispers Sonnets in two weeks, Episode 18 Forever Woods. My podcast with Gadget G Radio is a poetry podcast that is always about 20 minutes long, each week, where I chatter on a theme and read sonnets I’ve written on that theme. This week it’s about the sinister pull of the woods.
Also, if you are looking for some Halloween candy in sonnet form, I have a new book out called Golden Ticket that you can order from Roaring Junior Press or my website. It’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sonnets composed of milk, dark and hot chocolate ones (that are a little erotic and involve Willy Wonka being seduced by an industrial spy of Slugworth’s). They are all a lot of fun, and I’m so happy to be putting a book like that into the world right now.