October 10th, 2020
We will race, her sisters, there, past gargoyles
down a swiveled silver stair. One who rides
its rail, body of snake, chiseled coil
to marble tongue will take the lead then chide
the rest — a mob with matches in pockets
of each prairie dress. Onyx bonnets, flush
of cheeks, midnight mission, hair in lockets
memorializes the meek, swings on chests that rush
toward revenge inside the place she met
her end, the chapel of malevolence
where orphans kneel in castoff smocked rosettes;
perversions ritualized as reverence.
What some name this place is not our concern.
It is only evil little witches burn.
It’s almost Halloween!! To celebrate I’ve been posting a poem a spooky poem a day for the Haunted Dollhouse, 31 hauntings in October. I only have three spaces left to fill for the month, but if you read this and have a spooky poem you would like to send, please do immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org . When I fill those last three slots, I’ll be closing submissions for a bit to the Haunted Dollhouse but not long because I believe in Halloween all year really. It’s why I started a horror mini-journal on my site.
I love writing horror poems myself, part of why I started my mini-journal. It doesn’t feel like Halloween if I’m not writing something spooky. This poem is inspired by a Justin O’Neal watercolor of which I own a print called “a debt repaid.” It’s a painting of two little witches in front of a burning church, holding hands and watching it burn.
As a person who suffered abuse in an extremely religious family, this picture spoke to something in me. I’ve been wanting to write a poem about my own take of why these little witches might be burning down a church. In my story, they are orphans who are powerless to the abuse that is going on in the church. After one of their friends is destroyed by this, they band together to burn it down. I’ve included a picture of myself in front of the piece and you can purchase your own piece by Justin at his Etsy shop or visit his instagram.
I have no idea obviously of Justin’s idea of the debt paid here, but that’s the beauty of Ekphrastic poetry is to take a piece and let your imagination and experiences inform it. I really appreciate artists that both speak to a place inside me and take me somewhere new. Lately, my “real life” is ugly and chaotic and I am clinging to art and my online world to take me somewhere else. Thank you so much to people like Justin O’Neal who do that.
The next few weeks on here, I’ll be doing my own Halloween countdown of spooky pieces. I hope you enjoyed this one. It felt so good to spend a day with the Little Witches.