gothic poet

rigor mortis

don’t tell me it was for nothing - you know all too well i only deify what’s not good for me. i gut your sorrows one by one, surgical atonement at the butcher shop, knit together the damaged bones. i mould them into relics. it’s blurry, freckled with rain out. you ignore occurrences of tunnel vision. i am foregone. i sit doll-like in rooms after the delirium of black light parties. i study the outline of the murder by which i mean, the baseline of the universe. by which i mean, the fissure of your body. i watch the milk spoil (like our love). mornings we burned our tongues on overcooked words, the cigarette you left in the kitchen, a funeral for your teenage habits, a prodrome of all your kid-your-parents-warned-you-about achievements. the way the blood vessels clog the necrotized heart, your throat chalk-full with absinthe, a childhood revision of daddy’s latest sin. remember the town house? the newspaper boy bringing the latest world-ending headline to our doorstep, the suicide lake with its dead swans? somehow it always ends in dull mutations of tv static, saying grace around a table of estranged ghosts.

Sleep Paralysis

I hear footsteps by my bed.
But I cannot move,
And I cannot scream.

I hear breathing near my head.
But I will not wake,
For I do not dream.

I feel pressure on my chest.
Something wicked
Holds me down.

Vengeful demons never rest.
Though we may cower
At the sound;

We all have to fall asleep sometime.

southern gothic.

You hear faint music in the distance at night. You can never make out what’s playing or where it’s coming from exactly, but sometimes you sit on your porch and strain to hear it over the cicadas and tree frogs. On some nights, you have to resist the urge to get up and follow it into the trees.

Your neighbors smile and wave to you when they see you. Their teeth are yellowed and crooked and their eyes are glossy. You don’t like their smiles. You don’t like them. You don’t even know them. You smile and wave back.

The diner down the street never gets much business, but you decide to go anyway. The waitresses stare at you when you walk in. They serve you sweet tea. It tastes of copper and lemon. You don’t look into the glass when you take a sip; nobody ever looks into the glass when they take a sip. You don’t go back to the diner.

There are signs that you see on the side of the dirt roads as you drive that read things like “HELL IS REAL!” and “REPENT!” One sign has a number on it that promises that if you call, the person on the other line can tell you where you’ll go when you die. You don’t call the number.

You hear screaming in the woods at 3:00 AM. You tell yourself it’s the owl, but you find yourself keeping a shotgun by your bed anyway.

There’s a graveyard by the old church. When you drive by, you swear that time slows to a crawl. You hear somebody calling your name. You’re too afraid to call back. You keep driving.

The neighbors’ kid disappeared last week. You saw them putting a wooden cross in their backyard. You don’t ask questions. Nobody asks questions. This is the third wooden cross they’ve put in their backyard.

The dogs are howling again. It’s louder than it was last night. It sounds like it’s coming from your living room. You hear scratching on the hardwood. You get up and lock the bedroom door.

high school horrors

i actually love that suburban high school aesthetic. brimming with reveries & teenage dreams. 

  • those elegant-vampiric redbrick school buildings, three-hundred-years old with shielded pasts, sophisticated gates that squeak and creak like old floorboards or wounded warblers when wrenched open, a vast lawn for spilling blood & dirty secrets after class.
  • school libraries and how they always smell like steam-cleaned carpet, old paper and anxiety, getting lost in a particularly dense section, being hushed by the stern-eyed librarian, lullaby-inducing & packed with centuries of burning knowledge it is the most comforting room in the entire school building (as long as you avoid one certain section). 
  • the nostalgia of a hundred sneakers squeaking against the recently polished floors, lockers slamming open and closed, the indistinct chatter of jittery voices all buzzed up on something or the other, sheets ruffling, bodies slamming into one another, the prideful chorus of a school anthem pouring out of the throats of overexcited cheerleaders.
  • passing notes to your friends in class, pens tapping against wooden desks, the way the girl sitting behind you’s laughter runs downstream and the boy who talks to no-one, always looking like he’s hiding something.
  • disembodied voices coming from the bathroom, various bright and persuasive posters encouraging you to join various clubs tacked up everywhere, the theatre a ramp of glitter & deception, post-it notes stuck to skin & gum clinging to the soles of your shoes.
  • the malicious rumors that flitter at lightspeed frequencies and build up like bed bugs, slip into every nook & cranny like dust, how the janitor once found a body in the broom closet and the history teacher’s into the dark arts, how all the staff gather after-school hours in the gym to perform satanic rituals, how someone once broke into the principal’s office only to find it covered in caution tape.
  • breaking into the school at night, hearing soft chanting like the distant mewling of traffic, a parking lot as sullen as the deteriorating gleam in every student’s eyes, the ghost of a little boy rounding the corner, a prophecy engraved into stone and the hellhouse graffiti lining some of the walls. 
  • the clausterphobic feeling of a thousand trapped teenage souls, melancholy and raging anger sprawling from the ceilings and leaking out through the taps, setting off the fire-alarm accidentally, attending an exam you thought you’d taken a bunch of times already, staring out the window because you thought you caught a shadow flicker by during detention, the man on the speaker announcing yet another prom or pep rally bloodbath.
Written On The Asylum Wall

I’ve been a very good boy
You said you said you said
You promised I could leave YOU PROMISED I COULD LEAVE
I don’t belong I’m not like they’re not like me and I’ve been
The BIG MAN is gonna cut me up and put rats in my brain so I don’t think anymore and you said I could leave but you LIED
to me
You said
If I prayed to God and I did
I did every day and the rats oh god the rats they’re going to eat my memories and piss on my thoughts and then nobody NOT ANYBODY will know how good I’ve been.

Day Five
Here come the rats
God isn’t here anymore.

North Jersey Gothic

-There’s an abandoned gas station on every corner. Your dad says he used to work there. Your dad says that was there since he was your age. The building disappears from view. You can’t remember what street you were on. There’s an abandoned gas station on every corner. Your dad is your age. Your dad works there.

-The deli worker near your house knows your mom but she doesn’t know his name. She calls him Vinny today. Maybe he’s a cousin. Tomorrow they call him Tony. On Fridays, before they close at 4:30 pm, he unzips his head and reveals that he’s actually Danny Devito.

-Winters are slush, and grey like car exhaust. The only memory of summer are the seagulls in the Kmart parking lot. The empty carts on the sidewalk wave to you on your way in. They’re jealous and run into your car as the seagulls burn their feathers and turn to crows.

-There’s a 7/11 across the street. You walk out of your room and step into the store. You don’t remember how you got there. The bell dings and the people inside open their mouths. Flies pour out. You blink and the flies are gone. No one looks. Their eyes are glued to their cup that they’re filling with coffee. It overflows. They don’t mind. You grab a slurpee, the machines groan and ask if you’re buying a lottery ticket too. You pay, walk out, and it’s midnight.

-You stumble into a diner at 11 am. Everyone in there has twelve eyes. The Taylor ham sandwich that they ordered eight days ago grew mold. The waitress looks normal. She says that there’s a booth in the corner that Tony Soprano sat in. She has a tattoo on her arm of her dead aunt. Her eyes don’t leave yours.

-There’s a town an hour away that sells vintage clothes. The highway rolls you up and eats you. When you get to the belly, there’s a boy who has no mouth. There’s a man who sells antiques and every item is $1,000. You’re laying on your living room floor, legs vibrating.

-The Welcome to New Jersey sign is a cryptid among itself. It flies away before anyone else can see. You can never leave. New York City is just a name. The skyline disappears and there’s only one street leading back home. Chris Christie appears on your tv, staticky like a phantom. He says the jersey devil is taking his place. You hear cheering from your window.

-Cherry Blossoms fly through the air in spring. They are also a cryptid. They fly down your throat and tell you that you are too beautiful to live. They turn you inside out and the weather drops down to 35 degrees the next day. The local paper reads, Cherry Blossoms Drop Dead In Local NJ Town.

-There’s a field of electrical towers littered with beer cans that wink at you from the grass. You see empty sunflower seeds on the concrete. You name them. They sit next to you everyday from now on. You see them next winter. They don’t want to talk today.

-There’s a new Walgreens on every corner. You remember when that used to be a DrugFair when you were young. You’re turning into your dad.

-The boardwalk smells like burnt hamburger chars and hard cotton candy that’s been out since last year. Flies dig underneath your skin in the heat. There’s a sign that’s being carried through the air by a plane. It says, You Can Never Leave, Visit The Shrimp Box.

more suburban gothic

shadows circling the parking lot, every neon light spread jam-on-toast, chlorine-in-pool wide, brutal tire marks bruising the concrete, goodbye kisses from careless teenagers driving off in search of bigger skies, pocket lint & gummy bears, the flicker-flare of a truck U-turning off the middle of the grimacing country road before shrugging back into the balmy dark. 

cookies baking in the oven, the latest news story reports a mysterious death and four missing bodies, the tea kettle hisses like a hungry backalley animal, the chandelier swings on its own, the lights stutter & die out, your mother emerges from the kitchen with a knife and a cherry-fleshed smile, except she is not your mother. 

some nights are the beginnings of a horror movie, all the stereotypes that never go out of style, the wispy wings of cigarette smoke butterflies fluttering out of lipstick bright mouths, cold eyes in the limelight, a face in the mirror that is not your own, lovers interrupted by screams ricocheting off the walls like flower vases smashed, blood splatters in strange places. 

gutter-hearts in the grocery store, shopping for ice cream in the middle of the night, a song with a tune that is familiar to you but one that you’re sure you’ve never heard before plays soft as soda pop in the background, the gaunt clerk’s eyes seem to glow red whenever you look at him from the corner of your eye, you try not to look at him again. 

a bouquet of alienated balloons in the sky, circling the moon like something out of the most dreadful fairytale you know, the forest gnarled as a dead body against the bony moon and the monster movie sky, all shredded clouds and playground empties. 

your heart a slug crawling out of your mouth as a ghost hand reaches for you from somewhere behind you. the shriveled gaze of black-eyed children pressing their lifeless hands against your car windows begging for you to let them come home, a gun in the car compartment, jesus on the dashboard, mascara massacred cheeks, coming off your mountaintop highs and plummeting endlessly through stars that only pretend to catch your fall.

Intrusive Thought

You call me an intrusive thought.
But that’s not quite true is it?
I come quietly.
I Ring Bell For Service.
I wipe my feet on the mat.
And am I really intrusive?
If you invite me back
Every time you stand next to the subway tunnel.

Isn’t it about time you just pushed her?

Isn’t it time you jumped yourself?

You always listen to reason.
You’re just. So. Reasonable.
But you’re also miserable.
Now why is that?
Those who act on impulse do not dwell in the past.
They do not pity themselves.
They only act.
And react.

The train is coming.

Time to act.

Talking in tongues
Isn’t it fun?
To spin the gun
Like a bottle.
This isn’t your average
Seven minutes in heaven
It’s your introduction to the grave
Trapped in the dark
You won’t be saved.

I’m counting the bullets
In the chamber
There’s a round for
Each of us in the room
All too young to be damned
Inside this party tomb.

Pour yourself the last drink
Steal a smoke for your soul
Dodge the blow
That’s the goal.

Your name is already etched
Into stone
You’ve become
Rotting flesh stretched
Over bone.

This is only a snapshot
Of your brains last attempt
To remain calm
Death is too real
To feel so wrong.

—  Eros J. Belle
california gothic

• You hear coyotes outside your door at 2AM. You are so scared they will drag you into the woods behind your house.

• Wherever you go, there is always always the sticky, hot, scent of rotting fruit. Grapes, strawberries, oranges, pears, mandarins, cherries; they are all decaying. Turning to mulch and mud. It is a smell that follows you everywhere.

• You can’t remember a time before the drought. Was it 5 years ago? 10? 20? Everything is dust and brittle vegetation. The fish show their pale bellies to the sky.  You have forgotten the sound of rain.

• Roadkill smears the roads for days; the large cracked body of a doe, the intestines of a rabbit, the dark misshapen shadow of a possum that you nearly hit before swerving.

• As a child, you hear stories about a giant loving under the cracked earth. You grow up with the shifting land. You learn to ignore it, until you can’t. Until the rumble doesn’t end but grows and grows and only leaves shattered piles of debris behind.

• The heat shimmers in front of you like a mirage, melting the skin off your bones, browning you a dark russet color.

• Spanish echoes in every street corner, every mini mart, every spotlight and storefront and restaurant. It is a confirmation for some and a static hum for others. The reverberations spread through the town. People are starting to speak Spanish instead of English. Is that really such a bad thing?

• The weather is different in every town. It is raining and then it is not. The sun beats down on your neck and then the fog kisses it. The wind cackles around you and then dissipates. No one has figured out what to make of this yet.

• Roads that don’t go anywhere. Roads that turn to dirt. Roads that keep on going forever and ever and ever. Roads that curve around mountains and feel like you could fall off at any second with the wrong move.

• Snakes on your front porch, your backyard, under your sink and dead by the side of the road.

You keep waking up with your breath aflame. Your body murdered by the gnarled imagined thing that trails your sore swamp water dreams. You keep waking up to visions of bloodstained hymnals, a bounty hunter, amidst the bushes, asking for the price on your head. You keep waking up to a messenger whose voice reverberates like war bells. Someone who tells you of the night and how it’s already planning the deforestation of your grave. 

In another patch of grey, in the womb of a waterfall, in a hotel bathroom, two lovers kiss and their hands begin to change shape. Butterflies in chrysalis. Droplets of water clinging to naked chests. Picture: Pangea, personified. Some vagabond, bearded old man with a walking stick, his eyes cloudy from seeking the fury in everything, his arms wrecked with scars that glimmer like little ugly mirrors. Picture: Pompeii on the run from an angry mob, her feet maimed and crooked, passing the cathedral where her brother tried to drown her in the baptismal font, the cypress tree where her mother left her brain to rot, the town where they tried to burn her at the stake. The villagers are scornful & indignant, always posing the question, when did girls first begin equalling to wolves?

I hate you and I want you. I keep losing myself to manholes and empty highways, to the warmth of your opaline lips. Every moment I spend thinking about you is another moment wasted. Burnt away. And yet I keep finding myself clambering about in circles. The dip in your cheeks like angel dents, your green eyes, your love affair with life, how my limbs grew tidal against your arms. Our revenants catching up to us. Our souls leaving us. The bats watching, the crows watching. Sliding gently, as if by the will of god himself, out of our skins in the park, by the lake, in the funeral home where you set your history to rest. Places where the dirt bites into my knees and I worship your endless heartbeat, your sick humor. How the skies crown you king. 

YOU SEEM TO HAVE DIALED A WRONG NUMBER. THE TELEPHONE CHORD SEEMS TO HAVE SLITHERED UP YOUR DAINTY NECK. Are you experiencing discomfort? You seem to be struggling, you seem to be in pain. Tell me, is this what death feels like? Your esophagus sore from trying to keep your intestines all inside, your eyes unblinking, tire tracks lining your throat, wires climbing your throat, his fingers pushing into your throat. Your throat’s become a war zone. The blood never ends.  

my head, my heart, my liver, stored in separate vials, a bow to the Egyptians / a decaying banana peel / an emerald flecked with gold like splatters of god’s blood / the sun on its seventh leg / the telephone chord I wielded to kill myself / his shirt / his jacket / a rusted bird cage / a child’s tooth / an ECT device / bite marks / scratch marks / the shriveled remains of my childhood home / a wedding ring procured from the kitchen sink / expired eggs / two broken marionettes with twin expressions of horror staining their faces / a corpse hanging from the moon.