Dark Poetry
Poetry by John Grey and Donna Dallas
The House Of Old Sins
                          By John Grey

I listen to ghosts moan and grumble,
rattle like radiators
as they drag their linked burden of old sins.

I’m in the dusty parlor,
still reading the morning newspaper,
though the sun has already set.
No need to look at the obituaries.
They’re all around me.
Cutthroats. Stranglers.
Even an executioner.  

They inhabit this place,
from basement to attic,
tied into a grid
of after-life, ectoplasm
and eternal punishment.

Most are ancient.
They’d love to be alive
but their current state
doesn’t really compensate.
So it’s a shriek here,
a whine there.
My indifference upsets them.
They’re lucky I don’t charge them rent.

I invite no one to my house.
Their nerves would not be as accommodating.
Who wants their passion interrupted
by a scream of “I’ve just seen a ghost!”
That’s a long way from “How was it for you?”

So I just stay on here
with the phantoms, the spirits.
I won’t say I’ve been a good man
but good enough by my account.
I expect to leave here when I die.
So for now, I just gather cobwebs.
But I don’t measure my ankles for chains.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
About John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet,
US resident. Recently published
in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry
East and Columbia Review with
work upcoming in South Florida
Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review
and Roanoke Review.   
About Donna Dallas

Donna Dallas studied creative
writing and philosophy at NYU.  
She was originally published in
The New York Quarterly and was
lucky enough to study under
founder and Editor, William
Packard.  She took a slight
hiatus and most recently has
appeared in Visceral Uterus,
Red Fez Magazine, Bewildering
Stories and several other
   By Donna Dallas

I was dropped into a belly     shaped into an egg
cracked open for all to see
they stared       they picked / they separated and structured
gave me crooked teeth
and a half smile
I oozed free from your gut to hobble through the desert
in search of the father
came to the holy land
laid at the very cross…….my good eye settled on the stone
that I was struck with
back a thousand years
when I was a whore
and you watched them
   By Donna Dallas

I place my dead around me
Fan their hair out to cover cracks in the floorboards
salve their oozing nicks and bruises            I resurrect my own stiffened heart
it beats madly now
beats for the dead - beats out of spite for beating
I’ll be damned it’s raining     yet I cannot feel the drops
my dead are soaked…….angry
I stay dry and warm    (not planned this way – I only skate by)
can never outrun them
in the end I lay with them out of pity
still my heart won't stop
the pounding irritates them to no end………I pace around in search of divinity
the fairies in the yard capture my attention
I step over decaying corpses
I step out of my own bleeding body
A Dead Party, Just The Way I Like It
                                                  By John Grey

I party with the dead.
They're good company
if you can stand
the stench, the shriveled faces,
the worms tunneling
their rotting bodies.

They don't moan about
how bad they have it
like some people.
No regrets that
the old life's gone for good.
Knife in the chest,
axe through the skull,
they don't blame anybody.
They just flop down
in their chairs
and get on with it.

At these affairs,
we drink beer together.
We smoke a little pot.
Sure the alcohol goes
right through them.
And the smoking sometimes
sets their hair alight.
But you expect that at a party.
And, as I've said,
they don't complain.

I tried partying with the living.
It wasn't the same.
They wanted to leave
as soon as they got there.
They didn't appreciate being chained.
They shuddered at my dungeon
full of party favors.

You know,
if the living could somehow see
how much the dead
are enjoying this,
they wouldn't recognize themselves.
Sleeping Dogs
   By Donna Dallas

I want to taste of the wine         eat of the fruit
but when I do it’s the same old bitten up/washed up/used up/busted up…… I try
to smile through it - moan and gasp - envision pleasures galore
under your panting breath…… a slave to something beyond love
as if we rode out into that blackened desert our bodies never returned but
we came back vultures …….. you stand gloating over a corpse that was me
now coarsened over time I remain dormant        hard as stone
let sleeping dogs lie they say once awakened
hell will come for you
Loving You Is Like Loving The Dead
                                           By Donna Dallas

raise you up from the dead roll you over and IV you for days / weeks
you don’t speak / singed tongue
Heart a charred chunk…..brittled edges
eyes rolled backward white
gluey globes stare me down as if I am to blame for all your mishaps / all your fuck ups / maybe I am
but here I kneel….. try to salve your sores……..try to resurrect
only madness seeps through oiled and thick as grizzle
when I touch
you stiffen / stare into space / ooze into yourself / mummified
I don’t bite…….unless you desire it
but there’s a rot deepening….it’s a dark clot…… it spills over
saturates us and we sit mute
dead eyes on each other
if I get close enough I feel the heavy death chill…….I leave it go for another day
Epic Death
   By Donna Dallas

No one ever explained that death is a slow parting
of soul from skin……..   a sinking of
eye into socket…….   wounds leaking into a chasm that
spreads under hardening skin…… a faint point of focus
the motionless eyes still follow….. as if waiting to mount
at some unforeseen place

It will end under the Vorhees painting
The death they never instructed…….  that fading flesh would congeal
and the face would freeze in a silent scream when the jaw opens for
the body’s last breath
They never explained raspy breathing…..  thick as paste
coating the windpipe…..  or the slick cold Vaseline of skin
that slow moving death oozes out of

I will die under the painting that you died under
The Vorhees with the ship sailing out on its ancient yellow sea
and the sun setting on the edge of another world over glowing water
This will be my point of focus…..  as my eyes fade to steel
Let me stare out at that world encased in the painting…. as I open my mouth
to give to you the very last
of me
Land Of The Three
          By John Grey

There are three of them. Just three.
In my basement – three.

Any dark place, they fester.
They grow in size.
And more terrible.
They don’t need great numbers.
Three is more than enough.

They’re neither female nor male.
But they could be both.
And they’re quiet when they need to be.
Loud when it’s too late to stop them.

They’re not murderous
in the way you would understand.
You could even pity
what their instinct makes them do.

But, when it’s time to emerge,
they are deaf to any pleading.
They are huge by this.
And they have to feed.

Treat them like the enemy if you must
but they are just a natural phenomenon,
an exaggeration of one, sure,
but beholden to nature’s laws at their core.

That’s why I didn’t destroy them at birth.
May as well chop down every tree in the
slaughter every hare and squirrel.

The three, like all of us,
have a right to live and prosper.
They are God’s creatures.
True, they owe something
to the devil’s design.
   By Donna Dallas

I sleep
in a ball of muck

the walls close in night after night
pressing me thin: bone dust

blood seeps into sheets
to a rich brown

I float along the day
empty as a brown paper bag

poisonous gases ooze from my lungs

I return at dusk
to the bed I make
   By Donna Dallas

No place is where I am / no place is the place
I keep beginning from -- the same old
River-licking-ocean / wanting to be big and blue / but still small and decrepit
the place that no place
should end up in…………….the cavities of the mind…………..in a small dark corner
where ameba wouldn’t
where I am / where I keep waking up to       winding down into
Ghost orchids
   By Donna Dallas

if u drink em you can die…….us in a field of them/sky lit up
neon yellow/berries in my basket
where’s the ghost???
………the mother ship of orchids
you chop them up, they said
mix with hot water/it’s an aphrodisiac
where’s the ghost?
……….I lay on the grass
the cup spilleth over/hot water pooling under
my thighs
there’s a goblet filled with wine
you drink from it
I stare
                 ……….we are the ghosts
For poetry by Meg Smith,
Stanley Wilkin, Brian
Barnett and Chris Ingram,
click here

For poetry by John Grey
and Donna Dallas,

For Holly Day and Judson
Michael Agla,
click here