Size / / /

For H.P. Lovecraft

(And Caitlín R. Kiernan)

Under the gallows

you open a hanged man up like a book

for practice—

teach by doing.

Call the cubs forth, even

those halflings cursed

with human faces

and show them:

Here, look here, look.

Madame, Madame;

I know I am not made to dance

to either tune, not with

my light-glazed eyes, my knees

set backwards. Not with

my forefinger longer than its nearest fellow,

black nails with their rim of razor

awaiting just the right

Inquisitor's beckoning.

I give myself away.

I apologize, simply for


never having chosen

to exist.

Down in the cellar, those faint noises—

my relatives come calling.

Unexpected, yet not


(I am not as you: True.

And yet, I am still

more as you than either of us

would like to think.)

At least, when the skin is peeled away

we are all flesh, blood, guts—

a red-bone rosary, fit for telling.

Not soundless depth, awful dream,

darkness wave-locked

and waiting.

For when that dream is over—

(and this one, too)—

when cold descends and the sun goes out

we will huddle close

for warmth, amongst the tombs,

our two great cultures reduced

to a tumult of cemeteries.

Awkward, insides steaming,

we will share

a final communion—

meat, as memory.

The only thing left to prove

we ever squatted

on the void's thin skin


Former film critic and teacher turned award-winning horror writer Gemma Files is best known for her Hexslinger Series, now collected in omnibus form (ChiZine Publications). She has also published two collections of short fiction and two chapbooks of poetry. Her next book is We Will All Go Down Together: A Novel in Stories About the Five-Family Coven (also from CZP). Her website is here.
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