Ao Andon

I need the words to slide from your lips.
I’ve waited to hear them shaped by your tongue.
By the flickering light of one hundred candles,
oh, how I’ve longed for the release you bring.

All night, you’ve teased and toyed with me,
speaking the names of other demons.
I’ve tried not to pout, knowing my turn is coming.

Instead, I’ve watched you tremble,
your eyes wide with fear.
You’re irresistible when you’re terrified.

I know, with every story you start,
you want the feel of my claws on your skin
just as much as I do.

Because as each story gets told,
as each candle’s light dies,
you hear my breath behind you more clearly.
I am close enough to tangle your hair with my horns.

You know your words bring me ever closer.
And still you don’t stop. Closer, and closer I come,
until you finish all one hundred stories,
and at last, you are mine. 

Ao Andon by Matt Meyer

This poem was inspired by the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Creatures of the Night and the work of Yokai expert extraordinaire, Matt Meyer (if you love learning about Japanese creatures that go bump in the night, his website, as well as either of his books is a wonderful resource). I was fortunate enough to attend a Japanese Ghost Story lecture he gave at Shofuso, (the Japanese House at Philadelphia) earlier this evening. So when I got home and saw this prompt, I knew I'd have to write about one of the wonderfully eerie creatures he spoke about.

The ao andon is a creature intimately linked with traditional Japanese ghost story telling parties from the Edo period. The well-to-do would gather in a room with one hundred candle-lit lanterns. For every ghost story told, one candle would get extinguished. Once the last candle was put out, the ao andon would appear, and the gods only knew what terror she had planned for guests bold enough to go that far.

Odd Girls: A Halloween Treat

From time to time I like to record some of the poems I write. The most recent Prompt Nights had Halloween as it's theme and I remembered a fun piece I created back in April that really suited it well, Odd Girls. I had so much fun re-reading it, I thought it'd be fun to record it and share it again in time for Halloween. Just click on the link below to listen to the poem. Enjoy!

Odd Girls

Come and play where the odd girls go.
Come, play the games that only they know.
Fall down, follow down, do come soon.
Come play along in the light of the moon.

Follow me, follow me to the forest where it’s dark.
Don’t be afraid of the teeth that are sharp,
for I have sharp teeth of my own,
and those that bite me will never go home.

Come and play where the odd girls go.
Come, play the games that only they know.
Fall down, follow down, do come soon.
Come play along in the light of the moon.

Please come play. I have stories to tell,
ones that are familiar and some you don’t know so well.
Stories like wind through ancient bones.
Stories that cause screaming in stones.

Come and play where the odd girls go
Run to the place between delight and woe.
Some come home, wiser than they left
and some linger on as permanent guests. 

Song Choice: Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

The Darkest Kiss

Kareena’s limp became more pronounced as she made her way up the mountain. Her worn, stout walking stick could only help so much when she was in this state. The only things she noticed in her climb up were the tendrils of her salt and pepper hair that had affixed themselves onto her sweaty face, shoving them only when they impeded her sight. Her steps may have slowed down, but by the gods she was going to keep them as steady as she could.

She stopped at an opening in the side of the mountain, a scant few feet just below its summit. Kareena indulged in a look back at the setting sun creating a deep red backdrop behind the village she was responsible for. Before she could think about it too much longer, she stepped into the cave and walked off the ledge of the pit inside it.

She fell, and the pit’s darkness engulfed her completely. The air rushing past her scourged the sweat from her exertions off her body. Only after she took several deep breaths did she begin to shout.

“I ache and I am angry. I listen to every complaint put before me. I mend every broken body laid in my hut. I sometimes don’t eat because I have no time to. And no one tends to me. No one nurses me in my pains. But they notice if it makes me slow in caring for theirs. I am angry and I need my anger to be heard.”

The pit’s darkness wrapped itself around her like a lover, slowing the feeling of falling. It held her close and whispered comforting words to her. Some of them she didn’t understand, because she wasn’t meant to at that moment. Others she did. And she reached back out into the Darkness, too tired to whisper back her gratitude for all of its words and for its understanding. For a brief moment she and it were one, no longer falling but flying.

Then her feet touched ground. Kareena walked back out towards the light of the outside world, shining a few feet ahead of her. She stepped out again though the same entrance she came through, but this time her village was illuminated in the light of the rising sun behind her.

Kareena looked at it, breathing deeply again, just enjoying the feel of the air flowing in and out of her lungs. When she was ready, she started walking down the mountain path, swinging her walking stick back and forth as she went. In all her years of coming here, she had never needed to use it when she returned home.   

This short story was created for the amazing Magaly Guererro's Witches In Fiction 2016:Spelling Healing Into a Rotten World

Silver Suits Me Best

Silver suits me best,
the kind found in starlight and moon glow.

Night’s indigo makes a fine gown,
and the chill is perfect
to bring color to my lips and cheeks.

It might be easier
to don borrowed feathers,
on a night when people try
to put a false self in the spotlight.

I shall be me,
swaying to a dusky waltz.
No mask needed. 

Song Choice: How Soon Is Now by The Smiths

I just wanted an excuse to use this image I created again

This poem was inspired by a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Word Count With Mama Zen, where she asks us to contemplate our Halloween Costumes.