From Within

Artwork by Miguel Membreño

There’s something that lives within me, picking, at the scabs

Left from years of suppression, after that first eruption,

I’ve learned how to coexist, with this force from within,

Keeping myself secluded, meditating, and keeping it dormant

Under the tree in the deep nebula, nestled in her grace,

But it has taken me a lifetime to learn, how to preserve this solace

As I perch atop the peak, peering down into my past,

Finding myself lost, amidst the rusted and abandoned,

Lingering in their company, connected to their dismay,

A deserted city, left to rot in the after, forgotten

Are the cars that stay stranded, on the lifeless streets,

Hollow domiciles, shattered windows sprayed, over every inch,

A city, once so alive, now a fractured wasteland

Where I traversed, unable to escape the wondering ghosts,

Projected out from within, to blanket me, from the unseen storm,

So I walked alone, finding remnants of those departed

Immersed in the rubble, as I plucked out, a crumbling frame,

Leaving behind, what it had successfully preserved,

A captured memory, of a family, arms intertwined around each other,

Undisturbed, by the horrific events, that crushed this concrete jungle,

Left to silence, except for the raven’s echoed squawk as it flew overhead,

I then let the snapshot float back, to rest upon destruction,

As the darkness, started to scratch at me, from the inside,

First, it was dull, but then it started to hasten and intensify,

Until it couldn’t be contained anymore, and I erupted,

A ferocious pulse of energy radiated, creating a crater, where I stood,

And sent all the surrounding deserted cars, trucks and busses

Into to the clouds, while almost touching the endless abyss,

Giving this city, it’s second disastrous tremor,

The first, was not too long a distance, from that very moment,

The day felt heavy, carrying on, trying to shoulder the weight,

But we were together, my family, as in the snapshot,

Walking down the crowded blocks, holding both my parent’s hands,

Gripping tightly, fearful of being swallowed in the wave,

And they never let me drift, as I closely watched all those that passed,

They had kept their sight on me, also fearful of the wave,

And suddenly it was all ripped away, from my tight grasp,

An abnormal quake, that violently rattled the entire city,

Causing parked car alarms and city population to panic,

As everyone huddled, from the shards of glass that rained down,

And there, in the distance, a tall wave of darkness

Speeding toward us, a city blind, for a few moments,

As it started to settle, sight resumed, and anger began,

Slowly, the entire city started to implode with hate,

Bloody fists and broken bones, you could hear every break

And you could feel, every cry, from a brutal blow,

We were suddenly at war, with each other, for no reason,

Yet we felt this urge, needing to fight, hate, destroy,

And there I was, cowering behind a fallen pile of stone,

Watching the brutality, rage on, seeing no end,

But more focused, on my parents, fighting each other,

They were battered and bruised, and most likely, still blind,

They fought with such ferocity, they ended up killing each other,

As did a lot of the others, and those who survived, escaped,

Fleeing the battleground, shedding the overbearing anger,

As I stayed behind, exploring the exposed city,

A difficult day to replay, fearing that the darkness can rise,

As it now, only lives within me, attached to last one standing,

A leach, that feels as if it was expanding its web,

My reward, for surviving this hate filled war,

The one stricken with grief, and the remembrance, of this horror,

I walked up and down every block, finding food

Imagining I was still there, walking with them, tightly gripped,

I also feared what might happen, when I find another soul,

Would I engage, in an instant, be switched over

Remembering the hate, and it comes on, full power,

So I kept burying it, always trying to dig the whole deeper,

Until I felt it was safe, down low enough that I found my balance,

It still sits in my gut, pounding and scratching upon

Its shackled prison, decades, below the surface,

It is now, a hollow hateful spirit, sick from its own disease,

As I feel the wave of calm, from the cool brush, of the breeze.

Other Monsters

Artwork by mioke.de

They materialized, out, from the tightly, nestled forest,

Unsure, of where they were, or even how long they were racing

To vanish, from the ravenous wolves, biting at their heels,

Salivating, as they feverishly sniffed, for the fleeing monsters,

Who were hastily trekking, through the frozen landscape,

A deeply chilling howl, pervaded the heavily shrouded silence,

And in that crippling cold, a phantom grip, around their racing hearts

Forced them, to increase their stride, sprinting down the snowhills,

Hoping to stretch the distance, between them, and their pursuers,

Yet, through their fatiguing muscles, they started to collapse,

Into an inescapable decline succumbing to its hypnosis,

Feeling the calm drift, settle overhead, in the lull of the cold,

Sinking, past the veil, dragged down into fright

Of their own creation, the architect, admiring his own nightmares

That slowly start to turn their focus, upon his own heartbeat,

Inching closer, with their sharp,  outstretched claws

Directed at him, surrounding the fear, within himself,

And then he snaps back to the tundra, a monster, at the head of the pack,

Trapped in a panic, gusting further into the bleak

As a storm stampedes in, devouring their trail ahead,

But how far must they traverse this barren winter desert,

Before they can rest, upon the embrace of sanctuary,

Enveloped, by the swarming frost, their bones, tighten,

As they plow ahead, deeper, into the unknown fray,

Seeking shelter, from the blistering onslaught, and their trackers,

As they tuck, behind the whiteout, into a shallow indent,

Barely able to accommodate them all, they pile atop each other,

Submitting, to the groaning exhaustion, waiting out the storm,

Until that same stalking howl, suddenly disturbs the stillness

And awakens the leader of the pack, without his pack,

He was alone, amongst the vast white silhouette,

With soft winds, bringing forth, the echo of the howl,

Encapsulating him, in constant terror, from the monsters

He manifested, and that are now, terrorizing their creator

By following his weakening tracks, in the dense snow,

As the wisp of his breath, mixes in, with the frigid air,

Scans his surroundings, barely noticing dark figures in the distance,

Stuck, at the top of his throat, was his frightened scream

As their twitching approach, suddenly rushed forward,

With their elongated razor claws, aiming, to strike,

Nowhere to escape to, as his pack, are now the wolves,

Itching, to rip at his flesh, and taste the fright, he inflicted,

Surrounding him, as he collapsed, face buried into the fleece,

Slightly peers out, and finds the pack, has dissolved,

Instead, he saw a speckle of random color amidst the absence,

Got up and staggerdly crossed the path, to a rainbow shield bug,

As it sat, unafraid of the approaching monster,

Who carefully lifted it, from its cold nestle,

“You don’t need to be afraid of me, no one does, no longer,

There’s something much worse than, its the monsters, we uncage,

Those we created, within ourselves, to bring our dread

Into the circulating realm, to overshadow it, with horror

As we urge these beasts, to scratch at the walls of the unsuspecting,

Until we grow a shield, like you, my little friend,

One that we can protect ourselves with, from the other monsters,

Yet I remain vulnerable, to attack, from my very own construction,

Living out a terror filled sentence, in this rattling cage,

As the howl echoes, again in my mind.”

Nightmare VII

The echo of my cruelty, hangs in the air, with the noose

Gripping its neck, trying to snuff its continuous ripples,

But there it goes again, driving me beyond the gates,

Unfamiliar with these roads, I panic, searching for the latch,

Falling now, still hearing my words, in reverse,

I smash the elusive barrier, hoping it shatters and deteriorates

Into an emptiness, something familiar yet horrifying,

But I know its name, its maneuvers, no frozen dagger

Left to pierce through the fragile wall, left to crumble at any moment,

But it stands, impenetrable, mocking my suffering,

The subtle winds, wash over me, bristling the hair on my neck,

No angel of mercy in my presence, for judgement comes

On the swift wings before me, sustaining the shadow

That pours over her, as she nears, dragging her scythe,

Screaching along the stone floor, until she meets my stance,

Peering into my heart, shines a smirk at my groveling

And turns away, leaving me in the pale darkness, forever,

Neither good, or bad, just a stagnant, revolving clock.

The People in the Walls

Artwork by Anton Semenov

In this house, the walls, whisper to each other,

Heard by only one occupant, as she shivers, under her covers

Hoping to stay shrouded, in the softness of her bed,

From the groning, snaking underneath, and then into her closet,

Where in the depth, of the shadows, are these frightners,

Stalking, this young girl’s every move, unsafe in her own home

As these stains upon the walls, covered by paint, peek through,

For the faces behind the masking, peer, with their gaping eyes

At the terrified child, pressing her doll closer to her chest

Calling out, “Mom! Dad!”, waiting for the light, to engulf the dark,

But countless sleep deprived nights, sharing bright fairytales

Trying to subdue her tremors, assuring her, there are no monsters,

Has rendered her parents, comatose, in the shudder of their girl,

As she finds shadows, clutching at her bed sheets,

Slowly dragging off her cloak, exposing her to the terror,

Scratching, through her walls, oozing into the girl’s vulnerability,

Her whimpering, intensifies, choking at her inability to cry out,

Caught in a paralysis, from the nearing slither

Until, the sudden cut of light, illuminates the inanimate,

Her closet, occupied by only her toys, clothes and trinkets,

Under her bed, dust bunnies, spread through the entire stretch,

And no reach of shadow, cast from the bare tree out her window,

But along the walls, the faint imprints, of those same faces

Haven’t vanished, into the swallow, of the fluorescent abyss,

Instead, to the girl’s fright, they were more distinct,

Staying within her sight, no longer lurking, within the shadows,

They grew, transforming every inch of plaster, into ghosts of the hollow,

For they’ve become the walls, of her ominous entrapment

As she buried her face, into her parent’s exhausted embrace,

But she couldn’t stay there, as she tried to play, ignoring

What was there, on her walls, staring, absorbing her innocence,

There before her, at every moment, no rest for the haunted,

She’d gone down, to have breakfast, and suddenly froze,

For they were following her, now throughout the entire house,

She turned, covered her eyes, but did not call for her parents,

Her lips slowly parted to speak, but only a gasp emerged

Before she spoke, and started to plead, with her imagined stalkers,

Speaking to the demons in her mind, to vanish back, behind the paint,

It wasn’t until the family dog, angrily barked, at the wall of ghosts

That the little girl knew, she wasn’t imagining this terror,

These faces, tightly tethered to this house, illuminate for her,

She simply asked the hollow wall, why, as it echoed in her mind,

Hearing herself, in a different voice, which wasn’t her own,

She’d spoken directly to them, as they used her consciousness, to answer,

“I am the first of the hollowed ones, cursed, to this linear cage,

For fear of the outside, had shackled me to these walls

To which I cannot separate from, for we are one entity,

Soon, more like me arrived, where fear had overtaken

As it did within me, and I knew, I was to save them all,

I had drained them of their debilitating fright

And given them life, to which I thought was punishment,

These walls, keep us in that embrace, that you chase,

Then we used fear, emptied and primed you, for this eternity,

And like you, we were all afraid, but no longer in dread,

As you are now, part of the hollow ones, fear, has vanished.”

And suddenly, she was gone, and the dog stopped barking,

Her parents, through grief, separated from remembrances,

Left the house, that had no answers around the disappearance,

As another family arrives, and a fresh coat of paint is applied.

Ode to Solitude

An owl streams down, and lands, upon a bare limb

Trying to balance its weight, upon the weakened cradle,

It peers down, at a stranded soul, lost to the world,

For he’s been forgotten, forced out from consciousness

And left, to the vast vacancy, an endless suffocating swallow,

With only a spark of light, emanating, from the constructed glow,

Huddling by the flame, not for warmth, but for the vision

Dancing in the fire’s roar, which has entranced, his focus,

Bringing him in deeper, past the drum, echoing in his head,

Discovers, the simplicity, of the surrounding wilderness

And the complexity, within the blaze, fighting off the dark,

Watching them blend, in the rise, and fall of the tide

As crushing waves, climb up over him, encapsulating solitude,

Further into the submergence, shedding his shell,

For he, is himself, in the welcomed solitary company,

Even though, there was a watchful pair of eyes, he was unaware.

Lost to the Shadow

The moon enters, through the shallow slit in the shades

And streaks across, the cold wet floor, finding her in the corner,

Tightly tucked in, shivering, in the dead of emptiness,

She cradles her head in her already tear soaked palms,

Begging, to anyone, who would bother to listen,

To spare her, and allow the night, a restful slumber,

Only the silence, doesn’t survive, due to the howling

Disrupting the presence within, an agitation, growing louder,

Being cursed to an insomniatic state, she sits and waits,

Pondering the events, that have led her, down this rabbit hole,

A day unparalleled to past ones, being the spark, to the chaos,

After a ordinarily frustrating day, like countless ones beforehand

She blindly walked home, escaping, to her fantasizing

Of moments occupied, by incredible and thrilling events,

Only to awaken, back in the dreary, monotonous clock

With its hands, slowly dragging across, its gray face,

But just as it appeared to be, her usual worn-out path,

An invasion, inside her familiar pattern, shattered the cycle

When a crazed, disheveled man, frantically burst

Out from the black, with eyes wide and trembling red,

Running right at her, as she stood, paralyzed at the charge,

Pushing her off of the path, onto the cracked cement

Where she saw the man, pummeled by oncoming traffic,

Being shredded along the hard gravel, down to the skeletal,

An image, that she was sure, would haunt her during all hours,

Only it was much worse, and far more terrifying,

Still shook up, from the disturbing image of that mangled body

Spilling out all its organs, onto the blood soaked road,

A vivid scene, focusing in, on the sprawled out gore,

Closer in, as she felt her heart, pound, in the echo of fury,

Until she passed out, into a chilling nightmare

Of an animal, ravenously tearing apart an unsuspecting wanderer,

Razor claws slicing through, their icy flesh,

All seen, as if she, was that blood covered beast,

Thinking it was another fantasy, until she crawled back home,

Naked, and painted crimson, coming in at first light,

She feverishly washed off the blood stains on her skin

Noticing, a scratch, that she imagined was from her fall,

But the shape, reminded her of the claw marks from her dream,

She never slept, as she was that beast, slashing at her victim,

A troubling curse, given to her, in a glimpse,

The nights getting longer, slipping further into the monster

Eating at her own existence, until she dissappears into it’s shadow,

If she allows it so, as she climbed out from her corner

And onto the high ledge, to end this cycle, on her own terms,

To finally sleep, and let the world, continue the routine,

Which she desperately missed, and thought of, one last time,

Letting herself free, from the shackles, into an endless rest.

A Painful Solace

Missing, just the sight of her hand, gracing mine,

She’s all I can think of, even now, in the everlasting absence

Which is why it’s pains reaches the farthest

And pulling, on those strings that stays sore in its torture,

A feeling of this magnitude, has never graced my heart,

Lying in the winter’s nest, with broken wings

And it comes again, that feeling that repeatedly

Pokes, its smile at me, and I’m back there missing

What will never find its way back, into my embrace,

So I crawl back into silence, and let her image fade,

Trying my best, to keep it in the shadow, completely blind,

Still, it doesn’t last long, firing back in the battlefield,

I’m losing, as her image reminds me of what’s missing,

I’m trying to distract the projection, if only to be able

As it would be truly, an eternal sunshine of my spotless mind,

But would I find her again?

Would she be there, drawn to her, in some imagined spector,

Only time will tell, as I must forget,

Allow for my mind to grow blank, letting in the disease

Most welcomed, as I lay the path for it amongst the fallen leaves,

Try to sleep, try to rest, in the maddening vacancy,

A slow reside, feeling the demons stopping time

So I feel the absence even more, until that moment

When I can finally forget, and be fine again.

For Survival

Artwork by Stefan Koidl

This world, is no longer for the living, while I perch

Over the dead, about to send another, into the black,

But the gun tremors in my pale hand, frozen in my glance

As my mind replays memories, that have lost its vibrance,

For they, are of a distant time, an unrecognizable landscape,

Where bones, don’t crack under my wandering steps

Like twigs, that echoe, in a densely fogged forest,

A graveyard, that rattles the chaos, of my solitude

Being stalked by an army of hollow abominations,

To which I’ve been evading, fleeting, their blinding ferocity,

Hunting for life, I scoured through the muddy desert

Only to reemrge, inside the domain of the hungry horde

Salivating, at the distinct stench, of my hurried pulse

As I widely stared at the tidal wave, hastily approaching,

A flutter of a memory, flashed across, the dooming onslaught

Where I had cloaked my breathing, in a choking silence,

Only there was no more room to hide, for survival, I killed,

Forcing raging bullet, after bullet, into endless vacancy

Crushing the lingering light, entombed, into their after,

Except for one, struggling to escape the claws, of an old bear trap,

That’s how I sighted him, my trail mate, for a brief moment

Until, I hovered over him, in this caged nightmare

With the gun, still stammering, in the biting stillness,

Standing there, fighting off the flooding of memories, to no avail

As the genesis of the collapse, barged in, shackled my mind

To a muffled cognizance, as it magnified in my trance,

Shoved back, into a hysteric argument, with my kid brother

A city under arrest, witnessed from the height of our window

While the shrieking in the background, distracted our focus,

The world, was folding in on itself, as panic, fuled the turmoil,

Struggling, we continued our debate, our next move, for survival,

Which was our pledge, we drudged through, the flooding darkness

That had crept, at our heels, forcing us into the undertow,

We overcame the sinister anchor, there since our abandonment,

But what hatched from the darkest depths, was far more bleak

With the radiating sun, blaring down upon the exposed,

Transforming all those, vulnerable, to the sun’s intrusion

And dispatched, from their solemn routine

Into a crazed, ravenous shell, hunting down the impervious,

The sun’s bewildering metamorphose, punctured, our barrier,

Leaving the immune, at the mercy of these hellions

As they thrashed, at our gates, prying the metal apart,

Letting in the rush of the stampede, overtaking the realm,

Their tumbling chaoss, echoed, through the narrow emptiness

Coming up the stairwell, as everything else, was stifled,

Forced into a corner, with the funneled horror, about to breach,

By the pounding, at the barricaded splintering entryway,

Left with no option, we absconded, down the fire escape

To the alleyway, amongst an expanded turbulence,

Plagued, throughout the stripped city, a disturbing battleground,

Frightened, in the daunting midst, of a world gone insane,

We wrestled our way, dodging countless feral slaughters,

One after another, chasing, after our frantic flee,

Becoming a worse terror, when the horde forced us, to separate,

I lost him, in the howling crowd, swallowed in the distance

As I found my way, to the safety of the city’s edge,

Without sight of him, staying hopeful, for his survival,

But there it was, etched into his pale wrist, “For Survival”,

As the flooding returns, further, than I have been in awhile,

Finding myself, watching through the window, the lively neighborhood,

Then noticing myself, in the close reflection,

Young, and totally unaware, of the forthcoming dread

Despite all the chatter around us, and the subtle panic,

There was nothing, my brother and I couldn’t devour,

For survival, we defied the suppressive hands, of our foster family,

Ran away, reaching Olympus, only we didn’t belong amongst this crowd,

Two teens, in a chaotic city, hands out, for loose change and scraps,

For survival, we found odd jobs, taking us away, from the corner,

Stability, eventually embraced us, as we basked in it, surviving,

A repetitive daydream, but appreciative of our struggles,

So much so, that my brother got a permanent brand,

A small, black lettering tattoo, on his wrist, “For Survival”,

I suggested we get a drink, to celebrate, his fresh ink

As we walked to the bar, he stared through the plastic covering,

I gave him a slight nudge, and expressed

“I wouldn’t have overcome so much without you by my side. “

He smiled, nudged me back, saying, “And I without you brother.”

As we walked amongst ourselves, forgetting the rest,

Now after these eternal, winter months, that had weakened the carnage,

My search ended, towering over what was left, of my kid brother,

A monster of the sun, drowning, in the cold dim light,

Now in the darkest of moments, after endless searching,

With tears, building in my throat, I try to steady my hand

As I tightly grip my eyes, and squeeze, the heavy trigger,

Breaking the silence, followed by the squawks of scavengers,

Leaving me, to my memories, for survival.

The Vision

I tightly clasp my eyes, flicking on the switch

To the vision, floating to and from the foreground

Of my, chaotic mind, always spinning and steam pot whistling,

Until, the vision slows it down, and softly whispers,

A most welcoming inertia to the constant battling,

So vivid and apparent, gracing the turbulent shore,

Steeping in the darkness, as the seconds hesitate to tick,

An escape, that saves me from the monsters roaming

Freely throughout, disturbing, the already crumbling wall,

But the vision, helps steady the suspended wire rope

And guides me across, with warmth, on the nape of my neck,

Easy, as the commotion dwindles and hushes,

My whole world, has found solace, as the vision lays beside

And I drift, content in its cloud, forgetting it all,

A suspension of Nightmares.

Toychest

Childhood locked in a chest, stored in the dusk of the attic

And buried, amongst the years, forgetting the toychest

And it’s contents, that had been there, throughout his youth,

All that directly links, to moments, that kept him awake,

Deep scraping along his bedroom, ripping at the wallpaper,

Frightened in the dark, as the shadows play on the ceiling

Cast, by his perched toys, on his shelves that dropped to the floor,

The plastic rattling, as they slowly drag against the rug,

That even now, the white noise of his fan, drowns the memories

As he wrestles, with the chest, fighting the current,

As the chest, thumping closer and closer, shrieks,

Jarring out from this terror, in a panic, a cold sweat,

A sullen voice on the phone, conveying disheartening news

A trail, leading him home, after one, taking him into the distance,

A vacant house, of stale comfort and soulless posessions,

Nothing stirring within, touring his familiar, unrecognizable halls,

Then preparing to rest, in his childhood bed,

A distracted presence, occupying, his swimming head

Hearing that thumping outside of his usual nightmare,

Mimicking, his own heartbeat, echoing off the stripped walls,

He peers out into the dread, gasping, trying to regulate his breath

As he sees, the paint, melting away, up towards the attic door,

The beating getting louder as he nears, hypnotized

By those steady, groaning deep thumps, grabbing his attention,

Standing below its access, releasing the hatch

As he climbs, through the dense flowing dust,

Finding the thumping had ceased, not even a creak

Of the floorboards as he nears, the lowlit backend,

Finding his locked away fears, pounding at the silence,

The latch withers in his hand, letting loose, all he entombed,

In the darkness, the pounding that shook the shelves

Which knocked over his toys, and the scratching, at his walls,

Enters his chest, grips his speeding beating heart

And whispers to him, “Nevermore”.