Clay F. Johnson

Writer | Poet | Pianist | sometime Alpinist | hopeless Romanticist




Her silken robe, and inner vest,
Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
Behold! her bosom and half her side,
Hideous, deformed, and pale of hue—
A sight to dream of, not to tell!

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel

L'amour est enfant de bohème,
Il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi,
Si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime,
Si je t'aime, prends garde à toi!

—Georges Bizet, Carmen

Yes. The poets continually and sometimes willfully mistake love. Love is old slaughterer. Love is not blind. Love is a cannibal with extremely acute vision. Love is insectile; it is always hungry.

     —Stephen King, Christine

She’s drunk on spider’s blood
Streaking the wall with blackish-brown,
Twisted legs remain, misshapen and bent,
Waltzing about and flittering
Unknown to Death’s immutable purpose,
Bound together by something more
Than just old lead-flaked paint
And organic decay

Perhaps now she can sleep
And dream her fairy-tale dreams:
People-eating flowers, rainbow-hued,
Tubs filled with Dorian’s bubbly
Dipping in the mangled parts
Of her once-loved friends

            She smiles at the way the yellow skin becomes glop
                        Fizzing around the bone and bubbling to the top

She’s murdered most her friends,
Unremembering the pleasant thoughts
That existed before an acid bath,
Before the overwhelming fragrance
From her serpent-haired charcoal parties,
Or before her crooked blades
Made love to screaming flesh,
Admiring the fleshy bits that sit
Atop her wine-boxed kitchen table

            Her familiars are not bats, cats, or slimy frogs
                        The witch-sweetened slop is fed to her flesh-frenzied dogs

She loves the shiny coats
Of those playful creatures,
Unnaturally happy, unnaturally
Lustrous and beaming with healthful glow
As if bathed in ambrosia
Or in bone-scented Dippel’s Oil

            Only I know her dreams and macabre secret
                        Always will I see what I promised to forget

I often wonder how she’ll make use
Of my well-kept flesh,
If she’ll wait until it’s tanned
Greek-like and golden by summer,
Or if she’ll wait for cold Winter
When it’s pallid and Byron-like

Perhaps she’ll use her poisons
Tainting my wine or absinthe
With poor Polidori’s poet’s potion:
Oil of amber swims in her eyes
Perfuming her witch-cancered cheek—

Perhaps she’ll lay with me
Once I’m cold and pale,
Keeping me in her sheet-less bed
Close to my swelling fleshiness
For a few more blissful nights—

Let her spare our bubble bath,
Let her leave me atop her grave-like bed
Close to her poisonous womb
Where she first lied about loving me,
Where killing my children
Was borne with no umbrage

Pitiful creatures born destined to die
                        Spoiled within her gnomic hyperbole they lie

Let the Christmas-scented candlelight
Catch the green-tinged luster of my oily skin
Oozy with Death’s inconstant gaze,
And let her unnaturally happy dogs,
Bat-eared and foaming with pleasure,
Reduce the form of my living memory
To a shadowy hue
Of a beautiful skeleton

But her dreams are her own
Her dreams are never mine
They satisfy the shadows
Of her sleepless ghosts alone

† Received an honorable mention in The Best Horror of the Year 2018.

© 2019 Clay F. Johnson