9 Chilling Poems That Will Definitely Freak You Out

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It's a failure of imagination to relegate fright fests to Halloween; in fact, it's always exciting when we can find ways to be simultaneously entertained and terrified. And, given that National Poetry Month is just around the corner, there's no more seasonally appropriate way to get your chills on than by reading some scary poems.

Yep. Poems can, without a doubt, freak you out.

Why do we readers like to be scared? Writer Neil Gaiman has some insights:

Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.

In other words, given everything that the real world offers us to fear, it's refreshing to experience that emotion on our own terms. These nine poems will give you just the right jolt.

1. "The Witch" by Elizabeth Willis

A witch can charm milk from an ax handle.
A witch bewitches a man's shoe.
A witch sleeps naked.

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2. "New Friend" by Sandra McPherson

She knows that it will happen —
 I’m her friend, as the Occult has been so far.

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3. "Thrashing Seems Crazy" by Juliana Spahr

someone tells a story to another person
another person says I don't believe this
someone tells the story again in an attempt to convince
someone tells

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4. "The Milk One" by Anthony Madrid

He was born in a lab whose walls were lined with giant, steamy jars
Of the milk of the various mammals, from the milk of camels to the milk of men.

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5. "Anniversary" by Marie Ponsot

The dancing doll split in an anguish and all
the cords of its elegant limbs unstrung; I
stumble whistling; the bones of my skull

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6. "The Wound" by Tom Sleigh

As Jacob dreaming met his dark angel—
Though in my wrestling nothing blessed me
Or promised any blessing; but was a mask whose eyes
Were all black pupil, blind as molten tar.

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7. "The Cruel Mother" by Anonymous

She sat down below a thorn,
Fine flowers in the valley;
And there she has her sweet babe born,
And the green leaves they grow rarely.

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8. "Curse Two: The Naming" by Cynthia Huntington

May the coat she is wearing burst into flames
and boil the flesh blistering off her bones.

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9. "The Snake Doctors" by Frank Stanford

I took my eye away
It was dark in the outhouse
I whistled

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