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 GIPHY A witch can charm milk from an ax handle. A witch bewitches a man's shoe. Click here to read. 2"New Friend" by Sandra McPherson GIPHY She knows that it will happen — I’m her friend, as the Occult has been so far. Click here to read. 3"Thrashing Seems Crazy" by Juliana Spahr GIPHY 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 Click here to read. 4"The Milk One" by Anthony Madrid GIPHY 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. Click here to read. 5"Anniversary" by Marie Ponsot GIPHY The dancing doll split in an anguish and all the cords of its elegant limbs unstrung; I stumble whistling; the bones of my skull Click here to read. 6"The Wound" by Tom Sleigh GIPHY 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. Click here to read. 7"The Cruel Mother" by Anonymous GIPHY 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. Click here to read. 8"Curse Two: The Naming" by Cynthia Huntington GIPHY May the coat she is wearing burst into flames and boil the flesh blistering off her bones. Click here to read. 9"The Snake Doctors" by Frank Stanford GIPHY It was dark in the outhouse Click here to read.