Writing Dark Poetry #amwriting

Some people write beautiful uplifting poetry. I am not a poet, but when I dabbled in verse (back in my twenties) my poetry was heavily influenced by the music I was listening to at the time. That included King Crimson, an orchestral rock band that meshed the antiquated with modern arrangements.

I’ve shared a few of my poems before. Today, I’ve got an interesting story about one of them. During one of my early jobs I had a co-worker whose teen daughter enjoyed writing poetry. “Leslie” knew I liked to write, and shared some of her daughter’s poems with me. Somewhere during the course of encouraging her daughter to write, I foolishly mentioned that I had dabbled in poetry. Of course, that resulted in pleas to read my poems.

I’ve never been shy about sharing my prose, but poetry is different. Those creations are raw, a slice of soul we don’t normally expose. After repeated requests from Leslie, I finally gave her several of my poems to share with her daughter. Days passed with no feedback. Finally, I pushed the envelope and asked what her daughter thought of my poems.

Leslie was uncomfortable, even embarrassed She finally admitted that after reading my work, her daughter had asked “Mom, is she evil?”

Evil?

I’ve never shared another poem until putting them on my blog.

Okay, I get that if you don’t know me, you might find my penchant for the dark and unusual, well…dark. Because I love fictional accounts about ghosts and all things odds, people are generally surprised to learn I won’t set foot in a haunted house, or take part in a seance. I won’t even have my fortune read!

And movies about demons and exorcisms? Forget it. In real life, I’m pretty much a wuss. But that hasn’t stopped me from conjuring fiction and poetry tinged with a darker side.

Here’s a poem inspired by my King Crimson period, and one which left me tagged with….well, that “E” word I shudder to repeat:

Simple wooden cross on nature grave in the forestA Funeral for the Fallen

In forests dark, the Harvest Witch smiles,
a black-draped carriage passes her by,
a silent trek through crossroads and hollows,
championed by Death’s primordial scythe,

Horses of ebony stamp their hooves in the stillness,
the strike of shod iron upon moss,
icy breath plumes in the air,
and shrivels upon the casket’s gold cross.

The Harvest Witch grins and turns to her hex,
drawn with the sprig of a sapling oak,
etched on the soft, pungent floor of the forest,
where enchantments are whispered, and spells are invoked.

Mushrooms and toadstools, she gathers for portents,
a funeral of the fallen is a soul to collect,
bound to the forest by a fragile, pale vision,
are the shards of a life fate failed to protect.

Comes now a pale horseman topping the rise,
the black-draped procession pretends not to see,
the Harvest Witch plucks at the bones of the earth,
and summons the Herald to the funeral’s debris.

The forest is silent, brooding with souls,
a funeral for the fallen matters not in the end;
how fleetingly mortal and fragile are lives,
which in conscience forever, our sprits transcend.

Tada! So what do think? Was I thoroughly warped or did I just enjoy experimenting with imagery and archaic ideas? Anyone out there remember King Crimson as fondly as I do? As a writer, do you ever find your niche misjudged by others? Chat away in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

68 thoughts on “Writing Dark Poetry #amwriting

    • LOL! Thanks, Robbie. I guess if someone never had any interaction with me and read that poem they might think I was a little on the warped side. I wrote that a long time ago and am still the same person I was then.
      I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think the imagery of the poem is amazing… Evil never came to mind:) I am enjoying you sharing your poetry! Hope we get to see more. When I write poetry it is expressing what I feel, observe or a passing thought-a slice of the creative soul and very personal. Not warped… Creative.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Creative is definitely how I like to think about it, D.L. And you write vivid, beautiful poetry.
      I only have a few poems I saved from my poetry period. I think I may have 2-3 more and will trot them out on my blog. They’ve been tucked away long enough.
      I’m glad you liked the imagery! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I used to love playing around with poetry, trying to create mood and images. I’m glad to hear “evocative and chilly.” Those were moods I was going for.

      And in retrospect, writing this type of poetry isn’t really any different than writing a novel with dark themes (horror, Gothic mystery, etc.). I guess I was overly sensitive that someone would pick up “evil” from my writing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have a panache for the dark side. I write more mystery and suspense, leaning toward paranormal. I’m not a poet either, but I entered a Halloween poetry contest years back and actually won first prize.

    Like you, I have never been to a haunted house, attended a seance, nor do I wish to have my palm read or fortune told.

    I enjoyed the poem. Keep dabbling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michele. I may have to dabble more with poetry as a way to explore writing exercises.

      Congrats on that first place win! People always tend to think I’m into witchcraft, astrology and Tarot, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. And if it involves ghosts I am so outta there, LOL!

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  3. Not too long ago, a few people told me my short fiction pieces were dark. I thought it was a negative comment, but I was reassured that wasn’t the case. Yet I allowed that comment to influence my work, and I started writing lighter pieces. Those were another side of me, but my mood wasn’t light those days, and I kind of felt like a sell-out. I don’t think you were or are warped. I think that poem was hauntingly beautiful in its imagery. You are quite talented and should do more like that. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Staci. “hauntingly beautiful in its imagery” makes me feel really good. It’s been so many years since I’ve played with poetry, and I tended to be heavy-handed when I did. It’s kind of weird digging these things out and imagining my twenty-something self writing them. I still remember where I was (a sunny afternoon on a work break) when I wrote this piece. You’re right that we have to create what calls us and not be influenced by the opinions of others. I’ve reached a point in my life where I can do that now. In my early days, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have been affected.

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  4. Onomatopoeia flows in rivers from this! A stark word picture – I actually started shivering! Yes, I think it’s fabulous, but also evil. Definitely – just a little bit – well, maybe quite a lot, actually. Counselling, that’s the thing. Lots and lots of counselling…
    Seriously? Excellent poetry, Mae. Write more – much more!

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    • You are hysterical! I have a feeling that “Leslie” probably thought I needed counseling too. I can just hear her saying “But I worked with her, and she seemed so sweet.” 🙂

      Thanks for the great comment, Frederick! I loved it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You know I sway toward the dark side also – so of course I don’t think you’re evil! I was at a book fest recently where an author a couple of tables down was reading tarot cards for anyone who signed up for her newsletter. A character in her new book read them and she thought it would be an interesting marketing tool. Got mine read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Teri that’s where you’re braver than me. Tarot cards, runes, astrology charts…nada. I won’t go there. Not that I don’t like writing about the supernatural. I just don’t want anything to do with it in real life, LOL.

      And my guess is, that author had a lot of people signing up for her newsletter!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, no, Mae. I had to laugh, but I’m so sorry that the comment made you think twice about sharing your poetry. I assume the daughter was a teenager, and they do not make good critics. 🙂 I like the dark imagery and creativity. It’s awesome. Keeping writing poetry. Who knows – it might show up in one of your books. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahh, I never thought of using it in my books, but that’s an idea that just might take flight someday.

      Yes, the daughter was a teenager. I should have known better. Of course, I wasn’t much older at the time, and was still questioning my ability as a writer. “Evil” was just such a weird, off-the-wall term to tag on it, LOL!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe, that’s what she was honing in on…the idea of a witch.
      I’m glad you like the imagery, it’s what I really wanted to stand out. That, and the overall somberness of the mood….like a funeral procession. It was a sunny day when I wrote the thing, so I’m going to blame King Crimson for the inspiration, LOL!

      Thanks, Jan. I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Jacquie, and so good to know! As writers I think it’s easy for us to don different facades. At this time, I was all about creating vivid images of a Gothic nature. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed the mood of the poem. It felt plenty dark, but not evil. Great imagery! When I read most of my short stories or urban fantasy or mysteries to my writers’ group, I often get the comment, “But you seem like such a nice person.” LOL. It’s good to let them wonder:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Judi, that made me laugh. I have been told that once or twice myself after someone has read a darker piece. Most people have no clue how easy it is for writers to conjure different atmosphere based upon the words they use. We can change our tone from sunny to dark with the flip of a switch.
      Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed this!

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  8. Mae, this is magnificent! It’s hauntingly beautiful. I love that you’re sharing these treasures.
    Totally giggled at the “Is she evil?” reference. Writers of poetry want their work to be remembered. I’m sure she never forgot this piece! And that’s just awesome in my books. High five, sista! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Okay, that’s a great way of looking at it, Natalie. If nothing else, I was probably memorable. I think the poems her mom gave me to read were more sunshine and bunnies, so maybe forests and souls was too much of a leap, LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this poem, Mae. I was thought evil once when in a study group I mentioned the value of the goddesses of the dark of the moon. As a person who has been called a witch as if it’s insult, which it shouldn’t be but usually is when people call you that, I can relate to the anguish you felt when being questioned about being evil. The conflict is we want to be true to ourselves, different, and stand out, and yet we also want to be accepted and loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flossie, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said we want to be true to ourselves, but also be accepted and love. Sometimes those two things don’t fit in equal measure, and not everyone “gets” what makes us tick. I think it’s harder for writers because we invest so much in our creations. When I was young, I was still getting past that hurdle of having the courage to share my writing.

      And a pox on whoever called you evil!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, backyardpoet! Great to have you drop by and comment. I do think our moods reflect how and what we write. The weird thing is, I distinctly remember where I was when I wrote this poem–enjoying my lunch break on a beautiful sunny day. I’m still going to blame King Crimson, LOL! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved the poem. Of course, as a life-long fan of Poe, I’m not sure what that says. However, nowhere did I pick up on evil. From the beginning of time, we’ve wondered where souls go after passing, and many if not most, believe there are at least two options. I saw the Harvest Witch as one of those possible fates, looking to collect this particular soul, perhaps because of his own personal failings. Or maybe she just got there first. But however you interpret it, it wasn’t evil. People have been writing poems and stories about what lies beyond for a very long time. They are among my favorite reads. This one was beautifully done, and I loved the imagery.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Such a great comment, Marcia. I love how you looked into the verses and came up with your own interpretation. I’m also a fan of Poe, and it could be that attachment helped shape this particular poem.

      And I’m glad to know you didn’t pick up on evil, LOL. I was shooting for imagery and it sounds like I achieved that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I keep finding more and more ways we’re alike. I used to write dark, angsty poetry a lot when I was a teenager. As an adult, I write edgy, kind of dark paranormal romance. And a little horror. In real life? I’m a conservative Christian who is almost always upbeat and optimistic. I’m very tender-hearted and can’t stand it when I see a dead squirrel or rabbit on the road. Sometimes I think we have that dark side lurking inside us, and we need to get it out in some way. Hence, the fiction. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lovely poem, Mae. Not in the bright sunshiny flowers and butterflies kind of way, but in a dark imagery kinds of way, the kind that creates mind movies 🙂 I’m not one to watch horror movies, or set a foot in a haunted house either, and I tend to stay away from dark horror, but I do appreciate the creativity. Thank you for sharing! Oh, and ditto what others have said about teenagers. They have a tendency to see the dark in a lot of things… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am SOOO not a haunted host type of person, Julie. I’ll watch a horror movie but only if it’s a monster movie, not the demonic or slasher kind (yeah, weird, I know).

      Mind movies. I like that 🙂
      Thanks for checking out my old and unusual creative exercise!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think the content is good, but the structure might need a little help. I was impressed by your skills with the rhymes. They were barely noticeable, but your end punctuation, having commas or a period at the end of every line made them feel a little disjointed to me. It might also be the rhythm you chose being a little off in some spots. Like the first line of the second stanza, the last prepositional phrase seems useless, or could be trimmed. Otherwise, I think the way you’re exploring witchcraft and magic is nice and smooth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the input. I wrote this almost 30 years ago, and poetry is not my forte, but it was fun to experiment with, and I might attempt some verse again in the future. I appreciate your insightful and thoughtful comments. Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  14. Pingback: Write from the heart – theGeniusofNature

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