We were telling stories
before hitting the hay,
vaporous fingerlings
reaching out from
exhausted coals
to yawning mouths
and fist-rubbed eyes.
You wandered in
out of the night.
The dull orange glow
cast your features
in a pall of haunt.
Made your eyes appear
lost in their own sockets.
Flickering, hinting madness,
your cheeks sunken
and gaunt.
Your porcelain skin,
translucent and blue veined,
marbled like the moon,
contrasting with the
sun kissed browns
of the faces looking
wide-eyed at you.
You told us truths
that we already knew,
but somehow became
nightmares as they
crawled out of your
mouth on that ghostly voice.
Dry, hoarse whisper
scraped from your
hollow palate
as if your tongue
was a trowel,
echoing in our ears,
historical references
to Mau-Mau uprisings
Jim Crow and
generational tears.
You mortared bricks
to wall us in,
and leave us
little choice.
We thought we heard
the dying embers
but it was just someone
afraid of the night woods,
afraid to go out to
I felt the warmth trickle
down my leg,
felt it go cold.
All eyes turned my way,
no one dared to say a word,
for none of us felt bold.
When we looked up
there was nothing of you,
nothing but absolute dark.
We watched, benumbed,
as the fire died
and rose to heaven
on the wings of a thousand

M. Zane McClellan

Copyright © 2016

In case you missed the publication earlier this month.

The poem was written in response to Edwin Madu’s, “The Shiny Ones,” in his excellent chapbook, Poetry for the Mildly Insane. It was published bt Praxis Magazine for Art’s and Literature as part of Around This Fire 3.
Please visit and download a free copy here: