Don Webb writes science fiction, horror, and nonfiction studies of modern occultism. He often points out to the few folks who attend his poetry readings, “My Rhysling nomination doubled the number of groupies I has.” 

He teaches horror writing for UCLA Extension. For years he was bugged at his instructor rating of 8.75, until he noticed that it was 1-9 scale. 



Who brushed me
like the shadow of a beautiful woman?
I was sleeping
in my perfect white linen world
And I felt the swift caress
like a shadow running
or the impression of a song
sung yesterday.

A single silken thread
across my chest—
What was she planning while I slept?


So far away, the cars can be
Seen only in one windowpane.
It is night, the thick night of winter
So thick I can’t believe
the cars can even move
In their tiny frame.
They are going to places I used to love:
To bars and restaurants, bookstores…
But the darkness caught up with me
It is thick, and I am hiding
In my empty office
As high as the freeway overpass
No work
No reason to be here
Eventually the sounds
of the building will scare me
And I will go home


Crossing the frozen park to go to the 7-Eleven
It was still; the crickets have fallen silent to let winter pass.
Inside I grabbed a pack of smokes to fight Cousin Julia’s sage bundles and Nag Champa
And I bought the smallest box of shiny black trash bags to pack her life in.
Aunt Mary said Julia’s death was bad (and said nothing more).

We were close by geography, Julia and me
Fleeing fundamentalists from Flatonia, Texas
We ran to witch-haunted Salem, me to fervid atheism, she to the New Age—
Me to IT, and she to telling Tarot cards at a head shop, the Cauldron Smoke.
What is a good death, Aunt Mary? Why would we hear from Julia nevermore?

It was small and dark—should’ve known the power would be off—but had
candles a plenty.
She slept on a futon in front, kept her clothes in plastic bins, hung her witchy things on the walls
I bagged up her clothes and household goods first, and then I went to the back, candle in hand.
In its yellow flickering light I saw her homemade Tarot cards dropped around a big hunk of black glass.
I realized the glass was floating, floating above the gritty carpeted floor.
Shiny black glass—deeper than outer space black each ragged angle pointing to hand drawn card. 
Her own titles (I think): The Magician, His Lovely Assistant, The Crystallizer of Dreams, The Coming of Music
The Harmony of Pain, The Plant, The Plant in Bloom, The Lost Star, The Forgotten Film
Bad death Aunt Mary had said, bad death, Julia had come to a bad death

Julia had told a fortune, said a future of being in this world no more.
Without thinking I reached for her, she was His Lovely Assistant, or she had been—when her hair was red and her figure smokin’
I cut my unthinking hand on the hot glass and saw a shower of stars in the dark inside of my skull
Without thinking I flung my blood upon the cards and glass and dirty gray carpet, and the glass fell and shattered
And was no longer floating magic glass. The cards were no longer mysteries, but amateurish drawings on construction paper
And whatever I could have said or wondered about was gone. And in mind I heard the final shutting of a vast Door.