Lori R. Lopez

The September Selected Poet is Lori R. Lopez

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Black soup, impenetrable to the eye
as a wall of stone, mortar and bricks;
smooth as unsweetened tea,
conveys the barge down a river of sticks.
Names cannot harm, can no longer break
a cargo of tenebrous aching souls,
lacking bones for contention or skin,
torn and shorn from lifelong roles.

The vessel docks with a soft hard thump,
the smack of a prow against pier
that jostles a group of adumbral forms
representing the voyagers carried here.
Dismal specters, mere remnants they seem,
clinging to yesterday, fearing what lies ahead,
as if passage through that bleary shroud
may only be met with pallor and dread.

How they shake, huddled each one vastly alone,
Uncertain as the flimsiest paper-doll.
Yet butterflies wing from flower to leaf
in confident dances, no matter how small.
Is the fright preconceived, a residual notion?
Do they worry in vain, without a clear cause?
Will the spirits find relief on the Other Side—
drifting beyond its curtain of gauze?

A whistle flutes and the figures disembark,
shuffling like prisoners from scow to quay.
Delivered by ferry, a journey between worlds,
nevermore to behold the pure light of day . . .
as the ghosts spit a coin in the boatman’s palm
for one-way passage through the nether plane.
Till the last in line panics, bolts into the river,
driving Charon to agitate his murky domain.

Flinging a rod, he impales the fugitive.
With a cry the shade dissolves in a puff of vapor.
The pole calmly floats to a waiting hand;
Orbs burn and flicker like the glow of a taper.
Grumbles arise from the souls on the wharf,
protesting brutality, a cruel demise.
All of them wish to return from the grave.
A pack assembles, revolt in their eyes.

Charon pushes off to glide upstream,
but they crowd the edge, leap a deadman’s barge.
“Take us back!” the rude apparitions demand.
United, gray revenants somberly charge.
The ferryman stumbles then splashes dark water.
Laughing, his passengers wave from the craft.
A pole is retrieved, the escape-vessel guided ⸺
a sinking ship’s lifeboat, a castaway’s raft.

Resurrection in mind, the fares cross over
to reverse Fate, shed a premature veil . . .
deceased awakening, heartbeats restored,
Out from the fog of death to sail.
Charon swims like a demon; his robes interfere.
He wails at the ghouls, the moribund,
that none will welcome their flesh unburied.
“You shall rot alive! Don’t expect a refund!”


Appendages stabbed from a well of
Oily thirst, a stain of cloudy inhuman desires
Lacking all traces of considerate thought
The young woman viewed as a morsel
To an appetite that could never be full
Incredibly sure of itself, unwavering
Taking what it wanted, the patch slung tentacles
Thrusting with avarice toward its prey
A target caught in a rifle’s one-eyed stare
No warning or sign of danger
The surface calm, its depth of treachery
Concealed by a latent sneaky silence
Victims swallowed without a peep
Claimed by surprise, an unsuspected shock
For the pool was swift to strike—
The attack of a rapacious mudpuddle
A savage being that concealed to all
Its bloodthirsty side
Beyond the appearance of a murky
Flooded spot where there had been none
And no storm to create this ravenous pocket
In truth, the wet creature could travel and park
Where it pleased, with a crafty cunning nature
Hidden by shallow depths as cleverly as
The Moon lurks in the light of day
Gulp. She was drowned, snatched in one bite
Entwined by kraken arms, anaconda limbs
Pulled under and dissolved, digested
A slippery organism, pliant yet grasping
The waterbeast prowled to a fresh location
Hugging darkness, it swam and slid
at a pudding pace from shadow to shade
Awaiting an unwary mouthful
To enter its reach.

A teller of tales in verse, prose, art and film, Lori R. Lopez often combines genres but her favorites are Horror and Speculative Fiction. Touches of humor lurk in much of what she does. Born in Wisconsin, she later lived in Florida and Spain as well as Southern California, where she has resided more than three decades. Lori is the author of peculiar works including The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, and Chocolate-Covered Eyes.  She will soon add a third book to her Poetic Reflections series and publish a fourth horror collection. A wearer of hats, vegan, mother, and member of the Horror Writers Association, Lori’s poems and stories can also be found in a number of anthologies. Her work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Weirdbook, The Sirens Call, Hellnotes, Halloween Forevermore, and Servante of Darkness; and two volumes of the annual H.W.A. Poetry Showcase.

Lori shares a creative website with two talented sons HERE