Ian McDowell

The December Editor's Pick Poet is Ian McDowell

Please feel free to email Ian at: mcdolemite@gmail.com




The Church wrapped winter up in Christ,
but long before the Stable Born,
we told grave tales around fires
lit against the dark. 
Pass the sherry, please.

One:  Silent Night

Those pale faces
at the frosty window
are not singing carols,
despite their open mouths.

Two: Tucked In

Each night, Mother creeps
silent up the stair and bends
to bid me pleasant dreams
with her musty breathless kiss

Three: Hide and Seek

The night is dark,
the snow is deep
and one of us is dead.
Soon, the one who is
will find the one who isn’t.

Four:  Season’s Promise

No one knows who sent
the stained and brittle card
on which three words
crawl like spiders.
“See you soon.”

Five:  A Souling

They are dressed in tatters
and their arms are very thin. 
Holding out their little hands
for you to put a penny in.
If you haven’t got a penny,
a ha’penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha’penny,
they will feast on you

Six: Love’s Frailty

I want to talk to some new lover’s ghost. 
My old one has grown quarrelsome. 
Worse, she insists we spend
Christmas with her parents,
who are dead as her,
but rather less agreeable.

Seven: Grus vom Krampus

They say the old goat feasts
on children’s roasted hearts.
At least he doesn’t break them. 
Nick’s the bigger bastard.

Eight: Fortune

“Three months were allowed,” he said
Sod him and his Truth of Alchemy. 
Here, take my cookie,
I’ve given up gluten for the New Year.
What, there’s no English? 
No matter, I’m sure it’s lucky.

Nine: Ballad of a Dead Lady

Where is her warmth of yesteryear?
Just last winter in my bed,
only her small feet were cold. 
Now, her arctic totality
is a cracked uncurtained window
twelve paces from the fire.

Ten: “Tiny Tim, who did not die . . . .”

Nor shall he, till we pry
open the rusty gate, dig him up,
and with the Sexton’s shovel,
strike off his small head
and pound his broken crutch
through his uncorrupted heart.

Eleven: At the Door

In the streetlamp’s foggy halo,
I cast two shadows on the wet black lane. 
One came in with me.
The other waits outside.
When I peer through the curtains,
it’s still standing there,
watching me watch it.

Twelve: Finale and Feast

And now is the turn
of our new and thirteenth guest. 
You know the Club’s rules
for Yuletide Dinner. 
Either tell a good tale
and join us round our table,
or end upon it much diminished.

Ian McDowell is the author of the novels Mordred's Curse and Merlin’s Gift.  His fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance and the anthologies Love in Vein, The Year’s Best Horror and the Science Fiction Book Club’s Best Short Novels 2005.  He grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina (NC), where future actor and special make-up effects artist Tom Savini was his neighbor, and currently lives in Greensboro, NC, where his journalism about the region's real Civil War history as a hotbed of resistance to the Confederacy has earned him threats from militant proponents of “Southern Heritage.”