Daniel G. Snethen lives in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He serves as the vice-president for the South Dakota State Poetry Society and edits their spring anthology: Pasque Petals. He directed the romantic comedy Mallards’ Road, which can be streamed on Tubi.

His favorite writers of horror include: Bram Stoker, Robert E. Howard and Joseph Payne Brennan. His favorite poem has to be “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel T. Coleridge.



He was a hard worker,
excellent with numbers
and a terrific mechanic,

He worked on both
automobiles and tractors
of vintage models.

He helped Dad overhaul
or install many a tractor part
or pick-up engine.

He was married;
had a wife and loving children;
held down a good paying job.

But he had a demon.

He loved to talk,
would call Dad at all hours.
Finally, Dad had to tell him
not to call after midnight.

I guess he was lonely,
and wanted to talk to Uncle Dick.
Dad was good at that…
talking and listening.

Perhaps he was looking for help,
a way to escape the demon
that was always taunting him
—encouraging him—
to take one more pull
from the bottle
or to pull one more tab
from the can.

He was always a hard worker
but his demon got in the way.

He had a great family
but the demon got in the way.

He took up drinking and driving.
After enough violations,
they lock you up for a while.

It dried him out.
He came out a renewed man.

But the demon hadn’t died,
hadn’t really gone away.
It resurfaced again.

His family still loved him
but couldn’t live with him.
He wasn’t allowed to drive,
couldn’t get a job.

But this did not
discourage the demon,
and in the end
he succumbed to alcohol poisoning.

A homemade still—boiling
in the kitchen of his grandparents,
my grandparents’ home.


One wintry February evening after ruminating
over several volumes of evolutionary lore,
my colleague and I went our separate ways to sleep.

Troubled by Edwardian nightmares of thread dangling,
I arose and found myself somewhere between my bed and
the Netherworld in that region oddly obscured by the
omnipresent skulking smoking shadow of Serling.

Before me a barren midnight plain illuminated by a
ghastly copper crepuscular twilight, emitting forth from an
expansive pit of funereal flames…smoke ascending as if forever.

I edged my way to the brink, carefully peered over.
Beelzebub busied himself stoking blue glowing coals with
red razor-nailed fingers, toes and fire retardant tail.

As I continued to gaze upon the strange sight, six man-like
naked things appeared, hopping about the ashen bed of coals,
gibbering gorilla- or gibbon-like gutturals, leaping in wild cacophony.

Eventually I began to recognize their countenance. Darwin, Lamarck,
Dawkins, Sagan and Gould. My roommates! All with long brachiating arms
and bodies sparsely covered with orangutan orange tufts of hirsute hair.
All wildly dancing. I could not help myself, and laughed uproariously.
Those scientific simians, they looked like six dancing monkeys.

A potbellied bearded thing, grotesquely hideous, alarmingly familiar
appeared, jumping higher, more wildly, more-hairy than the rest.
A well-recognized visage of myself, quite garish in that copperish hue.
Shuddering I awakened, my feet flat against the hot register.


With dread, I walked through the city of the dead.
Nocturnal demons changed colors like chameleons.
Trees draped in Spanish moss creeped
from tomb to tomb silent as gossamer wings
flapping nocturn air on a moonless night in early spring.

An owl or some other midnight denizen hooted or howled,
it’s echo reverberating through hazy glow of the street lights.
The shadowy shadows always lurking in the shadows
of the monolithic tombs like a marbleized catacomb
of midnight mazes and clandestine lunar phases.

With dread, I walked through the city of the dead.
With dread I walk the city of the dead,
the city of the dead, the city of the dead.
I walk with dread the city of the dead,
and I walk and I walk and I walk because I’m dead.