Brian Fanelli is a previous contributor to The Horror Zine. He writes regularly about horror films for HorrorBuzz.com, Signal Horizon Magazine, and Horror Homeroom. His creative writing has been published in World Literature Today, Main Street Rag, Paterson Literary Review, Wood Cat Review, Boston Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. His latest book of poems is Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Poetry Prize.

Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University. Currently, he’s an Associate Professor of English at Lackawanna College. You can follow him on Twitter: @BrianJFanelli1.



In Marie Laveau’s Voodoo shop,
you look at a vile of potion,
similar to a chem lab test tube,
its liquid strange and mysterious.
I can make you fall in love with me even more, you say.

I smirk at the comment, stare
at the purple liquid,
the yellow price tag reading $29.99.
I wonder how many sold,
how many spells have been cast.

You pull me down a corridor,
to a display of shrunken, shriveled heads,
a bulletin board pinned with voodoo dolls,
their mouths crocked squiggles,

their eyes sewn shut.
I look at the crown of red flowers in your hair,
your flowing white dress, and I imagine
you as a voodoo priestess from the 1800s.

Before we exit, we pause by the love potion again,
while I squeeze your hand a little tighter,
and let you lead me out of the shop.


They sit in a parlor
like a couple on a first date.
Her bites of bread are long and slow
as she tears off the crust.
Norman says she eats like a bird.
Marion tried to fly from Phoenix,
but pulled off-road in a downpour
and saw the flickering Bates Motel sign,
dim like a failing streetlight.
Late twenties, she dreams of marriage,
of quiet dinners in a warm house
with a picture of her mother framed on the mantle.
No more rendezvous in dingy hotels with dusty shutters.
Norman mentions mother,
mother in that gloomy Gothic house,
mother peering down at the hotel,
seeing the woman seated across from her son,
that filthy, filthy boy.
Norman’s smile cracks when Marion mentions a nursing home
after they commiserate over their private traps,
stuck in place like that great owl
stuffed and displayed behind Norman’s head,
its eyes wide and glaring at Marion,
who rises to leave while Norman asks,

Won’t you stay a little longer?


You are everywhere, omniscient boogieman,
two dark holes peering behind the hockey mask,
a power-walking zombie stalking Camp Crystal’s woods.
You are knife and no heart,
your gloved hand clenched around a machete,
slicing and dicing camp counselor’s puffing joints.
You are cracks of thunder, pelts of hail,
moral judge and jury, slasher of disrobed teens,
always waiting outside of their pop-up tents,
as present as shadows at dusk.
You are rot, decayed flesh,
a crocked spine beneath a shredded shirt,
maggots worming through eye sockets.
You are the past resurrected,
little boy who drowned,
flailing your arms at Camp Blood.
You are the son of a vengeful mother,
a mama’s boy returning to what’s familiar
like a child resting its head upon a warm lap.
You seized that machete for her.
You are the snap of twigs before the first kill,
the name we remember,
more than any final girl who bested you,
the perennial big box office boogieman.


You throw another snow clump on the pile,
stare at the steel-gray sky, and then lean
against your shovel. Enough of this weather
could turn you into Jack Torrance,

rubbing your chin with an inch for a drink, pounding
keyboard keys like a tennis ball thumping against the wall.
Snow heaves against doors, while plow trucks
encase your driveway in walls of white,

trapping you. All you can do is watch
inches accumulate by the hour and listen to wind gusts
howl and lash at your house’s vinyl siding. Your wife
works upstairs, leaving you with a stack of papers to grade,

papers from students who demand As, like the prep school students
Torrance taught, before succumbing to the bottle,
maybe from correcting too many citations,
maybe from hackneyed thesis statements,

maybe because there is only so many ways you can red-ink
a paper before your vision blurs, staring at 12-point font, writing
margin notes until your hand cramps. No time for play, just work.
It wouldn’t be hard to curl your hand around a bottle,

to stumble into that snow until you fall over, laughing
as the powdery white numbs your cheeks and you leave
the papers for later. It wouldn’t be hard, but instead, you clear a path
from the front door to the driveway, enough to escape if needed.