Sumiko Saulson is a Bram Stoker and Elgin nominated poet and award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Author of the Bram Stoker nominated The Rat King: A Book of Dark Poetry (Dooky Zines). LOHR Reader’s Choice Award-winning collection Within Me Without Me (Dooky Zines), and Happiness and Other Diseases (Mocha Memoirs Press). Winner of the Carry the Light Award (2016): BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest (2017), and Afrosurrealist Writer Award (2018). They write a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView, and teach courses at the Speculative Fiction Academy.



A deep-seated growling, a threatening purr
Haunches rise under hackles of electric fur
I in servitude, offer flesh in a bowl
Vigorously, I stroke you, pet names I extol

Hissing, and crouching, your tail growing stiff
You complain as you paw at the feast in your dish
I see the disdain as I look in your eye
And remember your kind might eat me when I die

I run and fetch your favorite toy, a string
Tipped with a bell and a gray mouse-shaped ball
For a moment, you engage but soon tire of it all
Your fury is adorable, as you’re so small

If you’d a spell to grow larger, the tables you’d turn
I’d pay for this bowl of cold food you have spurned
We worshipped you in temples, you haven’t forgotten
You’re tired of this restaurant, the service is rotten

My offerings many you hold in disdain
I can hear my bones cracking as blood starts to drain
Flesh stripped from my bone as you engage in your feast
For the last time, providing a meal to my beast


Death may arrive in a shiny steel car
Crushed underneath concrete and fallen rebar
On a hot kitchen stove, grease engulfed in the flames
Rising up as your charing flesh becomes cremains
Death may arrive diseased, painful and slow
But the Queen will attend you, however you go

When she arrives, mortals faint to the ground
In the darkest of alleys when no one’s around 
She’s a black velvet rose cloaked in stunning repose
And a flurry of ink swirls wherever she goes
When they call crows a murder, she is the reason
Her cotillion of death is the dance of the season

Hear her practical heels as they crack against pavement
While she crafts both the time and the kind of bereavement
For the death of mere mortals brings the sweetest of joys
As she inhales the souls of the dead girls and boys

But today, even she is a wee bit confused
By the rising of corpses all rotting with ooze
As the fluids of life leak from flesh that is dead
Fractured neck not controlling the loose lolling head
Of a man who has risen extolling the scent
Of a bloated corpse laid in the ground to ferment

Seems the humans have been very foolish, of late
In the chemical labs made some grievous mistake 
The dead rise up in droves from the coroner’s drawers
And create on the Earth some brand new sort of scourge
Now the corpses of humans refuse to stay dead
After Atropos severs their last mortal thread
And the River Styx ferryman scratches his head
What to do with these folks, neither living nor dead?


The Erlkönig arrived
In the carriage one night
Adelaide, a door found
She was replaced underground
The Pevensie Four also fell
Through a door
And when they grew up
They could go there no more

She sang the Erlkönig
All four operatic parts
Having mastered her craft
Of the vocular arts

Frightened child
Father unaware
Omniscient alto
Of the distant narrator
A seductive voice
Orchestrates everything
To the twisted machinations
Of the Faerie King

It was inescapable it seems
That, as innocent children
We were replaced by changelings
Our parents never noticed
As for how sullen we became
They blamed it on our hormones
And the constancy of change
Cloaked us all, impostors

A gremlin where I used to be
Sat loathsome in my room
Cramming composition books full of poetry
In adolescent clouds of gloom
Tragedy brings out the Poe in me
I have always had a Tell-Tale Heart
And I think, it has been nice knowing me
As my seams start to fall apart

Pills were given to adjust my brain chemistry
To bring good old Jekyll back from the Hyde
My emotions surely made a monster of me
Sporting feted wounds on the inside

Obsessive scrawling in the gutters
Of utterly destroyed notebooks filled
With no space left between the lines
The overfilled state of my poetry books
Matching the overwrought state of my mind

Now I am being congratulated
And I look sideways in the mirror
What I’ve written in flights of insanity
It must now face a jury of peers

Will they somehow find out
That the real me was lost
In a Sunken Place?
Was stolen away by the Erlkönig
And a changeling
Now wears my face