Black Petals Issue #105, Autumn, 2023

BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Cards Fiction by Gene Lass
Barfly: Fiction by Gene Lass
Case Study: Fiction by Martin Taulbut
Delivery: Fiction by David Kloepfer
Joy (noun): a source of delight: Fiction by Noah Levin
Master of Dream: Fiction by Ash Ibrahim
Nightshade: Fiction by Adam Vine
Red Popsicles: Fiction by Caitlyn Pace
Temporally Closed: Fiction by J. Elliott
The Mansion Dwellers: Fiction by Robb White
Time for a Change: Fiction by Lamont A. Turner
Bernie's Friends: Flash Fiction by Phil Temples
Death Visits the Sapling Trust: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Monster: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
Sleep: Flash Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Welcome, Ghouls: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ode to Chateau Marmont: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Cadaver Dogs: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Phases of the Moon: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
The Darkest Octave: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Green Man Standing: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Day That Mary Went Away: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Northern Migration of Souls: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Gone West: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
If I Scream: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Witchery: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Carry On: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
The Song of the Dead: Poem by Ben Huber

Simon MacCulloch: Witchery



Simon MacCulloch


A rustle and whisper of witches on midsummer eves

The clouds are a cauldron of cackles, a fire’s on the heath

Where flame-eyed familiars lurk shadowy, twitchy as thieves

To scramble the yolk of your soul with their claws and their teeth.


The witch-finder’s stalking as well, with his book and his pin

To prey on the old and the mad with a puritan zest

The moon, waxing fat, gazes down with an idiot grin

On sabbat preparing to welcome their cloven-hoofed guest.


It’s said that the druids came here for the spilling of blood

The stone is still stained by their sacrifice, blotched by each beast

That gushed out its guts and died steaming and reeking in mud

Its spirit consigned to the gods and its flesh to the feast.


Now offerings litter the ground, maybe fruit from an orchard

A chicken or two, and the charms they have brought to be blessed

And relics of those of the coven who, taken and tortured

Drank poison to silence their crying before they confessed.


The balefire hurls splinters of light on the ones who survive

As if to express in its heat all the feverish thrill

Of worshipping, dancing and lusting and being alive

While out in the shadows the witch-finder circles his kill.


And as the dance quickens the sable-robed Master appears

As if out of air or as if from a pit in the ground

He speaks (though his mouth never moves) to their hopes and their fears

He loosens the bindings by which their existence is bound.


Cry oh! for the curve of the goat-borrowed horns on his head

Sigh ah! for the gleam of his fangs and the fork of his tail

Rise up with desire in your veins and then bow down in dread

His power is yours for a while, and the magic won’t fail.


But out of the God-fearing darkness the witch-finder’s men

Come swinging the Hammer of Witches, a deadening stroke

The temple and altar, defiled, are a midden again

The blaze trampled out, all is ash, and the Master is smoke.


Cold dawn finds the villagers gathering slow in the square

The squire and the parson, the peasants and beggars and thieves

To witness the onset of autumn infusing the air:

The rustle and crackle of witches who burn up like leaves.

Simon MacCulloch lives in London. He is a regular contributor to Aphelion, Reach Poetry, The Dawntreader and Sarasvati.

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