November 11, 2020

The Gates Have Closed

Big thanks to everyone who sent their poems and flash fiction to Black Poppy over the past 6 weeks.  You kept me quite busy and made the journal a success once again. The gates are now closed to further submissions at this time. Be well and stay safe!

November 10, 2020

People Get Ready by Douglas Richardson

I walked for miles along the tracks
so I could shake it with the trains

my heart rattled in its ribcage
and then I fell away

death happens without trying

that I ran the rails at all
was death-defying

trains believe the pursuit of happiness
makes a monotonous sound

they pitied my seeing eyes

Douglas Richardson lives in Santa Ana with his wife, Jen, and cat, Wes. He is the founder of Weak Creature Press. He has been published in a few literary journals over the years and, in 2013, he won the Poetry Super Highway contest with his entry, “Notes from the Graveyard Shift.”

November 9, 2020

Isle Royale Hunted by Dennis Maulsby

Hidden in undergrowth, curious as death,
yellow eyes watch. Last night surrounded
by the wash, wash, wash of lake water, they loped
through the pinewoods, their shadows feather-drifting
across mossy ground — owl wings riding on whispers.
Opposite the narrow beach, its rocks hot,
green-algaed apples;

a boat is laced to the dock. The brown sugar, tung-oiled
hull lifts and tugs against mooring lines. A bare-chested,
blue-jeaned graybeard works on the cambered teak deck.
Muscles knotted, he furls sails dyed crimson
with Chinese ox-blood. The sun wrings bright spots
out of the water to dance over sail and man.
Scarred medic’s hands become mottled red, slick again
with wound-flowered flesh and fluids. His topaz eyes
remember crawling among the wounded, bodies scattered
in bullet-cut elephant grass, jungle all around.
A ghost soldier’s back arches, flooded lungs
and mouth gush.

A short-legged, wirehaired terrier peers over the bow,
wide black eyes curious marbles. He huffs,
nose wrinkles on and off, thinks big dog thoughts.
His jaws open in a yawn of pink tongue, crenelated teeth.
The dog imagines himself hustling down the island’s
dark, paw-soft paths, scents of wild things songs in his nostrils.

Man and dog sense wolves in their dreams. In jungle
and pines, quick gray-black grinning muzzles seek them.

*Published in The Briarcliff Review, 2010, nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize.

Dennis Maulsby’s poems and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and on National Public Radio. His published books include: Near Death/Near LifeFree Fire Zone, Winterset, and The House de Gracie. Maulsby is an associate member of the SFWA and past president of the Iowa Poetry Association.  Website:

November 8, 2020

The Man Who Made Clouds by David Gross

Went by once to visit my buddy, Ben.
It was a miserable January night in a past life.
Layers of sooty snow shivered on sidewalks
suggesting treachery and broken bones.

It was around two in the morning when I pulled into
the trailer court where the manager hid Ben's place
all the way back behind a hob-cobbled pole-barn.

As my pickup clunked into the drive his backdoor flew open.
First I thought the joint was on fire
then realized it was just steam billowing out
and after cautiously sliding through the front door
I called, Hey, what's going on?
                                          Making clouds, he answered
as he lifted lids off two huge soup-pots boiling to beat hell
on the stovetop and kicked open the door
as a cumulus drifted up out into the black, starry sky.

David Gross is a retired journeyman carpenter and poet living in the hills of southern Ilinois. He has published poems and reviews in scores of literary and small-press journals. His most recent collection is Little Egypt (Wyld Rose Press, 2017).

November 6, 2020

The Sinister Shore by Mike Rader

The marshes steal sly to the bay.
Reedy grooves, drowning pools,
meandering among the mangroves
like lost souls on moonless nights.

        Closer to the surly shore
Water birds eke their living.
Houseboats with sluggish pomp
float fatly near the bridge.

A seagull stops,
                      is gone,
And leaves the darkening wash to its devices.




James Aitchison is an Australian author and poet. Writing as James Lee, his horror and mystery books for middle readers are bestsellers in Asia. Writing as Mike Rader and JJ Munro, his horror and noir fiction has appeared via Black Poppy Review, Akashic Books, Horror Tree (Trembling with Fear), Horror Magazine, Suspense, and many others.

November 5, 2020

Victorian Mourning Bracelet by Sandy Hiss

Strange, this shadow world
that I've come to inhabit.
My last memory, I am sitting alone
in my parlor of burgundy damask wallpaper,
sipping fragrant, peppermint tea.

The grandfather clock chimes
approximately twelve times
the left side of my body is frozen
as my eyes become cloaked
in a darkness I cannot comprehend.

Where is my black dress with lace trim?
Why do I reside on a lady's dainty wrist?
Am I not more than woven strands of hair
on black enamel or vulcanite?
Why am I stroked like a lost cat?

I want to cry out but I am mute.
I want to mourn the months I've lost.
The lady is familiar now.
She is my daughter, I remember that much.
Now, she talks to me in the night
behind closed doors, hushed.

She has become my songbird,
mouthing all the songs, all the words
I intended to say but never could.

I wrap myself tighter around her wrist,
wishing I could feel her warmth.
She replies with a reassuring smile,
"I love you too, mother."

Sandy Hiss writes dark, lyrical poetry & fiction.  Her fondest memories of childhood are from her years in Germany, playing in the vast woods behind her home which contributed to her lifelong love of dark fairy tales, magical realism, and the paranormal.  Sandy's works include a gothic fairytale novel, The Rosegiver, and a paranormal novelette, The Haunting of Meredith.

November 4, 2020

Till Death Us Do Part by Dee Jordan

Patrick Jordan and his new bride sat on the sugar white beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama, gazing into each other's eyes. They seemed to have the place to themselves as they watched the sun sink into the saffron and azure sky. He had returned from World War II unharmed, and they married at a justice of the peace's office. He would start his new job the following Monday. This honeymoon cemented their future together. Unfortunately for him, selling brushes door to door would take him out of town for most of each week. Neither had picked up a paper and read the headline about the shark attack earlier that week.

"Look! A beautiful full moon and a deserted beach, let's go skinny dipping."

"Oh, let's do it!" She giggled coyly.

They swam in ignorant bliss of the shadow swimming underneath them. She looked ravishing in her black swimming suit as she waded out to remove it, shy of undressing in front of him. A healthy woman with a pear-shaped figure, Patrick couldn't believe she married him. 

"I'll love you forever and do any and everything to make you happy," Patrick promised.

* * * * *

On the eve of their fiftieth anniversary, they sat on the chilled sand after the hot afternoon's rain showers, she in her red beach chair and he in his white one. They dug their toes into the moist sand, her somewhat hesitant that evening—the robust woman now gone. Today she was a husk of herself, weighing only ninety-three pounds. He, too, no longer a handsome soldier boy he'd once been. Today he was Dr. Patrick Jordan, having gone back to school on the GI Bill. She had stayed at home and raised a fine family of three boys and one girl. The big anniversary party scheduled the next weekend, provided she could make the trip to their daughter's house in Demopolis, Alabama, loomed ahead. This weekend had been their long-ago promise to each other to return to the beach for their same moonlight swim.

"I think I'll go on and wade out to the sandbar." Her voice sounded weak, but he heard her determination.

"Yes, we must re-enact our honeymoon. Go ahead; I'll be there shortly."

Both felt a little chilled by the dampness, but each vowed they'd go through with this day, no matter what. Terri had been sick for so long now. She seemed the most lucid she had been in months. Maybe this old beach had cleared her thinking.

"You still look beautiful to me." He busied himself with the cooler he'd brought with him. "Are you sure about this?"

"I've never been surer."

Alzheimer’s ravished her slowly, but two months ago she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. They'd promised each other if either came down with stage IV cancer, they'd refuse treatment. Both feared the pain of dying slowly, so they'd made the pact about the potassium shot, a quick death stopping the heart immediately. Out in the water, it would appear as if she had died of a heart attack. He'd plan to bury the needle and syringe under the sand by digging with his feet past the waves breaker line. At this point, he almost didn't care if he got caught. Guilt plagued him as he closed the cooler and watched her wading out, savoring the sight of her one last time.

"Honey, I'm coming in to join you. Turn around. Let me see you smile once again. Are you enjoying the beach?"

She slowly turned around. It was hard to see, yet she bravely smiled at him and even managed a come hither look in her deep-set eyes. A strand of wispy gray hair blew over her pale blue eyes. Like his young bride, she brushed it out of her eyes with the back of her right hand.

"Hurry up; I want to kiss you before I go." She had no sooner gotten those words out of her mouth when something suddenly jerked her underwater. He dropped the syringe and started running toward her. After a huge splash and then total quiet followed by more ripples, he saw them, sharks at least three of them, swirling and churning the water. A dark slick appeared where she had been standing.

Dee Jordan has two novels on Amazon. She reviewed Alabama writers for the Alabama Writers' Forum Online Reviews, and she wrote articles dealing with mental illness for the newspaper, New York City Voices.She has had seven short stories published in literary magazines and ten published in different anthologies.

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