Patch Match

From my 2014 collection Autumn Lauds: Poems for the Halloween Season, a selection about selection:


Patch Match

If the pumpkins picked us,
Who would they choose?

The still-ripening
Or the fully-grown

The flawless-skinned
Or the distinctly grotesque

The dull and unassuming
Or the imaginative and ambitious

The butchers eager to cut and gut
Or the more pacifistic painters

The ones who would leave them be
Or those who would let them become?


For more on/of Autumn Laudscheck out my website’s dedicated page, this previous post, and the Look Inside feature on Amazon.

“Pardonable” (original poem)

Transitioning back into society can be a tormenting notion…



By Joe Nazare


The mythologists have it all wrong–
Hell isn’t repetition, maliciously cyclical for eternity.
Instead, damnation’s a transient state.
Sinners suffer exquisitely but within limits;
Every Tartarean inmate is eventually reprieved,
Or more accurately, granted a work-release.
Their infliction sufficient, the downcast return overworld
To become living, seething embodiment of old adage,
The prophetic now echoing as terrible imperative:
Hurt people hurt people.


“Haunted Attraction”

From my 2014 collection Autumn Lauds: Poems for the Halloween Season


Haunted Attraction

By Joe Nazare


He brings neither date nor friend, walks Rancid Mansion alone
Remains mute throughout, emits not one whimper or groan

Isn’t phased when menaced by hammy actors in macabre disguise
Fails to flinch when seeming statues lurch in animatronic surprise

Doesn’t grimace at the various simulations of butcher shop grue
Has no gag reflex when he scents the hag’s cauldron of noisome stew

Doesn’t panic when the walls of the black labyrinth squeeze coffin tight
Merely grins at the scene of the lupine choir, musical children of the night

Isn’t chilled by strategic breezes, cobweb snares don’t make his skin crawl
Upon exiting the exhibit he doesn’t appear delightfully frightened at all

But when he wings himself home before sunrise strikes him full dead
Exciting new decorating ideas swirl within the crypt of his centuries-old head


Autumn Lauds Anniversary

Back on 10/14/14, I published my collection Autumn Lauds: Poems for the Halloween Season. In honor of today’s seventh anniversary, here’s another selection from the book:


Hardly Martha Stewart

By Joe Nazare


A jack-o’-lantern avalanche at the foot of the front steps;
Licorice whips and chains dangling from the threshold;
The Dead-Headless Horseman draped in a tie-dye shirt;
Hitchcockian flocks perched atop cabinets and curtain rods;
A human-hand candelabra, its five waxen fingertips flickering;
Pitchforks and straight rakes in a barrel labeled VILLAGE DEFENSE;
Tabled trays of sand-witches topped with conical black hats.

And pallid Alexandra the “ghostess” for the evening.

The party guests all delighted at her macabre décor,
Remarking upon their new neighbor’s ingenuity,
Her wonderfully morbid wit and punny ways.
No one realized that Alexandra was actually a literalist,
At least not until drinks were served and the presumed straw
Periscoping from each mug full of her Spider Cider
Proved to be both thick-bristled and twitchy.


For more on/of Autumn Laudscheck out my website’s dedicated page, this post from last year, and the Look Inside feature on Amazon.


“Statuesque” (original poem)

A sword-and-sorcery fantasy poem (sporting an allegorical base):



By Joe Nazare


The barbarian’s regimen borders on the religious
In its tireless devotion to hypertrophy.
From morn to moonglow Arod tests his physical limits,
Adrenalized by an unrelenting hatred.

His muscles drawn taut as the towing rope,
Arod hauls uphill a massive marble pillar–
A scavenged memento from the sacked civilization of his people,
Who’d refused to be taxed by an avaricious despot.

Next he seizes and envelops the thick, yellowed skull
Once shouldered by notorious brawler Durrell the Obdurate,
Squeezing until his own cranium seems apt to shatter from the strain,
All the while imagining it’s King Giles subjected to such crushing grip.

He cuts wide crescents in the riverside silt with his broadsword,
A training maneuver that eventually manages to stir up a dragling.
Always ready to intensify, Arod impales the vermicular scourge,
Lofts and swings its writhing form in torso-scorching arcs.

Lining up before the stoutest tanium tree he can find,
He launches determined, alternating blows with his spiked club,
Chopping, chopping away, swelling the muscles of his arms
As well as the mound of woodchips at his feet.

With the audacity of a madman, he tracks down a ‘warebear
And baits the behemoth into hand-to-paw battle.
A gory victory over his grisly opponent achieved,
Arod feasts on its roasted, protein-rich flesh as reward.

His daily labors earn him a fantastic physique,
Make him the envy of every underdeveloped man,
Cause him to impurify the thoughts of the chastest maiden,
Yet incredibly, he deems his own gains insufficient.

In Arod’s embittered mind, such growth is still
Not enough to embody his prodigious wrath.
So he locates the cave of the banished court-sorcerer Anabola
And solicits the concoction of a special enhancement elixir.

When questioned about the results that can be expected,
Anabola promises the barbarian that he’ll become rock-hardened.
Though no doubt misleading, the wizard’s claim proves true:
Overnight, Arod turns absolutely–not positively–granitic.

A dozen guardsmen are then summoned to deliver his sculpted bulk
To Giles’s stronghold, to serve as a cautionary figure,
A stony trophy unceremoniously entered into
The king’s ever-growing Hall of Thwarted Warriors.


Some More Gore D’oeuvres

In honor of tomorrow night’s return of The Walking Dead on AMC, here are five new pieces of zombie haiku that I have added to my previous “Small Bites” post in the Publications/Free Reads section.


Unfit Bit

Never enough steps.
Tracked down by a cadaver.
Measureless progress.


Shakespearean Tragedy

Merchants of menace.
All-too-pursuant Shylocks
Exact pounds of flesh.


Morning Death

Gross halitosis,
Like something died in his mouth.
His pecked bedmate does.


Unhealthy Skepticism

News reports dismissed:
Nothing but a can of bull.
Now: a cannibal.


Nights of the Walking Dead

Carnage as homage.
Romero-ghoul Easter eggs,


Comparatively Harrowing

2020 was one hell of a year (or, more accurately, a year of hell). Just remember, though: things could always be worse…


Comparatively Harrowing

By Joe Nazare


Imagine the horrors depicted by Edwards’ venomous sermon,
His Puritanical harangue of the many listeners congregated:
Visions of the wicked held dangling by a slender metaphysical thread,
Precariously poised between a loathing Jehovah fired with wrath
And the devils perennially ready to catch those downcast into lasting misery.
No great comfort, for sure, to receive such a nightmarish awakening,
A rhetorical tour de force that ostensibly steers toward redemption
Yet sounds utterly fixated on the stark graphics of damnation.

Then consider that evocation of infliction preferable to this classic alternative,
A grim myth of torment, as later captured by the Goya portrait:
Shaggy Cronus grown savagely carnivorous in his averting of prophecy,
His Titan eyes wide and wild with monstrous insecurity
As he insists on capitally punishing his own innocent offspring.
Yes, better the whiff of brimstone than the coppery stench of shed crimson;
Cooking over the Pit couldn’t be any more hellish than serving as a raw recruit,
Seized up and gorily reduced, dinner in the hands of a mad god.


“Gunpowder Plots”

From my 2014 collection Autumn Lauds, here’s a poem that takes a different perspective onto “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”


Gunpowder Plots

He’s shagged and gaunt, has one eye ghosted over,
Hasn’t pulled a plow or done more than plod in years.
Yet every lazy day his mind races back to that midnight dash,
To the horrid goblin that gave such determined pursuit.
His own panic at the time rendered his course erratic;
He’d defied direction from his whip-happy, rib-kicking rider.
Unsaddled, the lanky man had struggled to remain mounted
But was shortly knocked headlong by braining gourd.

That hapless horseman has been long lost,
But his equine hope for a second endeavor never so.
If somehow he could escape the confines of this farm,
He would search every last stretch of the Hollow for
The black steed and its head-lacking commander,
And draw them back into chase toward the church bridge.
This time he wouldn’t let up until the other beast was
Completely outdistanced, left choking the dust of utter defeat.

With memory and reverie blinkering his mind’s eye,
He fails to note the approach of his owner, Van Ripper,
Who has rue in his look, and a pistol in his fist.
Old Gunpowder is blindsided by the fired shot;
The eponymous explosive scorches his wounded hide.
Still, he is unwilling to abandon his equestrian quest.
Destroyed but not dispirited, he’s off and running
Even as his sorry carcass keels to the ground.


Lauding Autumn Once Again

Season’s bleedings–I mean greetings–to all the residents of our Macabre Republic. The greatest month of the year has arrived at last! I have a lot of fun stuff planned for this blog all October long as we approach the High Holiday, but thought I would start out by sharing a couple of pieces from my 2014 collection Autumn Lauds: Poems for the Halloween Season.

For more on this book, check out the dedicated page here on my website. And for a further sampling of its assorted treats, you can dig into the past posts of these poems: “Ulalume II,” “Fourteen Ways of Looking at Fall Foliage,” “Octoberzest,” selections from the Angry Villager Anthology, and “Shock Treatment.”


Corn Maze

By Joe Nazare


Immersive map of autumn,
Sketched by a pictographic tractor
On a sprawling canvas of lank stalks.

Apt metaphor for everyday life:
Byplay of determining paths and personal choice;
Blockages, backtracks, fortuitous turns.

Variously atmospheric, serving as a
Site of rural frolic or nocturnal fright,
Family-friendly agritainment or American Gothic haunt.

Story evoker: the vegetal surround a potential shelter of Shoeless Joe;
Malachi, Isaac, and their idolatrous adolescent ilk;
The annual October Boy, reborn to run a gauntlet of seasonal sacrifice.

A magical labyrinth, no matter what,
Where myriad navigators can succeed in getting lost
Even as they see their way clear.



Opposing the Joneses

By Joe Nazare


Resplendent adornment.
A façade boasting a macabre makeover,
A front yard littered with grim imaginings.
Each piece a welcome mat placed weeks in advance,
Beckoning the costumed to the doorstep on the 31st.

Adjacent starkness.
House and lawn kept spectacle-free,
Either due to religious inclination or simple disdain.
No orange lights, no dark tableaux,
Nary a pumpkin or corn stalk on the porch.

October transforms, and not only leaves into deserters:
It turns private properties into public statements.
Edifices, like architectural versions of face-painting fans,
Identify themselves by the colors they choose to sport.

Because to decorate–or to refrain–is
To declare affiliation, form alliance even with those unknown.
This holiday of masquerade actually unveils one’s true neighbors;
At Halloween, it’s the spirits of the living that grow visible.