Twelfth Night, A Zombie Holocaust


Brother and sister already were the walking dead,
after years of contestation between their mother, father,
in alternating weekends of court-ordered loathing and
contempt. Her brother promised to take care of her, swore;

and then she found him, and how could he keep
his promise now, hanging from the rafter with his eyes
facing east, then south, then west, and finally north
like a macabre rotating compass, navigating her grief?

Good madonna, why mournest thou?
Good fool, for my brother's death.
I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
The more fool, madonna, to mourn
For your brother's soul being in heaven.


At the funeral, she waited for him to rise up, like an
embalmed somnambulist, from his grave. Her Lazarus,
her miracle boy. He would sweep her away, escort
her soul into the bliss of unfeeling catatonia.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown.


As in life, he failed her. Eyes closed, a finality of repose,
surrounded by the pungence of death. Her fingers on the
rosary beads fumbled pentagrams, her prayers
mouthed spells too feeble, an impotent voodoo.

Troth, sir, I can yield you none without words;
And words are grown so false,
I am loath to prove reason with them.

Without him, she lost all defenses. She unlatched
the door and let in the holocaust, let her dreams be
eviscerated, her hopes disembowelled, entangled
with her intestines, salt-rubbed and charred with coals.


I will help you to't. But tell me true, are you not
Mad indeed? Or do you but counterfeit?

Believe me, I am not; I tell thee true.
Nay, I'll ne'er believe a madman till I see his brains.

Serving suggestion for madwoman's brain: medulla tossed
with croutons and greens; thalamus and hypothalamus,
julienned, sautéed over high flame, spiced
in the cracked glass of a light-bulb; cerebellum,

formed into tournedos and smoked for precisely 4 minutes
and 20 seconds; cortex, a delicacy of parietal, temporal,
frontal, and occipital succulence – until the shrink-wrap of
hate pulls tight on its fissured labyrinth – microwaved.


With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done.

In their dreams they see her again clearly, sitting in the bath
upstairs after the reception at her mother’s, chin-deep
in water, her hair floating around her like a veil, the knife
whispering a serrated intimacy against her wrists.

And as they gather around her, finally clothed
in shame and guilt – she arises, tears them apart, devours
liver, spleen, sinew and bone, savors their hearts in
deliberate measure. Undead, a savage resurrection.


  1. well done. I personally enjoy haitian mythology and zombie lore.

    mad trench top hatter trance
    prancing between headston
    es and obelisks licking the d
    ecaying eyes of the newly d
    ead. high spitting pieces of t
    obacco from teeth with a swi
    g of snuff. cursing the living &
    dead trance prancing betwe
    en headstones and obelisks
    kissing the lay breasts of the
    recently arrived. lakwa don
    t dig my earth & i may live fo
    reveries tramping graves. le
    t.s. light en darken the moods


  2. Thanks - I'll probably return to the zombie theme again in the future. As a metaphor, it can be incredibly powerful.

  3. What a tour de force! Love the Shakespearian inclusions.

  4. I love how time seems to travel both forward to a sense of modern while still having a classical feel. This piece made me think of how the zombie metaphor can be so powerful especially with time history and some literary references. The last stanza reminded me of the ending in the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I know a strange free association though I thought you might appreciate

  5. Dark, and hypnotic. Heartbreaking and touching. Beautiful, as usual!

  6. michelleshy1:34:00 AM

    Love the recipe stanza

  7. Love it and very appropriate for the Bard's birthday! Well done Sam :)

  8. Short link -

  9. I love the inter-cutting of verses from "Twelfth Night," probably my favorite Shakespeare play which I've done and seen. It is a darkly beautiful poem. I think you would like my prose-poem memoir "Sarasota VII." If you want go to Thanks Sam.

  10. i think some people obsess over the dead. one of my best friends does. he gets the ashes of all his old pets. he goes to the cemetery and puts flowers at his mom's grave a lot. he doesn't talk about it, but he really does put a lot into the dead, and to me...that's overkill. that's what i got from this...

    radiation rampage

  11. holy crap man...from vamps to zombies you are all over hte undead spectrum...ugh though on what drove her where she ended up in the tub...the internal reicpe for a mad womans brain tossed with greens and croutons...ha...i like....nice verse sam...

  12. Thank you!

    If you liked this poem, you may be interested in 'Sonata Vampirica' - To my amazement, it made the Amazon Kindle Best Sellers List in Poetry, and hit #1 on the Amazon Kindle Hot New Releases in Poetry.

  13. Rather a bloodcurdling recipe, and some very artful cooking techniques all through this Undead feast--a wonderful appetizer for your Sonata Vampirica. And of course, an excellent, all-pervasive metaphor of dysfunction.

  14. Whew, the rich details of this poem is mind boggling ~

    Beautiful and horrifying at the same time ~

  15. I love these lines:

    "like a macabre rotating compass, navigating her grief"

    "she waited for him to rise up, like an
    embalmed somnambulist"

    "an impotent voodoo"

    "She unlatched
    the door and let in the holocaust, let her dreams be
    eviscerated, her hopes disembowelled, entangled
    with her intestines, salt-rubbed and charred with coals"

    "whispering a serrated intimacy against her wrists"

    I also loved the "recipe" section and the ending, where she ripped everyone to shreds.

    Excellent bit of gore, my friend. ;)

  16. Ah, Shawna, thank you... but look again! In reality, the gore ends with the hanged man. In the final stanza, which occurs 'in their dreams', it is the zombie guilt that devours her parents, who started the tragedy through their 'years of contestation'.

    In the same way that "Sonata Vampirica" is structured around abusive relationships, "Twelfth Night..." is structured around the destruction of a family in the aftermath of divorce.

    1. I'm sorry, Sam. I was trying to finish up too many poems and was rushing through, really enjoying the gore in the language a bit too much to leave a thoughtful comment on the deeper meaning and message. I enjoyed the nastiness most of all. :)

      I disagree with your statement that the gore ends with her brother hanging himself; I think that's when it just begins. Internal shredding is much bloodier than external.

      And the way she ripped apart her family with guilt was probably much more painful than if she had murdered and eaten them. The former is the kind of torment that lasts for years, perhaps a lifetime.

      Italicizing "she arises" at the end is an effective conclusion, drawing back on "waiting for him to rise" at the beginning of the poem.

      I'm so glad you've shared this series with us.

    2. Oh! Glad you came back. Yes, in terms of devastation, the internal devastation is much more horrendous, and is what underlies the entire zombie metaphor.

      What I tried to do here was to take the current literary parodies - 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies', 'Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters' - and show that with that framework you can actually weave a horrific and yet entirely literary work.

    3. If I know someone replies (or if I left a particularly lengthy comment), I will come back for conversation.

      Oh my goodness, I was not familiar with those parodies. (I live in a bubble as much as possible.) I just looked them up on Amazon and cracked up over the book jackets!

      “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” ... I think this was written about me. :)

      "Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses" ... I'm so glad you clued me in; this is hilarious!

      Yes, I agree with you that such characterization can be used quite effectively as metaphor without coming across as humorous or silly. Your poetic dive into darkness is interesting and unique, and it aptly unveils the story.

  17. Anonymous11:48:00 PM

    Cornish game hen baked in a Dutch oven with purple potatoes, for earthiness; Serrano peppers, to infuse it with bite; zucchini, for enrichment; shallots, adding depth; capers, salt for the wounds; sweet onions, for complexity; garlic, a nod to the master; sherry, marinade that haunts, infusing the roux with rumination; and brushed with butter and tarragon citrus seasoning, to blend all the ingredients into a gourmet meal. Delicious verse!

  18. "And as they gather around her, finally clothed
    in shame and guilt – she arises, tears them apart, devours
    liver, spleen, sinew and bone, savors their hearts in
    deliberate measure. Undead, a savage resurrection"

    This last stanza is the icing topping. The end all to a morbid picture. It's amazing to come around to this voodoo and zombie treat with that much details. Great write Sam!


    1. Anonymous10:23:00 AM

      julienned and sauteed...reads like a horror movie. Your so good.

  19. oh my goodness...i forgot to breathe...this is haunting and tough and took me to an emotional edge... a masterful write sam


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