7 Poems That Go Bump in the Night

This month in history, the Loch Ness Monster was first (reportedly) sighted in a lake of the Scottish Highlands by a man named John Mackay in 1933. Sometimes you see the monster. Sometimes it sees you first. Sometimes you are the monster, catching glimpses of your own reflection on mirrored surfaces. To celebrate the 82nd anniversary of this hair-raising, spine-tingling, chill-inducing moment in humankind, here’s a list of poems and excerpts from them detailing encounters with monsters, both internal and external, that are sure to rattle your bones.

1. “Bestiary” by Sam Sax



there are many words for transformation / metamorphosis
metaphor / medication / go to sleep / beside the man you love
& wake up next to a dog / maybe the moon brought if out of him
hound hungry for blood / maybe it’s your fault / or maybe
it was there inside him / howling all along”

—found at Drunk in a Midnight Choir and in A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters.

2. “The House” by Warsan Shire


“I treat them well enough, a slice of bread, if they’re lucky a piece of fruit. Except for Johnny with the blue eyes, who picked my locks and crawled in. Silly boy, chained to the basement of my fears, I play music to drown him out.”

—found in The Wide Shore.

3. “Good Girl” by Jeanann Verlee


“(So I keep my hands inside my hands.) (So the city won’t rattle.) (So I don’t weep on the bus.) (So I don’t wander the guardrail.) (So the flashbacks go quiet.) (So the insomnia sleeps.) (So I don’t jump at car horns.) (So I don’t jump at cat-calls.) (So I don’t jump a bridge.) (So I don’t twitch.) (So I don’t riot.) (So I don’t slit a strange man’s throat.)”

—found in Thrush Poetry Journal and Said The Manic To The Muse.

4. “Limbs” by Khary Jackson


“I chose you, boy, to remember how they love makin’ a devil out of these trees, makin’ ’em wear a dead man from the limbs like jewelry, a burlap sack of flesh tore up. We was a backwoods Friday night, twistin’ and danglin’ for the crowd. We was more than murder, we was theater.”

—recorded by Button Poetry.

5. “Widow” by Sylvia Plath


“Widow. The bitter spider sits
And sits in the center of her loveless spokes.
Death is the dress she wears, her hat and collar.
The moth-face of her husband, moonwhite and ill,
Circles her like a prey she’d love to kill…”

—found in The Collect Poems.

6. “Self-Portrait as Jeffrey Dahmer” by Ocean Vuong


“As I lie on top, my tongue
resting on your chest—
the steady metronome
blooming beneath it, I can’t help the urge
to pry you open, plunge through
the artifice of beauty.”

—found in Vinyl.

7. Michael Gira – “Game”


“You shouldn’t touch me
My skin peels off my bones
I’ll give you a gift
Take the skin from my stomach and stretch it across your face
Look in the mirror
I see myself through your eyes
My body is on the ground behind you
You use it to amuse yourself
When you kick it around the room you feel the impact of the boot in your stomach
Cry for me
Blame me for the fact you no longer recognize yourself.”

—found in The Consumer and here.

Contributing Editor

Anita Ofokansi is a writer from Kansas City. She dabbles mostly in poetry and is working on her first collection. Her work has been featured in several publications, including Winter Tangerine Magazine and Whispering Prairie Press. When she is not writing, Anita loves to waste her time blank-faced in front of her laptop, or deciding which tattoos and piercings will make her parents cry the least. She dreams of one day writing and directing movies.