Prelude to Keening

V. C. McCabe


Banshee knows   where your eyeballs go   every night   when you dream.

             She whispers.            She whispers.             She whispers.

Your only warning—     a susurrus hiss,   a quiet crinkle   like paper

dolls,          tearing,        a sundering rip.                   She straddles

your chest,             her vicious vise grip.                   She hums & thrums

                                              her thighs,                  your lungs, her drum

your ribs,                         her harp,                                               unstrung.

A macabre melody,   an eerie intro to      her somnolent serenade,

       her lullaby cry,                                  her spectacular, spectral scream.

             She’s crafty   in the dark,   sewing                             at the

midnight hour,          her fine needle                    threaded    with

razor wire—                                   stitching

                                your mouth,                     her crooked,   bloody seam.

               Grotesque her visage,   you adore her      bulging, bloodshot eyes,

her protruding, putrescent tongue,   rotting & rough,   she’ll lick your skin

raw   as you sleep.               She, the succubus,

                                     you, her succulent

                     treat.                                                           You’d scream, too,

                                  in such employment, but

a ghoul’s

   gotta            eat   & you smell ripe enough.    The stink of you,  her new

                                                                                           favorite perfume.

              Gruesome, her grasp,   her hanging hag hair,   a shroud of woe on

your winter bed.   She warms up her voice,   a cacophonous scale,

                                                                        an echo                  of

discordant dread.

                                  O, glorious scream!

We eagerly await                                      your marvelous, monstrous birth.

                                                                                                        But first,

she’ll hollow you out—a flesh shell, a ringing bell   calling her

                                      to worship,                                        to sing.

She feels   your surrender   coming, the cutting cold,    the howling   wind,

                  your slipstream                                                      into oblivion.

                 Your death rattle,                                                 her tambourine.

                                                     The last song.   Her last kiss.

She seals   your bed                                    into a sarcophagus.

Your ghastly bride,          your defrocked priest,   your

                     malevolent morphine drip release.                      The time for

reckoning                                                                                      has come.

                                 O, glorious scream!

Your ghost,                                                                                   her spawn.



V.C. McCabe is the author of Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in exhibits and journals worldwide, including Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, Five:2:One, Queen Mob’s Tea House, and Barren Magazine. Her website is