It’s the serial killers who go after gay boys
that keep me up nights,
although I’m aware there are worse wolves
elsewhere in the woods. There’s one
who took to their breath like a match,
like a spark needs to swallow air.
Para-researchers hear spirit voices at his home
when they play back the tapes,
but most are uncertain about who’s there.
Returns are often seen
as revenge, but there’s something naïve too
about coming back, what’s unremembered
on the way. I’m sure a few of the victims saw
a sad man first, who hid his desires with sunlight
like any of them did.
Sure when he went to the forest
and bore the scars and tooth marks, he knew
who’d be there waiting,
for the jaws to release
all their secrets and clasp, giving
to be easy as taking in.
Conor Scruton is a Ph.D. candidate in literature and cultural theory at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, where his research focuses on ghost stories. His scholarship has appeared in the Kentucky Philological Review, and his creative work has appeared in Salamander, CutBank, Whiskey Island, and other journals.
Featured Image: “Scarred Trees” by Terry Eiler (1944-) via https://catalog.archives.gov/id/544332