Please, I beg you, don’t go out there!
He’s waiting for you in those woods–
A shadowed man upon his horse.
Now, I’ve heard tell, his skull was smashed,
Then up he rose to get revenge.
Oh, I see you don’t believe me.
“Madam,” you say, “you’re telling tales.”

But listen hard; you’ll hear his wails
Ushered by forewarning winds–those
Ghastly sobs from that same bugle,
Legend says, he was murdered with.
Entering those woods insures you’ll
Rest in peace–his fate’ll be yours.

~ Caroline Adele O’Brien
* The Phantom Bugler is said to be in the forests surrounding Forest Grove, Oregon.

GRAY LADY – #CoffinHop

Haunted sea-foam waves bash cliffs
Eddies tug at stranded ships, so
Climb the whimpering crooked trail
Every night the same path tread
Trembling fingers light the lamp
Aiming beam toward liquid grave

Her beacon escorts sailors home
Efforts lost upon the ghosts
Amidst the fog those sunken ships
Death-locked trapped in jagged cliffs
~ Caroline Adele O’Brien

*Heceta Head lighthouse (The Grey Lady) is located on the Oregon Coast just north of Florence.



only in death see
not dead—in words
the only star
prove God’s existence
amused nightmares
those who die

carcass cage
muscles cease
seize freeze wheeze
eyes cry
downward ether lie
cracked blood crater
downward ether lie
eyes cry
seize freeze wheeze
muscles cease
carcass cage

those who die
amused nightmares
prove God’s existence
the only star
not dead—in words
only in death see



Her corpse hath risen from the dead

The grave’s no place to lie her head

She came to live with me instead


She slumbers in her morning lace

Then through the night, the grounds she’ll pace

So I wear garlic just in case


Her skin is rotting off, I swear

Can see the flakes throughout her hair

I hope she keeps it in her lair


Her decomposing-carcass-scent

Comes wafting down the hallway vent

I guess, at least, she’s paying rent


© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien



The flavor of blood is evident

in meat—no matter the kind of meat:

turkey meat

chicken meat

pork meat


meat—no matter the amount of salt

it won’t cover up



chewing each fibered

morsel tender, carful

not to bite bones—grinding

meat in clenched

teeth, swallowing—



the meat came from somewhere else—

someone else hacked it—

we didn’t have to watch, so we chew,

forgetting until the metallic iodine

salty blood hits the tastebuds and we chew




ignore the plasma on the tongue, pretend

it wasn’t once

a bird

a cow

a deer

an elk




that would cluck or suck-

up slop in the fields


forget it once had


a face

a mother

a dream—



while giving thanks

sitting around thanksgiving

tables with thanksgiving

forks thanksgiving

knifes digging into thanksgiving


thank the soul with the life

stolen from it—its carcass

slipped between

lips to a grinning





© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien



Death sneaks in like an old lady in her bathroom slippers—her silver hair tied up in curlers, robe flowing torrents behind her, she tiptoes through shopping malls in this old-western-America—a gunslingin’ grandma in her pink freshly fluffed slippers, slept-in curlers flopping on her forehead—the shoppers’ll never suspect a little old lady—it’s christmas time death’s hungry for a feast and no one expects an old lady in her bathrobe to slip a .44 from her bathrobe pocket, pop-off a few kids in the food court while they wolf down burritos and pizza, blood dripping into their high-fructose corn-syrup fizzy-pop beverages to fizzzzzzz fizzz out

Pins in her footsteps she detours east curlers falling about her blood-lust eyes, breaks a window of a nursery school with her knitting needles—enters in through the office and BAM-KaBANG! the school nurse falters backward clutching her heart—the grandma grins her upturned jowls and SLURP! laps up blood then turns for more—the children duck beneath desks too late—BAM! BANG! KaBANG! gushing blood flows across the floor ’til—Ka-RACK! The vacuumed classroom life falls—

Still—bathrobe hiked up she crawls back through the glass to wander America, pay the south a visit—finds a rippled ice rink full of twirling skaters sipping hot chocolate and cider through straws as they glide in-out-in-out from the center of the rink they grip one another for support—granny glides across the ice in slippers curlers falling around her eyes the clasps snap-pop! open silver hair tumbling out blood-shot-eyes wild and POP!—the first one down, the others scream—crashing into ice from fallen skate, slicing up the ice with razors and BAM! the glowing red ice pulses the last life of drip! No one suspects a little old lady in a bathrobe

And when her feast is over her belly bulging from all the blood she slides down into her covers dormant for another few days—’til the news cries out on-air pleading for more telling the world granny is a hero telling the world granny should rein supreme; death is a good bedtime story after all, one to tell the kids when they’re all snuggled down in their nightcaps covers pulled up to their chins—and when the kids on the street curled in trashcans beg for mercy—when schools and shopping malls once again thrive with life—when people no longer suspect a little old lady in her bathrobe with her curlers and her pink fluffy slippers—when the hunger starts again and her belly churns the blood rumbles and quakes—her blood-born eyes open to stir in the covers the media blanketed her with.

© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien


shattered window glass and swinging chains


ccc ra ck!


snake slithers through vines—abandon—sssss

winding path to crocked

house and leafless trees

blood on porch—dribbles and drops

the wayward night with rumbling crack!

door creaks drifts on dangling hinges—rrrrrrrr




chandelier swings in ruddy night—lit

whispering candles


they cry out

wailing—the blood-born moon

And in the foyer, listless—wrist vein



droplets weave through vines

candles flicker



© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien



She hovers o’er the unmarked grave,

This graveside ghost of River Shore.

Her trailing gown, a whispered wave.

She hovers o’er the unmarked grave.

Her weeping soul, eternal slave,

Chained to her corpse forevermore.

She hovers o’er the unmarked grave,

This graveside ghost of River Shore.


© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien





Breathing choked yet there he lies

Unmarked weighted earthen tomb

Rooted in his muffled cries

Inside Earth’s dim crushing womb

Eyes awaken death’s surprise

Deep in dirt he tries to rise


Arms chained up there isn’t room

Limbs submerged in death’s disguise

Ingest last breath dirt consume

Vanquished pulsing vein drip-dries

Exhales final soul demise


© All Rights Reserved Caroline Adele O’Brien