House of Shadows

I stand upon a threshold
of a house haunted by promises,
empty and fruitless,
inhabitants hide in long shadows,
a gray film of ignorance covers their eyes,
slugs slither up the inside of their arms,
stopping here and there to nibble
on bloody birth marks.
They slowly make their way
to a waiting ear canal,
which they fill with slime
and whispers, “if only…if only.”
a scream rattles in my throat,
I desperately want to break
the spell of distortion,
but in this place
of violet skies and black birches,
even my voice sounds
like a half-truth.


A Melancholy View

Wallowing between purgatory and the land of the living,
a vision revealed a layer of condemnation,
a circle of hell reserved for those who were silent,
they were tethered, wrist to wrist to wrist,
forming a web of yearning, straining, pulling
and placed on a mountain top, a plateau,
to watch loved ones walk across a desert
of unspoken words, each one etched
into broken glass, unforgiving edges
that plunge into soft flesh underfoot.
The tethered cried out warnings,
but they wore muzzles of iron
dripping with spittle,
which made their howls incoherent,
caws from a murder of crows.
This was eternity,
a penance for following fear,
ignoring nudges from the heart,
starving the soul of mirth.



Crumbs remain on my collar,

remnants from hunger in the night,
cravings crawled along my stomach wall,
intrusive thoughts snaked through my skull,
I am trapped in a maze of fantasy,
lust is not weighed on blind scales,
it is stretched with large iron chains,
link after greasy link.
When sticky memories
are wedge between my teeth,
then I am allowed to sleep,
with the serpent’s belly bulging,
as if from a rat or something larger,
my eyes can close until daybreak,
for shame rises with the worms.


Joshua Cole is a poet, writer, and artist. He lives on the beautiful seacoast of New Hampshire with his lovely wife, and two amazing daughters. They enjoy picnics, hiking, and family fun days. If you’re interested in more of his work, including his fiction, check out his website,; like his Facebook page,; follow him on Twitter, @authorjoshcole or Instagram, @authorjoshuacole.