The Horror Zine
Betsy A. Riley

The February Editor's Pick Poet is

Betsy A. Riley

Please feel free to email Betsy at:

Betsy Riley


We need to stay calm and
keep each other awake
and safe from harm as we wait
for help from beyond the stars

Northern Lights spread and dance
a silky curtain of fire across the sky
shocking southern watchers
as we stand in the hot rain

Nerves still tingling from the changes
when planets cross-aligned
and the moon crashed on China
we know our world is forever changed

Tumbled from our beds and our houses
we touch the ones we love in relief
and hold them with particular closeness
as we ride the rising of the land together

As time floats elsewhere
we rest scattered on the ground
patiently holding to our personal hopes
with a strange sense of peace

Tonight will be the longest
challenging our every belief and desire
After the dark clouds of this night
the morning sun will seem like a reward


what dark substance
illumines this unimaginable surface
where no holy light shines
and no open casement explains
the breeze that stirs the silken robe
as he goes about his hot work
stepping around the girded circle
with cool concentration
each detailed task executed
with a surgeon's exactness
untroubled by love and desire
he peers into the immortal depths
seeking a new perspective
as she, changed beyond recognition
briefly becomes his educator


Gray rocks are gathered, sleeping,
underneath the churchyard tree
When they wake and walk away,
will I be there to see?

For I know rocks can see and hear
but their thinking is so slow
That they are nothing you should fear
(until they rise to go)

And what can wake a sleeping rock
is a secret I can't tell
But when that thing restarts their clocks
the world will hear their knell.

Slowly will they then rise up
and slower still move on
And you can trace in furrowed earth
the path where they have gone.

And when the rocks can move again
the trees will all rejoice
For rocks have always talked to them
(in deep and gravelly voice!)

See them stretch and reform limbs
with creaking, groaning sounds
See the hollows that they leave
wherever they touch the ground.

Gray rocks are gathered; waiting,
do not disturb their sleep
For if too soon you waken them,
then all the trees will weep.

Betsy A. Riley is a multi-genre author/poet/artist living in Maryland. By day she works on the bleeding edge of supercomputing technology with scientific researchers, by night she writes about a different sort of bleeding edge in her poetry and fiction.

Betsy’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Empirical Magazine, the Latitude on 2nd anthologies (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and online venues such as Her short fiction is often under the pen names of Cassandra Hex, Delfina Hex, or Desdemona Pike. For more about Betsy’s work, see HERE or HERE