“Gothic” © Bonnie Matthews Brock



I made the headlines,
spotted, caught on camera;
modern day smartphones
are my nemesis,
stalking me with flashy filters,
showcasing Tudor dresses
disharmoniously in 2022 images;
the press rumble,
print a half-name,
clutching at straws,
tendrils of identity,
slinking as pondweed
through curious fingers.

Previous centuries were easier:
I’d hover in moonlight,
glide staircases leisurely,
portrait myself in framed windows,
run ghostly hands over bridges
to no recognition, no clicks,
but now technology cloisters me
sinking me to darkened depths,
where I wallow in the moat
like a rusted penny
dropped into a wishing well
curling with enraged roots.

My figure tells my shame,
a rounded eight-month belly
protrudes from swelling tides
with the ghoul of a newborn
perpetually encircling my womb
as a ghostly coiled snake;
its skin has shedded many times
always growing back
as blooms of a first kiss
in my shrouded memory.

The unborn hates me…

I sense her distaste
spinning in a circuitous jail
bruised by watery shackles
bored beyond belief
restless as a flightless heron,
talons mud-slick thick,
frowning in dismay.

The night I flung myself
blinded by infatuation
from the twisted tower,
jilted, loved no longer
while he writhed with a new lover
amidst hot-sweat sheets;
no longer holding his gaze –
love splintered, fractured to shards
like my handheld mirror
dissipating to glassy echoes.

I couldn’t swim,
I planned it all.

In the afterlife,
I course the moat
like a hellfire nymph
dispatching flecks of flames
in my watery wake;
I float, waterborne
as a damnable fairy,
weightless, supernatural.
as the stirrings in the west-wing…

Media interest piques
brewed by my frenzy,
so sightings multiply.

I turn over new leaves…

Prolonged despondency mutes
no longer festering
in darkened depths
wallowing and water-weary;
I now smile at the camera
cherishing attention
growing boldly boisterous,
relishing the limelight
(pretending to be coy)
as I twirl golden Tudor threads
between reawakened fingers.


Emma Wells is a mother and English teacher. She has poetry published with various literary journals and magazines. She enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories also. Her debut novel, Shelley’s Sisterhood, is forthcoming.

Bonnie Matthews Brock is a Florida-based photographer, as well as school psychologist. She enjoys capturing raw single-capture photos of a wide variety of subjects, and learning and experimenting with shooting techniques such as long-exposure and intentional camera movement, as well as with editing methods. You can find Bonnie’s images on the covers of publications such as Ibbetson Street, Poesy Magazine, and Wild Roof Journal, and on the pages of Oddball Magazine, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Ember Chasm Review, Beaver Magazine, and Unstamatic. Her works are archived at institutions such as Poets House NYC, Brown University, University of Buffalo, and Harvard University.