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Poetry: “Mass of the Dead”

This poem is based off of a Swedish folktale and horror story. I’ve heard several variants of it, but the main plot is the same and I chose to use this as basis of this poem. (Sometimes I like to think I can channel Poe.)


Mass of the Dead


This is a tale from long ago,

When days were dark and cold.

I had it in my head to go,

To church one early morn.


It had been some time since I,

Had attended mass,

I hoped I would be up in time,

And not sleep through it all.


I roused myself so suddenly,

From a sleep so very deep.

I could not tell how dark it was,

But surely day had dawned.


I felt a fear I’d be too late,

I quickly dressed and ran.

My shoes they beat upon the ground,

Though the puddles in the rain.


The rain bothered me not a bit,

My thoughts were far away.

When I approached the church I saw,

The lights already lit.


I ran up to that mighty gate,

And walked inside that place.

The holiest of holiest,

Where I would hear God’s word.


I saw candles so brightly lit,

But I could not feel their warmth.

And hymns that echoes through the air,

They were all strange to me.


I felt a chill then in the air,

As I gazed at the crowd,

Of men and women in the pews,

They were all sickly pale.


I saw them turn and look at me,

And horror, then I saw.

Sitting there among them was,

My long since deceased aunt.


Next to her a neighbor that,

Had passed away last spring,

And the priest he was the one,

I’d known when I was small.


They turned their hollow eyes at me,

They opened up their mouths.

And from them streamed such foul things,

They’d brought in from their graves.


The fear I felt it paralyzed,

When they all reached out to me.

With hands all withered and decayed,

They tried to ensnare me.


I knew that if they trapped me here,

They’d drag me to my death.

To join them in their rotting graves,

I’d be forever lost.


Finally I moved my feet,

I turned away to run.

But not before I felt someone,

Grab hold of my thick coat.


I yelled and pulled so very hard,

At first I could not budge.

But then with such a sickly tear,

I finally got free.


I ran and ran, so very hard.

I dared not glance behind.

For all through it I thought I heard,

The dead follow me close.


Finally I was home,

I collapsed inside my house.

I had escaped that terror that,

Which could have ended me.


I saw the time then and I gaped.

It was near 1 am.

And with a chill I knew it then,

That had been the dead’s own mass.


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