Before you read my two poems I’ve written for National Poetry Month and Cedar Hollow Review’s promotion of, I just want to thank Curtis for giving dark/horror poetry a shot, for supporting my own poetry and writing, and for promoting so many indie authors over the last few years. We talk a lot about the evil that is men, and heaven knows I do both in my poetry and daily life due to my trauma and life experiences, but I also want to point out that in the horror genre there have been so many men like Curtis who have encouraged and celebrated women writers and poets. Thank you very much for continually including me.
My poems this week come both from deep inner feelings of being unworthy, fighting inner demons that seem to haunt me at times, as well as my encounters on “the road” so to speak. The second poem was inspired because after I decided to get out of my home office more often to lift depression and change space, I also came face to face with many men who found me sitting in a t-shirt and leggings with a messy bun at my laptop in various places code to stare, touch, or harass me. It just brings up all my old sexual assault trauma again. So, how do I deal besides ranting on twitter? I write poetry.
Happy National Poetry Month! May you meet many horror and dark poets!
By Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
The ghost of you
Tears into my flesh
Unearths dirt under
Nails and duress.
Your invisible aura
Runs amok in my mind
Tendrils of loathing
as spindle of twine.
My breath feels miles away
I’m longing and scratching
And you still won’t be there.
Inside me, beside me
I can’t grasp hold
Alluding, like smoke rings
You evaporate if I’m close.
Darkness tinged with orange
A train whistle loudly blows forlorn
The river runs dry, a chilling wind
I can’t escape the longing within.
Stop Staring at Me
By Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
I feel like hand-sanitizing my entire body,
Plummeting in a sea of it, immersing.
Burning the stench of him or him or you
Out of my pores, and crevices, and folds.
Because scrubbing with soap and water till
my skin bled and seeped with ruin and rot
only masked the degradation, the humiliation.
I could light fire to my body just as it claims my
soul. Run into the flames, baring my pain as
kindling, and hear it crackle like water droplets
on a stove’s hot burner.
The stench of blackening skin is no worse than
the smell permeating my mind on a daily basis
from hatred of self.
I’m dirty. I’m ashamed. Fighting feels in vain.
And I want to just succumb to the blackness.
Tie a tourniquet around my heart and let it
fall into the great, lonely expanse.
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Biography
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She is an author and has twenty years of experience in her field in jobs as a writer, a journalist, an editor, and marketing and public relations professional/publicist, a librarian, and a children’s book seller.
Breathe. Breathe., published by Unnerving in Fall of 2017, was her debut collection and a mix of dark poetry and short stories. Upon publishing it hit #2 in women’s poetry holding for weeks behind New York Times best-selling author Rupi Kaur’s second release. In its past year of publishing, it has hit the Top 5 Amazon paid best-selling lists in women’s poetry and horror short stories multiple times. Her work has been called raw, honest, evocative, beautiful as well as clever, brutal, and chilling by industry professionals, reviewers, and readers alike. She has stories and poems featured in several other anthologies and magazines (Hardened Hearts, Enchanted Magazine, PEN’s My Favorite Story, Dark Voices, Spillwords Press, The Siren’s Call) and was the co-editor of the Gothic poetry and short story anthology Haunted are These Houses. In 2019, she’s busy writing several stories for anthologies in which she’s been invited and is heading into editing stages on two new collections, poetry-only, and searching for a publisher, as well as working on several short story collections and novels.
She continues her own businesses, Addison’s Compass PR, in which she’s worked for business and non-profits both, and Hook of a Book Media, the latter of which currently takes up most of her time as she does editing, publicity, and consulting for many authors. She’s proudly edited and publicized several Bram Stoker nominated works. Besides working for herself, she’s was an editor at Sinister Grin Press for almost three years and currently assists with marketing and public relations duties at Raw Dog Screaming Press.
Within the publishing world she also manages her own site Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, has conducted interviews and written for Beneath the Underground, The Horror Tree, and other sites, as well as served as an independent book award judge in the historical genre.
She’s been honored to have received a woman of achievement award in her community and to have represented the Business and Professional Women/Ohio as Ohio’s Young Careerist. She served as board president of her local mental health and rape crisis domestic violence safe haven for the past two years.
Proudly born in England, Erin now writes multiple stories, novels, and poems from the forests of rural Ohio where she frets over her three children and a cat.
About BREATHE. BREATHE.
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.
In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.
In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.
In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.
Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.
With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.
Amazon Purchase Link –
Also available via Kindle Unlimited.
Find in print at Barnes and Noble and other fine online retailers.
PRAISE for BREATHE. BREATHE.
“Breathe. Breathe. is a great collection of poetry and short fiction. The poems are dark and vivid. They touch at the core of the human condition. The poems are gritty and chilling. You can feel the doom and dread in each of the poems. Breathe. Breathe. is an emotional rollercoaster. The characters are troubled, and the author gives them just enough depth.” – Cedar Hollow Reviews
“Al-Mehairi creates engaging characters and often has twists to her plots that make for a unique reading experience. The highlight of this section would be the story “Dandelion Yellow,” a magical realist tale about a young girl and her box of crayons. It’s a rich, colorful tale with a suspenseful build up and haunting ending. Overall, the fiction section of the book is very well done.” – Cemetery Dance
“Breathe was so powerful, evocative, and personal.” – Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares
“Erin paints scenes and evokes emotions with precision and skill. These are the kinds of stories and poems that tighten your chest and leave you holding your breath.” – The Scary Reviews
“At times sinister, definitely dark, atmospheric and heavy with foreboding, this collection of poetry and short stories from Erin Al Mehairi touches our deepest fears. Murder, domestic violence and even an ancient Egyptian goddess all move within these pages where nothing is ever simple or straightforward.” – Catherine Cavendish, author of The Haunting of Henderson Close
“Breathe. Breathe. is at times haunting, visceral, bittersweet, and tender. Erin Al Mehairi bares her soul and invites readers to devour it whole.”
—Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching
“Erin Al-Mehairi weaves a web of narrative and poetry both beautiful and nightmare-inducing in Breathe. Breathe., invoking heartache and the need to see through the shining masks life presents us to confront the darkness it truly holds.”
—Michelle Garza, co-author of Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue
“A great deal of horror saturates this book, from authentic forms of abuse, to the teasing of paranormal elements. It can be easy to let a cover fool you, especially one as bright and deceptively cheerful as this one, but believe me when I say that it explores the grim and somber.” – Red Lace Reviews
” Whether in poetry or prose, dark kernels nestled within horror tropes indicate that Al-Mehairi writes from the gut and from the heart but with the fierceness of a survivor, the soul of a fearless champion. This mixed collection is a fine introduction to a strong, intriguing new voice in dark fiction.” – W.D. Gagliani, Bram Stoker Finalist, author of Wolf’sTrap (Nick Lupo Series)
“Perhaps my favorites were The Lighthouse Keeper’s Tale and The Society of Fireflies. Reading the stories, all excellent. Precise writing, compelling plots. I think my favorite was: The Madness of the Woodpecker. It’s a great example of perhaps a strong characteristic in both poetry and prose: unexpected endings. Difficult to do.” – Gene O’Neill, Bram Stoker Award Winning Author of Taste of Tenderloin
It’s full of the unexpected – bits of lace cut through with the odd and the horrible and the beautiful. Through it all I sense the power of a survivor!! And I love that!”
—Sue Harrison, internationally bestselling author of Mother Earth Father Sky (Ivory Carver Trilogy)