Scary Poems to Read in the Dark


Welcome, my ghosts and ghouls. Gather around the fire, close now; it keeps the chill of the night away. You came to this post because you wanted to see and hear things that will scare you. Things that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck and make you doubt your senses. You’ve come to the right place.

We have a collection of chilling, creepy, and eerie poems for both you and your little ones to enjoy while the moon is high and the night is dark. For the adults, let these poems transport you to empty, barren fields on a cold fall night; to seemingly deserted houses dying for you to enter; to a world where a hunger for brains has taken over everyone you love. For the children, have poems that will excite you for the day Halloween arrives, and remind you of the scary thrill in a howling wind and a rattling, empty house. We’ll frighten the adults first with their collection of scary poems, and then give the little ones their batch of ghoulish fun.

Let’s recite these chilling poems before the fire goes out. You wouldn’t want to be here when the light disappears.

Scary Poems for Adults

All Hallows by Louise Glück

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

Ava by Christina Sng

And so she turned—

I kept her grunting and lost
In the guest bathroom
And soon the melody
Of her movements matched
The cacophony of the others
Shifting around outside.

How I longed
To open the door to see her.
But I knew she was no longer
The daughter I loved.

Yet a part of me wondered
If there was any bit of Ava left
In that shell.
If she was aware,
At some level,
Of what she had become.

Every night, I soothed her
With a song — the same one
I sang to her when she was a baby,
Nestled in my arms.

She always stopped her shuffling
And listened. But tonight,
She quietened and cooed,
And for the first time,
She said, “Maa maa,” slowly
And concisely as if she were
Struggling with vocal chords
Which were ripped beyond repair.

I could not help it.
I had to know.
Tears rolling down my face,
I placed my hand on the doorknob.

I took a deep breath and turned.

The City in the Sea, by Edgar Allan Poe

Windigo by Louise Erdrich

You knew I was coming for you, little one,
when the kettle jumped into the fire.
Towels flapped on the hooks,
and the dog crept off, groaning,
to the deepest part of the woods.

In the hackles of dry brush a thin laughter started up.
Mother scolded the food warm and smooth in the pot
and called you to eat.
But I spoke in the cold trees:
New one, I have come for you, child hide and lie still.

The sumac pushed sour red cones through the air.
Copper burned in the raw wood.
You saw me drag toward you.
Oh touch me, I murmured, and licked the soles of your feet.
You dug your hands into my pale, melting fur.

I stole you off, a huge thing in my bristling armor.
Steam rolled from my wintry arms, each leaf shivered
from the bushes we passed
until they stood, naked, spread like the cleaned spines of fish.

Then your warm hands hummed over and shoveled themselves full
of the ice and the snow. I would darken and spill
all night running, until at last morning broke the cold earth
and I carried you home,
a river shaking in the sun.

The Empty House by Walter de la Mare

See this house, how dark it is
Beneath its vast-boughed trees!
Not one trembling leaflet cries
To that Watcher in the skies—
‘Remove, remove thy searching gaze,
Innocent of heaven’s ways,
Brood not, Moon, so wildly bright,
On secrets hidden from sight.’

‘Secrets,’ sighs the night-wind,
‘Vacancy is all I find;
Every keyhole I have made
Wails a summons, faint and sad,
No voice ever answers me,
Only vacancy.’
‘Once, once … ’ the cricket shrills,
And far and near the quiet fills
With its tiny voice, and then
Hush falls again.

Mute shadows creeping slow
Mark how the hours go.
Every stone is mouldering slow.
And the least winds that blow
Some minutest atom shake,
Some fretting ruin make
In roof and walls. How black it is
Beneath these thick boughed trees!

I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain by Emily Dickinson

Do Not Speak of the Dead by Cecilia Llompart

I was born among the bodies. I was hurried
forward, and sealed a thin life for myself.

I have shortened my name, and walk with
a limp. I place pebbles in milk and offer

them to my children when there is nothing
else. We can not live on cold blood alone.

In a dream, I am ungendered, and the moon
is just the moon having a thought of itself.

I am a wolf masked in the scent of its prey
and I am driven — hawk like — to the dark

center of things. I have grasped my eager
heart in my own talons. I am made of fire,

and all fire passes through me. I am made
of smoke and all smoke passes through me.

Now the bodies are just calcified gravity,
built up and broken down over the years.

Somewhere there are phantoms having their
own funerals over and over again. The same

scene for centuries. The same moon rolling
down the gutter of the same sky. Somewhere

they place a door at the beginning of a field
and call it property. Somewhere, a tired man

won’t let go of his dead wife’s hand. God
is a performing artist working only with

light and stone. Death is just a child come to
take us by the hand, and lead us gently away.

Fear is the paralyzing agent, the viper that
swallows us living and whole. And the devil,

wears a crooked badge, multiplies everything
by three. You — my dark friend. And me.

To Live in the Zombie Apocalypse by Burlee Vang

The moon will shine for God
knows how long.
As if it still matters. As if someone

is trying to recall a dream.
Believe the brain is a cage of light
& rage. When it shuts off,

something else switches on.
There’s no better reason than now
to lock the doors, the windows.

Turn off the sprinklers
& porch light. Save the books
for fire. In darkness,

we learn to read
what moves along the horizon,
across the periphery of a gun scope—

the flicker of shadows,
the rustling of trash in the body
of cities long emptied.

Not a soul lives
in this house &
this house & this

house. Go on, stiffen
the heart, quicken
the blood. To live

in a world of flesh
& teeth, you must
learn to kill

what you love,
& love what can die.

Antigonish by Hughes Mearns

Remember Me by Cynthia Pelayo

Into the forest and all the way through, I ask you to follow my voice

Across the stream and through the hills, you’ll find a copse of trees

Unknown to many, lost to time, and tucked behind a bare branch

A ball of twine, a cigarette butt, a crumpled polaroid, you hear a giggle

The crunch of leaves, and the dread stabs your insides, and your breath

Oh! Your breath, how your breath catches in your throat, and you

Fall all the way down, into a hole so long ago hidden there, and now

You are within the ground, you smell the damp earth and pain, and

When you hear her voice you spin around and gain all the terror she holds,

Before you there, a girl who no longer is a girl, a girl who is bone and moss

Leaves tangled within her eye sockets, stretched down to her finger bone

Pointing above and pointing you out, and you climb against the rock

And stone, and she bids you adieu, begging you, pleading you, to make it

Safe, all the way home

Not-As-Scary Poems for Kids

October by Bobbi Katz

October is
when night guzzles up
the orange sherbet sunset
and sends the day
to bed
before supper
October is when jack-o’-lanterns
grin in the darkness
            strange company crunches
across the rumple of dry leaves
to ring a doorbell.
October is
when you can be ghost,
            a witch,
                        a creature from outer space…
almost anything!
And the neighbors, fearing tricks,
            give you treats.

Dusk in Autumn by Sara Teasdale

And thro’ the nursery window-pane
The witches have a fire again,
Just like the ones we make,—
And now I know they’re having tea,
I wish they’d give a cup to me,
With witches’ currant cake.

Enter This Deserted House by Shel Silverstein

Cupid by Amber Flora Thomas

His wings rest at his feet.
His fists curl inside a brown paper bag.
The alert beak propped on his head

aims down the block into sidewalk pools
of streetlight. His red lips make plump
numbers. He has so much candy

the bottom bulges. A pumpkin arrives
on spindly orange legs, followed by
a skeleton crew of two with unkept

postures, baggy knees, and flaccid spines.
A ghost sidles up, his sheet belted,
a baseball cap holding sloppy eyeholes

in place. He hurries off with his posse
of short immortals, leaving the
wings where he stood.

The mother says, “Oh, look,”
disappointment as she brushes rubble
from feathers. She searches through streetlight

for her angel, holding the wings
so he’ll dig his arms through the straps,
shrugging on tonight’s beast.

The moon is like a scimitar,
A little silver scimitar,
A-drifting down the sky.
And near beside it is a star,
A timid twinkling golden star,
That watches likes an eye.

This Living Hand by John Keats

The Night Wind by Eugene Field

Have you ever heard the wind go “Yooooo”?
’Tis a pitiful sound to hear!
It seems to chill you through and through
With a strange and speechless fear.
’Tis the voice of the night that broods outside
When folks should be asleep,
And many and many’s the time I’ve cried
To the darkness brooding far and wide
Over the land and the deep:
“Whom do you want, O lonely night,
That you wail the long hours through?”
And the night would say in its ghostly way,
My mother told me long ago
(When I was a little lad)
That when the night went wailing so,
Somebody had been bad;
And then, when I was snug in bed,
Whither I had been sent,
With the blankets pulled up round my head,
I’d think of what my mother’d said,
And wonder what boy she meant!
And, “Who’s been bad today?” I’d ask
Of the wind that hoarsely blew,
And the voice would say in its meaningful way,

That this was true I must allow —
You’ll not believe it, though!
Yes, though I’m quite a model now,
I was not always so.
And if you doubt what things I say,
Suppose you make the test;
Suppose, when you’ve been bad some day
And up to bed are sent away
From mother and the rest —
Suppose you ask, “Who has been bad?”
And then you’ll hear what’s true,
For the wind will moan in its ruefulest tone:

You’ve made it to the end. Such brave souls! I hope these short tales have given you the fright you were looking for. If not, there’s more where that came from:


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