With Halloween almost upon us, I figured if there was ever a time to revel in being dark, it’s right now. (Though it’s not like it needs to be Halloween for you to revel in darkness. If you’re feeling dark or sad or desperate or angry, you’re going to feel that way whether it’s Halloween, the 4th of July, or International Dog Day). In any case, it is almost Halloween, holiday of darkness, so I dug up some poetry I wrote during some of my days that didn’t feel exactly like summer breezes and unicorns frolicking in the meadow. I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and if you happen to recognize any of the words below, it’s because I’ve posted some of these lines below to my Instagram in the past.

By Hallie Shepherd

Dead Man’s Float

The plank sure seems a welcome end
Saltwater lungs, ragdoll zen
But they taught this girl the dead man’s float
Wish they hadn’t but I’ve always known
Face down and you wait it out
Sun set, sun rise, ’til you lose count
Three fishermen, that’s how they lived
All those days, they wouldn’t give
You feel the parch, but it’s all a lie
Makes you sick for a moment’s respite
Don’t drink it, drink it, but God, I want it
This salty sickness, I just can’t stop it
But a boat’s a’coming to pluck me dry
No! I scream. Leave me behind!
Flood these lungs and drown my sighs
This watery grave, at least it’s mine


Night Swimming

Black cold water
Below, the hands of a thousand corpses
Dumped from river’s edge
Invite me to join their party
A sad affair, far from shore
Beyond the lights, I think I’ll go

The water bleeds and blurs my dance card
Until all the times there never were
Are just a black mess of mystery
No one will ever read

If they sweep the river, they’ll find my body
But they’ll never find me
All the words I never wrote
Stay with me in deep, still waters



Last time, the ship went down
But I stayed put
Watched the lifeboats
Turn to dots in the distance
They say the band played on
But that’s a myth
It was just the echo
Inside all those dying minds
It was just the echo of
Wishful thinking



Danger, danger! High wave warning
Rush the children off the sand
Let the scorching sirens sound
Swallow up the ones who sinned
Black crack skies and bright white pearls
All those crying mermaid girls
Waves of fire come a’crashing
Currents strong as days are long
Danger, danger! Sirens sound
Watch the ships run a’ground
Overturn the suntanned chairs
Danger, danger! Send up flares
Waves of fire, take me please
Drag me straight out to sea
Drowning, drowning… set me free…



Hallie Shepherd is a writer, actress, and film producer. Follow her on Instagram where she celebrates the stories we tell.