Poem 21 ± November 21, 2016

Roxanne Hoffman
Once Bitten

It’s been written, though never proved
that once bitten, by one less than thrice removed
from the source of the venom ― the plumed serpent rattling ―
that each night, thereafter, your soul alights upon black crepe wings.

You hear the hyena’s laughter howling insidious within your ear,
and though your flesh may crawl, goose-bumped with fear,
you’ll seek another bite to assuage the first bite’s sting
though you know in your heart of hearts it will only bring

you closer closer to the very deadly devil you dread,
but there’s hunger gnawing at your gut that must be fed,
a tumultuous torrent of anguish that never wanes
with no bedrock or floodgates so solid as to keep it contained.

So each night you cry out demanding relief,
seek that exalted moment no matter how brief,
drawn to an elusive elixir to salve your wound,
but once it’s relished, you’re forever tainted, forever ruined.

It’s been said, but never been proved
that once fed upon, by one more than twice removed
that the craving can be conquered and the heartache endured
if your love for a woman is steadfast and hers self-assured.

If for three days and a fortnight she stays true at your side
the blood lust within you may completely subside,
but if she succumbs, falls prey to your peril,
you’ll run with the wolf pack, invoke savagery feral.


roxanne-hoffmanRoxanne Hoffman is the founding publisher of Poets Wear Prada. Her poems have appeared in Amaze, Best Poem, Champagne Shivers, Danse Macabre, Hospital Drive, Lucid Rhythms, Mirror Dance, Nomad’s Choir, Red River Review, Shaking Like a Mountain, Word Slaw, and others journals, as well as in numerous anthologies and performances.

This poem appeared in The Riverside Poetry Workshop; SNM Dark Poetry; Dark Gothic Resurrected; Scarlet Literary Magazine; and Stolen Moments.