A Slightly Stale Halloween Treat

As proof that the Internet never forgets, someone posted onto USENET a Halloween poem I wrote a decade ago and subsequently completely forgot about, possibly because it wasn’t especially good; the meter was all wonky, for one thing, and content-wise it more or less reads like I drank too much cough syrup, hallucinated and declared I was Edward Gorey. But what the hell. I’ve fixed the meter (somewhat) and have posted it behind the cut. Just don’t be expecting genius.

The Killer’s Lament

Here I sit, upon death row
Electrodes fastened to my toes.
And though I know that I must die
I think I should apologize
To those I know that I have wronged,
Beaten, strangled, stuck with prongs
It was not what I really meant;
All those deaths were accidents.

I did not mean to murder Sam
Though I beat him with a ham.
He said the meat was much too dry
I used his head to tenderize.
Nor did I mean to dispatch Sue
By filling both her lungs with glue.
In the end there were better
Ways for us to stick together.

I have to say I quite regret
Defenestrating my pal Chet.
But really, how was I to know
That window wouldn’t just stay closed?
Becky’s death — a random fluke;
My prints were planted on that flute.
And though they searched both high and low
They never found that piccolo.

I spare a moment for good ol’ Jake
Deposited into the lake.
I always thought that he could swim;
Restraints are what did him in.
And oh, how I do miss Peter
Though I stuffed him in a water heater.
He might not have gone into this verse
If I hadn’t put him in head first.

Bonnie, my bonnie, my, what a lass!
Taken down by methane gas.
If I knew then what I know now:
Just don’t mess with farting cows.
And I’ll admit, this point is moot
Albert I did electrocute.
Children, never take this risk:
Water and toasters just don’t mix.

Wendy was an awful neighbor
But I’m sorry about the elevator.
I did not know she was in the thing
When I snipped the cable like a string.
I’d like to remember my good friend Drew
Served up in a barbecue.
It was his idea, because you see
He always liked to say “Eat Me.”

I think I was misunderstood
When I tied up Katie in those woods
She always said she liked the bears
So I put honey in her hair.
Alan claimed he was a jock
So I crushed him with a rock.
His boast that he was made of steel
Turned out as something less than real.

No one was more surprised than Joan
When ferrets stripped her to the bone.
Upon reflection, it was foolhardy
To place bacon up and down her body.
Mike had on an amazing grin
When doused in liquid nitrogen.
It was not just for the hell of it;
He wanted to be in his element.

Bob declared I was a buffoon;
I set him aloft in a weather balloon.
But no one could have felt more grief
When it popped at 45,000 feet.
Jeremy was timid, Jeremy was shy
I placed him in an oven and set it on fry.
I should have known better, this was not
The way to help women think he was hot.

So you see, every death was accidental
I would not blame you if you thought I was mental.
But I would say that it is as such:
My problem is I cared too damn much.
Now here I go, to meet my God
And all the friends I put in the sod.
I have just one wish, if you wish to hear:
It’s to help them up there as I helped them down here.

17 Comments on “A Slightly Stale Halloween Treat”

  1. I know how you feel. Once I googled my name to see what would turn up, and found a poem I had written in an on-line poetry archive at the University of Kent. No clue how it got there, or why.

  2. So… wait… does this mean bacon cat was a ferret-feeding plot all along? You’re not like that Polish writer who was recently arrested, or Catherine Tramel are you? First you write about taping bacon to Joan, then you photograph bacon taped to your cat, and then….

    I’m worried about you, John. Not because of the rest of the poem, mind you. Only because of what appears to be a lifelong obsession with attaching bacon to people and things. I’d suggest a support group, but I think Bacon-Tapers Anonymous would probably end up consisting of you and three other guys goading each other into a frenzy of pork-product appending culminating in a cross-country county spree involving police helicopters, several Federal agencies, and a bloody shootout in which the highway patrol mercilessly guns you down while you and your co-conspirators throw bacon at them. You have a wife and child who need you, John. You must master this before it masters you.

    Just watch yourself, okay, man? We’re all here for you if we can help.

  3. “[C]ountry” was supposed to be struck-through: I’d be impressed if you made it out of state. But maybe I underestimate you.

  4. Bravo! Honestly, it reads more like Edward Gorey drank too much cough syrup and hallucinated he was Dr. Seuss. But it’s still better than Vogon poetry by a long shot.

  5. It kinda reminds me of that Nick Cave song “The Mercy Seat”, awesomely covered by Johnny Cash, except the body count is higher in this poem, and this one is more fun. I tittered a few times.

  6. Djscman, I was going to say that it reminded me of Cave’s Murder Ballads, in which 64 people shuffle off this mortal coil. I’ve just realized that I have an awful lot of music about people getting murdered. I’m not sure what that says about me. (Of course, most of it’s folk music, but still.)

  7. Along the lines of this poem, I vaguely remember reading a book a long time ago, where we were being introduced to a selection of fantastically evil people. One of them was introduced as “[X], who killed [some implausibly large number of people], each in a different way” The thing is, I can’t for the life of me remember what book it was, maybe it will ring a bell with somebody.
    Also, I get the impression that, in real life, serial killers really aren’t big into novelty, they seem to keep killing their victims all in the same way. Once a strangler, always a strangler, I guess.

  8. The content makes me think of Tom Lehrer’s delightful “The Irish Ballad”, verses 2 and 3 of which are:

    One morning in a fit of pique,
    Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
    One morning in a fit of pique,
    She drowned her father in the creek.
    The water tasted bad for a week,
    And we had to make do with gin, with gin,
    We had to make do with gin.

    Her mother she could never stand,
    Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
    Her mother she could never stand,
    And so a cyanide soup she planned.
    The mother died with a spoon in her hand,
    And her face in a hideous grin, a grin,
    Her face in a hideous grin.

  9. A poem by Kenneth Patchen:

    Come now, my child,
    If we were planning to harm you
    would we be waiting for you here by the path
    in the very darkest part of the forest?

  10. An Eric @2:
    Glad I wasn’t the only one to notice the affixation of thinly-sliced cured pork products in that ditty.

    I’m beginning to believe the things others say about you.

    Re scansion: With just a modicum of stretch, I note that the verse is a fair fit to the metronomic “88 Lines About 44 Women” by The Nails — the lyrics of which, appropriately, also contain a demise quota.


    Oh damn, it’s an earwormq%.j,=`8@@

  11. No, no, no, Mr. Scalzi…you’re the love-child of Edward Gorey and Dr. Seuss, but you’ve been consumed by a drunken Vogon who listens to Florence Foster Jenkins records while he composes his poetry.

    And that bacon fixation…a problem of long standing, obviously.

    The fact that this made me laugh, however, is undoubtedly a sign of my own tottering mental capacity, and so I shall sit quietly in the corner, just here, and decide which of my felines would look best in baconish accoutrements…here, kitty kitty kitty…

  12. I *didn’t* have to look up the word “Defenestrating”, for a very obscure reason:

    I used to work at Microsoft, on the Windows operating system. When someone like me chose to get another job, my manager would announce it as an “auto-defenestration.”

    And for those of you who can’t be bothered to look up the word, it means “to commit suicide by jumping out a window.” Thus the joke.

  13. “Defenestration” isn’t necessarily a suicide: it actually refers to throwing something out a window–usually a person. I learned the word in history class back in high school: “The Defenestration of Prague” is one of the most memorable events of the Protestant Reformation, if only because the event (and its name) sound more like the culmination of a Monty Python sketch than a historic purge.

    More can be found here:


  14. It’s the “auto” part that makes it a suicide in my story.

    John, I hope you aren’t planning on getting your songs on the radio because no D.J. would be able to pronounce the word.