Flash contest #16: Write an unsettling poem
Create a poem with an eerie or creepy tone. You can make the poem as nonsensical or as relatable as possible, but retain the sense of being unsettled throughout.
The week commencing July 13th (Daily Creativity prompt #81) was our sixteenth week of flash contests, with a sinister challenge set by contributor and writing workshop member Liam Hancock, 13. It seems everyone had plenty of scary stuff to get out of their systems–we had an absolute record number of entries this week: more than 70! Well done Liam for setting such a terrifically inspiring challenge, and thank you for all your work helping us read and judge our huge pile. It was really fun working with you.
We were looking for the creepiest, most unsettling poems for our winners' list, and we certainly found them! While all our winners had slightly different subjects, all of them built tension through their poems to a frankly terrifying end; and they showed us that while sinister, creepy, eerie things often come at night, these feelings can be evoked in broad daylight, too. The honorable mentions were equally varied, moving between suspense, nightmares, death, unexplained disappearances–and even managing to make a butterfly into something sinister. Well done, everyone.
Also, there were a few entries that didn't place in the contest, but which we will share with everyone on our COVID-19 blog in the coming weeks–well done to Samson Brown, 13; Madi Frank, 11; Eleanor Levy, 8; Lucas Lin, 11; Aviva Rosenstock, 9; Olivia Wang, 10.
Thank you to all of you who entered and successfully unsettled the judges, and special congratulations to all of our worthy winners!
"In the Light of the Red Moon" by Katherine Bergsieker, 12, Denver, CO
"Something Peculiar" by Fern Hadley, 11, Cary, NC
"Shattered" by Meleah Goldman, 10, Oakland, CA
"Count Them Down" by Ella Yamamura, 12, Cary, NC
"A Little Off" by Keira Zhang, 12, Belmont, MA
"Lucid Dreams" by Aiden Avedissian, 9, Valley Glen, CA
"Tick Tock" by Morgan Dodd, 13, Portland, OR
"When Mark Went Missing..." by Daniel Shorten, 9, Mallow, Ireland
"Lifeless Vessels" by Ismini Vasiloglou, 11, Atlanta, GA
"The Butterfly" by Michela You, 11, Lexington, MA
You can brace yourselves and read the winning entries for this week below, and catch up with previous weeks' contests and winners at the Flash Contest Winners Roll page.
In the Light of the Red Moon
Katherine Bergsieker, 12
When the light of the red moon
Illuminates the night
You can see what normally stays tucked away,
The tree, unveiling
Its gnarled branches
To grab unsuspecting people.
The bird without a head
That only dares to come out
When protected by the red moon’s light.
The flowers, digging
Through their dehydrated roots.
The grass, silently
That must mean something
And a girl, all alone
In the eerily silent
Unaware of the odd actions
From those around her.
As the starlight and red moon
Highlight her almost lifeless eyes,
She treads water
A part of her face
Chips off into the water.
“It is time,”
In her own language,
Blowing a kiss to the lake.
She lifts her head
Up to the stars,
The stars shift
As though in a
Then they grab the girl,
Pulling her towards them.
Her hair floats underneath her,
Her eyes peacefully closed,
Looking as though
She is lying on a board,
But she isn’t.
Tiny bits and pieces
Permanently embedded into the lake,
As dark as the night sky that it rests underneath,
Singing chilling songs
To the girl
In the dark,
Illuminated by the ghostly light
Of the red moon.
Fern Hadley, 11
Meleah Goldman, 10
The perfect duplicate of myself,
looking back at me with piercing blue eyes,
through the fragile glass of a mirror.
I confide in her my every move.
Her rippleless dark hair
sun kissed skin
her muted face
identical to mine.
mysterious and eerie things.
You in another parallel land,
Does she know what world my thoughts have created;
what I am saying?
I try to touch the girl in the mirror
as she tries to touch me
yet only feel the cold, stinging,
hardened surface of the glass.
I look back at my own stabbing blue eyes.
I hear a crack
The mirror shatters.
The fragmented remains of the mirror
Shows my own reflection,
Now cracked and frail.
In the jagged edges of the mirror,
I see a silhouette that is not mine.
Eyes like bottomless black holes; forever churning in hunger.
Its alarmingly faded face . . .
Thump . . .
Thump . . .
Count Them Down
Ella Yamamura, 12
A Little Off
Keira Zhang, 12
The sun bounced off of her ivory skin
This was a day to forget about him
Best friends till death he lied
In the end, there was no surprise
Everyone she loved, left her; the word she came to know was: betray
But she would try to forget about it today
There was a new fair not too far
Maybe the happiness would drag her out the dark
Not a single cloud in sight
The sun gleamed oh, so bright
Kids littered the place
Licking ice cream with a smiling face
But even with the pastel candy floss
Even with the famous ring toss
Even with screams of adrenaline
Even with the popcorn tins
There was something off about this place
Something a little off about this case
Everyone was too happy
Something about this world felt nasty
As she looked around once more
She saw something that made her sick to the core
Their sinister glares behind that grin
She knew that they were thinking of something grim
So she looked away and turned around
And then their lips shaped to frowns
“But won’t you stay?” A worker near the exit asked
She shook her head telling him that she had an urgent task
A hand grasped her ankle, pulling her back
She flinched away from that sudden attack
“Shall I rephrase this,” he said. “You will stay.”
That was the last time she saw the light of day