Cynthia Pelayo

Five Poems





As soon as I wake the sun is dying
No matter what you believe that orb is the ultimate trickster
Making you promises that its brilliance will give you solace
It moves from you, slipping away and falling behind
With that final strip of light on the horizon the betrayal is clear
We choke down the acceptance of night
We are abandoned by the day and left to wander Dante’s black forest
Thinking only of that glow which now bleeds on our minds
Maybe it will end as childhood dreams end
Maybe the sun is just an illusion and the night has been our constant






A reminded reminder of that what once was
We have forgotten that they were there once, and still hold form
Whispered names cringed through cracked stone and silence finds its home
You see we are ghouls but they have been baptized by the stars and liberated
Freedom from this life’s curses of trivialities; work and play
The corpse is not an erased chalk board for it is La Muerte
The dead stand with you, a hand rests on your shoulder
A cold kiss presses faith to your cheek
Eyes may not look upon its front steps
Feet may not walk the sidewalk toward the bodega
They think what you are thinking, right there
They sense what you are feeling, just then
We are afraid but they are redeemed
Taking from us the power of the day and the beauty of the night





A house on the South Side is opened until dawn
I’m unfamiliar with it and I don’t believe I will ever see it again
A dizzying light awaits me as I reach its creaking wooden steps
The house has been wasted away by bad dreams and horrible nights

Pausing at the door I wonder if I’m ready to make this deathwatch
There are memories here, more varied and bright than the stars overhead, and we cannot see
They have been clouded by the summer heat and the city’s gun smoke
The world is a lonelier place tonight

The house receives me as it has received so many over the years
Inside men and women are restrained to their seats in their tide of grief
Our own destinies are on pause for some time, unimportant now, and we wonder if they ever were
We speak things quietly, feeling our realities with a shared uselessness

I am saddened by what we’ve lost here
Lost with every good death
Their reading habits, their favorite pair of shoes
And we are all here to take part in this vigil wake
We are gathered here today to surround this being – the Dead Man
He is in good company and we will guard him this first night in death

We will miss this night, as we will miss his life
There will never be another memory like this
I stumble into the night, wiping away its sad breeze
The darkness guides me as I walk home, weary and forever in mourning





Collect St. Johns’ Wort this day to keep away the witches and evade their evil brew
High fires erupt over and above the ponds, rivers and lakes
For our sins are giving thanks six months before the Christ
Wood blisters under the heat, reds and golds splashed across the blue night
The earth smells of smoke and as it bleeds, we bleed
Darkness is wild and sweet here while we wait and listen
The sidewalks don’t know that once they weren’t sidewalks at all
This was all campo here, fields trampled by hope, but stolen by greed
All that is pushed aside as we wrap our arms around the forgotten
Luke 1:5-25 and this Holy Feast
Don’t search for your rosary beads they’ve turned to dust





These city streets are more than my angels, they are my blessed demons
They’ve refrained from stabbing daggers into my back but instead have jammed
ice picks in my eyes forcing me never to blink
All I see is blood running and it runs now on cold, soulless asphalt
Where I’ve walked I’ve wondered if others have felt my anguish
These were steps I sat down on once to cry
The trembling you feel when you walk up those stairs are mine
This city has given me loneliness wrapped in wicked misery
I kiss her goodnight each night and each morning she embraces me with her rusted hope
We are a domestic abuse the two of us and she knows that I will not abandon her
I want to walk her nighttime city streets but she keeps me inside
Lions and cobras lurk behind parked cars and in dark alleyways
Sometimes you can see spray painted warnings begging intruders to turn away
“Here be dragons”
I’ll wait until it is safe, which it will never be, but still I will never leave her




Cynthia (cina) Pelayo is the author of short story collection Loteria and the young adult mystery and suspense novel Santa Muerte published by Post Mortem Press. Her short stories and poems have appeared in DM, Flashes in the Dark, SNM Horror Magazine, Seedpod, Static Movement, and more. She is the Publisher/Gravedigger of Burial Day Books and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Science in Marketing and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an active member Horror Writer’s Association and Mystery Writers of America. You can find her on Twitter at @cinapelayo or at