The Witch Burns Bright

the air itself chokes me with its fingers

clutch   of graham-colored smoke around my throat.
sisters   do not trust them
fae cousins   do not let them consume
the dreamtime solstice

they will strip it bald

the oven runs on fireballs and cupcakes

Gretel shovels candies
flames rise — jelly-belly-fish tendrils
stupidity stings
gobstoppers with cinnamon hearts:
bright coals will feast on
folly in fevered final seconds
“never take in boarders,” mother told me
“build a candy house because sugar preserves,
kills bacteria,” but she never mentioned
ants or fourth graders

licked and suckered
by this black forest dryad i
saw the need
for love in Hansel’s eyes
not the truth of his rumbling gut

sugar hushed hunger barely quelled
a fibonacci spiral curled through her blond locks
i didn’t understand the math
rooted in her gums
a sweet tooth for periodic chaos
these are new monsters
these are new monsters
Eric and Dylan
Bonnie and Clyde
turbulence at their centers
their golden ratio is a formula for our destruction
a new age of revenants
stalking young lovers
in the dense   pencilled woods

nihilists not moralists
they believe in nothing
they will replace us

i gave them too much

Gretel filled Hansel with empty calories
tugging the heartstrings of an addict by the bags under his eyes
he became her desperate igor

i would have adopted them
taught them our way

outside by the green mint grass
gingerbread men
scream as he tears off their heads
between his fat teeth
buttercream mouths
shout for help
he grows—changes.
castle freaks don’t let them in
eyes like green gumdrops
skin covered
in malignant nerds
Gretel turned
Hansel’s rage
a smaug gorging on carbs
you can’t deny
him love if he devours
screams toast like marshmallows
sadness sticky and white at the center
each new death pulls apart
my soft tollhouse heart
as I caramelize a brown sugar
elegy to good intentions
hair runs
like hot fondant fingers
turn pink yellow green pixie stix cocaine
cocaine puffs of cheeks elbows broken
Valentine hearts taste chalk ash
my tongue
peanut brittle under
weight of betrayal
flesh rises
plague bumps
forehead bursts
pistachio icecream
I scream
you’ll scream
skin melting
pistachio icecream
icedream aztec-chocolate-sacrifice
blinds my eyes i
pistachio icecream
i scream i scream i scream

David Arroyo is a nerd and ex-Catholic, and a former altar boy to boot. He loves horror films and verse novels. Rumor has it he is currently teaching college composition in China. His Dungeons & Dragons alignment is Neutral Good. He holds an MA in English from Florida State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast. He’s been published in Stirring, Silver Blade, The Stonecoast Review, Burningword Literary Journal, and Abyss & Apex. His website is

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