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Patricia Flaherty Pagan

dark Fiction & Poetry 

Murderous Sisters & Women In Horror Month

In Celebration of Women in Horror Month 2018, I’d like to share a disquieting horror poem, “Proposal After An Acquittal,” that I penned a few years ago for a horror anthology from Mad Girl’sPublishing. (I’m  thrilled to share that my latest horror poem about revenge at the carnival, “Ferris Wheel,” is featured in their new anthology, Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions.) A daughter of Massachusetts, I share the popular fascination with the Borden family. Was a murderess acquitted? Could others, such as her sister, have been involved? Questions linger.

Lizzie and Emma Borden

The case is also an intriguing example of historical sexism, because the jury considered that as a member of the fairer sex, with the accompanying fragility & moral sensitives, Lizzie Borden simply could not have committed such a heartless crime. No woman could. Modern murder investigations disprove these sexist assumptions. While crime statistic still show that more men commit murder, they also suggest that some modern women do commit bloody murders.

These lethal women at times escape justice. But what becomes of them, and their families, afterwards? This question led me to consider the life of Emma Borden, after her sister’s trial. I share with you, dear reader, my imaginings of Emma’s thoughts & emotions…


Why tell you our truth now, darling Richard, when the lamplight grows low and you look at me, my love, your pale features aglow with expectation?

Brutal memories whisper, even this happy night

Had the metal locks not gleamed, so severe,

Had her skirts not whispered taunts,

Had Papa’s hands unclenched from his wretched purse

Long enough for one soft pat on our upturned cheeks.

Why dash your hopes, when we could stoke the fire?

“Dear Emma, Dear Emma,” your hymn,

But do you know to whom you offer

Your hand, hearth and hatchet?

Do you assume our testimonies festered

In the trials of two sisters’ loyalty?

Had I ridden home,

When the chatter became stale

And the games of cards, tedious…

 Why reach towards you with one, outstretched, gloved hand and the pull back to reveal our household demon?

Undertakings, my sister’s and mine

bleed To “Might have been.”

But sharp, metal rage has no recourse

No redemption.

Yes, we could take Lizzie on, but no. No one ever shall. Shrouded gospels sit on her tongue. Never fathomed.

Her secrets mine,

Our sins, intertwined.

I have often thought

As she and I sit on our lonely perch, embroidering

How I would alter one fading, summer moment

And save us

From this mist of suspicion.

 Your hat, dear Richard, for you dare not return. This night ever shall gleam inside me.

To be honest,

Gentle friend,

My midnight side regrets

That Lizzie set upon them first.

*Previously Published in Hair Raising Tales of Horror

Thirsting for more eerie poetry? Find my poem of revenge at the carnival, “Ferris Wheel,” featured in Mad Girl’s Publishing’s new release, Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions! It’s available now on Amazon as both a paperback and an ebook. Get your copy today: