WIHM: Unzip Your Darkness

Women have made great strides in the world over the past few centuries. For example, rather than thousands of us being burnt or hanged for supposed witchcraft, we just get accused of being part of a witch-hunt for calling men out on their sexist bullshit. Baby steps, right? Obviously, women are still facing unimaginable horrors, one only needs to read the truly horrifying stories brave women have shared as part of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements to be aware of that. It’s no wonder women are so adept at writing horror. Horror is part of our daily lives, and we have many stories to tell.


My go-to writing is always poetry because, well, it is my first love, but for me it is the perfect way to craft a meaning from few words. Horror poetry is such an exciting niche because when you find kindred souls you can exchange your dark snippets with, it’s like finding your tribe of word-warriors who understand the places you’re coming from, without judgement. I’m a big believer in writing what you want to and ignoring the people who choose not to understand your point of view, and especially ignoring anyone who says, “oh you’re too nice or too cute to write horror, why would you want to do that?” But you can never be too much, you can only be you. So write what you want, and when that teeth-grinding kind of conversation happens, tell them you’ll see them in Hell as you sit on the throne, writing your next piece. This is our time to be dark, weird, eccentric, sexy, witty, literary, or whatever fills your heart with bursts of excitement as you craft those words into stories.


You must write because the stories in your finger bones demand it, because it is an exorcism of the pain you harbor, of those stories you haven’t been able to tell yet, but I know you can, because the world can be ugly, but the spilling of our horrors, whether they are based in truth or fantastical creations of a beautiful, haunted mind, brings some sense of dark beauty back into the roots of our souls, and because this is who you are, a storyteller. A writer. A woman who uses her voice to weave suspense, fear, terror, and driblets of blood into something incredible. So, go be incredible.


In closing, I leave a poem, (shocking, I know.) Happy writing, ladies!


Reach around back

until fingertips collide

with the zipper

notched into your spine

pull it down

step out of your skeleton

undress flesh from bones,

rattle them until they spill

the riddles in their marrow

riddles of womanhood

of understanding blood and love

in the way someone who constantly cleans

up blood does

from our own wounds

from cuts and scrapes of children

from between our thighs


redress yourself

your veins, those congealed lengths

of stardust and swallowed light,

brush off the grime

from your organs

they belong only to you

and only you

have the right to reveal their inner

workings, their life-giving secrets


as you reassemble your skin,

thank it for its hardness

protecting you, sheltering,

for its softness

allowing you to feel

when you choose to


pull the zipper back up

secure yourself in,

pick up a pen

tell the story of what you saw

inside your own flesh

tell the story of how

you witnessed beauty, darkness,

madness, life, love, everything

between all those bones




Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of Love For Slaughter, has published pieces in several journals, the most recent being with Abyss and Apex and Lycan Valley Publishing. She is a contributing editor for The Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program, and an active member of the HWA. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and at https://saratantlinger.wordpress.com/

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3 Responses

  1. Kimberly A Plasket says:

    i love this

  2. Thank you so much!

  3. I’m not sure why this comment didn’t show up earlier but we were thrilled to host your post! 😉