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Candle and Pins

Poems on Superstitions

Jacqueline West

Published by Alban Lake Publishing at Smashwords

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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without expressed written consent of the author and/or artists.

Candle and Pins is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Poem copyrights owned by Jacqueline West

Cover illustration “Gentle is the Beast” by Marge


Cover design by Laura Givens

First Printing, February 2018

Alban Lake Publishing

P.O. Box 141

Colo, Iowa, 50056-0141 USA


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To Ryan

The poems of "Candle and Pins" are inspired by familiar—and some unfamiliar—superstitions, ranging from love charms to burial practices, parsley seeds to the evil eye. Like superstitions themselves, these poems explore the terrain where magic and everyday life intertwine, and where beauty, horror, fear, and belief combine in ways both new and ageless. 


Candle and Pins – Poems previously published:

“Abracadabra” – Goblin Fruit, October 2009

“Black Sheep” – Fantastique Unfettered, December


“Candle and Pins” – The Willows, July 2008

“Corspelight” – Paper Crow, October 2010

“Doppelgangers” – Goblin Fruit, October 2008

“Eggshells” – Mythic Delirium, May 2008

“Family Ritual” – Aberrant Dreams, October 2008

“Escaping the Dawn” – Cover of Darkness, June


“Mother-Die” – Stone Telling, December 2010

“Sin Eater” – Paper Crow, April 2011

“The Calendar of the Dead” – Strange Horizons,

April 2008

“The Evil Eye” – Illumen, April 2010

Colonists’ Churchyard

The first to be buried in a new graveyard is a tithe to the Evil One.

It may be a shame

to put you here


the first stone,


bedded deep in the grass,

nothing carved on its face

but the year.

No one knows

when your life began

or where,

only that it ended


down a fresh-cleared road,

among strangers,

in a house that no one shared.

Maybe the stories

were unfair,

the tales exaggerated:

your fondness for black cats,

your mutterings

in an unfamiliar language,

the way herb gardens

and unfurling roses

would slack into wrinkles

when you passed by.

Perhaps the company

you kept

is not what will keep you now,

what will bring you

into its shadowy fields,

underneath its wide black wings.

Who can say?

We have nothing

but our own ways,

the surety that one of us

will be next

to take a bed

in the fresh green yard,

next to close our eyes

on the faces of friends

and family,

all those who will vouch

for our good names,

and carve them here,

clean and sharp,

for all to see.


Witches, as some affirme…can saile in an egge shell, through and under the tempestuous seas.”

- Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584

Led through the refuse by their long noses,

seeking halves left whole by too-young brides,

they shrink from the height that straddles a


to the hatchling that rests in a cracked shell.

Sculling the water, they are jagged-edged bubbles,

broken eyes; they are dead leaves in a breeze

that bumps over the waves’ stampede of black


Whether the sailors hear them arrive—the papery


of shells at the hull, the scrape of their fingernails,

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