Tag Archives: Gothic

New Short Story: Our Dearly Departed – My First Western Gothic

Martha Mallory of Butte, MT ~1900

Today my story “Our Dearly Departed” went live on Coffee House Writers. Thank you so much to my friend Seth for all of his help on the fact-checking and historical research for this story. He’s actually the inspiration for writing a western and has been a huge encouragement to me breaking out of writing in the American Gothic genres in more regions across the United States.

Family name unknown – Kirksville, MO 1890-1910s

This story focuses on the subject of post-mortem photography and how it was used in the era of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny. For those that could afford photography sessions in the territories, a luxury service not afforded to most people unlike in eastern states, it was all about creating a facade of preserved standard of living to share with the family back home. This involved false windows, painted backdrops, and curating a scene that matched what people wanted their families to believe, even in death. Given the expense, the photographer was called out to a home for births, deaths, and marriages only if they didn’t have a studio set up yet. Most photographers traveled until the 1890s – 1900s when the railroads allowed town populations to grow enough to sustain studio spaces, as opposed to the photographer traveling to each individual business request. These areas would later become “the flyover states.”

Family name unknown (this is also a hidden mother photograph) – Omehee, ND 1890-1910s

I will write more on the subjects of western cabinet card era photography (post-mortem, momento mori, mourning, etc), as well as how it differed across various regions of the United States, and how it intersected with American Spiritualism and legal fraud in the future. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this short story inspired by my research so far with cultural and historic details assisted by a dear friend and someone I would consider extremely knowledgable on the West. Hopefully my skills at writing American Gothic style period pieces pertaining to this region of the United States improves.

Knute, Hauge, and Welhalle – ?, ND (I’m not certain I’m reading their names correctly as the handwriting is difficult to decipher) 1890-1910s

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day! Remember to breathe 🙂

An Examination of Death – A Poem

Here is the next of this series of forgotten poems from 2000 – 2005. I used to use a lot more structure in my poetry and didn’t actually start experimenting with avant garde/free verse until I was in college.

At the end of the poem I decided to add a final stanza to provide closure to the narrative and try to make sense of the story being told.



An Examination Of Death

Marybeth died at 65
Too bad her children aren’t still alive
No one was there to plant the tree
On top of her mound to set her free

Harold passed at only 7
Told his mama he was going to heaven
Didn’t hear the fights night and day
Or the shot fired when Mama got in the way

Tommy was gone in ’44
Never had been to war before
When his bride received the news
Next they found her in a noose

Kristy was only 18 years old
When her poor mama was told
She took her life one sunny day
Leapt from the building – cross the way

Daisy was a carefree girl
Loved her Johnny’s special lure
Watched him die before her eyes
At the hands of paradise

All the world can find its fate
Then associate and relate
With every death comes less time
All to end this awful rhyme

Daisy stands by Marybeth’s stone
Knowing they both were together alone
She kneels down to plant a seed
So finally her soul, from pain, is freed


Thank you for taking the time to read these today! Have you ever found any of your old writing? What did you think of it? What do you think of this one? I’d love to hear in the comments!

If you’d like to see more of my forgotten poetry, please like, comment, and/or share this post. It helps me know what content my readers are most interested in seeing, so I can better know what to share here.