Witch Trial Residuals

Hanged in 1692,
they haunt the streets of Salem still.
Blood-drained ashen apparitions
unabashedly bitter,
they wander far beyond their graveyard.
October tourists beware.
They seek revenge from you who gawk,
bring money to town’s coffers.
Fury unleashed, ashcans ready
to harvest your souls.

Written for Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Sarah asks us to use the word “ash” or a form of the word, in our poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. I’ve used the word “ashen” and the word “ash” is hidden within three other words – can you find them?

Salem, Massachusetts is the home of the infamous Salem witch trials. Begun in the spring of 1692, Bridget Bishop was the first to be hung in June at Salem’s Gallows Hills. Nineteen more were hung that month. Some 150 were ultimately accused. There were other means of execution. Today, almost a half-million tourists flock to Salem in the month of October, frequenting the various witch museums, related shops, and of course, the graveyards.

25 thoughts on “Witch Trial Residuals

  1. Ron. October 18, 2021 / 12:30 pm

    As they say in Massachusetts (esp near Boston) this is WICKED GOOD.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) October 18, 2021 / 2:29 pm

    The story of those witch trials is so well-known and so very scary. We had a massive witch processing 1668-1676 when hundreds of women were executed… The story was similar in the sense that it was children who were witnesses. All that cash you can rake in these days is a bit sickening.


  3. Ken / rivrvlogr October 18, 2021 / 2:46 pm

    “Blood-drained ashen apparitions
    unabashedly bitter,”



  4. Ingrid October 18, 2021 / 3:03 pm

    I read ‘The Crucible’ at school, but I didn’t realise Salem had become a tourist attraction! I visited a ‘witches’ village’ in Spain once, and there was a large pig lying in front of a gift shop. Perhaps a former customer who had not been polite to the shopkeeper…


  5. Grace October 18, 2021 / 3:07 pm

    Spooky one Lillian but a good place to visit during Halloween. I cannot imagine the agony of those witch trials from the past.


  6. sanaarizvi October 18, 2021 / 3:46 pm

    Oh those witch trials from those days are enough to spook one even today! A scrumptiously spooky quadrille, my dearest Lillian 💝💝


  7. msjadeli October 18, 2021 / 3:50 pm

    I like the “witch” murders to lynchings. Women and people of color have been on the receiving end of white male supremacy for a long long time. I’m glad you chose to highlight the Salem victims in your quadrille and am hoping the visitors to Salem show the proper respect for the departed.


  8. psyche October 18, 2021 / 3:57 pm

    “they wander far beyond their graveyard.” … love that line


  9. merrildsmith October 18, 2021 / 4:15 pm

    I was just thinking about Salem today! So many theories about what actually happened there (and in the nearby region). As Bjorn said in Sweden, too–and also in Scotland.
    I was only in Salem once–not in October–and we didn’t go to any of the witch tourist places.


  10. ByteSizedStudio October 18, 2021 / 4:19 pm

    I’m from MA and LOVE Salem, it is one of my favorite towns.


  11. Gillena Cox October 18, 2021 / 5:12 pm

    Creepy scary!!!


  12. Tricia Sankey October 18, 2021 / 5:41 pm

    I bet the energy there is unsettling… this creepy quadrille gave me goosebumps!


  13. Masa October 18, 2021 / 6:51 pm

    I adore the connections between the haunting and the endless continuation of the city’s sin. Clever clever.


  14. Glenn A. Buttkus October 18, 2021 / 7:28 pm

    Your last line is killer, and your tale is so well told. Our Puritan forefathers did some pretty awful stuff; unfortunately, just another bloody page in history.


  15. lynn__ October 18, 2021 / 7:56 pm

    I like the hidden ash in words “unabashedly, unleashed, and ashcans”!


  16. writingwhatnots October 19, 2021 / 5:19 am

    Very seasonal! And spookily threatening.


  17. ben Alexander October 19, 2021 / 5:38 am

    I have fond memories of visiting Salem at least twice as a kid, Lillian – it’s interesting 🙂

    Also, I must confess that I had to look up ‘ashcan’!



  18. Jane Dougherty October 19, 2021 / 9:41 am

    Funny how it was always women. Just the odd man, but hundreds of women. I’d probably haunt too.


  19. memadtwo October 19, 2021 / 10:21 am

    It seems a strange thing to celebrate. (K)


  20. K.Hartless October 19, 2021 / 12:57 pm

    Spooky, and lots of shushing or conspiring whispers throughout the poem from the hidden “ash,” makes me think it’s best to tip-toe quietly past.


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