Come, Tituba

Tituba, ‘tis time to rise.
Come thee from thy grave.
Tis one year since last we caroused
‘mongst these Salem fools.
Help me tip the stone o’er my pet, Peeves.
Though his skeleton be small,
his rattling shall join ours this night.
His, the only kindness in that cellar,
waiting for the gallows to call.
No human came to visit that dank hole.
No other animal dared approach.
Feared the noose be looped
round their scrawny neck as well.
Only Peeves, my dearest black cat,
came and stayed,
curled atop my feet to the last.
Come Tituba, our metatarsals
brittle though they be,
shall haunt this town tonight.
Plod these desecrated streets
once again reminding all,
we were unequivocally wronged.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Lisa asks us to consider our pet peeves, some human characteristic that irritates us and then somehow connect that in a poem with a Halloween or Samhain theme. I admit. I struggled with this prompt and so took a bit of poetic license here. This poem is in reference to Salem, Massachusetts’ infamous witch trials and the scores of people who descend on Salem over Halloween night.

Tituba was the first girl to be accused of practicing witchcraft during the 1692 witch trials.

For those of you who’ve never been to Salem, it is replete with witch museums, wicca stores, and even a sculpture of Elizabeth Montgomery as her character in the television sitcom Bewitched. Lest one think that is the totality of Salem, it is also home to the amazing Peabody Essex Museum, PEM for short. For over 200 years it has been dedicated to collecting, preserving and showcasing compelling artwork throughout history and from around the world.

Photo from

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.

What Really Happened . . .

Best friends, we met secretly.
Listened in awe to Tituba’s tales.
Barbados voodoo, fortune telling.
So exotic to our young minds.

Betty’s father ranted,
not just pulpit preaching.
Everyday damnation,
spirit squelching abuse.

We craved attention, excitement.
Anything but embroidery
peeling potatoes, praying,
tending garden and the hearth.

Betty and Abigail started it.
Twitching, talking in tongues.
Rolling on the ground,
petticoats be damned.

I joined them and we ramped it up.
Rolled and spit and drooled,
hiked our skirts over our heads.

Center of attention were we.
Eyes on us, tongues wagging,
What? What was he talking about?

Too late. We’d gone too far.
He demanded, WHO?

Scapegoat. We didn’t know that word.
But forced by his shaking
we had to pick.
God forgive them. Betty and Abigail did.

They had the limelight as they screamed her name.
Jealous I was. I craved their fame.
Sarah Good! I screamed.
God forgive me my pride.

Now, two hundred people accused
Thirty found guilty. Nineteen hanged.
Oh my God, what have we done?
Young girls turned miscreants
in a Puritanical world.


Day 25: National Poetry Writing Month. Toads asks us to write a poem in which we “take on the persona of someone from history; and we write in the first person – as if we are that person.”

I’ve chosen to write in the voice of Ann Putnam who was 12 years old at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. She was good friends with Elizabeth Parris (Betty) and Abigail Williams, the first two girls (ages 9 and 12 respectively) who accused Tituba of witchcraft, thus lighting the spark of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Betty’s father was Reverend Samuel Parris, Putitan minister in Salem and central figure in the witch trials. Tituba was his slave from Barabados who, it is known, shared many stories of her culture and voodoo practices with Betty and her young friends. This is, obviously, a fictional narrative, told in the voice of Ann, as to the origins of the paranoia that filled Salem, Massachusetts in these Puritan times.