Horror and Thriller Poetry posted September 5, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
My more srious take on Rigor mortis, and death...

Death Rattle

by Dean Kuch


Clean white sheet pulled oe'r my head,

deafening silence — am I dead?

Body stiff, I cannot move.

Surely God would disapprove.


Something smells of rotting meat;

muscles ache—I've no heart beat.

barely breathing, very faint,

blood restricted by constraint.


Rendered prostrate in the gloom,

single candle lights the room.

Clouded eyes that scarcely see,

breeze bids flame to dance for me.

What malignancy is this?

Witch's spell—some poisoned kiss?

I can't speak nor move a tick.

An evil wizards parlor trick?


Muffled whispers of the dead,

flood my thoughts, invade my head.

Echoed voices in the dark.

Have I life, one shred ... a spark?


Corpses dance atop their graves,

rotting, knotting, ashen knaves,

gaunt white faces tucked in bone,

surround me here, I'm not alone.

Heaven's voices cry in vain;

Hell rejoices, demons reign,

old grave digger up and runs;

townsfolk follow — priests and nuns ...


Absolution, mindless chattel?

Hells inflamed, ignites the battle.

Earthen hole, my weak legs straddle,

gasping now—my own death rattle.



This was originally the poem I'd written for the Life and Death contest about Rigor mortis. Then, I had to quickly rework it after reading the contest required a humorous poem for an entry, and this is hardly humorous...

A death rattle is a physiological phenomenon which occurs in someone who is near death. The death rattle often plays a role in fiction, with Victorian authors in particular being especially fond of describing this phenomenon in lurid detail. When a patient develops a death rattle, it usually means that he or she is within 24 hours of dying. However, certain medical conditions can cause similar symptoms, making proper diagnosis critical to ensure that there is not another underlying cause.

When the death rattle develops, a patient's breathing starts to sound gurgly, as though the patient is gargling, and the noise can resemble that of a rattling or fluttering. The condition is caused by the accumulation of saliva and mucus in the throat, through which air will be forced as the patient breathes. Although death rattle does not necessarily indicate that the patient is in discomfort, it can be disconcerting for the patient's family and loved ones.

The death rattle is caused because the patient's coughing and swallowing reflexes are impaired or absent. Normally, people swallow on a regular basis to drain oral secretions from their throats, and they can also cough to expel mucus. In someone who is dying, this may not be possible, and as a result, these fluids build up.

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Pleasant Screams...

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