Their fashion is meant to intimidate, and it works—boys and girls both.
Canine-like buttons on upcycled black coats
that reach their knees—pants or kilts also end here
so hairy, muscled calves and toughened, street-tarred feet
gawk out, abrupt in winter
as much as unrelenting black layers frown at summer.
Hair in natural manes or haloes or shaved off to a skull-shine
(even occasional huge dreads, like extra limbs) underscore
that the only unity is in dramatic measures of individuality.
Then, without fail, in sallow or gleaming skin tight over their bones
—a stain of red on the lips. Careful watching determines:
it is not makeup or food-stain but forever tattoo ink
by an artist whose cunning makes each mouth unique
in the appearance of a fresh kill’s blood wet on their skin.
They laugh when called wannabe vampires.
There are no cannibalistic ritual convictions (though cops watch closely.)
But seems odd that no one knows these punks pre-feral.
No parents shaking heads at rebellion, no relatives muttering blame.
They emerge, full-formed, from the fire escapes of the city.
And these youths get in no trouble with the law beyond loitering—
have the appropriate IDs for drinking, clubbing, smoking.
None of them are ever too old for the scene, either—they disappear after their season.
Like some rumspringa of exposure to a toothless world,
before vanishing back where blood ink runs.
Or so we imagine.

Zetetic separator

Bethany Powell is fascinated by the strangeness of society and sometimes (like with Urban Bloods) dreams up more logical explanations for the strangeness. She currently lives and is inspired by weird rural Oklahoma. Her poems have appeared recently in magazines like Liminality, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Through The Gate—you can find more to read at

Leave a Reply