CW: Death, blood, violence

“It’s still hot, and there’s no wind. The head

on the porch is rotting from the inside out

Like most objects we don’t know what to do with

we eschew the woods and decide instead to destroy.”

— “Three weeks after Halloween” 

Every time I see a man holding a knife, I am acutely aware that he could kill me. Even an act as innocent as slicing vegetables for dinner shocks a coldness through my veins; that realization that “This man could kill / me. You could kill me. The act would not be difficult / for you.” Throughout her debut chapbook Picnic in the Abattoir (Dancing Girl Press, 2021), Emma Hyche responds to the violent power dynamics that women experience throughout the horrors of both life and film.

Throughout the collection, there are multiple centos and after poems that marry the contents of older texts and modern films. In particular, “Final Girl Thinks We’re Alone Now” draws upon the journals of writer Sylvia Plath to stitch together a poem that captures the feeling of coming down from a traumatic event, searching over your shoulder for the monster that has been stalking you, whatever that monster may be: “Nothing is real except the present, and yet, accumulated vision lacquers surfaces glossy and opaque, and yet, the present runs shrieking to the horizon”. But as the moments move forward, nothing breaking through the quiet, we are met with the release of breath the speaker has held far too long. “I weep for there are no boundaries left to collapse, no other left to poison. O fringe-dweller that I am — I have loved with all the redness in my heart”.

“The Lead Detective” is a spliced combination of interrogation, reflection, and discovery, the detective, wading through his assumptions as he reads the scene; and the victim, wondering if she left enough of herself to be found and examined, reduced to bags of evidence.

It’s the boyfriend. It’s the husband. It’s the neighbor. There was a struggle.

There was no struggle.


The shape of how things should be lay over the shape of how things are

like a tarp, like a child’s ghost costume with two empty eyes.

This intertwining consciousness reminds us that no matter what is left behind, we will never have enough. Enough to know the whole truth. Enough to bring anybody back.

Packed with scream queens and demons, blood and blades, Picnic in the Abattoir by Emma Hyche will keep you in its grasp from beginning to end.

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