This collection opens with a four line poem. A simple, unintimidating sentence:
Demons come in many forms Some with teeth and some with horns But none so vicious as the hordes That came to be when you were born.
This introduction reads easy but holds so much beneath the surface. It’s an acknowledgment of the demons we all face and that they do not always come in the forms presented by our fictions. It’s an acknowledgment that they are legion. It is an acknowledgment that new ones are born with, and borne by each of us. But, implied in all of that is that our demons are our own, each individual to our own experiences, and often things that are held within ourselves.
And that is the first sentence.
This is what Donna does. She takes words and cuts them down to the bone. Yes, there are the straight up, super descriptive horror pieces like “Woman” that will convince your skin to go crawling off on its own. Yes, there are the longer more narrative pieces like “Guest.” There are also my preferred super short pieces like the above Introduction or the incredibly chilling “Treat.” All of these can be taken for what they give you and be easily enjoyable.
Or, you can look past the clattering skeleton to the ghost of the flesh hanging off of it and delve into some intense moments of introspection, warning and psychological curiosity balanced against raw, scraping emotion.
To me, that is what separates poets I enjoy from poets I adore. While Donna has long been in the adore category, Choking back the Devil cements her among those I consider vital reading.