The Devil by Christopher Iacono

Issue 11

The mouth contracted to an arrow-like point,
a ghastly smile played, eyes flickered
like the eyes of a snake, shrill laughter,
a thunderclap crashed, a lightning bolt
flashed through the night, fire blazed
up the wall, the rafters, through the roof—
horrific unendurable smell of sulfur—
winds striking up roundelays for a grisly dance,
every peak, every crevasse howled and roared
mingled with the tortured moans of the suffering.


Source: Jeremias Gotthelf, The Black Spider, translated by Susan Bernofsky, NYRB Classics, 2013, pages 30–62.

Method: I wrote down all of the phrases in the book that contained strong imagery and re-arranged them to tell a story. Since this was a poem, though, I wanted to create a certain rhythm, so I trimmed some of the phrases or combined two or more that originally didn’t belong together. I also played with enjambment.

Christopher Iacono lives with his wife and son in Massachusetts. You can learn more about him at