The Dead Man’s Fingers

Inspiration and Prompt

I’d like to thank fellow writer Vincent Moore for encouraging me to write a poem based on a photo called ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ recently shared on Facebook. This poem is the result of that prompt.

Forest in the Mist
“I shivered as I walked alone
through the early morning mist.”
The Dead Man’s Fingers

I shivered as I walked alone

Through the early morning mist.

Hoping at this time of day

I wouldn’t yet be missed.


The forest floor was slippery,

The foliage damp with dew.

I trudged on through the undergrowth,

All thoughts on finding you.


My flashlight danced amongst the trees,

To light the semi-dark.

A sudden shrieking made me jump,

It was just a startled lark.


I pushed through branches, vines, and webs,

Not knowing where I was,

No way of telling east from west,

T’was clear that I was lost.


It seemed my quest was hopeless

But something drove me on.

I had to solve this riddle

Of where my love had gone.


A clearing opened up ahead

As the sun began to rise.

This place must hold the answer

To end a million lies.


A week ago you’d last been seen

Entering this wood,

To find those special mushrooms

That made your food so good.


The police had scoured the forest,

But their search had been in vain.

Any clues there may have been,

Washed away with days of rain.


I shuffled through leaf litter,

Pushed fallen logs aside.

I had to find the woman

Who vowed to be my bride.


An ill-placed foot on mossy rock

Caused me to slip and fall,

The horrid sight that met my eyes

In nightmares, I’ll recall.


Poking through the leaves and moss

Of the eerie forest floor,

Eight grotesquely pleading fingers,

“Please save me!” they implored.


I stared in shock, mouth gaping

At those ghostly fingertips,

Tears of sorrow soaked my cheeks,

But no sound passed by my lips.


I turned and stumbled through the wood,

Escaping truths revealed.

Hastening back to my home

To report the corpse concealed.


The deathly fingers beckoned,

Reaching from the ground,

Calling to the searchers,

Needing to be found.


I helped to lead the police team

To the clearing where you lay,

But more surprises were to come

To light that very day.


They dug the soil around the hands

To find what it may hide,

Then the Chief Investigator

Came and sat down by my side.


“Mr. Jones,” he said quite calmly,

“I’m not sure how this may sound,

But there is no human body

Buried in this ground.”


“But what about the fingers..?”

I started to reply,

“Poking up from out the ground,

Reaching for the sky.”


“They are a type of mushroom

That really is quite rare,

They’re called the ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’,

But there is no body there.”


“So, Sally is still missing?

A week is much too long.

You really have to step it up!”

All sense of closure, gone.


To this day no trace of you,

All sightings have proved wrong.

Now and then they find a clue,

But nothing very strong.


Your disappearance haunts my dreams,

The mystery, it lingers.

Visions still invade my mind

Of those gruesome ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’.

Dead Man's Fingers

John Hansen © 2016

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John Hansen

Longtime poet but not in the traditional technical sense. I enjoy rhyme but like to experiment and dabble in many different forms and maybe even make up some of my own. There is always a message or lesson I want to promote through my writing, for that reason, my poetry generally shies away from the abstract and obscure. After a lot of procrastinating I have finally self-published my first eBook of poetry "I Laughed a Smile" at Now I find myself branching out and experimenting with short fiction. I have also been fortunate to have two poems chosen to be made into songs and recorded. The first "On the Road to Kingdom Come" by Al Wordlaw, and the second, "If I Could Write a Love Poem" by award-winning Israeli/British singer Tally Koren. I am also finding my services increasingly in demand as a freelance writer and I have ghost-written the text for a number of children's books and educational tutorials. It has taken me many years of searching and restlessness to realise that my life's passion is to write. It saddens me that I wasted so many years not devoting to that, but thinking positively, the experiences gained over those years are now wonderful material for my stories and poems. I want to try to bring a new focus on poetry and try to make it appealing to a new generation of young people and those who thought they never liked or understood it before.

20 thoughts on “The Dead Man’s Fingers

  • May 25, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    John I’m so delighted that you took my suggestion and turned that scary photo into this brilliant piece of work. I was out of breathe following you through the woods, I too wanted to find your beloved. Each verse brought us closer to finding her, but it was not to be, in her place we found those fingers staring up at us. You were wise to choose a different photo for your header and use the fingers for your footer. It gave me the sense of suspense. The woods and then the gruesome discovery. I love your work John, you are truly a gifted poet.

  • May 25, 2016 at 12:45 PM

    Thank you for the encouraging comment Vincent, but especially for the inspiration to write this creepy poem. I enjoyed visiting the dark side for this one. Glad you enjoyed the journey.

  • May 25, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    Wow, John! I was shivering right along with you. Sorry about Sally. Maybe there’s still hope. Thanks for a job well done on a interesting topic. I never heard of Dead Man’s Fingers before.

  • May 25, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    Thank you for commenting on this creepy murder mystery poem William. Glad it kept you shivering with the suspense too. There are some quite astonishing fungi out there.

  • May 25, 2016 at 3:33 PM

    Very, creative,john. I enjoy the dark side of stories, and your poem is a good story.

  • May 25, 2016 at 4:13 PM

    You know Chris, I was thinking that it would make a great story too. You left us in suspense John! A sequel is in order, where can Sally be? Hmmmmmmm

  • May 25, 2016 at 4:14 PM

    You and Chris are both great story tellers, maybe the two of you can collaborate again and solve the mystery of the whereabouts of Sally.

  • May 25, 2016 at 9:28 PM

    Thank you Vincent. Yes, Sally’s disappearance is quite a conundrum. If Chris, yourself, or anyone else would like to collaborate in solving the mystery, They would be most welcome. Poetry or prose, it doesn’t matter. Just email me if interested, (or indicate here in comments) in case more than one person decides to solve the case.

  • May 26, 2016 at 12:19 AM

    Call it fear of scary stories and poems but your gruesome tale had me laughing at the end! Was very pleased it was not your true loves fingers! Great job!
    It might be good to have some sort of challenge every now and then, even pick a subject or something and let whoever participate. Not to compete but just for fun!

  • May 26, 2016 at 2:02 AM

    Very creepy mushrooms for sure. A great tail John, and 1,2,3,2 rhyming scheme perfect for the meter and drama of the piece. Well penned and flowing work of creepy early morning in woods and a missing love. great work.

    • May 26, 2016 at 3:43 AM

      Thanks for reading Tony. Glad that rhyme scheme worked to portray the drama. Your comment is always much appreciated.

    • May 26, 2016 at 3:45 AM

      Wow! Ralph, what an eerie coincidence.. or was it. I read the article you wrote….I am stunned too.

  • May 26, 2016 at 3:41 AM

    Jackie, glad you were relieved that it wasn’t Sally’s body in the ground. Yes, I agree with your idea about having challenges now and then. I hope someone decides to have a go at writing an ending to this tale.

  • May 26, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    Hey, Eric. Great to see you here, that is a wonderful surprise. Glad you enjoyed this.

  • June 9, 2016 at 6:06 PM

    Those fingers are gruesome but I loved the poem and the suspense of it all.

  • June 9, 2016 at 8:36 PM

    Yes, they are rather gruesome. Glad you enjoyed the poem and suspense, though, Dana. Thanks for visiting and reading.


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