A Concise Manifesto from Your Hometown Southern Goths

Sara Kachelman

Listen: We all know how it feels to be Goth with nowhere Goth to go, and I speak for all of us when I say that I am sick of shooting Roman Candles out of my powdered Goth ass for webcam money while “Feed My Frankenstein” plays from the tape player of my lifted Chevy Silverado.

For years we’ve hidden in this fast-food town, painting pentagrams on pep rally bleachers, casting spells on our stepfathers, bracing ourselves through weekend nights selling food court pizza, septum piercings tucked in.

Years of witch-hunting, porch-chaining, and forced baptisms have driven Southern Goths even further into the shadows. Until now. For while none of us are strangers to ostracism, black magic, sexual deviancy, paganism, fire-eating, worms, ritual sacrifice, and silent, creeping malice, there is a difference between suffering alone and suffering for fashion.

And fashion craves to be seen.

It’s about time Southern Goths became a public part of this community. If not to alleviate our collective doom, to enhance it to its most artful, seething hiss. I admit that it can be hard for Southern Goths to find one another, since we only come out at night, and like our friend the possum, play dead when spotted. But over the years the Southern Goth has cultivated a regional, smoky flavor made even stronger in cultural isolation. For instance, you may be surprised to know the number of Southern Goths frequenting your sleepy, historic downtown.

Is that an antebellum specter haunting the covered bridge? No, bitch. That’s a Southern Goth. Who brings blood pudding to the family reunion and tops it with crushed Ritz crackers? The Southern Goth does. Who built that stained altar near the salt lick, and what is it for? You already know the answer.

Eating a Hardee’s Thickburger is not Goth, but sharing it with the rats in your grandfather’s basement is.

Playing harpsichord by candlelight is Goth. But so is bird hunting. Quoth the raven.

Goths don’t celebrate Halloween. Goths celebrate Christmas, by burning the presents and regifting the ashes.

We need a place for people like us to stir our dark desires in a thick, hot soup of sadistic communion. We live in a cottony basin of ghosts and hate, where the dogs dig their own graves and the swamps turn crimson in high drought. Burn the barn down! Our industrial ruins stand empty, condemned, and willing, and it’s time to rave, fuckers.

I’m proposing a homecoming here. So they patrol the Civil War battlefield after dark—so what? Every sidewalk is a battlefield. There are other sites to sanctify. I know who stole the robots when the Chuck E. Cheese closed. They still work, and I’ve programmed their mouths to sing the lyrics to the first two Christian Death albums. Raise your chalice to the grave new moon! My Aunt Carlene owns a goat farm, and the blood is fresh, and dark.

Let me conjure the following fantasy: We gather in the old plant in the crook of the Singing River. The black lights are on. The gas masks hang by the door. We’ll be waiting just inside the boiler room in our mesh and velvet, our long fur coats of Shih Tzu and Pomeranian. The whiteness of our flossed fangs gleam in a welcome grin.

Remember that sadness is rebellion. Silence damns in great numbers. This is how we survive.

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Sara Kachelman’s fiction has been published in Hobart, the Capra Review, and Liminoid Magazine. She studies at the University of the South. She is from St. Florian, Alabama.