Monday, October 10, 2011


In honor of the forthcoming holiday, my all time favorite, Halloween, I'm reposting the third post I ever made at Verse Escape. It's one of my old poems, unrevised from 1991, the last year in which I wrote poetry before starting this blog, which turns one year old on the 16th of this month. (This was also the first post I submitted to One Shot Wednesday at the Old One Stop Poetry.)



The cool breath of the dead sighs down the hall.
It peels my soul like an old potato,
thick slices of skin and soft woody flesh
dropping in a spiral on the kitchen table of this
tired life.

A speaking shadow stands at the door,
an empty replicant.
A grey curse hangs over him
like the sullenness of unshed rain
blowing past a withering crop.

Huddled in the closed grave of my bed
I compose my bones in paleolithic repose
with dry flowers, an awl of horn,
a broken string of red beads 
       drifted with earth,
waiting for the ending of that next birth.

O I hear you out there,
rapping, knocking, calling
with a mute vibration
begging to come in and have me.

O yes I answered last time and see
See me now.

Roll the rock and stop the door.
Put the holy symbol round my neck.
Only keep
    the shadow

March 1991

Illustration: The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones  (1861-1926)
Philip Burne-Jones [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. The images you draw here are shuddering, shivering, and chilling. Marvelous that you compose your repose and despite all the insistent noise try to keep the shadow out. It reminds me of the dream or fairytale where all the parts are played by an individual psyche. What part of self devours the gentle voice found here? What doubts plague us? Where do we find safety when the whispering spirits find our bed (our most private inner self)?

  2. Well, you had me from stanza one, line two (with a Jeez, why didn't I write that tooth-gritting) and I can't say how much I admire a poet who can use 'paleolithic' and 'awl' in the same stanza. This is just creepy, haunting and oh so cool.

  3. @Anna: Yes, there's always something nasty out there wanting in, but sometimes its the other way round, indeed.

    Thanks Kerry. I think it's got an autumn kind of feel to it.

  4. Yay on so many levels -- on the coming first anniversary of Verse Escape (thanks from all of us for pouring so extravagantlly wild a brew); second, yay for the Twelve Haunted Nights of Halloween to come -- my favorite holiday season, too (I'm brewing some pieces in honor of the season); and third, yay for this harrowing hurlyburly of a poem, wheezing and spitting and tooting and blatting every whichway itchy sympathies for the succubus, part bad history, part divinity within. It's like you took the entire witchnight and squeezed it into a tight rappelling ball. Like that barbed flying metal ball in "Phantasm," this one finds its mark there and here and now and then. Gouting, raucous applause from the peanut bone-gallery. - Brendan

  5. @B: Ha! Your comment is a poem its own self--thank you. Yes, the fight to somehow keep the soul undamned and undammed both is an old one, and never finished, but each scar tells a tale. (I'm kinda worried that this may put someone's eye out now, though.) Can't wait to see what hell spawned holiday delights you'll pull up in your skull-bucket over at the Well. I also have a potion or two on hand, brewing and steeping.

  6. You know i almost always prefer your new stuff to the old, but I really like this. The mood and the language--especially the peeling soul (!)--drew me in and had me holding my breath. Creepy, foreboding and strange. I love it!

  7. @FB creepy, foreboding and strange--that would be me.

  8. Wow- I love this... especially the first stanza. I'm so glad you gave us such a treat.

  9. This is Hedgewitch love, the torment of terror and desire that almost meet and mate. I look forward to more, more, more.

  10. This is wonderful writing.

    I loved the line...
    "like the sullenness of unshed rain"

    A great description which perfectly captures the sky outside my window as I type. :-)

  11. Chilling, wonderful writing. Now I'm in the mood for Halloween.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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