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haunted house_2

You can read the opening episode here.


My guests, said
the ghost, ushering us
to a den with a view
of a city I knew from
my dreams with great
lions and bulls, bas-
relief on the walls.
Help yourself to some
balls, they’re fresh roast
in a crystallized rum
with a cinnamon gum
that, when chewed while
aware, may offer the
sum of a notion of why
you are here, and not
caught in a jam made
of highways and rage
and thwarted desires
for cool, frothy beer.

The woman beside me
let out a shriek, for the
jam that he spoke of
writhed in a dish near
the balls with a wee silver
spoon, a thick reddish
gloop, it moved slowly
in circles of brake lights
and headlights and on-
ramps no bigger than
trimmings of nail that
rose up and fell and
they rose up and fell…

“There are no freaking
exits in this jam,”
said the man to whom I
supposed was his wife.

None at all, said our
host. This is perfectly
manifest jam, Le Trafic,
our bestseller, guaranteed
to stay stuck in your
teeth or your gut or

“Whoa-oh!” cried the
boy who had lowered
his ear to the jam while
munching a handful of
cinnamon balls. “You can
hear them all cursing!”

Indeed, said our host
with mellifluous tones,
which just goes to show,
you may put on a front
to appear how you’d like
to be seen, but a place
true exists where we
store all the rest, for
whenever you wish to
draw from your past.

“And gum up the
present,” I ventured
at last and then cringed,
for the ghost whom
I’d hoped would forget
I was there cast his eye
on me now, and his smile
of filed teeth like a saw
to fell trees caused
an itch at my neck that
I didn’t dare scratch,
and those lunatic eyes,
neither waxing nor waning
but forever half, they
didn’t look through me,
they looked in between,
and whatever he saw
made his grin fall away.

We’ll be heading now
to your rooms
, said
our host, and we all let
out sighs that assized our
particular moods from
excited to grim. I followed
the rest down a hall
and upstairs. In my
mind, I was holding a
space in the verb he had
used when the smile
dropped away—not
beheading, be heading,
of course, I thought with
a timbre of courage, but
the itch it grew worse, and
I tried not to think of a toppling
yew, or how, when reversed
‘cross the ages of man, the
R and the E at the end of
my vibe when I fell would
reverb: T-I-M-B-E-RRRRRR!

to be concluded…

© Elaine Stirling, 2013