Sunday, October 26, 2008


You don't have to be a ghost to haunt a house--
just try it. When midnight strikes
on the grandfather clock in the front hall

listen at your chamber door.
There's not a whisper. The house is still.
Slink out into the hallway.

Soft creaks under your feet
and in the wainscot where your fingers
briefly rest. Shadows drape the stairs
like velvet cobwebs.

Behind closed doors, the sound of
sleepers breathing. Sleep is the underpart
of the daylight world, but you, awake
and prowling in the dark, inhabit neither.

A full-length mirror in an ornate frame
offers you a stranger's reflection
in the lightspill from the window in the parlor
where overstuffed furniture crouches
like well-fed predators.

The piano's teeth gleam inside ebony jaws
and there's the faintest sound, like
a mouse's tail dragging across the strings
as you pass. No movement
that you can see.

And the clock strikes one
two, three-- no, that's not possible--
it keeps going and you lose count,
running to the front hall where the clock's
relentless pendulum keeps swinging
thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, more!

On the mantelpiece the china shepherdess
laughs. "Time. You broke it,
getting up at this hour, with no respect
for the rightness of things-- fragile,
like me. You're lost out of time now
and the clock won't stop for you."

"None of us like disturbance," growls the couch.

"Oh, I do," purrs the piano
and smacks its lid--

--for readwritepoem, Cafe Writing and Manic Monday, all of whom are milking the Halloween theme.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside


Anonymous said...

Oooh this is very spooky. I love the idea of haunting a house without being dead... excellent.

earthlingorgeous said...

This is very creepily nice poem! What a great post.

Linda said...

Oooh, great poem! Reminds me a bit of a song called "Ghost in This House" in a small way.

Jamie said...

Very evocative ... a few "ghostly" strokes on the piano should put it to rest.

Polly said...

Ooh, the imagery and personification are eerily fun!

Villager said...

Happy MM! Wonderfully creative poem...

I invite your blog readers to see reaction of American Ghosts to our upcoming election for POTUS!

peace, Villager

Jeeves said...

This was creeepy

Nathan said...

Wonderful! This really gets at the uncanny feeling one can have late at night.

Rob Kistner said...

Tiel -

this was magical ;)

" the lightspill from the window in the parlor
where overstuffed furniture crouches
like well-fed predators."

Wow, what an image...

Anonymous said...

I like how the poem starts out quietly and slowly, and then really accelerates at the end.