Haunted House

August 21, 2012

Every house is either like an old
coroner, or it’s like a town crier
for the dead. Either there’s that old
toaster on the table, those spilled
oats on the tablecloth, even a sprouted
onion in the sink— the floor boards that always creak
when you step on them. Or:  the sunlight has pressed
the wallpaper roses into the plaster,
and that trace of a face in the windows—
yes, that great mysterious face, and the great
mysterious song she is always singing—
that must just be an echo in the chimney, or
an undigested  bit of potato, right?
Surely, nothing to lose sleep over. Right?

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4 Responses to “Haunted House”

  1. Anna Mark Says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this poem. The image that rings for me is that of the sunlight pressing wallpaper roses into the plaster and then immediately followed by the great trace of a face in the windows. The poem kind of dissolves, from crumbs and onions sprouting in the sink to an ethereal song that then sings through the entire poem. And the questioning at the end leaves us unstable…beautiful.

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Thanks, Anna. It was sort of fun to do. Perhaps I indulge in a bit of over specificity in the first part of the poem. Every house is like a town crier for the dead? Just what is that like? But I wanted the sentences to be sort of…haunted… as well as the house.
    And yes, unstable. That’s it in a nutshell.

  3. Thomas Davis Says:

    Jim, you are exploding with poetry just as my energy is flagging close to zero. What a magic, magic poem. A haunted house poem that delights the child in me. When I was young I always delighted in exploring old houses. We had one done the hill from our house on Garnet Mesa in Delta, Colorado that was especially exciting, although it was probably dangerous with creaking wooden floors and waters pooled dark in the basement.
    …”that trace of a face in the windows…” “…and the great
    mysterious song she is always singing…” sends chills up and down the spine.
    “Surely, nothing to lose sleep over. Right?”
    Surely.

  4. extrasimile Says:

    Hi Thomas—
    I’m just back from a brief vacation—from computers, the Internet, blogs, from poetry(not quite)—and it was good to get away. When I was a kid there was a ‘haunted house’—an old farmhouse—down on the corner that we were constantly probing—absolutely fascinated with: shuttered, overgrown, mysterious. One day we found a window open and went in to the old kitchen. While we were poking around in the kitchen, an old man in an old bathrobe creaked in to the room. I don’t if we scared him or not (I suspect we did) but we took off like the proverbial bats out of hell. It had never occurred to us that someone might be living in there. Talk about haunted. Shortly thereafter they took the old building down and built apartments—which we also played in, climbing all over them one the workmen went home. It’s hard to believe suburban Long Island actually had farms when I was a kid. Surely they must haunt the shopping mauls (is that the right spelling?) and the parking lots and the wall to wall housing that is here now. And Thomas, please don’t feel obliged to comment on every poem—just as your energy level allows.
    Shantih shantih shantih
    Jim


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