goodness, life

Spooky dinner, and my poetic side

ghost children are the WORST

I was invited to a dinner tonight where the guests have to bring one thing: a good ghost story. What a fantastic idea!  Apparently the hosts (a couple) cook a four-course meal for the guests, who, in exchange, provide the entertainment (and spirits).

I had a lot of trouble finding a good ghost story.  It had to have a sense of melancholy and mystery, full of unwitting victims of dark coincidence.  A story about a slasher would simply not suffice.  A jump out of your seat thriller was out of the question.  At the end of the day I realized it would take me hours, days, maybe weeks of searching to find a chilling tale that was up to snuff.

So I wrote my own, and it turned out… wonderfully.  It’s an epic rhyming poem that takes about ten minutes to read when read at the proper pace.  Friends and coworkers who have read it get chills at all the right places in the story.  My favorite part of the poem is that there are no bad guys, only victims to unfortunate circumstance; it’s a sad story, but that’s part of what makes it so good!  It’s not good versus evil, it’s just… spooky.

X is for Xerxes, eaten by mice

And tonight I’m going to read it.  In front of a room full of strangers.  Yikes.  I’m so nervous!  hahaha 🙂 I’m proud of the piece, but it’s fucking nerve-wracking to put my creativity on display.  Scary!

Still, I’m pretty excited.  It’s been really nice to write again.  I used to write poetry all the time (rhyming and non-rhyming).  In particular, I did sonnets.  So much fun!  And it was so easy!  The first seven or so verses for this poem were easy because I knew what I wanted to say, but after that I had no idea where the story was going, so I got stuck and it was a bit of a battle.  But it turned out so well!  I’m the greatest!

UPDATE: November 7, 10:40am
I’ve decided to post my poem (yikes!).  It makes me nervous!  Enjoy!

The Sacrifice

Once, long ago, when I lived by the sea,
when Daniel was young and precious to me,
I told him that we two would soon become three
in our house by the ocean, down by the sea.

We named her Selene for her raven-black hair,
and her dark, shining eyes, and her warm, watchful stare.
She grew and she laughed and knew not a care
as she played by the ocean in the salty sea air.

She was wont to wander, as young children do,
returning just past the hour she was due,
smiling and filthy, her dress all askew,
excitedly babbling of things she now knew.

On a gray, windy evening, the shadows seemed wrong.
From the docks, hunched and starved, a boy came along.
Selene was afraid, but stayed quiet and strong
though she knew by his scent that he did not belong.

It was as though shadows had followed this child
from the dark, from the creep, from the womb, from the wild.
Inside him it hid and it gnashed and it riled,
silent yet noisome, pure yet defiled.

The boy played with Selene as much as she’d let,
and stayed by her side while she whimpered and wept.
The doctor was gentle, the bone quickly set.
He said, “Children are clumsy when smooth stones are wet.”

My mother came down from the Highlands to stay.
Though journeying long, she departed next day.
No gentle prying could coax her to say
why she fled our small house on the sea, by the bay.

Once while out hunting, my Daniel was shot.
The boy returned home, alone and distraught.
Angry and shaken, the village knew not
that the boy in my home was the culprit they sought.

My eyes never left him, once Daniel was healed,
and from what I saw, it was quickly revealed
that there was no defense, no weapon to wield
against this dark beast, clever and concealed.

I watched as the grass seemed to wilt at his feet.
Seldom did he speak, never did he eat,
nor did he smile, for his heart was replete
with solitude; he seemed to be incomplete.

Soon I found he was never far from me;
kitchen or dockside or wood, there he’d be.
But helpful and busy and quiet was he
as we worked at my cottage, down by the sea.

I oft’ mended nets for our men by the shore.
His small hands gripped tight to the wool skirts I wore.
He cried out, and then, with a great rushing roar,
the sea swallowed me; I remember no more.

My sleep was then fitful; of dreams I had one:
Sweet Daniel, though wary, demanded a son.
He whispered that we three would soon fall to none.
That with his arrival, our deaths had begun.

I awoke in our home and sought out this youth,
endless and wakeful, his eyes filled with ruth.
The words came unbidden, unkind and uncouth,
“Speak quickly now, boy, and speak only the truth.”

“I am an ill omen,” he said to me then.
“Sinking stone, aching bone, brackish wind, fallen wren,
hidden blade; all these years no augur could portend
this thing that I carry: your ruinous end.”

I pondered a moment, then whispered, “You lie.”
“You are not so evil,” I said with a sigh.
“But your loneliness sailed you to us, by and by,
though you know that what mortals fear most is to die.

You do not share that fear, do you, young shade?
By water, by fire, by bad luck or blade
your fate was decided, your destiny made
long ago, as a child, and a child you have stayed.

But a child craves a mother, so a mother you sought,
and you’d stay with her family, knowing you should not
for the sense of warmth and belonging it brought,
though false, were never worth the suff’ring you wrought.

With simply your presence, all good will was spent
until, from each home, you were turned out and rent.
But no blood thirsty thought, no malicious intent
motivated this quest to relieve your torment.

Your burden has left you broken and bound.
Though your sorrows ensnare and your ship run aground,
though constantly lost and hunted tooth and hound,
rest now, young spirit, for I declare you found.

We’ll wander together ’til we fade into none,
and leave here tonight, all the living to shun.
My life here is over; my death is begun.
For Selene, for sweet Daniel, I will call you my son.”

As I spoke these words, the night darkened anew,
and whispered its welcome while day said, “Adieu.”
Now silent my steps and my heart’s warm tattoo,
and he smiled as he saw his one then become two.

We drift through the mountains, and pass through the wood
and visit the place where my cottage once stood.
I linger there, dreaming, longer than I should
of a life by the ocean, and a death that was good.

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goodness

So fun it’s scary

not as fun as it looks

Getting scared is just the best.  Not really scared, just startled by some jerk friend, or watching a scary movie while some jerk friend makes fun of you for cowering on the couch, or when you’re trying to walk back to your room after turning off all the lights and your roommate’s cat, Calico, goes streaking by, and you think, “HOLY SHIT OMG it’s just the fucking cat. Whew,” so you keep walking down the dark hallway to your room until WHAM!  Calico tackles your left ankle with all the force an 8-pound mammal can muster by digging her claws into the carpet and picking up an unearthly amount of speed and hurtling herself toward your legs with enough momentum to drive a rusty nail into a dead tree.  Then when you finally manage to stop screaming, you think, “Getting scared is the best.”

My buddy lives in an apartment in the Marina where we usually do our hanging out and game-playing (we’re pretty serious about our table-top/dice/card/strategy/board games).  I call his apartment our tree house, so let’s call him Treehouse Friend.  Treehouse Friend introduced us to Betrayal at House on the Hill, wherein the players explore a haunted house until one of them is possessed, and everyone else has to survive the possession.  Super scary!  Sometimes we play creepy music and light candles.

Diminutive Roommate, Teacher Roommate (who teaches ceramics at a local school, can sing opera-style like a pro, and lived with Diminutive Roommate for two years in college) and I are totally obsessed with this game right now for obvious reasons.  IT’S AWESOME.  Every game is different because there is no preset board your characters play on.  As we explore the house (commonly in different directions) we pull from a stack of tiles to reveal each room we’ve discovered, and the various events that happen in this room, or the items we find there.  The more we explore, the more likely the haunt will start and the house will cause one of the players to turn traitor and try to kill us all somehow!  Best of all there are 50 different haunts to play through, each of which is randomly determined by the events in the room we just explored.  It’s a fantastic game.  I’m already considering writing my own haunt.  Nerd!

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