Daddy Coming Up the Stairs by J.A. Hartley

So loud the storm outside.
You lie, nose by the cold wall –
rain on the panes, handfuls of sand,
lightning flashing – crashing downstairs –
what’s that? But you must be calm,
you think too much,
they said you did – victim
of an overactive imagination –
there’s no such thing as –
don’t think about it.

The high oaks moaning –
see their dark heads shaking off the rain.
Bootfalls . . .
Daddy’s coming up the stairs . . .
and your eyes are wide, white open.
A smell like burning matches
reaches your nostrils. Torn clouds
flutter across the moon.
The boards creak, his shadow
is ice cold,
too tall, glimmering narrow
and his nails,
when they touch you,

Only because you dream of me,
he whispers,
May I exist.
May I be known.


J.A. Hartley was born near Liverpool, England, in 1973. He moved with his family to Singapore and Oman in the eighties and nineties and later went to school near London. After studying at City University in London, James travelled through France, Germany, and Thailand before settling in Madrid, Spain, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has published a series of books for Young Adults called Shakespeare’s Moon and has had his poetry published in reviews such as Stark Nights and Cosmic Daffodil. He loves soccer, swimming, beer and, of course, reading and writing.

Published 6/16/23

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