Halloween in the Haunted House by David Kopaska-Merkel


Last Halloween
We spent the night in the old house
On the hill it stands alone
The door opened as we
Climbed up on the porch
An old man smiled toothlessly
Like rifting earth when a tree falls
Made us welcome with bitter tea
For politeness’ sake we drank a little
It lingered unpleasantly upon the tongue

He showed us to our room
Gave us blankets; we slept on the floor
I felt unmoored, carried off on dreams
Of things that flapped insistently
Scrabbled at nursery windows
Crawled into cribs
Bared blackened palisades of teeth

I started up from dream
A weird ululation faded as I woke
Selena stared out the open window
Clouds fled across the moon
Dreams dragged me down again
Things like cubist dogs slavered
After me across a shifting cityscape
Of nightmare; I broke free at last
Dawn struggled with ensnaring trees

Selena at the window still
She leaned out; her hands
Clutching at the rotting sill
I softly called “What do you see?”
Hearing no answer, got up
Floor creaked under cold bare feet
I spoke again; touched her shoulder
She fell apart bit by bit
Flakes of ash fluttered in a chill wind
That blew into the room

(First published in Zen of the Dead, 2015)

David C. Kopaska-Merkel, a retired paleontologist, has been writing speculative poetry and fiction since the 1970s. He won the 2006 Rhysling award for best long poem (for a collaboration with Kendall Evans), and edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine (since 1986). He has edited Star*line, an issue of Eye To The Telescope, and several Rhysling anthologies, has served as SFPA president, and is an SFPA Grandmaster. His poems (more than 1200 of them) have been published in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and more than 200 other venues. Some Disassembly Required, his latest collection of dark poetry, was published by Diminuendo Press. @DavidKM on twitter. Blog: https://dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com/

Published 10/27/22

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.