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EERIE SONGS

DANSE MACABRE
Antonia Y. Schwab
I see her dancing in the square
At dusk beside the closed bazaars;
Her veils twirl round while jasmine scent
Pervades the breeze beneath the stars.
She moves now past a trelissed stair
As I in strange bewilderment
Watch glimmering feet and follow after
On paths lit by a sickle moon.
Her veils are flowing langourously
As she bends down by a lagoon
Where lotus petals gleam--I follow
And then I hear derisive laughter--
She drops her mask—-I turn to see
a face, a skull—-with gaunt eyes hollow....

FLIGHT
Harold Vinal (1891-1965)
Who shall know the way
That her feet took
By a sapless tree,
By a dried brook?

None woke to hear;
She left no door ajar;
Down the road of night
She went like a star.

She felt a deadman’s kiss
On her light as air;
She felt a deadman’s hand
Tremble on her hair.

In the hush of dawn
Drown a trail lost,
She searched a river
That she never crossed.

IF YOU SEE THIS MAN
Thomas Lux (1946--)
Notify someone of authority
if you see this man:

He has a fish hook
in his upper lip.
He usually carries a bleeding starfish
in a dixie cup.
He is an excellent fork-lift
operator and is known
to play dice with nuns.
He is big.
He claims to detest miniature golf.

We want him for the robbery
of the first kiss ever given
to a bus-driver’s sickly daughter.

And remember, he is ruthless.
If he knew you had read this
he would murder you.

LOTTIE MAY
Stanley McNail (1918?-1995)

Lottie Mae was a skinny child,
Shiny nose and hair gone wild,
Tiny fingers always cold,
Narrow shoulders pinched and old,
Down in the basement by the bin,
Lottie let her friends come in,
Talked to them and played her games,
Called them all by funny names.
Grown-ups smiled to hear her play:
"Invite your friends to dine," they'd say--
But blanched and gibbered in their chairs
At what came shambling up the stairs.

NEWS REPORT
David Ignatow (1914- )

At two a.m., a thing, jumping out of a manhole,
the cover flying, raced down the street,
emitting wild dhrieks of merriment and lust.
Women on their way from work, chorus girls
or actresses, were accosted with huge leers
and made to run,; all either brought down
from behind by its flying weight, whereat
it attacked blindly, or leaping ahead,
made them stop and lie down.

Each, hysterical, has described it in her way,
one giving the shaggy fur, the next the shank bone
of a breast, and a third its nature
from which, as it seemed pus dribbled
when she saw no more--

          all taking place
unnoticed until the first report, hours later,
when consciousness was regained, and each
from diverse parts of the city has a tell-tale
sign, the red teeth marks sunk into the thigh
and the smell of a goat clinging tenaciously
through perfume and a bath.

PROPHECY
Walter Shedlofsky (1917--)
She dreamed death came to her one day in May,
      When ecstasy of Spring diffused the air.
      Death came to her, smiling, debonair,
In secret rendezvous above the bay.
Death laughed and chided her with words of clay,
      Then, doll-like, threw her from the topmost stair
      To rocks below. In dream, she saw death’s glare--
One eye was blue, the other brownish-gray.

“A silly dream,” she laughed, “no one has such eyes.”
Then, on that cloud-filled Christmas day,
      She rushed to meet her sister’s latest swain.
He smiled and kissed her hand, to her surprise.
      Then, as he laughed, she felt a chilling pain—-
One eye was blue, the other brownish-gray.

SEA LULLABY
Elinor Wylie (1885--1928)
The old moon is tarnished
With smoke of the flood,
The dead leaves are varnished
With colour like blood.

A treacherous smiler
With teeth white as milk,
A savage beguiler
In sheathings of silk.

The sea creeps to pillage,
She leaps on her prey;
A child of the village
Was Murdered today.

She came up to meet him
In a smooth golden cloak,
She choked him, and beat him
To death, for a joke.

Her bright locks were tangled,
She shouted for joy,
With one hand she strangled
A strong little boy.

Now in silence she lingers
Beside him all night
To wash her long fingers
In silvery light.

THE ABOMINABLE BASEBALL BAT
X.J. Kennedy (1929--)

I swung and swung at empty air
And when I heard the umpire
Behind me shout, "Strike three--you're out!"
My bat turned into a vampire.

The whole team had to pry it loose.
Poor Ump looked sort of flat.
Now ever since, my bat and I
Walk every time we bat.

THE DEATH OF SANTA CLAUS
Vincent Starrett (1886--1976)
It was the night before the famous day
When that befell of which I write. The house
Was silent as the dark: nor man nor mouse
Stirred anywhere. The weary children lay
Asleep upstairs, their stockings, after play,
Were hung beside the fire, with Mama’s blouse;
While, meditating on the morrow’s grouse,
I must have dozed my errant wits away.

At any rate, I had a curious dream
In which a little whiskered gnome in red
Came down the chimney with a set of Tennyson,
And perished in the flames. One tiny scream
And he was gone like wax or melted lead....
But for some weeks thereafter we had venison.

THE HAUNTED HOUSE
Wilfred Scawen Blunt (1840-1922)

How loud the storm blew all that bitter night!
The loosened ivy tapping on the pane
Woke me and woke, again and yet again,
Till I was full awake and sat upright.
I listened to the noises of the night,
And presently I heard, disguised yet plain,
A footstep on the stair which mounted light
Towards me, and my heart outbeat the rain.

I knew that it was you. I knew it even
Before the door, which by design ajar
Waited your coming, had disclosed my fate.
I felt a wind upon my face from heaven.
I felt the presence of a life. My hair
Was touched as by a spirit. Insensate
I drew you to my bosom. Ah, too late!
I clutched the darkness. There was nothing there.

THE SECRETS OF CISTERNS
Stanley McNail (1918?-1995)
The secrets of cisterns
lie deep, lie deep,
down where the walls
are moist and steep,
where wet things crawl
and shadows creep;
the secrets of cisterns lie cold and deep.

The clink of a pebble,
far off and small,
or the scrape of a pail
against the wall
are common sounds,
but fear grows tall
at a heavy burden’s soundless fall.

The secrets of cisterns
are old as pain.
They are made of stillness
and prairie rain.
They are heavy with seepage
and slow to drain.
All struggles to find them
are vain, are vain.

TO A LOST SPIRIT
Lord Dunsany (1878--1957)

If dogma errs, and if there is no Hell,
      And spirits are immortal, where go you?
      The wind cries out to night as thought it knew,
Full of lost voices, without words to tell.
Are you amongst them, from some pinnacle
      Toying to tear down ivy, peering through
      Some cleft to see what damage you can do,
Or wailing against walls that stand too well.

Rather, I think, in some wolf-haunted land
      Of careless shepherds, where the watch-dogs sleep,
      Your green eyes shining on the helpless sheep,
You lie and breathe, and watch the fleecy band,
Then, picking out some young well-favored dam,
You glide toward them, bleating like a lamb.

WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE
Morris Bishop (1893-1973)
I think I remember this moorland,
      The tower on the top of the tor;
I feel in the distance another existence:
      I think I have been here before.

And I think you were sitting beside me,
      In a fold in the face of the fell,
For Time at its work'll go round in a circle,
      And what is befalling, befell.

"I have been here before!" I asserted,
      In a nook on a neck of the Nile.
I once in a crisis was punished by Isis,
      And you smiled. I remember your smile.

I had the same sense of persistence
      On the site of the seat of the Sioux;
I heard in the teepee the sound of a sleepy
      Pleistocene grunt. It was you.

The past made a promise, before it
      Began to begin to begone.
This limited gamut brings you again. Damn it,
      How long has this got to go on?

Master your life and stride over to some poetic views of life..

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