“He snickered disagreeably. ‘Me, no,’ he said, ‘me, I don’t hang around here after dark.’ Grinning, satisfied with himself, he stood away from the car … perhaps he will keep popping out at me all along the drive, she thought, a sneering Cheshire Cat, yelling each time that I should be happy to find anyone willing to hang around this place, until dark, anyway.”
                                                                                    Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House


     There will always be a Dudley the caretaker dispensing unwanted advice, undermining your resolve to go on that year-long safari, or ignore those travel advisories from the State Department, or explore that haunted house—give up your job, your apartment, and just take off without telling any friends. Maybe you consider your friends much too cautious, or have no friends you care about. You’re drawn to the dark. You crave the unknown, the thrill of finally leaving the ordinary behind.

     You’ve been invited to Hill House by some paranormal researcher you don’t know, your monstrous mother’s finally dead, you’re free to go. You’re haunted too. You’ve been having dreams where you run up and down stairways, out of breath, corridors twist and turn and you’re completely lost, no way to retrace your steps. You quicken your pace and your heart begins to pound. Whispers from the empty elevator shaft are getting louder. Is it your mother, come back from the dead? You peer down into the darkness, swaying on your feet.

     When you accepted the invitation to spend a week with strangers, you were thinking a real haunted house might dispel those dreams and memories. Or maybe you weren’t really thinking, just obeying your instinct to escape now that the door to your cage was open.

I catch my breath when I see the spangled curtain of the night sky. When did I last see stars? With the vicious smog I’d almost forgotten they exist. I want to stand still, stare up, but it’s not safe. I must get back.

The roads are treacherous, more so in the dark. Dwellings loom on each side, hulks of black, for who can afford light, nowadays? The wind blows its warm breath in my face; I taste acid. I clutch my bag closer, with the meagre haul – coarse bread, roots – that will have to last till next week.

[So He Picks This Spot Off I-55]

Traffic north of the spillway peters out
        and the moon offers no light at all,
so he picks this spot off I-55

to drop the bodies he collects
       in the French Quarter. The breeze
coming off the lake cools everything.

He can hear the water moving
         toward shore below the overpass,
can sense the tops of trees swaying (more…)

Waves breaking waves breaking blue from the spectrum. Fallen angelfish falling prey to pyrosome glowing in the open ocean. A zooid tactic: congregate in funnels and tunnels in colonies; clone, reproduce and replicate. Lucifer! Lucifer! with a pulse of blood and fire, bless this festival of lanterns released into the atmosphere.

The undertow navigates, give to its guidance. Swallow the current — it moves through you, it feeds you. Weightless and waiting (an adult an adolescent an infant an embryo) for the world much larger and marvelous within the amnion, until once again the water breaks and drowned into nurturance by flood of mother’s milk and daily toil. (more…)

     When I was a child, I wanted to be a marine biologist.

     My mother blamed my love of the aquarium on this, all those late-summer afternoons where I dragged her unwilling hand halfway across the city so I could stare at some fish. Nose smushed to the glass and eyes wide, hours spent staring back at their scaly visage. All those sharp teeth and black pupils. The one Giant Pacific octopus in his own glass entrapment; never coming out except to unravel a single tentacle like a magic carpet, all suction and flesh.

     They fascinated me.

     My mother considered them grotesque. Didn’t understand why I couldn’t bother looking at the sea otters instead. Or even jellyfish, those brainless bags of carbon. I wanted deep-sea horror and mouths. Piranhas side-eyeing patrons and the lone female anaconda and her horde of children. I pressed a finger up to the shark display and one bared his rows of daggers at me, and I laughed. I giggled with such glee she took me by the wrist and dragged me out. (more…)


In the waiting room, this docudrama on mute
is showing a real life re-enactment of
a home invasion.

I’m sitting on my hands wanting my
mother to come out and tell us something
different already.

I am ten years old and for some reason
my favorite movie is Halloween.
It is summer.

With closed eyes,
I fantasize about sneaking past nurses,doctors, and guards.
While sunlight cuts through the shades,
Jamie Lee Curtis tells me to stop chasing her, but I can’t. (more…)

Three days after the boating accident on the lake
those who promenaded through the park
(chaperones a few steps behind)
somberly reflected. They murmured quietly,
voices vibrating with guilt, what luck
it was to have stayed home or been abroad
that tragic day. A cry rang out and they all
noticed something strange happening
among the bevy of trumpeter swans. (more…)

Published as part of a collection by Howling Press and presented with some commentary by the editor, Herbert S. Trundlewhip


‘Rules are rules, and that is that.’

     That’s the last thing Teddy said before he left us. We ー that is to say, Rupert, Tammy and I ーwere still practically children without the faintest idea of how to keep house, but the idea of spending a week in Margate, unfettered by parents and with a large Georgian house to ourselves, was enough to send a hasty ‘yes stop please stop’ over the telegram. We rattled down on the train the following day, leather cases in hand.

     Teddy, like all grown-ups, was fond of house rules, and he spared no time reciting them as he led us through that beautiful, dark hollow of an old brick abode. The satin curtains of the frontispiece window were to be drawn every night at seven; lantern oil was to be conserved wherever possible; the garden was to be watered once every two days with a little green watering can kept by the porch; and the greenhouse was strictly off-limits.