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Poem: "Hollow Eve" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Hollow Eve"

This poem came out of the October 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by lilfluff.  It belongs to the Monster House series, coming between "Eviction, Noticed" and "Home Shriek Home."  You can read the other poems in this series on the Serial Poetry page of my website.

Hollow Eve

I'd never been much for Halloween;
my parents made me stop dressing up
after I turned twelve.
Life seemed too busy to waste time
on paper skeletons and plastic pumpkins
and way too much of a sugar binge.

This year's eviction still stung;
I wanted nothing more than
to curl up on a rented couch
and ignore the whole holiday season.
But the little old lady ghost
who still stuck by me
was in no mood to take
"I don't feel like celebrating"
for an answer.

I flicked the porch light off
for the fourth time,
but it turned back on
before I even returned to the couch.
"Fine then," I grumbled.
"You deal with the little pests."

Eager feet trampled over the porch boards,
coming and going.  I watched
through the window as excited children
poured out of cars and ran up steps
and scrambled back into cars.

Finally I stepped outside to watch.
The little old lady ghost smiled
and beckoned more children onto the porch,
waving them toward a bowl of candy
that I'd been saving for a rainy day.
She entertained them with dancing balls of light
and, once, conjured ectoplasm
for the horrified amusement of little boys.

"This is one awesome setup,"
remarked a teenager dressed as a pirate.
"Where did you hide the projector?"
"What projector?" I said absently.

The small children crowding around the pirate
looked at us, their little mouths falling open.
"Eeeee!" they shrieked.  "A real ghost!"
They all ran screaming into the night,
taking their pirate with them.

The last piece of candy glinted forlornly
in the bottom of the bowl, its silver foil
reflecting the porch light.  I popped it into my mouth
so that I wouldn't have to keep looking at it.

The little old lady ghost
gazed after the trick-or-treaters
and then silently turned off the porch light.
Watching as she let her manifestation fade,
I felt like a complete heel.

"Hey," I said softly,
"next year we'll plan ahead.
Maybe I can borrow a projector or something."

She smiled at me,
and it seemed to linger long after she faded,
like a Cheshire cat

and just like that,
the holiday felt a little less empty to me.

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Current Mood: busy busy

22 comments or Leave a comment
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: October 6th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would like a little old lady ghost. Preferably one with a name like Araminta or Atossa or something else 19th-century-ish.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)


You never know who you'll meet ... maybe you'll get lucky and find one.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: October 7th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Alas, I have such specific needs in an old lady ghost - such things as leaving an odor of violets, randomly coming home to find papers neatly stacked on an end table, the sound of phantom china teacups rattling in non-existent saucers coming from an empty kitchen, and the occasional tucking of blankets around feet in the night - that I fear I shall never meet the correct old lady ghost. It would be terrible to have the wrong old lady ghost in residence, as I'm sure she would never put up with the shenanigans of my family.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: October 6th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww! That made me teary. I've known little old ladies like that.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you liked this.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: October 6th, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Right up until she died, my grandmother insisted "Santy Claus" was real. Miss her much, days like this.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)


I know how it goes. I'm glad you like the poem.
eseme From: eseme Date: October 7th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That was lovely. I enjoyed seeing something from this part of the timeline, as well.

I love that ghost. I'm going to have to figure out what to do for Halloween this year - no one can really go door-to-door at my complex due to the security.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It's fun to explore how different people react to the same things.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 7th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
If you ever collect these in a book, you'll let me know, right?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)


I will let everyone know! I do plan to release the series in collections. angela_n_hunt wants to do the Origami Mage first and is also interested in Monster House. I still need to sit down and figure out what poems are "missing" in Origami Mage so I can write those.

the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 7th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

I can relate to the narrator's lack of enthusiasm for a holiday; when you're down, it can be hard to try and participate in anything joyful. I was having a pretty blah Samhain a couple years ago. I managed to turn that around, though, with the judicious use of retail therapy. More about that here: http://the-vulture.livejournal.com/141930.html
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)


I think that people forget how isolating it can be to lose one's job and home. That cuts you out of most of society. The early poems in Monster House touch on that sense of isolation.
paka From: paka Date: October 7th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Had to stop dressing up after I hit 10.

Much like the ban on comic books and cartoons, you can see how well that one took.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)


I still read comics occasionally. my_partner_doug is largely responsible for the revival of my cartoon interest, as he is a major animation fan. I've taken part in costume parties sometimes for Samhain too.

There's really no need to stop doing things you enjoy just because you're getting old. Sometimes they need a little modification but that's rarely difficult to figure out. Grandma always used to hand out candy to older chaperones who were in costume, along with the little kids. The last time I actually went trick-or-treating, I was the older escort for my younger cousins -- and people gave me candy then. I also know adults who like to dress up as zombies and lie on the lawn, waiting for unwary trick-or-treaters to walk past so they can be grabbed.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: March 22nd, 2013 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would like to reblog some of your first poems in various series (kung fu robots, monster house, etc.) on my tumblr. (Credit and link to you, of course.) I remember in the past you said that might be okay, but I can't for the life of me remember for sure. Is it?

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 22nd, 2013 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, please!

I would love that. It's a great way to get new readers. If you send me the links when you do that, I will add you to my donors list and I'll also repost the links in case any of my current readers who have Tumblr accounts want to relink.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: March 22nd, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, please!

Bugger me! There's a poem of yours I really want to reblog, and I can't find it or remember the title. A girlbot and a trans woman gang together against the women's groups that exclude them?

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 22nd, 2013 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, please!

lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: March 22nd, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, please!

Thanks! Okay, first bout of reblogs achieved!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 22nd, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, please!

Woohoo! Looks like people are enjoying them, from the comments. And yeah, a film of Kung Fu Robots would be pretty awesome.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 22nd, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, please!

Oh, something else I thought of: You might want to add "reposted with permission" to those, so nobody bugs you about copying them. Putting a link to the series pages for the serial poems would also let your readers know that there is more where those came from.
22 comments or Leave a comment