Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Lurking"

This poem came out of the October 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ravan.  It was sponsored by janetmiles.  This poem comes fairly early in the Monster House series, after "Home Shriek Home."  You can read more about this series on the Serial Poetry page.


We hadn't been in the house for long
when we noticed something
a bit odd about it.

Sometimes the lights
flickered and went out for no discernible reason.
I raised an eyebrow at the little old lady ghost,
but she silently shook her head.

Sometimes the shadows
moved against the lighting, stretching
along the floorboards like strands of black taffy.
I glanced at the bogeyman,
but he just shrugged and said,
"Don't look at me.  I'm clear over here."

My girl grumbled
and twitched her shoulders
and scratched her back as if it itched.
"It's like being in a chatroom,"
she said one afternoon,
"when there's a new person in the group
and they don't type anything,
they just lurk,
but everyone knows they're still there."

"Well," I said slowly, thinking out loud,
"some people lurk because they don't intend to join in,
and some people lurk to make certain of their welcome."

"Please feel free to make an introductory post,"
my girl said invitingly,
but the shadows remained quiescent.

That Friday night, we made popcorn
and watched classic horror movies.
My girl and I piled onto the hide-a-bed
with the monsters under-the-bed and in-the-closet
tucked underneath it, the troll and the bogeyman
on either side, and the little old lady ghost in her rocker.
We giggled like mad
at all the things the movie got wrong.

Before long, though,
the lights began acting up
and something slithered along the wall.
I sighed and snuggled my girl,
trying to ignore it.

Then the television popped
and the picture dissolved into streaks of light.

"All right, that does it," I said.
"You can lurk in the corners as much as you like,
but if you keep screwing with the TV set,
I'm going to get really cranky.
Now, why don't you just come out here
and watch the movie with the rest of us?"

The television emitted a fizzling sound
and the picture returned to normal,
but nothing else changed.

"When logic fails," my girl murmured,
"try whimsy instead."  She stuck her hands
in front of the floor lamp and made a bunny,
complete with four legs and a poofy tail.
The shadow-rabbit hopped cautiously
around the floor, sniffing at everyone's toes,
then settled in front of the couch and curled up to sleep.
My girl wrapped her arm back around me
and returned to watching the movie.

Ever so slowly, a patch of darkness
slunk toward us, like a pool of molasses spreading.
We all kept our eyes trained on the movie.
Hesitantly the lurking shadow draped itself
over the end of the hide-a-bed next to the bogeyman.

The bogeyman regarded the lurking shadow
with his grave, pale eyes.
Then he held out the bowl of popcorn.

The lurking shadow scooped up a handful,
and then said, in a voice like dry leaves rubbing together,
"Thank you."

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, holiday, horror, poem, poetry, reading, writing

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