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Poem: "Home Shriek Home" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Home Shriek Home"

Earlier today, I posted "Eviction, Noticed."  Series sponsor ladymondegreen. People wondered why the monsters didn't stay with the narrator and where they went.  I hadn't thought about that before, but the first thing that occurred to me was: he didn't have another place lined up, so there wasn't room for them.  The second thing that occurred to me was this...

Home Shriek Home

Over a year of couch-surfing
and crappy apartments.
Over a year of no company
but the cockroaches.
Over a year since I lost
a fine old house to foreclosure.

Things were looking up, though --
I finally got a job webmastering a new site,
and I met a girl geek with cute software
while she was installing some hardware,
and then I saw the ad.

Victorian house, 3 bdrm, 2 ba.
As-is.  Best offer.

I looked it over on the outside:
Shingles solid except for one bald patch.
Windows intact but in need of putty.
Half the rails missing from the front porch.
Nice gingerbread.

I looked it over on the inside:
One bathroom missing its toilet.
Speaking tubes clogged with gunk.
Bedrooms small, living room surprisingly large.
Creaky stairs leading to jammed attic door.
Jammed basement door probably leading to more creaky stairs.
Enamel kitchen fixtures chipped but functional.
Ooo ... a dumb-waiter.

I made my offer,
not expecting much,
but the seller got right back to me.

The week after I moved in,
I invited my girl over.
She ran her hand over the walnut banister
and leaned on the stairs --
eee-EEE, eee-EEE, eee-EEE --
and giggled.

"It's a fixer-upper," I said,
a trifle defensively.

"I'll help you fix it up," she said.
"My father was a carpenter."

So we hired a guy to patch the shingles
while we worked on the porch.
We found a matching toilet at a salvage shop
and we reputtied the windows
just in time for a cold snap.

The radiators came online
with a sputter and bang.
The hot water pipes rattled.
Without thinking, I reached up
and hit them with a wrench, bing-tang-bang!
B'ting bang!
  the pipes replied,
and then shut up.

"What the hell was that?"
said my girl, reaching for her own wrench.

"Oh, well, you know these old houses ...
they make noises," I said.

"Oh yes," she said,
"I know old houses."

That night, when the teakettle whistled,
I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
"I'll get it," I called.
When I went into the kitchen,
no one was there,
but when I came back to the living room,
the rocker was rocking slowly.
I ignored it, and finished making two cups of tea,
then suggested to my fellow geek
that the spare bedroom would make a fine computer room.

The next morning
I was awakened by a shriek
and a soaking wet girl running down the hall.
I dashed into the bathroom,
yanked open the flapping closet door --

There was a monster in the closet.
"What did you just do?" I yelled.

"I offered her a towel,"
the monster said.  He waggled his eyebrows.
I slammed the door on him.

Interestingly, she had gotten her own towel
from somewhere else, and was sprawled
nonchalantly on the couch when I came out.
Without a word, we agreed to pretend
that nothing had happened.

I went into the kitchen to make breakfast.
Bacon frying.
Eggs scrambling.
Coffee perking.
Then the radiator in the kitchen
gave a sad little gurgle as the system lost pressure.

Grumbling, I pried open the basement door
and went down the creaky wobbling stairs.
An ugly little troll the color of bleu cheese
looked up from the wheezing furnace and
said over its shoulder, "Workin' on it, bub."

I screamed and ran back up the basement stairs
and slammed the door behind me,
where it jammed again.
"What the hell was that?!"  I gasped.

My girl looked at me,
one corner of her mouth curling up.
"I'll hazard a guess that you just met my troll."

"Why do you have a troll?" I said.
"No, wait, why do have a troll?"

"I guess he couldn't find anywhere else
after I had to leave my last place,"
she said.  Then she chuckled.
"At least you had clothes on
when you met my  special roommate."

Well, what could I do?
I introduced her properly to the bogeyman
and the monsters under-the-bed and in-the-closet
and the little old lady ghost.
And then I proposed.

When she said yes,
the eldritch cheers cracked a window.

"I'll get that," a voice said sheepishly
through the speaking tubes.

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Current Mood: busy busy

36 comments or Leave a comment
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zianuray From: zianuray Date: February 7th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I love your stuff.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this. I was looking at the followup to "Eviction, Noticed" and the whole poem pretty much fell into my head.
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: February 7th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Very nice, love the rhythm you have here. As much a story as it a poem.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Much of my poetry has a strong narrative quality. I'm giving myself the option to write flash fiction, but well, I've read so much mythology and fairy tales and other stuff that uses rhythm and repetition in prose ... I tend to think that way once I'm on a poetry streak, and the result often comes out like this. Poems that tell a story, tied together with cadence and repetition rather than rhyme.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: February 7th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
*chuckle* And they lived happily ever after.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 7th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this makes me so happy! Thank you so much for writing it and posting it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm delighted to hear that. February was a good month for the Poetry Fishbowl, so I've got leeway to share.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: February 7th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
This is wonderful!
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: February 7th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: February 7th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I could use some housecritters like those!!!
fluffyblanket From: fluffyblanket Date: February 7th, 2010 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
What a delightful , narrative poem !
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this.
ravan From: ravan Date: February 7th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)

That's just cute. His and hers monsters?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)


... his and hers monsters. Like merging two households of cats, only spookier. Slightly.
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: February 7th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I laughed out loud, long enough my husband and son were giving me weird looks. May I take these to a con and read them as a set?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes, please!

I would be most honored. If you can mention the website so folks know where to find more of my poetry, that would be helpful, but not required. I would love to hear about this after the con, too!
From: minor_architect Date: February 7th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great follow-up poem! I feel as if I'm surrounded by the Ghosts of Fishbowls Past. ;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I had fun digging up the poems from October 2008. I'm glad that people are enjoying the results.
filkferengi From: filkferengi Date: February 17th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Fun! Monstrous HEA ftw!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 17th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm glad you enjoyed this.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 21st, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
ROTFLMAO!!! I love it!!! :-D

This could be a Disney movie plot. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 22nd, 2010 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)


My first thought was, "Yes, I could see that."

My second though was, "Pixar would do it better."

Pixar as a company is on my extremely short list of movie people I wouldn't slam the door on if they asked about an option on my writing.
eseme From: eseme Date: January 5th, 2011 03:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh that is totally wonderful.

Just a perfect story.

And the troll sounds totally useful too!

I am so glad they all came back. So very glad. You are making me squee.
akilika From: akilika Date: January 5th, 2011 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm actually almost glad that I read this one after "Sticky Fingers"--Sticky Fingers works *excellently* on its own. But I'm also glad to have read the forebears.

Thank you. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2011 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I try to make even the series poems stand alone, though it works better in some series than others.
36 comments or Leave a comment
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