In My Room…

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Her Icy Charms

I will sense her presence in my room tonight,

Though I will never feel her warmth.

Like exploitations of the recent past,

My memories distort her image.

To grope for her in darkness

When she cannot be felt

After feeling her in darkness

When I could not feel

Is tantamount to taking trips

To towns where once you lived

Without stopping.

I will walk with her to the grave this morning

Before Phoebus warms the earth

And sears her icy charm.

His chariot, whose heat and radiance

Gives life to undeservers,

Destroys hope of life for two cursed souls

That once could live as one

And now must form their union –

Protected by darkness – clothed in chill.

Our love was never blessed by God,

Nor was it blessed by Satan.

Venus screamed when first she saw us,

For I am blind and she is a ghost…

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John Thomas McElheny – October 30, 1968

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Copyright 2015, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

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Signals

REAL SPOOKS © 2012

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It’s not the creaking of the floor

That signals they are here

Those faint elusive fingertaps

That prey upon our fear.

It’s not the crawling palp of flesh

That tingles up the spine

And makes us walk into a wall

Or cover heads and whine.

It’s more the sudden heart in throat

That harkens our aware

And causes us to stop dead still

To contemplate and stare

And trembling legs like rubber bands

That fail us when we walk

And frantic waving baby arms

That fly out when we talk

That tell us when the spooks are near

And spur us on to look

At things we might perhaps to fear

That live within a book.

But life is not a cavalcade

Of vignettes marching by,

And all that we can hope to do

Is sit, and wonder why.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

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She Folded Time

Folded Time

The Marshallville Chronicles…

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She folded time like a lacy linen napkin
And then snapped the creases out before
Draping it over my lap to catch the flood
Of memories and tabled dreams that my
Heart in my mouth could no more contain
And that cascaded in red rivulets
From between pouted lips now too soft
To dam the flow that had been held
Prisoner behind my still clenched teeth.
The memories splashed onto my lap
Making ripples in the newly formed
Puddle of unfolded time.
We held our breaths and played
Unabashedly in our puddle child.
I opened my mouth to rejoice and
Drowned us in a frozen tide
Of fiery emotion.

She folded time like the traveler she was
And then jetted across the empty room
Of our togetherness
Fast enough to vacuum the dust of life
Swirling just high enough off the floor
That it could not be stepped upon
But taken back as it had been given
When it was the dust of death
And the firmament from whence she came
Screaming like the Banshee she wasn’t
And threatening to yet return
On the day when I folded time
And she was real.
She folded time in a bare room.
She flew in the heaving of the drapes.
Again, she was never here.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

Turn Out the Lights

REAL SPOOKS © 2012

Dear God,

Forgive us for being so noisy so often that we are distracted from your perfect pageantry.

I think, sometimes, that more people would be in awe of your works if you would just turn off the electricity every now and then.

Thank you.

Amen.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny  

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Song for Lazaretto

Real Spooks © 2012 cynthiakinkel

Tybee Island Ghosts…

“SONG FOR LAZARETTO” – f# minor (copyright Jan. 2001)

1. It runs to the mouth of South Channel, with the tide, it meanders ’round winding its way through the marsh’s waving grasses and soggy ground. It curves like a rippled gray ribbon, the sash on a satin gown, and touches the back of the island on the side where the sun goes down. Many red sunsets have lingered high above this floating plain, to promise relief from the storms at sea – from the waves, the wind, and the rain.

2. The Uchee walked on Tybee long before the Spanish came; … from the Hitchiti-Maya word for ‘salt,’ the island got its name. Though fearsome pirates ventured here whose deeds became renowned, where Blackbeard buried his treasure dear, has never yet been found. While pirate days were numbered, also, French and Spanish gain, the English anchored at Tybee, determined to remain.

3. The founders envisioned Savannah: ‘No tenured property – a viceless, yeoman’s utopia; no rum, no slavery.’ Then trade in Chatham began to fail, and small farms but survived, while over in South Carolina, the rice plantations thrived. As loss and disenchantment overshadowed past convictions, they offered the land grant titles, and lifted the slave restrictions.

4. For years, when ships reached Tybee Light, they’d stop at South Channel Sound. They’d unload the sick and the dying, both the free, … and the bound. They’d leave them here, where this little creek, still far from Savannah town, touches the back of the island on the side where the sun goes down … at a place called ‘lazaretto,’ where a quarantine would hold all the ones with dreaded diseases, and the ones too sick to be sold.

5. While great blue herons nested out beyond the island’s view, mosquito swarms would buzz and bite ’til evening breezes blew. Windswept cedars, and pines, and palms, and crooked oak trees spread … alms of mercy at ‘lazaretto,’ like a summons to ‘raise the dead.’ Though comforters braved the perils, and full moons waxed and waned, there was no such ‘resurrection,’ for the dying who remained.

Refrain 1: Lazaretto! Here, beyond the stormy sea, was no promise for tomorrow, in your sunset reverie? Why must these things be so? What hope can ever be, as we lie here, Lazaretto, to rise again and be free?

6. Now, the South had known misfortune, but the price was high to pay, when the Union armies marched right in, and took it all away. Though Sherman spared Savannah the flames that others knew, the way of life was ended … and the means of living, too. While great plantations emptied, and the fields were laid so low, the slaves were freed, but many stayed. They’d nowhere else to go.

7. But the worst they’d fear on Tybee now were fevers and hurricanes. The days of the quarantines would close, leaving the last remains of the site where many perished, tide-washed and over-grown, … while rails were laid, then, a road was made, and seeds of progress, sown. Nothing survives to mark the graves of the souls lost in that place, … nothing perhaps, but a secret mark, that time cannot erase.

8. Today, the bridge that spans the creek affords a scenic view of the waters off Cockspur Light, as they rush to the ocean blue. Here, the island ‘shrimpers’ dock, and nearby, dolphins play, while hungry seabirds circle low to scavenge what they may … and out on the west horizon, where the miles of marshes grow, the sunsets still do linger as they did so long ago.

9. Many tales are told of those who’ve walked these timeless beaches, and the ways of former slaves live on where the GeeChee culture reaches. The creek still curves like a ribbon, as it winds along with the tide, though it cannot tell a single word how any have lived or died, but at times out here, there’s a sound on the wind, the voice of a memory, that fills the heart of these marshes, like the tide that’s up from the sea,

Refrain 2: “Lazaretto, … many things should never be as the deeds and reasons sleeping fill the pages of history. Yet, there is no doubt as the years rush out to meet eternity, they who lie here in the depths below, … asleep in mystery ….

10. … May also hear that trumpet blow beyond the stormy sea – down … where your waters flow the day you set them free … down, …where your waters flow on the sundown side of Tybee, … like a witness, Lazaretto, you wait so patiently – a witness, Lazaretto, wait and see…”

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Copyright 2012 – 2021, Real Spooks – Cynthia Farr Kinkel

“The Woodticks” by Benjamin Franklin King

(A Poem Often Recited by Ruth Bond Randolph)

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Whoooooooo!There’s things out in the forest
That’s worser an’ ‘n owl,
‘At gets on naughty boys ‘n girls
‘At allers wears a scowl.
There’s things out in the forest ‘
At’s worser ‘n a lion,
‘At gets on wicked boys ‘n girls
‘At’s quarrelin’ an’ a-cryin’.
There’s things out in the forest, mind,
An’ if you don’t take care,
The woodticks—-the woodticks—-
Will be crawlin’ thro’ yer hair.

An’ they say as boys is naughty,
An’ their hearts is full o’ sin,
They’ll crawl out in the night time
An’ get underneath yer skin,
An’ the doctor’ll have to take a knife
An’ cut ’em off jes’ so,
An’ if a bit of ’em is left
Another one’ll grow.
An’ mebbe you won’t feel ’em, too,
Er even know they’re there,
But by and by they’ll multiply
And crawl up in yer hair.Wood Tick, too

The devil’s darnin’ needle too,
‘Ill come and sew yer ear.
An’ make a nest inside like that,
An’ then you’ll never hear;
An’ the jigger bugs gets on you,
An the thousand-legged worm
‘Ill make you writhe, an’ twist, and’ groan,
An’ cry, an’ yell, an’ squirm;
But the worst things ‘at’ll git you
If you lie, or steal, or swear,
Is the woodticks—-the woodticks—-
A-crawlin’ thro’ yer hair.

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Wood Tick

Benjamin Franklin  King, Jr. (1857–1894) was an American humorist and poet whose work published under the names Ben King or the pseudonym Bow Hackley. He achieved notability in his lifetime and afterwards. King was born in St. Joseph, Michigan, March 1857, and died while on a speaking tour at Bowling Green, Kentucky in April 1894. (Wikipedia)

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“Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley

“One of our favorite children’s poems, most certainly meant to be read aloud.”                                                        

Little_Orfant_Annie* * * * * 

Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay, an’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away, an’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep, an’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep; an’ all us other children, when the supper-things is done, we set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun a-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,  An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers, –an’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs, his Mammy heerd him holler, an’his Daddy heerd him bawl, an’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wuzn’t there at all! An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press, an’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’-wheres, I guess; but all they ever found wuz thist his pants an’ roundabout: –An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

Upstairs_blue_flame_Little_Orphant_Annie copy

 
An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin, an’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin; an’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there, she mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she didn’t care! An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide, they wuz two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side, an’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!  An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

  

An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue, an’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo! an’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray, an’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away, –you better mind yer parunts an’ yer teachurs fond an’ dear, an’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear, an’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about, er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
 

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Mary Alice “Allie” Smith was James Whitcomb Riley’s inspiration for the above poem originally titled ‘The Elf Child,’ first published in the Indianapolis Journal in November of 1885. Riley was an American writer, poet, and best selling author born in Greenfield, Indiana in 1849. He died in Indianapolis in 1916.  He was known as the “Hoosier Poet” and “Children’s Poet” for his dialect works and his children’s poetry respectively. (Wikipedia)