Gut Instinct

M. Stone


This farmhouse on a gravel road
once weathered the Depression and now shelters
a middle-aged man who lives with his mother.
He has you cornered in a hallway;
he points to the shadowed stairs and says
a ghost lives up there.

You are five, and so your belief in ghosts is a given
but you know when you are the butt of a joke.
His laugh—hungry bear rumble—forces you back.
Hands extended, the man’s fingers are like pincers—
something tells you his grip will hurt.
Head turning, you seek the people who brought you here:
they laugh together in a nearby room.

You are small but gazelle-quick evading his grasp,
heeding the instinct to flee and be swallowed
by the safety of your herd.



M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, SOFTBLOW, Calamus Journal, and numerous other print and online journals. She can be reached at