Old Dark House

John Grey


It is a moving picture…
the damp, discolored walls of my unfettered will,
the creak of haunted sentiment,
the photographs of parasites
on every dresser
in the unruly catacombs of my belief.

It is a hallway, this hand.
It is a cellar, these loins.
There are rooms in my body
where fingers dig deep into debris,
others where nothing is sacred,
are constantly swept clean by ruthless nerves.

It is brain overrun with sick architects,
hardened harpy carpenters.
It spews thoughts like Karloff
brandishing the dark at the top of the stairs
like a weapon
or the witchy housekeeper
opening graves at the tip of the spine
with groveling speech.

This flesh boasts corpses bursting out of closets,
old tunes ignited by the grist of fear,
a listening post to all the bats in all the attics.

This bone ekes out
the spots alive to scarred memory,
the blood gulag of the bed.
These eyes are celluloid insights
into a thousand last suppers.
This tongue speaks the language
of lost and rainy weekends,
the paradox of gratitude,
of the welcoming smeared with its own bile.

This face can float
at any time back to
the invocation of the blood,
the provocation of the stars.
It can be a crumbling shingle,
a strange light in a window.

It trades back and forth
with eternity,
a shrieking ghost here,
a wound in the side there.
It is in deep with religion.
It wields the scythe,
pumps the organ,
redecorates the seething skull
through endless nightmares.

And this heart of course,
is at the heart of it.
The rotting profile of
the old one on the wall.
The shivering tongueless kiss
of the young lovers.
The bombed out lives,
disfigured bravado.
The deaths, one by one,
like perverse aortal beats.


John Grey is an Australian poet and U. S. resident. He has been recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One, and Columbia Review, with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East, and Midwest Quarterly.