Aphelion Issue 274, Volume 26
July 2022
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The Poltergeist’s Recital

by James Matthew Byers

Forever darker grows the soul
Eclipsing shadowed moon
While all the while the poltergeist
Recites its wicked tune.

A darkened gloom transcends the room
Where eerie curtains hang.
Outside the window’s tainted glass,
A thunderclap’s loud bang

Erupts in trapped ferocity,
Despondent in its plea.
Within the trappings of the mind,
A bleak eternity

Sets dimly in, slow, inch by inch
Until the empty host
Collaborates enticingly
With haunted, ghastly ghost.


The house, a blackened metaphor
For lucid spirit’s gleaming
By an ancient bending bough
Wrought forth from evil’s dreaming,

Counts the murders, one by one
As midnight’s howling lull
Exposes passers in its trance,
Concealed amidst the hull

Of wood and brick and chimney’s sweep,
A belfry full of bats
Conjoined, divided unto all
Who scurry past like rats.


“Was such a night at such a time
When I sat in the den
Not knowing all that would transpire,
Naïve, unsure back then.

Electrical, the beating storm
Struck lines closing the hit.
With power out, a lantern found
Its wick soon to be lit.

Now time stood still, no tick, no tock,
Alone, a silent scream.
I felt a presence bringing chills
Through lantern light’s bright beam.


How long I sat on retail-bound
Old leather sofa fleeting
With the notions carving fear
Caught up in my heart’s beating

I knew not, crass in my mind,
Such mental jewelry
Seen as a mocking, shaky chime,
A crop of foolery.

I, choking fast, then gasped for air
A fight to thus resist
The supernatural device
That ghosts do not exist.


With tunnel vision as my guide,
I stood to take a look
And like a reason stolen forth
From some unruly crook

I danced beyond the lantern’s flare,
To see the foyer glisten.
Suddenly, my footfall ceased
So I could take a listen.

Banshee’s wail collected all
The thoughts within my head,
And I tread quickly to assess
The things my neighbor said.


Alas, too late, I did recall
What I sensed ‘twas a joke,
Quite disbelieving every word;
Each word my neighbor spoke.

“Who’s there?” I quizzed in shaking voice,
Remembering with fervor
Two whose stain had left their mark,
A mark detailing murder.

“Watch, for all inhabitants
Have met untimely ends.
Hence, heed this warning for your soul
You’ll soon have to defend.”


In fact, there had been sixteen deaths
Unsolved by the police.
Indented chatter spoiled my teeth,
Unleashing my belief.

The house grew ever quieter
As I searched for relief.
Aside from two, no others found
Could offer up their grief.

Since 1890, oh so few
Had purchased to explore
The mysteries surrounding all
From wall to hall to floor.


When I arrived, I thought it odd
For such an ancient manner
To sell most cheaply, and to note
That my own victory banner

Should wave, for such a house as this
Crept up appearing new.
And pride had sold me her threshold,
Not caring that so few

Escaped the confines of its frame,
Great masters of domain,
Where eighteen all together died,
Eighteen to yet remain.


Creaking door cursed inwardly,
Inviting me to jump.
I hit the floor with pounding feet
As blood, indeed, did pump

In rhythmic static from within
My body’s crucial trauma.
Yes blood divulged the coward’s plot,
Like acted in a drama.

I turned in rounds, then pushed abroad,
Watching with every move.
Sadly, I shook with tingling strides;
I shook with my heart’s groove.


Wooden floor etched out the fall
And Rise of stepping slowly.
Room to room, I forced myself
To flee from the unholy.

Nothing hung, tied to the walls
For I lived all alone.
And while awake, the reverie
Led me to there atone.

Asunder, halting in the spot;
The mirror sketched my face,
Reflecting dreadfully my eyes
That slowed a vision’s pace.


What happened next caused me to flinch,
To stiffen human frame,
For there behind me lurked something,
And by the lantern flame

I saw a multitude of shapes
Fly hastily in blue.
I sprinted to the bathroom, this
The best that I could do.

I shut the door, I hit the ground,
The lantern at my side,
When suddenly a chorus sang:
“There’s no where you can hide!”


Hallucinations, I equated,
Just imagination.
Standing, I cracked loose the door,
A moment’s hesitation.

Light source glowing in my hand
Urged me to pulse and thrive.
I ran out to the front door only
Wishing to survive.

I stumbled o’er my coffee table’s
Placement in the dark,
But when I reached the exit, death
Already made its mark.


It locked without the dead bolt’s use,
And I spun back around,
Then turned again to try once more,
Escape to yet be found.

I tugged, I heaved, I pulled upon
The knob to no avail,
Again I heard the queer, vile sound:
The Banshee’s twisted yell.

For there beyond some fifteen feet
Where eighteen horrors towered,
Gripping to the lantern, I
Had no time left, thus cowered.


Leading was a mutant beast,
Designed like crystal shards.
Behind her lurked the other beings,
Burnt in disregard.

Induced to run a different path,
I looked back one time fleeing.
In their own ways, ghosts eloped,
Transfixed as demon beings.

Most beheld a human look,
In stance and size was all.
Blue aqua colored motions nearly
Kept me bound in thrall.


Arriving in my bedroom’s care,
I closed the door with speed.
Once bolted, I reached for the phone
To satiate my need.

“How could this be?” I quipped and jibed.
Despair felt like a quirk.
No pulse, no dial, not a thing
That said my phone would work

Cascaded like a reckoning
The end was coming nigh.
Such revelations spurned the thought:
“I guess I’m soon die.”


As done before, when silence coiled
I ventured from the state
Of shock, remitting me to leave
This nightmare up to fate.

Ascending pilgrim of retired
Emotions bred in shape
Of other worldly sanctions held
Aloft the flowing drape;

Expressed dilemma carved and pasted
Through a weary eye
Implied the blinding heat of promise
I could not deny.


I fled into the spare room blocking
Entry, so I thought.
Behind the drape the open window
Came as freedom sought.

A cawing raven lit the ledge,
As I pushed myself through
The eighteen ghosts eclipsed the door
In shades of deepest blue.

The raven seemed to laugh at me
With every sound it made.
The rain and thunder likewise scoffed
Within their scant parade.


Then closer came the entities,
But my feet found a chalice,
Rising up onto the ledge,
Though still my heart sensed malice.

If I fell my life would end
And I would forfeit breath.
Just one look back into the room,
And then I thought of death.

The raven’s wings flapped wildly and
My balance birthed askew.
I wobbled back and forth then I
Peered into shades of blue.


I couldn’t stand it any longer,
Hopping in the room
And thus refused like those before
This house would be my tomb.

Back to the wall beside the window,
Ghosts spun round about
There forming such an entity:
A giant, monstrous spout.

Their hues evolved into sea green.
A face, androgynous,
And nurtured fangs within their mouth mouth,
The likes an incubus.


Despaired and frightened beyond reach
I wished I were alone,
My pupils, wide in their dilation
Perched ere the lantern shone.

A ragged cloth hung from its frame
Like draping on a throne,
The thing was scarred, and underneath
Its imagery like bone

Exposed when ribs are snapped and cracked
Akin to breaking puncture,
Much the same as I feared soon
Would thus become my juncture.


“There is nowhere left to run;
There is nowhere to flee.
There are none here to save you.” spoke
The demon-ghost with glee.

I knelt to place the lantern as
I wished for timing’s worth,
Then opened up my lighting source
To grant a fire’s birth.

I sighed in terror as this gave
Somewhat the upper edge
And I stepped back beside the raven
On the window ledge.


The wailing spirit cursed in rage,
Corrupt in flaming mire,
Thus passing through the smoky haze
Outstretched beyond the fire.

Suicide I fathomed in
My mind to my dismay,
For there the evil spirit doused
The flames, now gone astray.

It cackled, jeering, boasted envy,
Joining with the raven.
In the chamber of my heart,
The walls began to cave in.


In mid air, I motioned, seeking
Death at my own hand,
But falling down, alas the demon
Would not let me land.

I lost my chance there to defy
My current living deco.
In my ears, I met with fear
Amid the demon’s echo.

Agile swiftness in its movement,
Back inside we strode.
The grave suspense convinced me thus
My insides would explode!


Then down a spiral case of stairs
Into the cellar’s mold
Beheld the missing sixteen, bearing
Bodies in its hold

The creature seemed to say “You’re next.”
A grin across its lips.
Those sixteen looked like mummies found
On expeditious trips.

The creature flew about them as
It evanesced in air.
I knew why no one found them; why
Nobody seemed to care.


Would morning not come rescue me,
Expelling this thing back?
Without my lantern, all around
That place was painted black.

When chills began from deep within
To prick my skin in shock.
The creature burst the openness
As solid as a rock.

Just like the North Star shining bright,
Their blue haze spoke eighteen.
Its fullness dropped me down and I
Surrendered to the scene.


No word said I as they closed in
From every side endeared.
The heat beneath me, thus impaled,
Concluded all I feared.

My draining soul rushed from the pores
As orifices swelled.
My spirit then dispersed from in
The place where I once dwelled

When all at once the meaning fled
By eighteen where I stood.
I thought the battle had been won,
Then woe burst like a flood.


My form was sprawled and mangled; I
Caught glimpses left to see.
Then I reached the conclusion number
Nineteen must be me.

Then just as soon as it began,
The ghost left me to weep,
A phantom now, in my own right,
An endless haunt to keep.

So hear my words; I pray you will
Just up and walk away,
Or soon you’ll be the next like me,
Forever here to stay.


It’s up to you what next to do,
The other eighteen come.
I guess you’ll see what came of me
When you have to succumb.

My essence fades, for I can’t bear
To see your foolish crutch.
The creature will destroy you, just
As I have said as much.

In time, it deems, it seems to be
A mortal’s dying plenty,
Thus as you begin your end,
You’ll be the number twenty.

Forever darker grows the soul
Eclipsing shadowed moon
While all the while the poltergeist
Recites its wicked tune.

© 2008 James Matthew Byers

James Matthew Byers is a published author (Grecian Rune, 2004) and a father of two. James has been married to his wife, Dorothea, for seven years. Mr. Byers teaches 8th Grade English at Moody Junior High. He resides with his family and two cats in Rainbow City.

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