The Laughing Ghost

Not a poem for Halloween, this time, but a song:

It’s easy to summon a demon

A poem for Halloween, one of a very occasional series.

It’s easy to summon a demon…

imp by mje

It’s easy to summon a demon
You’ll need paper, a pencil, and something to lean on
A wide, flat space and a chunk of chalk
A parrot or raven you’ve taught to talk
A brace of candles in candlestick-holders
Two contracts in two foolscap folders
A sound-proofed room with a double-locked door
A key that’s never been used before
A cloth, a towel, a bottle of water
A looking-glass and a vicar’s daughter
An hour of your time, a year off your life
A conscience that’s clear and a tongue like a knife
An iron-strong will and a singular aim
A clean length of twine and a secret name
And then, only then, you’ll be ready to start
Oh — I hope you’ve thoroughly practised your Art?
If you haven’t, God help you, and all of your kin
You’ve no idea of the mess that you’re in!

Toby – a Halloween rhyme

They wondered why Toby was always so cold
He was only, they calculated, five years old
Yet his skin was the colour of moonlight on ice
And crystals of water had formed in his eyes
 
“I don’t feel cold,” he said, looking up
As they gathered around him and gave him a cup
Of cocoa as hot as they could possibly make it
And told him to drink it as fast as he could take it
 
“The problem,” one said, “is not the coldness of the skin,
“But the coldness of the child, as it were, within.”
They nodded, and asked, “Do you think cold thoughts?”
“I don’t know,” said Toby. “Do you think that I ought?”
 
They murmured, considered, and angled their heads
Then told him to lie on an unyielding bed
“Bend your knee” — “Cough hard” — “Open wide” — “Wag your ears”
They ordered, all at once, till he was in tears
 
But the tears didn’t fall, they just iced up his eyes
And a nurse had to come with a dropper and pliers
Then they gave him more cocoa, and conferred in a corner
On the best proven method to make Toby warmer
 
An operation, of course, was out of the question
A scalpel wouldn’t make the slightest incision
A pill might have worked, if they could be sure
That a pill could be found not to burn but to thaw
 
“And what of his brain?” one learned man asked
And ventured that he to this end might be tasked
For the psychotherapeutic, transcendental
Cure was his thing (though still experimental)
 
A second said that physiotherapy might
Given time make his joints less frozenly tight
A third disagreed. “A month of rest at least!”
While a fourth proposed a diet of malt extract and yeast
 
And Toby, in the corner, sipped his cocoa and wondered
Against which of the Commandments he had so blundered
To be stuck on a bed in a room with these men
And when he might be let out again
 
After hours of conferring, an elected man came
And smiled at young Toby, and addressed him by name
“We’ve decided at length,” this studious man said,
“That you cannot be helped, and must be declared dead.”
 
The man raised his eyebrows in question and waited
While Toby, mouth open, eyes wide, contemplated
Then asked, “Will I be allowed outside to play?”
“You’ll be expected to stay out all night and all day.”
 
“And will I be sent to some special school?”
“No school.” “Or a prison?” “That would simply be cruel.”
Then Toby, with a shrug, agreed to be dead
So they signed off his case, and then sawed off his head
 

(Previous Halloween ditties can be found here (2010) and here (2007).)

Teach Yourself Terror!

A rhyme for Halloween…

Teach Yourself Terror! the book’s cover said:
“How to be frightened of things not-quite-dead!”
“How to be scared of the creatures of the night!”
“How to see things that aren’t there, and take fright!”
“How to imagine weird shapes in the dark!”
“How to hear werewolves at night in the park!”
“How to feel creepy things creep up your back!”
“How to know your mind is starting to crack!”
The table of contents was equally scary
With chapters on “Fear” and “Fright” and “Being Wary”
And “Tingling Sensations of the Lower Back and Spine”
And “Paranoid Psychosis — Know the First Signs!”
While one spoke of “How to be Mortified at a Glance”
Another was “Gut-Wrenching Terror (Advanced)”
The index alone could have given you chills
With its alphabetical listing of all sorts of thrills
From “Anxiety attacks” to “Zoomorphophobia”
Everything that was likely to shock, shake or scare ya!
The acknowledgements listed all the experts in fear
Most of whom, it turned out, had been dead many a year
While the author himself, to judge by his photo
Was a living wreck, and hadn’t much longer to go
What a book! What a fine work of scholarship it was!
Yet I left the shop without it, and did so because
A handsome, heavy volume, a deluxe slipcased edition —
The price alone was enough to scare me to perdition!

(And a previous one.)