The shadows cast by candles flit across the haunted room,
surround the apparitions, pale, that stalk me through the gloom,
usurping purloined purple forms forsaken ghosts assume.
A tick-tock clock of time rewinds within the mirrored hall
and pendula suspended, pause, while creatures creep and crawl
on images of effigies, through memories that maul.
The madness of the midnight mass! Perchance it interferes
with spiders spinning spiral threads which bridge the chandeliers
when weaving minds' discarded coils to silken souvenirs.
My lovers smile through marbled masks and then they turn their backs,
like furnace flames deserting ash or phantoms fleeing cracks
in faded, painted, wrinkled faces nightmares carve in wax.
Sometimes a gust disturbs the dust and secrets reappear,
which dance in silver slippers through the dusk of yesteryear -
it's not the screams that drown my dreams, but whispers which I fear.
Reflections glazed the hollow eyes of idols as they fled!
Their futile, feigned, far-flung farewells now hammer in my head,
marooned like frozen silhouettes, like footprints of the dead.
The hangman posts a letter home, his message indiscreet
about the vestal virgin and a place we sometimes meet
to savor tea and crumpets on a one-way dead-end street.
The rapping and the tapping at my tattered, time-worn door
repeat reports of migrant myths, of tales of nevermore,
strung far across the sullen sea, most shipwrecked near the shore.
A fir sheds needles, wrapped in rain, the while a wan wind blows
recalling, faintly, fickle fates a drifter undergoes -
alone, unknown with tracks interred in teardrop undertows.
My feet, no longer tied or tethered, traipse within a squall
pursuing profiles long forgotten, hidden in the sprawl
of spectres spread amongst the dead, some tattooed to the wall.
At times, the belfry towers toll of anarchy and gin,
of smoke and mirrors, rolling dice and other things akin,
impaled on forks down byway roads, and things that might-have-been.
The skies outside, beyond the night with shutters shut and drawn,
begin to glow on shattered ships which sailed before the dawn
while clouds undone beneath the sun dismiss the captive pawn.
Copyright © Terry O'Leary | Year Posted 2016