I’m still upset
about what happened in
the haunted house.

Its silent congress
of ghouls peering
from under little cotton cobwebs.

"Conspiracy Theory"

Did you hear that shriek?
They’re hanging themselves
in the bathroom again.

That’s the problem with spooks—
no new ideas,
just repeat performances.

Like an owl in a broken wall, they sing
their ooo-ooo hoodoo
night in and night out.

This place is lousy with candelabra,
the expected dust
and simulacra of violence:

a bloodstain, a hammer,
a punctilious moon admiring itself
in the gleam of the moldy wallpaper,

slick and embroidered.
There’s a saying round these parts –
“We’re off to have an immense adventure!”

And then the ghosts all laugh their tinny laughs,
leaning this way and that.
Their story’s been over a long time,

but they’re obsessed with allusions,
all subtext and no substance,
like a crumpled page

thrown into the fire,
shrugging on
its flowing coat of flame.

Maureen Thorson lives in Washington DC, where she co-curates the In Your Ear reading series at the DC Arts Center. Her first book, Applies to Oranges, is just out from Ugly Duckling Presse. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Mayport, winner of the 2006 National Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America.

Atmospheric
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