Rooms of Darkness

§  This year my annual Halloween poem speaks of true demons: the demons of one’s heart and mind and spirit…  §

Since beginning this blog in 2017, it’s been my brief tradition to include a ghostly little poem for Halloween.  I began with a sweet but mysterious story poem I wrote for my great niece and nephew, Ghost Kitty Walks, and continued in 2018 with another story poem I had written decades ago, Struggling Home–a work that, when written,  told an engagingly creepy ghost story while actually helping me exorcise some old anguish.

Bearing those two blog posts in mind, I searched through my hundreds (no exaggeration, this–quite genuinely several hundred) of poems for a verse also written many years ago, Alicia Walks Softly.  This was another story poem, about a ghost who walked nightly to weep at the site of her own grave.  It seemed an appropriately seasonal subject!  Unfortunately, I could not locate the poem.  I wasted a somewhat-pleasant hour sifting through ring binders and loose sheets and simply scads of poems, amusing myself,  reading a number of verses that were quite frankly awful (why in the name of God did I write that, and–bigger question–why on earth did I ever keep it?!), and astonishing myself with works I had forgotten and had, unbelievably, written, and written well, at very young ages.   Hunting for Alicia Walks Softly proved fruitless, though.  It was simply nowhere to be found.  And, sadly, I could recall only the first stanza and the final line of the work–far too little to reconstruct it.

But as I sifted through my poetry–so much written, so few (only six) ever published–I came across one that, while definitely neither a story in verse nor a ghost poem, seemed to fit the bill for my Halloween-themed blog.  Certainly, it spoke to the seasonal topic with its references to demons.  This time, though, my poem speaks of true demons: the demons and devils of one’s heart and serveimageES3CCUHSmind and soul.

And so, for this Halloween blog, I offer you Rooms of Darkness.

 

Rooms of Darkness

I sleep in rooms of darkness, no longer needing light.
But in my distant childhood, I feared the coming night,
for ghosts and devils, demons, each eve awaited me,
with caves formed by my covers the only place to flee.

No more such childish tremors.  The shadows of my room
mold not the shapes of devils from shades within the gloom.
I’ve not the indecision to open or to close
my eyes–to face the horror, or hide in shammed repose.

I am adult.  My demons stand squarely in the sun.
I’ve even less escape route.  There is no place to run
where heartache cannot conquer, nor need not locate me.
From loss, distress, confusion, there is no place to flee.

I vanquished childhood’s demons, I thought, but did not know
that creatures forged in sadness will follow where one goes.
The shades and shapes of sorrow still rule my troubled heart.
I’ve never quite forsaken my demons of the dark.

May you have a fun, happy and ghost-free Halloween!

 

Struggling Home

(A spooky little Halloween story told in verse.)

The square of light spilling from my window
casts liquid gold on the rain-drenched streets,
while angry winds, beating harshly sullen
reverberate like an army’s feet
and pound the night with a vicious fury.
An evening fit not for man nor beast,
I think–when, startled, I glimpse the outline
of someone walking the darkened street.

Sad Rain 3 cropHer silhouette bleared and fogged by raindrops,
small shoulders bowed unmistakeably,
a sodden figure that struggles forward,
the very picture of misery.
I know her!  She is my neighbor’s daughter.
Her father leads her a sorry life.
I wonder at her uncaring parent.
To send her out, and on such a night!

(For what she carries proclaims her mission;
 her father’s need, and the cause of strife.)

Her shadow moves from my light.  I hurry
up to the doorstep to call her in.
But I’m too late.  Though I call, no answer.
She cannot hear me above the wind.
And I wonder, closing my door quite slowly,
if any other might have the heart
to spare a thought for that broken figure
struggling home in the windy dark.

…That was last night, and I met my neighbor
on the street corner today.  I asked
if she, his daughter, had journeyed safely,
reaching their home with his liquor pack.
He stared at me from eyes deeply sunken,
his face unshaven, jaw gaping low.
He tried to speak.  Tears grimed down his cheeks,
and then, angered, bitter, confused, he moaned.

“Damn fool!” he cursed me, wiped tears, and whispered,
“my daughter’s dead–died two weeks ago!”

…It’s not rained since for a month.  Such clear nights!
Such nights as I’ve had no cause to think
of storms, or of that streetside encounter
when reason tottered upon the brink.
But clouds roll up, and the storm is threatening,
and I dare not look upon the street
where pall of night is illuminated,
nor lend an ear to the sound of feet.

I dare not open my door, nor listen,
nor gaze at gaps where the curtains part,
nor spare a thought for that broken figure,
struggling home in the windy dark.

 

 

 

The Screen Test

Years ago I read a slogan which has always stayed with me: “An open mind is like a window; you have to put up a screen for the bugs.”

As someone who has always been interested “fringe” concepts – conspiracy theories, New Age spirituality, holistic medicine, reincarnation, acupuncture, telepathy, numerology, homeopathy, precognition – I’ve looked into ‘em all – that slogan has been important, reminding me to keep myself centered with a healthy skepticism. I fully agree with Hamlet’s famous statement to Horatio, but I’ve still always examined each of my interests using the Screen Test.

As a result, the first time I encountered material that was supposedly channeled through a human from a “higher being” I hammered my skeptical screen tightly into the window of my mind.  The higher being was described variously as an evolved soul, an angelic being, or a spiritual master. Why, I wondered, would such a being need or even want to speak through a human voice?  I’d read extensively about the phenomenon of the subconscious mind producing alternate personalities, and was aware of just how easily this could happen, especially when the mind was in a trance or hypnotic state.  Nevertheless, I decided to read the book anyway,  wondering if it might convince me that channeled materials were actually teachings from higher source, and not just the product of someone’s untethered subconscious.

The book failed the Screen Test.

If this material was the revelation of an Evolved Master, I decided, I would just have to stay a spiritual amoeba. Decades later, I still recall some of the passages that set my teeth on edge. In one segment, the Teacher told a sort of parable about a married man who fell in love with another woman.  The two of them nobly refrained from an affair while he stayed with his  wife, whom the would-be lovers referred to as “the Vegetable”.  A few years later, the Teacher explained, their self-sacrifice and noble morality were rewarded when “the Vegetable” passed away, leaving the path clear for them to marry at last.

Now just a cotton-pickin’ minute! “The Vegetable”? This man mocked the woman whom he’d promised to love, honor, and cherish by referring to her using that scathing nickname?  His would-be paramour did the same?  Exactly how was it possible that his scornful attitude never affected his marriage – that his wife never felt his disrespect, never felt unloved or belittled? Exactly how was it better or morally right that she was never released from this sham of a marriage to possibly find happiness with someone who genuinely loved her?  How was it even decent that her death was viewed as convenient?

And this was an example of morality as taught by a spiritual Master?

In another paragraph, the Teacher referred derisively to “young men who refuse to fight for their country”. The Vietnam war was raging at the time this book was published, so this was clearly a reference to those who dodged the draft or protested the war.  But I personally had no quarrel with the courageous young people who protested and marched and held sit-ins and burnt their draft cards.  They had the courage to declare that this was an unjust war; an undeclared war forced on a generation of youngsters who, at that time, were underage to legally vote for the very leaders who were sending them away to die.

Right then and there I made up my mind that this material was representative of nothing but the personal prejudices of the supposed Channeler. This dreck in no way represented the teachings of an angelic being. Teacher, my right hind rump!

I’ve encountered other purportedly channeled material in the years since. Unlike that first encounter, much channeled material often seemed truly spiritual, wise, even beautiful.  So perhaps it is only owing to that first unhappy experience with channeling that I have never been able to accept channeled material to be other than the subconscious product of the Channeler. It saddens me that such sagacious people fail to trust their own wisdom and teach directly from it, but instead feel they must insist that it comes from a being beyond their own spirit.

I will never doubt that there are highly evolved spiritual beings on both sides of the Veil that separates human life from the hereafter, and I can even accept that those in spirit sometimes speak to us.

But I truly doubt that they speak through us.

Ghost Kitty Walks

A Spooky Little Halloween Poem for Mya and Kai
by Aunt Beckett ©2016

Gentle Ghost Kitty lives
In the little brown house
At the end of the bend in the road.
He had lived there alive
With his human, Dianne.
But for so long he’s been all alone!

For Dianne moved away
To a far-distant home.
But small Ghost Kitty stayed where he’d died.
There he wandered and moped,
So bewildered and sad,
And so lonely for such a long time!

For Ghost Kitty walks
And Ghost Kitty talks
In a tiny, well-bred “Mew!”
And Ghost Kitty looks for someone to love,
Purring, “I am calling you!”

It was then I moved in
To the little brown house
At the end of the bend in the street.
And one day, living there,
As I sat down to read,
Something sat down with me,
At my feet!

Something I could not see
Cuddled there beside me
And I reached but I touched empty air.
And yet somehow I knew
A small cat sat by me.
A cat purring and snuggling was there!

For Ghost Kitty walks
And Ghost Kitty talks
In a tiny, well-bred “Mew!”
And Ghost Kitty nestled by my side,
Purring, “I think I like you!”

An now sometimes I see,
From one blink to the next,
A small shadow that walks like the wind.
And I smile to myself, knowing that he is here,
For small Ghost Kitty, he’s my best friend.

For Ghost Kitty walks
And Ghost Kitty talks
In a tiny, well-bred “Mew!”
And Ghost Kitty snuggles by my side,
Purring, “I’ll stay here with you.!”