Friday, October 21, 2011

13 Books for Halloween: A Poem

from Scott Gustafson's Eddie.
Creeping, sneaking across the pages.
Ghouls and witches, a demon rages,
Thirteen books from cute to scary,
some are gentle, some are hairy.

Half are charmers, picture heavy,
Bone Dog, Hampire, lovestruck zombie.
Monsters prowling, ghosties too,
A few just want to nibble at you.
Or gnash their teeth, spew some goo,
Eat some mold your icebox grew.
For those you'll need a wry-good primer:
To avoid their breath, deter their hunger.

Then it's time for grand adventures:
Longer reads and fantastic creatures.
Goblins, mudmen, tombfolk too,
A beast that quakes from under a lagoon.
Howling clouds with lightning eyes,
Snatching kids into gloomy skies.
Some are there to spook you silly,
Make you gasp, then chuckle, "Really?"
Funny scary, you know the kind:
Ghouls both horrid and undignified.
A parade of crazies, bottled up tight,
With body parts out of sight,
Or balanced where they shouldn't be,
A head held by a demon's knees.

They come in darkness, haunting shadows,
Tugging legs in lakeside shallows.
Drifting in from afterlives.
To lure the living, take revenge on innocent kin.
Or lay in wait while children sleep,
Spinning memories, each one they take,
How far they go is anyone guess,
Deceiving their trust yet offering their best.

Like Bogeyman Skerridge, the saw-toothed charmer,
Keeping Nin safe even as he harms her.
Whipping out his foreboding sack,
He stuffs her in and lugs her back,
To Terrible House to be Maug's food,
The immortal doings of wicked Strood.
But what's that now, a squirrel-blood note?
To help Nin escape the big dog's throat?

Nin's just one of several heroes,
Who never give up, even when they're fearful.
Take Sasha Kessler, gifted at magic,
Chasing the dybbuck, though feeling frantic,
With Lily Astral, Inquisitor Wolf,
He fights grim powers corrupting folk.
And guards the Wizard of Luna Park,
To keep his soul from going dark.
Yet Sasha's the one who must beware,
Sorted tricks are everywhere.

Others go where none should pass,
As Victor quests to make life last.
At just 15, in desperate times,
An obsession grows in young Frankenstein.
Victor's twin is at death's door,
His only hope is under the floor,
In lurid half-light, Victor goes,
With Elizabeth and Henry on their toes.
To find a spell for life's elixir,
Charred and writhing, ancient cipher.
There, a riddle, they unfold,
To gather ingredients strange and old.
Toxic lichen, where vultures bite,
Then squeezing in a recess tight,
They get a fish from a watery bed,
Their biggest sacrifice still ahead.
Vital tissue, a finger bled,
Marrow to harvest before he's dead!

Gulp. Oh my. All around us,
Alchemy, darkness, Paracelsus.

Victor's obsession is only the start,
Next come bodies torn apart:
A rain of blood, a nest of entrails,
A curious courier consuming vitals.
That's the gory, horror twist,
The nightmare of the list.
The very last Monstrumologist.
A dangerous path, Will must decide:
Save his mentor Pellinore?
Destroy the pod of carnivores?
Or get out while he still has flesh?
Free his soul, start afresh.
A callous quest, without remorse.
The story within this tour de force.

Finally, ever wonder, the kind of brain,
Sends a chill right through your veins?
Take the mind of dear old Poe,
Edgar Allen as you know,
His flair for macabre, legendary.
Made the man a standard-bearer,
For horror tales, gruesome-scary:
House of Usher, vengeful cat,
Imp perverse, a lurid cask.
A Tell-Tale Heart: a grim confession,
Under floorboards, a beating obsession.

The seeds of horror sprouted early.
Edgar's childhood, dark and dreary.
A drunken father, an imagined demon --
Wily McCobber, never leaving.
Then Father walks out,
Mother dies,
His foster father is distant and snide.
Falsely accusing of crimes not done,
A nightmare walk, a rooster hung.
Then Raven swoops down,
McCobber grins,
The stuff of stories rolls right in.

Feel it now?
Those jelly legs, pins and prickles, up the skin?
Oh the horrors that pull you in!
The gutsy heroes, the battles to win,
Close encounters, almost grim.
So watch your back,
Hold your charms,
There's lots to read before the morn'.
Can you make it, a whole book through?
Flip those pages, I dare you to!
But wait. What's that groping?
Off that chapter!
Watch your hands, it's scrabbling faster!
Tee, hee, hee. Got you going.
Real they seem --
But come to life?
Only your imagination can wind you tight.
So grip those pages, have some fun,
But read them quick...
Or be ready to run!

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