Friday, 19 October 2012

RFW Halloween House of Horrors : Finding Ngozi



I’ve come back to the childhood town
the hills and streams much the same
but all roads wider, homes pulled down
a landmark known by a different name


the school gone now, swank and swell
swallowing up the wide tag field
the ravenous maw of a starred hotel
where high once dark falcons wheeled


my old home razed and in its stead
a concrete chrome monstrous block
rears up on its haunch, its angry head
with red glass eyes scares passing folk


and  I know it’s an absurd wish
that wants to keep them standing still;
things move on, beyond foolish
to step back over an old doorsill.


But even so  I trudge new lanes
raw and red, to find old friends
and a love lost, but for all my pains
each road leads to the emptiest end.


I come back at the close of day
hopes rise and fall, and my heart grieves
moving on is moving away
no trace remains of the one who leaves.


Oh, I know it’s a risky wish
that wants to keep things standing still;
the world goes on, beyond foolish
to yearn for youthful stream and hill.




She was a girl of a hundred braids
skin the satin of savannah nights
her onyx brows curved sharp blades
her fingers frisky firefly lights,


her lips the perfume of a vineyard
where purple grapes press heavy and low;
and I was a lad, handsome and hard
but soft enough to love her so.


We met where the secret twilight wanes,
we laughed and loved down the sunlit stream,
we wept the tears of the ancient rains,
then kissed to life a splintered dream.


All dreams go back from where they hail
and she too one day said goodbye;
but she carved us both in perfect detail,
with her in my arms to remember love by;


she said her gift was for me alone,
I could not take it back with me,
our secret love must not be shown,
and there was no way but to agree.


We walked back up the hardstone hill
the hollow fig tree stooped grey and wept
and took the dolls; the doves went still;
the sun spat blood; and then we left.


Oh I know it’s a reckless wish
to keep all things from moving on;
the world must spin, beyond foolish
to yearn for a lost love now long gone.




So my quest ends? no path or park
no town lane will lead me clear?
where will I find my princess dark?
and I have just one more night here.


If I can’t find her then my goal
has to be the stooped grey fig
and the dolls, if I find them whole -
a small keepsake and nothing big.


Heart-sore, forlorn, never more alone
I start for the place where we dreamt
that small stream, hill of hardstone
the old fig tree with its hair unkempt.


The light fades as I slowly walk
the sky wears the merest wash
the track narrows, birds roost in flocks
their song stilled to a complete hush;


and it’s dark before too long,
no moon comes out to light the road;
the cicadas fine tune their song
disturbed sometimes by a courting toad.


The shapes of distant hill and woods
seem the same, but the stars are strange
and thin their light and not so good
the air, it's full of wings and change.


Oh I know it’s an unwise wish
that wants to keep the same outlines;
all hills erode, beyond foolish
to go on a quest for old love signs.




The dog in the sky bays and sends
a scream of wind that flays me cold;
the cicada song abruptly ends
and toad tunes too are quickly recalled.


Something like sap warm as blood
drip-drips soft menacing in the dark
and is sucked down by the silky mud
a firefly lights an eerie spark


and puts it out as soon as it’s lit
as if its fearful of its own light
moth wings brush past, quietly flit
away into an endless night.


A rustle of leaves brings me up short
and a feline cry torn into a cough
make me rethink if I ought
to stop this quest for a fig and love.


The tree looms up dark grey and grim
even more stooped with its years
and I am running, my heart brims
with a strange mix of love and fear -


the hole yawns wide like a door to death
and its deep darkness strikes me blind
I lift my torch and hold my breath,
hope I’ll get what I’ve come to find.


Oh I know it’s a foolhardy wish
that thrusts its hand into the dark;
all trees wither, beyond foolish
to look for signs in the hollows of bark.




A child can stand it’s that big
and wide enough to swivel round
the torchlight shows heaped leaves and twigs
layered decay on the ground.


I look long into the abyss
then dig frenzied into the hole
and some time later the trowel hits
something solid and I know it’s a doll.


I fling the tool away from me
and kneel and claw at the soft muck
and soon enough the face is free
but the rest of the carving’s firmly stuck,


and the figure is still as perfect
as the day she gave it to me;
the years have had no effect
on the head that’s plain to see.


It comes free with a final pull
the man is me, and in his palm
is a scaled down white human skull!
the rest of the skeleton’s in his arms!


Outside in the night a raven calls
as I reel back shocked and helpless,
then I and tree and doll all fall
headlong into deepest darkness.


Oh I know it’s a risky wish
to want an end to every quest;
all things wither, and tales finish
love and yearning’s laid to rest.



WC – 1000

This work is wholly imaginary, any resemblance to any persons living, purely a coincidence...

Read about the HoH challenge, and do join in.  Wishing everyone a spooky Halloween!


  1. Wow Loved the second part the best its so so heart touching!!! Great ones NB, you are truly magician. keep writing!

    1. It feels extra good...that comment from you! as your posts unfailingly touch me in some way :) Thanks a lot, Ramya!

  2. You have a great way with words. The imagery is amazing. Well done.

    1. Thank you for the feedback, glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. The poetry form is lovely all throughout ~

    I like the love story sparkling in Part 2 and the overwhelming sadness and yearning of death in the last stanza ~ The use of the fig tree was also very clever ~ Over-all an excellent work ~

    1. The fig is so universal in its symbolism, pervades so many cultures that it seemed a very natural choice...thank you for reading and the feedback.

  4. Nilanjana, whatever your first work was that you decided wasn't good enough, I don't know, but I can't help being pleased that you penned this instead. What a wonderful, nearly epic, poem. I'm coming back later to have another read as it's a lot to absorb in just one reading. D

    1. Me too, Denise! It was a short story, doesn't feel as drivel-ish now that the challenge is posted :) but it was all spooky and very little romance, just didn't address the prompt properly. Pity I didn't look at it earlier...this one fits the prompt better, but hasn't really "settled" and I can see a couple things I would have done a little differently had I left myself a larger window of time, but I've learnt an important lesson here, so that's a good thing...Thank you for your words, much valued.

  5. I love this. A wonderful piece of writing. I felt all the emotions. Great stuff.

  6. wow this is epic....really cool progression through it and the way you take the emotions up and down...interesting to me as well the return to the town..being as i am in my home town this weekend....your tale was def engaging...

    1. Thank you for reading and the feedback..enjoy the visit to your hometown!

  7. Your poetry was full of raw emotion. Nicely done. :)

  8. The night between Saturday and Sunday October 20th & 21st, 2012 12.33 a.m.

    Dear Nilanjana,

    I love this poem. You have taken the theme of loosing the mementos and landscape of childhood and past, and how the forces of change are everywhere present and invincible. And you are able to describe all of these subtitle shifts of thought with a lyrical, rhythmic - rhyming language and a repetition of imagery from the natural world.

    and it’s dark before too long,
    no moon comes out to light the road;
    the cicadas fine tune their song
    disturbed sometimes by a courting toad.

    You could almost sing this! Yes, I've tried. I can sing it!

    The opening is a lament about the eroding environs of childhood:

    I’ve come back to the childhood town
    the hills and streams much the same
    but all roads wider, homes pulled down
    a landmark known by a different name

    I don't know if this fits the theme or prompt. But my advice to you is to take your poems as they come to you. If it doesn't fit into the given blog-theme, so what. You have still written something beautiful, magical and WORTH KEEPING.

    If I were a judge, I would give you a prize for this poem.

    I wanted to comment on your post sooner, but I have been so tired and was not sure I could write what I wanted to say. I did not want to just write 'Cool poem' and leave it at that. Your long epic poem really deserves closer scrutiny. After four or five attempts, I finally found a time when I could read it from beginning to end without being interrupted. It is after midnight and my daughter, Elisabet has been sleeping for several hours. It is quiet and I can think about what I am reading.

    In every way, your post is an excellent poem and story.

    Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words about my text for this challenge. I wrote many, many pages before cutting it down to 977 words; my post is about a fifth of the entire text. I know who killed Jack Richardson. I know how Jenny gets off the island. One of the ideas that has emerged from writing for this prompt, is that Jenny cannot write about everything in her autobiographical book. No one would believe her. So she will fictionalise the truth to make it believable. This is why this text is not written in the first person.

    Thank you for believing that I could include this story in the novel. I still don't know if it will work, but you have inspired me to try.

    Best wishes & hugs,

    For the benefit of other readers:

    RFW No. 46 - 'Jenny Holland's Robinson Crusoe Halloween'

    1. Thank you Anna, for the detailed assessment as always. I truly appreciate the time and the thoroughness of your are the only person here who has mentioned that this does not fit the prompt very well, truly value that honesty.

      Your post seemed intriguing and absorbing to me, but of course you must be the judge as to how it fits into the final work. Reading an excerpt is very different from the novel as a has to blend in seamlessly, the pov shift mustn't jar, so many angles for the writer to manage successfully...It would be worth trying to work it out so that it does, imho. Best of luck!

  9. Nilanjana,

    Now I know why poetry is my favorite form of expression! What a beautiful way to tell a haunting story!

  10. Here I am for my second reading. This is awesome. I wish I could write poetry as well as you. I was looking at 'Poetry for Dummies' at my library yesterday. I need to pick it up for a few tips!

    Best of luck with the judging! I'm glad it's Ann and Nas who have to choose from this awesome lineup! :D

    1. Thank you, Denise for your wishes. I am looking forward to the judging too, but mine is not a contender this time I think :) The rest of the entries are as usual a mind blowing, awesome creepy lot!!! :D

  11. Uhm, just Wow. This was an awesome poem. Heart wrenching, and emotional. I don't know, I just liked it.


  12. A whole story in verse, very clever!

  13. Hi Nilanjana
    Moving with lots of emotion and scary at every turn. Great job.

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Many thanks for your warm words. Much appreciated.

  14. I so enjoy poetry well written. This in particular conjures up such raw emotion. The tree of life and death is such a powerful prop for this AMAZING poem.

    Stunning imagery and passion. What more can I say?

    1. Thank you for the feedback. Glad you enjoyed the poem.

  15. Hello Nilanjana, well what can I say? I'm back for the third time to ponder over every line as I am writing your critique. I am very drawn to your poem. This is one of the reasons our Wrap Up is so late - we only have 3 awards and so many more have written to this level. Whatever the outcome, know that we are all blown away by your poem. Just imagine if you go back and polish it to whatever standards you set for yourself. Perhaps RFW will collate a Halloween anthology for next year and we would certainly be seeking entries such as yours...Thank you again for writing this for the chlalente: D

    1. Hello Denise, and thank you! am a little late myself as I have been anthology would be a nice idea....thanks for the chance to participate!

  16. This was beautifully written! I enjoyed this so much, and was impressed with how well this poem flowed. Wonderful piece.

    Apologies for being late; I am just now getting through all of the House of Horrors excerpts. Hope you're having a great weekend so far!

    ~Wendy Lu

    The Red Angel Blog

    1. Thank need for any apologies. Glad you enjoyed the poem...wish you a great week ahead.

  17. Hi Nil, this was an emotional roller coaster for me. This is going to sound silly but after reading a couple of stanzas I had to scroll down to the bottom and read the last couple of stanzas and then re-read it again from start to finish. A love horror story in have always made my day by sending me these little anecdotes of yours but this was horrifically beautiful!

    1. Hi Rik, nothing silly, all ok, glad you enjoyed the read.

  18. An epic. Well crafted, Nilanjana.


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