"Seven bums and fourteen legs,
a brazen ecstasy which begs
the question some of us are asking -
is Peter Goulding multi-tasking?"

Martin Parker, Editor, Lighten Up Online

Friday, April 13, 2012

Something scary for Titus

The irrepressible Titus has been urging us to contribute a scary poem to World Book
Night on April 23rd, which apparently is the date someone called Shakespeare was born on and died on quite a long time ago. This is my contribution.

The Key

Deep within the castle’s belly,
Quiv’ring like a nervous jelly,
I advanced with key and candle,
Shuffling with a timid tread.
On I inched in padded sandal.
Down this passage dark and gloomy,
This great iron key now drew me,
As I shook with fearful dread.

‘Pon the walls, dark scenes depicted
Suffering and pain inflicted.
Anguished souls howled out for pity,
As compassion turned and fled.
All throughout this hellish city,
Giant bats came screeching, looping,
Darkened shadows, long and swooping,
Sneering at the arms outspread.

I shook again and drily swallowed,
Turned lest I was being followed,
But no movement caught my vision,
(Twenty-twenty, infrared)
In the dark, my rash decision
To allow this key to guide me
Seemed to mock and jeer and chide me,
As I followed where it led.

With trembling hand, I clutched the candle
By the holder’s iv’ry handle,
Casting shadows long and eerie
O’er my pale and stiffened head.
In this passage cold and dreary,
Could it be that I was dreaming?
Was that but an owl screaming?
(My imagination said)

The rancid air was cold and clammy,
Rotting like a mildewed chamois,
With a tint of sulphur added,
From the flames of Hades bred.
Still, I resolutely padded,
Though my soul began to scold me
And each blood cell loudly told me
That I should turn round instead.

Till at last I stood there quaking,
Ev’ry limb and muscle shaking
At the door, deep in the bowels,
‘Bout which I had only read.
Now I heard a thousand owls.
In my hand the great key quivered,
As I gulped again and shivered,
Reason hanging by a thread.

What was this great door concealing?
Shrunken shapes, grotesquely squealing?
Groaning ghouls, entombed, imprisoned?
Humanesque or quadruped?
Were their faces old and wizened?
Were they twisted, gnarled and broken?
Tortured by some deeds unspoken?
Left to rot, enchained, unfed?

In my fist, the key was turning,
Twitching madly, fiercely burning,
Urging me to thrust it quickly
In the lock that lay ahead.
Now I felt alarmed and sickly.
Was this key a hellish vassal,
Keeper, in this ancient castle,
Of the secrets of the dead?

But my hand held no resistance
‘Gainst this iron key’s insistence.
In the lock, with joy unbounded,
Of its own volition sped.
But its hopes were quite unfounded.
For though it struggled, heaved and squealed
The lock, alas, refused to yield,
So I ambled back to bed.

One day I'll make it to the end of a poem without destroying it.


  1. clammy/chamois absolutely inspired! We were very taken with 'humanesque or quadruped' too.

    Poe obviously was buried alive and has been disinterred. Brilliant addition to the night, cheers! Or rather, glooms!

  2. I meant to read this over the weekend but totally forgot. Good thing you posted the noose to remind me to check out your blog.

    I love the Poe-ness of it - and the end is great actually. All that dramatic suspense & terror - & he just shuffles off to bed with the door unopened. I can just hear him go, "meh," while *I* on the other hand am screaming - get a sledgehammer! And a priest, while you're at it :)