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[personal profile] jjhunter posting in [community profile] poetree
Posted on behalf of [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith for formatting reasons

Inspiration for poetry can come from anywhere. You know that I enjoy working with audience prompts, but I also love combing the media for ideas. I read science announcements, political opinions, historical articles, all kinds of stuff. Often I weave together bits of personal experience, current events, folklore etc. to create a tapestry that is both strange and familiar.

One of my popular series, Monster House, began with "Eviction, Noticed." This poem was written in October of 2008 when the housing crisis was really melting down and a lot of horror stories were hitting the news. Several of my poems from that time dealt with foreclosure in one way or another. This particular poem stuck in people's minds. In February of 2010, "Eviction, Noticed" was sponsored. It raised some questions, which you can see in the comments on the original post, and which I answered in the poem "Home Shriek Home." I'm sharing "Home Shriek Home" here because it introduces the house mentioned in the series title, and is generally a good introduction.

Since then, the series has continued to explore life in the weird lane, dealing with family and community dynamics with assorted mystical twists. My friend [personal profile] aldersprig has added to the fun by recently acquiring a fixer-upper house, and sharing stories about its development. Some of the Monster House poems are gloomy or macabre, but many of them are humorous. You can find links to all the published poems on my Serial Poetry page.
If you'd like to see this series in action, I've planned a mid-month Poetry Fishbowl on Tuesday, October 18 for which the theme is Monster House. (This was a perk earned in the regular October fishbowl last week.) Please feel free to drop by my LiveJournal and leave me a prompt, or just enjoy the poetry and activity.



Home Shriek Home



Over a year of couch-surfing
and crappy apartments.
Over a year of no company
but the cockroaches.
Over a year since I lost
a fine old house to foreclosure.

Things were looking up, though --
I finally got a job webmastering a new site,
and I met a girl geek with cute software
while she was installing some hardware,
and then I saw the ad.

Fixer-Upper.
Victorian house, 3 bdrm, 2 ba.
As-is. Best offer.
I looked it over on the outside:
Shingles solid except for one bald patch.
Windows intact but in need of putty.
Half the rails missing from the front porch.
Nice gingerbread.

I looked it over on the inside:
One bathroom missing its toilet.
Speaking tubes clogged with gunk.
Bedrooms small, living room surprisingly large.
Creaky stairs leading to jammed attic door.
Jammed basement door probably leading to more creaky stairs.
Enamel kitchen fixtures chipped but functional.
Ooo ... a dumb-waiter.

I made my offer,
not expecting much,
but the seller got right back to me.
Sold!

The week after I moved in,
I invited my girl over.
She ran her hand over the walnut banister
and leaned on the stairs --
eee-EEE, eee-EEE, eee-EEE --
and giggled.

"It's a fixer-upper," I said,
a trifle defensively.

"I'll help you fix it up," she said.
"My father was a carpenter."

So we hired a guy to patch the shingles
while we worked on the porch.
We found a matching toilet at a salvage shop
and we reputtied the windows
just in time for a cold snap.

The radiators came online
with a sputter and bang.
The hot water pipes rattled.
Without thinking, I reached up
and hit them with a wrench, bing-tang-bang!
B'ting bang! the pipes replied,
and then shut up.

"What the hell was that?"
said my girl, reaching for her own wrench.

"Oh, well, you know these old houses ...
they make noises," I said.

"Oh yes," she said,
"I know old houses."

That night, when the teakettle whistled,
I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
"I'll get it," I called.
When I went into the kitchen,
no one was there,
but when I came back to the living room,
the rocker was rocking slowly.
I ignored it, and finished making two cups of tea,
then suggested to my fellow geek
that the spare bedroom would make a fine computer room.

The next morning
I was awakened by a shriek
and a soaking wet girl running down the hall.
I dashed into the bathroom,
yanked open the flapping closet door --

There was a monster in the closet.
"What did you just do?" I yelled.

"I offered her a towel,"
the monster said. He waggled his eyebrows.
"Nice--"
I slammed the door on him.

Interestingly, she had gotten her own towel
from somewhere else, and was sprawled
nonchalantly on the couch when I came out.
Without a word, we agreed to pretend
that nothing had happened.

I went into the kitchen to make breakfast.
Bacon frying.
Eggs scrambling.
Coffee perking.
Then the radiator in the kitchen
gave a sad little gurgle as the system lost pressure.

Grumbling, I pried open the basement door
and went down the creaky wobbling stairs.
An ugly little troll the color of bleu cheese
looked up from the wheezing furnace and
said over its shoulder, "Workin' on it, bub."

I screamed and ran back up the basement stairs
and slammed the door behind me,
where it jammed again.
"What the hell was that?!" I gasped.

My girl looked at me,
one corner of her mouth curling up.
"I'll hazard a guess that you just met my troll."

"Why do you have a troll?" I said.
"No, wait, why do I have a troll?"

"I guess he couldn't find anywhere else
after I had to leave my last place,"
she said. Then she chuckled.
"At least you had clothes on
when you met my special roommate."

Well, what could I do?
I introduced her properly to the bogeyman
and the monsters under-the-bed and in-the-closet
and the little old lady ghost.
And then I proposed.

When she said yes,
the eldritch cheers cracked a window.

"I'll get that," a voice said sheepishly
through the speaking tubes.

Date: 2011-10-13 12:36 am (UTC)
syntaxofthings: Record of Lodoss War Deedlit looking victorious ([Lodoss] Victorious Deedlit)
From: [personal profile] syntaxofthings
*grin* What a great mix of modern technology and monsters and helpful around-the-house creatures! I really enjoyed this.

Thank you!

Date: 2011-10-13 12:46 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
That continues throughout the series. What makes Monster House fun is the contrast between contemporary life and preternatural motifs. A lot of the issues that come up are ones that could occur with any family, neighborhood, or shared household but here they have a weird twist.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2011-10-13 03:04 pm (UTC)
syntaxofthings: A seastar on the beach with the words "Washed ashore" ([other] Washed ashore)
From: [personal profile] syntaxofthings
That does sound like a lot of fun! I'm already looking up more of the series. :)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2011-10-13 08:00 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm glad to hear that. Feel free to discuss any of the other Monster House poems that catch your attention, either here or under the original posts.

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