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The Resident Poet Pages
In 2014, the Dracula Society Committee created the honorary post of Society "Poet in Residence".
The third incumbent was Matt Thomsitt, who is based in London and has been a member of the Society since 2013.
These works have appeared in our Society magazine Voices from the Vaults, and many of them have also been presented "live" by their author at Society events.
Please be aware that these works are the property of the author, and should not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
[I love haunted painting stories. There are several scattered through the volumes of 'The Wimbourne Book of Victorian Ghost Stories'.
I think my favourite is 'The Old Portrait by Hume Nisbet', in Volume 7, which is also a vampire story. Hurrah!]
Her hair is black as sleep,
her eyes, as a witch’s cat,
her dress, a taffeta carapace,
her fingernails gleam like jackboots.
The room is dark as delirium,
her brow, as white as winter,
the lilies, upturned wedding gowns,
her hands are soft as cobwebs,
her neck, pale as yearning.
Her ribbon is red as an open wound,
her lips, bitter rowan berries,
her touch is cold as love,
her breath, as hot as typhus.
The Vampire Slayer’s Manual
Vampire slaying’s a serious thing,
so let’s not mess about,
let’s first consider what to bring
and what you should leave out.
You’ll need a bag, a nice big one,
stuffed full of useful tools,
(and tampons, makeup, gum and phone)
oh, and a book of rules.
You’re going to need a cross, of course,
to keep the beast at bay,
and counteract the trancing force
he uses on his prey.
You’ll also need some wooden stakes
to drive into the hearts
of all those pallid, leering rakes
duffed up with martial arts.
Yes, slayers are the kung-fu queens,
the masters of karate;
they fight to win by any means,
then head off to the party.
A vampire beau is de rigueur,
though this might seem contrary,
a handsome one’s to be preferred,
who’s not too grim and stary.
He needs to fit in with the gang
and help with plans and scheming.
It would be useful if his fangs
were not too long and gleaming.
Yes, vampire slayers do need friends,
(is Scooby Doo a loner?)
a geek who’s slightly round the bend,
a hapless scaredy stoner.
A slayer needs a watcher too,
keeping her in line
and teaching her just what to do
and how to read the signs
of creeping vampire infestation
troubling the town,
or supernatural manifestations
rising from the ground.
They tend to augur something worse;
a looming big black cloud,
or ancient diabolic curse
that summons up a crowd
of wicked creatures on the scene
from brimstone reeking Hell,
to chomp on unsuspecting teens
and make them feel unwell.
The Prom is when it all goes down,
it happens every time,
when everybody in the town
is done up to the nines
and dancing to their favourite song
beneath the disco lights,
until the monsters come along
to give them all a fright.
But just when things are looking like
they couldn’t be much worse,
the slayer rocks up on her bike
to lift the fiendish curse
and all her mates come charging in
on skates and BMXs,
armed with books and magic things
to counteract all hexes,
sending those satanic beasts
back home to Abaddon,
before they get a chance to feast
on the Queen of the Prom.
So if you think you’re ready,
then I’ll meet you after class,
are you sure your nerves are steady?
Let’s go kick some vampire arse!
You left your nightmare on the living room carpet
when you went to bed last night.
You must have fallen asleep on the sofa again.
It crept up behind me and
bit me on the ankle as I was making coffee.
I couldn’t shake it off.
I dialled 111 and told the lady
a nightmare bit me on the ankle.
It’s inflamed and looks infected.
Yes, I am responsive and breathing.
She hung up.
Please bring antiseptic
and stop dozing off on the sofa.
Sometimes I walk into a room
and a waft of L’Eau D’Issey lingers
where you could not possibly have been,
the soft sting releasing tears
that did not want to come.
The Floral Code
[This poem was inspired by/stolen from 'The Old Farmer’s Almanac, The Bedside Book of the Garden', by Dr. D. G. Hessayon, and T. S. Eliot.
After all, if you steal from a thief, you’re immune from prosecution, right? Oh, and talking of thieves, my friends the magpies helped a little too.]
Bluebells for constancy,
lilac, first love,
tears from above.
Heather for solitude,
daisy for a secret
never to be told.
Nicotiana for the mist
that snakes about your sleeping hair,
forget-me-not to bind your wrist,
lavender when you’re not there.
Foxglove and belladonna
for your witching eyes,
fern for you to lie upon and
honeysuckle for your sigh
Lupin for the hunger,
petals crushed and torn and strewn
beneath you on the bed.
Yarrow to remember,
columbine for folly,
rose, blood shaking my heart,
the awful daring of a moment’s surrender,
To Dispel Ennui
Two pints rainwater
One punnet Taste the Difference psilocybin mushrooms
One lock of your former lover’s hair
Three garden snails (or vegetarian alternative)
½ ounce bat wool
A pinch of toenail clippings (fermented)
One human heart (broken)
One bottle Plymouth Gin
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the heart in an iron skillet with the snails, then
add the bat wool and hair whilst swearing with malign vigour
in as many languages as possible.
Stir briskly but without enthusiasm.
Add the mushrooms you haven’t already consumed.
Transfer contents to a saucepan, pour in rainwater and
bring to the boil.
Simmer for forty days and forty nights.
Sprinkle toenail clippings listlessly.
Throw whole (including pan) out of the window
onto neighbour’s new C class Mercedes.
It came in a box marked
Handle with care.
She handled it
carefully, an orchid,
white, spotted with crimson,
Morning, the scent in the greenhouse changed.
Not tomatoes, but dark,
She bends to admire
as air roots whip and
catch in her hair,
searching her clothes like fingers,
The last thing she sees is a snail
on the side of a terracotta pot
containing scarlet pelargoniums.
(from the Vaults?)
When I was a child, I heard voices.
They did not tell me what to do,
nor whisper my name from the shadows,
or call to me across the moonlit water.
They did not tempt me,
badger, cajole or deceive.
They did not mutter from the cobwebbed rafters,
nor guide my hand, my tongue or my dreams.
They didn’t prophesy my death,
or even my birthday.
There were no demands to “Kill kill kill!”,
or to join a monastery
or a rock ‘n’ roll band.
They did not incite me to run away with the circus,
though it might have been fun if they had,
nor to obey the word of God,
and for that I’m glad.
They did not tell me the names of the sparrows in the hedge,
or the robin on the upturned bucket,
or the scurrying shrew or burrowing mole,
or the mystifying, beautiful people dancing in the meadow
amid the milkwort, harebell and campion,
the gatekeeper, fritillary and thistledown,
till the blue dusk gathered, beckoning with
sly, voluptuous malevolence.
They didn’t tell me to follow,
or not to.
The Wessex Psychical Society
cordially invite you
a lecture on
Professor Samuel Rosenstock FRS
Saturday April 30th
The Theatre Royal, Exeter,
Following the talk, there will be a light buffet supper in the foyer, among the parlour palms, where you will enjoy the satin gleam of gaslight upon arm and collar bone, the scent of Jicky Guerlain and the soft hubbub, before leading your companion with a touch at her downy elbow into a velvet curtained alcove, where her lifeless, bloodless form will be discovered by the hysterical cleaner, who will require revival with salts and Cognac.
I am large, decrepit, desirable
(at least in daylight).
Enter of your own free will.
The key will turn for you, smoothly,
or perhaps my man, aged, saturnine,
will answer the distant bell from deep within
and bid you forbiddingly to come inside.
The hall is grand and dimly lit,
with no umbrellas in a blue and white vase,
no coats on the hooks,
no muddy prints on the mat,
but an old portrait on the wall
of a beautiful woman in a black dress,
a little girl, not smiling, or, perhaps,
a man, aged, saturnine, waiting.
Pass the stairs, for now, and
come through to the garden room,
not without a certain sense of déjà vu
and mounting apprehension.
Do I seem familiar to you, with my worn,
costly furniture, browning landscapes,
carefully placed, elusive curiosities
and faded roses through the open French window?
Or perhaps my sweeping lawns,
unkempt beds, hissing fountains or parterre?
The lake, of course, black and silent,
and the summer house,
don’t go in there.
Admire instead the clematis, snapdragon,
the brazen jasmine and leering, twisted sumac
with bloodied leaves.
Don’t rest there too long.
Take some lemonade on the terrace,
alone, surrounded by strangers,
or with your faithful, sceptical friend,
who is privately concerned for your state of mind,
yet pours you madeira,
or with your host, with the restless gaze and trembling hand,
about whose state of mind, you should be concerned,
or with your hostess, with the faraway look
in her sea-grey eyes, the wedding gown
she found in a trunk,
and mud on her Moroccan pumps.
Let me show you to your room before dinner.
You must be fatigued from your journey.
You should rest while you can.
I’m afraid you’re in the tower, the house is full,
or empty, it matters little. Take care,
my stairs are steep and in poor repair.
The gong will be at eight.
Ignore all else you hear till then.
Your room is small, but tastefully furnished.
There is brandy and soda on a silver tray.
The wisteria taps the window in the breeze,
and above the mantle, a portrait
of a beautiful woman in a black dress,
a little girl, not smiling, or, perhaps,
a man, aged, saturnine, waiting.
I will sear your wicked flesh with
my holiness, making you curse,
hiss and snarl, pulling away,
Guinea pig fight –
Father’s unwise intervention;
finger bitten to the bone.
Blood, tissues, children wide eyed,
Curious cravings for salad vegetables,
full moon blackouts, what did I do?
Daddy wakes up naked in the petting zoo.
Immortals Shouldn’t Marry
[This poem was inspired by the wonderful Austrian film 'Therapy for a Vampire' (Therapie für einen Vampir), and by H. Rider Haggard.]
You think ten years feels like eternity? Try eternity.
Till death do us part indeed, my dear,
I tried, I died and you’re still bloody here.
She Who Must Be Obeyed
may not have waited two thousand years with such serenity
if Leo had just been down the pub.
That’s a lot of dinners in the cat, a lot of hot, dejected tears,
I bet she didn’t think of that. Lucky escape for him I say -
Who wants to be obedient forever?
Eternal life might seem quite clever, eternal love quite cute,
Eternal marriage? That’s an obscenity, don’t go down that route.
It’s enough to make a vampire blub.
Be afraid. Be very afraid,
or there’s eternal alimony to pay.
Mr. Bukowski was
born to hustle roses down
the avenues of the dead,
so I bought this one
for you. I hope
My Daughter Sees Them
I fear I am too old and wicked to see fairies,
but my daughter sees them,
flitting like fireflies in the evening light. They
leave her long letters she finds
tucked in some little crevice,
words blurred from dew dripped moss, still
legible to her; soft, whispered fairy thoughts that
dance, as she does with them in
the violet night, their tiny fires
burnishing her hair, the moonlight
shining still in her great dark eyes even
through the yawning day.
My daughter sees them and she knows
their names, finds their marks
scratched on stone or bark with
cuckoo claw, or drawn with minuscule fingers on the
misted glass, their secret meaning
shining still in her great dark eyes, arcane
wisdom only the child of dreams perceives.
I fear I am too old and wicked to see fairies.
El Angel Caído
She pointed at the Fallen Angel
in the Parque de María Luisa,
and, laughing, said „Eres tú.”
Turning to me, taking my
face in her hands,
I fell a little
Upon Meeting an Apparition
When you meet an apparition,
There are rules to be obeyed;
The first, most difficult condition
Is Do Not Be Afraid.
Ghosts, like angry dogs, can tell;
They see it in your features,
And fear has an enticing smell
To paranormal creatures.
The second is, you must speak first;
A spook can’t speak until you’ve spoken.
They simply moan and scowl, or, worse,
They screech until your glass is broken.
Shooting I would not suggest,
Though it’s often recommended;
You’ll hit the cat, or wound a guest,
And they’ll likely be offended.
Exorcism just provokes ‘em,
Especially when performed by priests;
The rituals are long and irksome.
Phantoms are impatient beasts.
You have to ask them why they’re here.
It stands to reason, don’t you think?
But please don’t offer them a beer;
It angers them they cannot drink.
There’s bound to be a mystery,
Of that you have to be assured;
Some grisly local history
That really shouldn’t be ignored.
Pull up floorboards, pore through books,
Rap on walls for secret doors,
Ignore the wraith’s disdainful looks,
Go out in night clothes on the moors.
Don’t depend on scepticism;
That’s a really big mistake.
You’ll end up soaked in ectoplasm
After several nights awake.
Spooks require that you believe;
It’s fundamental to the plot.
It’s not the wind around the eaves,
Or whistling down the chimney pot.
Have brandy and cigars at hand,
They’re good for calming of the nerves
When things get more than you can stand.
Besides, by now they’re well deserved.
A crackling fire’s an idea too,
Though just before the ghost appears,
An icy wind from down the flue
Is bound to blow it out, I fear.
Don’t ever think of touching one,
As if some reckless non-believer;
It will leave your hand quite numb,
And floor you with a deathly fever.
Ghosts are heralds of bad things;
They warn of untoward events
And cataclysmic happenings
No mortal action can prevent.
So calmly pour yourself a measure,
Curl up by a warming grate.
Enjoy an hour or two of leisure;
Apparitions come out late.
They wait until you’ve nodded off
Into a light and fitful doze,
Then wake you with a sudden cough,
Or rustle of their phantom clothes.
Yes, ghosts are nearly always dressed.
At first this may seem disappointing,
But it’s really for the best;
At least it’s just their finger pointing.
In case of unexplained events,
Just to be safe, invite a friend;
You’ll need a witness to prevent
All rumours that you’re round the bend.
And when you reach the witching hour,
Best not find yourself alone,
Secreted in some spooky tower
Without your mobile telephone.
And lastly, take this guide with you.
It’s based on facts from ancient time.
It’s proven, verified and true.
And only £5.99!
I saw you walking down my garden path,
but you weren’t there.
I didn’t know it was you
till I found out he’d killed you
all those years ago.
Nobody told me. Why would they?
They didn’t know I loved you.
Sonnet 18 x 37
Shall I compare thee to a winter’s night?
Thou art more lovely and intemperate.
That’s blood there on thy lip, thy hair’s a fright.
It isn’t even twenty-five past eight.
Sometimes too hot the eye of hell doth shine,
And make me want to do things that I oughtn’t;
I know you have some wicked, dark design,
But somehow that just doesn’t seem important.
And thy eternal winter shall not fade,
Nor my obsession with thee, that thou know’st.
Though I’m still reeling from thy last tirade,
And stealing lines from other, better poets.
So long as I can breathe, or I can see,
So long I love, and all my love’s for thee.
Cockroach on the sill
Lured in by sweet promises
Renfield’s bitter pill
What If She's a Witch?
She’s sexy, smart, has a GSOH,
She rubs your temples when your head aches.
She’s flirty, flighty, feisty and fun,
You really think that she could be the One,
But stop, wait, think, before scratching that itch,
Have you considered she might be a witch?
The signs are subtle, not easy to spot.
Rouse her suspicions, you could land in her pot.
But before you are helplessly under her spell,
If she’s a witch, there are ways you can tell;
They like to keep cats with exotic names,
You’re safe if hers is called Tiddles, or James,
But Pyewacket? Nibbins? Blackmalkin? Uh oh!
And beware if it’s Sootica, or Gobbolino!
Nice girls like Abba, and dressing in pink,
But what if her clothes are all blacker than ink,
And she sings strange songs of hook-eared owls
That make all the local dogs start to howl?
But don’t go assuming all witches are hags
Who look like your least favourite uncle in drag:
The worst ones are sultry, seductive and svelte,
They’ll flutter their lashes and make your heart melt.
And just when you find yourself starting to swoon,
The clouds will swiftly disperse from the moon,
And the glint in her eye might just give you a clue
That stuff in the saucepan you thought was a stew
Is actually some kind of devilish brew;
She’s tossed in a fine fenny snake or two,
And some warm wool of bat, just a pinch will do.
And what’s that afloat in your whisky and ginger?
The toe of a newt, or a small lizard’s finger?
You’re getting confused, your words start to slur,
You sway on your feet and your vision is blurred.
There’s a posy of henbane there in a jug,
And is that a pentagram under the rug?
You hear yourself croaking, “Must hit the road,”
But you can’t, it’s too late to escape,
You’re a toad.
The Rat’s Lament
A Protest Song
Some animals have all the luck.
They get to be bad, they get to be cool;
They won’t be squashed by car or truck,
They won’t be nobody’s fool.
Wolves are lonesome, proud, aloof.
Spiders wriggle and jiggle, they say.
Cats can leap from roof to roof,
And then they get to sleep all day.
Snakes can make your blood run cold
With fangs that ooze their venomous sting.
Their mysteries are manifold,
And flies can.. well, they fly, that’s something.
But what of us, the lowly rats,
Creeping round upon our bellies?
We don’t look good in capes or hats,
We’re plague infested, dark and hellish.
We have red eyes too you know,
But we don’t get no crumpet.
We scrounge for scraps that people throw,
And get to like or lump it.
Our beady eyes won’t hypnotize,
Regardless of how hard we stare,
The swooning maid with silken thighs,
Or free her of her underwear.
We’re doomed to scratch and creep and gnaw,
And never get a line to say;
To scurry round on unswept floors,
And settle for an extra’s pay.
My oh my oh myomorpha!
Time for us to set things straight,
And even up the score for
Rodents, quick, before it gets too late!
Votes for vermin! Rights for rats!
And down with him that we most hate,
Yes, that damn bat!
Poet in Remonstrance
When they said “Poet in Residence”,
I didn’t think I’d actually have to live here.
Punishment, I guess, for my improvidence,
Or, perhaps for one too many beers.
It’s dank and spooky in this lonely crypt.
I think it needs a jolly good spring clean;
It’s very dusty and the carpet’s ripped.
It’s not unlike some bedsits that I’ve seen.
There’s no TV and the Wi-Fi’s really bad.
I scribble, scrape and scratch by quill and candle.
The smell of damp is sending me quite mad
And these three scary boxes, what’s inside?
Oh wait, my luck’s improving; Waken Brides!
Words of Comfort for Demeter
And for Tina
[This was Matt's response to Tina Rath’s penultimate poem as the outgoing Poet in Residence "The Girl Who Loved Graveyards"]
I Googled “toxicity of pomegranate seeds”,
And found that for worry there’s really no need.
In fact, they’re rather good for one;
Vitamin rich and decidedly yum.
Persephone’s companion, it seems, was not Death,
But Nigel, an emo from Aberystwyth.
His only castle the Dublin in Camden,
His clothes mostly black, and artfully random.
Her phone inadvertently flushed down the loo
Whilst What’sApping Helen, as sisters will do.
“Oh bugger”, she cursed, and other things worse,
Words too bad to be printed in verse,
While Nigel sat waiting, moony and pale,
Anxiously chewing one glossy black nail.
“Why’s she taking so long? Is she weeing for Greece?
Best get the bill, or they’ll call the police.”
They’d already missed the last bus to Hades,
Thanks to Persephone’s trip to the ladies’.
So they went back to Nigel’s in Finsbury Park.
It was dirty as Hades, and nearly as dark.
No girl can survive without smartphone for long,
Or listen to that many dark moody songs,
So Demeter, stop fretting and pick up your shears.
It shouldn’t be long now before she appears.
1973 - 2023