Monday, 19 April 2010

The Poetry Bus Meets Casper the Friendly Ghost

Pure Fiction is this week's driver and has set us a ghostly challenge here.

We had to write about a ghost - not the usual bedsheet-with-eyeholes-going-woo-woo kind of a ghost but a helpful one.

Now, I've never met a ghost, helpful or otherwise, and was pretty sure I was going to miss the bus this week. However, by an eerie coincidence, some people were talking in our office today (located in an old Cortauld's factory no less) and our security guard spun us a tale of Mary-Ann, the building's resident ghost of a young lady that committed suicide in 1905 - a tale which he later confessed to having completely made up during a boring shift. This gave me an idea....

Other bus-riders to the beyond are here and here. Why not jump aboard?

This building is old,
Said the watchman
With a glint in his eye,
And I'm told,
Said the watchman,
Not a word of a lie.
There's a ghostly Appearance
A chill of cold air.
Late at night, there are footsteps
But nobody's there.

Before it was offices
This place was a mill.
Before these computers,
It was pen, ink and quill.
This building remembers,
It was well built to last.
In its bricks and its mortar
It holds on to the past.

I fancy I've seen them
At night on my rounds
When the scratch of their pens
Makes the softest of sounds.
I fancy I hear it,
The clack of the loom,
But my torch shows me nothing
But this empty old room.

She worked at the weaving
He toiled as a clerk
She thought that he loved her
But he thought it a lark.
So, with her heart broken
She ended his life
Let out his heart's blood
With his own paper kinfe.

She went to the gallows
And he to his grave.
Such a tragic old story
Of a maid and a knave.
But his spirit is restless
Some say he's here still
Keeping his ledgers
Down here at the mill.

So if, come the odd morning,
You find something has changed
Your pens have been straightened,
Your files re-arranged,
It wasn't the cleaners
Nor me, for a lark
Your desk has been tidied
By the ghost of a clerk!

(For best effect read this in a darkened room with a torch shining upwards into your face)


  1. AAAAAaaaaarrrggghhhh! Is there ANYTHING more scary than 'the clack of the loom'

  2. Great story, Argent! I like the wronged maid stabbing -him- and not herself for once!

  3. Fantastic Argent... my desk is too messy to ever notice any rearrangements, but I'll be on the look out - lovely rhythm in this and it did actually induce a little shiver... Nicely done

  4. I love this - and the whole opening passage set the poem up perfectly. Any chance that clerk might pop over here and give my desk a bit of a clean up?

  5. How I wish I didn't know your guard had created it! I love a good ghost tale, and this is a classic.

  6. Maybe this is the same ghost that keeps robbing my pens when I'm off shift and drinks Fran's coffee.
    Great tale, well rhymed and rhythmed

  7. How did I miss this one! And thank goodness I found it in daylight.
    Great rhythm and rhyme, and if I had to work with that watchman I'd put ground glass in his sandwiches. Loved it!

  8. @TFE - The 'clack' is indeed scary.

    @NanU - Yeah, so perish all faithless lovers!

    @Niamh - Thanks, glad you enjoyed the frisson.

    @Pure Fiction - He'll be over when he's done mine!

    @Karen - Yeah, I love a good ghostly tale too and would have happily believed that guard had he not 'fessed up.

    @Peter - I'm sure there are plety of theiving ghosts around. One keeps nicking my socks.

    @Titus - Thanks. The guard's actually a nice old chap so I won't be too hard on him.

  9. I am seriously impressed by the never ending strings to your bow. Delightful!

  10. Oh, I'm with TFE, that "clack of the loom" is going to stay with me for sure.

    Good one!

  11. Crikey, you are good. Victorian melodrama has nothing on you.

  12. @Jimmy - Thank you, sir, it was fun to write and I'm a real suckers for poems that rhyme.

    @Poetikat - I'm quite pleased with 'clack of the loom' too. Reminds me of 'crack of doom'. Thanks for the kind words.

    @Friko - Thank you. Gotta love the melodrama.

  13. This is MOST excellent! I can just hear you singing it now...

    I loved your stories from Saturday too - I haven't had time to get on here to comment (I can't do it at work for some reason & this is the first day I've had at home to comment). I wouldn't mind getting on the bus - how do I do it?

  14. excellent pome - but i can't help imagining a beardy bloke in a woolly jumper singing it with a finger in one ear going "ooooooooh..."

    Excellent accidental folk song!

  15. DFTP has a point! All we need now is a tune and a few chords - and perhaps some creepy fiddle-playing in the background...

  16. @Bug - Thanks. To join in the poetry bus ride, see my latest post. Choose a prompt that interests you and write a poem. Leave a comment and I'll put you in the list of links I publish in Monday.

    @DFTP - Yes, it did sound like a folk song, didn't it.

    @Dominic - I've a few ideas for a tune, but nothing definite yet.


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