Nocturnes: Scene, Or Obscene, From A Failed Ghost Story

[after a quatrain in Robert Aickman's novel, The Late Breakfasters]


"Young blood must have its course, lad . . ."

---Charles Kingsley, "Young And Old"


"To thee particularly and to all the Volsces
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness . . ."

---William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act IV, Scene 5


"ESTRAGON:  Well, shall we go?

VLADIMIR"  Yes, let's go.

They do not move.

---Samuel Becket, Waiting For Godot, Act I


The scene is a desolate piece of waste land.  Two

specters enter and, with great theatricality, declaim in turn.

with shrill pomposity:




Why should I give my haunted habitation

to one whose nonce effect has no duration?

To put me out or put me on the shelf---

out of the way with no chance of probation---

requires true love far greater than myself.

My nature thrives on subtle degradation.

Who casts me out will bring the inspiration

that bursts my damn upon his poetry.

I dread he finds his lady, certainly.




When you complain like that, you simply play

into his hands; that peddler of raw tripe.

 His standard of real beauty makes me sleepy;

nor knows he what all succubuses say.

I feel compelled to take a good, hard swipe

against his poem.  I am no "school girl type."

But all this sensual passion is too creepy,

and I must keep this foppish foe at bay.

A "leg up" he gives Lady Certainly;

her soul's sheerness inspires such poetry.

But I contend this is irrelevant;

and I, a self-respecting revenant,

will not stoop to such farce---bad comedy.


Lady Certainly enters, clad in a casual top, bell bottom jeans,

tan nylons (or shall I call them hose?) just barely visible, and 

moderate suede heels.  As she speaks, the specters cower.




Be gone from here.  I, I alone, am Muse

to him; and I decide what Poetry

he writes; nor will we stoop to your conceit.

His sensual pleasure in my stockinged feet

is really a complex metonomy.

Gracefully and casually, she slips her heels off,

and the audience sees her tan nylons (or shall I

call them hose?) featuring reinforced toes.

Toward you, I shake this dry dust off my shoes.

She does so, with one shoe in each hand. [*]

The specters flee, shrieking loudly and horribly.

Be gone, and take your bent misinformation.

She hurls her heels after them.

Do not again question my delectation.


The waste land scene disappears, giving way to a

panoply of light, color, and delicate music (mostly strings).

The interior of a sort of Muses' temple appears, and in

its center is a throne.  Still shoeless, Lady Certainly

takes her seat on it, sitting casually, more like a college

student at the library than a formal Muse.  Finding a

scroll representing poetry, she begins to read, her

facial expression registering her delight and admiration.


Then, in the tradition of Wallace Stevens [**]






Author's Notes/Comments: 
* Matthew 10:14 

**Wallace Stevens, A Ceremony
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Cascade's picture

Long live the "Muse"! May she

Long live the "Muse"! May she have silver linings at the foot of her "hose" and Certainly, she boosts a cheeky grin while all the reining upon her thrown. Smile

Starward's picture

Wow, thank you so much for

Wow, thank you so much for that comment.  As for the silver lining, decades ago, my wife (Lady Certainly in my poetry) had a pair of silver---not just gray---but silver hose which she wore with great beauty and finesses.


And yes, the Muse in this particular poem is certainly wearing a cheeky grin.