Poetry, Previously Published

The Ghost of Sigma Chi

My latest poem is up in issue 82 of The Pedestal Magazine. It’s a supernatural horror poem, with its roots in my college years. I was never a member of a fraternity, but I was friends with many who were and spent quite a bit of time in Greek houses. I even worked in a sorority house kitchen my sophomore year.

Every university has its share of urban legends and ghost stories, they’re frightening, but also comforting in their familiarity. By the time you graduate you’ve heard them all in every variation. I tried to capture the truth and horror of those kinds of stories with this poem.

The Ghost of Sigma Chi 
by Mack W. Mani
[The Pedestal Magazine – Issue 82]

 

Thanks for taking a look and be sure to check out the rest of the issue while you’re there!

 

Photo by  Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Poetry

T O P I A R Y

Statues line the promenade,
sun bleached and wind worn
tucked between the palms
one or two lay crumbling,
beheaded, missing limbs,
impromptu Venus

On summer nights like these,
the ocean spray blows in
to cover the city like mist
gently drowning our ambition
in seasaltbreeze

Cyan & amethyst
LED streetlights,
empty quads and alleys
where someone is playing
a Haydn Quartet
mixed by way of Moroder,
windows spilling neon
and complacent violin
-the neighborhood a mash
of old brick and new glass
looking for all the world like
something out of
la quartier mécanique

And right here’s my favorite
24hr. detox and Japanese takeout place
the soda fountains all serve
GHB and TAB Clear
(think Crystal Pepsi w/caffeine),
Arizona Ice Tea,
and water that tastes like zinc

From the corner booth
you can just make out
across the street,
through the gently
shifting fronds
a dozen TV-VCR combos
stacked in an immaculate
storefront window all playing
the Twin Peaks pilot on endless loop

While beyond,
the sea stacks sway
and glisten in
the dead summer haze
and together we melt
into A E S T H E T I C

Standard
Poetry

The Grave Robber’s Confession by Mack W. Mani

I’ve seen Will ‘o Wisps
and St. Elmo’s Fire,
mostly them in the Southlands
graveyards near bayous or swamps.

I once saw an entombed woman 
come back to life 
three days after her death,
I had just slipped the ring 
off her finger pale and bony,
when she gasped and rose with a cry.

One summer I lived 
in the catacombs beneath Paris
and for nigh on a month
never once saw the light of the sun,
only pale torchlight 
cast across fields of bones,
wooden chests rotted to their hinges.

I have walked the hall of ashes
and seen the rotting face 
of John the Baptist.

Once in Afghanistan, 
I even spied a ghoul
prowling the trenches near dawn 
picking the corpses 
of both sides equally.

These are my qualifications,
such as they are;
few know as much about death
and the places of the dead 
as grave robber, 
so believe me when I tell you,
there is nothing beyond the grave,
but me.

No voices 
or tunnel of light
just darkness, dust, 
and these two dirty hands,
trying to make a living.

Art:

[Wooden Grave by Marker Majel G. Claflin c. 1937]
Standard
Poetry

Posthumous

I kept your book
in the garden
where you’d left it
and watched day by day,
as the elements took it over,
sun bleaching the cover
rain swelling its pages.

From the right angle,
I could just make out
your hand drawn notes,
splayed across a corner of text,
the dog-eared page where
you had stopped reading
that sunny afternoon.

In time,
it settled into the loam
and there beneath the roses
framed and shaded in
hemlock and holly,
the book began to take root.

Before long
it stood as tall
as a sunflower,
sentences folded
into leaves,
spine extending
as a stalk.

And at the peak,
new pages began to form
as petals, stamen, pistol
gently folded origami
words not written when
you read the book.

Abstract and wondrous
prose and poems
from beyond the grave,
death having evolved your speech.

Fragments of memoir,
experience and tragedy
the travelogue of a dream
a journey into the surreal.

…such gifts they make of life here…
…blinding sun fractals bent at odd angles…
…Galore and Gore and Grammar…
…the pretense of time, alive and unending…
…my love my love my love…
…do not seek me here, for I am in the earth…

The thing lasted
almost a year
before succumbing,
despite my best efforts,
to the eternal,
withering, bent, and grey
I found it dead
on New Year’s Day.

Still,
I have the transcripts
those I could discern,
interred under glass
in a brightly lit corner
where sometimes
I simply sit and watch
and pretend that I can still
hear you out the window
in the garden below,
living, breathing,
and turning the pages.

Standard
Poetry

What Walks Here, Walks Alone (Audio)

This is a quick reading I did of a previously unpublished poem, set to silent film footage.

 

Written, performed, and produced by Mack W. Mani

Video: Alice in Wonderland (1903) courtesy of Archive.org

The title is taken from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The phrase “black chests and high back chairs” was lifted from the poem The Prophet’s Paradise by Robert W. Chambers

Special Thanks:

Jordan Seider & Elizabeth Laws

Standard