Ode to Boo Radley by Thomas Martin Sobottke


Every neighborhood has one.
That house buried within a block
where you might go in,
but once inside all doors are locked.

A murdered family
axed by a tortured soul
the product of a depression era tale,
making that house
full of drama beyond the pale.

Rife with overgrown vines
curling their tentacles around the eaves,
and over the door,
dozens of tossed newspapers, long grass,
lots of curled dead brown leaves
leaving the impression of a perfect morass.

Someone lives there right?
You get the new kid to ring the bell
taking a dare
on some ink black night
then run from Hell.

Blood all over the paneled wood floor,
the most primal scream in there somewhere,
a disembodied face looking out the window,
footsteps disconnected to anything living near the door.

The marks on the rafters
say it is a Sears Roebuck
do it yourself delivered home that
even the fire department
could not burn like Nero did Rome.

A home needing no address
It’s ‘the one’ distinct,
that house.
Just a ‘you know’ and a nodding head,
telepathy replacing speech,
they had a séance there once only to find
a place for the dead.

Remember the time we crawled across our back lawn
on a summer night with fireflies and a tiny flashlight?
We were better than Seal Team Six,
drawn by organ music discordant, bombastic and loud,
minor chords followed by more minor chords.
Drawn to the plaintive tune like the River Styx.

The old woman in a diaphanous blue gown
at a large organ,
with sprayed tight hair,
all curled up in a beehive and a huge diamond ring
she was just seated and playing on there,
never looking at us like some ghoulish thing.

She played an Ode to Boo Radley
and needless to say
we watched her through the back screen door
only to be told when we got home
that no one lived there anymore.

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