Friday, May 30, 2014

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions 12
Compiled by Anthony Servante

Words and Pictures for the Head

Welcome, readers, to our 12th venture into modern poetry. We shall enhance your experience here visually through words and artwork. We are also critiquing our poems this month as I continue to explore the best format to highlight your poetry visits. So, let’s get to the poets for this month. We have Lori R. Lopez, Louis Emanuele, Jaye Tomas, Kim Acrylic, and Brande Barrett.

We begin with Lori

Lori R. Lopez


Lori R. Lopez wears many hats, literally and otherwise. She is an artist who designs her book covers and illustrates some of her tomes. As an author she writes poems, short stories, novels, songs, children’s books and nonfiction as well as a humorous-slash-serious column called “Poetic Reflections” at Fairy Fly Entertainment. She is a musician, actress, filmmaker, tree-hugger and animal-lover. A vegetarian, her work often contains themes of conservation and animal rights. Also, messages regarding the rights of children.

A horror fan since small, she roamed graveyards as a kid and conducted funerals for dead birds, squirrels, insects and spiders. Lori was named on an list of “92 HORROR AUTHORS YOU NEED TO READ RIGHT NOW” for WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH 2014. Her books include CHOCOLATE-COVERED EYES, AN ILL WIND BLOWS, THE FAIRY FLY, THE MACABRE MIND OF LORI R. LOPEZ, OUT-OF-MIND EXPERIENCES, DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS, and POETIC REFLECTIONS: KEEP THE HEART OF A CHILD.


The Poems:

The Madhouse

by Lori R. Lopez

My brain is on fire
And the flames are licking
The backs of my eyes
With bright yellow tongues
That billow out my ears
And melt my thoughts to puddles
Which escape parched lips
Like tears of drool . . .
Then dribble down my chin

The drops are crawling
Beetle-like around my toes
They cavort in syncopated patterns
That only I can see
For I have lost my mind
In rhapsodous irrational lapses
That cause me to misplace it
Along with my socks
And pencils; I have none

The ceiling holds a forest
Of porcupine pencil quills
It doesn’t write or draw
Or even doodle
Some things are insane
Even to a mindless individual
Without a clue and wet shoes
Who thinks inside a box of crayons
Being pencilless and unsharpened

I’m sure I will enjoy
My visit to the madhouse
Where bats roost on the rafters
Of rubber rumpus rooms
In a stick-house of transparent walls
And windowless curtains that sag
In the absence of straight edges
On a stage where the wings
Are paperclipped together

Like monkeys from a barrel
Dancing The Polka-Dot
With hands clasped loosely
In chains of fish-hook links
That border on abstract
With their foolishness and frolic
Who is sillier, I wonder —
A monkey or a penguin?
I am as mad as the moon

They serve refreshments to visitors
At the loony bin
Have a seat, enjoy the nuts!
It is quite a show
A daily spectacle of oddities
From a magic gumball machine
Playing a wind-up tune
An organ-grinder’s pop-out specialty

The scuttlebutts and insects flee
Frightened by our antics
We mean no harm
Unable to contain our mirth
Spreading the amusement
Though it isn’t a disease
We are not contagious
Simply crazy
As all the nicest people are.


by Lori R. Lopez

There be moments of darkness that just keep going
No manner of shine in their netherence showing
An endless amount of black always found
Of a shadow thus cast that it swallows the sound
And it’s here you will meet your wildest fear
Slipping out of your mind into the unclear
Where nefarious beast-slugs plot your demise
Leaving oily jet trails as a crude surprise
And a deafness hums that could burst eardrums
In the timbre of dread from which slithers the numbs
While you wait for assurance that it isn’t a trick
Pressed to silence so thick that it feels like brick
As you tremor and gulp in a goosebumped tizzy
The lack of dimensions is making you dizzy
No substance or shape or sense of proportion
Just a gaping absence in abstract distortion
Where it seems as if the space might waver
With a gravitous lurch and a gut-wrenching quaver
If you hazard a step, it could be your last
There’s no time or distance, no future and past
For this inken blotch of obscure twilight
Could conceal a drop-off farther from sight
Exceeding the fathoms of its darkest sea
In the pitchy confines of Eternity
Where imaginings are free to simply wander
Meandering the depth of a tearful ponder
And your biggest concern, what you haven’t met
What may lurk beyond the butterfly net
There’s no glimmer of notion, no guesses or clues
Just a dreary stain of umber and ooze
That seeps forth bubbling from a murkish mass
The tarry soul of a perditious morass
Bleaker than bleak as if nothing were there
Yet harboring anything, a mind laid bare
A blinkless eyecloptic gungadim
The surly unmentionable severed limb
Clubfooted hook-fisted faceshifting stompers
Assorted sundry garish chompers
That skulk devourous in the pith of night
Pigmalian brutes, tusks clacking with might
The grunts of evillings scratching the floor
As they hunt their meals, seeking fodder galore
Avoid the cracks, these pockets of doom
Crevices ’tween utter darkness and gloom
Such as once had been deemed unbelievable
Now you only wish it were . . . inconceivable.

city of angels

by Lori R. Lopez

Halfway to the city of angels
I may have lost my mind
I think it fell out the window of the car
When we hit a bump on the freeway
There were many such bumps in the road
It could have been any one of them
Now it’s lying beside the freeway
Coated in grit and gunk
A forlorn-looking lump
Of gray and pink matter
If you see it, please brush it off
The best you can . . .  I will be waiting
In Los Angeles, mindlessly wandering
Around — visiting the homes of
Fallen stars who toppled from the sky
Much the same as when I lost my brain
I will staple flyers to telephone poles
And other random assorted objects
In hopes my Abby Normal
Will one day be returned
In the meantime, you can find me
Wading through La Brea Tar Pits
In search of fossilized shoes
Or tossing the pennies for my thoughts
Into fountains and wishing wells
That have more sense
Than my current condition
It is such trying circumstances as these
Which truly test our reflexes, our balance
Better than the inkblot flashcards
Overused by headshrinks
My answers are usually monsters
And aliens, for some reason
Perhaps now I will see angels
Having lost my mind along the way
To Hollywood Boulevard
Where you can walk on stars
Many of them famous, others inexplicable
Even with a brain it would be difficult
To decipher their presence
When there are some legends
Shining luminaries of the highest order
Ignored by Tinsel Town’s honor system
Neither starred nor cemented
Probably not awarded an Oscar
Or even nominated due to a dramatic
Oversight, but that is how it goes
With authors too
Unpublished by publishers
Unread by readers
Unnominated by the most common denominators
If you’re reading this, you must be an angel
I’ve been to your city
More times than you could believe
I can’t remember why I was going there again
Memory went out the window as well
Yet I hold fast to the firm conviction
That I am someone
Although not someone with a star
Not yet anyway
But I’ll keep looking for mine
In the night sky
In the letters that spell HOLLYWOOD
Upon a lofty City Of Angels hill
Where frayed sentinels stand guard
To keep out the riffraff
Or welcome the dreamers
Perhaps not being famous
Is all in my mind
Wherever that may be.

The Critiques:

I gave a book of short stories, Out-of-Mind Experiences, by Lori R. Lopez to one of my English students who sent a thank you note to Lori, saying (partially), "It is a bit hard to read, but I'm enjoying it." This bit of insight sums up Lori's poetry as well. The Madhouse is a playful look at madness, the upside down inside out view of a madman (woman?). Note the point of view from "the backs of [his/her] eyes". The pov liquefies and drips out of the ears and mouth. This movement takes the reader from inside the mad-person's head to the sensory areas (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste). The senses then become insect-like creatures. And finally, the mad-person notices other mad-people like him/herself in this madhouse. You see, what's hard for a reader is following the details of Lori's description too literally, for here we have a metaphor for the writing process: turning one's thoughts into images and then words, and then noticing that she is but one of many writers who undergo this madness of poetry and short story writing. And this is Lori being playful. With the same pen, she can dig beneath the surface and draw blood. But we'll go into that when we present an Appreciation of Lori and her fan page in a coming issue of the Servante of Darkness. Look for it.


Louis Emanuele

Louis Emanuele 


I am a therapist by trade and a writer/dreamer/philosopher by choice.  I am currently unpublished.  I have been doling out advice and writing since as early as I can remember.  I believe my creative and logical sides influence each other and both come across in my work.  I use the passion for story telling when I wax poetic with a client and use my passion for making the unknown known, as you do in therapy, in my writing. Emotion, Thought, Behavior, Conscious and Unconscious it is all grist for the mill of my mind. 

The Poems:

By: Lou Emanuele

I must confess,
I am the villain
Of my own nightmare.
Searching for my pure Horatio moment.
I walked a multitude of tightropes between
Genius, sanity, honorable, dishonorable.
Half alpha, Half Metro, Half Hipstar
Slowly descending into beastly depravity
All while searching for my American dream.

I never intended to become Shelley’s monster.
Unlike his, my metamorphosis was one of reversal
An internal reincarnation
One from life to death.
Rather than Death to Life
It took its time gradually
And down the rabbit hole I went.
My life, career and dreams
Tumbling with me,
Never to be recovered again. 

By: Lou Emanuele
Noble bells of ancient past ring,
As blind justice sits in its palace guarded by devilish cherubs with quivers drawn,
Ancient men sing of their lonely past, as the river of blood flows unabashed,
Drink from its cup and you will see the delicate intricacies of their history,
Is your soul prepared to be tormented by their despair?

The Critiques:

Lou Emanuele joins the Darkness Circle of Poets this month with two poems. He has mentioned to me that he is nervous about his first entries into our column and he should be. I returned the poems to him with a request to tweak the "pronoun" use in his works. He tweaked and returned his revisions, which is what I am reviewing now. Lou has constructed two poems that are poetic but without inspiration. They are bereft of a Muse's whip. And granted, we all claim poetic license when writing our metaphors and similes, our couplets and quatrains. But here we have two works in need of editing. I do not edit. I return poems and tell the poets to edit their work, as I did here with Lou. Let's look at the first work, Confessions.

The first person opening grabs our attention. But then the role of villain is cast to Hamlet ("Horatio moment"); he was not the villain. Here we need a villain worthy of a "Hannibal Lecter moment", for instance. The triple "Half alpha, Half Metro, Half Hipstar" has a problem or two: Why isn't 'alpha' capitalized? Why three halves to make a whole (poetic license or poor math or poor math to make a poetic point--too many options to choose from; never give the reader too many options); and Why is Hipster misspelled Hip star? To make a poetic point about Hipsters believing they're Hip celebrities, namely, 'stars', or typo?

Next problem comes in the couplet: "never intended to become Shelley’s monster./Unlike his, my metamorphosis was one of reversal". To whom does the possessive pronoun refer? Shelley was female; it should read "her"; unless he refers to the monster, in which case the pronoun should be "its". And after a "metamorphoses", the villain falls down a rabbit hole. After building a nice metaphor of change, he trips and falls. And coming right after the line, "It took its time gradually", one wonders to what does each "it" refer: Death, Life, The Monster? 

What happened here was too many mixed metaphors. We lose track of the villain by the second stanza. And those two opening lines are killer. They set up a sustained series of evil and good battles playing out from stanza to stanza. The punctuation needs to be tightened to better follow the thematic development of the poem, and then the poet should rely on his own metaphors. He rewrites popular metaphors (the rabbit hole) and peppers his stanzas with them. There is talent here. The theme is strong, but the execution is derailed by the confusing grammar. Had Lou tweaked the "pronoun" use, the poem could have been better. Had he avoided the cliched metaphors, we would have had a very well-written poem.

Take this away with you, Lou. I don't often write this much about one poem unless I believe in the poet. You and any poet can ask me to edit the work, but I don't edit unless asked. Consider this an edit rather than a critique. Rewrite the poem, as well as Noble?, and resubmit. Think of it as a poem in transition and we've just brainstormed the first draft. There is a great poem in there. I hope you chip away at my suggested edits and bring it to life, like your Frankenstein Monster.


Jaye Tomas

Jaye Tomas


Jaye Tomas has been a "scribbler" all of her life, but the Internet provided a way to more easily share it. Creating Chimera Poetry (blog & facebook page) has been an incredible experience. The fact that anyone reads what she writes is a constant source of amazement and gratitude to her. She is working hard behind the scenes getting ready (fingers & toes crossed please) to publish her first book of poetic scribblings. There is a huge probability that there will also be a second. The ink is always fighting to be heard.... Her biggest obsession is books and her reading tastes are eclectic to say the least: Tolkien, Lovecraft, Gaiman, Plath, Ellison, Christie, Aaronovitch, Yeats, Blake, King, Barker, Straub, Lopez, Pyper, Maugham, Poznansky, Funke, Taylor name a very few. Originally from the windy suburbs of Chicago she now resides in the UK. Lately she has been casting her eyes in the direction of Italy, but hasn't completely settled on that.....yet. It may be back to the USA, it may be Edinburgh, it may be Gallifrey..... the beauty of the story is in the journey, not the arrival. (Jaye Tomas on facebook) (Chimera Poetry on facebook)
@JayeTomas1 (Twitter)

The Poems:

Red Mask ~
Are you sleeping are you dreaming or have you slipped sideways through a timethinned corridor
a rabbits hole
landing feet first in a place of no focus
where colors float before you
in a space without measure without angles without solidity
all you can catch and hold are her eyes
flashing darkly inside a red mask
shimmering in the lights which flash like fireflies
the music sways the room and she moves with it
gliding like a bead of oil across glass
this room this beat this strange dancing pulse
what ballroom has a capricious reality uncovered and dropped you into
when eyes meet yours over masks and are amused
you struggle to understand
senses swimming
the red mask is a lighthouse
beckoning you
but the distance never lessens and the curtains billow with the lightning and rain smell of violent winds
in a windowless room
and you turn in unsteady circles
before you sink to your knees and wait for the nightmare to end
you see once more those dark eyes framed in red
and watch them close

Somnium Mortis ~
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come..” - William ShakespeareHamlet
The fear rises sharp and clear
scented on the air as I approach
 and bend to
gaze fully into your face for the first
and last time
it’s always fear
 like a glissando 
on a harp in a vast and empty room
fear always fear
when I am perceived in fullest mystery
when I first draw near 
You, who have extended every invitation, who pursued me ardently
now shrink back
am I not beautiful? not desirable?
perhaps my kiss seems cold but it burns only briefly 
the frost will pass and sleep will come
 then the gates swing open
and we will walk in the twilight 
watching the shadows form dark gardens
 and there is beauty and meaning to be found here
I am so much more than just a devourer
I am a prophet and a fulfiller of dreams
take my hand in love 
not in fear
for I long to be with you
*artwork from Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno*

The Critiques:

I love Jaye's voice. I've never heard her speak. I know her Facebook voice. But when she writes, THAT voice emerges, the poet takes over, and Jaye takes a nap. She awakens in time to pick a picture to accompany the poem, but that's just the ornaments on the beautiful Christmas tree she has created. In Somnium Mortis ~, that voice speaks with an unseen presence, a lover or a beast in need of taming. She urges, seduces, and ultimately surrenders herself to win the trust of the second person "you" of the poem. The fact that the work ends without a response to the request of the poet to "be with you" suggests doubt in her seductive skills, thus turning to honesty to gain this trust. It is a perfect moment, neither one of love or attraction, but of vulnerability and a need to be accepted. This is one poem that the picture really gets in the way. It has such a strong poetic voice that it overwhelms the pic, which bodes of silence and loneliness, the opposite of the narrator's pleas with the unseen "you". Lovely, as always, Jaye. 


Kim Acrylic

Kim Acrylic

The Poems:

"Dear Haiku"

Alone I walk; scared and beat I crave only dreams, forbidden escapes ensue.

I've seen your dreams of pure gold, ribbons of vast color; you dance in the slumber worlds.

Opiates of caffeinated odor penetrate my scene, porno for the stupor of husbands in wives dresses

One more night to confess hate, sad fears kiss Jesus; one less man to dance with us.

Time to say goodbye to false colored love affairs, your past must delete.

Hot lava emotions destroy the witty and the clever, Gritty or poisoned I'm spoon fed fear, forever.

I kiss the sun from your eyes; I steal the new moon. Beliefs rain down from lost stars.

Magic escapes fear; forbidding the sun to set, loving the moon's wake.

Languid soul remains off beat; like the summer’s winter, it lets us feast upon it.

Big eyes glued on my one love; passion a dire need, I feel you inside forever.

Wicked secrets wake the night, Devouring sleep, into oblivious ends.

Sandstorm kisses made for love, Spiteful wind breaks hearts; I feel alive in your death.

Saddened by loves lived and lost, I mourn by full moons of yester-years winged creatures.

Change my name to solitude, Reap just what you sow, you are the one who runs now.

I've come undone far too soon, sorrow fades to black I will dance naked for freedom

Twisted and true I repent, lost in sin I wail, is there sanctuary here?

Whispers fight the sun; dandelions fill the sky, Scream songs to my grave.

I will succumb to be free, I'm going back home to be one with my need.

Love is lost in times of greed; I sing my prayers to the mysterious gods.

Pain is freeing me; love is black as I cry to the moon for peace.

No more magical thinking, I'm lost in a dream When are you coming for me?

Legends of worries, Falter to their last demise I shall be free now.


Vast radiant tides will sleep,lovers dance naked; like ancient times they falter.
Radiant ruins bend time, moon signs woke today; gifting you with magic lore.
Prince of a boy sleeps; in a forever slumber, he whispers his song.
The music must never end; not even for death, just breathe in the melody.
The dawn threatens me, with violent rays of gold; here to test my fate.My end has begun today, but I will remain, forever in a daydream.
Alabaster skin beams bright; making for misquoted talk, with abstract trust and envy.
Smiles of the frown, kiss the strangers of grandeur; becoming one force.
Plastic pillow talk soothes me, clouds formed by smoke fade, as religions break
Razor cut my flesh, purify your exit wound, I will begin the final show.

The Critiques:

To be continued.


Brande Barrett 

Brande Barrett

The Poems:

An introduction by Brande Barrett: The first poem was written by my father when I was born. The other two Bad News and the Watcher in the Water from his death and the last one is my response to the feeling that he is channeling his poetry through me...

The Beloved Fool

Naked, most ill-equipped of all creature

To life given,

With rosy-hued form and uncertain features,

To begin living.

Awareness of new light dawns on his senses

Like to a blinking mole;

Vague remembrances of unknown experiences

Recede into his soul.

A sprawling imp in sagging, ragged attire,

Curiosity peering through bars;

Borne of Innocence and Hope, his sire,

And hovering above, his doting stars.

A responsibility, an heir, a delight.

A soft bare handful;

Grunting, struggling with all might

To become-a people.

With nodding, blank head, a gurgle, big wide eyes,

Intense concentration;

A faint smile, uncertainty, innumerable sighs,

Finally- recognition.

Feeling, tasting, smelling, and sighing.

Exploring with wonderment and babble;

Grabbing, mouthing, shocking, and crying,

He discovers his toes and navel.

Care and concern of all men and women

Over sex, age, race, or nation:

He belongs to the World’s playpen

Human kindness his libation.

With soggy drawers and winning, dirty smile

A damnable folly of drool;

A helpless bugger with clear eyes bereft of guile,

Behold- The Beloved Fool.

By William Larkin Barrett

Memorial Day
Bad News

Tear stained she quivers under her tightly held breath
it wasn’t supposed to be this way
she tells herself over and over
like a skipping record
cold to the touch
no life lingers in the eyes
dead stare returned
she puts her hand over them lowering the lids
she kisses the still cheek
she touches the breathless lips with fingertips
closes her eyes
tightly—trying to squeeze out reality
trembling hands pick up the phone
the news ready to be spread.

watcher in the water
May 30, 2010 at 2:21pm
Carefully stepping across the rocks
along the pebbled cove
laden with package and purpose
we snaked our way to the cliffs
where the wind blows and the white waves
crash and tear at the jagged rocks to wear them down
The words
slipped out bravely
between sobs like broken glass
the contents of the box
released upon the sea
caught by tide and wind
cast out
 mourners notice
 lone seal 
 follows intently
 as silent progression departs
Are you there?
Heavy with words
To channel
Giving breath
To the thoughts
In chains
Of dust
And memory
Long forgotten
Spider webs
Spun of golden moments
And fragmented patches
Of dancing
Tears of joy and sorrow
Etched in
Stone walled thoughts
And broken dreams
Onto the pages
Flowing like whispers
Conspiracies in the ears
Pulsing with life
Like the pulsating rhythm
Of blood rushing to the head
Sent to hands
Feeling the words said
as much as written
To be read
And spoken
Wholly unaware
Of where it came from
But feeling spent and empty
An empty vessel waiting
For the next inspiration.

Brande Barrett Memorial Day 2007

Surreal Digital Photography Landscapes Seascapes and Sky


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Thank you, readers, for visiting our 12th venture into the world of poetry today. I am always looking for new poets to feature on my column. If you are interested in sharing your poems, send a couple to under June Poetry. Also let me know if you'd like some constructive criticism or not. Hope to hear from you soon. Till next we meet, burn the Darkness at both ends. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Off Kilter TV: Where Horror Rears its Ugly Head 
on Family Television

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
(Season 3, Episode 13—1965)
Where the Woodbine Twineth by Davis Grubb
Directed by Alf Kjellin

Critiqued by Anthony Servante

Off-Kilter TV deals with traditional TV fare that has that oddball episode that doesn’t fit the premise of the show. For instance, on Gilligan’s Island, season 3, episode 18, “The Hunter”, Gilligan is prey for a predatory big gamesman who wishes to know what it’s like to hunt a human; on the old western show RAWHIDE (1958-65), season 5, episode 5, “INCIDENT OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN”, our cattle-herding heroes face the four biblical figures of the apocalypse: War, Famine, Death, and Plague. These unexpected episodes that find their way into the family hour I like to call Off-Kilter TV.

Rory Calhoun and Harold Sakata
Hunting a human.

Forgot to write SPOILERS! on this article. However, if you scan down to the bottom of this article, you will find the video of the episode I discuss and the short story it is based on, so you might want to skip down and watch and read the story before reading this review. 

We find one such episode on a TV program famous for its suspense rather than the supernatural. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-62) and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-65) provide TV viewers with dramatic and crime stories with the O’Henry endings, surprises where the bad guys get away with their crime. For example, in the episode, “REVENGE”, a wife is attacked while her husband is at work; when he returns home to find his wife victimized, he, at first, relies on the police for justice, but their justice proves too slow; so he drives his wife around, assured his wife will recognize her attacker. She does, pointing out the man who assaulted her to her husband, who kills the man. As the husband and wife drive off, the wife points to another man and says he’s the attacker. As sirens close in, the husband realizes his wife is still mad in shock and that he “WHERE THE WOODBINE TWINETH”, from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, there are no criminal escapades. This is a straight-up off-kilter tale.

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The story is directed by Alf Kjellin, well-known actor and part-time director, known for his roles in “MADAME BOVARY” (1949), “SHIP OF FOOLS” (1965), and “ICE STATION ZEBRA” (1968). As a director, he focused on television shows such as "Little House on the Prairie," "Columbo," "The Six Million Dollar Man" and the two Alfred Hitchcock shows. The writer is Davis Glubb, author of “NIGHT OF THE HUNTER” and anthologies on horror and the supernatural.

Alf Kjellin, Director and Actor

The tale itself deals with a young girl named Eva, recently orphaned, who is taken in by her strict great aunt, Nell, sister to Eva's grandfather. It seems that Eva has imaginary friends, and Nell becomes increasingly frustrated as she tries to make the girl admit that she is making up these invisible friends. However, as the episode focuses on the growing influence of these friends on the child and their affect on the impatient aunt, who threatens to make Eva eat soap as punishment for not telling the truth. The child, however, insists that it is the aunt who denies what the girl knows to be real.

Eva comes to live with Grampa

The show indirectly deals with voodoo, although it is never mentioned. The black butler and repairman, and his wife, the cook, are more patient with the child and her “friends”. Even when the grandfather brings home a black doll the same size as young Eva, the help do not wonder at the choice of the doll’s color. But as soon as the doll is handed to the young girl, she insists that her “friends” foretold her of the doll’s arrival and would replace them, since Aunt Nell, according to the child, has chased her friends away from the house.

Nell confronts Eva about her imaginary friends.

Then the strange happenings begin. The piano plays itself. As young Eva plays with her doll under the bed covers, we can discern two figures playing under the blanket. The cook questions her husband’s forgetfulness for having forgotten to bring in the ham she requested, a chore he denies being given since he hadn’t seen his wife all morning. But the wife insists that he sat in the kitchen and ate breakfast. Also, Eva begins to use vocabulary unfitting for a five year old. She calls her aunt an “old maid” and “snippy” and tells her to “shut up”. The child is repeating what her friends had called her aunt.

Eva and the Voodoo doll.

Nell can no longer deal with the child’s insolence and takes the doll from her before going on an errand. Eva, however, steals into the locked room where the doll was placed and leaves the house with her. She carries the doll in the large box in which it arrived. He mentioned to the cook earlier that when she plays with the doll that they sometimes trade places in the box. The black maid finally becomes unsettled at the child’s words about the box. When Nell comes home, Eva is not in her room. The old aunt finds the child outside in the evening darkness by the forest, dancing with a little black girl. Nell pushes through the bushes and confronts the girl, who is dressed in the doll’s clothes, though Nell doesn't seem to notice it. She threatens the girl with a branch stripped of its leaves to make a whip and chases her off, telling her to never return.

Nell chases away "girl".

She then looks for Eva. In the box there is a doll who is the exact double for the young girl, even wearing her same bed-clothes. She realizes the truth too late. She chases after the black girl and begs her to come back. She doesn't. Nell picks up the doll that she now knows is Eva and carries her back to the house.

The Eva Doll

Upon viewing this episode, I googled the story “Where the Woodbine Twineth” and read it. Other than more references to “voodoo”, the story is basically and structurally the same as the Alfred Hitchcock episode. But this is not a crime against man-made laws. This was a supernatural tale of playful spirits and possession of a human body. It was a game of trading bodies with the one spirit in the doll, the spirit her other spirit “friends” told her would be arriving soon to take their place in the house that they found too threatening to play in, what with the strict aunt refusing to allow the girl to play with them. Here there was no revenge on a murderer or a perfect robbery that leads to an unexpected arrest. Here there was what at first was a child’s imagination gone wild, until we, the viewers realize this is reality. When the doll and Eva are playing under the covers, our fears are confirmed. There is a supernatural presence at work here.

This haunting episode worked on two levels. One, it tricked the viewer into believing it was just another Hitchcock episode that would end with a rational explanation for the strange occurrences around the house. It wasn’t. Two, it tricked the viewer by ending with the child being turned into a porcelain doll. Whether or not the spirit of the girl was set free and taken “far, far away”, as the spirits promised her, remains unclear. We can only define the emotions of the ending by its impact on the aunt who realizes too late that she could have avoided the outcome had she only believed the girl.

For those fans of Off-Kilter TV, I recommend you watch the show and read the story, provided for you below, in the order you prefer. Only don’t expect a crime drama with a twist. Expect to enter the realm of supernatural creatures and their voodoo manifestations. You have been warned. Believe right up front. You won’t be any less shocked by the ending. But you’ll reduce the intensity of the nightmares that will definitely follow, especially if you have a child who has imaginary friends.

 Watch Where the Woodbine Twineth here.

Read the story here.

Where the Woodbine Twineth
by Davis Grubb
IT WAS NOT that Nell hadn’t done everything she could. Many’s the windy, winter afternoon she had spent reading to the child from Pilgrim’s Progress and Hadley’s Comportment for Young Ladies and from the gilded, flowery leaves of A Spring Garland of Noble Thoughts. And she had countless times reminded the little girl that we must all strive to make ourselves useful in this life and that five years old wasn’t too young to begin to learn. Though none of it had helped. And there were times when Nell actually regretted ever taking in the curious, gold-haired child that tragic winter when Nell’s brother Amos and his foolish wife had been killed. Eva stubbornly spent her days dreaming under the puzzle-tree or sitting on the stone steps of the ice-house making up tunes or squatting on the little square carpet stool in the dark parlor whispering softly to herself. 
       “Eva!” cried Nell one day, surprising her there. “Who are you talking to?” 
       “To my friends,” said Eva quietly, “Mister Peppercorn and Sam and—” 
       “Eva!” cried Nell. “I will not have this nonsense any longer! You know perfectly well there’s no one in this parlor but you!” 
       “They live under the davenport,” explained Eva patiently. “And behind the Pianola. They’re very small so it’s easy.” 
       “Eva! Hush that talk this instant!” cried Nell. 
       “You never believe me,” sighed the child, “when I tell you things are real.” 
       “They aren’t real!” said Nell. “And I forbid you to make up such tales any longer! When I was a little girl I never had time for such mischievous nonsense. I was far too busy doing the bidding of my fine God-fearing parents and learning to be useful in this world!” 
       Dusk was settling like a golden smoke over the willows down by the river shore when Nell finished pruning her roses that afternoon. And she was stripping off her white linen garden gloves on her way to the kitchen to see if Suse and Jessie had finished their Friday baking. Then she heard Eva speaking again, far off in the dark parlor, the voice quiet at first and then rising curiously, edged with terror. 
       “Eva!” cried Nell, hurrying down the hall, determined to put an end to the foolishness once and for all. “Eva! Come out of that parlor this very instant!” 
       Eva appeared in the doorway, her round face streaming and broken with grief, her fat, dimpled fist pressed to her mouth in grief. 
       “You did it!” the child shrieked. “You did it!” 
       Nell stood frozen, wondering how she could meet this. 
       “They heard you!” Eva cried, stamping her fat shoe on the bare, thin carpet. “They heard you say you didn’t want them to stay here! And now they’ve all gone away! All of them—Mister Peppercorn and Mingo and Sam and Popo!” 
       Nell grabbed the child by the shoulders and began shaking her, not hard but with a mute, hysterical compulsion. 
       “Hush up!” cried Nell, thickly. “Hush, Eva! Stop it this very instant!” 
       “You did it!” wailed the golden child, her head lolling back in a passion of grief and bereavement. “My friends! You made them go away!” 
       All that evening Nell sat alone in her bedroom trembling with curious satisfaction. For punishment Eva had been sent to her room without supper and Nell sat listening now to the even, steady sobs far off down the hall. It was dark and on the river shore a night bird tried its note cautiously against the silence. Down in the pantry, the dishes done, Suse and Jessie, dark as night itself, drank coffee by the great stove and mumbled over stories of the old times before the War. Nell fetched her smelling salts and sniffed the frosted stopper of the flowered bottle till the trembling stopped. 
       Then, before the summer seemed half begun, it was late August. And one fine, sharp morning, blue with the smoke of burning leaves, the steamboat Samantha Collins docked at Cresap’s Landing. Eva sat, as she had been sitting most of that summer, alone on the cool, worn steps of the ice-house, staring moodily at the daisies bobbing gently under the burden of droning, golden bees. 
       “Eva!” Nell called cheerfully from the kitchen window. “Someone’s coming today!” 
       Eva sighed and said nothing, glowering mournfully at the puzzle-tree and remembering the wonderful stories that Mingo used to tell. 
       “Grandfather’s boat landed this morning, Eva!” cried Nell. “He’s been all the way to
New Orleans and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he brought his little girl a present!” 
       Eva smelled suddenly the wave of honeysuckle that wafted sweet and evanescent from the tangled blooms on the stone wall and sighed, recalling the high, gay lilt to the voice of Mister Peppercorn when he used to sing her his enchanting songs. 
       “Eva!” called Nell again. “Did you hear what Aunt Nell said? Your grandpa’s coming home this afternoon!” 
       “Yes’m,” said Eva lightly, hugging her fat knees and tucking her plain little skirt primly under her bottom. 
       And supper that night had been quite pleasant. Jessie made raspberry cobblers for the Captain and fetched in a prize ham from the meat-house, frosted and feathery with mould, and Suse had baked fresh bread that forenoon till the ripe, yeasty smell of hot bread seemed everywhere in the world. Nobody said a word while the Captain told of his trip to
New Orleans and Eva listened to his stern old voice and remembered Nell’s warnings never to interrupt when he was speaking and only to speak herself when spoken to. When supper was over the Captain sat back and sucked the coffee briskly from his white moustache. Then rising without a word he went to the chair by the crystal umbrella stand in the hallway and fetched back a long box wrapped in brown paper. 
       Eva’s eyes rose slowly and shone over the rim of her cup. 
       “I reckon this might be something to please a little girl,” said the old man gruffly, thrusting the box into Eva’s hands. 
       “For me?” whispered Eva. 
       “Well now!” grunted the Captain. “I didn’t fetch this all the way up the river from N’Orleans for any other girl in Cresap’s Landing!” 
       And presently string snapped and paper rustled expectantly and the cardboard box lay open at last and Eva stared at the creature which lay within, her eyes shining and wide with sheerest disbelief. 
       “Numa!” she whispered. 
       “What did you say, Eva?” said Nell. “Don’t mumble your words!” 
       “It’s Numa!” cried the child, searching both their faces for the wonder that was hers. “They told me she’d be coming but I didn’t know Grandpa was going to bring her! Mister Peppercorn said—” 
       “Eva!” whispered Nell. 
       Eva looked gravely at her grandfather, hoping not to seem too much of a tattle-tale, hoping that he would not deal too harshly with Nell for the fearful thing she had done that summer day. 
       “Aunt Nell made them all go away,” she began. 
       Nell leaned across the table clutching her linen napkin tight in her white knuckles. “Father!” she whispered. “Please don’t discuss it with her! She’s made up all this nonsense and I’ve been half out of my mind all this summer! First it was some foolishness about people who live under the davenport in the parlor—” 
       Eva sighed and stared at the gas-light winking brightly on her grandfather’s watch chain and felt somewhere the start of tears. 
       “It’s really true,” she said boldly. “She never believes me when I tell her things are real. She made them all go away. But one day Mister Peppercorn came back. It was just for a minute. And he told me they were sending me Numa instead!” 
       And then she fell silent and simply sat, heedless of Nell’s shrill voice trying to explain. Eva sat staring with love and wonder at the Creole doll with the black, straight tresses and the lovely coffee skin. 
       Whatever the summer had been, the autumn, at least, had seemed the most wonderful season of Eva’s life. In the fading afternoons of that dying Indian summer she would sit by the hour, not brooding now, but holding the dark doll in her arms and weaving a shimmering spell of fancy all their own. And when September winds stirred, sharp and prescient with new seasons, Eva, clutching her dark new friend would tiptoe down the hallway to the warm, dark parlor and sit by the Pianola to talk some more. 
       Nell came down early from her afternoon nap one day and heard Eva’s excited voice far off in the quiet house. She paused with her hand on the newel post, listening, half-wondering what the other sound might be, half-thinking it was the wind nudging itself wearily against the old white house. Then she peered in the parlor door. 
       “Eva!” said Nell. “What are you doing?” 
       It was so dark that Nell could not be certain of what she saw. She went quickly to the window and threw up the shade. 
       Eva sat on the square carpet stool by the Pianola, her blue eyes blinking innocently at Nell and the dark doll staring vacuously up from the cardboard box beside her. 
       “Who was here with you?” said Nell. “I distinctly heard two voices.” 
       Eva sat silent, staring at Nell’s stiff high shoes. Then her great eyes slowly rose. 
       “You never believe me,” the child whispered, “when I tell you things are real.”

OLD SUSE, AT least, understood things perfectly. 
       “How’s the scampy baby doll grandpappy brought you, lamb?” the old Negro woman said that afternoon as she perched on the high stool by the pump, paring apples for a pie. Eva squatted comfortably on the floor with Numa and watched the red and white rind curl neatly from Suse’s quick, dark fingers. 
       “Life is hard!” Eva sighed philosophically. “Yes oh yes! Life is hard! That’s what Numa says!” 
       “Such talk for a youngster!” Suse grunted, plopping another white quarter of fruit into the pan of spring water. “What you studyin’ about life for! And you only five!” 
       “Numa tells me,” sighed Eva, her great blue eyes far away. “Oh yes! She really does! She says if Aunt Nell ever makes her go away she’ll take me with her!” 
       “Take you!” chuckled Suse, brushing a blue-bottle from her arm. “Take you where?” 
       “Where the woodbine twineth,” sighed Eva. 
       “Which place?” said Suse, cocking her head. 
       “Where the woodbine twineth,” Eva repeated patiently. 
       “I declare!” Suse chuckled. “I never done heard tell of that place!” 
       Eva cupped her chin in her hand and sighed reflectively. 
       “Sometimes,” she said presently, “we just talk. And sometimes we play.” 
       “What y’all play?” asked Suse, obligingly. 
       “Doll,” said Eva. “Oh yes, we play doll. Sometimes Numa gets tired of being doll and I’m the doll and she puts me in the box and plays with me!” 
       She waved her hand casually to show Suse how really simple it all was. Suse eyed her sideways with twinkling understanding, the laughter struggling behind her lips. 
       “She puts you in that little bitty box?” said Suse. “And you’s a doll?” 
       “Yes oh yes!” said Eva. “She really does! May I have an apple, Suse?” 
       When she had peeled and rinsed it, Suse handed Eva a whole, firm Northern Spy. “Don’t you go and spoil your supper now, lamb!” she warned. 
       “Oh!” cried Eva. “It’s not for me. It’s for Numa!” 
       And she put the dark doll in the box and stumped off out the back door to the puzzle-tree. Nell came home from choir practice at five that afternoon and found the house so silent that she wondered for a moment if Suse or Jessie had taken Eva down to the landing to watch the evening Packet pass. The kitchen was empty and silent except for the thumping of a pot on the stove and Nell went out into the yard and stood listening by the rose arbor. Then she heard Eva’s voice. And through the failing light she saw them then, beneath the puzzle-tree. 
       “Eva!” cried Nell. “Who is that with you!” 
       Eva was silent as Nell’s eyes strained to piece together the shadow and substance of the dusk. She ran quickly down the lawn to the puzzle-tree. But only Eva was there. Off in the river the evening Packet blew dully for the bend. Nell felt the wind, laced with autumn, stir the silence round her like a web. 
       “Eva!” said Nell. “I distinctly saw another child with you! Who was it?” 
       Eva sighed and sat cross-legged in the grass with the long box and the dark doll beside her. 
       “You never believe me—” she began softly, staring guiltily at the apple core in the grass. 
       “Eva!” cried Nell, brushing a firefly roughly from her arm so that it left a smear of dying gold. “I’m going to have an end to this nonsense right now!” And she picked up the doll in the cardboard box and started towards the house. 
       Eva screamed in terror. “Numa!” she wailed. 
       “You may cry all you please, Eva!” said Nell. “But you may not have your doll until you come to me and admit that you don’t really believe all this nonsense about fairies and imaginary people!” 
       “Numa!” screamed Eva, jumping up and down in the grass and beating her fists against her bare, grass-stained knees, “Numa!” 
       “I’m putting this box on top of the Pianola, Eva,” said Nell. “And I’ll fetch it down again when you confess to me that there was another child playing with you this afternoon. I cannot countenance falsehoods!” 
       “Numa said,” screamed Eva, “that if you made her go away—!” 
       “I don’t care to hear another word!” said Nell, walking ahead of the wailing child up the dark lawn towards the house. 
       But the words sprang forth like Eva’s very tears. “—she’d take me away with her!” she screamed. 
       “Not another word!” said Nell. “Stop your crying and go up to your room and get undressed for bed!” 
       And she went into the parlor and placed the doll box on top of the Pianola next to the music rolls.

A WEEK LATER the thing ended. And years after that autumn night Nell, mad and simpering, would tell the tale again and stare at the pitying, doubting faces in the room around her and she would whimper to them in a parody of the childish voice of Eva herself: “You never believe me when I tell you things are real!” 
       It was a pleasant September evening and Nell had been to a missionary meeting with Nan Snyder that afternoon and she had left
Nan at her steps and was hurrying up the tanbark walk by the ice-house when she heard the prattling laughter of Eva far back in the misty shadows of the lawn. Nell ran swiftly into the house to the parlor—to the Pianola. The doll box was not there. She hurried to the kitchen door and peered out through the netting into the dusky river evening. She did not call to Eva then but went out and stripped a willow switch from the little tree by the stone wall and tip-toed softly down the lawn. A light wind blew from the river meadows, heavy and sweet with wetness, like the breath of cattle. They were laughing and joking together as Nell crept soundlessly upon them, speaking low as children do, with wild, delicious intimacy, and then bubbling high with laughter that cannot be contained. Nell approached silently, feeling the dew soak through to her ankles, clutching the switch tightly in her hand. She stopped and listened for a moment, for suddenly there was but one voice now, a low and wonderfully lyric sound that was not the voice of Eva. Then Nell stared wildly down through the misshapen leaves of the puzzle-tree and saw the dark child sitting with the doll box in its lap. 
       “So!” cried Nell, stepping suddenly through the canopy of leaves. “You’re the darkie child who’s been sneaking up here to play with Eva!” 
       The child put the box down and jumped to its feet with a low cry of fear as Nell sprang forward, the willow switch flailing furiously about the dark ankles. 
       “Now scat!” cried Nell. “Get on home where you belong and don’t ever come back!” 
       For an instant the dark child stared in horror first at Nell and then at the doll box, its sorrowing, somnolent eyes brimming with wild words and a grief for which it had no tongue, its lips trembling as if there were something Nell should know that she might never learn again after that autumn night was gone. 
       “Go on, I say!” Nell shouted, furious. 
       The switch flickered about the dark arms and legs faster than ever. And suddenly with a cry of anguish the dark child turned and fled through the tall grass toward the meadow and the willows on the river shore. Nell stood trembling for a moment, letting the rage ebb slowly from her body. 
       “Eva!” she called out presently. “Eva!” 
       There was no sound but the dry steady racket of the frogs by the landing. 
       “Eva!” screamed Nell. “Come to me this instant!” 
       She picked up the doll box and marched angrily up towards the lights in the kitchen. 
       “Eva!” cried Nell. “You’re going to get a good switching for this!” 
       A night bird in the willow tree by the stone wall cried once and started up into the still, affrighted dark. Nell did not call again for, suddenly, like the mood of the autumn night, the very sound of her voice had begun to frighten her. And when she was in the kitchen Nell screamed so loudly that Suse and Jessie, long asleep in their shack down below the ice-house, woke wide and stared wondering into the dark. Nell stared for a long moment after she had screamed, not believing, really, for it was at once so perfect and yet so unreal. Trembling violently Nell ran back out onto the lawn. 
       “Come back!” screamed Nell hoarsely into the tangled far off shadows by the river. “Come back! Oh please! Please come back!” 
       But the dark child was gone forever. And Nell, creeping back at last to the kitchen, whimpering and slack-mouthed, looked again at the lovely little dreadful creature in the doll box: the gold-haired, plaster Eva with the eyes too blue to be real.