\Inside of a Pink Plastic House, high in the attic is The Haunted Dollhouse. Someone hid away along time to protect us from its terrible contents, but in the pandemic we were bored and excavated the house looking for any secrets. We dusted off the dollhouse and out of one room, a small crow fell out and sang this song below. What other stories does The Haunted Dollhouse contain? Visit the submission guidelines page and follow the directions to submit a story you have “excavated” from the haunted dollhouse of your heart.
Petaluma Dump / Savannah Jensen
daddy takes us to the dump. it’s a
sister in her green
dress, mint like an easter egg. i
hold her hand as we sift through
chipped hand mirror, snow globe,
teddy with the one eye
one man’s junk,
another man’s treasure
i count my baby dolls, three in a row
pigtails that curl like christmas ribbon,
and dirt-crusted from
their curbside snooze
the men in uniform excavate, sign
neck wound, ear to ear;
the phrase hatches in the mouth,
takes flight, maggot to fly,
feasts on the heme as it pools
i take teddy home to guard me
but i dream of blonde locks and mouths,
limbs like a faint
to awake to pale dollies
hovering over the bed
calling back to the flies,
VIGIL / JESSE HILSON
The slope of denial tapers off,
That state of mind the family’s in,
When the daughter won’t come home.
A reporter’s passive voice declares
Her missing, implies she may
Be nothing but an object now.
Gas station footage has been seized.
The knife has come back positive.
The drowning family puts out a statement:
“She’s our stubborn little girl, she’s a fighter.”
And the toast-and-orange-juice crowd
Senses something slope away.
They tumble to what the family can’t.
Unbearable to watch the father’s quick
Gasp of hope back beneath the facts.
Within a crowded park at twilight
Her grade school siblings build a shield
Around their mother out of pity flames.
Dani’s First Dollhouse As An Adult / Samuel Strathman
for Kristin Garth and her dollhouses
Satellite around the front yard
of the dollhouse and discover
the cutest doilies and fringes
from mother’s old sweater –
the turquoise one we love to hate.
On the inside, I throw hair curlers,
and everything else
from my secret bathroom vault –
gears from the blow dryer –
cocaine mirror –
extra fanny pack –
champagne cooler –
There is enough snorting glue
on this baby to get a whale ripped
for the slaying and flaying.
Mom comes in
for a peek, ends up
spitting her wine.
She leaves the room,
comes back with a lighter,
opens my closet,
and sets the clothes on fire.
This spectacle is dumb.
I think momma forgets
that the wardrobe was bought
with daddy’s homewrecker money.
The joke is on her now,
because before long I’ll be living
on my own, hanging up pictures
in my pajamas.
There will be no lighters
in the new house – just the smoulder
of human ruins.
The Beckons / Amy Suzanne
Fine linen for the fire
Throat burning from a choir of No
Slouching in sodden snow
I am easy to know. Open.
My face a button of Astrid.
Purple bruise hue, blasted by wind
And grief. You glean thin-skinned lost girls
For the wreath, thorns and curls
May Queens, ribbons to twirl. Ask:” Are
You held by him?” My scar
Beckons. “Days are longer now, see?
Come find a home with me.”
Amy Suzanne is a widely-published poet and artist with work forthcoming in Louisiana Literature, Menteur, and others. Her illustrations will appear in Crow Carriage by Kristin Garth (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2021). Follow her on Twitter @iriemom.
ENTER, EMERALD CITY / JULIETTE VAN DER MOLEN
“Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?”- Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz
practical, this change of eyes
because we can’t have you
seeing things the old way—
beautiful, this change of eyes
because I want to see you
my way, instead—
metal pressed cold to skin,
forehead bunched, eyebrows
raised— perilous surprise,
these eyes, unblinking, pulled
wide, red pockets welling wet
above and below, a dart side
to side, wishing for a wizard
like Oz, for eyes to dye and
poppies to breathe.
painful, this change of eyes
a process imprinting
for binding tight—
flash of a scalpel, blinding light
hush now, hold tight
while I affix your emerald eyes.
MARY PULCIFER AND THE SEELIE PUDDING / MAGDA KNIGHT
Why good Doctor,
I’m pleased to bid you welcome in my cell.
I’ll tell my tale again,
Just as I did with all the other Doctors
Who came knocking on my door of iron,
And if I tell you lies?
Then I’ll have damned myself to Hell.
Mary Pulcifer’s my name.
But you already knew that, hmm?
It’s true, what the papers say.
I am a Cook by trade.
A fine one, I have heard it said.
But when I joined the staff
Of that Lord Mabworth, may he rest in peace –
Yes, of Mabworth Hall,
Do not interrupt my story
Or I’ll tell it not at all –
Why then, that is when the trouble started.
When I arrived on that first Winter night,
A chill wind tugging at the air,
I was presented with a sorry sight.
A mansion fallen into disrepair.
A roof shorn of tiles,
Each fireplace unlit.
Enough fuel for the kitchen,
Yet nowhere else was warm enough to sit.
No, I did not conjure up a flame –
I am no Witch. I don’t bend wills nor fire
To do my bidding.
My sole alchemy is this –
I make an utterly exquisite pudding.
Many a grim night I spent in Mabworth Hall.
Its Lord was a man of few words,
And his wife spoke not at all.
She had suet looks,
But plain suet has a lovely nuanced texture, in my books.
No, the problem was that my new Lord and Lady
Were entirely dull in terms of company.
I’d been used to working for vivacious wits;
Sprightly types possessed of less land and more spirit.
In his cups, the Lord would confide in me
And claim he could have married better
If he’d had the money…
Well, Doctor Lightfoot, it
Meant less than nowt to me.
I locked my door and took up playing Patience
To be spared their joint nightly misery.
Rest easy, Doctor. I’m not put off
By the scratching of your pen.
Please do take notes, for then I shall not
Need to tell this sorry tale again.
Write it down for posterity –
And then, perhaps, I will not have a
Constant trail of Doctors
Fussing over me.
Now then, here lies the rub!
Lord Mabworth rushed into my unlocked room one night –
So impolite, but even by a candle’s light
I could tell his eyes were aflame
From some unusual light within.
It was not love but fear
That made him act like a possessed lover.
Fear and resolution.
As he spoke, he tossed a light pouch
Into my apron.
“I just met a man,” he said.
“A strange man, Miss Pulcifer.
A man like no other. Dressed in green,
In velvet, in no fashion I’ve seen,
Not on the Continent nor in London,
His hat adorned with a giant iridescent feather.
‘He leaned against a stile,
At his ease in the heavy rain. His coat stayed dry
And he smoked an acorn pipe all the while,
His face wreathed with singular satisfaction.
‘“Help me, Mabworth. My cart needs repair.”
I wondered how he knew my name,
But he wasn’t wrong – a broken wheel lay split in twain,
And then it dawned on me that Gentry work was afoot,
For the cart was hitched to a donkey and a goat,
Both sporting matted hair as long as weeds and black as soot.
‘I did as I was bid, and once I’d done my best
I turned away. It was a poor job with the wheel,
I’d barely improved its aspect at all,
But I was cold and wet
And I did not like his donkey or his goat,
And I wanted to be on my way.
He laid a hoof-like hand upon my sleeve
And in iron tones he commanded me to stay.
How could I demur?
One must always do the bidding of a Good Neighbour.
He asked me why I’d helped him,
And in truth I would rather help a stranger in the rain –
At least until discomfort and boredom set in –
Then come home to yet another dismal evening.
‘He laughed. “Dear man. I shall reward you in a manner
That befits your nature.
I am not as other men, for I am Green John.
These are my lands you walk,
And this is my rain that leaves you soaked.
I have with me a vial
Of something much like honey
That will make your wife as fresh as any flower,
As sprightly as a daisy,
As slender as a lily.
If you were to add it to your dinner
For yourself and your fair lady,
It would please me.
‘The thought of my plain wife made beautiful
By the Wise Folk Beyond the Hill
Seemed, Miss Pulcifer, almost too good to be true.
But it is true.
And now I present this vial to you!
Open the pouch’s drawstring, for it lies therein –
And I would bid you add it to our evening wine.
‘Some for my unlovely lady,
And some for me.
And then,” my master tittered,
“We shall see!”
Well, we did see, Doctor.
That’s why I’m in this gaol.
That’s why the people want me burned
And the system wants me treated,
But I promise you… I’m neither vengeful
Once my master left,
I sniffed the contents of the glass ampoule.
Astringent resin laced with something sweet, like honeysuckle.
I know a thing or two of taste; this would be foul in wine.
I resolved not to carry out my master’s bidding.
Instead, I put it in the evening’s meal – a lovely hare and plum pudding.
No, good Doctor. I did not taste the meal myself.
My Cook’s skills are so tempered that I need not taste my own repast
To know how it will taste; it will taste better than the rest.
I knew this pudding was destined to be delicious.
When dinner-time came
My lord and lady licked clean their dishes.
And I left them then,
To busy myself with cleaning the kitchen.
A house this large with but one servant –
There was more than one act of drudgery to complete,
And each with my name on it.
And when I returned to clear the table,
What lay before me was a sight unimaginable.
Not a man and a woman,
A profusion of them, entwined in two towers.
On this seat was a willow meshed with hyacinth and rose,
Wearing my lord’s buckled shoes and his gentleman’s clothes.
And beside him? A graceful statue of forget-me-knots,
Adorned with fragrant lilac tresses,
Clad in one of my lady’s old worn linen dresses.
I ran, then.
I fled to the nearest village in the rain.
If you paid my weight in gold,
I would not go back there again.
When I reached Stonemere’s roadside inn
I knocked on the door, hoping I would find a warm welcome.
As I ran, I kept an eye out for Green John.
If I saw him, I would make the evil eye at him…
But of velvet-clad strange men there was no sign.
I told the keeper of the inn what had happened,
For I knew not what else to say.
Kind and gentle, he bid me stay the night
In a spare room for free.
But my door was locked come the morning,
Then a man from the asylum
Restrained me and took me, shackled, to London
To get some rest, he said,
And succumb to endless visits from Doctors
While chained to this here bed.
Will I be decreed a lunatic?
Or a murderess who is to hang?
I do not know, but I will never drink another flask of ale
Nor eat another pie – nor anything, unless I know
What ingredients within it lie.
And I’ll tell you this for free –
Never trust a man who calls himself Green John.
And never say yes to a slice of Seelie Pudding.
stigmata / erik fuhrer
my body is stigmataed for every single death
every day another rendition of someone’s personal crucifix
a haunting greater than anything that rattled
in the heart of a ghost on the day of their wedding
you are the wishbone I bullet swallow
and my body is full of holes by morning
so I smoke my body like a glistening pig
I am a kaleidoscope of teething hearts
the case of my ribs a chipper belly feeding
stigmata is the cloth I shine myself with
stigmata is the christ that I gorge myself on
stigmata is my body a temple of cooked pork
Erik Fuhrer is the author of 4 books of poetry, including not human enough for the census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). His 5th book, in which I take myself hostage, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press at the end of this year. He can be found at www.erik-fuhrer.com and on twitter @erikfuhrer
Museum of Impending Death / Juliet Cook
The large black cloud looms and grows
into an impending tornado. The lights all go out.
When the lights come back on, they are red.
Broken glass cracks every mirror.
Our faces bifurcate
into a good side and a bad side.
Broken nose that won’t stop dripping.
Bloody mouth that won’t stop screaming.
An eye that wants to escape
being forced to stare at the other eye
dangling out of the socket,
trying to rip itself away from this fate.
The Idyllic Pre-Death of Isaac Plank /
Ten years from now / the occult death of Isaac Plank / will cause chaos / but today / Isaac and his father are on the road / fighting over the car radio dial, toggling between folk rock and thrash metal / to distract from the fact that that are visiting / Isaac’s mother’s grave / “That poor boy” / they said of Isaac / when she passed / that was long ago / though / and no now one in town has much sympathy / for the wild child who wanders / the woods at night / dabbling in spell-casting and sacrifice / “His poor father” / Lawrence Plank / was always exceptional / in his banality / how he produced a kid like Isaac / no one knows / a small-town accountant / the type who attends church / out of habit / votes the same way each time / doesn’t talk politics / or much of anything, really / a quiet man / he’s telling Isaac now / how k.d. lang has the most beautiful voice ever to be put to record / Isaac raises a pierced eyebrow / and throws out Ronnie James Dio as an alternative / Lawrence shakes his head / “You keep telling yourself that, sweet pea” / above them, clouds swell, grayish purple blending into the mountain fog / “Do you ever feel a sense of doom?” / Lawrence says / out of nowhere / “Yes I do” / his son replies / His father places a hand on his shoulder, leaving the other firmly on the wheel, and squeezes it affectionately, trying to restrain himself from telling his troubled teen the tortured dreams he has been having in which Isaac dies / in agony, too young / after placing a curse on the town / the dead walk, houses burn, strange things reign / “How’s the new school treating you?” / “Fine” / “Try not to get expelled from this one” / “okay” / “I won’t go as far as to say, stay out of trouble – I know you’re incapable” / Isaac laughs / it’s a hollow sound / like his own ghost / why do I keep thinking that / “You’ll be okay,” Lawrence says, and smiles at his only child / who’s been deemed a delinquent and a deviant and a drain on the strained social services dedicated to wayward youths / if this town had their way / Lawrence thought, with a tinge of bitterness / they’d burn his boy at the stake / maybe they do deserve whatever they get / “Did we miss the exit?” / “Oh fuck, shit” / “Language” / “Oh, fuck off old man” / Lawrence rolls his eyes, remarks / “I don’t care what anyone else says, kiddo, I did a bang-up job raising you” / and thinks, apropos / of nothing / if he lives long enough, he’ll be a lot like me.
Linear / Sarah Little
Good girls dress
Fresh from department-store
glossy satchel to office runway,
dainty blouse tied with a
bow. Feast for the eyes,
gift to the scenery.
Tuck a blouse into a
slim black pencil skirt.
Lines run up and down,
story of a body untold. Department store
display mannequin comes
Black polyester lining and a split
up the back;
it’s a box they’ll bury you in.
Sarah Little is a sometimes-poet who scribbles when she remembers and gets tetchy when she goes too long without writing. Her work has appeared in L’Éphémère Review, Alien Pub, and Milk + Beans, among others. Her first poetry micro-chapbook, Snapshots was published with Broken Sleep Books in July 2019.
Drowning / Z D Dicks
Z. D. Dicks has been accepted by ‘Fly on the Wall Press’, ‘Obsessed with Pipework’, ‘Salzburg Poetry Review’, ‘Sarasvati’, ‘Stride’, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, to name a few. He works tirelessly to promote poetry and is Gloucestershire Poet Laureate
furious wildflower / Linda Crate
CONFIDENTIALITY / NICK MORRISSEY
The Corruption of the Specimen / Kristin Garth
(a Crow Carriage sonnet)
Is it the bargain, words both say, why he
allows a subject to wander away
unmedicated from feathered belly
of a crow? No maiden before today
let go. All ferried to a secret lab
dream communal in a nobleman’s house
limbs waifish, jabbed, as what skitter from this cab.
Was it the violence blabbed from a mouth
so young, the certainty of what had been
done, the corruption of a specimen? Sea
green of eye, mottled pitch, carrion
crow egg iris blinks, a tiny witch. Can
he allow a second pair of these to close —
a specimen but not what he supposed?
art by Amy Alexander