The House of a Thousand Stairs

The House of a Thousand Stairs

Al Capone and his gun moll Myrtle slip
down the Chattahoochee in a canoe,
their faces dappled with moonlight and shadows.
Water runs over rocks, owls call,
breath puffs in humid waves.

They reach a wooden dock camouflaged
behind honeysuckle vines, magnolias,
climb with muffled footfalls the stones leading
to The House of a Thousand Stairs, Capone’s
hideout when he can’t take Chicago’s heat.

This is the tale we tell around campfires
at the top of a cliff on the river’s edge. Passing
a joint, we speak of Capone’s getaways to a mythic
piedmont, dare each other to descend stairs
cut into granite, count steps leading to dark currents.

But there is no house, only a bare patch of earth,
boulders, scrubby bushes, a remote enclosure
for teenage gatherings on muggy Georgia nights,
unseen by the law. We cartoon caricatures
of ourselves as the keepers of Al Capone’s

former lair, possess secret knowledge, are privy
to underground rumblings of the past, have truck
with danger, can hold our own in a world of mystery,
as we congregate on the ruins of renegades,
The House of a Thousand Stairs.

***

Visit Tom’s prompt on read write poem for more gothic-like poetry.

15 thoughts on “The House of a Thousand Stairs

  1. Julie says:

    Beautiful, Christine! I love the gothic tone and all those wonderful details.

    But what really rocks is that you have TWO stories going on here! I love that! I can simultaneously see Al Capone and the teenagers around the campfire telling his story. I can see the faces, smell the joint, hear the crickets. Yep…I even hear crickets there. And the crackle of a fire. The parallel between teenage life (hiding from the law) and Capone is brilliant. The fact that they’re on a cliff at a river’s edge is a perfect detail to fit the tone. I’m doing cartwheels over this one.

    We have a spot like this, too:) I love this poem a thousand times!

    Like

  2. rob kistner says:

    “they reach a wooden dock camouflaged
    behind honeysuckle vines, magnolias,
    climb with muffled footfalls the stones leading
    to The House of a Thousand Stairs…”

    This stirred my curiosity — I wanted to tread those stones…

    …rob

    Like

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