Three New Poems for Haunted Passages by Eva Heisler

Haunted Passages: Eva Heisler

Call Off the Angels

Flashy enough in appearance—
and I assume this motivated the selection—
the group is much older than advertised.
One is wheezing into its elbow
with nasty spectral effects. Another
stinks of drained aquariums.
And who’s that junkyard angel
with the ankle bracelet.
That angel is high. Every other word
is either “fuck” or “Christ.”
Haloes clink
as they bump against one another—
the racket of a hundred stupid toasts.
Can’t see through all that cheap radiance.
Who knew haloes were opaque.
Like Fiesta plates, those haloes.
Introductions begin with air kiss and end
with whispers over beads. Mothballs
in pockets. Who knew diaphanous robes
susceptible to moth larvae.
This is not a small problem.

Forced Entry

Crowbar dropped at threshold, my handsome door splintered,
I smell the burglar’s wet wool and garlic.

Nothing’s amiss until the second-floor studio:
paintings—my manic, stupid paintings—attacked with paring knife;

steamer trunk emptied of linen, re-filled
with adding machine paper. This is an installation,

I explain to neighbors gathering outside the studio.
I uncurl the paper and read about a girl who like a needle

is sharp with a hole for thread. I unspool
the story of a woman with eyes outgrowing her sockets.

Who stole my dreams and memories? A neighbor answers,
He’s in the hall with an adding machine, watching you.

Destroyer of handsome doors.

Accountant of recollections.

Stalker of bad paintings.

Dream burglar.

Dead husband.

I go to him, a smell now of something else—of caramelized sugar.
He is pink like the sky in a Polaroid.

At the Rear of Remembrance

“Refuse” means to pour back.

Pour back dream.


The house is built of my grandmother’s kitchen,
the stairwell of Mr. Austin’s abandoned house,
a bedroom in upstate New York,
and the library’s bathroom.


But where had they gone, and why
had this simple wish ended with a rag soaked in milk.


Pour the grave back into gravy.

Pour slam back into screen door.


The house is built of Colonel Boyd’s shutters,
the exposed beams of an Adirondack lodge,
a crawl space,
and pictures cut from Ladies Home Journal.


At the top of the stairs—
the stink of a pond.


Pour whisper back into bedpost.

Eva Heisler has published two books of poetry: Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic (Kore Press, 2013) and Drawing Water (Noctuary Press, 2013). Honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Emily Dickinson Award, and fellowships at MacDowell and Millay Arts. She was co-winner of the 2021 Poetry International Prize, and poems are forthcoming in Colorado ReviewThe Ilanot Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review.


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