An Audience of Ghosts

Stained glass in the ornate dome
is splintered by a single ray of sun,
forming ghosts in the hippodrome,
derelict music hall of burlesque fun.

The eerie spotlight pans a vacant stage,
traces phantom footprints in the dust,
picks out shambolic sheen of bygone age,
theatrical fixtures gilded with rust.

Vacant seats echo with silent applause
from an audience of decay and shadows
filling gallery, balcony and stalls
littered with tickets to long forgotten shows.

The theatre still waits for the curtain to fall
on its magical escape from the wrecking ball.

Kim M. Russell, 11th February 2021

Audience of Darkness and Shadows

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: Setting

This Thursday Grace is hosting Meeting the Bar and highlighting the importance of setting in our writings. She reminds us that setting is the time and place where a story or scene occurs and, to make it come alive, it’s important to include significant details.

Grace explores four ways to clarify the setting without using long descriptive passages and gives examples in a contemporary poem, ‘Jack’ by Maxine Kumin, in which the speaker reflects back on a different time and place, a brutal winter that sets a mood of nostalgia and regret, and ‘Hustle’ by Jericho Brown, which repeats the word ‘prison’ to emphasise the setting.

Our challenge is to bring our readers to a time and place in our poems, using the smells, sights and sounds of our settings, which can be real or fictional, or a combination of both real and fictional elements.

I decided to rewrite a poem about an abandoned theatre, which I first posted back in 2016.

Image found on www.urbanghostsmedia.com

39 thoughts on “An Audience of Ghosts

  1. Having painted such an endearing picture of the theatre the last line hits hard. All that history, the lives that have been brightened by just being there, encapsulated beneath that dome. Such a shame these places are let go.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Such a shame. In the little town where I grew up the cinema was one of those tiny bijous, closed for years then turned into a bingo hall. When bingo went down the tubes too, somebody bought it and turned it into a ballroom dancing school, but they restored the ceiling and a lot of the glitzy bits.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I got goosebumps from reading about this ghostly place, especially:
    “The eerie spotlight pans a vacant stage,
    traces phantom footprints in the dust,”
    I love your twist at the end. I hope the magic lasts forever because when they’re gone they’re gone 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very complete sense of place, lone that is quite familiar to me. This last year with Broadway dark, and movie theaters closed, these pleasure domes do garner ghosts. An excellent ride and read.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The threatening wrecking ball over this setting is as much a part of the setting as the theater itself, and that makes this all the more poignant, standing in the threshold between the new and the old.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My goodness what a lovely place but so sad to read that its empty, ghostly and gilded with dust. This part is versed wonderfully with ending word rhymes:

    The eerie spotlight pans a vacant stage,
    traces phantom footprints in the dust,
    picks out shambolic sheen of bygone age,
    theatrical fixtures gilded with rust.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The theatre still waits for the curtain to fall
    on its magical escape from the wrecking ball.

    For all the goodness of old times, one is thankful that the theatre is still standing though when it is to be busy again is anybody’s guess! Great wordcraft Kim!

    Hank

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think the sonnet is the perfect form for this nostalgic poem, Kim. For some reason it made me think of Blackpool: the old music halls, dancehalls and ballrooms. I went there a lot as a kid and for me it is full of ghosts!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When that final curtain falls it closes upon dreams dreamt and emotions spent too expansive to be help captive in the rubble — so where do they go? Perhaps they take refuge in the veiled fog of nostalgia, to be dreamed and felt by the attuned in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.