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Image by Martino Pietropoli

ghost girl

the ghost girl
warns me

she speaks a foreign
language but I understand

the urgency of her
outstretched hands

the determination
on her pale face – no further

she wants me
to stay still

she wants to keep me
from approaching

she hovers silently now and I
marvel at her lightness

through one of the windows
behind her

I see a giant eye looking in
watching the moment unfold

and ask a question
neither of us can answer

welcome and

don’t worry this insane
cackle is just how

I laugh now
did you hear that?

that’s the sound of
the doors locking

oh and this? only the clang
of your ego shattering

it’s not just the mysterious sounds,
the creaking wood, the footsteps

the spiderwebs, the bats
the ghosts that all know your name

it’s the mirrors in here
that are most terrifying

because when you look into them
you may not recognise yourself

but if you do the sight will
haunt your little dreams

you are to be congratulated for believing
you might last the night

you are so brave for setting foot in here
welcome to my haunted house

Laura Theis’ exophonic writing has been widely anthologized and appears in Poetry, Mslexia, Rattle, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, Aesthetica, harana, Jellyfish Review, etc. Her Elgin-Award-nominated debut ‘how to extricate yourself’, an Oxford Poetry Library Book-of-the-Month, won the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize. She was the recipient of the AM Heath Prize, Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize, Mogford Prize, Hammond House International Literary Award, and a Forward Prize nomination. Currently shortlisted for the Women Poets’ Prize and the Bridport Prize, she was a finalist for over fifty literary awards including the UK’s National Poetry Competition, the Cambridge Prize, the BBC Short Story Award, and the Alpine Fellowship.  Her website is


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