Elkridge is no different amongst B&O towns.
It’s as blue collar Relay and downtown Lansdowne.
Each first had farms down in their “hollars”
near the Patapsco — then rails earned them dollars.
And each with their ghosts had good ones around.
Whilst some mortals were monsters, police had found.
So as a dead poet, I’ll spookly shout —
YOU’ll know of the characters I rhyme about
in this scary twisted story,
whispered by each girl and boy
and told to gramps and grandmas
on all hallows eve or the night before Xmas:
All through the village
not a creature did hurry — not even to pillage
the Polka Dot’s leftovers south on Route 1
where raccoons with masks steal their meals from
dumpsters of trash that remain to be picked
through for sugared plums and apples to lick.
As our wildlife settles for their nighttime snooze,
the bikers at Daniels are drinking their booze.
Club leathers, at best, keep identities hidden
while exhausting their cycles in whining rhythm
as they speed to the moon over Buttermilk Hill
With shiny pipes and octane thrills.
Now car lights are slow or whi i i z z z zzing past —
shadows are sprawling or fle e e e eing fast
on our house, like Pooh Corner with mismatched sides;
obscuring our truck which grasses can’t hide
as litter whips crusty piles of rusty parts
of Speedway ignitions no driver could start.
Yes, if mortality had a name
down on Furnace or Railroad and Main,
it’d be our house – “Mostly patchwork rotten,”
speaks a ghost in our hall, “it’s been ghastly forgotten,
but the lot is worth a ton-o-bucks.
Some developer will build odd pigeonholed huts.”
Okay, so our place IS a mess
Not like the fancies and schmancies,
but I digressed…
Now back to my story
with ma in her nightgown and me aging 40:
Norris is restless in bed with his dream
Pocock’s still crowing about his esteem
Merson is packing his bags for a trip
Mumbling about baseball or losing his grip.
Brumbaugh’s decided that nothing’s for free
and bootleggers are brewing their (ahem) “tea.”
Nearby in curlers, Miz Earp fills her tub
while Lilly’s still munching his Dagwood sub
near by Furnace. Jack Horsey’s in cantor.
My hounds retort with their backyard banter
at me on the curb – nailing up the sign
that us whisps will move, for the umpteenth time.
Our chickens at roost are asleep by 10
with contented cackles or squawks from their pen.
It’s our boys who are up. Sneaking out again.
Looking to sew some wild oats if they may.
Our neighbors are giving more cigars away.
Seems we’re related – what can I say?
Now boxcars are still; Mickey D’s TOO bright.
Round yon gas pumps are sentries tonight.
Things are not what they seem to be
Some dirt is shifting, it appears to me.
I hear an earthquake a-rumbling deep
Or is it my brain from lack of sleep?
Well, it’s clearly not anything duct tape can fix
And it’s nine hours later since eleven to six
While the cold north wind makes the bikers sober,
it’s cemetery souls who slowly turn over —
like Hoodie and Baker and Gaither and Heath.
Names like who come awake from beneath.
Through decades All-Hallows wings by.
Earth-bound spirits float skyward to fly.
Graveyards are busy though souls haven’t sound.
Tombs and stones don’t hold us down.
Each are on missions from by-gone eras.
These same reflect self in antique mirrors.
Like those Union still guarding the bridge
and each soldier wandering the ridge;
with ready cannons of thunderous might
for a war long past, still aiming to fight.
They’re from Race to River for instance,
or Montgomery to Ilchester’s distance.
There’s also Dorsey’s, the Davis’, and some like who
are the Hemphills, Dobbins and Donaldsons too —
many of us ghosts are relatives to you
like horses to hitching posts, tied and tethered,
rearing to go, no matter the weather.
Can’t hold us still. We’ve memories together.
In mortal life not many strayed.
Cause, ‘cept for wars, most of us stayed
put. Of our children too, not many knew
habits of other nations or personal invitations
to other countries and afforded to go.
Past generations were the local flow.
Now ghosts have time to see the world
snoop around, give a twirl,
hear global news in native tongues,
climb some ladders without missing rungs,
leave Elkridge behind for horizons abound
(if only as far as, downtown Lansdowne).
When something’s in the air at night
and the moon is full and clear and light
or in the wind, the fog, or rain
driving through Elkridge from Florida to Maine —
we’ll hitch a ride to glory land
Let’s hear some music, strike up the band.