Bran Castle

We searched all through Bran Castle, that night
Okay, so technically it was daytime, closing in on evening,
The tour guide told us that this was not
the actual castle from the Bram Stoker novel,
Vlad Tepes probably had never even been here
I swore I heard a sound from the belly of this place,
Like a great maul yawning, gnashing its teeth on the wind
“Scholars once believed that Vlad was imprisoned here for a time…”
The tour guide droned on,
And in the shadows, I imagined blood red eyes, howls of pain,
Fissures of torment—doorways of the supernatural
But, save for a hidden stairway and one false door,
Nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary.
We left through the gift shop, and checked out its oddities—
Dracula mugs, Bran Castle steins, souvenir magnets,
And there in the corner, a wooden coffin.
I opened the lid,

Prose Writer in a Poetry Club

I’m a prose writer in a poetry club
And I—question, that’s all
Why do words always have to drip from people’s lips—
Like honey, wine, diamonds, fire?
Isn’t that a bit gross in the visualization department?
Like a zombie, dripping blood, lifeless, dumb…
I don’t want my words to be like that, don’t want to let the audience have that image in the back
of their minds, because words carry weight, so you should mean what you say.
Where’s my sense of poetic whimsy, you say? It’s not that, it’s just—
I like it when the words and the vision matches up, even mis-matches up
When words cross like lasers, bullets, cannon-fire in a shootout
And hit me broadside
When the words don’t drip, or flow, or fall from my mouth or yours, but project like I meant
them to, like you wanted them to.
That’s all.

If I Close My Eyes

If I close my eyes and
Slip into the white noise of
I can escape this busy Starbucks
With the women droning on at the table next to me,
A baby cooing, rumpled napkins and escape—
Maybe take that guy at the table over yonder,
And make the setting transform into something
More dream-like and idyllic
Travel with imagination’s passport
And suddenly we’re there, in a rainswept
French bistro, talking of Versailles
But that’s only if I close my eyes—
And you and I both know
That this world won’t let me do that.

The Game

Lisa grabbed the stapler, gnashing her teeth
I gripped a yellow highlighter
Tiffany took hold of a heavy seafoam green tape dispenser
As the new hire walked through the door.
“We all get along here/we don’t tolerate drama,” was the lie Heather told her,
Just like she’d told me
Rachel opened her desk drawer,
And took out a letter opener, licked it
Soon enough, the melee would begin
The new hire walked over to her sterile desk,
Unplugged the computer mouse,
Tied an end of it around her hand,
Held it taut with the other—
She’d seemed so nice, so naïve,
But I could tell she was starting to get the hang of office politics.


“Bran Castle” is an excerpt from Leslie D. Soule’s new poetry chapbook, My Mentor, Death. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.