Tag Archives: Host Publications

LILY SOMESON.August 2022


Photo by Jeff Sirkin



The Ammons family haunting, Gary, Indiana.


Black family home. Black family

and roof patched black. Black family shutters

and Black neighborhood Black. Better sit your ass back

in that pew Black. Better get better Black. Better not act up

for the CPS lady Black. Better show her those A’s Black.

Sweetheart, show her those braids I gave you, that Black

castor oil. Sit back. Tell her I’m not crazy, Black.

Better make her believe us, Black. Show her our Bibles

and the red-stained linoleum. Show her the pages

ripped out from the binding. Show her the fissure of scar

on your brow, Black. That claw streak on your brow Black.

But that’s not from me Black. You know that. Sweetheart, tell her

what you saw last night in your closet, Black. How it stared through

your school jackets. Believe us Black. Please.

Please give them back. Show her your crucifix, Black.

How it twists down in the night. Tell her who did it Black.

Tell her what you saw.



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The Ammons family haunting, Gary, Indiana.


Tonight I sing the sliver-moon, the unkindness

of winter light that blasts through

the sunroom. Sing my children, who have left

and left again. Cooking dinner for four when only my own plate

is eaten from. But I sing the pristine stove top afterwards,

the grocery bouquet that sits on the table

like unanswered prayer. Sing their bedrooms, preserved like museum

exhibits, beds still undone with the tousled print

of their bodies. Sing the apparition of them

floating through hallways in the pink evenings, half-vision

running toward the house from bus stops. Sing until sound tinges

discordant, cusp of a screech. Sing because it’s the only thing

I can do. To keep living. Sing because it drowns you out, cursed-

thing. The light of the bedroom is so black, I can only see

your shoulders, oily pool of residue your shadow leaves on carpet. So since

it’s just us now. I’ll sing if you’re listening. Throw the doors open. Believe

that you want to leave but can’t, red strings of Hell stitching you

to basement floor. Sing until sound gets muffled by cicada cry, horsefly

buzz, wings machine-whirring against windows. Muffled by cold-snap winter

or the sound of snow thumping against porch. I believe the best in people,

you know. Really. If I pray hard enough,

this house may fall around us both — broken rafters

splintering through my heirlooms. Memory is a chore, a trick

of the light. If we become close — become each other — will you bring


them back? The children, I mean. The memories. Will you do that

for me? Come in. I’ll sing broken record. Sing Stockholm syndrome. Have me,

please — just not my children. If you will not leave, scream into the windows of hell

and have me. Until snow hits skin and starts to sizzle. Until you look in the mirror

to see my face.



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The Ammons family haunting, Gary, Indiana.


“Now that it’s an open lot people go there to do seances, and the police get called out to chase them away. Those people are in great danger, and there’s no way to really protect them. And all you need is curiosity. Curiosity is an invitation.”

-Father Michael Maginot


Where house once stood, dead

evening grass the color of rust. Square wound

where a basement sunk. The house was a replica

of every other house on the block, cursed twins lining Carolina,

paint-chipped shutters copy-pasted. Sky its usual milk-grey from smog

pollution, dogs chained outside in November cold snap. Lone steps, vacant porch

that leads nowhere. Five years ago, the last buyer paid a dozen men

to rip every nail from drywall, wrecking-ball roof, wood splintering

from pressure. Now wind whistles through the abandoned gaze the structure left. Whatever was in

that house — arachnid, too-long limbs that swallowed the ceiling, faceless head-tilt,

cacophonous growl — is out. The chance to stow away the thing has passed. Teenagers, three

of them, climb down to settle in the open pit. Ouija board in hand, snickering summoning rituals

they uncovered online. It waits, twists claws into dirt, tunnels up from the red face of Hell.

No time for Catholic hymns, exorcisms in Latin. Now the thing is out — with the rest of us.



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Downtown Gary, Indiana. 2021.


You taking a picture

of the Genesis Center?

I nod at the structure

in front of us, retro-futuristic, spheres

of windows like pinholes in the walls.

Bleached brick against bleached sky.

The stranger’s voice looms behind, unwilling

to step into my camera’s shutter. I need

pictures for a book I’m writing. It’s all about

Gary, you know. How it can be revived.

The building wilts — rounded architecture

strangled with ivy. She snaps her head

in my direction, gestures a gloved hand at an

alley nearby, trash tumbleweeding

near our feet.

You honestly think

it’s being revived?

She cranes a wise eye at me, studies my gaze

through the scarf obstructing my mouth. I begin

an explanation, speech petering out — halved

like an orange. She interrupts

I’m twice your age at least,

honey. No one’s reviving shit.

We stare at the abandoned convention

center, rust blooming from the rafters,

entrance door kicked in. Where thousands

once gathered, foundation slides inwards —

structure teetering as if suspended

on fingertips.

It’s not revived yet. But I grew up

around here, I blurt out, almost to myself.

I want it to get better. Wind whistles through

glass, punched-through. The stranger shakes

her head gently, begins to walk the opposite

way down the street.

Just keep writing that book, baby, she calls out,

muffled winter light hitting her back. So long

as it keeps you out of trouble.



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the nightmare that nature has made —

my mother statuesque and white, high

cheekbones with polite teeth.

in photos our differences are stark —

rounded face, afro puffed against

pin-straight hair. when i was young she combed curls out

of my head, conquered with relaxer, alchemy

of assimilation. she said that i shined

like a new penny — dirty copper of skin, identity divided

into partisan issues. in elementary school, a white boy

captured my hair in his small hands, called me

[redacted]. how tenderly my mother

soothed me, suggested

he had a crush.



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Ghosts in the dove-coo of early morning, ghosts soaking in lukewarm bathwater. Ghosts in the singing of fried potatoes, ghosts in the dark kitchen grout. Ghosts that never let you leave their homes hungry, how they clutch an elbow and float toward the stove. Ghosts in the busses that putz along Broadway, in the beige classrooms that line the community college. Ghosts in the garage Yahtzee tournaments, ghost family reunions, ghost photo albums with levitating matching shirts. Ghosts planning get-togethers at the library, ghosts comparing oranges at Miller Mart. Ghosts in the weathered cathedrals on Sunday afternoons, ghost choir of disappearing mouths. Ghosts eating vegan food at Vibrations, in the low light of pink-neon bodega signs. Ghosts who flutter toward breakdowns on the highway, who stop what they’re doing to give you a jump. Ghosts with clutched Bibles and karaoke machines, ghosts who rush home to translucent flower gardens. Ghosts who help older ghosts fold their laundry, ghosts who call you sweetheart as you pack their groceries. Ghosts in the mills who bang coal into metal, father-ghosts in coveralls and worn-out work boots. Ghosts in the strip clubs off Route 20, in the empty shopping plaza on Lake. Ghosts with lush balcony gardens, sending down tomatoes in wicker picnic baskets. Ghosts who spot starlings with hovering binoculars, studying dawn like gauze over a flashlight. Ghosts who shake bells to call children inside, who yell to their kin in spirit-box fashion. Ghosts who pray diligently to the small god of fairness,

people with no reflection in the fogged bathroom mirror.




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It’s my miracle now — this life contracting like a nervous fist. Negroni with an orange peel teetering off the edge. A year ago I was so hopeless that I had no use for seat belts or cardinal swooping. But now it’s all how-to videos for escaping flooding cars. For example, doomsday prepping. Buying a pear orchard in Athens, Georgia. Vegan eating to offset familial stroke risk. Fearing highways and questionable insects. You get it. Maybe the longleaf pines are petering out of existence just to prove that they can. Iced coffee on a balcony while the sky self-immolates. Except now I’m obsessed with living. I can’t get enough of this stupid world.




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Lily Someson
is a poet from Gary, Indiana. She is the author of Mistaken for Loud Comets, winner of the Host Publications Spring 2021 chapbook prize. She has also been published in the Academy of American Poets, Underblong, Court Green, and Columbia Poetry Review, among others. She is currently a third-year Poetry MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University.


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August 2022.LILY SOMESON