Poem—"Fireside Frights on That Old-Time Radio"

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Christopher Rowe

"Fireside Frights on That Old-Time Radio"


It sits on our small round end table–
that old-time radio–
like a tiny confessional with its arched top
and scroll-worked speaker screens.
The polished mahogany shines mellow from 
reflected firelight flickers,
and from the amber glow 
behind the curved dial window.
My parents sit in high-backed plump purple
chairs while I hug my knees on the carpet
with a blanket round my shoulders,
enthralled by the smells and sounds 
of warm vacuum tubes,
the hum and hiss and pop 
from radio and hearth
that plays an overture to my adolescent ears.
And then it begins, 
the radio plays I love to hear most nights, 
an audio dessert,
that carries me away from my spot on the floor.
Neither the Lone Ranger nor Superman interest me,
it is the horror stories that I crave, 
the creepy tales that consume my dreams.
Despite blanket and fire, 
cold sweat courses
down my spine 
when the actors whisper
“Who’s there?” 
and only hollowness replies—
for in that hollowness lurks all my fears.
It is the magic of sound effects 
that affects me so, 
projecting images on the inside of my skull 
like a gruesome magic lantern.
A scream! 
A thud! 
Dragging, shuffling steps—
as monsters, murderers, and more
chase me through vivid reveries.
I can see little lost girls, and haunting boys,
hear the whistling wind and creaking doors,
the trailing footfalls of hard-heeled shoes
echoing hollowly on cobblestone streets.
And when it's over, heart hammering heavily,
I sigh and release tense muscles,
flex fingers fear-frozen into claws,
and, with blanket worn like a protective cape,
tread smilingly to bed.


Christopher Rowe has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Kennesaw State University. His first poem was published in the Pathfinder magazine Wayfinder. He was born and raised in Florida and currently teaches English in South Korea. In his free time he enjoys writing poetry and short stories, learning Korean, and traveling throughout Asia.


© 2013 Christopher Rowe, used by permission

Technoculture Volume 3 (2013)