Posted in Tabletop Poetry (and Other Artforms), Tabletop Teacher

30 in 30 Day 13: The Ghost Saloon

Thirteen being my favorite number, I thought I’d explore it today, following Robert Lee Brewer’s Day 8 prompt. And it meshes well with today’s napowrimo prompt.

There were 13 people inside
when the saloon burned to the ground.
no one knows how it got started…
a match used to light a cigarette
and not properly put out…
a bolt of lightning…
or a good old fashioned stick of dynamite.
Whatever it was, that old saloon
went up like tinder
and didn’t stop burning
Until a rainstorm put it out.
Now, where there were floorboards,
there is a lake.
Even the trees nearby
were too scorched
to grow.
But the old saloon doors remain
in the middle of the lake
No one knows why.
Not even the ghosts.

They say those 13 people
never left the lake
They dance across the waters
as if they never noticed the floor was gone
Sometimes the sheriff goes out
to greet new comers passing by.
Though they usually believe
the old saloon doors
were blown open by nothing
but the wind.
Others say they hear
the clinking of glass bottles
or even the sound of the bartender
calling a familiar name.

The ghosts aren’t evil, after all.
They’re as friendly as they ever were.
And would be happy for anyone to join them
physically, that is–
no dying necessary.
Some days, Clarence strikes up his fiddle
And everyone dances
thinking a party may bring folks in
But no one dances better than Lucy,
who would entice every man,
but never did choose one.
Even Will, who blew in
from out of town the week
before the fire
watched her fondly
though he never made a move.
Every day, he swears
that if anyone can dance well enough
to wake the living, it’s Lucy.

While they’re waitin’
Zeke, Hank, and Kit
gather ’round the table
for a friendly game of poker.
When the saloon burned down,
Kit was dressed as man.
But the ghosts have gotten
to know each other well enough
that these days no one cares she’s a woman.
So she lets her hair down
And sometimes even plays darts
with the deputy.
She’s getting good too.
He says if sheriff ever decides
to go on to the other side
he’ll make Kit his deputy.
Though everybody knows Hannah
is the one that’s good at settling conflicts.
She’s just got a knack for it.
Came in the bar to preach
the gospel.
Came the same day as Owen and Nora,
newlyweds who’d planned to rob the place
only it burned down before they could.
Some of the ghosts thought they set the fire
But it was Hannah got them all talkin’ nice.
And now, as they all wait, Nora sings along
as her husband plays piano
to the fishes.


I am a poet, linguist, and ESL teacher who loves to play games.

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