How to Know If Your House Is Haunted and What to Do1 min read

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Do doors open by themselves? Drawers? Closets? Is it autumn, and are the leaves
spiraling outside in tiny twisters? Remember, wind can often move heavy objects
like wooden doors or picture frames or empty caskets left in the parlor.

If it’s not the wind, leave the door unlocked. Get acquainted with your hallways. Your shelves.
Your hidden spaces like unwashed pockets,

denim stained with dead skin and secrets.

And if you must lock the door, find an old doorknob, something rusted

with keys like bone.


Do you hear voices at night? Do they speak to you? If they are pleasant, inviting, then reply
but have something interesting to say. Ghosts, like people, can be bored of pillow talk.
If the voices sound angry, screams like cracked linoleum or the upfront and close, get out!

beastly and bristled,

then play music. But do not sing along. For weeping, light a candle, preferably unscented.
Light two if the moaning persists like the hum of a lopsided ceiling fan.

If the clock reads 3:00 am,

those digital numbers like blood vines,

close your eyes, your mouth. Breathe like the rabbit.

The conversation has grown teeth.


Having bad dreams since you moved in? Do they involve inhumanly tall men

lips of chiseled stone?

Or perhaps old women braiding your hair into moth eggs? Moth wings. Moths.
For all nightmares plant a small garden by your windowsill, grow verbena,

invite butterflies.

Do you die in your dreams? Your limbs strewn across the street like pick-up sticks,
or maybe a bullet to the back, warm lead like a lover

whirling through the dance-floor of your body,

scattering the ladies in red, the men gathered round the bar to watch, their scotch bright and dry.

If this happens, ask the ghosts if they know your name. Silence, go back to sleep.
But if an answer threads itself through the static thrum of early morning, whispers
like an unraveled ball of yarn, lamb soft and full of knots

—prepare to make plans.

M. Brett Gaffney

M. Brett Gaffney

M. Brett Gaffney, originally from Houston, Texas, holds an MFA in Poetry from Southern Illinois University and is the art editor for Gingerbread House. Her poems have appeared in Exit 7, Penduline, Permafrost, Devilfish Review, Still: the Journal, Fruita Pulp, museum of americana, BlazeVOX, and Zone 3 among others. Her chapbook, Feeding the Dead, is forthcoming from Porkbelly Press. She currently works as a library associate in northern Kentucky and lives in Cincinnati with her partner and their dog, Ava.
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