The Folly: sixth arc



Danger rises. The spirit seekers, self-possessed (this always preferrable) when dealing with the dead, are rattled by the assassin Falco. Those who hired him have failed to estimate him to his own valuation. And Falco, veteran of WWI’s atrocities, knows it, that he cannot alter this — that what the living are meant to have is dead within him, though among the living he walks. He will, by stacking bodies, make the great men who begin wars hear him. So he intends.
Our heroes hope for a different outcome.




Who Owns This House
Castello dei Banditti
Until the Last’s Returning
The Epistles





Battle Stations



A handful of possible

A handful of…reasonable

A handful…well…

Of fair, say…

Ways you could explain

Had done for the Newtons

Baffled round the dire smell, hinting, not insisting…

Possible, reasonable, fair…why, then, likelihood?

(But just perhaps…and coming down to it…) a sort of cotton-wool

Like if it was in a poem, it might be

Said…neither mister nor missus ever been

But cautious-minded folk, quiet-living…married very young

At war’s end, Adamson, buying up property went

And left her Lem his man-in-charge

Nell Newton to herself don’t mind

The saying of a plain thing…Lem’s uncle is an awful tartar

Lem’s uncle goes and puts the rents up

Says it’s hard times, says let them try

They bloody well won’t, doing better


But they might…

Just this past spring, and just to show…

If Adamson, beside himself, should force the door

(…show no want of willingness to do a Newton’s part)

There was, across the way, that suicide

And wasn’t it Lem ran to fetch the corner bobby?

The sight of it, on the flocking, and the damask…

And wasn’t it Nell sat with old Mrs. Combles…?


And wasn’t it Adamson himself

Said, a month ago, “See to those mousetraps, Nelly! What a fug!

Tell me you can’t keep a lodger in that room upstairs…!”


She’d felt giddy, mice

Mice, Lem, she’d said to him, suppose it only is?

Later, they’d allowed it might be sausage

And sauerkraut and such…who knew?

With them foreign types?

Yes…there’d been another trouble

Krug’s window could be seen to crawl with flies




Battle Stations

 Who Owns This House


This room, its walls are painted yellow

They call it that, the Yellow Room

The corner cabinet…no plane of it

Quite fits, the hinges pull

My dear, you smile, but I feel the cabinet matters

And he will not have sold it

It wishes to remain


Who owns this house?

I think he is thirty, or thereabouts

He has come to a place in the mountains, flat, flat to despair

Rough stones, as bad for cattle as for the plough

And spare infertile earth

Poor, never visitors enough

To sell to

But his own home is poor


If he sleeps…his name must be Devon or Desmond…

In the room downstairs

He finds he can sleep

But the closet…

The privy, yes…Americans say so

He dreads to visit in the night


No night has been spent in the Yellow Room

Unused but in a time of typhus

One, and then another, three

Carried to the bedstead, borne away

A wasted hand flings free

To limpet on, with panicked strength

Still to the ill-at-ease attendant

Plucking and prying and making rearwards

These words, this pleading, a fevered vision


But the mourning, mourning face

Do I wait for you

Do you wait for me

The invalid hears and straining from the pillow sees

A figure white-clad coffined below the glass

Do I wait for you, O Love, O Death

Do you wait for me




Oil painting of city-scape

Castello dei Banditi


Companions among Toscana’s dead

Dead of centuries whose tombs

Are plundered of their gold, but of their masonry

As well, sledged by quarriers shaping chamber walls

Cornerstones re-founding Christian halls

Those seats of state where patriarchs and queens

Departed granted favour yet, or sought-for pardon

Mothers, fathers, benign to sorrowing offspring

Voices raised whose hailings, to the Contessa di Barucchi

Come in a brightening her eyes have been bequeathed

the gift to see

She can, she has, seen yellow walls in black and white

She puts aside the photograph

‘That,’ her visitor says, ‘is quite astonishing, Desmond, I mean…

‘Fellow’s name. Spot on.’

She ignores this hesitant apologetic tone

‘Because I take an interest in your young man, I forgive you’

‘Forgive…what have I done?’ Suddenly ill at ease

She has sussed him out, or her spirits have

Well…why suppose—rather, why doubt

This legendary woman

Has close and potent counsel of strong energies

Figures of storied courts from times predating Rome

‘And so…I shall write and say, to our client—’

‘You will take my dictation, say what I tell you to write.’

Austere. She forgives but she does not…and that of course

is because he continues lying. Truly, he can’t say why…


‘Signora Contessa, I’ve toyed with these mysteries. I confess I have

not properly credited, revered…yes, revered, I think I ought to say, the…

the antiquity. The Folly is not so holy a place as the Castello dei Banditi.

I come, they have told you, your companions,

or you suspect as much, to beg a refuge for…perhaps

for a newly banished one. Two…

Two, I should say, though I don’t know what Fiona will do.’




Pencil drawing of man waiting for boat on quay

Until the Last’s Returning


He waits along the quay, mood agity, wandered well away

From sheltered benches where a better class

Than Dougal counts himself…city sorts, on holiday

Able to have loose ends and weekends to their lives

Booked today not forever, but for the harbour tour

Bide their shaded skin below the awning until the last’s returning


Evil is on his mind, an utter oddity

And yet, Dougal is willing to allow philosophy

Of every stripe and taste, few things more expanding to the mind

Than being jilted by a ghost

And it’s true, is it not?

Fiona…? He would like to ask

Wennie seems well, an ordinary lad

‘Your father, son, and your mother’

Dougal crouching, blinking, too late stricken by the thought

He has never given such a speech

‘Oh, Dad. He’s dead, I know. But Mother…’

The child pats the mustard seed pendant

The only thing Fiona has so far managed, the bestowing of it

‘Well, aye, you must think of her that way, being with you always’


Fiona, do we think of it, somewhere, in agonies

This minute I step round, and make back towards you

A footfall’s lapse, and someone perishes

This minute I check my watch

And tell myself, she’s fine, she’s safe

The boy is fine, he’s safe

Conflagrations and quakes, are at this minute taking place

Ligurian waters lap, they wink and nod

The killer Falco hasn’t cause to hunt abroad

Only our friends at home

Are stalked




Oil painting of harbor scene

The Epistles


The Contessa writes to the chapters of the Fellowship

Prophecies her companions unveil in a language familiar

To followers of readings and summonings, to seekers

Who divine a card’s turning, hear the undercurrent’s drumming

Malice and menace…she hopes that her warnings are timely

For the Clock cycles ever, and each sound uttered

By human voice, each juddering of continents

When tides and magmas rise, each engine of wind that shrieks

Into cyclones of fire consuming war-torn cities

Floats on its ethereal wave, a repeating chime, until some raft

Of outsized matter impedes the way, and a thousand thousand

Souls’ cries are to the attuned made audible

She transcribes them

Her eyes see, as she spins her globe, and her book of maps she pages

The celluloid sheen yellows over, like a lamp superheating its shade


My friends of Seattle

Your numbers are seven and nine, be concerned for falling accidents

Green and gold the colours that correspond, hidden decay your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the pyramid


My friends of Marseille

To Etruria was known your ancient name

Your numbers are 5 and 4, be concerned for clay

Aqua and orange the colours that correspond, heavy rains your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the egg


My friends of Catania

Your numbers are three and one, be concerned for the knife

Pink and bone are the colours that correspond, pride your enemy

Your unlucky sign is the falling star


My friends of Somerset

The blood of sacrifice yet stains your earth

Old things dwell there

Your numbers are two and two, be concerned for the falcon

The blue of indigo, and indigo again, are the colours that correspond

Your unlucky sign is the axe head



The Epistles

Pastel drawing of woman with blue facePerhaps a Pair of Eyes
















(2019, Stephanie Foster)





Charcoal and pastel drawing of man in aviator's helmetSee Folly page for full series















 (2019, Stephanie Foster)



Newtons: First Battle StationsCalmacott’s Brother
















(2019, Stephanie Foster)



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