First place, Nakata Brophy Prize: haunted house


when my cousin told me her house was haunted

i replied: of course it is


how can it not be


when they built buildings on the bones of the broken

used our skeletons to frame the walls of her lego house


she told me to get over it

chose to ignore the screams

         the taste of blood

               the smell of rot




my cousin told me her house was haunted

by a little old english lady with purple hair and no children


it couldn’t be anyone else her

psychic friend told her so


i reminded her that our great-grandfather was shot dead

just down the road; and how the elders said there was a massacre site

not far from the creek where, as children, we swung on a rope-swing

that hung loose around the branch of an old gum

        like a noose


she told me to shut up—those things didn’t happen anymore

and that the old lady’s name was ethel




my cousin didn’t like my reply when she told me her house was haunted

—so she asked for a second opinion

she had her priest come over with holy water and exorcise her house,

         had her psychic friend do another round

that night, resting peacefully in her no-longer ‘haunted’ house

my cousin dreamed of the australia that the history books taught her

she forgot the stories we were told under glistening stars with dark

shadows bouncing off the light of the campfire: stories of death,

of stolen babies, of blood-soaked land

she forgot:

that all land on this land, since the landing of the white man

     has been haunted



Raelee Lancaster

Raelee Lancaster is a Brisbane-based poet and research assistant. Her work has featured in Rabbit, Scum Mag, Voiceworks and other print and online publications. Raised on Awabakal land, Raelee has connections to the Wiradjuri nation. Find Raelee on Twitter @raeleelancaster.

More by Raelee Lancaster ›

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