Poem – PHANTOM-CIZING (By Ray Gallucci)



(A poetic tribute to the original story by Gaston Leroux,

prompted by seeing Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera)


His name is Erik,

Though few who know

This name by which

Opera Phantom goes.


Not burned by acid

Or scorched by flame,

His face cadaverous

Born in shame.


For years he traveled,

A circus freak —

“‘The Living Skull,’

Dare you take a peek?”


Then found employment

In Persian land

As executioner

In demand.


The Punjab lasso,

His fatal noose.

Once he ensnared you,

No cutting loose.


An entertainer

With golden voice,

A trap-door master,

Sultana’s choice.


But ran afoul he

Of Sultan’s law.

Condemned to death,

He escaped its jaw


When Persian constable,

To repay

A debt to Erik,

Whisked him away.


He traveled far

Till he found a lair

Where could escape

From life’s prying stare.


Inside the walls

Of the Opera House,

Parisian spectre

None dared search out.


Each secret corridor,

Shaft and nook

Brought death to any

Who chanced to look.


A king in kingdom

None else desired,

Its darkest music

His soul inspired.


When needed an


He chose as operative

Madame Giry.


With Opera managers

She conversed

Whatever Erik and

She’d rehearsed.


Invisible in

Box Number Five,

He watched with interest

Each opera live.


He seldom bothered

To interfere

Unless the music

Displeased his ear.


Through notes instructed,

“This must improve.”

And their obedience

It behooved.


Though “Opera Ghost”

Truly’d found his place,

Remained a prisoner

Of his face.


With fear and loathing

He’d learned to cope.

In love, no power

For him to hope.


But from this darkness

Where dwelt unseen,

Emerged he when

He first heard Christine.


An angel’s voice

He could not resist,

He sought through music

To make her his.


As her “instructor,”

He taught her well.

As opera diva

She’d soon excel.


Her soul and beauty

He must possess

As his in underworld



Across his lake

Never warmed by sun,

Into his chambers

She’d finally come.


But curiosity

Made her ask,

“Why are you hiding

Behind this mask?”


“Your ‘Music Angel’

I shall remain

If from this answer

You can refrain.”


But repercussions

She couldn’t grasp,

So from behind him

The mask unclasped.


The horror never

Would she dispel —

The voice from heaven

Had face from hell!


She’d longed for father,

But found instead

A living corpse

With a skull for head.


Though now she feared him,

She still would sing.

So up to surface

Her he would bring.


But, lo, the managers

Cast her not.

So, angered, Erik

Devised a plot.


Through Madame Giry

This fate he warned.

But Opera managers

Laughed with scorn.


When they shunned Christine

At next premier,

He dropped on audience



Though death just single,

The cost was great —

Now they’d incurred

Erik’s vengeful hate.


To worsen matters,

Christine had found

A childhood love

Who was now a Count.


In jealous rage

Erik schemed to steal

Christine from lover,

Her fate to seal.


So during opera

He dragged her down

To be his bride

Ever underground.


Upon the scene now

The Persian came,

One of the few

Who could Erik name.


He who’d once helped

The young Erik flee

Away from Sultan

And death decree.


Down through the dungeons

Where Erik lived,

The Count and Persian

Pursuit would give


With hands held high

Lest the Punjab rope

Become the collar

That killed their hope.


But stumbled they

Into Erik’s snare —

The torture chamber

That he’d built there.


The mirrored walls

With the iron tree —

A forest stretched

To infinity.


With Christine trapped

On the other side,

They felt the heat

That intensified.


Escape they couldn’t

Unless Christine

Agreed to marriage

With Erik fiend.


If she refused,

Then it was his ploy

Himself and Opera House

To destroy.


Explosion mighty

Would leave all dead,

And he and Christine

Would share death’s bed.


For love or pity,

We can’t be sure,

But she agreed

To his touch endure.


And when she kissed him

Of her free will,

No longer Erik

Had heart to kill.


Christine consented

To be his wife,

So Erik spared

Both his captives’ lives.


Once he had tasted

The love she gave,

He knew death beckoned

Him to his grave.


Now resurrected

With softened heart,

No more kept Christine

And Count apart.


Extracting promise

She would return,

He brought her home

To the love she yearned.


The Count and Christine

Would wed as one

As soon as she

Final task had done.


A few weeks later

When someone found

The corpse called Erik

Deep underground


With golden ring

On its finger bone,

The mystery only

To three was known:


The Count and Persian

Knew Christine brought

Back to poor Erik

Her ring he’d wrought.


Author Bio:

I am a Professional Engineer who has been writing poetry since 1990. I am an incorrigible rhymer, tending toward the skeptical/cynical regarding daily life. I have been fortunate to have been published in poetry magazines and on-line journals such as NUTHOUSE, MOTHER EARTH INTERNATIONAL, FEELINGS/POETS’ PAPER, MÖBIUS (when Jean Hull Herman published), PABLO LENNIS, MUSE OF FIRE, SO YOUNG!, THE AARDVARK ADVENTURER, POETIC LICENSE, THUMBPRINTS, UNLIKELY STORIES, BIBLIOPHILOS, FULLOSIA PRESS, NOMAD’S CHOIR, HIDDEN OAK, PABLO LENNIS, POETSESPRESSO, SOUL FOUNTAIN, WRITER’S JOURNAL, ATLANTIC PACIFIC PRESS, DERONDA REVIEW, LYRIC, THE STORYTELLER, WRITE ON! and DANA LITERARY SOCIETY.