– After Randall Jarrell
One looks and looks from behind the door
the dark child frightened by daylight.
What is unseen still massacres.
Nothing is safe. There are devil winds and
giant eyeballs and walking corpses dripping
gray in the dull ending of a summer’s day.
Outside the door, the warped
distortion of mundane things
deceives the blinking watcher.
Utility poles spook the blue,
evergreens offer sinister shade—
a suspect neighborhood—that
to the childish one is plain.
Beyond the door, the passing
strangers slide through, swiftly
toward a foreign realm to joust
the tyranny of time, the dangers
to their lives ill-perceived, the
mangler’s hands alabaster
and thick there’s quick murder
awaiting them in unmade beds.
Beyond the door, intruders prowl
and thieves who’ll snatch one’s
tonsils out. Ogres and swamp goblins
wiggle and slurp, a true bestiary
of brutes. Cookies and gingerbread
signal certain doom. The spider woman
draped in stars will suffocate
unwary travelers in her wicked web.
Beware! They’re going to get you
in the twinkle of a rhyme. This
child-fear, not unlike the knot of woe
that ruins the tummy and the rug.
It’s out there. Behind everything.
Malevolent, nefarious, corrupt.