The POTW: Verse Til It Hurts


POTW #779
(Week of 16 October, 2011)

Saturday was the 16th anniversary of the onset of the Poem of the Week. Sixteen is such a large number of years that I completely forgot about it until partway through the day when I noticed it marked on a calendar. But I'm sure that you were all celebrating in the proper fashion, with parades and fireworks and so on.

And now we kick off the seventeenth year with a bit of October fun, as inspired by a phone call I had not long ago:


The air was skulking gaunt and sordid
Walls malingered flatly morbid
On an afternoon aborted
In the bowels of the fall
When silence scrapes and crawls

The sudden ringing of the phone
A mangled artificial moan
Broke the quiet like a bone
And brought an instant queasy dread
The thought that someone must be dead

He quaked and sweated his resistance
Horror best kept cold and distant
Yet it jangled most insistent
Fingers puppeted by fear
Pressed the monster to his ear

"Hello, how are you doing today?"
He heard a rasping phantom say
His muscles ached to run away
Instead he croaked a confirmation
Paralyzed by conversation

"I'd like to ask some simple questions
Get your off-the-cuff impressions
Concerning matters of digestion"
Simple questions off the cuff...
Well, that seemed harmless enough

"Which of the following best describes
Your desire to be eaten alive
Pick from answers one through five
1: delighted
2: excited
3: it's what I'd love
4: enthusiastic
5: all of the above"

He quoggled over which to pick
It seemed a rather stilted mix
Shouldn't there be an option six?
The trouble with these opinion polls
Was their predisposition to particular goals

"It's difficult to choose, I see
It can be hard to gauge degree
Since you're in doubt, I'll write down 'three'
No problem, in fact I will insist
So we can move on to the next on the list"

"Focusing on the rump and breast
When you are served to hungry guests
Beneath which condiment would you taste best?
1: mustard
2: mayo
3: spicy barbecue
4: tomato ketchup
5: a mix of one and two"

"And speaking of entertaining guests
I have an additional request
Of course we already have your address
My colleague is currently at your door
He'd like to ask just a few questions more"

There came a single sepulchral knock
The scraping of instruments jammed in a lock
And a muffled voice like a grandfather clock
"Which of the following best describes
The sound of sharpening butcher's knives?"

Copyright © 2011 by Dave Grossman

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