Friday, June 12, 2009

Dusting Off an Old Poem

I was digging through some of my old poetry and I found this strange piece of work. I'm not sure if I would call it good. I might call it okay. I would definitely call it weird. Some might call it a little gross.

I remember writing it late one night. Sarah and I were still living in Provo. Connor was probably just a baby. We lived on the bottom floor of an apartment building next to a laundromat, so we always had people walking past our living room window. Apparently, on the night I wrote this poem I let my imagination run wild.

I can tell that I wrote it at a time when I was still taking myself seriously as a poet. It has that sound to it. I also wrote it at a time when I was trying to write longer poems, which explains its wordiness.

Anyway, enjoy.

On Hearing Someone Sing Outside My Window

If I were alone and somewhere else—
in a cabin, maybe, in the secluded forests
of central Alaska—the soft singing
I just heard outside my window would be
disconcerting, if not scary.

I have seen enough movies to know
isolation provides the perfect setting for madmen
and murderers to play mind games on hapless
campers before finally finishing them off
with a sharp ax or kitchen knife.

If that were the case—if I were alone
in the woods with only the four walls of a cabin
to separate me from a suspicious song—
my imagination, which usually trampolines
to the grizzliest conclusions, would get the better
of me. In the initial fear of those first notes,
my body would shiver; salty drops
of sweat would run down the sides of my ribs
like earthworms, drenching the armpits
of my flannel shirt. My breathing, of course, would be
as labored as a freight train wheezing through the night,
my heartbeat like an alarm clock without a snooze
button. Even my toes, which are always so calm,
would panic and scramble for sanctuary.

After this rebellion of my senses is
quelled, I would barricade the door and windows
with my furniture, turning my rough-hewn
tables and chairs on their sides, pushing them
against anything that would allow access
to my rustic domain. Only then, with the cabin secure,
would I listen again for the eerie song of the stranger,
placing my ear, perhaps, to a drinking glass
against the wall. If I’m lucky, I would hear nothing,
the maniac singer having moved on to a cabin more worthy
of his art, one full of teenagers on spring break.
If I’m not so lucky—which is usually
how these things go for me—I would hear
the stranger’s song still outside my window
rise to a hideous crescendo, followed by a murderous,
calculating silence.

But I am not in a cabin in central Alaska.
I live in an apartment beside a Laundromat
where the procrastinators of the day go to wash
their clothes at night. The stranger, no doubt,
is some musically-inclined college student
who returned home from a good day with her books
only to discover, with some chagrin, that she had
no clean clothes for tomorrow—
hardly a maniacal ax murderer poised to hack away
my door, slice through the craftsmanship
of my barricade, and spill my blood on a grand scale
with plenty of splatter for the horrified investigators.


  1. Interesting...and kind of gross. But interesting and not bad.

  2. So, Dave and I went on our honeymoon to Yellowstone, which, in early May is not very busy. It was cold, rainy, and deserted at our condo by Henry's Lake in Island Park. We (I) got so freaked out that we were that honeymoon couple that went away to the woods and never returned that we decided to leave a day early....

    That's what your poem reminded me of.

  3. I always thought it might be cool to see Alaska. Suddenly I don't feel that desire anymore.

  4. I thought you had forgotten about your blog - I guess not. I enjoyed the poem.