Poem: A Beast in the Night

The snarling beast enwrapped in dark shadows,
his ready fangs baring, their ivory tone
reflecting back the lantern’s glare—he shows
their dagger’s curve. Upon this road alone
the traveler, receding at the sight,
a root or stone so stumbles o’er. Backwards
falling, he lands upon the ground, his light
crashing beside. It flares then dies. Black words
the beast then speaks from out the night. He cried,
“My friend, remember me. I was a man.
I lived life as a man; a man, I died.
But buried in the ground, hunger began
swelling in me. With wolfish howls I begged,
and answer swift, the devil set me loose
to feast upon you living souls. Reneged,
Satan promised to fill, but can’t produce
enough to sate my starving frame. Begone,”
he called from out the shadows dark, “and flee
here ere I swallow you.” The man, upon
these fearful words, leapt to his feet, and he
ran blindly down the path back to his town.
Dumbly stuttered the frightened man, a mute,
while all about the villagers would sound
to him questions, and he, irresolute,
his face, all white, filled by unblinking eyes,
could not then speak, save with his face, it spoke.
They read therein, and one man did surmise,
mentioned the beast, and then the trav’ler broke.
His voice grew high, he shouted thus, “Hear me,
O men, listen to what I’ll say.” Silence
followed as he looked to each face to see
that each face looked to him. “The long violence
of these cold winter nights, it is not beast,
nor is it man, which hunts under the moon,
but man and beast as one now makes this feast
of human meat. You think that I’m a loon!”
he shouted at the growing grins. “Not so.
I’m right of mind though terrified. I gaze:
above is sky; the earth spreads out below.
When morrow breaks the night in sunlit rays
I’ll lead us to the place I dropped my lamp.
From there, we’ll to the church, we’ll to the dead.
We’ll ask then of the groundskeeper, the tramp,
after the graves.” And thus was all he said.
Grown taciturn, the man answered no more,
but sat himself before a roaring hearth.
He waited for the daylight to wash o’er
the darkened hills and strengthen his week heart.

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