Remember the years when we were young
And captive among our babysitters?
Sheer terror would reign with its horrid thrill,
The unspeakable chill we would call the Jitters.
Under the bed or under the house,
A mouse isn’t safe when the Jitters gleam
Reptilian fangs and rhinoceros horns;
O! The scorns we would risk to release a scream!
Anything dark and anywhere doored
Could harbor a horde of Jittery creeps;
They hide under blankets and lurk behind stones:
The wrack in the bones that never sleeps.
Do I hear the wind? Did you hear an owl?
Or was it the howl of the restless dead?
The moan of a sailor just as he drowned?
All around are the sounds of the things we dread.
That flickering light! The curtains a-moving,
And both of them proving that something is near:
We’d writhe in our agonies, plagued by deceptions
And all the perceptions of what we fear.
This, you remember, was life with the Unknown,
And all of the fun known as children was moot
Whenever night fell or a stranger came calling;
Appalling how it never stopped its pursuit.
Now deep in adulthood, responsible, sane,
We scoff at the pain of those gibbers and twitters,
Yet get us alone, in a vulnerable state,
A whisper in the gloaming just pre-dawn
A shiver or a prickling on the neck
A flutter of the eyelid, quick, then gone
And hope of any sleep is now a wreck
Above me in the dark are broken dreams
Above my brow an icicle of fear
Above the awful emptiness, the screams
In silent agony are all I hear
And under all this brittle disarray
And under skin and in the bone and soul
And under some enchantment, night and day
I know this wickedness will eat me whole
Against the dangers present in this fright
Against the door of Death I’ll knock tonight