By on Nov 19, 2017 in Poetry

Dark bedroom with superimposed raccoon face

My wife elbows me awake.
Clawing and chawing up in the ceiling
has stirred us out of slumber again.
In the quiet dark
the critter sounds more immense
than a mouse—
maybe it’s a fisher cat,
or a raccoon.

The gnawing and clawing and chawing
panics us, flat, prone, staring into the universe of darkness—
frozen in fear
over aware of the thin fabric of our PJs,
(we whisper because we are afraid it will hear us),
we imagine the animal will bust through the ceiling
in a shower of sheet rock and splintered wood,
land confused and angry right on top of us
attacking with shredding claws and sharp teeth
when we are at our most vulnerable.

Silently, I recall stories of enraged country folk
peppering their ceiling with buckshot…

The noise unnerves the wife.
The clawing and chewing and chawing halts momentarily,
then commences with renewed vigor.
I say, there’s no way to get at it,
I can’t set a trap up there,
or figure out how the little beast
got up there in the first place,
up in the joists on the sloping east side of the roof.

I’m scratching the blueprints in my head
trying to figure out how the hell…?!
I helped hammer together this second floor
and there’s no way up there—
there’s no attic to speak of, just piles of thick pink fiberglass. (no stanza break)

Drowsing in the dark, after all of this deep thought,
another elbow spikes me to consciousness,
so I say,
let’s call it Pet instead of pest, or
critter, or nuisance, or little bastard,
after all,
think about all we tolerate from family members,
and before she states the obvious, I add,

yes, it’s true, none of them lives with us,
but we manage to sleep soundly at night, accepting
their clawing and chawing and chewing
on the edges of our lives
up in the attics of our brains.

Pet will be full and tired soon enough,
he’ll quiet down like the drunk relatives
who finally talk themselves out
at weddings, and funerals, and reunions,
tiring of their own tribulations,
realize it’s time to go—

the time between those functions
is a layer of insulation between us.


A cross between Peter Pan and Clark Kent, Rob defies labels… unless there is a label for that. The only thing he believes in is Love. He is in no one’s club. Poetry finds him, and he has worked hard to write a novel that is simply a good story. He understands that almost everything is a good story. Mystified by the publishing world, he wishes sometimes that he knew someone who knew someone. But, he is very happy to see his poetry live in a variety of magazines, and in his volume of poetry, September Swim. He is currently collecting his poems for a second volume, and working to find an agent for a novel.


  1. Clark Kent and Peter Pan, Christmas is coming…I hope im not the drunk relative your talking about. Its a lovely poem, thank you!

  2. Per usual – a kicker close!