Sunday, April 19, 2009

Generous Monster

author’s note:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
          --  from Pogo, by Walt Kelly


Be prepared:
the Friendly Monster
              can be
              as big as an empire,
              or the size
              of a piranha

--and if the Friendly Monster seems strong
that may be because
you feel so weak, so very weak.

So I say again: be prepared--

you may hear a knock
             on your door,
                       one day

and a thunder-rumble of a voice will declare,
“I will help you, I will!
 Please let me in!
 You must let me in!”

Actually, you do feel you need some help--
you’ve had trouble standing up
and lately
the situation has only worsened--

so at that crucial moment,
you think your prayers
may have been answered,
as you say,“Oh...okay.”

Thus, the monster goes about helping you
fend off invaders--real and imagined--then
fixes your pipes, stocks your store room,
impregnates your daughter, piles a load on
your horse, scalds your cat, siphons gas
from your rattle-trap car--

and once the monster has done all that
--and more--
you realize he now owns your house--
he’s the infection that tells you
“I have healed you.”

Thus, you feel even weaker--
so weak that you don’t think
before you squeak,
“Would you please leave?”

Though the monster
is a monster, the monster
has feelings--for itself--
and so, will begin to sob,
rubbing its iron fists into
those tiny reptilian eyes.

Then you’ll spend
all day apologizing.
Because you now know
the monster well enough
to realize
that once the tears have dried
its wrath will rain down.

Even if the Friendly Monster does go away...

it will go in a huff.
It’ll poke its fang teeth
through your roof, grab a rafter
in its jaws and crunch--shake
the entire house all the way down
to the foundation. The walls will
fissure like parched ground; the plumbing
will pop and spew poisons,
the electric outlets will shoot out
sawtooth fire--

as you tremble and plead--

when the monster stomps boards into splinters
with its spur feet, pounds plaster
into white dust--

until your shelter is reduced
to a pile of gutter rubble.

Then the Friendly Monster
will stalk off, nose in the air,
still acting hurt.

“But at least I got rid
 of that monster,” you sigh,
 looking for the bright side.


lo and behold!--

the next day,
the Friendly Monster
will oh-so-casually wander by
smiling sweetly,
“Okay, I will forgive you--

“–as long as you let me help.”

But now you feel so much stronger--
through some strange alchemy
that ordeal has actually made you

which, I suppose,
is the true value
of all such monsters.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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