The Noises at Night

(Click here for audio)

Sometimes at night when I’m in bed

A sound floats in that’s filled with dread


A caterwauling from outside

Does speed my heart and bump my hide


It sounds just like a screaming cat

Or a spirit-hunting devil rat


My wife and I will share a look

Pick up a bat or bedside book


We listen for a snap of limb

Anticipate it crashing in


And as we scan the empty yard

And with relief let down our guard


A shape does form from darkened night

And steps into a band of light


It’s fur is matted and unclean

It’s hideous – it’s snarl obscene


That limp would give a snake the creeps

And fill with fear the shark that sleeps


And there again’s that horrid cry

That clamps my throat and sands it dry


But then I realize what we see

Out way beyond the dogwood tree


Is not a cat or rat or dog –

It’s the legendary Hampstead Hog.


I heard the story late one night

Told by a man sat to my right


At Jebby’s bar despite the game

I didn’t even learn his name


But he was pale and struck with fear

I was the only one to hear


I settled up and bid farewell

And then forgot his twisted tale


But now I recall what he said

His words assemble in my head


I make the cross, swear on my life

And say this to my wide-eyed wife


“On moonless nights, as bodies rest

The legend says it comes to test


The decency and common good

Within a chosen neighborhood.


It comes into your yard and prowls

Pierces the night with wretched howls


It lies down on your very lawn

And cries, and moans, and carries on


Until you have to make the call:

To lend a hand or let it squall


The gentle soul that kneels to help

Gets happiness and years of health;


The one who screams and slams the door

Gets unmet dreams and nothing more.”


Remember this next time you’re scared –

Though dangers come from everywhere


Be brave and help all things in need

And you’ll be blessed for your good deed.

hampstead hog


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