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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