Sleeping with the bogie man.

January 27, 2013 § 9 Comments

Moon over TallahasseeHow about a couple of poems?

I wrote the first for a proposed picture book.

You will recognize the main character.

It lived under your bed too.

The second is the grown-up version. The thing under the bed is still there.

WordPress is terrible when it comes to formatting poetry. The space between the lines gives these very humble poems such grandeur they look as if they were handed down on stone tablets, but there appears to be no way to insert a line break between stanzas so the stanzas puddle together. Sorry.

The Under-Bed

Under there,

what’s under there?

Lost socks and

Tuesday’s underwear.

A teensy Barbie shoe

(the right).

From when Martina

spent the night.

A rubber band,

a piece of cake,

a hairball barfed

by my cat Jake.

I like under the bed

all right,

until my mom

turns out the light.

Then all that stuff?

It starts to change.

It quickly turns

to something strange.

That breathes through its mouth,

and slops from a cup.

That lies on its back

with its pointy parts up.

Mom knows all about it,

though it keeps itself hid.

It lived under her bed

when she was a kid.

She used to be scared,

but not anymore.

She says, “Don’t worry dear”

As she walks to the door.

“It’s harmless and armless,

too toothless to bite.

Bet it’s frightened of you

when I turn out the light.”

But as soon as her shoes

click away down the hall,

the Under-Bed moofs

and it doesn’t sound small.

For sure it has arms—

moms tend to forget.

Plus teeth, lots of teeth,

and a nose that is wet.

Any part I hang over,

an arm or a toe

can be grabbed by the claws

of the something below.

So I keep every part of me

under the spread.

Can’t get me you nasty

thing under the bed!

And now the grown-up version:

At first I fall easy and deep

down the rabbit hole of sleep.

But in the doldrums of the night

I wake to street lamp’s nearest light.

Its silent grey like blanket spread

I make night lists up in my head.

Of what to do and leave undone,

lists that vanish with the sun.

What to let go, what to keep,

I wander, sightless, back to sleep

and dream my mom still lives forgotten,

misplaced by me her daughter rotten.

I jolt awake breathless with sorrow

to beg for sunlight and tomorrow.

The end of things lurks real and near

beneath the bed like childhood fear.

Come sun and birdsong, breaking day

I return to life, again okay

And through my waking threads a tune.


Blue Moon.

Note: For a prose version I offer an earlier post, Sometimes in the night.

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§ 9 Responses to Sleeping with the bogie man.

  • Even as an adult, I sleep with something over me to protect me from that “thing under the bed.”


  • Craig reeder says:

    I love the brevity of the lines in the first poem – really makes it zingy. And the forced formatting actually enhances that effect.
    In the second poem, the lines about your mother reminded me of dreams I had as a kid, right after my dad died. I dreamed that if I could just get to him right away, I could save him. But most of all, I loved how the poem ended, from a night of dread to the silly joyous strains of “blue moon”


    • About saving your father, I think our unguarded dream selves grieve in ways our waking selves protect us from. If we suffered the full blunt trauma of loss all the time we couldn’t go on.

      After my father’s stroke I showed him a photo of my mother who had died eleven years earlier. I thought it would cheer him to see her, but the stroke must have removed that layer of protection because he reacted as if her death had just happened. His grief was unbearable.

      It seems as if in our sleep the true depth of loss is revealed.


  • ammaponders says:

    And the true depth of fear.
    (I shared these on my Facebook page–Robin Reaugh Dorko)


  • KM Huber says:

    Grief and sleep, not so strange but usual bedfellows for me these days. It happens every winter is what I tell myself but I am not quite sure that is accurate. Perhaps it is just recent winters.

    Even though my bed is high enough to require a dog ramp–its head and foot are adjustable–the view is not without shadows, day or night, but seems a joy for the cat, day or night. I wonder about being a cat, from time to time.



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