i am used to putting my mouth in a jar
& sending it down the creek.
it is always best not to scream. sadly,
that is what you always do & i have to
fill your mouth with aquarium rocks.
maybe some people are just more numb to disaster
than others. the first time i saw a monster
i was two. the shadow came & spoke all-night horrors.
a monster is in the window
& i ask you to pull the curtains shut.
out of sight. out of mind. always on the other side
of every threshold. grapes we share
from the big bowl on a popcorn night.
in the closet there are monsters
& on the tv & inside my jaw.
one drags a big log & cuts a rut in the earth.
another buys a gun from a roadside stand
as if it were an ear of corn. a monster could be
in a family portrait or in the fridge.
you tell me you want to move
to somewhere safer. i do not tell you there isn't
a place without teeth. one crouches
in the basement where i sleep & i ask him
to please stop chewing bones
all night. i am not indifferent to monsters
but they are not all the same. some just need
a bit of terror. others want to burn
the neighborhood down. who am i
to try to tell the difference. all i can do is
unfurl my face. the one full of pins &
terrible eyes. tell the monster,
"here is mine." my monster i mean.
the one i take care of. the one you don't show me
& the one i don't show you. the creature softens
knowing he is not alone. i put the face away
& i make the monster promise
not to tell anyone. you call from the kitchen,
"are you down there?" i do not answer.
i pretend to be asleep.