Atop the hill just down the road
Lies lurking, ominous and old,
Bent relic of a time long past,
And full of history, books, and last,
The sense that something’s just not right,
A library. And every night
I look across and wonder, doubt:
Few dare go in, and those that do
The brave-ish few
Never come back out.
One autumn eve while walking home,
The wind as quiet as a stone,
The trees a-creaking, snapping loud,
Shivering, glancing all about,
I spied a figure, hunched and grinning
Cycle tires, festooned and spinning
It was Clyde, the fearsome Clyde
And here I was, nowhere to hide.
I cast about for some small hovel,
And being there without my shovel,
Ran pell-mell up the gravel drive
Unthinking, desperate to survive.
And looming, darkling, wooden, still
The library, hunching on the hill.
I ducked inside, dashed down the hall
Clyde collided with the wall
He stopped and stared, as I did too,
At warrens, tunnels, stacks shot through,
With colors, tatters, sharp and free,
No system, Dewey, UDC.
I took the hall, Clyde in pursuit,
And passed at a dash an old man in a suit
Facing the wall, his hunchback a dome
Of brown tattered cloth and odd jutting bone,
A voice mechanical in tone
Said “Welcome to my shop.
We’ve books, big, small and also medium,
Sure to ward off simple tedium,
Just pore on through, yes, we’ve got lots and lots.
Don’t touch the books in aisle…” he
Trailed off; I scurried down aisle three.
Slipping just clear of a pile of Pratchett,
I paused. My breath, before I could catch it,
Got stuck in my throat as I hit a dead end.
And Clyde saw this too, he had me well-penned.
He sidled up slow, grinning, spinning, conniving
He hated anything he saw thriving,
And here he had me, cornered and scared.
I think he was happy, if he even cared.
He took a step forward and reached for the books
Tossed to the carpet, shaggy and hooked,
A large pile of King, a poor choice it seemed,
For all around us they started to stir,
Shaking off dust and bristling spurs.
Salem’s Lot started the whole darn disaster,
And Carrie and It came in faster and faster,
I ducked through a tunnel before I could see
What became of Clyde Barrows Arcadian Snee.
All I heard as a I ran off was Clyde’s strident scream,
“Get ’em off, get ’em off, get ’em off me, ayeeeeeeee…”
All around me the books flipped, slipped, snapped and whined,
With their paper-slashed teeth, gleaming eyes, scaled spines,
A Milton clutched my leg and fast,
I felt the fall and thought at last,
This my end is here, who’d think
The books with paper teeth and ink
For blood they sought! ‘Twas mine they craved,
And I was caught, not to be saved.
A Chaucer chewed upon my arm,
While Gaiman nibbled, civility, charm.
I shook them off, I shook them free,
And scrambled off down aisle three.
I slid to a halt, books pouncing behind,
At the library desk, “Are you out of you mind?”
I shrieked to the lump
All derelict, slumped,
“Don’t you see? They’ll eat you alive!”
And in passing, just glancing,
I saw him turn slow, a puppet on strings,
Its cheeks wooden, rattling; jaw upon springs.
Its teeth jumped up, back,
Its eyes didn’t track,
And slowly and deeply intoned from within,
“We enjoyed what you left for us, please come again.”