the ghost of rod serling muses from his plot, lake view cemetery, interlaken, new york

We need more Martians, they nattered at me all the time,

More monsters–people like to be scared, as if those callow youngsters,

Growing up with their two cars in the garage and three sets at the country club,

Their fraternity mixers at Whittier or Occidental,

Knew the first damn thing about terror.

Still, they wanted me to grind out the harum-scarum hokum

They enjoyed watching two-reelers on Saturday afternoons

While men were doing hard work in Leyte and Manila,

As if the transitory fear of some ghoulish bogeyman

Would last through the thirty-second epics

Featuring some cartoon bear shilling for beer

Or bunnies extolling the virtues of toilet paper.

Let me tell you what fear is, I would say time and again,

It’s a padlocked fence and a smokestack

Which isn’t churning out a damn thing.

It’s the jobs you can’t get because you said something

(And more likely, you didn’t) twenty years ago.

It’s one more envelope from the bank or the phone company

With bold red lettering on the front

That you don’t open because you know what it says

And how it doesn’t matter one bit,

Because you can’t do a damn thing about it

And these promising young men would just look at me

Like I was some poorly made-up extraterrestrial

From one of their Buck Goddamn Rogers potboilers.

 

Several of my neighbors here were among the men, mostly boys in truth,

Who marched with the 126th New York, taking fire

At Petersburg and The Wilderness, at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.

We have spoken about the horrors of war,

The kaleidoscope of confusion and dread,

Where no direction leads to shelter, no road guides the way to home.

They have said that, as frightening as the sound of the minie balls,

Zipping overhead like malevolent flies, and the cannon were,

What they found truly awful was the manner in which those fields,

So like the ones where they had flushed out squirrel and quail as children,

Became foreboding nightmares, containing a dark madness

That they never dreamed could have existed.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “the ghost of rod serling muses from his plot, lake view cemetery, interlaken, new york

  1. Wow. I’m very happy that you popped by my blog, otherwise I might never have discovered you here. This is a wonderful piece, and you’ve hit the nail on the head here. My generation has grown up knowing very little about the real horrors of this world up close and personal…thought that may not be true for very much longer. I love the way you’ve handled this.

  2. The brilliance of this piece lies in the contrast between the first and second part, wherein the present day fears are contrasted to the actual realities face by soldiers in the fields of battle. That last stanza gives me chills every time I read it.
    I also must comment on how much I love your titles. They tell a story of their own.

    Thank you for sharing your work on Real Toads.

  3. The whole poem reads like a conversation, I love that. Bold images and I especially liked

    And these promising young men would just look at me
    Like I was some poorly made-up extraterrestrial
    From one of their Buck Goddamn Rogers potboilers.

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