Camping Out ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written April 8th, 2010

Listen here for my reading of “Camping Out.”


This is the hour of night when the docile sky
Loses its urban mask, and starts to shine,
Looming again with its great gothic spires.
We see the enchanted cavern inside the mountain
Where the piper charmed the rodents and the children.
Our whiskers twitch and warn us that the stone,
As big as a big rat’s gut or a child’s heart,
Is at last about to fall.  We hear it
Thunk down in the soft, spring turf of the yard.
That’s when we see him, lying red-faced, and staring,
In the light thrown through the windows of the house,
The one who hobbled last into the crystal,
But did not taste the candy. We touch
The small nude body with the toe of our slipper,
To see if it will dissolve.  A fragrant vapor
Wafts from the remains, but they remain.
And we note that there is a wedge-shaped, golden spike,
In the midst of the chest, affixing our guest to earth.
With both hands we pull, we desperately pull,
And when we pull it out, we tumble hard.
We lay on our backs and gaze up at the stars.
How long, how long, we wonder, have we been here,
And what is this golden feeling in our chest,
That keeps us from waking up, and moving on?

Cellar Door ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 12th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Cellar Door.”


Every year the old root cellar drifted farther
From the house, and the number of steps
Down into that abandoned hole
Seemed to multiply, so that what was once
Familiar as a place to store milk and eggs,
Only an easy step from mother’s kitchen,
Was now an enigma to be shunned.
And yet that weathered door
Incongruously lodged in its grassy mound
Held an inexorable appeal.  Also,
The experience of stepping from noon
To midnight without any mediating
Gradations crashed polar opposites
Together in that darkness in a way
That was thrillingly alluring.
The place ate children, hands on long
Tentacles darting out like swallows
At dusk to pull them in and down.
Down.  Once in, that was the sole
Direction one could move.  Down.
Out, of course, was no longer even
A concept.  And how the lost one
Changed in that descent!  where black
Stars, like locusts, swarm into the body’s
Defenseless cavities, their fluxes and floes
Captaining that strange, amorphous integrity
So typical of childhood’s exuberant explorations.
So that even now, as you look around, your eyes
Only two probes that bob on flexing wires,
You cannot say how you got here,
Or who you are, and when those small,
Blue-skinned people come out of their cloud
To collect you as their food, you will
No longer even have arms to fend them off,
Or a mouth to cry to no one: “I am gone.”

A Pleasant Abduction ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written September 30th, 2006
(for Jan Saeger)

Listen here to my reading of “A Pleasant Abduction”


These disappearances are as ubiquitous
As they are vague, although each
Remembrance follows a by now familiar pattern.
For example, one becomes mesmerized by the sea,
By the intricacies of a forest,
Or by the globular, sacred shapes of sagacious stones.
Soon we note that a peculiar pallor
Enlarges a thickly layered grey and yellow sky.
And then comes that little fist-sized crick,
Like a sickly green lump, on our left side,
Just below the ribcage.  So, the memory returns.
Perhaps we were six or seven, the age when the depth
And the breadth of the sea applies not only
To fathomless waters, but also to leaves, to faces,
To animals running like mercury under glass.
We went missing for days, for weeks,
Itinerant workers were arrested for our murder,
Stock ponds were dragged for our corpses,
But suddenly, much to the authorities’
Irritated bafflement, we reappeared,
Well-fed and happy, in a remote cave,
In an abandoned farmhouse, or we are seen
Miraculously emerging from the sea,
Glittering, but dry.  Now, we are adults,
And, as the disclaimer cautions, “certain restrictions apply.”
But we saw them then, those numinous kidnappers.
We lived with their bright eyes and small, animated faces,
While their touch, like honey, sweetened our thin, bruised bodies.
We played with them there, in those depths,
Which once engulfed the whole of our childish lives,
And found us singing in a luminous ocean,
Free from the shallow squalors of Earth’s mad giants.