"Thought I heard something," he says
with half a jaggedtoothy grinó
Sitting opposite an authorized Prizewinner
twenty years past his prime but still a name
on spines on worldwide library shelves
Face that's a field of scarlet blotches
looking like it once (or several times)
got sprayed by a flamethrower
"Hear a lot of things, at night:
burglars and cutthroats up in the atticó"
Out peer a pair of unburnt blue eyes
so contrariwise they stare ablaze
at the afterdinner chessboard
As here comes a gaunt hand agitated
as though from hesitation but in fact
to brinksmanship a little silence
"Characters down in the basement,
dragons with automatics in their fistsó"
Not that you've done a thing noisier
in the last thirty minutes than digest
dinner, and is that what he's glaring at?
Matching this onetime master of diction
and selectivity, recognizing certain standards
must apply while others be overlooked
"And I know it's only a damnfool Thing
in my dreams, butóglad when I'm not
alone in a house at night, even so"
On which confessional note the hand pounces:
Red Knight to King's 2ndó"Check" announces
Prizewinner, lighting up with flourishes.
Originally published in Not