Next to most the night was mild, and the man by warmth beguiled 
Fell asleep while reading drivel, drivel new-bought from a store—
More than napping, he was snoring; yes, his novel was that boring.
Midnight came, I stopped exploring, and did focus on my chore;
Dead of night I found inspiring, so I focused on my chore—
Both’ring him, and nothing more.

Balmy winter nights delighting, midnight found my feet alighting
On the ledge outside his window round the corner from the door.
Light inside had rather dwindled—for the fire he’d not rekindled.
Weeks of mourning left him spindled, poor buffoon with heart so sore—
Entry now I must attain to bug this man with heart so sore—
Pining for that corpse Lenore.

On the pane I started pecking, set upon his slumber wrecking,
When it happened that the window opened wider than before.
Waking up he softly muttered as the candle near him guttered;
With the window all unshuttered, air into the room did pour—
Violet drap’ry moved and rustled as the air inside did pour—
Causing him affright galore.

Rising as to reconnoiter, by the door he then did loiter,
So I gathered he’d misheard me, thinking I was at the door.
Standing there so long he waited, with his breath so firmly bated,
I thought life he had vacated—suddenly he cracked the door;
All at once reanimated, then he quickly cracked the door—
Darkness there, same as before.

In the doorway he stood staring, never mind that he was wearing
Little more than he’d been born with, clothes forgotten on the floor.
What he looked at can’t be guesséd, nor why he was thus undresséd,
But he seemed to be distresséd, oozing sweat from every pore.
Such sudation was impressive, oozing out from every pore. 
Then he turned and slammed the door.

Standing there he fumed and smoldered; quickly his composure moldered,
Whereupon I started pecking louder yet than heretofore.
Insults from his mouth dispersing, all his injuries rehearsing,
Round the room he wandered cursing as he all restraint forswore—
Talking hotly to himself he all gentility forswore—
Such response I so adore.

And because my window striking wasn’t to the poor guy’s liking,
When he opened wide the shutter, quickly inward I did soar.
Not a moment did I tarrysaw no reason to be wary; 
Landing, as at home in aerie, on the ledge above the door—
Sat on top of some old doll’s head wreathed in dust above the door—
Sat, and stared, and nothing more.

I could see his noodles working, fascinated by my smirking;
Not a whisper had I made yet, let me quickly underscore.
Pallid then his face was turning, common sense his mind was spurning,
As he set about discerning how best flatt’ry to outpour—
How it irked me fulsome fawning from his mouth to hear outpour—
So I croaked at him, no more.

At this sound his mouth fell gaping, and what thoughts his brain was shaping
Even now I can but wonder—though I saw the look he bore. 
All I know is he kept staring, with his nostrils widely flaring, 
For some speech his brain preparing, so I dunged upon his floor—
While his brain engaged in thinking, stools I loosed upon his floor—
Made a big mess, furthermore.

Quiet sat I, scarcely moving, hoping he’d be disapproving.
Sadly, though, he did not notice, so I further pranks forbore. 
But he did begin to grumble—every word an utter jumble—
Till “my friends” I heard him mumble, though he’d had no friends before—
Made me laugh to think he’d ever had a single friend before.
So I croaked again, no more.

Up he jumped; his hands were quaking, and his face did look quite shaken,
As though I, while perched and staring, had transformed into a boar.
And I, pond’ring his defenses, as a swami truth dispenses,
Hoped that never to his senses would him reason e’er restore—
Use of cerebration reason never would to him restore; 
How did he hear “Nevermore”?

But alas, his wits returnéd as he dotage fully spurnéd; 
Up he brought an ancient footstool with a moldy, rotting core.
With him thereupon reclining, I supposed he’d start opining, 
All too quickly blame assigning for the loss of that Lenore—
Remonstrating and protesting all about the dead Lenore;
Miraculously, he forbore. 

For a while he stayed there sitting, with his eyebrows fiercely knitting
Things I hoped would hide his body, since he still his clothes forswore. 
Then I saw his eyes were blurring, as some thought to him occurring 
Caused his mind to begin whirring round with notions of Lenore;
Emptiness upon his face showed he was thinking of Lenore, 
Stone cold dead for evermore.

At that point the wind grew gusty, bringing air both damp and musty,
Dissipating all the dust wads that had gathered on the floor.
From his mouth the sound of moaning came and went—or was it groaning?
What meant he by this intoning?  I am clueless on that score.
Why would he drone on so crudely?  I am clueless on that score.
So I sat and croaked, no more. 

Maybe hope he’d all forsaken—but in that I was mistaken;
Sitting still upon his cushion did he then my aid implore.
First my flaws he full related, then he not a second waited—
Pleading—truly how it grated—that his marbles I restore—
Kneeling down he loudly begged me that his marbles I restore. 
Yet I sat and croaked, no more. 

I could see his wits were scattered—no surprise then that he chattered
On as though he had established with me meaningful rapport—
Surely I was being tested, but by Jove I’d not be bested
By this man of health divested, pining for his late amour—
He thought maybe after death he might yet see his late amour.
Still I sat and croaked, no more.

In response he started squeaking—it could hardly pass for speaking.
Here’s how I was treated by that wilted paramour:
Though my task was uncompleted—some harassment yet unmeted, 
Now my deeds he harshly greeted as he bade me out the door,
Coldly asking—nay demanding—my withdrawal out the door.
I’d be welcome—nevermore. 

Oh, but I’ve not yet departed from that man so feeblehearted;
Leaving at the height of triumph is a choice I would abhor.
Now I have him where I wanted, heart and spirit firmly daunted, 
And his eyes so wildly haunted; that’s a look I do adore.
And his foot from out that doodie that lies steaming on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!


John R. Worsley

I was raised in the Bay Area, upstate New York, and the Boston area, before going to Reed College in Portland, OR, and settling near there, where I live with my wife and stepdaughter (also writers!) and four dogs. The methodical, analytical way my mind works reflects the long line of engineers I descend from, but I have also always loved words and playing with them. When I was four I called my elbow my "ell bone" because my arm is ell shaped. Growing up I read constantly (200 books one summer for a library contest), engaged in creative word usement with my siblings (many nouns were verbed), and enjoyed writing essays in school. Despite an attempt to become a geophysicist, in college I wound up studying… words. Well, language anyway – Linguistics. After college I fell into a career in IT, but lurking in the background have always been those words I just can’t shake. I have dabbled with short poetry, long poetry, flash fiction, short stories, a novelette, a novella, and the beginning of a non-fiction book. I focus mostly on screenwriting now, and am currently working on a graphic novel script.

Visit me at

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