Monday, April 19, 2010

A Selection from Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep (1976)


The gruesome ghoul, the grisly ghoul,
without the slightest noise
waits patiently beside the school
to feast on girls and boys.

He lunges fiercely through the air
as they come out to play,
then grabs a couple by the hair
and drags them far away.

He cracks their bones and snaps their backs
and squeezes out their lungs,
he chews their thumbs like candy snacks
and pulls apart their tongues.

He slices their stomachs and bites their hearts
and tears their flesh to shreds,
he swallows their toes like toasted tarts
and gobbles down their heads.

Fingers, elbows, hands and knees
and arms and legs and feet -
he eats them with delight and ease,
for every part's a treat.

And when the gruesome, grisly ghoul
has nothing left to chew,
he hurries to another school
and waits...perhaps for you.

I can't help but think of Victor Salva's Jeepers Creepers when I read this poem. The selection was taken from Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep (1976, Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel) which is a book of 12 poems on witches, werewolves, vampires, haunted houses, and all things scary. Each poem is illustrated with one or more full-page black and white drawings in a style reminiscent of Edward Gorey. Pelutsky has written several books of poetry for children.


  1. What an awesome poem! I thought at first that this was one of your works, given the theme and illustration style. Can't believe I've never heard of it before...

    BTW, You could totally do a book of poems like this, that would rock!

  2. Prelutsky recorded some of his poems to LP-- which is highly sought after. They're great.

    Thanks for this post!