“Come my grand girls file in with your mothers,
I’ll tell you now what I’ve never told others.
Come and stand here, ‘round your grand mothers’ shell
I’ll tell you the tale of one night of hell.”
There at her head, candle so bright,
Another at foot, sacred and right
Yet on her body lay nine ore-bright knives
Soon to be gifted for health and long lives
‘Twas the nightmare before Christmas, out in cold wood
Came the howling of Old Nick, out blooding his brood
The cattle were bedded in barn tight and stout,
When the howling came clearer, we dared not go out.
Our sharpers were hung on door and on wall
Close to hand, per-chance of hearing the calls.
I snatched a yard fork, my wife a huge knife,
My heart in my mouth, for stock, child, and wife.
When then to my ears came harrowing sounds
Of long screamed lowing, oxen blooded. Were-hounds!
Away to the window I flew all aflutter,
Grabbed at the windows, bolted the shutter.
Then through a small hole, I pressed my good sight
Out to the yard-snow, bright in the night.
Bloody and shifting shapes flew past my view,
Up the rooftop one lept and I knew!
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Down the chimney Old Nick came with a bound.
Larger than life, maw dripping with gore,
He growled out his laughter, then swiped out his roar.
My goodwife did mutter the sound of bird wings
She ducked under his arm, while softly did sing,
Words unknown, his eyes wide did he jerk,
Then pulled she the blade-scabbard off of the dirk
It shown of bright metal, long and well honed
Then thrust up she did, though fur blood and bone.
Her hand was blood dripping, from yanking off blade
To get to the dirk, so cleverly made.
His head did rear back, his death knell resounded
Then onto the floor, his huge body floundered
My goodwife triumphant, yet I froze in deep fright,
For now on the floor was our own Lord and Knight.”
My body shuddered, returning to time
From telling of death in the snow and the rime.
“We fled the next day, kept fleeing a year,
Until we found this little place here.
Then we were blessed with three girls alive,
Yet for each penny, hard did I strive.
I kept us poor, by buying ore bright,
Having it shaped and sharpened, molded to fight.
Now come close my grand girls, Daughters come sing
This song that sounds like the flutter of wings.
And when you have learned the song well and true,
Take a bright blade, life gifted to you.”
About this poem
This was done as a challenge on a local level in a competition based on the theme of "Nightmare before Christmas." I entered this poem, giving it the same name.
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Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:
"The Nightmare before Christmas" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 8 Dec. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/112327/the-nightmare-before-christmas>.