The Black House

The cuckoo in the kitchen frightened him--
the chains against the wall, the cold
weights he was told not to touch,
the sharp, carved wood, black wood,
the black house like a house
in the forest where children are forgotten.

He waited for the click like a latch,
the second like a step on a cracked stair.
He listened for the white bird to burst
out and squawk as if trying to escape
before it vanished again
behind the slammed door.


Eric Nelson has published three collections of poetry, most recently The Interpretation of Waking Life, which won the Arkansas Poetry Award. He teaches in the Writing and Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern University. His poems have appeared widely in print and online journals. Currently, he has poems appearing online at www.poetrymagazine.org (June, 2001 issue) and on The Bellevue Literary Review website (www.blreview.org).