Krampus

I’m exactly what you don’t want
on your doorstep — homeless, psychic,

shouting your faults from the rooftops.
I swing birch switches from my hairy arms

and when you leave the house, I swat you,
swat you, swat you. Don’t bother running —

I can run faster, hoof and claw, blood and
fang — I’m your hairy, hideous goat-man,

bogeyman, nightmare, satyr, Alpine pagan
in rusty chains. I can whip my forked

tongue down your throat, gore you with
my horns, because nothing is forbidden

to the son of Hel. Those aren’t sleighbells
you hear on the wind, they’re my minions,

ringing on my say-so, until your ears are
pointed like mine, until you stumble and follow.

[Cynthia Anderson lives in the California high desert near Joshua Tree National Park. She is the author of four poetry collections and co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.]

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