The following poem was inspired by the Robert McCammon novel, The Wolf’s Hour. While the story I tell in my poem is entirely different than the one told in The Wolf’s Hour, I do wish to give credit to Mr. McCammon, and acknowledge his part in its creation.



The teacher, shoulders sagging, drones on

Something about knowing the world

So we can find our place in it

Saying there are doors to a thousand worlds

And if we listen intently

We can hear the keys turning in the locks

I wonder if they are locking us in… or out

Opening the door… or securing it shut


As she drones on, my mind wanders

To the sound of scrabbling in a dark corner

A rat, in the supply closet perhaps

Or elsewhere, in this huge chamber of the world

I wonder for a dazed moment how I came to be here

Or where, exactly, I am


Returning to the voice in the classroom, I hear her say

It is abhorrent when a man loses control over himself

I only half listen, briefly pondering her words

My attention ever drawn back to the scratching

The scrabbling rat in the dark corner

The center of my existence controlled

By animal instinct and hunger

Hunger that begins to ring in my stomach

Like a hollow bell

Ears hearing, eyes searching

My senses questing for the scratching rat


The hum of the teacher’s voice pulls me again

Beckoning me back to the real world

She promises me that any, and many

Of the thousands of worlds can be mine

If I can stave my hunger, and prepare

For the opening of a door… my door

By making it knowledge I crave


With a snarling grin, I doubt her

For the truth is, in spite of our best laid plans

This life is a walk on the razor’s edge

We speak boldly of the fight within us

Not knowing what it is we will lay down our life for

The woven net of politics?

Some narrow vision of freedom?




After exploring these question; these things

I find no easy answer

I find only that I am poised on a precipice

Above slavering jaws

Wondering if the ledge upon which I stand

Is truth… or just another lie

Scratching… in a dark corner of my mind


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

Sharing with dVerse Poets Pub on their Open Link Night #56 this afternoon.


  1. Outstanding, Charles, and SO thought provoking!

  2. wonder if they are locking us in… or out
    ha, great question….really strong piece man…and the ending is rocks your socks good…in its honesty…it is real or just a lie…because not everyone makes it out alive…

  3. i cant tell if it actually took my comment…it just disappeared…if it did not take…hit me up cause i really enjoyed the poem sir…

  4. I wondered if your name was going to appear on the list and suddenly there you were! This is a deep piece as I read it, lots of questions and doubt within it, and I liked the use of the scratching throughout Charles.

    • I’m here! I really appreciate that you were looking for me! Appreciate the visit and comment too! And I’m glad you like the poem!

  5. Ahh… second guessing your own self … I guess (if we believe it) a lie can become our truth. Deep thoughts here Charles.

  6. leahJlynn said

    pretty dark, but the light in pick up the fact that when the of achievement is ready to open you can almost hear the key. I liked that statement. Thanks for the inspiration . In truth I’d be more like your M.C, more focus on the rat and the same thoughts on the key. :/

  7. Ah, how many times do we scratch in that dark corner of our mind?

  8. Sherry Mashburn said

    oooh . . . so many thoughts in my mind. Great write, Charlie!

  9. Mary said

    Sometimes one must take the lessons of those who teach with a ‘grain of salt.’ Answers aren’t always all that easy!

  10. I love the way you contrast that sounds of the rat with the teacher/prof. My brain would be in the closet looking for that rat too — or thinking about lunch.

  11. Excellent postulations in the poetic mode – the scuttling rat the metaphor for short attention spans and endless din in a world of lies. Yet decisions ever have to be made and with each “door” we pass through, we necessarily curtail our freedom – as individuals surely, and as a nation possibly as well. Well said.

    • Hey! You cain’t say “postulations” in here!
      That was how McCammon used the scuttling rat in The Wolf’s Hour–attention span.
      Thanks for the great comment, Gay!

  12. “For the truth is, in spite of our best laid plans

    This life is a walk on the razor’s edge”

    Some really good ponderings here. Well captured.

  13. Susan said

    Really felt this in my “corner”. Outstanding …you are an inspiration, sir.

  14. Terrific stuff, that last stanza really hits. How do we know anymore. The freedoms, the truths are all hazy, we do sit silent in that dark corner scratching about for what we once were, or for what we were once taught…that in this day and age seems to have disappeared along with the truth. The doors are difficult to pry open these days, I suspect we need to scratch a little harder and dare to look beyond… Great poem Charles… rings true to what’s going on politically in my part of the world.

    • Sounds like we live in the same kind of world, Dianne. You’re definitely singing my song.
      Thanks for the awesome comment!

  15. Raivenne said

    Oh Charles, you’ve woven the tapestry of most of my high school thinking here. We are taught to question everything, but only ask that for which they already have answers for. Few of which opens the doors to that for which we search. I still feel like a rat scratching at the doors of knowledge.

    • I’m learning all the time. I often wish I’d been this eager to learn when I was in school!
      Thanks, Raivenne!

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