This poem came out of the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from kelkyag. It has been sponsored by janetmiles. This poem belongs to the Monster House series; you can explore that further via the Serial Poetry page. In order for this one to make sense, you should read "Thunder Without Rain" first.
Warning: This is one of the creepier poems in the series. It contains seriously unpleasant entities, some violence, and disconcerting emotional dynamics. If you've been reading Monster House for the fluff, you might want to skip this one. If you like the occasional dark fantasy/horror elements, that's where this poem goes.
It was a scrawny thing, a bit like a drowned rat,
but cute in an ugly way that made me wonder
what it was as I held out the crust of my sandwich.
"Don't feed that," the lurking shadow said sharply,
who hadn't said anything about my sister feeding gremlins
or about the radiator dragon snitching food in the kitchen.
"Why not?" I asked.
"That is a niggling suspicion,"
said the lurking shadow.
"Whatever we feed grows stronger.
We do not want that kind of trouble
getting any bigger than it already is."
I felt sorry for the poor little thing,
but I left it in the alley behind our house.
A week later I saw it riding on a man's shoulder,
head buried under his skin like tick,
body bloated to the size of a soccer ball.
I didn't feel sorry for it anymore.
I felt sorry for him.
The lurking shadow beckoned to me
with a curl of shade under the big tree,
and I drew back into the yard away from them.
"Now you see why I told you not to feed it,"
he said, and I nodded.
Some monsters were safe,
others not so much.
The one that really scared me
was the black cloud that followed
the boy in my sister's class that she didn't like.
He came home with her after school one day,
calling taunts from a few feet behind her.
I jumped off the porch swing
but the lurking shadow swirled in front of me
and said, "You let me deal with this."
As soon as the boy set one foot on our grass,
the lurking shadow pounced from a tree
and knocked the cloud onto the ground.
They rolled and fought, squalling like alley cats,
but the lurking shadow was bigger
and soon the cloud lay tattered on the sidewalk,
leaking something clear as rain.
And the boy,
that awful boy with the dead-fish eyes,
dropped to his knees beside it
like someone had run over his cat.
He held the cloud against his chest
and tried to feed it dark chocolate
from a crumpled candy wrapper.
His cheeks were wet as he carried it away.
"That's the first time I've ever seen him cry,"
my sister said, fingering the purple eye of her necklace.
"I hope I never see it again."
"Me too," I said.
The lurking shadow nodded,
and herded us inside the house.