Camping for the Night East of Salt Lake City, 1972
After three days of driving from New York,
we stopped at a Utah state park for the night,
our bodies thrumming from the ancient Valiant.
Too wired to sleep, we sat around the campfire,
and since I’d admitted to a Masters in Lit,
Dwayne, Eva, and Brendan cajoled me
into telling a horror or ghost story:
“The Cropsey Maniac,” the scary favorite
at the Catskills camp where I’d been a counselor:
A burned-down mansion and a madman avenging
his bride’s death by fire-careless Boy Scouts.
I held the flashlight under my ghoul’s face
while I croaked the fate of the doomed troop.
Had this been a horror movie,
my tale would’ve conjured Dr. Cropsey
into stalking us, picking us off one by one.
Instead, we woke to the sun’s first
eye-stabbing rays, stretched to unlock
stiff backs, and sat on logs, drinking hot tea:
too many horrors back in New York City
and Vietnam for us to be bothered
by a cackling maniac gripping a scalpel.