A howl is for alerting.

A howl is the sound of forlorn or is it longing?

Two words as lurking as the moonlit beast.

It began as a child like most things we don’t understand.

I’m told they’re just cousins of household pets.

They only harm you if they’re starving or in packs.

These deceiving dogs. These creatures that are looking for a flesh feast

in stories I was read before bedtime.

Bad dreams are called nightmares.

What are bad dreams called if the fear lingers when you’re awake?

I don’t tell anybody about things that make my skin shiver

like when it’s so dark you can only smell or hear another thing

in front of you.

I’m becoming a slut. Peculiar thing to be these days.

I told my friends growing up that a slut is just another word for popular.

The only person I told about my fear was my first boyfriend.

He laughed loud enough that it couldn’t be mistaken for a mistake.

That’s a ridiculous thing to be afraid of.

My second boyfriend did the same thing just not as loud more of a demeaning chuckle.

I learned to be braver by being silent with the things that devour my heart.

The Prodigal Son (Der Verlorene Sohn, 1920) by Paul Kleinschmidt (in public domain)

Ben Westlie holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of four chapbooks of poems, most recently Under Your Influence, all published by Finishing Line Press. His poems have appeared in the anthology Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25 selected and edited by Naomi Shihab Nye and in the journals The Fourth River, Third Coast, Atlas and Alice, The Talking Stick, the tiny journal, Trampset, ArLiJo (Arlington Literary Journal) and forthcoming in The Voices Project.