Cthulhu Arises for a Midnight Snack

The month isn’t over yet, but I can already say that today’s poem is the best thing to come out of this month’s Poem a Day challenge.

The prompt was to write either a Sestina or a Villanelle. Villanelles are relatively easy; after sonnets they’re probably the poetic form (outside of haikus) that I write the most. Sestinas, meanwhile, are 39 line poems with six stanzas and a final half-stanza, and a very strict rotation of end words. Every time I’ve considered it before, I got scared away (probably because of the examples I found, the most prominent of which is a double sestina, because if you love poetic forms you love making them even more challenging).

Anyway, the prompts were announced at the beginning of the month, and I put no more thought into it than simply noting that I’d probably go with a villanelle again. But a few days before that prompt was scheduled, my friend Chris Wheeler, who is also doing this challenge, put out a call asking for submissions of six words. So me being me, I supplied him with “Cthulhu, tentacle, malfeance, eldritch, gibbering, maw,” and then realized I had my own six words for a sestina. Upon noting this fact, Chris challenged me to replace “malfeance” with “banana.”

And thus was today’s poem born.

Cthulhu Arises for a Midnight Snack

Originally written November 11, 2022

That sunny day, when the tentacle
First rose out of the ocean, and the maw
Of the devourer, the great Cthulhu
Himself, appeared to peel the world like a banana,
And all his secret servants, frothing and gibbering,
Revealed themselves, chanting things arcane and eldritch—

Those words I dare not repeat—that eldritch
Day, I was the first to see the tentacle.
I dare not describe it lest I start gibbering.
I stood there, watching, with my own small maw
Agape, still full of unchewed banana,
As the great old one arose from his slumber. Cthulhu

Turned a malevolent eye upon his followers, and Cthulhu,
Seeming to ignore their chants, made an eldritch
Gurgling, and grabbed one, as if he were a banana
At the store, and with his sinuous tentacle
Popped the cultist into his maw,
And with a slobbering, squelchy gibbering,

Swallowed him whole, never again to go out gibbering,
Dark evangel, about the might of Cthulhu.
Rather than flee the malodorous god’s maw,
The other cultists kept up their eldritch
Chants, as if begging for the tentacle
To sweep them up like perfectly ripe bananas.

And I, still holding my banana,
Stood frozen under the perfidious sun, gibbering
As I watched tentacle after tentacle
Gather the devoted cultists of Cthulhu
Into their very god’s gullet. The eldritch
Being drew them into his vast maw.

It could swallow the earth and moon, this maw,
With no more difficulty than chewing a banana.
Too soon, the chanting ceased, for the eldritch
Cultists had, one by one, disappeared, gibbering
Into the bowels of the hungry Cthulhu,
And his tentacle—o vile tentacle!—

Reached out with eldritch undulations to place me in its maw.
But I proffered to the tentacle the rest of my banana.
It took it! I watched, gibbering, shocked that I’d sated Cthulhu.

Today’s cover image is by Sofyan Sarief and was modified as allowed by the Creative Commons license. See the original artwork here.