My dad reflects on Stranger Things

by Jane Zwart


My dad complains that it is the same monsters
again and again. Almost everything, he says,
looks like an animal or a man. A dragon is a lizard,
a zombie the smear left of homo erectus.

There is so little in horror we cannot trace back
to an ordinary beast: shark, snake, doberman, bear.
Occasionally, the predator is mostly mouth,
of course, carnivorousness where speech should be,

rows of teeth at the opening of a tube that both
suctions and screams. But the best monsters
either look like us or like the dark churn
of something more gray than age or smoke or ash.

The best monsters: like us or like a sky hungrier
than a mouth. My dad is not complaining, really,
about our shallow imaginations, about the sameness
of the creatures we conjure to scare ourselves.

His grievance is with humankind: we are voracious;
thus most of our monsters think us meat.
We are voracious; thus the unthinking thing: it swallows
us up in an unbeing even less fitful than death.



Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, Threepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and Ploughshares, as well as other journals and magazines. She frequently publishes book reviews and, with Timothy Liu, is co-editor of book reviews for Plume. She is on Twitter and Instagram @_janezwart_. Her website is

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