Skip to main content
By Cornelius Eady

I know this is a real thing, because
When I was a kid, my big sister took me
To the Capitol Theater, in my hometown
Of Rochester, NY,

And there was a movie that afternoon,
The Tingler, which starred Vincent Price,
And what I remember best about the film
Was that it was about this extra, insect-like gland, that

We all appeared to have been born with,
But nobody but sci-fi movie scientists knew about.
If it wasn’t fed properly, it would crawl up
Your leg, and choke you to death with its claws!

Your only hope was if you saw it coming, and knew
What it was, you could scream—loud.
Which we did, when it crawled across the screen.
Then the lights blacked out, and Vincent Price

Shouted it had skittered off the screen, hungry—which it hadn’t;
The Capitol was the Black movie house—25 cents a seat,
The last drop of profit squeezed from the theatrical run.
No need to pull Mr. Castle’s hokey string and rubber model

Down the aisle for the likes of us.
In our heads The Tingler scurried, our darkest screams,
The horror we know, but won’t talk about,
From the mouth of the corpse

Like a weevil, looking for a home.
So many characters perished
In that movie—they never believed they had it in them
Until those pincers closed.

Source: Poetry (March 2021)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Cornelius Eady
Poet and cofounder of Cave Canem, Cornelius Eady has published more than half a dozen volumes of poetry. Music is a central theme of Eady’s work, along with family and the challenges unique to the African American experience. Eady’s ability to examine several stories at once—while paring the lyrical intersections of these lives to moments remarkable in their clarity, exuberance, and vulnerability—has garnered critical acclaim. In 1996 Eady and poet Toi Derricote founded Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization that supports emerging African American poets through a summer retreat, regional workshops, a first-book prize, annual anthologies, and events and readings across the country. See More By This Poet

More By This Poet

More Poems about Arts & Sciences

Browse poems about Arts & Sciences

More Poems about Living

Browse poems about Living

More Poems about Social Commentaries

Browse poems about Social Commentaries Get a random poem