How Long Do Monsters Live?

How long do monsters live,
I often wonder

Watching them destroy
Countless lives each day,

In constant fear for my own
And those I love.

My muscles tense up
Whenever they draw near,

Pretending to be human,
Turning on the charm,

Thinking we are fooled,
When they are the worst

Of all abominations:
Without empathy,

Without compassion
Or remorse,

The ones who murder
Without compunction

Like this one
My grandmother trapped

Over half a century ago,
Curled up in a steel cage

Still alive, staring at me
With familiar eyes,

Gleaming with hatred
For his own granddaughter.

We should have ended him
Decades ago

But we are not killers.
So we keep him locked

In this cage
To keep the world safe.


On my 99th birthday
After far too much cake,

I take a trip down to the shed
To see the monster again.

He looks gray and old,
Muscles atrophied and curled

But still alive,
Still with hatred in his eyes.

I have no more words for him.
I turn away and lock the shed,

If I should set it on fire,

Relieving my descendants
Of this burden.

The alternative:
If he escapes

And once again
Tastes human flesh—

The consequences
Are unthinkable.

As I light a match, I wonder,
How long do monsters live?

Should this be
My grandchildren’s burden?

Of their small, sweet faces,

I do not hesitate.
I set the shed on fire

And remain, unmoving
Until I see ash on his bones.

—Christina Sng