The Tunnel

A man has been standing
in front of my house
for days. I peek at him
from the living room
window and at night,
unable to sleep,
I shine my flashlight
down on the lawn.
He is always there.

After a while
I open the front door
just a crack and order
him out of my yard.
He narrows his eyes
and moans. I slam
the door and dash back
to the kitchen, then up
to the bedroom, then down.

I weep like a schoolgirl
and make obscene gestures
through the window. I
write large suicide notes
and place them so he
can read them easily.
I destroy the living
room furniture to prove
I own nothing of value.
When he seems unmoved
I decide to dig a tunnel
to a neighboring yard.
I seal the basement off
from the upstairs with
a brick wall. I dig hard
and in no time the tunnel
is done. Leaving my pick
and shovel below,

I come out in front of a house
and stand there too tired to
move or even speak, hoping
someone will help me.
I feel I’m being watched
and sometimes I hear
a man’s voice,
but nothing is done
and I have been waiting for days.

Mark Strand


March 26, 2007. Mark Strand.


  1. Obama’s Hope, Post-Partisan, Post-Racial Promises Were All BS « Peace and Freedom Global Future replied:

    […] is exactly what it is… **************** In Mark Strand’s pleasingly odd poem “The Tunnel,” the author is tormented by a persistent, moaning man in front of his house. The narrator […]

  2. Party-Line President | Lux Libertas - Light and Liberty replied:

    […] Mark Strand’s pleasingly odd poem “The Tunnel,” the author is tormented by a persistent, moaning man in front of his house. The narrator […]

  3. Boris Greff replied:

    interesting, wonderful poem. It seems absurd and grotesque: the man who shall help is in need of help himself…and striking is also the thought that he rather makes boscene gestures than to talk to the moaning man, that he rather escapes than to try to handle the situation, that he rather destroys what he has got than to share least of it…sparkling, wonderful thoughts characterizing much of today’s world.

  4. davidstrachan611 replied:


  5. Lyfe Orelov replied:

    sounds like Der große Mann 😛

  6. Jean-Paul Sartre Was Right | Poetry on the run replied:

    […] warning – all the gateways are blocked by strangers. You were right JP, there is no exit.     *The Tunnel, By Mark Strand       […]

  7. Prompts: Cinquain and Mobius Strip | Sarah T. Jewell replied:

    […] gained by the time you return. The inspiration for this “form” is Mark Strand’s The Tunnel (one of my favorite poems). Enjoy your […]

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