Little Toby Melancholy – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

dVerse Poets – Poetics – Kafka For Kids


Art: Altered books by Susan Hoerth (raidersofthelostart)

dVerse Poetics – a challenge by Amaya to take a line from Kafka as inspiration for a nursery rhyme or other. The line that inspired my poem is from Kafka’s Letter to Oskar Pollak:

Think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.” 


Little Toby Melancholy

Little Toby Melancholy
didn’t want to play
so, instead he took a book
of new worlds to a tree,
but soon the caramel words
which swirled like serpents free,
did stick to his hands and clothes,
poor little Toby did writhe and grive
as the book turned dark and grim,
and from its pages of murk
appeared a bony finger thin
stabbing at his chest so tight
with raucous moonlight laugh,
then Toby shrieked a desperation
and flung it hard away,
its landing thudded waking him
startled and ever wide,
he glanced the cover slight
which winked at him mad
and little Toby sprang in flight
and ran,
and ran,
and ran.

©Paul Vincent Cannon



Filed under challenge, Free Verse, Humour, life, poem, quote

60 responses to “Little Toby Melancholy – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

  1. Oh my gosh, scary! When your mind goes dark, it goes really dark!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. made me giggle but the kids would have nightmares after this story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This went really dark from a child’s perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ❤️ this! More please!


  5. I love it Paul! A wonderful visualisation with words. Reading free’s not only the mind. 😉 Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I liked that bony finger coming from his book. I’d run as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Halloween preview? Can’t wait to see what’s next….🤭

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Books. Just when you think you can trust them, the page turns.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Truly frightening story, especially that bony finger!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh, poor little Toby!! I love what you did with the prompt. (Is it okay that I smiled my way through it, delighting in the wordplay instead of feeling for poor Toby?)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The dark side of dreams and life are meant to be the reason to turn on the light if you get my gist. Brilliant poem.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. To be devoured by a book… literally terrifying

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I just recently introduced The Neverending Story to my daughters and your story reminds me of that when the little boy reading it threw down the book in disbelief that the characters actually knew about his existence. You did a great job with the quote and were able to really capture the uncanny experiences we sometimes have when getting involved with a story: the line between reality and fiction is blurred to nonexistence.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Cherry O’Donnell

    Very Kafkaesh!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Charis Counselling

    Well done


    Liked by 2 people

  16. I’m intrigued by Little Toby Melancholy – I’d like to see more of him, an iconic figure. In the same way I want to see more of Charles Causley’s Timothy Winters.

    Liked by 2 people

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