They ask me if I’ve ever thought about the end of
the world, and I say, “Come in, come in, let me
give you some lunch, for God’s sake.” After a few
bites it’s the afterlife they want to talk about.
“Ouch,” I say, “did you see that grape leaf
skeletonizer?” Then they’re talking about
redemption and the chosen few sitting right by
His side. “Doing what?” I ask. “Just sitting?” I
am surrounded by burned up zombies. “Let’s
have some lemon chiffon pie I bought yesterday
at the 3 Dog Bakery.” But they want to talk about
my soul. I’m getting drowsy and see butterflies
everywhere. “Would you gentlemen like to take a
nap, I know I would.” They stand and back away
from me, out the door, walking toward my
neighbors, a black cloud over their heads and
they see nothing without end.

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Tate's poem A Knock On The Door


  1. John Cena says:

    This poem is the best ever.

  2. Jeff says:

    Isn’t 3 Dog Bakery a company that makes pet food? I used to have cat treats, I can’t find them anymore, that were produced by 3 Dog Bakery out of Canada.

  3. ilene novick says:

    when his guests ask him if he’s thought about the end of the world, the afterlife and redemption, he asks them if they’ve thought about the skeletonizer (a moth whose larva eats the leaves of plants)…he has obviously thought about their questions and sees the answer in the moth and the plant but in spite of the fact that he accepts that death comes to all living things, including himself, he’s able to accept it and enjoy living his life, while his guests are so busy with thoughts of the hereafter, that they’re missing the joy of life…if the guests’ days are so filled with proselitizing, with no time for being happy on earth, they may well be missing the beauty of life…i wonder if they even considered eating a piece of his gracious offer of a slice of lemon chiffon pie!!

  4. Dave S says:

    This poem is great because it’s funny and makes you think. He writes about being hospitible but his guess just want to talk about death, and afterlife. And at the end he feels sorry for the Jahova Witness’s as they are leaving his house and onto another.

  5. napsaregreat says:

    This poem made me laugh and think the author is enjoying life enough to be honest. He is willing to share his food with others (strangers or friends) and has time to take a nap. Why do others rush through life so much they can’t relax and yet think they should impose their views on others.

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