Walking on the streets of Nuremberg
the cemetery gates were open,
they are never open at eleven pm.
this was some sort of obscure invitation
that welcomed me in.
Walking along the uprooted path,
I tripped and fell face-flat,
upon a ditch.
it was cold.
alongside a tombstone,
not rightly placed.
It had today’s date with an epithet that read:
“John Michaels Is Never Far Off”
HE NEVER SAID “HALLOW”
The sun had fallen into the depths of his hands
the fog induced mask hid the face of the demon.
he walked alone.
A voice called out to him.
“I’ve been waiting for you, it is cold,”
A woman nearby cried.
The monotonous howl of the wind confused the two sounds.
he had an appointment.
he never made it.
THE BIRD-FACED MAN
—Katy Brown, Davis
He watches the city from the roof of his palazzo.
Always at night. Always alone.
His servants seldom see the bird-faced man.
He’s locked his rooms along the eastern wall,
windows overlooking the oncoming night.
He waits on the roof for a hint of dawn.
This architectural ambition made of limestone
belonged to his father who left it to him.
A handful of servants survive to care for him.
When he was a child, his mother locked him
in a mahogany wardrobe for protection.
He grew to prefer the sky to the company of man.
In an age of masks, he wears his all the time:
mascherari study his face for the artistry of it
on those few days the bird-faced man walks the streets.
He is the mask. No other face. Invisible during carnival,
he lives apart the rest of the year: the only congruent man.
His servants avoid the bird-faced man
watching from his rooftop aerie.
ALL HALLOWS EVE
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
The night is still clean feeling.
The moon crisp as a rice cracker
Full of the flavor of the season.
Her boots were buttoned with fireflies
And she wore them in her hair.
She came down the silver shafts of moonlight
Should magic find her there.
For she was fair, the whisper
Of the wind through barley
Just as its beard is catching
Edges of the breeze where
Dark can own a moment, the hour
When bats can rule the landscape
With their sharp and angled flight.
We find them coursing just above the meadows
Collecting tiny pieces of the night.
I have stood in that forest
Next to the great stag and listened
To the blood talk of the wolf pack,
Heard the sawing of the crickets song,
Seen the shadows making dances
Near the edges of the fire place.
“This is the night,” she said,
“When strange and wicked things can come.
When voices too can move through dead men
And clouds gain power over
Harvest moon to hide its light
That darker things might come
And walk the earth for hours,
Freed to twisted dreamings,
Potions made for madness,
Souls that have no home
But roam both the forests and the sea
Making moans and groans
That chill the blood, frighten
The children, still the prowling
Of the cats across the yards.
Lock your doors this night. Do not go
To see them. Answer no knock
That comes this night,
For it has Hallows Eve
Written all upon it
And will not rest
Till morning light,
Pray for the morning light.
It is dark, but not the dark that carries
Only night, but dark, the dark that moves
Itself to dreaming and we are too long
On the road as she comes around us
Bringing her own air, her own beasts,
Horses unlike horses that we’ve known
Who stand at the corner of the streets
Where we can see their large eyes. They
Seem to know us and make horse sounds
To one another, leaning toward the fog,
The coolness of the evening and blow
Steam that seems to glow from their great
Nostrils. They paw the ground as if in waiting.
Then bats, as if the night had tongues,
Course just above our heads with squeaks
And clicks and sudden flash of reddish eyes.
They too have a sense of purpose to detain
Us on this night and swirl in flocks and bunches
Keeping us to the sidewalks, weaving light and shadow.
We have heard that it is Halloween. The
Jack-o-lanterns with their grimaced faces
Flicker from the porches of the neighborhood.
The cats of no color but the night move too
Around us in this night as if they wait for something.
Perhaps they think that we are creatures like themselves
Acquainted with the night and ready for its fierce
Devices, the howling of the wolves, the mocking
Face the moon makes to our wandering, looking
For a house we are not sure will be there, close
We hope, but hope is not a part of what we are.
Tonight is Halloween, a witches' night. The roads,
The streets are for the ghosts and half-seen children
Of the night whose music has been foretold, who
Gather toward us as the spider weaves his web
And calls us in the only haven left in this damp cold.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
I dress in bones
for the boy who somersaulted
into the quarry pond
to plumb its depths, and found them,
and the fisherman who cast himself
into the South Fork, to be
landed at last on a grappling hook,
and the palsied old lady
who shook herself to dead leaves
in a bramble of berries.
This morning, the sun rises eye-level,
lighting oak-leaf candles
as I descend the trail. I'm following
my dog, who's so adept
at trailing any quarry. He leads
to a clearing made for spirits—
a stone at the edge of this living
world. Quarry of wind
and sunset over ridge
and canyon, river out of sight.
What lies above and under
farther than I can see.
HOVER ON THE WIND
Where do the missing go, easy
as a child from room to room, to sleep?
easy as landscape turns to water hurrying
down; frozen glint of sun; a wing that
might be God's falcon, or just the wind.
An old man disappeared
in twining-creeper, a forest of fall-bare
wrists of trees, bark stretched brittle
as bone; is he lying behind a punky log,
still waiting to be discovered?
In a waking world, where is the boy
whose breath crystallized as snowflake?
The woman who left no footprint—
did she drink milk of a Dragon Moon?
Is she hiding under lake or sky?
No need to believe in ghosts, to know
what's haunted. A boulder-garden,
crevice between birdsongs, a fault
in the ages of rock. On the wind,
shadow-scent of the ones not found.
Even in a mask, who can escape
this maze of hours, roots and fingers,
entanglement of bones and twigs
weaving themselves with days and soil,
with breeze and leaves about to fall?
Seasons. My dog's a skeleton
in fur, a nose to search the dead
where they lie waiting, a spark to be
found. Tonight the membrane
between live and dead so thin, porous—
what am I, invisible behind the fabric,
being of bone and wind in the dark?
HANGING BY A RHYME
To sonnet or not? The Muse is swelling
to display her skill. She's no timid twit.
Poetry-in-form is like rappelling:
you hang off cliffs on rhyme, breath expelling
a prayer your line won't fail above the pit…
To pantoum, or not… the Muse is swelling.
Practice safe redundancies. Rondel-ing
tests your mettle. Octaves might be a hit.
Poetry in form is like rappelling:
you brave the heights—soldier under shelling.
As discipline, it's excellent. Get fit
for a sonnet-crown. Your Muse is swelling,
so learn the rules—is there no rebelling
lest you break your neck? And what benefit?
Poetry in form is like rappelling
for the grand-vista, your fear dispelling:
for daring-do, adrenalin, and wit.
Villanelle or not, the Muse is swelling—
poetry-in-form is like rappelling....
I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.
—Medusa (can you guess what our Seed of the Week is?)