THIS IS HALLOWEEN
—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA
Written with members of English 5, section 36
at Sac State in Fall 2018
Jack Skellington socks
Crunching through the leaves
Lady Gaga costumes
Cinnamon Hot Tamales
Alice in Wonderland, Spider Man
Trick or treating in rich neighborhoods
Counting up our money
Staying up past midnight
Telling vampire stories
Riding our bikes through dark streets
to the park with spooky trees
Apple Hill apples
Fudge and caramel
A mountain of candy in the living room
Watching Legend of Hell
Magic Mountain Fright Night
Chased by scary clowns
My little cousin peeing his pants
My best friend falling down
Spending the night in ER
with Chewbacca and L3
It wasn’t what we’d planned
but it makes a good story
THE SOUND OF THE BLUE LAGOON
—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
The four-legged woman howls
At the two-legged baboon
She is married.
Sound is well-carried
Across a blue lagoon
Howl at the moon
If it feels right.
ALL HALLOWS EVENTUALLY
Twas the evening before
All Saints Day, porch light on,
sweet candy at the ready,
sainthood quite set aside
A robed medicine man
prepares his enticing spiel
inside your front hallway
awaiting the knock on the door
Tap! Tap! Tap!
the door creaks open slowly
Trick or Treat!!!
shouts the murder of crows
barely old enough to stand
upright and walk, still nursing
the sores of new baby teeth,
costumed as zombies and
angels and everything, escorted
by flashlight toters. A wrinkled,
old hand picks up the prize and
feeds their precious bags.
This is the really good stuff, top
choice. You wouldn’t at all mind
having a stash of this for yourself.
Leave me alone for a moment.
Deeper into the night the porch
light is extinguished, and all the
tricksters, all the treats, and the old
medicine man happily melt away.
GHOSTS DON’T EXIST
even though there is a big one living
under the bed: sleeping all day
down there between the dust motes
and the candywrappers: flipping
the corners of his quilt out
of boredom in late afternoon: lurking
just beyond the brave beam
of his flashlight. . . Of course ghosts
don't exist: it says so in musty
library books: in the tall legs
of grown-ups: in windy sunshine
and kids that tease: in the bland drone
of the TV flickering blue in the next
room after he goes to bed. . . Of course
ghosts don't exist: all that nightly
grunting and rustling is just
wind from the open window: thump
of his heart keeping time in
the dark: ragged edge of a dream
he can't ever quite shake free. . .
—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA
ROOTING OUT THE WITCH
is a job for the night shift: bloody journey
into the Cimmerian: slimy black tunnels
into the underground: damp mossy walls
and that fetid odor of oozy flesh not yet
living, not yet dead. . . Follow the rank
smell of inky ignorance: find the heart
smudged with self-loathing, pulled out
of its chest still beating, then turned into
a witch-tool by a rain of painful days. . .
Find all those lost hearts and show them
the grace of a witch-finder—some small
whisper of light to draw them back
out into the day—draw them past
the boggy walls of this pitchy, pitchy cave. . .
RELIEVED BY HALLOWEEN
and its merchandising, retailers
pound stakes into the heart
of Labor Day: black cats and pumpkin-
grins at every checkstand: rows of candy
to sweeten the coming darkness. . .
Scraggly finches, relieved
by cool nights and the egress
of demanding chicks, leave cobwebby
tombs where noisy nests used to be,
take time to focus on fattening
themselves enough to slip past
the graveyard of winter. . .
It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin—and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.
Our thanks to today’s contributors—though of course we all know that ghosts don't exist . . .
This just in: on this coming Sunday, Nov. 4, from 10am-2pm, Taylor Graham and Katy Brown will facilitate a poetry writing workshop called, Observing Autumn at Wakamatsu Farm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
(Celebrate Poetry in All Seasons!)
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