—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
He no longer feared
A monster lurked under his bed,
Not since he
Was the age of six
And his brother shined a flashlight there
To show him all was clear,
Nothing to justify fear,
No hidden trap-door in the floor,
Through which a monster might disappear,
Just before a light shined
Into its dark abode
To find him.
But, as you
Grow older and wiser,
You cannot be
Quite as sure
As you were,
In the ways that
Friends could be trusted,
And you learned that
Some may betray you,
As though they
Lurked under your bed
Or deep in your closet
Or lost in your hair
Or in other places, where,
They cannot be found
Nothing so simple
Could secure your night,
To a peaceful and restful sleep
When field-mice gnaw
Holes in walls
Lay their eggs
—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK
It is the week we kill the lights—
as when the carol singers come,
hum out of tune what they don’t know—
for this tradition’s weak in Wales
where coal seams dark, shrouded enough,
with ghoules and ghosties, unemployed.
For treats we kept a biscuit tin,
but callers mocked, rejected them—
or chalked the path as vagrants do—
their sign of trick or no welcome.
We’re scared that neighbours take offence,
beyond the pale, their kids’ treatment.
So still, we dread that knocking door,
the volume low on news events,
and whisper, crouching, curtains closed,
from upstairs, scare, fence leaping shapes.
And soon fireworks, thatch rocket drops,
and jumping jacks through letter box.
It covers weeks our mother died—
her at rest, we wraiths inside—
that wreath we choose, three spinsters’ care,
gravely laid this time of year.
For now masked terrors on the step.
It feels like lockdown come again.
Here’s thirteen days, all hallowed ground,
we sat beside his struggle cot,
and ours the gasp when grasp was lost,
left space far greater than his span.
Though tiny lad of days, not months,
his gracious giving to our lives
was that such scrap relied, our love;
the secret less in being loved
than lover of a fragile soul,
a complement, to be, belong,
believe some day he’ll sing a song.
So, neither trick or treat resolved,
by blaming or in praising cause,
and little gained by masking up,
pretending only good or ill
inform our smiles, our tears or frowns.
It’s not the time—maybe next year—
when we can gather sibling pair,
and knock on doors with silly japes,
though more, by then will join our son,
e’en moved along, been passed through death.
We stay the shade, wight in our eyes
reflect on bundle, tiny toes,
and would that he were man enough
to curl his fingers round our one.
By choice I’d join him, hold his hand,
supportive father with his son,
but I’m held back by other two,
who want to walk the streets, knock doors.
(prev. pub. by Spillwords)
THE WITCHES DANCE
Where is the cauldron flashing fame,
the darker night when hags conspire,
white flash-dance flame, red ember bed,
accoutrements, those charming spells,
less lore alone, black pointy hats?
This more of rural festive site,
a ballet class for young at heart,
sum frolic in the candle bright,
crossed bones and skulls to drink the cup.
The trick to get the girl to strip,
to trip, fantastic, petticoat,
expecting flex of ceiling light
for fancy dress at Halloween,
this Bright Hour for the widows’ group,
a coven in its jolly phase,
with plastic props to add some spice,
I’m grammar sad, a long debate,
an anorak, word etiquette—
apostrophes tell what’s at stake—
unless this record’s, sloppy take.
The Witches Dance or Witches’ Dance,
collective subject, present tense
or frolic possessed by these folk?
If title right this girls’ night out
has movement by descriptor phrase,
an active verb, as happens now,
and we observers of the rite.
As yearly comes All Hallows’ Eve
and ghosties, ghoulies prance the streets
to trick or treat, misnomer term
for fragile lives, hatch battened down,
the bulbs turned down, pretend we’re out,
I think the mood in western world
is on the change, for nerves are frayed,
by threats and insolence, anon,
such antisocial media.
This painting framed without a name,
no provenance to claim, a shame,
its execution neatly done,
but pot-boiler or driven spur—
forget not, where’s that cauldron, hot?
Today’s Little"Nip" (so to speak…):
What if vampires were
Real? What would they be like?
Watching the start of
The Hunger, I watch vampires
Feasting on young flesh.
Bela Lugosi II
Wandering at night,
I come upon your coffin,
You look up at me…
Our thanks to today’s contributors for sending such treats to us! In keeping with our Seed of the Week, “Haunted”, Michelle Kunert sent us a link to “The 11 Most Haunted Places in Sacramento, CA”: www.hauntedrooms.com/california/sacramento/haunted-places/. She also sent a link to the Love and Rockets’ song, “Haunted When the Minutes Drag”, which she calls “creepy music that one can imagine a band of ‘vampires’ would play if they were in a pop-rock band”. Listen to it and creep yourself out tonight at www.lyrics.com/lyric/22362976/.
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