Unhallowed Be The Name

Open, dark sepulchers! Autumnal woe
whips the dead leaves, which scattering, whirl below.
Bright orange memories of summer’s cheer
Flame out in phantom grimaces of fear.
Bare eldritch limbs reach out against the dusk
and spectral winds disturb each withered husk.
Thoughts wax sinister, existentially . . .
for such we shall become, eventually.
All hallowed saints acknowledge even this,
Departed from a world they do not miss.

Unable to assimilate true night,
The nation now embraces plastic fright,
Satanic sweetness surfeiting its young
while judgement in the wings, awaits, unsung.
They purchase Chinese plastic slasher-masks
To celebrate those diabolic tasks
They wish were only nightmares of the mind;
And so they show they’re spiritually blind;
Culturally and politically as well,
For thinking there’s no Heaven, nor a Hell.
As if Life’s stunning triumph thrills them less
Than spectral superstitions they profess.
They glorify the grave, though life is good—
Their children freely tour the neighborhood . . .

Oppression that prevails beyond our lands
Bears testament to this. Who understands
How real the threat of gruesome harm can be
Where terror’s costly fear is given free?
Imagine those who fled forevermore
Real graves and bones, blood; homelands wracked by war—
Survivors, having seen such things fulfilled
May wish they could forget how some were killed;
Their Halloween replaced with realer fates:
by bombs, in wars, in dark tyrannic states.
From whence true refugees take flight from death
to live where freedom draws an easier breath.
Uprooted, then transplanted, seeking life,
Believing they have now escaped the strife
Must they be thus subjected yet again
To fear’s oppressive rule, so now as then?
Traumatic scenes are glimpsed, it’s all in fun . . .
Meanwhile, those who have lived it come undone.
Ironic morbid joke: where freedom reigns
To purchase fake cadaverous remains;
Permit the grave to thus enslave our brains.

There was a brighter side to all this rot:
In neighborhoods your adult mind forgot;
So long ago, so lost in childhood’s mist.
Of what did earlier Halloweens consist?
It wasn’t all about the grave, the gore.
You didn’t buy your costume at the store.
Your mommy helped you tailor some disguise;
A character to charm, and to surprise
The neighbors known to live along your street.
Nostalgic masquerade: the bittersweet . . .
Now, our nation’s hypoglycemic kids
Gorge on what diabetes’ law forbids.
Macabre, this epidemic in our streets:
Sugar-addicted specters draped in sheets
Or dressed in Wal-Mart costumes of the damned

who ask for candy (grabbing on demand).

Were I the Lord, I’d find it all less cute
And curse it, as the fig-tree, to its root—
Slam shut the cover on the fearful tome,
Restore true life, reviving every home
Till Treats and Tricks alike speak more of faith
And God’s own Spirit banish every wraith.

The horrors you exhume in idle hours
To haunt your artificial autumn bowers
Are real for some, who question, once a year
What’s wrong with you, romanticizing fear,
When Death and Hell are real—however near.

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Hallowed Limericks, Even

The cold night of All Hallows draws near
though the reason is somewhat less clear;
The reigning esthetic
is Gothic-Poetic
and sugar eclipses all fear . . .

The idea that spirits abound,
that The Dead ever hover around,
is a lie straight from Hell
and a fable to sell
souls and sugar, per ounce and per pound.

Halloween: put a mask on the mess.
As a nation, we ought to confess
that our sin’s overflowing;
our evil is showing—
we’re due for a trick, I would guess.

Using candy, they settle the score:
secret weapon in Lucifer‘s war
for this treat dietetic
we’re pre-diabetic,
dressed up as the ghosts that we are.

 

The Lake of the Dismal Swamp

 

“They made her a grave, too cold and damp
For a soul so warm and true;
And she’s gone to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp,
Where, all night long, by a fire-fly lamp,
She paddles her white canoe.

“And her fire-fly lamp I soon shall see,
And her paddle I soon shall hear;
Long and loving our life shall be,
And I’ll hide the maid in a cypress tree,
When the footstep of death is near.”

Away to the Dismal Swamp he speeds—
His path was rugged and sore,
Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds,
Through many a fen where the serpent feeds,
And man never trod before.

And when on the earth he sunk to sleep,
If slumber his eyelids knew,
He lay where the deadly vine doth weep
Its venomous tear and nightly steep
The flesh with blistering dew!

And near him the she-wolf stirr’d the brake,
And the copper-snake breath’d in his ear,
Till he starting cried, from his dream awake,
“Oh! when shall I see the dusky Lake,
And the white canoe of my dear?”

He saw the Lake, and a meteor bright
Quick over its surface play’d—
“Welcome,” he said, “my dear one’s light!”
And the dim shore echoed for many a night
The name of the death-cold maid.

Till he hollow’d a boat of the birchen bark,
Which carried him off from shore;
Far, far he follow’d the meteor spark,
The wind was high and the clouds were dark,
And the boat return’d no more.

But oft, from the Indian hunter’s camp,
This lover and maid so true
Are seen at the hour of midnight damp
To cross the Lake by a fire-fly lamp,
And paddle their white canoe!

By Thomas Moore (1779–1852)

More Halloween Poems at Poetry Foundation

 

As If Reality Wasn’t Scary Enough

Belas bats

White on white translucent black capes
Back on the rack
. . .   Bela Lugosi’s dead.

The bats have left the bell tower / The victims have been bled
Red velvet lines the black box
/ Bela Lugosi’s dead…

Bela Lugosi’s dead / Undead, undead, undead . . .

The virginal brides file past his tomb
Strewn with time’s dead flowers
Bereft in deathly bloom / Alone in a darkened room
: The Count

Bela Lugosi’s dead . . .  Bela Lugosi’s dead . . .  Bela Lugosi’s dead
Undead, undead, undead

I had this poster of Bela Lugosi on my bedroom wall as a kid.

Truly undead HERE