Halloween

We've lived in the South now almost as long as we've lived anywhere else, but today is, I think, the first time Halloween has fallen on a Sunday, which, apparently, means there are two Halloweens: one on the 31st for the non-religious kids, and one on the 30th for the kids of parents who view the Sunday-Halloween combo as sacrilege and so prefer to do "Trunk or Treat" events in church parking lots or hold "Harvest Festivals" at an area farm or to make their costumed offspring trudge shyly around the local mall and harass bored Footlocker employees and the guys at the Cash for Gold kiosks for stale BubbleYum.

A few years ago, I posted Larry Levis's "Elegy for Poe with the Music of a Carnival Inside It." This year: two Halloween-type poems by Robert Wrigley and Louise Glück. Wrigley because, yeah, the poem's got a pumpkin in it, but also because it's just a scary good poem. And Glück because it is one of the legitimately creepy poems I know of.

Enjoy!

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The Pumpkin Tree

Up a lattice of sumac and into the spars
of the elderberry, the pumpkin vine had climbed,
and a week after first frost
great pendulous melons dangled like gods
among the bunches of lesser berries
and the dazzled, half-drunken birds.

Then the pumpkins fell, one by one, each mythical fruit’s
dried umbilicus giving way in a rush
of gold and a snow of elliptical leaves.
A skull thud, the dull thunk of rupture,
a thin smoke then, like a soul, like dust.

But the last, high up and lodged
in a palm of limbs and pithy branches,
sways now in the slightest breeze and freeze
after freeze caves in on itself
and will, by spring, cast its black

leathery gaze out over the garden
like the mummy of a saint or an infirm
and desiccated pope. Below, where the others fell,
that seed not eaten by winter birds,
one, say, buried in meat and a sheath

of skin, will rise. From its blunt,
translucent nubbin, a leaf trifoliate
and a stalk as succulent as bamboo, it will climb
blithe as a baby Christ up the knees
of the wood it cannot know it is bound for.

Robert Wrigley
from Reign of Snakes
(audio via Poetry Foundation)



More poems by Robert Wrigley posted at Against Oblivion:

"I Like the Wind"
"Sweetbreads" (with audio)
"Do You Love Me?"
"News"




All Hallows

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.


Louise Glück
from The First Four Books of Poems




Additional poems by Louise Gluck posted at Against Oblivion:

"The Red Poppy"
"Elms"




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Gaffigan on Halloween is about 2min 28sec in: