Month: October 2012

The Every Day XIX

Holdout

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The Every Day XV

Our Loyal Maple

Our loyal maple snugs up against that window

and keeps cool the kitchen all summer through.

May to September, each broadback green leaf

precise of point and edge

sweeps sunlight somewhere deep inside,  storing it in bright

woody core or black root. By October,

that tree is gorged with light, awaiting

the gray day when it goes from green to blazes overnight,

spilling a seasonload of sun at our feet.

— Steve Kline

October 17, 2012

Halloween, Albuquerque

Janice Northerns

Armed with dull knives and Budweiser,

we convene on Pat’s front porch for this ritual

of carving flesh.  We each choose a face,

a personal totem against encroaching

ghosts.  I plunge

into pumpkin, scoop seeds, carve stars

for eyes. Patricia swirls inventive curves,

and Tom, out of practice fifty years,

settles for triangles.  Only Bill

hovers over his work, hesitating,

willing each slice of the knife

just right.  Like all else he does,

it’s got to be the jack-o’-lantern

of the century.  He cuts,

frowns, flings pumpkin all around,

finally quits, saying it looks

too much like him.  He’s left

just enough skin for hooded eyes,

snarling teeth.  The whole face

peels back to raw moist pulp,

so thin this pumpkin’s candle-soul

will glow over the whole night.

The party starts and arriving guests

agree, pronounce his pumpkin best,

scariest.  He’s still not convinced

as we go inside for Jack Daniels

and horror stories, and somewhere in between

my third drink and Pat’s tale

of Navaho ghost dogs, I notice Bill’s gone.

Through the window, I see him crouched,

candle blown out.  No jack-o’-lantern

can stop the demons who hold court

in his head, come three a.m.  Night

after night, he carves the dark.  He gouges,

slashes, always trying for the ultimate cut,

the wicked smile that will fool us all

into mistaking him for God.  We half-believe

already, but that is never enough.

Janice Northerns lives in Liberal, Kansas. Halloween, Albuquerque was first published in Poem, Volume 78, November 1997.