Halloween is my favorite holiday as it’s full of fancy and fantastical costumes (even for adults), treats and scary stuff.
In ancient Britain and Ireland, the Celtic festival of Samhain was observed on October 31, the end of summer. This date was also the eve of the new year in bother Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times and was the occasion for one of the ancient fire festivals when huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies and demons of all kinds. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. Also, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health and death.
As a Halloween treat, I have two poems for you.
At night the dead come down to the river to drink.
They unburden themselves of their fears,
their worries for us. They take out the old photographs.
They pat the lines in our hands and tell our futures,
which are cracked and yellow.
Some dead find their way to our houses.
They go up to the attics.
They read the letters they sent us, insatiable
for signs of their love.
They tell each other stories.
They make so much noise
they wake us
as they did when we were children and they stayed up
drinking all night in the kitchen.
— Susan Mitchell
ONE OF THE GRIM REAPER’S DISGUISES
Death does not speak
to me with meaty breath
although ancient hamburgers
dance through my veins and
the leering buffalo skull
on the wall above my couch
dribbles drool onto my heart.
At fifty, I have learned to see
the Grim Reaper in all his disguises.
I can see him in a can of Budweiser.
I can see him in a shaker of salt.
Tonight, death speaks through spuds.
On my kitchen counter a ten-pound
bag of potatoes is rabid with tendrils.
They smell like a coven of wings.
I’m afraid to go near them. They’ve
already strangled one of my cats.
Hey, these spuds are not vegetarians.
These are bad-ass rez potatoes.
They’ll sucker punch you
and kick you in the nuts
when you’re not looking.
If they’re not death
I don’t know what is.
— Adrian Louis