Saturday, October 23, 2010

All Hallow's Eve


The end of October has been associated with change and passage--from one season to another, from one state of life to another--across many centuries and cultures. Whether called Samhain, All Saint's Day, Halloween, or the Day of the Dead, whether celebrated with commercialized frivolity, harvest gratitude, resignation or a darker emotion, it evokes the death of summer and the feelings that accompany it. So, in recognition of that passage from a rich autumn world to a bleaker winterscape, a new Off the Shelf selection from Stephen Crane, and also the poem below,  from 1991.

Photo by Ansel Adams, Church, Taos Pueblo, 1942




Burne-Jones-le-Vampire

Revenant

The cool breath of the dead sighs down the hall.
It peels my soul like an old potato,
thick slices of skin and soft woody flesh
dropping in a spiral on the kitchen table of this
tired life.

A speaking shadow stands at the door,
an empty replicant.
A grey curse hangs over him
like the sullenness of unshed rain
blowing past a withering crop.

Huddled in the closed grave of my bed
I compose my bones in paleolithic repose
with dry flowers, an awl of horn,
a broken string of red beads 
       drifted with earth,
waiting for the ending of that next birth.

O I hear you out there,
rapping, knocking, calling
with a mute vibration
begging to come in and have me.

O yes I answered last time and see
See me now.

Roll the rock and stop the door.
Put the holy symbol round my neck.
Only keep
    the shadow
                  out.


March 1991



Illustration: The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones  (1861-1926)
Philip Burne-Jones [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

5 comments:

  1. I like the Off the Shelf poem...because it is bitter and because it is Stephen Crane. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks. Stephen Crane and Ambrose Bierce don't get the attention they deserve imo. I wish there was some way to leave comments on that page and also to archive those selections. I need to see what I can do about that.

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  3. http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/thursday-poets-rally-week-32-november-4-10/
    you are represented as fresh poets to explore at our Poets Rally week 32.
    you will get some traffic when poets visit you…
    I invite you to become a participant, which helps you get poetry awards upon making a minimum 18 comments to participants.
    Thanks for the considerations. Link in a poem via commenting under the post when you are ready.
    Happy Thursday!
    xxx

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg