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



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

March 1991

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


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

  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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    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!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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