Saturday, October 24, 2015

Prompt #236 – Halloween (Post for October 24th & 31st)

When witches go riding, and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween.
—Author Unknown

Because Halloween falls on the 31st, next Saturday, I thought I'd post a Halloween prompt this week and leave it up this week and next for you to enjoy.

BTW, did you know that the poet John Keats was born on Halloween in 1795? His last poem is an untitled, eight-line fragment that seems chillingly well-suited to Halloween:

                     This living hand, now warm and capable
                     Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
                     And in the icy silence of the tomb,
                     So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
                     That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
                     So in my veins red life might stream again,
                     And thou be conscience-calmed—see here it is—
                     I hold it towards you.

For Halloween this year, simply read a selection of Halloween and related poems to get into the "spirit" (see example poems below), and then write a Halloween poem that brings back the memory of a particular Halloween (from childhood or more recent). There are no guidelines or tips other than to observe the usual caveats and to have fun with this. Here you go ...

  • Touch base with a Halloween memory, think in terms of a narrative poem (one that tells a story), and let the memory guide your poem. 
  • Be sure to evoke a mood or tone that's compatible with your subject.
  • Use language that's appropriate to Halloween and your Halloween experience.

Example Poems:
John Donne,
“The Apparition” (1633)

Robert Herrick,
“The Hag” (1648)

Robert Burns,
“Halloween” (1785)

George Gordon, Lord Byron,
“Darkness” (1816)

Edgar Allan Poe,
“Dream-Land” (1844)

Edgar Allan Poe,
“The Raven” (1845)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
“Haunted Houses” (1858) 

Christina Rossetti,
“Goblin Market” (1862)

Walt Whitman,
“The Mystic Trumpeter” (1872)

Abram Joseph Ryan,
“Song of the Deathless Voice” (1880)

Paul Laurence Dunbar,
“The Haunted Oak” (1903)

Edith Wharton,
“All Souls” (1909)

Adelaide Crapsey,
“To the Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window” (1915)

Robert Frost,
“Ghost House” (1915)

Thomas Hardy,
“The Shadow on the Stone” (1917)

And here's a Halloween prose poem from my book A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing at All    (Welcome Rain Publishers, 2015.
Click here to order via Amazon.


Trick-or-treaters come to the door repeatedly—little ones early, older kids into the night until she runs out of candy and turns off the outside lights. The wall between worlds is thin (aura over aura—stars flicker and flinch). The woman buttons her coat, checks her reflection in the mirror, and stands cheek to glass (eye on her own eye, its abstract edge). She leaves the house (empty house that we all become)—shadows shaped to the trees, crows in the high branches.

Happy Halloween!


  1. Happy Halloween, Adele! Another great prompt -- love the pictures too!

    1. Thanks, Jamie! Halloween marks the beginning of my favorite time of year!

  2. As usual, a prompt to inspire! I love the pictures and your poem 'Halloween', and enjoyed reading through the other poems. Adelaide Crapsey is one of my favourites. Thank you, Adele :)

    ~ ~ ~

    The Old Orchard

    Their bones grind together as they walk round and round

    the old orchard, where I watch and listen to the dead:

    "we lost our tomorrow and in that blackest night we are afraid

    that you have forgotten our names.

    We have gathered from the few remembrances: blood-filled clouds

    across the moon over trenches and rats with fleas

    and our feet permanently wet, gas masks and tanks,

    rifles with bayonets, severed limbs stuck on infested barbed wire

    and cholera spirals into our food and water

    and the fallen we have trodden underfoot."

    With them in remembrance I walk round and round

    where my grandfather and his friends lay restless

    under the old orchard in France.

    1. Wonderful, Lewis! What an amazing remembrance! thank you for sharing this with us. And, thank you for your kind words!

    2. Just love this one, Lewis! What an amazing 'twist' on the Halloween idea. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Your prose poem is stunning, Adele! I have the book and every poem in that collection is just as brilliant -- every poem means more than it seems at first blush. A masterpiece!

    1. Oh, my goodness, Sandy! Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm truly happy to know that you like the poems in the book! Of all my books, this is the one I'm closest to.

  4. Amita Jayaraman (Mumbai)October 27, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    There's always so much information, so much to learn, and so much fun on this blog! Thank you, Adele!

  5. All Hallows Eve

    faint energy vibes
    gliding over the eithers
    finish your karma

    1. Risa, I love the idea of karma energy lurking somewhere in the background waiting for the 'right' moment to pounce!

    2. Wonderful, Risa! Just the right hint of "other-worldly."

  6. There was an idea to write a poem for Armistice Day/Remembrance Day (11 November). I weaved that idea with this week's 'Halloween' prompt, the two seem to fit. Happy you like the poem. :)

  7. oops ' ethers' may help the poem make more sense

  8. Thanks, Adele. My students had fun with this. Thanks, too, to Risa and Lewis for sharing their poems. Always a pleasure to read.

  9. I had no idea John Keats was born on Halloween, that's very interesting indeed! Thanks for the post, and I agree - that poetry sample is spine chilling!