When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
may luck be yours on Halloween.
Today is Halloween, one of my favorite days of the year, and here in my place on the map, it’s autumn—a time filled with all the color and glory of the calendar’s last bright whirl. With October 31 come historical memories of Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”), the ancient Celtic festival that paved the way for Halloween as we know it. Samhain signaled the end of the harvest season, the beginning of winter, and the start of a new year.
This year on Halloween, there will be a special lunar treat—the full moon that will be seen tonight is called a blue moon because it’s the second full moon of the same month (following the harvest moon of Oct. 1 through Oct. 3). A rare and special treat is that the 2020 Halloween full moon will be visible to the entire world, not just parts of it, for the first time since World War II (the next global full moon won’t happen until 2039)
Sadly, this year many customary family and community Halloween events have been canceled or significantly altered because of Covid-19. And, right now, traditional Halloween thrills and chills seem less appealing while the pandemic continues to haunt and frighten us.
I feel especially badly for children who won’t be able to attend costume parties, Halloween parades, and take part in trick or treating; but, of course, at this point in the pandemic (with case numbers rising again), it’s best to err on the side of safety.
Although celebrations are changed, and the Cornoavirus equivalent of trick or treating won’t be the same, Covid can’t keep us from enjoying some Halloween poetry or from writing some of our own!
P. S. That’s me in the picture—I was four years old (in kindergarten) and dressed as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for Halloween that year.
1. Begin by reading some Halloween and associated poems to get into the “spirit” (some examples are offered below).
2. Then, write a Halloween poem that brings back the memory of a particular Halloween (from childhood or more recent), a costume you’ve worn or wanted to wear, or a mask that says something about you. Alternatively, you might write about what Halloween during the Covid-19 pandemic is like—and the wearing of masks every day.
3. Observe the usual poetry tips and caveats, and have fun with this.
4. Your poem can take any form: narrative, lyric, prose poem, haiku, haibun, tanka.
5. Be sure to evoke a mood or tone that’s compatible with your subject.
6. Include some “creepy” similes and metaphors.
7. Use language that’s appropriate to Halloween and your Halloween experience.
Examples of Halloween Poems:
And, last, by way of sharing, here’s a Halloween prose poem from my book
A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing at All
(Welcome Rain Publishers, Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.)
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.
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.______________________________________
Happy Halloween, my friends!