Process: The Halloween Poem


Every year I write a Halloween poem – most of the time I try to write a funny poem. When I was in college, I even wrote some performance Halloween poetry (which wasn’t that bad – I should try to find where I stored those).

Anyway, when I was working on this year’s poem, I got into a good rhyming flow, right up until this point:

I waited there so patiently
Out on the grassy hill
But not a soul came near to me
The air was light and still

So far, so good, even if I wasn’t a fan of the fourth line. I had a plan for where I thought this poem was going. It was going to tie into my being abroad. The original title for this poem was “Indifferent Spirits,” because I felt a real disconnect on Halloween. Normally I’m good at finding a spiritual connection on All Hallow’s Eve, but not tonight.  This poem was originally going to involve a bunch of ghosts wandering by, speaking Japanese and wondering what I kept talking to them in English.

The rhyme suggested a different path, and because I didn’t plot out this particular poem I followed. When it turned out the narrator was dead already (what a twist!) I realized that I had wanted to tell a very different story than a funny miscommunication piece.

The last line was a tough one, because my brain really wanted me to end on a scary note, not a funny one. The last four lines were to culminate in something like “There is no pleasure greater than/ a death on Halloween.” I thought this entirely too dark for my desire. While I wasn’t going to change the angle of the poem, I also didn’t want to end it on such a strong, morbid note. Better to go with the angle of time and Halloween, since I think that is what resonates more with a soul than the idea of accumulating more souls.

My brain was upset at this, because it was a really good rhyming couplet. But first thoughts are not always the best thoughts. I try to limit editing when doing a flow poem, but I think the writer has the ultimate authority to step in when tone takes a sharp left turn. Especially when its within his or her own voice.






She strides, bedecked in the trappings
of ravens and magpies.
Her coat, the color of the urban underclouds.
Plum, peach, and slate grey skies.

She smiles in confident tones of
One who has seen a thing or two,
Knows what is what.
She points you to your destination
In exchange for a bauble
Of personal information you already forgot.

Green boots, like cocktail olives
And fashion forward thinking.
She strides, clothed in the trappings
Of ravens and magpies.


I have returned! I’ve kept all my poetry in paper journal format as is my custom. I guess it’s time to go back to putting it all up in electronic format.

I’ve been playing with that first couplet for months now – never sure where it was meant to go.

2.25 – A Freeform Verse with Anger and Birds



A Freeform Verse with Anger and Birds

You dive bomb like a blue jay
You’re as faithless as a crow
I watch you peck and rend and bend
The old things that I know

You screech just like a magpie
You’re catbird cruel in show
I watch you peck and flick and prick
The old ways that I know

You frighten like the night owl
You’re a wasteful, spiteful sparrow
I watch you peck and shake and break
The old joys that I know

So where did I misplace my dove
Where is my cardinal true
Who took away my joyful thrush
And left me here with you?

Perhaps I am the grackle
The junco deep in snow
Perhaps it’s I who let you fly
Away with what I know.


I think I’ll work on this one. I love birds, and I don’t know why I went to such an angry place with the bird imagery.

What Wonders


What Wonders

So up we fly, up through the snow

The ground in grey and white below

Till all that’s left is a golden glow

Of all the world I’ll ever know

What wonders will she show

What wonders will she show

Celestial lights and moon’s good glow

The clouds with violent undertow

Till stars above and lights below

Are all that I could wish to know

What wonders will she show

What wonders will she show

Of sky and Earth and winds that blow

Of ground that sleeps and storms that grow

So up I fly, up through the snow

What wonders will I know

What wonders will I know

Apologies for the delay, everyone. It’s been busy.

The above started with the couplet: “7 miles up and through the snow  / The world is Hades down below.” I was leaving Detroit and there was snow and low clouds. From above, the thin clouds  glowed pale yellow and grey because of all the light from the cities and suburbs. It was alluring and otherworldly, and so I let my rhyming mind roam unchecked.

Days Numbered 11,12, and 13


Day 11: When You’re in a Mood..

I’d like to think I have rage,

But I’ve been calm my whole life.

What if I don’t have the necessary anger

To desire an organ? A throat?

To remove your teeth?

To remove just one tooth, without permission?

I want that sort of thing in my back pocket.

I like the idea of it being there –

A cold, violent power.


Here we are.





Day 12:  Chinese IKEA

Surging, sweeping people pushing
All along aisles and alleys
People pressing – crowd control
Unlikely, unstoppable – universally un-doable
Plodding people stopping suddenly
Someone sees something shiny
Carts collide, mumbling masses
Don’t dare delay – drive
Forward forever! Buying behemoth
Carries cash, check, credit
Hey, hurry! Yes, You!
Escape! Employ Emergency Exit!




Day 13:  Daydream Believer

One day I spied a handsome man

Walking down a beach.

I tried to walk along his path

But he stayed out of reach.

A foolish goal to chase this dream

As he would never stop.

Oasis on my mental shore

A flask with not one drop.