come dance with me

Today is Halloween. This is what my sister, Booko, does to pumpkins this time of year:

Yes, she carved each and every one of them. Amazingly talented, is my sister.

Being much less adept with a knife, I think of Halloween as the annoyingly predictable day when the neighborhood kids come to ring my doorbell, sending The Wonder Dog into frenzied fits of insanity and the cat into traumatized seclusion, interrupting my solitude with their insincere and unconvincing cries of “trick or treat!” Of course, there are the practical souls who stand there silently, petulant, stubbornly holding out their buckets and pillowcases, recipients of a largesse earned by mere entitlement rather than effort or threat of force, their young faces costumed in ghoulish aspects of expectant greed.

No, this is not my favourite holiday. How could you tell?

But today is also Samhain, the dark twin of Beltane, sometimes known as All Hallow’s Eve — a night when it is said that the veil between the worlds of the living and of the dead is at its thinnest. Some say it is a night of unimaginable power. A night cloaked in mystery and pagan ritual, shrouded by superstition and fear. A night when the spirits of the dead roam freely among us, causing mischief and harm, unappeased by meager offerings and reined in only by the approach of dawn. Tales are told of incautious souls unwary enough to be lured by curiosity to the other side, and of those unfortunate few who do not make it back before night gives way to light.

As an antidote to the crass commercialism of the modern holiday, and just generally to cheer myself up, I tried to find a poem I could post here that would convey the dark eerie spookiness of the old pagan beliefs — that the threshold between the living and the dead is easily crossed on this night — but couldn’t find any that quite fit the right mood. So I wrote my own. I hope it’s as much fun to read as it was to write. May your Hallow E’en be a night of safe travels, one disturbed only by visitations of benign spirits.

come dance with me

they come in the darkest of night
to be
afoot in the absence of light
and see
the souls who have given the right
to me
to waltz upon their graves

they come now to witness the dance
and see
how fortune has done more than glance
at me
and evil has won the last chance
to be
the footprints on the graves

and oh how they quiver with fear
of me
and how their own lives they hold dear
and flee
though fate never has been more clear
to see
’tis written on the graves

the game has already been won
you see
and night will give way to the sun
and be
the lament of words left unsung
to me
the keeper of the graves

they say ’tis sheer madness this night
to be
awash in the absence of light
and see
them link hands this unhallowed night
with me
and dance upon their graves



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4 responses to “come dance with me

  1. rssasrb

    Great poem. Chills actually danced up my spine. And as I walk the dark streets of my old home town tonight with my son and nephew, I’ll feel that whisper of freezing breath on the back of my neck, and jerk around at the tap of a branch on my shoulder fearing the invitation to dance.

    And when asked why I screamed, I’ll say BCB made me do it.


  2. Merry

    I don’t know… you might not be adept with a knife, but you’re pretty good with a pen 😉

    unketiew – the kind of word verification you get when you’re really short on sleep and caffeine and can’t think creatively


  3. orangehands

    Ok, first, those pumpkins are awesome. They just became my desktop til the next amazing thing comes along. (My desktop is a fickle, fickle being)

    I love Oct 31st. This is seriously my favorite day of the year. Either as Halloween (the candy-costume fun) or as All Hallow’s Eve (the spirits are closer than usual). This is the night where people get to have fun and those in tune with the world a little more are reminded about things they may forget the other nights. It’s a night about screams and laughter and sorrow and respect.

    Plus, you have A Nightmare Before Christmas (yes, it can double for Christmas, but at the end of the day it’s about Halloween) and Hocus Pocus (Bette Milder singing “I Put a Spell On You” is one of the greatest scenes in movie history ever).

    October 31st. It’s the kicks.

    And your poem was a lot better than I was expecting. (That sounds rude, but well, you did say if you weren’t scared of “amateur poetry” and I am a little). It goes well with Rasputin’s villain song from Anastasia. (I really did like it, I swear.)

    ingste: What happens when you eat a Jack-O-Lanterns light.


  4. BCB

    OH, you make me smile. You and your “spirited” enthusiasm can come to my door looking for handouts any day of the year.

    Glad you all enjoyed the poem. It was a nice creative change of pace and fun to write.