The Impotency of Positive Thinking

This poem was originally written for Autumn Laudsbut was ultimately barred from the Table of Contents (it riffs on a classic piece of science fiction, and I didn’t want to violate any copyright laws), but I have decided to post it here in celebration of the Halloween season.


The Impotency of Positive Thinking

Really, they’re too old to be dressing up,
Have no business begging for saccharine treats
On this thirty-first night of October.

But it can’t be helped, they’re compelled
To dare the doorstep of the uninviting edifice.
The House of Usher has nothing on this manse,
Looming, gloom-enshrouded, incredibly decrepit.

A trio sets off down the sinuous, tree-flanked path
While the rest remain nervously stationed at the sidewalk.
Tonight Bill is a straw-spilling scarecrow.
Thelma the image of a fairy princess, and
Pat impersonates monstrosity via a cheap plastic mask.

Carefully, they make their approach, knowing
He waits up ahead inside, hidden but vigilant.
They labor to banish negativity from their brains,
To deny thought of the potential punishment they might incur.
Arriving at last at the dark oaken door, they pause,
Then knock in unison, the raps resounding like gavel bangs.

The occupant’s response is sudden and stern:
Out of nowhere, a murder fells Scarecrow Bill,
The swooping birds hardly alarmed by the man’s costume.
Thelma meantime vaporizes, but the vanishing’s fathomable–
An instant internment, no doubt, in a deep cornfield grave.
And when Pat retreats streetside, fast as his arthritic hips allow,
His mask is absent, his face transformed into true grotesquerie.

Such capricious treatment is terrible to behold, but
No one ventures or even considers any complaint,
Certainly not when the perpetrator is within mindshot.
“The boy’s outdone himself this time,” Pat proclaims,
Forcing his distorted features into a semblance of a grin.
“What a fine trick he’s played,” a prostrate Bill enthuses
Amidst countless thumping wings and cacophonous caws.
“Oh, it’s a good Halloween,” Anthony’s prisoners all agree.


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