Autumn Lauds

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Autumn. The liminal season, threshold between summer’s end and winter’s austere onset. A time of mounting darkness and blazing lights, of deadening leaves and livening spirits. AUTUMN LAUDS: POEMS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON celebrates this exceptional time of year and the cherished holiday that falls at its center. The collection is divided into two sections of thirty-one poems each; the first, “Miscellaneous Praise,” invokes the sights and scenes, the rituals and events in which so many take delight and find fright. A legendized region by the name of Sleepy Hollow is revisited, as is a lonesome October nightscape out of Poe, and due homage is paid to the undisputed king of the October Country. The second section, “Angry Villager Anthology,” gathers the dramatic monologues of the people of Grantwood, who have finally (on the penultimate eve of October) captured the monster that has been bedeviling their town all month long. Now the blood-lusting mob plans to parade the creature through the streets, and then end the procession with a public execution in the town square. En route to their destination, the angry villagers fill in the back story of the monster’s misdeeds but at the same time expose the dark heart of their own community.



I. Miscellaneous Praise

  • Halloween
  • The Werecrow
  • Patch Match
  • Awaiting Greatness
  • Gourd Mortality
  • Carving Artist
  • Ray of Dark
  • Post-Pandemonium
  • Bonfire Ode
  • Opposing the Joneses
  • Hardly Martha Stewart
  • Corn Maze
  • Haunted Attraction
  • Fourteen Ways of Looking at Fall Foliage
  • Mounds
  • Store-Bought
  • Contested
  • Bittersweets
  • Night Seen
  • At Hand
  • Practical Measures
  • Expiration
  • Gates Of
  • Gunpowder Plots
  • Paranormal Inactivity
  • Them Apples
  • Ulalume II
  • Shock Treatment
  • Offering
  • Octoberzest
  • Happy Villagers

II. Angry Villager Anthology

  • Mischievous
  • Bettor Mousetrap
  • Local Rag
  • Departed
  • Retribution
  • Of a Feather
  • Jailbait
  • Alter Boy
  • Paternal Instinct
  • Patchwork
  • Voicemail
  • Dope Fiend
  • Attention, Please
  • Rude Awakening
  • Candid Cameraman
  • Sketchy
  • All Out
  • Alternate Route
  • Parade Apes
  • Smear Campaign
  • Not a Peep
  • Merciless
  • Bedroom Eyes
  • Doggone
  • Tome Reader
  • Abomination
  • Showstopper
  • Grim Fete
  • Revival
  • Stoneface
  • Communal Grue


Hayrides through rustic labyrinths where spooks crop up
Apples candied crimson, bandaged with coconut shreds
Leaf-skirted trees looming in skeletal tableau
Legions of pumpkins, picked, hollowed, and personified
Orange-blazed neighborhoods evoking old Druid bonfires
Windows dressed for the occasion in finest fantasy
Eeriness consecrated and death befriended
Everyday life shucked for the dark carnival
November’s inaugural ball an all-night masquerade


Bonfire Ode

Temporary autumn temple, raised solely to be razed;
Wondrous pyramid of flame, looming fluidly o’er the field;
Open-air crematorium, ashing the bones of no-longer-livestock;
Annual communal beacon, from the Celtic past to the present night;
Spectacular sentry, opposing the waning days and encroaching cold;
Effigy engulfer, symbolic immolator of the infamous Fawkes;
Palette of All Hallows, fiery oranges dolloping a backdrop of black;
O captivating blaze, you kindle so much more than a woodpile;
Your dramatic flare warms not just the skin but the whole October soul.


Night Seen

Porch gourds, dormant yet vigilant
Slaughtered indoors, set out in observance
Of annual nocturnal ritual.

If semblance meant sentience,
What sights would those triangle eyes take in:

First, the scurry of gradeschoolers finally graduated
Past the indignity of parent chaperone,
Clearly relishing their independence as much
As the impending chocolate offerings.

Then teens testing the limits of propriety
With their sordid or whorish costumes,
Their very presence on the doorstep
At that age and that stage of the evening.

Further on, the more furtive emerge.
Bandits of entire “Just Take One” candy bowls,
Decoration desecrators, the insistently mischievous
Who can’t make a holiday without breaking some eggs.

Still later, when the carvers are all tucked under cover,
Safely blinded by shuteye: the ultimate midnight witchery.
A spectral parade whose terrible passage beyond
Leaves but snuffed candles and rot-spotted flesh in its wake.


Them Apples 

Quaint autumnal contest:
Delicious reds buoyed by cool water,
A fruity flotilla in a rounded tub,
Suddenly sent drifting or driven down
By the extracting measures of gaping jaws.

Only a macabre analogy now
That Bobby’s trapped in his swimming pool,
Alternating frantic gasps with desperate plunges
As the looming, strident, mutant menace
Jabs its unfathomable mandibles at him.