The History of Halloween

“The History of Halloween”
Running around October 31st in a witch costume and acting crazy is human. We practice what our forefathers did in past centuries, laughing at and respecting Death at the same time. Halloween predates Christianity. The 15th Century was a dark and cruel, uninviting place with a struggle for simple things like food and warmth. With the harvest in, they’d celebrate life and respect the dead. The fire and light of the Halloween pumpkin scares the ghost away. And that same mystical light paves the way home. Some say religion liberated Halloween from its former “Pagan” traditions. Probably true if we are talking about the insane practice of human sacrifice. The lovely thing about my fellow player on life’s stage is his imagination and courage to laugh at even life’s most final part.Blue Moon

Like Pavlov’s dog awaiting now my bell,
I hold a bowl of goodies in my hands;
Like Frankenstein, I shuffle to the door
and, zombie; deadpan, answer their demands.

Why should this be? That I’m bewitched is lame!
Why does tradition force me to the door?
What is All Hallows’ Eve but some blind rhyme
and why, within my nature, strive for more?

The world is cold and dark; a demon walks
throughout our village Fourteen, Forty-Eight.
The Fifteenth Century takes courage, more
than most of us might harness here-to-date.

The Plowman works but death tugs at his sleeve
“Come dance with me”, says Death, “you may as well
for in that final day, I’ll set you free.”
New Orleans’ mourners nod, “Amen; that’s swell.”

My DNA’s a part of that dark way;
the bones of all my ancestors connect.
Our Celtic danse macabre takes that fine day.
That Dark Prince known as *Samhain, we respect.

We run through streets, our Jack O’ Lanterns play
with light held high, dispel the darkness cast.
Our mask will keep us safe and keep at bay
that looming beast of death at our request!

So Halloween’s an everlasting call;
life’s laughter mixed with pain and innocence.
Respect for Death would harvest lovers all.
The knocking at my door means no offense.

“Dark Memories”

Halloween 1942-1It is the end of an idyllic summer on Tanglewood Street in Daytona Beach, Florida. My sister, age 6, is excited and practices her Frankenstein walk all afternoon and I, age 8, can’t stop looking at myself in the mirror. A magical transformation has taken place. I am a black and terrifying spider. It does excite me to pretend to be what I am not. It is fun to feel strong and confident behind that mask against a scary world.

It is 1942. The Second World War is on everyone’s mind; a different sort of scary.
There are newspaper collection drives. We gather old rubber bicycle tires as a basis for raw material that eventually become a part of the Armed Services equipment sent to England. Some people hoe Victory Gardens behind their homes as a way to help the war effort. Some grow lettuce patches for a salad or two, but I only remember failing as a farmer who mulched a strawberry patch but nothing came of it before the bugs took over. Air Raid Wardens in hardhats knock on your door if you forget and leave a porch light on during a practice for an Air Raid “blackout”. As a child of eight, I am aware of war and what it means to be “male” and how lucky I am to be a girl; never forced to go to a place from which I may never return. I feel this is unfair. How is it that courage is demanded of some and not of others? It leaves me confused. I try to make sense of my world, but fail.

Halloween has been, traditionally, a time when people ‘celebrate’ and laugh at the fearful, the future or the scary. It becomes an outlet for facing superstition, magic and things that go bump in the night that cannot be explained and so the farce continues. Each generation tries by wearing a mask of their own and challenging the fearful.

My sister and I walk the darkened streets of downtown Daytona Beach that night with our mother between us, holding our hands. It is a grand, candlelit fantasy; the singing, the dancing, the costumes, the candy…before the truth of war descends and I feel small again.

(re: photo is pic of my sister (she’s Red Riding Hood) and myself (far right) dressed as some kind of Spanish male dancer for Halloween in the 1940’s. Observe my face. I was a very serious little girl, even then.)

A Warning for Lovers

credit: Dreamstime.comPhotoCredit: Dreamstime.com

Be warned, for winter’s tease is all about.
Slight chill is in the air. Her glance is there.
Such danse macabre comes with October’s rout
when crimson leaves burn, withering and drear.

When colors drunk with frost and wind so high,
may swirl through trees and bend them to ground;
their righteous voices moaning for reply.
Their golden souls are lost and never found.

Forgotten are the dead , yet still they dance
in summer’s lost frivolities and tune;
like heart’s marooned in short-lived autumn trance
like sigh that is dispersed with solemn rune.

Oh, dance, my autumn, ‘fore your fiery tears
bring on that looming loss as winter nears.

“A Song For Innocence”

Lakota mother and childA Song For Innocence”

Raw, gray clouds roll across December frost
Big Chief Bigfoot waves flag upon a stick
but all that’s left are promises. The cost:
too many brothers lost and dying quick.

Oh, listen as their cries reverberate!
The young and old that bleed at Wounded Knee
still dances as a ghost beyond the hate;
their stamping feet mid sun sets all souls free.

On Greasy Grass dies Custer with no gold;
the Black Hills of Lakota still are free.
No stick with white flag may his men unfold;
a failed attack, his 7th Cavalry.

Run, run, boy! from your mother’s frantic fears.
Your baby brother’s heart will shed our tears.

“Sestina for Minnie E. Amerine”

Minnie E. Amerine“Sestina for Minnie E. Amerine”

Desirous to be loved, we seek our own

and when we find it, that is where we leap.

An attic jewel shining mid the dust

and so the mind stirs anxiously to seek

but in its reaching finds a darker door

and in that search may see a deadly scene.

Here’s Minnie Amerine, lost to her scene.

She shares a placid beauty all her own.

But cold, her muted lips a dungeon door

upon her porcelain face no motives leap.

What was her heart’s desire; what did she seek

for one so young now gone to stifling dust?

Will each of us discover, through that dust

an answer to the riddle of life’s scene?

Her eyes would speak of love we all do seek:

acceptance for a corner of our own

before we hear the bell; before we leap

before our life becomes that clos`ed door.

Now gaze upon that face; a cloistered door.

No frown but one brief moment’s smile to dust.

On death, a frozen smile forever leaps

upon the photo of this lovely scene:

Did you once guard a love you called your own

before death’s jealousy sent arms to seek?

While looking in her face, her beauty seeks

to open up another worldly door.

‘Fore time is frozen, I will call my own

before the dust will smother me to dust.

Before I turn from Minnie, leave her scene:

her tragic, early death does make me leap.

And through her mirrored eyes, I scream and leap.

And in her frozen smile, my love still seeks

to know what she was like behind that scene.

Her spirit filled with breath behind closed doors?

Or is our Minnie gone to cosmic dust;

her beauty but a bit of atom’s own?

Now leap upon the face of beauty! Seek!

Hold to that scene where love’s beyond the door.

Remember Minnie’s dust is but our own.

(I have been busy lately tracing my ancestry.  Minnie was born 1892 and died, tragically at age 17 in 1910 after birth of my husband’s father in 1909.)  Was looking for inspiration for a Sestina.  Some say the form is more fun for the writer than the reader. I don’t know about that.  A sestina is a lot of hard work.  I would welcome any help, criticism or comment.  Thanks.

Roseburg English Class 101

Roseburg English Class 101

Some said it sounded like a heavy book
slammed down a darkened well with stifled thud.
Some said they heard no murmur made them look
beyond idyllic, lovely forest bud.
But sadness lies within the hearts that hear
the truth of man’s inhuman selfish drive.
The madness of that page leave all in fear:
reads “none of us may happen to survive”.
Home-grown, our terrorist with hero’s might
gives evil its demonic, callous face
with gun held close to head makes us recite
what love we have as part of human race.
Lesson’s ‘oer for children gone to heaven
Ages eighteen through age sixty-seven.