Erin Greinke and Alison Stone
NIGHT OF THE DAMNED
Graveyards are sprouting up already.
One neighbor has a ghost
in the hedge, a large stuffed spider
with springy orange legs
hangs in mock menace
from their lamppost, and two
skeletons pose among the
final hardy roses. The blow-up
witch, swaying in the wind, offers
a cartoon version of the real
thing, meant to convert fear
to fun, but instead she makes a
point about power, how victors
write the history books, converting
healers and midwifes to warty-nosed
cannibal kidnappers. Paper mache
monsters with glued-on features
distract us from the fiendish
killers in suits trying to soothe us
with rhetoric on TV, and fool us
into thinking fear’s a choice.
At night some of the ghosts
look real, and we take pains
to avoid the local cemetery, in case
campfire stories get their terror
from something more than
our imaginations, and the shadows
in our childhood memories
have a death of their own.
On Halloween, all the children are
touched by phantoms, the ones who
reach bloody rubber fingers to grab
for candy, and the timid ones who hide
behind ferocious make-up,
daring to hope for kindness
from random strangers.
Masks and pageantry reveal our
world’s true face — monsters mingling with heroes,
so much hidden, haunting, sweet.
We hide in our sincere patches
awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumpkin,
tempting fate with faith.
Bios: Erin Greinke’s work has appeared in the California Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Ginyu (Japan), The Green Door (Belgium), The Journal (UK), the New York Quarterly, the Paterson Literary Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Pinyon, Poem, Prosopisia (India), The South Carolina Review, The University of Tampa Review and many others. Her work is included in the international anthology The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry (India, 2014). Her book For The Living Dead – New & Selected Poems (Presa Press, 2014) has been downloaded over 300,000 times worldwide (e-book edition, Simon Pulse). Her most recent (2016) books are Poets In Review and Zen Duende – Collaborative Poems (with Glenna Luschei).
Alison Stone has an MFA degree from Pine Manor College. Her poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Statesman, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poet Lore, Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. She was awarded New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award and Poetry’s Frederick Boch Prize. Her first book, They Sing at Midnight, won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award . Her second collection, Dangerous Enough, appeared from Presa Press in 2014. Her most recent collection is Ordinary Magic (NYQ Books, 2016).