True story: earlier this morning (12:00AM, to be exact) I was standing in a dark field, surrounded by a bunch of glowing jack-o’-lanterns, with a thick fog rolling in and the only sounds were that of a distant train horn and a few birds and insects chirping in the distance. If that isn’t what Halloween is all about, I don’t know what is.
For those who can’t get enough of pictures like the one on the right, I’ll be tweeting various Halloween-ish stuff throughout the day. Whether you love this holiday as much as I do or not, I hope you have a great Halloween. Thanks, as always, for your support.
Now then… there is the matter of the traditional Halloween poem.
I spent a lot of the time I ordinarily spend on the annual poem working on Vespasian Moon, so I kind of ran out of time this year.
Or so I thought. But then, I had an idea.
I’m working on a story that includes a character who writes songs, and one of the songs I’d drafted for him seemed to fit the mood, so I decided to use it. I just couldn’t bring myself to let the streak of posting a Halloween poem end. If, someday, you see this same poem published as part of a larger story… well, all I can say is, Poe did the same thing. I know, I know; the tired old “Edgar Allan did it!” defense.
Herewith, then, is the 2019 Ruined Chapel by Moonlight Halloween poem
Long centuries ago, an actor wound his way down Beggar’s Street one night,
Enduring fog and smoke, and that back-alley’s thick stink.
He saw a glimmer, thro’ the mist, of a flashing, flickering shop light.
And thought perhaps it was a place where he might stop and drink.
But when he drew nigh unto that dwelling’s door,
He saw it was a costume shop—a-draped all o’er with cloths and masks.
Gingerly, that actor stepped inside, and looked ‘round the show-room floor.
Where funny little men in funny clothes set about their daily tasks.
Some were cleaning metal faces with long dark slits for eyes,
Some were sewing robes of a long and shimmering material,
As if preparing for themselves some grand and great disguise.
And at the center of the store, aloof, imperial and ethereal—
There loomed a figure that young actor scarce could stand to look on,
A tall and ghostly figure, that seemed as if it hung upon the empty air,
With features ever-changing, always-moving; for every minute it took on
A new and different and most fantastic face to wear.
Sometimes it would be Harlequin, and next the Mephistopheles;
Then Pantaloon or Shakespeare’s witches, or the masks of Greco-Roman stage.
The actor staggered back in fear upon beholding these fantastic, these awful, these
Most disturbing and unfathomable sights, and that well-nigh unholy visage.
Stumbling backwards, feeling desperately to grab the door,
But then the figure spoke to him, and he could not resist Its voice:
“Come into my house, young man,” It said, as it hovered o’er the floor.
“Bring thyself into my fold, and thou will not regret the choice.
Like us, thou art practiced in deception’s underrated art—
As you are transformed nightly on the theater’s stage.
Then come with me, dear sir, and play yourself a worthy part—
A role to be remembered long beyond the ending of the Age.”
Now, ‘tis said the actor—and I can’t, upon my word, reveal his name—
But he went on to great success, in many a well-regarded play,
And too, that his performances brought him unprecedented acclaim;
And it’s said he’s still performing them even to this very day.