Today I was invited to participate in a special Hallowe’en edition of the live Social Chats broadcast hosted by Tonya Scholz with an assist by Maria De Los Angeles. It was an informal bit of fun, giving me a chance to talk a little about my own fascination with the holiday and it’s changing place in American culture. As a special treat — although some may have considered it a trick — Maria had asked me to read something for the show. I decided to dust off this poem I wrote nearly twenty-five years ago and perform it live. You can hear it when you listen to the archive of the broadcast (titled “Halloween 1026”), but if things go well there will be a special recording of it here on Hidden City tomorrow.
By day the glade’s a sunny, pleasant place—
a stand of oaks which rings an open space
where flowers grow, and children come to play
as long as lasts the clear, bright light of day.
But dusk does fall, and children run to home,
as deep’ning dark starts stirrings in the loam.
Long years ago this glade was oft the site
of gruesome deeds, and bloody, evil rites.
Twilight does fade the flowers’ springtime hues
to ghastly jaundiced shades and ghostly blues,
while murmurs on the wind from far away
foretell the birth of night—the death of day.
A hush throughout the wood does quickly fall
as Darkness shrieks its silent, spectral call.
Then midnight shadows cloak the ancient bower
as solemn bells announce the spirits’ hour.
As sulph’rous mist, from earth the Spectres rise
they have no face, save glowing crimson eyes
which burn so bright with unrelenting hate
for those who once consigned them to this fate.
The from the trees a pulsing rhythm grows
which snares the twisted spirits in the throes
of wanton dance; a mournful, eerie sight
to see such phantoms writhing in the light
Of distant stars. And then begins to wail
of souls long lost to realms beyond the veil
of Death. This most unholy music makes
the stoutest heart to fail, and souls to break.
The lesser things are tainted here as well,
the puny fauna of the pits of hell:
the things that hop and sting and fly,
things that should not live, yet cannot die.
And other things do live here in this glade
foul creatures which our Maker never made.
Things that also caper in the light
of ghostly stars, and yearn for that which might
Release them from their bondage to this place.
For then they would repay the day-time race
in kind for deeds done long ago by men
who longed for Pow’r, and sought it in this glen.
For hours this madness in the glade goes on
until a light presages birth of dawn
and death of night. And thus, with just a hiss
of steam, the demons turn again to mist.
The horrors of the night soon fade away,
dispersed again by power of the day.
The Darkness calls its troops back from a rout
to calmly wait the night when they will out.
Soon the games of children will be found
where eldritch evil waits close underground.
And pretty blooms look not the least forlorn
where shadows sleep, and wait to be reborn.
[This was written on May 17, 1986, was first published in Ambergris From Leviathan Special Edition #2, Hallowe’en 1989, and first appeared on Hidden City in October, 2006.]