Childhood Halloween

Thomas Smith

The sexy, the transgressive, the political
costumes are well and good, but nothing
can bring back our childhood Halloweens,
no matter how many plastic gravestones
we plant in the yard, or how much orange-
and-black we unpack from the attic,
or how many bags of candy we lay by
for trick-or-treaters, knowing full well
we¹ll eat most of them ourselves.  This afternoon
downtown I saw the perennial hobo
handkerchief-bundled and eye-pencil-
mustached led by a young mom, a tiny
Frozen Elsa, braided to the waist, ambling
gamely along, swinging her candy basket
at her parents¹ side.  We never wanted
real horror (adult life would save plenty
for us), only its lurid imposters,
which still evoke when the mood is right
the secure disarray we once felt running
from some fabricated fright, shrieking our
joy into the arms of a mother or
father who stood tall as a castle
and would never have let a monster
get close enough to threaten the for-
ever we were all going to live.

Thomas R. Smith lives in River Falls and teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His new  and selected prose poems, Windy Day at Kabekona, is just out from White Pine Press. For more by/about Thomas look here