A Poem for All Hallows Eve

Jack O'Lanterns

“HALLOWEEN” by Robert Burns

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin’ clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu’ blithe that night.

The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they’re fine;
Their faces blithe, fu’ sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, and warm, and kin’;
The lads sae trig, wi’ wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi’ gabs,
Gar lasses’ hearts gang startin’
Whiles fast at night.

Then, first and foremost, through the kail,
Their stocks maun a’ be sought ance;
They steek their een, and graip and wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav’rel Will fell aff the drift,
And wander’d through the bow-kail,
And pou’t, for want o’ better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow’t that night.

Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar and cry a’ throu’ther;
The very wee things, todlin’, rin,
Wi’ stocks out owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc’s sweet or sour.
Wi’ joctelegs they taste them;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi cannie care, they’ve placed them
To lie that night.

The lasses staw frae ‘mang them a’
To pou their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard and fast;
Loud skirl’d a’ the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin’ in the fause-house
Wi’ him that night.

The auld guidwife’s well-hoordit nits,
Are round and round divided,
And monie lads’ and lasses’ fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle coothie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa, wi’ saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu’ high that night.

Jean slips in twa wi’ tentie ee;
Wha ‘twas she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e’en a sair heart
To see’t that night.

Poor Willie, wi’ his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi’ primsie Mallie;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compared to Willie;
Mall’s nit lap out wi’ pridefu’ fling,
And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
‘Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min’,
She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they’re sobbin’;
Nell’s heart was dancin’ at the view,
She whisper’d Rob to leuk for’t:
Rob, stowlins, prie’d her bonny mou’,
Fu’ cozie in the neuk for’t,
Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea’es them gashin’ at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel:
She through the yard the nearest taks,
And to the kiln goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear’t that night.

And aye she win’t, and aye she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin’,
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin’!
But whether ‘was the deil himsel,
Or whether ‘twas a bauk-en’,
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin’
To spier that night.

Wee Jennie to her grannie says,
“Will ye go wi’ me, grannie?
I’ll eat the apple at the glass
I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:"
She fuff’t her pipe wi’ sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap’rin’,
She notice’t na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.

“Ye little skelpie-limmer’s face!
I daur you try sic sportin’,
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune.
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret
On sic a night.

“Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, —
I mind’t as weel’s yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I’m sure
I wasna past fifteen;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,
And stuff was unco green;
And aye a rantin’ kirn we gat,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.

“Our stibble-rig was Rab M’Graen,
A clever sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi’ wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o’t;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That very night.”

Then up gat fechtin’ Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a’ but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
And out a hanfu’ gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae ‘mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see’d him,
And try’t that night.

He marches through amang the stacks,
Though he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks.
And haurls it at his curpin;
And every now and then he says,
“Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night.”

He whistled up Lord Lennox’ march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was say fley’d and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grane and gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
And tumbled wi’ a wintle
Out-owre that night.

He roar’d a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu’ desperation!
And young and auld came runnin’ out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore ‘twas hilchin Jean M’Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!

Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o’ naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
And two red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very nicht.

She turns the key wi cannie thraw,
And owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca’
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa’,
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through midden-hole and a’,
And pray’d wi’ zeal and fervour,
Fu’ fast that night;

They hoy’t out Will wi’ sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanced the stack he faddom’d thrice
Was timmer-propt for thrawin’;
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black grousome carlin;
And loot a winze, and drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin’
Aff’s nieves that night.

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu’ settlin’!
She through the whins, and by the cairn,
And owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds’ lands met at a burn
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.

Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl’t;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl’t;
Whyles glitter’d to the nightly rays,
Wi’ bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.

Among the brackens, on the brae,
Between her and the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up and gae a croon:
Poor Leezie’s heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav’rock-height she jumpit;
but mist a fit, and in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi’ a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta’en’,
To see them duly changed:
Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys
Sin’ Mar’s year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

Wi’ merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till butter’d so’ns, wi’ fragrant lunt,
Set a’ their gabs a-steerin’;
Syne, wi’ a social glass o’ strunt,
They parted aff careerin’
Fu’ blythe that night.


rburns

Robert Burns  (January 25th, 1759 – July 21st, 1796) Often referred to as the National Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns authored many remarkable works in a variety of forms during his short life: poems, epistles, songs and ballads.  He died at age 37.

In My Room…

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Her Icy Charms

I will sense her presence in my room tonight,

Though I will never feel her warmth.

Like exploitations of the recent past,

My memories distort her image.

To grope for her in darkness

When she cannot be felt

After feeling her in darkness

When I could not feel

Is tantamount to taking trips

To towns where once you lived

Without stopping.

I will walk with her to the grave this morning

Before Phoebus warms the earth

And sears her icy charm.

His chariot, whose heat and radiance

Gives life to undeservers,

Destroys hope of life for two cursed souls

That once could live as one

And now must form their union –

Protected by darkness – clothed in chill.

Our love was never blessed by God,

Nor was it blessed by Satan.

Venus screamed when first she saw us,

For I am blind and she is a ghost…

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John Thomas McElheny – October 30, 1968

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Copyright 2015, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

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Signals

REAL SPOOKS © 2012

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It’s not the creaking of the floor

That signals they are here

Those faint elusive fingertaps

That prey upon our fear.

It’s not the crawling palp of flesh

That tingles up the spine

And makes us walk into a wall

Or cover heads and whine.

It’s more the sudden heart in throat

That harkens our aware

And causes us to stop dead still

To contemplate and stare

And trembling legs like rubber bands

That fail us when we walk

And frantic waving baby arms

That fly out when we talk

That tell us when the spooks are near

And spur us on to look

At things we might perhaps to fear

That live within a book.

But life is not a cavalcade

Of vignettes marching by,

And all that we can hope to do

Is sit, and wonder why.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

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She Folded Time

Folded Time

The Marshallville Chronicles…

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She folded time like a lacy linen napkin
And then snapped the creases out before
Draping it over my lap to catch the flood
Of memories and tabled dreams that my
Heart in my mouth could no more contain
And that cascaded in red rivulets
From between pouted lips now too soft
To dam the flow that had been held
Prisoner behind my still clenched teeth.
The memories splashed onto my lap
Making ripples in the newly formed
Puddle of unfolded time.
We held our breaths and played
Unabashedly in our puddle child.
I opened my mouth to rejoice and
Drowned us in a frozen tide
Of fiery emotion.

She folded time like the traveler she was
And then jetted across the empty room
Of our togetherness
Fast enough to vacuum the dust of life
Swirling just high enough off the floor
That it could not be stepped upon
But taken back as it had been given
When it was the dust of death
And the firmament from whence she came
Screaming like the Banshee she wasn’t
And threatening to yet return
On the day when I folded time
And she was real.
She folded time in a bare room.
She flew in the heaving of the drapes.
Again, she was never here.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny

Turn Out the Lights

REAL SPOOKS © 2012

Dear God,

Forgive us for being so noisy so often that we are distracted from your perfect pageantry.

I think, sometimes, that more people would be in awe of your works if you would just turn off the electricity every now and then.

Thank you.

Amen.

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – John Thomas McElheny  

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Song for Lazaretto

Real Spooks © 2012 cynthiakinkel

Tybee Island Ghosts…

“SONG FOR LAZARETTO” – f# minor (copyright Jan. 2001)

1. It runs to the mouth of South Channel, with the tide, it meanders ’round winding its way through the marsh’s waving grasses and soggy ground. It curves like a rippled gray ribbon, the sash on a satin gown, and touches the back of the island on the side where the sun goes down. Many red sunsets have lingered high above this floating plain, to promise relief from the storms at sea – from the waves, the wind, and the rain.

2. The Uchee walked on Tybee long before the Spanish came; … from the Hitchiti-Maya word for ‘salt,’ the island got its name. Though fearsome pirates ventured here whose deeds became renowned, where Blackbeard buried his treasure dear, has never yet been found. While pirate days were numbered, also, French and Spanish gain, the English anchored at Tybee, determined to remain.

3. The founders envisioned Savannah: ‘No tenured property – a viceless, yeoman’s utopia; no rum, no slavery.’ Then trade in Chatham began to fail, and small farms but survived, while over in South Carolina, the rice plantations thrived. As loss and disenchantment overshadowed past convictions, they offered the land grant titles, and lifted the slave restrictions.

4. For years, when ships reached Tybee Light, they’d stop at South Channel Sound. They’d unload the sick and the dying, both the free, … and the bound. They’d leave them here, where this little creek, still far from Savannah town, touches the back of the island on the side where the sun goes down … at a place called ‘lazaretto,’ where a quarantine would hold all the ones with dreaded diseases, and the ones too sick to be sold.

5. While great blue herons nested out beyond the island’s view, mosquito swarms would buzz and bite ’til evening breezes blew. Windswept cedars, and pines, and palms, and crooked oak trees spread … alms of mercy at ‘lazaretto,’ like a summons to ‘raise the dead.’ Though comforters braved the perils, and full moons waxed and waned, there was no such ‘resurrection,’ for the dying who remained.

Refrain 1: Lazaretto! Here, beyond the stormy sea, was no promise for tomorrow, in your sunset reverie? Why must these things be so? What hope can ever be, as we lie here, Lazaretto, to rise again and be free?

6. Now, the South had known misfortune, but the price was high to pay, when the Union armies marched right in, and took it all away. Though Sherman spared Savannah the flames that others knew, the way of life was ended … and the means of living, too. While great plantations emptied, and the fields were laid so low, the slaves were freed, but many stayed. They’d nowhere else to go.

7. But the worst they’d fear on Tybee now were fevers and hurricanes. The days of the quarantines would close, leaving the last remains of the site where many perished, tide-washed and over-grown, … while rails were laid, then, a road was made, and seeds of progress, sown. Nothing survives to mark the graves of the souls lost in that place, … nothing perhaps, but a secret mark, that time cannot erase.

8. Today, the bridge that spans the creek affords a scenic view of the waters off Cockspur Light, as they rush to the ocean blue. Here, the island ‘shrimpers’ dock, and nearby, dolphins play, while hungry seabirds circle low to scavenge what they may … and out on the west horizon, where the miles of marshes grow, the sunsets still do linger as they did so long ago.

9. Many tales are told of those who’ve walked these timeless beaches, and the ways of former slaves live on where the GeeChee culture reaches. The creek still curves like a ribbon, as it winds along with the tide, though it cannot tell a single word how any have lived or died, but at times out here, there’s a sound on the wind, the voice of a memory, that fills the heart of these marshes, like the tide that’s up from the sea,

Refrain 2: “Lazaretto, … many things should never be as the deeds and reasons sleeping fill the pages of history. Yet, there is no doubt as the years rush out to meet eternity, they who lie here in the depths below, … asleep in mystery ….

10. … May also hear that trumpet blow beyond the stormy sea – down … where your waters flow the day you set them free … down, …where your waters flow on the sundown side of Tybee, … like a witness, Lazaretto, you wait so patiently – a witness, Lazaretto, wait and see…”

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Copyright 2012, Real Spooks – Cynthia Farr Kinkel

“The Woodticks” by Benjamin Franklin King

(A Poem Often Recited by Ruth Bond Randolph)

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Whoooooooo!There’s things out in the forest
That’s worser an’ ‘n owl,
‘At gets on naughty boys ‘n girls
‘At allers wears a scowl.
There’s things out in the forest ‘
At’s worser ‘n a lion,
‘At gets on wicked boys ‘n girls
‘At’s quarrelin’ an’ a-cryin’.
There’s things out in the forest, mind,
An’ if you don’t take care,
The woodticks—-the woodticks—-
Will be crawlin’ thro’ yer hair.

An’ they say as boys is naughty,
An’ their hearts is full o’ sin,
They’ll crawl out in the night time
An’ get underneath yer skin,
An’ the doctor’ll have to take a knife
An’ cut ’em off jes’ so,
An’ if a bit of ’em is left
Another one’ll grow.
An’ mebbe you won’t feel ’em, too,
Er even know they’re there,
But by and by they’ll multiply
And crawl up in yer hair.Wood Tick, too

The devil’s darnin’ needle too,
‘Ill come and sew yer ear.
An’ make a nest inside like that,
An’ then you’ll never hear;
An’ the jigger bugs gets on you,
An the thousand-legged worm
‘Ill make you writhe, an’ twist, and’ groan,
An’ cry, an’ yell, an’ squirm;
But the worst things ‘at’ll git you
If you lie, or steal, or swear,
Is the woodticks—-the woodticks—-
A-crawlin’ thro’ yer hair.

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Wood Tick

Benjamin Franklin  King, Jr. (1857–1894) was an American humorist and poet whose work published under the names Ben King or the pseudonym Bow Hackley. He achieved notability in his lifetime and afterwards. King was born in St. Joseph, Michigan, March 1857, and died while on a speaking tour at Bowling Green, Kentucky in April 1894. (Wikipedia)

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“Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley

“One of our favorite children’s poems, most certainly meant to be read aloud.”                                                        

Little_Orfant_Annie* * * * * 

Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay, an’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away, an’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep, an’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep; an’ all us other children, when the supper-things is done, we set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun a-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,  An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers, –an’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs, his Mammy heerd him holler, an’his Daddy heerd him bawl, an’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wuzn’t there at all! An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press, an’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’-wheres, I guess; but all they ever found wuz thist his pants an’ roundabout: –An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

Upstairs_blue_flame_Little_Orphant_Annie copy

 
An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin, an’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin; an’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there, she mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she didn’t care! An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide, they wuz two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side, an’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!  An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you Don’t Watch Out!

  

An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue, an’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo! an’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray, an’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away, –you better mind yer parunts an’ yer teachurs fond an’ dear, an’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear, an’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about, er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
 

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Mary Alice “Allie” Smith was James Whitcomb Riley’s inspiration for the above poem originally titled ‘The Elf Child,’ first published in the Indianapolis Journal in November of 1885. Riley was an American writer, poet, and best selling author born in Greenfield, Indiana in 1849. He died in Indianapolis in 1916.  He was known as the “Hoosier Poet” and “Children’s Poet” for his dialect works and his children’s poetry respectively. (Wikipedia)