When I was a boy, on Halloween,
Trick or treating meant bypassing
The authentic, haunted farm houses
Of my rural community, spaced

Unwalkable half miles distant,
Windows black as skull sockets,
Their spiderwebbed porches unlit,
Graveyard yards unwelcoming.

Instead, I was driven twenty five
Minutes to the nearest subdivision,
Brightly lit with festive windows,
Flickering flames of jack-o-lanterns,

Dropped off with friends to chaperone
Ourselves through the groomed streets,
Until our pumpkins overflowed with candy,
Or eight o’clock—whichever came first.

“Did you hear,” a passing kid warned,
Breathing hard, voice urgent
Behind an Incredible Hulk mask,
“There’s a wild man out tonight!”

A wild man! We turned to one another.
What could it mean? We never feared
The razor blades hidden within
Fresh apples, mostly because

We never received any apples.
Even blindfolded, we knew that the
Bowls of eyeballs were peeled grapes,
The swallowed goldfish, canned peaches.

But a wild man was something new,
Foreboding. We walked cautiously,
Clustered tight, nervous as costumed
Chickens, clucking our misgivings.

And so, when an hour later the wild man
Leaped, roaring from the shadows,
Rushing towards us, all I saw was
Horror, murder, death, darkness,

Halloween’s promise fulfilled, and I ran,
Losing my friends, my way, my mind,
Sprinting, if I could have, all the way home
To those sweetly haunted farm houses,

While behind me, my friends now
Undoubtedly slain, butchered into chunks,
The wild man raised gore-spattered claws,
Threw back his gruesome head, and howled.