Highland, Indiana, 2001
Patches of autumn leaves
chattering across the street
at sundown, in a small town where the light changes
for an empty intersection.
On the widower’s porch: a witch,
a vampire (complete with widow’s peak),
and a little phantom fashioned from a sheet
offer the choice of trick or treat.
The old one answers from within the pitch,
struggles to hold the screen door open
with his shoulder, while his liver-spotted hand
drops what he has in the buckets
shaped like jack-o-lanterns.
The one-night nightmares thank him
from under this year’s make believe and disappear
into what’s left of October—the ghost’s sheet
trailing like a genuine apparition,
it occurs to the man as he stands, hand
loyal to the door, spyglass eyes: in a trance
as he tunes into the werewolf’s howl resonating
down the Elm-lined lane, waiting for one more chance
to make these creatures happy—waiting
for the next gang of ghouls to arrive.