Jack ‘o’ the lantern walks the wiles,
Bobbing ride beyond the boundary wall,
The back-road draped in frosty smiles,
Teeth bite brightly through autumn’s fall.
The once-were-road is where the children are,
Hale and frosty hallows eave,
Laughter on, away and far,
Procession guised of patchwork weave.
Never-meet hour of the coachman’s cloth,
Make merry as those gibbering, shapeless pass,
Hearts flutter on the wings of a churchyard moth,
Shadows drain the antique candle glass.
Excited mystery warmed of heart,
So strange the closing gates of day,
Meeting players in their part,
With merry words to pass their way.
Time yet, though eager – not so long,
Untombed, the witching hour strikes her ghostly tune,
And we dance on the bones of the bard’s lost song,
Gibbous faces raised to the veil of the bloodless moon.
Yew pipes wynd spirals as the revellers pass,
The road is narrow, clutching here,
They look for others in the oak-king’s mass,
Stage faces bow to cast a single, churlish tear.
Once time, the dead enshrined in Celtic past,
Held court as did the living tellers,
Thence rose swords of bloody, thorny cast,
Congealed words hacked horn for intolerance – one truth sellers.
The dragon’s eye, a hastened empty look,
Aneath the tines upon the darkling road,
Leaves blow down upon the gelding brook,
A challenge heard and sought, where blood has flowed.
The horn beyond the grave is wynded,
It churns atop the lumbered deeps,
Echoes die, yet draw the dead, yellowed eyes rescinded,
The screech-owl hunts, while its prey creeps.
Masks twist the mouths as if alive,
Pretence has taken root in humoured lies,
Wisdom singles the queen in droning hive,
Her heart leads where the merriment dies.
Mischievous masks this way will seem,
A houlie, ghoul or more besides,
While those with smiles are found to dream,
The face is jesting youth – a harlequin that hides.
Mistress of scorn holds court upon the ride,
Her claws warn the dew-touched green,
A cloven blink of tiger’s eye to hide,
A bynd of black upon those passing seen.
The kitten winks as the Maggie’s black puss’ cat,
Familiar in her bewitching ways,
She suits white paws, baggy bib, pricked hat,
Tall tale, white whisker, where a pipe-cleaner strays.
The crone of gouting, ghoulish hue,
Her oils rynd and wreath the face of youth,
Tapestry torn where the webs pass through,
Black as night, a corpse’s shroud ‘aneath her velvet hoof.
Cord as red as the devil’s crimson pot,
Cord as white as virgin’s breath upon this faded world,
Shanks shall leap the shadowed spire that holds their knot,
No love can bring such fluttered strings unfurled.
Mine eyes have seen the dark side of the moon,
Misted o’er with ivied clouds of shifting leaf,
Tendrils touch and twist upon her crescent rune,
Then blow in widdern shards as autumn’s wilted wreath.
The ghost of the present bears hard upon the past,
Na’er found the skull of teeth that grind so deep,
Dawn is real where youth and young shall last,
Three holes are torn for sight and breath denied of sleep.
Blessed be these tender years free-barred,
Embraced within the hand of one less tender still,
The warder fords the jumbled road of stones so hard,
Lest devils dine of succulence and sup their brimming fill.
Reds, greens, bloody crimsons and brightest yellow,
Regaled in sumptuous grace of seasons change,
Uncultured cloth of the bone-broken fellow,
Hand-stitched to velvet matte; shadowed, surreal and strange.
A martyred laugh with hell’s teeth shown,
Agape, the knap where watered angles flow,
Sweetmeats, and opals, ha’penny sown,
Jumbled with husk and groundling shell found thrown.
Flesh carved of bound and hafted steel,
The painted man a ghostly light upon the fallow field,
Gobbish daemon cut from the craft of the Celtic wheel,
Unearthed the horned head lolls; writhing, scorched, unhealed.
The tallow flame grows brief and brilliant bright,
Path finder to the unseen, lifeless and yearly dead,
A spark alive in the eye of flickering second sight,
The basalt shell glows infernal, orange, vermilion, red.
Shaper’s changeling cut of hooded, brooding dreams,
The hale and hollowed puppet silent warns,
Whence agape upon the frosted eave its shadow screams,
Searing stars grow cold, wink out, impaled upon the heedless thorns.
Winter’s dun hessian is no fitting weave for thee,
Bound upon twigs and leaves; this season’s wasting death,
Soul craft falls foul beneath the hangman’s tree,
Blistered pulp, an odorous mass, consumed in tongues o’ crimson breath.
Watchfires herald the deaths of kings unknown,
Their muslin billows and creeps and whispers cold standing,
Tis the season of bonfires, of reds and golds, stitched and sewn,
A shifting carnival of warmth and homeliness and fire upon the landing.