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Halloween Trick-a Poem: A suggestion for poets and poetry enthusiasts by Max Wheat


Halloween Trick—a Poem

Play a trick on the trick-or-treaters.
Read them a poem.
Drop a copy
into each bag with the treat —

Write your own poem. If not enough time this year, books of Halloween poetry are abundant. Check your library or bookstore.  Or use one of the poems included in this mailing. Of all the holidays, Halloween is the one for poetry. The subjects  are interesting to  young people—ghosts, skeletons, witches riding the winds on their brooms and pumpkins. Lots of pumpkin poems.–pumpkin picking and jack-o’-lanterns.

More of Max’s thoughts about Halloween poetry, including poems by Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. and other, Long Island poets:

Jack-O-Lantern
I am Jack-o’-Lantern,
triangles for eyes, nose,
wide toothy grin.
I would scare
the ghosts, pirates, Little Red Riding Hoods
running up our path for their tricks or treats.
But they see the glow inside me.
They know, while laughing and shouting
“Look at that scary face!”
I am here to wish everybody “Happy Halloween!”

–Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr.

 

Can we bring a new poetry tradition to Long Island?

For eleven years Ginger and I have hosted a Halloween tradition at our home in Freeport. Wearing my1800s-style broad-brimmed black hat and answering the knock on the door from an old-fashioned witch, a Caribbean pirate, a ballerina, I say “I’ve got a trick for you. You‘re going to hear a poem.” After reading the poem, which I write each year, I drop a copy into each bag—and I make sure candy also goes in or the trick-or-treaters will hate poetry for life.

Of course, what your costumed visitors won’t realize (however, they might think back from their adult years), the poem was the real treat.
Enough poets starting this tradition can make Long Island (Paumanok) the place in America where Halloween is Poetry. Think of a lighted map showing Halloween festivities across the nation. The one place that would be a sheet of brilliance would be Paumanok (Long Island), at first Suffolk and Nassau Counties where the idea had begun, but later, as the idea spread, Queens and Brooklyn.
We have never  experienced an impolite response. On year I was explaining the tradition to a high school student. “I know,” he responded. “I’ve been here before.”Always now we hear from   the young, older guardiansiblings  and parents “Do you have a poem this Year?”
Our Freeport street is for bringing young people from other communities. The populations of the world are represented behind those spooky and funny masks. One year three or four groups of high school age Hispanic youngsters came by. I was impressed by their knowing responses. They were aware of what poetry is about.  “You know why,” Susan Astor of Mineola, 25 years Poet-in-the-Schools, replied when I told her. They are from countries whose people appreciate poetry. “Their presidents and generals  write poetry which gives it respectability.”
The idea for a Halloween poem for the trick-or-treaters popped into my mind Halloween morning in 1999. Too late to write a poem. But I knew about Carl Sandburg’s pumpkins poem, Theme in Yellow. It was down to the Freeport Library for his poetry book, Early Moon, where I knew I would find the poem.
You can Xerox copies of Sandburg’s poem to drop into the treat bags after reading it.  Or one of the two poems Mankh (Walter E. Harris, III,} has written the last two Halloweens:
Perhaps Halloween
Who are you tonight?
Perhaps you are me, and I am you.
Perhaps you are green, and I am blue.
Perhaps I am one, and you are two.
Perhaps I am old, and you are new.
Perhaps you are false, and I am true,
no, that won’t do, so you be true
and I’ll be true, and we can still have a very,
very good time.
–Mankh (Walter E. Harris, III)
&
And the children gather ’round
The wind blows spider webs to and fro
the wind blows clouds across the moon
Sshhhhhh! Listen . . .
the trees they squeak an ancient tune—
Outside the window a candle flickers
and the pumpkin holds its ground.
The wind blows leaves up in the face
the wind blows the top off the selfish King’s crown,
Sshhhhhh! Listen . . .
the trees they squeak an ancient sound—
Outside the window a candle flickers
and the pumpkin holds its ground,
and the children gather ’round.
–Mankh (Walter E. Harris, III)
Or one or more of my daughter, Emilie Wheat’s first graders’ poems  written Monday, October, 18, at the elementary school where she teaches in Virginia. “Do you know what my father does to kids on Halloween?,” she says to her students. “He makes them stand and listen to him read a poem before they can have their treats. I think “, she continues, “ you should write Halloween poems and I will tell my Dad he has to read them. They respond with glee.
She sent six of them to me that afternoon which I included in my Halloween Poetry Reading that evening for the Performance Poets Association hosted by Doug Sweezy at Barnes & Noble in East Northport.  Actually, I got half way through, each receiving laughter and applause. “I don’t know if I should continue reading these poems, “ I said.
“They are getting more acclaim than my poems—but I continued much to the audience’s delight .
Pumpkins
Pumpkins  are  scary
Pumpkins  say Boo!
Pumpkins  are  here  to scare you!

–by Jairo (a second language learner)

Star  Star
Boo!
Was  that  scary?
Lets go get candy!
–by Daniel (a struggling reader and writer)
The slimey Pumpkin
The slimey pumpkin, it went under my bed
It got my candy
It slid out of my room.

–by Veronica  (a second language learner, struggling reader)

 

Bats
Bats are everywhere
eating fruit
smiling everywhere
eating my candy!
by Eric (second language learner)
Spooky night
A spooky night
witches laugh,wolves howl
Bats fly out of the cave for Halloween.
–by Rhain, from the Philipines

If you write a Halloween poem…

If you do this please send me your poem you wrote or the title and author of the poem you did use and a brief report of how the evening went. I hope to do a follow-up story for my website, maxwellcorydonwheatjr.com. Thank you,  Max

Poetry opportunities with Maxwell Wheat…
Cow Meadow Promotions presents Maxwell C. Wheat, Jr., with Nature Poetry Writing Workshops; “Seasons Come to Long Island Poetry Reading Series—one each for winter, spring, summer, autumn with suggestions and handouts about how to enjoy poetry; How to Enjoy Poetry Programs with Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, etc. For information & fees call: 516-623-5530  or e-mail: Maxwell623 at aol dot com

2 Responses

  1. […] Halloween Trick-a Poem: A suggestion for poets and poetry enthusiasts by Max Wheat […]

  2. […] Halloween Trick-a Poem: A suggestion for poets and poetry enthusiasts by Max Wheat (www.onthewilderside.com) […]

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