“Trick or Treat”
The knavish aches are not lost on him
on this his last ploy to play an impish artifice.
He hides in plain view, though few can see
how love’s grit and gusts bluster so indiscreetly.
This tryst is no less a rite of passage,
each freak equinox reenacted in the last shafts of scattered days
by a hollow-headed man in tatters shambling the hallowed halls of long autumn
as though in high school again, his scraping feet lost to the false nostalgia
of fallen leaves.
Grumbling and discombobulated – bald, wan-skinned, dire grin –
wearing a ratty-toothed raincoat much too big for him, there he’ll lie down
in the middle toward the end,
and wait, remembering everything,
as he has done for an eternity
for her to return
like an altar lit with ofrenda.
Hours later, she spots her john
snoring in the owlish auspices of stillness. She tiptoes to him
wearing her lacy shawl, widow of the earth in between muertos and mirth,
a frumpish spinster espoused to vespered whispers.
She hoists up her faded dress, a palimpsest of wiles veiled
neath which a longing loneliness homelessly roams. She must be a hundred by now
but careens caneless in high-heeled pumps, scuffed and careworn, torn at the big toe’s seam.
She finds her hobo for a husband full of wind and rustle and smoky breath
and caresses the ruddy face – cheeks gone with warty gourd, the gaping mouth
reeking of seedy rot and chocolate, a stump of wick-like tongue clamped to a waxy clot.
Crackly crisp and plush, there and thus she’ll sleep
for an hour’s lengthy lust, oblivious to his deciduous heap.
But before the fuse of blue brightens dawn as municipal trucks back up
with alarm, all the world’s children waking to go to school or go to work,
she’ll have been long gone, having shivered and placed her lacy shawl
on his desiccated chest, tucked in under the sunken chin
bewitched to grin. And the slouchy lummox shall slumber through it all,
dreaming of bowery brawls in bowel-loosening loutishness as the cacophony of mechanical sounds
proceeds with morning, never minding the curbside pickup,
the last round of naked trees
now the lights all flicked on, gears grinding up
the winnowed tips. And yet again all the world’s blind as belfried bats
failing to see a vagabond tramp named Jack all raked up flailed with nowhere to go,
thinking a pumpkin dusted with frost and a few flakes of first snow
nothing more than harvest trash thoughtlessly tossed,
gone-bad ground and brown, old and good as dead;
how cold we condescend…
Their wraith-frail memorial of tricks and treats superseded
soon by evergreen wreaths arm in arm
in hearth warmth, togetherness wassailed,
flying reindeer and gingerbread children, disemboweled birds broiled their plumage,
to have made a pilgrimage to meet their maker, thanks to bakers
clad in black, boot-buckles and aprons, grown-up from goblin costume fads;
how cold the cider-wine goes to the head…
Let us give thanks
before we cannibalize our cranberried elders –
then think about what to do with mom and dad.
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