Ode to Jack O'Lantern

As darkness falls on towns on hallow e'en,
The night that fosters youth to tricks and treats,
I spy a child-like coven here convene
To hunt and gather sweets from inky streets.
Amid the tittle-tattle snickering
The impishly costumed menagerie
Creep from door-to-door cutely bickering
About their monstrous garb imaginary.
Their masks and capes broadcast their choice of beast
But static outlines grin broadly upon
Jack o'Lantern cackling like the deceased
To conjure startling tales of fairy spawn.

The Jack o'Lantern: jail house of the wisp,
Who stares from the empty husk through bore holes
Scored with blunt knives in clear, straight lines so crisp
To witness the life and times of all souls.
Like an ancient genie in the bottle,
Omnipotent but prisoner to squash.
Ghostly light enshrined in gourd-a-mottle
To illuminate, shining beams awash,
Across taught sights of wonder wending free
Through misting haze of gaseous flickering
That birthed that brilliant sparkling detainee
Now forced to suffer children's snickering.

Before it lounged in homely marrow cell
The floating wisp was born upon swamp land.
A torch that led those transfixed by its spell
Unconsciously through unknown sites by hand
And winding up on sheer cliff looking down
To raging torrent far below their feet,
When gripped by fear of falling to be drown,
The guiding light is snuffed out in a beat.
Now lost, the victim coaxed from safe path home
By jealous wisp who never had true life,
Is stuck until he spies the dawn's proud dome
And dooms the wisp to mocking afterlife.

Poor wisp, not known to those that hallow e'en,
Those treaters masked in vampiric aspect,
Eyes blacked, skin bleached and grinning teeth so clean,
Partnered with the mummies entrapped and bedecked
In ragged cloth, reaching for those cursed souls,
Like Witches and the Warlocks chanting spell
And crazy clowns eating kids from potholes
With ghosts and zombies crawling into hell.
The wisp, curling within its flaming bowl,
Lighting the pathway for tricksters to tread
And feed upon the sweet loot that they stole
Before the midnight screams with howling dread.

But I, who spied your splendour from afar,
Will tell the tale of wisp light dancing proud,
A light that brightens like a shooting star
And detonates with the force of a storm cloud.
That tempter of tired, lost workers from fields
Only seeking home, but ending lost, doomed.
I will show the world the dancing that yields
A capture, within and without, consumed
By the sliced eyes, snipped nose and gaping lip
Telling silent tales from the wisp no more,
Now tracked, imprisoned: a carved lightship
Capsized outside, in front of my own door.

Today is Halloween

John Keats, English romantic poet, was born on this day in 1795.

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