Halloween JackClosest thing I have to a Halloween poem…

Migration by Air

Daylight crawls up the highest steeple in town,
Jumps off. No one sees it fall or hears it land.

Just like yesterday, it left no note.

Walking up my hill, thinking about lost souls, mine
Among them, I look up. In the moon’s first quarter

The sky smiles with one curved tooth.
A few clouds hang over the gables like gauze.

Like a swarm of black non-sequiturs suddenly

Dozens of vultures sweep over the crest of the hill in front of me,
Covering the sky, some gliding, too large to fly but beating
Away common sense

With slow motion punches, close enough to the ground
That in this mid-autumn
Silence I can hear the engine of each heavy wingbeat whisper-chuff

Like some far-away locomotive with its freight of happy carrion.

At this hour everything turns the shade of barely missed opportunities,
Or a thing you forgot to say as the moment fades into the past.

The moment is gone, but the thing remains.
It’s still there, behind the dark.
By the next day it will be changed by even a single night yet utterly

Recognizable. This is why loss stays with us. Why all God’s numbered hairs

Stand on end when the last vulture pauses and circles
You before moving along,
Why we feed monsters candy. Because they see in the dark.

from The Artificial Horizon

2 thoughts on “Halloween-esque

  1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

    Well, that just made my month…thanks!

    Strangely enough, the image is quite literal too–from my porch on the west side of a hill on the edge of the downtown, when the sun has gone down beyond the hill, the tops of a steeple a few blocks away is high enough to catch the remaining light. I get to see this strange phenomenon of that light actually creeping up the steeple as the angle of the sun continues to change, until there’s just a last bit of light at the top, and then…it’s gone.

    It’s over this same hill that a gang of vultures really did suddenly appear as if out of nowhere, on their way to a telecomm tower at the very top of the hill, just past the city’s sprawling picturesque cemetery. It’s a joke at the local writers’ group I attend that I always talk about reading a poem where I can say “This really happened!” So in this case, both of the main elements of this poem… really happened!


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