Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
But, oh, if they came on the wind to-night
Could I bear their faces, their garments white
Blown in the dark around my lonely bed?
Oh, could I forgive them for being dead?
I am almost afraid of the wind. My shame!
That I would not be glad if my dear ones came!
Mon 1 Nov
And if something peers from the branches,
touching the skin with a chill of terror-
don’t be afraid! It’s the tiny faces of children,
cherished under the protection of evil deeds.Bella Akhmadulina St. Bartholomew’s Night
Mon 1 Nov
is the pseudonym of an Albanian ex-patriot who runs “a very private and exclusive consulting firm within reasonable driving distance of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.” His main interests are history, political science, astrology, numerology, chemistry, RC toys, security systems for home and business, and the Trilateral Commission. If you are willing to assist in the transcription of his journals, contact him via Danse Macabre. Serious only, please.
Fond of cellar, barn,or stack,
True unto the almanac,
They present to credulous eyes
Strange hobgoblin mysteries.
Cabbage-stomps-straws wet with dew-
Apple-skins, and chestnuts too,
And a mirror for some lass,
Show what wonders come to pass.
Doors they move, and gates they hide,
Mischiefs that on moon-beams ride
Are their deeds, and, by their spells,
Love records its oracles.
Don’t we all, of long ago,
By the ruddy fireplace glow,
In the kitchen and the hall,
Those queer, coofllke pranks recall?
Eery shadows were they then-
But to-night they come again;
Were we once more but sixteen,
Precious would be Halloween.
The beacon light shines on the hill,
The will-o’-wisps the forests fill
With flashes filched from noon;
And witches on their broomsticks spry
Speed here and yonder in the sky,
And lift their strident voices high
Unto the Hunter’s Moon.
The air resounds with tuneful notes
From myriads of straining throats,
All hailing Folly Queen;
So join the swelling choral throng,
Forget your sorrow and your wrong,
In one glad hour of joyous song
To honor Hallowe’en!
John Kendrick Bangs
He was set in his ways and what was strange,
If you argued with him he would not change,
One could get nothing through him.
Solemn and slow In style was he,
Slender and slim as a tamarack tree,
And always ready to disagree
With every one that knew him.
At last he came to a deep ravine,
He felt a kind of queer, and mean
Sensation stealing o’er him.
Old Sorrel began to travel slow,
Then gave a snort and refused to go;
The parson chucked, and he holloa’d "whoa,"
And wondered what was before him.
Then suddenly he seemed to hear
A gurgling groan so very near,
It scattered his senses nearly.
"Go ‘ome, go’ome," It loudly cried,
"Go ‘ome," re-echoed the mountain side,
"Go ‘ome," away In the distance died-
He wished he was home sincerely.
And then before his startled sight,
A light flashed out upon the night
That seemed to "beat all creation."
Then through the bushes a figure stole,
With eyes of fire and lips of coal,
That froze his blood and shook his soul
With horror and consternation.
He lost his sermon, he dropped his book,
His hair stood up, and his saddle shook
Like a sawmill under motion
.No cry he uttered, no word he said,
But, suddenly turning Sorrel’s head,
Away and out of the woods he fled
As fast as he could for Goshen.
The ghost he saw and the rattling bones
Were a pumpkin, a gourd, and some gravel stones,
That gave him all that glory;
But ne’er again up that mountain side,
In the light would Rufus Rawling ride,
And many a time I’ve laughed till I cried
To hear him tell the story.
At first, I could not imagine why he had come, nor why he had done nothing yet but watch. I was not even sure who he was, though certainly I had ideas, each more fanciful than the last. Indeed, all that of which I could be sure was only that he had been there, had taken his place in the curtains and watched me as I slept.
Was I going mad? I wondered, for here in this place of chosen isolation, no one could possibly arrive without my knowing. Yet my thoughts were lucid, and I still savored the solitude that this place had given me, with the light of the sickle moon glinting off furrows of sand and the marble colonnades stretching far into the distance. But I reflected, I was compelled to reflect, upon everything that had transpired until now, and the reasons that had driven me here.
When I had first taken refuge in this desert land, thoughts had churned in my mind like sand in an hourglass, slowly spinning and ever falling. Gradually, even without the help of my powers, my design came to work after a fashion, and over the ensuing months my past slowly dimmed. But, just as I had begun to feel free from the impenetrable walls of introspection, this man had appeared.
When had he first come? I do not know. But I remember that one night, I felt that uncanny sense that I was being watched, an eerie awareness that crept even into my dreams. I awoke to the zephyr carrying through the window and breathing upon my cheeks, and for a moment I met his eyes—oh those eyes!—shining out of the darkness that took all light but his own. Then, with only the faintest stirring of the air, he vanished.
Of course I searched, and searched long I did, over and around the vast estate, turning again and again, retracing every step a hundred times. He had truly disappeared but for the impression he left upon my mind, the creeping black of those insidious eyes. Gradually thoughts of the man consumed me. What else could distract me from that black? I watched the moon rise and set, the sands shift in inconstant patterns, and as ever I wondered where the man had gone.
It was only after some time that I came to fear a certain truth. It was terrible to imagine, and my hands trembled, my very heart palpitated at the thought that he might know. It was clear to me that he must suspect, for what else did this barren land hold except my secrets? But no, as yet I dared not give up hope. With the desperation of a man condemned, I clung to the thought, mad though it may seen to you, that the man was an unconnected party, that he did not know anything. Indeed, it seemed I had little recourse, and so it was with this distracted notion that I let myself drift once more into uneasy dreams.
In the depths of that night, I suddenly awoke, petrified with dread; for there once again was the man, with his light blazing from the blackness. But this time, my madness almost broke me, for when I dared to look upon him, I saw a terrible smile twisting his features. I let out an awful shriek, I could not help it, for all was lost! He must know, oh he knew!
When the night had passed, I paced endlessly around the sands. I longed to claw my own face, but I resisted the temptation, for I am a sane man. I calmed myself and considered: the man had followed me here, meaning he required something. Hope suddenly sprang from my chest as I realized. He needed proof! He only suspected my guilt, he could not know for certain. But if he were somehow able to coerce me, he would use my abilities and reach into my past, and then his own black eyes would be able to see my deeds as if they were his very own.
Long I thought, and slowly I formulated my plan as the moon above stayed her eternal course. I came to understand, with brittle clarity, what it was that I must do.
And so I lay in wait, feverishly anticipant. My cheeks were flushed, my breath harried. What hunted me was now my prey, and I longed for nothing more than to see the despair in his eyes, the fear as time and truth were ripped away like dust in the wind. I could not stay still for a moment, so excited was I, but gradually I felt a certain numbness and let myself drift to sleep. I was sure he would come this time, and I slept with the easy confidence of a child.
When I felt the telltale stirring of wind, I opened my eyes to see once more that shining blackness. I leapt from my bed and faced him; again there was the awful grin painted across his dark features, but tonight I faced him with my own. Did I detect a flickering of fear in his eyes? The slightest trace of doubt? I was too enamored of my own design, I did not look carefully upon him; I do not know. I spread the fingers of my left hand and cried an incantation. “Hark!” I screamed at him. “I have defeated you, you will never find what you seek! You have tormented me, but now I defy you!”
The entire world trembled and moaned with the rattle of a dying man. For a moment, I was supreme! As time collapsed about me with the crushing weight of the deepest earth, I looked upon the man a final time in my blinded triumph, and observed that he was still smiling.
In one terrible second, I realized the enormity of my error. Chills rent my spine, for the weight I felt was not time, it was my life, slowly squeezed into one. I saw the entire span of my being: every crime, magnified infinitely, every moment and reflection compressed into a never-ending moment of agony. As I descended into the swirling winds of time and insanity, I heard the man laugh, the first time I heard his voice, a mocking ringing that vibrated among the colonnades and echoed infinitely over the sands, into the descent of the black night.
Once upon a time from sun to sun
The hours were full of joy – there was no care,
And webs of gaudy dreams in air were spun
Of deeds heroic and of fortunes fair;
The jangling schoolhouse bell was all the woe
Our spirits knew, and in its tuneless chime.
Was all the sorrow of the long ago-
Don’t you remember? – Once upon a time.
Once upon a time the witches rode
In sinister and ominous parade
Upon their sticks at night, and queer lights glowed
With eerie noises by the goblins made;
And many things mysterious there were .
For boyish cheeks to pale at through the grime
That held them brown; and shadows queer would stir-
Don’t you remember? – Once upon a time.
Once upon a time our faith was vast
To compass all the things on sea and land
That boys have trembled o’er for ages past,
Nor ever could explain or understand,
And in that faith found happiness too deep
For all the gifted tongues of prose or rime,
And joys ineffable we could not keep -
Don’t you remember? – Once upon a time.