“Halloween, 2019” by James Croal Jackson

Now that I live on a well-traveled
street, you’d think I’d pass candy on
the designated day. I was at
Shady Grove for the first hour.
The servers were vampires,
I was wearing a poncho.
The lights were off (how I like it)
when I got home, not a soul in sight.
And it was trash night. So I gathered
the usual garbage and recycling,
set it by the door. And when I opened
it a kid vaporized from nowhere
chanting trick or treat! trick or treat!
give me something good to eat!
Staring at me carrying white
marinara-stained bag and a baby
blue bag in the darkness
of the porch and I said,
I don’t have anything,
thank you– I mean, sorry.
In my navy sweatpants
I walked briskly to the curb,
the wind wanting to push me
toward the black gravel of the road
but I swiveled the direction
of home. A gaggle of swan tweens
flew toward me! I covered my face,
put my head down, walked up the blind
trio of stairs far from the rustling
footsteps and laughter and wind
and turned the living room light off,
shawled myself with the couch blanket
and reached for a crinkling half-bag
of factory favorites, a Milky Way
or Kit-Kat somewhere on my rug.

James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has three chapbooks: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022), Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. Find him at jamescroaljackson.com.

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