Putting Pumpkins Out

All-Hallows has forfeited its holiness.
Rolls of toilet paper hurled into trees
become pallid phantasmagoria, hang
like ghosts of the lynched. It is time
for decision about our pumpkins: set
them out on the steps, or keep them
in, like cats perching on windowsills.

Outdoors they will too easily become
someone else’s pumpkins, our stoop
vacant at sunrise. Or else we waken
to find smashed shards of orange on
the road. Such tricks are not a treat.
Still, we’ve dared the banality of evil,
the wretches who kill from boredom.

They opened fire in schools—but we
will see our young ones onto the bus.
In churches—but we will lay our gift
upon the altar. In hospitals—yet we
will continue to visit the bed of pain.
We set pumpkins, just as vulnerable,
outside beneath the guardian moon.

Russell Rowland is a seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press. A full-length collection, We’re All Home Now, is available from Beech River Books. He writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high school Poetry Out Loud competitions.