Recently a ‘kitchen-sink’ school of poetry has been claiming prominence
in literature. I have nothing against the down-to-earth and domestic; footnotes to life can be wonderful if kept in small-print. But the poet has always been a voyant, a seer of visions. And with a number of phantoms on the move this autumn someone must be responsible for observing and delineating the invisible. So here is Halloween, a study of world-politics seen through a macabre peephole. (I wrote this poem after watching
a 'trick-or-treat' extravaganza in Kensington, a wealthier zone of West London.)
The hollow earth of the pumpkin is warm inside.
The big witch, her pointed hat disguised
as a church-steeple in the orange twilight,
moves slightly when the children aren't looking,
shifting about in her underground kitchen.
Bats fly out of the South Pole, screaming.
Terror increases in the American quarter.
The children, moving in marauding packs,
run like the people of a world-underclass,
the starving of Africa, the ruined of Palestine,
going from one opulent nation to another
holding out hands and shrieking: Trick or treat!
The houses emit sweets. (Food-programs.)
Some remain dark, closed, as if empty;
wolves secure the streets on chains.
Some murmur that in the black houses
ghosts line long tables masticating silently,
eating midnight-feasts with blood-stained teeth.
Behind reinforced doors, tempered locks,
cold laughter wells from discarnate flesh.
Shadow-mouths feed on obscene manna,
sip dense wines, rich and aromatic, red.
The wind wails like a slaughtered lamb.
Tonight the undead eat their meat rare!