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Halloween and all those kids in skeletal black,
glow-in-the-dark green and purple –
no fairy princess pink Mama, please –
roam the streets for candy treats while my neighbor,
secreted behind his kitchen counter – shades drawn,
lights out, hides trembling. Fears ghouls and worse –
gooks –rise – like ghosts – from steamy jungle floor –
every night – silent, stealthy – then melt away –
before first light. Dead bodies left to mark their trail.
He made it back – except his mind – to live alone –
on duty, dusk to dawn. Forty two years he’s kept watch,
high alert, rifle steel slick with sweat – ready,
mission unchanged – protect his buddies, kill
or be killed. Sees sallow, shiny, enemy faces creeping
through his front yard swampy grass. Hears mortar
in the back fire of passing trucks, cruising motorcycles.
Fears he will kill a kid if one should knock.
So takes a double dose of meds, stuffs his ears
with cotton, repeats Hail Mary’s aloud until
the fire horn sounds the end of trick or treat.
After many years as a psychiatrist, Linda J. Himot began writing poetry in 2005. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals such as The MacGuffin, River Poets, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.