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Tuesday, October 31, 2017


by David Spicer

Portrait pumpkin by Hugh McMahon

His name alone is an October
cartoon, but he’s an omen
that warns us like a hawk
swooping above black snakes
unluckier than the thirteenth
disciple who hovers like a specter.

Infamous Pumpkin Man isn’t a specter,
but he’s full of the famed October
surprises that fall on Friday the 13th,
standing in cornfields, yelling, Oh men,
oh women, kill all the snakes,
hang any women who hawk

their wares at nights and seek to hock
their babies’ souls. No, he isn’t a specter,
but real as a crawling king snake
that strikes on the last day of October.
Pumpkin Man’s more than an omen:
he’s the personification of the number 13,

betrays friends with his straw heart, as the thirteenth
disciple did at the last supper. He’s the hawk’s
nemesis, the hawk unafraid of human omens,
fearless of pumpkin men fearful of specters,
especially on the last day of golden October,
the day of lizards, of alligators, of orange snakes.

One day, it’s foretold, a ghostly stranger will snake
with a plumber’s auger the second to the thirteenth
straw in Pumpkin Man’s brain, October-
colored, like his hair that barkers have hawked
as a brand, as immortal as a specter’s
mastery of spells, sacrifices, and omens

to belie the trust of women and men.
And Pumpkin Man, alone in the field, will sneak,
or try to sneak, away in his final days like a specter
from a graveyard, and the twelfth and thirteenth
members of a boil of spiraling hawks will
grab his long red tie on the last day of golden October,

strangling him as no omen can, the thirteenth
and last time specters roam the days of October,
celebrating with the world, the snakes, the hawks.

David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Easy Street, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Santa Clara Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Yellow Mama,  Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and five chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. His latest chapbook is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree available from Flutter Press.