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Wednesday, October 31, 2018


by Melissa Balmain

"Millions of kids haven’t lived through a school shooting but fear that they will" —The Washington Post, March 1, 2018 Photo: Students decry gun violence outside the White House on Feb. 21, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images via The Washington Post)

"Absolutely no costumes with weapons, including plastic ones. Masks and fake blood are not allowed. Carefully consider the appropriateness of your costume in a school setting."
—2018 email to Brighton, NY parents about middle-school Halloween parties.

We were vampires, ghosts, and devils,
squeaking Nikes on the floor,
vying with the Hulks and Batmans
over who could drip more gore.
Masks and weapons? How we loved them—
cowboys, Jimmy Carters, clowns,
dancing as we downed Doritos,
relishing the night our town’s
ever-mortifying fishbowl
dimmed for once—our parents’ laws
powerless to keep grape soda
from our orthodontic jaws,
powerless to stop our noisy
bouts of gleeful mimicry
while we battled like Darth Vader
or the ChiPs from NBC. . . .
Home in bed, our darkest nightmares
never hinted at the ways
Halloween would free our children
from their ordinary days.

Melissa Balmain is the Editor of Light, a journal of comic verse. Her poetry collection Walking In on People (winner of the Able Muse Book Award) is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.