Robert Burns

James Child
Traditional Ballad

Kate Finley

Thomas Hardy
Withered Arm

Robert Stephen Hawker
The Botathen Ghost

Washington Irving
The Legend of Sleepy Hallow
                            Halloween by Dennis Schmitz (1988)

    But the costumes won't come off-
    beast face, or the skeletal kid whose mom lipsticked
    on his pimpled midriff
    a working stomach
    & lungs so real he had to hold his breath
    twice not to inhale
    pee-marks & the dumpster smell
    through the alley shortcuts
    & past the hardhat bars.
    Now you sidle past pimps' Rivieras
    & pink LTDs, animal life
    barely cool in the animal
    skin seats the got-up girls warm
    as they echo in fatigued mews
    the long riff of cat-scream
    gaudy love
    could blare when you're caught
    in the body wild to lay down
    your muzzle,
    your hair on end, witless,
    against another pelt.
    Out of the neighborhood,
    middleclass porchlights blue
    the jungle dark.
    Go in through the hinged dog-door,
    pawing a grip on linoleum to lie
    where Lawrence Welk or
    Honeymooners re-runs soothe some grandma
    or widower grandpa lonely &
    moaning with the Welk brass section.
    This is how you learn human
    until the ends of the lyric  tangle
    in your long ears,
    & the TV is off, the picture pinched
    down to a dot.
    Then pad haltingly after the halting
    other you'll replace as she or he limps-
    like you soloing on hindlegs,
    not quite human still, but trying, trying.