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
could blare when you're caught
in the body wild to lay down
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.