It sometimes seems clear if there is an afterlife it does not interfere with present life. But what is present? The light from our sun is already a little over eight seconds old. We sunbathe in the past, confident in a present we never quite seem to fully inhabit (physics explains it’s perfectly possible to split infinitives). Where then do we go? Maybe time is a question of physics, maybe of metaphysics – the things that may come after the physics.

The dead seem an extremely polite bunch. They do not intrude. Looking for them is like searching for aliens. We may feel their presence, approach them with the telescope of faith, but if they exist, somewhere-somehow, that life lies far far beyond the present five senses. To prove an afterlife, if we want to believe in ghosts and such, we must create a sense beyond our given five.

William Blake noticed angels out and about. Rilke claimed to have seen one. What is it about poets that make them easy prey for such notions? Wouldn’t it be a bit frightful if the first aliens the astronomers discover turn out to be previous earthlings? The problem with communicating with the dead may simply be the length of time their message takes to reach us. By the time the first message from the first dead reaches Earth, we may all be gone. What would the message say? Trick or Treat?

I take no issue with the dead. Nor am I looking forward to meeting any aliens. Let them keep their distance. My problem seems to be sugar: to wit, candy – the Halloween tradition (in these parts).

This year, instead of passing out candy, I propose to hand out poems. Short poems printed on three by five cards, maybe with a cartoon or drawing on one side of the card. I’ll drop a poem card into every little critter’s Halloween basket. No candy. No sugar.

But when I mentioned the idea to Susan, she said, “We’ll get our house egged for sure.”

“You think? With the cost of dairy these days?”

“And the parents will accuse you of poisoning their kids with poetry. Besides, Halloween cards are nothing new. And poetry, while sugar free, is still very high in carbs and calories, not to mention saturated and trans fats.”

So much for my proposal. I guess we’re sticking with candy.

9 Comments

  1. Having had a death experience ( courtesy of four hornets) I floated over my recumbent old heavy coat of a discarded body, and was joined by my grandmother. Together we watched the paramedics looking for a vein. Nada, Niente. Pulse? Rien.

    Past lives appear when we need them. I didn’t, but my daughter panicking did. So, like she always did, my grandmother sent me home. Back to the overcoat. With a God Almighty injection of adrenaline. Chains re-locked, my grandmother disappeared. Did I ‘see’ her? Not exactly, more ‘felt and heard and laughed. Then carted off to hospital to get a heart beat restored. Now I have a way out. Take four hornets and wait ten minutes! All in all very reassuring. Poems for halloween? I am hoping for a basket of Brexit!

    1. Ah, the four hornets of the a pocket lisp:

      A-tisket, a-tasket
      A green and yellow basket
      I send a letter to my mommy
      On the way I dropped it
      I dropped it, I dropped it
      Yes, on the way I dropped it
      A little girlie picked it up
      And took put it in her pocket
      She was truckin’ on down the avenue
      Without a single thing to do
      She went peck, peck, peckin’ all around
      When she spied it on the ground
      She took it, she took it
      She took my yellow basket
      And if she doesn’t bring it back
      I think that I would die
      A-tisket, a-tasket
      A green and yellow basket
      And if that girlie don’t return it
      Don’t know what I’ll do
      Oh dear, I wonder where my basket can be
      Oh gee, I wish that little girl I could see
      Oh, why was I so careless with that basket of mine
      That itty-bitty basket was a joy of mine
      A-tisket, a-tasket
      I lost my yellow basket
      Won’t someone help me find my basket
      And make me happy again
      no no no no
      (Was it red?) no no no no
      (Was it blue?) no no no no
      Just a little yellow basket
      A little yellow basket
      Source: LyricFind
      Songwriters: Ella Fitzgerald / Van Alexander
      A-Tisket, A-Tasket lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

  2. Fair and Square.
    ( Analphylactic Shock)

    ‘Anyone can deal with wasps, a puffer spray
    after sundown; you’re away. Being Friday…
    you’re on your tod’. I was and I wasn’t,
    on account of the wasps, minding their own.

    Through the apple light, the feeding frenzied
    in burst pulp-caves of plenty. Somnolent the night before,
    drunk and gorged they surrendered to a book and a glass,
    flying off lethargically to the waxen hearth of dark.

    Benign wasps, convivial in the last rays of sun
    before the insolent ladder that will spray extinction
    stabbing their backs in sleep. A last returning scout,
    unerring, punctures a hand. Followed by three more.

    Mig Israeli fighters, pin pointed, high on ultrasound
    no messing, swift as harriers on a mission efficient
    in defence of a dutiful queen.
    These pilots, slim as vodka chasers, know what they’re about.

    Fair enough. Expect some inflammation. What is this?
    The lungs expel and fail to fill; knees
    Buckle to the mallet swung by a galloping horse…
    The bladder signals full collapse;
    Black clarity hits the boards of death.

    Death not by slow increment but immediate;
    as plain as water, row-locking oars
    towards a waveless shore;
    the rattle of gravel in the closing throat;
    the humiliation of a rudderless groin.

    ‘Its all up for you now. Arrogant supremacist’.

    Certain death beckons seductive, in full possession of
    ‘so be it unto me’.
    Justice, and the final sentence
    links me to my midget conquerors;
    holds out a reparation of a lifetime’s blind conceit…

    ‘You were insensible’ they said. Little did they know
    my calm survey of panic that could not find a vein.
    Like Ophelia I lay, though rather less well dressed
    while they punctured my corpse again and again,
    screamed through the streets with a throbbing blue beacon…

    Saw myself unloaded, and forcibly dragged back
    to green oscillations in a hospital dark.
    No Lazarus that rose up and wanted to walk…
    I remembered my redeemers, entombed in their wax.
    Thanked them for trying, regretted their death.

    (Only later learned they were hornets when a man in protective gear came to deal with the nest!)

  3. Yeah, well if kids today are anything like we were they’d be throwing those poems at doorways. People would be scraping poetry off of their front porches the next day. Susan is right!

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