There were many more Halloween poems I wanted to post but couldn't because I was too busy traveling to Washington, D.C. for The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (yes, it was color coded that way on signs.
Now the rally is over and so is Halloween. But the struggle to maintain consciousness and identity continues today...at least it does for me. Being born on Nov. 1 might've made me a pensive kid. One Halloween, I dressed up as Popeye because inside I had a rage to be strong enough to knock out Bluto.
I still occasionally have my Popeye impulses. Let's call them, "Punch Theory": the supposition that it's acceptable to take swings at/satirize/critique someone who abuses his or her power over you. In the case of Popeye, it was okay for him to go after Bluto who valued muscle mass and force over love. Punch Theory says it's okay to punch up but that you should be scorned for punching down. Punch Theory is my variation on Finley Peter Dunne's maxim of journalism: "Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable."
When I grew up enough to know I couldn't knock out the Blutos of the world, I became a kind of Bluto. In the the case of John Blutarsky, it was the right thing to go out in a blaze of youthful glory because in reality the Deltas would soon become part of the system and begin abusing their positions of power although in reality actor John Belushi went out in an infuriating blaze of youthful excess. The story of Belushi's life was so sad because it outlined the limits of play. Ah, there's some more of that pensive morning-after stuff for those of us lucky enough to have a morning after (Did I mention I turned 50 today?).
So on Halloween, many of us play at death because it feels so good to survive. Others play at identities we wish we had, but even these disguises are temporary deaths of self. Sometimes there's just not enough sugar in the world for me.
Morning After All-Staints’ EveHow good it is to be alive after the horror of last night,
driving the children around the dark neighborhoods,
glad to see the few pumpkins, brainless but luminous.
I check the treats to make sure they’re wrapped and
wonder if it wasn’t an underemployed dentist who
slipped the first razor-blade into an apple.
Could people who open their doors more dangerous
than those who hide on the live side of their t.v.?
We passed a pack of teens in no costumes, unless
they wanted to show us that horrific moment of transformation when
the mask of childhood slips and reveals the cruel grown-up creature
smoking, sulking, hulking, drunken, humping, thumping after dark.
Now in the morning paper, a victim-bites-vampire headline
about a Cuban spy expelled from The Pentagon.
Watching cartoons, my son still wearing plastic fangs
munches a Snickers that contains no embargoed sugar,
and my daughter, still wearing her diaphanous wings,
flits between us, practicing for the after life.