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"A Halloween Tale" (by Joe DiMino)


Sing for your dinner—
So I sang,
And eat fairly well;
Dance for your bed,
So I danced,
And slept on the stage;
Near the orchestra-pit,
Where the deep
And foreboding played out
After the curtain fell,
And the night crew had swept
Remains away,
With lights eerily dim
Making all forlorn;

Much to my surprise
Then came
A chilling encore;

From the orchestra-pit, in black tucks
And formal black gowns
Surfaced spirits of minstrels,
No conductor to be found—
(Musicians on the loose,
With a noose—
Looking for singers and dancers);

So I hid amidst the props;
Disowning all our flops;
Crept down
Scenery streets,
Tiptoed my retreats;
Found my way to eaves
Concealed behind the frieze;
Still they came—
Cymbals crashing;
Horns, in the low light flashing;
The tubas, wide,
Hippo mouths,
Calling my name—
Their hungry shouts;

Yes, this was no typical
For all the children
Were squeaky clean—
No costumes
No makeup
Bags had been shredded
For the oven needed kindling;

How could I save them?
My hopes dwindling—

A trap of a dream—

My honor at stake—
My duty it seemed—

Must awaken somehow
Or all will be lost
To this evil spell!—
Find the conductor, of course;
As soon as he tapped
All would be well.

So I thought of Chopin,
Of Mozart,
The strings took notice;
With Wagner
The horns settled in—
(Drummers raised their sticks
Ready to pound,
Skins taunt
And fitfully round)—

I approached the podium,
Recalling my score,
One the resident maestro
Had never heard before,
Which I once danced
And mournfully sang
Before my time on this stage

I lifted the baton,
A sacred act;
And tapped
The entire orchestra settling down—
Down in the pit,
Down where they dwell—
I kept them playing,
And playing and playing,
And playing
A work
My soul knew from hell;

As much as I dreaded
The musical tract,
If I could just save the children;
I thought this a noble act,
Particularly for one such as me
The only one ever
Escaped, to be free—

My hand was a flicker,
A blur to the eye;
Pitch low
Then flamboyantly high;
Measure and variation
One to amaze,
Pianissimo, Accento, Crescendo,
The pit was ablaze;
I played and played,
Flames rising,
The Sun sneaking
Toward the horizon,
The children aghast,
Their cage, a box-seat,
As old as age;
My arms took strength
In increasing rage—
Between manic cross
And figurative-burst,
I saw in the pit,
In dark eyes of the pit,
A procession of Hurst—

I played and played
Without reservation,
At the Devil’s invitation;
For he never wanted them
It was always me—
The only one to ever
Get free—

So I played and played
Now looked toward Heaven—
The sun rose
At half past seven—
The children had survived the night
The moment I
Decided finally on Light,
The moment I was determined
To let him have what he wanted,
If he would just let
The little ones be—

I heard a chorus…
“Now you are free!”

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