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"Trick Without Treat" (by Joe DiMino)

“Do you believe in witches” the old woman asked?
“I’m talking, the scary kind—Caldron stirring,
Into toad turning, broom riding hags”—
Seeing how it was Halloween
I played along—
Got my Spook on, so to speak;
Wanting to relive
A bit of childhood,
Ready for “Trick or Treat”—
Recalling youth;
My mind
Prepared to ring
A few nostalgic bells—
Threaten some spells;
Mouth watering
For candy-bribery—

I wondered if I and the old woman
Were alone on the train?
Our car empty but for the
Two of us—queer even for
This late in the evening;
Odd—before our boarding
Seeing only a procession of dark cars
Coming toward us; but for this one
With an apparent short
Flickering into the station,
As fate would have it
Coming to a halt,
Steel doors sliding abrasively open
Precisely where we stood
On the platform—

And having won over mild fear of entering,
With a severe jolt
The train lurched forward
As if brutally kicked from behind;

I thought to stand—take a rock-n-roll look
Around, attempt to spy into the adjacent cars,
And thus investigate further…
Then decided not to—instead
I would refrain from such foolishness
(“Curiosity Killed the Cat,” I thought)
Seeking a comfort zone,
Began searching protected discs, so to speak—my portfolios
Of “Pleasant Past Experiences” catalogued
And filed: “Fond Memories”;
I opened “Halloween and Best Loved Costumes”—
Not often inclined to reminisce—
But always heeding
The eyes, often wisest of my body parts,
When suggesting it best not to go prying—
Agreeing with the mind
Loudly calling to halt
The entire service of me,
Having arrived at a Safe-harbor—
Feeling quite uneasy I remained seated…
The source of apprehension
Unable to ascertain:
“All Board!” I heard
A conductor—
A tingly voice; I smiled
A smile befitting
A nightmare…

In middle of the graveyard-shift
Feeling a bit out of sorts
I had left the office early—in the middle of late
To be accurate; and was soon in transport—
Mildly bemoaning
The usual, jolting stops and starts…
Journey from office to home
Not far, thus briefly uncomfortable;
Occasional steel wheels meshing—
Similar to teeth grinding a sibling might make,
Keeping his brother or sister awake
Late into night—

From such disturbance while growing up,
Forced to sleep in the same room
With a younger brother thus afflicted,
I had exorcised many a wall
Of mysterious blotches;
Traced upon outer
And inner darkness
Reaffirming shapes—seeking what is safe
If just familiar
To defer my fears;
Following a dim trail of dots
Carefully avoiding
Those patterns seeming horrid—
I was a dreamer
Then and still now,
Night and day no difference…
Such imagination no respecter
Of age—

Early on in life I found
The moon can be warm—
A friendly hand to clasp on a cold night;
Or elicit Shadows
Only naïve-sojourners
Would consciously invite—

Strange she would ride the subway
Late in the evening…just the two of us in the car
Except for a derelict not noticed before
Now seen drunk and passed-out;
Sprawled across
A booth nearby;
Smelling of booze and urine;
Of living death
For one such as he, addicted,
Is never far
From the grave;

The old woman’s thickening voice:
“He loves to carouse at night,”
And now he was a black cat—
We entered a long screech of turn,
His eyes catching
And holding a strobe of light;
Drawing me deep into funnels
Dark and winding—

Now began to parade down the isle
A procession of groping, mauling characters…
If simply harmless revelers
I would have easily coped—
But fangs and blood
Seemed all too real—
And growls with screeches
Were all compelling
As creatures—
For these were not children
In harmless masquerade,
But a torrent
Of damned ghouls
Burst from the grave…

All the ones
I tricked for not treating—
Grossly contorted
Now looked upon me pleading—
Not mercy
But revenge,
Pleading the Devil
For his satisfying end—

Trick without treat…

I searched my pockets
Seeking provisions of sweets…
There were none—
No Snickers to save me…
Nor Juicy Fruit
Not tasting of Korari—

They took a finger
And a toe,
Though I protested no;

Trick without treat

I protected the rest of my feet
But the heels were soon gone
Increasing my forlorn;
Then at the knees
I felt a breeze—
Where the arms
Now empty sleeves…

Trick without treat

My story
A torso away
From complete…

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