Halloween, Greenwich Village

(It smiles at us!

The world is free

Of ice and frost,

These words run free,

They criss and cross.)

 –

It smiles at us!

 –

The world is free

Of ice and frost,

The snow not yet, and

A pure pile of blow

Lies on the peak.

We hasten upward,

To celebrate the ancient rite,

To praise there the Father of all.

Empty mind, empty orchestra,

Emptied starlight, starblind night.

 –

Let the flames blaze through the smoke!

Like a snake, like a snake!

Upward! Up! Our hearts must be slaked!

 –

Let the flames blaze through the smoke!

Perform the old, sacred custom,

To praise there the Father of All.

Upward! Up! Our hearts must be slaked.

 –

Disobey the laws of our stern conquerors –

The clean-shaven ice men, masked and headphoned.

We are heathen, we are sinners.

Surely we are near their certain trap,

And so we prime for desperate acts.

 –

Rankle our stern conquerors –

Who buy anything that moves,

Who wet-wipe life to death –

Surely we are near their certain trap,

And so we prime for desperate acts.

 –

And whoever this day

Fears to bring a sacrifice

Deserves his chains.

The world is free,

These words run free,

The wood is ready,

Pile it up for the burning!

 –

The Village is free!

The wood is ready,

Pile it up for the burning!

Though they remain

In their tint-window perch,

Silently throughout,

With fresh courage,

Let us fulfill our duty.

Spread out here,

Through the entire Village,

Through the entire city

And perform your duty.

 –

Those bloody conquerors!

With the very devil they invent

We’ll terrify them.

 –

With stakes and pitchforks

With flames and with rattling sticks,

We’ll make noise through the night

In these crazed city gorges,

In these canyoned honeycombs of modern lies.

 –

Come with stakes and pitchforks,

And with flames and rattling sticks.

We’ll make noise through the night

In these crazed city gorges,

In these canyoned honeycombs of modern lies.

 –

The owls will howl!

The owls

Will howl!

 –

Come with stakes and pitchforks;

Like the devil,

And with wild rattling sticks,

Through these crazed city gorges

The owls

Will howl

 –

Come! Come! Come!

 –

We’ll have been so far,

That by day we will

Sing in secret to the Father of all!

Empty mind, empty orchestra,

Emptied starlight, starblind night.

And when it is day

As soon as we may,

We’ll bring you a pure heart.

 –

And when it is day

As soon as we may

We’ll bring you a pure heart.

 –

Tonight indeed,

Many times,

We shall purify in smoke,

Like snakes, like snakes

Upward! Up! To purify our faith!

Our hearts must be slaked.

And even if they rob us of our ancient rite,

Who can take our fire from us?

 –

All hell is coming!

See how the bewitched bodies

Glow with flames through and through!

Werewolf and dragon woman,

Vixen and ghost

Passing by in flight!

 –

Frightening, bewitched bodies,

Werewolf and dragon woman,

Zig-zagging zombie,

Let us flee, let us run with them, let us flee with them!

 –

What a fearful scramble!

Fun fun fun let us all flee!

 –

And above the flames sparkles the Mischief One,

Into our hearts

Drips his hellion brew.

 –

Let us flee, let us run with it, let us flee from it!

As the flame is purified in smoke,

Like snakes, like snakes,

Upward! Up!

Our hearts must be slaked,

To purify our faith!

 –

As the flame is purified in smoke,

Like snakes, like snakes,

To purify our faith!

And even if they rob us of our ancient rite,

Who can take our fire from us?

Birthed by too much nothing for much too long

It comes to be impossibly, always, on this day,

Like smoke, like snakes,

And owls howl.

 –

Owls

Howl.

 –

 

This poem is inspired by Felix Mendelssohn’s “Die Erste Walpurgisnacht” (“The First Walpurgis Night”), itself inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem of the same name.