The three-story, pre-Civil-War house creaks.
It’s gray, unfinished clapboard sags.
Spider webs wreath its windows. In each,
a jack-o’-lantern flickers bright yellow.
Tombstones in the mouth of the neighboring
churchyard are moonlit teeth crooked as
arthritic hands. A picket fence encompasses
the house. Its jagged spears impale low
cumulus clouds that roll from a black sky.
Wind whips walls of leaves against
A man’s silhouette, a bent branch, creeps
from street to bush, lunges from house
to house, staying only for seconds
in side yards. His bony, long fingers bear
a scythe. His ebony cape rides wind.
He is not in costume.
He is real as the everlasting.
When he approaches the three-story house,
his knock echoes to the cupola.
The door no one wants to answer squeaks open.
Only swirls of air greet him. He curses
at those who evade, who last longer
than he expected. He turns away.
The door slams shut, and he banishes
like sleep in the morning.
The jack-o’-lanterns sneer.