Poetry | Ode to a pumpkin carver

By Thomas Riley, Staff Columnist

College kids in costumes eagerly walk these dark streets.

Jack-o’-lanterns guard each house, glowing dimly in the dusk.

I do not intend to lose my mind, myself, tonight, 

But I do not want to walk home the way I walk now. Alone.


The moon is rising and the werewolves have begun to howl.

As I approach the porch, music oozes through the door frame,

And I wait to be let in. I wonder how many ghosts live here,

And I wonder how many will pass through me.


I will not meet a ghost tonight.

I will not think in prose tonight.


Dressed as a siren or came as she is,

She calls then falls onto me, to

Intertwine our gravity and let me orbit,

To not absorb me, to keep me away.


A fire ablaze atop her bottle,

Smoke fills where water spills,

And gasping for air I stumble

From my binary star, but I pull her along.


Stumble with me, keeper.

Stone my skull and let me bleed

Into my hands so that I can hold it out

And make you see that I am


Human. Beneath my costume.

Beneath my skin. Bleed with me,

Show me you’re like me, not the other

Creatures that hover around me.


Ignore the red drops on your dress.

This blood will wash away, so

Drench yourself in it, drown me in yours,

Stain my suit and wet my chest.


The night is young, and you are still bleeding.

But the night is old, soon I will be mourning.

Mourning for whom? 

For you, for me, listen,

The werewolves have ceased their howling,

The moon is setting, I will too. Join me

Or don’t. 

Say you want me to.


You remove your dress, your disguise, and I’ve

Seen you before, with flannel and knives.

You handle the hem of my undershirt, still soaked

In our blood. Lift my top, expose my rows of

Raised flesh, and find a spot untouched

To etch.


Plunge your blade, hold me steady by my cheek,

Extol me, please do not critique, as you take

Me for all I am, and scrape, until I am hollow,

Wean me from my own, my home, and shape me

As you wish.


Now ignite me, light a candle deep inside me,

Replace my life poured on your floor, and for

One night say I am perfect. Care for me,

Don’t let me dim, keeper. I know you’re tired,

But watch my fire, see my glow, reap your sin

That you sow.


The sun will rise too soon and you will see

Your perfect babe turned sick. To stay is

To starve. Thank you for making me pretty, but

This carving won’t last. Your pumpkins are trash

After Halloween.

Thomas Riley primarily writes social satire and stories about politics and philosophy. Write to them at [email protected]