Oct 22: JACK-O-LANTERN
We carved the turnips and other roots with their eerie too-real faces,
Against the spirits and fair folk, from their barrows now abroad.
The demons and the devils set up their tricks in secret places,
The sun was set and the witches and the warlocks shed facades.
’Twas time for neighbor to knock ’pon neighbor’s door,
And remind all that each living soul could seem
Either beggar or monster, according to the lore,
And so we raced out across the village green.
A bang upon the sash of Widow Doyle, she gifted us with sweets,
From Farmer Whelan came a curse, but then a sticky treat.
The maidens three called O’Keefe had lit a bonfire for us to heat,
And bless our souls did Captain Cole bake us pies of meat.
But one house darkened the evening long did stay,
As if the owner, lord of the land, would decry our fun.
Knelt inside his chapel rich with gold, his prayers there to pray,
Baron Payne had extinuished every candle there but one.
“O Lord and Savior,” said the lord, “let these sinners not forget,
That witches they suffer not to live, and demons they not abet.”
He prayed the whole night long, and neither knock nor song,
Nor entreaty importune and strong, would not give him pause of regret.
Upon the next day’s dawning did the priest cast open the chapel door,
And see the pews, the saints, the windows filled with dawn, the golden cross,
And stiff as a board was their great lord, still kneeling but quite done for,
Leaving that poor priest, a humble man, shuddering and at quite a loss.
“Who has done this deed?” he cried, the echo wandering far and wide,
The people talked, all were were shocked! The doors had been locked,
One key only to the chapel, the lord to any in the village did provide.
The priest had sung the tavern to bed that night, too close to dawn to have walked.
’Twas the devil took Baron Payne, we whispered ’twixt the pews,
For the Lord Savior told all to treat each other as good brothers and neighbors do.
But I knew best, for I could not rest, and wandering saw the baron pay his dues.
Our Lanterns Jack came hopping back and cursed his soul, a will o’ the wisp to pursue.
So if you see a light twinkling of an October night, wandering lost upon the moor,
Put out a sweet, wrap yourself in a sheet, call out, “Always something good to eat!”
And answer every knock most politely upon your most hospitable door,
Lest Baron Payne shall be seen again, or Turnip Jack come to trick your treat.
The original jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips and other roots and were a LOT scarier. My husband Lee reminded me on this one.