Volume 25, Number 3

Mississippi Halloween

Trick-or-Treating up the neighborhood
ending at the firehouse, as always,
tired out with children struggling under
bags of the almost final tranquility
of evening's end, all having witnessed,
none seen, the occasional groups
of black children not in proper spirit,
uncostumed, demanding, knowing
that simply to appear will do,
for them, for down here their
blackness transcends all possible fears—
knowing to costume the already
costumed is not required to apply
their trick and the horrible
knowing swells my night as the stoic
fireman's costumed ape makes wild
once the black children appear
and the children too young to know
they are being aped scatter across
the lot, black girl jumps and spins,
feet slipping face slamming cold
pavement busting lip kissing asphalt
crying arms in the air as the whip
comes down and I am speaking
of human hearts.

—Matt Dennison