A Seasonal Concoction

He loved to have a cup of coffee in dawn’s dimmest light.
It helped clear cobwebs from those heavy eyelids of the night.
His narrow pumpkin head could start to gaze with orange eyes.
His skeleton could once again experience surprise.
The ghost-white sheets of sleepy deeps could be left in the bed
with dreams of candy corn and broom-stick witches in his head.
His crow’s feet could begin to move; life’s candles could be lit.
The horrors of the dark could be freed from the cauldon’s pit.
The black cat and the ebon bat could go back with the owl,
and with that bitter drink he could unsmock the frocked monk’s cowl.



Bruce Dale Wise is a poet currently residing in Texas. 

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15 Responses

  1. Jeff Eardley

    Super to read Bruce. My spine is tingling after reading, and perfect illustration from Evan. Should it be “Cauldron’s pit, or even spit?”

    • BDW

      as per the author Eualcides Brew:

      Here in the very early morning of October 31st, as I am writing this and drinking coffee, the elixir of life, I pause from listening to “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by PostModernist American proset Ray Bradbury (1920-2012). That was a work that sent my “spine tingling” and gave me goosebumps, when I first read it in my youth. Along with “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), these are the two works I most closely associate with October and Halloween—All Hallows Eve. [As a side note, I used to yearly spend several weeks of October teaching and reading “Macbeth” in my Senior British lit class.]

      Although I was evoking the atmosphere of Edgar Allen Poe in that instant in the poem (at the end of its most metaphorical moment), by using the seemingly redundant word of “pit”, Mr. Eardley’s excellent suggestion of the evocative “spit” will appear in this poem’s next print, partly because it contains the word “pit”.

  2. Norma Pain

    A very tasty pumpkin pie poem to savor this Halloween. Thank you for this enjoyable poem Bruce.

    • BDW

      as per the author Eualcides Brew:

      One of the reasons for the genesis of this particular tennos comes from my evening walks in the surrounding neighbourhoods, where this month I have seen countless individual exhibits of Halloween décor, the pumpkin predominating, along with many other creative presentations. Here on my lane, there are two large displays on either side of my abode, none more surprising than the fifteen-foot long and nine-foot high animated red-orange dragon next door.

      I was not thinking of Ms. Pain’s tantalizing suggestion of pumpkin pie when I wrote the poem, nor the delicious aroma of pumpkin muffins that has recently filled our house; instead I was actually thinking of Mark Twain (1835-1910) when I used the self-deprecating “pumpkin head” with the descriptive adjective “narrow”. Indeed, thinking back on the poem, I am reminded how often, though I seem to be using ‘just any old words’, I semi-consciously tap in to literary predecessors, the most obvious being the Romantic American poet Clement Moore (1779-1863).

  3. Paul Freeman

    Thanks for the seasonal read, Bruce.

    It’s strange, but Halloween is a relatively modern phenomenon in the UK. In my youth, myself and a couple of other kids went ‘Trick or Treating’ and were basically told to bugger off.

    As for Australia, I was trying to sell some Halloween stories to some Aussie magazines a few years back and was told they don’t celebrate Halloween there.

    Here in Abu Dhabi, Halloween is a great excuse to meet up with people and make new friends.

    Anyhow, that’s enough of me warbling. Thanks again for the read, Bruce.

    • BDW

      As Ms. Coats has continually demonstrated, it is difficult to get around to critical labours; one doesn’t always make it. Here I am speaking of Paul A. FreemaN’s [sic] take on “Ozymandias” by Romantic English writer Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), which was published on this site last September.

      In his poem, Mr. Freeman pulls/culls Shelley’s intricate interweaving of four acknowledged individuals in—to two; and with an ironic, well-placed “who said” at the beginning of L2, “begins” his revision, by bringing to the fore the thoughts of the artist. Thus, to answer his final question, it is, indeed, Mr. Freeman who “sings” about the sculptor.

      I am often interested from where a poet comes, and to where he is going. I find Mr. Freeman’s homage to Shelley’s poem comes (at least partially) from the realms of prose crime and horror, children’s books and narrative poetry, from an Englishman (Roald Dahl?) in Abu Dhabi, of all places.

      Interestingly he wrote his response to Shelley’s poem in a Shakespearean (English) sonnet, whereas I came to the poem from an entirely different place. Coming after Milton, like other Romantics, I wanted to escape Elizabethan frames. In my extreme youth, I was perhaps as passionate about Shelley’s work, as the early embarrassed Robert Browning was, and, in our own day, the NeoRomantic Canadian poet David Gosselin is. Back then, what I liked in the structure of Shelley’s sonnet was its intricate, scrambled rhyme scheme—ababacdcedefef—its detached tone, its clipped diction, and its deadpan vowels. [I half wonder if American Modernist poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) didn’t catch the same.]

      Although, of the British Romantics, I have been more influenced by Blake, in linguistic echo, Wordsworth, in prosaic splendor, Coleridge, in ballad and criticism, Byron, in flamboyance, and Keats, in seriousness, a couple of decades ago, I, too, responded to Shelley’s poem (as it is an important touchstone for his time). Here is my take, from a couple of decades ago, a fifteen-lined qasida, in which, I was still working through enjambment, and other stylistic developments.

      by “Scribe” El Uwade

      He was the ruler of an antique land,
      the Pharaoh Rameses the Second. Grand,
      stone temples crossed his kingdom of the sand,
      like that at Abu Simbel, now o’erspanned
      by th’ Aswan High Dam’s watery command,
      or Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. These stand
      as monuments, with others, to the hand
      that led a nation to the world he scanned.
      Such was the empire that his subjects spanned:
      it went from Upper Egypt to the strand
      along the Delta of the Nile and fanned
      up to Kadesh, where with twice ten thousand
      he faced the Hittites, twice as many manned.
      And afterwards, that bloody act’s demand,
      the first peace treaty in the world was planned.

      Here again is Mr. Freeman’s very good work:

      Ozymandias Begins

      I met the monarch of our ancient land,
      who said, ‘Your skill at sculpting is renowned.
      The hammer and the chisel in your hand
      will make my semblance evermore resound.’
      Upon his statue’s stone-blank face I cut
      the ruthless glare residing in his eyes,
      the frown with loathing etched in every rut—
      his scornful lip my pride would not disguise.
      Ten times the height of mortal men we raised
      his likeness with its surly visage set.
      Its autocratic mien his minions praised—
      a father reigning not by love, but threat.
      Yet unlike our immortally-sculpted king,
      of my own role, what poet voice shall sing?

      Mr. Freeman’s work is obviously much closer to Shelley’s than mine is—and purposefully so, I imagine, in both of our approaches.

      • Paul Freeman

        One reason that Ozymandias resonates is from when we got lost in the Sudanese desert, in 1985, looking for a ruined temple complex called Musawwarat Es-Sufra. We found the reconstructed Lion Temple and a strange Greek-looking temple known as the Kiosk, and at a toilet break I came across a sphinx (from a ceremonial walkway) sticking out of the sand.

        Finally, with the sun about to set, we came across Musawwarat es-Sufra with its poorly reconstructed elephant statue, and beyond a few broken down pillars, foundations and walls, then nothing but scrubby desert.

        I can see it as clearly as if it were yesterday.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Don’t you mean the season-all concoction, otherwise the elixir for all seasons? Dawn’s dimmest light would be the best time of day for it in the Halloween season. I very much approve the mention of candy corn, the most nutritious of treats in my eight-year-old eyes. I would not, however, melt such delicious tidbits in coffee, as masqueraders sometimes do with chocolate composites known as Chunky bars. I prefer to hoard them, and for some years I carried a snack-size box (sadly, no longer available even in this season) as the most delightful remedy for hypoglycemia. Now the very thought is re-charging my memory. Candy corn is not meant for dreams alone, although you can leave the broomstick there. This is a spectacular tennos, Bruce, but I hope that I shall never see a Benedictine with a smocked cowl.

  5. BDW

    At Naqa
    by Bedewi Al-Sercu

    He was a free man seeking Musawwarat Es-Sufra,
    lost in the desert of Sudan in 1985.
    He sought a ruined temple complex—not a pedestal—
    and found a reconstructed temple of Apedemak.
    He also saw a strange Greek-looking temple, the Kiosk,
    and there beneath the Solar Disk, stuck in the sand, a sphinx.
    He later came upon the statue of an elephant,
    along with broken pillars, Meroitic relevant.
    And gazing on the open sky, beneath the golden Nub,
    he looked out thair and he could see naught but the desert scrub.

    • Paul Freeman

      I’d give three thumbs up for your poem, if I could.

      Perhaps the oddest aspect of that day was a boy running out of the desert from a distant hut with a visitors’ book for us to sign.

      Now, of course, its all GPS and a tarmacked road most of the way to the temple complex.

      • BDW

        When it comes to his literary criticism, it appears Mr. FreemaN is all thumbs; but I still admire his contribution to appreciating Shelley. For a more thorough analysis of “Shelley’s Ozymandias…” one can check out Adam Sedia’s essay; and even though Sedia misses the things I like about Shelley’s sonnet, his analysis is at least thorough. In general, what I appreciate about Mr. Sedia’s criticism (despite his limited understanding of T. S. Eliot’s art) is his working through his own critical values as they pertain to his particular artistic bent. Literary critic Mr. George Franklin has succinctly noted that Eliot’s thoughts on Shelley’s thoughts were “the ideas of adolescence”, “repellant”, “bolted whole and never assimilated”, and the man himself was “humourless, pedantic, self-centered, and…almost a blackguard”.

        It is a mystery to understand why and how certain individuals respond to Mr. E. (or Shelley, for that matter) as they do. When I first came across “The Wasteland”, for example, I responded to it viscerally, deeply (as I did Shelley’s masterpieces as well). “The Wasteland” seemed to encapsulate, in poetic form, a complete nervous breakdown culturally. I was awestruck at the avenues down which his language went. And when I recorded it (with sounds of water, for example, not knowing Eliot himself had recorded it better, nor understanding Pound’s editing), I lived with each episodic section for days on end. And even though I admire the “Four Quartets” more now, I still regard it as Modernism’s great touchstone.

  6. BDW

    I really didn’t mean Ms. Coats’ interesting suggestion the “season-all concoction”; for, as Pindar (c. 518 – c. 438) points out “ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ”, and I agree. In addition, I didn’t begin drinking coffee until this decade, so I am late to the coffee crowd. Though in my youth, I liked candy corn, I will not eat it now; despite the fact that Dawn has placed a crystal bowl of it on my coffee table. The neologism “unsmocked”, as well as the word “cowl”, are used metaphorically here, and, thus, I believe the tennos is rather spectracular, and not “spectacular”.

    • John

      Hi Bruce

      I would like to publish one of your works on a small business website. Would we be able to do that if we made a donation to a good cause and credited yourself?

  7. BDW

    To Mr. Keat—:

    As I too am interested in data, I would be interested in which poem you are interested in, and why. But whether you answer those two questions, or not, you may go ahead and publish the work on your website; preferably with an anagrammatic heteronym (Brad Lee Suciew, Esca Webuilder, Euclidrew Base, any of my British names, etc.), or if you can’t do that for business reasons, my given name: Bruce Dale Wise.

    However, I prefer no payment, not even as a contribution to a good cause credited to myself.

    Thanks for your interest, and best of luck in your business endeavours.

    • John

      Thank you Bruce.

      A poem on the tyranny of G…. We have our own opinion of that tyrant, one that is loosely based around duplicity so your poem caught my eye. If you would like to ask me anything at all about data or anything I can help with then I am on LI and fairly easy to find to connect with.
      All the very best,


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