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Halloween—The New Normal

The maskless masses mingle on the street
Pooh-poohing overreaching, grouchy rules.
The granny-slaying, unvaxxed ogres meet
As curtain-twitching witches eye these ghouls
From hazmat-suited safety as they fume
At murderous monsters milling neath the moon.

The spawn of fierce smut-busters fool around.
They snigger as they loiter on the lawn.
Their terroristic parents are renowned
For haunting schools whose bookshelves heave with porn.
There’ll be no drooling sugar-drizzled feasts
For proudly priggish, smiley, pious beasts.

The patriarchal ghosts of yesteryear
Are looming at the windows of the woke
Who gaze upon these toxic spooks with fear—
Such pasty revelry is not a joke
For those who crave to stroke a pygmy llama
To stave off harm from haughty pale-male drama.

The mega-MAGA-hatted fiends with flags
All wave their fearsome Stars and Stripes with glee,
Triggering the zombie sheep and nags
To gnash their teeth and bleat on bended knee.
The vampires cower in coffins sealed up tight—
Wings shivering, fangs chattering with fright…

When Brandon sniffs a hair on Halloween,
The dog-faced pony soldiers will convene..

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Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition, and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.


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29 Responses

  1. Russel Winick

    Brilliant, Susan! Halfway through I began wondering how you were going to end it, and as usual you did not disappoint!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, thank you! Our brave new world is topsy turvy. I thought I’d do a Halloween poem to reflect that. I laughed as I penned it because I love satire… I’m not as jovial about the reality of our interesting times.

      Reply
  2. Mike Bryant

    This is the scariest Halloween ever! All the goblins, spooks and demons work in government!
    You write like a dream, Susan…

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      They all work in government, Mike? Not by a mile. Even taking “government” broadly enough to include public schools and public libraries, the comment fails to take in social media censor-influencers, “artists,” doctors and others of the medical community etc. We’re in a war of many fronts.

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        You’re right, Julian. I should’ve said, “in cahoots with the government.”

  3. C.B. Anderson

    Perhaps I missed an important cue, Susan, but through most of the poem I got a sense of pandemonium, where no good guys were to be found. In any event, much (if not all) of the phrasing and most (if not all) of the rhetorical connections were as tight as mandolin strings, as crisp as September apples, and as apposite as mustard on a hotdog. I trust that you will look kindly on these comparisons, for these qualities are what I most enjoy in poetry.

    Now, some might say that your rhetorical flourishes and your chiming pyrotechnic embellishments are extravagant, but the truth is that you are one of the most economical poets I have ever read when it comes to getting a lot out of what looks small at first — namely, the details of daily life, which include the news reports we get from various sources, some better than others.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I am not only looking kindly upon those poetic comparisons, I am reveling in them – “as crisp as September apples” is a simile that’s lit a smile. Thank you very much! I couldn’t have hoped for better.

      You are right on the “pandemonium” front. With this poem, badness is in the eye of the beholder. Depending upon the angle and the way the light is shining, an angel could look like a demon and vice versa… in this strange old world we live in, everyday has a whiff of Halloween about it… mwah-ha-ha… 😉

      Reply
  4. Julian D. Woodruff

    Your title pretty much says it all, Susan, but you back it up with acidic impact.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Julian… I’ll take “acidic impact” – what a great pairing of words, and what a huge compliment. I’m grinning like a Halloween pumpkin.

      Reply
  5. Brian Yapko

    Susan, this poem is an absolute riot which I had to read (with pleasure) three times to fully get all of the delightful, depraved details, each one filling my trick-or-treat bag with acerbic delights. Although the tone is very different, your poem reminds me of “Beetlejuice” in which the ghosts who haunt the house are the only normal characters and it is the offensive living who need to be exorcised. Like that fun movie, you turn the normies and the scaries topsy turvy as people cower indoors terrified of (eek!) maskless people who wear MAGA hats and dare to brandish the fearsome Stars & Stripes. What a clever inversion and what delightful poetic language to present it!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, thank you very much for this wonderful comment. I love your spot-on take together with the “Beetlejuice” reference. I am grinning… although, I must now wipe the ear-to-ear smile from my face as I spare a thought for those among us who have not interpreted the poem as you have and are now running for a safe space inhabited by silken pygmy llamas ripe for stroking.

      Reply
  6. Yael

    It’s scary just how funny and observant your Halloween poem is Susan. And the photo of the masked pumpkin goes really well with it. I love it and I don’t even like Halloween.
    In the fifth line of the third stanza there is an extra “who” inserted that probably does not belong there.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, thank you for your great comment and for your fine eye on those Halloween whos. I will admit to not being at all keen on Halloween… but, I couldn’t let a poem pass me by. The occasion lent itself very well to the subject matter and I will admit to having a snigger as I wrote it. My excuse is there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy. The masked pumpkin pic is perfect… thank you, Evan!! I’m thrilled you loved it, Yael.

      Reply
  7. Norma Pain

    This is a fabulous Halloween poem Susan, describing the new normal that is definitely more scary than the old. Thank you…. I think!!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, thank you very much! The ‘new normal’ is as far from normal as one could possibly imagine and begged for a Halloween poem… and you are right, beneath the mask of the pumpkin is a grin much scarier than the one of yesteryear.

      Reply
  8. Cynthia Erlandson

    This was so much fun to read, Susan, for the wacky imagery, the brilliant phrases and alliteration, the great sense of humor…. The only scary thing missing was the leftist political yard signs, which may have scared me off, had I been trick-or-treating!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cynthia, I’m thrilled you had fun reading this… I simply had to write it. After Brian’s comment above and your reference to yard signs… I might change the title to “BetoJuice” – Beto O’Rourke is the Elizabeth-Warren Democrat candidate for Texas Governor… 0.00000027 parts Mexican. His favorite mode of transport is a skateboard… what could possibly go wrong?!

      Reply
  9. Mary Gardner

    Susan, your poetry is always top-notch.
    “…wave their fearsome Stars and Stripes with glee” makes me proud. Fearsome and fierce it is, and I display it daily.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mary, it thrills me to hear you are proudly displaying a daily ripple of fearsome and fierce… I’m with you all the way! Thank you very much for your wonderful comment. It’s much appreciated.

      Reply
  10. Shaun C. Duncan

    Brilliant as always, Susan. The word-play is extraordinary and, as CB pointed out, it helps to cram a lot of information into each line rather than serving as mere ornamentation.

    You’ve really captured the strange, carnivalesque quality of modern politics – horrifying for those who choose to live in fear and yet an exhilarating time to be a dissident. We don’t really celebrate Halloween here in Australia (and, being Spring, it wouldn’t work if we did) but your piece seems to be very much in keeping with the spirit of the holiday too.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Shaun, thank you very much for your astute and generous comment. I love your spot-on “carnivalesque quality of modern politics” observation… how beautifully put and (sadly) true. Today’s world is indeed horrifying for those who choose to live in fear, and therein lies our problem… the word “choose.” A little bit of personal research from a non-governmental source and a pinch of common sense could free many from the chains of fear and stop the draconian meddling from our overlords in its tracks… we’re far too easily manipulated to our own detriment. I’m hoping an onslaught of exhilarating satire from poetic dissidents will save the day!

      Reply
  11. Paul Freeman

    What your poem demonstrates to me – this being the new normal – is a loss of innocence. In modern America (and elsewhere in the world), Christmas, Halloween, etc., have firstly been commercialised, and are now being politicised.

    Perhaps we need to get back to basics, with Christmas bringing goodwill to all men (even if for a small space of time), and Halloween enlivening community spirit.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking read, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, thank you for reading and commenting. I’m with all the way on getting back to basics, with traditional celebrations “bringing goodwill to all men… and enlivening community spirit.”… hence my poem.

      The day we all stop listening and blindly obeying our divisive overlords and think for ourselves, we’ll be on the road to recovery. The day concerned parents aren’t labeled “terrorists” and investigated by the FBI, the day healthy people refuse to be locked down, masked, and given an experimental shot for a virus with a 99.7% recovery rate, the day white people (especially men) aren’t demonized, the day we wave our national flag and sing our anthem without fear of being shamed, etc. etc. etc. we will get much nearer to the world you are talking about… until then it will only live in a distant memory.

      Reply
  12. Joshua C. Frank

    Susan, another great one, as usual! It really drives home the point that the monsters displayed on people’s houses and costumes aren’t anywhere near as scary as the real world of today.

    Reply
  13. Joseph S. Salemi

    The politicization of Halloween is especially obnoxious, in that it exploits little kids for adult partisan purposes. This process began some time ago, when explicitly ‘feminist” and “LGBTQ” themes were being used to fashion costumes, but now it has gotten out of control. On that idiot left-wing talk show “The View,” children were paraded wearing costumes of “Inflation” and “The Mar-A-Lago Raid,” and anything else that might serve a Democrat purpose.

    Reply

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