A Rhyme for Halloween 

A Rhyme for Halloween 

By Maurice Kilwein Guevara


Tonight I light the candles of my eyes in the lee

And swing down this branch full of red leaves.

Yellow moon, skull and spine of the hare,

Arrow me to town on the neck of the air.


I hear the undertaker make love in the heather;

The candy maker, poor fellow, is under the weather.

Skunk, moose, raccoon, they go to the doors in threes

With a torch in their hands or pleas: “O, please . . .”


Baruch Spinoza and the butcher are drunk:

One is the tail and one is the trunk

Of a beast who dances in circles for beer

And doesn’t think twice to learn how to steer.


Our clock is blind, our clock is dumb.

Its hands are broken, its fingers numb.

No time for the martyr of our fair town

Who wasn’t a witch because she could drown.


Now the dogs of the cemetery are starting to bark

At the vision of her, bobbing up through the dark.

When she opens her mouth to gasp for air,

A moth flies out and lands in her hair.


The apples are thumping, winter is coming.

The lips of the pumpkin soon will be humming.

By the caw of the crow on the first of the year,

Something will die, something appear.

Audio recording: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/play/89615

About the author

Poet, playwright, and actor Maurice Kilwein Guevara was born in 1961 in Belencito, Colombia, and raised in Pittsburgh. He earned a BA in English and a BS in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He also has an MFA from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD in English and comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin.

Kilwein Guevara’s poems often use overlapping voices and languages to explore complications in the lives of immigrants in mid-America. Kilwein Guevara’s honors include a Fulbright Scholarship in Colombia and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. His poetry has been included in many anthologies, such as Touching the Fire: Fifteen Poets of Today’s Latino Renaissance (1998, ed. Ray Gonzalez), The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology (2000, ed. Michael Collier), No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets (2003, ed. Ray Gonzalez), and The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (2005, ed. Sue Ellen Thompson). He is a founding member of the National Latino Writers’ Association. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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