'Making a Jack-O-Lantern' & 'Blood Stiletto': Two Poems by Marc Alan Di Martino


A month ago was summer—now here we are

in the raunchy, roseate October sun

carving spooky faces in a pumpkin.

My daughter scoops a handful of the seeds

and weaves their stringy meat between her thumbs

pretending she’s a zombie, drunk on brains.

I laugh. She screams. Then wipes them on her jeans.

There is no trick-or-treating where we live

so we just populate the house with pumpkins,

the cobwebs on our ceilings real enough

we don’t need to invest in the fake stuff.

I miss the glimmering New England trees

radiating bloody palettes of red

splotching the landscape like a painted bed.

I’ve seen it happen in old calendars

and once or twice for real: one autumn day

some friends and I rented a station wagon

and drove up from New York to a state park

in the Hudson Valley—earnest, purposeful—

to see the glory of the altered leaves.

The four of us, clodhopping over boulders

in city clothes! We stopped on a country road

for apple cider, ecstatic as toddlers,

the hot perfume of clove and cinnamon

shocking our senses out of the humdrum.

I feel that energy again today

a surplus of oxygen to the brain

making us giddy, giving us rabbit feet,

steadying the staggering pulse, igniting the blood.

My daughter, too, is carving memories

into her hippocampus, so future-she

will rediscover them when apple-ripe.

They’ll give me back to her when I am gone

(nature’s only form of restitution)

as she regales her children with the time

their grandfather sang “Halloween Parade”

beneath the turning chestnuts, pocket-knife

in hand, and taught her how to pierce the taut

gold-orange flesh with its half-rusted blade.



Those beat-up white patent leather stilettos

she used to dance in before the revolution

were ziplocked as evidence by forensics

after the incident, leaving four dead and none wounded:

two bitchy step-sisters, a hypochondriac meth queen

and a serial date-rapist known to authorities as ‘Prince’.

Efforts to localize her have been unsuccessful

though she is rumored to be in possession of a samizdat

Handbook of Risk Mitigation. The Lost Boys, playing hooky

in Sherwood Forest, report they were hoarding when

the perp approached them. “She jacked our apple cart,”

one ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ stated off the record.

The victims are known to have been in cahoots

with the suspect via a series of heists going back

to the time of the VHS release of Toy Story.

The law firm Grimm & Grimm has published a statement

on behalf of their client: “Ms. Glassfoot denies all allegations.”

Funeral services will be held at King St. on Grassy Knoll

for friends and family of the deceased. By moonlight only.


Marc Alan Di Martino's work has appeared in Rattle, the New Yorker, Baltimore Review, Palette Poetry and many other places, and is forthcoming in the anthologies Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife and What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye. His first collection, UNBURIAL, will be published in 2020 by Kelsay Books. He currently lives in Perugia, Italy with his family where he works as a teacher and translator. Find him on: marcalandimartino.com, or on Twitter: @marcadimartino

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