On Halloween, when witches walk

Tristan Beiter

On Halloween, when witches walk 
On Halloween, when witches walk,
and ghosts emerge from open graves,
the candles wait to flicker out.
They guard the doorway for the brave.
The cat, assured, goes traipsing there
where leaves fall fast and wind blows black
and cobwebs coat the weathered door.
The ghoulish grin of Mr. Jack—
the pumpkin man who clacks and clicks
and asks if he may welcome in
your friend and you for tricks, or treats,
and throws the shutters with the din
of bats erupting—glows in darkness
as he waits. You see him there, my dear,
you do? Head out to greet him. Watch
your way, for all the spirits now draw near.


Tristan Beiter is a queer poet and speculative fiction nerd originally from Central Pennsylvania. His poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award and has appeared in such venues as Abyss & Apex, Fantasy Magazine, Liminality, and Twisted Moon. When not writing he can be found crafting absurdities with his boyfriend or yelling about literary theory. Find him on Twitter at @TristanBeiter.

Author’s Backstory and Comments: I wrote the first draft on Halloween 2020, attempting to capture the feeling of suddenly being in a new place, encountering Halloween on my own as an adult. The form emerged as I worked to replicate the feeling of the weather and the sense of excitement and uncertainty that came with feeling Halloween so acutely when I wasn’t dressing up or going to a party or receiving trick-or-treaters. From that, came the figure of Jack, welcoming me into a new, more serious relation with the holiday and the possibility of transformation and mystery that it holds.

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: Notice the ballad construction [structure and rhyme scheme] except that each pair of lines are in the quatrains follows iambic octameter instead of the usual heptameter. The abstract Halloween image is a ghostly congregation [art.alphacoders.com].

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1 Response to On Halloween, when witches walk

  1. Love this. I’m drawn to poetry with Halloween and/or witches in the title!

    I enjoyed hearing this read aloud. Thank you for sharing!

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