Sunday, 8 November 2015

THE PUMPKIN SMASHERS (A SPECTRAL POEM)


The trick is not in the knit,
it's in picking up the fallen stitch.

You can carve anything into flesh,
given a knife, a little strength.

Usually, it's the other way round, but now
we bring darkness to light,

bring skulls to life, even though the grin
terrifies. We persist. We leave our orange

gifts out, like half peeled bananas,
to tempt the jungli revellers.

And then they come, Houdini's ghouls,
to trick or treat you - impossible to tell -

until they leave you, empty of sweetness,
wondering why you invited fear to drop in.

But then you turn to the scared faces within,
your little caped monsters, and you draw

your own fake grin. And when you tug
on the bucket of myth that lives inside your skin,

you are Mother; from you, blood,
from you, ferocity begins.

(c) Shaista Tayabali, 2015

My Halloween poem was inspired by friend and poet Caron Freeborn, whose casually used phrase, 'the pumpkin smashers', to describe the grown boys who mirthlessly destroyed her children's evening by smashing in their pumpkins, has become a poetry prompt among her circle of poets.

Halloween confuses me. I got into the spirit of the thing a few years ago: pumpkins were carved, children stopped by in masks, bleeding ketchup across our porch... I have never enjoyed being frightened. I don't particularly care for deliberate ghoulishness. Especially after hearing of Claudia Winkleman's daughter bursting into flames because her cheap supermarket costume (highly flammable) brushed past a lit candle. A candle sitting plumply inside the hollow of a pumpkin lining the pathway to a friend's front door. (As a result of Winkleman speaking out, many supermarkets are increasing their fire safety standards.)

Ah, but I do try for the spirit of the thing.


Did I not scamper off to Spectre? The latest Bond, timed perfectly with the 'ween spirit, centres itself in Día de los Muertos festivity in Mexico City. An earthy enough beginning, and I was all in. But as the hours wove on through cybersecurity and threats that were more elaborately verbose than actual, I found myself consciously trying not to roll my eyes. One eye might have rolled, a little.


There seemed to be at least four or more scripts stitched together by an extremely unwieldy surgeon. Bad enjambment. A disjointed skeleton with an excellent mortician filling in the gaps with superficial make up. The grisly scene with the eyes would please any horror film aficionado. But the seduction of/by Monica Belluci, left me neither shaken nor stirred. The villain did not frighten me - I only thought, dear Christoph Waltz, you seem so nice! And worst of all - the pièce de resistance - were the moments when the character of Léa Seydoux, a superb young actress, equal to any Bond, found herself hiding behind Jim. No! I thought, but did not holler, into the dark theatre. After all, there were men there, enthralled. By cars that were bullets, and bullets that were bullets, and women who looked like silver bullets... If you like that sort of thing...





I missed you, Judi Dench. I loved you, Skyfall. You almost had me then, Mr Bond, but now, I'm underwhelmed.

*Sigh*. Somehow, I don't think he cares...


(This poem and piece are participating in Open Night at Dverse Poets Pub over here: www.dversepoets.com, October 2016)

39 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

How I love your posts! LOVE the poem, along with your notes beneath. Much to think upon.....I especially love that one eye, rolling a little. LOL.

lifelyricslemoncake said...

Same! I love your posts and they always hook me. I am jealous scrolling down of all your energy and uniqueness. My blog is so boring! Ha, my eye rolled a little at the trailer so I didn't bother. Jamesey is still awfully sexist I reckon. Why's there not a steady Mrs Bond eh? Haha lets not go there.

I dressed up (or tried to) as Virginia Woolf and went to a bluegrass band so it was quite fun. I must show you my photo in Instagram! xx

Nada said...

Same! I love your blog and energy!

Yin said...

Jungli revellers ... we're calling ourselves that next Halloween ;) xxx

caramelcaramelo said...

Oh I love this! Many smiles... and from Mexico too where el día de muertos just went by.
Many kisses!
Kenza.
https://caramelcaramelo.wordpress.com

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

hello darling.
I confess, I just watched Spector and I had exactly the same reaction. a Bit too much eye rolling.

I can't begin to express how much i love you.

brudberg said...

Pumpkin Smashers also reminds me of the band though... (used to love their music), but your poem catch a side of Halloween I've never really cared for... Here in Sweden it used to be All Saints Night... very quiet celebration where you decorate the graves of your ancestors...

Sanaa Rizvi said...

I love this :D you have captured the mood and spirit of Halloween perfectly! Especially "And then they come, Houdini's ghouls, to trick or treat you - impossible to tell - until they leave you, empty of sweetness, wondering why you invited fear to drop in" is just fabulous!


Lots of love,
Sanaa

Kim Russell said...

Your poem has got me fired up for Halloween!

charliezero1 said...

Excellent and wonderfully Halloween poem.

You've described Halloween so well, now I feel excited for the holidays. :)

Love this poem a lot. :)

scotthastiepoet said...

My first time here, I think? You have a very strong voice Shaista - your closing stanza in especially terrific, I think... In the UK we have a band called the Smashing Pumpkins! With Best Wishes Scott www.scotthastie.com

Linda Kruschke said...

I am not a fan of Halloween. We could just skip it as far as I'm concerned and head right on into Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I enjoyed your poem nonetheless.

Paul Dear said...

Love this. Vibrant and engaging and full of energy too.

ayala said...

Beautifully penned!

Arcadia M said...

I really enjoyed your poem. Thanks for sharing. :)

R.K. Garon said...

Well... that was an interesting take on the tradition or whatever it's called. well written and understood.
ZQ

said...

This is an incredible poem.

Maria said...

Awesome! I enjoyed this very much, thank you!!

Kathy Reed said...

This is beautiful! You pull out the hidden meanings, stress the fun and pleasure of Halloween and compare it to the really gouache and spoilers of the spirit that ruins it for many.

Shaista said...

No way! I love the energy and uniqueness of your blog!! And I think you are being much more consistent than I am - lately anyway.
I agree - where's the Miss/Mrs Bond?!! As in female lead Bond.

I need to scroll back a year to find your VW impression. ..

Shaista said...

Thanks Nada! I love the peace of your blog. It's like an online hermitage!

Shaista said...

Well, jungli reveller? I wonder what your pumpkin carving will reveal this year... miss you xx

Shaista said...

Begin! Begin! Miss you - come back!!

Shaista said...

Yes I think that version of All Hallow's Eve seems much more appropriate. Today it really is quite wild and out of all bounds of anything hallowed.

Shaista said...

Thanks Sanaa - still a long ways to go before the little ghouls start knocking on our door :)

Shaista said...

Glad to hear it. Happy pumpkin carving!!

Shaista said...

Oh that's so lovely to hear - thanks Charlie!

Shaista said...

Thank you so much Scott - and you're the second person to let me know about this band. I need to check them out!

Shaista said...

I'm not a fan either Linda, to be honest - it certainly played no part in my childhood. But it looks like it will be a huge part of my nieces' and nephew's lives! So I guess I better get on board.

Shaista said...

Thanks Paul!

Shaista said...

Thank you x

Shaista said...

Thank you so much Ayala 😊

Shaista said...

I think today''s version of Halloween is a very strange and far removed take on the old traditions of All Hallow's Eve - much like Easter bears no resemblance to early Christian traditions!

Shaista said...

Thank you so much!

Shaista said...

Thanks Maria!

Shaista said...

THanks so much Kathy - and you're right, so much that is modern about the new spirit is destructive. Teeth included from all the sweets and candy!!

Susan Anderson said...

Seems like Halloween was more innocent when I was young, or maybe I was just more innocent. Either way...

Loved your poem and the post that accompanied it.

=)

freyawrites.com said...

What an absolutely fantastic poem, you captured the dark hearts of the pumpkin smashers.

grapeling said...

powerful, elegant, memorable ~

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