• Hil Hoover

I didn't poison your apple

I didn’t bother poisoning your apple

this year, so don’t look at it like that,

with suspicion, with concern, with

tired eyes that hunger for caramel,

for those tiny bits of dark chocolate

and crushed nuts, but fear what

might lie beneath, what fate might

befall those too trusting of what

comes from unreliable hands,

in a world where, let’s be honest,

everything has proven to be unreliable.


I see the hunch of your shoulders,

the lines around your mouth, pulled

too tight for too long, the way even

sitting here now on the front porch

with your sneakertips turned slightly

in and your candy pail resting against

your costumed hip, you have become

something else, not the eternal child

in the trick-or-treat story, not the

slasher-fic youth, but something

truly helpless, this time.


There are some stories that are always

the same, some myths we live year after

year, spread mouth-to-mouth like kisses

or smiles: the walkmans become fancy

phones and the fashions change - and

come around again - but we all know

the same stories, the same gore, and

you’ve died by my hands in the tales of

a million campers and siblings and

mothers scaring their babies, but

this year…


I didn’t bother poisoning your apple,

dear child, because this world has

been so hard, for so many, and just

this once, I was thinking, you could

sit on my porch and let your teeth

sink into the sticky caramel that is

always somehow just a little harder

than you want it to be, tell me if the

sprinkle of chili pepper I added is the

perfect complement to the salt tang

of nuts, the dark bite of chocolate,

the crispness of fruit, and perhaps go

home alive in your ghost costume,

just this once.

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