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October 2015

a little more for Hallowe’en, for the “hall” of it*

arrhymic rhymes in Hallowe’en time

under the copse
there is a corpse

behind the horse
there is a ghost

beneath my hats
resides a bat

next to the versed
awaits a curse

so this poor wretch
who loves a witch

shall carry on not
this Hallowe’en night

C L Couch

*(I recently read that trick-or-treating might have been a precursor and rehearsal, of sorts, for Christmas caroling. At this time of year, the Hallowe’en time, tenant farmers’ families went to the hall of the lord landowner—at which they sang and danced and performed illusions and other entertainments, all in the hope of receiving food from the landlord, because all were entering a time of year when there would be no more crops to harvest. At Christmas time, the same visitations happened for the same reason. The fall tenant traveling also timed, intentionally or coincidentally, with the Celtic festival Samhain—spelled with an m, the m pronounced as a w—a celebration of autumn and the food that could be harvested.)

celebration of the season 3, Ghost


it is like us because it was us
breathing, living once like us
ghost become, be-turned in death, untimely
and unfinished

are they real?—we are real, and
we’re the ones who make the ghosts, for
they were us

we know a ghost of one kind lives
we meet it every day: anything that
haunts us in our daylight lives, the
choices and the acts we want to leave

behind but carry with us in a lingering
way not finished

we make our ghosts, and they haunt us

the other kind?—well, why not, since
so much of us is left behind, undone
so that we carry it in some
unresolving way

after dust, before heaven
what we leave that’s extreme and
exigent persists

so we make the ghosts, and they persist

is it bad, then, on one day a year, we celebrate
the ghosts this once?—and then again next year

Happy Hallowe’en
while remembering

they will be

Day 2 of the Free Jacki Kellum Writing & Illustrating Challenge

One plus One plus One? Four = adapted to One, One, One, Four, Not, Three




Image result for wind




Image result for three

(1,, Google Images
2,, Google Images
3,, Google Images
4,, Google Images
5,, Google Images
6,, Google Images)

for the Hallowe’en season 2, Goblin


Made long ago
Beneath the earth

Though there’s the curious way it
Adorns cathedrals—look at the spouts of
Notre-Dame, which end with gargoyles’
Wide mouths mouthing, through which
Rain water flows (hence the word for
Throat that gives over “gargoyle”
And gives the English “gargle”)—

Beings that are warped yet lifted high, that
Serve a purpose for the holy
On the ground below

Say they are not goblins, but I think
They might be goblins

It likes the cave and has been seen
Through centuries’ shadows; some say the
Creatures are responsible for changelings, stolen
Children replaced by theirs in human homes, though
I’m not sure I’d understand
The benefit of that

For the goblin in surrendering its own would
Lose its own and thus die out
Within a generation

The goblins in folklore are frightening; but
To this child of the suburbs, I think goblins

Are cool

Although, like you perhaps, I am not anxious
To meet this child from under the earth

for the Hallowe’en season, Witch


what a word
“rhymes with” I guess is still popular

and there are the re-broadcasts of
Samantha, Tabitha, Endora (Agnes Moorehead
of the Mercury Theatre), and Maurice Evans
as the father (of Samantha)

I know, he’s a warlock, though if I know
anything about witches (and I don’t know
much), they can be male

was there ever a witch like the one we once
invented then feared? I don’t think so—a
creature who leeched power from the devil
to cry havoc on the earth to wreck it toward
her ways, which must be

bent like her, like the witches in the Scottish play
(“cry havoc,” by the way, from Julius Caesar), as
fearsome pillars of fog and night—or so
they are portrayed; the witch

of Endor notwithstanding (and I don’t know
ancient Hebrew to find if there’s a
better, closer word for her), I think

if there’s a witch who she likes a friendlier
power, the kind from nature, the kind

that heals

the one who studies nature better than Hamlet’s
mirror, as if to use what nature freely gives
to those who care, who want to make the
broad world better

white witch, black witch; red, yellow, blue, and
green witch (have I counted the Olympiad
flag, remembering that its field is white?)—all
who love the world, who heal, who kiss, who
touch our wounds in knowing ways, perhaps

these are the witches now and maybe ever were; if
the rest of us had behaved in better ways, maybe
witch-hunt would not be a shameful part of our
vocabulary: the rest is cant or, better yet, simply
modern Hallowe’en

in reponse to Jacki K’s challenge

life story in six words and or in a Google Image


one plus one plus one?–four

(credit and Google Images)

Riddles in the Anglo-Saxon Way, Solutions

Riddles in the Anglo-Saxon Way


1, house

2, key

3, sky

4, cat

5, ghost

6, love

(in response to yesterday’s post—questions? be in touch, please)

Riddles in the Anglo-Saxon Way

(lots of notes about and riddles and riddling contests appear below; what is immediately below are riddles I composed, using aspects of ancient riddling; I’ll post the solutions to these riddles tomorrow; the solutions, by the way, are things you’re familiar with or have heard of, I believe, no matter where you are)

Riddles in the Anglo-Saxon Way


I am old and older still
In nations beyond colonies,
I am on a hill or by the stream
Above and below, the storm rages
On me and my makers.
Though if I do my purpose.
All is well for them
And, with their care, myself.
What am I?


You want in?
You must use me;
I am the way into the heart
And all the rest.
At night or morn, I might be used.
Safety is my purpose.
What am I?


I am quiet except when I’m not;
Then you heed me.
Many colors, though of me
Easily you say one color.
I am never the same yet always constant.
Leave and look;
I am there.
You need me.
What am I?


I am the greatest of all kings;
Ozymandias weeps beside my permanence.
I have majesty over all, minion humans serving me
Since the days of dynasties now fallen old.
Cold I am and hot in brief insanity.
I am queen of all and would openly rule
The cosmos but that I am trapped
In opposition in a small and pointed form.
Me and mine deserve obedience, still.
What am I?


and because of the time of year—

I am near, and I am you.
I know all the human tricks.
Sins made me that you might see.
But for now, I must remain.
Who am I?


and, boldly (badly) swiping—I mean, as an homage (using the French word) to Tolkien (yeah, that’s it, an homage, a tribute), below is a riddling paraphrase

This thing all lesser things devours
Birds, beasts, all too human towers

Slays town, ruins mind’s or real steel
Grinds hard walls and hearts to meal

Ruins all we might have done
Stays the victory once won

Brings all things we gain and own
Into chaos, rudely sown

Riddles dropped the duelers’ glove
So the hobbit goes above

But Bilbo, Gollum got it wrong
For this is what time better serves in song


The Anglo-Saxons, whose culture flourished in the British Isles from B.C. time through the first millennium, loved riddles. Riddles, to riddle, riddling—this was an entertaining craft to share. In fact, maybe because a riddle doesn’t live unless it’s shared (with you, as someone to guess) is one reason for its popularity. Riddling requires companionship. And in uncertain times, a reason requiring us to be together might have sounded pretty good.

Those with education tended to make them, and riddles are recorded next to philosophical and theological collected works of the day. Anyone could enjoy them, but the overall purpose of riddles was twofold: to illuminate and to entertain. Sometimes the solutions were spiritual things—gospel, faith, salvation—and sometimes the answers were earthy—anchor, family, town. Sometimes the same riddle could serve both purposes. A riddle whose answer was “disciples” could work equally well for “friends.”

The solution of the riddle speaks and at the end of the riddle asks the question Who am I? or What am I? Rhyme and meter were often part of the makeup of a riddle so that the riddle might be remembered as a poem or song. The riddle could even be sung and I imagine often was.

Tolkien modernized the ancient riddle for the chapter “Riddles in the Dark” in The Hobbit, featuring a contest between Bilbo and Gollum. The riddles’ form is compact stanzas made in rhyming couplets and, in metre, iambic tetrameter (dah-DAH four times). The challenges between to the two contestants sound entertaining, even though the stakes for the winner and loser are literally life or death:

A box without hinges, key, or lid;
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.

This riddle from the contest is only a couplet long. And the answer is egg. In the Anglo-Saxon way, however, the answer among seminary students might also have been the soul or even eternity. (I’m quite satisfied with the egg.)

So here are some riddles in the Anglo-Saxon way. I’m not a riddle master (that will be obvious). I simply enjoyed translating riddles from Old English, the language of the British culture formed by Latin and German and what of native speech was allowed. I wrote a paper comparing Anglo-Saxon riddles with those in The Hobbit. The paper was read at a conference and subsequently published.

The Hobbit, as a novel and book, was first published by Allen and Unwen in 1937. The American publisher is Houghton Mifflin. The novel has been published many times and in many forms. It is certainly one of the more popular stories of our time.

I hope you enjoy the riddles. I hope you might compose your own.

Row, row, row your boat, careful not to piddle;
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a riddle.

(If Edmund Lear wrote about riddles, it might have gone like this.)

Riddle me this. Riddle us, this.

I Could

Source: I Could

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