The Jack-O'-Lantern

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Last night it was Hallowe'en.
Darkest night I've ever seen.
And the boy next door, I thought,
Would be glad to know of this
Jack-o'-lantern father brought
Home from Indianapolis.
And he was glad. Borrowed it.
Put a candle in and lit;
Hid among the weeds out there
In the side lot near the street.
I could see it, eyes aglare,
Mouth and nose red slits of heat.
My! but it looked scary! He
Perched an old hat on it, see?
Like some hat a scarecrow has,
Battered, tattered all around;
And he fanned long arms of grass
Up and down above the ground.
First an Irish woman, shawled,
With a basket, saw it; bawled
For her Saints and wept and cried,
"Is it you, Pat? Och! I knew
He would git you whin you died!
'Faith! there's little change in you!"
Then the candle sputtered, flared,
And went out; and on she fared,
Muttering to herself. When lit,
No one came for longest while.
Then a man passed; looked at it;
On his face a knowing smile.
Then it scared a colored girl
Into fits. She gave a whirl
And a scream and ran and ran
Thought Old Nick had hold her skin;
And she ran into a man,
P'liceman, and he run her in.
But what pleased me most was that
It made one boy lose his hat;
A big fool who thinks he's smart,
Brags about the boys he beat:
Knew he'd run right from the start:
Biggest coward on the street.
Then a crowd of girls and boys
Gathered with a lot of noise.
When they saw the lantern, well!
They just took a hand: they thought
That they had him when he fell;
But he turned on them and fought.
He just took that lantern's stick,
Laid about him hard and quick,
And they yelled and ran away.
Then he brought me all he had
Of my lantern. And, I say,
Could have cried I was so mad.

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