Halloween Feast

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Incantation of the Hallowed Reaping

Red demons by a roaring fire leap
Gathering power outside the sleeping town’s keep
Summoning Hell’s hounds from caverns deep
Readied now to scythe and reap.


by Kevin Trammel

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Devil’s Due

Hallowe’en Rhapsody
by Kevin Trammel
Written while listening to Tartini’s Devil’s Trill

The Devil crouches low
in the dry moonless field
and watches with wide black eyes
the dim lights of the house in the wood.

Plucking foxtail from his wool
he slowly chews and spits and chuckles.
Twisting his beard absently he turns
to whisper orders to his messenger hellhound.

His voice rasps in the night
like a violin bow dragged dryly
over a rusting weather-cock − birds
startled fly from their leaf-wrapped night-beds.

Inside the house, laughter, reminiscences.
A drink of wine, a swallow of apple.
A fond story told of future days.
A memoriam chanted over hallowed ground.

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Samhain Fire-Dance

Art By Kevin Trammel

View other artwork by Kevin Trammel.

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The Devil’s Trill


“One night, in the year 1713 I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and – I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the “Devil’s Trill”, but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me.” -Giuseppi Tartini


A truly entrancing, even bewitching, performance of the “Devil’s Trill” is here (in the above referenced wikipedia article about Tartini’s Devil’s Trill):  Performance of the Devil’s Trill Sonata by Caroline Goulding (violin) and Shuai Wang (harpsichord) from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in MP3 format (wikipedia article ibid.)

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Spirits Not Bargained For

Haunted Irish Pub in Seattle.

“Before Kells Irish Pub in Seattle became a charming family-run bar, it served as a waiting room for  the afterlife — a mortuary purpose-built to handle [a] flood of dead bodies produced by plague, mining accidents and violence in the early 1900s.

The owners of the bar say a piece of that dark history has clung to their humble establishment, meaning the haunted pub serves up a host of spirits, along with pints of beer.

Bartenders, patrons and ghost hunters all claim to have seen specters of ghosts at the pub late at night.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2120147/Haunted-Irish-pub-sits-site-1900s-Seattle-mortuary.html#ixzz1qRQTIc00

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lamplike autumn trees
tower — ghosts travel
leaf-strewn passages

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“Isle of the Dead”

More on this wonderfully atmospheric painting here.

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Hunter’s Moon*

Cat hooligans courageous and wild
wander the wooded wilderness;
stealthful cats, sharp of eye and claw,
glinting fang and glowing gaze,
shadow-stalk beneath the pine-veiled moon.

Cat Creatures whispering their wind-talk
(that sounds like a cedar bough stirring aloft,
or a snake threading the pine-needled loam)
laugh soundlessly, smile mirthlessly,
eyes dancing, glimmering, winding yet tighter
Time’s ruthless machine.

Owl’s kite crosses the creeping canopy —
cats purr and bend back their heads
deepening folds of luxurious fur collars,
exposing more and more their shimmering teeth,
tongues dripping, lofting awareness to briefly share
the thrill their hunter sister feels above.

Onward padding, stepping silent, empty footfalls,
surveilling forest fringes and bending branches,
Hunter Cats who fearless tread the unseen ways.
Watch out so soft and succulent mousens —
they come and none can stop ’em!

-Kevin Trammel


*10/29/2012: Hunter’s Moon (Farmer’s Almanac)
Full Hunter’s Moon or Full Harvest Moon – October This full Moon is often referred to as the Full Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Many moons ago, Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains. Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Hunter’s Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.

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Land of the Balrog

Land of the Balrog (click to enlarge)

[ click here for more artwork by Kevin Trammel ]

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On the lawn last night around 8:30 or so, sitting in a camping chair with Gus on my lap, I noticed him glancing suddenly off to the right, as if something were moving about in the dark.  I thought I also heard something, so I turned on my flashlight.  Through the beam a rather large bat abruptly flew, heading south.  I turned off the flashlight and I watched as the bat spiraled up towards the lambent moon, which softly glowed under a thin veil of cloud from behind the tulip tree.  It was a marvelously poignant Halloween image, this rather large bat flickering moonward into the shadowy drooping  branches of the tulip tree whose leaves lightly trembled in a damp whisper of a breeze.

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The Raven in the Rain

The rain patters on fallen leaves,
Dripping from musty eaves —
The call of a raven.

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What is It!

It Emerged from Beneath the Garden

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The Face in the Shroud

The Face in the Shroud

[ click here for more artwork by Kevin Trammel ]

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Some Fun things to Explore for Halloween

Gnarled Nether Relic from the Dark Woods

The Pumpkin

Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
John Greenleaf Whittier

As Samhain (aka Halloween) approaches, here are some fun things to explore!

Listen to Dance Macabre for Samhain

Enjoy the Skeleton Dance.  This is an old Walt Disney production with music by Carl W. Stalling.  More information is here.

Go on a virtual tour of Paris’s “City of the Dead.”

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
-Shakespeare (Macbeth)

Some articles for Halloween

Man attends own funeral

Are Danes taking ‘green’ too far by recycling corpses?

Ever hear of the film “Eraserhead?” You too can now convert your deceased relatives into pencils!

The Library of Dust

Haunted Libraries

He met a hound that came from Hel.
That one had blood upon his breast,
and long did he bark at Baldrs father.
Onward rode Odin – the earth-way roared –
till he came to the high hall of Hel.
-The Eddic poem Baldrs draumar

A Halloween Gallery (art of Lewis Barrett Lehrman)

A couple of Good Books for Halloween:

H.P Lovecraft (very good anthology)
God’s Demon, Wayne Barlowe
Good Omens
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The Fantastic Art of Beksinski
Brushfire: Illuminations from the Inferno by Wayne Barlowe

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
-Shakespeare (Macbeth)
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through Indian Summer we drive
swirling leaves behind us —
death’s glowing portals so near

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The Sierra’s Dragon

It’s hot and dry
in the Sierras
like a blowtorch.

The wind in the puckered oaks
sounds like a raging fire.

There’s smoke standing in the air
like the unseen presence
of a dragon.

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Balm and Majesty

There was nearby, along a stream, the hacked trunk of a young tree.  The rest of it lay where it was cast, in the ditch below.  Knowing the neighborhood and those who frequented the path on which this tree once thrived, I knew the boys who did it.

I felt sorrow for the tree and pity for the boys.  For, their act had no purpose which might give it authority.  It was merely the act of bored and petulant youth exhausting a feeling of powerlessness and aimlessness.  I know this because I did the same kinds of things as a child.

As years have gone by like that stream of mountain water, I’ve come to value the companionship of trees.  They provide so much: fresh air, inspiration, beauty, majesty, wood for building and for so many essential human needs; they even draw up the water from the earth.  Trees provide shelter and an abode not only for human beings, but for countless other creatures.  So, it occurred to me as I stood within the forest gazing at its tattered remains, that even in its death the tree had served, for it gave the young men a sense of victory, however sordid and fleeting.

As for the boys, all they really accomplished for themselves was a felling of their own spirit.  In living what can one do but love the living? Anything else is death.  Even in battle, truly great warriors, who must follow the grim logic of war, honor and celebrate their fallen foes.  Those who spit upon the corpses of the defeated are only heaping contempt upon themselves, for no one can escape the body’s death and only a very few truly know whence the gift of life is given.

Bless the trees who signify the gods in order in their orbs beneath heaven, and the ultimate Power that loves and cherishes all.  Earthly angels, in no hyperbole, they thrive that animate beings may live and carry out their personal and public affairs in lazy ignorance or in active awareness.  Trees are worthy of honor and to be cherished in return.  Treating them in this way empowers one to draw nearer to the root of one’s own life and that of all life.

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Takuan Looks for the Moon

Every night the moon
frolics in the stream —
yet show me what it has touched
or even a shadow.

-A rendition of a poem by Takuan, tr. originally by Lucien Stryk in “The Crane’s Bill”

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Gift of the Purple Martin

Walking a path on a hot afternoon,
shedding a heavy mantle of work’s entangling thoughts,
my attention’s drawn to a shadow on the path —
a dark purple swallow
rests with his belly buried
in the sun-baked sand at path’s edge.

As I was already too close for him to stay
he lifted up from his warm bed
rising skyward
with swift and elegant ease
of the swallow.

It was the sweet picture of his silent repose
in the sun-warm sand
that remained luminous on my inner screen
and buoyed my afternoon stroll
as from within I flew
with the gracious glide of the purple martin.

Posted in Fauna, Poetry, Uncategorized | 1 Comment