And here are the ten selected mini poems and mini fiction in response to the image of the carved pumpkins.
The Wolf in the Lantern
‘Who is the wolf in the lantern, Mummy?’
‘That’s the King of the Wolves – the wickedest wolf ever! He was put there by the Witch-of-the-Woods.’
‘He said his teeth were stronger than her magic. So she put him in the pumpkin for punishment.’
‘Can he get out?’
‘Only if the Queen calls him. At Halloween, she howls for him. If he hears, he will escape.’
‘Will he hear her tonight?’
‘Of course not! There are no wolves here!’
He nods, reassured.
In the scrap of woods beyond town a slate-grey shape stirs, throws back her head …
Penny Blackburn lives in the North East of England. She writes poetry and short fiction and was winner of Story Tyne 2017 and runner up in the Reader’s Digest 100-word short story competition 2018.
He may be agoraphobic but that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy Halloween. Every year they bring him pumpkins and seek his talents. He prepares the table, wipes down his knives and arranges the lighting. Then with soft music lilting in his ear, he proceeds. With dedication and skilful eye, the knife pierces the orange skin when Jack begins.
He carves without interruption. Work completed, he places them on the display ladder and waits for their collection. He wonders about the joy they bring, the comments they collect sitting on his customers porches.
Maybe next year, he will go out.
Mary T Bradford is an Irish published author who in her spare time loves to crochet. She loves the challenge of flash fiction. Her books are available on Amazon.
The interior harvested, already
in the oven, replaced with fire.
Skin scored, bruised by over-
eager hands with implements
to curse, to flick, to furrow.
No matter the form the outside
takes, the light illuminates the path
for eager feet, and for one night
every gourd is beautiful.
Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. His birthday is on Halloween.
Fractured starlight glints within his brazier;
its wrought iron noughts and crosses
framing windows on a world of fallen angels,
winged with stolen fire and imposter’s gold,
where Lucifer, the alchemist, trades in immortality.
Wood smoke drifts across Eden’s orchard
and Jack o’ Lantern flits in russet shadow;
the dog fox, outlawed, dark black brown,
howls and tries to bite an amber moon;
while all hallows’ Eve, uneasy, waits the dawn.
Iain Campbell hated poetry at school but with grey hair came publication in the Bangor Literary Journal, the Blue Nib and Lagan Online.
Four pumpkins, pumpkin glowing,
plotting, no doubt to fright; perhaps?
or perhaps not, don’t judge all pumpkins,
by the colour of their skin, or carved monsters,
pumpkin tattoos for all we know,
but alas, four pumpkins sitting together, like a pride,
acting all innocent, as scary pumpkins do – and do well,
creeping into an old lady’s home, no doubt, like vampires,
ready to pounce, step by step, the inhumanity of it all,
where are the clowns when you need them!
Joe Lynch lives and works in Belfast and has only recently become re-engaged in poetry after a long absence.
Never Trust A Pumpkin
The ghost threw his arms out
to welcome the night.
The wolf said, ‘Hey Mister!
Have you got a light?’
The stars were reluctant,
the moon out of sight.
The wolf carved the ghost up,
the cheeky wee shite.
Laura Cameron likes to write poems. Sometimes they’re serious, but more recently she’s verging on the ridiculous.
We were short-lived. You plucked me from the pile and got inside my head. You dug around for anything useful, came up short, and started scooping. Your fingers traced my flesh (I did not know you were indicating the places you would later cut). I lit up whenever you were around.
Things ended just like that. Without your warmth I felt hollow; putrid. Memories of you quickly decayed. I tried to hold on, but I knew it was too late. Something was rushing out of me that once rushed in.
Brian Wilson is a writer from Newtownards, Northern Ireland. He likes to tweet from @bwilson4815
Shards of flinching wick light burns whilst ink tip leads a path of shape.
A glint of silver sparks a haze of light through my iris.
Vice gripped fingers lengthen around the oak carved handle.
Sharp teeth pierce a rustic autumnal outer shell, plunging through layers of spongy flesh.
Storm ceases my working lamp, I sit cut dead in motion.
Blood cascading my palm, increasing river lines by one more.
Candle and match found by fumbling in darkness, pearl wash splatters the window pane.
Fazed in the fog, tree silhouettes howl echoes of veined branches.
Within a forced frozen lapse I stare upon my farmhouse table………
October’s eerie squash has a backdrop of moonocean glow.
Zoe McGrath is an artist and poet from Bangor and works in education. She has read at festivals and had work published in online journals.
He shouldn’t have yelled at the shopkeeper but it’d been a bad week and the pumpkins were the last straw. It was closing time halloween when he remembered and everywhere was sold out except the weird occult shop. The prices there were insane and when he got home his kids weren’t even interested in carving them. Later, stepping into the kitchen he was astonished to see the pumpkins had been carved after all, they glowed with intricate patterns of strange creatures. A trick of the light made it seem like one face turned towards him. Then he heard the howl.
David Braziel is a performance poet and writer living in Portadown. His collection “I Am Not a Poet (and other poems)” is available from Pen Points Press. His face has recently been drawn on a map.
“It needs more oomph,” you say, as if that means anything.
I carve out another wonky crescent moon as you work on your werewolf masterpiece. Your forearms are smeared with pumpkin pulp, and there are somehow seeds tangled in your hair.
Despite everything, I still want to kiss you.
You hum and ha over their positions, tilting them so they’re facing just so. You look up, and I suddenly realise just how close you are.
You point at my poor pumpkin. “What is that mean to be?”
“Art,” I sniff.
You crack first, lips twitching, and we howl with laughter.