Spooky Poems for Halloween  by Michael Benedikt

Eerie, ominous, & grisly poems mostly from THE BODY, Benedikt's first book of poetry (Wesleyan University Press, l968).  l998/99 & Y2K selections & revisions.

Poems At This Page:

(1) The Helper (2) Mr. Rainman (3) To Persuade A Lady

(4) Some Old Men (5) The Debris of The Body (6) The Wings of The Nose

& (7) An Afterthought About Autumn: The Autumn Villain

NOTE: "To Persuade A Lady" is from Benedikt's 2nd book of poetry, SKY (Wesleyan, l970).
It's a scary love poem, a new literary genre originated by Benedikt & developed in some later Benedikt books

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This is part of a Website-In-Progress with selected poems from THE BODY and SKY.   (Page 3 of 5).
Besides Spooky Poems,   both books contain other dark poems/poems of 'Black Humor,'
& many other poem-types

Info on Other Themes/Types of Poems in THE BODY

Info on Other Pages Within This BODY-SKY Website

Brief Benedikt Bio.

The Spooky Poems


To be helpful
To lift up someone's eyelid at midnight
To observe their lack of vigor
To grasp them by one arm and drag them out of the room and downstairs
And dress them in an old oilskin against black insects in the hall
Then to drag them down the front flight of stairs
And put them in the trunk of the car, afterwards locking it carefully for safety
Then to drive them out to the country
Down all those dark, deserted roads, with only the black night butterflies alert
And there, in the country, to find a quiet, relaxing place
Perhaps on a knoll or in a field or under a bridge with the water tricklings
     writing maledictions over everything
And to bury them there
In the oilskin
With the insects still keeping their distance
And to bury them deeply and undiscoverably

--To be this helpful
Is unappreciated, often.


In the rain, an angry outcry: 'Get your hands off my trickling face'!
A damp rug
                  my chilled hands
Show that we have a rather sinister visitor:
                                                               A smudge
                                                               in a soggy grey coat
And shoes that hiss on the diningroom table

We thought he simply needed a shave but that shadow on Mr. Rainman's cheek            
       actually meant that he was almost completely covered with mosses
       and various other greens growing there...

O my pink-cheeked, innocent young daughter
O my daughter in your ancient but hardly yellowed white pinafore
       what are you doing peeking at him at midnight through the skylight?
                                                                             & then sliding down towards him
                                                                                            straight down the bannister

You stand out enough!


Carpe Diem

True, I have always been happy that all the things that are inside the
     body are inside the body, and that all things outside the body, are out
I'm glad to find my lungs on the inside of my chest, for example; if they were outside,
       they'd keep getting in the way, those two great incipient angel wings; besides,
       it would be messy
I mean, how would it be if your reached out to shake someone's hand
     and there, in the palm, were a kidney and a liver complete with spleen?
Can you imagine standing at 5 PM in a crowded subway car full of empty stomachs?
What if a nice, nearsighted old lady were knitting socks and suddenly
       her veins fell out? How would she avoid creating a substance full of strangeness
       and pain?
To the barefoot country boy sitting on the edge of the bed in the morning
       and opening Aunt Minnie's gift box, the sight of those socks would be
       what he'd call 'a real eye-opener!'
And what if our voices touched? If our mouths went out, instead of in?
If you were inside of me; or, at least, if I were inside of you?


Nobody understands why these indigent sweepers keep showing up exactly here
Every evening at the edge of the Tuileries
To sweep the garden with sweeping equipment of past days

Their eyes are dim their hands can barely grip their brooms
Faggot brooms bound with old rushes and things
And they chatter with excited gestures

And should a lady go by wearing only a grey fur coat, high-heeled shoes, and
      stockings with runs in them,
Beneath which is a frock torn partly to shreds
They smile at her understandingly, and then begin to whistle innocently
     and stare up at the sky...

Companion of my days, companion of my evening secrecy!
Oh this must be our favorite spot in the Tuileries--
Shaded and calm and only slightly dusty...


The debris of the body is piled up around the foot of the statue, and is also scattered
        around the landscape.
It starts on the statue's shoe
And then thins out until it comes to a river, where the light debris drifts, and the heavier
        debris sinks, hitting a fish on the head.
The picturesque little town was nestled in a peaceful valley, then the debris of the body
        came and covered it; now it nestles under ten feet of garbage.
A photographer was photographing a lovely mountaintop locale, for a liquor-store
        calendar, until the debris of the body came and smudged the lens, blurring the
        photo, inundating the photographer
A grizzly bear climbs a tree to escape its flows
Like a decade's lemmings--if they were a whole lot slower--or the tides themselves,
        it creeps down to the edge of the sea. The light debris drifting, the heavy hitting
        some other fish on the head.
There, the sea is inundated with the flower of fallen hair, worn-off skin, fingernail
        parings, nose pickings, oozed blood, used  sperm (love's leavings!), annoying old
        scabs, tears accidentally escaped in wind, tears meant to be wept, the nether
        wastes, the shit and piss of the skin, superannuated wart parts, etc.


The wings of the nose
I sense them fluttering
Making a passenger
Out of the whole olfactory system
While the brain flies along just for fun
Where are you going, O wildest of widely wandering wings
Where are you taking us, my Sweetie and Me?

"I am taking you someplace where you will like it
I am trying to find a place where you can rest
        and enjoy the most important sense of things
        of all, which is mine.
Haven't you given up other pleasures yet?
                                Touch, which is just an irritation
                                Taste, which I view with distaste
                                Hearing, which is designed simply to put a strain on you
                                Sight, which is something I have never quite been able to see
Just in case you haven't yet abandoned them
                                                   come with me now
                                  aloft in my own sensational flying machine
Spend all your time
Wandering with me all day long, not to the places you want to go to
      but to the places you can't resist going to
Let your schedule of appointments be organizing by waftings
O follow follow

So you will say
At the end of the day
'The odor of decay
Is the best and the strongest and the sweetest
--Even the smell of fire on bone
And rich earth'

An Afterthought:

About The Halloween Season, Autumn, & Fear of Winter Darkness


The villain crept by on the slant
                              towards the Southwest
                                                    and the sunset
With his shadow lengthening and following behind him

The brim of the enormous black hat he wore was pulled down
    over his eyes, his nose, and his mouth
As if predicting
Days to come when he would have to travel
     in almost total shadows
To make up for all his glaring summertime excesses
--Penance for both his suns and his sins

Big brim! It sloped down and even scraped the ground
And when the wind came, draped over the tops of trees

And an investigator
Trying to peer into his eyes
                          could see only falling leaves....

Earlier versions of "The Helper," "Mr. Rainman," "Some Old Men," "The Debris Of The Body" "The Wings Of The Nose" and "The Autumn Villain" first appeared in THE BODY, by Michael Benedikt,  published by Wesleyan University Press, l968, © l968 by Michael Benedikt. These revised versions, © l998, l999 & 2000 by Michael Benedikt. Earlier version of  "To Persuade A Lady" first appeared in SKY, by Michael Benedikt, publ. by Wesleyan U. Press, l970, © l970 by Michael Benedikt. Revised ver., © l998 & l999 by Michael Benedikt

If you liked these Spooky Poems from THE BODY--and entered this 'site for all seasons' at this Halloween-page--for a page with some other, rather hauntingly unusual selections from THE BODY which you might like

Click Here

for Home Page of this BODY/SKY Website

Click Here

Click to Top of Spooky Poems

Other Themes &Types of Poems in THE BODY

A link to a complete 'Thematic Index to The Body/Sky' is given at this page at
Links to Other Pages Within This BODY-SKY Website.  Thematic index categorizes all poems, including all poems which appear at this Website. Categories starred [*] are followed by notes & commentary--
may be helpful in writing Modern Poetry term papers.

Topics which appear in THE BODY include:

The Four Elements--Earth,   Air,   Water & Fire         Childhood & Youth & Growing Up       Gardens
Time       Space       Spirituality

      Love       Philosophy [*]      Business       Social Concerns       Esthetics
Film & Theatre  [*]      l960's Art & Artists & Rock Music [*]

Besides Spooky poems, other types of poems in THE BODY include:

Poems in Unusual Forms [*]     Highly Surrealistic Poems [*]    Poems with Multiple Dictional Shifts [*]   

Other Pages Within This BODY-SKY Website

Page 1 --Home Page: Benedikt photo & Bio

Includes recent photo & more complete bio. info than is given at this page

Page 2 --Selections from THE BODY

Selected poems from the opening sections of this unusual & also Surrealism-influenced first book
by a much-published contemporary US Poet. Early poems in a range of tones--some cheery, lots dark.

Page 3--'Spooky Poems for Halloween' from THE BODY

  This Page!  (Another poem or two to be added pre-Halloween 2000)

Page 4--'Dark Love Poems' from THE BODY

Page Under Construction.   To be posted some time after Halloween 2000

Page 5-- Thematic Index to THE BODY and SKY

Subject-Index categorizing all poems in both books according to topic. Includes notes on the multi-media background of both, giving some insight on how these 2 unusual first books of poems came to be written.
(Page intended as a scholarly resource for students writing term-papers, theses, etc)

Brief Benedikt Biography

(Complete bio. appears in Who's Who in America; WW in World; WW in Entertainment, etc.)

Selections from many of Benedikt's books now appear at various Websites

Michael Benedikt has published five collections of poetry: The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, l980)--a book about the joys & sorrows of love; and with Wesleyan University Press, Night Cries (prose poems, l976); Mole Notes (prose poems, l971); Sky (l970); and The Body (l968). Anthologies of poetry under his editorship are The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (Dell/Laurel, l976); and The Poetry of Surrealism (Little Brown, l974). His anthologies of plays include three volumes of European drama co-edited with theatre critic George E. Wellwarth: Modern French Theatre: The Avant-Garde, Dada, & Surrealism (E.P. Dutton, l964); Post-War German Theatre (Dutton, l967); & Modern Spanish Theatre (Dutton, l969). He is also the editor of Theatre Experiment: American Plays (Doubleday, l967). He is a former Associate Editor of Art News and Art International. A former Poetry Editor of The Paris Review, his editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology (Norton, l990). His recent, l990's poetry has been published in such literary magazines as Agni, Iowa Review, Jerusalem ReviewLips, Michigan Quarterly Review,  The New Republic, New York Quarterly and Partisan Review; a long poem about Einstein appears in Paris Review (#151). Benedikt's work  is represented in numerous anthologies of US poetry. His grants and awards include an NEA Fellowship, a NY State Council On The Arts Grant, and a Guggenheim Grant. He has given many readings from his poetry at colleges and bookstores around the USA; and has taught Literature and Creative Writing as Visiting Professor at Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Hampshire, and Vassar College/s, and at Boston University. He lives in Manhattan, New York City. E-mail at benedit1@aol.com.

For Info re background of Benedikt Websites via feature article at About.com, click here:
'The Compleat Michael Benedikt--Poet Laureate of The Net'

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Brief Prose Poems--shorter poems from Benedikt's darkly funny 4th poetry book, Night Cries.
Also, interview with Benedikt on prose poetry from Poetry Society of America Newsletter
& essay on 'The Future of The Prose Poem'

Prose Poems--others from Night Cries
& a book review re NC & prose poetry generally from London Times Literary Supplement

New Site   Aloysius Bertrand: Fantasies by First French Prose Poet.  Intro to/ Selected Prose Poems by
a 19th-Century master of eerily dark & Gothic poetry, who was also a forerunnner of 20th-Cent. Surrealism


The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo,
selections from Benedikt's 5th & most recent poetry book--Love Poems,some funny, most decidedly 'dark.

Theatre, Film & TV Poems--& Info on 20th Cent. Play Anthologies Edited by M.B.
Poems about 'Showbiz.'  With info on contents of Benedikt's anthologies of French, German, Spanish & US 'Poetic Theatre.' Funny, Surrealistic plays--black humor from 'The Theatre of The Absurd.'
(Also, info on securing rights to perform these off-beat plays)

Poems from Boston & Cambridge, mostly narrative poems. From Transitions (manuscript-in-progress)

The Thesaurus And Other New Verse, poems in a variety of genres. From OF:  (mss-in-progress)


New Poem from OF:   re a Halloween-Eve Sci-Fi & Horror program that shook the Nation:
'Of Orson Welles Remarkable l938 Radio Broadcast, The War Of The Worlds'

Poem from OF:   re growing up siblingless. A personal variation on the Are We Alone Sci-Fi Theme:
'Of An Only Child's World'

Poem from Transitions   re the darker side of 19th-century USA Pioneer Life:
'American Vibrations'

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