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The butcher knife goes in, first, at the top
And carves out the round stemmed lid,
The hole of which allows the hand to go 
In to pull the gooey mess inside, out -
The walls scooped clean with a spoon.
A grim design decided on, that afternoon,
The eyes are the first to go,
Isosceles or trapezoid, the square nose,
The down-turned mouth with three
Hideous teeth and, sometimes,
Round ears. At dusk it's
Lighted, the room behind it dark.
Outside, looking in, it looks like a 
Pumpkin, it looks like ripeness
Is all. Kids come, beckoned by
Fingers of shadows on leaf-strewn lawns
To trick or treat. Standing at the open
Door, the sculptor, a warlock, drops
Penny candies into their bags, knowing
The message of winter: only the children,
Pretending to be ghosts, are real.

—Mac Hammond

from Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems, 1989
Bellevue Press

Copyright 2001 by Mac Hammond.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Bellevue Press from Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1989 by Mac Hammond. For further permissions information, contact Katka Hammond,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Mac Hammond (1926-1997) was a poet, a professor emeritus of English, and the director of the graduate program in creative writing at the university of New York at Buffalo. Hammond is the author of four poetry collections, including Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems (Bellevue Press, 1989). Hammond died in 1997.

Learn more about Mac Hammond at Poetry Hunter.