Poetry: Halloween

October 30, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT

ROBERTY PINSKY: Part of Halloween’s point seems to be, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” as the late Walt Kelly had his cartoon character say.

That fear of what is inside, and of what we put on outside, is given a brief, powerful adult definition in this poem by Charles Simic, “Empire of Dreams.”

On the first page of my dreambook
It’s always evening
In an occupied country.
Hour before the curfew.
A small provincial city.
The houses all dark.
The store-fronts gutted.

I am on a street corner
Where I shouldn’t be.
Alone and coatless
I have gone out to look
For a black dog who answers to my whistle.
I have a kind of halloween mask
Which I am afraid to put on.