Early October

15 hours ago

Today’s poem is “Early October” by Gibson Fay-LeBanc. Gibson’s first collection of poems, Death of a Ventriloquist (UNT Press, 2012), won the Vassar Miller Prize and was featured by Poets and Writers as one of a dozen debut collections to watch. He completed a three-year term as the Poet Laureate of Portland in 2018. 

Gibson says, “I wrote a first draft of this when I noticed how early some neighbors put out their grisly Halloween decorations. Maybe they weren't any more grisly than usual, but in a season filled with school shootings and with my own wonderings about what details to share and not share with my kids, these images all connected themselves in the language of the poem.” 

Early October
by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc

Already the zombie is gleeful
in his feasting on the porch
down the street, a severed
skull lolls, and several
outsized spiders wait
in air above the steps
with saber-tooth pincers,

and in a full four weeks
we’ll walk, hallowed orange
heads in our hands, soon
filled with Mounds and Snickers
and Almond Joy, my one son
a bloody Coca-cola,
my other an outlaw with pistol.

And I’m the dad who turns
off the third school shooting
this month—Police found
five guns on him, still
to be fired—so that the villain
and the can, seven and ten,
won’t know this is their world

though they hear they know
exactly how it is poured
across whatever stage
we walk—blood-soaked porch,
blood-soaked streets and grass—
sure as they know I’ll smile
and don a mask with dark fangs. 

Poem copyright © 2017 Gibson Fay-LeBlanc.