A guest post by James Michael Shoberg
Dear Noah loved the autumn—oh, that season, crisp and cool,
A harbinger to others of another year in school.
But Noah never understood their misery and grief.
He’d gladly trade the summer for a single tinted leaf.
Despite his comrades’ sense of loss, and urge to gripe and grouse,
They’d humor him, remembering what grew behind his house.
For there lived an impressive oak, and regally it stood.
Upon its boughs, a kid could see beyond the neighborhood.
And it was from this vantage point, ablaze with harvest hue,
That they would watch the dimming sun recede as darkness grew.
Yet Noah, feeling cheated, knew he couldn’t share these sights.
He wished that he could join them, but he had a fear of heights.
“This isn’t fair! The tree is mine—the time of year as well!”
Though just a fleeting skyward glance turned Noah’s legs to gel.
His pals began to taunt and tease with catcalls from above:
“Hey, Noah! You should see the view! It’s one you’d surely love!
Boy, look at all those pretty leaves—the scarlet, orange, gold—
And we can spot them, every one. Too bad you’re not as bold.”
Like monkeys they sat gibbering among the colored spray.
“How is it they’re unruffled, while their perches bend and sway?!
If they can do it,” Noah thought, “then so can I! Be brave!”
But all at once, his face took on a mien profoundly grave.
He filled his lungs with evening air (which smacked a bit of smoke),
And stood there in the shadow of that overwhelming oak.
Determined, Noah scaled the trunk without another thought,
Each hand sought out a sturdy branch, each foot, a bulging knot.
They’d see he was courageous if he met them at the top.
“But twilight’s fading quickly, so I mustn’t slow or st—”
“STOP! That limb has splintered, Noah, and it’s in a fragile state!
We broke it climbing up ourselves! It cannot bear your weight!”
Those tardy words of warning were drowned out by Noah’s gasp,
As in that very instant, it had snapped off in his grasp.
It compromised his balance when the shoot tore from the bark,
And Noah flailed but failed to find a second, stronger mark.
He pitched and plunged at rapid pace, bathed in a tawny glow.
All he could do was pray the leaves would cushion him below.
“I raked them into ample piles. Lord, make them nice and dense.”
But piles and prayers did little good. He cleared the neighbor’s fence.
And while the space beneath the tree was soft and yielding yard,
The area he landed on was concrete, flat and hard.
But Noah’s end was festive—yes, his pumpkin of a head
Burst open in a surge of yellow mixed with bloody red.
A vivid stew of brains and gore began to blend and clot.
The colors would have pleased him, for he’d fancied them a lot.
His friends observed from far above the gooey, gluey scene.
One said, “I guess he’s going as a ghost for Halloween.”
James Michael Shoberg is a director, designer, and award-winning actor and playwright. His writing credits include numerous fringe plays and collections of both monologues and poems. James is also the Co-Executive Producer, Artistic Director, and Resident Playwright of The Rage of the Stage Players, a fringe theatre company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2011, he received the permission of The Butcher Brothers and Lionsgate Films to write, produce, and direct a world-premiere stage adaptation of their award-winning independent horror film, The Hamiltons. James’ unique brand of twisted theatre has already attracted attention both nationally and internationally. In 2016, iconic horror writer and director Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Stephen King’s Thinner) tapped him to write, produce, design, and direct the world premiere stage adaptation of the 1985 vampire film, Fright Night, which will premiere in 2018. James’ most recent endeavor is a currently untitled book of horror poetry for young adults, excerpts of which have appeared in Beyond the Nightlight, Cellar Door III: Animals Anthology, Pavor Nocturnus Dark Fiction Anthology, Phobos Magazine, Sanitarium Magazine, and Under the Bed Magazine, to name a few.
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For the month of October, Listing Beyond Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring posts related to or inspired by Halloween.